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Fleeing The Smoke-Filled Valley of My Life

Posted on October 17th, 2022

Dave!And so I took a week off blogging. I have to take so many medications to function at work during the day that I have to stop taking them when I get home so that I'm not in a 24/7 stupor. It's very difficult to form coherent thoughts while coming off medications, coughing your head off, and having your nose and eyes running like a faucet.

Thank heavens I was smart enough to not post right away, but wait until morning so I could review what I wrote.

And I wrote such gems as "...wishing I had time off so I could take time to not have to worry about not having time to do stuff..." and "I wonder if I wonder the smoke will ever stop smoking."

And so I decided to have a one-week sabbatical, visit my sister (where it is significantly less smokey), and spare everybody my incoherent ramblings.

Which, admittedly, is a minor step down from the semi-incoherent ramblings I usually drop on Blogography, but a guy has to have his standards. Mine are low, but not in the basement. Yet.

We may get there in short order if I have to suffer through this wildfire smoke much longer.

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Misery is Smoke on Smoke

Posted on October 3rd, 2022

Dave!It's frickin' October. Why are we still plagued with wildfire smoke?

Every morning I get up and look out the window to see how bad of a day I'm going to have with my smoke allergies. If I can see the hills clearly, I can get away with minimal drugs so I can breathe, speak, think, and live. But if I can't see the hills...

Everything is smoke.

And it's supposed to continue all week. Oh what fun.

Once again my heartfelt thanks to those firefighters out there battling it out with the flames. Where would we be without you?

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Smokey the Cat

Posted on September 29th, 2022

Dave!This morning the wildfire smoke was the worst it's been yet this year (no, I have no idea how this is the case in late September) so I closed off the catio. When I got home Jake was crying and crying and crying at the back door, so finally I was like "OKAY! Go outside! But I tried to warn you!"

After ten minutes, he was still out there, which bothered me greatly because his little lungs are more susceptible to smoke damage than mine, and mine were burning.

Jake out in the catio in the smoke.

Eventually I shook the bag of treats to get him back inside. That's the one thing that's more of a motivator than anything else in his life.

Certainly more than me.

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Better Than People

Posted on September 15th, 2022

Dave!I have had enough of this smoke.

I guess you could say that it is looking a little better today, but the smell is still hanging in the air and the hills are still hazy. It would be nice if they could manage to get the wildfires contained... not just for my sinuses, but for all the little woodland critters that are being made homeless.

IN OTHER NEWS...
Since I can't go outside except to drive to work, I have been staying indoors huddled up next to my air purifiers and watching a lot of television. And holy crap have I got a winner. If you want to see one amazing television show, then tune into Netflix for лучше чем люди (which translates as "Better Than People," but has been retitled Better Than Us by Netflix). It takes place in the near future where robots are around to help humans... but a new kind of robot prototype escapes, and her programming is not like other robots!

This series is gorgeously realized. The tech that's integrated into people's lives all seems remarkably intuitive and real. The world that's been created is amazing... not so far from our own, but jusssst different enough to be fascinating. And the cast is incredible (the young girl who plays Sonya is so good). Seriously one of the best things I've watched in a minute. The more you watch, the more it sucks you in! I have no idea why Netflix didn't promote the heck out of this show. You can watch all sixteen episodes dubbed into English, but the original performances are so good it's better with subtitles.

You're welcome!

   

Smoke Gets In Your Brain

Posted on September 13th, 2022

Dave!I am getting close to my breaking point here. I am doped up on allergy medication all day, which means I'm falling asleep all day. The irony being that the constant drainage of my sinuses makes it impossible to actually sleep.

This is Day 3 of being held hostage by increasing amounts of wildfire smoke. Except I still have to go into the office, which involves my opening the door to the smokey hellscape outside, dashing out of the house, then closing the door as quickly as I can (then hoping that the air purifiers will get rid of any smoke that crept inside).

But the cats? They don't seem to care about the smoke at all. Both of them are out in the catio several times a day. You'd think that their enhanced sense of smell would be overwhelmed, but apparently they care less about that than having a few remaining warm days outside (though it's not so warm here any more!). I worry about their tiny lungs... but they're so low to the ground that there's not much smoke there. But the smell is still fierce.

I remain hopeful that they'll be able to put out the fires very soon thanks to dwindling heat and occasional rains, but every time I look at the wildfire map the fire perimeter seems unchanged.

I'm destined to have smoke on the brain for a while longer, I guess.

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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Posted on September 12th, 2022

Dave!This year we've been blessed with few wildfires plaguing us. And those that have been around haven't really blown into the valley all that much.

Until now.

Very early Sunday morning I woke up smelling smoke, which always provides a small amount of trauma because my mind instantly transports back to when I was in the middle of a fire and panic sets in. Once I realized that it wasn't my house on fire, but was instead smoke from one of the three fires in the mountains, I was flooded with relief. For about 5 minutes. Then I had to think about how this would affect my serious smoke allergies...

Me not getting any sleep... according to my Apple Watch.
The nearby hills are completely missing here

Here is the treat that I get to endure when the smoke gets terrible...

  • Cramping. This is not "ooh, my insides hurt a bit" bad, it's more like "ZOMFG! SO THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO GIVE BIRTH!" bad. I end up laying down doubled-over in agony. And it's not just smoke... any incense that's burning will have the same effect.
  • Diarrhea. No idea why. Probably a side-effect of the cramping?
  • Shortness of Breath. This one is kinda obvious, but it's not as bad as the cramping, so I can deal with this so long as I'm not exerting myself.
  • Loss of Apetite. This is a bit of a big deal because I gain/lose weight so easily. Two or three days of not eating and my pants are falling off of me. I usually force myself to eat something when my stomach starts rumbling.
  • Vomiting. If I eat in small amounts, it's not so bad. But anything more than a small handful and I might as well not eat at all.
  • Dry Heaves. What's that? "Just don't eat and enjoy the weight loss," you say? Doesn't matter. Even worse than throwing up anything I eat is getting dry heaves for something I never ate.

So... not a great day to be me! Hopefully you're having a better day being you.

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до свидания пицца хат

Posted on August 31st, 2022

Dave!Living where I do, you always live in dread of hearing the words "LEVEL 3 EVACUATION ISSUED". Just in case you are blessed to live in an area without wildfires, LEVEL 1 is the Get Ready level where you should start keeping a very close eye on the local fires because you could be in danger of evacuation. LEVEL 2 is the Get Set level where you start packing up your crap, gassing up the car, and generally be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. LEVEL 3 is the Go Level where your life is in imminent danger if you don't get the heck out of dodge.

I have been in a LEVEL 3 twice. The first time I wasn't at home, so it was no big deal to up and leave the area. I got in a line of slow-moving cars and drove back to my house. The second time was much more serious. Once we hit LEVEL 3, absolutely everybody had left the area except me. I stayed behind running around my apartment building putting out ember fires so that my apartment wouldn't catch fire. Part of the time I was on the roof with a bandana tied around my nose and mouth so I could spot problems easier. After a couple hours, the fire department told me that it had gone way past dangerous, and I had to leave. Because I had stayed behind and "bravely fought to save my home" they promised that they would do their best to make sure it hadn't been for nothing. And they totally did. Other than smoke damage, the building only had a few spots on it.

Yesterday some places in the Lake Chelan region hit LEVEL 3. As I heard the advisory start screaching through everybody's mobile phones, I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomache that I always get.

Fast forward to today and all the evacuations have been downgraded and the bulk of the fire had been halted at around 20 acres lost. They still don't know how it started. Though I keep getting lightning alerts from my little weather station, so I guess that could be a possibility.

In Other News...

As a child of the 80's, I remember very well The Cold War... and Mikhail Gorbachev's "openess reforms" (гласность, a.k.a. Glasnost) which effectively ended it. Having lived through my entire childhood with nuclear war being a distinct possibility, it was nice to think that... just maybe... things had deescalated enough that the world could breathe a little easier knowing that catastrophic annihilation had been (temporarily, alas) pushed aside even a little bit.

Gorbachev's actions were wildly controversial. And nowhere more so than in the Country Formerly Known as the Soviet Union itself. Now that he has died at 91 years of age, I've seen his пицца хат (Pizza Hut) commercial making it's way through the internets...

If there's one short video which can sum up what Gorbachev in the 1980's was about to American audiences today... it's probably this commercial. I am still amazed that he agreed to actually do it. Which makes me kinda like him, because I love it when powerful people aren't above poking fun at themselves. Humor is a basic human condition, and willing to be the subject of it to better relate to those who are not powerful people... well... it just shows that you still have some humanity left in you. And that goes double when you allow the humor to be coupled with any amount of criticism towards your policies.

Probably why I'm such a fan of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Just the fact that an American president would dare to take part is pretty amazing when you think about it (well, when they actually do take part).

And I know this is a bit cliché... but now I actually want Pizza Hut. I'm all too easily susceptible to suggestion.

   

Raging Suns

Posted on August 12th, 2021

Dave!According to my Apple Watch, I fell asleep at 10:30pm, woke up around midnight for 15 minutes (of which I have no memory), fell back asleep, then woke back up about 12:45am. I remember waking up the second time quite clearly. I was choking. No idea on what, but I was gasping for air and my throat was on fire. After drinking a bunch of milk and a few slices of toast, I went back to bed to watch TikToks until I fell asleep again. Jenny kept me company. For about 10 minutes. Then she was fast asleep. Lucky cat.

When I woke up again at around 6:15am, my room was bathed in a red glow.

Most places, this would be a horrible thing to wake up to. But I live in a valley in a state where wildfires are rampant and smoke collects. Since nobody was banging on my door, I just assumed it was smoke from a fire elsewhere in the state that was giving me a Red Alert vibe.

When I finally got out of bed at 6:55am to feed my cats, this is what I saw out my window...

A very angry looking sun.

A very angry looking sun.

There's no filter on that. It's straight out of my iPhone.

As you can see, there's no smoke in my immediate vicinity... it's actually collecting in the Columbia Basin to the East (the actual fires are about a two-hour drive North of me).

As usual, my thoughts are with the firefighters who are working to contain the fire... the people in danger of the fire... and, of course, the many animals trying to escape and survive the fire.

Surprisingly, fire season where I live has been fairly mild this year (knock wood).

Which seems a reason to celebrate.

Except we're not through fire season yet.

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Virtual Hellscapes

Posted on September 14th, 2020

Dave!I am not ashamed to say that I am most definitely not doing well.

Not only is Central Washington being blanketed with smoke from our own wildfires, massive amounts of smoke is being blown in from the fires in Oregon and California as well. And despite five air purifiers running day and night, my allergies are in overdrive, making for a miserable existance. I have had a crushing headache for a week. Breathing is painful. Nosebleeds happen at random. My eyes and nose are running almost constantly. Sleep is almost impossible. Not a great day to be me, that's for sure...

   
Last night I finally passed out around 2:30am. I woke up shortly after 3:00am choking on blood from yet another nosebleed. That is a scary enough way to wake up... but I had aspirated and couldn't breath. The wheezing as I struggled to catch a breath freaked my cats, both of which ran out of the room at top speed. Eventually I managed to work through it, but getting back to sleep was impossible. I called in sick and have been nodding off and on ever since.

Poor Jake and Jenny. The fires have been so tough on them.

After terrifying her early-early this morning, Jenny ended up sleeping in the room next to mine...

Jenny sleeping in a cat bed.

Jake... is more complicated. He has been really clingy lately and sleeping with me every night. After he ran out scared, I heard him come walking back in about an hour later. He didn't hop back on the bed, so I wasn't sure where he went. This morning I found him hiding in the cat tower...

Jake hiding in a hidey-hole in a cat tower.

My cats rarely go in those hidey-holes. As in very rarely. But Jake wanted to sleep near me while also being scared and this was his solution. Naturally I feel terrible about it. Note the smoke out my window.

And so here I am taking a sick day at home with two cats who are afraid of me.

In-between trying not to work because it makes my headache worse, I've been zoning out in front of the television. One think I saw today was that Drew Barrymore has a new talk show. I was interested in seeing how they were going to manage a new talk show, fully expecting it to be remote chats on Zoom or something. But that wasn't the case. Drew's Charlie's Angels co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu were there with her... albeit socially distanced...

Drew, Lucy, and Cameron on a chat show set.

Except...

That wasn't the case at all. While Drew nd Lucy were in New York... Cameron was still in Los Angeles, appearing in the studio virtually...

Cameron Diaz disappearing from Drew's chat show.

Cameron Diaz disappearing from Drew's chat show.

Weird to think that things like this will quickly become our new normal.

In the meanwhile I'll just go back to the virtual hellscape that's my life right now.

   

Smoke Gets in Your Orifices

Posted on September 8th, 2020

Dave!I have a terrible reaction to smoke... mostly revolving around cramping and a bloody nose. It's been this way for as long as I can remember, which has always made camping problematic. Usually I can just escape to another part of the state when everything is on fire but that would be tough this time even if there weren't a pandemic. The smoke is bad just about everywhere...

A map of Washington State with some very poor Air Quality Index numbers.

And so... not a fun time to be me.

Last night I thought I would take some sleeping pills and ride it out until this morning. But then I woke to what looked like a murder scene in my bed and the smoke worse than ever. I have a spill-proof mattress cover, so my mattress was okay... but I think the sheets are a goner. Fortunately I have three sets exactly the same, so I have more available to destroy tonight.

There was a bright spot in my day, however... the new trailer for Star Trek: Discovery is here...

After an incredible first season, I was let down a bit by the second. But now things are looking very interesting for the third...

Star Trek Discovery Logo.

Despite now being set hundreds of years into the future, Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou, which is odd since she will be heading the new Section 31 show sometime in the future back in the present(!)...

Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou.

But we knew she was coming back. Somebody I didn't know was coming back (but am thrilled that they are) is Tig Notaro as Jett Reno!

Michelle Yeoh is back as Mirror-Universe Georgiou.

   
And speaking of Tig Notaro, I rewatched her documentary this weekend...

If you haven't seen it and have Netflix, it's well worth your time.

   
And now I guess I'm back to feeling sick. Blergh.

   

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