Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 36
September 9-15, 1999

  • Hurricane Watch And Do
  • Bits & Pieces
  • Capitol Steps Step up for Project Graduation
  • Fall's Spider Days7
  • Way Downstream ...

  • Hurricane Watch And Do

    No matter what language you speak, when it comes to talking about the weather, we all have the same tongue.

    Nowadays many a tongue is wagging about the hurricane season.

    September 1 to November 31 makes for busy days for meteorologists. This is the peak season for tropical depressions to form in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. September 10 is the actual peak day on the weather calendar.

    In the wake of an unpredictable Dennis, Chesapeake Country and the entire East Coast are talking about what may be headed our way and up the Bay. Like the guests who wouldn't go home, Dennis came for an East Coast visit in August and stayed into September.

    Dennis is only the fourth official hurricane for the year. Meteorologists claim it is only the beginning.

    As well as hurricanes, a tribe of unseemly visitors might be coming our way. Here's who and what-

    Tropical Disturbance: A moving area of thunderstorms of tropical origin that maintains its identity for more than 24 hours.

    Tropical Depression: A rotary circulation at the surface of water with sustained winds between 39 and 73mph.

    Hurricane: A tropical cyclone with sustained winds of 74 mph or more.

    Hurricane Watch: The first alert given by the National Weather Service when a hurricane poses a possible, but as yet uncertain, threat to a specific coastal area. Small craft are advised to stay off the waters during a Hurricane Watch.

    Hurricane Warning: A notice to act. A hurricane is expected to reach a coastal area within 24 hours with sustained hurricane force winds and dangerously high waters and waves.

    Flash Flood Watch: A flash flood is possible in the area. Stay alert and stay tuned to your local radio.

    Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is imminent. Take immediate action.

    Are you and your family ready for such weather?

    Preparing a hurricane supply kit is a good start. Include a battery-operated radio, working flashlight, extra batteries, candles and plenty of matches, extra ice in your freezer, some bottled water for both drinking and cleaning, a first aid kit, extra medications in case getting around could take several days and a pantry stocked with canned goods, cereal, powdered drinks and baby food if needed.

    When the winds start whirling, fishermen know how to secure their vessels. Do you know how to secure your house?

    Store anything that may blow away, such as garbage cans, garden tools, lawn furniture and plants. Make sure awnings and shutters are secure or taken down. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and keep your vehicle in a safe place; your garage is best. Check your fire extinguisher; fires can breakout with downed wires. You may even want to have a few buckets of sand near by.

    If a storm hits, keep your ears to the portable radio and stay inside. Once the storm and its threat have passed, stay away from damaged areas. Do not drive around assessing damages. Report any broken and low-hanging power lines to the police or utility.

    Once it is safe to venture outside, make a list of the storm damages to your home. Take photographs.

    Staying ahead of the storm will help you be safer and less stressed should Dennis' big sister or brother come our way.

    Reach the Anne Arundel County Emergency Management Office at 410/222-8040 and the Calvert County office at 410/535-1600. On the web, learn what's happening at or

    -Lori Sikorski

    Bits & Pieces

    Big Feat: Delbert Drives off Dennis

    The courageous shall inherit the kicks. The 3,000-plus aging hippies, foot-stompers and party-hunters who braved the shakings of Tropical Depression Dennis last Saturday and traveled to a concert in Solomons surely were the wisest of Baysiders.

    The benefit for Calvert Marine Museum featured the big-time acts of Delbert McClinton and Little Feat competing with the weather. Throughout the day, with thunder like a bass guitar and showers twisting and shouting through the region, the fate of this seasonal spectacular was unknown.

    But the show went on, and Delbert McClinton's raspy, roadhouse blues drove off the rain clouds. When Little Feat, the night's headliners took stage, the star Vega of the constellation Lyra paid a visit overhead.

    For many concert-goers, McClinton's in-charge, rhythm & blues made it worth the risk of tumultuous weather. When 50ish McClinton sang, it was butt-shaking time for many in the audience from his generation. Some had accumulated plenty to shake.

    Little Feat seemed a tad more interested in their music than in the audience. That's fine, especially if your taste is edge-of-the-envelope dueling guitars loud enough to jingle the feelers of the nearby radar dishes at the Patuxent Naval Air Station.

    But the evening's most enduring memory may be the non-stormy, gentle breezes - and Delbert McClinton. If he's this good at warding off bad weather, readers may want to take part in his music cruise in the Caribbean next winter. He's hawking it at 1/800/DELBERT.



    But in Annapolis, Dennis Defeats Concerts in the Park

    The hopes of 5,000 music lovers were dashed by Dennis, as the tropical depression forced the cancellation of Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Labor Day concerts in Quiet Waters and Down's Parks for both Saturday, Sept. 4 and Sunday, Sept. 5.

    Most would-be concert goers learned the bad news through a recorded announcement at the parks' number, though a few determined fans braved the high wind and sometimes torrential downpours only to be turned away at the gate.

    Though Annapolis Symphony Executive Director Jane Kenworthy regrets the impossibility of rescheduling, she promises next year's concert will be "bigger, better, and more wonderful."

    Wet weather "is an inherent risk in outdoor concerts," said Kenworthy. The symphony also lost big In June, when the JazzFest, an annual fund-raiser sponsored by the Friends of the Annapolis Symphony, was wiped out by rain.

    "The rain gods have not been good to us, but I hope it's helped the farmers. The only four rain days farmers had this year have come courtesy of the symphony," said Kenworthy.

    -Christy Grimes


    It's 1526 at Renaissance Festival

    The 23rd annual Maryland Renaissance Festival, running weekends through October 24, has some fresh ideas this year.

    Every year the storyline changes. This year it's 1526: A Year of Intrigue! The rumor is that King Henry VIII is in love, but not with his wife.

    Meanwhile, in the village, someone is trying to kill Sir Edgar Hargrove. Fair visitors are welcome to help solve this murder mystery while gnawing on a giant turkey leg, watching a game of human chess or a good sword fight.

    "We always have 20 new shows a year," says artistic director Carolyn Spedden. Among this year's novelties are the Butterfly Man, a juggling act; Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor; and Largerdemain, which is billed as "magic in a big way."

    Dennis the Menace kept crowds down over the Labor Day Weekend, which was Shakespeare Weekend, from the usual seasonal average of 13,000 a day according to Spedden.

    -Darcey Dodd


    Fairly Amazed at State Fair

    Showers churned up by Dennis closed down all 41 rides at the Maryland State Fair's preview day last Thursday, but the Fair went on.

    The 118-year-old Maryland State Fair boasts thousands of exhibits, from the newest technologies to old stand-bys to timeless wonders that can be just as amazing to modern Marylanders as this year's air show would have been to their great grandparents. You could see cow give milk and could even watch and learn while cows gave birth at the new birthing center. "It was amazing," says Fair spokeswoman Edie Bernier.

    "They served homemade ice cream," said fairgoer Christy Grimes.

    -Darcey Dodd


    Don't Get Sand in Your Seafood

    Speaking of crowds, Maryland's 33rd Annual Seafood Festival hopes to bring 50,000 fun-lovers to Sandy Point State Park over September 10 through 12 to enjoy abundant seafood, live entertainment, arts, crafts and beach activities, including artistry in sand by sculptor George Zaiser of Berlin, Maryland.

    -Darcey Dodd

    Capitol Steps Step up for Project GraduationCapitol Steps

    With school just started, graduation is far from most minds right now. But for Project Graduation in Calvert County, it's business as usual.

    "Graduation is a very important event in Calvert County," says Kathy Smith vice-chair of Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse.

    To protect seniors on that all-important night, Project Graduation works on donations and with volunteers to give high school seniors an alcohol- and drug-free alternative.

    The program raises funds to be distributed to all three county high schools, Northern, Calvert and Patuxent. "Each school makes the final choice of where they would like to go for the evening," says Smith. "We are able to help them out financially with the money that we raise, with each school receiving about $6,500."

    When founded by Judge Larry Lamson, in 1987, Project Graduation was funded by the substance abuse court fines taken in by the county. "But then it was decided we could no longer do that, and we had to look for other means of raising the money," says Calvert activist Gracie Rymer.

    Project Graduation invites seniors to enjoy an evening filled with dancing, food, games and even swimming. "Last year, Northern High took a boat cruise in Baltimore," reports Smith. Patuxent High School, which graduated its first class last spring, chose to spend their night across the bridge at the Patuxent Naval Air Station's Officers Club. Buses leave from the high school around 9pm and return in the morning at 4am to an awaiting breakfast before the students head home.

    "Our volunteers work really hard and really long hours for these students. The bus drivers donate not only the buses but also their time. And all of the others involved do so much to make sure everything goes smooth," says Smith.

    This year Project Graduation will have some help fundraising with the September 10 performance of Capitol Steps. A pungent group of political satirists that usually perform in Washington, Capitol Steps will make the drive south to entertain and help the Calvert community.

    It may seem like politics isn't funny any more and that today's pack of blow-dried candidates seems cut from the same flat dough by a cookie cutter with no humor.

    But if you're Capitol Steps, you see plenty of humor. In fact, there was so much humor potential in Washington in the last year that Elaina Newport, Capitol Steps' producer and co-founder, found it "terrifying" at times.

    "It was harder to be funnier than the actual events going on with Monica," she said of the White House intern Lewinsky. "You could not get more absurd. You couldn't get any funnier. The next sex scandal is going to bore people."

    Newport recalls the tame days of the mid-'80s, when Capitol Steps was just a few years old and presidential aspirant Gary Hart was on the make. "One woman coming out of a townhouse one time ruined a whole career," she observed.

    Clearly, the satirists will miss the Clintons. Good thing they're only moving to New York. Indeed, Hillary figures into one of Capitol Steps' new songs, "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say Yo," reminding the first lady and Senate hopeful that she must learn to talk like a New Yorker.

    The humor is bipartisan, and people in Calvert County may hear a new song about the fledgling political candidacy of George W. Bush: The title: "You're so Vague."

    September 10 at the Mary Harrison Arts Center on Chaneyville Road in Owings will be a night to laugh and to support Project Graduation.

    For tickets stop in at any Calvert Bank, Bay Hill Accents in Chesapeake Beach, or Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller's law offices in Dunkirk. Advance price is $20, with at-the-door prices of $25.

    To volunteer for Project Graduation, call 410/535-1600 x 413.

    -Lori Sikorski

    Fall's Spider Daysspider

    Arachnophobes must be shaking in their shoes.

    The dog days of summer seem to be turning into the spider days of fall. You can't step onto your porch without running into - or maybe running from - at least one big spider. Stroll down a wooded path, especially in the early morning, and before long you'll feel the silky, sticky strands of a spider's web clinging to your eyelashes, your face, your hair. These marvels of engineering appear overnight and stretch three or four feet or more between tree trunks, porch posts, even between your car and a hedge. Anything will do.

    The strong yet fragile webs trap and display the morning dew in their intricate patterns of concentric circles. It's almost enough to make you forget their intended purpose.

    Which is, of course, to catch and eat anything that comes their way - including the big cicada in the web over the basement window.

    Where are all these spiders coming from?

    "It happens every year," says Jonathan Coddington, research scientist at the Department of Entomology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. "They have an annual life cycle."

    another spider in webThe big spiders you see now are females, Coddington reports. They will die with the season, leaving behind egg sacs. These egg sacs will hatch in early spring. The baby spiders, who'll be about the size of a large pinhead, spin webs that are proportionate to their size. Likewise, the amount and size of the prey they catch will be small.

    There really aren't any more spiders now than there were this spring, Coddington explains. You just notice them more because they've grown large throughout the season and can now spin very large webs. And catch some really big bugs.

    Maryland is home to 600 to 800 species of spiders, most of which you'll never see. The ones you are seeing right now most likely belong to the genera Araneidae araneus or Araneidae neoscona, more commonly known as garden spiders or common orb weavers. Don't worry, though. They might look scary, but they're not poisonous to people or pets.

    What should you do about these eight-legged interlopers? Live and let live?

    Says Coddington, "That's what I do. They eat insects, and they're beneficial to the environment." He also reminds us that spiders "tend to make their webs where the prey is."

    So if you have spiders, they're eating insects that may otherwise bug you. Plus they're more ecologically sound than pesticides and their webs are a whole lot prettier than a fly strip.

    -Kim Cammarata

    Way Downstream ...

    In Newport, R.I., the air at Sayer's Wharf smells like popcorn and French fries rather than diesel fuel. That's because the water taxi there is burning biodiesel: soybean oil, animal tallow and recycled cooking oil. Biodiesel is one way to reduce the harmful effects of engine emissions on the marine environment ...

    California scientists have discovered that human viruses are traveling via leaky sewers and faulty septics into the Pacific Ocean and threatening swimmers with illness, the Los Angeles Times reports ...

    A Utah company is $100,000 poorer after being fined for electrocuting birds. The Justice Department said that 17 eagles and hawks were electrocuted after landing on the company's oilfield equipment in Colorado ...

    In Greenwich, N.Y., an outbreak of E.coli bacteria at a county fair that killed one girl and sickened people has been traced to farm runoff. Authorities say that bacteria may have washed from a barn into the fair's water supply during recent rains, the Albany Times Union reports ...

    In Japan, an entrepreneur is selling an odor-absorbent paint made from scallop shells. The paint combats odors from cigarette smoke, mildew and bacteria, entrepreneur Koji Sasaya told the Wall Street Journal ...

    Our Creature Feature comes from Nevada, where a recent scientific gathering produced a troubling finding: the world's turtles, which have survived for millions of years, are now at risk of extinction.

    Conservation International president Russell Mittermeier put it this way: "We are on the brink of losing a group of animals that has managed to survive the upheavals of the last 200 million years, including the great extinction episode that eliminated the dinosaurs."

    The causes are two: development and demand. Turtles are losing their habitat as more people eat them, the rich as a luxury and the poor out of necessity. Add to that the craving by the Chinese for turtles as a medicine, and it spells problems for the creature that gave North America one of its early names: Turtle Island.

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    Volume VII Number 36
    September 9-15, 1999
    New Bay Times

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