A high-tech homesickness cure.

Winscape which at first glance looks very successful, after all the demo video shows their home in the Marin Highlands overlooking the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  But a closer look reveals that these are mere windows overlooking some spectacular views, but a virtual window running on an HD TV. Through some high tech gimmicks you can have a window overlooking whatever part of the world you want. At the moment it is rather limited to HD playback, but the thought has crossed my mind of trying to do this with live HD webcams from different places. For example, I called up a webcam from Abbey Road in London and was just watching the morning traffic compete with Beatles fans who wanted to get their picture taken on the immortal crosswalk.     It does open up some interesting ideas.  A virtual window outside your “house” back “home” so you can see what’s going on in your neighborhood is now only a webcam and a bit of streaming kit away.  Watching the neighbors and your home just as if you were looking out the window. Might have to investigate this a bit further.      ]]>

Chesapeake Bay wind speed maps for Irene

WeatherUnderground shows the potential wind speeds from Hurricane Irene. Starting from the hurricane icon off the coast of Ocean City, those in the closest rings will have hurricane force winds. As you’ll note they are stronger on the right side than they are on the left. What I’m talking about below is for the circle WHEN the hurricane is in the position in Ocean City area, not when it is moving up to that area. The next ring is tropical storm winds > 50 knots per hour but less than 73 knots. This includes parts of the Eastern shore just about to Cambridge. The next ring, the largest ring, is tropical storm winds > 34 knots and < 50 knots. This includes basically everyone East of Bethesda, East of Woodbridge, East of the Mixing Bowl. Please note the storm will be moving, which is why toward the bottom you see the remnants of other circles drawn. There you will see a large swath of hurricane strength wind to the right of the storm when it the hurricane icon (not seen) is south of Newport News. In this ‘circle’ you’ll see hurricane strength winds extending over nearly the ENTIRE Eastern Shore. What does this mean in English?  Check out the Washington Post’s story on Wind Speed and what it means for your home and trees. Direct link to map:

You can monitor the wind speeds on the various bouys in the Chesapeake Bay if you so desire, all from your mobile phone. http://buoybay.noaa.gov/ http://buoybay.noaa.gov/observations/mobile-apps.html          ]]>

Hurricane Irene on the Chesapeake Bay–time to get nervous.

During Isabel, we lost a few dozen roofing shingles along with having quite a bit of water flood into our house through the ceilings. All told I think it was about $10,000 in damage after FEMA and the insurance companies finished arguing. I also lost quite a bit of soil on my seawall, which spent hours underwater.  The nearby towns of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach were heavily flooded, with 4 feet of water heading inland a few hundred yards and National Guard troops called out to control security.  We were also without power for 7 days.

The posts are normally 6 feet above sea level
    So how will Irene stack up to this storm?  It’s slower moving, stronger, but also further away than Isabel.  The most similar track was that of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which caused considerable rain and flooding along with some tropical storm level winds. As you can see from the pictures, I’m not really worried about a storm surge taking my house.  That would be basically a biblical level Tsunami to get up the 40 odd foot cliff to my actual house.  I do anticipate my seawall getting another battering from this storm, which means I might need to rearrange the rocks (again) before the coming winter squalls. The rain is going to be a big pain in that the soil is already pretty wet in the area.  The super saturation along with the winds will likely result in a number of trees falling over in the forests just North of my property.  I just have to hope they don’t come to rest on my roof.  They are a shallow root trees and even a good thunderstorm takes out more than a few, dropping power lines in the process. For much of the other areas around me, I anticipate some pretty heavy flooding in Southern Maryland mixed with near hurricane force winds.  Tropical Storm winds that will hit the middle Bay will be annoying but many homes there are built with hurricanes in mind (we have hurricane struts in our roofing). Still, I’m plenty nervous.  This will be a very long weekend staring at computer screens and the weather.        ]]>

Tracking the hospital ship USNS Comfort in the Chesapeake Bay on the way to Haiti.

[/caption]   For those in the Annapolis area (and who can see through this bit of fog we have on the Bay today), you might be able to catch a glimpse of the USNS COMFORT hospital ship on its way to Haiti sometime around 11:30. Good viewing points in Sandy Point State Park, the Bay Bridge, or in the Bay Ridge area of Annapolis. Again, it is a bit foggy right now so you might not be able to see it unless the fog burns off It should be around the North Beach / Chesapeake Beach boardwalk, another great viewing point which is about 45 minutes from DC around 12:00-12:30. It’s not a very fast ship. ETA to Haiti is 5 days. The COMFORT is squawking on the AIS frequencies, so you can track it. At the moment it looks like it is just leaving the port of Baltimore. Track all ships in the Bay: http://www.chesbayshipping.com/ http://www.popularwireless.com/sp/index.php http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/datasheet.aspx?da…PORT_ID=95&PORT_NAME=BALTIMORE This should be the COMFORT directly (select USNS Comfort and then ZOOM): http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?cent…entery=38.95&zoom=9&level1=130 UPDATE: The COMFORT is battling a bit of stormy weather at the moment. UPDATE 2:  The Baltimore Sun is live blogging from the COMFORT, due to arrive in Haiti on Thursday.]]>

Ships floating around with no where to go

The Hoegh Traveller is passing by the house at this moment.  Not really sure what is inside.  It’s supposed to be cars, but who is going to buy them? As I’ve mentioned, the backlog in worldwide shipping is noticeable here on the Bay with dozens of ships parked in the Annapolis anchorage with nothing better to do.  But if you think that’s bad, you should see what is going on in Singapore right now.  Over 700 cargo ships are at anchor with nowhere to go, no cargo to carry.  As the Asian exporters scale back their offerings, these ships that were a lifeblood of international trade now sit idle. God it would be a great time to buy some ships and start my own shipping company.  Anyone have a few million to spare?]]>