the wildfire madness

This was the view from our roof.
This was the view from our roof. This photos links to a set of photos from the fire.

The difference between a normal night out and a night of anxiety watching a wildfire just within a couple of miles by my house is less than 60 minutes

It was Friday night. I was debating whether or not to go out and be social since I knew of a big party where I could potentially meet many people. That was my first mistake.

Within an hour of arriving to the bar in Chinatown, I received a picturemail with what looked like distant flames and then a phone call telling me that there’s a huge fire in my front yard. I made no hestitation about leaving, saying goodbye to the host, and I was on my way to spend the rest of my night worrying.

Traveling up the freeway, the closer I got to my neighborhood, the brighter the sky around it became. Once I passed over a slight hill that was blocking my view, I saw flames literally engulf the side of a mountain just to the northwest of my house. Not that I knew where I was looking, as I got closer I knew these flames were literally within walking biking/driving distance of my house.

The remainder of the night was spent without electricity, the occasional visit to online news sites from my phone, taking photographs of what I saw, and wondering if/when we were going to be evacuated. Because of the intense Santa Ana winds, evacuation was mandatory for all neighborhoods to our west. We, however, were lucky enough to escape this fire narrowly. We knew by 3am that this probably wouldn’t hit us.

As restless as I was, I spent the remainder of my three hours awake going online, reading, watching, and trying to get a connection from my phone to my laptop. It was frustrating, I was jittery, and I was ready to go to sleep even though my mind would not let me.

By the time I woke up on Saturday morning, only getting around 4 hours of sleep, I decided that without electricity I would be useless at my house. So I decided to spend the day at work to ease my mind and watch the news. Knowing that the house electricity had not been restored that day, I also spent most of the evening out before deciding to try the house and see if power was back. Victory!

24 hours of wildfire madness was enough for me. I’m thankful to still have a standing home and a place to sleep. I think this was the last thread of wildfires I will see in this area for a long time. Two in one year is more than enough.

wildfire round 2

once again, theres a wildfire within a mile of our house. its 2am, we have no power so im writing this from my phone. its now just a waiting game.

update 3:30am – looks like its gonna stay in the hills above the town. its crazy how raging it was just hours ago. im pretty exhausted now so im hopefully gonna get a good nite’s rest.

update 5:30am – i can’t sleep so i’m looking around online to see what i can see before my battery dies and i have no power whatsoever. it’s amazing how fast this map developed and it seems to be very accurate.

a hope for my generation

a hope for my generation
a hope for my generation
Yesterday was history in the making. Yesterday’s victory is an symbolic honor to Martin Luther King Jr. May his spirit never die.

I sat my room alone all evening.
Work kept me occupied; the TV was background noise.
I cooked chicken fried rice, adding a lot of greens, veggies and mushrooms.
One of the best dishes I’ve cooked yet.

As someone who enjoys competition, I did not feel there was much competition in this election. The result of this election began 21 months ago when Obama was thrust into the public spotlight with his presidential bid. The media already decided their pick and it had been evident to me all along. No one else stood a chance.

So no, I was not rooting, I was not cheering.
I knew who the winner was.
No surprises.

If there’s one thing that has surprised me, it has been reactions from my peers, friends and family. I have never seen such a collective reaction in my lifetime. The historical impact was felt in every time zone. I heard the cries, I saw the tears, even if they were just digital bits across websites, blogs and social networks. My generation has spoken, and they overwhelmingly wanted the polar opposite of what has been a bitter presidency.

In this society of pacifists, a society of conveniences and comfort, where online petitions replace marches, where the revolutions were fought with silent clicks of keyboard strokes instead of bloody riots, a change of leadership is upon us. Our eight year Tower of Pisa has now leans in another direction.

I’ve never seen anything inspire so many people at once. Talking, listening, and being around people here in LA as well as online, I feel the passion from others. I feel the passion against our lame current president, I feel the passion for Obama’s charisma and charm, the hope that he will put our country back together, that he will bring light back to a dark time. I also feel the fear, the anxiety and doubt of new change.

I have hope for the best, despite my political differences. I don’t agree with a socialistic approach to some of his political policies, but I hope his influence around our nation and the world will continue our political status, help the world economy, and bring peace to those places there are not. May his intentions and noble desire for change bring more good times back to our nation.

back in the ussr

My russian disenchantment by nicointhebus
My russian disenchantment by nicointhebus

In just thirty days, I will be touching down on international soil for the first time since my trip to Germany. My thirst for traveling has finally caught up for me and I need to quench it with a last spontaneous trip to see a land of which I know so little.

It hit me mid last year that I really wanted to get out of the country for a while to see something new. Germany was quite an eye opener, and my appetite was whet for more. My urge to travel abroad has only grown in the last year, but knowing I didn’t have the funds to make it happen was my main crutch.

Over a month ago, knowing I had a lot of friends all over the place, I began looking around, pricing plane tickets to several different locations such as Germany, Italy, UK, South America, and Russia. With the US economy in such disarray, and with regulated airline companies fighting to survive, I expected very little.

Then, on a random weekday in September, I saw it. My golden ticket.

Conferring with my Russian friend, I asked whether I could crash for a couple of weeks while touring around. With the green light lit, I quickly snatched my place on the notorious airline Aeroflot and booked a two week ticket to Moscow.

Upon booking my plane ticket, I had absolutely no idea that I was required to get a tourist Visa in order to visit. On top of that, it costs exactly $131 to purchase this Visa just to visit! To turn the tables, Russians require an American Visa which costs them a pretty ruble.

As you read this, I am still waiting from the Russian Consulate in San Francisco to mail me my Visa. With travel abroad and especially to Russia from the US being limited, I expect to receive my Visa within the next two weeks.

So, in one month, I will be wandering the streets of Moscow. I will be riding the train to St. Petersburg. I will be trekking the neighborhoods of Veliky Novgorod, and learning about our misunderstood Russian neighbors. St. Petersburg especially excites me because of the rich musical history. My trip to Novgorod is a devious attempt to see where my favorite Russian Composer Rachmaninoff was born and about his childhood.

The next month will be one of my busiest this year. I shall be researching Russian history, consuming all the trivial and nontrivial facts I never knew, working, and preparing for what shall be another life changing trip across the ocean.