As we negotiated the poor air quality here in the Bay Area, I had a number of random thoughts.
The first one was this: I would love to be the person who had the concession on those tacky surgical masks that men, women, and children of all ages are strapping to their noses and mouths. I have to imagine that the markup on those babies is pretty severe, since they run from anywhere between eleven dollars and thirty-two dollars. Reminiscent of the run on duct tape and plastic sheeting in December of 1999.
Another aspect of living in a haze is the choices that we make. I went out for a run on a couple of mornings after the air quality began to dip. This decision was based primarily on the notion that I might not get any exercise at all being trapped inside all day. This transferred abruptly to the enthusiasms of the kids at school, who felt disabused by the suggestion by these so-called grownups that they should not be allowed to play outside. Never mind that their number had been reduced steadily over the course of the week due to parental concerns and wheezing among their family members. The overarching sentiment seemed to be, "I may end up in the hospital tonight, but I will play four square today!"
The last impression that has been renewed for me is that of the morning cigarette. There have been plenty of times when I have been riding my bike to school or out for a run as the sun is making its presence felt, and I see a man or a woman hunching over to light up. There is no better way for your lungs to start a day than to fill them with contaminants. Add to this picture the gray could of smoke enveloping them from outside even as they take that first big drag. And proceed to hack up what remains of their respiratory system.
And all the while, we know that these are the lucky ones. The ones who dealt with the extraneous effects of the worst wildfire in California history. Where there's smoke, there's smoke. The fire is a hundred plus miles away. Take a whiff of that.