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Web Cams: Corn, Hamsters, Volcanoes & Cardinals

April 18, 2005

I find Web cams strangely enthralling. When Mount St. Helens threatened to blow last year, I periodically logged onto the "Volcano Cam" to see how high the plume of ash and steam was. I even fell for the "Corn Cam" several years ago, when it was chic among Web surfers to log in and see how high the corn in some Iowa farmer's field had gotten that day. (The link is at but it has not yet been made active this growing season.) My particular favorite was the "Hamster Cam" (located at which more often than not, allowed you to watch a hamster sleep.

If you're into cutting-edge action/adventure, this may not be the hobby for you.

Now we've got the "Vatican Cam." Yes, the cardinals locked up in the Cistine Chapel (talk about a conference room with a view) have gone high tech (actually, it's the Washington Post's Web cam) and allowed us to keep regular tabs on the white smoke/black smoke business. You can find the link here:

Unfortunately, it doesn't much work when it's night time in smoke is hard to spot against a black sky. I'm hoping the final selection occurs during daylight in Rome, when I can spot the white smoke. Otherwise, I might ultimately have to admit to myself that I've wasted weeks watching a fuzzy picture of a stationary stone building.


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