🗨 Status Report II: What's Up With You?

Take your vitamin D folks, and make sure your elderly relatives to the same.

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I have been something of a climate refugee the past couple of weeks. As many of you know, this is a record-setting year for wildfires in the western USA and particularly California and Oregon. I live on the north coast about a 3 hour drive from San Francisco. I have an option of staying in this house, going south a couple of hours where my kids live or heading east into the mountains where my family owns a small cabin by a river.

How tolerable any of these places are depends mainly on the wind direction and strength. Last week the wind drove so much smoke up the coast that I retreated to the mountain place. A few days ago the wind shifted and reversed so that the air in the mountains became dangerous and the air on the coast is ok.

So yesterday I crossed the state and returned home. It was not until I got quite close to the coast that the air showed any blue at all.

These wildfires of epic proportions are now standard out here. This year already broke the record for total acreage burned by 50% and the largest fire in California history continues to burn on the other side of this county. If the wind shifts again, I will be out of here seeking better air.

What is different this year is how much better the Internet tools are in showing what is happening and what is likely to happen.

There are several websites that show the details of each big fire in visual and text form. The main one for the country is InciWeb (https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/). Not a new site, but one that continues to improve. And there is this newer site, WiFire (https://firemap.sdsc.edu/) that gives an excellent graphic visual of the various fire perimeters.

Air quality can be monitored by a marvelous citizen-science site, Purple Air (https://www.purpleair.com/map?opt=1/i/mAQI/a10/cC0#8.05/38.734/-122.031). This is a cluster of air quality sensors that report constantly back to the site. It offers a range of indexes to check to see if large or small particulate matter is in the air. This site ought to win some sort of award.

And I can check wind direction and speed, with an ability to look at future wind prediction at WIndy.com (https://www.windy.com/?2020-09-16-06,36.836,-117.543,6).

And I can look at satellite views of the air/smoke content at the NOAA government site, forecast.weather.gov (https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-123.74844&lat=39.26582#.U34NuS_uz9M). Here is a satellite shot taken a few minutes ago:


You can see that the west is under a blanket of smoke but the coast has some blue areas. I monitor all of these sites during the day and night.

So, for all the talk about fake news, bad info, social media rotting our brains and all (and last night I watched “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix, which I highly recommend), it needs to be said that essential tools for citizens to know what is happening in the natural environment without waiting for the news to report it, continues to improve to where one now can have a useful toolkit for making crucial decisions.

Thus, I think a “Net Generation Internet” should put resources into making such tools better and more available. Obsessing about Facebook and Amazon and other monopolies is important and necessary, but it is still not the whole picture and hopefully never will be.

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@johncoate —I was struck last night on how orange the sun was near sunset last night, and remembered the fires. I’m on the tail of the plume shown on the windy.com aerosol visualization.

I read this morning that some of the smoke made it all the way over to Europe…

Luckily for me I have the ability to move around the state to get myself into better air. And I have room air filters. That is not the norm at all. Also, in case you have not seen one, here is a photo of farm workers out there keeping us fed at great risk to their own health.

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I know of several cases like that where my friends and my cousin got it but none in their households were positive or had any symptoms.

I’ve started reading Imperium, a historical fiction biography of Cicero. I’m really enjoying it. Cicero just arrived in Messina to dig up evidence for a corruption case he handled early on in his career. Looking forward to how this will develop!

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Reading Huxley again. Seems he came to the same conclusions regarding human perception as some more modern researchers like Beau Lotto in his book “Deviate: The Science of seeing differently”.

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And so there is now war in my neighborhood?

I was just saying how people not wearing masks ware making me feel unsafe and a little hopeless for the future of us all… well, maybe I spoke too soon. There are always worse reminders.

I just hope it doesn’t escalate to the point of having to grab that bug-out-bag sitting in our living room. It probably won’t, as I said many times before in similar situations (like when we were threatened with nuclear terrorism for example?), but I can only hope that this time won’t be different.

Interesting times.

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Whoa. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile out here a new big fire and again large scale evacuations.

Thanks. Wish you luck too with the fires.

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"By 4:30 a.m., a stretch of Highway 12 between Los Alamos Road and Oakmont Drive has transformed into an ember-strewn moonscape. The husks of vanquished trees formed clusters on both sides of the highway.

Homes along the east side of this road that connects Santa Rosa to the wine-rich Sonoma Valley were decimated." - local news this morning

Here is some encouraging news about plastic-eating bacteria. But if this can be produced in large quantities it begs the question right away, will it be open source or a patent where the price gets set by controlling the supply?

image

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This looks really nice! Have you finished it yet?

Oh, man :man_facepalming:.

Are you OK, @Alessandro?

Yes, I finished the first book and moved onto the second. Still a page-turner, or rather a minute-turner as I’m listening to the audiobook version. It’s really great. I’m sucker for Roman history, but above all this is a terrific political thriller.

Do you know Hardcore History? Not a podcast person myself, but talk about a minute-turner…

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Indeed, I’ve listened to every minute of every episode of Hardcore History. I can also recommend this podcast for Roman history in particular:

Wow, I had not made you for such a history buff. Kudos! :vulcan_salute:

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@alberto, this is a good summary of why Robert Harris, formerly a political journalist, is such an interesting read.

Perhaps I could write a novel about politics that was universal, that would mean as much to someone living in Germany, or Italy, or England or America or anywhere in the world, because there are certain laws of politics that are universal and the Romans established much of our language and much of what we think about politics.

I’m not sure that Imperium actually achieves any such universality, but the ambition is there. This particular trilogy of course sets out to detail the events that led to the fall of the republic, at the hand of populists non the less. It pits Cicero as a figure that is pulled between his own hunger for power and his knowledge in that much of the damage that is being done to the republic through the political battles he is participates in can never be undone. It’s a sort of picture of a political system at the end of its life, just as the Empire is about to take its place.

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