Creature from the Blog Lagoon 26: The Craziest People I Know

The craziest people I know are wildland firefighters.

It’s a compliment, trust me.

Smoke, flames, sometimes 100+ degrees, 100% or so humidity when the water hits hot rocks, at least two layers of clothing, humping up and down backcountry terrain, swarming, biting insects lovingly called stump fu… well, it’s not family-friendly… and usually working 24 to 28 hour shifts with anywhere from four to six hours of sleep between shifts. Seasonal firefighters make their money from working overtime - the base pay stinks, to be honest in my opinion, but I never heard any complaints from them.

And these crazy buggers enjoy it.

I was at the Chaparral Fire today and was spent, done, kaput, by 3:00 PM. My eyes were bloodshot and the sorest I’ve ever felt in my ocular orbs, the result of smoke, sweat, dust, ash, sunscreen and who knows what other toxins might have been in the air. (I was at the Valley Fire last year and for some reason I wasn’t affected nearly as badly.)

By the time I left, storm clouds were gathering. Was that a good thing? I suppose, unless they also brought lightning strikes, and if the flash flood warnings for low-lyings areas there didn’t come to pass.

Our fire season in California is no longer late summer, it’s year-round. Lots of opportunity for firefighter overtime…


In my last blog post I wrote about a nifty handheld stabilized video camera capable of shooting at up to 4K and 60 frames per second, and not much bigger than a PEZ dispenser. I shot a little with it at the fire today - it’s Emmy-worthy footage… okay, not so much, but that’s on me (this was more of a test than anything else). The video quality itself is amazing for such a small camera, although the YouTube mangling process doesn’t do it any favors. For still photographers shooting spot news this should be a tool for the ol’ camera bag. It’s a DJI Osmo Pocket (purchased used), the original version; the current Osmo Pocket 2 has a wider field of view, much too wide for this kind of thing.

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