Several, actually.

One of my best friends blogged about his dreams. It made me sad because I thought I didn’t have any dream any more.

After a while I started to remember that I did have some dreams. And it made me even sadder because I had all but forgotten about them.

To break the saddening trend, I decide to write down my dreams, at least those that I can remember now.

First, some quickies:

  • I mentioned a while ago about making the letters between J and me into a book just for ourselves.
  • After watching Tintin et Moi, I wish I can live in a room covered by the complete series. The room size has to be precise, of course, to accomodate all pages from the 24 books, no more, no less. It’d be very hard for me to step outside.
  • This one is actually from J: get a piece of land, maybe a few acres, build a 胡同/弄堂/巷子 with some traditional Chinese folk dwellings, and have all our close friends live together. My grandma lived in a 四合院, J spent her childhood in Shanghai, and we also love the architecture we saw in 安徽歙县 and 山西祁县, so it’d be a real blast if we can build and live in such architectural and cultural gem.

A more elaborate one is to study movie from my dad and music from my mom. It sounds ridiculous but I’ve never watched a classic movie or listened to a significant composition with my parents in a non-casual setting. I’m a lot more familiar with classical music than movies simply because I grew up in the Music Conservatory but not the Film Academy (which used to be very far north of the city), and played the piano; and the total time that my dad was home is maybe just 1/10 of my mom’s. I used to flip through their collection of VHS and cassette tapes when they’re not home, so I learned many names of movies and compositions without knowing their contents, and of directors and composers without knowing their merits at all.

Once a neighbor boy a few years older than me came to our one-room apartment (yeah it’s exactly like 邻居’s setting) and saw a tape of Antonioni’s Blowup. He asked me to play it, and I obliged though being a bit nervous about touching my dad’s stuff. I was maybe about 10, so the movie was of course inappropriate and incomprehensible. Just when we were about to finish, my dad came home and was very upset, and you don’t want to be anywhere close to him when he’s not happy. So that was it–I never dared to watch any movie from his collection again.

My mom didn’t like her stuff being messed around either. “I won’t be able to find it for my course preparation!”, as they always exclaimed. And I didn’t care much, because I got into rock music and couldn’t bear classical pieces. I wish I could turn back the clock…

I also have a couple of dreams related to piano. The first is to be a jazz pianist. Back in UIUC, I took one course for introductory jazz piano but it turned out to be a total disaster. The teacher was kind enough not to fail me, but I absolutely learned nothing. I didn’t have much time, if any, to practice, for one thing; but I just totally couldn’t get the idea. Yeah I was supposed to learn the scales and chords and harmony progression and rhythm and so on, but when I looked at the textbook and listened to the teacher I couldn’t get anything. So it seems like this dream is pretty much out of whack.

Another one is to perform in a concert with an orchestra: Grieg’s Concerto in A minor in the first half, Rhapsody in Blue in the second. And the encore would be the 18th Variation of Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Rhapsody, only if I haven’t been buried by rotten tomatoes and stinking eggs. My mom used to tell me that it’s a orgasmic feeling (of course she didn’t use that word) to play with a full orchestra. One of the last pieces that I formally practiced was a simple Mozart concerto with my teacher playing accompaniment, but I never finished or performed it. A few years later when I picked up piano again by myself I tried a few pages from Grieg’s A minor and found it not entirely out of reach.

When I bought our piano here, I went on a spree to buy some famous piano scores, none of which I bothered to practice–heck, I haven’t played at all in 3 years. Among those are a transcription of Rhapsody in Blue for solo piano and a dual piano version of the 18th Variation, which I’ve always felt as the most beautiful melody of all time. I first heard it (maybe junior high) in the movie Somewhere in Time and was dazed by both the tune and the story. I got the mental image of Jane Seymour as a goddess of beauty and love after seeing the movie, but years later when I saw her picture again she doesn’t look even pretty. So I guess it must be childhood infatuation.

I glimpsed through the Rhapsody in Blue score a few times, and realize that it’s way out of my league, especially in its jazz/blues spirit (back to my first failed dream on piano). The 18th Variation is very short, and I merged the two pianos into one and practiced a while, but couldn’t finish it. Even such beautiful tune gets boring after hundreds of repetitions.

Lastly, a dream about something technical: to build a web application to archive one’s life and share with friends and family. It sounds like another stupid Web 2.0 site, but I haven’t seen anything close to enabling users to create and maintain an integrated online presence. Nowadays my stuff is scattered all over the place: WordPress, Bloglines, Flicker,, Google Spreadsheet, Yahoo Calendar, and probably YouTube soon… My life is becoming more fragmented and less manageable.

I think the foundation of what I want is an easy-to-use WYSIWYG database schema builder. You can create a simple schema very quickly, such as one for CD collections or stamps. And for something potentially very complicated such as an European trip, you can build it up step by step, with everything linking to everything via foreign key–but the user should never have to create “columns” and “keys”, everything needs to be intuitive and drag-n-drop.

Your schema library can be shared, copied, and modified by anyone else for their own use. So when a new user registers, s/he can pick from a growing schema library to manage whatever data s/he wants to manage. And all data can be shared in a group or publicly.

I started to have the idea after our 2nd European trip. There are vast amount of multimedia data that needs to be organized and linked: photo, video, map, brochure, journal, web sites… I made a very lame-ass attempt to use very simple PHP to create a photo-based presentation, but soon found that the lack of authoring is fatal–I was just putting entries in Excel and importing into MySQL.

The idea was reinforced after another best friend of mine wrote a list of major events in her life in the last 10 years since she came to America. I told her to use Google Spreadsheet so that she can invite friends to view and comment. It was really fun, but Google Spreadsheet is way too limited.

The application probably should have a rich client that can run locally, because authoring would mostly use local resources (image, video, Word files, etc). But the web presentation must be transparent and identical to local rendering.

Maybe a drunk VC will stumble onto this and throw my $10 million to build it. Now that’s what they call a dream. Dream on, dreeeeeam on well…