An odd chain of dreams

<dream>Last night was a long string of odd dreams. They were all strung together to make one big, even stranger, dream. I can only remember a few of the specific subdreams so that's what you'll get.

Making nails for MITOC. I was with a bunch of other people and we were all learning to make nails from found iron as a part of some MIT Outing Club activity. The process was fairly simple: find some pieces of soft iron and start hammering them together until they formed one big block. Then you hammer the block of iron until you get a big sheet which you cut the nails out of. I was having some really good luck because I found a few nice pieces of iron in the dirt where we were working. After a little while it turned out that a few of the pieces of iron that I found were actually plastic so I got rid of those and got back to work.

Somewhere along the way the cutting nails bit turned into me being a blacksmith in the early dark ages but since I'm a Materials Science major by day I knew all sorts of things about steel and metal that the rest of the blacksmiths did not know and I was teaching them all these things about smelting and alloying and annealing.

Then there were a few other sequences that I forget

Eventually there was another transition, but this time it went from blacksmithing to scuba diving in the Arctic. I don't remember much of the transition except that it involved looking at a diving mask and reading the instructions for changing masks in freezing water. So I'm up scuba diving with these two other guys and there are icebergs around. Then one of the other guys discovered this broken outboard motor floating in the water which I thought was really neat at the time. Then I discovered some ice throne carved into the side of one of the icebergs and decided that I needed to put the outboard motor on the throne.

Then, all of the sudden, I was a Ninja Turtle and I had retrieved some magic talisman from that iceberg, which gave me all of these special powers. I distinctly remember being in Shredder's palace or base or whatever and taunting him with all the special powers that I had and he was trying to trick me and get the talisman away. I remember a particular instant where he lunged at me and I dodged and he ended up in the koi pond. When he fell in the koi pond I realized that I wasn't actually a Ninja Turtle, just an actor in a suit playing a Ninja Turtle, so I used the carefully hidden stones in the koi pond to make it look like I was walking on water (talisman magic) and went out to make fun of him. Then he stole the talisman, and some other stuff happened.

When I went inside to get the talisman back, I stopped at a little newstand and borrowed a pen to write something down in my notebook.

A few sequences later, I discovered that I was taking a break from tending to my fish tank. I then got back to working on my fish tank. There are a lot of small details that I remember about this part, but suffice it to say that it was a much larger tank than my real one and I was in the process of constructing a castle in one of the corners for my fish.</dream>

Punch Drunk Love

I just watched Punch Drunk Love (yeah I know that it's been out for a while) and I really liked it. I tried watching it once before and didn't make it very far (this was a while ago) but this time I set out to watch it clear through and it turns out that it starts to get really interesting just after I gave up last time. Interesting character that Barry, a little on the psychotic side but I like him.

Good movie.

Word Banter

I feel like wasting time with pointless banter and, since this is my blog, I have every right to do so. Whether or not you want to read this is up to you and doesn't matter. Now that the disclamatory bit is out of the way, on to the banter.

You might be wondering why I chose the word banter to describe this writing (or you might not care) and I'll tell you. I chose the word banter is because I am just going to play with words and thoughts; this is because I haven't got anything useful to say. This is going to be one of those "How 'bout that local sports team?" or talking about the weather kind of entries. For that matter, let's start with the weather.

I stepped outside earlier this evening to make a phone call (the cell reception in my room is hideous) and I noticed that it's a beautiful evening out. The truth of the matter is that I stepped outside a few times because I was playing phone tag with someone. Anyway, it's a little on the cool side, but quite far from cold and the sky is very clear. So I was looking at the stars a little, it was quite pleasant.

DIFFERENT TOPIC: Yeah, that needed to be bold. Anyway, I was reminded by the last sentance of my previous paragraph (ooh, I'm getting all meta and stuff) of how much I like the word pleasant. Just so that we're clear:

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

  Pleasant \Pleas"ant\, a. [F. plaisant. See {Please}.]
     1. Pleasing; grateful to the mind or to the senses;
        agreeable; as, a pleasant journey; pleasant weather.

     2. Cheerful; enlivening; gay; sprightly; humorous; sportive;
        as, pleasant company; a pleasant fellow.

Yeah, I'm talking about definition 1. It's such a great word, pleasant in and of itself (self-referential now, how do you like that?). Oh and it turns out that grateful can be used as an adjective in a manner synonymous with pleasant (athena%dict grateful says so). So yeah, pleasant is a good word, I like it.

One might point and say that my fondness for the word pleasant is transient and will pass soon; history will likely show that to be an accurate predicition. My fondness for specific words is often a transient thing, but it is often the case that I keep coming back to a select few over and over again. As to what the choice words that I keep returning to are, I can only give a few examples and time will tell on the rest. Keen is probably the best example of a word that I keep coming back to and then forgetting and then coming back to and so on.

I like words, they let me say things.

The Magnificent Seven: pretty good

I've been on a real movie watching binge this evening. I started with Transformers: The Movie, moved on to Roujin Z, then Ghost in the Shell, Metropolis and finally The Magnificent Seven. Whole lot of movie watching, some of them are pretty good movies though.

Anyway, The Magnificent Seven is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's masterwork Seven Samurai as a western. They do a very good job of taking the story and a lot of things from the original and bringing them to the new style; it's very noticeably the same story. There are, however, a number of changes that have been made, probably for the slightly different setting and audience. The last time that I watched The Magnificent Seven I had not recently seen the original and didn't see the significance of the changes. Having seen the original in the past few months and watching the remake now shows me that the differences are really very significant and as such I can only say that The Magnificent Seven is pretty good compared. Please remember that I consider Seven Samurai to be one of the greatest movies ever made.

Transformers: The Movie

I'm sitting here watching the Transformers movie and remembering how great a movie it really is. I would rank it up there as one of my favorite movies, right up with Seven Samurai and Forrest Gump. I don't care if it's a kids cartoon; the themes and emotions portrayed are incredible. I suspect that I, or someone else, could write a truly incredible paper about the various elements of this movie, but for now, I'm going to provide a running commentary.

The interpersonal (interrobot?) interactions are quite impressive. The relationship between Megatron and Optimus Prime is one of mutual respect and almost seems to have elements of friendship. The battle between the two of them portrays an interesting dynamic, Megatron's unwillingness to use a weapon at the outset and Primes unwillingness to finish off Megatron. It takes the intrusion of Hot Rod to snap them both back to reality and bring a conclusion of the conflict.

Unicron is an interesting figure, some sort of God figure or Devil figure. I am not sure what to make of him, but he sure is something, world eating power giver that he is. The bit about Megatron becoming Galvatron at Unicron's hands is a very Faustian soul selling kind of thing.

Megatron/Galvatron exemplifies self-centered greed and a lust for power. Also, Galvatron 0wnzes. Starscream on the other hand is just a dick.

They do a pretty darned good job of making the Autobots into stereotypical good and the Decepticons into stereotypical evil. This is all done without going over the top or seeming cliche.

I'm not sure what role the two humans play in the whole thing. Daniel and his father may only be there to add a human element to the movie, or they may serve some other role; it'll take some thinking.

The transformation of Hot Rod over the course of the movie is a coming of age thing. In fact, as I think about it, this movie really has every important story element, except for romance. I blame the lack of romance on the plurality of central characters and that the transformers are androgynous. Actually, I take it back, there are elements of romance between RC and Hot Rod, but just barely.

I should stop now, or this post will turn into an essay. Also, I want to sit back and enjoy the movie. Suffice it to say that Transformers: The Movie is great and it's one of very few movies that I can watch over and over again.

Zen good, Buddhism bad

So I've been thinking (oooh, dangerous) a lot lately and in reading Hagakure I got pointed towards Zen. Zen seems like a pretty neat concept and it seems to have some things in common with the way that I already think (I certainly don't claim to understand Zen, but I've got a little bit of an idea). So having found some similarity--mainly in the areas of living in the moment, slowing down, being mindful of the world around you and a few other things--I decided to do a little more looking into this Zen thing. The more I looked into Zen, the more I liked some of the ideas and I think that I'm going to see about integrating some of the ideas into my own philosophy and life.

Inevitably, looking into Zen lead me to look into Buddhism, its progenitor. At first things seemed to be going reasonably well for Buddhism, it was friendly, mindful, compassionate, didn't conflict with my beliefs too much, but then some problems started to show up. The first and biggest problem is that I started to realize that there were plenty of half-followers in Buddhism too and I really dislike the half faithful followers of any religion, not that I like fanatics, but if you're going to follow a belief system, follow it because you believe in it, not because you like it or your parents told you too. The worst group though are the people that follow a belief system because they discover it and it gives meaning to their life; your life should give meaning to your belief system, not the other way around. That's a bit of a diversion, but that's what started me on realizing that I dislike Buddhism; after that other thins started popping up, like my dislike for the notion of reincarnation or my belief in the food chain instead of compassion for furry animals. Then there was the landslide realization that Buddhism is just another religion, not that different from the rest.

Religions are funny ideas, and strong ones too. Now, I consider ideas to be important complexes, akin to living beings; the requirements I hold for life are the containment of information and the ability to propagate. As with anything that is alive, ideas tend to want to stay alive and will evolve and try to spread as much as possible. In short, ideas (religions included) will evolve and spread, trying to stay alive and adapt to the times as best they. I guess what I am trying to say is that Buddhism, just like all other religions will try to convert you, even though it uses very different methods than many other religions and once converted it will try to hold you and keep itself alive. Remember, what I said at the beginning of this paragraph, religions are strong ideas, many have been alive and evolving for millenia.

So to use a bad analogy, my idea system was just chilling with its good friend Samurai history and Samurai history said, hey let me introduce you to my good friend Zen. My idea system and Zen hit it off pretty well, and are trying to get to know each other a little better. Zen was introducing my idea system of some of its friends, like Buddhism, and my idea system initally liked Buddhism, kind of cool guy. Then Buddhism started to get on my idea systems nerves and my idea system was all like, I just want to be friends. My idea system and Zen are still seeing each other and maybe things will work out for them, they're still in their honeymoon period, so we'll wait and see what happens. It's a good thing that my belief system is pretty confident about itself and doesn't need to whore itself out to feel good.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I have just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace by Robert M. Pirsig and to say that I was moved would be to make a gross understatement. I started to choke up a few chapters before the end and spent the last two in tears; this book has struck a very powerful chord with me and I would have a very hard time explaining why to anyone that has not also read the book. The chord that this book has struck is a very deep one indeed. I am at a loss for further words.

Wyatt Hill, &c.

This weekend I went and did a bunch of camping and hiking and such with my good friends Max, Riad, Sam and Hippo. I could go into an incredible amount of detail as to all the stuff that we did, but I've been writing other things for a while and I am all writinged out. Suffice it to say that a good time was had.