Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Air Quality

On my walk home yesterday, I saw a bicycle rider holding his shirt over his nose and mouth as he headed down the sidewalk in my direction. I understood, but thought him overly cautious; the smoke fumes had smelled much worse earlier in the day. Yet my eyes started itching as if a gust of wind had blown dust into them. This morning, only a block from home the eyes started again, almost to the point of stinging. Imagine there are invisible particles of ash floating in the air along with the visible white and black stuff. In retrospect, the guy on the bike was not being too cautious.

The sky remains hazy and dark in some places and vibrant blue sunny in others. Yesterday I decided I was going to skip the Main library today and go to the beach. Guess I will be staying indoors. Still raining ashes.

Found no mention of any fires in Seal Beach yesterday. Learned the Sylmar fire had nothing to do with the O.C. fires. The newscasters kept mentioning those 500 mobile homes destroyed by fire as they were reporting about the O.C. wildfires. I never heard of Sylmar; my own assumption that it was in the area of Anaheim Hills. The news reports lead me to believe the raging fires started with the Sylmar one and spread from there, when actually there were several different fires. The major fires I was watching on TV were being spread by "embers the size of baseballs" being driven by Santa Ana winds of 75mph.

The P-T did not report much about the effect of these distant fires had on Long Beach. Was that early morning smoke downtown from the Sylmar fire, I wonder. A wild guess tells me we are at the very least 20 miles from the nearest fire. Yet the odor of smoke, fueled by the snatches of the guys conversation, had me thinking there was a fire "right around the corner".

I had considered taking the magazines checked out of the library and going to Shoreline Park.Maybe, I'll see where the fire is, I thought. An event was going on there; a dog walk to raise funds related to dog cancer awareness. $10,000. was raised and I learned 1 out of 4 dogs are diagnosed with cancer. If I had decided to go to the park, might have been treated to a dog "show". I noticed many of the people attending the Prop 8 rally had their dogs with them. Another event was a new Saturday farmers market. A section of First St. between Elm and Linden were blocked off.

As I walked, yesterday, the streets seemed eerily quiet. Close to noon and no cars on Long Beach Blvd? Usually a steady flow of traffic at all hours on that block. No walkers on side streets, no one out watering lawns, no leaf blowers, no cars, no stereos blasting from housing. Simply quiet.

No comments: