The Items In This Post Are Not Related. Well, Mostly.

  • Bat Mitzvah invitations are in the mail. Well, mostly. We have about 10 more to deliver/mail, but we are waiting for more to come back from the printer.
  • It has been w-i-n-d-y today. I’m talking gust up to 75mph. Combine this with under 10% humidity, and you know what that means: yup, Southern California has changed seasons from Smog to Smoke. There are 11 fires burning right now (good map), with really big ones in Malibu, Castaic, Agua Dulce, Fontana, and down in San Diego (more). There’s also one in Moorpark. The Moorpark and Castaic fires have combined to make the sky brown with smoke, and the winds have downed trees all over the road.
  • We lost power once today. It’s been stable since. This is good.
  • I’m making a mean pasta sauce for dinner, to be served over spaghetti squash, together with sauteed zucchini and garlic, and a side salad. I really should go get back to it.

Fire Season has started…

As anyone following the news knows, this is a bad brush fire season here in the City of Angels. So far this year, there was a 150 acre fire in the Hollywood Hills near Universal Studios; around 1,600 acres in the recent Griffith Park Fire; and over 4,000 acres on Catalina. So it is clear there are going to be more brush fires this season. My current headache is leaving me in a weird mood, so I’d like you to put on your prediction caps…

It’s clear were going to have another big fire in Southern California (here’s a history of some of the worst). Where will it be?

Note: I want to make it clear I’m not wishing for any such fire — we don’t need to lose life, property, or erosion protection. But fire is inevitable in this valley of the smokes, so I’m curious how we are at predicting?


Erif! Erif! Erif!

According to dennisthetiger, I wrote about “the fire”. So, figuring that he ran into “future cahwyguy“, I’m writing about it.

As most folks by now know, there is a large fire in Griffith Park. According to the LA Times Breaking News blog, it is over 800 acres, and about 50% contained. One house was partially damaged, one equestrian bridge was lost, and a few special park hiking areas were lost. You can see a map of the extent here. The community of Los Feliz was threatened, and there were evacuations overnight.

This got me to thinking. Suppose you had one hour to evacuate your house. You could only carry what you could fit in your cars. What would you take (other than family members and pets)?

Me? I’d take:

  • The three computers (not peripherals) and the external backup drive.
  • Key non-replaceable paper records: house, taxes, trust, wills, birth certificates.
  • Key valuables: jewelry, cash, etc.
  • Selected photo albums that are irreplacable.
  • Key medicines

I’d have to think more if there was anything else. Certain valuables (china, silver) are too bulky or require too much packing. Other stuff is replaceable. I’d also take a camera and walk around the house taking photos of everything, for insurance purposes.

So, what would you take?

*: As for the title of this post: It comes from a bastardization of “One Dark Night” we used to sing at camp. All together now… “One night dark, when bed we all were in / Old Leary Mrs. left the shed the lantern in / And when the kick cowed it over, she eyed her wink and said / “They’ll be a time hot, in the town old, tonight” / Erif! Erif! Erif!”


Disasters, Disasters, So What Else Is New?

Disasters, Disasters, So What Else Is New?
We’ve suffered the worse and then some…
But I’m sorry to tell you my suffering friend,
of the terrible scourge yet to come.

Tom Paxton, 10 Million Lawyers

We’ve been innundated with disasters of late. Hurricanes, Fires, Blizzards. So where is it safe to live? FEMA, that agency of the 400% rack rate hotel rooms, has an answer. They have published a chart showing, by county, where the presidents have made disaster declarations since 1965. So where is it safe to live? The lowest number appear to be in Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. Of course, there are also fewer lawyers there as well.

Turning to our local disasters. The “Topanga” Fire continues to burn (and it is smokey at our house). As of noon, they were indicating the fire has burned 20,600 acres and is 20% contained. The weather is cooling down, but there are still occasional hot spots (as I was driving home, there was one in Simi Valley, for example). The Governator had a very amusing news conference related to the fire. For those unaware, the Governator is in a big fight with the unions over such things as political speech and pension benefits. The firefighters don’t like him. However, the supervisors ordered 20 firefighters to stand behind him at the press conference. During the press conference, he was asked about this. His response? He said it was part of the presentation of the press conference. As for ordering: He orders a podium. The press is ordered by their bosses to cover the story. He saw no problem with having the officers ordered to stand there and look good (alas, an exact quote is not online). Sigh… he just doesn’t get it.

There is also a large fire burning in Burbank/Glendale. Now around 600 acres, it has burned up the Burbank hills. It is not immediately threatening homes yet, but could burn down into Glendale and Verdugo.

No fun, and the air is really bad here in the valley. But so far, the firefighters are doing a good job, and the weather will be cool-ish over the weekend. After that, it will heat up again? I know this without even consulting the weather channel. How? Just as matzah never breaks along the perforation, the High Holy Days are always the hottest days of the year!


‘da Plume, ‘da Plume

Walking out of my house, I can see the plume of smoke again. It looks like the wind has shifted again.

I’ve tried to find out the extent of the file by means other than listening to KNX 1070. The City of Los Angeles (or the county, for that matter) is of no use. There’s just not a lot of info out there. However, the City of Calabasas is doing a great job of providing information. They summarize the mandatory and voluntary evacuations (even out of their city), provide a map of information, and even provide relatively recent updates. The fire had been moving south most of the day. Now it is moving north (indicating an “offshore” flow… i.e., a flow from the ocean, cooling things down), back towards the San Fernando Valley. Luckily, our house is nowhere near a fire area (we’re in the flatlands near Northridge Fashion Center).

I’m sure I’ll get to see the glow again: tonight is the “Open House” at my daughter’s new middle school.


In the Heat of the Night

Some updates on the Southern California fires…

First, the Chatsworth fire isn’t the only one. There was also a large fire in Riverside County, near Calimesa. This fire, which consumed over 1,300 acres, started in a chicken coop, and between 60,000 to 90,000 chickens perished in the blaze. Reportedly, the Grillmaster at El Pollo Loco has been called to assist with the cleanup. And speaking of El Pollo Loco, it is being purchased by New York investors. (“New York City”, he said in the tone of the Salsa commercial). El Pollo Loco used to be owned by the same folks that owned Dennys, and was later owned by American Securities Capital Partners, a private investment firm. The new owners, Trimaran Capital Partners, plan to take the chain national; in particular, they have targeted New York, New Jersey, New England, Chicago, Denver and Texas for expansion and have signed franchise agreements for new stores in those markets. The company hopes to open 150 locations in the next five years, adding to its current 328 sites, which are mostly in Southern California, with a few in Arizona, Nevada and Texas.

Turning from charbroiled chicken to the continuing “char” in Chatsworth. The fire continues to grow. I’m listening to the news as I’m reviewing the document, and the focus seems to have moved to the south. This fire has grown to char over 7,000 acres overnight. You hear nothing about the northern end of the file. Most of the concern is the southern end, which is approaching Oak Park and Agoura, communities near the 101 freeway. There are evactuations in Bell Canyon, Box Canyon, Lake Manor, Woolsey Canyon, and Chesboro and Kanan Road N of the 101. Voluntary evacuations are in Malibu Canyan and Agoura Hills (both N of the 101), Hidden Hills, and Mt. View Estates. There have also been evacuations in Oak Park. The fire has also burned structures on the Santa Susanna Rocketdyne property.

Of course, this creates the next worry: will it burn down to the freeway, jump it, and then jump into the hills of Malibu? We haven’t had a large Malibu fire in years, and those hills are ripe to go. I don’t want to see it: that creates a risk for camp if it makes it down to the ocean. It has happened before.


Changing of the Seasons

The seasons have changed here in Los Angeles. Back east, you get the turning of the leaves. But seasons out here are different. We don’t have winter, spring, summer. No. We’ve got: Mud, Fog, Hot, and Fire. It’s fire season, boys and girls!

This morning, when I left for work, I could feel the hot wind. I was listening to the radio report about a small brush fire in Browns Canyon. This was hit with water dropping helecopters and put out by 8:00 am.

Tonight, as I left work, I could see the plumes of smoke. I thought initially the fire was in Malibu… but no, it was in Chatsworth. Tonight, driving the van back, I could see the glowing hillsides as I looked west along Mayall Street. The fire is a large one — I think over 1200 acres now. It started just N of the 118, and has been steadily burning to the south and west. There are concerns about Box Canyon and the northern end of Bell Canyon. I’m worried about my in-laws, who live in Rockpointe, which is next to Chatsworth Park South.

Of course, they are not worrying about the northern flank right now, because there are houses there. But that too is a worry, as the fire could easily move W into Porter Ranch, E into Simi Valley, or N into Santa Clarita. This is the same area that burned in October 2002 (from whence the image on this post comes).

I hate fire season.

P.S.: And boy, do the leaves make a mess in the pool. I just spent a good 1/2 hour netting the leaves in the pool. A great upper body workout, but am I schvitzin’


Weekend Update: Shabbat, Gaming, and Heat

An update and some observations on our weekend (to date).

Come as You Are Shabbat

Our weekend started Friday evening with a Come as You Are Shabbat at Temple Beth Hillel. This started with munchies followed by a service in the round. As we’ve said before, we like the place. The service was led by Rabbi Sarah. During the service, the little todder was wandering all around, and the Rabbi just kept picking her up, putting her on her lap, and playing with her. Later, of course, we learned it was the Rabbi’s daughter. Just a lovely, informal evening. Afterwords, we picked up dinner from Zankou Chicken (which has the best garlic sauce in the world, yum).

Southern California Games Day

During the day Saturday, I went to the Southern California Games Day (gf_guruilla went to the Internet Graduation of a friend [yea Nina!]  and shopped for buttons). Got to play a batch of games: 10 Days in Africa  × 2; 10 Days in the USA × 2; Coloretto; High Society; Speed Circuit (Monte Carlo’s Monaco Expansion Track); Ticket to Ride; Ace of Aces; There’s A Moose In The House (after all, we were at the Moose lodge!); and Burn Rate. I also picked up a copy of Girl Genius: The Works. Lots of fun, marred only by an annoying either cluster or rebound headache.

110 In The Shade

gf_guruilla picked me up at the Moose Lodge, and we went off to the Pasadena Playhouse to see 110 In The Shade, a musical from the same folks that wrote The Fantastiks and I Do! I Do!. The playhouse did a wonderful job with the musical—great actors, great orchestra—and we thoroughly enjoyed ourself. They really should put on I Do! I Do!: it is simple to stage (two actors, one bed, that’s it) and delighful.

An Eeeery Sight

We drove home to a scary sight, bringing up memories of last year. We live in North Hills California, which really has one hill, and is all urban. However, it borders on communities that border on the foothills (such as Granada Hills and Sylmar). Evidently, around noon Saturday, a fire broke out near the I-5/Route 14 junction. We drove home to the sight of an orange glow cresting the top of the hills. This morning, the skies are filled with smoke (great for our allergies), and the sun is an angry orange (as it was in the play). I haven’t yet turned on the news to get a report of the fire, but I sure hope this isn’t a repeat of the Simi Fire last year, where we had to evacuate my wife’s folks as the fire neared Chatsworth, and we saw the glow as the fire approached Northridge over Porter Ranch.

To those that smoke: please, please, please never throw anything out of your car. We don’t need these damn fires!

And now it is off to do the TBT Newsletter, perhaps my last (or next to last) issue as editor.