"From up here, these city lights burn like a thousand miles of fire..."
-Story of the Year, Anthem of Our Dying Day

One can only imagine how harrowing it is when a fire burns like a thousand miles of city lights. That's exactly the view I saw on my flight out of San Diego this evening: ribbons of red flame snaking through the canyons and engulfing mountainsides.

That view punctuated the end to a very short and surreal trip to Southern California. I woke up this morning in my motel room to a surprisingly calm city, given the situation. E-mails from the boss reported that the San Diego office was shut down, and the news reported that that massive evacuations had been ordered. Some freeways were vacant, while others were packed. My car was coated in fine ash.

It's amazing how, in the midst of so much devastation, life keeps going on so quasi-normally. That was the surreal part to me. I ate lunch at a restaurant perhaps 10 miles south of an evacuated area, and it would have been entirely business as usual, if it weren't for the TVs showing nothing but news coverage, and the hostess mentioning that she had just been evacuated and decided to come into work. If it wasn't for the pervasive smoke in the air and the unspoken sense of unease, you'd never know how bad things were.

I hope that the winds calm down soon.