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NOVEMBER 8, 2009   

Light and dark


LED glowing yellow, Arduino board in backgroundThe last day of the Mobile Art & Code symposium started great. Sunny, warm, lots of blue sky in Pittsburgh.

The morning workshop on using the Arduino microcontroller and software was fun, though a bit baffling at times. I hope this will be the jump-start I need to figure out how to make interactive art that doesn't rely on a keyboard and mouse.

Today I made an LED light up and blink. Not much, but at least a start.


Most of the drive home was pleasant. The weather was great and for the most part traffic was light. Still, as I got close to home I began to get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Yesterday, via a chain of events that started with a Facebook message that mentioned a fire on West 32nd, I'd learned of a tragedy two doors from my house.

Early Saturday morning the boarding house burned, killing four people inside. Next door, a house owned by good friends was significantly damaged.

In PItsburgh it had taken me a half dozen phone calls to get this much information. Talking with people I love I was utterly powerless to do anything more than say a few sympathetic words.

The closer I got to my block the slower I drove. Wasn't sure how bad things would look.

Wreckage of burned house on 32nd Street.Pretty bad. The only good part was that neighbors were standing around talking, giving me a chance to connect with them. Everyone was still visibly shaken, sharing stories of early-morning knocks on their doors that alerted them to the fire.

Word on the street is that the fire was deliberately set, that a black pickup truck was parked nearby and drove away as the fire started. The pile of burnt lumber is now the scene of a multiple-homicide investigation.

A few stuffed animals and a hand-written note make a simple memorial on the temporary fence.

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