Fish-eye Lens

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By Whitelaw Reid


August 12, 2001 

ENCINITAS — A few years back Kenzie Aries used to sell sodas outside her beachfront home in Leucadia. Now the 11-year-old has found something much more lucrative — and educational. 

Aries, who will be a sixth-grader at St. John’s Evangelist in Encinitas, runs, a Web site that tells you anything you’d ever want to know about Beacons Beach, which is located off Highway 101 and Neptune Avenue in Leucadia. 

The site’s newest feature is a Web cam. It shows live video of the beach, from 8 a.m. to sunset daily, by using a camera that is pointed out the window of the Aries’ third-floor study. The video is still-framed, but refreshes every three minutes. 

The site has become popular with local beachgoers, particularly surfers who want to see what the ocean conditions are like. 

Aries and her father, Rod, say they get 200 visitors to the site daily. 

“That’s more than most companies get,” said Rod Aries, who works in Internet marketing and helped his daughter start the site in April 1998. “Most companies would die to get 200 a day.” 

Aries says the site gets plenty of hits around 4 p.m. each day from surfers checking out the Web cam. 

“People are trying to decide whether to blow off work, or they say, ‘Forget it, (the surf is) all blown out,’ ” he said. 

Former Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard, a Leucadia resident who surfs, is a big fan of the site — and Kenzie. 

“It’s really clever, really neat,” Beathard said. “She’s a neat little girl.” 

Rod Aries’ company helps with some of the graphics and content (including a fancy tide prediction chart), but Kenzie does most of the research and writing herself. 

“I write and dad fixes and adds important stuff,” Aries said. “Mom takes out dad’s bad jokes.” 

On the site are links to surfing and fishing retailers. Aries says she earns sales commissions every day from her site — a big jump from her street vendor days. 

But making money isn’t the coolest thing about running the site. 

“You get e-mails from people who used to live here,” Aries said. “They get to see what’s still here and what’s not. 

“A lot of people have moved away and there aren’t really that many sites on one particular beach.” 

Aries says she receives dozens of e-mails a month. 

“I moved from Encinitas to Portland and your Web cam is the only thing that keeps me sane,” reads one e-mail. 

“I grew up in Leucadia,” reads another. “Your site makes it feel like home.” 

She also receives some off-the-wall requests, such as “Can you change the angle of the camera? I want to see if my friends are on the beach.” 

One person advised Aries not to publicize the site. 

“Don’t tell people (about the site),” the e-mail read. “The beach is already too crowded.” 

Aries says running the site has been a great educational experience. 

“I learned how to research, from small things such as short and longboards, to large things such as rips and tides,” she said. 

Aries, an avid surfer, also loves to fish. She says she particularly enjoyed doing the work for the fish section on the site. It details all the types of fish that can be caught in the waters of Southern California. 

“It gives me reference to what fish I can catch at certain parts of the year,” she said. 

Rod Aries is currently negotiating with a company to share the use of the Web cam, which would net the site more money. 

Kenzie Aries says she is saving all the money she earns for college. 

“I want to become a marine biologist,” she said. 

It beats selling soda. 

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