The weather forecast was not promising, and sure enough Sunday morning ,June 7, dawned with threatening skies. We were to have a drive-in service, which meant that Pastor Barry was planning to stand outside, under the wide roof overhang on the side of the church. We re-positioned our cameras to the side to protect them from the weather, and scurried back inside to set up for the livestream.
As the service began, Barry had barely begun to speak when a nearby lightning strike, created a loud clap of thunder. This was not going to be pretty. We continued on with the service, but as the storm worsened, Barry started dispensing with bits of the service. First the offering. Since the usher couldn’t get out of his car to collect it in the torrential downpour. Then the next hymn disappeared. Cathy struggled to keep up, as she advanced the slides for the service. As he started Holy Communion, the storm intensified. Distilling the sacrament to its essential parts, Pastor Barry worked his way to the end. We sang the final hymn with him having retreated inside. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive the sympathy he deserved, since those of us in the sanctuary were laughing hard as the weather took its toll on him.
When the congregation starts gathering inside again, at least Barry would stay dry
The last drive-in service was scheduled for June 14th, with the plan to gather in sanctuary the following Sunday. We were unlikely to be able to be there for that service (more about that later). So that meant we had to ensure others were ready to take over and that the pieces were in place to help ensure their success.
Upgraded Hardware and Streamlined Software
Having purchased and configured a new computer capable of managing the livestream more effectively, we were ready to use it for Sunday services. We also made changes to make our process as close as possible to one that could be used in combination with the in-person service. That meant creating a presentation, similar to a typical Sunday morning, and keeping the camera always on screen next to it. We would need fewer “scenes” in OBS. All that was needed was to advance the slides in the presentation, which would display in the church as well as the livestream. Ironically, the first Sunday we tried this, was the day of the “storm”, meaning Cathy could not easily skip over a bunch of slides, but otherwise it worked well. We had also increased the resolution of the stream to make it a higher quality video. With the upgraded computer, that worked well too.
So, since we are not going to be here indefinitely (all evidence to the contrary), we needed to transition this process to church members, training them on what we had put together. Who to train? One obvious choice was Mark, who currently managed the presentation and sound. The second volunteer was Nelson, a young teen, who most often sat quietly at the back of the church. Dave distilled the process into a checklist and set up a training class to step through the ins and out of what we do. A second session had them hands-on setting up the camera, presentation, displays etc and streaming to youtube. With a couple of passes under their belt, they felt ready to go. We were feeling better as well.
Falling off the cliff
Wanting to complete our final livestream on a high note, we walked into the service on the 14th thinking we were well-prepared. We had moved the computer back to the sound booth, where it would need to be the next Sunday. The presentation was ready. The cameras were working. All was well.
Until it wasn’t.
The internet kept going down … and up … and down. And then OBS stopped responding. Presumably because of the internet problems. Our cell phone cameras froze (again because of the internet problems). And we had trouble with the presentation, which we later discovered was because of changes made in anticipation of the next Sunday. Luckily, we had recorded the service, so it took less time to recover afterward and load the full version to Youtube and Facebook.
So much for the high note.
With ever increasing demands on the church’s internet, Dave continued to upgrade the service. By installing faster (i.e. gigabit) switches and routers, he was hoping to extend a faster service to the sanctuary and further into the Education buildings (A, B, and C).
The box had arrived in February. It was huge, but we sat in on the couch until we had time to focus on the project we both dreaded. The toilet. The annoying, but persistent problem with the seal inside the toilet bowl had been superseded by a more worrisome one.
The toilet was rocking. It was obvious, without removing it from the floor that some piece of the flange that secured the base to the floor had broken. But was that all that was wrong? And would the flange have to be replaced as well as the toilet? We had purchased a toilet identical to the one that we were replacing, so the footprint would remain the same. The other questions wouldn't be answered until we were willing to remove the existing one.
Given these problem, it was clear that removing the flange would be risky, since it was likely to cause a crack in the pipe to which it was attached. Several youtube videos later, we opted for a repair with a “spanner”. A 3 inch piece of metal that was secured over the flange on each side. This would give the strength to hold the new toilet in place.
It’s the little things that make you happy.
Although Cathy’s infusions ended in March, she had one more procedure that was needed – removing the port that had been used for the infusions. The original surgery was planned for March 31, but had been canceled due to the restrictions on elective surgery. So, we finally decided it was time to reschedule. The new process requires a Covid 19 test. Hers had to take place on Sunday morning, June 21st. So, now you know why we won’t be able to help livestream the service that day. Assuming all goes well, she will be port-free the following Thursday.
We saw this guy on our walk one evening. We think he was interested in the small dog that lived on the other side of the fence.