The World Through Emerald Glasses

I’ve had several discussions with friends where I voiced my objection to augmented reality systems, such as Google glass. It is all too likely that, once we give up our independent view of the world, it will be dictated to us by the businesses and advertisers that control what the augmented reality systems display.

This quote from The End of Absence by Michael Harris sums up the core issue perfectly.

” The most obvious reason a person would ditch the authentic is, of course, to gain access to a heightened version of dull reality. Enter the promise and wonder of Google Glass, released in 2013, which offers just that— augmented reality . The “wearable computer” is a (slightly futuristic, slightly dorky) headset fixed with a miniature display and camera, which responds to voice commands. We can tell it to take a picture of what we’re looking at or simply pull up Google Images’ archive of vintage Hulk Hogan photos because we want to compare the hairdo being sported by that guy on the metro. The company’s welcoming Web site smiles: “ Welcome to a world through glass .” Welcome to augmented (read: inauthentic) reality.

Remember that the Emerald City in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz isn’t actually emerald. In the Hollywood film version, yes, Judy Garland and her gang traipse through a gorgeous, sparkling town. But in L. Frank Baum’s original book, Dorothy and the others are exhorted to put on “safety goggles” to protect their eyes. “If you do not,” they are warned, “ the brightness and glory of the Emerald City would blind you.” Only much later do they discover that it was the green- tinted goggles all along that gave the city its apparent luster. The Emerald City (like the “wizard” behind the curtain) is a fake. “But isn’t everything here green?” asks Dorothy. “ No more than in any other city ,” replies Oz. “But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City.”

When we wear emerald glasses with the intention of augmenting reality, we’re always giving ourselves over to some authority’s vision and relinquishing a portion of our own independent sight.”

Understanding Home

It’s on mornings like this one that I feel lucky. Yes, it’s cold. Yes, it’s raining. I still make the trek up to the Square in the middle of town. The last of the leaves are still clinging to the trees, vibrant golden and russet, but the majority are sprinkled upon the greenery of the ground. It’s a beautiful site, even under the slate gray skies. Yes… Winter is coming, but it’s not here yet but I can still revel in the last vestiges of Fall in Medina, Ohio.

It is so very hard to find the place where we belong. Many spend their whole lives searching for that one place where they can live and contentment and peace. Maybe never find it. As I walk along the sidewalk to the gazebo drinking my coffee, I reflect on this and feel lucky that I found the place where I can be happy.

Recently, I had the privilege of showing a friend the places where I live my life. It allowed me time to reflect on why I love them, why I spend so much time here, and why I’ll never leave. It’s good to take time to think positive things. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to forget that the place where we live drives so much of our stress or the relief of it. Despising the place around you can make any problem you have seem orders of magnitude larger. Taking the time to find where you belong, where you fit in, is just as important as finding that job, or that school for your kids. Finding that place drives everything else.

These days, every advertisement we hear brags about something feeling just like home. But home is not just a feeling, it’s a very real place. It’s a physical place in the world that we need to embrace, to make our own. It’s about engaging in community. It’s about walking the streets in getting to know the people. It’s about being able to walk into the local coffee shop and greet the owner by name and ask them how business is. It’s a place where you can go by yourself and not feel alone, Its a place you can take friends and not feel overwhelmed or swamped. It’s the place you can drop your kids off and know that they’ll be safe.

Home is the center, and everything derives from it.

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Adventures in Fermentation: Peppers

I started playing with old-school fermentation this weekend. No…not beer. Peppers.

My CSA gives me more produce than I can eat. Some I give away, some gets composted. This weekend, my friend Rebecca came over and we were talking about what to do with all the extra.  My eyes fell on my copy of The Art of Fermentation, and we realized the only thing standing in the way of making pickled sweet peppers was a gallon of spring water. One trip to the store, and we were ready to go.

Here’s what we did:

  • Chopped off the tops of the peppers so the brine would surround the vegetable matter.
  • Put the peppers in a two gallon pickle crock (glazed on the inside)
  • Added fresh garlic, dill, and oregano
  • Added a couple of tablespoons of salt
  • Added a gallon of water
  • Added a small dinner plate to keep the peppers submerged

As of this morning, they smell wonderful: peppery and spicy with just the first hint of vinegar-like acidity.  Over 2-4 weeks, my local single-celled neighbors in the brine will feast on the peppers, fermenting them. After that, they’ll be read to sample. I’ll bring you a full report of success or failure at that time.