Wednesday, November 28, 2018


    A photo journey to the Monterey Bay Aquarium is just ahead.
   And likewise, a few looks from the "sparkle shop."  But first...

burning issues
    While this has particular application to California and the US West, it is truly a global concern. Fires threaten more of the population and do so with an increasingly lethal ferocity. 
     Debate and discussion about causal factors are important but of equal "life and death" significance is dealing with on the onset.
      REVEAL, an NPR broadcast from the Center for Investigative Reporting, provided a compelling and eye opening examination of several aspects of the worst wildfire in California history, the Camp Fire, just extinguished, and the previous worst fire that ravaged Santa Rosa. 
       It was chilling but more importantly illuminating to hear the emergency communication as the inferno ramped up and to hear the actuality of the desperate attempt to evacuate and to battle the blaze. After study, planners will better understand patterns of on scene emergency communication, plans for evacuation and coordination. It is clear a better system of multi agency communication is needed. It is clear also phone service providers need to be on the same page with each other and with emergency agencies so alerts are sent to all and with timeliness. And it is clear that evacuation routes and methods need a lot of study.
bury the lines
      When I was a daily deadline journalist I wondered privately why in the then 20th Century, power lines ran from pole to pole in much the same fashion as those early telegraph lines in the 1830's. Surely there is a better technology. As power lines are the suspected trigger of these last two deadly fires, the matter is even more critical.
       All power lines should be buried. Power companies will fight it and protest cost and difficulty, but given the cause of the largest and most deadly fires, the complaints don't matter. There are many advantages to buried power lines and simply put the government can and should mandate their burial.
build? rebuild?
       Cities and towns need to find a way to enforce building codes that make sense. In the last century we've pushed deeper into undeveloped areas, into quake zones, fire zones, on mountain sides, near rivers, lakes and oceans. 
       I recall standing on a volcano with a USGS scientist who decried that humans have a desire to live in places that are fundamentally unsafe. It's difficult to put the Genie back into the bottle, but we need to better consider where and how we build. There maybe some places where we should not be.
      Santa Rosa is on the threshold of rebuilding. The council passed an application to build again in an area where fire has devastated at least twice before. Business interests and developers got their way. It is understandable and even laudable that a community wishes to rebuild. But it is laudable to not repeat past mistakes. There may be someplaces that should not be home sites again. A dissenting Santa Rosa councilwoman said it is just a matter of time before the historic burn zone, will burn again.

giving shelter
         Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, fires, avalanches and mudslides happen. We know that even despite our best plans, disasters will visit us time and time again. 
        Helicoptering into and over the aftermath of a particularly wicked tornado and flood, looking at acres of destroyed buildings and infrastructure, I thought how good it would be for those who had lost everything to have access to something other than an extended shelter existence in a gymnasium, church basement or parking lot. Why don't federal and state agencies or volunteer relief groups create what amounts to a rapidly deployed and quickly built emergency modular community? Those infamous "FEMA trailers" are a well intended but clumsy response. 
       In a time of IKEA, 3D printing and modularization, pre-fabricated units, something between a tent and a trailer that can be assembled into an instant "relief city" with water supplies and generated power would be vital relief to people who experienced loss and the worst moments of their life. Devastated residents could have a modicum of privacy and basic shelter as they pick up the pieces and begin to repair their lives. The concept has been tested in battlefield medical units and command/logistic shelters.
       The modular units could be used again and again. Until folks connect with family, friends or find new or more permanent temporary housing they could have, at least, a safe place to sleep and decent facilities that do not otherwise
create a public hassle or health and sanitation crisis.
       Survivors are emotionally wounded. Just recently in Chico a kind of mutual support "evacuation village" cropped up on a Walmart parking lot. You understand how people  bond with others who have experienced such tragedy, but they need something more than camping tents or shambles on a parking lot as they try to recover.
       Evacuees, refugees, and victims of disaster are an ever present part of the human family. We can and should do better in the early aftermath to provide shelter and facilities during the early recover.

water life
delights of the Monterey Bay Aquarium

 The frame below contrasts how a moment can be experienced.

The frame below is a rare face to face with a kind of sea worm/eel comedian.

  Can you spot the fish in the frame below?
He or she is the character that appears to be a rock to the far right of the screen. In the frame below you can see the fins.

faces from the sparkle shop

      See you down the trail.


  1. Great pictures from the aquarium!

  2. Nice pix, the aquarium is one of my favorite places on the coast. You toured my place some years ago when I was doing rainwater harvesting seminars, and storing rainwater is still an important component of protection against fires, especially in California. As far as building is concerned, stuccoed strawbale construction is fireproof as long as there is a metal roof. A strawbale house survived the Napa fire. I built a small house like this in Mexico. I agree that utilties should be undergrounded but I presume the cost of trenching, especially in places where there is a lot of rock, defeats any cost benefit. Also, I'm sure protecting the wiring from earthquakes, burrowing mammals (including humans) and weather challenges would be expensive. My articles with pix about rainwater harvesting AND strawbale construction are at Great site, there's everything there you need to know about surviving ANYTHING.

  3. Excellent pictures, shooter.
    As to the rest, Bill has covered the precautions, of which I have no knowledge. But California is laboring under the same shroud as Washington and Oregon, and a few other states: Your state voted Democratic. And that's a unforgivable sin under the current regime. Why else would he utter the complete nonsense about how to prevent fires? Or that it was CA's fault the fires even started?
    Only a change in administration will fix these issues. As long as the despicable trump is in power, any state that voted against him is an 'enemy of the state'.

  4. Hi Tom
    Good insight and summary on the fires out here. I agree with the solutions on the temporary housing completely. In these times, putting creative minds and practical solutions together, we can at least have a Plan B for these times of disaster and climate change. Bravo. Linda