Merry Covid-brain Christmas!


Anyone else find themselves doing weird staff since the reopening has happened? I guess the one good thing about Covid is that you can blame it whenever anything goes wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s finding that since lockdowns have finished you’re just making more little mistakes than you normally would. Like for example, last week I was thinking, Christmas Day is going to be on Wednesday next week. In other words, today. Now, I release my videos on a Wednesday, so I was thinking, okay, well, I’m going to be releasing on Christmas Day, let’s refer to that in the video, and let’s make a special video for next week. Great idea, except Christmas Day isn’t on Wednesday. It’s on Saturday, I’ve got another few days to go, so I’ve decided to make more or less a normal video today and see how that goes.

Anyway, doing another update video lets me share some music from a Mood Merchants gig that we did last Wednesday here with Peter and Rob. We’re in the Cotton On factory here in Geelong, North Geelong, and this is the staff cafeteria that we’re playing in — check this out, how beautiful a space is this. They’ve got a gym onsite, they’ve got a golden retriever puppy that walks around while you’re having lunch, and all the staff seemed really happy, pretty understandably. Sounds like a really nice place to work, so thinking about giving up music and going into textiles maybe.

We also heading into The Village shopping centre in Balwyn North on Saturday, with Adrian and Peter, and we had a nice time playing there for everybody. It was very hot and windy, but nice folks about having a bit of Christmas fun.

I’ll put up the multitrack tuba quartet video that I made last week. I’ll put that at the end of this video in case anybody wants to check out the results of that experiment that I was working on then.

So yeah, Covid brain. In teaching we talk about a thing called cognitive load, which is about the working memory. That’s the bit of your memory that’s dedicated to just getting you through a particular task that you’re focusing on in that moment. Now, when we’re teaching we have to break tasks up into very small steps, because otherwise kids get overloaded in their working memory, and they start to lose focus.

But there’s also a thing called extraneous cognitive load, which for kids can mean there’s some stress going on, maybe at home, or in their social networks, that are causing them some stress and some anxiety, and that has the effect of diminishing the amount of working memory that they have to start with, even before they start trying to learn something. And if it’s really bad, then they can just find it impossible to focus on any task for any length of time.

So at this stage in the pandemic, I think I’m carrying around a lot more of that extraneous cognitive load than I probably was before, and I think that explains why I’m tending to get more little things wrong than I used to. They’re not catastrophic things, so far, but for someone who likes to look as if they’re in control and getting things right most of the time, it’s kind of embarrassing for me.

I want to stay on top of the health advice, obviously. I like to know how things are going, and maybe what I can expect to happen next, but what I don’t necessarily need is to stay on top of all the weirdness that has been bought out in some sectors of the community by the pandemic. I’m not sure that’s really helpful to me.

And that’s actually kind of a tough point for me get to, ’cause I sort of like knowing about things. But when it comes to the anti-maskers and the anti-vaxers and the Fox News and the Sky News and the QAnon and the Trump, all that sort of stuff, I just don’t have room within my working memory to be carrying that stuff around when I’ve got other things to think about.

So I guess I’m getting a bit of an early start on the New Years’ resolutions. I hope that you have a chance to catch up with your loved once this Christmas, and I hope that everybody stays safe and healthy. And look, we might as well be cautiously optimistic about what’s going to happen in 2022. You never know.

I’m going to take you out with a video from my little recording experiment last week, and then I think I’ve got one more of these videos to make before New Years, so, ah, hope I’m right about that.

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