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Fermius Firefly

A Dream Log, whenever I remember the dreams I've had.

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Location: San Marcos, United States

Fermius is a pen name drawn from a series of short fiction I wrote when I published the small press magazine Stellanova (on paper.) I play RPG games to escape from my daily grind as a technology wage slave for the state of California. I eat out a lot in order to do my part in supporting our increasingly service level economy. I am butler to 2 feline masters. If you ask them they will tell you I'm not very good at it, late with dinner, don't have enough hands with brushes in them, and sometimes I even lock them out of their office.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Universe is not What You Percieve it to Be.

              This morning, most of last night, it seems, I dreamed a very frustrating sort of dream. The universe is not really what we perceive it to be. I was playing, or creating and testing a sort of simulation. The interface was beautiful, all semi-transparent sepia and gold cubes with three dimensional icons in their centers. The options which were available to you were in color, faded, at first and then becoming more “real” according to some hidden formulation. For the first part of the simulation I was creating a world, a fractal expanse to be later explored and filed and manipulated by potentially millions of players. Every option led to a swath of verdant green and azure oceans that crashed their foamy waves against jagged self-similar shorelines until one or the other gave way. What was frustrating was that the same sequence of button presses could somehow produce wildly different results. (Ah! Thank you, so much, Gleik and Hofstader.)
              After moving around on the worlds for a bit, I realized that they weren't all that wildly different in many fundamental ways. Similar choices did produce similar results, and sometimes what I thought were the same choices were obviously not the same choices. I knew I was missing something about that, but couldn't, for the moment, figure out what it was.
              I engaged in a series of semi-controlled experiments, finally settling into a sort of rhythm of button pressing and moving about, suddenly the results started to look and feel much the same. I pulled back out of the world, enhancing the contrast, revealing hundreds of cubes with choices that were altered, created or eliminated in the background. I was nearly overwhelmed and had to take a break.
              It turns out that I couldn't escape the interface so easily. N and I went to lunch, and the cubes floated along serenely, just at the edge of my vision. I could see the icons inside growing and changing, even without me pressing on any of them. Just my location and the time made the changes, most subtle, but some glaringly not. I resisted the urge to randomly start pressing the buttons, and tried to concentrate on N and our lunch companions. As I sat there listening, I turned my mind around inside my head, and the whole of the universe stretched out behind me. This was not in the usual sense of behind, it was more dimensional than that, and it was filled with a series of bright icons in their sepia, cream and gold boxes, around them was a haze of other less brightly colored boxes, and stretching in all directions the boxes faded all into like colors and hues, but each still somehow distinct, and then, I noticed odd little islands of bright color amidst the amber-brown sea of multiple boxes. They seemed to have no causal connection, in terms of buttons to press, that would indicate why they were so bright.
              Unable to resist, I reached back, into the space behind me that was so much deeper than just the space behind me, and pressed a couple of buttons.
              The universe shifted, M and S were standing in our bedroom, naked, stepping out to use the hot-tub. I told them I would get us some towels and turned around to find N getting ready for the hot tub, apparently unaware of the changes that had just occurred. I noticed that my flu was completely gone, a welcome outcome.
              I struggled to keep things on the rails, there was something unstable about this...reality, if you will. I was looked back behind me, into the interface and try to figure out what had just happened. I could see the line of bright icons off in the distance, and a new line was forming stretching and growing. M dropped the hot-tub cover to the ground.
              “We need to stand that up, the neighbors have children who play on the hill.” I pointed to the child sized tea set on the top of the neighbor's bank.
              N piped in with “Please help, the cover is heavy.”
              “Just a moment, I need to go get some towels for everyone.”
              I was so distracted by the universe full of sepia cubes, that I barely noticed the naked bodies waiting to get into the hot tub.
              I stepped out of the room and noticed the cubes beginning to crowd the interface. “That would certainly be confusing to most players,” I said aloud. I wanted to have four almost matching towels for us to use, a more elegant solution. I had once, long ago purchased two towels that were very similar. Both had black fractal looking filled stripes alternating with stripes of a single primary or secondary color. I always thought they were very striking. In the main world, I had purchased two, one for myself and one for my current girlfriend. Things hadn't worked out had I had been left with two similar but obviously different towels. I had always regretted not purchasing all six of the towels, even though the colors would have all been different, it would have been an obvious set, because of the rainbow thing. I knew, in this realm, by looking at some of the floating controls, that I easily could have made that decision. I really was struck by the idea that the controls in this simulation were also a sort of indicator. I stepped out of my front door and into my parent's garage, where the other four towels were folded up or being used to cover other items. I gathered them up and went in to ask mom if I could use her washer. (She doesn't really like me to use her appliances as I like to experiment with the buttons.)
              There was no one home, and from the looks of things, they never would be. I didn't like that, so turned to look back at the interface.
              The bright line that was my world was gone, the island I was on was filled with much fewer active options and its island-like nature was becoming disturbingly clear. I was back to feeling the same frustration as earlier in the dream. I pressed the buttons to try to get myself back to N and our friends, taking three of the four towels with me. The green one was full of holes so I left it, even though I knew it would have been N's favorite. I tried a few options to get it whole, but then I never ended up with enough towels for everyone.
              I finally stepped through to my own garage and dumped the towels into my own washer, as they were filled with the dust of years. “They've been sitting a while, I'm just going to freshen them up. They'll be nice and fluffy and hot by the time we're done.”
              M and S had been replaced by S and C, not naked. As I entered our bedroom, N came out of the bathroom in her bathing suit. I handed her a bunch of the small white towels, “for faces and hands,” I explained, then went to round us up some drinks. The island of options was mostly sepia at this point, there were only a few icons with color, and none of them were very bright. I brought back a tray of glasses, two with ice, two without, and several different drinks. I noticed that I had some chest congestion.
              The world shifted a little, and I realized that there were other presences pressing the buttons. I looked “behind” me and realized that we were merging back with an altered but very similar line of bright icons to the ones I had left earlier.
              “The universe is not what you perceive it to be.” I heard a voice say.
              As I woke I realized that my interface testing had been working completely as intended, the results were different because I had not taken several variables into account, the primary one being - time. The initial conditions had not ever been identical, that the feel of the worlds was so similar was a testament to the robust nature of the application's algorithms.
              I fell back into a dizzy dream of clicking on cubes as they floated into my perception, trying to make the world work the way I wanted it to, frustrated that each press of the same icon could yield widely varying results (all of a kind, I could see, but not really what I was looking for.) The world shifted below with every press, I shot across fractal landscapes of black on even darker black and seas so startlingly blue that the color hurt to look at it. Each shift of location and time created a slightly different set of options. “This is taking emergent behavior a bit too far, perhaps.” I said to no one in particular. I wanted desperately to get back to one of my earlier test worlds, but knew that would be nearly impossible. The best I could hope for was a world that had that flavor and texture to some large extent. I promised myself that I would save this time.

              Happy Birthday N!

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