I had an awakening in a house that I quickly determined was not mine. Near me was a west highland terrier who looked much like my dog when I was a kid. Even though I knew I was dreaming, I decided to stop and pet him.
He was appreciative though he began to get playful as I scratched him more roughly, at one point he got up and ran into a kitchen and looked back at me...then he pawed the ground as if he were mimicking a bull and ran and head-butted my leg. It did not hurt but I just pet him some more, before deciding I'd move on.
Going through the kitchen, there was also a black cat with big yellow eyes that looked at me, and then curled up in a basket next to what appeared to be a food bowl. The food also seemed to jump and curl into the bowl as well. Ignoring them, my attention was drawn to some technology magazines sitting in a pile.
They looked like fairly ordinary industry magazines for computer and electronics designers. On the cover, I first noticed volume and issue numbers, but I searched around for a date. The date listed it as being in the 1000s, stuff like "August 7, 1032".
Opening the magazine I saw nothing particularly unusual, until I found a page that had an animation on it. A little electrical spark or beam of light was bouncing back and forth between two plates. It looked like a very ordinary color piece of magazine paper besides that, and I was curious what would happen when I tore it out of the magazine. I did, and it still kept going...so I carried the page off with me.
As I explored the house I yelled out "Hello?" and a woman's voice called back to me with "I'm in the den". I followed where the voice seemed to be coming from, and yelled back "I'm afraid I actually don't know where the den is. Sorry to be bugging you, but I have some questions."
Finally I found a woman in front of a computer who introduced herself by my mom's name.
me: "That's actually my mom's name."
woman: "Ah, okay. Well let's do the correction your friend asked for."
She went into some sort of terminal program on the computer and entered some things related to people's names. A man (who looked a bit like Michael Douglas) entered and we began talking. I asked about how the animated paper worked...as it was the only thing I'd seen thus far that was mysterious to me.
man: "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to explain it to you, I know the people who developed it. You're a good guy...well, at least your original was...you won't do anything too bad with it."
me: "I wouldn't, though if I could take something like that back they'd probably just fill landfills with animated coffee cups and magazines. Still the point is to have an 'alien gift' which gets them to pay more attention to my experiences and journal."
The man began layering various gooey liquids on the table, which looked like condiments or glues. He arranged them into four stripes and stuck some objects into them.
man: "Let's try doing this mnemonically. The bottom two layers are Ketchup, and Glue. Cookies are in the ketchup and the glue. Okay?"
me: "Ketchup and Glue, with cookies in the ketchup and glue. I can remember that, I think."
man: "Now the top two layers. Right above the Ketchup is Dark Spicy Ketchup. And the top layer is Ketchup mixed with Pus."
We repeated this a couple of times until I had it. Then he turned to a wall that suddenly had blackboards on it, with about 12 columns of drawings of plants.
man: "The most important thing is that you learn how to make Pus. This time the mnemonic is going to be based on plants. Just remember the series of plants. Fit, Rot, Yeast..."
me: "Oh no, this is going to be too much. I'll try."
I can't find plants named Fit or Rot, although rotting is something that happens to plants. There are references to something called "Fitroot" on the web, but nothing very official sounding. Yeast is a fungus.
Some other people in the room showed up and were kind of trying to chant along with me, and I was pointed to a little microbial-looking ball that was labeled "Tz". Before I could really get a handle on the list, they had drawn up another blackboard related to how to make the "Ketchup" and when I realized there were more of these I had to give up.
me: "I'm sorry, I just don't have a photographic memory...or really a good memory of this type at all. And it's going to be even harder while I'm asleep. Perhaps if I was really serious about bringing a truly 'alien' thing back I would practice and do memory exercises or something."
The man shrugged and we began walking off down a hallway, a small boy followed us.
me: "Maybe...something less ambitious? A design that doesn't require fabricating new materials or chemicals? More along the lines of a Rubik's Cube, or a slinky? Well, a slinky isn't a very good example."
The boy held up a plastic-looking holder of some kind.
boy: "Mom has a pretty good advertising campaign for our tablet holders, where Dad puts on this beard and viking hat and the poster says: 'is your tablet holder strong enough for a Viking?'"
me: (laughing) "Well, I'm sure that's funny...but my world may be a bit ahead of yours in advertising science!"
We jumped down off a walkway into a place that looked a bit like an airport terminal. There were carpeted seating areas and a smooth floor which women with loud cleaning machines were moving across. The man got on a platform of some kind which could be raised and lowered, and he used it to pull some kind of small remote-controlled-looking vehicle out of a locker.
He asked some of the cleaning people to stop and take a bathroom break for a couple of minutes so he could use the floor. He attempted to demonstrate some property of the car that I didn't understand. The boy took me to a kiosk which was just a tablet laying flat and a pen.
boy: "This is useful. They install these around so if you think of something you need to do, you can just write it. Then you don't have to remember, and it sends it to you."
I picked up the pen and wrote "buy milk". It recognized my handwriting and after I'd written it, a place to put my email address showed up.
me: "Hmmm. Well, the economies of scale we have are such that everyone carries a device with them that fits in their pocket. So you don't have to go to a special kiosk to do this, it's all wireless."
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