Lot of folks have asked me what I think about this week’s power outage.
I think it’s the natural outcome of what happens when an irresponsible industry and a litigious society collide.
I’ve read enough front page exposés in all the national newspapers to know that the utility companies have been far from blameless in their role in maintaining power lines.
But then, we’ve also grown soft as a people. No one’s ever supposed to suffer loss; everyone’s supposed to be made more than whole. And if you didn’t prepare for catastrophe and didn’t carry enough insurance, surely there’s a class action lawsuit to jump onto.
So oddly, that might prove the silver lining in the whole thing. That the pendulum is swinging. And that life here might get a little harder. As a friend of mine suggested over the phone just this afternoon, “We’ve made it too easy for people to live here. We’ve given them all the suburban comforts and even a few of the city ones. Life in Mammoth can be hard and dangerous.”
And how might that affect housing prices? Where’s Paul Oster to weigh in on this?
On a parallel track, the headline in Tuesday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal read, “Fire-Risk Algorithms Stir insurance Furor.” Just in case you thought power outages were the worst of your troubles …
The gist of the story is in paragraphs two through four.
“A new flashpoint is the use of algorithmic models for predicting catastrophe losses. Insurers have long used these models to project losses from natural disasters but insurers, homeowners and rgulators disagree on how they should be applied to assess California’s wildfire risk.
Insurers are pushing for broader permission from the state to use catastrophe models when setting rates. But some consumers say those models are opaque and fail to adequately capture wildfire risk.
The debate over catastrophe models is part of a broader disagreement between insurers and consumer advocates over how to respond to two years of record-breaking wildfire damage in the Golden State. Many residents of fire-prone areas are either paying more for insurance or having problems securing it, and the state has warned that the situation is likely to get worse.”
Oooh, that smell
And from Hite’s desk … Mono County Planning Commission discussed the growing concern over odor mitigation as it pertains to cannabis growers at its meeting Thursday morning in Lee Vining.
Jake Suppa, a Mono County code analyst, gave an in-depth presentation on how a county can deal with the pungent smell of marijuana. The slideshow explained how odors are measured scientifically; part of it is how much of the odor is physically occupying the air, and part is how the odor interacts with the air, and whether it spreads freely or not. And then he went into the science of why plants smell a certain way, explaining why marijuana terpines produce extreme smells, like skunk or even lavender.
Suppa then asked the board for roughly $3,000 to buy a field olfactometer, a calibration kit, odor mapping software, and training from the Community Development Department budget.
A field olfactometer is a foot long device that you put up to your nose and block out certain amounts of outside air to see if the smell you are dealing with is strong at the level you chose (0 is no outside smells, while higher numbers start to smell like the air you are testing).
Board Member Scott Bush questioned the validity of the subjects using the devices, “Everybody’s nose is different, so how do we pick the right nose.” (Damn. Lot of jokes available to add here)
Kuppa responded, “Well actually the noses would be the same when people use this device because they can detect the same amount of smell.”
“So you’re saying everybody’s nose is going to be the same no matter what.” Said Bush
Kuppa explained that the device is as good as the training that comes with it.
The subjectivity of what a nose can interpret came up later in the meeting as well when a local man who lived next to a marijuana farm in Mono County pondered the validity of the device.
A representative of Walker River Farms, a different farm located in Antelope Valley, explained that the devices are subjective to the ability of the person using it as Suppa explained earlier, while going on to praise established odor regulations in places like Colorado, Santa Barbara and San Louis Sobispo.
The board agreed that an authority on odor regulation was a necessary component to establish.