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Archive for December, 2010

The Contents of the Dream

I’ve often heard that when we dream, there are things we dream about that are symbolic or have some kind of meaning.  For example, if a person dreams about being caught in a public place in nothing but his or her undergarments, then it could mean that he or she is nervous about some upcoming real-life event.  I’ve just made that up, of course, but that’s the kind of symbolism I’m referring to.

I’ve always thought (based solely on my own experiences) that symbolism and such things are only heavily involved in dreams that occur repeatedly or during stressful periods in the dreamer’s life, and that standard dreams — the ones that occur on any given stress-free night (or relatively stress-free, anyway) — have meanings with much less depth, i.e. the contents of the dream can be traced to recent experiences from real life, even if the dream has created warped and sometimes twisted reflections of those experiences.

This is how I’ve thought of dreaming for as long as I can remember, or at least since the first time I saw the original Ninja Turtles movie.  When April first meets the turtles and Splinter, she is convinced that she’s dreaming and says “Those guys in the black pajamas, they jumped me.  And that rat . . . I saw you in the parking lot.”  She relates guys in black pajamas (the Foot soldiers) to her muggers from the previous evening, and that rat (Splinter) to the rat she saw scurrying around her feet in a parking lot.

Even though the principle of matching dream contents with real life experiences was first presented to me in the form of a kid’s movie, I always think of it when I match occurrences in my dreams to events from real life.

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Don’t Cry “Paranormal”

I identify with skeptics.  I like indisputable proof and hard, reliable evidence.  Nevertheless, I occasionally watch TV shows in which so-called “paranormal” events are either investigated by a crew or presented documentary-style.  You know the shows I mean.  Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Paranormal State, The Haunted . . . the list goes on.

There is one annoying trait (among others) common to all the programs of this type that I have seen.  Most of the investigators are too liberal with assignations of the term “paranormal”.  If they are unable to find a simple explanation for something, well then it’s paranormal.  Destination Truth is the only show I’m familiar with that at least leaves alternative possibilities available by occasionally saying things along the lines of “due to lack of evidence, it may or may not be paranormal”.

The investigations that are seen being performed in these shows are pseudoscience.  Frequently, when monitoring an environment for paranormal activity, devices such as electromagnetic field (EMF) meters and thermal imagers are used, together with audio and video equipment, and sometimes they’ll even bring in someone who claims to have psychic abilities.  (Let’s pretend I didn’t mention that last one for now.)  In my opinion, the A/V gear can at least be put to good use if something is seen or heard, but who decided that ghosts emit EMFs or create temperature variations?  In addition, the investigations often take place in natural, outdoor areas rendering most thermograms practically worthless.  In an uncontrolled — and usually night-time — outdoor environment, who’s to say your mysterious temperature readings aren’t coming from a raccoon or some other manner of nocturnal animal?

I would love to see a TV show where debunking is the goal, rather than proving.  I have yet to find a program where the investigations are carried out by true skeptics who won’t cry “paranormal” whenever they can’t explain a strange hot spot on their thermal imager.  If you know of a show with skeptical investigators, be sure to let me know.  I want to watch it.

Being skeptical means that if you want me to believe in Bigfoot, you’ll have to show me a Bigfoot — one that you can prove isn’t a man in a suit, and that has been scientifically confirmed as a new species by several professional and qualified members of the scientific community.  A foot print isn’t going to cut it, even when it’s claimed that the footprint is completely perfect and has all the right contours, measurements, and signs of weight distribution that could only have been made by the foot of a huge ape-like creature in an upright walking motion.  Humans have built skyscrapers that tower hundreds of feet in the air; humans have sent astronauts into outer space; humans have built pyramids.  I’m pretty sure that a human could fake a convincing Bigfoot foot print.  And don’t you dare say that the pyramids were built by aliens.

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On Missing the Eclipse

The Northern winter solstice fell on the 21st this December, which is often the case, only this year it was accompanied by a total lunar eclipse, making for a combination that last occurred in 1638.  Not that it was anything particularly spectacular.  I’ve seen total lunar eclipses before, but I have to admit that it would have been fun to experience something that was last experienced by people in the 17th century.

I decided that in order to better avoid such blunders in the future, I would sign up for some kind of astronomy mailing list or news letter.  I haven’t done it yet, though.  In fact, I haven’t even begun searching for one.

You can find more information about the eclipse on the NASA website or through Scroogle/Google.

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A Notebook . . . on the Internet

This is strictly a place to write and practice writing-related things — spelling, grammar, ideas, brainstorming, critiques, reviews, typing speed, overcoming writer’s block, whatever.  It is a notebook . . . on the Internet.  With that in mind, I don’t really care too much about the appearance of the blog.   I want the text to show up on the screen and be organized by date.  That’s all.  It’s just meant to be a notebook after all.  If I have spare time I’ll mess around with the appearance and theme settings, but again, this is for improving writing skills, not design skills.

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