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Showing posts from October, 2007

Fire Update

Many of the fires are out or are 100% contained. A few still burn, especially the Santiago Canyon (by my apartment) and between here and San Diego. However, containment is being achieved. Last night the news said that the Irvine fire was about 65% contained and they were making good progress on it.

The sky is mostly clear, but there is still a tinge of haze from the few still-burning fires. However, just because the sky is clearer doesn't mean the crap in the air is gone; since the skies have cleared, we have actually had two "very unhealthy" days for air quality.

Most of the evacuations are lifted and people are surveying the damage. In the Big Bear area, many homes are burnt to the ground with nothing but foundations where the house used to be and a mound of slag where the car used to be. San Diegans are finding similar results in many of the outlying area.

And let the accusations begin; the Orange County leadership is already starting the blame game on FEMA, OES, the …

Manning's Law

There is, in online chat communities, a statement called Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies) is an adage formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990. The law states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." A corollary to this law states that after the Nazi/Hitler, the chat thread is doomed. A second corollary is that whomever makes the Hitler/Nazi comparison can and should have the argument immediately ignored or thrown out.

And, if you participate in any online chat communities -- no matter the context or subject matter -- this law appears to be true. I've been involved in chats about movies, super heroes, sci-fi/fantasy themes, and health care issues. I've been in political chats and opinion chats. Sooner or later, if the chat last long enough, someone always brings up Hitler or the Nazis as a comparison and the chat usually ceases to be worthwhile or…

Lions

I have few illusions that the Detroit Lions are a playoff-calibre team. I have few illusions that they will be better than a .500 team on the season. However, with that being said, I am getting frustrated that they, according to nearly every article I read, don't seem capable of winning a game. Instead, all the articles talk about how the team they played lost the game.

As of right now, the Lions are 5-2 on the season. They are in second place in their division behind Green Bay and, if the Packers lose tonight, could be tied for first. Yet it seems to be consensus among sports writers that this is totally accidental.

I had a teacher in high school who always used to say, "The winning team doesn't win, the losing team loses." What he meant by that was, through lack of discipline, not following the game play, inability to change tactics, the losing team provides the other team with the victory. And, I guess, sports writers across America agree with him when it comes to…

Rebuilding PCs

On Monday, everything was fine with my PC. It was running smoothly and had been since I rebuilt it with new memory, motherboard, and CPU. Matter of fact, I was extremely pleased with it as I had not needed to make any tweaks or be so stringent about updating BIOS or drivers; it was just working and working well.

Tuesday, my buddy Matt and I have a standing engagement to play WoW together for a few hours or until we're tired (and we're both getting old-- that is happening earlier and earlier!!). When I logged in, I had no sound. Odd. When I logged out, my display suddenly flickered and then redisplayed with a green filter over everything. Odder. I rebooted the machine and still didn't have sound. A half an hour of tweaks and fiddling and reboots, I managed to get it working again and we played for awhile together.

That night, after playing, however, my machine started freezing. And I mean freezing. Nothing would work or respond in the least and I had to press the tower powe…

Smoke and Mirrors

My eyes are red. When I first wake up, during the day, whether I stay inside or go outside, my eyes are red. And feel puckered and dry all the time. Even using my thick, made for chronic dry eyes, mucous-like eye drops offers little relief to this situation. My throat feels coated with a fine layer of burning ash and dust. My nose is so dry it keeps bleeding (but not badly enough to drip, thank goodness). My skin is dry to the touch and any moisture provided it (shower, lotion) is absorbed at an astonishing rate.

Upon leaving this morning for work, the sky was a an orangish-burnt sienna color. Since the Santa Ana Winds have died down, which is great for the fire fighting, the smoke, haze, and ash are all staying put right over Orange County. I can only imagine how bad the same situation is in San Diego County, where the fires are bigger and burning much more right now. The air quality is so bad that they have closed a number of schools throughout the region for health reasons.

My car …

Pleasantly Unhelpful

I just called one of my doctor's offices. I had canceled an appointment earlier in the month and didn't reschedule immediately, because there were things coming up around which I didn't want to try to work. So I waited until today to call and reschedule.

The person with whom I spoke was very pleasant on the phone... and not helpful at the same time. When I said I needed to reschedule my appointment she said, "So when would you like to come in?"

I paused a second and then said, "I can choose any time and date I want?"

"Sure," she said.

"Okay," I said in that slow, drawn out way I use to indicate that I am a bit incredulous.

"How about Wednesday?" she asked.

"Okay. I need a late afternoon appointment," I said.

"Hmmm. We're full that afternoon," she replied with a nice lilt in her voice. I could almost see the not-quite-a-frown smile she had on her face.

"Then I can't really choose the day and time …

The Numbers

Here is what the news just presented:

Fires currently burning: 18
Acres burned: around 420,000 total (or about 650 square miles/1050 sq kilometers)
Lost: about 1250 homes and business so far
Evacuated: Over 500,000 in San Diego alone, and estimated at about 880,000 overall.
Monetary amount: Estimating over $1 billion dollars in damages in just San Diego alone. Last estimate I heard was around $500 million elsewhere.
Deaths: 5
Injuries: 30-50 (getting really crappy estimates)

Fire Update

The Santiago/Irvine fire kicked up and did some damage last night, but not to my area directly. We have now lost 14-20 homes in the Foothill Ranch/Portola Springs area and the fire is threatening up north of me again. Renee's mom lives about a mile north and west of me and she was packing things up because it was threatening her area pretty strongly last evening. The one comment that I have been making all along and that the news and local govt is starting to make is that this fire could have been out and done with if we got some air support. We have received zero air support since day one (I heard helicopters on Monday but it turns out those were not tankers).

Firefighters are saying that our fire here was likely the easiest to contain and control with air support and there is already starting to be a backlash from citizens and local govt as to why we didn't get any. That and the fact that it went from 8800 to now around 20k acres practically overnight with no rea…

Arson!

At least three of the fires in So Cal have been identified as caused by arson; the Santiago (Irvine), the Magic (near Magic Mountain), and one of the two large fires in San Diego. When I was speaking with my mom, she worried about just this problem happening as she said that watching the fires burn on TV will spark a need to be closer and participate from those who are arsonist. More may be identified as such as they get a handle on them.

Guess you were right, mom.

I understand the lure of the fire-- I've always been fascinated by flame and can sit and watch it for hours. But I don't go around setting fires and destroying people's homes. What causes a person to need to start them? What causes them to want to destroy homes and lives? That part I just don't get!!!

The thing that gets me is that, if these three fires hadn't been purposely started, the firefighters in those areas could be elsewhere helping with the naturally caused fires burning around the state.

We are cu…

Movie Piracy

What the MPAA and movie houses will learn, much to their surprise, is that, if they can get people to stop downloading movies illegally, the amount of illegal movies available and piracy will barely fluctuate. The majority of people are NOT downloading movies. Even with cable modems, DSL, and other high speed connection, it is just not reliable enough for the average user.

It is far, far easier to rent movies from Blockbuster and Netflix and copy them. It is that simple. And, once you have a digital copy of a movie on your hard drive from a clean DVD, you can "print" as many DVDs of it as you can afford.

So, this method is a) cheaper, b) faster, c) easier, and d) allows for the greatest amount of copies to be made. Do they really think people are going to download movies?

Secondly, people will always share movies. I buy all of my movies legally. I figure that I want to pay the full price so that the movie company continues to make those sorts of movies. My dollar is power. But,…

Safe?

It appears that the Irvine fire is primarily to the east of me and not heading south or west anymore. So, at least for now, I'm relatively safe.

That being said, the fire here has been around 8,800 acres for most of the day until about 2pm and now it is over 15,000 acres and growing. But we do have air support coming now and they are beating it back from the homes in Foothill Ranch and Portola Springs areas (about 2-3 miles east and north of me).

The fire that was directly north of me appears to be under some control.

However, there are enough fires that they are actually changing and creating their own weather patterns-- so things could change in a moment. Also, the Santa Ana Winds come around now and usually pick up in the evenings.

Air quality has been deemed Unhealthy and all outdoor activities have been advised against. They recommend all people to close all doors and windows and use filters and AC to filter the air.

San Diego

Over 250,000 people have now been evacuated from San Diego. And, unfortunately, the 15 freeway, one of the two main arteries into/out of San Diego, is closed for a large stretch in that area.

A number of people who work at our SD office have been evacuated.

There are over a dozen fires burning, with a couple burning big enough that it is feared that they may join into super blazes. Our forces are spread thin and our resources are stretched to their limits. Firefighters from Nevada and Arizona are on their way here.

Rough Area

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The red line indicates the rough area of the fire. The red dot is my rough location on the map.

Some Pics

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A friend who went into the Irvine office sent these pics of the smoke in my area.






Update

The firefighters got a decent handle on a few of the fires over night-- but then the sun rose this morning at 7:04 am and the Santa Ana Winds started at just about the same time and now nearly every fire is burning back up into a problem.

I decided to work from home, just in case. My fire is being said that it is between 0 and 30% contained, but they are most worried about the southern and western edges. Which, of course, is where I am. The wind is gusting up to 100 mph in areas.

I just heard at least three fire engines go by on either side of me and the smoke and embers are thick in the air. I have all my doors and windows closed, am completely dressed, and have my pack of important stuff ready to take with me. All just in case, but better safe than sorry.

My company's San Diego office is officially closed and those of us in Irvine are supposed to do what we think is necessary to be safe. I have decided to work from home so I can get myself, my stuff, and my cat out if needed.

The fi…

Fire, Fire Burning Bright

It is a little disturbing to flip on the news and find out that there is a fire burning within 5 miles of me. And then, following the news, paying attention to the live shots, and which roads they say it is crossing, discovering that it is, in fact, within about 2.5 miles of me! Possibly less in some areas.

Just north of where I live, a couple of blocks, is Portola Parkway. Just east of me is Jeffrey (maybe a mile). The fire is close enough that it is burning just on the other side (north) of Portola. It is close enough to Jeffrey that they started evacuations of some homes and apartments on the west side of that road. At last comment by a fire fighter, this fire has burned in excess of 3,800 square acres. The fire teams decided that Portola was where they were making their stand, as there is nothing left south of Portola but homes and apartments. So far, they seem to be winning. The helicopters and planes are constantly making water drops-- which is amazing because, at night, the pilo…

Wind

I hate the wind. Growing up in 29 Palms, where the wind can blow to gale force, lifting sand a mile or more into the air and sandpapering anything in its path, I disliked the wind for the simple fact that it could knock me off my feet, and did. I hate the sand in my mouth and the way the wind was usually hot and would cook you like a convection oven.

It is windy in Irvine today. The news says only 16-20 mph, but I'm certain the gusts that are occurring are close to twice that amount. It is blowing hard enough that, even though I have my sliding glass door shut it is moving the blinds on the inside.

As it is winter, the wind is colder. It is whipping down from the mountain passes north of here, where the colder climate in the higher elevations makes it nice and chill. So, when you look outside, it looks like a nice, sunny, day. But when you step into that wind a cold stab goes through you.

My apartment complex also catches the wind and holds it. It comes in from the north and then …

Oh, To Be A Cat

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Or, Life as a Cat is SO Hard

The important thing to note here is that, while I didn't formally make the bed this morning, I did pull the sheets up to the pillows and down on the sides. So she needed to be determined to pull them back and get comfortable. And, yes, she is resting right where I slept all night.

More Good Customer Service

I got a scary call yesterday morning from Tiva, who works in my apartment complex office. My rent was overdue as of yesterday morning and she told me (this was news to me) that if it was not received prior to the seventh day of the month, I would be sent to their legal department and they would start the eviction process. On top of owing the full, new monthly rent amount (I just signed a new lease last weekend), I was also now required to pay a $50 surcharge for the late rent.

My explanation that I had told my bank to send a check, that I only had an online banking account so do not have checks, she understood but could do nothing about. I would have to pay the $50 in a cashier's check or money order (both of which  have additional expenses). I also complained that all this was caused by their inability to update my automatic deposit for rent without renewing the process from scratch (which requires about 3 weeks for them to get going). Had they been able to call IT and just updat…