No Politics Open Thread

Ric and Zooey want no politics in this open thread.

88 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    You say no politics but I have it on good authority that Ric and Zooey are about to announce their candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

  2. 2
    p.a. says:

    All juicers in SE New England don’t worry about snow this year: I just bought snowshoes. Guaranteed no more than dustings until I sell them on CList.

  3. 3
    MobiusKlein says:

    Can we spell check each other instead? Or at least complain about browser extension that surreptitiously monitor your browsing, and report back to marketers and hackers?

  4. 4

    @Baud: If they forbid others to talk about politics, then they have the advantage!

  5. 5
    Yarrow says:

    They look so sweet together! I like the two different fabric patterns with the cats–looks like a painting.

  6. 6
    J R in WV says:

    But what will weee talk about?

    It’s snowing here, I don’t expect a big accumulation. We got tix to the Symphony tonight, Violin Concerto, Brahms Symphony, have to go to dinner soon, show starts at 7:30, want to get a glass of wine before the music starts.

    It was a sale, “Pay what you want to” but I just paid the list price. It’s a nice way to get folks to try it out for a cheap price.

    No politics there! Going to a local Italian place, was good last time.

  7. 7
    trollhattan says:

    Frankly, I’d like it better if they were playing cards. “Got any threes?”

  8. 8
    raven says:

    Playoff’s. . . .Playoff’s. . . .

  9. 9
    raven says:

    So my bride has convinced me that I need to get off the diet drinks and artificial sweeteners. I f could quit drinking 26 years ago I can do this, right?

  10. 10
    sukabi says:

    @raven: yes you can do it, and you’ll feel so much better as a bonus! 😀

  11. 11
    Miss Bianca says:

    Oh, Cheryl, I saw this on the Intertubes the other day and it made me think of your cat vests – imagine them all punked out with spikes against the neighborhood coyotes!

  12. 12
    greengoblin says:

    @raven: I did it. Took the packets of artificial sweetener to the employee lunchroom and stopped buying diet snapple and other diet drinks. Can’t stand sugar, which is the reason for all the diet drinks.

  13. 13
    Yarrow says:

    @raven: Oh, goodness, yes! Those artificial sweeteners are awful for you, especially what they put in diet drinks.

  14. 14
    mapaghimagsik says:

    Totally trying to respect the “no politics”. So I guess I’ll just dig into fire logistics.

    I’ve been really trying to figure out if there was a California-wide set of analystics that could help improve fire preparation, detection, or response. (I still hold murdercorp responsible for the prevention angle). In doing so, I’ve driven myself into several rabbit holes:

    * In 2005, Butte Unit Battalion 1 wrote a fire management plan

    The greatest risk to the ridge communities is from an East Wind driven fire that originates above the communities and blows downhill through developed areas. This is the same type of fire that impacted the Oakland Berkeley Hills during the October 20, 1991 firestorm.

    And via the latimes:

    But Paradise officials framed risk in historical terms: In 50 years, no wildfire had crossed the Feather River.


    Paradise officials repeatedly told The Times they never envisioned a firestorm reaching the town.

    In 2009, a Butte County Grand Jury warned:

    the town faced disastrous consequences if it did not address the capacity limits of its roads. But Butte County supervisors and planners rejected the panel’s call for a halt to growth until the evacuation problem was met.

    and yet…

    The same month the grand jury released its June 2009 report, Paradise was deep into plans to narrow its main evacuation route, Skyway.

    The engineering firm that built the Skyway evacuation route advised:

    it would reduce the number of vehicles that could pass through and advised against further “improvements,” such as a concrete median, citing the need to remember that the road was a fire evacuation route.

    The same reading set of reading also push me into artciles that discussed the emergency notification system. I don’t think any state’s is necessarily any better either. California has 58 different emergency notification systems, which do not necessary communicate with each other. Paradise literally thought they had an evacuation plan on par with San Diego’s. Even though that plan assumed the fire would stop at the edge of Paradise.

    Whether murdercorp caused the spark, the elected officials in Paradise should be held as complicit in those deaths, and the State of California better get on the stick and fix its notification systems. Perhaps the Republican group that continually sued the state to end special assessment on high consequence fire areas should also be asked if the saving of $150+ dollars a year was worth the deaths of 88 people.

  15. 15
    Ohio Mom says:

    @greengoblin: I sometimes put a smidgen of fruit juice in a glass and fill it with plain seltzer. That satisfies the urge for a carbonated beverage.

    Fruit juice isn’t good for you — it’s mostly sugar — but a splash won’t hurt.

  16. 16
    Duane says:

    If I just say “unbelievable” that shouldn’t violate the terms of this post, right? Internet rules are hard.

  17. 17

    @Miss Bianca: I let them out together and on their own (well, with oversight from indoors) the other day, when the covered area they first go out into was surrounded by snow. That kept them from going far. They seem to be more tentative without their vests and without me with them. I’m fine with that.

  18. 18
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    When do you finally take down your Christmas Decorations: 1) Right after Xmas (26th-31st)
    2) Right after New Years (Jan 1-7th)
    3) Whenever
    4) Never, just dust the stuff.

    I finally took off the ornaments on one tree yesterday, which is quick for me. I usually wait until the Superbowl because January is so gray and bleak around here that any color is welcome. But this year I’m done with everything but the lights, and I’m keeping the trees themselves up.,

  19. 19
    Raven says:

    Apparently there is some evidence that the sweeteners may contribute to stroke and Demetria soooo. . . Here we go! Appreciate the input.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Ruckus says:

    I think it’s much more difficult than giving up booze. Besides diet sodas are my only vice left. A person has to have something, don’t they?

  22. 22
    Ruckus says:


    Perhaps the Republican group that continually sued the state to end special assessment on high consequence fire areas should also be asked if the saving of $150+ dollars a year was worth the deaths of 88 people.

    Do you really want the answer to that question?

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Raven says:

    @Ruckus: That’s certainly been my rationale all of these years.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    And the people I know who had dementia didn’t drink any soda, diet or regular.
    Now I would guess that drinking a gallon a day just might not be healthy…..
    How many people drink cows milk? I can not drink it at all, we don’t get along.

  26. 26
    Another Scott says:

    @raven: Cold water is one of life’s great treats.

    Good luck!


  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @Ruckus: Recombined milk in Korea ended it for me. They say once you stop drinking milk you can’t go back. I also suspect getting the shot kicked out of me, including the Korean cab driver beating my head with a rock, might be worse than Diet Coke but I can’t go back. I’m also interested to see about this improved taste.

  28. 28
    Ruckus says:

    That’s what I told the doc when I was asked. “How much a day?” Told him, his reply was that a reasonable amount like I drink wasn’t a problem. It would be if it was regular soda but that’s because of the HFCS or sugar, and the diabetes risk, especially for us olds.

  29. 29
    Josie says:

    @Raven: You can do this, and you will feel so much better. Sparkling water is your friend. I like the LaCroix lime flavor, but there are several others to choose from.

  30. 30
    Raven says:

    @Ruckus: I was 2 a day plus Splenda in my coffee

  31. 31
    Ruckus says:

    I use almond milk for my organic cereal and it’s good for that. I never pour a glass, have just gotten used to not drinking milk. But pretty much any cows milk product causes me distress. But really, there are so many things I can’t eat now, or can’t even tell what they taste like that it doesn’t make a lot of difference anyway.

  32. 32
    Aleta says:

    @Raven: good luck!
    You can also add no-alcohol extract (mint/lemon etc) to sparkling water.

  33. 33

    @Raven: I make kefir water, with minimal sugar. I also like seltzer.

  34. 34
    mapaghimagsik says:

    @Ruckus: Not really, and its my only toe-dipping into the politics of it all, and while politcs plays a pretty big part, there’s just plain old stupid or greedy here.

    The emergency response system didn’t work

    My favorite quote:

    A Butte County spokeswoman said Sheriff Kory Honea will conduct an analysis and issue a report when time allows.

    That will be the third of never.

    “I wish we had opportunity to get more alerts out, more warning out,” Honea said during a community meeting on the third day of the fire. “We try to use as many systems as we can. … But in the heat of this, it was moving so fast, it was difficult to get that information out.”

    That’s why you drill. That’s why you drill seriously. When your responders fail because they’re overwhelmed, its completely normal, and *exactly* why conduct serious drills with concrete after action tasks. You lived on a pile of pumas and were shocked, shocked they ate your face. I loathe the idea that people could die because of my inability to do my job, these people deserve *all* the sleepless nights.

    But even if they had done their job *perfect*

    Before the Camp Fire, only an estimated one-quarter of residents had signed up to get emergency messages — but even though they had signed up, many calls didn’t reach them.

    I can’t recommend the article enough, but this quote sets me off:

    “It’ll never be perfect, when there’s limited time,” said Daniel Gonzales of the RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center, who led a 2016 study about warnings for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

    You really fucking thing so, genius, but everyone *expects* the utility to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong. I want to go over my org chart and reset some expectations in a less than peaceful measure, but when your defense in depth is in that much of a shambles *And* people who were told to get out said, “Naw, they’ll contain it” The entire state has to realize nature is not some goddamn Disney picture!

  35. 35
    West of the Rockies says:


    I grew up in Paradise and have friends and family who lost their homes. I was mystified when Skyway in downtown Paradise went from two lanes to one (for some vague, esthetic purpose).

  36. 36
    Ruckus says:

    Neither one of us will live for ever, and we could be doing so much worse, and we have so many other things to worry about right now that I say if it brings you a bit of enjoyment in life, and isn’t hurting anyone else, and at most is only hurting you in a very minor way, enjoy. I know that is the same excuse that smokers and drinkers use, but those do hurt one in massive ways.
    Also as a doc told me when I was in my mid 20s, after telling me to eat better, I’d live longer and I asked him how much longer. He said maybe 6 weeks. So I’m going to give up food that I like for 70-80 yrs, to live 6 weeks longer and he came back with, it’s not how long you live, it’s how you live that long that counts. I’m going to live with some enjoyment, even if it’s minor, as long as I can hold the can, it’s going in.

  37. 37
    Another Scott says:

    @mapaghimagsik: Thanks for this.

    Tragedy has many, many parents.

    Cosign on the need for changes.


  38. 38
    mapaghimagsik says:

    @West of the Rockies: I am so sorry your friends lost their homes. It must be devastating. The reckoning for this should be far and wide.

  39. 39
    J R in WV says:


    We took to La Croix carbonated no cal fizzy water with “essence of fruit” flavoring. Pretty good, in cans which recycle.

  40. 40
    Burnspbesq says:


    I’m sure you can, but don’t underestimate how difficult it will be.

  41. 41
    Burnspbesq says:


    Cow’s milk is the perfect food … for calves.

    For other species, not so much, although most humans tolerate it pretty well.

    And it’s really hard to imagine putting Similac on Wheaties.

  42. 42
    ixnay says:

    @Ruckus: Cut any beverage with seltzer. Work your way to more seltzer/less other stuff. “Flavored” seltzers are good, but I think it is more scent than flavor. I don’t begin to understand not liking the taste of sugar, but I do know that I don’t like the taste even of stevia, no matter how “natural” it is. Also, really nice cold water – if you have a source of good water that is not bottled. We are fortunate that our water comes from the same aquifer as Poland Springs, so we get it for free, and without the micro-particles of plastic.

  43. 43
    Yarrow says:

    @Raven: Going cold turkey isn’t necessarily a requirement. You could try substituting the La Croix sparkling waters that a lot of people love for the diet sodas, unless those were caffeinated and that’s a different issue. Anyway, you could start with the sodas and if that works figure out how to substitute the Splenda in your coffee. There’s no need to do it all at once and be miserable.

    Also, if you were having caffeinated soft drinks you could have a caffeine withdrawal so keep that in mind if it applies.

  44. 44
    randy khan says:

    We’re waiting for the first serious(ish) snow of 2019 here in the D.C. area. My phone tells me it’s snowing in DC proper, but 20 minutes ago it wasn’t snowing in northern Virginia.

    (It appears that DC snowplows are not affected by the shutdown, FWIW. I assume the Park Service will be able to plow the roads it controls, as they were pretreated yesterday.)

  45. 45
    Ruckus says:

    In the navy one practices general quarters drills till you can do it in your sleep. We had 2 real general quarters called out, at sea, in the middle of the night, weeks apart. Of course they were actually fires and there is a fire alarm but the yahoo watch officer couldn’t remember that. So we got to general quarters in less than a minute both times, to find out that we should have gotten a fire alarm. It is a bitch to be woken up, get somewhat dressed and run, with 300 other people to your station, half of you on the wrong end of the ship, to find out that you really were needed somewhere else, to do something else, because of a fire.
    Ever watch a firehouse when an alarm comes in? It isn’t chaos at all but it takes time to get everyone dressed and on the truck and the truck started and the doors open. And at that point you haven’t even left the station. You still have to get to the fire, see what is what, what’s hazardous, get set up and get water and start firefighting. Getting the people out of the way when they don’t want to go, when they don’t know if they have to go, where to go, not to panic.
    I’m not saying that Paradise was done right or was ready, just that given the fire they had, would that of made much difference? You are never going to get 100% of the people to evacuate, they just won’t. There’s no rhyme or reasonableness to it. I’m also not trying to excuse the system here, it could have been done, in hind sight, a lot better. But given the situation, I’m sort of amazed that it wasn’t worse. For over a year, I was an entry man on that navy fire crew, the guy that goes in first, with an axe, followed by others with a hose. I also got to be the hose man in training, to be in a closed room with a petroleum fire and have to put it out, to get out. You stay as long as it takes. I’ve seen fire up close and personal. We really don’t have a lot of control at all.

  46. 46
    Fair Economist says:

    @J R in WV: The Brahms Violin concerto? Sounds like a great night.

    For me it looks like my son will pass another semester of high school after he basically flunked out and the school bent over backwards like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to let him pass. Just one more semester left on the current plan. I’d pray if I weren’t atheist. I may anyway.

  47. 47
    Avalune says:

    @Ruckus: That’s been my rationale for slowly getting back on the sodas as of late. I was pretty much off the things but I crave them when I’m stressed we’ll between work and home right now I’m just a giant ball of yolo! And I’ll have that piece of cake too thanks and Mac and cheese with a side of something fried? Not usually but right now? Yas!

    I keep telling myself that once Leto is squared away a bit I’ll do better. Right? Right? Sure! Yes definitely. 🙄

  48. 48
    Duane says:

    @mapaghimagsik: Sounds like a lot of lame excuses and hand waving. ” Fire won’t jump my river.” Why make that bet.

  49. 49
    Fair Economist says:

    @Raven: I ditched sweetened beverages almost entirely when the research came out showing they did not help with obesity. I switched to sparkling flavored water and to coffee with extra milk. I missed the sweet for a while but sweet isn’t addictive like caffeine or nicotine so it wasn’t bad.

    I did try mixes of carbonated water with v8 fruit and vegetable juice. That was a pretty decent substitute because the real food involved satisfies your intestinal taste buds. But eventually I stopped bothering.

  50. 50
    Ruckus says:

    I have absolutely no sense of smell left. I have very little sense of taste left. Real salty, that I can tell. Spicy food that burns, that I can tell. My diet soda? I can’t really taste it but the feeling in my mouth is what I get. I do drink water but all that bottled stuff is just marketing. I know I used to build molds for plastic bottles. I was in the business. The number of people who wanted to have us build them a mold for water bottles so they could make a fortune selling it at the market was amazing. What amazed them was asking, after telling them how much it cost to make the mold, was how much they put aside for the shelving cost – that cost that one has to pay to put that bottled water in the market in the first place. You ever wonder why there is an entire aisle for soda and water and very little of it isn’t products of large companies? They pay for that shelf space. The stuff in the cans/bottles? That is the cheapest part of the final price. By far. The cost of the container. The cost of the bottling plant where the containers are made and filled. The cost of delivery. The cost of the workers who do these things. The cost of the shelf space. The profits.
    I like my soda. I drink it with lots of ice, so I get lots of water, possibly more than the soda that I pour. I’ll live with the downsides. Or I won’t. Life is too short to worry about everything.

  51. 51
    Ruckus says:

    I get it. Good luck with everything.
    As you may notice, I sort of do a risk assessment with foods and drinks. Really pretty much anything. With my current situation for example I have to be extremely cautious with going down stairs. Falling is always a risk, every step, because I can’t really know where my feet are or are going, I have to look at each step. So a few sodas are rather minor in my book.

  52. 52
    Steeplejack says:

    @greengoblin, @Ohio Mom:

    I have cut my Coke consumption by mixing it 50-50 with LaCroix sparkling water. Still get the Coke taste but less of the sweet undertaste.

  53. 53
    Raven says:

    @West of the Rockies: one of my oldest friends has k
    Lived there for 42 years

  54. 54
    Sab says:

    @CarolDuhart2: Christmas decorations should come down by Twelfth Night (Jan. 5).

    My husband says Dec. 26. We compromise, with New Year’s Day. Then we take the stuff to storage on the 2nd, and spend the next 3 days looking around for anything we might have forgotten.

    This year it was the little clock in a bell jar with a rotating Santa that the stepkids gave me years ago. It’s so nice to have a clock on the shelf there that we tend to forget that it’s Santa.

  55. 55
    zhena gogolia says:


    I used to be addicted to having a Diet Coke every day. Just had to have it. But a doctor (not my own) said to give it up and I did, and I really did feel much better. I have Paul Newman’s Gorilla Grape juice diluted with some tap water over ice.

    I’m not exactly in your position, because I do drink wine every few days. But I do NOT miss the Diet Coke at all.

  56. 56
    mapaghimagsik says:


    I’m not saying that Paradise was done right or was ready, just that given the fire they had, would that of made much difference?

    Yes, it would have. Even the navy knows this, because they trained you and made you drill.

    I’m sort of amazed that it wasn’t worse.

    Complete agreement, though I suspect there eighty six people who would disagree, if they could. I can’t imagine having to go in for a saliva swab because they need your DNA to try and match the body in your sister’s apartment. That nutstomps practically every bad day I’ve had, cumulative.

    I’ve seen fire up close and personal. We really don’t have a lot of control at all.

    Of the fire, that’s very true. However, it seems when I read the articles of officials around Paradise, they are throwing up their hands with a universal cry of ‘whelp’ and saying the fire shouldn’t have started in the first place. And while that might be true, and let those chips fall on the right shoulders, if your entire risk management policy is “Well, it shouldn’t happen.” you have a huge problem. There were 8,527 wildfires in California in 2018, according to wikipedia. As angry as I am with murdercorp, they didn’t start them all, or even half. Even if they started 90%, you’re still with a 10% that are going to happen anyway.

    Paradise officials had control they could have exercised. They needed to act on a better plan, based on the results of the Oakland/Berkley firestorms. To say no one could have anticipated, as some officials seem to have been quoted (Via LA times) is a Condoleezza Rice level of “no one could have anticipated.”

    The California legislature shouldn’t have used the special assessment for fire prevention as a bargaining chip. Special interests shouldn’t have repeatedly sued the state to get the money back.

    And at that point you haven’t even left the station. You still have to get to the fire, see what is what, what’s hazardous, get set up and get water and start firefighting.

    I’m glad you point this out, if only so I can rant some more. I’ve read it took two days to get 50% of the resources needed to fight the Camp Fire into position. Because of the time of ignition and because aircraft cant get into the air until a half hour after dawn *and* winds can make aircraft useless. Calfire’s usual overwhelming response which has served them so well couldn’t be brought to bear until the fire was already a huge problem.

    I’ve also read that Paradise and the surrounding area had to initially fight the blaze with five engines. Wisely, they said “Fuck that” and focused on getting people out alive. The first responder on the scene called for an evacuation *immediately* which most likely saved many, many lives. But First responders were also hampered by the lack of cell towers, and communication bandwidth. I believe AT&T had been cited for light cell tower coverage in the area, and cell towers need — yup — electricity.

    What absolutely is eating me up is California is doing nothing about this at all. How many reports like Battalion 1’s report are lying around? How many towns does California have with exactly the type of layout that will create next year’s firestorm? What is California going to do when busting up a utility and selling its assets didn’t make anyone one bit safer, and let the board of directors and C level management waddle off to their next multi-million dollar debacle? The very state with data analytics through companies like Kaggle can’t seem to figure out how to use past data beyond “red flag days” and as someone from Calfire asked me, “What do you do when the entire state is red flag?”

    And just to keep bitching, I have to figure out how to keep people from lying about 811 data. For fucks sake!

    Time to get a drink.

  57. 57
    West of the Rockies says:


    Is he going to stay there? My sister and niece were burned out and have already moved to Eugene, OR. I went up on the first to say goodbye to my old family home. Patches of the town look fine. But much larger swathes (and more in number) are utterly obliterated.

  58. 58
    mapaghimagsik says:

    @Duane: That was exactly the excuse. In 50 years, fires in Butte County had not jumped the Feather River.

    Until it did.

  59. 59
    raven says:

    @West of the Rockies: Yes, he had just retired from a tech firm in Chico and they were in pretty good shape as far as insurance. They bought them a Mercedes RV and they are going to travel for a while. I talked to him three days after and it was one of the most chilling conversations I’ve ever had. This dude was in the 101st Airborne in the Nam and he has seen some shit. We’ve all seen the videos but, as you know, when you hear it from someone who was there, it’s different. Basically they loaded up 2 cars and the critters and headed out only to get trapped in the traffic jam. He said “they decided to get in one car so we could die together:”.

  60. 60
    West of the Rockies says:


    It is utterly frightening. Nevada City, CA, is gorgeous but surrounded by hills and trees. It could go easily, too, as could many more towns.

    Bottom line, CLIMATE CHANGE is real, and California is being affected mightily.

  61. 61
    West of the Rockies says:


    Christ… What a decision to have to make.

    The town will never be the same.

  62. 62
  63. 63
    Mss Bianca says:

    @Sab: I’m a Twelfth Night gal, myself, but my one and only Christmas decoration these days is a little glass Christmas tree that D and I put over an LED light base, so it changes colors, whoo! So it’s pretty easy to set up and take down!

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:


    If what you really like is the bubbles, flavored sparkling waters are much tastier than they used to be and usually have no sweeteners. La Croix is super popular, but I think Hint Fizz has the best flavors.

  65. 65
    WaterGirl says:

    @raven: You can do it! I get dizzy (literally) from artificial sweeteners, so I haven’t knowingly had any since drinking Fresca in high school.

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    @CarolDuhart2: I’m keeping my tree up at least until the 20th, maybe the 27th. It makes me happy.

  67. 67
    WaterGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: So near and yet so far.

  68. 68
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Scott: I like water with a splash of juice to give it a little color and flavor.

  69. 69
    WaterGirl says:

    @Josie: I suppose it would be bad if I mention that I have read that carbonation isn’t good for you, but I can’t recall why it’s not good.

  70. 70
    Steeplejack says:


    Let’s all just drink distilled water and pure grain alcohol. Wouldn’t want to dilute our vital essence.

  71. 71
    WaterGirl says:

    @Avalune: During a crisis or any high stress period, I say do whatever gets you through the day.

    fine print: I’m not talking about binge drinking or anything directly harmful, of course.

  72. 72
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, unless you’re diabetic or have another doctor-diagnosed reason, a teaspoon of sugar is no worse for you than a teaspoon of artificial sweetener. Sheesh.


    Carbonation can exacerbate problems with acid reflux and heartburn.

  73. 73
    WaterGirl says:


    He said “they decided to get in one car so we could die together:”.

    That still haunts me, and I wasn’t even there.

  74. 74
    WaterGirl says:

    @Steeplejack: I think I’ll take my chances with a mojito with muddled strawberries.

  75. 75
    Ruckus says:

    I’ve had relatives live in Topanga Canyon in socal. I’ve lived there for a year. In this century. There was no cell service. It is not a wilderness area but it is similar to Paradise on a smaller scale. Only two lane road in or out for miles and too many people to get out on the roads all at the same time. In the recent fires it was evacuated early because they hadn’t done that as early as the last time they had a big fire and while it wasn’t as bad as Paradise, it was bad.
    Yes the navy trains you because if you don’t put out the fire at sea you all die. There are no roads of any kind to escape. I wasn’t trying to mitigate the issues it was as bad as it gets, for a lot of reasons. Just trying to get a bit of a perspective. I’ve also had a brush fire in a national forest threaten my house (this was not in Topanga). Well slightly threaten, first that house was built to a strict fire code system with highly fire resistant roofs. The land around was cleared and the LAFD had seen what happens when you don’t send enough engines and bodies. This was a month after the Oakland Hills fire of 1991. My good friends house was not burned that time but he’s lost 2 homes in the same location to fire and vows to move away if it happens again.
    Paradise was both a disaster that shouldn’t have been as bad and a problem that was bound to happen sooner or later, no matter the cause. We have a lot of fires in CA every year and often they happen in fairly inaccessible areas that are very hard to put out. The weather has a huge effect on the fire season here because while the number of people would suggest large areas of concrete, a lot of those people live in areas that spread fire rapidly if there is any wind. Where I lived in 1991 we had constant winds, my friend I mentioned above lived one mile east and had much calmer winds. And there is nothing between the houses and a national forest except about 1/8th of a mile of hilly brush that thrives in dry conditions but literally explodes into flames upon meeting fire. That’s CA. Northern CA was better before the climate started warming and drying out here. And now of course we are getting rain, which will bring growth of that explosive oily brush, which next summer will be ever more ready to burn, be it lightning, or downed power lines, or a careless smoke or a deranged pyromaniac, it will burn again.

  76. 76
    Steeplejack says:


    Now you’re talking!

  77. 77
    debbie says:


    That is one horrifying photograph.

  78. 78
    Denali says:

    I have had no problem giving up Coca Cola and ginger ale for Saratoga Springs water bottled in a glass. It is wonderful. I started by drinking sparking water, but don’t even that anymore.

  79. 79
    Aleta says:

    This (from LA Times) is about why Skyway was narrowed from 4 lanes to 2 where it passed through the downtown.

    After a fast-moving fire swept into town a decade ago, burning more than 200 homes and trapping thousands of fleeing residents on gridlocked mountain roads, a grand jury called on officials to improve evacuation routes.

    But six years later, the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two as part of an effort in the downtown area aimed at boosting commerce as well as traffic and pedestrian safety.

    Two other roads in the city were also narrowed, records show. The so-called Skyway “road diet” slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

    It’s far from clear whether the narrowing of Skyway — the largest of just four routes out of the foothill town — worsened the chaotic delays in getting out.
    Mayor Jody Jones said Tuesday that the evacuation of Paradise, begun at 7:46 a.m Nov. 8, was complete by 3 p.m. Residents who arrived at a shelter in Oroville said the 16-mile exodus took 2½ hours, better than the three-hour evacuation in 2008 that sparked the Butte County Grand Jury’s investigation.

    Paradise received state funding to put other evacuation routes on “road diets,” California Department of Transportation records show. Travel lanes were reduced and bike lanes added to Pearson Road, a major cross street that became jammed during the fire evacuation. Travel lanes were reduced to make room for turn lanes on Clark Road, one of the four roads out of town.

    But Paradise also received $1.2 million to add raised rumble strips on its main arteries, improve drainage, widen shoulders and upgrade traffic signals to improve safety, including battery backups to keep the systems running if the power went out.

    The decision to narrow Skyway came amid safety and business concerns from residents. Some criticized it as an “expressway,” sending speeding traffic through the small downtown, depriving merchants, and imperiling any who tried to walk across. Traffic engineers told the city: “This situation has limited the town’s ability to realize its potential as a center of commercial and cultural activity.”

    So a Bay Area engineer drew plans to slow the road with concrete curbs that cut into the Skyway’s outer lanes, restricting it in large portions of the downtown stretch to two lanes — one in either direction — with a third center turn lane. He warned only against a raised median. At least three lanes would be needed for evacuation route in case of fire.

    “We did do a project to make it safer for pedestrians,” Jones said. “People were being killed just walking across the street.”

    The narrowed section of Skyway, between Elliott and Pearson roads, runs along a stretch of gas stations, antique shops and real estate offices.

    To make it more friendly to shoppers, six sets of curb cutouts encroach on two lanes once dedicated to traffic. The pedestrian-friendly curbs, called “bulbouts” by the engineer who drew up the Skyway project plans, are used commonly, including in Los Angeles.

    A large portion of Paradise lies north of that downtown restriction, and residents would have had to pass through the traffic “calming” to escape the Nov. 8 fire. In the first hours of the evacuation, city police converted all lanes to outbound traffic to increase its capacity.

    Street images by Google show a much wider road in 2008. But it still became gridlocked and impassable when wildfire that year came close to Paradise. The 2009 Butte County Grand Jury noted the area is “especially prone to disastrous wildfires” and concluded “additional evacuation routes are necessary.”

    City officials said they have worked to make improvements, including adopting protocols to convert two-way streets into one-way evacuation routes during times of crisis. And some 70 people participated in a recent drill, rehearsing an evacuation down the town’s main thoroughfare at rush hour.

    A forest road north out of Paradise was paved, providing what Butte County officials said would be an escape route for those living higher up the ridge. And local officials secured state grants to remove vegetation north of Paradise, to reduce fire risk.

    Because of the evacuation problems in 2008, officials this time decided not to immediately undergo a full-scale evacuation, hoping to get residents out of neighborhoods closest to the fires first before the roads became gridlocked.

    Emergency officials tried to stick with the plan, but the fire spread too quickly. Roads were blocked even before the evacuation order went out to additional neighborhoods.

    I also read somewhere else that one part of a newer emergency warning system, to be received on individual phones, required people to sign up to receive it, but many did not. I think (not sure, I could be wrong) there was mention that marijuana growers in the area were some of the people who did not want to register.)

  80. 80
    Sab says:

    @WaterGirl: My mother always said keeping the Christmas tree up after twelthnight was terrible bad luck.

    However if it is a winter or winter solstice tree, keep it up until groundhog(woodchuck) day. After that you are just pushing it.

  81. 81
    Aleta says:

    @Sab: My mom’s tradition was to keep it up through Valentine’s Day. (She cut it herself and then brought it inside on Dec 24th, so it didn’t dry out as soon as trees cut earlier.). She had lots of birds (not real ones) as ornaments, which was her mother’s custom, so it looked as much winter-pagan as anything. At the same time she took it down she’d celebrate the swelling of the buds on the trees and bushes outdoors.

  82. 82
    WaterGirl says:

    @Steeplejack: Just had one at dinner! Really well made. Yay!

  83. 83
    WaterGirl says:

    @Sab: Nothing personal, but I am hoping your mom was wrong. :-)

  84. 84
    Aleta says:

    @WaterGirl: I wonder if the idea about bad luck if the tree stayed up had to do with fire hazard, when lots of homes still had fireplaces, gas lamps, candles, pipe smokers … A tree catching fire would bring bad luck for sure. I’ve talked to people who remembered candles on the tree when they were children (and buckets of water kept right next to the tree when the candles were lit).

  85. 85
    mapaghimagsik says:


    It’s far from clear whether the narrowing of Skyway — the largest of just four routes out of the foothill town — worsened the chaotic delays in getting out.
    Mayor Jody Jones said Tuesday that the evacuation of Paradise, begun at 7:46 a.m Nov. 8, was complete by 3 p.m. Residents who arrived at a shelter in Oroville said the 16-mile exodus took 2½ hours, better than the three-hour evacuation in 2008 that sparked the Butte County Grand Jury’s investigation.

    I have trouble seeing how narrowing an evacuation route doesn’t slow people getting out.

  86. 86
    mapaghimagsik says:

    Sadly, edit doesn’t love me.

    Traffic engineers told the city: “This situation has limited the town’s ability to realize its potential as a center of commercial and cultural activity.”

    You know what else limited the towns ability to realize its potential as a center of commercial and cultural activity?

    Burning to the ground. I guess now we can sell ashes. Maybe Paradise community leadership should have acted like it was at the edge of the Wild-land Urban Interface, not in the middle of a park.

  87. 87
    sab says:

    @WaterGirl: @WaterGirl: @WaterGirl: @WaterGirl: You still have until woodchuck day to come right with the world, After that your tree is in any case a fire hazard, even if it is not a natural tree strung with lights. If it is a Meyer lemon it is probably OK unless the xmas lights killed it. Mine is happy, and expecting two lemons.

  88. 88
    Sab says:

    This whole how long is it okay to leave the tree up is very interesting. I am following my mom’s lead, with a religious base but no support in physics.

    My alternative is Imholc (woodchuck day) but that also has no support in physics.

    Why not midsummer? Seems OK to me if you don’t have a live tree.

    If you get into next year (spring or summer) what is the point? Dead tree in your house means something? Go for it, but find other friends than me, since I think its creepy.

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