A Dream In The Time of the Novel Coronavirus, And a Day at the Foodbank

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.

The Incessant Cacophony

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?

The Sun Sets Upside Down In The Morning

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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!

The Downgrading of Nature in a Dictionary

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 Sideways Elevator of the Future Is Here, and It’s Wild | WIRED

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.

via The Sideways Elevator of the Future Is Here, and It’s Wild | WIRED