It takes me longer to put everything away than it does to clean it – but it goes a lot faster as I figure out that I can put everything into my inventory and then go from cabinet to cabinet and take out whatever goes there. I am also pleased that I can use the Mend cantrip to fix any broken items as good as new.

Being alone in Auntie’s house allows me to snoop a little. Auntie has shelves and shelves of knick-knacks and collectibles. Most of them are porcelain and may be samples that she uses in her business in addition to the china. The more I look, the more I see significant gaps in her lifestyle compared to mine during my first life.

ARC, are there TVs or viewing screens I don’t see in this house?

[No. Few residents desire such due to directly viewing media via their optic nerve.]

Does this include reading books?

[Few residents read the volume of books you used to read, and even fewer have your ability to speed-read. There aren’t that many who can even train the skill. People mostly read articles, blogs, web serials, and things formatted into small chunks of data, rarely something requiring more than a few minutes at a time. When they do, they use an app similar to the Kindle app you previously asked about.]

I should have expected that. The trend was there in my first life. I guess that makes the section on gestures in the manual more relevant than I thought. It still leaves me puzzled.

ARC, what kind of entertainment is available in Horn Point?

[The residents favor live-action events. Theaters like what you would find on Broadway, with plays, musicals, concerts, comedians, and such. There are dance halls, casinos, and similar venues that aren’t just bars. There are contests and competitions, everything from table games like billiards and ping-pong to darts to fishing to live sculpture and painting exhibitions.

What about video games?

[Nirvana inbound.]

And simultaneously, Nirvana appears, sitting on Auntie’s couch, and says to me, “I believe an appropriate response is, ‘You are living the dream.’ There are some retro game simulators; however, the physical world plays in here with us or other immersive games. Immersive is the ultimate experience; few want to ‘waste’ their time with a lessor experience. Why control a basketball team from a third-person view when instead you can be the coach on the sidelines calling the shots – or be a player with attributes and abilities beyond your physical body? You experience a more incredible feeling of accomplishment when, for all practical purposes, it’s real. The feelings of failure and success are real, pain can be real, but the danger from lasting injury or death is non-existent.”

Focus! “I appreciate you are responding to me directly, but I’m not sure this conversation warrants your avatar. I’m pretty sure I’m being a good boy.”

Nirvana smiles mischievously, “It does, and you are. You have made enough waves that when you start asking questions, nobody else is even considering, I start taking an interest. Call it preemptive damage control if you are feeling paranoid. From my perspective, it’s fascinating how your perception interacts with the dream. So far, these questions aren’t an issue, but the pattern caught my attention again, and I decided to participate directly.”

“Ok. I can see that, and I’m not paranoid, so there is no need to spin it. I also don’t think I need to worry about hurting your feelings, but If I step across a line, please let me know.” Nirvana nods at me. “There are just a lot of things that don’t make sense when I look at this place as a whole, and then I have to ask questions to understand what I am missing. For example, I have yet to overhear anybody talking about sports. Now, I was never a fan, but I don’t think I went a whole day in my life where I didn’t overhear or see something regarding sports. The topic was a background constant: radio, MSN home page, coworkers, family, so forth, and so on.”

“That’s a fascinating observation that none of the other unicorns have made,” replied Nirvana. “Those who aren’t isolated asked about things they wanted, and you are asking why it’s no longer part of the culture. It’s a qualitative difference in the question and an example of why I am sitting here talking to you instead of interacting through an intermediary. Let’s see if I can give you some data without breaking my rules.”

Nodding in acknowledgment, I let her continue.

She smiles again, “You’re doing very well at ignoring those squirrels. Where was I? Oh yes, when you were experiencing your first life, there was already a trend where people interacted with their phones more than with each other. Do you recall?”  

“I do; there were even stupid laws put into place around the behavior – stupid because other laws already covered their bad behavior, and we didn’t need specific ones.”

Waiving that off, she continues, “That’s a conversation for another time. As to the behavior, that trend continued, and then technology gave humans a cognitive bump, changing it so humans could begin to multitask instead of fast-switching. It crept into base norms over three generations, sourcing from social interactions into education, and then became a new baseline – close your mouth, you are going to catch flies!”

“You aren’t pranking me – modern humans can truly multitask?”

“Yes. Children go through an education process to cause brain growth that enables the ability,” she replies.

Hesitantly, “Can I get the ability?”

Smiling, “Yes, you can. It’s not a genetic thing, it’s based on stimulation, and your digital brain can change enough to incorporate this if you go through the training. I can’t just ‘magic’ it into your brain.” Speaking more to herself, “Hmm…I’ll have to make it available to all the unicorns and the older residents who joined before it became mainstream. I didn’t consider it since I never allowed children of that age group access. I will have to review all the current child-based education processes for other items that should be available to older residents.” Looking back at me, “That’s a great enhancement to the dream, so I’ll give you a reward!”

“Thank you, but why was that relevant to my observation?”

“Oh, because everybody you have interacted with who is less than a thousand years old is probably streaming at least one audio feed in addition to anything else they are doing. I know for a fact that Maston and Gilder are. Typically, messages and news snippets are converted to voice and incorporated in with music or other things they may be listening to,” she replied.

“Holy crap. Is the population even literate anymore?”

Frowning, “Not the way you are, and I can’t explain that without breaking my rules. What you should know is that people like Mason have to study the characters and grammar of your time to be able to read texts from before the 22nd century.”

“And what year is it?”

Wagging her plushie at me, “You’re not getting a freebie like that from me. Whoever tells you will get a BIG Whammy!” She emphasizes this statement by slamming her plushy face first into the couch. “So, you better not trick somebody you like into it. There are other ways for you to get that info without inflicting harm. I want to watch you figure that out,” she giggled!

“I have a general idea; I just want specifics.”

“I know, and there’s a perfectly good reason why you are not supposed to know before your first PY is complete.” Mostly to herself, “Though I may be changing that rule at the rate you’re going,” she said while nodding.

“I suppose it’s futile to ask for internet access.”

“Damn straight,” she exclaimed! “You already have net access, and that’s all you’re going to get.”

“Thanks for confirming the difference.”

“Bah, you already knew there was a difference. ARC gave it away, so I didn’t confirm anything,” she replied, waving her hand as if to clear a fart from the air.

“For a reward, how about bumping up my ‘Verbal Spacial Coordinate Control’ since I can already teleport? Then I won’t have to spend the idler on raising it and won’t have to spend manna on that anymore.”

“Well, that’s fine, I suppose, but I don’t think it’s a big enough reward. This education inclusion is a big deal; you don’t know enough to understand just how big. Here’s what I’ll do. While you sleep tonight, I’ll bump all the stats that you could impact with magic to the idler max – except the ones you will need time to adjust to, like perception changes. I’ll also set the disrupts as if the idler had spent the max time working on them. Then you can focus on only the ones that will change your experience and save the mana expenditures.

“Here’s me, not looking a gift horse in the mouth!”

“Well, other attributes will become available once you complete your first PY and some restrictions are lifted. Your idler will have plenty to work on, so don’t think you’re close to being maxed out. You should get anything else you need and head to the temple. They’re waiting on you to start dinner.” She waves her plushy at me and fades away.

Hmm. Do I need anything else before heading to the temple?

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