Wulf's Webden

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Friday 27 March 2020
by Wulf
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A Nurse and a Politician Save the World

It could in real life but I was thinking of the game of Pandemic: Iberia Jane and I played earlier today. We’ve had it on the shelf for a while but, up until this week, had only got round to playing it once or twice. Iberia is a limited edition version of the modern classic, Pandemic.

In this version, the scope is limited to Spain and Portugal in the mid-19th century. The basic mechanics (move between cities, dealing with disease outbreaks and seeking knowledge to overcome them) are the same as the original but there are lots of significant differences. For one thing, you can only research a disease and not discover a cure; this has benefits (not least, winning the game when you have knocked all four off the list) but it isn’t as powerful as finding a cure in the original. Movement is also generally more limited (no flying around the globe in 1848) although the introduction of railways means you can set up a transport network to get you quickly between key cities if you can afford the time to lay the track.

We lost a couple of games yesterday but won this morning albeit by the narrowest of margins. The roles we had in play were the nurse, who prevents fresh disease in nearby cities, and the politician who can share knowledge about the diseases more easily than others and, crucially, can extract cards from the discard deck, making it easier to get the crucial collection of five cards of one colour to do the research.

Is it an insensitive game to be playing at a time of actual global pandemic? I think it is an excellent choice. Not only is it a brilliant bit of game design but it also serves as a reminder of how carefully laid plans can be scuppered when disease pops up in unexpected places or, worse yet, causes a peak that causes a cascade of further problems. It is nice to win but, after you’ve lost a few times, you feel more empathy with those trying to work out the logistics of the real situation.

Thursday 26 March 2020
by Wulf
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Time and Quality

I’ve done two more worship videos today. I think quality is going up but I have to admit that the time it takes is also going up – exponentially. It has been fun but, even in these quieter times, I don’t think it is sustainable.

What I need to do now is bring the time back down but without sacrificing too much quality. I’m already beginning to experiment with a few different approaches. Tonight’s Lent meditation, using a piece I recorded previously and a video background I filmed of a burning candle, was pretty quick but I’ve not got a big reserve of such music to use; tomorrow morning’s classic hymn was fun but recording it multi-track style with ‘three piece band’ and ‘choir’ probably wasn’t the most time efficient approach!

Wednesday 25 March 2020
by Wulf
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When Life Gives You… Onions?

Still no pasta, eggs or loo roll at at the local Morrisons (mid-afternoon) but they do seem to be getting back into the stock game. Jane and I were down there yesterday to top up our supplies. We don’t want to stockpile but we did try to get a big enough shop that we don’t have to go back again too soon – for example, two containers of milk, one for now and one for the freezer.

Somehow, we ended up with a lot of onions. I think we’d both picked them up independently. Onions can keep well but, by the time they get into the stores, they are probably often already quite well into their post picking period. Even in normal times, we don’t like to waste food, so what to do?

I picked out the smaller ones (the kind you’d probably want a couple of for a recipe), peeled them and then ran them through the food processor to slice up. I then set them over a medium heat with minimal amount of oil to get them started. Once underway, I turned down the heat to low and took a break from stirring, leaving them covered for a while before letting them cool.

Now we have a clingfilm lined tray in the freezer covered with portions of cooked onion, soft and sweet but still without much colour. Soon, I’ll transfer them into a better container and, once the fresh onions are used up, we’ll still have another week or two’s worth on hand.

Tuesday 24 March 2020
by Wulf
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Going Live

Following last night’s announcement of increased restrictions in the UK to slow the spread of COVID-19, the plan to open the church a couple of times a week for prayer have had to be suspended. We were expecting this to come but perhaps not quite so soon.

One of the responses I have been working on today is starting to do some short live-streamed worship sessions on YouTube, like this one from this evening:

Evening Worship

I’ve still got to do some work on refining the sound and other aspects of the set up but I’ll see if it gets some traction in providing our congregation a resource that keeps our connections going without the risks of clustering together in person. At the moment, the plan is to provide sessions at 9am and 9pm … so off to bed to me so I’m ready for tomorrow morning’s one.

Monday 23 March 2020
by Wulf
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Flexible Pricing

I can’t remember the last time I went into a supermarket and there wasn’t some kind of offer on, such as “25% off!” or the infamous BOGOF (Buy One, Get One Free). It demonstrates that UK supermarket systems are set up to offer variable and conditional pricing.

Cue a story which I saw on Facebook this morning about a Danish supermarket, sourced (by several different people) from meme hub 9gag. It indicates that the store offered a reasonable price for one dispenser of hand sanitiser and a vastly inflated price for two. The site isn’t a reliable news source but, even if the story isn’t true, it’s a brilliant idea.

I’m sure hoarding behaviour would be quickly reduced if, instead of attracting discounts, multiple purchases were put on an exponentially increasing price scale. Supermarkets also have huge amounts of data on purchasing patterns, so they are well placed to determine what a reasonable quantity of a given product is.

Sunday 22 March 2020
by Wulf
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Nine Songs

Church was different this morning. Because of restrictions due to COVID-19, we didn’t have a service per se but were open for those who wanted to come and pray, with ample space between them.

I provided some music for that hour long period – guitar and bass run through my Helix LT floorboard and into my amp, with unamplified singing. I set up a second screen linked to my iPad so those who wanted to see the words could view them but it was also possible to sit on the other side of the church and have the music as a background sound rather than a main focus.

Actually, I rather enjoyed it. I wasn’t leading per se so I didn’t have to sort out sheets of music for the team nor even worry about unfamiliar songs. I could draw on some material I love but haven’t used for a long time as well as some which I have used recently. In some ways, it was quite a useful dry run for an event I’ve been planning for mid-April – that will probably be cancelled but I’m seizing the opportunity to do some preparation.

Overall, I used nine songs during the hour, including repeats, instrumental passages and periods of silence. One thing I’ve learned is that for my intended ‘Presence’ worship hours, a shortlist of 15-20 songs is probably ample (and 163, which is how many I’d picked out last night) was overkill!

Saturday 21 March 2020
by Wulf
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Almost all…

I made my early start this morning and managed to get almost everything up to Loughborough. All things being equal, we can get the rest sorted when we pop down to do a final clean up and hand the keys over, although I’m aware that it is increasingly hard to predict exactly when that will be.

It also feels like almost all the space in our rental house is now taken up with furniture and boxes. We should get things rationalised a bit in the next few days although I have a suspicion I might also need to open up some of the boxes and do some winnowing!