Category: weather

Vital Apps for the Outdoorsman

The great outdoors can be very dangerous for the unprepared, whether you like to bike or hike through the woods or camp out for weekends. Thankfully, there are a lot of smartphone apps that can help adventurers in their journey into the wild. Before going on your next adventure, you may want to consider downloading these on your phone for a hassle-free and safe journey into the unknown.

MotionX GPS

The first rule of staying safe outdoors is to avoid getting lost in places you are unfamiliar with. When your phone has the , you will be able to view your location wherever you are in the world. The best thing about MotionX GPS is that users can save maps so you won’t ever have to worry about losing your way in case the phone’s Internet connection gets cut off. You may also find your way back easily if you’ve set up a starting point, since the app will update your location with each step.

Knot Guide

One of the most useful techniques in camping is knowing how to tie knots. Knots can help build tents, help construct tools, and aid users in climbing. is a simple app that has over 100 instructions in forming knots for different situations. The app has pictures with its instructions so even complete beginners can follow the steps.

SAS Survival Guide

Ultimate SAS Survival Guide
Ultimate SAS Survival Guide

The is the adventurer’s bible. It contains a lot of tips on how you can survive perilous situations while traveling. The app was designed by a former member of Britain’s toughest fighting force so the techniques that you can learn are very practical and useful. It has over 400 pages of survival tips, 15 instructional videos, pictures of edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants, a digital compass, and quizzes to test a user’s knowledge on survival.

Mobile phones in the present days continue to amaze us. They’re not only tools for browsing or gaming, but now, an instrument for survival as well. In fact, perhaps mobile phones are the most practical device for survival we have. According to , software developer for , the mobile market continues to grow and is expected to become a $42 billion industry by 2015. The predicted figures show that smartphones are becoming essential to daily life, and therefore the most perfect tool for survival in the great outdoors.

Winter storm Hercules in New Brunswick, New Jersey — January 2014; triptych

And the snow fell, and it got colder, and the car got buried in snow, and it was beautiful.

Winter storm Hercules January 2014 New Brunswick New Jersey triptych
Winter storm Hercules January 2014 New Brunswick New Jersey triptych

UFO on Google Maps?

UPDATE January 6, 2013 5:01 PM: Geo/meteo experts and suggested (independently of each other) that a faulty reading from the Blacksburg, VA radar is likely the culprit.


I took this screenshot at 11:38:03 AM today (January 5, 2013) on my personal weather page, which embeds weather content from Google Maps and other sources. A few minutes later the strange shape was gone. What do you make of it? UFO, maybe?

Here’s what my Twitter buddy Don Meltz had to say:


Strange radar formation shape on Google Crisis Response map
Strange radar formation shape on Google Crisis Response map

Sailboat carnage

I frequently blog about sailing, about the great times my friends and I have on the water. Well, there’s another aspect to it. There’s loss — material, but also emotional. There’s sadness and sorrow.

Hurricane Sandy brought horrible devastation to New Jersey, to the local marinas, and to many of my friends’ boats. I can’t describe the boat carnage I saw the last couple of days, and I can’t stomach to post pictures of the wreckage. Below is the G version of what I saw today at one boat yard.

Boat yard carnage in the wake of hurricane Sandy
Boat yard carnage in the wake of hurricane Sandy

Whose responsibility is my safety? My own.

Everybody wants to babysit me

Yesterday US Open tournament referee Brian Earley between David Ferrer from Spain and Novak Djokovic from Serbia. The skies were clear and sunny. Why not keep playing? Because there was a tornado warning, and Mr. Earley wanted to make sure everybody in the audience could get safely to their cars or to the train before the tornado hit. How nice of him. (As it turns out, the tornado never hit, and the players could have kept playing for a while before the rain came).

I have been an amateur competitive sailor for over 20 years. For every amateur sailing race there is an amateur , whose job is to set the course, start and finish the race, and announce the winner. But every once in a while the race committee would decide that the weather conditions are not safe for sailing, and cancel the race. How nice of them.

In the above examples the event coordinators exceed their mandate, seemingly “for the common good.” The tournament referee is concerned with the spectators’ safety; the race committee is concerned with the sailors’ safety. But is that a good thing? I say no. As an adult, my safety is my own responsibility. There’s a tornado warning? There’s a thunderstorm coming? Make an announcement. But let me decide. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine.

Mr. Earley: Your job is to administer a tennis match; do that. Race committee: Your job is to administer a sailing race; do that. Allow the participants and spectators to make their own decisions. It is their responsibility, not yours.

PS It is a centuries-old maritime tradition that . This has found its way into modern-day sailing instructions, which expressly declare that the decision whether to race or not is solely the skipper’s responsibility, thus exonerating the race committee from any consequences.