This column was ready set to be sent to the editor Tuesday morning.
That plan changed at 1:30 a.m. early that day.
Which was when my phone rang and I awoke to a bedroom glowing an eerie shade of orange.
The call was from my neighbor informing me that a fire was raging on the part of their large property next to my bedroom.
As I looked at the window above my bed, which was the source of the room’s fiery shade, she assured me that the fire department had been notified and that her husband was fighting the fire with a garden hose.
I thanked her for the alert, pulled on some clothes, and began looking out of the windows.
The fire was confined to weeds, a wooden fence and some lumber in their large yard.
Kern County firefighters soon arrived and knocked down the blaze.
Which was started by firecrackers my neighbors watched a young man toss into their yard.
They were alerted by the firecrackers, which may have saved my life.
Neighbors from apartments across the street had been shooting off fireworks for the past three days.
During a drought and with dry winds that blow toward our homes on Mojave’s H street.
We were lucky that the firefighters arrived as quickly as they did.
Mojave’s engine company and companies from other desert stations were busy on a house fire in Boron and another fire in Rosamond. The engine company from Tehachapi was arriving in Mojave when our fire was reported, on its way to cover the Mojave station.
This is not the first fireworks-ignited fire in our neighborhood.
Three of them were ignited last year at this time.
There were 13 fires caused by fireworks in Mojave this week, according to firefighters
You would think that people who illegally set off fireworks would consider the safety of setting them off in a dry and windy desert climate in a residential zone.
But that ignores their ignorance.
Life or death
By the way, I didn’t go right back to sleep after the fire was extinguished and overhauled.
That’s because I began to wonder what could have happened had my neighbors not heard the firecrackers.
Which was blazing away some 20 feet from my bed.
Had it not been contained, embers could have settled on my roof and set my house on fire.
At 85, I do not move as fast as I once did, thanks to back and knee problems.
Similar situations could happen to others in the neighborhood.
Which makes this “entertainment” a matter of life or death.
I partially blame myself for this situation for not reporting the fireworks on the two previous nights. The one good thing about fireworks in our neighborhood is that, unlike in Los Angeles County, our neighbors do not set them off year-round.
From now on, if I hear as much as a loud fart in my neighborhood at night, I shall call the firefighters and sheriff’s deputies.
My idea of fireworks is that they are fine when they are set off by grownups in a selected location equipped for that purpose, like Tehachapi, which this year as in past years set them off from property near their airport, and put them on ZOOM so folks could watch them from their homes.
Finally, thank God for great neighbors on my side of our street.
Polluting the president’s house
Speaking of fireworks, one year when we lived in Our Nation’s Capitol, as members of the Reagan administration we were invited to watch that city’s annual Independence Day show from the White House lawn.
I will always remember my boss, Bob Blanchette, the Federal Railroad administrator, looking at all the crap the members of this hand-picked Republican audience had left on the grounds of the president’s house.
I will never forget Bob, a tough little Frenchman, almost in tears as he collected soda cups and other picnic trash left behind by our fellow GOP officials and their families, rather than take the time to use the many trash cans set out for that purpose.
This situation was not exclusive to Republicans — I recall driving to work on Monday mornings following weekend anti-abortion and other demonstrations on the Mall across from the Capitol and seeing crews collecting the detritus left behind by these demonstrators.
You really have to wonder what slobs some mortals be.
Folks watching our skies often see white streaks of cloud, called “contrails,” which are formed by moisture from aircraft exhaust.
“When hot jet exhaust gases and water vapor mix with cold air, especially at high altitude, they generate condensation trails, or ‘contrails,’ the equivalent of man-made cirrus clouds,” according to a recent article in AvWeb, an aviation industry newsletter.
Contrails first became visible during World War Two when America B-17 and B-24 bombers visited the skies over Europe on bombing missions.
During the Korean War, US F-86 pilots learned how to avoid leaving contrails, which alerted Chinese Communist pilots flying MiG fighters, by flying above or below altitudes where they form.
Efforts are underway to limit or avoid aircraft generating contrails, which may generate greenhouse gases, according to the AvWeb article.
The suggested strategy is to use the F-86 strategy of flying at slightly higher altitudes where contrails do not form.
Airliners will use weather data to predict when and at what altitudes contrails are likely to be generated and air traffic management systems will be used to assign flight paths and cruising altitudes.
Although not mentioned in the AvWeb piece, the advent of electric powered aircraft like those being developed at NASA-Armstrong and the Mojave Air and Spaceport and other locations will eventually eliminate contrails from forming.
Contrails form mostly between June and September and are a reminder of what goes on in our busy and productive skies.