We’ve got some construction going on at the office, and for the duration, we’ve turned off the alarm on one of the emergency exits to make it easier for the contractors to get in and out of the area where they’re working. This exit happens to be right by my desk, making it very convenient anytime I need to leave, be it for the bathroom, for lunch, or to go home at the end of the day.

The problem is, I can just see myself forgetting after it’s all done and we turn the alarm back on. Go to lunch, set off the fire alarm. Not a good idea.

The Santa Ana winds are back. I spent a considerable amount of time last night wondering just how strong the glass is in our windows, particularly the big sliding door onto the balcony. We had several brief power outages, the first just long enough for us to head for the flashlights and convince us to not turn the computers back on, the rest lasting only a few seconds each, but plenty long enough to set all the digital clocks blinking again. Three cheers for battery backup in alarm clocks.

The drive to work was… interesting. First we saw one of the apartment complex’s flags had been knocked over, the pole sheared off at the base. Then there was the cop directing everyone away from a nearby street (we couldn’t see anything down there, but we figured maybe a tree had fallen across the road or something). Then there were huge fallen eucalyptus branches by the side of the road, and a number of young trees that had pulled their stakes down with them as they went. At one point traffic slowed to a crawl, until we passed several police cars, a fire engine, an ambulance, and a four-car accident in which a smaller car had hit an SUV from behind, actually pushing the front end underneath the SUV. (And just yesterday we’d been talking about the dangers being in a small car in a collision with an SUV.) After I dropped Katie off, I had to avoid a large tree limb that had fallen into the right lane.

On the other hand, I think all the tumbleweeds went last November.

So there’s finally a plan to start up smallpox vaccinations. The bad news is, it’s likely to become necessary. Worse news is, I may be at risk for some of the nasty side effects. As Katie pointed out, it worked so well the first time that no one made any effort to improve it. The good news is, they hope to have a safer vaccine by the time it’s made available to the public in 2004.

We’ll see.

In other news, while looking for a reference to the NPR story, I found this story about London’s Killer Fog of ’52 and the history of smog going back to twelfth-century London. So smog not only predated the Industrial Revolution, it predated Shakespeare.

And finally, the other story I heard on the way in, about military-funded butterfly research. Apparently the Air Force is very interested in building insect-sized robotic flying cameras, and at that scale it makes sense to use insects as a model. They could be sent down into caves to locate enemy troops, or sent into buildings to check on hostage situations. (The paranoid in me is also saying they could spy on ordinary people, but it’s a lot cheaper to just search the place when they’re not home.) So if someone’s studying insect flight, the military is quite happy to fund it.

My desk is going to file a work comp claim of its own one of these days. I’m forcing it to hold more than anybody else’s desk, except maybe this one woman on the other side of the office. That’s a continuous trauma for excess loadbearing, and a psyche claim for unequal treatment by a superior. But it’s not going to win…..it attacked me first. Just stuck out its drawer and took a chunk out of my shin. And I’d like to meet the attorney who can get a desk to rebut my testimony that I never hit it…….