Radiogurl a la Carte

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006
Heart to Hearts

Ah, it's another fabulous day in the neighborhood...

My paucity of entries here is testament to the fact that my computer has died a gruesome death. This time I have no intention of trying to resurrect it. The sucker's dead, kaput, RIP, and all that jazz. I'm going to harvest its organs and try to recover the files in its belly, but th-th-that's all, folks.

This year's tax refund will be going to adoption costs for a brand spanking new baby computer. I'd love to get a nice cushy laptop - and might just do that, if I can find an affordable one with the features I want. I know my current boss swears that laptops are short-lived and problem-prone. Heck, maybe they are. But I don't see how they could be much worse than my recently-deceased PC.

Of course that might have something to do with a too-close lightning strike right after I got the existing PC. The transformer was sitting about 100 feet from my back door and it was fried to a crisp - enough to take out power for the whole TOWN for three days. The subsequent collapse of the computer wasn't a big surprise and I took that death in stride. Even surge protectors and UPS's (Universal Power Supplies) can only do so much with something of that magnitude and proximity.

That being the case, I replaced all of the sucker's innards - motherboard, power supply, the whole shebang.

A year and a half ago I replaced 'em all again.

And now here I am again, with a motherboard that's again decided to give up the ghost. I have to assume that the lightning encounter fried some simple but integral something in the box - the switch or whatever. Or maybe it simply created a subtle but permanent charge to the metal of the actual box, the frame. Whatever it is, I'm not building another computer.

I am going to buy a premade computer in the box this time, probably from Dell, where I think I can upgrade to XP Pro, etc. I'm getting Adobe Photoshop CS at the same time - a friend of mine is a professional photographer and teaches Photoshop at the college level and has pro-licensed copy left over. Since there's actually now a CS2, he's going to sell me CS for literally almost nothing. Given that we're creating websites for pay, I was already planning to purchase the updated program asap, but this was a Godsend.

Just a note on the fire. It's 100 percent contained and they're just mopping up the hot spots - the pockets of fire or (literally) heat that invariably remain after a massive fire. This burned about 4000 acres altogether, but thanks to forestry intervention and prescribed fires over the past few years, nobody got hurt and no homes or other structures were lost.

And a sweet footnote to that story: yesterday a local Girl Scout troup delivered about 1800 valentines - to the firefighters who were out working on the blaze.

When I talked to the spokesman for the fire crews, he said there wasn't any way to express how much the gesture meant to the folks who were working on the blaze. He said they each got several valentines from different girls. When these men, some of them of the big & burly variety, collected their valentines, they walked away practically devouring the words these kids wrote to them.

Is it any wonder I love living here? I can't imagine something like that happening at the southern end of the county where I lived before. But it illustrates perfectly the sense of community that permeates this area. There is an indefineable something that touches everyone who's here more than just a few hours. Over and over again I've watched as the tension melted from faces, the knots slipped from muscles, and the gritted teeth turned to smiles. Something about this place does that to you - even when Mother Nature or some careless camper throw wildfire your direction.

For what it's worth, literally on the same day that the big fire was declared 100 percent contained, a second fire was ignited. We got the word at lunchtime yesterday. While we don't have a lot of information yet, we do know that some very high winds yesterday were complicating efforts to bring that smaller fire under control early. Fortunately it was very small when it was reported - only about 5 acres or so. With fire crews still here from the previous inferno, it took almost no time for the work to start on extinguishing it.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this whole scenario isn't the idiot brigade that let their campfire get out of hand - it's that with fire such a prominent problem this early into the season, heaven help us around May and June, the height of our fire season. Last summer we saw the second largest wildfire in Arizona history - 243,950 acres in the Cave Creek blaze. The largest occurred in 2002, when the Rodeo-Chedisky Fire charred over 400,000 acres, destroying some 400 homes across the top of the Mogollon Rim (a 7000-foot ridge that runs in a line several hundred miles long through central Arizona.)

The National Weather Service has declared that this is the driest year in an eleven-year drought in Arizona, compounded by the fact that last winter was a wet one, spawning a thick mat of grass and brush that's now dried and the fuel for what might be deemed the perfect firestorm...

Before we finally see the rains from the summer monsoons - if they arrive at all - there will be thousands of lightning strikes from dry thunderstorms. Each strike carries with it the potential to ignite utter devastation.

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )