In A Daze Over School Days–COVID-19 And School Re-Openings

To re-open or not to re-open schools; that is the current question. Sure school will start back this fall; however, no one is certain the form that start will take. Even if students return to traditional brick and mortar schoolhouses, their experience will not be anything which could be characterized as a return to pre-pandemic normal. There will be a new school normal in the schoolhouse, and pupils of all ages aren’t going to like it.

An education encompasses many facets. The experience includes not only classroom time, but time in the lunchroom, at P.E., in the hallways, and on the school bus. In fact, for many students, their school activities outside the classroom are their favorite parts of the day. Classroom or not, no school area will escape transformation in the new normal. What will the new normal look like?

To assist administrators and school boards in planning for school re-openings, the Centers For Disease Control (“CDC”)  issued guidelines in May. The “lowest risk” option was identified as virtual-only classes activities, and events. Maybe I’m not as creative as CDC scientists, but how are you going to have a virtual-only high school football game with no fans, no players, no coaches, no bands, etc.? The only answer my non-scientific brain can produce is “You can’t.”

Let’s assume a school board decides to take a risk and rejects the virtual-only school option. What’s the best way to have school in a school building? CDC provides “considerations” to protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff by slowing the spread of COVID-19. Note that CDC apparently concedes the spread cannot be prevented, just slowed. If parents think it will be totally safe to send little Johnny back to school if the guidelines are followed, they are living in la la land–and I don’t mean Los Angeles or Lower Alabama.

So what’s a school to do to protect those within the little red schoolhouse? Let’s consider the steps which must be taken and how this will affect the students’ school experience.

The Classroom

Modified layouts of classrooms will be necessary. Per the CDC guidelines, desks must be spaced “at least”  six feet apart. Forget buying your child a ruler as a school supply. A yardstick will be more practical. Desks should also face all the same direction, so there will be no circling of desks as the wagons are circled to protect against the spread of COVID-19. If table seating is utilized, students would sit on only one side of the table. That’ll have to be one long table to get more than one student at a table, just sayin’. 

For younger students receiving marks for conduct, this new normal will be their new “friend.” With desks spaced a minimum of six feet apart, it will be difficult to carry on whispered conversations during lessons. At that distance, a student would have to shout to be heard. Forget the old-fashioned “Psst!” or a tap on the shoulder of the student sitting in front of you. The time-honored tradition of passing notes will also become a thing of the past. Who can reach six feet to surreptitiously hand one over?

For older students, changing classes will be a thing of the past. CDC advises “cohorting,” organizing students and staff into small groups that remain together during the school day. At most changing classes might mean merely changing teachers. Rather than have umpteen kids mingle with different students the next period, the students could stay in place and their teachers will play musical classrooms. So much for students looking forward to seeing the cute guy or gal in biology class; they are stuck with playing the field with the same class of students all day long. Romance is doomed.

The Lunchroom

Lunchroom? What lunchroom? CDC recommends closing communal spaces such as cafeterias or dining halls. Individual meals would be served and eaten in the classroom.

Say what? Students live for lunch period. No, it isn’t the mystery meat they can’t wait for—it is a break from classroom lessons and prohibitions on their talking. Lunch is the time for socializing! But how much socializing will occur with students eating a minimum of six feet apart?                                                                                                                                                                 

Trading lunch fare will be a fond memory. Good luck seeing what your friend Timmy’s mother packed for him. Even if you can pick out a delicious homemade brownie from more than six feet away, how will you be able to trade your carrot sticks for it? Throwing the food item to be traded is the only option—and one frowned upon by school staff.

The Playground

A fate similar to the cafeteria awaits the playground. It is a communal area which CDC would have closed.

Approved activities for P.E. will be a short list. Tag? No, you must stay six feet apart and cannot touch anyone. That’s boring. Red Rover? It’ll be a breeze for someone to come right over because there will be no hand-holding line of defense to break through. Dodge ball? You could stay six feet apart while playing, but it isn’t sanitary for the thrown ball to touch anyone else and possibly spread COVID-19. Guess everyone will end up running laps around the field—six feet apart of course. What fun!

The Hallways

Time spent in the hallways will be more limited because having a mass of humanity walking in a crowded narrow space is a social distancing nightmare. Hallway lockers are way too close together, so using them is out. Who’s up for carrying their sweaty P.E. clothes with them all day? Good thing everyone will have to  wear a face mask; it can filter out some of the stink.

PDA will be DOA. Couples will not be able to hold hands, hug, or kiss in the hallways—well, unless they can do it from six feet plus apart. Blowing kisses it is. Or not. The virus is supposedly spread via respiratory droplets.

The Bus

Transporting students to and from school via school bus will be a logistical challenge since the requisite 6 foot + social distancing must be kept. Two to a seat won’t fly, and there’ll be no standing in the aisles when a student could “accidentally” bump into someone on whom he had his eye.

The same number of students cannot be packed in as they were pre-pandemic. A bus which previously accommodated 65-77 students now could seat only 9-11, requiring multiple trips to transport all the students to and from school. Sanitizing buses after each trip means increased transportation time. The school day would be almost over by the time all the students arrived. The school board for Duval County, Florida has astutely recognized that implementing these guidelines is “impossible.”

Schools re-opening will be a welcome return to routine activity. The new normal in which this activity would be conducted, however, will be less welcome. Pre-pandemic school is out forever.

Just WONDER-ing:

If you have school-age children, will you send them to school if you have the option of virtual classes? How safe do you think it is to send kids back to school even if the CDC guidelines are followed? Is implementing any or all of the CDC recommendations feasible? 

No Penny For Your Thoughts — Coin Shortage in the U.S.

In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve had shortages of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and meat. Now we can add coins to the list of what’s in short supply in the United States. There are no pennies available to obtain your thoughts, your brother can’t spare a dime, and the NFL may not be able to find a quarter to toss before games. At least we don’t have to worry about being nickeled and dimed to death if we survive the coronavirus. What’s going on to cause this coin shortage?

The short answer to the shortage question is that thing AREN’T going on.The typical flow of coins has been halted by the COVID-caused partial shutdown of the U.S. economy. With businesses shuttered, coins were not being used at car washes, laundromats, transit authorities, and vending machines. Circulation of coins depends on locations like these regularly deposit coins in the bank. Additionally, bank lobbies were also closed meaning individuals couldn’t bring in the contents of their piggy banks to exchange for bills.

Not only has circulation of coins been disrupted by the pandemic, but a slowdown of coin production also occurred. A 10% decrease in coins being rolled out was seen in April and a 20% decrease in May. Steps taken in the interest of worker safety in light of the pandemic caused the drop in coin production. “Only” a little over 3.2 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) coins were minted in the first three months of 2020. 

And just who is producing coins in this country? Well, it’s a government operation. The U.S. Mint is the issuing authority for U.S. coinage. Mint plants located in Denver and Philadelphia manufacture all of the American coins used in commerce. The penny, nickel, dime, and quarter are the circulating coins currently used in everyday transactions. Although the U.S. Mint produces half dollar and dollar coins, those coins are produced merely as collectibles. 

An estimated 48 billion coins are in circulation in the United States. With that mind-boggling number jangling in people’s pockets, saved up in piggy banks, and filling business tills, how can there possibly be a shortage? While adequate coins are out in society, the slowed pace of their circulation has resulted in an insufficient number of coins available where needed. If a large number of them are in coin jars in citizens’ homes,  then those coins are not available to merchants who need to make change. 

This lack of change is changing the way retailers conduct their business. Some retailers are asking customers to tender exact change so  change does not have to be made. Others are offering to place shoppers’ change on loyalty cards or convert what’s due into charitable contributions. Another option is to only accept payment by debit or credit cards. Of course, requiring forms of payment other than cash exacerbates the coin shortage because it means less coins are moving around. 

Going cashless does help on two counts. First, it eliminates the need for change to be made. Second, it also prevents employees from having to handle money which may have coronavirus lurking on its surface. Some are concerned that these developments are pushing the U.S. towards becoming a cashless society. That’s cashless in that money isn’t accepted; many are already cashless because they are unemployed and have no cash or even money in the bank as a result of the pandemic.

So what’s being done to address this nationwide coin shortage? The Federal Reserve is working with the U.S. Mint to produce more coins. Well, that’s a no-brainer. There aren’t enough coins so make more. DUH! I wonder how many bureaucrats it took to come up with that creative solution. The Mint returned to full-capacity production in mid-June and is even boosting production. At current levels, the Mint is on pace to produce 1.65 billion(that’s billion with a “b”) coins per month for the remainder of 2020. This amount is above the approximately 1 billion per month recorded in 2019.

Until more coins are rolled out literally and figuratively, coin rationing has been implemented effective June 15th.The Federal Reserve’s 12 regional banks are in charge of supplying coins to commercial banks. Monthly coin orders from commercial banks are not being completely filled since coin inventories are being rationed.

And what would a societal problem be without a task force created to look into it?  The Federal Reserve announced on June 30th that it has started a U.S. Coin Task Force whose goal is (another DUH!) to accelerate the circulation of coins. Serving on this task force are bankers, retailers, and the mysterious “others.”  

So, what can the average American do to help combat our country’s current coin calamity? Pay with exact change if you have it available.. If you are stashing coins at home for some rainy day, now is the time to take them into the bank; keeping them in the ceramic pig’s belly just exacerbates the problem. Finally, forget the adage, “A penny saved is a penny earned,”  often attributed to Ben Franklin. The U.S. Mint produces more pennies than any other coin, and the production costs exceeds the face value of that coin. But the coin is utilized so frequently in commerce that it is worth paying the price to produce it. Don’t save those pennies. Spend them to get those coins circulating! 

Just WONDER-ing:

Do you have a stash of coins in your house in a piggy bank or jar? Have you experienced a retailer’s request for exact change or payment being limited to credit or debit cards? Knowing there’s a coin shortage, are you likely to pounce on a coin you spy lying on the ground? Are you surprised to learn that it costs more to make a penny than its face value?

 

 

And Then There Were 51 — Statehood For D.C. Ahead?

COVID-19 may not be the only thing that rocks Americans’ lives in 2020. What if the makeup of our United States changed? Fasten your seat belts because a 51st state is now being considered by Congress. Could we see the first addition of a state since Alaska and Hawaii were added in 1959?

What? You hadn’t heard of this development? Trust me. Neither COVID-19 nor the possible addition of a 51st state is a hoax. But having to figure out where to put another star on the beloved Stars and Stripes apparently isn’t as newsworthy to the networks as “breaking news” about the latest number of confirmed coronavirus cases or deaths. With all that bad news being reported, the possibility having a new state join the union should be a distracting and welcome story. Let’s check it out.

On June 26, 2020, the House passed the aptly named H.R. 51, also known as the Washington, D.C. Admission Act of 2020, which proposes to make D.C. the 51st state. Only the new state’s name wouldn’t be the District of Columbia because, well, it wouldn’t be a district anymore but a state. How does Washington, Douglass Commonwealth grab you? This name honors both our first president, George Washington, and former slave, abolitionist, and D.C. resident of many years, Frederick Douglass. Nice thought, but that name seems too much of a mouthful to me. If would likely end up being referred to as WDC for convenience. WDYT? (What do you think?)

This 51st state would not only have a new name but new territory. Out of the current D.C.,  a small federal district, to be known as “The Capital,” would be carved. Monuments (at least those still standing at the time), the White House, the Capitol, the National Mall, and federal buildings would not be contained in Washington Douglass Commonwealth–er, WDC..

So why does D.C. need to be a state? Isn’t it enough that it is the seat of our nation’s government and a huge tourist destination? The short answer for some proponents? TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION, a phrase which appears on D.C. license plates.

As of July 2019, approximately 706,000 people lived in D.C., a population which is higher than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. Residents of the District are required to pay taxes. And pay taxes they do since D.C. has a higher per capita income than any state. But D.C. residents have no voting representatives in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton serves as their delegate in the House, so she can speak on the D.C. residents’ behalf, but she cannot vote.

Other proponents of statehood for D.C. see it as an issue of racial injustice. Over 46% of the District’s population is black. Not allowing these residents to have representation in Congress, they claim, is oppressive. I’m assuming the other 54% of the residents, regardless of race, aren’t happy about their lack of representation either. Needless to say, statehood is strongly favored in the District. A November 2016 statehood referendum resulted in 86% of the voters backing the leap from district to state.

President Trump and Republicans oppose statehood for D.C. They see the push for the District’s statehood as a political issue. But then, isn’t EVERYTHING considered in D.C. these days a political issue? D.C. is overwhelmingly Democratic, having only ever elected Democratic mayors. So Republicans view the attempt to make D.C. a state as merely a power grab by Democrats to add 1 representative and 1 senator to the Democratic tally. Unsurprisingly, the vote on H.R. 51 was mainly along party lines. The bill passed the Democratic controlled House by a 232-180 vote with no Republicans voting for it.

But the legislation has a long and uphill way to go to become law. Next it heads to the Republican-controlled Senate where it is likely DOA. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell opposes the legislation, and senators are not expected to even consider it. Even if, miracle of miracles, the Senate also passed the legislation, President Trump has already stated that he would veto it.

Even if statehood for D.C. fails to pass this term, proponents have made progress. A similar bill proposed in 1993 failed. The June 26th vote was the first time a D.C. statehood bill passed either chamber of Congress. Maybe in the next 27 years Democrats can round up a few more votes to obtain passage in both the House and the Senate.

Politics aside, history does not support making the nation’s capital a state. The Founding Fathers were wary of giving too much power to a state by allowing it to permanently host the seat of the national government. They wanted the governmental seat to be independent of any state. Accordingly Article I, Section 8 allowed Congress to create a district to become the seat of government; that district was to be governed by Congress.

The District ultimately created with land ceded by Virginia and Maryland was named after Christopher Columbus (who’s apparently not P.C. these days). Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were at odds as to where the capital was to be located. Sadly, this disagreement did not make the cut to appear in “Hamilton,” so the average citizen isn’t familiar with it.

One solution proposed to D.C.’s Taxation Without Representation issue has been proposed by Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican representing Maryland. If D.C. residents want to vote, they can return the land where they are living to Maryland who donated it for the nation’s capital to be created. A new Douglass County, Maryland would result and VOILA’,  current D.C. residents could then vote. Hmm. That’s going from one end of the spectrum to the other. One minute D.C. is going to become the 51st state; now they could become merely a county in a rather small state of the Union.

There are some things Americans just don’t know such as when this pandemic will finally be behind us. But it’s a pretty safe bet that redesigning the Stars and Stripes won’t be on the country’s 2020 agenda. Even if a 51st state isn’t going to join the first 50, the possibility is an interesting topic of conversation. Certainly it is way more interesting than hearing ad nauseum about COVID-19. But, the media begs to disagree…

Just WONDER-ing:

Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? Is adding a 51st state, whether or not it is D.C., a good idea? If you don’t like the proposed name of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, what do you suggest for the new state’s name? Is it fair that D.C. residents are taxed without representation in Congress? Is life always fair?

 

 

 

Hip Hop Hooray For “Hamilton” And History

2020 has been an awful year with a pandemic shutting down schools, businesses, and even Broadway. Not only has “The World Turned Upside Down,” but lives have been disrupted and lost. One amazingly positive thing has come out of the chaos though. Access to Broadway is now available to the common man–well, at least one who can afford a $6.99 monthly subscription to Disney+. Let’s give a big Hip Hop Hurray for the smash musical “Hamilton” which Disney+ is now streaming.

Timing, as they say (whoever “they” are) is everything. Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, Disney+ began streaming a production about our country’s beginning and its Founding Fathers on July 3rd. “American history is entertaining?” you may ask incredulously. Yup. Watching “Hamilton” is bound to “Blow Us All Away” because it is nothing like we have ever seen before. Why is that? Because history is told in an innovative manner and presented to us an innovative way.

In case you have been living under a cultural rock, let’s bring you up to speed. “Hamilton” is a musical telling the story of Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father of this country and the very first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. Ho, hum, right? WRONG! How this story is told is what is mesmerizing. Non-white actors (black, Latino, and Asian) portray the Founding Fathers and tell history through the use of various musical genres such as hip hop. Only a creative genius such as Lin-Manuel Miranda who wrote the music and lyrics for “Hamilton” could have envisioned Founding Fathers and hip hop going together. But you’ll be more than “Satisfied,” with his product.

How on earth did Miranda get involved in such a project? It all started when he was on vacation in 2008 and read a biography about Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. Wow! Do artists take wild vacations or what?? Inspiration struck Miranda, and “Hamilton” was the result.Manuel’s creative baby premiered on January 20, 2015 and was still being performed on Broadway at the time the famed theater district was shuttered due to COVID-19. Broadway  lights will not “Burn” for “Hamilton” through the end of 2020.

The musical became both a critical success and a cultural phenomenon. It has won 11 Tony awards, including Best Musical, and a Pulitzer Prize for drama. The production spawned a best-selling album of musical selections from the show.

Clearly the musical was financially successful and critically acclaimed. How can it be said  the production is a cultural phenomenon? The answer lies in its impact on society. In 2015 the Department of the Treasury announced its plans to replace the image of Alexander Hamilton which appears on the $10 bill; in his place was to appear an undetermined woman from American history. Had he been alive, Hamilton may have felt “Helpless” to prevent his removal from the currency. Nevertheless, due to the enormous popularity of “Hamilton,” the Treasury’s plans were abandoned.

“Hamilton” is also a cultural phenomenon because it has served as a learning tool about American history. The musical’s popularity and the marketing of its songs made American youths and adults alike feel “I Know Him” when it came to Alexander Hamilton. Seeing the production resulted in citizens being more knowledgeable about American history and more likely to retain what they had learned. Who could forget the riveting way in which Hamilton met his death. SPOILER ALERT: He died as the result of a duel with rival and then Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr as dramatically depicted in the play. Well, you knew Hamilton was dead by now some 200+ years later, but you may not have known how he died.

Not only did “Hamilton” portray American history, but it made some history itself when it began streaming on Disney+ on July 3rd. Originally the musical was being turned into a film slated for release in theaters in October 2021. Disney outbid multiple competitors to secure the film rights for a whopping $75 million. Because of COVID-19, Disney changed the game plan. It opted to release the film over a year early streaming it on Disney+. That’s about the only thing we can thank COVID for.

The film is a live recording of the musical as it appeared on stage in the Richard Rodgers Theater on Broadway. The original cast, which included Lin-Manuel Miranda playing Hamilton, performed.  Because the film aired on Disney+, a couple of naughty four-letter words had to be removed. Disney+ will only allow films rated PG-13 maximum to stream on its channel. so bye bye two “F” words.

Reaction to the “Hamilton” film has been mixed. The public ate it up. “The Room Where It Happened” was people’s living room. Between July 3rd and July 5th, the Disney+ app was downloaded 458,996 times in the U.S. Clearly Americans were watching “Hamilton” in droves around Independence Day. 

Scholars, on the other hand, have pointed out various historical inaccuracies. Well, if they were going to tow the line of being historically accurate, a man of Puerto Rican descent wouldn’t have been playing Alexander Hamilton and a black man would not have been portraying Aaron Burr. But the diverse cast has given credence to the idea that “Hamilton” is a story about America then told by Americans now.

The “musical” has also taken flak for not more directly addressing slavery. Miranda himself has responded that this criticism is “valid.”  Although the topic is mentioned very early in the show, it was not a major theme. In Miranda’s defense, the show is 2 hours and 40 minutes long as it is. He simply can’t cram everything in that could possibly be touched upon. And, let’s not forget, “Hamilton” is a show, not a documentary. It was meant to entertain. Any learning imparted is an added benefit. 

No matter what criticism is lobbed at “Hamilton,” you have to give the show credit. It’s streaming has given Americans something fun to do from home and taken their focus, even if momentarily, off of COVID-19. It’s use of hip hop, the “music of revolution” according to Miranda, has revolutionized history telling. If you watch “Hamilton” once, I’m pretty sure “You’ll Be Back” and want to watch it again  In the meantime,  “What Comes Next” is that you can have some fun and pick out the nine song titles from the musical sprinkled through this post. 

Just WONDER-ing:

Have you seen “Hamilton?” If not, do you intend to watch it? If you’ve seen “Hamilton,” what history did you learn? Would you have been tempted to watch the show if it had been a drama instead of a musical? Were the non-Caucasian actors who played the Founding Fathers believable in those roles? How many songs from “Hamilton” could you find in this post?

 

 

 

Look, Up In The Sky–It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s A Godzilla Dust Plume!

International air travel has plummeted as a result of COVID-19, so you probably aren’t going to Africa this summer. Not to worry. Africa, at least parts of it, has come here. The massive Saharan dust plume known as Godzilla didn’t need a jet for a transatlantic flight, just some east to west trade winds. And what Godzilla is bringing with it is nothing to sneeze at–tons of dust. 

The Godzilla currently making news is no an ape; it’s a 3,500 mile long cloud of dust. It is a geographic giant. Godzilla stretches over a wide expanse in the United States from Florida west into Texas and north into North Carolina through Arkansas. The plume is so big that it can be seen from the International Space Station.

Godzilla’s dust does not come from under Africans’ beds but from the largest hot desert in world, the Sahara. Yes, there are cold deserts in the Arctic and the Antarctic. If you think Godzilla (the air plume) is huge, consider the Sahara which covers 31% of the continent of Africa. This desert, at 3,500,000 square miles, is comparable to the size of the U.S. or China and is blanketed with orange, sandy particles. That’s one gigantic sandbox!

Godzilla formed as a mass of dry dust over the Sahara Desert known as the Saharan Air Layer. This layer begins about one mile above the desert’s surface. It is composed of really dry air filled with dust particles. The dust is composed of tiny bits of minerals which used to be rock. I guess it is better to have a layer of dust hanging overhead than rocks.

Each year dust clouds roll from the Sahara carrying around 180 million tons of dust. These clouds could rack up sizable frequent flyer miles as they travel some 5,000 miles from North Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and the United States. The air waves leave the western coast of Africa once every three days or so between June and November with late June to mid-August being the peak time for this air activity.

If these dust clouds are so common and regular, what’s the big fuss about Godzilla? The short answer is that there’s a big fuss because this particular cloud is big, as in immense. Satellite monitoring of these dust clouds began back in 1979. The Godzilla plume is the thickest and densest to cross the Atlantic since that satellite monitoring began about a half a century ago. How thick is thick? A typical Saharan Air Layer takes up a two MILE layer in the atmosphere. That would take a lot of dust busting to clean up!

Having Godzilla looming over the U.S. isn’t all bad. Dust scatters light, so the dust it has brought to the air produces some colorful sunsets and sunrises; deeper reds and oranges appear. Another plus is that the dry air mass transporting the dust can suppress tropical storm and hurricane formation. Dry air is not good for hurricane formation because such storms feed off of humid heat. Let’s starve those savage storms.

Dust plumes such as Godzilla can be surprisingly beneficial to the environment. The voluminous dust blown across the Atlantic helps to build beaches in the Caribbean. That dust also fertilizes soil in the Amazon because of the iron it contains which gives the Saharan dust its rich, red color. Thanks, but no thanks, Godzilla. I don’t need any more dust buildup in my house.

On the downside, a dust plume creates hazy skies and lower visibility. As a meteorologist from the National Weather Service explained, “It makes it look like it’s cloudy when it’s not really cloudy.” I guess I don’t have a scientific brain. If the dust is coming from a dust cloud, then isn’t it still “cloudy?”

Another negative for Godzilla is the baggage it brings on the trip. Particles in the dust cloud may spread viruses and carry pathogens from different regions. Anyone up for another pandemic? I thought not.

Approximately 30% of the dust coming from the Sahara is “fine.”  That description relates to size and not appearance. According to the National Geographic website, by the time Saharan dust makes it to the Caribbean it is so fine that it is less than 10 microns across. I have no idea what size a micron is, but I’m guessing it is itty bitty since it has “micro” in its name.

A smaller particle is a big health problem because smaller particles can penetrate deeper into the lungs. Breathing in fine particles is not good for the lungs. This scenario could worsen the symptoms of asthma. And, of course, those with respiratory problems are more at risk for COVID-19, the Godzilla of health problems here in 2020. The air quality in the Caribbean reached hazardous levels when Godzilla arrived. The traveling air plume was not a breath of fresh air.

The current calendar year has been filled with crazy events such as a pandemic and monument toppling. The Godzilla dust plume is merely one more item to add to the things which occurred during this wacky year. In the future when people look back on 2020, dusty history will be literal and not figurative. 

Just WONDER-ing:

Were you aware that Saharan dust plumes are a yearly and regular occurrence? Have you observed any signs of the Godzilla dust plume? If you have, what were they? Would you want to travel to the Sahara Desert if you had the opportunity?