MontanaRon

An English teacher's blog about his travels and his digital art.

Month: March 2020

Covid in Laos

There hadn’t been any confirmed cases of covid-19 infection in Laos up until about a week ago when a couple of people were found to have the virus. Since then, six more people have been infected, and all of them are related, in some way, to the first two cases. Just about everything has shut down, though, including bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues. Even the two “mom-and-pop” restaurants in front of my house have closed. And, most amazing, the karaoke just across the road has shut down. Ahh, peace and quiet in the evening for a while, unless the neighbors decide to crank up their music, which they did last night. Luckily, I’m pretty well stocked up on food, so I’m staying at home, except to go jogging in the morning and maybe take a bit of a walk in the evening after the day’s heat has gone down a bit. (Lately, it’s been around 100 and will be for about the next three days.) To the heat and the virus, add in the horrendous air quality of late (> 150), and Laos is not the most pleasant place to be right now.

Vientiane College shut down, along with all other schools, a couple of weeks ago, so I’m on extended vacation at the moment (paid, thankfully). Our next term was supposed to start on May 7th, but that increasingly looks unlikely. Hopefully we won’t be out of commission for too much longer after that. So, I’m just sitting at home, watching movies and TV shows, doing a bit of digital art, playing online games (Lord of the Rings, Eve Online), reading and drinking beer. What’s a guy to do? We’ll get through this, but it could turn out to be rather boring after a while.

Oh, one other thing is that in the middle of April is arguably the biggest holiday of the year in Laos, the Lao New Year (Pee Mai Lao), but, because of the virus, the government has cancelled all of its holiday events and advised people not to gather in large groups for celebrations (this includes weddings and birthday parties). I’m really curious to see how many people follow through with that. I suppose there will be at least a small party out on the farm where Nai’s sister lives and where I used to live. I’ll go out there for one day (out of the three that comprise the holiday) and be sure to social distance myself from the others. How much they’ll do the same, I don’t know. If things get out of hand, I’ll boogie on out of there and go back to my house.

So, in finishing, I hope everyone stays healthy and safe. Catch up on your reading or gardening or whatever and wait it out. More later.

Quill and Camera Blog

If you’re interested in creating digital art, there’s no better place to look than Sebastian Michaels’ “Quill and Camera” website. There, you can find out about all the courses that are offered concerning digital art, as well as innumerable interviews with digital artists, how they got started, what motivates them and other items of interest. You can also find the magazine “Living the Photo Artistic Life.” Have a browse through an issue’s pages and gaze in wonder at what some of these fine artists can create. Really awesome.

As if I haven’t got enough on my plate, I’ve also subscribed to another course, called “Beyond the Brushes.” This one seems to be well-run by an expert who will introduce you to and train you in painting in Photoshop. I subscribed for a month ($39) and I’ll give it a try for at least a couple of months. However, I’m not sure it’s for me, mainly because it’s a time consumer, and I spend enough time on the various courses I’m taking from the aforementioned Mr. Michaels. But, I’ll give it a go for awhile and see what happens.

Rain!

Yes, rain, glorious rain! We haven’t had any in months, literally. The last few days, though, we’ve had around an inch, I think. It’s been quite a severe drought due to various factors, including climate change and the increasing number of dams on the Mekong River. (Check some of the factors that are screwing over the Mekong, including China, Laos, and Vietnam.)

Any amount of rain is welcome, but it definitely hasn’t been enough to break the back of the drought, which probably won’t happen until the rainy season starts in late May and June. When I went jogging this morning, there was a nice sprinkle that got me moderately wet, but once I got back to my house, the rain came down quite nicely, soaking the ground. It’s finished now, and there isn’t any rain in the forecast for the near future, but we’ll take any that we get.

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