Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More Dreams

Small Town after 3rd (by j image) I’ve continued the dream journal each night. Some days, like last night, nothing happens. But more often I have some incredibly detailed, long, and sometimes interesting dreams.  I had this one just a few days ago, making me think I should think about moving so a smaller town, or at least one with a museum inhabited by monsters.

I was on the Metro with Erin, though it was more like a commuter train or Amtrak train going WAY out beyond DC. We were going to some far out place for a trip or weekend called 777.

Some stuff happened in our car, but I don’t remember what. At a stop we then went up to the front car (Erin and I) and were talking to some people, including the conductor. The conductor realized something was missing and sent me back at the next stop, to a car at the back of the train to get it, a Bluetooth headset or something. As I ran to the last car I overshot the train. When I turned around to run back to the last car the train had begun pulling out of the station. I was stranded and the station was in the middle of nowhere.

I walked away from the stations and ended up near an inn or hotel. I talked to someone there and kept walking to a small town they had mentioned. It started getting dark, though it was still late morning or early afternoon, and I came across a shopping mall. I went through the mall, and when I came out on the other side it was bright outside, essentially the mall blocked the sun. I headed on thinking I was going back to the train station, but was distracted. I remember looking for a compass or something to figure out where East was.

I came into a small town that had a lot of people, thousands, but wasn’t “huge” like a city. There was a main road with shops on either side, and some other side roads (the the main road joining a side road in a “V”. Everything looked like Annapolis or Old Town with shops essentially as townhouses.

I got to the end of the street and came upon some train tracks, more like local tracks without spars. I had initially thought I had found the train station, but quickly realized it was in the center of town and was a scenic train track.

I kept going and came to a big museum. I had two doors I could use; one looked older and inside the pillars looked overgrown with plants and trees. I went in that door without even looking at the other one. I saw up in a tree some predator. As I watched it warily I got hit in the side. I looked and there was a long, thin thing that seemed to have an almost human face but with a very short neck and squashed facial features.

It looked like a really sick teen.

It began attaching me and eventually had me pinned down, with razor sharp teeth about to slice my face and throat. I got my hand under its tiny chin pressing against its throat. It stopped his face from coming toward me, but really I was just buying time. I took a chance and moved my hand, my thumb accidentally slipping in its mouth once, but got my hand wrapped around its throat and my thumb on his trachea. I pushed and pushed until he was unconscious. I then jumped up and ran out.

I ended up outside and then in another museum (or maybe a section of the same one) where I saw people and talked to them. I mentioned the animal and they just referred to it as “the kid.”

I then ran into Alex D., Christine M. and some other college kids who were staying in the town as a stop-off for a longer trip. I mentioned “the kid” but then we all forgot about it. At some point I I went back through the “wooded” hall but nothing scared me.

I was back in town walking around. Rob and Jodie were there walking around and ended up in a pub.

I came across a parking garage when a guy offered to park my car. Suddenly I had my car and said yes. He drove it into an impossibly small doorway, and it was taken care of.

I was talking to some teens and saw others coming up the street. In the group was Allison P.. I went over and boisterously said “I didn’t know you were on the trip too. I’d have spent the day with you.” We then walked down a side street and saw a lot of townhouses that looked like new construction, or were very clean and kept up, but were empty.

I was talking about how the town is a great example of capitalism and the balance needed to keep it successful. The town survived on retail sales from visitors, but had no “production,” so it would always remain small and homes would be empty.

We went up some steps and ended up back on the main street, near the scenic train tracks.

I bought, or got something about the town and went to the garage to put it in my car. I went to the garage nut no one was there (it was now dark). Two townspeople were around and said I could go in, and opened the door. There was an old woken ladder going down and I asked, jokingly, “what, no elevator?” The townspeople replied that it was an old town. I went down and there were flickering lanterns illuminating the area. I got to the bottom and was in a big room with panels in the floor with hooks that pop up. I pulled a hook and opened it a bit, but the bay was empty. I was sure my car would have been there.

Then the garage owner poked his head from above and said my car should be right there. I asked him how he gets the cars in and out and he said he airlifts them with a tow helicopter.

I moved over a spot, lifted the panel and found my car. I checked to be sure, then lifted the trunk as much as I could (just a crack) and put my item in the car. They were going to pull the car out of the garage, but I realized they need to since I wasn’t planning to leave.

While I was waiting for the helicopter I noticed the hook on the front of the car with a rope/strap that didn’t look sturdy enough to hold the car. The owner said it would be fine.

While waiting I also saw Rob down there doing stuff in his car (he had more space in his garage spot).

The helicopter flew over, they attached my car, and they lifted it out. I grabbed my phone to take some pictures. The helicopter looked a bit boxy, like a tow truck with a red box on it. It had a car strapped right to the bottom already, and it flew off with my car hanging down by the front bumper.

I came out of the garage and Erin was there. She had a balloon or something. We went by the scenic train tracks and had a quick sit-down meal. I talked about how much I love the town and want to move there. She didn’t seem against the idea at all. We finished up and walked down the sidewalk and ran into a pickup imaginary baseball game that happened right in the sidewalk. We accidentally walked through them as they threw (and hit) an imaginary ball and ran in a circle (as wide as the sidewalk) to imaginary bases. Erin accidentally walked through a base runner. The people grumbled but we apologized.

We got to the end of the street though and headed for the car. I asked Erin if she’d like to stay the night in the hotel, hoping she’d say yes.

I thought I’d like to live there, but didn’t want my kids growing up there and being so na├»ve. I’d had a conversation with a teen there who had never left the town and had no idea how to live in a larger community [I can’t remember his question that started it, but it was a single question]. I decided we could retire there.

I asked Erin if she’d want to stay the night in the hotel, but before I got an answer the alarm went off and I woke up.

So, the question of the day is, are you at all interested in hearing about how my head works when it’s not doing anything productive?


Saturday, July 26, 2008


Willy, NO swimming and talking on your cell phone! (by ucumari) When two people are in a conversation, in reality, one person is talking, expressing their feelings on “whatever” and the other is listening.

Often the shy, quiet people are good at being the listener, sharing a little bit about themselves, but mostly waiting patiently while the talker discusses their life.

What’s interesting is that most often the person talking the most isn’t actually driving the conversation. More often the listener will add in a single question or comment that gets the talker to expand on one area. Most often it’s the listener that drives the conversation down a specific path or line of thought.

In most cases the person talking don’t even realize it.

We often think of the “talker” as the person dominating the conversation. It’s interesting that the person who dominates actually has the least control over what they are doing.

How often have you realized that the times you feel most in control, are also the times someone else is pulling the strings?


Friday, July 25, 2008

God’s Funny Ways

Never Change Your Love in the Middle of the Night (by I'm Your Pusher) God works in some pretty funny ways sometimes.

I went to bed last night at 7:45 to get a nap before going to a movie. As I began waking up and thought about leaving for the movie, I got a phone call and talked to a distraught friend for an hour and a half.

The nap was incredibly helpful, but not at all in the way I’d expected.

I love it when a plan comes together… Even if it’s not my plan.


More Dreams

Rachel & Madeline Sleeping (by tlbignerd) I’ve had a whole lot of different dreams lately.  This journal is working out somewhat well, though I find it pretty hard to actually get up in the middle of the night and write the dreams down.  Then one morning recently I was writing a dream and it took about 15 minutes to get down.  Needless to say, Erin was thrilled.

When I told Rachel what I was doing the piped up with her own dream from the night before.

I dreamt about where I was at school with my pajamas on and I took me panties off because they were wet and I showed my butt to the floor.

She said that unabashedly and with a big smile.

Maybe this is where high school nightmares of showing up at a test in your underwear are born.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Do Youlu Hulu?

Hulu logo I mentioned in an earlier post that I was in the middle of watching Newhart when Joanna said a useful line.  If you don’t know, Newhart is a TV show from 1982 – 1990.  It’s a show about Bob Newhart (one the the best comedians ever, check out his biography, you’ll laugh your tukus off… if you’re cheap it’s a penny used on Amazon), and is making clear to Erin where I got some of my idiosyncrasies. In any case I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how was Tom watching Newhart on TV when it’s so old?

That seems like the perfect question to talk about Hulu.

Hulu has been around for over a year, but it’s been a closed beta.  Now it’s finally open, and anyone can watch TV and movie episodes.  The quality is excellent (so good I can run them on my TV off of my laptop) and the shows start right away.  What’s great is that they really have a LOT of TV shows and movies. There’s old stuff like Benson and new stuff like The Office.  They even have some pretty new movies like Pitch Black.  They even have shows in HD, though those mostly appear to be clips right now.

The best part of Hulu?  It’s free.  When you watch a show every 15 minutes you’ll get a 20 second ad.  So, can you live with watching your TV with a single ad every 15 minutes?  That’s one ad for a sitcom like 30 Rock, two for hour long shows like, um, Total Recall 2070 (did you even know there was such a show)?  If you miss an episode of your favorite show, you may be able to watch it here, since you have most (or all) of the previous episodes (Benson season 1 episode 2 is missing for some reason).

Essentially Hulu started as an idea at NBC to give people video easily.  They left the venture and a bunch of networks are now working together to provide content.  They get advertising revenue, and we stop downloading the stuff illegally. 

What really impresses me is the quality.  The streaming from Sci-Fi of previous episodes is very pixilated and could never be shown on a TV.  This stuff is great quality.

There are still a lot of shows missing.  I looked for The Closer since Erin missed an episode, but it wasn’t there.  I’d just love to see more stuff up.  But if you haven’t checked out Hulu yet, I’m sure you’ll find something to love.

And no, we didn’t use Hulu for our Newhart episodes.  Sadly, they’re not up yet.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008


expectations (by Amelia PS) Our expectations of others is clearly defined by our own capabilities.

What I mean by this is that what we expect other people to be capable of is based on what we think we’re capable of ourselves.  For example, I believe I know a ton about computers, both hardware and software.  A little about Macs, but a lot about Windows.  Whenever I talk to someone else about computers, I initially expect they know as much, or less, than I do about computers.  So when we’re talking I “dumb down” the language until someone tells me “yeah, got it, I know that.”

I also overhear people who need need a few months to come up to speed on a new project.  It just takes a while to understand the client, what the application should be doing, and how everything works.  When that same person meets with someone new to the project, they expect that the new person knows less than they do about the project, and that it will take a long time to get the same understanding that the experienced person now has.  That experienced person is really surprised when the newbie took their previous experience, did their own research, and now has an understanding equal to the experienced person in only a few days.

What would happen if we all went into conversations expecting more from the other person than we expect from ourselves?

We sure don’t want to push someone over the edge.  For all you know, you really are the smartest person in the world about how to marinate green peppers stuffed with ground arugula and pigeon meat, so you can’t expect someone else to be better.

How much would someone’s self-image improve if we all met them for the first time expecting them to be better than ourselves.  What if we told the person that?  Don’t make yourself look stupid, just make the other person look smart.

Stop expecting someone to be less capable, or know less than you.  Change your own expectations of others, and they’ll change theirs as well.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Old West Collectibles - Gold Scale (by ) We’ve been going to Let’s Dish to prepare our dinners for about a year now, and we really love it.  In case you’ve never been, and never heard Erin and I gush about it, Let’s Dish is a place where they get all of the ingredients together and we come in and prepare our meals.  We split all of the meals, so that our 8 meal session lasts for 16 meals, just a little under a month.

One of the funny things I always find myself doing is comparing meat.  The staff do a great job separating out meat (either chicken breasts, flank steak, pork loin), and yet I still compare all of the options.  Heck, I find it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to tell a difference, but I still compare each time.

A few weeks ago our television died.  The bulb burnt out and the TV (even without the bulb) had a weird ticking noise.  So we decided that instead of spend hundreds of dollars getting it fixed, it was time to get something new. There I am at Costco about to buy a TV and before I pulled it onto the cart I compared the different boxes to find the one with no marks on it.

I know that I’m not at all alone. People always look to get the best, and feel disappointed when they don’t get it.

When we’re at the grocery store we look at how other kids are better behaved, and wonder what we can do to get our kids in line.  When we’re on the road we look at all the other cars around us that get better gas mileage, are nicer or are more fun.

It’s so easy to begin coveting those things we don’t have, and just as easy to resent the things we do.

Marketing relies on this.  That we all need the next, new, big thing. That we aren’t happy and our lives aren’t complete until we have the newest phone and the biggest house.

When I look around the room I think about how many things I have that 99.9% of the world doesn’t have (heck, a roof for one).

I’m in the middle of watching Newhart right this minute and Joanna says “We spend so much time regretting what we don’t have instead of appreciating what we do.”  Now if that’s not a sign, then it’s just coincidence.

Anyway, it’s time to look around the room at every single object, and appreciate the amount of work that went into making it, into earning the money to buy it, and into the time to acquire/create it.  It’s time to appreciate the old things that we have more than the new that we don’t.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Diary of a Dream Journal

It’s day 3 of my reincarnation, and I have to say that strange things are afoot in dreamland.  I vaguely remember having some sort of existence years ago, when my dreamer was in college, but can’t recall a single thing he wrote.  I sure hope it was more interesting than this stuff that is now filling my pages, shaping my view of the world.

Things are either incredibly boring, or new career ideas are afoot.

Check this one out:

I ate bourbon chicken from Let’s Dish and popcorn during Live Free or Die Hard.

Read “The Terror” by Dan Simmons before sleeping

Up at 6:26
I know I dreamt something about a big-screen TV and another about work or a coffee maker, but I can’t remember them.

Puhleese, how boring can you get?  If this is what I have in my near future, just throw me into the fire now.  Using me as paper for the bird cage would be preferable to this boredom.

Then I get nights with tons of dreams (four dreams two nights ago), one even a bit interesting, if in a psychadelic sort of way.  Here’s this one:

Ate BBQ pork loin from Let’s Dish and carrots afterward Read “The Terror” before sleeping

Up around 4:30
I woke up with the radio alarm coming on.

I dreamt that I was driving home and saw some fireworks going off. I was then walking along the back of my house, which seemed to be a townhouse. There were lots of huge fireworks going off and I was wondering if Erin was watching them from our bedroom.

The next thing I knew I was driving down the road during the day. I drove up to a white car that was flipped on its roof. I drove by slowly, behind another person, and saw it was a police car. I was going to just drive call 911 but the car in front of me pulled over, so I decided I should too to see if I could help. I dialed 911 and got out of the car. As I began walking back I somehow saw the accident on TV and the man in the leading car was talking on his phone to someone at 911 about how he could see the cop waving. Then it seemed the cop was ok and I was I was then watching the scene on TV as people arrived to help.

See how he jumps from the car to walking to having a townhouse that is somehow detached? Plus a car wreck to boot! Obviously he’s on drugs, but that doesn’t make it somewhat interesting.

Then last night after he goes to see Dark Knight he comes back with imaginations of grandeur. It must be the large popcorn and soda he chugged down at 2 a.m.

7/17/2008 asleep at 7:15
I had dinner at Potbelly after Rachel finished ice skating class. I’m going to wake up at 10:30 to see Dark Knight.

Up at 5:30 to my alarm

I dreamt that I was in a community center walking down the hall and came across a room with people from church meeting, but no one was talking. Lots of people were in the room, none of whom I recognized, though it was a Reverence committee meeting. There were three or four rows of seats rising higher like bleachers or an auditorium with tables in front or, really, like a house committee hearing room. There was also a stage up front with a few people, the “designated leaders,” really making decisions. I went in and the room was silent, they had topics to discuss but no one would agree on anything. They didn’t really have a focus for the Reverence committee and everyone was bored.

I went and got people moving more. When people began getting “interested” I saw that we had corded microphones and needed cordless or something, since the corded microphones meant that not everyone could be heard. We gathered three of the mics together at the top of the seats for people to talk into.

People began talking and getting passionate about things… and disagreeing. It was good to see everyone having an opinion and sharing it, but soon people became upset and angry. People cared about Reverence and were glad to share their feelings openly, but they still had no direction. People raised their voices and I couldn’t get them to listen.

I gave people small sheets of paper to write out the focus of Reverence and the meeting itself. While people wrote down what they want Reverence to be, the question came up and people began arguing about structure and leadership. People put an org chart together and wanted to know where the decision making power [I originally wrote command] came from. I grabbed a sheet and began to draw a circle but someone else brought up the Target symbol (red with one circle around a center dot). I was the dot in the center, a leader shaping the decision making of the outer circle, which is where the people (committee members) were. Every person in the room was at the same level. The circle had “designated leaders” at the same level [and power] as everyone else. Decision making carried equal weight and equal responsibility.

I wasn’t the focus, or even a part of the group. The leaders were the people in the circle, the dot in the center was the meeting director, uninvolved in decision making and instead focused on keeping the circle moving, caring about their path and decisions as they continued around forever.

Then I got a flip chart, moved it to the center of the room, and people began giving their ideas on committee direction. I didn’t get to write any down. Something happened, I don’t remember what, and the dream ended.

If this keeps up I’m putting in for hazard pay.

Peace, or at least a sleepless night,
+Tom’s dream journal

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Big, Fat and Friendly

Caterpillar eating tomato This evening I was grilling up dinner when I spied a tomato plant with only one, half-eaten tomato.  Looking closer it seemed that the half-eaten tomato was devoured by a green leaf.  Then the common sense kicked in and I looked a bit closer.  We have a huge, beautiful caterpillar happily munching on our tomatoes.  My friend Rob let me know this is a Tomato Hornworm and is relatively harmless unless you count it eating all my tomatoes and flowers within one day (apparently it’s supposed to only eat the leaves).  Apparently it will turn into a sphinx moth.

Caterpillar eating tomato I quickly grabbed the camera and got some great pictures of this gigantic, yet cute, guy.  The “eyes” on the top of it’s head are there to scare birds into thinking he’s a snake.

Somehow Rachel thinks it’s not safe to touch, so I told her I’d check.  By now it’s likely moved on to bigger and better things… like our beefsteak tomatoes.

All I can think about is The Very hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  Maybe I should put out some chocolate cake, salami, ice cream cones, cupcakes, lollipops, pickles, Swiss cheese, watermelon, cherry pie and those other things the hungry caterpillar ate.  by the way, you know you’re a father when you can recite most of a children’s book from memory on command. I can’t wait to see what this thing turns into!

Caterpillar eating tomato

All the caterpillar photos are up on Flickr.  The textures and colors are awesome, and man, I wish I had a spike for a tail.

How industrious do you think you could be if your entire life depended on it?  What would you do to make it possible for your whole being to transform into something more beautiful than it already is?


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dream Journaling

Parallel Dreams (by meloses) When I was in college I took a Psychology 101 class, mainly to see if I was at all interested in becoming a psychologist.  Listening to people, talking to them, and helping them work through problems seemed just as interesting to me then as it does today.  Of course, school is a bad example for real life and having to learn about Freud, Jung and Wundt soured me to the whole idea.  I mean, four years of that would be incredibly boring and a painful practice in memorization.  So I decided to take the easy way out and major in Computer Science, those classes were cake (or pie anyway, I don’t much care for cake).

There were two things I took away from my psych class though that were useful.  First, when you’re told you can work with someone else in the class to write the paper, what the teacher really means is you can do a little research together, but you can’t actually work together to write the paper.  Got my first “F” with that misunderstanding, but rewriting the paper fixed things up.

The other actually useful thing we did was a project on dream journaling, which was incredibly interesting.  I only wish the teacher had returned the journal at the end of the class.  In case you’re interested, here’s the process.

Get a spiral bound notebook and pen/pencil.  Keep them both right on your nightstand, the closer to you the better. Just before going to sleep write down the date and time and what you ate for dinner (I’m not sure why this last part is relevant, but I did it anyway).

Any time you wake up grab the paper and pen first thing and write down what you were dreaming about.  When you wake up in the morning do the same thing.

If you wake up in the morning and can’t remember your dreams just write something like “I don’t remember what I dreamt about”.

For the first week or two you may rarely remember having any dreams.  Some people in class got so frustrated with that that they just made up their journal.

Over the month I began to realize just how much I dreamt, and how clearly it was remembered when I wrote it down right away.  I began getting up multiple times in the middle of the night and writing for about a minute or two, then going right back to sleep.

At about the time you begin recalling and writing down your dreams, you’ll also recognize that you have one heck of an imagination.  Things may make no sense and can only be described as your brain having fun while your body is out.

Tonight I begin dream journaling again.  Anyone else up for it?


Monday, July 14, 2008

Childhood Dreams

Rachel, Lydia and Ms. MaryLee playing with toys I asked Rachel what she dreamt about last night, and here is what she said.

I dreamt that we were at school just looking around. Ms. MaryLee was there and she was playing with our toys. She was our size.

When I asked if she had any other dreams this is another one from the same night.

I dreamt about a puppy that didn’t bite. He said “I don’t bite” and I said “ok.” I didn’t pet him.

Sometimes I wonder how much she makes up on the fly (she is great at making up stories and imagining things) and how much is actually from a dream.  In either case though, these made me want to start up my dream journal again that I once put together for a psychology class in college.

And yes, Rachel did say dreamt and not dreamed, my kids grammar is better than your kids :)


Friday, July 11, 2008

Playing With My Wife

Tom, Erin and Colin at KinderCare (by tlbignerd) Tonight I got to do one of those rare things which are far more enjoyable than I’d really expect.  I got to play with my wife.  I know what you’re thinking…  and no, we weren’t running around the house playing tag… That’s just dangerous.  And yes, I know what you were really thinking, and that’s even MORE dangerous.

Tonight, for the first time, Erin and I played on the Wii together.  I got a pinball game off the discount rack at Costco, and it’s become one of my favorite games, next to Geometry Wars.

Tonight Erin saw me playing and she joined in.  I kicked her butt up against the wall, as any good husband should when asserting his power and prowess.  We won’t discuss those games where Erin got two or three or even four times more points than I did.  All I remember are the games I won…  all two of them!

Anyway, it was really just fun.  We sat and laughed at each-other and watched expectantly, waiting for the other person to mess up, and secretly hoping they wouldn’t.

Good times, everyone should get a Wii.

So, in case you’re counting, my recommendations for required Wii playing are:

  1. Go Diego Go!: Safari Rescue (required for anyone with a kid under 5)
  2. Geometry Wars: Galaxies
  3. Pinball Hall of Fame