Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fahrenheit 451 -- coming near you!

The passing of Ray Bradbury this past week was a wake up call for me.  Firstly, it was a reminder to re-read two of his notable works, Fahrenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles.  He wrote other great stuff too, but those stick out.  He was one of an old breed of writer, the kind that wrote every day, with pen and paper or old fasioned typewriter.  He loved science fiction and was apparently quite a collector of memorabilia, and, to those who had to clear out his house, excessively.

While the L.A. Times had a nice article on Bradbury, the grocery store checkout line literary offerings had other headliners.  Prince William and Kate Middleton are still the beautiful royal couple.  The Kings are having a great time with their newly won Stanley Cup, and deservedly so. Aliens do in fact run Wal-Mart and Jennifer Aniston is breaking up and falling in love, often on the same front page. Ah, the tabloids.

My attention fell on a publication that was tucked away on the bottom rack.  Its heading was far more eye catching and frightening than the two-headed Martian claiming to be able to save the banking system. Global change.  According to a really well written piece in the Economist, global change will mean much more than bumping the SPF up on your sunscreen.  It means the destruction of certain eco-climates and the critters that live in them.  It means that trade and business around the globe will change.  And it means more storms, with more wet and more dry periods.  

In southern California, this is a real problem.  After a couple of winters with some good rains, we have accumulated a lot brush growth in the hills and canyons.  Now this year we have had a fraction of our normal precipitation, so there is the perfect combination for a hellish fire season.

People falsely think that since they are far away from these brushy areas that they have nothing to worry about.  But that is the funny thing about fires -- they don't see street signs or county lines.  They go wherever the wind takes their flying embers and just as readily burn houses as easily as trees and brush.

Everyone should take some time to evaluate their own surroundings and make their homes as fire proof as possible.  Clear shrubs from around the house.  Trim and haul away old dead limbs from trees, especially palms and eucalyptus.  Old shake shingle roofs are like natural tinder...get rid of them.  Plant vegetation that is fire resistent.  Contact your closest fire station and ask them what is best for your neighborhood.

The loss of any of one's possessions is heartbreaking, but you can do something to prevent that.  Don't let foolishness take away something precious.  In fact, doing nothing is like tossing a book in the fire yourself.  Paper does burn at 451 degrees, but in house fires where the temperature far exceeds that, almost everything else is going to burn too.

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