When smart home lighting enters your dreams

Last night I had a brief dream in which I was in bed and awake. It felt late at night or early morning and was still dark. As is often the case in dreams, the room geometry was on the creative side, as I cannot see the kitchen/den area through the bedroom door but in the dream I could.

While looking toward the kitchen area I thought I saw movement and although I can picture what I saw in the dream, I have a hard time describing it. I think it was supposed to be some sort of play on light and shadow that suggested someone moving into the kitchen (away from the bedroom). Next the smart lights in the den winked on, seemingly unprompted. It wasn’t scary, exactly, more unnerving. And I’m pretty sure I had this dream because we do, in fact, have most of the smart lights set to turn on/off at various times of the day and night, so my weary brain decided that maybe they also just do this on their own because they are “smart.”.

And come to think of it, this morning Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News” started blasting from the Echo Shows in the bedroom, prompted by…nothing? I checked the Alex history and could find nothing to suggest why the music would have suddenly started playing when it did. But it’s all part of the charm of a smart home, I guess. At least the timers usually work.

Dreams (not the Fleetwood Mac song)

I had four dreams last night and remembered them by inventing an acronym for them: CPAP (not to be confused with the device that assists people with sleeping):

  • Cat: In one dream I had a cat, and I was cleaning its food dish and was vaguely upset that the cat might be sick. The cat, a gray short hair, curled up in a giant plastic tub that was apparently its bed (?), but also had water in it. She didn’t seem to mind. This was a mildly upsetting dream. The same dream later featured me at a coffee shop, inexplicably with the cat.
  • Personnel: I was at work, but it was Dream Work, not actual work, and everyone was different or at least I don’t recall them being my normal co-workers. I was in a hallway with a co-worker, as we had apparently been working on something together and a couple of management types were there. A third co-worker was also there. The management types were suggesting that certain improprieties had been committed, and I began thinking over whether I had done anything I shouldn’t have done. I came up with nothing and the co-worker and I walked off, while the third one stayed behind, seemingly about to be punished for some unspoken sin. The impression I got was he had done something like watched porn on the job. This was kind of a dumb dream.
  • Allergies: I looked down at my arm and saw a few silver spots on it. I held the arm up and noticed more silver spots appearing. In the dream I guessed it was an allergic reaction, though silver spots are a dream allergy AFAIK. Then the dream took a turn for the very weird as my arm turned entirely translucent, allowing me to see light through it. I woke up at that point, but my final thought in the dream was something clever, like, “This is weird.”
  • The fourth one I have suddenly drawn a blank on, but it started with P, so it may come back to me. I told Jeff all four dreams, but he doesn’t remember, either. Note to self: Write these things down at the time, other people’s memories may be no better than your own. :P

Book review: The Dream Interpretation Handbook

The Dream Interpretation Handbook: A Guide and Dictionary to Unlock the Meanings of Your Dreams by Karen Frazier

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a bargain purchase, using my two criteria for such:

1. Is the book on sale?
2. Is the subject interesting to me?

If the answer is yes, I buy and take my chances if I am not familiar with the author.

I came away disappointed here, for a few reasons. While the book is competently written and is logically divided into two parts, the first being some background and historical analysis of dreams, and the second being a dictionary that defines possible meanings to specific dream events/objects, it ends up having a little too much woo in it and also comes across as a bit facile.

As an example, it’s stated that if you dream about aliens, you may be feeling alienated. I mean, really? Many of the scenarios fit into this kind of literal interpretation, which may make “sense” but also doesn’t require an entire book to illustrate.

In the end I just wanted more and maybe that’s not realistic when it comes to dream interpretation. The author emphasizes repeatedly that you may want to check your personal frame of reference before seeking more universal symbols/meanings to your dreams. This makes sense, but it even further diminishes the value of offering dream interpretation. And a lot of it just comes down to “you may be anxious about [thing]”, unless it’s a dream in which you are flying, one of the apparently few positive dream experiences anyone has.

I have not read other books on dreaming, so I don’t know if this work is representative of the overall body of dream interpretation, and to give author Karen Frazier credit, she provides a decent list of other sources to check out.

Still, I didn’t feel like I got much out of this and can’t really recommend it.

View all my reviews

SkyTrain vs. dump truck

Last night I had a dream and instead of being about world peace, it was about riding on one of those scary old original SkyTrain cars.

In this instance, I was on an olden train and it was entering a terminus station that was similar to but not quite Waterfront station, as it was clearly inside a tunnel. As it began to brake I noticed a pickup truck up ahead and it was crossing the track, as if it was a conventional at-grade rail crossing. I was somewhat concerned, but the truck got across in time and seemed to wait on the other side, possibly because it was in a tunnel and had nowhere to go.

But once the pickup cleared out, I saw another more ominous obstacle: a giant dump truck that was sitting on the track, with the back end presented to us in a somewhat rude manner.

As mentioned, the train was braking, so a high-speed collision was not in the cards, but it seemed some sort of collision was and sure enough, the train bumped into the dump truck, pushing it away because behold the power of a Mark I SkyTrain car. After this it seemed the train had too much momentum and was going to crash into whatever was at the end of the tunnel, so a switch was activated to divert the train left and into some kind of auxiliary tunnel, except it seemed quite short and narrow and sloped down about 45 degrees. So the train sort of crashed, anyway. Everyone was fine, though, so we got out and after that I’m not sure what happened. Maybe we all went and yelled at the dump truck driver.

Anyway, my concerns over riding the increasingly aged Mark I trains is clearly starting to manifest in my subconscious, so hooray for that.

A dream in which an alien machine wrecks our historic buildings

Last night I had an odd dream that I actually remember fairly well.

I was in downtown Vancouver, within view of Burrard Inlet. The sky was a bright, clear blue and the way people were dressed suggested it was summer.

To my left was one of the historical buildings that one finds along the harbour–think the Waterfront Station building–though in this case the building more closely resembled the Hudson’s Bay building which is not, in fact, located on the harbour. It was a dream building, then, but close enough to reality to serve its purpose.

Directly ahead of me, in the inlet, was what appeared to be a giant oil derrick, except it had been modified or created with a different purpose. Atop it was a fully articulated arm, the end of which was tipped with a very large spike. For scale, I’d say the spike itself was probably 20 feet long. Not the kind of spike you’d want to be caught under. This spike was almost casually reaching over and chipping away at the historic building reminiscent of the Hudson’s Bay store. From where I stood I couldn’t see the actual damage the spike might be doing, but somehow I knew that it shouldn’t have been doing this, but also couldn’t be stopped, because the platform was an alien construction and we puny humans had no control over it.

After some time passed there was a tremendous heaving sound from the building and I looked over in time to see an impressively large chunk of it–multiple stories–come loose, and topple into the inlet. Moments after, the spike managed to needle its way into a more modern structure and what appeared to be an entire skyscraper suddenly appeared in the sky, somehow pulled loose from its foundation, and which was now making its way directly down toward the people gathered.

I began to run to the east to avoid being squashed, but my mom–who was apparently there the entire time–had a better read on the building’s trajectory and told me to stop. I stopped and the building crashed into the harbour. We then conferred briefly and I suggested we walk to my place to see what the fallout of all this might be. Most people were similarly clearing out of the area, not in a panic, but in a “better safe than sorry” kind of way. The direction we headed suggested I was still living on East 19th Avenue, which would put the timeframe of the dream somewhere between 2001 and 2011, but it felt earlier than that, like I was still in my late 20s or maybe early 30s.

The dream ended there, so I’m not sure what our building-mashing alien overlords had in mind next, but the thing that lingered with me later was how strangely banal the whole thing was. An alien construct appeared or arrived in Burrard Inlet, it started poking away at nearby buildings, and all we could do was shrug and wait to see what happened. So we did.

Which is quite possibly the way something like this might actually unfold, if we were clearly powerless to stop it.

Sleep is weird

Think about it. Every night you lay down on a bed and through no other action render yourself unconscious. In this unconscious state your brain manufactures elaborate scenarios that are at turns amusing, baffling or terrifying. When you wake up you usually remember little to nothing of what these scenarios–dreams or nightmares–were.

And if you don’t make yourself fall unconscious every night your body will malfunction in ways that are subtle to start and end with you putting pants on your head and thinking that’s completely okay (not counting places where it is completely okay).

This pattern of falling unconscious/your mind inventing little dramas repeats for your entire life.

Sleep is weird.

Also, I probably don’t get enough sleep.

Once more into the late night

Well, it’s late again and I was so tired after work (for seemingly mysterious reasons) that I ended up taking a nap at 9 p.m. for an hour or so. Now I am thinking less about writing and more about how nice that nap was.

Speaking of sleeping, I remember–to a degree–a sequence of dreams I’ve had over the last few nights. One was neat. I could fly. This happens rarely in dreams. In this particular flying dream it seemed not only could I fly, but that it was almost mundane to do so, no different really than flying.

But I was still the only one that could do it.

Flying would be very convenient. I could fly to work way faster than the SkyTrain gets me there, and I’d never have to be delayed by medical emergencies (which happened today–I even saw the person trundled into the ambulance on a stretcher. He looked young, appeared to be either sleeping or resting peacefully [but presumably not resting in peace] and had a blanket pulled up to his chest. I couldn’t determine what had happened, and details of such things never get released, so it will be a mystery for the ages). I would be at possible risk of lightning strikes during storms, though. And I’d always be paranoid about flying into power lines. Still, I’d accept the risks in exchange for never having a fare gate refuse to accept the tap of my Compass card.

The other series of dreams included me thinking about or looking over computers, including NUCs. I also did other everyday-type things. When I woke up, I wondered why my unconscious mind would construct a bunch of utterly banal activities for my dreams. If I want to sweep the floor or plan a grocery list, I can do that when I’m awake. Dreaming is for flying and other super powers. Take note, brain!

And now to see what said brain has in store for tonight.

A haiku to the common cold and resultant dreams

Not that I’m complaining. This is more observation. Yeah.

Coughing sneezing yuck
The common cold is no fun
NyQuil my best friend

In this post from May 16th 2017 I complained about an eerily similar circumstance:

This one bugs me because it just seems so random and out of the blue. Friday I was fine, Friday night I was sick.

This same sequence happened where I felt fine all day Friday and in the evening my throat had that telltale scratchiness. Unlike then, this one doesn’t seem random at all because I have been surrounded by other sick people lately, including several at work. I powered through a two-day workshop on Monday and Tuesday as it was too late to reschedule, but to my dismay actually felt worse instead of better on Tuesday. Today, upon waking early in the morning I could feel the cold nestled deep in my chest like the chest burster from Alien and opted to stay home. I like to think this is me being generous and saving fellow co-workers, among others, from experiencing the same mild agony of sneezing, running nose, sore throat and so on, but it’s really me just wanting to curl up and nap and imagine how wonderful it is to feel healthy and how can I possibly take it for granted again after being so sick? Which I will inevitably do, because that’s just the way our brains work.

My hope is that I will feel peppy enough to return to work tomorrow. My fear is that I will rank a smidgen too low on the peppy scale and be faced with choosing between a) feeling like poop but going in anyway and risk spreading my illness around or b) staying home, feeling guilty about how I feel like poop but knowing I could probably shuffle, zombie-like, through the work day somehow, especially if I loaded up on handy cold remedies first.

Today, though, the level of guilt I felt in staying home was a big fat zero. I also had very strange dreams in the morning when I’d normally be up that included:

  • some strange medieval setting that was a quasi-musical with a knight lamenting in song about always having to fight
  • another person lamenting about something where he repeated the same word three times but I can’t recall the word now, dang it
  • the scenery was this weird pastoral plain that felt like it was at the top of a mountain, with giant redwood-like trees that didn’t render properly until you got right next to them. Yes, it was like being in a video game with poor drawing distance.
  • I think there may have been fighting, but it was bloodless from what I can remember
  • there were other dreams that were sufficiently weird that I can only remember them being sufficiently weird

All that and I did not take NyQuil first, as I’d run out a day earlier. I’m getting more tonight and look forward to what my subconscious will present to me.

And I hope I feel at least better tomorrow. Seeing the activity rings on my watch go unfilled makes me sad.

Another screaming spider dream

Well, not another. But one is probably enough.

Last night I dreamed of being in a small, cluttered bedroom or spare room in some place or other. The bed was covered in sheets, blankets and bric-a-brac. I pulled aside one of the blankets or sheets and revealed a very large, circle-shaped spider sitting on the bed. Size-wise, imagine tripling the average tarantula and you have it about right. The spider was startled and skittered in its spidery way to the edge of the bed–where another spider waited. The second spider was similar in size but was differently-colored, light to the other spider’s dark. When the fleeing spider made contact with the second spider a fight broke out.

Lesson: do not disturb a spider, especially a large, circle-shaped one.

The part that made the dream stand out, though, was not the weird shape or large size of the spiders, but rather, the sound they made when they began to fight.

They screamed.

It was a high-pitched screeching. It didn’t stop. As they grappled the screaming went on, the two voices overlapping each other and sometimes blending into one super-creepy tone, on until I awoke and wondered what I ate to prompt such a dream.

I had other dreams last night, but the screaming spiders are the ones that stayed with me. I’m good without having a repeat, really. It wasn’t scary or anything, but those screams. Spiders should not make those sounds.

Knowing when not to jump: a dream in half an act

Another night, another weird dream I can recall bits of.

I am in a skyscraper that may or may not be the World Trade Center (the original). The dream has nothing to do with terrorist attacks.

Instead I find myself drawn to climb out onto some kind of spout structure on one of the corners of the building that paradoxically curves upward at the end. This isn’t at the top of the skyscraper but it’s at a decent height. After looking around for a bit I decided I’ve seen enough and go back. Except that, due to dream logic, it is impossible to climb back up the spout. The only way off the spout is down. I look down and am comforted to find there is a large grass lawn below me, verdant green and welcoming.

I then notice that I’m perhaps up a little too high, probably at least a hundred feet, and landing on grass from a hundred feet up will likely result in serious injury, death, or both. I consider my options.

Using one arm to hold onto the curved portion of the spout, I use my free hand to pull out a flip-phone (maybe this is 2001 or earlier, after all) and calmly call 911, requesting rescue. I then wait.

A little while later I am rescued and though I don’t remember exactly what happened, I think I was helped into the bucket of a fire truck and then deposited on the nearest floor of the building, rather than being brought safely to the ground for a good scolding about climbing one-way spouts on skyscrapers. When I am safely inside I look down through a window/balcony/deck and think, “It wasn’t that far. Pfft.” The ironic part here is that I am a big-time acrophobic under the right (or more accurately, wrong) circumstances. If I was grasping onto a spout a hundred feet in the air, off the side of a skyscraper, I would not be calm, I would be in a state of shock or pooping my pants, or pooping my pants while in a state of shock. Like the previous night’s bear-chase dream, I find myself in a situation that should be terrifying and act with utter nonchalance, like this stuff happens all the time.

I kind of like it. I’m not sure what it means. I’m not sure I want to know. But maybe I do.

McDonald’s and the bear: a dream in one act

Last night I had a myriad of dreams, most of them the usual dream sort-of nonsense, though a few too many were work-related. They weren’t bad dreams but I’d rather not have dreams about work when I’m, you know, on vacation.

I woke up from one and found it so dumb I had to record it before I forgot, so I padded into the bathroom, my eyes scrunched up tight from the bright light, and tapped out the dream on my iPad, using the Drafts app. Technology is grand.

In the dream I was walking west along Trunk Road, one of the longer roads in my hometown of Duncan. For reasons I never determined my hands were spackled with moist dirt, as if I’d been planting a garden. Perhaps that was the previous dream.

I strode up the street with my dirt-covered hands and headed toward the McDonald’s near the intersection of Trunk Road and the Island Highway (no such place exists in reality, though there is a McDonald’s further down the highway). As I got close I suddenly realized I’d forgotten my uniform. Yes, apparently I worked there, it was my first shift and I’d forgotten to wear my uniform. I turned around and headed back to get it. And possibly to wash my hands.

A short distance ahead of me I spotted what appeared to be a medium-sized black bear. In comparison to me this was still gigantic. It was snuffling through some overgrown bushes in a yard. I began to back up, hoping the bear would not see me before I could get somewhere bear-proof. Alas, the bear did see me so I picked up the pace, hoping my head-start would serve me well and also hoping bears couldn’t run faster than people. As I ran some guy off to the side yelled out that if I had [something] I could use it to distract the bear. I can’t remember what it was–food seems a likely choice, though given dream logic, it could have been anything. Whatever it was, I didn’t have it so I kept running.

I came upon a parked car and ran around it to the front, leaping onto the hood, which was to serve as my refuge. The bear immediately jumped onto the hood behind me, my refuge lasting about a tenth of a second. I then curled into a ball to at least make it more difficult to gut me and waited for whatever would happen next. I wasn’t scared because I was confident the guy who yelled about distracting the bear with [something] would somehow distract the bear.

I woke up at this point, so I’m not sure how it turned out. I’d like to think I didn’t get eaten.

Also, why I was going to work at McDonald’s in Duncan is a question I won’t even try to answer.

A later dream found me talking with people at work about something (or maybe [something]) and suddenly I couldn’t breathe properly. I began snorting and struggling and woke up to find I was snorting and struggling because my sinuses had completely blocked with the position I was laying in and I couldn’t breathe. It’s a bit freaky when dreams work that way.

If I do this…

If I wear my over-ear headphones and then rub a finger on my upper-lip stubble (it’s not quite grand enough to really call a mustache) the sound is strangely reminiscent of sawing wood.

This has been my random thought of the day.

Also, I dreamed the other night that a taxi driver or bus driver said dividing something up fairly would be “fifty, fifty, fifty” and I frantically tried to find some way to permanently record this wisdom for all time. In reality I have an app called Drafts that I can summon on my Apple Watch and with a tap of the mic icon, I tell it what I want to record and it’s done. It’s simple yet always strikes me as such a spiffy, hi-tech way to record random thoughts and ideas.

In the dream I couldn’t get the app to work. I’m not sure why. The watch probably adopted spontaneous non-Euclidean geometry that made it impossible to operate.

This has been my second random thought of the day. About random thoughts.