April 30, 2020
Since we received our diplomas in the Superior Auditorium longer ago than I wish to admit, members of my high school class have held reunions every five years. Until this year, I’d only missed one of the reunions and that was because of a conflict with college final exams. But with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and life becoming more uncertain, it was decided to hold reunions more frequently. I am sorry to report I have missed two of three reunions held this month.
Yes, this month is not a typo. Thanks to the internet and a computer program named Zoom, members of the class have had the opportunity to get together for an hour each of the last three Saturday afternoons. During that hour classmates talk about their days attending Superior High School and the years since.
I’m still trying to figure how the program works but I know it utilizes a modern computer’s internal camera and microphone and allows participants to chat with one another while their pictures are on the screen.
Saturday we mostly talked about how the shutdown was affecting our lives and shared our concerns for class members who didn’t join the chat. Were they busy or had the virus caught up with them?
Graying and thinning hair hasn’t been of great concern to me. Last fall I got my first buzz cut since grade school. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, and I’ll admit I have on several occasions since I have tried to comb my now nonexistent hair.
I’ve grown to like to the buzz cut. It is easy to care for and at my current age, I’m all about making things easier.
My classmates were kind and didn’t comment on my missing hair. I tried to return the kindness and not mention the surprise of seeing my classmates with gray hair. We are of an age that gray or white should be our natural hair color but many members of the class have been reluctant to let the natural color show. Prior to the shutdown, they were making regular trips to the hair dresser and hoping a magic bottle of hair colorant would preserve their youthful looks.
With the hair salons closed, they shared stories about their alternative hair coloring endeavors. One shared that since shoulder surgery she hasn’t been able to lift her arms high enough to attempt a do-it-yourself session.
I’m glad the computer program gave the participants’ names for I’m not sure I would have recognized all of them.
It was a bit unnerving seeing my own likeness on the computer screen and realizing my classmates could tell when I was not interested in their stories and trying to do something else. I’ve been participating in a weekly conference chat sponsored by the Kansas Press Association. I’ve been doing that with a computer that lacks a camera so the other participants can’t tell when I’m multi-tasking.
I’m not at all sure I like the idea of having a camera in my computer and risking it sending pictures to the worldwide web without my permission. My first computer camera was a separate device which I plugged into the computer. To use, I had to install and then open a program. When not using it, the camera was packed away in its box.
I was excited to get the first web cam. With it I envisioned the production of video news updates I could post to this newspaper’s website. That turned out to be mostly a dream. I have narrated some slideshows and posted more than 200 video clips but I have yet to use a webcam.
I started my journalism career with a 15-minute weekly radio program over KRFS. Then I dreams of full-time broadcasting work. Now I am both older and wiser. I much prefer the print world and have no desire to return to broadcasting.
It apparently is possible for hackers to gain access to our computers and use our web cams without our permission.
A daily newspaper story recently reported on a judge who was using Zoom or a similar program to transact court business during the pandemic. The article said the judge was unhappy with attorneys who were not dressing for court. In one instance, a female attorney attempted to keep her appointment with the judge while still in bed. Others working from home were were waring bath robes.
A company I do business with recently sent me a computer lens cover. The small device glues over the camera’s lens. It then has a door the user can slide out-of-the way when he wants to use the camera or over the lens when he doesn’t want it sending pictures.
When I received the cover, I had only used the computer camera on one occasion and didn’t think I needed to install it. Today, I’m having second thoughts.
By this time next week, I expect it will be installed.
Our weather has certainly taken a turn for the better. I’m enjoying the warm weather and periods of sunshine. I’m not the only one, From the newspaper window, I’m seeing campers, boats and kayaks being transported. I expect the owners are using them for get-a-ways. Fishermen are reporting some nice catches. People walking or and riding bicycles are roaming the town. Motorcyclists are roaring about.
I’m seeing evidence of gardens being worked and vegetables planted.
On the weekend I heard about a family celebrating a birthday with a backroads drive and a stop in an isolated place for a special lunch,
As several area communities do not plan to open their swimming pools this season, families with private pools will not lack for company this summer. Sunday afternoon one family set up their portable swimming pool. Seems to be a bit early after reporting snow in last week’s issue. However, with this week’s forecasted high temperatures to reach the 90 degree mark there may be swimmers in that pool before May arrives.
Sunday afternoon, rather than sitting in my lounger reading, I drove out into the country and parked where I could gaze over farmland my family has owned since soon after WWII. I rolled down the old Blazer’s windows and read while listening to the sounds of the wind. I thought about the last family to live on that farm and the hardships they endured. I remembered watching my grandfather scoop ear corn into a sheller not far from where I was parked. I recalled the time my father lost his glasses while working on a tractor in the middle of a worked field. When he missed the glasses, he thought it would be an easy recoverery because the tractor hadn’t been moved. He went back to the field but couldn’t find his glasses.
Years later a county road crew cleaning a grader ditch found the glasses. We never knew for sure how they got to that ditch. Our assumption is the glasses were carried there by an animal.
Looks like the irrigation district is also getting ready for summer. When I went to Mankato last Wednesday the Courtland Canal was dry. It was the first time this year I haven’t seen a little stream of water in the bottom of the canal. Sunday afternoon, it was full.
I’ve watched that canal for most of my life and I have never yet seen the water arrive. Someday I hope to watch the water come around the bend. I don’t expect to see a rushing torrent like sometimes occur in desert water courses but I think it would be worth sitting in the sun on the canal bank watching it fill with water.
And speaking of water, we are in need of rain. After a wet summer, we have had a dry fall, winter and now spring. April is often a time when I have written about and pictured rain events. Not this year. There is still time to get an April rain but I am not expecting it before this week’s column is printed.