Category Archives: Current Events

California Heatwave of 2020 and the Barbecued Squirrel

In May 2020, as Californians wondered if they’d ever be released back into the public sphere, a rogue San Jose squirrel made its own break for freedom. The rodent burrowed into a PG&E riser – the ground conduit connecting overhead to underground power lines. Perhaps he was hungry and gnawed through a misfortunate wire; perhaps it was simply a tragic accident. But the squirrel was soon cooked well-done. Unfortunately, for the human omnivores uninterested in roadkill, the site of the great rodent roast was not repaired. Power was simply transferred to a nearby transformer.

Fast forward three months: August 2020. 

(For all the shenanigans this cursed year has unearthed, no one gets to act surprised about a late summer California heatwave. That’s like the free-play center square on Golden State Bingo.) 

But I digress – back to August where our fine state has decided to spice up the excitement with the worst heatwave in 70 years(Fun fact, Death Valley hit 130 degrees yesterday, potentially the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.)

With the state and county still on lockdown, sheltering-in-place from COVID-19, all typical options to collectively beat the heat were off the table. Instead, it was every household for themselves – all adults working from home, all children distant and remote as they stared at school screens, and all familial units collectively trying to tame indoor Mordor with AC.

Unsurprisingly, the sad little transformer that could – could not handle double duty. 

It exploded.

Saturday night, neighbors called to report a power outage. They also noted the smell of smoke. Since PG&E has priors with the relational causality of such combined occurrences, the fire department was soon on scene. A PG&E rep also rolled up armed with the task of confirming there was no gas leak. 

But wait, you say. I thought we were talking about electricity. What does gas have to do with this overheated epic tale? Nothing. Nothing at all.

So 30-45 minutes later, when smoke became fire and another PG&E rep from the E side of the biz arrived, the fire department was able to extinguish the blaze in a safe manner. Meanwhile, PG&E sent a note to the melting masses,

“A Final Important Note: These outages are not Public Safety Power Shutoffs, which are called during specific high fire threat conditions, and they are not related to any issues with PG&E’s equipment or our ability to deliver energy locally.”

Interjection from your friendly comms professional over here… The equipment literally blew up. Flames. Emerging from the ground. Melding wires into molten blackouts down the entire block.

So there we sat. Sweltering and waiting.

Saturday morning broke with sonic booms of thunder cracking over the city sky at 3 a.m. Lightening bolted and sliced through the night air, stabbing at unsuspecting buildings, as rare thunderstorms rolled through Silicon Valley.

Unsurprisingly, nature’s artistic additions to these electric events also paused the enthusiasm for repair crews to commence replacing squirrel shrapnel.

Sunday afternoon, Jon and I grabbed some bottled water (artisanly luke warm with no ice) and headed over to where the repair trucks were staging the grand debut of the new transformer and cable pas de duex.

“You here for the update?” A tired crew lady asked.

“Yup. And we come with offerings of water so you guys don’t overheat and explode either.” I replied, proffering the hydration.

She laughed. “OMG. It’s bad. Like really bad.” (Obviously this was extremely reassuring.) “Plan for at least another 24 hours.”

It was now 104 degrees.

Monday dawned with a a growing ashen haze across the sky. I viewed this as Mother Earth’s disapproval of my lack of power. English teachers will likely call this “foreshadowing” for the cliche California trope to burn down every Fall. (But not any of the local middle or high school teachers. Both educational institutions were canceled due to that pesky distance learning requirement for power.)

The 5 a.m. expected restoration time greeted us with an update that we should now plan for noon.

The noon expected restoration update let us know 3 p.m. was the new target.

3 p.m. buzzed right on into the muggy afternoon with a cheeky note that J/K! It’s totes gonna be 6 p.m. now.

At 5pm we received an unplanned notification. I grabbed for my phone with excitement thinking that it may be an early power up! 

“Due to extreme heat and high demand that may be greater than supply, the state’s electrical grid operator may require PG&E to turn off power in additional rotating outages from 3-10pm each day from Aug. 17-20.”

But the joke’s on them. Can’t qualify as an “additional” outage if we’re still in our current one!

So anyway, long story short, that’s why I’m selling my soul for a Tesla Power Wall (and possibly an iced adult beverage). 

May the damn squirrel rest in peace knowing his death was heatedly avenged.

PS. We have our power back. For now…

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Science and Technology Saves Lives

Scientists took on Washington today – marching through the national mall on Earth Day – in a non-partisan homage to a systematic study of structure and behavior of the physical and natural world. (Disclaimer: this post has not been peer-reviewed.)

Science and technology are not mere opinions. Beliefs and facts are not synonymous. Science and technology save lives. Continue reading

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A Short Story – The California Drought, Day 1,643


Once lush green stalks of tall grass glowed an angry red, as though they had been sunburned instead of merely water deprived.

I always presumed I would see plumes of yellow during the deep dog-days of summer, as the plants prepared for winter and reminded me to take hay fever medication. It was, after all, almost August. Instead the bleached tips of overgrown weeds in the expansive field waved a white flag of surrender as though mocking America the Beautiful’s sweet-smelling waving wheat. Continue reading

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Odds Are


Struck by lightning, sounds pretty frightening
But you know the chances are so small
Stuck by a bee sting, nothing but a B-thing
Better chance you’re gonna bite it at the mall
But it’s a twenty-three four-to-one
That you can fall in love by the end of this song
So get up, get up
Tell the bookie put a bet on “not a damn thing will go wrong”

If we put the odds of dying from any and all possible causes at a 1:1 ratio – because let’s face it, life is fleeting and all our candles will snuffed out in the blink of an eye in terms of time on this teacup ride – odds are we’re gonna be alright for another night. Continue reading


Sexism is Alive and Well in the American Auto Industry


Jon’s car began to sputter and cough “Uncle.” Which, of course, was communicated via mechanic bills becoming exponentially higher than the entirety of the vehicle’s worth.

So the decision was made to go car shopping. Continue reading

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Disneyland is a Pain in the Shoulder (Vaccinate Your Kids)

Anti Vax

Preface: I am not a doctor. But I believe in medicine. Science exists whether I believe it or not. My children exist today because of the miracles of modern medicine. Do I believe we’ve achieved the end all of scientific advancements? Of course not. But do I think we should disregard current advancements due to the misinformed beliefs of a Playboy Bunny? Nope. Continue reading


Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: A Momoir


Confessions of a Scary Mommy meets Chicken Soup for the Soul in this “momoir” anthology by 40 mom lit and parent humor bloggers!

MOTHERHOOD May Cause Drowsiness: Funny Stories by Sleepy Moms is now available. Continue reading

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Importance of the Arts

Summer fine arts

Recently I overheard a conversation deriding the arts.

I sat unassumingly minding my own business when words began raising my blood pressure as they seemingly grew in volume. A loud opinionated individual was ranting to someone about the waste of theatre and how all the elitist people think they’re doing something worthwhile.

Spoiler alert: They are. Continue reading

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The NFL and Domestic Violence


We’ve long heard the arguments that our kids will be scarred and forever altered by violence in video games or movies, despite parents educating our impressionable youths that it’s merely make-believe.

So what do we say when it’s real-life role models (for better or worse) demonstrating violence?

Domestic violence attorney Nicki Ford is speaking out on the subject. She recently chatted with Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson about the NFL’s problems and she has graciously written the below. Continue reading


Chivalry Isn’t Dead Yet


We’re living in a society of every man for himself. Articles across these here interwebs decry the decay of manners and etiquette. So it’s up to me to raise my muppets to one day serve as productive members of society.

Search and Destroy. Future gentlemen. Continue reading

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