9:55 EST, 2013
I’ve written before about my fascination with the iSpy app for the iPad. It’s a wonderful pastime for armchair travelers.
iSpy’s a compendium of live cameras in hundreds of places around the world. The number of places you can learn about just by watching these live cams is amazing.
Some of the cameras are in static installations and some scan the landscape. One of the neatest features is that the iSpy user can control the view of a great many of these cameras. Sitting here in my little electronic cottage in Virginia Beach, I can control live cams in New York, Singapore, the Cayman Islands and Tasmania, just to name a few.
The one thing you become very conscious of as an iSpy user—and I know as I write that saying this will only make me sound incredibly naïve—is how daylight rolls across the planet Earth. If you have a lengthy and global list of “favorite” live cams, there are times when some of your favorite cameras will be in daylight while others are in darkness.
Duh. On an intellectual level we know and understand this. We learned it in school. We’ve looked at globes. We might have even held a flashlight or lamp beside a globe to show how the sunlight rolls across the surface of the earth as the planet turns.
Still, it’s an abstract concept because so many of us spend so much of our time in a single time zone. Unless you’re traveling across multiple longitudes, the realization that all of these things are happening simultaneously just doesn’t hit you.
Yesterday morning at 9:55 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, I found myself on hold on the telephone. While waiting to be connected, I opened my iPad and the iSpy app. I quickly saved a bunch of the live cam scenes. When I went back later to take a closer look at what I’d saved, I found a fascinating array of everyday life, including:
· The wind blowing so hard in the harbor of Banff, Scotland, that the live cam couldn’t get a sharp image to save its life.
· No shipping traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway at Alexandria Bay, New York.
· A traffic snarl at a roundabout in the Czech Republic.
· A sunny morning in the Boston Harbor.
· Nobody on the slopes of a ski resort in the Italian Alps.
· A quiet border crossing in what looks like a residential neighborhood in Hungary.
· A piece of cloth flapping in the breeze from a chimney overlooking the Bay of Naples.
· Sailboats gliding by just outside the jetty in Tel Aviv.
· Early commuters lined up to catch the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle.
· Hardy souls walking along the seaside promenade in Bilthorpe, England.
· The sun just beginning to peek over the mountains in San Ramon and Half Moon Bay, California.
All of this at the same moment, like a little snapshot of life on earth, captured while waiting for someone to answer the phone.