Beat pasta

Yesterday somebody told me about a recipe for beet pasta. That’s pasta which is made from beets, which I think is a perfectly reasonable idea.

But I misunderstood. I thought they were saying “Beat pasta”. I suddenly had all sorts of visions in my head of Allen Ginsberg reciting poetry around a theme of starchy italian food.

Or Neal Cassidy on the road with Jack Kerouac deconstructing the American dream while sharing a plate of ziti, maybe with some nice sauce. You could build an entire theme restaurant around this stuff.

Of course what I had heard made no sense on an objective level, but in those few seconds I had somehow constructed an entire alternate reality in my head. So when discovered that we were actually talking about “beet pasta”, I was downright disappointed.

In my mind that alternate reality lingers, and part of me still wants to open a Beat pasta theme restaurant. The first dish on the menu would definitely be Spaghetti Ferlinghetti.

The gifting of physical objects

There are some objects I have in my possession which I treasure. Not because they have some intrinsic monetary value, but because they were given to me by somebody important to me.

Such an object might be a gift from an old friend, or a favorite uncle. Perhaps it was from someone I have not seen in years, or who has sadly passed away.

In each case, the thing I hold in my hand represents the person, in an oddly powerful way. The object serves as a kind of proxy, a totem of the bond between us.

Our society has now entered a time when people are physically separated, not by choice but rather by sad circumstance. I wonder whether that will have an effect on the gifting of physical objects.

We may end up developing a greater craving for such objects, and a new renewed appreciation for their power. When we can no longer experience the physical comfort of the person they represent, such objects might end up having an even greater value.

Eventually, if this forced separation persists, our society might develop a new emotional economy around the exchange of symbolic physical objects. It would be but a pale echo of what was lost, yet an echo with the power to resonate in our hearts.


Not that long ago, USB-C connectors were an oddity. If you had a device that expected one, you needed to remember to bring a special adaptor, to connect with the rest of the digital world.

But today I noticed that all the digital devices I use every day are USB-C connected. That includes my Apple MacBook computer, my Google Pixel phone and my Facebook Oculus Quest 2.

Whenever lots of major competing corporations can agree on something, there is most likely a good reason. And as a consumer, I certainly find it convenient to standardize on one form factor — and also not to have to worry about which way to plug it in. 🙂

I wonder what was going on behind the scenes to make that transition happen so quickly and pervasively.

Virtual furniture store

Today I went to a furniture store that was having a “going out of business” sale. Except it wasn’t exactly that.

Rather, the store is going entirely virtual. Consequently, the store owners want to sell off all of the inventory at their remaining bricks-and-mortar outlets.

There is a delicious irony about this development. We are literally talking about the physical objects that form the environment of our actual bodies.

There is nothing more solid and real than the chair we sit upon, or the table at which we eat. Yet we seem to be moving toward a society in which even these things are purchased on-line, as virtual items in our virtual shopping cart.

I wonder how far it will go.

Quest 2

Today I tried out my new Oculus Quest 2. The only important difference I could see between the Quest and the Quest 2 is that the latter has higher resolution.

But that is an incredibly important upgrade. If you want to get serious work done in VR (and I definitely want to get serious work done in VR), then you need to be able to read text.

On the Quest, you could read text, but only if it was in a large font. In that sense, the experience was kind of like working on an old-fashioned low resolution computer monitor.

The Quest 2 has no such problems. Text is gorgeous, clear and easy to read. The change is extremely welcome and extremely satisfying.

Now I’m going to get some serious work done.

Portable rooms

I have been working on building a VR space for a while. I have been doing it at home, so I have gotten used to walking around in the VR room while in my actual physical room.

Today for the first time I brought my VR headset somewhere with me to show the space to somebody else. You could say that it was the first time my virtual room has been outside my physical room.

There was something both disorienting and empowering about the experience. I suddenly realized, on an emotional level, that my VR space could be anywhere in the physical world.

I had known this intellectually, but it hadn’t really hit me on a gut level: A VR room is as portable as a Web page. It exists nowhere in the physical world, yet at the same time everywhere.

For the last quarter century or so we have been living in the age of portable documents. Now we are about to enter the age of portable rooms.

Movable walls

The idea of buildings with movable walls is not new. Reconfigurable spaces have been around in architecture for centuries.

But until now they have been considered a specialty item. The underlying technology is difficult to implement properly, and there are issues around temperature management, airflow, safety and security.

The advent of computers changed the conversation around reconfigurable architecture. Rather than needing to move walls around manually, the users of such spaces could, to some extent, “dial in” their preferences, and a building could then adjust room dimensions accordingly.

Now that many people can walk around in buildings even before they are even built — thanks to newly accessible consumer-level VR technology — I wonder whether we are on the brink of another evolution of reconfigurable architecture. After all, in VR it is quite easy to move walls around, and to get a sense of how that might be of benefit.

Widespread access to such capabilities may lead to thinking of physical interiors in a whole new way. Perhaps, when it becomes the norm to design one’s house in shared VR, movable walls will start to become the norm rather than the exception.