edited by Ed Finn & Kathryn Cramer Hieroglyph is a publication, collective conversation and incubator for the “moonshot ecosystem” bringing together writers, scientists, engineers, technologists, industrialists and other creative, synoptic thinkers to collaborate on bold ideas in a protected space for creative play, science, and imagination.
Mapping for the masses : Nature Commentary: Mapping disaster zones
Google Earth software proved effective during relief efforts in New Orleans and Pakistan, say Illah Nourbakhsh and colleagues. Is there more to be gained than lost from opening up disaster operations to the wider public?
Just had an Oh My God, Look at That! moment where I ran outside with my camera. I need not have hurried. The rainbow hung out in front of Camel's Hump, part of Vermont's Green Mountain, range for about 10 minutes.
David was supposed to come to Westport this weekend but got snowed in. He mostly doesn't have an Internet connection, but Optonline came back just long enough for him to upload some impressive pictures from the recent snow storm.
The kids and I got back from Florida on Sunday night to find a foot of frozen precipitation in the driveway. I have transported the kids to where they need to go via taxi and via the Mother Hen bus service, shoveling when the stuff thawed enough to be responsive to a snow shovel.
Today, I broke down and rented a cute little yellow car so I could do things like get to the grocery store and the post office and drive the kids to their dentist appointment. David arrived home this evening with a truckload of his mother's furniture from the old family beach house. It's supposed to thaw tomorrow, so maybe we can unload the truck tomorrow afternoon.
Anyway, here are the "spring" pix. (Why, oh why, did I come back form South Florida?)
The other day, a tornado cut through this area during rush hour. I've heard that the worst damage was in Tarrytown, though I haven't been over there. David called from North White Plains station and asked to be picked up. He had parked his car at Hawthorne, but the train couldn't get him there because there were trees down in the track. So I set out to get him, and the round trip to the train station took an hour and a half because there were trees down everywhere the tornado had been. It was a long difficult drive to the train station because I kept having to try new routes, looking for one that wasn't blocked.
Last night, we took the kids out for ice cream and on the way we stopped in Mt. Pleasant to take some photos of the tornado damage near the Mt. Pleasant Town Hall. Here are a few pix plus an ice cream shot after we toured the damage.
A storm was predicted, and we have definitely got a storm here. To the right is a nice shot of our umbrella on the porch being torn to shreds. (It has a manufacturing defect that makes it very difficult to take down, and so has withstood several winters open.) It is snowing out, at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, with flake an inch or more across.
Here's the weather radar. The red blotch is where we live.
Here is a photo I took yesterday morning returning to our motel from the beach in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Before heading home, I got the kids up at 7AM, so we could go to the beach one last time. It was high tide, but almost immediately we found a kite. The string was stretched a long way down the beach, and at the end of the string was a wet, but flyable, Dragon Ball Z kite. I shot this picture as we were carrying our windfall kite back to the motel just before changing clothes and checking out. This is the beach where David's grandfather built a beach house in about 1910 which remained in David's family until the 1970s, so it is the beach where David spent summers as a child. We stayed over on our way back from Maine.
So now we're home in this final week of summer before school starts. Taking stock when we got home yesterday after a long grueling drive back from Massachusetts, it began to appear that New Orleans was in significant danger of being wiped out by the incoming hurricane.
Looking at the photos of long lines of cars streaming out of New
Orleans, I was reminded of our midday experience on the Mass Pike:
Here are a few Mass Pike pictures. There was some kind of huge accident west of the Millbury exit, so the
Pike was closed in both directions. This set the stage for some really
appalling behavior on the part of frustrated drivers. I honest to God
saw someone pull out onto the shoulder of the road and cut off an ambulance with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Here are the cars driving
in the breakdown lane next to a guard rail, cutting off access for
emergency vehicles, and the cop car and the car it was trying to
escort. Most drivers behaved themselves, but there was a significant contingent
that seemed mostly unconcerned with getting out of the way of emergency
vehicles that were trying to reach the accident. There were scores of minor
accidents as cars jostled each other in the bumper-to-bumper traffic. From the radio coverage, I gather that the traffic jam was ultimately resolved by the arrival of a Medvac helicopter. We didn't see the actual accident site.
wish I'd thought to get out my video camera to tape the scene of a
frustrated cop trying to escort a couple in a visibly damaged car off
the highway. He got out of his car and rapped on the window of the car
in from of him twice. And he also went to one of the cars trying to tag
along, put his hands on his hips and asked "Why are you following me?"
I didn't hear the driver's reply.
I hope the Louisiana drivers were more considerate of each other than the people I witnessed yesterday.
And so now, a hurricane, a huge hurricane. Lucky me, we don't have cable TV. So I don't have the opportunity to subject myself to endless looping anxiety as CNN covers the story with way too little data because it would be potentially lethal to do the usual coverage. My first words to David this morning were "Well, New Orleans isn't gone yet."
My great-grandmother, Agnes Gleason Cramer, died and was buried somewhere in New Orleans in about 1908; we don't know where. She died when my grandfather was 10 months old, as I understand it from complications from childbirth. So my grandfather never knew his mother. A few years ago, we established that the family seemed to have no copies of her picture. Last night, I had a dream that her bones were floating out to sea.
The NYRSF work weekend was first baked, then rained out. After a Saturday of temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (indoors and out: we have no air conditioning), the Sunday of the work weekend was plagued by unending afternoon thunderstorms, climaxing in a lightning strike on a tree in our yard. I was on our screened porch at the time, and my right ear still hurts a little from the sound. A tree in the area of our children's play area, which we call the "circle of stumps" was hit about halfway down. This resulted in a helical gash about 25 feet long. There are large pieces of the tree as far as fifty feet away. Here are a few pictures:
Here are twelve foot strips of tree by a Little Tykes slide.
Here is a charred piece of tree.
Here's a shot of the gash. My initial estimate was that it was about twelve feet long and six inches across. A closer look revealed that it is more like 25 feet long, and as much as 12 inches wide in places.
Kevin Maroney, David Hartwell, & Judith Klein-Dial await the moment when we can turn the computers back on and continue working on the magazine. Around five, David sent them home. (There were unrelenting storms for an hour and a half after that.)
(Photos taken with my video camera, so they're a little grainy.)