Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Post About Comments

When Roger and I first started blogging in January 2005 we used Haloscan for commenting. Not sure why, except that some of our favorite political bloggers at the time (like Eschaton) used it. It wasn't a good idea because Haloscan quit hosting a commenting platform some time in 2008. We were able to save all of the comments, and there were literally thousands of them, but only in a ridiculous Excel format that is seriously unfriendly in every way. The comments were deleted from blogger, and that was the end of that. I still have 18 database files of comments and planned to edit out personal data and would like to try to append them to original posts where they had been left. It's an absurd amount of work, and in all likelihood it won't ever get down, but not for lack of good intentions.

It was right about that time that we quit replying to comments. It always bothered me that we stopped, especially since we love bloggers who do reply, but our enthusiasm for had been diminished. We were moving around a lot back then, and blogging became more about journal keeping than communication. Still, we always loved comments and the amazingly bright and wonderful people who became our friends here and stayed.

So, you may have already noticed, I have made a commitment to reply to all of your comments. We appreciate hearing from you so much. You have enriched our lives and we just want you to know. So, you'll be hearing from us!

And, thank you.

PS The skies cleared. The local American Fire is 26,194 27,440 acres, 98% 100% contained, and expected full containment today, August 29th (DONE). The Rim Fire rages on. It is now 192,737 199,237 201,894 213,414 219,217 222,777 228,670 231,086 235,841 237,341 246,350 252,156 253,332 254,685 255,858 256,169 256,895 acres, 30% 32% 35% 40% 60% 75% 80% 84% contained and the 6th 5th 4th 3rd largest fire in California history expected containment is September 20th October 1st. It will continue to grow. The above photos were taken Wednesday in our clear blue blue skies. I think these clouds are Lacunosus formations. What do you think?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Coming Up For Air

This has been one long hot smoky summer. I got burned out writing about smoke and fire, but then one of the largest fires in California history (The Rim Fire) started burning about 125 miles south of us. That's not very close, until the wind blows out of the south and our air gets smokier than we've ever seen it. The above pic is a screen grab of what the air quality map looked like on Saturday morning. It was bleak, and yes, unhealthy.
And here's what that air looked like when we went into town to shop at the co-op. It's what everyone is talking about. Like a crazy slow motion disaster, it goes on and on and on. The cashier says, "Take it easy out there, it's like smoking 20 packs of cigarettes today."

What else is there to write about? Well, we've been freezing batches and batches of tomato sauce. Roger has been painting the exterior of the sauna to match the house paint. There have been flocks of migrating warblers in the oak trees. When I went out to take some photos, I found this female Western Tanager. One of my all time favorite birds! Such a treat. Wished I'd seen the male. He's quite a stunning beauty.
Roger found what we think is a juvenile skink  a young Northwest Alligator lizard (thank you for the ID, Bev!) in our bathroom. It was hiding under the scale in a dusty little corner. It dropped the tip of its tail when Roger caught it. That tail wiggled on the ground like a perfect distraction. Pretty crazy to see. We set it free on the deck and it high-tailed it out of sight in a hurry.

Yes, it has been one long hot smoky summer.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

What The Blazes...(With Updates!)

The American Fire has grown beyond what we thought it would do. Last Sunday, August 11th it was 15 acres, by Sunday morning the 18th it was 12,950, and is now 13,730 14,765 14,990 15,738 16,822 20,232 22,040 24,135 24,684 24,935 26,004 acres and  45% 49% 54% 63% 60% 66% 67% 78% 83% 88% 92% contained. We have been under an air quality watch and from the above pic you can see why. It's been pretty smoky here most mornings. The estimated time of containment for this blaze is August 28th September 1st August 29th. So, we have many more days of this hazy air. If you click on the above link you'll see the incredible effort being made to suppress this fire. There are 1433 1822 1614 1283 1082 personnel, and the team has been transitioned to an Incident Type 1 -- the toughest fire fighter crews there are. 
The skies cleared here on Wednesday. This is what it looks like now.

When the smoke blows north of us and the skies clear, we go outside to see what's happening out there. On Friday, there was this perfect circumzenithal arc. It was visible for no more than two minutes. Poof... gone.
Last Monday, when the fire was only 800 acres, after the smoke blew away, there was this lovely sundog. We take advantage of the clear-ish air whenever the opportunity presents itself. Fortunately there have been sights to dazzle us in these brief moments.

It's been interesting and challenging staying indoors. It's not a good idea to hike or do much physical exertion during times of such intense smokiness. We'll just add this craziness to the column of why we plan to leave here next year. Not another blazing hot summer, not another blazing summer fire...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Like Clockwork

We know when it will happen. It's why it's called fire season. Last year we had the Robbers Fire, this year we have the American Fire. This year's blaze is in the same general area as last year, east of us about 20 miles. As of this writing it is over 1900 3050 4958 7367 11,949 12,950 acres, and 45% contained on 8/18.
I first smelled smoke early Sunday morning. The fire was small then at 15 acres. By Monday our skies had grayed with smoke, and the fire had grown to 800 acres. Tuesday morning the smell of smoke was everywhere, even in the house. The morning sunlight filtered through the smoky trees, reminding me of fog.
We went for a walk up to the Three Horse Meadow (which is now probably Two Horse Meadow, since we haven't seen the large pale horse for about a year). There's a pretty good view east from there. This is what it looked like.
All day, all day the tankers fly over the yard, every half hour heading east. It's like clockwork, this fire, this tanker, this fire season.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Caustic Observations

Yuba River with Caustics, September 2011
As often happens, I find something on the internet that reminds me of something else. It sends me on a journey, and I learn something new in the process. I absolutely love when that happens. And, it makes me want to share it with you.

One of my favorite websites Atmospheric Optics has been on vacation. I still check in every now and then just to see which photos from their archives is up on the front page. I also often use the search option to research some optic phenomenon. I checked in on Monday and found this photo posted there. It's an optic called a Skypool, a phenomenon of the shape of water surface and color. It reminded me of something I had shot a few years ago at the Yuba River. I did a post on it back then. Here's a link to that old post.
Closeup of Caustics
I wrote Les Cowley at Atmospheric Optics and sent him the above photo. I asked if these rainbow ripples on the Yuba were skypools. I heard back from him, and he delightfully informed me that they were not skypools, but rather caustic optics. CAUSTICS? I had never heard of such a thing, and yet there I had been photographing it two years ago! Les wrote:

Your shifting spectral colours and bright patterns are something else – ‘caustics’ on the river bed.     The name caustics is said to come from their appearance of being sharply focused sunlight that would scorch like a burning glass.  The lines on the sea or river bed are mostly unsplit into colours – or at least not significantly.    The flashes of colour happen when a sharply tilted wave acts like a prism to split the image of the white line into a spectrum.    
Caustics on the Yuba River
I was surprised to see that even Wikipedia has a page devoted to the phenomenon. Who knew? Certainly not me. And now you know! The planet is full of such beautiful phenomenon. I would like to learn something new everyday. How's that for a dream of growing old!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Another Year Older

We went to the market the other day to do some food shopping. When we got to the check out aisle, there was a family in front of us. They were almost finished packing up their groceries. The cashier said to us, "Today is her birthday." We looked at the adorable child in the shopping cart seat and asked, "Is today really your birthday?" She absolutely beamed with joy. Oh yes, it was her birthday. She flashed four fingers when we asked her how old she was. Her mother said, "No, honey, you're this many years old," and she held up three fingers. We were all smiling and delighted by this momentous occasion. It gave us an idea for Roger's birthday. He's 71 today!

Happy birthday, Roger!