I had a weird dream the other night. I was in a house atop a small hill, more of a rise actually, with my brother. The grass was dormant and only a diffuse light came from the sky; this is a feature of a few of my more memorable dreams. In the backyard, there was a ditch. I call it a ditch not to call it a lateral line. There were two groups of people, one on each side of the ditch, and they were fighting each other with guns. My brother and I joined the same side of the fray. I had a double-barrel 12-gauge shotgun that changed to a single-shot during the course of the fight in the manner of dreams.
Before this had gone too long, a group of Indian Princesses appeared on the scene. I know they were Indian princesses because they were dressed in the same manner as a sister of one of my school classmates (Harlan Shields) did when she was named Chickasaw Princess. The Princesses danced in a line which separated the warring parties. Their dance and song told the story of their people and it made those watching weep and put down their arms.
I have no idea what that means.
I believe it is connected to the current pandemic and it bears a striking resemblance to how polarized our politics is. My unconscious mind is trying to tell me something. I’ve been and will be thinking about what it means. I’ve got a lot of time to think.
On less mysterious ground, I’ve been thinking about how disease is spread. We have a six-year-old grandson who goes to school. If there is a cold going around, he gets it; this is his function in life as he is a chip off the old block. He brings disease to his house. There he exposes his little brother, his dad, and his mom. That family forms a small hub in a network. If his little brother gets it, he’ll take it to his preschool; if his dad gets it, he takes it to his coworkers; if his mom gets it, she takes it to her workplace and exposes her coworkers; as they are academics they writhe in agony for weeks and months. This is a long way of saying they all take it to different hubs in the network.
In mathematical terms, we have a graph: People are the edges and locations are the nodes. If you look at the Johns Hopkins map closely, you will see this. You have huge hubs of disease spread in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Chicago. These are connected to other places by the people who travel between them.
You can see Kansas City on the map. There is a big dot on Johnson County. If you look directly south of Johnson County, you can see several dots all in a straight line. That straight line is Highway 69. We get trade goods, money, and, as it turns out, disease from Kansas City.
Our various networks are what make up civilization. Commerce flows along the networks; knowledge flows along the networks; civilization flows along the networks.
But, sadly, disease also flows along the networks.
What we’ve been asked to do, is to pause our lives for a little while. We need to slow exchange of face-to-face communication for a long enough time to give this disease time to die. That is the best case scenario. If everyone just stayed in their own little group, not making contact with any other group for a long enough time (a day wouldn’t be long enough, a year would be too long), this would be over.
But we cannot be that severe. We have to have food; we have to have medicine. So it is going to last longer. We might have a halftime break over the summer with it starting up again in the fall.
In the meantime, did you know that you can have face-to-face group visits over Facebook Messenger? If you’ve got a webcam your grandkids can see you and you can see your grandkids because they all have cameras.
If you don’t have the equipment, it might be time to upgrade. It would help the economy: It’s patriotic. Order in some Mexican food from DoorDash; pick up a curbside pizza at Brick + Mortar; sleep in; mow your lawn.
Keep the faith.
Oh, and do you have any idea who the Indian Princesses in my dream were? They seem to be the key to finding peace in all this.
— Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.