Monday, August 29, 2011

Enjoying That Healthy (Gasp! Wheeze!) Outdoor (Choke! Gasp!) Lifestyle (Hack! Cough!)

When Mrs. Blackdog and I returned to Bend Saturday from a week-long trip to Northern California, I was afraid for a moment we'd headed the wrong way on I-5 and ended up in Los Angeles.

A pall of heavy, reddish-brown, pungent smoke hung over everything, thanks to four major wildfires that had broken out on the Warm Springs Reservation to the northwest of Bend

I'm used to this phenomenon -- a predictable August occurrence here -- but I don't think I've ever seen it that bad. Not able to see the mountains? Hell, I could barely see across the street.

Incredibly, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning I observed people out exercising in this vile-smelling, nauseous gunk, running and riding their bicycles (mountain and road) and inhaling great lusty lungfuls of carcinogens and toxins.*

One delicious irony here is that most of these idiots no doubt would have a seizure if they saw somebody light up a cigarette within 30 yards of them.

But that's Bend for ya. We're gonna enjoy our healthy outdoor lifestyle even if it kills us.

*"Although wood smoke conjures up fond memories of sitting by a cozy fire, it is important to know that the components of wood smoke and cigarette smoke are quite similar, and that many components of both are carcinogenic. Wood smoke contains fine particulate matter, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Wood smoke also contains chemicals known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin." More: http://www.ehhi.org/woodsmoke/health_effects.shtml


14 comments:

H. Bruce Miller said...

I might add that back in the day, wood smoke pollution was a winter problem in Bend as well because so many residents heated with woodstoves. Thanks to tighter emissions standards for woodstoves and more people relying on other heat sources, that's not much of a problem anymore.

Marshall_Will said...

"Not able to see the mountains? Hell, I could barely see across the street."

Thankfully this rarely occurs in the valley. Although we do get field burning which should start in about 3... 2...

Very disappointing over the last few days barely breaking 70 and not clearing until it's too late in the day to BOTHER with.

However we're slated to be 90 on Labor Day and that's the first we've seen of that in a long, looooong time! Still, we'll wait and see?

I'm slated to spend a good portion of Sept. in K' Falls and told the guys on base I was really looking forward to being in S. OR for the start of Fall. It was met w/ much disbelief. After how dreary all of Spring and much of Summer was down there, eyerolls abound!

And that's what this all really boils down to. When locals lose the faith, stop making plans and just aren't excited about the promise of the season.., things change.

No longer are they 'stoked' about working on the house, making bigtime improvements to the deck and yard and instead stock up on big screens and DVD's. Oh and BOOZE. Sorry, that's just the reality of it.

Jack Elliott said...

Air wasn't too bad here yesterday, and today I can see the Paulina mountains from our eyrie on the west side. After a lifetime of living in SoCal I have so far found Bend's smokiest days to be tolerable, helped, of course, by the knowledge that rather than the pollution being the status quo, it will dissipate in a day or four.

The description of winter wood fire smoke in Ye Olden Days here evokes the London's "fog"-shrouded streets in the late 19th century. Coal smoke so thick you could not see across the street.

Marshall_Will said...

Jack,

No offense but I call Straw. Yes, there WAS a time when SoCal was consistently blanketed in Smog. When I was stationed in Long Beach, CA thru-out the 80's you'd pray for RAIN just for a little relief.

But that was the 80's! They have much tougher Emissions Standards today than any other State and... since we basically don't HAVE a Manufacturing Base any more, it hasn't been an issue for years.

My last several recent trips to Thousand Oaks ( younger sister ) and San Diego ( clients ) show that to be entirely untrue. Even at it's worst, there was never Smog at the beach and for the most part it was highly centralized and confined to Downtown and major freeway arteries.

But... if it makes you 'feel' any better? This Post Has Been Known To Cause Cancer In The State Of California:

H. Bruce Miller said...

Re winter air pollution: It still can be a significant problem in Bend when an inversion traps a stagnant layer of air next to the ground, preventing wood smoke and car exhaust fumes (which we have a lot more of now than we did 25 years ago) from dissipating.

Jack Elliott said...

Marshall,

Please note that I never used the word "smog." I said, "pollution." My main issue with SoCal's coastal air is the water vapor and particulate matter which contribute to the glare and haze. After living for eight years, from 2000 to 2008 within a mile of the ocean (in Carlsbad, Calif.) I can attest to how much just crap is in the air, most of which eventually settled onto my house, where it remained for, like, ever because it doesn't rain frequently enough to wash things. Water vapor isn't, of course, "pollution," but there's no telling what that particulate stuff is made of, but whatever it is, I bet the composition would be different if there weren't a bazillion people and their cars and industries and frickin' leaf blowers and stuff crammed along the coastline and inland as far as the eye can see. Farther, actually, since the haze usually keeps one from seeing very far. And, as you point out, it's worse inland.

Thousand Oaks ain't too bad, being far enough inland to not be bathed in the coastal air.

Wow. Smoke today is pretty grim. Eyes watering. But it will end, it will end.

Marshall_Will said...

I'm sure I could use a primer into what inversion traps means? Cold ( now polluted ) air trapped beneath a warmer layer, unable to escape? Help me out here!

I recall being able to 'smell' the Naval Shipyard before you could SEE it coming over from San Pedro or the Ocean Blvd. side. An aircraft carrier brings its own pollution 'with' it wherever it goes!

It wasn't until Smog became such an undeniable -embarrassment- and detractor to Tourism anything was done about it. Lots of refineries in SoCal during those years too. The oil derricks and rigs ran 24/7. Every major producer had a refinery down there.

Part of the reason a Quake would be so damaging down there. The ground is like swiss cheese. But even by last Tour there, '88 and '89, things were beginning to change. The whole of Ocean Blvd. had a wrecking ball taken to it and they basically started over.

A cleaner, greener SoCal.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Smoke today is pretty grim."

The fires up in Warm Springs have grown. Still not as bad as it was Saturday and Sunday, though. At least where I am.

"I'm sure I could use a primer into what inversion traps means?"

Warm front moves in, warmer air covers layer of denser, colder air like a blanket, cold air stays trapped because normal convection process can't occur. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inversion_%28meteorology%29

Marshall_Will said...

Bruce,

Thanks, thought it was something along those lines.

Jack, without question and for many, many years the terms Smog and Pollution have been applied equally when ref. to SoCal. Color me flummoxed?

Not sure if you're complaining or bragging about living in such a dreadful place as Carlsbad during some of the most ROBUST years in American Economic History or 'not'?

Even though it rains near constantly here, we still have to pay someone to power wash our condo's vinyl siding once a year. It looks like cr@p three weeks later. Entirely uncertain where you're taking this?

You can describe Long Beach 'grimey' all you want, but CARLSBAD!? ( How many celebs live there year round? ) If by row upon row of pop-up development that includes Best Buy, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and yogurt shoppes as "industry" then be my guest. Sorry, I just see -zero- validity in your arguments.

How Did I Get Here? said...

"You can describe Long Beach 'grimey' all you want, but CARLSBAD!? ( How many celebs live there year round? ) If by row upon row of pop-up development that includes Best Buy, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and yogurt shoppes as "industry" then be my guest. Sorry, I just see -zero- validity in your arguments."

Carlsbad not nicer than Long Beach?...if I had to pick one, it certainly wouldn't be Long Beach. Carlsbad is by far a nicer place to visit than Long Beach. I need to get a hit of whatever you're smoking!

"No offense but I call Straw. Yes, there WAS a time when SoCal was consistently blanketed in Smog. When I was stationed in Long Beach, CA thru-out the 80's you'd pray for RAIN just for a little relief."


I'm not sure how someone could look at the worst air quality in the nation and think it's much better than it was. I lived there through the 80's and it was really bad. I visit at least once a year and it's still really bad. Rated the worst in the country right along with Houston I believe. Might be slightly better but that air is filthy. I'm glad your time spent on vacation came with decent visibility but that's not that norm.

On that last thread you claim I was cherry picking data...dude, you made a statement that fall weather had arrived in Salem and that we would follow in 10 days. It's been well over two weeks and while it was chilly this morning, it's still sunny and warm for a while. Like HBM said, August is fire season in Central Oregon. It always had been fire season in august because it's WARM!

I was just pointing out the failure in your prediction Salem Guy...no cherry pickin needed!

Marshall_Will said...

"you made a statement that fall weather had arrived in Salem and that we would follow in 10 days. It's been well over two weeks and while it was chilly this morning, it's still sunny and warm for a while."

( He does realize when we make these flippant predictions we're BEGGING to proven wrong.., right? )

So for the first time since the El Ninoy Floods of 1996 we're getting SUN post/[during] Labor Day? Why I don't know whether to be flummoxed or pleased? I mean after all, we had a deal!

"I need to get a hit of whatever you're smoking!"

Um... how can any rational person make a claim that LB is somehow 'nicer' than Carlsbad, CA? Slow down, read.

"I lived there through the 80's and it was really bad."

Which I have already conceded. Point being, they've made major strides. I recall putting on my cleanest shirt to go out and try to pick up chicks and after awhile you'd find yourself wondering, WHY? It'll only be sooty inside 6 hours. Major strides.

Given Bend has about 1/20th the population ( and 1/100 the JOBS ) should it surprise anyone they have cleaner air? Again, Poverty With A View. Sometimes...

Jack Elliott said...

I just got back from a family vacation and see that this thread has continued to potboil.

Marshall,

You might have me confused with someone who is looking for a debate. I'm just reporting my experience.

I lived in Carlsbad from 2003 to 2008, within a mile of the coast. Prior to that I lived in Santa Barbara, Chatsworth, Ventura, the Palos Verde peninsula, San Mateo, San Francisco, San Diego, San Marcos, Vista, and that area south of Carlsbad called La Costa. Plus other communities so similar to the above that they are interchangeable.

Carlsbad, to me, was notable for the amount of grime found on the upper surfaces of outside stair railings, etc.

Part of the problem, I am sure, is Interstate 5, located halfway between our house and the coast; part of the problem is the incessant use of leaf blowers which can be heard at all hours of every day of the week, lofting this yard's dust and dirt into the neighboring yards; part of the problem is the total lack of rain for months on end to rinse things off; and finally, sea level air, being at the bottom of the atmosphere, is filled with particulate matter, anyway.

I didn't mean to flummox by not conflating "smog" and "pollution."

"Smog" (smoke+fog) is a specific type of atmospheric pollution, pretty much assumed to be composed of exhaust gasses from internal combustion engines, and I feel that coasta SoCal is, generally speaking, not too bad in that department. Not like the San Fernando valley in the '60s, for sure.

"Pollution" is, to me, any nasty or annoying crap with which humans have managed to foul the earth, air, or water.

If anyone here thinks I ever said that Long Beach is nicer than Carlsbad, I have no idea how that idea got started.

I am told, but I cannot state this with any authority, that your large shipping vessels emit enormous amounts of barely-scrubbed exhaust, so it follows that any port like Long Beach is going to have some nasty stuff in the air.

Bruce wrote, "Given Bend has about 1/20th the population ( and 1/100 the JOBS ) should it surprise anyone they have cleaner air?"

Right -- the higher the population density, the greater the odds that the air will be dirty. So the rule is to avoid heavily-populated areas that don't have good ventilation.

Finally, who cares how many celebs live in Carlsbad? I know plenty of celebs, being married into a Hollywood show business family, and I can assure you that celebrity is neither an indication of, nor does it confer intelligence or good taste. Not that I'm disrespecting my relatives, mind.

Marshall_Will said...

"Pollution" is, to me, any nasty or annoying crap with which humans have managed to foul the earth, air, or water." ( You mean like "each other"? )

Jack, sorry but after having lived in MANILA for years I assure there's no comparison. Seeing people lined up for their morning bus ride gasping & clutching hankerchiefs to their face is something you really have to SEE for yourself.

Having grown up in Cicero, IL ( between the Edward Don FIBEGLASS plant and the Alcoa ALUMINUM smelter, I ASSURE you that "pollution" or "smog" or whatever it is you're claiming to have been exposed to PALES in comparison.

When you've witnessed first hand how white bread turns BROWN on the counter after having left the loaf 'recklessly' opened for a couple of hours, come see me?

Leaf blowers.., WTF is 'that'? For the most part however, I was addressing "Howthef@ckdidallmyInvestmentsgobadatounce".

You call it "fouling the earth" I call it the price of progress. The wildfires Bruce describes are called lightning strikes or an act of God.

Jack said...

What's up, Marshall?

I thought I made it clear that I wasn't looking for a debate.

I betcha that Manila's air is a lot cleaner than the "air" inside a factory smokestack in a second-world country. So what?

It's unclear to me why me saying that I find Bend's air to be cleaner than Carlsbad's air got you so riled up as to make it worth your while to find ways to argue with me about it. It's not like I made fun of your high school or how you dress or anything.

Man needs a hobby.