Friday Notes (Mar 10, 2023)

In the last edition of Friday Notes my long-winded story about a problem filing my state taxes and the unexpectedly (but very welcome) positive experience of dealing with support from H&R Block, my bank, and the Minnesota Department of Revenue used up the bulk of my word count. But, in contrast to the negative experiences with most tech companies (cough, Apple, cough), it was a good story to tell.

I didn’t have room for all the notes accumulated in my Apple Notes app. This time I’ll try to fit in the rest of them.

But I want to record a dream I had, so (once again) there might not be room.

The preface to the dream, is that just last night I was wondering why I wasn’t having my usual cinematic story dreams. In fact, I couldn’t recall having had any decent dreams lately. We do dream, of course, but often we don’t recall them. They vanish with our wakefulness.

I did recall a fragment of one I had recently. It involved an outdoor dance routine involving several dozens of people in two concentric circles. All I can remember is that at one point everyone in the inner circle threw long cloth banners over their heads to those in the outer circle. Everyone was facing inwards to the center, and the arcs of the banners from each person in the inner circle to each person in the outer circle were beautiful. The banners (long bolts of cloth, no markings) were red, and everyone was wearing yellow robes. Kind of a Bollywood number.

My dreams are often epic stories, usually with strong (if bizarre) narratives and often visually spectacular. I never have recurring dreams or nightmares (and damnit, I never dream of flying; my dream is to dream of flying).

Lately, because I’ve subscribed to Amazon Music (which I’m loving), I’ve been playing one of their curated playlists while I sleep. They have every imaginable music genre, as well as ones for various artists. The shorter ones are over two hours long. Some of them play for eleven hours or more. Generally, I play one of their jazz playlists while I sleep.

But I’ve been wondering if the music was disturbing my sleep enough to block or disrupt my story dreams. Could the jazz be just enough to keep me from deep enough sleep? Or was it lulling me into such a deep sleep I didn’t remember the dreams? Except for that fragment of one.

So, last night I decided to use their Deep Sleep playlist. Six hours (and six minutes). The description: Drift into deep sleep with this mix of relaxing ambient songs. Lots of drone tones and peaceful sounds. Very soporific.


And this morning I woke with a good story dream still lodged in my memory. Or, at least, as lodged as dreams get. Parts vivid, parts vague, some parts missing.

One thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to record dreams as soon as you wake. They evaporate like the morning dew, and it doesn’t take long for them to seem like dreams (rather than remembered experiences). The longer one is awake, the more they vanish into the mist.

So, I went directly to my computer and, sitting there in my underwear and socks, recorded what I could remember. Then I went out to shovel my sidewalk and driveway because it snowed last night.

[Idle thought: why is it underwear (which in my case includes a tee-shirt) and socks? Why aren’t socks included in under wear? One might guess it’s because many socks (like my Minnesota Twins socks) are meant to be seen, but so are some bras and other forms of underwear. Yet, I think everyone would agree that socks aren’t underwear. Go figure.]

I’ve edited the original text to form complete sentences. Some added parenthetical comments attempt to analyze things. Without further ado:

§ §

There was an earlier part I don’t remember. It involved what the three pieces of paper were and how I got them. What I remember is that I was in my car in line for a bank teller window (possibly channeling being in line at Walgrens recently to get my prescription, though this was more like a fast-food window). I had three pieces of paper I needed to exchange for $50. I can’t recall what they were, but in the dream, I knew (not checks; small and squarish; possibly also channeling Walgrens, which wanted my Medicare card, my insurance card, and my credit card — three items).

I was second in line. Then it was my turn. The guy at the window handed me an open bottle of beer (not a brand I knew). I think I’d seen that happen with the car in front of me. It was opened but full (hadn’t been drunken from). Figured the deal was I could sip from it while waiting but would then give it back upon completion of my transaction (but decided I could keep it). I did drink from it, but don’t recall the taste. (Maybe didn’t have any?)

I explained what I needed, but he said I needed to go to the bank that had issued them. I explained they weren’t from a bank. (I was sure any bank could redeem them.) I said, let me show you and dug them out from my wallet. They were between various bills in my wallet. I was thinking this wasn’t going to work out, but as I turned to show him, he was standing outside my car and handed me a crumpled $50 bill. I think I handed him the three pieces of paper.

As I drove away, I thought maybe this town (state?) didn’t have open bottle laws and it was okay to have the beer. Didn’t think of it, or drink from it, after. Because…

I was in a big city with lots of traffic. Had driven past the restaurant I wanted but ended up several blocks away. Because of heavy traffic, waited a long time to make a right turn at a stop sign. Thought to myself: most of my friends would be freaked out by the big city traffic, but I was fine with it. Eventually parked my car.

Walking and walking to get back to the restaurant. No sense of hurry or that I was expected by anyone. I was in a deserted area, no traffic, no people. Kind of run down. I had a lot of money on me (just bills folded in half; had left wallet in car). Wanted to hide some of it. Walked through a vacant lot and thought it was a good time to hide some (in my shoe) while unobserved.

But then a woman came running out of a nearby building. Running in my direction. But she wasn’t being chased, she was laughing. Then followed by man. Both laughing, so I wasn’t worried. They came near me. Older black couple. He had gray hair. Then we were walking down an alley with a lot of turns and with very tall buildings around it (maze-like). Started to worry a little it was a blind alley. They explained it was okay, there was a door. You just had to force it sometimes. Door turned out to be a heavy metal sliding door, but I opened it okay.

Then I was in a Hispanic part of town. Less deserted. Walked through a busy outdoor Tacoria of some kind. Walked past and noticed a young white woman sitting at a table with friends. Thin, black hair (looked a lot like Jami Gertz circa the 1996 film Twister). She seemed uncomfortable to be there. The Black couple had vanished. Walked through (I think) the kitchen. Was in a hallway and approaching a fire exit with an alarm, but a Hispanic woman in front of me got there first. She opened it, and the entire wall folded down and away. We laughed and said that was a great way to avoid the door alarm (the door was still closed in the fallen wall, so no alarm).

Walked on feeling I was getting close to the restaurant I was seeking.

And then I woke up.

§ §

And damnit, there went my word count. I’ll fit in what I can…


The Excluded Middle

The Liar Paradox demonstrates the shortcomings of the excluded middle (and, thus, one place where hard logic isn’t the right tool). Many proofs boil down to an assumption that leads to a logical contradiction where {X = not X} and therefore the original assumption must be false.

That’s often valid. Often enough to make the excluded middle (the only alternatives being either X or not X) such a useful tool as to be considered necessary for many important proofs.

But consider: This statement is a lie.

In other words: X = not X

Further, the human mind is completely comfortable with {X = not X}. Our minds can embrace conflicting thoughts about the same object of intention. Indeed, we often embrace paradox gleefully!

The liar paradox itself is easily dismissed as either verbal nonsense or a particularly abstract concept that, in expressing our delight with paradox, is beyond the analysis of mere formal logic. (Math isn’t the answer to every problem! 😎)

So, the excluded middle is logically useful, but not the end-all be-all of discourse.


The Sound of One Hand Clapping

Sometimes said to be “cl” or “ap”! Sometimes said to be masturbation. (Which puts a new spin on the idea of giving someone a hand.)

Joking aside, I’ve heard it’s a koan accessing ‘things we can’t imagine.’ It’s an example of how a sentence can express a paradox or contradiction. (As in the just mentioned, “This sentence is false.”)

This may be related to Gödel. A quote from a fanfiction novella about Gödel (which I’ve been meaning to reread if I can find the PDF file):

“But while we can know a lot of things, we can’t be sure of anything that we know. Being sure is a belief about beliefs. When we say that we’re sure, we’re saying that we believe that our own beliefs are correct. It seems safe enough, but that’s Step One toward proving the liar sentence, and the moment we do that we’re wrong. Whenever we’re sure we know, we’re fooling ourselves very, very badly.”

[See also my recent post Disbelief.]



It seems to boil down to how you perceive the fetus relative to society and, in particular, the mother (and father). And your religious indoctrination, if any.

At one extreme are situations where the mother’s life is threatened. In a close corner, rape situations. Down the line a bit, places where the pregnancy is untenable for reasons of circumstance – from dire to merely personal.

Some believe no moral calculus is appropriate. But the real world sometimes only offers bad choices, and that calculus is one tool for deciding among them. For others, the calculus has an obvious result: The two (fetus and mother) are fully equal. Or the two are distinctly unequal. These irreconcilable worldviews lie at the core of the debate.

(A good question to ask some folks: If you knew a fetus was gay, would it be okay to abort it? Or, if you could, modify it? Science fiction author Greg Egan has an interesting story, Cocoon, along this line.)


Room for a short quote from my much longer Dunning-Kruger note:

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool: shun him.

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is ignorant: teach him.

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep: awaken him.

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise: follow him.

§ §

I love that my dreams are positive and fun. I’m a happy drunk, too, so despite my constant irascibility and curmudgeonly approach to life, at heart I’m a positive generally happy person.

That’s been a life goal, and thus I’m content.

Stay dreaming, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

5 responses to “Friday Notes (Mar 10, 2023)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Maybe next time I’ll just focus on the remaining notes in my Apple Notes app. They’re all pretty long-ish, so maybe they deserve their own Friday Notes post.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Remind me to write about silicon life forms, a staple of some science fiction stories. Silicon has a lot in common with carbon, so there’s been this idea that silicon-based life might exist.

    But,… probably not. A key reason being that silicon dioxide, which would be the equivalent of carbon dioxide, is very stable (and a solid rather than a gas). Being a solid presents some issues for eliminating it (silicon creatures would poop sand), but the real issue is its stability. Carbon dioxide breaks down readily providing a source of oxygen. Silicon dioxide doesn’t (no known natural chemical reaction breaks it down).

    This doesn’t entirely rule it out. There may be some sort of life cycle that allows it, but it’s extremely unlikely.

    Carbon is a pretty unique element in a lot of ways. (And water is a pretty unique molecule, too. Once again, in defiance of the Copernican Principle, human life has some very unique aspects. We are, indeed, kind of special!)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And now, back to Ngaio Marsh! Enjoying her work way more than I did P.D. James [see this post and comments]. Working my way through her Chief Inspector Alleyn novels. Today I’ll start #14 (of 32).

  • Mark Edward Jabbour

    As usual – a feast of meat. I once (2009) thought about hanging out a sign in Poudre Canyon advertising DREAM ANALYSIS. I’d charge $60. Probably should have … ?

    Lately, many of the people I follow on WP are posting their dreams. My psych-girl says …

    Hang in there. It’s Happy Hour Friday! Cheers.

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