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Beef jerky, solar blankets for Christmas

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Is somebody important miffed?

As a highly trained, profoundly adroit professional observer, I've been noticing stuff this year, and I've got to tell you it is making me nervous.

Let us review.

In January, we experienced a windstorm that would have easily qualified as a hurricane had the wind been blowing in a circle rather than a boring straight line. Trees tumbled blocking roads and ripping down power lines all over the community.

While the lights never so much as flickered at Casa Aylworth III, where my dear bride the saintly Susan, and I reside, a few blocks away our son, Adam, and his family, were without power for three days, and elsewhere the blackout lingered for days.

The wind came with torrential rains that flooded streets and made being outside miserable.

When the storm abated and the rains went away, they went away big time!

Drought spread across the land. Our major reservoir quickly morphed from a substantial lake into a pathetic mud puddle.

By midsummer, when the grasslands and forests were so dry that a warm glance could start a fire, the entire state was pounded with a massive lightning storm.

This rampage slammed something like 7,000 bolts of dry lightning into the mountains and foothills statewide.

That literally sparked hundreds of fires, including dozens in this area, and from mid-June through early August, infernos raged locally as well as elsewhere.

After the flames finally were beaten into submission, rain came to the southstate triggering mudslides.

To fill out the list of natural mayhem, the ocean floor off the coast was recently smacked with a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

None of the volcanoes have erupted, yet, but are you seeing a pattern here?

When I was a kid, living in San Francisco, there was always this rather strange fellow — usually dressed in a dirty bed sheet — who stood at the corner of Powell and Market streets holding a sign that read, "THE END IS NEAR!!!"

Now, I'm not ready to move into the hills to start building an ark, and I don't believe that Armageddon is at the doorstep, but I'm beginning to wonder whether Somebody Really Important is a bit miffed with my home state.

All of this happy news has had one tangible benefit for me: I know for sure what I am getting my kids for Christmas.

Stockings are going to be stuffed with emergency rations. Water purification tablets are being added to everybody's Christmas list. Those Mylar solar blankets and plastic tube-tent shelters will be wrapped neatly and left under the tree to brighten hearts on Christmas morning.

I'm sure the grandwidgets will be thrilled with the glow sticks and the cute packages of beef jerky all wrapped in the most festive paper.

Beyond that, cases of freeze-dried food-like substances will undoubtedly be a big hit when they are unwrapped Christmas morning.

Hand-cranked flashlights, with built in AM/FM radios and an attachment to recharge cell phones, will elicit shouts of joy all around.

Perhaps for the kids with the right skills, I can include detailed plans on building a bomb shelter. Bomb shelters were a neighborhood fashion statement in the 1950s and early '60s when I was growing up. I had an uncle who had one, and maybe — like poodle skirts — its a fashion that will return.

The other possibility is to make some serious investments in Central Valley land. That way, when "THE BIG ONE" hits, Ill be set to make my fortune with beautiful beachfront property.