If you read this blog you’ve gotten to know my family a little so I feel like you’ll enjoy these updates:

My husband, Bill

Bill and I are looking forward to visiting my sister Laura over Thanksgiving this year. Last time we visited my hometown of Kailua we both got really sick and there was a big storm. Not one of our better vacations!

Bill also has some bragging to do. He just released a virtual rendering of Plum Island Airport in Massachusetts for Microsoft Flight Simulator. No idea what I’m talking about? You’re not alone. Basically he creates the scenery and sometimes even the planes that fly through this virtual world, first talking photographs then making 3D models that you can experience through the simulator. Here are the details in Bill’s own words, and a great video demo of his new product so you can see what he’s talking about:

Microsoft Flight Simulator is more than a tool for computer geeks and would-be pilots—it’s the only commercial software I know of that attempts to model the entire Earth in digital 3D. The engineers at Microsoft created a living world with geography, seasons, weather, and even some of the laws of physics—at least those that relate to flight. One way they were able to do that in a $50 piece of software is by cutting certain corners. For instance, there are over 25,000 airports in the simulated world, but the buildings on their grounds are taken from a library of reusable generic models. This means that an airport terminal in Indonesia looks an awful lot like one in Indiana.

Fortunately for virtual flyers, Microsoft intentionally left open a “back door” so that third-party developers could expand the sim by replacing those generic airports with much more detailed and realistic versions. This is where I come in. Using my photography, 3D modeling, and programming skills, I’ve created a series of photo-realistic airports for the flight simulator series that take virtual reality to a new level. In my latest project, I took hundreds of photographs at Plum Island Aerodrome in Newburyport, Massachusetts and combined them with aerial photographs of the area in order to re-create the oldest continuously operating airport in the US and its environs. Instead of a bland, square hangar, pilots can see the curve of the aluminum Quonset hut, the tiny shingled shack that serves as a “terminal”, the armada of lawn tractors for mowing the grass, and the cracked and scarred asphalt of a runway that’s a victim of too many harsh New England winters. The result has been a very popular downloadable “add-on” that has sparked a new interest in New England among armchair pilots.

My dogs, Sadie & Jack

OK, maybe not bragging so much as…well…weird fun. When I last met up with Laura in San Diego I brought back presents for the dogs. We call them Red Dog & Blue Dog. It was an innocent purchase at the time but as we get closer to the election these toys started taking on a political hue. We threw the appropriate color toy dogs at the TV during the presidentail debates and I think Jack and Sadie caught on. They have now voted by chewing the head off of Red Dog while Blue Dog looks like he just got back from vacation. Yes, our dogs seem to be firm Democrats! Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday.

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