Wednesday’s Wandering Thought

Twenty-nine minutes.

It doesn’t seem like much time.

It was how long he waited for Microsoft to update.

MS updates always seem invasive. Waiting for it to do its thing is the norm. This is helpful, he reminded himself. New features. Updated security. Bugs fixed.

But he was on a writing schedule. This was twenty-nine minutes of not writing, of sitting and stewing, impatience and irritation growing, while the computer did its thing. Icons didn’t appear on the taskbar. No notice was given about how much longer was required or what was going on. All he could do is sip coffee, tap a finger, and wait.

Eventually, it finished. When the browser finally opened after twenty-nine minutes of waiting, it displayed a message.

He wasn’t impressed. MS had to make up a twenty-nine minute deficit before their updates would start saving time.

Rant over. Back to the normally scheduled program.

It’s Simple Sometimes

“That’s it,” my wife said. “I think my computer is dying.”

K has some Apple Power Book variation bought years ago. I believe it was 2014. Uses it every day. Apple is her style. All she’s ever used as her own computer. This is her fourth.

“What’s it doing?” I asked from across the office.

“I can’t control the cursor. The touchpad isn’t working. It’s going all over the place.”

I walked over. “Show me.”

She talked me through what she was trying to do (answer an email to Jan about Jan not making it to the book club tomorrow because her husband has a new heart problem) and showed me how the cursor ‘just takes off’.

Wasn’t just taking off. It was scrolling down. “That looks like a scrolling problem,” I said. Reaching over, I pressed the down arrow. It wouldn’t go because it was pressed in and stuck. Sharper pressure released it. The scrolling stopped.

“There. Fixed.”

Tuesday’s Wandering Thought

Tuesday found another tech irritation gaining momentum. Apps and search boxes always tried finishing his typing for him. They were often wrong and usually a distraction. Almost as bad was when he shoved his mouse aside to clear a view of what he was typing, only to have the cursor land on something else, amplifying whatever was in that box, whether he was interested or not. The pages were just messy with annoying ‘helpful’ distractions.

Food & Growth Dream

It began with drinking a cup of coffee. I was at a place which I knew was my home but it wasn’t a RL home. I seemed about forty years old so younger than RL but otherwise the same. Drinking the coffee, I walked along the living room’s length toward the kitchen. A hallway which led to the bedrooms and bathrooms broke off to right. The floor was carpeted with a light China blue plush carpet. I was wearing shoes and I noticed all this because my head was almost brushing the ceiling. That amused me as I’m only 5’8″.

My wife comes out of the bedroom hallways and we chat. I then go back across the living room and back. This time, my ceiling is rubbing against the ceiling enough that I’m bending my head to avoid it. I point this out to her, laughing that either I’m growing or the ceiling is being lowered. She checks it out and agrees, I seem to be taller. I muse that it must be a practical joke; how can I be getting taller? Someone — one of my nieces, nephews, or cousins — must have inserted lifts into my shoes without me noticing. But then, going to set the coffee table down, I found that I’m even taller. They can’t be putting lifts in my shoes because I’m wearing them. I must be growing. How was that possible?

The dream scene changes. I’m having dinner with former co-workers from various employers. These are all RL folk that I’ve not seen in decades. Men and women are segregated. That puzzles me and I ask why but nobody gives me a reasonable answer. Most commonly heard is, ‘because they made the food’. I’m basically sitting alone at the end of a table, with others to the right. Food is being served. I’m making fun of some of the food because it seems unusual and I’m annoyed that we’re being served like the wives are our servants, but it’s tasty food and I’m eating it, and enjoying myself.

Friends call me over to another side. I respond, heading over there. One of the wives wants me to try this special dish which she made. Her husband sets a plate in front of me. It looks like a flat hotdog bun with a hotdog splayed open lengthwise, covered by what looks like dark green ice and a thin piece of steak. I want explanations for what I’m facing. For one thing, I don’t eat hotdogs. She tells me it’s not a regular hotdog, that she actually made it herself, and that it’s very healthy. Okay, I trust her about that, but what about the green ice? I’m not given an answer.

The thing is hard to keep together, but I do so that I can try it. I’m stunned by the flavor, especially the green ice. It’s an exhilarating, cleansing flavor unlike anything I’ve ever had and not anything like I expected. For starters, it’s not cold.

I exclaim appreciation for it, which delights her. She tells me that she knew I would appreciate it. She won’t tell me anything about what it is, but I don’t mind. We joke about it could and I thank her.

Her husband calls me in to join him and other men and women in another room. It’s like a round table setting. They’re having a conversation and he wants to know, what was I good at when I was younger, and gives some background to what he means. I tell him without hesitation, “Music, computers, and art,” then I shrug. They were always effortless to me although I never pursued any of them and regret that.

Dream end.

The Three Cadets Dream

A whirling dervish of a dream. The velocity and fullness reduced what I could record.

TL/DR, I posed as a young cadet to use a computer, got caught and left. I drove a big white pickup and was at a funeral parlor. I spoke with a friend about how he processed his wife’s death.

Main elements included being with three young men and sometimes pretending I was one of them. They were cadets in a junior military training program. Don’t know the service, etc. Punishment was meted out for small infractions; the punishment was ‘take a sip of water’ from a small glass of water. Observing the three of them, I surreptitiously saw their passwords so I could log onto systems under their names. The one I was doing this with most was Josh, a big, gangly white guy from Idaho.

I went with the three to a classroom. Located outside under a warm blue sky, the classroom was a square of computer terminals with chairs. Instructors in the old camouflage battle dress uniforms sat on a wall monitoring activities. I wanted to get on a terminal to write. I had nothing else to write with and it was urgent for me to write.

The three had white vinyl binders. Inside it, one to a page, was a required essay subject. They were supposed to practice writing these five-hundred-word essays and then go to the computer and write them in the system from memory. Figuring I went get in the system under Josh’s name, write one of his essays for him, and then use the computer as I needed, I studied the topics and selected one.

We went in. I began executing my plan under an instructor’s cynical glare. I worried about being caught because I was much older than the cadets and my grooming was not to standards. The instructor noted an immediate infraction in my posture and addressed it in cool, low tones. “Take a sip of water,” she told me. I addressed my posture and sipped, then logged on. I was writing Josh’s essay on what I liked where I lived when I was young at home. Josh was from Idaho. I’ve never been but thought I could take a stab about the land’s beauty, hunting with friends and family, something out of those veins. But progress was impeded by the instructor interrupting me every few with notice of infractions and telling me, “Take a sip of water.”

My worry meter was cranked up. I wanted to get done and get out. Longer I stayed, greater chance of exposure, etc. And with my state and age, greater time equaled greater exposure equaled greater risk of being caught, which means I would fail.

Yes, other instructors took notice of me. Visiting senior officers did, too. They began a passive-aggressive campaign, standing behind me and telling another cadet sitting to my side to tell me that I was out of reg, etc., a drip of constant criticism. I slowly fumed and finally had it, identifying myself to the commander when he came in and made a snide remark. One of my commanders from RL, his posture instantly changed. He replied, “I know who you are. I’m just having fun with you.”

I decided to leave. The commander cajoled me, “Stay, relax, lighten up. Sometimes you need to relax, Seidel.”

But I was angry and set. Good-bye. He ruefully answered the same.

I caught up with the three cadets I’d been with. One of them had been working on an essay and showed it to me. His essay was supposed to be about CADRE, an acronym and what it meant to him. He took it literally, explaining what each letter represented. I lambasted him for being so literal, telling him, this is not what they want.

We were talking and walking. They got into a shiny white new Chevy pickup with me, a huge beast of machinery. I drove through the town talking with them about how to write better essays. Then I pulled into a side road, dirt, green with grass clumps. A woman was with five dogs and a ginger kitten. I worried about the ginger kitten being hurt by the dogs or the kitty being hit by a car. But another man arrived as I did, corralled the dogs and let her pick up the kitten. It seemed like those two knew each other.

I pulled into a large facility and back up to park. Difficult for me in this truck. Don’t know why we were there. I went into…confused miasma of things… I ended up with mud sticking to my shoes. I pulled them off to clean them, along with my socks. I was in a hurry to leave. When I parked, I thought I’d been to close other vehicles and thought I’d grazed a few, and I saw that a man was in one of them.

All the vehicles were white trucks like the one I drove.

The man got out and conducted a stony inspection of the trucks and gave me a look. I got into the truck to leave. The truck drifted back, scrapping more vehicles. I realized that my truck was too close to the others to move, so I got out and pushed it to one side so that I could leave.

We didn’t leave but went into the building. I discovered this was a funeral parlor. The man came in and met with family. They were in mourning over a loss. Don’t know who. I ran into my friend, Mel. I asked him how he’d coped when he lost his wife. He said that he didn’t handle it well, drinking too much and doing stupid shit, trying to sell computers.

Dream end

Dream note: Mel is a real life friend and looked exactly as I know him. His wife is alive.

Worth Noting

David Walden, Computer Scientist at Dawn of Internet, Dies at 79

I worked for IBM for over a decade after retiring from the military and became aware of David Walden’s name while I was there. I’d heard of the work of the I.M.P. before that while reading about ARPANET. People like Walden contributed to this thing called the net and develop it to the point where we have the connectivity of today. I take the net for granted, complaining about it when it’s slow or won’t load, along with the work that Walden did, but it’s pretty amazing when you regard its technology.

RIP, David Walden

A Dream of Nerds

I was on location somewhere. Huge friggin’ building. Mixed used. Offices, classrooms, and dorms. Not sure of my purpose there. Clearly a visitor as others introduced me. Looked me over. Showed me the ups and downs. Overall, the raisons d’être seemed about learning, teaching, and solving problems related to electronic communications and computer networks. We would form impromptu erratic groups that changed composition. All were young. Very smart. Male and female of multiple races and ethnicities were present. After forming in halls or lobbies, we’d be told something like, “So and so wants us in the blah blah blah,” and off we’d scurry. Never caught names. None of the faces were familiar. They were distinctly nebbish and nerdish, though. A vibe. The machines absorbed their intention. They made silly jokes.

They wanted to befriend me but I was dubious about being there. I didn’t select going there. Wasn’t certain of what was going on. But did learn that I would only be there a short time. A few days. This was a catalyst for them all to want to spend more time with me and be my friend. All kept trying to grab me so they could talk to me, pulling me close, pulling me away from others, following me as a herd, swamping me as I walked the halls and stairs. I was flattered and overwhelmed.

In the evenings, we could go to a club. Have beers. Well, that appealed to me. That immediately appealed to my new cohort. They were all for it. Going then involved an elaborate process of acquiring passes to leave and enter the right buildings and halls, and possessing the correct identification and means to buy beers. Totally bewildering to me on the first night. My new friends took me through it.

By the second day, I was more familiar, comfortable, and assertive. I was finding where I wanted to go. What I wanted to do. Then, beer again in the evening. My friends were less sure. Beer? Again? But we did that last night. Another group, who’d missed out on the previous evening, heard and wanted to go, so everyone went. Huge crowd.

Third time I spent more time in the classrooms. I was introduced to computer networks. They were having problems. We begin changing out components. The teacher led this process. I thought it haphazard. Shouldn’t we be tracking what we did and the results? It became more chaotic. Noisier. The volume deafened me. I focused on what was going on with fixing the computer networks. Can’t articulate in our real existence what was going on. Only that a fix was needed. We were removing and installing silver modules about the size of ancient removable hard drives. After doing a number of them, I discerned a pattern and began suggesting changes.

That’s where the dream ended.

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