Automated Amtrak Residency for Writers

by Darius Kazemi

I was on a day trip to NYC from Boston via Amtrak and I was thinking about the Amtrak Residency. They give select writers a free round-trip train ticket across America along with "a private sleeper car, equipped with a desk, a bed and a window to watch the American countryside roll by for inspiration." I'm interested in algorithmic writing, and I wondered: what would it be like for an algorithm to be inspired by the rolling countryside?

So on the way from Boston to NYC, I wrote a program that um, "borrows" the current GPS data from the onboard Amtrak wifi server, asks Twitter for an approximation of a place name based on the GPS coordinates, gets 10 nearby tweets (without replies or links or hashtags), and then compiles these into a running "diary." It also grabs a nearby Google Street View image and adds it as an illustration (thanks to Rob Dubbin for the idea).

So I wrote the program on the way to NYC, and I ran it on the way back. What follows here is the journey from Manhattan to Boston. The place names are kind of funny: sometimes Twitter thinks the train is in Canada. While the place names may be off, the Google images are usually pretty on-target (so if it says "Canada" I assure you the image is not actually from Canada).

This trip happened on a Tuesday night at the tail end of Winter, so be prepared for a lot of teens hand-wringing about whether there will be a snow day the next day, and also a lot of talk about Tuesday night's airing of the hit ABC TV series Pretty Little Liars. Enjoy.

Manhattan, NY

20:01:46, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just remembering when that man in Times Square said to me :: 'you need to let down your dreads, that's what you need to do' LOL bye sir
Back the fusk up 😌😂
Going out of the way when I should've went home
I hope Carr isn't mad when he finds out I didn't write those 3 stories 😁
pll 
I'm so fucking tired .
Que hambreeee 🙊
So excited to go to Hyper Glow at Montclair! 😊
Sonnnn who really be dressing you bitches? 😢
my hair looks OD popping in this pony tail right now! Hmmp 😍 check me out 😏

Pelham Manor, NY

20:08:40, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The only reason why I still watch pll because I be missing Hanna's face wed - mon !
Can't wait to march in the parade Monday and watch all the drunk people acting a fool
I'll stop smoking weed when I feel it's right
funny how when the ones that say they'll be there are no where to be found when you need them
I live at panera
Not looking to please anybody
It's just a video calm your 12 year old asses
Summer Shopping .
Abranme la puerta, quiero salir de duda.
gross I can't stand Paige

New York, US

20:14:10, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Didn't sleep las night but I slept all day..nocturnal ass lol
Your chocolate face would look nice in my caramel booty. Lmao.
Shit. Here come the PLL tweets 🔫
Allison's mom is fucking scary
The Car Smell Like The Inside Of A 8th rn
my dads in Saudi Arabia right now and he keeps emailing me selfies, and he just looks so white and sunburned and out of place <\3
She was intoxicated on alcohol with TRACES of thc in her system but you try blaiming it on weed? Nancy Grace you are fucked.
My mom is making me watch spanish novellas 😑

Pelham Manor, NY

20:19:19, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Westbrook been waiting for a reason to fight Beverly.
I must feel better for Friday 😫
H8 when I get hyper 😈 but luv it all at the same time
Jason looks beautiful
41/50 on my economics test ! Lets GOOOOOOO! 🎊
Ah this nap was awesome!
Today might be record high for the number of people telling me how bad I looked! Just came back from 6days of illness, so makes sense!
no one understands the pain I'm in😞
Having a headache straight for the past five days has been a complete joy
Outback date👫

New York, US

20:24:50, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I like drinking with my parents but every time we goto the bar they fight and cause a scene
I'm only human
My dad just woke up and complained about the dinnah commercial for like 5 minutes
Pray I pass this test tomorrow 🙏
fine tip pens are beautiful
Guess I thought wrong
This comedian just made fun of Burlington, k 😪
Going to bed at 830......

New York, US

20:30:08, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Damnit I'm going to miss hamburg high.
Oh a 10 page paper for history :-) awesome
I see fire /ed sheeran kygo 🔥
old people should really learn use their indoor voices ESPECIALLY in dunkin donuts
tony parker showinnn out 👏
what's so special about a thigh gap? honestly I don't find it that appealing
Real friends remember you in their sujood.
St Louis can't buy a goal
Roll it up
You guys definitely shouldn't skip leg day next time

New York, US

20:35:53, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hate my dad for selling his fj cruiser
When you don't have a place to sit, sit on the toilet.
Just bought some haterblockers... This summer ain't ready
I hate the idea of anyone else having you....
Put out the roach light a brand new L
So done with today.✌
Pretty sad that I don't even know what a relationship is anymore
I Hate Rocky 👊
I can't wait for summer league 🏀
Hate when no chairs turn :/

Greenwich, CT

20:41:46, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I need to find a way to get in your head !!!
I just thought of the most clever nickname for Delainey when she pisses me off😍
I haven't watched glee in months and of course I chose the episode with flash backs of finn to watch 😭
Dear Mother Nature, Dont be a cunt 🙅 Love always, the kids of buffalo💕
420 blaze me
You and tequila make me crazy 😍
Yea you guys aren't fucking.... 🔪. Bitch let me see you with him I swear your neck is mine....
Dynamic duo, batman robin, whoever don't like it, it's that's mans problem
Ha ha ha I hate ap world

New York, US

20:48:08, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PLEEEASSSE let this missing airplane be some supernatural shit. i would be in heaven.
Sky: Ranocchia will renew his contract or move to Juventus
AWH aria ur gonna make me cry. 😢
My nigga my whole face hurtin
All I wanna do is go for a nice blunt cruise with all the windows down
Diamante Negro e Laka meio a meio , porra que delicia
Need to find someone to take me back to school on Sunday...anyone want to take me to the train station or up to school?
Oh boy, had a dream last nite that sum1 I know was pregnant. Not sure how I feel about that!

Greenwich, CT

20:53:13, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ayy 😏
Italians >>>>>>
I be crying laughing when these shitty ass rap artist DM my girl telling her to listen to they new single. We press play and be fuckin cryin
We're going to have school tomorrow, yes. After school activities is a different story...
Nothing says cool and fun like a good ole fashion mid march blizzard. It's been a while we need some more snow.
I hate bein depended on when I didn't sign a sheet saying always out it on me
Facebook used to be cool 😂
Haven't moved from my bed since 6:30
Break a bitch heart, no future , Miss Cleo
I rrlyyy just want dq tbh

Norwalk, CT

20:59:00, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I need a back rub and my heated blanket
People make promises all the time, then they turn right around and break them
Every time I see a big, white truck, I automatically assume it's Campus Security 😳
My sisters are screaming and arguing about tampons. Can you not?
Wow I'm pissed who tf was that 😡
I'm such a nostalgic nerd
Mo.M o n e y.L e s s.P r o b l e m s

Westport, CT

21:05:14, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I know you still think about the times we haaaddddd.
I wanna subtweet the fuck outta you
Got sun burnt today .. Do u know how happy this makes me
There Goes My Baby/.
Third wheeling tomorrow woohoo💁
There's a 30% chance that's it's already raining
I can't trust niggas that's why I keep my distance from niggas
My finisher is the RKO. Easily. I would just grab someone neck and just body they shit lmao 😂
You're the only one .. Cause I don't trust these bitchess
It's nine o'clock and I'm fricken exhausted. 😫

Westport, CT

21:11:27, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

That was my last tweet until Easter, made the executive/late decision of giving twitter up for lent. Peace and blessings
I'm just so stressed out about everything
Buzz Off🐤
I don't feel good enough for anything.
Party at my houseeee 😝
Forever wishing I could be Kurt Cobain.
Instead of doing all of these crazy diets people could just get off their asses and go workout.
Whats the point of having a facebook when everybody hates you.
jv fr du yoga !!!
Ugh feeling sick as fuck

Connecticut, US

21:17:25, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

im just waitin until the game come on at 10 , then im goin to sleep , lol
Corbin's not good scattegories. He just got a score of 26 while I had 60 😂
My bae looking cute af
apparently this dude that my mom works with hung out with mmf on their tour bus ....
I'm savoring Supernatural, taking it real slow.
Marijuana is bad if you do pot you are bad and I'm going straight to the school administration
I bet my mom 5$ that we would have school tomorrow 😂
Fckin these Pringles up .. On my way too tha trap *
Watching Sydney White aka when Amanda Bynes was sane

New York, US

21:22:37, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Now that I have an apron all I want to do is roast shit in a cast iron skillet and bake pies.
I've always attracted lesbians and now that I'm sexually fluid they all hiding. Duh fuck.
Why when you can't have something you miss it more than ever?!
Christ girl you ugly
Lets pray for no school tomorrow and no snow 🙏
真的不知道自己在追求什么 有点累…尤其是和妈妈视频之后😞
I wanted to beat the shit out that nigga got me hit by a car 😪
Now we're lethal, infected with D'evils
Jay aggy as hell yo fr fr !!
She's got a nice ass voice too yo

Stratford, CT

21:37:22, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wtf is wrong with these refs holy shit
I cuss a lot 😳
Bored is an understatement.
I'm saying all this because I care for all of you! I may not show it but I care about all my friends.. I was blessed to see another day
rip the Benz 💔 had some good times
I've always been a fighter. If you tell me I can't, I'll die trying to prove you wrong.
What are half of you people even talking about
I cant blame you, because I'd do the same thing
Evvvvvverythings always my fault

West Haven, CT

21:42:46, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why do I ever watch movies that aren’t Rushmore
You can't put a person second and expect them to stick around
My mom came into my room and asked me what was wrong because I'm literally crying from laughing so hard right now
Still can't believe she said she was fooled 😴
G-Eazy is a babe, his music is amazing, and I love him.
My hot tub is calling my name
If you still talk about it you still care
in a relationship she wants three things eyes that wont cry , lips that wont lie , love that wont die
We're not closing so I'm going to bed

New Haven, CT

21:48:38, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I read a book like this once hahah like the moon came closer to the earth and made it snow feet at a time and the world ended haha
Not feelin good at all
I feel so weird right now
I don't care what anyone says the 'DemWhiteBoyz' vine account is possibly the gayest thing ever
About time the city schools closed!!!!
Phoenix-Fall Out Boy is a little disturbing!!¡!!
no matter what i do, in every aspect of my life, it's never good enough.
can I just wake up tomorrow morning and my foot would be 100% healthy or
Good luck trying to get out of this one👊

Massachusetts, US

21:55:55, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I laugh at everything sad or bad
When you're dreaming with a broken heart, the giving up is the hardest part
k cool
My leg is killing me :/
Money money money .
don't you worry cause everything's gonna be alright
I'm not ignoring you, I just don't like you, so, yeah, I am ignoring you oops. lolol
Do whatever makes you happy.
i either go to the gym supperr early or late.
Delilah is determined to not fall asleep

New Haven, CT

22:02:07, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tired, sick I could honestly go on
i love when my dad brings food home from his dinner 😍
My granny misses you
Everyone quit your bitching about school, got damn
I'm not believing anything until I get the call from the school
I'm really happy we have a snow day and all but I'm not looking forward to the whole snow aspect
I drive myself crazy lol
Omg .. My head really hurts ! 😫😖
I hate you. I love you. I hate you. I love you. I never know how you make me feel, because you're only here half what I say. 😒
Early dismissal??

Branford, CT

22:07:49, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

She wonders why I hate that place so much.
I'm always anxious. It's so annoying.
I miss having a girl to talk to every day
March 18th ✋ why is that in my head?
Tanning is such a great way to clear my head from all the bull shit that's going on rn
nobody understands how much I wanna run away and never come back ever.
No school tomorrow 🙌🙏
I'll fucking kill you..
Progress over pizza
What happened to everyone dressing classy.

Branford Center, CT

22:14:14, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I still need to find a prom date 😳😒
Somebody say vermont? 20 inches of snow I'm commin for you.
Im so fucking pissed of im bouta fucking snap im leaving this house dumb early tomorrow
hahahah??? ik that didn't just happen 😡
I became a pro at driving with my left hand so I can always hold yours with my right one 😏
Durant has 35 with 8 min left..
I hate taking showers at night bc I'm positive theirs a ghost and what if it turns of the bathroom lights and stabs me, like I can't do that
We can feel soo far from sooo close
i'm so tired but

Madison Center, CT

22:20:27, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

you think Pittsburgh has figured out how to control the Caps after beating them 8 times in a row now ? that's embarrassing.
Seriously stop hoping for a snow day, it's not even going to snow, it's spring, please no snow. PLEASE!!!!!!!
I'm really excited to see how the mets do this season. Yes I said it
knock knock. Who's there????GAINS.
Flyers are next. I hope they are ready to lose.
You're illiterate
I liked him too much — way too much. and I ripped him out of my heart so it wouldn't get to hurt me more than it did.
I pre ordered Frozen todaay 😄💕⛄
I give upppp

Connecticut, US

22:26:07, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I work , I go to school & I dance for god what more can you ask for ? 💁
The thought of this walk 😫💭💭😒
Man, distance really fucking suxx.
People probably just shouldn't talk to me because I get mad over anything.
needa lose all this belly fat
KD & Westbrook always shitting on James Harden
My cleats are soaked 😒🔫
You know it's bad when you sign up for a rewards system at the diner
And I won't text you back after that...
That leg massage killed me and sent me to heaven!😍

Massachusetts, US

22:31:31, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I put too much faith into people and they always let me down.
Yo for real someone do something with me if we're cancelled.
To all the people that said we weren't as people say look where we are, where are you?
I realize that when people tell me to calm down or stop wit da smart mouth etc it really pisses me off. Welp bout to eat then off to bed.
Such a perfect night for a bonfire on the beach🔥🌊🌾
thanks for the memories even though they weren't so great
I'm at my breaking point, I'm legit ready to kill anybody who looks in my direction!
You can't change your situation, the only thing you can change is how you choose to deal with it.
Restless night I guess?

Old Lyme, CT

22:36:53, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Actually seems too unreal that I turn 20 this year, James turns 21, my sister turns 17, & my brother turns 15. Where the hell has time gone
am i like the only one of yall who aint at 10k tweets
eu queria que eu pudesse acordar com amnésia por um dia
I really wanna dye my hair again
Rich just called me a peasant… off with his head.👸
Who wants to come over and watch a scary movie💀😱
Who misses those high school days that you will never get back?
Wtf am I watchin right now lol idek
Justin Bieber is such a wiener...let's deport him!
If you need an example of what failure is, watch Mean Girls 2

Connecticut, US

22:42:27, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Let go. Let live.
make me a fansign ♥ fav for a dm ♡
getting sent to the principal for my phone being out is the dumbesttttt thing, reason 13568 why I hate school
Just trynna get dat Guap
I don't think I'll get through Long Island Medium on Sunday without balling my eyes out.
Creo que mori un poquito desde adentro al leer eso.
I hide alot of my feelings unless I have lots of feelings for you.
Why does it feel so late?!

Massachusetts, US

22:47:56, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Melatonin work your magic
Vasquez was the middle man of all BAA relationships.
Nobody supports Voldemort. Not once, not neva.
“Some Men Just Want to Watch The World Burn” aka today in San Francisco
Goodnight 😴
The MVP race between durant and LeBron is the most overrated piece of shit sports news in the world right now. Couldn't give less of a shit
I kinda wanna like I don't maybe turn my phone off for a while and perhaps I'll throw it out the window too.
I miss my family in Ohio...
some days I sit & I think of all the memories I had with people I'll probably never talk to again & it makes me sad.

Massachusetts, US

22:53:06, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ken-Ton developed the swine flu, and the black plague
Need to really detox my body too. First step. No more red meat. Sigh 😩🏃💨
If I get 100 retweets I will kidnap Paige's cat, cook it and eat it.
its mad early and keylas already ko, this is why i always miss juango and emilio when they leave 😩😩
Snapchat??? willskocik?? Hopefully I wake up to some cool pix!!!!!
Well at the very most I only have one more shit year in shit town ;) I'll probably be going to beacon sophomore year
Only if we were all that lucky
Eh em !
Moneys the only thing that comes to mind
Game of thrones

New York, US

22:58:22, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

but you never dance for me when I ask you to. 😭
Oh god, the new Instagram UI on Android is terrible.
Wow I must be crazy because I enjoyed doing the precalc homework someone call 911
Well life went from 👌 to 👎 in a heart beat
I'm blessed to have found such a sweetheart 💞
This Indian nigga thought I was done benching when I went for water then starting taking off my weights made him put it back on DAFUG nigga
I want to do a bunch of adderall, smoke a lot of weed and learn quantum mechanics.
I'm not tired. I'm sad.
Just left the office! 🙌😵

Massachusetts, US

23:03:30, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Nothing worth having comes easy
Someone I can talk to consecutively without getting bored >
Love watching college basketball 😁
I'm physically and mentally hurting
It's just been a bad day... 😒
Let's see what time I'll pretend to fall asleep tonight / after midnight
Was always good at writing my feelings out on paper
Are you the one, cleaning then bed
No need to target people about what they think... We are all allowed to put our opinions out there. Now grow up, thank you.
I give up

Westerly, RI

23:08:54, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Crack cocaine NUGGGGAAA
Nooooo school yusss👏👏👏
This nigga is going hard on bonds😂😭
Grab it put it in slow
Now that im 18 will I get a new id in the mail
I mean I wouldn't complain if we got a snow day tomorrow
So so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so sick of it.....
I want everything i cant have
You would not believe what Matt just texted me about 10 seconds after he foundout we had no such a LOSER
Yes Kenton just closed!!!!!!!

Ashaway, RI

23:15:15, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Trying to lure the cats over here to hang out with me. Cats, it turns out, are pretty much high school girls. Going back to polyhedron dice.
This better be the only snow day lol
I'm paranoid, I'm trippin
Best album of the year? Beyoncé
My mom is convinced we do have school tomorrow ...... I swear I will be SOOO mad if she wakes me up tomorrow morning! 😠
I don't think I can trust you at all
Why is fisher gay
Ok i am tired , teddy ismt texting me back goodnight again
Just cancel classes already lmao
12 years a slaves is incredible. fuck white people

Massachusetts, US

23:21:38, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Good night twitter people :)
I Work earlyyyyy tmrw .... Night 😴✌️
People! I like people😌
I Never Loved A Bitch s
Fuck I look like if I wanted to hear you bitch I'd still be with ya ass.
And I really need quesadillas
I'm hungry
Tired of being a girl
I wanna turn you on.
Oh volvió a la normalidad

Massachusetts, US

23:26:45, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fuck buddy's need to know they fuck buddy's 👅💦😏. Side hoes need to no they side hoes 👯💬👤💔. Mains need to know they mains 👪💁🎀💍❤️
I don't get what I'm doing wrong. Every time I do my tap dance Im missing steps. Wtf. This isn't like me. Why can't I get this.
I'll ignore every one of them because I only want you.
Gunna be in straight zombie mode tomorrow. But fuck it, idec .
I only have 116 friends on snapchat😒
My relationship has issues but the both of us are adult enough to talk about what is bothering us.
Most of the clean faces be the most dirty 🙌
Victoria Morrell: Advice Guru
Talib gonna fall apart game 3 of the season
Night twitta🙅💯

Warwick, RI

23:33:04, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

true life I woke up thinking I slept through the night but in reality I slept 10 minutes ..
Without the coach and QB we have right now our team is a bunch of injured players or rookies. Damn I'm dead heated
Pats better be on revis island tomorrow by 4
I need more new stuff to listen to
And now I know why everyone leaves me
Just saw Flyers vs Devils highlights | The boys got screwed tonight
Uploading a titan fall video. It has been a while youtube.
I didnt know Summer was still alive
Lmfao 😍😏
Ayy, sos re tierna :3 sjsldks

Rhode Island, US

23:39:58, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

fuck that new girl that you like so bad, she's not crazy like me I bet you like that
re piyo xde
Another essay draft done!
Why do these physically flawless internet celebs complain about how ugly and lonely they are like shut the fuck up lol
I'm not even goin to get my hopes up for revis. money will go to 9 slapdicks that mcdaniels think can play and 2 slob d tackles who suck
Pissed I missed pll

Rhode Island, US

23:46:54, Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Rhode Island, US

23:52:44, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When a good thing goes bad it's not the end of the world, it's just the end of one world that you had with one guy. 👋
Finally home. Been going non stop since 5am. So pooped.
Damn he put them on blast
Take a selfie with my ass so I know it's real
I wanna go back to high school
That was deep bro!!
They deserve it tho
first time that I saw you remembered every word you said.Now you're stuck like a melody playing over in my head,That I don't want to forget
Add me on snapchatizzleeeee : YAROLYNNN
Damn pats fans are heated😂😂😂


23:58:11, Tuesday, March 11, 2014

At least the Maple Laughs are losing.
Heaven gained an angel today. Rest in peace Jay Tollefson 💕👱
Finally something that's more then you.. so much more
Ugh I hate when I start to miss my ex 😤😤😤
They have a attacked secondary
The Broncos Defense is gonna be way better then last year with the addition of Talib now.
Imma try tho 😏
Even Schmidt's humour is starting to get old.
I wanna go to Mexico just cause I don't really like the food... And I loose weight like crazy

Massachusetts, US

00:03:29, Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have a couple of exes that just won't seem to gtfoh my life for good smh.
Queen size bed to myself😍👑🎀
Can I Hit It Again , 🎧
I want you forever, forever and always. Through the good and the bad and the ugly
I could probably eat a dozen donuts right now.
Aqib Talib && DeMarcus Ware To The Broncos ???????
I don't chase girls who don't know what they want
But Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman have a cute bromance😩 I had to deal with Marchand and Seguin's breakup this season WHY ANOTHER ONE


00:08:47, Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fuck you very much
Sinceramente Ha Eta PC'; Se Le Meten Unas Lokeras Qe Yo No Entiendooo
He Better not text or call me !
Leo up at Leos lmfao!
Just hope things turn around for me and my family.
I saved all my work for tomorrow. yay.
My mom was so proud of me for making it through a full day at school today
She's The Man never gets old.
You said you gangsta but you aint never pop nothin.
Am I ever gonna get this shit right? Prolly not

Brookline, MA

00:14:25, Wednesday, March 12, 2014

(That were previously mine obviously)
Closer to my dreams
I'm really confused why this nurse whose shift ended at 730pm is still here past midnight.. 😮
If heaven was a mile way And you could ride by the gates. Would you try to run inside when it opens ,would you try to die today?
Jealousy and hate is what make you do unrighteous things.
Good thing I'm not tired and I have 5 classes tomorrow 😐🔫
India Arie giving me life
Yea so a mouse popped out from under my roommates bed, and went back under...
I ain't shit 😑