Sunday, April 29, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, Zeke and I were playing with power tools on the patio, pretending to work on these screens we are building to shade the west end of the patio. No, we did not start a fire. Mostly we were farting around with the new piece of crap electric staple gun (which is going back to Home Depot verra soon). We did actually manage to put the L shaped reinforcements on two of the three screens, though. By this rate, we will have those screens done just in time for the monsoons, at which time they will get muddy, the fabric will rip from the frames, the frames will rip from the ceiling and the dogs will pee on them.

Back to the point of all this...While we were outside we were enjoying the rumble of thunder in the not too far off. No visible lightning, but later we had proof that lightning was indeed flashing. We also got about eight drops of rain -- but last weekend Tess's little league baseball game was rained out, so we actually have had some precip. Unlike last year, where we went literally months with no more than trace amounts.

Argh. Again I will attempt to reach the point: that lightning, which we did not see, but heard (okay. Yes, lightning is silent, smart ass, but you know I meant the thunder.) that lightning lit a biggish fire on one of the mountain peaks to the south of us. Cool.

We didn't know about the fire until we were sitting in our friends' backyard, miles to the north, and noticed this big ring of fire. When Zeke and Tess and I left our friends later, we drove down to within a few miles of the fire -- we have always lived in either rather damp climates or frostbite-in-three-second cold climates, neither of which is particularly conducive to wildfires. So it was pretty fun to go look at the fire burning the hell outta the mountain.

Saturday night the fire was burning in a ring down the front of the mountain, as in the picture at the top of this post. This picture is a close up -- you can see some of the fire, and you can also see the smoke rising off it.

We couldn't smell any smoke, I think it was not big enough. Last year we got an occasional whiff of smoke as the mountains just to the east of this one burned, but we didn't even smell smoke when we were pretty close to the fire. (Actually there was a pretty good wind blowing so the smoke was probably being blown away from us).

This afternoon Mark and I drove back to the spot where we took the photos last night, and took a few more. So obviously the spots with smoke rising from them show where the fire burned, and that lighter color ridge in the foreground is the ridge in the first photo. And the mountain in the background was pretty much the same color as the ridge in the foreground yesterday before the fire.

The local news is reporting that it is still burning, but not endangering any homes, and in fact is beneficial, since it's burning away years of accumulated debris and dead brush. As long as it continues to burn away from the homes 2 1/2 miles away they will let it burn. As of about the time this last picture was taken it had burned 460 acres.

Cool start to the fire season.

Machines sometimes suck.

When I have a problem with a machine, here are my steps:

Turn it off. Unplug it. Turn it back on.

Turn it off, unplug it, kick it, turn it back on.

Turn it off,unplug it, hurl it across the yard/room/street, look around to see if anyone noticed, go pick it up, plug it back in, turn it on, whack it really hard with my hand, get really pissed cause that's stupid and painful, call it foul and vile names, type in insults if it has a keyboard.

Dig through my toolbox -- which is inevitably filled with loose screws, handleless screwdrivers, screwdriverless handles, those stupid pads that are supposed to stick to the bottom of chair legs but in reality somehow end up stuck to the dog, nails that are too bent and dull to pound into anything harder than styrofoam, the hammer with the mysteriously sticky handle, the random screws and bits of wood left over from Ikea flat packs, and all the other tool detritus that my husband cannot throw away but doesn't want to put in his own tidy tool tower -- give up, go raid my husband's tool cathedral, and take the stupid machine apart.

Buy new machine because I am much better at disassembly than putting stuff back together.

Get husband to do whatever it was I was originally trying to do, since by this point I have thought of 47 other things to do. Or suggest to my kids that using this tool is really fun, and they should try it (Thank you Tom Sawyer).

Habitrails for all...

The other day, as I drove down the road in my sweatmobile, I was thinking about how Americans tend not to adapt to their environments. For example, here in Tucson, some people turn on their air conditioners in March and turn them off in October. But for a chunk of that time, it cools off at night, so you could open the windows after sundown and close them the next morning, and it would be very comfortable in the house. And when you finally need air conditioning, is it really necessary to have it on freezer burn cold?

But people would rather go from their air conditioned houses to their air conditioned cars to the air conditioned buildings and their only exposure to the heat is those short trips between buildings and cars.

So I thought "there should be a way to avoid having to go outside at all!" And of course that would be hamster balls. No, not little tiny testicles. But big round plastic air conditioned balls that airlock to your house and other buildings, so you just hop in it and start running.

Just think! It would drastically cut pollution. The population of fat people would decrease markedly. Accidents would be no big deal. You just bounce off each other.

Hills could be a problem -- I don't think this would work in San Francisco, for example -- you would have people having heart attacks trying to climb hills, and people getting spun to death going back down those hills. It could get bad, like my friend's hamster suicide: one day they forgot to close the basement door when the hamster was happily rolling around. Of course the ball headed directly to the top of the basement stairs, where it promptly went over the edge. The ball bounced on a couple of stairs, hit the concrete floor, cracked in two, and flung the hamster to its sad little death...

So maybe my giant hamster ball scenerio needs work. Eh. At least it kept me from noticing that I was becoming one giant sweat slick.

Friday, April 27, 2007


It's getting hot again. 90's. And since the Suburban is a decade old, and huge, the air conditioning doesn't work. Okay, it works, but once the inside of the burb gets hot, the a/c can't cool off that much hot air. So my left arm is always tanner than my right, the classic salesman's tan...Having the windows down means that hot air blows around the interior of the burb. Woot.
All you would have to do is tune the radio to a 70's station and it could be hell for those with a really weak imagination.

The Suburban is really showing it's age, as well. The leather on the seats is cracking and stained. The windows are always streaked with dog slobber, since Mojo drools continuously while riding, and sits with his head resting on the edge of the window (his head -- so huge -- must weigh a ton, because he is always resting his chin on something -- the window sill, my leg, the crossbar of the dining room chairs). The rubber bumpers in the cup holders has suddenly given up, so that the cup bangs back and forth instead of sitting still, and the cups bounce and splash whatever liquid you are drinking all over the front console and the basket of stuff under it.

But the dogs love it. When I open the door to let the dogs get in, Mojo is always standing there patiently waiting, and Abe is circling and looking for something to go chasing after. But I open the back door, and as Mojo starts his laborious climb into the back seat, Abe vaults over him, darts across the back seat and sits down -- Abe is part spring and part caffeine. Then Mojo climbs in, one leg at a time, with his hind legs scrabbling to find the running board, then the door frame, then the seat. His bad hip has really made his hind legs and hips far weaker than his shoulders, so getting into and out of the Suburban is really tough for him. And of course his terrible sense of balance means that I almost always fling him sideways when taking's really amazing that he likes riding in the truck at all. But of course since Mojo worships me he is happy to be anywhere I am -- he contorts himself to fit under the kitchen table.

This heat is just a hint of things to come -- it was still pleasant standing outside (in the shade at least) another month it will be miserable outside no matter what. Yay.