2020 has been a terrible year. I wrote a few posts in the beginning of the year wondering if “anything else could go wrong,” and I really shouldn’t have said that. Things can always get worse and they certainly have, so much so, I’m afraid to say that phrase anymore.
Yesterday was a first in my life in that the sun was completely blotted out by smoke and fog. There is always sun here in California unless there is fog but even then it is still bright out. I remember terrible thunderstorms in Ohio and not seeing the sun for quite some time but those are natural events. Yesterday was unnatural in that it was day, yet very dark with nothing but an eerie, ominous orange glow.
The picture doesn’t do it justice. The camera automatically tries to brighten the image and even if I manually reduce the brightness it still doesn’t show how dark it really was. As I write this at 6:55 AM on September 10th, I can see the fog and smoke but the day still slowly brightens unlike yesterday. The air quality has shifted from yellow to orange and back to the yellow zone again and I’m hoping that an onshore wind will kick up.
It is very odd to experience the weather here in Pacifica these past few weeks. This is normally a cold, decently windy place. Yet recently, it has been hot, there is little wind and thus the smoke fills the air and doesn’t move. It is as though we’re experiencing some divine retribution because at minimum we would have a slight breeze if not a full on wind. Not these days, the wind is absent.
As for COVID those first few months were like a novelty. Everyone went on walks, we got projects done and caught up with long lost friends through Zoom meetings. As we enter the 7th month of the pandemic it is no longer a novelty. There is more activity in getting out of the house, no more complete lockdown, but it remains low except on hot days. On the hot days Highway 1 becomes jammed as it usually does with everyone seeking relief from the heat on the beaches. Pacifica closed the beaches this past Labor Day but Half Moon Bay did not so everyone went there clogging our portion of Highway 1. Due to that the COVID cases will now spike.
So here I am, sitting in my living room on September 10th, 2020. Our inner circle of friends continues to shrink, the pandemic persists, and now we’re surrounded by fire and smoke. My mood is melancholy and I need to make a mental effort to get out of the slump. It will be another weekend at home where I may not even be able to workout due to the air quality. I do have a computer project but sometimes the air quality gets so bad that we all need to retreat to the family room and stay by the air filter. If the Pacifica onshore wind would just return then we would be fine but again, there is no wind. Weekends in 2020 are nothing to look forward to.
I forgot to mention that through all of this PG&E has threatened power outages from the grid being overtaxed due to everyone using their air conditioners as well as major wind events blowing over power lines. I’m waiting for this wind event and hopefully it blows the right way. But God forbid a pandemic, heatwave, poor air and then a power outage? We cannot go outside, cannot open our windows and then just sit inside and roast? Luckily we are in Pacifica so it is not as hot as in other parts of the Bay.
I should mention that I’ve learned something with my air purifier and air quality sensor. Closing windows to avoid dirty outdoor air does absolutely nothing. The dirty air will still sleep in. The only thing closing windows does is give the person inside a false peace of mind. The air quality sensor shows it makes no difference as indoor air will be as polluted as outdoor air regardless if windows are closed or not.
Secondly those $200 air purifier models everyone buys do work but are only good for cleaning one medium sized room. Furthermore the windows and doors must be shut for it to make progress. We use it in our family room and there is a big entry way with no door coming from the living room. In order for the air purifier to actually purify the air I need to put up a sheet to cover that big entryway gap. If I do not, even though I run the air purifier at full speed it will only reduce the pollution but does not have enough power to clean the air completely. That is to say pollution levels will be better than outdoors but never reach the healthy, “green zone” levels. We will get slightly cleaner air but also a huge electricity bill.