Trains and Fires - friday 2009-05-08 1118 last modified 2009-05-09 1951
Categories: Daily Grind, Photography, Current Events
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For seventy-two hours I sat on a train round trip from LA to Seattle. I mistimed it a bit since today is National Train Day. Which was well advertised about the Amtrak stations but totally unexplained. What do we do on National Train Day? Buy flowers and chocolate for all the trains in our lives? It was a semi-instructive experience on nineteenth and early twentieth century mass transit, riders of which I'm sure didn't have to contend with blasting air conditioners but did with families with small children in discomfort. Unless you were rich, where you got private settings for yourselves. Did they have outhouses on the fancy trains, I wonder? Or was it more of a nautical style hole that aimed off the tracks? Anyways, I would repeat the experience elsewhere with company. I'd like to check out the Indian version.

On the way back, the train made its normal stop in Santa Barbara. I wonder if the route is still going through there now. The hills of Santa Barbara are on fire. Pardon the photos, all the windows save one on the train are tinted, and the untinted one faces backwards and is filthy. You can see some of the fire in the largest version of the second photo.

Approaching Santa Barbara

Skip the next nine exits

Fire in the hills

Looking back

A smear miles long

It seems earthquakes and enormous fires are the natural disasters of note on this coast. Thousands of people are evacuating the city.

As an aside, it's time journalists updated their style books and dropped acre as a unit of measure. Most of us do not have a farming background and have no reference for what size an acre or hectare is. One article cited "170 acres destroyed" - I happen to know enough to know this is fairly tiny (it's a square of half a mile per side). Reports contemporaneous with this post now claim 2800 acres (about 2 miles per side). Coverage should switch to square mileage (marginally better) or be smarter about the web and allow readers to convert an article from imperial to metric, or other useful one off conversions.

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