4/1/2020 – COVID -19 Journal

I skipped more than a few days of my COVID journal. I had worked 12 days…basically because of people wanting to rearrange their schedules for lessons due to their work schedules changing. The essential government workers are on shift work now, so the buildings are less populated when they are there. That means people who were taking lessons after work are now taking on off days or daytimes. This is not a complaint, but definitely a reason why I’ve been skipping the journal – 12 days of Skype lessons while we were all finding our new groove together. Plus lots of infrastructure to set up.

I consider myself lucky, for now. About 60 to 70 percent of my students made the transition with me, again….for now. The teaching schedule is still somewhat full. The biggest losses in students came from one store that was not progressive enough to make the transition to online lessons in a timely fashion. I won’t call them out for their shortsightedness and lack of ability to adapt…yet.

I will say that attrition in my schedule at this one location is the primary reason I’ll be applying for economic injury and disaster recovery loans with SBA. All the other studios that switched rapidly with me is where I saw very little student attrition. The mom-and-pop stores outperformed the larger corporate entity in terms of responsiveness to an unfolding disaster situation. The mom-and-pop stores I worked with are still collecting studio rent on those lessons I am teaching. The larger store is not, and by all appearances, it has lost the opportunity to do so.

The current evolution of the Skype rig is proving itself out. The only new addition was the Nitewalker Bass Guitar Preamp as a pre for my instruments into the RC-300. The Nitewalker added a little more warmth…like the signal was running through an amp, versus just hitting the front end of my looper bare. The setup has set the new max for lessons conducted per day around 10. About 6 hours, maybe 6.5, after budgeting in a few breaks to hydrate.

I’d like to get a capture card to add in my Canon Vixia HF R600 as a webcam, but that’s in limbo for a week or two. I’m also working on developing a backup Skype rig for the iPad with the iRig Stream and some adaptors. I like redundancy in case systems fail.

The unexpected addition to the studio I teach from; a child gate. Lieu has become an expert-level Skype lesson crashing machine. For a “disabled” cat, he can “cat” just fine. Today he and Pepper learned that if they both push on the gate at the same time, they can knock it over. Ananda has learned if she needs to hide out from everyone I’ve got a secret cat bed for her in my office…she just has to ask for a hall pass to get over the gate. She settles into her bed and sleeps while I work. The cats miss the students but are starting to adjust to the new normal.

The SuperVan has been parked for the longest period of time I’ve known it. It hasn’t moved since March 17th, save a quick drive up and down my street on Sunday to keep rust from forming on the brakes. I went out and did some maintenance on Sunday. I laughed when I found the new serpentine belt on the passenger seat; I purchased it on 3/8. It was such a burning priority to make the time to get that thing installed. How quickly that priority reshuffled to “forgotten about” in the wake of events that followed in the next few weeks.

The days are starting to fall into a routine. I figured if I have to do quarantine, I may as well enjoy myself when I can. I start the day with a big breakfast of pancakes, yogurt, juice and fresh fruit, followed by a shot of Jameson. That tides me well for most of the day. Lunch and dinner consist of fruit, yogurt, nuts, maybe a sliced-up avocado. Sometimes I make a naan bread pizza; I’ll seed the produce used in the pizza to plant peppers and tomatoes in the garden. This is a time of year I look forward to. The flavors of fresh basil, parsley, oregano. The smell of line-dried clothing and sheets.

Most of my need to stress eat is gone. I actually feel better than I have in a while. I’m working out on the treadmill, or on the mountain bike on the Cycle Ops stand.

I cleaned up the back deck and opened it for the warm weather. The tomato plants I started in February are now thriving under improvised salad container greenhouses out in the garden. I turned the compost pile for the first time all winter; the outer layer of leaves revealed a foot deep of rich, dark, beautiful soil. I potted up some of the pepper and tomato starts so they could live on the deck.

Playing / practicing; today was largely time spent getting to know the new Steampunk bass, and what it has to offer. I put part of a door hinge assembly on it, to create a kickstand prop to go over one’s leg. A callback to the leg prop that Steninberger basses had back in the 80’s to stabilze them when playing in the seated position. It definitely added to the mismatched/found object feel of the bass. It’s been quick to settle in, become stable (in terms of neck profile/action), and remain in tune. A pleasantly surprising start to it’s new life.


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