Saturday, April 13, 2024

Zoom can’t replace in-person meetings

| May 20, 2020 6:23 AM

What we know is that from this day forward there will be changes in many areas of our personal and professional lives. Something I won’t miss when we fully open is video conferencing that’s replaced meetings and gatherings.

While I’m in awe of what department heads and the staff of municipalities all over the country have managed to facilitate re: public meetings, I will not miss Zoom city council meetings. Holding public hearings virtually and doing the work of the people with the people not able to participate in person is not ideal.

I understand that we can’t bring everything to a halt, or delay for months decision making, but after several weeks I’m already experiencing Zoom fatigue. It seems each week I’ve been a participant in two or more Zoom meetings. Some professional, some civic and some with friends or family. It’s not an always comfortable or authentic way to communicate, the slight delay in someone speaking and then someone responding. A screenful of faces looking like the opening credits from “The Brady Bunch,” you’re looking at everyone and no one.

We’ve all seen and read the funny stories of Zoom meeting bloopers: a newscaster in suit jacket, shirt and tie thinking he’s only being viewed from the waist up until he wasn’t and showed a little bare leg and boxers to a national TV audience. A spouse walking in the background of an in-progress meeting while not attired fully. Barking dogs, children, a door bell ringing ... despite best efforts to do meetings from the comfort of home, it’s an environment that’s not easily orchestrated.

Until last week I’d only heard about hackers crashing Zoom meetings. During a meeting with a local nonprofit and more than 50 people in virtual attendance some odd music and voices could be heard. Then where the faces of attendees had been there were live feeds from what appeared to be two or more hackers. The voices began making offensive comments and then in one of the feeds came a live action pornographic image. I left the meeting and didn’t return so I’m not sure how it was all resolved.

Security can be managed with required passwords to attend, and the administrator of the meeting allowing people in via a virtual waiting room. But we’re all learning by doing and the unknown can be unsettling. I’ll be relieved when being in a room with colleagues or friends or citizens is possible, when virtual meetings are an efficient option but not the only option.

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Saturday evening we joined Rocky and Mary Watson for a long-awaited date night at Fleur deSel to celebrate Mary’s April birthday and my May birthday. It was the first day of restaurants open for dining in and it went quite well.

The place was popular for celebrations that night, with Gene and Paula Marano marking their 50th golden wedding anniversary with their daughter, Mary Wolfinger and son-in-law Ben. We also saw Erik Keck with his wife and daughter, Cynthia and Laura, celebrating Erik’s golden birthday. The Seright family, Brett with girlfriend, Hanna, and his parents, Sandy and Nancy, were celebrating Mother’s Day belatedly.

It was a simple pleasure to partake in some semblance of normalcy, even with the new protocols, and I’m looking forward to the return of more normalcy in the days to come. Most businesses have had so many hoops to jump through and everything will look different than before, so let’s all just be gracious and mindful of the toll the forced closure has taken on our business community these past two months. Support local and tip BIG!

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On Monday a set of triplets were born in an unassisted outdoor birth. The boy weighed in at 70 pounds, and the girls were 60 and 52 pounds. For just the second time in a half century of raising cattle on the Rathdrum Prairie, the McLean family discovered the exciting surprise of the trio of babies with their mama on the family ranch.

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As we head into the first three-day weekend of the upcoming summer season, it’s good to remember why Memorial Day is observed. In 1868, it was known as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers. Now it commemorates American war dead through the generations.

As President Lincoln stated in his Gettysburg Address: “... that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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Happy birthday today to Jeannie Steele, Heather Hart, Barry White, John Goedde, Billie Gross, Shawn Nash, Tina Smith, Jana Hull and Lindsay Herbert. Tomorrow Jessica Bauman, Ruth Fullwiler, Jessica Capaul, Dick Epstein, KV Nelson, Pam Freeman and Carter Hamby celebrate the day of their birth.

Kalil Barkie, Michelle Fehling Purcell, Fred Glisson, Ken Keast, Tasha Seath and Jonathan Larson celebrate on Friday. John Webb, Marlo Faulkner, Denise Durflinger, Margie McGaughey, Theresa Williams, Tom Morgan, Susan Ballinger, Joel Riner, April Needham, Steve Vick and Elaine Pandolfi have super Saturday birthdays.

Richard Wilson, Shirley Galloway (80!), Adam DeLuca, Amy Moffat and Michelle Pfennigs share a birthday on Sunday. On Memorial Day Jessie Morrow, Lori Moreland, Paul Finman, Toni Schelske, Dick Haugen, Joyce Harwood, Kasey Short, Debbi Long, Brad Cederblom, Sara Houser, Justin Jaworski and Char Carstensen take another trip around the sun. Putting on their party hats on Tuesday are Matt Roetter, Fairel Wideen, Jessica Lenz, Dorothy Montgomery, Kim Grout and Rob Brickett.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.