What comes after Fire? Mud!

My parents were interviewed by ABC news in La Canada yesterday, and they aired the segment today. My mom talks on camera, and you can see my dad and sister in the background working to put in sand bags, etc. You can also see my family home. If the mud comes, this may be the last pics I ever see of it!

source page: http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/1009/668083_video.html?ref=newsstory

(my Mom's interview is at the 1 minute mark)

The Intersection of Fun and Motivation

Rosa Golijan posted a blog entry titled "These Piano Stairs Will Motivate Even The Laziest of You" over at gizmodo.com.

The blog entry links to a youtube video posted by Volkswagen:

This is a funny video, but the message is deeper. Rosa's title to the blog post draws attention to how hard those people are working, dancing up and down those stairs. Watch the older man, an elder, walking slowly and carefully on flat ground, who veers toward the stairs and away from the escalator. Watch the folks dance up and down and up again. Fun motivates people. They are much more willing to exert themselves in physical activities and exercise, when it is FUN! I mean the kind of fun that makes you feel like a little kid at the amusement park for the first time. I need to remember that as I design programs. It is an important lesson. Never lose contact with your inner child.

Typing on the iPhone

I am writing this on my iPhone to see how quickly I can type. I read an article that said if I wanted to get quicker at typing on my iPhone, I should look at the screen where the text is displayed, NOT the keyboard. They were right! Eventually you get really good at typing fast but only if you don't stare at the keyboard. Give it a try (well, assuming you actually have an iPhone that is)

Oh yea, and "hi Rick".

Yet another night out...

Susan and I went out for the second of our six Center Arts shows, that are our anniversary present to each other. This time we saw Chick Corea, Stanley Clark and Lenny White. Three progressive jazz greats, that I have loved since high school in the 70s.

We had dinner at Cafe Tomo's first.

After dinner we went to Arcata Scoop and got some ice cream. As I ate my fudge ripple, I watched as the owner made the Lime Sorbet for the next day.

Then from there to the show in the Van Duser at HSU. We sat in the second row of the balcony for the first set, and moved to two empty seats in the front row of the balcony for the second set.

It was an excellent dinner, wonderful ice cream for dessert, and a great show. We should do this way more often. Of course if it was not for Ifipaan's sister, Lauria and her significant other, Joe, helping with watching Ifipaan, we probably could not do this at all.  Thanks Lauria and Joe!

Today is a good day...

Today is a good day. At least it is starting that way. Lately (as all my family, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and meatspace friends can tell you, with tears streaming down their face, and sincere requests for someone to please make me stop talking about it), we have been involved with potty-training our 3yr old son, Logan. It has been a rocky road, (and I ain't talkin' ice-cream either)!
He has got the going "number one" part pretty well figured out. The "number two" part, well, that has been tougher, a lot tougher. We have been trying to be patient, and use positive reinforcements. We were considering purchasing stock in the Mars Corp, makers of the "potty-training success reward of choice" among parents everywhere - M&M's! Then, I researched Mars, Inc, and found out some less than appetizing information about the corporation, including information suggesting that it is a privately held, family owned company that I should be boycotting, not patronizing or investing in. Oh well, I am going to pretend I did not read any of that till after the potty training is over... (yes I have principles, and yes I am compromising them, unless YOU are gonna come potty train this kid, shut up and let me continue). :)
Ok, back to the "good day" part of this post.
Last night my wife and I both stayed up after Logan went to sleep (a rare occurrence by itself), and played video games. I was playing an old copy of Dungeon Siege on my Macbook Pro (and dreaming of the future release of the new Diablo 3), while my wife played Katamari on my daughter's iPhone which we borrowed for the day. (more on why we had Lauria's iPhone in my next post). We both finally remembered our age, and collapsed into bed around 2am.
The next morning, around 7am, our son bounces out of his bed, and into ours, happily trying to wake us up, it is time to "play". We both wave blearily at his room and tell him to go play by himself for a few minutes (I only thought "on the freeway", I did NOT say it), and fall back into a half-awake, half-comatose state of exhaustion caused by trying to pretend we had the video game playing stamina of WoW-addicted teenagers the night before.
I hear cars and trains and lots of friendly "play" sounds as I drift in and out of sleep, then, all of a sudden, I am wide awake. It is silent. Quite as a church. No cars crashing, no "Thomas the Train" chugging on the track, nothing. My heart leaps in my throat. It is NEVER good when the 3 yr old is totally silent, total lack of sound is a harbinger of doom.
I go in Logan's bedroom, nothing, he is not there! I go in the kitchen, not there either. Not in the front room, not in the hall. Then I look in the bathroom. There is Logan. Sitting on the custom handcrafted redwood "bear" potty chair made by his godfather. He has pulled down his PJ's, removed his nighttime pull-up, put it in the diaper pail, sat down on the potty, and made a "number two" that appears, frankly, too big to have actually come from his little body. Totally unprompted. No help. No encouragement. No adults at all. I am beginning to think that we are a barrier to the training process. I am hereby putting Logan in charge of his own potty training from now on. I am just in charge of dispensing the guilt-ridden rewards for performance.
Today is a good day.

Dad and Mom post about the "Station Fire"

Wednesday Sept. 2, 2009, 3:20 PM

Well, we are finally back in our home.

I woke up at about 5:00 AM on Saturday, and although there did not seem to be any immediate fire danger, the smoke and ash were very thick. As the sun came up, the falling ash looked like grey snow, and it was difficult to breathe..  Finally about 7:45 AM I woke Robin, and told her we had to get out of here.

We threw a few things in the car, along with the two dogs and the cat and drove up to our place in Lake Arrowhead.  We were already gone, but apparently, a mandatory evacuation notice was issued about 11:00 AM, and the sheriffs came by and told everyone to leave. 

We don't have a landline phone at Arrowhead, so no internet, but we kept in touch with cell phone.  Our son Greg (who lives in Humboldt County) started monitering the internet and keeping us informed.  He started a blog listing all the internet sites concerning the "Station Fire," including the City of La Canada Flintridge site which has an active website that has been updated hourly with detailed information as to closures and evacuations.  Some of the news reports and the website updates were getting their information off Greg's blog--pretty funny, since he lives almost 700 miles away. 

We were also kept up to date via cell phone connection with a few neighbors, some of whom stayed at their homes in spite of the mandatory evacuation orders.  We are very indebted to them and their willingness to share their "on-the-site" observations. \

At about 5:30 PM last evening, it came over the radio that the mandatory evacuation notice had been lifted.  Unfortunately, our cat had decided that the bedspread made a much more attractive place to do his business than the litter box, so when the notice was announced over the radio, we had just put the huge bedspread and the sheeets in the washing machine at the laundermat.  The washing, rinsing and drying cycle takes over an hour, and it takes another half hour to get back to our home at Arrowhead, and then two hours to drive back to La Canada. 

So, we decided to stay there last night, and come home this morning.  Unfortunately, when we were ready this morning to come home, the Damn cat couldn't be located.  He finally came back about 1:00 PM, and we drove home and arrived about 3:00 PM.

It is nothing short of miraculous.  There are almost sixty houses in our neighborhood, all of them backed up to the Angelus National Forest, AND NOT ONE SINGLE HOUSE WAS LOST.

The fire burned down to within a few feet of the landscaping, but was stopped, not only before it burned our house, but stopped before it burned our landscaping--Amazing!!!  Even our pine trees were saved. 

Everything is a mess.  A thick layer of ash covers everything.  Our pool is black with ash and soot.  The house reeks of smoke, but there is no permanent damage.

Anyway, that's the latest report on the Gehr saga--we're all fine, and our house is fine, as are the houses of all our neighbors.  God was keeping watch over us--and so were the heroic firemen who risked their lives to save our property. 

Bill & Robin 

Thank You!

(Fire Info Links are in the next post down!)

While the Station Fire rages on, it has passed on through our neck of the woods, and my efforts maintaining the links on the Fire posting of this blog will be decreasing.  I do intend on leaving up the fire info posted, as an informational resource for others that are still dealing with the Station fire. The links are very relevant for each of the affected communities still in the path of the fire.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for my parents' neighborhood, and they are back home.  Unfortunately, Mom says that there were 4 or 5 looters discovered on the hill when residents started coming back.  Fortunately, law enforcement has already caught a couple of them.  They did not get my parents house, but some neighbors were not so lucky.

The backyard burned almost up to the retaining wall around the patio, but the house survived just fine.  The firefighters had moved all the patio furniture, BBQ's , etc around to the side of the property, away from the house and heat, and had worked hard to make sure that they did not damage anything.  Most of the larger trees had been "lollypopped" (lower branches removed) by my parents a while ago, and so, survived because the fire could not get established in them.  There are about 59 houses at the top of the hill  Virtually all of the homes back yards border on the canyon or National Forest.  Almost every home had fire come within 20-50' of the house, yet not a single structure was lost.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the firefighters, law enforcement personnel, city, county, state, and federal employees, and the residents and businesses and other volunteers of the local communities who all pulled together to make it through this disaster.   I also want to thank many of the folks on-line who, although I have never met them face to face, are becoming good friends, and helped me to develop the informational links in my blog, promote the resource to others, and kept me on top of what was happening in my childhood town so far away. 

Special thanks go to twitter peeps, @benboychuk, @PEP010, @philhulett, @indie_press, @thereallacanada, @Moeskido, @pixelesh, @gwc11713, @hanineal, @foleypod, @mdstorlie, @nanther, @macgenie, @JamesProps, @bobmorse, @indexing, @k8jonez, @clarikim, @LA_Fires, @cyndie23, @theappgirl, @lamaupin, @heathercollins, @dzurillaville, @wildfireviewer, @AllHitman007, @Jeffpfile, @ddwheeler27, @SamWickersham, @denagirl626, @susankitchens, @rehi, @akitchen, @brianwatkins, @khabalox,  and most of all @vurayav, @ifipaan, @lauria, @joeepheremal, @christylb65 and @wasabineko all of whom either provided information, retweets, link posts, and/or encouragement while I was vicariously living through this fire on Twitter, and developing this list of fire link resources.

Finally, I especially want to remember Captain Ted Hall and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, who were killed in the Mt. Gleason area on Sunday while fighting this fire.  My condolences and sincere thanks go to their families for the efforts of these two individuals who gave their lives trying to save the lives and property of others.