Sharing a Virtual Beer

I have always appreciated my friends and last night was another example of them responding perfectly to the situation we are all in.  Instantly I knew that I would be writing about it on Today’s Perfect Moment.

Yesterday was Friday and the end of the work week.  In Pre-lockdown/pre-Coronavirus  (Is it too early to be referring to those days as PC?) the end of the work week would find me physically and mentally exhausted.  I would have easily put my 13000 steps in just walking around the classroom.  My mind would be addled from repeating the same page number endless times.  Then the drudgery of the commute would pretty much have finished me off.  If there was not Saturday bike ride to look forward to…..well, you get the idea.

Yesterday, while I wasn’t exhausted, I have to admit that virtual teaching is still quite tiring.  The patience it takes to wait for answers and to explain things without the ability to point at something or draw easily on a white board, or use whatever techniques I have had at my disposal for decades is tiring.

I decided to have a beer and I realized that what I really wanted was to have a beer with my friends.  I took a cue from my friend Mike, who sent me a picture of him raising a glass last weekend, and decided to share a picture of my beer with my other friends in a group we have on WhatsApp.

Almost instantaneously, they shared back pictures of the beer they were having.  While we can’t be together at this moment, I appreciated their responses and I felt like we were sharing a virtual beer together.  If that isn’t friendship, I don’t know what is?

What are you doing to keep your friendships thriving during this unusual and trying time?

Posted in appreciation, beer, creative, creativity, friends, friendship, happiness, happy hour, overcome, perfect moment, phone apps, willpower | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eye Opening

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With the weather improving, my thoughts have drifted to my bicycle.  No matter how many YouTube videos I watch, it really doesn’t compare with being out on the bike.  Thanks to the coronavirus I won’t be going on club rides for quite some time, but I will be going on solo rides.

So, today, I decided to walk part of the route I take to the meeting place for the club rides.  This is a typical suburban route with a couple of twists and turns until you get to the main roads.  At one point I follow Old Yonge Street, which runs parallel to Yonge street–considered by some to be the longest street in the world.  I don’t know the history of Old Yonge street, and I know there is another street with the same designation in Toronto.  The two are not connected.

Just as riding a bike is a different experience than driving, walking is a different experience than riding a bike.  I have been down this road at least once a week from spring to mid autumn for the past four years.  Apart from garage sales, I haven’t really spent a lot of time with my feet on the ground in the area.  Today, I got a rather different view of the area.

I came across the street pictured above.  We have lots of different street names from courts to boulevards, but this is the first time I have seen square when it didn’t refer to an open plaza area meant for congregating.  I took a look at the street and there was nothing square about it.

I also found a few buildings that weren’t facing Old Yonge, but instead had their backs to it.  I had noticed the big hedges and high fences, but I hadn’t really seen it.  For their property to span two streets completely seemed a bit unusual.  Maybe the lot was double the size, but why were only some lots like that?  The backyards looked impressive and all I could think of was what an amazing bike shop I could build in one of them.

Maybe I should look at this as some sort of comment on my observational skills.  Maybe I could see it as an allegory for leading a fast life without taking time to slow down and look at something.  Maybe now that we seem to have a lot of time on our hands, we should all pay a little more attention.

It was a good walk that managed to avoid people and improve my outlook on the day.  I wasn’t out for long, but it was long enough to brighten my mood.

Posted in Aurora, bicycles, cycling, exercise, group rides, perfect moment, view, walking, Yonge street | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Some Thoughts

class photoBesides the obvious, there are some unusual things that make teaching from home different from teaching at school.

  1.  Despite students’ assurances that technology is their slave and not the other way around, they are not nearly as adept as they think they are.  They seem unable to get the files that were uploaded for them.  They fail to use spell checking on their writing despite the fact that they used to beg me to send their work by email so they could use spellchecking and Grammerly to “improve” their work.  They also seem to choose incompatible programs to both create and view work.
  2. I don’t have to worry about students using their phones to chat with other people while taking class.  Often they are using their phones to participate in class.
  3. My breaks allow me to do pesky household chores that used to have to wait until I got home from work.  I can check the mail, clean the cat box, start a load of laundry, make another pot of coffee, wash a few dishes, speak to my girlfriend, take out the trash, fill up the brita, do a couple of minutes of planking, reorganize the drawers in my desk, ….the list goes on and on.
  4. I can send pestering emails for students to do their homework–I don’t, but the point is that I could.
  5. Students can’t use the excuse that “I forgot my book at home.”  They can’t use the excuse that they forgot their homework at home either.
  6. I can no longer use the joke that homework is the work you do at home when I catch them doing their homework rapidly in the classroom before it starts.  It’s too bad because I like that joke.
  7. Despite quality cameras, I am not sure my “grammar face” comes across well on screen.  For those who don’t know, this is the face I make when I want to tell them that something they have done is wrong and that it is something they have already studied or I am confident that they already know and they should fix it rather than expect me to provide them with the answers.  It works quite well.

I just wanted to share my thoughts on this topic.  It has only been a few weeks, but I don’t see it reverting back to the classroom for at least another month.  Hopefully by the end I will have learned a whole new bag of tricks.

Posted in computers, ESL, home repair, homework, online, perfect moment, students, teaching, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Six Feet of Separation

20200331_170327I went out for a walk after my day of working at home.  I had had enough of video screens and just wanted to exercise a little rather than sit around drinking coffee or surfing the web.  I got some physical distance from work and I came face to face, albeit with a greater than six foot distance, with Today’s Perfect Moment.

I live in a suburban area that has some nice walking trails.  Sadly, with the start of spring they aren’t quite dry yet.  Also, they have probably been “closed” like the parks.  Surprisingly, a little piece of paper taped or stapled to a post now seems to do much better than padlocks and iron bars.  This isn’t the world we wanted but it is the world we now have to deal with.  So, no trail, but some nicely built sidewalks and other concrete features were mine for the exploring.

On my walk, I took a rather indirect route and let people (as in avoiding people) help me make up my mind to turn or keep walking.  I found myself walking down a street that I knew some friends lived on.  With physical distancing in place, I had no intention of stopping by to visit.  I did, however, have the intention of checking out what cars he and his wife were driving and if they had put the addition on their house–yes, it has been that long since I have seen them.

They were friends who belonged to a different time in my life.  We had formed a little circle of ESL teachers who had wives  we brought to Canada after teaching overseas.  We had lots to bond over and the wives likewise.  They also had strength in numbers.  Eventually we drifted apart and despite being within walking distance, I haven’t spent any time with them in the past decade.  Since we work in the same industry, but in different places, I have crossed paths with people who have worked with him and we have sent back and forth warm greetings and thoughts of getting together every now and then.

Today, while walking down the street, I spotted a couple who I was instantly convinced was them.  I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but I knew it was them.  We stopped and had a conversation by talking across the street as we both stood on the sidewalk.  When his wife spotted me, she wanted to run over and hug me hello, but she managed to stop herself.  I guess we have made a thing of physical distance (we no longer call it social distance) these days.  It is becoming the instinct rather than the afterthought.

While our conversation was a little weird, it really wasn’t.  We discussed how both of our schools are now teaching online from home and how the students are dealing with it.  We updated one another on our lives.  Sadly they passed on the news that one of the other couples in the aforementioned circle were currently separated.  My friend expressed hope that they would somehow find their way back together.  I don’t have nearly the optimism that he manages to hold, but I don’t begrudge him that.  I have seen positive thinking work some incredible magic.

I finished the walk feeling pretty good.  I even remembered to take a picture while on my journey to commemorate it.  It isn’t a picture of our long distance conversation, though.  It is a picture of a river that runs through the now closed park near my house.  It seemed pretty to me even though the day was a tad bleak.

Posted in chance meetings, conversation, ESL, friends, friendship, illness, Japan, memories, news, online, perfect moment, teaching, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

In Search of Some Randomness

stuckLooking for a change in my entertainment, or perhaps just searching for something random, I looked through a pile of DVDs in the basement.  I came across a discard movie from the library.  It was in the pay what you want or pay what you can pile.  I don’t remember what I had in my pants pocket, but a loonie or twoonie (the one and two dollar coins in Canada respectively)seems likely–of course I could have been super cheap and only dropped a couple of quarters.  I really don’t remember.

The film is titled Stuck Between Stations.  I suspect the only reason I grabbed it is that is stars Zoe Lister Jones who I thought was super funny in the short-lived but rather funny Whitney.  She’s got that sarcastic slightly scratchy voice that reminds you that Hollywood is not entirely full of cookie cutter actors.  If I read the synopsis before taking from the library, the memory of it has been completely erased due to vacation and teaching from home.

I am not going to sing the praises of the film because it is far from perfect.  However, since I chose the movie blindly without even reading the synopsis I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a talky film that used a lot of non-traditional exterior shots and some unusual interior shots to tell the story.  Maybe the best way to think of it is a starker, harsher version of Before Sunrise.

Now after a couple of weeks of shutdown or lock-down, or whatever we are doing to limit the spread of the virus, it is hard to forget that the world after midnight exists.  I have looked down some busy streets late at night only to find then devoid of cars, when weeks ago they would have been a long row of headlights and an equally long row of taillights.  Things have changed.

When was the last time you were surprised by a movie?

Posted in acting, actor, actress, characters, entertainment, movies, nightlife, perfect moment, review, stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Internal Playlist

person in black long sleeve shirt playing electric guitar

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

For Today’s Perfect Moment,  I have selected a scene from yesterday with which we can all resonate.

I was out in my car, purposefully avoiding news channels and listening to music.  A song came on the radio that I hadn’t heard in quite some time. I quickly found myself singing along, and anticipating my favorite lyrics.

It’s funny how some songs become displaced in your internal playlist, while others seem to be in constant rotation.  I could use a few more radio surprises.   I guess we all could.

For the record,  the song was Don McLean’s American Pie.  It is a song beloved by my father and through repeated playing has been transferred to me. My favorite lyric is “I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news.”

Posted in driving, memories, memory, music, musings, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Virtual Birthday Cake

lighted happy birthday candles

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

If you’ve been reading this post, you’ll know that earlier this year I hit the big five oh. That was a bit tough for me, so I went for denial.   I had almost convinced my girlfriend that I was really hitting the big four oh–okay, maybe convinced is the wrong word.  I was stubborn in my refusal to admit the big five oh, and I think my obstinacy (or stubbornness) was wearing her down.  It was a great celebration and all my friends came to visit.  Read about it here.

Since the majority of my close friends come from school (junior high school, high school, and university) we are all hitting the big five oh this year.  Owing to the luck of the calendar, I was able to have people visit for my birthday.  We were able to stand, talk, drink beverages, eat cake, make noise…..the kinds of things you typically do at a birthday party.  These days, things are not so simple.  Social distancing has turned events where people might gather into virtual events.  We’ve all seen the reports of virtual weddings, funerals, kid birthday parties….

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my best friends.  He didn’t throw himself a virtual party as a member of his family is in voluntary isolation after returning from abroad, and that would have taken a whole other level of planning.  I am sure he had a cake and gifts–I still have to get him something.

I did manage to get hold of him on the phone and we had the chance to speak about everything.  While we touched on the pandemic and its relationship to our jobs, we quickly moved on to things that were more important to us.  We talked about hobbies, movies, family and other stuff.  Basically, we talked about everything we would have, had we been able to get together in person.

Shortly before I hung up the phone I knew that this simple thing would be Today’s Perfect Moment.  How could it not be?

Posted in aging, birthday, celebration, cell phone, conversation, friends, friendship, inconvenience, perfect moment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Future is Coming

selective focus photography of woman using macbook pro

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As I get over the hump in another week of online teaching, I have had some time to reflect and wonder what will come of all this.  I don’t mean the virus and the impact prolonged social distancing will have.  We may change our social habits, but we will still want to be social.  I was thinking more about work.

If you have had to transition to working from home, you may find it frustrating and not particularly appealing.  I know that I don’t.  I don’t miss the commute, though I no longer have weird and wonderful people to write about.  That was a big part of my blog.  Being stuck on a commuter bus definitely required some grasping at positives to make the journey less awful.

The thing is, once you’ve proven that working from home is possible, will they want you to come to work?  The company could save on office space and other overhead costs.  Maybe this is the new norm.

Being thrust into a new situation probably forced us to learn new skills and new techniques.  While stressful, this is not a bad thing.  And if you went to work and stared at a computer screen at your desk, then this isn’t much different.

I am used to teaching in a classroom and interacting with students a bit differently.  I didn’t spend my time staring at a screen, but rather looking at the students faces for signs of comprehension or confusion.  It isn’t as easy on screen, but I may have to get used to it.  This might be the future.

Who am I kidding.  This is the present for lots of people.  I have been hearing about online tutoring jobs for Chinese students for the past couple of years.  I never looked into it because I wasn’t interested.  However, a new source of income might be needed.

I ramble on because I am reflecting on my job and wondering how it will all turn out.  When I started writing I was thinking about how the nature of work is rapidly changing and might not change back…then I seemed to get a bit sidetracked and wound up here.  I guess that isn’t much different from the way things are for all of us.

If you have been transitioned to working from home during this time, I would like to hear about your experience and what you think will happen in the future.

Posted in adapting, adversity, advice, computers, ESL, homework, networking, online, perfect moment, students, teaching, technology, telecommuting, work, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

My Extra Time

Good Things I am doing while at home and when students don’t log on to online classes

  • cleaning stuff that needs cleaning
  • organizing stuff
  • stretching
  • making (and then doing) reasonable/achievable to do lists
  • preparing for subsequent classes
  • getting through some of the backlog on my PVR
  • commenting on more blogs
  • give more attention to my cat
  • decluttering and getting through the paper stacks that I have
  • eating stuff from the pantry that I would probably overlook

Bad Things I am doing while at home and when student’s don’t log on to online classes

  • wasting a lot of time on the YouTube watching people
      • organize their tools
      • build dream workshops
      • pursue their hobbies with vigor, talent, and tools that I cannot afford or house
      • fix/restore bicycles
      • compare tool boxes
  • not write my own blog
  • not read enough
  • not using the time to write a great novel or short story
  • looking at stamp auctions on Ebay

How about those of you who are  newly working from home or those of you who find yourself without work; how are you coping?

 

 

Posted in bicycles, comfort food, decluttering, eating, fixing, food, organization, perfect moment, preparation, tasks, to do list, tools | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What Song Was That?

20200323_172546After my online teaching day was over, I decided to go out for a socially distanced walk.  It was raining a little and it was easy to stay the requested distance away from the very few people who were also out.  I am not sure I was looking for deep contemplation, but I found it.  It also provided me with a Perfect Moment I could write about.

Like a lot of my stories, you need some background.  I still use an MP3 player rather than putting music on my phone or using Spotify.  I suppose that makes me a kind of relic, but I don’t care.  I like devices that do one thing rather than a multitude of things.  Of course the device is not particularly new and I haven’t added any songs to it lately in a number of years for a lot of years.  Also, in some kinds of light, the screen is hard to see. (Yes, I am sure I could adjust this in settings, but I haven’t touched the settings in a very long time and I see no reason to do it now.)

So, I was out walking in the rain with a late afternoon overcast sky and I couldn’t see the screen.  I had originally chosen Crash Vegas, but the first few songs on Red Earth are a bit too downbeat for a rainy afternoon.  I wanted to choose something else, but I couldn’t see the screen.  I tried shielding it in my jacket to no avail.  I was on the artist tab rather than the album tab, so I moved down a few clicks of the button.  I got to Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something.  I only had that song from those artists so after it was over, I had to pick something else.  I had wanted to choose a long album that would suit my walk and wouldn’t have to be changed.  Sadly, that plan did not work out at all.

So, I clicked down one slot and I heard this wonderful woman’s voice….that I couldn’t identify.  The song was good, but I couldn’t identify it either.  It was a bit like Joni Mitchel’s River–but not as beautiful as that–bluesy, but rough around the edges.  I knew it was after Deep Blue Something, but I wasn’t sure how far or who it could be.

When it was over, I flipped down to the next artist.  This song had more of a big band feel to it.  This was also a by a female singer, but again I couldn’t identify it.  I started to wonder how I could have things on my player that I had no idea about.  Obviously it came off of some collection album for it to be only one song by the artist.  There are songs on some albums that I don’t recognize, but I would probably recognize the artist.  I started to run through them, but couldn’t really figure it out.

So there I was enjoying some music with no idea how it got on the player, walking in the rain, avoiding people, wondering how odd the universe really is. Maybe it was the uniqueness, or complete absurdity of the situation, but I really did find it to be a Perfect Moment.

These days, I don’t listen to whole albums or even half albums.  I quickly skip from one song to another depending on my mood.  You don’t get to discover some of the deeper cuts on a CD or album.  On other social media sites, people remarked that you should turn off the news, put on some music, close your eyes, and just listen deeply.  Probably not bad advice.

When I got home, I discovered that both artists were Diana Krall and that I had downloaded two songs from two different Women and Songs CDs.  This gave her two listings in the artist column.  The songs were Narrow Daylight and Charmed Life.

Posted in contemplation, music, musings, perfect moment, rain, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments