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Entries tagged 'cat:Story'

As a child I used to play with old PCs, take them apart, assemble different parts to new PCs, etc. One day when I was 12 I was carrying a 486 Desktop PC to a friend's house, who lived in a different part of the town. On my way there a man stopped me and asked me if I'm interested in computers. He told me he has lots of computers and computer parts at home and I could look at them, pick anything I wanted and take it home to keep. I just had to come home with him and I'd get all the computer parts I wanted. Sadly I couldn't, because my freidn was waiting for me and expected me to bring the 486. So the man gave me his phone number and told me to definitely call because he would soon have to through away good comuter parts if I wouldn't take them.

Back at home I told my mother about the man. For some reason she thought that it was a strange thing to stop a child in the street for and that I shouldn't call him. I replied "He's liek 80 or 90 or something and he said he has to throw the stuff away if I don't take it." I'm not entirely sure whether it was more the age esitmation or my fear of good tech getting thrown away that let her give him a chance to explain himself. So, I called him, took a train to his house and you may guess what happened there, or continue reading, or both.

He lead me to his basement. It was huge. It seemed larger than the already large house. And every single room of it, including the hall in the center, was filled with PCBs, monitors, PCs, racks, more PCBs and cards, software packages (those thick ring binders with manual, diskettes and sometimes printed source code or other notes ticked in an even thicker cardboard box), ICs and other small parts in transparent boxes, empty boards and all the chemicals needed to make your own PCBs, some unfinished projects, home-grown microcomouters, printers, cables, and so on. A retro computer fan's paradise! He was in my home town because he visited a medical specialist. I'm guessing that he knew or suspected that he didn't have much time to get his hobby stuff into the hands of somebody who'd appreciate it. The latter was certainly his goal and did appreciate the tech, which seemed to make him very happy. But I only realised many years later how much more there would have been to appreciate. Back then I wasn't interested in ISA memory extension cards. They were slow and small compared to even SIMM modules. I didn't care for his software collection at all. And I didn't see what I couldn't have done with a custom build computer for which no software existed except what you write yourself. I had no use for his chemical laboratory, hard disks with less than 100 MB of space or electronic parts like logic gates. An 8086 PC was just a worthless piece of too slow hardware to get any fun out of it. I used an MFM drive solely to open it up and take it apart to see how they built these things.

Recently I was thinking, that old man met me too early. My interest in computers was not developed enough at the time. But he did die soon after I visited his house. So for getting some of his computer stuff to somebody who'll at least do something with it before it gets thrown out it was just the right time. I didn't know him, just met him once after his suspicious chat-up. But his wife actually thanked me after he had died. So maybe I didn't come across as greedy or too selfish.

Dream Ideas

Did you ever have an idea while being asleep, maybe while waking up but still half dreaming, that was so good and possibly life-changing that even 10 years later you can't get over the fact that you forgot the idea moments after thinking "I have to write that down after I went to the toilet!"? Me neither. But notworthyly many people do.

It is often said that many famous ideas and inventions have been perceived in a dream before sharing them or creating them in the waking world. The sewing machine needle story is exhausted. I for one don't think that many ideas or inventions have been or are perceived in dreams. At least not so many that it would be a fact worth mentioning. Considering that most people spend almost a third of their life in the state that allows for such perceptions to occur, why wouldn't many of the ideas that are being had be perceived in a dream state?

Because of volatile memory. (I'm not talking about elektroncs in this entry.) Dream memory is notoriously unstable. Even to people who make a point out of remembering and possibly creatively working with their dreams it's not uncommon to forget the weirdest things. Dream recall can be trained (and usually fairly easily at that). But even for those who remember multiple long dream every morning it takes an especially exciting or important-seeming dream to lift the dreamers memory of it so high that it can be recalled with no more gaps and changes than is usual to rememberig waking memories from about the same time ago. It is a very rare exception, a handful dream excerpts a century maybe. Every other dream content is gone after year, most after a day or two. (By the way, that's not necessarily true for more or less direct effects on the dreamer's feelings, toughts, instinctive behaviour and intentional decisions.)

But many people do attribute enough importance to their dreams to usually remember them when anturally waking up in the morning or when waking up at night. Even when you don't, you'll wake up with dream recall every now and then. And if there seems a solution to a problem that occupies your mind currently, then that recall is more likely to stay afloat for long enough to be dragged over to less volatile long-term memory.

But that's not always the case. When your thoughts drift or you're distracted by something before your brain has fully switched to waking mode, even the biggest and most important thoughts can vanish quickly. I'd assume that that happens more easily or more commonly to people with AD(H)D and possibly to other neurodiverse people. I'm sure that it has happened to you numerous times. If you don't rmember it, maybe it wasn't a big deal to you. (It usually isn't.)

I've had genius story ideas for a movie, short story or book, several times in dreams. I mean actually genius, never-before-done storytelling inventions or an actually innovative story telling trick, not just ideas that seem like I might be able to sell them or something. Most of them I've completely forgotten except for the fact that I had them. (Maybe I forgot about even more but so completely that I don't even remember that there was something that I forgot.) I don't mind though. I know enough about dreams and the difference between dreaming and waking judgement. In dreams the evaluation of thoughts and perceptions (dreamed or from the waking world) are often different, sometimes very very different, from what one would consider normal, but don't seem that way to the dreaming, perceiving, thinking person at the time. I know how common of an error of judgement it is to believe to have an amazing, revolutionary, genius idea in a dream/while waking up, write it down while still not quite awake, read it later and be rather amased by the memory of believing that that would be a good idea. The written down scribble (Those notes tend to be of less than great handwriting or contain more mistypings than usual.) range from

  • (indecipherable - but what would I say about that? It could be anything or nothing.)
  • a meaningless string of words (or the meaning may be lost because of omitted context)
  • to possibly interesting thoughts that don't unfold their meaning after fully waking up and aren't as deep as initially perceived
  • to a banale insight with no importance (may be because of lost additional memory or because of misassumptions in the dream)
  • to actually good or important ideas, that are old and not practically usable
  • (Or actually genius new inventions/revolutionary ideas above that. But those seem to be even more rare than in waking life.)

That is why I don't feel bad about losing a great idea when I seem to after waking up. I know it never turns out to actually be a good idea. Even banale thoughts or random strings of words can be used to create meaning from or to attribute meaning to. But I can do that with pretty much any of my dream recall. And I rarely do that.

The World After

I just woke up from a screenable dream. I didn't get enough sleep every day before today this week. So when I finally took the time for a nap, I got reworded with a long, intense dream. I love this feeling of extra REM sleep. (Although it wasn't extra of course. I really missed it throughout the week.)

I don't usually write my dreams down. And I won't include the actual detailed content, scenes, what I saw, who did what, etc. of this one either. And I won't even try to put the feelings that I had into words. But I just could not go on with normal everyday life without addressing it. I tried, but it felt like letting an entire civilisation die in my head. One with a bunch of kitties among them even. I won't take on that guilt.

Rough story overview: Stuff happens, people live their lifes, have interactions, make mistakes, hold grudges, are sometimes angry with each other, love, work, try to enjoy life anyway. Then something happened. I wondered throughout the dream what it was exactly. I don't know. Lets say some scientist in a secret laboratory messed up and started a chain reaction of really bad events. It (the world) very quickly gets worse, like fires everywhere, soon no electricity, people disappear (nobody died in this story, they were just suddenly gone somehow). An undetermined apocalypse with the result that every city, town and village and most people are gone. Few people find themselves on an earth that has nothing of the things they were used to just a few days ago. They soon find each other and work together to figure out how to live now. They are the people we met at the beginning. There are people who hated each other, but they have to work together now, and they do. Our protagonist wanders alone for a day until he meets this new small tribe and is instantly assumed part of it. They are a cheerful group of friends now. Nobody hates each other. Everybody helps each other. Everybody acknowledges each others quirks and lives with them. They travel together, presumably to find a nice inhabitable piece of land. Along their way they find ruined cities, a displaced ocean, pieces of their old civilisation that they can use as tools. They share, they laugh together, they build a society.

This dream felt so good because of the intense feelings that I got from it and that I woke up with. But I found the story worth telling, even if it's just in this short, rough form. I don't think I've ever heard of an apocalypse movie where people didn't try to kill each other or trick them out of their belongings afterwards. Ignoring the facts that this wouldn't fly with Hollywood and that it might still be too soon after waking up for me to judge this, I'd love to watch that movie!

Parts of the story that I didn't include above: The people somehow also were animals, like in "The Animals of Farthing Wood" maybe, but they were also humans most of the time. They didn't shapeshift, they just were both but mostly one of the two at a time. In the new society one member started a newspaper. He didn't have any tools or paper. He just made it his job to be the newspaper. He ran around telling people the news. Some thought it was annoying, but they just laughed and liked him anyway. The new tribe had a huge float when the protagonist found them. I don't know what they were floating on, but it was light red. The float wasn't in the rest of the dream. There were still forest fires when they traveled. The protagonist discovered at some point that they weren't traveling away from the fire because they were surrounded by huge fires now. They were fine where they were currently. But they had to find a way to get out of that entwining fire. He was telling the rest that I they started to run when I decided to wake up. Maybe better that way, could have continued badly.

Trolls - Winning Feels Like Losing

Sometimes I realise late that I'm interacting with a troll in an online forum, on Reddit or on a mailing list. For the type of trolls who delibertely try to confuse and seem to be sincere on the surface while following the goal of inducing frustration or otherwise spreading negativity, I have to give to them, that makes them good at what they are doing. But none the less it makes me feel bad all the more. Not much for wasting my time, but for being honest to them while they know they aren't honest to me. I feel betrayed when I conversed more than one or two messages long with a troll.

And that's what happened to me again today. I gave them the benefit of the doubt even after I realised that they had been given many chances to see they made a (simply and definitely provable) honest little mistake but didn't take a single of them, had not responded to a single direct question while constructing a kindly phrased little unrelated allegation out of nothing instead. After a few more messages with no progress I had enough and started to type my response to inform them that I'm not able (or willing? see next paragraph) to view their motivations as sincere. I felt a bit mad and that feeling became stronger the more I re-read what they had posted. But I wanted to make my final response complete and correct, so it seemed necessary to invest this emotion. And I did intend to make this my last post in the thread. I wanted them and maybe others who were still following the thread to know that I'm fooled no longer by this troll. I'm glad I realised that that was still feeding the troll and refuted what I was trying to convey before I submitted my post. I did the right thing by not continuing to give them a fulfilment of receiving any attention at all. But now this is an unclosed chapter in my mind. I'll call it unclosed memory so that I have a term (and category tag) in case I want to refer to similar experiences on this blog in the future. I guess that's the reason I'm making this entry. I did it, dear reader! I got out when I finally did realise what was going on.

I'm imposing this label "troll" on this person and even have a drawer in my mind for people who acted similarly in other threads that I've read in the past. But the thing is - and that's probably a banale thing to say for anybody who has done some thinking about online trolls before - I couldn't prove that they are, even given a perfect defitinion with clear criteria. I don't know their intentions. I want to feel a little bit proud for giving them the benefit of the doubt for longer than apparently any other participant in the thread. I believe that it is ususally the right thing to do to not assume malicious intentions in somebody's actions even after you had the realisation that that is a possibility. I want to be the person who assumes kindness or lack of knowledge before assuming bad intentions. But I'm still often very naive (mostly the kind of naive that makes me tell strangers my weaknesses, like being naive), even though that has changed a bit in some situations. But I always assumed I'm being made fun of or that people try to make me look like a fool rather soon. I think I can hardly know with sufficiant certainty whether that's the case in situations like the one described above. So I will feel unsure whether I made the right decision. (Not that I suspect it matters for this person's life in this case. But in principle.) Among the reasonable things to do with experiences like this I've marked "tell somebody about it" and "discard the memories of it by not trying to bring it up again unless it severly impacts my life" as good options. I've dine the former by writing this here. I'll go on to do the latter now.

Useless Memories (Part 2)

Once I woke up from a chaotic dream that wasn't a story but rather a mingling of unrelated and overlapping thoughts. The sort of dream that is often called NREM dream by hobbyists without having measured anything that could give indication of the sleep stage one was in at the time. I woke up very tired, with the realisation that what I had just thought of could be an ingenius idea for a story that, would I choose to invest the necessary effort and time that is required to become an author, could be made into a fabulous novel or movie. It was such a genius idea for a story that I would have been surprised if such a constallation of relationships and events had ever been made into a book or movie script without me having ever heard about it. A really good, new idea. I knew about the phenomenon of waking up with such a feeling with its source in a staggeringly trivial or even completely incoherent idea. People who record their dreams after waking up sometimes take such notes and realise later, when their brain is more awake, that it seems almost impossible that they ever thought this idea could be considered anything more than low effort at constructing a sensible sentence or a statement that at best could be seen as a true statement. So I thought it through before I started to write my idea down. I thought about the story and the key events that I felt were so genius. It really made a lot of sense. I stood up to grab my notebook and a pen. And the idea was gone. I couldn't remember a single thing about it beyond what I have written here so far and the fact that it was somehow based on or inspired by the story of "The Lives of Others" ("Das Leben Der Anderen"). I think I even had great pun as a title. (I like puns.) Sometimes I remember this feeling of disappoinment that I experiences maybe 8 years ago. But I long gave up remembering anything from my story idea or even the title that I had thought of.