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Archive for June, 2014

I pity anyone with Anatidaephobia*:

*(The fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you. With apologies to The Far Side)

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fire fireman

First things first: I’m okay and so is my own apartment. No property loss, don’t have to relocate. I was lucky. Not so much the guy who started the blaze, however. We’ll get back to that.

About 7 PM last night, while I was fixing dinner, the alarm bells went off outside my front door. Didn’t think much of it at first, since there have been false alarms in the past, but then I heard noise in the hallway and popped my head out… and smelled smoke.

This one was for real.

I grabbed my laptop and USB drive (to access important papers I keep online and my bank account) and headed out to the street. It looked like a disaster movie outside: three full engine companies had showed up and were already attacking the fire. I could see smoke pouring from one apartment, and it billowed out the openings at the end of the hallway like smoke pouring form an old coal-burning engine, black and thick.

Like I said, I was lucky. Though only a few doors down the hall from me, there were two closed fire doors in between, keeping the smoke out. And LAFD responded so fast and put the fire out so quickly that it didn’t spread from the original unit, though the hallway is black with smoke stains, and the people below have water damage.

The moron who started the fire, however, paid a price. Apparently my guess was right. Per the LAFD, a fire started in the kitchen, a grease fire, and he tried to put it out by throwing water on it. It probably blew up in his face like this:

Hence he is now in the hospital with burns to his arms and head. And probably facing lawsuits. Idiot.

(In case you think I’m being callous, I do sympathize with him for his injuries, but he damn near burned me out, too. So sympathy is limited.)

I did feel sorry for the animals, too. I saw one woman desperately trying to get her cat into a carrier (It was probably thinking “We’re going to the Vet? NOW???”), and a poor border collie was just shaking with fear as its owner tried to calm it. All the noise and the smells were probably too much for it.

Some observations:

  • Fire doors are good things. I will never complain about them being closed and annoying again.
  • Everyone needs basic fire extinguisher training and have a fire extinguisher in their kitchen. I’ve been trained, but my extinguisher is overdue for replacement.
  • I also need a “go bag” ready for an emergency evacuation. I knew what I wanted to save, and I got out pretty quickly, but, had I been forced to relocate, I’d have had only the clothes I was wearing.
  • Whatever the favorite charity is for the Los Angeles Fire Department, it’s getting a donation from me.

So, let’s see. I get sick Friday and my building nearly burns down Saturday. I wonder what Sunday has in store?

Don’t answer that.

PS: The apartment where the fire started is locked up, naturally, but I’ll see if I can get some decent pictures of other parts..

PPS: Got some pictures.

Fire casa de vida apt door

That’s what’s left of the front door of the apartment.

fire casa de vida hallway

Black is not the original color for this hallway, trust me.

fire casa de vida fire door

The fire door did its job.

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A dragon made from car parts. Love it!

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His fate a reminder

His fate a reminder

There’s a wonderful article at the BBC about the traditions surrounding the Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords, which opens Parliament. The whole article is worth a read, but this in particular delighted me:

And here is the really cheeky move: parliament forces Her Majesty to consider her own mortality as she gets dressed for the occasion. For in the Robing Room of the House of Lords, where the Queen puts on her robe and imperial state crown, the authorities have chosen to display a facsimile of the death warrant of her ancestor, Charles I.

If ever there were a symbol to express the end of the divine right of kings and the limits of a constitutional monarchy, that document is it.

Who says the British don’t have a puckish sense of humor? 😀

Of course, fair is fair. The Queen is allowed to keep a member of Parliament hostage during her speech, to guarantee her safety. This year’s designated fall guy will have to suffer by sitting in Buckingham Palace and drink tea, while watching the speech on TV.

Oh, cruel fate!

The author makes an excellent point at the end, though, about why the British maintain these seemingly silly rituals:

The point is this: as you watch the state opening of parliament, remember it is one of the strongest ceremonial demonstrations of our liberty that we have. Democracy is not just the freedom to vote out a government we dislike; it is also the freedom not to be ruled by an autocratic monarch chosen by God.

It is what our ancestors fought over in the civil war. And it is a right that we are reminded of every year.

I can appreciate that.

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