2020 instructive if not productive
January 6, 2021
This week, we gleefully put behind us a year of closings, cancellations and isolation, and enter a year that gives us hope that at least some social life will return as we chip away at the COVID-19 pandemic.
I have tried to make the best of a year spent mostly at home with my wife, our cat and my trusty desktop computer.
The computer hosted just about all of my work and leisure life in 2020.
I got pretty good at Zoom, interacting with images of others trapped in offices or living rooms, and my work has consisted mostly of covering meetings I attend via computer screen.
It’s not all bad. I don’t have to change out of T-shirt and jeans for a Zoom meeting I’m covering. I can put my feet up. I can even bring popcorn and a soft drink. The best part, though, is that I can observe unseen and unheard.
My desktop computer has become my best friend for leisure activities, too.
I bit the bullet this year and bought a pricey new keyboard for making music - just in time for live music to join live sports and public gatherings in general on COVID-19’s trash heap.
No live bands have been getting work, so I went out and bought a device that lets me record music into my computer. I wrote a few songs, none of which would make the Billboard Top 40,000, let alone the Top 40, and laid down some tracks.
In 2,000 years, archaeologists will find my hard drive and conclude that my recordings were part of a pain ritual.
Today’s keyboards are usually synthesizers that can produce some pretty accurate imitations of other instrument sounds, along with new ones, like “boink,” “dweep,” and “voomp” noises.
In the band I formed by playing all the parts myself, I’ve decided I’ll keep the keyboard and bass player, but I’m going to fire the drummer. And that singer is hopeless. No guitar, though. You can’t strum a keyboard or use a pick on it, so it will never sound right.
I’ve learned a little, but nowhere near enough.
The same held true with my attempt to learn the C++ programming language. I went through 15 lessons before I realized that I hadn’t retained much of anything since “Hello World,” the output of the first program you write in any computer language.
Also, since I could not transition to Windows 10, and Windows 7 was fading into Microsoft’s Neverland of planned obsolescence, I installed a Linux operating system on my computer early in the year.
I learned that even if Linux systems and programs are free, they are not always user-friendly.
Then I found a way to get Windows 10, so Linux is now just a hobby.
I’m going to look back on 2020 as a very instructive, if not productive, year. I do miss people and hope to see a lot more of them live before 2021 is over.
They are still way more interesting than my overused computer screen.
Steve Hansen writes for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: