Surprise! You’re In A Rail Yard Space Shuttle Book!

Dreams are funny things. They reveal a side of the mind that can be very different from ‘normal’ thought. Heck even the notion of normal is a bit of an odd designation given that we spend something like a third of our lives dreaming. And what about surprises in dreams. You are walking down the street in your dream and are stunned to suddenly be hit by a bus. How can you possibly be surprised when your mind is also responsible for creating the bus that hits you.

In any case, I had a fun dream last night.

As many of you know, I wrote a book last decade about grid computing. A boring book with a limited audience (interestingly we sold about a third of our total volume in India), it served it’s purpose even while the world of computing moved on from grid computing to the cloud.

In my dream it was present time (2012) and my publisher called to convince me that I needed to talk with all my friends and get them to write reviews of the book on amazon to increase sales. I was flattered, of course, to hear that they thought a seven year old book about an unpopular and misunderstood technology was still worth reading, but they made a strong case that most of what we talked about was, in fact, central to the notion of cloud computing and we should be recognized as pioneers and not the authors of a book best used as a sleep aid.

Deciding that they were right I hit the phones and started calling people. Of course, in real life not only wouldn’t I be so easily convinced but I would have a very difficult time calling my friends as I only have numbers for perhaps 10% of them. I started wandering around the office while talking on my headset and noticed a freight train climbing into the beautiful clear blue sky.

Well, that’s weird. It seems my office is in a railroad switching yard.

As I wander around convincing my friends to write amazon reviews I’m fascinated by the complexity of getting freight loads positioned on the right trains, but I keep coming back to the loaded trains that are climbing into the sky.

On further inspection I notice that our yard is in a river valley and the trains aren’t flying at a 45 degree angle, but are actually on rails that have been painted the same color blue as the sky. (My ‘normal’ mind knows fully well that 2% is a steep grade for a train and tracks are generally more like .5%. Who knows where that knowledge went during the dream.) The steep tracks raise the trains up to the level of the surrounding terrain and off they go to their destinations.

My phone rings and I get called by a customer who wants to know if I can see the space shuttle from where I am. They are in Texas and I’m, it’s revealed at this moment, in the Mississippi river valley near St. Louis. But I look up and sure enough there is a giant delta wing aircraft with the space shuttle attached to the top of the left wing. It’s doing a series of low passes so everyone on the ground can get a good look at it. As you might imagine (certainly I did), it’s majestic. The delta wing is larger than any ever constructed (in order to carry the space shuttle, of course) and the shuttle looks like a trophy in a display case mounted, as it is, in a completely unflyable location on the left wing.

Everyone is excited that I get to see it and, as my customer and I begin a conversation about the future of cloud computing, I wake up.

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