Saturday, October 27, 2007

Why Am I Here?

No, I'm not talking about on this planet - I'm talking about on blogger.

As more of my friends have created blogs, I have really not had the inclination to do so. Blogs to me sometimes feel like the diaries that people used to keep in the 70s...except much more public! Nothing like posting your private thoughts for the world to see.

But I have come up with a couple of good reasons to start one.

First, I have a website where I post news and pictures of my family and events in our life. That website was meant to keep family & friends abreast of us down San Diego way. Unfortunately, history has shown I update it once maybe twice a year at most (it has been up and running since January 1997).

This blog is intended to be an easy way of getting information out quickly to those friends and family - the Witch Creek fire was the classic example of why this is needed and I think I will end up using it effectively in those types of situations.

The second reason this blog is here is that it dawned on me a few months ago that there may be friends from our past who stumble on our website but have NO WAY of contacting us! I intentionally do not put an email address on the website, since scraping tools come through and harvest them for spam purposes. I wanted to come up with another means by which we could be contacted should a long lost friend wish to do adding a blog and linking it to our website, it is simple for someone to post something to the blog to get the relationship started again.

So little Jimmy Crackleberry who used to share his Klondike bar with me in first grade, go ahead and post a comment here! (that person is fictional, btw)

Will I end up getting on a soapbox in this blog and shouting to the world *my* views on Global Warming, bad drivers, and why Britney should be flogged? I don't think so at this point, but you never know...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

2007 Witch Creek Fire

Well Mother Nature has given me the perfect reason to start actually using this blog I created earlier this month. To all our friends and relatives, here is the story from our perspective.

My wife and I shuddered as we drove south on I-15 in Riverside on Sunday morning, October 21st. Though traffic was pretty light, it had slowed to about 40 MPH due to extremely heavy East-to-West (Santa Ana) wind gusts - I would guess 50-60 MPH gusts. It felt like the driver's side of our car was being sandblasted. On top of that, the land was so parched and barren that it was basically a dust storm so thick that at times we could not see the freeway - that is why everyone was slowing. Having been through the 2003 Cedar Fire, we knew all too well what these dry windy conditions meant for the coming week.

Upon crossing into San Diego county, the wind was light and the avocado groves on the sides of the hills glistened in the sunlight. We had arrived once again in Utopia. To get a jump on the week, I decided to go into work in Rancho Bernardo for a couple of hours. My hope turned to horror as I could see smoke on the horizon, blowing straight towards the ocean. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, the sky was a deep orangish brown, ash was falling, and the sun looked as if it were about to be extinguished. I sent an email to my employees giving them the company's emergency hotline number in case, as I feared, things got worse overnight.

Fast foward to 3:30 AM on Monday. I awoke to horrendous winds howling outside. We are remodeling the interior of our home, and our construction materials were swirling around the backyard. I gathered and secured all the items while still in my nightclothes, and turned on the TV. Seven fires were burning around the county, including one about 5 miles south of our home. I immediately called our company hotline (which said to call back at 6:30 AM) and was glued to the TV the rest of the day.

The internet and TV news sources are doing an excellent job of documenting the two major fires (the Witch Creek fire and the Harris fire), so I will bypass it here. From our home, the skies were crystal clear and blue all day Monday, though we could see heavy smoke to the east, apparently 10 to 15 miles away. We waited for that to overtake our skies (since winds were blowing westward), but they never did. They appeared to blow the smoke in a southwest direction. We watched the news carefully, mentally deciding what we would take should we have to evacuate.

Witch Creek is a little known area of the back country northeast of Ramona. The only reason my wife and I have heard of it is that it is home to the Witch Creek Winery, with tasting rooms in Carlsbad and Julian. We have a set of their wine glasses which feature Halloween-like black cats with arched backs and raised tails. This had led to my instructing my wife, when filling my wine glass, "fill it up to the cat's ass".

Tuesday, we awoke to very heavy smoke and again watched the news carefully. The San Marcos Coronado Hills fire that had started Monday morning was almost out, and the evacuees from Discovery Hills were allowed back home (Coronado Hills and San Elijo Hills remained evacuated). The winds were less on Tuesday, and by Tuesday evening the air was completely still yet still smokey.

It is now Wednesday - my wife and I are ready to return to work, though our offices are both located in a closed section of Rancho Bernardo so we are basically stuck at home. Since my wife's staff was to have finished payroll on Monday, she decided to sneak into work anyway and finish the payroll to ensure people across the country did not have their checks delayed by yet a third day.

Though we have faired extremely well in this whole situation, we are dreading the return to work because we have no doubt many of our friends have not faired so well. We have already identified two of my co-workers whose homes have burned to the ground - just through word-of-mouth before we set foot back at the company facility. Those two had flown with me to the east coast on Monday October 15th for an all-day meeting with our customer on Tuesday. Little did we know that 6 days later, all they would own would be the clothes on their back and a plot of ash-covered land.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Welcome to my new blog.

I'm not sure how often or how much I'll put in here...feel free to make comments any time, even if it's just to say 'hi'.

Take care and hope to hear from you soon.