A recent streak of wacky-esque dreams …

Lately, I have been having many crazy, weird, or otherwise wacky dreams, and given that it’s been pretty regular, I decided to jot them down.  Good thought experiment?  I am unsure how long I will keep them in just a single post, but, for now, here they are.

Night of Mar. 4:

This evening’s wackiness was a diplomatic meeting behind my Dad’s house.  There were 3 or 4 fold up tables lined up in a straight line.  I was standing on one end, and Hillary Clinton was standing on the other, and there was a black plastic sheet (something like a trash bag) extending from one end of the tables to the other — and as wide.

This long black sheet of plastic had wrinkles in it, and it was our job as diplomats to remove all those wrinkles.  After much debate and deliberation (which did not happen in the dream — was just a fast forward), the plastic sheet was not perfectly smooth, but all the wrinkles had just become smooth stretched places, and we decided that was good enough.

I then proceeded to fold up the plastic sheet to file it.  I took it inside to give it to Hillary.  She was in my dad’s shop, standing at a podium, talking to two of her aides.  One was female, the other was male — the females assistant.  They seemed more to be reporters or news liaisons, and Hillary was chiding the male assistant pretty much flat out saying she didn’t like him.  She mentioned something about how sometimes she likes his work, but only when it is right.

I stood there patiently waiting for her attention, but I never got it, and I decided I should probably not be listening in anyway, so I left and went to find an envelope to put the folded up plastic in.  The remainder of the dream was just me wandering, unable to find a suitable envelope.

Night of Mar. 3:

Ok this one is quite vivid, and most of what makes it interesting is the visuals, but I’ll do my best to describe it.

I find myself in China — in a city.  I have no idea which one, but I keep thinking Shanghai, but I know it is not Shanghai, because the giant towers aren’t there.  Looking around it looks like a blend between graphics from the Simpsons and maybe some stuff from Sim City. I am not sure why I am in China, but I’m looking for my hotel.  I go to cross a street, but there is no “street.”  At the edge of the walk, you look down and see sky and clouds.  Right across the street is the entrance to my hotel, but it looks like more of a convenience store front.  There’s definitely plenty of building behind it though.  Plus, what do I know about China?  Maybe that’s what hotels look like here.

Flash to an aerial view from above the city, looking outward, I can see the airport, and it is very futuresque.  I’m going to say I was probably 1000 years in the future.  Think Futurama?  Anyway, back to the street — at this time it is not clear whether I can cross (falling into clouds, etc.) so I decide to jump.  I am pretty sure I fell on my first jump, and the dream rebooted — I found myself in the convenience store, starting at some screens and terminals and whatnot.  I believe I am completing check-in, but there is no clerk or counter, just a bunch of people who are irrelevant to me other than their positioning.  I turn around, and there is the entrance to my room — room #16.  I go into the room and put my stuff down, but I guess the dream rebooted again.  I found myself back outside at the terminals with all my stuff.

This time, however, I couldn’t find my room, and it appeared that my baggage/stuff I was carrying was increasing.  I know exactly where room 16 was, but it’s not there anymore.  I find rooms 14 and 15, 18, etc. but no 16.  I look all over, continuing to come back to the same place where I knew room 16 was before.  Finally, I gave up and I found myself wandering around this hotel/convenience store/mall/airport place.  It was huge, but I found myself in a kind of isolated area with no people, at least at the moment.  I wander, kind of like in a museum or something, and I see this guy I work with.  He is accompanied by a young boy, but the boy isn’t visible in the dream yet.

I surmise that he is an agent stalking me, so when I see he notices me, I duck into a dark corner, and when he peers around, I jump out and scare the living daylights out of him.  Apparently this was a fun game, because I proceed to do the same thing again.  Next thing I know, he and I are walking up this ramp back to the more crowded section of the hotel/convenience store/mall/airport.  I look to my left, and this female person looks at me and kind of grins like she knows me.  I know her, but for some reason my brain doesn’t let me know her, and I keep disbelieving that it’s who I think she looks like.  At any rate, there was this glass wall between her and us — I guess separating 2 ramps, and so we have to wait until we walk to the top to talk to her.

Flash forward, we’re in an auditorium where she meets up with her congregated students.  She is a teacher (even in real life), and she and a male teacher have brought a dozen or so of their students to China for a field trip.  (At this point I am sure this is Emily — my wife’s brother’s wife — the kicker is she is actually a Spanish teacher in real life, so who knows?)  Anyway, they are kind of getting all their stuff together as I guess they just flew in, so they had to get to their hotel, take their first trip or something.  By this time, I notice all my hands are full — I’m carrying a ton of stuff — including a quite bulky tool box/kit.

Then suddenly there was sawdust everywhere.  I had, for some reason, opened the tool box to take something out, but when I went to close it, some sawdust jammed, and when I tried to force the lid to close, the hinge broke.  I opened it back up to clear the debris and try to latch it so I could carry it, but whenever I would open it, kids kept moving around, sliding off benches and whatnot and kicking more sawdust into the container.  I remember now there was a 6 pack of soda (24-oz plastic bottles) in this tool box.

I never could get the hinge latched, so I was a bit exasperated trying to figure out how I was going to carry all this stuff back to my room — even if I could ever find it again.  Then the alarm went off.

Night of Mar. 1:

I probably should move this to another post since it’s been so long since the last dream I recorded, but … well I didn’t so this sentence is pretty useless.

In this dream, I was playing basketball, and, not unusually, I was able to dunk.  Rare, however, was the fact that my jumping was not uncontrollable.  Normally, I jump and go way up in the air and get stuck against the ceiling or up in the winds in the clouds and can’t get down.  Anyway, I wasn’t really aware of this in the dream.  I was just able to dunk — two hands, one hand, etc.  So, naturally, I just kept dunking.

At some point however, the basketballs I was using started morphing.  First one got a lump on it that made it lopsided.  Then, the better balls shrank down to about golf ball size.  I used those for a while, but then all the other players were ready to start.  I realized that the balls were way too small, so I tried to blow them back up (being as I didn’t have a pump or electric compressor).

When I did, it was hard at first, but then they just popped out like a balloon (you know how it’s hard to get them started, then they go pretty easily).  After a certain point, the ball broke away from me, and kind of wobbled out, floating in the air, at which point it seemed to just turn back into a normal ball, so I did the same to the second ball.  Why we needed 2 basketballs is not really clear.

Anyway, suddenly the ball split into component bubble parts.  One looked like a jack-o-lantern, and the other was an orange-ish bubble.  The just floated in the air, oscillating as if split into visible portions of its subatomic structure.

I tried to put them back together, and they would easily overlap, but as the edges got close, they oscillated harder, and would not combine.  I also realized there was a third bubble that broke off, but it had almost immediately dissipated into the oblivion.  Even knowing this, knowing that if I were to get these two to combine I would still be missing the third part, I still tried to combine them, but the portions fought back like oscillating poles of a magnet.

At that point, I realized the top of the orange-ish sphere had disappeared — sliced off, kind of like the top of a jack-o-lantern.  Then there was some kind of ulcer in the bottom of it, and I held my hand over it to keep it from leaking air I guess?  Next thing I know, the sphere turned into a tall pregnant woman who I recognized, but I cannot seem to figure out who she was.  My best guess was Zotoh Zhaan (Farscape).  The rest was mostly incoherent, except that I was holding my hand over a whole in this tall pregnant woman’s back.

Night of Feb. 4:

1.) This one started with one of those dreams where you’re falling or something and you suddenly wake up, only in this one I was plugging two electrical cables together (big ones), and it shocked me (it literally felt like I was being electrocuted, albeit likely much less forcefully than it would be in real life) and startled me a wake.  Definitely a first.

Night of Feb. 3:

1.) A short dream, but I remember thinking it was noteworthy while dreaming it.  This team — a pair, presumably a couple, male and female, were tasked with taking down 2 operatives from within an organization.  Now that I phrase it that way, it likely has to do with my playing Mafia Wars.  Anyway, I was kind of a camera.  I am not sure if I was one of the operatives or just an observer, but there was a big struggle trying to take down the 2 major players in whatever was going on in this organization.  They succeeded, and at the end of the dream it was revealed the two agents were brother/sister, and the operatives they had to take down were their parents.  The only other thing I remember is that, at the end, a group of the company’s employees were standing around outside (glass windows, pillars — tall building) in a sort of celebratory way.  There was a black man with curly hair and large, dark rimmed glasses shaking one of the operatives hand and smiling.

2.) I was in the shower, and the song “The Sex is Good” by Saving Abel started playing.  The main acoustic part came in, and part of me admitted that I actually like the song.  (I actually hate the song, because it just lacks any depth, but I admit I do like the “groove” of that acoustic part.)

Night of Jan 23-24:

1.) Just one that I can recall this night, but thought it was noteworthy.  There wasn’t a distinct plot line or anything, but it related to how people think I am arrogant or uppity (which is strange, in its own right, but anyway) …  The phrase “If I thought half the things people think I think I would …” but there was never any end to it.  I assume it had something to do with how I would not be me, but there really was no end.  Then I was in school at WVU again — lost because I couldn’t find my classroom or something (which makes sense given that I don’t currently have any classes  lol), and I met one of my old students (though I can’t remember her name — remember her face plain as day though).

This student told me about how some of my other students (who thought I was arrogant) made a video about me and put it up on YouTube.  It was called something along the lines of “How the queen got her …” — again, no end to it.  Apparently, they thought I was a diva.  I tried to find the video, because it is always nice to see an external deconstruction of yourself, but, of course, the video didn’t exist.  Turns out dreams are not capable of external deconstruction of the dreamer …

Night of Jan. 20-21:

1.) I had this one dream where I was just out and about with a group of people (I want to say family? I think one person was my Dad?)  Anyway, we looked into the sky and saw these sort of evolving glowy manifestations.  I deduced that they were the northern lights, but as I recall it was some sort of effect from an alien invasion or attack.  I have been watching lots of Doctor Who, and I seem to think the alien type was robot-esque (using -esque a lot today!) — perhaps Daleks?  Definitely not Daleks, but suggestive of them for sure …

2.) I was holding Finn (my son) upside down (by his feet) — he was wearing this red outfit, but I was kind of gently bouncing his head on the floor (as I often do), and I started to notice (and remark) how tall he was getting.  Next thing I know, I was holding my mother upside down.

Night of Jan 18-19:

I had lots of nightmare-like dreams this night.  They weren’t particularly scary necessarily, just sort of embraced by hauntiness/paranoia.  I can’t remember most of them in particular, only that there was at least a half dozen, the adrenaline regularly waking me up.  I do recall one where I worried about people breaking into the house.

Oh now I remember another good one!  I remember now — this was the first that led to many other kind of mini-episodes that basically just caused fleeting panic (about people breaking into the house and other sundry life concerns of that nature)

1.) I was at my house, but, of course, it wasn’t my actual house. It was more of a turn of the century ranch, located near a highway.  In the beginning of the dream, I was in the house.  I looked out the window and saw a bunch of cars parked in the grass just off the highway.  Looking from the house toward the road, the cars were to the right.  I wanted to investigate.

Next thing I remember I was walking up toward the house along the highway, from the direction the cars were parked.  I didn’t walk down there, however.  The dream rebooted, and it was like this was where I started (but I remembered looking from the house).

Anyway, I was next to the wooden fence that was about 75 yards from the highway, maybe 200 yards from the house.  I started walking past these cars (they were lined up in a way that was certainly reminiscent of the way Finn likes to line up all his toy cars, so that’s likely that source).  Turns out, these were the cars of some gang/thugs ( who knows? ) who were preparing some kind of war or meeting or who knows what.  As I walked past, one spotted me and asked what I was doing — kind of in a heckling manner.  I told him that was my house up there, and I was just going home.

He let me go.  When I got to the house, there was this big party going on — lots of fold-up tables set up outside and probably 20 guests having a cookout/covered dish something or other.  Mind you, this was the middle of the night — well lit by a full moon, but still the middle of the night.  All things considered, the gang did not seem to care what we were up to, as long as we weren’t interfering with their plans.

Yet I, understandably, was still concerned about the gang riot, so I casually went into the house to get the phone.  I found it on an end table next to a recliner that was next to a first story window.  Two of my guitars happened to be sitting there too, so, again, casually, I picked up a guitar like that was why I went there.  In what I thought was awesome stealth mode, I grabbed the phone too and stashed it under my leg on the chair and started playing.

Just then, of course, one of the thugs stuck his head in the window and asked me what happened to the phone that was on the table.  At this point, I was somehow in the middle of phoning the police (I had dialed, they had not yet answered, but I did not remember dialing so who knows … maybe I butt dialed).  Realizing I was now considered hostile to the gang, I grabbed my guitar by the neck and beat the guy over the head — repeatedly.  He was quite bloody.  The guitar was destroyed (of course), but I wasn’t particularly concerned.

So now the gang had no choice but to initiate a siege on the house, firing weapons at me.  I remember some panic about being killed, but that is all I remember (I did not actually get hit, if I recall).

2.) Continue paranoia dreams mentioned in above preface …

Reruns of Copa Cabana

Just a strange dream I woke up from the other morning … I was in a familiar room, with familiar people (not sure exactly who they were or where it was, but I was very certain in the dream).

Anyway, there was a TV, and apparently a rerun was on.  So, being the hilarious individual I was, I started singing (to the tune of Copa Cabana):

It’s a rerun // Rerun that you’re see-in’ // It’s a a run that is be-ing re-a

Yeah I dunno …

Games, sports, and what defines an athlete?

On the radio this morning, the DJs were having a discussion about athletics.  Specifically, they were asking whether or not NASCAR drivers are athletes.  Most people eventually agreed that they were, because it requires physical strength just to maneuver the car in the first place, and it takes stamina to make it through the number of laps they do.  As it turns out, over the years, I have given this topic a general amount of thought, and, before I go too far, I will say that I too agree that these drivers are athletes.  It’s just for a completely different reason.

When ESPN began broadcasting poker on their channels, it seemed preposterous.  Other than the fact that people who like sports, in general, for me, and, apparently, for ESPN, are likely to like watching poker, could you really call poker a sport?  So, I began thinking about it, and, as it turns out, the line between a game and a sport can be a little blurry.

It’s easy to find sports whose participants you might not call an athlete.  After all, can a ping pong player really be in shape as much as a tennis player?  Possibly (actually probably more-so, but that’s not really the but of this discussion).  Can you really put a golfer or race car driver in the same category as a marathon runner or professional basketball player?

First of all I will say that it’s evident to me that an athlete is a participant in a sport where a sport is a game.  The distinction is that, in a sport, the games outcome rests heavily on the participants PHYSICAL performance.  That is, a player in a sport must perform mentally as far as game strategy (this includes emotionally from my perspective) as well as physically.  A participant in a game need only perform mentally.  So, an athlete is a participant in a sport (which is also a game), but a participant in a game is only an athlete if the game is also a sport.  This is a very clear distinction, and it renders the argument about which sports’ participants are athletes obvious.

Tennis? Sport. Basketball? Sport. Chess? Game. Ping pong? Sport.  Poker? Game … wait no because in high level poker it requires body language, gestures, etc.

This is where the concept that there are levels of athleticism come into play.  You simply have to accept the fact that an athlete is someone who is doing any kind of performance physically.  By moving a mouse, you are an athlete, especially, by our above definition, if you are doing so in a game where somehow the way you move the mouse affects your results in that game.

Can a poker player by definition just jump out and run a marathon? Not likely. I suspect that at the heart of the inquiry inspiring this post is more a competition between athletes (not necessarily just by athletes — it’s usually more by sports fans).  It’s kind of a “My dad can beat up your dad” debate.  Yes a good high-level poker player is certainly an athlete.  So is a golfer (because he/she has to swing the club appropriately), so is a basketball player, so is a football player, but not a chess player, Scrabble player, etc.

Just realize, being an athlete does not mean you are equally as physically fit as any other athlete.  Pro basketball players are in very good shape, but that does not necessarily make them endurance runners or world class sprinters.  For any sport, being an athlete simply means that said athlete has refined their physical prowess in a manner allowing them to be effective at competing in their sport (which, again, is also a game).  They have most likely refined their mental prowess as well, but that does not distinguish them from chess players.

The conclusion is that athletes must perform physically and mentally in a game in order to win.  It follows then that athleticism is only relevant to and is only relative within the sport where it is defined as a part of the sport. Wasn’t that easy?

And then onto the field of robotics …

It just occurred to me that other than astrophysics and/or particle physics (which really just interest me more than fit me), the most logical field to get into is robotics.  The New York times published an article today about Watson, a supercomputer built by IBM that can converse with you.  I got to thinking about it, after reading the article, and it seems to me we are looking at robotics the wrong way.

We constantly refer to “complex human language,” but realistically, it is rather simple, it’s just had millions of years of evolution to refine and set up natural exception handling.  All we do mentally is perceive, compare, catalog, and reconstitute — all things we can easily make a computer do.  What’s hard coded in us, however, is our need to survive and our drive to properly mimic (beginning with the actions and language of our parents).  I believe very strongly that all of this can be programmed into a very simple “blank-slate” machine with “senses,” a movable “body,” and a need to understand will nearly immediately become a human-sparked variation of the natural phenomenon we know as biological life.

And so, since robotics really seems to blend my interests of mathematics, computers, and languages (and even the physics of electricity), it’s a natural field for me to embrace.  Perhaps one day when my bloggy pontifications make me rich.

Feel free to chuckle.  :)

Just a thought on thoughts … this that or the other

There are so many thoughts to be had, so many riddles to be mulled, so many reasons to be fathomed. This must be done, however, encumbered by the drive to make the module that is you cooperate symbiotically with some machine that is the world–an invented world, ironically, devoid of thought, devoid of riddle, and devoid of reason.

Last night, I posted the paragraph quoted above as a Facebook status update.  Many of you (assuming there are enough of you readers out there to justify calling a subset of you “many”) are aware of my existential pontifications, so it was nothing new, but, as I read back over it, I feel the need to comment a bit more verbosely — perhaps elaborate.  Simply, we have social imperatives (which are mostly a human construct, the rest biological/evolutionary) that do little more than impede the meanderings of the very powerful tool (our brain) that allowed us to construct the imperatives in the first place.

I want to go ahead and note that there are so many concepts that I will derive conclusions from that I just don’t have the energy to describe in detail.  I am going to hope that they reveal themselves indirectly by invoking them.

We evolved an overpowered brain that allows us to think deeply about the universe, but we still have obligatory evolutionary trappings that assist our species in persisting.

I think constantly about this that or the other.  I’m constantly infuriated by this that or the other, frustrated by this that or the other, mesmerized by this that or the other, and ultimately part of this that or the other, but most days it just falls to the wayside, because I, for some reason, have things to do.  However, occasionally, one of those thats or others seem to spark and catalyze a wildfire of raging brain activity — a cacophony of highly excited dancing electrical eruptions — a sort of aggregation of disheartened reality that somehow opens my pores of perception — rendering me better able, and more compelled, to evaluate the universe and where I fit into its poetry, usually, necessarily, recursively constructing a seemingly unanswerable array of questions:  Why can’t I fit into this society, why do I want to, and what the heck does it all mean?

Ultimately, we all want to know that the people who have experienced us are happy to have done so.  For whatever evolutionary, social, psychological reason, we simply want to play an important role in the transition from the present to the future.  Another related quote of mine that is relevant:

Life: The fruitless attempt to turn the present into the future as the present consistently, invariably becomes the past.

I would say that, when you boil it all down, there is no better choice than to ponder the meaning of it all.  Simplest reason?  Because you can!

When you consider the known (or at least apparent) vastness of this universe both spatially and temporally, you can’t help but marvel in and be humbled by your own insignificance.  Yet, insignificant as you may or may not be, you have this consciousness that makes you (apparently) uniquely aware of it all, and, while you undergo your social, biological, and evolutionary imperative to eat, breathe, breed, and sleep, your over-powered brain allows you to question and, occasionally, understand the deeper complexities of chemistry, biology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and the venue that invites them all to demonstrate their masteries: physics.

It is indeed difficult to imagine a world that you cannot understand, yet here we are in one — a cosmic arena so vast whose subtleties are lost on the strange phenomenon that resulted in us — to quote Carl Sagan: “Star stuff contemplating the stars.”

I’m not going to go off on a thorough justification of the Big Bang and evolution.  I don’t care who believes what.  Science is nothing more than observation, deduction, evaluation of cause and effect.  We witness what is there, and we make it make sense.  Often, science gives us clear data that subverts past biases and superstitions (easy example: the Sun orbits the Earth), but science is very flexible, as it can simply change as its pretenses are clarified or nullified, disproved or defined.  In other words, science lets us perceive all that is there, but it allows for the evolution of our definition of “perception.”  Science is a collection of observations whose conclusions are obvious.  If I hit a rock with a hammer correctly, it will break.  This is observable, demonstrable, and questionable only if you question the legitimacy of my ability to trust what I observe.

I just want to know anything (actually, everything) about the universe, but I keep having to dance in this social ritual to which I’m really, apparently, quite allergic.  I’m spending my life fighting the social prison into which I was born, even though my over-powered brain tells me that the prison is irrelevant given what I can imagine.  It’s as if we accidentally evolved this powerful brain, so, by necessity, we developed this intricate web of social existence to thwart it.

I, personally, get frustrated with having to live, having to pay for a house, having to find food, having to behave a certain way in order for my cohorts in existence (namely, other humans, but occasionally DEER WHO EAT MY TREES) to behave in a way that permits my extracurricular pursuits (notably, the understanding of all that is) to move along freely and to thrive.  Maybe I want to spend all day writing, or composing, or simply pursuing something I find interesting.  Selfish reasoning, perhaps, but it is strictly being beholden to social norms that keeps me from that.

Of course, obviously, humans did not invent the need to survive.  For a species that is going to persist, it is simply advantageous to survive as opposed to dying.  So, survival is an essential precursor to both our social pomp and our philosophical inquisition.  All organisms need to survive to actively do anything at all.  One has to consider that, it’s just that humans have invented this very strange way of surviving.  (Given that, however, it would not be difficult to question whether or not anything really actually DOES anything other than react, but I digress.)  I am, of course, referring to my own social prison, that of Western Civilization here in the United States.  All social systems all have their entrapments, my reference point is simply my own social system.

The world of “void” in my quote is, indeed, this sociological dance we all seem to find important: having a job, making money, enjoying “success.” It is a completely invented world.  It’s a play that only exists because actors are performing it.  The universe, on the other hand, exists in spite of human perception and beyond human existence, and it is for precisely this reason that the evolutionary process that yielded our over-powered brains is so interesting.

It is easy to imagine that all we do is simply systemic, and that our ability to observe is simply a phenomenon.  In other words, it is not hard to fathom that we think about physics simply because quarks, leptons, and bosons exist and have inherent properties which cause them to collect into entities such as protons, photons, and motional phenomena, which then collect into matter and energy, and ultimately make living organisms that simply do what they do for the same reason that the moon orbits the earth.  (Obvious! This is what hydrogen atoms do given 14 billion years of evolution! a la Brian Cox)

Most truths of reality are this way.  Electrons orbit around protons, because that is what electrons do.  Atoms bond into molecules, because that is what atoms do.  Molecules collect into cells, because that’s what molecules do.  Cells collect into organisms, because that is what cells do.  Organisms eat and breed, because that is what organisms do.  Planets orbit around stars, because that is what planets do.  Obviously, there are so many more rules than these, and many variations on these, but the apparent underlying fact is simple: everything is a system, everything happens as a result of something else.

We, as humans, however, have, because of these systems, developed this apparently unique ability to observe it all, and, even though we can see past it, we are still beholden to our sociological and biological imperatives. Our reality — as in the movement that drives our daily actions (waking up to an alarm, drinking coffee, driving to work, doing something at work, eating lunch, going home, shake, repeat) — is only meaningful to and mostly fabricated by us.  It is, effectively, nothing more than a complex mating ritual, as its end result is still only successful if the human species propagates.

We have two existences: one driven biologically and one driven psychologically, and although the biological one gave/gives rise to the psychological one, it is the psychological observation of the universe that makes us (again, apparently) unique.  It is this one that interests me and it is this one that must constantly jump sociological hurdles.  To quickly simplify, and to summarize, to worry about paying the electric bill or even worrying about whether people like you when we have at least 13.7 billion years of history to uncover is our biology constraining our psychology.

Just a thought …

Dream: Europa and extraterrestrial life

So I have been enthralled lately with a revival–a jolt–of interest in our solar system (and the universe outside of earth) lately thanks to the Wonders of the Solar System series recently airing on BBC (I watched it on YouTube of course).  This of course provides the setting for this dream I had last night.

The dream:

So somehow I found myself on Europa with a group of people — a handful, but as yet I have no idea who any of them are.  The surface is sort of pebbly/rocky like a coarse beach, and very dry (Of course Europa is nothing like that, but this was my dream).  Our point?  To search for life on Europa.

I wandered around a bit, and noticed I was next to this concrete “base” … looking back I’m going to assume it was our ship.  We look and look, and suddenly I noticed my car parked next to it.  Careful examination illuminated a spider crawling near the fender well, so I said jovially ‘Well if there wasn’t life here before, there is now.’

Someone who was with me was standing over next to what seemed like a “woods line,” but I have no idea what it actually was, because it didn’t strike me that there was plant life already.  We continued to wander, and somehow ended up in a very grassy area.  Again, it did not occur to me that the grass was life!  We happened across this grave site/memorial with 9 tombs, with some kind of inscription on it.  I don’t think I could read it, but I somehow knew that it meant something to the effect of “in honor of the 9 fallen brave ones.” (or something like that.)

Who was in the tombs? Well it alternated from the Farscape crew members to the Firefly crew members, and it never was clear — space travellers of some sort. Firefly and Farscape like to work their way into my space dreams (go figure.)

So I continued looking around, and we found a temple.  My brother climbed partially up the side and found affirmative proof of insect life.  I stepped up as well, and on the louvres of a vent was an inchworm, which, looking back, is not an insect, but somehow I knew it was proof of Europan insects.  At any rate, right next to the inchworm were all kinds of ants.  They reminded me a lot of the cactus guys from Mario — like insects that walked upright, but of course their body parts swayed to and fro just like the cactus guys.

At this point, we were just blown away by our discovery, complete proof there was life on Europa, so we just kind of awed a bit, then wandered some more.  I know I emphatically decried something about how the only other celestial object humans ever walked on was the moon (Luna, Earth’s moon — mentioning only because Europa is, of course, also a moon).

I started to think, ok now I wonder when Jupiter is going to appear in the sky (seriously that would be awesome).  Lo and behold, I looked up, and there was this orangy-red object.  It was a dust cloud, and, at this point, I began to realize I was in a dream.  (You would think all the previous clues would have been sufficient.)  I realized Jupiter probably wouldn’t appear in the sky, but I still wanted it to, so my brain decided to put earth there.  I guess it figured it might as well f*k with me a little.

I saw right through that, however, and the earth’s image (which was quite large in the sky — at least 30 times the size our moon appears in our sky) burned away.  As it turns out, however, I was walking around and a tree got between me and the Earth in the sky, and the tree was burning.  Then we heard some craft making noise overhead, then saw it fly over, hover nearly directly above us, and start to descend.  (That’s it with the Earth-in-the-sky bit … no idea what that was all about.)

So this craft was a very large robot — probably 40ft tall, and personality-wise very transformer like, but its head was a large TV.  Apparently, the robot shot the tree?  It would appear as though it were an attack, but as it played out, it definitely wasn’t.  Who knows … this was Europa, and honestly, it was nothing like Europa, so anything goes.  😀

As the robot landed, one of our helper bots rolled over in front of it and started making this clicking noise — some kind of radar thing, and apparently its purpose was to either befriend the large robot or render it docile.  The robot kneeled down and kind of chuckled and kind of asked the little guy (to himself) ‘How did you?’ ‘We removed that programming millions of years ago …’ then the robot started to notice that there were unrecognized creatures there (our crew), and the little bot continued its clicking.

That is when I woke up … but I still heard the clicking.  One of our ceiling fans is off balance and makes this very regular sound.

The Challenge ~ a poem

It was a challenge
To describe what I could not possibly have known
Profundity is a vice for the tattered soul
I stand here unscathed

So I abandoned the endeavor
And wandered alone
Through desert
Through rain
Vetoed disdain, vetoed pain

Somewhere something would exalt
Or justify my view
My marvelous journey
To unveil the profound

Yes! Indeed!
I could find the truths of a life well lived
I just have to find a hell to endure

But to stand on the podium
Is to admire
To win, is to achieve
Or at least to aspire

Oh proximity she taunts me.

And what I seek is what would promote me to seeker
So to what do I strive if I am not yet prepared

How do I tell the story when I stand still
My mind rots with the hope I digest

And the simplest task overwhelms.

Is there greatness in me?
There will be …
And when that day comes
All of us will see
It is already here, or it will never be.

Dream: Me as John Crichton in a Firefly to Farscape … mashup?

“There are those of us who persistently, stubbornly continue to peer out beyond the boundaries of this existence.  Not because we were born with a superior vantage point, but because we were born with the uncontrollable urge to sidle up to the wall, leap to where our hands barely grip the top, poke our nose over and revel in what we can perceive far beyond.  Nonetheless, this wall holding us in and, in this instance, allowing us to see is itself billions of times more complex than any tiny fraction of what else we will ever understand in our lifetime.”

This quote defines my struggle between the urge to boil down philosophy of existence, and discover the infinite truths that nature already possesses, and it came to me immediately after the following dream in which part of my psyche revealed itself to me in the character of John Crichton.  (The setting of this dream was a morph from Firefly to Farscape).

***********************************************************************

There were three of us — closely examining our hangar, garage — a large metal building that, although I did not recognize it, was familiar to me as our base.  The large door, although I now seem to think it may have been multiple doors, was open, and while two of us circled the perimeter of the building, Shepherd Book was examining tiny fragments of evidence near the roof line.  When I noticed what he was doing, I, too, took a closer look, as I could see there was something there causing him to pontificate.

I am not sure how we were examining these things, as the top of this building was at least fifteen or twenty feet high.  Again, it was a large metal structure that more resembled a garage than a base.  Regardless, what I saw upon closer examination were tiny “scratches” in the metal where something high-velocity had glanced off, causing the rusty surface of the old building to peel up, revealing the shiny metal underneath.

I looked more — on the inside of the building.  At this point, I became conscious of the fact that someone of our crew was missing, and we believed her to be stolen.  Although it was never really clear who it was, I had and still, while writing this, have the impression that it was Kaylee.

We examined closer, following the tiny trail of evidence inside the building, following the ceiling as we went toward a hanging apparatus that I’m pretty sure was the garage door opener.  Simple, but the sci-fi ambiance of this place failed to give me any reason to think that it was an object out of place or time.  Something opened the door, why not a motorized contraption that mounts to the ceiling?

Then suddenly, I noticed a slightly different “peeling of metal.”  This one was about the same size, but it was shinier, more rounded, and it became immediately clear to me that there was something embedded there — right in the motor of the door opener.  I could not tell right away what it was, but it appeared to be a round disc — actually, two round discs that were maybe pressed together — the top one smaller than the bottom.

I looked around more, and suddenly I knew exactly what these objects were.  I saw one embedded flat-ways in the ceiling, and the unmistakable lightly engraved writing of a Sony CR2032 battery came into focus.

Whatever ship had taken our crew member had been firing out Sony CR2032 batteries when it took off.  The strange thing is, of course, that the batteries themselves were incidental.  Nothing about them struck me as out of place.  Rather, this was simple, clear evidence to me that it was humans — people of my own kind and of my own time — that were the culprit.

Also, at this time, I realized that Shepherd Book had morphed into D’Argo, and I was now aware that I was, indeed, John Crichton.  I’m not entirely sure that I hadn’t been the whole time, although I knew very distinctly that I was in the future.  Not just a century or two in the future, but long enough in the future that the human race could have actually evolved into the alien forms surrounding me.  Millions of years in the future!  (Contrary to the proposed timelines of either Firefly OR Farscape.)

As I held one of the batteries in my hand, D’Argo asked me what it was, and I explained that it was a power source from my time.

Someone else contributed: “Something used before the discovery of infinite power.”

I nodded, and continued the explanation, but not before interjecting with the trait that very much makes me me: “Well, almost infinite power.”  A tongue-in-cheek clarification that, for some reason, as usual, I felt compelled to express.  (Clearly this John Crichton had many attributes from Jeremy Tharp.)  Anyway, the obvious flaw in “infinite power” (in terms of electrical power) is that existence of such a thing would surely lead to the instant collapse of the universe.

(In regards to the instant collapse of the universe, I am not trying to argue a point here — regardless of whether such a postulation is true logically, it was completely true in this dream, so it’s best to read it that way.)

I showed the others my watch as a demonstration of the type of device such a little module might power.  My watch had not been working for a very long time, but I explained that I recently began wearing it, even though it was not even working then, because I liked the watch.  (The watch in this dream was a direct allusion to one I wore during my freshman year of college.  Although it did not look exactly the same, it was probably the watch I would have to find today — as in 12 years later, 2009 — to make me want to wear it as I did in 1997.)

Everyone kind of shrugged off the watch thing as yet another of my human, illogical idiosyncrasies, but they got the general point (Very Crichton-esque), and I then began musing and digesting all of this aloud.  After all, the character in my dream was well settled in this place, but the perspective of me — the one hosting this dream — was still blending with the personality of this John Crichton.

“Millions of years!” I shouted.  Holding one of the batteries pried from the wall, I emphatically reiterated “You’re millions of years in my future, and yet it was someone of my own time — my own race — that did this.”  There was a very distinct aroma of “Eureka!” (Not the show, just the sense of clarification) here, but, alas, this discovery was, ultimately, not the culmination of this dream.

All of us were gathered there now, most sitting on a sofa as if this were the lounge in a local fire station.  I, Aeryn Suhn, and D’Argo (and possibly someone else) were still standing.

I perceived a subtle hint of apathy from the crew, and now I realized that, for some reason, that they did not want to leave this place.  Not only did they not want to find our lost companion, but they did not care to continue their personal explorations of the stars, and, to me, this was a travesty.

“I want to see it all!” I screeched so emphatically that every blood vessel in my body must have been visible through my skin.  “Every square inch of it, and I cannot stop until I do!”  By this point, even my own mind had wandered away from the lost member of our crew, and it would never return there.

“I don’t know why, but I do,” I emphasized, disheartened by the looming logic that always begets me when examining infinity: I will die, humans will die, and none of this exotic exploration of the unknown bears any ultimate meaning to anyone but those who will, eventually, cease to exist.

“I do, I do, and there is no other way.”  Perplexed by my own intricacies, I was so overwhelmed with passion that I began to cry, and I fell to my knees before the table (think “coffee table”) that sat in front of the couch.  I sat back on my heels, then crossed my arms on the table as I fell forward and lay my head upon them.  I noticed that this was not actually a coffee table, but an old record player we had in the house throughout my childhood (my real childhood, not John Crichton’s), and, before my head reached its resting place on my arms, I brushed a bit of dust away from the knobs.

Aeryn, quite overwhelmed by my empassioned tirade, found herself crying as well, and she knelt down on the other side of the table, her head atop mine, and somehow consoled me with her own tearful expression.

***********************************************************************

And then I woke up.

To be who you are, you must first be someone else

I felt the urge to examine the following quote from John Stuart Mill and attempt to rationalize the gist of the concept.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

There is a very simple point here:  War is terrible, but refuting war on principle, even when doing so jeopardizes one’s personal freedoms, is far more terrible.

It is very easy to agree with this, because a general philosophy should be that no truth is so absolute that it can contradict another absolute truth.

Now, to examine, I will state that there is a very distinct law in my own personal philosophy: Any state of being is a prison.  Poetically justified: Anything you are is the consummate shadow of everything else that you are not.

In other words, everyone inhabits some sort of prison.  Some have just hung curtains and plants and are happy there, while others are more content fighting to find a better prison.

Thus, the inherent contradiction in this quote becomes evident.  For the idea to hold true, if you want to be anti-war, you must first succumb to a presumed logical inevitability (extraneous to your belief) that you must accept war as a viable method of protecting your belief.

In other words, you are free to be anti war, but to keep it that way, you must think like everyone else and fight a war on your own behalf.  To be who you are, you must first be someone else.

At best this is a conundrum, and by no means is this a logical disproof of war.  It is a simple demonstration that the path laid out by many as a journey to purity will inevitably require a very direct sacrifice of purity to conquer.

There are many branches to this concept, and I have personally examined a large portion of them in depth, but this general idea is a good entry to the philosophy of “breaking one’s chains.”

A la recherche d’une bouquet de gens …

For anyone who might not get the title, it translates to “In search of a bouquet of people,” and it arose from a simple observation I made this morning.

(No, I’m not referring to the lingering sensual remnants we experience after a sip of wine …  :-D)

First, I want to lead into the subject by saying how a bouquet of flowers is often viewed as much more beautiful than the flower itself.  Obviously, if the single flower were completely lacking in beauty, the resulting bouquet would need to seek alternate avenues of beauty to achieve it.

Secondly, I’m specifically referring to bouquets of the same flower.  Examples: a dozen roses, 6 carnations of the same color, etc.

So how does this relate to people?  I noticed two people at the gas station this morning, a woman and a man, each wearing tan slacks and a light blue button down shirt.  Given that I am really not one to notice attire (at all), this alone was a good example of contextual violence, since it grabbed my attention.  In fact, I thought the two people were correlated in some way, even though they were driving completely different cars– make, model, color, size–and they were on opposite sides of the pumps.

Anyway, it dawned on me that we often feel somewhat cheated when we see two (or more) people wearing identical outfits for no apparent reason.  It’s like we expect some grand story to be the cause, yet a dozen roses is simply amplified beauty.

No, all the bouquets of people that we find appealing are in things like church choirs, or sports teams, company employees, etc. where the underlying story is rather predictable.  Six carnations would seem pretty unexpected, even at a funeral or wedding where massive amounts of bouquets are hardly even stand out contextually.

I’m not really trying to prove a deep philosophical point, but I’m pondering where the apparent lack of uniqueness in people caused by random (or at least unrelated) circumstances, linking people in no way but the visual, can bring us the deep sense joy of that bouquet of roses.

It’s a fair argument to say that any group of people is quite a lovely bouquet, as the diversity and contributions they put forth can be astounding, but I suppose that’s not what I’m looking for.

A la recherche d’une bouquet de gens …