Pin It

Has this week been as (not) exciting for you as it has been for me?  Since I fall into the 'Climb into a Tupperware container and seal yourself in for the next month or more' category of at-risk of COVID-19, I've stayed locked up at home all week, gathering news remotely.  I've been inundated with emails from companies telling me about closings, or telling me they are still open for business.  A lot of banks are saying that.  Just about all events have been cancelled.  But some folks are coming up with clever activities that you can participate in remotely -- if you have decent Internet.

It's no secret that when I take off my newspaper hat I wear my musician hat.  My main instrument is Celtic harp (I've gotten a lot of practicing in this week!).  The maker of my harp, Seattle-based Dusty Strings, sent an email Wednesday inviting their world-wide harp community to participate in a 'social distancing community music project' they are calling 'QuaranTune', which they say is inspired by videos posted by Italian musicians during the very difficult quarantine they are experiencing there. Participants are instructed to record themselves playing 'The Water is Wide' ( a traditional melody) on harp of hammered dulcimer in the key of C, and it can be the melody, accompaniment, portions of the piece, or whatever, and for people who want to participate but don't want their face on the Internet they may focus the camera on their hands and strings.

A number of churches and public and private institutions are using live streaming services for virtual gatherings.  Maybe it's time for someone to organize a virtual game show, story telling circle.  It is well known that students are finishing their college semesters over the Internet, but not as widely known that music teachers have long used the Internet for remote students.  I have seen several reports of virtual performances and jam sessions from the harp community.  And an event organizer who wants to avoid cancelling his event by moving it from a physical location to an online one.

These are all great ideas, but they depend on fast, reliable Internet service, which is still a problem for parts of Lansing and communities across the nation.  About a week ago Charter Communications (the company that owns Spectrum, which provides cable service locally) announced that households with students K-12 and college level can get free Internet for the next 60 days at no charge.

Very nice offer for people who live where there is cable service, and -- let's face it -- it's a great marketing ploy.  These folks will automatically be charged after the 60 days unless they call to cancel, and have you ever called the cable company to cancel service?  My advice: go to the bathroom before you call, have a glass of wine (or something stronger) next to the phone, and stay strong in your resolve to cancel.

But what about the ones who live where the cable doesn't go?  There have been a number of pushes to provide affordable high speed broadband service county-wide, but we still have a ways to go.  This is much more important today than it was a few weeks ago, because so many people are spending so much more time isolated.

Not that just talking to your family or house-mates isn't a great and novel thing to do... but in these modern times a decent Internet connection is as much a must-have utility as electricity, water, and sewer. 

Pin It