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Noticed the smoke about 10:30 this morning. The fire looks to be between Black Star Canyon and Main Divide Road. I imagine the afternoon sea breeze will push it over the ridge toward South Corona. No sign of air tanker support as of yet.
I doubt this was an arson burn, there's nothing much in that area except the occasional off-roader. Couple 100 degree heat with bone dry, late summer chaparral, then throw in some ongoing drought condition, and you've got a recipe for a flash fire.
It was foggy and 60 degrees when I wandered out to the hills with the dogs for my morning constitutional. That's one reason why I was able to find Jimsom Weed in bloom. Generally it blooms at night and the fragrant blossoms wither and close in the hot sun. Also known as Sacred Datura and Indian Whiskey, Jimsom Weed is a hallucinogen and is also poisonous to most mammals.
And, Boy Howdy, finding this lying in the dirt put a big, Texas smile on my face. Even better than finding money in the dryer.
One of several dirt roads that TWC walks with the dogs wanders next to a seasonal creek bottom for a while before it meanders east to a low ridge that marks the edge of the plateau where oranges used to grow. I don't enjoy it as much anymore because the area has taken on the ambiance of the county dump. I mean landfill. I'm grumpy enough without the additional visual input provided by piles of chit. I absolutely support public hanging of those who dump their chit on other people's property.
The water table has apparently dropped and the trees can no longer tap into life sustaining water. This is the creek bottom today:
This is what the same stretch of creek bottom looked like ten years ago:
We're all under mandate to reduce water consumption 20% by 2020. Although my water district publicly scoffed at the concept of tiered water pricing a few years ago, the severity of the drought has forced it to reconsider. I know it is anecdotal evidence, but it has been effective. As the marginal cost of the last gallon of water has increased exponentially, I've noticed that several of my neighbors have let their expansive lawns die out this summer. The Walkin' Man said it cost him $500.00 a month last summer to keep his two acres of turf green. Not no moh, though.
Me? I've never had a lawn here at Casa de Las Rocas Grandes. The water district considers me to be a relatively frugal water user, though the monthly water bill belies that claim. But, the base rate is $75.00 before a single drop of water flows into my kitchen sink, which tends to ratchet the total bill upward pretty quickly.
I recently cut off the drip to a couple of peach trees that inexplicably quit bearing fruit. Ditto an old apple tree. We irrigate mostly with drip and gray water. If I wash my truck in the driveway, that water takes care of a couple of trees. Doin' my part, I guess.
My folks were High School kids during the Big War. Every morning they awoke with the gnawing fear that the Nazi flag or the Rising Sun would be unfurled over the capitol in Washington DC. These guys made sure that didn't happen.
Sure enough, you lost an hour last night. But look on the bright side, a couple people I know lost four or five hours that they're not getting back. And, at least you know where your undies are and how you got home.
As Daylight Savings Time becomes increasingly an exercise in the irrelevant, the government powers on. Heh. TWC had been waiting for weeks for a tinge of daylight at 6:00 AM. That day came recently, but this fully automated stroke of meddling instantly banishes the late winter sun to the 7:00 AM time slot. Practically speaking, that means The Boy will be driving The House Blond to school in the dark. I've whined previously, but our narrow rural road has become a makeshift commuter highway, and come Monday it will be filled with people running late who are navigating with one eye open and didn't get enough coffee. Throw the usual road rage suspects, the timid, the crawlers, and the pocket rockets into the mix and you've got a recipe for disaster. Which is one reason why Mrs TWC makes them text her the second they arrive at school.
There is ample evidence, both circumstantial and documented, that DST is futile. It creates massive disruption with no quantifiable benefit to anyone. Pushing it out this far, as the CONgress did a few years back, just compounds the misery. Time to take a lesson from Arizona and Hawaii and opt out.
The other day TWC observed that it was pretty likely that the practice of medicine is one third science, one third experience, and one third darts. And maybe another third magic.
I had my meet up with Doc Eko today. Turns out that the best time of day to book an appointment is at 2:00, right after lunch. Wham. Bam. Thank You Ma'am. I handed over the co-pay and a mere three pages into Jack Reacher she called my name for the blood pressure and then whisked me off to the room.
I can't fault the ER doctor at Loma Linda last Sunday, he did the best that he could with the information at hand. Hey, I still give these guys five stars. CT Scan, blood workup, pee in a cup.....his money was on kidney stones, but all he got was zip and nada. After ruling out everything else he settled on a colon infection. What else could create that kind of pain? The RN gave me a shot and some serious antibiotics and sent me home.
What I assumed to be an allergic reaction to a powerful antibiotic called Cipro, was something altogether different, thus explaining why the pictures of allergic reactions to Cipro on the intertubes didn't look like my mess.
Doc Eko took one look and pronounced it to be shingles, not an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Shingles(!)? That's what Old Man Kenny had. He used to live down the alley from me in Fullerton. Good Lord, I ain't that old.
The reason why the ER doc, Dr Z, wasn't able to diagnose is because the full symptoms hadn't manifested yet. Apparently shingles starts down deep, near the kidney. Then the pain follows the nerves that wrap around your belly and ultimately explodes on the surface of the skin. The pain is unbearable (Hear! Hear!) but it takes about a week before you see the inevitable pustules and sores on the skin wrapping around from your back to your groin. TMI, I know. Be happy I didn't take a pic.
When you have chicken pox as a vagrant yoot, the virus never goes away. It hangs around, causing trouble, but your immune system slaps it around and beats it down. Until you get some miles on the odometer, that is. Eko says it's stress induced. I don't know exactly what kind of stress triggered this, I don't feel particularly stressed out. Yeah, I know, it's tax season, but still. The upside is that there is a vaccine that will stop this from happening again. Yes, I'm getting it.
Oh, but wait, there's more. That elongated water balloon swelling on the same side of the abdomen? Completely unrelated. My error was assuming a connection to the pain without end, when really it's a dam hernia. WTH? Probably from wrestling that dang Beans around. Who ever heard of an 85 pound puppy? Surgery to come, which don't impress me much. I've not had surgery, except tonsils when I was young enough to care about anything but the promise of ice cream for dinner. I don't think you get Breyers after hernia surgery.
Doc Eko gave me steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. I'm just happy it isn't anything more serious, though it hurts like hell. But not like it did a week ago when I was looking for double edged razor blades and a hot bath.
Thanks for all your good wishes and concern over the past ten days.
This too, shall pass, and I'm glad it isn't a kidney stone that shall pass.
There are a very few defining cultural moments that every generation shares. As a rule they almost always include the question: Where were you?........What were you doing?..... Our parents could recall in indelible clarity the events of December 7, 1941. For older Baby Boomers, whose coming of age included Viet Nam and summertime cities in flame, a watershed event was the assasination of JFK. And most everyone of us can tell you where we were and what we were doing when the news came.
TWC had math class immediately after lunch. Mrs Lush's English class. Mrs Lush, who pointed out on the first day of seventh grade that her husband was a trumpet player, not a drunk. The point was lost on me because, unbeknown to Mrs Lush, the term had become archaic when she wasn't looking.
We knew something was very wrong as we filed into the classroom. Her eyes were red and swollen and she got right to it. The president has been killed in Dallas. I was pretty sure she wasn't a Kennedy supporter, being a fundie and all, but the idea that someone had killed the president threw her around. As it did us all. Life was pre-empted for three days.
My good friend, Chuck, was a cinematography major at Long Beach State. Somehow, he got hold of bootleg copy of the Zapruder film, which was illegal to posess in those days. We watched that film, frame by frame, a zillion times in his bedroom. You can't see what, exactly, was happening on the grassy knoll, but something interested Zapruder, and there is just a sense of what it was, almost visible, like a specter and gone.
I am not a conspiracy theory true believer, but the evidence I saw in that film doesn't support a shot from the Texas School Book Depository building, which would have come from above and behind the motorcade. Graphic as it may be, JFK was shot in the head and a piece of his skull flew backwards out of the car. Backwards. Backwards over the trunk, after the car had passed Oswald's sixth floor lair. I'm not an expert on gunshots, but it stands to reason that if JFK was shot from the TBD, that piece of his skull would have flown into the front seat or onto the hood, not the exact opposite direction, onto the trunk of the limo. Backwards. Toward the TBD from which the shot was fired. See for yourself.
As a sidebar: 11-22-63 is a wonderful book, give it a read.
750 guys, armed with a few handguns, some home-made grenades, rifles, and handful of automatic weapons stunned the Nazi troops, forcing the Germans to retreat beyond the ghetto wall. Unfortunately, 60,000 unarmed people are no match for a well trained army, and it was only a matter of weeks before the entire ghetto was destroyed and the inhabitants forced into concentration camps. History might have taken a different course if the people were armed like we Americans are. At least they would have had more than a snowball's chance in hell.
We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry’s, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of “silence” that our earphones create.
If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.
The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sunset to sunset – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors’ ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.
Shutting down my grid? What about books, work, play, research, letters (email) to my aunt and my mother? How is unplugging beneficial to me? And, if it is the cat's pajamas to pull the plug at sunset and take the day off, why only one day? How is that the start of a different life?
Besides, I walked out in the hills with the dogs for an hour this morning, sat and read with my son last night, had breakfast with my kids this morning, and when the coals are hot, I'm throwing a steak on the grill while Mrs TWC whips up a salad.