posts tagged with 'videoconferencing'

a week without Zoom

As "Zoom Through a Book" wrapped up last week, the hosts let us know that they weren't going to be joining us for the Friday evening meeting that we usually have together because they needed a break from Zoom. Good, I said, because we weren't hosting it—we need a break too! Videoconferencing has been a lifeline for us over the past five months, but it's also been draining to be spending so much time on screens. Hopefully pausing it for a week or two will give us some room to stretch and do some other things before we have to get back on the Zoom for the fall.

We did kind of break our Zoom fast yesterday evening though. While we cancelled nearly all of our regularly scheduled gatherings this week we didn't talk with our Bible Study friends, and we didn't want to just not show up. Happily, one of those friends lives in our neighborhood and invited us over to their backyard where they set up the Zoom meeting on a big TV. Zion and Elijah were able to run and play with friends, while Harvey joined the adults for a hybrid virtual/real-world conversation. We brought some dessert over to share, too—just like when we got together back in the old days! I'm really looking forward to the day we can do that without masks and careful distancing; til then I guess it's Zoom. But not this week!

zooming through the last book

When the pandemic started there were lots of people creating attractive offerings online, and one of them was from our friends the Jacksons (creators of the amazing story podcast, Tales From the Moosiverse). As we entered the first full pandemic week—the first week of lockdown, no school, and work from home—they stepped up an offered to read a chapter book to any and all kids who wanted to tune in over Zoom from two to three o'clock. They kicked it off with Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, and when that was finished—in just a couple of days—they moved right on to the fabulous Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr. They read for an hour every day, and the group of kids listening quickly became a real community. It was certainly a big part of our life! The five-day-a-week schedule ran through the end of June, then they switched to Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the summer months. This week, after something like 35 books and close to 100 hours of reading, what came to be called "Zoom Through a Book" came to an end.

The Jacksons didn't read all those books, all those hours. Other parents and grandparents stepped in for a few—I read three, myself—and a couple kids even did some reading. But they carried the bulk of it, and all of the scheduling effort, and they were definitely the heart and soul of the project. The 30 or so kids who were there that first week back in March didn't all stick around, of course: as schools' remote learning started up some of them got too busy, and others drifted away when the weather got nicer. But that just meant the group that stuck around became more and more of a community (interestingly, all but one of the diehards were homeschoolers...). After the reading ended each day they'd stick around to chat and share games and pictures with the "share screen" function, for 45 minutes or more if they could get away with it. Human contact is precious these days! There was a party on Wednesday to wrap things up, and it definitely felt like something worth scheduling.

At this point, to be honest, we're ready for a break from screens. That full schedule I described in the linked post up again (here it is again if you don't want to scroll up) eased up a bit as the months of the pandemic passed, but not that much. We're doing Kids Church on Sunday, then it's no Zoom for a full week—more, if we can manage it—while we clear our brains and get ready for fall. We're planning a little more (careful) human contact, but we know that there will be plenty of virtual interaction too. Which is fine: because the Jacksons have shown us how well it can go! Yay for Zoom Through a Book!

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prerelease at home

The pandemic has changed many things about our lives, and one thing that has pretty much dropped out has been playing Pokemon. With events cancelled there's no reason to practice, we quickly get bored of playing each other with the same decks (and building decks with physical cards is such a pain we never want to do it unless we have to), and it's hard to play online when we're spending so much time on screens for other reasons. But we still love the game, which is why we were so happy yesterday to be able to organize a prerelease tournament for us and some friends.

Prereleases are semi-competitive events that take place every three months to introduce a new set of cards—or they did, before everything was cancelled. We haven't missed a set since Harvey started playing, so I was glad to be able to pick up a few prerelease kits online. Then we set up some Zoom meetings and some cameras—lots of cameras, since to play over Zoom with full human interaction each player needs two: a face cam and a downward facing one to show the cards. I built some stands to hold the cameras.

Harvey playing Pokemon at the kitchen table against an opponent in another house

how we do it these days

There were only two things to mar the fun of the day. The Archibalds didn't do so well—Harvey, Zion, and I only managed to win one game each (out of three). Oh well, more joy to father and son Bongiovanni who took home second and first place! And the recording of the event that we took through Zoom defaulted to speaker view, which means that the actual action of the games isn't ever visible in the recording. So sad. It would have been so fun to have that video record, which I was planning on cutting into a shorter video to share. I guess we'll just have to remember things in our minds like cave people. Well, our minds, and all these words I just wrote.

Here's hoping that the next time a new set drops we'll be able to play in a real card shop. But if not, I think we've got this virtual tournament thing pretty well figured out!

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how are we so busy when we don't leave home?

Just like last Friday, we had an overwhelming online day today. This time I hosted three meetings! Besides that I spent a while working on recording a video. Suffice it to say that I spent more time looking at my own face today than I have any other day of my entire life. And videos isn't all we're doing! When the quarantine started Leah and I thought we had all the time in the world, so we ordered a dumpster; it's going to be picked up Monday so we have to finish filling it before then. The dumpster situation is emblematic of how life is going: how can it possibly have been in our driveway for two weeks already?! (Strangely, while weeks are speeding by each day seems to last a very long time. I don't know how that works.) All that is to say, I thought that being stuck at home would mean I would have time for all sorts of things that I don't usually manage. And that's not happening. Or maybe it is, actually—it's just that the extra time is for Zoom meetings and making videos. Oh well.