Posts Tagged ‘K38 Rescue’

Understanding Fukushima-Daichi

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
Moral Compass Setting

Moral Compass Setting

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.   2 Timothy 2:15

I began to study¬† aspects of the disaster at Fukushima-Daichi the moment the Tohoku quake occurred. The disaster began not on 3-11, as common knowledge would have us believe, but during the throes of the Cold War in the late 1950′s. Some aspects of it actually date back to the turn of the century

After watching the tsunami wash ashore with some of my colleagues from K38 Rescue (we were online simultaneously and saw the quake take place on the USGS event reporting site) I knew the long range repercussions would be nuclear in nature. At the time however, I had no idea regarding the education I would acquire in the next several years.

Shortly after the initial disaster I found myself at the home of my friend and mentor, George Orbelian in SF. George sat me down in his living room on a warm sunny afternoon high above the surf at Ocean Beach, which pulled at my attention, looked me in the eyes, and said; “David, what are we going to do about Fukushima?”

My first response was to laugh, and I said “George, what in the heck do you mean? What can we do?” The implausibility of two guys even being able to grasp the enormity of what we knew then would likely be the largest disaster of it’s type in History, had hit me square in the chest.

George said this. “There is a man in our group who is an engineer. He worked for GE in the design and implementation of the plant and the Nuclear program in Japan. He understands it well. We can start there.”

So we did, and after immersion in the programs of Blue Mind, ARUP, The Sea Space-Initiative, Blue Ocean Sciences, Triiibes and countless conversations, studies and analyzations, I came to certain conclusions regarding the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima-Daichi.

This blog is a summary of what I have learned.

The disaster at Fukushima-Daichi is fixable. It also is not really “the problem”. It is a symptom. If we do not address the real issue, then Fukushima, which is indeed the largest man made catastrophe in our time as a species on this Earth, will also become one of the most egregious sins humanity has ever acquiesced to committing.

The word Sin is an interesting one. Theologically, a sin is a choice of action that causes the separation of a human being from God, his creator, which theologians regard as being the creative author of existence and  is Love, being eternal in nature.

I am writing a book on all of this, actually. I explain the nuances of our problem in that book. It will take me awhile to complete it.

If you have found this blog, what I am about to share in it will give you a level of information regarding the disaster at Fukushima-Daichi that will enable you to engage as an author of good and accurate change.

Resolution Riders

Resolution Riders

Please be aware that I am not an advocate of banning Nuclear Power generation. But am an ardent and informed adversary of Plutonium-Uranium fueled Nuclear Electric power generating stations located in coastal flood plains.

Each one is a potential disaster on the same scale and of the same scope as the one which the Tohoku quake facilitated.

On the Eastern Shores of China, West of Japan, are  a cadre of new plants which  are not subject to the build and maintenance standards of those in Japan and the US. Be aware that many of those well built and maintained Japanese and U.S. plants have ongoing documented problems that have created injections of multiple radiant contaminants into the ecosystem.

There are many experts in the Nuclear Industry and international commerce and relations, who believe that a plant failure in China would have no chance of being discoverable to the extent which Fukushima has.

Again, here is the rub. Our Commons connect Nations in such a manner that all environmental regulations and every incident as a result of our policies, good or bad, accurate or not,  connects each body in the International Community.

This begs that a few questions be asked of Americans. Is it appropriate to allow Politicians to even have say in architecting the systems which the Global Population will need to survive under? Is that intelligent, given the simple fact that political policy is driven by the realities of the short term election cycle, and all the ramifications which this implies?

If we find out that those policy makers knowingly led the Nation into decisions which damage the Commons to the point of jeopardizing food security, create death via radiation exposure and generational Cancer, as a payback to a Corporately embedded fiscal entity which placed them in office, should they not be held criminally liable? And in turn should that Nation and those companies not be held civilly liable for the damage they created?

If we did that? Well, please think what it would mean, to apply a level of accountability here. It would change everything that should be changed.

On the East Coast of the US are 33 Nuclear plants located in the Coastal Flood plain. 17 are of similar design and placement to the one at Fukushima. The East coast is wide open to a mega-tsunami disaster from the tectonic plate activity located under the Canary Islands.

The Coast is also highly vulnerable to weather related disaster by way of Hurricane. It has long been expected that a Cat 5 or above hurricane could sweep up the East Coast and create a damage swath that would be severe in scale and scope. Fortunately this has NOT happened. Therefore the odds are that it will, in your lifetime.

During Hurricane Sandy which depending on where and when you measured it, was a Cat 0-2 storm on the Safir-Simpson Scale, 6 of those 33 Nuclear plants went to emergency shut down. 4 went to crises. Meltdowns were averted.

The following little cable show was one which I agreed to do reluctantly, as a result of my colleague and friend, Wallace J Nichols, author of the Blue Mind Neuroscience summit, suggesting I consider appearing on it. The show is called Eco Review. It is authored and run by a  very astute and connected man named Tom Harvey, out of Santa Cruz California.

In the show with me are:

Dr Andrea Neal, of Blue Ocean Sciences. Andrea led a team of research scientists which developed a method for remediating heavy metal radiant contaminants from the water column. She also was integral in creation of highly effective means of detecting source point pollutants in land sea or air. The technology she helped create is absolutely vital as a step in restoring system health in nuclear and other man made disasters.

Eddie Leung of Secure Environment. That engineer who worked on the original GE plant at Fukushima, who I mentioned above. He was on the ground at Fukushima not long after the meltdowns, studying the situation.

Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Associates. Arnie is a former Nuclear Industry Executive and Engineer and is noted as being the whistleblower during the disaster at Three Mile Island. He has been a tireless and valiant source of information traveling around the world in an effort to educate leaders and civil populace regarding our Nuclear Energy systems.

In my affiliation with K 38 Rescue I have gotten to meet and work with great men and women who by all accepted social standards would be known as heroes. I  know what a hero is. They generally are people with training and a high level of proficiency, willing and able to step forward at personal risk in order to accomplish a result necessary to the safety of individuals, nations, ecosystems or planet.

To me, each one of these people is a hero in ways which the public may never know or understand.

If you really want to understand and help this world and future generations, and know some of what I do, start by watching this 1 hour cable show.

 

Ecoreview: Fukushima Update is here.

 

After that, please watch these three films created by Australian based film maker Andrew Ebisu. Based on what I have learned in working alongside some disciplined, educated, skilled and brave people, who have applied themselves to rescuing Humanity from this terrible place we have come to, I see his film series as being highly accurate and able to provide a clear understanding of what the Disaster at Fukushima-Daichi really means.

On Fukushima Beach.

On Fukushima Beach 2: The Lights of Fukushima.

On Fukushima Beach 3: The Bombing of Kyoto.

 

Being The Change

Being The Change

 

So now you know some of what I do.

How do we really fix it? There exists a somewhat confidential plan. It is fairly simple, but will require a lot of work to implement.

If successful, the Nations, Corporations and leaders responsible for this will be held legally accountable in a couple different ways. What this will facilitate is a transition away from Plutonium Uranium Nuclear Generated Electrical Power, a clean up and true remediation of existing Nuclear Waste globally, and remediation of existing radiant contaminant within the ecosystem. It will usher in a safer and far less costly method of power generation and facilitate greater Corporate profit and increased potential for creation of sustainable systems whereby we will be able to manage a world that is headed for an 8 Billion Population and is actually very capable of sustaining that number, contrary to what many Environmental Activists and the UN claim.

The group Change.Org  whose mailings I sometimes find amusing really did nail it with this one. Some of this statement where a President is captured lying to a Nation and World, is in the films. But understand this. He is both a complicit part of the problem, but as a leader has a deep responsibility to ensure Civil order and the security of our Nation. The petition results are laughable. 235 respondents.

Awhile ago a bunch of us who are in Seth Godin’s global Marketing group known as Triiibes had a little get together in my home town of Ventura. It was called Flow, and initially was a retreat of sorts for some of the generous bright lights who are all friends, colleagues and leaders of various Tribes-Communities.

In the course of that event, the group concepted a movement based business which was eventually co founded by myself, Donna Von Hoesslin, and Dr Andrea Neal. What Ocean Lovers does is educate, inspire and organize people under a uniform Philosophy. It is assisted by an Advisory Board of some wonderful minds and voices in the realm of Science, Research, Business, Marketing and Architecture.

The Oceanlovers Philosophy states that man while being yet another animal amongst many species on this earth, is capable via accurate design and benevolent intention of architecting profitable and sustainable systems, whereby the health and happiness of humanity may be facilitated and the Commons be preserved.

Though the company website is currently being revamped, it is here.

But you can also follow  and join the Oceanlovers movement and stay connected on Facebook, here.

Many drops of water, an Ocean makes. Each of us really do matter.

Save the Commons. Think of our children. Protect yourself.

We must start here.

Save Japan

Save Japan

 

 

 

On Beauty

Friday, September 27th, 2013

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I have a lot to say regarding Beauty and how it affects the Consciousness of our World. But rather than write on it and endeavor to go into the Science of the affects of Beauty, I am just going to share beauty with you as I have experienced it this week.

Here is a prescient piece of Music set to remarkable Cinematography. Nahko Bear’s “Aloha Ke Akua”.

People are amazing. In a culture that tends to dry humanity out, Beauty waters us. When we invest in that, what we are doing is improving our lot as a species. Why Beauty: matters.

I got to meet with Lynn Lawrence this week. She handed me a remarkable book entitled “On Beauty and Being Just” by Elaine Scarry. This is her, handing it to me, pictured below.¬† A beautiful act. Lynn had recently left my friend Brian Kasbar’s company and as she headed down coast thought to ring me so that we could meet in person for the first time after connecting on Brian’s project, which is an innovative system for educating Autistic children. A beautiful endeavor.

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I swam and shot a bit this week. On a day that was surreal in it’s blue sanguine embrace I managed to capture some of the essence of that experience. The Ocean¬† amazes me. It is beautiful in ways that stretch my skill set to communicate.

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And I got to speak with my friend and colleague Shawn Alladio, as she made her way back to California. She recounted some of the back story on the Never Quit Challenge. Here is a clip from the Today Show on it.

The image below was shared by Ginny Blevins-Feeks, the surviving spouse of SO1 Pat Feeks who perished a little over a year ago. Shawn is at the 9-11 Memorial at Ground Zero having just lead the NQC up the East Coast from Florida, and landing in NYC on 9-11. The deep significance of taking our people by water back to New York is incredibly profound.

Shawn is placing some rather interesting things on the Memorial. Among those, a Pocket Constitution, coins, patches, and very significantly, two US flags. One which Pat carried with him, and the second which was presented to Ginny by the US Govt. Shawn was presented these flags by Ginny, and carried them with her in much the same manner Pat had.

The Beauty in this Act by Shawn, Brian Lagarticha, David Pirate Tew, Eric Graff, and all my colleagues at K38 Rescue is heady in it’s graciousness. So were the other profound acts of generosity, by¬† people in all the branches of the Military, Foundations,¬† Emergency Response and Law Enforcement Agencies involved in the Challenge’s success.

Shawn Alladio-9-11 Memorial

Shawn Alladio-9-11 Memorial

As I studied the image, there was so much significance in what I saw that it really was sort of overwhelming, and I felt my eyes beginning to tear up. I knew how much sacrifice had occurred as symbolized by each item in the frame. Then I saw it. The Blue Marble Donna and I had given Shawn. She had carried that with her to ground zero.

So many of us are connected by water.

Beauty is the bucket that carries it. Water of course, is analogous to Spirit, that life force which flows through all that exists.

This is Hope. She springs eternally from the human heart. (Image is from an editorial project on a woman’s experiences surfing through pregnancy)

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Beauty is Life amplified and focused. Without it, hope dies.

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My friend and colleague, Wallace J Nichols, is the founder of the Blue Marble Movement, Blue Mind and much more. He ends his notes with the salutation: “I wish you water”.¬† I like that a lot.

In my life and work, all at it’s core is summed up in my own heart’s desire:

“I wish you Beauty.”

Aloha nui loa.

Beauty

I wish you Beauty

 

Risk Perception

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Risk Perception

The image above was shot during the 2010 Maverick’s Challenge where I worked as support and Photographer for K38 Rescue, who ran Event Ocean Safety and in process was in charge of training a cadre of local watermen to be a Rescue team. That local team was headed up by Vince Broglio. It was a big and perfect day. Possibly the biggest, best surf, ever paddled into for a competitive event.

The quote is something Shawn said in one of our project groups this week. And I immediately turned it into an Oceanlovers Blue Note. Blue Notes are wisdom gleaned from the Sea, basically. You can find them here on Oceanlovers’ site, and you should be able to right click grab them. They are meant to be shared.

I study risk. Have for a long time now. As someone with a background in high risk competitive sports as well as a depth of Ocean experience, if I were not risk aware, I would not be sitting here typing on a Saturday morning. But this week has prompted me to want to expound a little on Risk Perception. You see, Risk is always there. But it is our understanding and awareness of it which allows us to potentially manage some of that potential threat to our own and other’s life and limb, with our choices and actions, and hopefully, to come away unscathed.

This is a very complex and layered subject. I have written a little bit about Shawn and I’s affiliation and relationship here in this regard in Peaking in Seconds and Feet. The people I work with via K38 Rescue and in my other various affiliations, are world leaders in various aspects of emergency response. We all support each other, mentor, and yes hold ourselves accountable, as members of a large Community. Accountability is everything when managing risk.

Understanding is what we strive for, as responsibility for our own safety and that of our subjects as professional imagers, needs to underpin our life. Without that you would see a pattern develop in and around your work which would include injuries-damage  to yourself, equipment and subjects. So we study to learn the risk, safeguard ourselves, and push for a more pleasant experience and to set an appropriate example for others.

Let me underscore something, speaking of accountability. I have never been hurt filming or shooting. With the exception of smacking Sean Tully, one of my long term collaborators in the head, when a lip grabbed an overly large waterhousing, I have never hurt or lost anyone. (I repaired Sean’s scalp wound. Being able to do that is another story) So in almost 15 years of filming all over the world, that means no bad cuts, head injuries, sprained or broken anything. Zilch. Nada. Zip.

I believe it is possible for anyone to have that track record. But Risk Perception, it is multi-layered, and I want to share one of the layers here.

This week has been full of Kite board filming and stills shooting. I consider this subject and utilizing a water POV to be exceptionally high risk for a number of reasons. A photographer could suffer instantaneous death from a variety of means. I am not going to go into the details, but this week it went smoothly. Here is one of many images collected and a part of a film I am developing. And yes, another Blue Note.

Blue Note: Kite

I always watch the Ocean. My connection to it is so involved and intimate, I am not going to endeavor to explain the relationship in a technical manner. But I will share some precepts.

My wife has been surprised to see the large volume of very high bar water work I have generated this Summer along our coast. That is unusual, as it is rare for the large combination of variables I require to attain my image quality bar, to happen in Summer. She sees the commitment and struggle, some of it anyway, as we talk about managing the vast array of details which comprise a career. Nevertheless, she has been remarking on what has wandered in the pixel door lately.

Two days ago things lined up for a special evening. I had been watching a break for some time now. Studied it, learned the parameters of tide swell, current, conditions etc. I thought it had potential to provide for some great work. But I had not yet swum it.  Eventually understanding risk comes down to going. You must go and challenge your understanding at some point, in order to convert the experience into knowledge.

Driving down Coast on a hot, blue, placid day I was inexplicably unsettled inside. When I got to the break I had thought we would be filming at, perfect little shoulder to head high peaks threw out in hollow top lit blue cylinders, in an idyllic California-esque  beach day. Woo hoo! But inside was a voice.

Looking down coast at that spot I had been watching, I saw a few waves break and recognized that today was likely as good a day as ever to swim the place. Lars Rathje arrived, who is one of my close collaborators. His younger brother Hans was on the way. With increasing excitement we watched a few well overhead sets roll through and I carefully loaded my SPL waterhousing, placing the Canon 5DM2 with wide angle zoom into the case, setting everything and then buttoning up and prepping the port. It is a routine and process which I have done literally thousands of times.

I tugged my wetsuit on, grabbed my housing and fins and we picked our way down the cliff to a narrowing sandy beach strewn with the odd big rock. Neither of us was 100 percent on what the bottom looked like. We suspected it would be soft sand as we had seen the break shifting a bit over the course of a year, and that shift usually indicates sandbar movement related to littoral flow.

As we got to the water’s edge I turned to Lars and said this on the most perfect beautiful risk absent day one could ever imagine. “Pay close attention out here today. Really close attention. There is something not right about this.

And we swum out. Below are the first and last frames I shot that night. Easy, perfect, brilliant, fun. Right?

First Frame

Last Frame

Here is what happened.

The lineup features two peaks, one a left and one primarily a right. On high tide (tide was filling in) a side wave pushes across the lineup creating an explosive and dramatic backwash condition. Part of what we were there to experience was the water morph. The first wave Lars barely got into it via the back door and as the side wave hit it kicked open. That dry hair shot above was the first one of the evening .

We had to play everything very close due to the combination of conditions, so frequently we were in touching distance. That is not so unusual for water work. I actually call this type of shooting “contact work” as one is generally within touching distance when one shoots. You endeavor to have the ocean and your approach create a near miss scenario. We both laughed that in the first 5 minutes we had nailed it. That does not happen too often. Perfection is complex. It takes some effort.

An hour later a wave double concussed and as I came back to the surface I saw that my housing had leaked. The dreaded Death all Water Photographers seek to avoid was in process. Due to the design of SPL’s system, the camera sits on a plate which keeps it elevated. You can technically semi flood a housing and not lose the camera if you are careful. “Hey Lars, I am out. Housing leak. Going to the beach and see if I can fix it. Camera is still alive.” Hans had just paddled out to join us.

I swum in, managing to keep the housing out of the water and in the shore pound saw I would need to take a wave to the body. In spite of backing in to the beach, I was very aware of my position. I knew that one big rock was nearby and where it was. The wave slapped me ashore and housing held high, I was swept up the beach right past that rock. Hmm. An hour down and several high risk potential things had gone down.

I climbed up the cliff, went to the back of my car, and disassembled, dried, cleaned and re assembled my gear. A half hour later I was back at water’s edge. The boys had moved back up the beach. The lineup was empty. I normally love that. But inside the voice was an alarm bell still. I had a close look, nothing apparent, dipping my housing, it was holding the seal and all seemed fine, so into the blue I plunged, and in 50 yards I was in perfect position for a beautiful backwash blast. The loud crack as the two waves blasted into oblivion made for a great capture. We all sort of live our lives in the impact zone, those of us that do this, and we truly love being there. So we mind the blasts. That is part of our innate risk management

Popping up I saw a sea lion gliding by. He was acting skittish. Not unusual. They tend to be a lot like dogs and are sometimes very friendly and at others, stand offish or aggressive. He disappeared. I noticed that I was the only thing on the surface. Then came that voice and something new: a tap on the shoulder. Something was out there with me. That never alarms me believe it or not. I just watch the water, keep my housing down around my legs and pay attention. It is not uncommon for sharks to come up and take a look at me and the sun was getting low on the horizon. It was nearing dinner time for the Sea.

I saw nothing. It had been awhile and the long period Southern hemi swell seemed to be lulling out so I worked my way into the shorepound, wishing that the boys would come back so we could shoot a bit more surf stuff. Near shore my inner alarm went off. It is this imminent collision intuition one has that was saying “Do not be here”. So I swam back out. Yep. As a blue wave danced onto the sandbar I saw the shadow and profile of the shark. Looked like a 6-8 footer.¬† I could not tell what type but assumed it to be a Thresher. Sort of reminded me of a Tiger though, by it’s movement. But that would be odd. He was headed away. The “alarm” went off. My inner voice was still alert.

I set about capturing and creating the images I was after, and in a bit Hans swam out to join me sans board. Bodysurfing the warm, slabby wedges. We connected a few times and were both laughing. In a bit we saw Lars wander back down the beach with  a stunning looking woman with him. They chatted a few minutes and he joined us, and began to work some difficult angles.

An hour later as the sun began to drop behind a coastal mountain to our West, I had bait rise flash all around me, and fish flew out of the water, encircling me in a silvery rainbow. I laughed. But I knew something caused that. I had seen it before swimming a remote wave in Mexico right before a very large Tiger had appeared mid wave and shown me the door.

Swimming back out, a wave doubled up and I eased under it. Uh oh. Shallow spot in the sand bar. The lip bounced me off the bottom, rag dolled me and as I surfaced, I saw some scratches on my housing port. Shoots. Damage. Repairable and the marks were not in the lens’ line of sight. Whew. Next wave was perfect. Nailed it. Then Lars, who was sitting further outside said “Hey David, check it out, we have a bait ball just offshore. Wow, did you see that? Two dolphins, a baby and an older one!”

We worked the last half hour alone as Hans had gone in and was watching us as the light ebbed. Then Lars went in, and I was out alone in the stillness of evening, light waning and realized that all was quiet inside of me. I swam to the outside shot a couple more frames and began to work shoreward. A set missed the outside sandbar and doubled up just as a backwash wave hit and I shot a final last frame, that beautiful one above.

So I dragged you along on this tale to explain that though what I do looks easy, and I make it out as such, one of the primary reasons is that I know the risks, yes, but that my perception is highly trained and tuned. That part is not so special nor as arrogant as it may at first read. It is how we all should be, who have a grasp on what it means to be human, living in a body, designed to walk the land, but composed largely of salt water, and wedded to the Sea.

Below are a few more of the 24 A list images from the evening.

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The Springs Fire

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Pock pock pockata pock pock pock….

I had been dreaming of helos, hovering.

I awoke to the stacatto rhythm of rain on the roof. In the dark, I figured it must be around 3 am. I was wide awake and thinking about the events of the last few days. Deep breath. Hmm wow, first time I have been able to take one of those in awhile. Funny what we may take for granted. Little things like breathing. My wife lay on her back next to me, I could hear the faint rattle in her chest as she slept.

We both came home from doing an editorial shoot for our little local publication, Deep, and realized we had caught a bug. As is sort of normal for me, the viral infection had rapidly spread to my lungs. So in the two weeks since that night, almost to the day, I had been sort of laid up and battling a mild case of Pneumonia. It was now gone. Pretty cool.

Four days prior, my phone had rung at 7 am. Hans Rathje was on the line with a surf report and something else. “Hey we have another fire, and it is doing some strange things to the light. Swell is pretty big. Wind is hard offshore some places. What are you doing?”

“Ah I have been laid up for awhile now. Let me finish what I am doing, and I will wander out and find you. Maybe a swim will do me some good”

A couple hours later as I wound my way towards Coast Hwy 1 through the Oxnard farm fields, I saw the smoke blossom. Pulling off to the side of the road, I shot an Instagram image, posted it, them shot a commercial file with my 5DM2. Wind was 30 knots steady ENE, a hard Santa Ana blow right down the central wind corridor, which runs from the high desert to the sea, at the Southern edge of the coastal plain in which we live.¬†All of this was quite unseasonal. Being the beginning of May, we were a ways off from what we call “Fire Season” here in So Cal. Yet there it was, and I knew in a minute’s time the conflagration was headed for the water. If the Santa Ana wind condition did not relent, nothing would stop the flames from meeting the watery finish line we play in almost daily.

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Fifteen minutes later I had checked the surf at a few places, found Hans, and we looked at a back wind hacked, largish SSE swell. This is a very unusual direction and size for May. I have only seen it a few times in my life. The swirling wind had sufficiently decimated surface conditions that we wrote off looking further. Close but no cigar, never works with the bar of work we produce. Conditions need to “be there”.

So up a coastal canyon we know well we went, where we could have an aerie view of our coast. We had a long talk, as we watched the fire billow up in the Santa Monica Mountains  which lie between our deserted stretch of coast, and the densely populated valley beyond.

“Here we go again” The Rathje’s home up valley from us and the current fire starting point, had been surrounded by flame more than once. The FD had saved their home and those of their neighbors. Their fires had started from arcing power lines. The incident had eventually wound up in court as both the homeowners and the FD endeavored to prove liability-foreknowledge of the existing hazard by the utility company. They had recently won a judgement against the company. It was being appealed. No one fights a massive utility conglomerate without risk and expense. They tend to not play nicely.

I had photographed the power lines. Looking through 1800 MM of lens, the melted arc points on the lines were quite obvious to me. What they said was both a sad diatribe against the utility company, and a warning about the infrastructure our society has in place in areas prone to high risk natural disasters. Stupid. Maybe worse ( intentionally negligent)

So we talked about a lot and watched. Looking across the canyon we could see a sole home on a ridge line. It has always sort of been our dream home, with the combination of it’s remoteness and view, being something every surfer would aspire to in some ways. The fire would cross over it most likely.

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In short order we both headed home. Hans headed up valley past the conflagration and I returned to West Ventura and my own home on a coastal valley foothill.

This photo is a satellite image from NASA. In it you can see the geography-topography of the venturi which regularly funnels hot desert winds down to our coast when a High Pressure locates in the four corners region of the Western US. This is the blow dryer zone. Amazingly they had a great image taken of our fire and it was online and available. We do indeed live in a remarkable time.

 

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Later that day I rang Hans from my office. No answer. My gear was still in the car, and I had been monitoring the blaze and the weather. The wind was still blowing, the fire inexorably moved towards the coastal canyon vents. I figured I had better go be where I need to be. But as I woke early this day and took that first clear  deep breath, I realized an explanation was in order for what I am about to describe. This is why.

People tend to follow what others do, when what was done brings any critical acclaim-success. That can be hazardous to public safety. So I want to predicate the images with a bit of information about myself.

I am a professional in many respects. More than being “a guy with a camera”, I have worked and shot in a wide variety of exceedingly high risk scenarios all over the world for a variety of editorial and commercial concerns which run the gamut of uses from News through Art. In process of acquiring both my equipment and multiple skill sets, came the acquisition of a detailed understanding of weather and natural disasters. In addition I am a highly trained first responder through my affiliation with K38 Rescue where we are regularly exposed to and tutored in risk assessment and management.

In what I do both in the water or out, very little is left to chance. You learn early on to watch your exits and to not ever encourage people to do what you do, lest by your example, you put them in harm’s way. The short of it is that I know in every circumstance, the risk must be worth a certain potential benefit, in order for me to pursue a shot.

So with that in mind, the short description and imagery which follow, illustrate what I saw that evening. First responders have a job to do in Natural disasters. If you have not been trained in Ops as one, I strongly suggest that you stay away. The situation may likely not benefit by your presence. Something to consider. (I always engage this thought process)

This is what I saw as I headed back in. Hwy ready to be closed. Fire billowing over Laguna Peak, which has had it’s radar installation burned out before.

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I checked all the canyon vents and figured out where the fire would come down. Chatted with a CHP officer who stood at his post at a road block to that Canyon I had been up in with Hans earlier that day. I told him what I was doing, and what I knew. I did not envy the guy. Embers were beginning to fall, and it was getting smokey. You could see what was happening.

I worked my way through an image series and went down on the beach and shot from where I had been doing our little magazine swimwear shoot. A thick plume churned up beach. The sky flowed with crimson, various orange tones, and deep blacks and rich greys. The diorama which exists in a fire near water is a rapidly shifting one due to a number of things.

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I was very conscious of the proximity of the fire and knew that the up coast exit could be shut off by flame in a relatively short time, so I got my gear back in the car and with the southern exit clear and under no threat, headed back west up Hwy 1 and collected a few more images. As I stood atop a roadside sand dune, 600 MM lens in hand, I saw a stream of lights coming down coast highway in the rapidly deepening gloom. There they were, the emergency fire service responders.

I cannot adequately express what this is like to watch. A cavalcade of vehicles of all types and from various divisions of service, lights flashing, headed back down to where I had just come from. I knew they would likely begin to stage there. I thought about our dream house on that canyon ridgeline. I knew they would likely save it, in spite of it being mid chimney.

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Proceeding back up to Point Mugu, that landmark known so well for the myriad number of films and car commercials shot around it, I collected a few more images as emergency services shut down the Hwy a few miles upcoast. A Sheriff parked behind my car as dark fell, and rather than talk to him, give my media credentials and stay, I simply waved, got in my car and left. This place really did not need me there any more. None of the rest of my ability to be there mattered. Not one bit.

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Half an hour later, my wife and I were sitting in Mai’s having steaming bowls of spicy chicken pho on Main St in Ventura. My lungs ached a bit and I thought about what lay ahead. The winds would change soon. Weather was headed in. Everything would be okay. I had simply witnessed the natural cycle and man’s endeavor to manage living in a high risk environment for episodes like this.

Later that evening I posted one photo from my favorite beach, to my personal Facebook page (I do not have a photography business page) and later learned that the image went viral when Jon, who manages some of our other company web endeavors, called to tell me about it. In a few hours over 250k people had gotten to see what I had. By the next day the number had doubled.

Last night before bed, an e mail had dropped into my business address. It was from one of the fire engineers who had been in the air. He had seen the photo and asked for a copy for his office. I think almost more than anything else from this day, I was very honored by that. In everything we do as Artists, our work should come down to serving others. That matters to me a lot.

Awhile ago a scientist, my wife (a designer) and I founded a company after a very unique event called Sea-Space Google birthed the concept for it. It is called OceanLovers. It is a for profit company, which drives Science and Education based change with the intention to fund people and organizations who are making a positive impact on the Oceans. It connects people, and provides accurate information about our blue marble. It actually creates change. Pretty neat.

So I made a collection of imagery for Oceanlovers called the Springs Fire collection. Part of the proceeds for all Art sold through Oceanlovers goes to each Artist. (The collections and list of people waiting to contribute, grows daily, look in a week and it will all be different) but 50 percent of all sales goes towards developing new technology and projects and support for the Blue Voices around the world which architect sustainable change. It is a hopeful concept.

When someone supports Oceanlovers,  in effect, they are voting for some tangible change and living hope.

You can find the Springs Fire Collection here.

The Oceanlovers Facebook page is a place where you can find educational and entertaining, art centric Ocean culture daily, and connect with a growing tribe of like minded individuals.

Aloha oe. A hui ho.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tis the Season

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

 

For?

We all know what the Holidays in North America typically are significant of: the prior sacrifices and services of the forbearers of the Nation and Christianity. Of course aside from those, at the core, it should be about the inception of gratitude.

Traditions are funny things. Over time the embeds get, well… buried.

Seth Godin has this to say about it today.

Black Friday. Really? I hate the name. Black, the absence of light, love, or gratitude.

My wife, Donna had to explain it to me. Keep in mind, such has been my own transformation, that she was tutoring a man with approximately 20 years of product manufacturing and retail experience. This is what she told me last night as my sons, and two of my colleagues were sharing some Thanksgiving time together.

“David, Black Friday is about putting retailers back in the black on their balance sheets. You know, as opposed to being in the red! ”

“Oh, I see.” And I did. But likely not what she thought.

We are so wrapped up in the day to day struggles here in this country that we are easily sold out, and  that  personal resolve, it sometimes becomes an unwitting and yes, even unwilling participant in something we ought to refrain from.

Well why should we resist? I mean, isn’t this supposed to be about giving? What are we to do?

Easy. Never stop doing what we can, and do it for no other purpose as to act in an expression of what is in our heart. Better make sure what is in there is not Black. It really needs to be white.

This weekend, Donna is having a company sale at her retail and online stores. But her take is a little bit different. Hurricane Sandy gutted the East Coast. There is no way existing Govt programs are going to be able to do much to alleviate suffering as Winter descends.

All week long, while I had been wrestling with issues regarding Blue Ocean Sciences and OceanLovers tech project for radiation remediation in Japan, Donna had been studying up on the problem of the East Coast. I had given her little in the way of hard advice, but had explained what to look for.

I do work in affiliation with K38 Rescue. We are tutored and trained in disaster response. I know a bit about the process, especially after witnessing what Shawn Alladio did during Katrina, and more.

So here is what Donna found. On the East Coast is a group Called Clean Ocean Action. For many years they have coordinated social and environmental programs on the East Coast. On Dec 8th they have a projects call, were they want everyone to contact them and will act as a liason to put resources where they need to go. As a trained first responder, I have to state and underscore, that this is VERY smart.

So instead of a Black Friday push, Donna and Betty B will donate 25% of all sales both online and in her store all weekend long, to Clean Ocean Action, and write a check and send it on Monday. NOT black. Green. Understand?

That is how we all ought to think: reach out, connect, and do so intelligently.

Giving is really about the beneficiary and not us, as the givers. That gets buried, much as one would think that it does not.

My brilliant friend Pete Ippel, left me a note on Facebook which I found this morning. A youtube piece called Buy NOTHING Day.

“Gratitude. It is a response to the gifts that are given to us in life. And when we commit to a life of gratitude, life becomes a complete gift of receiving and giving. It brings peace and contentment as a result. “-¬† Dr. Ed Brenegar

I unfortunately do not sell much, but I do have affiliates who carry some of my work.

This weekend, Solitary Exposure is doing a promotional sale. Donna also has a bit of my framed Artwork that she sells in her Fir St Store here in Ventura. So let’s do this. I will take 25% of my royalty payments from all sales via Betty B and Solitary Exposure from today till Christmas, and write a check to Clean Ocean Action in their mission to alleviate suffering from Hurricane Sandy.

But what I want any one you to do is this: say or write to Larry Beard or Donna, that you are grateful for what they are doing. Express gratitude in word and deed.

That matters.

 

Here is a little gift.

It is what is in my own heart, after much study about what goes on in Japan right now. I will write on that when I have a bit more time.

Aloha oe, a hui ho.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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