Sunday, June 29, 2008

Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash

They have a new species here too: people with antennas coming out of their heads. The antennas look like the ones on cop walkie-talkies: short, blunt, black rubber whips. They rise up from behind the ear. The first time she sees one of these people, she figures it must be some kind of new Walkman, and she wants to ask the guy where he got it, what he's listening to. But he's a strange guy, stranger than all of the others, with a permanent thousand-yard stare and a bad case of the mumbles, and he ends up giving her the creeps so bad that she just shoves an extra-large dose of stew in his face and hurries him on down the line. 

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Iowa flooded

My parents live near the flooded areas in SE Iowa.  Recently my mom sent me this email. 

Hwy61, 1, 22, 92, 6, the Burlington , Ft. Madison & Keokuk bridge are all closed.
Oakville doesn't exist anymore. Neither does Gulfport as of last night.
Not sure the status of Davenport. I know the riverfront is flooded but
I don't know about the bridges if they are open or not.
They opened Interstate 80 two days ago. It was flooded around Tipton in Cedar county
but 218 is closed around Cedar Rapids. The only way we can get to Muscatine is by
taking 218 to 80 and down 38. It's about 110 miles.
Hopefully one of the highways will open by the time you come to Iowa.
Columbus Jct can't use or drink their water. Curt and family sandbagged Wed,
Thurs and Friday. Your Dad helped in Oakville on Friday - he said there were
over 2000 people helping. But it didn't work. Dad and I helped a family move
out of their house about three miles south of Kingston on Sat. They were told to
evacuate at 1pm on Sat and had to be out by 10pm. This couple is in their late
70's. Kinda like packing up Grandpa's house - they have lived there over 60 years.
I guess there are a dozen or more hog confinements in the Oakville bottoms and
had around 30,000 hogs in them. They could only move out 5000 so they just let
the rest loose - and lost 25.000 hogs. Mary said Doug Lee told her someone got
a picture of some hogs on top of houses and on porches in Oakville. Mary & I went
down to 99 to see what we could which there is only about one mile of the highway
not under water. We talked to some people from PETA and they are putting boats
in today to see if they can rescue any animals. And a guy was shooting a video
of the river and was working on a documentary for PBS. Looked like something you
would do.
The river is at a toxic level now because of the chemicals from the farmland & animal
waste. I don't think we will be able to swim in the Mississippi anymore.  
Have a good day,
love, Mom

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pedometer Interview

Amy Rudberg recently interviewed me as part of her ongoing project:

How I’m trying to help my Facebook friends (33): Interview with artist Cole Pierce and his pedometer.

What is a pedometer?
A pedometer is a step counter. It is a device that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of their hips.

How does your pedometer work with your cell phone?
After visiting Wikipedia, I learned that my cell phone uses an “embedded 2 axis MEMS inertial sensors to detect the steps a user takes.” My phone displays my steps on the external display. It counts detected steps during the day, and at midnight it stores the counter in a day-by-day history and resets it to zero. My height and weight are used to estimate the length of my stride.

When did you start using a pedometer?
I have been using a pedometer for about 2 or 3 months. My wife activated it for me without telling me. For a few days I wondered what the random numbers on the screen meant. Mostly out of curiosity, I check my step count a few times a day and before I go to sleep. I don't exercise regularly and feel a little guilty about it. If I walk over 5 miles in one day, my conscious is clear. I also feel physically better. And it’s better than sitting on my ass all day long. Walking 5 miles is not very hard; all and all I have my doubts as to whether or not it constitutes worthy physical activity. It seems very little compared to running, biking or swimming regularly. On a different note, I am amused that my phone tediously records something as banal as walking.

What is your daily goal?
My goal is to be better than average, which is currently 8,043 steps (about 4 miles). That is the distance I walk to and from work if I take the train. I question the accuracy of the average, which I guess is low if you factor in the days my battery is dead or if I don't have my phone in my pocket. On several occasions I've walked more than 10 miles, which feels like a real accomplishment.

What do you do to achieve your goal?
Not much. I just walk. I only drive when I need to haul stuff around or if the weather is bad. I don't take extra walks to try to up my step count, but I do try to keep my phone with me when walking. I am more conscious of the fact that my walking is being recorded and archived. I wish there was a web application that displayed this archive and my step count in real time on my blog.

Check out Amy's project here and here is some other stuff Amy is involved in: