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Sunday, November 16, 2008
Updated: November 17, 9:06 AM ET
Hey Bro, It's Firing

"Real wrath of god kind of stuff..."
Getting an email from a friend up north today, he reports it's four- to six-foot, offshore, and I'm assuming as good as it gets. His note goes on to inquire about the conditions down here in San Clemente and how smoky it is. You see, currently less than an hour's drive from my front porch (traffic permitting, of course), the news is reporting that over 800 houses and almost 30 square miles of prime, Southern California real estate is on fire. Last I checked there were four or five fires going. Off in the distance I can see a gray plume of smoke. It's wafting out over the ocean towards Catalina, but the sky in San Clemente's blue.

So, to answer my friend's questions, no, it's not too smoky. And yes, the surf's been fun. There's a new little west pulse in the water, and the Santa Ana winds, the ones that have whipped the Inland Empire into a firestorm, are lightly blowing offshore.

Too hot inland? Go surfing.
Should I be more sensitive? This dilemma's racked me for some time now. Almost every year down here, at some point hundreds of firefighters are called to action, thousands of people are displaced, millions of dollars in property is destroyed, and the surf goes haywire. Essentially, when houses burn the surf fires.

My wife can't understand it. She hates Santa Ana winds, absolutely hates them. And not just for the fires. The hot, dry desert air makes her head hurt, screws with her sinuses, and now she's reporting it makes her "itchy and irritated." I have to just kind of nod in agreement; the way husbands do from time to time. Meanwhile, here I am scheming about how to get out of the house and capitalize on everybody else's misery.

What can I say? If it's offshore, overhead and uncrowded, yes, I'm going surfing. I guess that's what makes surfing unique. You can always reschedule a golf game, you can play tennis anytime, but when the waves are good you can't muck around.

Apologies and condolences to all those who are in the process of trying to save their lives and communities, if it was my neighborhood I'd be right there by your side. But it's not, and I reckon I'd be in the way anyway. Instead I'm heading for the beach, because, in response to my friend's email, bro, it's firing.