This book was very interesting to me, mostly because I have never really taken an in depth look at the meadowlands as a “wildnerness” type of area. Being from New Jersey and living about 25 minutes away from the meadowlands, I found myself questioning why I had never really seen the meadowlands as anything else but a dirty and smelly area, where New York City likes to dump their trash and waste. The first thing that caught my attention about the book, was the map at the very beginning. I am so used to seeing transportation maps of the greater metropolitan area, that this rough sketch of a map was intriguing. It almost takes you through the author’s narrative all by itself. Overall, the book was extremely easy to read and flowed really well. I found myself reading through it quicker than I had anticipated, just because he offers up his stories in varying tones. It read more like a fiction book rather than a textbook, making it much easier to read. This book made me think in a number of different ways. Since I live very close to the meadowlands and travelled through it frequently when in New Jersey, I only had one perspective on it. I never saw it as more than just a dirty, dump of a place that everyone always associated with the state of New Jersey. On the contrary, almost everything surrounding the Meadowlands in New Jersey is relatively “clean” comparatively. New Jersey is the “Garden State” for a reason. The common stereotype that New Jersey is “dirty” and “smelly” and “uncivilized” is, in my opinion, all fabricated in people’s minds because the meadowlands is what they normally see when they come to New Jersey/New York City. People travelling to New York City by plane, always see the dirty industrial side of Newark and Jersey City, right before they land in Newark or New York City, leading them to think that it is dirty. Driving to the City, it is impossible to get there without somehow first driving through the meadowlands. So in my opinion, it is the meadowlands that people normally associate with New Jersey. In some way or another, people know about the meadowlands just because of its association with New Jersey as being “dirty.” That is just my opinion, but I digress.
It was interesting to read this book, because I had never really learned about the history of the meadowlands before. It was interesting to read about how the meadowlands had developed throughout history and how its physical geography really kept it from being developed just like the rest of the metro area. Also, another part that made me think, was the fact that the author actually went out and explored this area. Not only have I never seen the meadowlands outside of my car or a train window, but I never really viewed this as a “safe” thing to do. The section where they encounter mosquitoes really made me realize that this place really is a real life swampy wilderness, a lot like swampy wildernesses elsewhere. This made me question myself as to how I had never really seen this area from its natural perspective. I had smelled the awful stench of the meadowlands before, but I had always associated it to the garbage and sludge and dead bodies. I had never thought that maybe it could be because it really is a natural swamp and that the smell could be from swamps, much like the smell that comes from untouched swamps in the south. I thought about it some more, and I realized that in some ways I had noticed that it was a natural environment, as I had seen turtles and other animals running around the area a few times. However, my only thoughts about that was “how could they possibly survive here?” In any case, this book made me really re-evaluate my whole perspective and view of the meadowlands. I had taken it for granted before, and this book reminded me that it is still a natural wilderness, despite all of its downfalls.
The Trouble with Wilderness-
This article, to be honest, was very long and slow reading. It talked a little bit more in depth than we did in class about the different perceptions of nature and wilderness, and how that perception has changed throughout time. One thing I found to be interesting, was the fact that he brought up the issue of the native american’s viewpoint on the changing face of “wilderness.” He points out that these native americans had always seen this land as not only wilderness, but “home.” This perception came mostly from the fact that the land was previously “pristine” and untouched by western settlers. However, once these native americans were forced from their land, our perception of wilderness has changed drastically. National Parks have now been created “with the result that tourists could safely enjoy the illusion that they were seeing their nation in its pristine, original state, in the new morning of God’s own creation. (23)” This is an interesting concept, because the author points out the flaws that this viewpoint has. We can not claim that this land is pristine anymore, so in reality, wilderness is all about an illusion and is all about perspective.
This article was kind of interesting. One of those that I found particularly interesting, was the “second life” part. I had heard about it before, and it reminds me of something that Sony is doing with their playstation 3. They are essentially trying to combine something like that with ps3 gaming, making it more interesting to meet people that play similar games as you. A little weird, but interesting. One thing I had experience with, was the concept of lecture capturing. In high school, my school had “genious boards” installed in their brand new science center. It was kind of like a smart board, but much more intense. Essentially, it was a standard whiteboard that tracked the specially designed markers with sensors in them, all around the board. This data could then be digitally saved, where the teacher could then post the notes on the internet for everyone to access. It performed like a white board, but saved every single marker stroke that the teacher made. It was very helpful for whenever you missed a class due to a “sickness.”