Posts Tagged ‘wildfires’

Welcome to Southern California. Contrary to popular belief, we DO have four seasons here: earthquake, fire, flood, and riot. Presently it is heading into fire season, otherwise known as summer to the rest of the northern hemisphere. Though, like with all seasonal transitions, earthquake still has a few last kicks to it, giving us a M3.2 burp as I write this, only a few miles from my house. At least, according to the news it happened. Anything less than books flopping off shelves I tend to not notice. The jaded laissez-faire reality of living here most of my life.

This transitional period is affectionately called shake and bake by us locals. All the heat without the flavor. Instead of getting mouth-watering pork chops, you just run outside because your house is collapsing, and get fried by the giant bug zapper in the sky. The end.



Do you want fries with that?


It’s not that I’m unafraid of such things. I’ve been through several significant temblors in my time, including Ferndale (Cape Mendocino) in 1992, and Whittier Narrows in 1987, the latter of which caught me driving into downtown L.A. on the Hollywood Freeway. You’ve not lived until you’ve seen a skyscraper ripple. But there’s not a lot you can do about earthquakes except ride them out and be prepared for afterwards. They offer almost no warning and cover huge swaths of geography, making them almost impossible to avoid. And the bulk of the shifting is done in a matter of seconds. It may take days, months, or even years to clean up and rebuild, but the sheer terror is over pretty quickly, allowing us to shake our fists at the government for their lack of instantaneous and perfect response all the quicker.

Wildfires, on the other hand, scare the fuck out of me. Part of that, I’m sure, is the primal lizard brain and its programming to fear fire just ‘cause. But the majority is because I’ve seen what they do. Wild, often unpredictable, they can mosey along at ground level keeping down the underbrush while a herd of elk graze nearby. Or they can blast flaming tornadoes a hundred feet tall, incinerating just about everything in the way in seconds.

We’ve been lucky in that we’ve never been directly affected by wildfires. Fires have teased the borders of where we live, leaving the air thick with smoke. But we haven’t had it any worse. Unfortunately, we do know many people who have. From being evacuated as a precaution and then returning to a house largely unscathed, to mad-dashing to the car with child/animal/laptop in hand as the raging inferno engulfs everything they ever owned mere seconds behind them. It may be fascinating to watch on the news, until you recognize the house of your friend going up in smoke. And then it is just heartbreaking.



Off the chart takes on a whole new meaning.


According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are thirty large wildfires active in the US right now. The majority of them are in western states. Arizona leads the way with seven. Right behind them is California, with four. And these numbers are considered light for this time of year. After the wet winter we had, which encouraged all sorts of wild flora to spring up just about everywhere, the dry summer will cook it all to crispy tinder just waiting for something to spark off the flames until flood season returns and mudslides put out the fires still not fully contained after days – and even weeks – of effort.

A study by the University of Colorado, Boulder’s Earth Lab revealed over 80% of wildfires during the period 1992 to 2012 were caused by humans. Over one-fifth were directly attributed to arsonists. Because, like Alfred said in The Dark Knight, some men just like to watch the world burn. And the study also found that more fires were started on the 4th of July than on any other day of the year. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to have a holiday at the height of summer feature fireworks and alcohol.



Or maybe just stay inside and have ice cream.


With climate change bringing about longer and warmer springs and summers, as well as increasing the range and duration of drought, fire season will only grow longer and more dangerous. We as stewards to this fine little blue marble need to take better care of her. The danger isn’t that the planet will be destroyed if we don’t’, it’s that WE will be destroyed. Short of being blown completely apart, Earth will be around long after we’ve led ourselves to oblivion. Just maybe not in a form we would recognize.

So, in the long term, doing something about pollution and renewable energy will serve to give us a nice place to keep living. We have the technology to have our toys and live WITH the planet at the same time. It’s just a matter of will. We need to put the planet and its people before profits. Which means getting the politicians out of the mix and handing things back to the scientists before it’s too late.

In the mean time, we do our part in our own little neck of the world. And we stay prepared. Because no matter where you are, so is Mother Nature. And she’ll get you sooner or later…






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Hot Hobbit

ONLY 92F today. And three wildfires within 50 miles. So, just another day in SoCal…



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I really wanted to title this “Lazy-Assed Fucktards and the Stupid Shit They Do That Makes Me Want to Bury Them in a Red Ant Hill and Cover Them With Honey,” but there wasn’t enough room for that. So now that you have a pretty good idea of what I’m going to be ranting about, you can take this opportunity to either sign off and look at more cute kittens, or get a cup of tea and some chocolate and enjoy the show. Hey, this is more for my therapy than your entertainment, anyway.

So there I was, out in public once again. Since we’ve been down to one vehicle for TWO FRICKIN’ YEARS awhile now, I do most of the household shopping on the weekend. Which is, of course, the worst time to do it, since all the villages and their idiots are also loose. It’s like the circus is in town, without the organization. You have the animal trainers (it’s Southern California and apparently you’re not allowed to go anywhere without a pocket puppy), the trapeze artists (because it would be too much trouble for mom to get off her cell phone and keep the kids from climbing all over things), the danger acts (nothing like a good ol’ domestic dispute right in the middle of canned goods), the jugglers (one parent, two carts, six kids…), and let’s not forget the clowns (People of Walmart. ‘Nuff said).

And that’s when I realized what the real crux of the matter is for me: it’s not the people, it’s the stupid.

I could deal with the crowds, the cars, the noise, if so much stupid weren’t going on. For all the heights of brilliance humans can achieve, those feats are only outdone by the lows of our rudeness and idiocy. Here are a few examples of what I’ve seen repeatedly on my forays out into the world:

1) Cigarette flicking – yeah, you know what I mean. That last drag followed by a sour face and a toss onto anything but a trash barrel or an ashtray. What few smoking friends I have don’t do this – they field dress their butts and dump them in an approved container – so I know it’s possible to smoke and not be an ash-dumping ass. But it seems oh-so-rare. Just flick it into the street, crush it under your foot on the sidewalk, leave it smoldering next to the trash can, or – my favorite – toss it out your car window as you drive down the freeway. Hey, fuckwad – SoCal is experiencing its worst drought since they started keeping records. To say the entire region is a dry-as-a-desiccated-desert-bone tinderbox is an understatement. If you didn’t want “that smell” in your car, you shouldn’t smoke. As of this writing, the California Department of Forestry has already had seven incidents just since the beginning of 2014, for a total of nearly 3,500 acres burnt. And we still have eleven months to go. And since the US National Park Service estimates that 90% of wildfires are caused by humans, the chances are good that your cigarette will light us up like a Burning Man bonfire. I’ll be sure you get the bill.

2) Diaper changing – I know this needs to be done when you’re out and about with your younglings, so I don’t have a problem so much with the actual act of changing, as long as you’re not doing it while I’m trying to eat or in the middle of a grocery aisle. It’s what you do with that dirty diaper once you’re done with it. Like leave it sitting in the parking spot you just left. It’s especially fun on those 110° days at the height of summer, when that smell meets you at the corner and haunts you all the way to the main doors. Don’t want it in your car? There are these things called trashcans. Most businesses have them in their lots or by their front entrances. Too lazy to walk that far? Too fucking bad. You had the kid, and the mess is part of the package. Get a diaper bag, get a shopping bag, get something, but don’t leave it for me to experience because I will hunt you down and leave it burning on your front porch.

3) Careless carts – this one really gets me, because it’s so common. Shopping carts left helter-skelter, anywhere, everywhere, over here, over there, over hill, over dale, but don’t dare get near the cart rack. The grocery store I shop at has cart racks about every ten parking spaces, so it’s not like you have to hike down the block to put the thing back. But not even that helps. There was an SUV parked right next to one of those sad little botanical strips that seem to be so popular in parking lots, and on the other side of that strip was the cart rack. A man unloads his groceries into the SUV and then looks like he’s headed for the rack, but what does he do? He tips the front end up onto the strip and then gets in his vehicle and drives away. The cart is now partially into the driving lane, not three feet from the rack. THREE FUCKING FEET!!! Just how lazy do you have to be to not manage three feet? It’s the “it’s not my job” mentality. The public doesn’t think it has to clean up after itself because somebody else will. Well, you know what, asswipe? I was taught to clean up after myself because that’s what personal responsibility means, so get off your high horse or the next time you come out of the store, your car will be surrounded by carts three deep just waiting to scratch your paint.

4) Cell phone parenting – another fan favorite. Kids running rampant through the store while oblivious parent is glued to their cell phone exchanging gossip with their sister/BFF/husband/mother/whatever. I have yet to overhear (and you can’t help but overhear, since the only volume seems to be LOUD) a conversation that was so important it had to be taken care of that minute. Unless of course, you think (enter name here)’s sexual exploits/(enter name here)’s drunken tirade/(enter name here)’s explosive diarrhea/(enter name here)’s secret Mom shouldn’t know is that important. Instant communication has made us a culture of rude, stupid and careless morons. My cell phone is for my convenience, not yours, and I don’t have the Pavlovian response so many of you do when the damn thing rings. Get off the phone and be a parent. Stores are not playgrounds. The next time I see your kids bouncing down the aisles playing with toys they just ripped off the shelf, they’ll see what it’s like to meet the Sorta Wicked Witch of the Pacific Northwest and her stew pot.

I could go on and on. Being a bit OCD, lots of things set off my dumbfuck radar. But these are the ones that I keep experiencing, time after time, day after day. Most of you reading this will probably understand and nod sagely in agreement, while the ones who really need these lessons won’t think they apply. If you’re one of the latter, guess what – you’re a lazy-assed fucktard and you’ve pissed off the wrong crazy cat lady. Beware incoming hairballs…

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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