Adding New Skills

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November 10, 2020-

As I returned from work, this afternoon, my friend, the Mourning Dove, landed briefly on the gravel of our driveway. Usually, her greeting me is an indicator of good news. So it was this time, as I received written confirmation of a change in my monthly deposit from the Feds.

Workwise, I was asked to preside over a pair of online classes, this afternoon, having completed two in-person sessions in the morning. Being math and science, I had to pay close attention, ahead of time, to the material. It was not difficult, but these are “whiz kids” and it turned out they already had mastered the material.

What I had not mastered was the setting up of Breakout Groups, so everyone ended up in the same group, with little to discuss. This will be a matter for Zoom Tutorial, over the next couple of days, as I am quite sure today will not be the last time that I need to oversee such a class format, between now and Christmas.

In the end, my young friends were glad that someone was there to run them through the session, even if it was review material. There are a number of avenues of learning that can branch off from the lessons, yet I leave that to their very competent regular instructor, who returns next week.

I dreamt last night that a former hard taskmaster managed to teach me how to secure caps on bottles of cola, using plastic ties. I can pretty much guarantee this will not happen in real life. What I got out of it, though, was that I can, and will, acquire new skills, over the next several months and years. I won’t be working for wages, all that much, after next month, yet life itself needs us to stay sharp and focused. As I write this, the image of one of my uncles, whose cognitive skills were sharp during his working years, but faded in retirement, is cautioning just such a regimen of regular mental exercise.

Life is certainly a sweet cornucopia.

Treading Water

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November 8, 2020-

Many people are holding back on any plans,

even of short-range span,

because they fear the pandemic will expand.

Yet, is that really the plan?

Many people are treading water,

not engaged in doing what they ought,

for fear of the renewed onslaught,

and not wanting to look like robots.

Still others throw caution to the wind,

offering a conspiratorial spin,

imagining the virus to have been sent by djinn,

and enhanced by the descendants of the Ch’in.

I see my road as set by my guides,

altered only temporarily by the viral tide;

I refuse to run and hide,

and so trusting in science, I abide.

Light, Out of Calamity

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March 27, 2020-

In some of mankind’s darkest moments,  advances have come from the suffering, like small mammals coming forth after the Age of Dinosaurs.  These advances, in short order, became a part of the fabric of human culture.

After the Great Plague, of the Fourteenth Century, Europeans began to return to embracing science, rather than superstition, in treating illnesses.  The primacy of Cardinals and Bishops began to face widespread scrutiny, and the stirrings of Protestantism were felt.  The Catholic Church itself had to make changes, under Ignatius Loyola.  Advances in scientific discovery came, as a result of these trends.

After the American Civil War, the Red Cross was started, by Clara Barton, as a means of assisting soldiers, in time of calamity.  It quickly expanded to help society at large, in times of disaster.

After World War I, movements to assist disabled and unassisted veterans, in returning to civilian life began, with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. These organizations still make large scale efforts to assist those who suffer from dislocation, or from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After World War II, mass production of houses, the science of rocketry, television and large computers became part of the civilian world, having been first advanced within the military sphere.  From large, room-sized computers have come hundreds of technological products, many of them falling into the realm of nanotechnology.

Now, we will await the advances coming out of the struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Teleconferencing, already available for business, government and limited conversations between family members and other small groups, has exploded in use, as nearly every group, which conducted its business in person, has found ways to meet virtually. Even when the crisis has ended, I can see the sheer range of teleconferencing leading to its continued wide use among the public at large.  It will also greatly modify the educational process, even more than it has to date.

The retrofitting of factories that produce a wide variety of products, from airplanes to distilled spirits, are now also producing items that will help face the virus.  Ventilators, medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer will still need to be stockpiled, even after this virus has spent its rampage.  Preparedness will not soon, if ever, be relegated to the realm of memory.

There will be many tasks, which the technology and skill sets coming out of the current crisis will need to be called to perform. Not the least of these is completing the still gargantuan effort to provide all homes with clean, running water and reliable heat or cooling.  This work will occupy post-pandemic humanity for years, if not decades.

Out of  the darkness comes a greater light.  Baha’u’llah teaches:

“O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.”

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 321: The Garden

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October 14, 2015, Chino Valley-

The little girl registered a mild objection to my changing the morning schedule, from “Science”, which she loves, to “Writing”, in which she has little self-confidence.  I had something up my sleeve, which required the presence of the three students who were off being tested.

Outside our south window, there is a fallow garden plot.  The school’s director has hinted at “how nice” it will be for the plot to be reseeded, and tended.  The day has fallen into my lap.  After, lunch, with all the children back in the room, I told them of my lesson plan. We would go out to the garden, and whilst there, brainstorm as to what could be planted.  Each child was to make a wish list, with no immediate restrictions, other than that it must be something that will either grow or will help things grow.

After twenty-five minutes, in the garden, some of the eight-year-olds got restless, so we went back inside the classroom. The rest of our class time was spent with each student stating what was on her/his wish list and me recording and tallying the items on the white board.  This is a huge deal for several of the kids, not the least of whom is the girl who bemoaned the lack of a science lesson, this morning.

There is much ahead.  The students will now need to look up their plants, see what type of soil, planting specifics, watering level and frequency, climate and nourishment they will need, how to guard against pests, which animals best pollinate the plants, and how much work it will take to raise the intended crop.

This will be a major class project, and will be integrative learning, involving reading, math, science, social studies, writing and social collaboration.  Add to this, all the rest that is on tap for the year, and we should see measurable growth in this class.