Gas station without pumps

2020 August 23

News from Santa Cruz

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:15
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I’ve not been posting lately—mainly because I’ve not been doing anything worth posting about.

I’ve been keeping up with my video creation schedule, and I’ve split the playlist into Part A and Part B, corresponding to the BME 51A and BME 51B courses.  Only about 2 hours have had the captions edited so far, and there are still 10 hours to edit on the BME 51B videos.  I have a total of about 12 hours of video of BME 51B and 4 hours for BME 51A, but I need to create about 10–12 more hours of videos for BME 51A. With 39 days until classes start, I need to record 18–20 minutes of video a day to meet my self-imposed schedule.

Other than the videos for the course, I’ve been doing a little work for the Committee on Courses of Instruction (which meets over the summer this year, for the first time) and a little student advising as undergrad director.  Neither of those take up much time (about 20 hours so far this summer for CCI and probably about the same for student advising).

Mostly I’ve been following air-quality maps and fire maps for the CZU Lightning Compex fire that is about 5 miles from my house. That fire is currently about 71,000 acres (111 square miles, 287 sq km) and 8% contained. The fire is record-breaking for our County, but is only the third largest in the state at the moment, and doesn’t make it onto the top 20 all-time list for the state.  The Sunday YouTube video provides a good update on the current status—the audio is not great, but it is much better than the really terrible audio for their Twitter and Facebook feeds from the morning and evening briefings.

It is looking now like we will not have to evacuate (unless the winds pick up and the fire roars over the contingency fire lines cut across Wilder Ranch State Park and UCSC campus).  Our air quality has been ok, or even good, at night when clean air comes in from Monterey Bay, but has gotten quite bad at times during the day.  I have found the map the most useful for air quality, though the map is also good.  The most useful fire map has been the NASA one, which can be set to show how intense the hot spots are.  In the first day of the fire, there was a huge mass of red, but it has cooled now and there is a ring of blue around the edge of the fire, with no hot spots showing in the center.

They’ve finally (just today) gotten air support up for our end of the fire—smoke had been too heavy in previous days and they were only able to do flights over the northern end of the fire.

We had made reservations in Hotel Paradox, across the river in Santa Cruz for Friday night through Monday night, just in case we had to evacuate, but we cancelled the reservation Saturday night, as we no longer felt imminent threat.  If we do have to evacuate, it will probably not be within the period we had reservations for.  It is not clear to me how much they will charge us for the room we didn’t use.  If they follow their 24-hour cancellation policy, we’ll have to pay for Friday and Saturday night, but nothing has been charged to the credit card so far.

I’ve not been mowing the lawn or clearing out blackberries and ivy lately—first it was much too hot, then it was much too smokey.  I’ll get back to doing yard maintenance once the smoke clears.

Friday was a bit strange for me, because, while I was showering, the water to the house stopped.  It turns out that the City was doing emergency repairs to the water main at the bottom of the block, and we were without water for one hour.  They didn’t give us any notice until after they had restored the water.

In another water problem, I had to replace one the hoses under the bathroom sink—it started spraying water on Thursday.  I went to the hardware store for a replacement early in the morning Saturday, when I thought the air would be fairly clean.  It wasn’t (the air quality is best at night, and jumps up as the sun rises and the direction of the ocean breeze reverses), but I wore an N95 mask (left over from purchases a couple of years ago when we were downwind from fires further north), so I don’t think the risk was too high.  The under-sink repair itself took about 10 minutes. The air quality within our house has been pretty good, as we’ve been running a HEPA air filter all day in the breakfast room (where we spend most of our time) and all night in the bedroom.

Other than obsessing about COVID-19 and the fire, I’ve mainly been reading and commenting on Reddit (r/Professors and r/UCSC), re-reading old fantasy and science fiction books, and sleeping. It has been hard for me to focus on doing work (like the 11 to-do notes I still have for edits to the book, or edits to department web pages).


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