Delightful! There are all kinds of connections everywhere, but it takes an inquisitive and extraordinary mind to really try to grasp them.
In this dream, I am traveling with other people. It seems like a family situation of some kind. We are tourists. For some reason, I don’t know why, I get the sense that we are somewhere in South America. There was nothing specific that I can point to in this regard. (You know, this type of stuff can happen in dreams!)
There seems to be this butterfly that has been with us like a pet during the trip. It is big and beautiful. It is inclined to stay with us. In my dream, I try to make sure that the pet butterfly does not get lost. At some critical moment, I cover it with my hand to make sure it does not fly away. When I lift my hand, it has stopped moving. Before my eyes, what was a butterfly earlier in the dream turns into something hard. Some parental figure appears and removes the “dead butterfly” (At this point in the dream, I am a child.) The butterfly leaves a mark on the hard surface. The surface looks like wood.
And then I am awake. I look at the clock on the shelf in front of me. It is around 4:45 am. I go back to sleep for another couple of hours. It was still dark when I woke up.
I went out to the food bank to do some volunteer work yesterday. This was my first time after coming back from India. I had been staying away for a while to make sure I did not make people sick from anything I had caught during my travels.
I was wondering what changes I would encounter after being away for nearly two months. A group of volunteers was already at work packing food for the needy by the time I arrived. It was the same process that we had been following before I left for India. There were about 250 customers (families) to be taken care of that day. Additional safely measures were in place because of the coronavirus to try to protect everybody, but, because of the nature of the work, you cannot feel that you are completely risk free in such a environment. You are working as a team. You are all picking fresh food off the same pallets, you are all necessarily in contact with material that has passed through or has been touched by a few hands. And it is impractical to sanitize between every single action that you take, and after every single contact with something that somebody else handled. Gloves only last that long, and they need to be changed frequently to maintain a sanitary situation. They also tear. And there is other work that needs to be done that changes the nature of the risk – moving pallets of food around on pallet jacks, delivering food to clients who have come to the distribution center, getting rid of stuff in the recycling and garbage dumpsters, etc.. This is the reality.
I suspect that places like this, places that are going to help to keep the neediest people going in a time of their greatest need, are the ones that going to be ignored when people talk about the “stimulus”. We are going to have to do whatever we can under the circumstances to keep helping people. That is worth it for me.
Imagine for a minute that you are an alien being, an intelligent species from somewhere out there in the universe, somewhere far, far, away, from a very distant galaxy.
Imagine that you are the alien being searching for signs of life in the universe, listening to patterns in the radio waves that whiz past all around you. You are capable of recognizing not just emissions from point sources, but also all the kinds of signaling that exist in the universe, both simple and sophisticated. You can certainly recognize all the simple forms of signaling invented on Planet Earth.
Imagine that one day you hear something from a very, very, distant source that seems to make sense to you. Somebody is trying to send some “information” to you about itself. And you are curious….
You focus more of your resources on tracking this new source of “information”, and you are able to pick the fainter signals emitted from this source. You begin to separate the many signals and the patterns in them. And you recognize that there are many, many, different kinds of signals, at widely varying signal strengths, being emitted. And embedded in these various signals are many different kinds of information coded in many different ways. This information seems to be more sophisticated than what you first detected from this source. Since you have zoomed in, you realize that information sources are clustered around a central location which seems to be generating most of what is being sent out into space. But there are also emissions from the space surrounding this central location, and the intensity of the emissions is reducing gradually with distance from the central source. Indeed, there seems to be some form of “communications” going on between the central source and the surrounding space.
And, you, the alien being, get even more curious. You find a way to focus even more of your resources on this source to find out what is going on. All of sudden, you are hearing a cacophony of signals that are getting more and more difficult to make sense of. The signals are in all kinds of frequencies and at varying signal levels, and the ones you can extract from this cacophony are of many different kinds. A lot of it is difficult to make sense of even when decoded. There could be a lot of communications going on within the source, but it all seems so random. It seems like chaos. It seems like a mess. And, the intelligent creature that you are, you wonder what is going on. This source is generating a whole lot of what seems to be noise. Is it some form of pollution? How is this being generated? Is there a purpose? How much of the energy of the source is being used generating all of this noise?
And, perhaps, intelligent being that you are, you are concerned. This seems to be pointless, and maybe even self-destructive. Is the planet radioactive? Where is all the energy coming from, all to be expended into nothingness? All of this cannot be sustained for too long a long time. What is going on? What is the point? Is there a purpose?
I woke up early today. I had been planning to drive to Forest Park for an early morning run. I peered out between the blinds of the 7th floor apartment and noticed that the sun was beginning to rise on the other side of the Mississippi. I reached for my camera. Little did I realize that I would be looking at the sun temporarily setting upside down between the clouds!
I was stunned when I first read about this. A note about what had happened was in a book that I have just finished about America’s National Parks. I found confirmation of the facts on the Snopes website.
via Dictionary Drama
I felt a little better after getting a better context for the bigger picture. Nevertheless, I feel a little sad about this, and I would also argue that what is going on may not necessarily be a good thing. There are other more important people who also seem to feel the same way.
The system uses magnetic levitation. It can be more efficient than a system of conventional elevators, not primarily because of speed, but because of the ability to move units across shafts and stack them when needed.
It’s time for some convex optimization.
It was a very curious scene indeed! We came upon it during our vacation down south in the South Carolina Lowcountry, on Hilton Head Island, along the eastern shore of the US. It is an area of great natural beauty, of woods and waterways, and of human habitation that tends to blend in with the surroundings. The thick vegetation, and especially the old oak trees with the Spanish moss hanging off the branches, gives the place a unique look and atmosphere (especially in the fog). Birds of different kinds, including egrets, herons and cormorants, abound. The squirrels are constantly creating a racket and startle you as you walk through the neighborhood. It is a good place for a vacation.
Soon after our arrival we learned that alligators were quite common in this area.Having come from parts of the country where alligators are not a common sight, the opportunity to see a real live gator in its natural surroundings was something special to be hoped for and anticipated. During the early days of our stay we did see a few of them with their heads and noses sticking out the water, but it was only towards the end of the trip that we got a good view of them out of the water. (There are a couple of related pictures in my earlier blog about our vacation.) But the big surprise was on the day before we departed the island, when we came upon this large alligator sunning itself on the shore on the other side of a canal. Perhaps you did not notice it or pay attention to it when you chanced upon the relevant picture in my blog about our vacation, but there was a big turtle sitting next to the head of the alligator.
You have to picture the scene, where these two very dissimilar creatures are next to each other, and nothing is moving except for perhaps the head of the turtle that is turned to look at the disturbance that we are causing from the far shoreline. The gator can perhaps see what is going on without moving its head.Here is this huge gator that in my imagination (and to my limited knowledge) looks like an old male. Here is this big turtle (which may be a yellow bellied slider) sitting next to it. Nobody is moving. It is quiet. It is a very peaceful scene.The human imagination wants to believe that these two creatures are two old and wise friends who are simply hanging out with each other. But alligators can also eat turtles. They are capable of cracking the turtle shells.
The experts tell us that these creatures are not capable of thinking the way human beings do. I am sure people who study these particular creatures more closely have a logical explanation for the scene that was playing out before our eyes. Indeed, for all we know, such a scene may not be uncommon to the locals. But for those of us who are less informed, we will have to use our imagination. The turtle and the gator must simply be good old friends. It is really a moment of magic that defies our natural instinct based on what we have been taught all our lives. Indeed, for some us, the opportunity to simply see an alligator in its natural surroundings is in itself a magical moment!
The tree had seen many seasons pass by. Its days as a young sapling were barely a memory. It had lived through many times of change, and survived many years, to grow into a fully formed master of the jungle, multi-branched and majestic in its span, held up by a strong and solid trunk, and fed by its well-spread and efficient roots that picked up nourishment from Mother Earth.
As a young plant growing up the thick woods, there was an element of uncertainty about its ability to survive. There were times when there was a doubt whether it would make it through the season, or even through the day. In those days, it did not have the strength and the knowledge to endure on its own. It was dependent on the creatures that lived around it, it was dependent on the earth and the skies – it was even dependent on the winds that blew through its young and growing branches.
But now it was a mature and strong ruler of its domain. It had seen many things, and gone through many experiences, both good and bad. It had become a wise one. (Of course, it had not traveled far and wide. It was a tree, for heavens sake!) It had known troubles and setbacks, and survived to fight another day. It had seen change, both in itself and in the things around it. It had known both happiness and sadness. It had experienced the beauty of the sunrise and the sunset, it had withstood many a storm that shook its trunk and threatened the very core of its existence. When one of its branches suffered, perhaps from a bolt of lightning, or perhaps from an illness in its leaves, the tree found a way to survive. It could thank its strong roots and its other healthy branches that worked to keep it alive – each branch vibrant with the new leaves of spring, the flowers of summer, the multicolored hues of fall, and the whites of winter. The birds resting on its generous branches, singing happy songs, gave it pleasure. It had learned that the dark and gloomy winter that left it cold and shivering, would eventually be replaced by the rebirth in Spring. It knew that if trouble came to pass, it could survive because it had survived similar troubles in the past. Nothing could bother it. And it wished to be sure that its wisdom was passed along to the young ones.
It wanted to make sure that these young ones, the seeds that grew into saplings, and the saplings that grew into stronger plants, and then into trees, would know how to face the world, and also learn to recognize the gifts provided by the earth. It wished to show them the safe path amidst the dangers that lurked, and it also wished to help them experience all the good things that it had itself experienced. It knew that it had to be patient in its endeavors, and that it would not always be successful. It also knew that there would be a time when it could teach no more. It watched over the seed that had fallen far away, and hoped that it would still be able to learn in spite of its distance – that it would still listen, that it would realize that nothing survives in this world on its own.
It knew that its time would eventually pass, and that its roots would not be able to sustain it forever, but this bothered it little. It had survived to see what it wanted to see, and experience what it wanted to experience, and it had left its legacy behind in the trees and plants that had risen from its seed. It had helped many a creature of the woods, whether it was one that needed protection, or even some food, or whether it was one that just needed a comfortable trunk to rub itself against to remove the itch from its back. It had served its purpose and had left its mark on this earth! It did not matter if it happened to be cut down the next day. It did not matter if a flood washed it away along with its roots during the next thunderstorm. It was content.