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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fire, Phones, & Fighting

By Silvia Uribe

About the Gap Fire events:

Blue Radio

Tiny Blue Radio

This was my first time being semi-close to a wild fire. Other than campfires and the contained ones during Christmas in my fireplace, this element was completely unknown to me. After this disclaimer, I have to admit that the long weekend of the 4th of July felt longer than I had ever expected. Unfortunately, it was not a bit fun. Having a great view of the mountains from my balcony, my family and I were able to sit for endless hours and watch the fire slowly moving down the front of the mountain. It was like a crippling beast, paralyzing us with fear and inching closer, especially at night. In addition, the fact we had no electrical power increased our feeling of powerlessness. Because of this, we developed an unhealthy (I'm sure) relationship with our tiny, battery-powered, blue radio, from which none of us could be apart from for long - fighting furiously at times over its rightful location in the house. I felt so much stress and confusion that I turned the TV on channel 20, when power was available, just to read the rolling text; even though useful, additional verbal updates were annoying to me at the time, for some reason. Warnings and evacuation orders were issued, and on our tiny blue connection to the world we learned that some were resistant to leave their homes. In disbelief I wondered why. Do we value our possessions more than our life?


As I was sitting at the Camino Real Marketplace last Friday morning, I saw people (many people, I should say) gathering around the Direct Relief International truck to get their fair share of masks to protect themselves and their family (or so they said) from the ash. So far, I have not seen one person wearing those masks in public either in Santa Barbara or in Goleta. I wonder, did they only get those masks as a free souvenir item from the Goleta GAP fire? Or maybe the masks are just too uncomfortable to wear? Either way, it defeats the purpose, don't you think?


About The New Cell Phone Law:

How it is possible that even though we knew it posed a threat to our safety to talk, text or IM on our cell phones while driving, it was not until it would cost us money that we decided to stop doing it? I wonder again, does it mean that we pay more attention to our pocket than to our safety? Do we have our priorities reversed?


About Our Acceptance of Violence in our Society:

On Saturday night I had the not too lucky opportunity, for the first time, to watch the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) at a downtown bar in Santa Barbara. I had only heard about these fights before. These two young fighters were confined and ready to fight in what seemed to me to be a cage. There was another person in the cage dressed as a referee, except this person seemed to be just an interesting accessory to the show. He enforced no rules, whatsoever. The bar patrons were paying little attention to the TV screen. The fight started and I saw all sorts of kicks on the head, torso, and legs. At times they were in what I call a "nut" position, where it was hard to determine, which part belonged to which person. I started feeling very nervous. Purposely, I focused my attention on another TV that was showing images of Dubai, which were way more inviting than the fight. At some point, and in the middle of the blaring music, the verbal exclamations of my bar peers made me turn my head and I saw their facial expression. Some had a horrified look, others were half covering their eyes, and others were screaming all sorts of things. I turned back to the fight cage screen and what I saw was unbelievable. Blood everywhere! On the fighters, covering their face and body, on the ground, on their clothes, and even drops of blood flying through the air with each blow. I had to turn my head again in horror and disbelief. It was the most savage thing I have ever seen, but believe it or not, it is legal, and people pay big bucks for a seat to see it live, or to watch it on TV through pay per view.

I thought that the Roman Circus spectacle was over and done with centuries ago, and we had become a little more civilized. People go around pleading for animals' rights; dog fighting is illegal in our country. I wonder, what about people fighting to death? No one stopped the fight until one of the fighters was presumably unconscious! What if he was dead? Does the fact that we want to assume those fighters are "capable adults" make it right? Really?

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

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