A few years ago, the film "Free Willy" introduced many to the waters around the beautiful San Juan Islands. For 26 years, the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island has been documenting the pods of killer whales that frequent the inland waters of Washington and southern British Columbia, maintaining a photographic catalog of every individual as well as recording the social structure. Among their discoveries: Matriarchs, some more than 80 years old, continue to dominate the pods. More distress ing: Orca numbers are declining, reflecting a deteriorating marine environment. The center shares its research at its Web site,www.whaleresearch.com, where you can do a little whale watching with the roving Orca Cam. If the waters are quiet, you can always take in an orca video.
Avoid fuelish expense
www.gaspricewatch.com: Warm weather is here, and the open road beckons. This site can help you save on the cost of getting from here to there. Its network of more than 36,000 volunteers keeps tabs on prices at over 600,000 filling stations all over the United States and Canada. Simply plug in as much as you know about a locale - city, state, ZIP code - and see a list of stations and prices. Searches can be made by grade of gas, including diesel. You'll also receive a map and directions to each stat ion. The site provides comparisons on gasoline taxes and consumer info. It also offers a home heating oil price watch and anticipates adding a marine fuel price watch.
Cats take on new lives
on the Web
It bills itself as aspiring to build "the largest database of feline links" on the Web. And www.felinewww.com is pretty comprehensive, directing you to everything from cute cats (at www.cutecats.com, natch) to homeless ones.
Gothic Cat Rescue at www.geocities.com/Petsburgh/Zoo/2085/ specializes in matching societally steroetyped black cats up with those vaguely morbid nightclubbers known as Goths - and we don't mean the tribe.
Religion on the Web
Promising a "venture of faith" and "extreme ecclesiastical democracy," the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations' Web site is designed for people who want to be active in their denomination.
The site offers information on missionary trips to Mexico and building homes for the needy. It also provides spiritual guidance, such as steps for leading a Christian life.
The next stage in the evolution of commercial programming: No actors, only products. The Adobe Web site offers a taste of this brave new world, which actually is several worlds, called "Atmospheres," at www.adobe.com/products/atmosphere.
The company, whose top-dollar Photoshop and Illustrator software has a large following among graphic artists, bills Atmospheres as "realistic and immersive environments that offer a revolutionary approach to content."
They're realistic if you live in a landscape of floating billboards, spooky belvederes and deserted pavilions, and owe as much to Dali, Escher and de Chirico as they do to Nintendo. Download the Atmospheres browser and navigate 3-D worlds that run the gamut from whimsical ("Lost Night," where you can "see Kepler's Laws brought to life" in an animated version of the solar system) to eerie (Stonehenge) to downright terrifying (a car dealer's showroom with no exit).
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