Wildfire smoke ain’t like some family campfire, folks!


Daytime, Juniper Hills, California

The West Coast’s wildfire crisis is no longer just the West Coast’s wildfire crisis: As massive blazes continue to burn across California, Oregon, and Washington, they’re spewing smoke high into the atmosphere. Winds pick the haze up and transport it clear across the country, tainting the skies above the East Coast.

But what are you breathing, exactly, when these forests combust and waft smoke near and far? Charred trees and shrubs, of course, but also the synthetic materials from homes and other structures lost in the blazes. Along with a variety of gases, these give off tiny particles, known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller), that weasel their way deep into human lungs. All told, the mixture of solids and gases actually transforms chemically as it crosses the country, creating different consequences for the health of humans thousands of miles apart. In other words, what you breathe in, and how hazardous it remains, may depend on how far you live from the Pacific coast…

As the smoke plume travels through the atmosphere, “the heavier particles are going to start to fall out as time moves on,” says Rebecca Buchholz, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “But then those sticky, partially burnt carbon gases are going to start to coagulate and become more particles again. So you’re losing particles out of the smoke, but you’re also gaining particles as the air processes through time.”

Another atmospheric nasty we’re all too familiar with forms as well: ozone, which inflames your airways. “Ozone requires carbon-containing gases, nitrogen-containing gases, and sunlight,” says Buchholz. “And so the more processing time you have, the more ozone is going to get created in that smoke plume.”

There are parts of the West where breathing the air has been evaluated as the equivalent of smoking 400 cigarettes! Today, wasn’t that bad in my neck of the prairie – here in northern New Mexico. But, after a morning try, I had to give up my usual regimen of exercise walking. My breathing, my eyes, just had too much of a bad thing to deal with.

Trump storm troopers ready for their wannabe Nazi role


Mason Trinca/AFP

A new word, doomscrolling, describes the way we compulsively tickle our phones into providing a non-stop stream of dire health and disease statistics, grim economic predictions, images of food lines and exploding emergency rooms.

With so much doom to scroll through, it’s hard to know when to stop and pay attention, but one story that jumped out at me – and, I hope, at many others – is the account of how demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, protesting racism and police brutality earlier in July, were tear-gassed, beaten, seized off the street by unidentified, masked federal agents in camouflage and fatigues, hustled into unmarked vans and detained for hours. The agents were reported to work with the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Bortac, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Government-funded thugs, assaulting citizens, still conjure up repellent images of Hitler’s Brownshirts stomping their fellow Germans, and the street kidnapping of civilians has been the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships…

The essential political division in this benighted nation is not between those surprised – or not surprised – by Trump’s deliberate march into fascism. The parade ground of history, once again, divides between an opposition supporting constitutional democracy and supporters of the wannabe absolute ruler at any cost…even if fascist rule is the result. It will satisfy their racism, ignorance, simpleton admiration for military rule.

Oregon grew too much weed. What can they do?


Farmer Giles in charge of weed burns

❝ Five years after Oregon legalized recreational marijuana, its lawmakers now are trying to rein in production, fearing the state’s big weed surplus will tempt some licensed businesses to sell their products out of state or on the illegal market.

❝ Oregon’s surplus, though legal, is something of a cautionary tale for other states as they try to manage marijuana supply and demand. Enough recreational cannabis sat on dispensary shelves, in warehouses and in processing plants this January to satisfy buyers for more than six years, according to a report from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the state agency that regulates recreational marijuana.

❝ Like California, Oregon has a long history of illegal grows. And while some states, such as Colorado and Washington, limit the production licenses people can hold and the number of plants businesses can grow, Oregon has made it easy for people to harvest a lot of weed…“They underestimated the number of people that would be willing to convert to the legal market or would want to participate in the legal market…”

Poisonally, they should do what patriotic price-conscious American farmers have done for decades when confronting overproduction. BURN THEIR CROP. I’d suggest trucking it to the Caja del Rio mesa here in New Mexico just upwind of Lot 4…And burning it all. Slowly.

This Black man was on the phone in a hotel lobby — so, staff called the police!

❝ A guest at a Portland hotel is alleging he was harassed by staff when he was asked to leave the property after taking a phone call in the hotel lobby late Saturday night.

Washington state resident Jermaine Massey was in the lobby of the Portland DoubleTree when a security guard informed him that police were on their way to escort him off the property.

❝ In a series of Instagram videos of the incident recorded by Massey and obtained by CNN, he is heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.” “Not anymore,” the security guard replies…

❝ DoubleTree General Manager Paul Peralta issued a statement about the incident Wednesday, calling it, “unfortunate”…Massey accused the guard of “harassing” him, and in a statement provided to CNN by his attorneys, characterized the incident as “calling his mother while black.”

Every now and then I say to myself, “Self! I don’t believe there is any new and original way Americans might illustrate the racism so deeply rooted in this society? And, then, I am proven wrong.”

Arboreal Halloween Costume

Ursa was leaving the library, today, in Portland – when she saw and snapped this evergreen tree wearing leaves that have fallen from a nearby deciduous tree. The recent windstorm & rainstorm helped shape the decorations.


Click to enlarge

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Truck full of hagfish rolls over releasing thousands of slimy sea creatures


Click for a close-up

❝ In a scene straight out of nightmares, a truck full of “slime eels” lost its load Thursday on U.S. 101, causing a five-car crash, dousing sedans with goo and sending sea creatures slithering across vehicles and the highway.

❝ Technically, the fish were not eels, but hagfish, which have a skull but no jaw or spine and they secrete slime when distressed, earning them the nickname “slime eels.”

And distressed they were, emitting gooey stuff that will make you shiver in your sandals — and that covered 101 along with the 7,500 pounds of fish.

Eeoouugh! Looks like a strategy meeting in the Trump White House.