Well, I'm back. Between cell towers and fiber-optic lines burning up, blowing down, or being dug up, communications have been pretty spotty. It's been a crazy summer for sure. We've had the hottest, driest summer folks around here can remember. Temps hovering at 100+ since mid June and very low humidity and precip, had fire season off to a roaring start a month earlier than usual. Luckily there haven't been any deaths directly attributable to the fires, and very few injuries. There area few observances I would like to share with you. First. Some people (a couple of my friends included) are indecisive, materialistic fools, and completely unprepared for an emergency. When you have assembled a group and two trucks to save your animals and most precious belongings, and law enforcement tells you, "You have 15 minutes to get your shit." this is not a fucking moving party where we will get all your garbage out. We aren't going to pack all your food and dishes. When the firefighters are falling back, I don't give two shits about your 9th grade spelling bee trophy, great aunties china hutch, three flat screens, or your sex toy collection. Yes, I'm an asshole! I came to get your three cats, two dogs, your stinking ferrets, clothes, and as many photos and important papers as possible. Anything else is a bonus and you should be grateful, some hadn't time to get anything. Second. I was surprised at how few people have cash. So many rely solely on debit and credit cards. I'm not concerned with TSHTF scenarios, and don't consider myself to be a prepper, but I do have a few small emergency stashes of cash in and out of my house. A fact that my girlfriend was astounded to find out. She called in a panic because cards weren't working anywhere in town, so I had to divulge the locations of a couple stashes. Not all, our definitions of emergency differ too much for that. Third. Looters and profiteers should have their hands cut off. If you are going to steal from people that lost almost everything you are the lowest form of life on this planet. Finally. Three weeks ago, while on my lunch break, an elderly woman from one of the local retirement homes was sitting with us smoking and talking about the fires while she waited for the transport bus. One of the brush trucks pulled up and 4 firefighters got out. On their way into the store she called them over. They had obviously just gotten off the line. They were dirty and tired, and had the look that they weren't really in the mood to answer questions about the fire, but they would quickly humor this woman and be on their way. As they approached she stood up and started rummaging in her grocery sack. She turned and started handing them something saying, "I would like to thank you gentlemen for helping our community. I don't have much, but, would you do me the honor of having an ice cream with me?" All they could manage was "Thank you." as tears streaked through the soot. There wasn't a dry eye at the table either. They sat and talked with her for a couple of minutes, and escorted her to her bus. I guess sometimes it takes a little old lady to remind us it doesn't take a lot to show your gratitude.