Smoke’s First Fire: Welcome to California

Smoke’s First Fire: Welcome to California

Well, it’s been an eventful 72 hours and the #WoolseyFire is still burning.  First, I want to acknowledge we are extremely fortunate.  My family has suffered no injuries or property damage to date.  Our experience with the fires has been more of an adventure, while I have seen friends, associates and strangers suffer greatly.  We’ve had a ton of people checking in on us so I thought I’d give a quick recap of my first California fire experience since moving to Los Angeles from Indianapolis earlier this year.  For the record, we have tornados and really crazy thunderstorms in Indy, but nothing like this fire.

It’s 7:48pm PT, I’m sitting here at home in Westlake Village under mandatory evacuation and prepared to leave again at a moments notice.  We are monitoring the Ventura County Fire alerts & radio chatter, Twitter has been our best source of information, albeit requiring tremendous filtering of nonsense posts. The TV news has been recycling video for days in creative yet misleading ways, making it hard to tell new events from prior ones.  We are surrounded by fire zones.

#WoolseyFire – from Simi Valley to Malibu . Blue Dot is our house in Westlake Village

#WoolseyFire – Blue Dot is our house in Westlake Village. Red lines are mandatory evacuation areas. Purple is fire areas.

Another map showing the fire zones and Westlake Village

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The losses to the Southern California community are staggering, yet amazingly thus far mostly relegated to property and hardship. For the scale of this disaster, the limited loss of life has been a blessing and a testament to the Fire and Safety professionals getting ahead of it.
That said, this does not diminish the emotional hardship I’m seeing everywhere for personal losses.

 

We began this journey Thursday when upon returning from meetings in downtown L.A., we encountered highway closures just beyond our exit and the resulting logjam of everyone trying to get off at our exit, Westlake Boulevard.  Joining friends at Tuscany Restaurant, we enjoyed discussion with fellow patrons, but it increasingly turned to what people were hearing re the fires to the East of us. We offered our home to colleagues who were being evacuated.   I discussed exits plans that evening with Anitra and we agreed to leave if mandated. After a couple of hours of sleep, I awoke with a start at 2:30am and decided to turn on the news. By 3am, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for our Westlake Village. Go Time!

Even though I’m one who plans for emergency situations, knowing a fire may be imminent created a little bit of a scramble out the door.  As you should expect from an Eagle Scout, my go bag is always ready, with ample supplies of first aid, water treatment, weapons for self defense and other survival gear. I always think about how to survive for a week or more without civilization (hotels, stores, water, power) if on the road and for a month if bunkered in at home. [NOTE: If you do not have such a plan I suggest you consider it. It does not take long without power, food or water for the situation to cause people (especially crowds) to behave badly.]

On the other items front, we didn’t do quite as well.  E.g.,we later discovered that I had 9 pairs of underwear and one shirt (the one I was wearing), while Anitra had 14 shirts and one pair of pants (the ones she was wearing).  LOL Funny moment.

At 3:30am on Friday morning, we evacuated.  At that time there were fires to the East, North and West. I expected the 101 to be jammed up and fires were threatening to jump it by then.  Thus, I chose to head out via Westlake Blvd over the curving roads to Malibu and then down to Santa Monica. I figured this would be the least traveled most accessible escape route.

4am evacuating… no not happy

The 101 was closed in both directions from Westlake Village at the time of our evacuation

Over the hill in Malibu and headed to Santa Monica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out to be true and we made it to the Santa Monica JW Marriott by 4:45am.  The hotel was sold out that night but I was fortunate to book a room for Friday night and after huddling around the fire pit for a few hours, we were checked in by 10am Friday morning.

Luckily, we left Malibu on the same route ahead of this now famous scene:

Photo of masses of people evacuating Malibu later on Friday after we had made the trek. Photo credit unknown.

 

Evacuee at the JW Marriott – yes lucky and blessed. In the words of one of my favorites, Tom Petty “You don’t have to live like a refugee”

This became our home for the next 36 hours.  It was eerily perfect, sunny, warm and no sign of the massive disruption happening nearby other than our fellow fire refugees we met.

On Saturday, the winds shifted and Santa Monica became smoky and unpleasant.  Anitra’s history of asthma was on our mind as we exited and headed toward Sherman Oaks where friends offered their home.  On that front, we had nearly a dozen offers of places to stay with our wonderful community of friends and family. It was amazing and heartfelt from many friends giving us another reason to give thanks.  As we came over the hill towards the Valley, it became clear that the air was anything but clear. The shifting winds had brought heavy smoke.  At this point, we had heard from several friends who had remained in Thousand Oaks & Westlake Village who told us the area was clear, even though the evacuation order was (and is) still in effect.  We decided to go home to at least grab other supplies (clothing) and at best stay put (we did).

 

 

 

My friend and colleague who stayed behind in Westlake Village sent me these shots of the fires burning in our neighborhood on Friday:

 

Today we rode bikes to survey some of the damage and view the situation live.

 

Smoke reporting from Westlake Village during the #WoolseyFire from J. Smoke Wallin on Vimeo.

I learned from my neighbor, a veteran of the 101st Airborne (thanked him) who has lived here since 1985, that where we are in Westlake Village is uniquely sheltered and the fires historically have gone around us. The winds also made the air here much clearer than I expected.  We had a blue sky sunny CA day today.

We remain vigilant and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  I have great respect for the heroes of this tragedy. The fire and rescue and police have done a remarkable job of fighting an unstoppable force of nature.  I grabbed this shot from a twitter post (source unknown) of some of these guys taking a rest after 48 hours of constant fire fighting.  Amazing dedication and perseverance.  We plan to find ways to support them in significant ways going forward.

From KTLA – photo of firefighters sleeping in place after 48 hours of nonstop firefighting. Heroes, every one of them.

I will update this with the next chapter when it unfolds, but wanted to share in the moment while its fresh.  Thanks for sharing with me, your stories, as well.  As Anitra would say, we are blessed and lucky.

CNBC’s Fast Money with Smoke Wallin re Branding Cannabis, Wine & Spirits and Market Observations

CNBC’s Fast Money with Smoke Wallin re Branding Cannabis, Wine & Spirits and Market Observations

Thanks to CNBC and the Fast Money crew for a fun interview on the state of the cannabis industry.

Cannabis industry exploding with growth here, says top pot exec

The cannabis business is growing like a weed, even as pot stocks see wild swings. With Smoke Wallin, Vertical Companies, CNBC’s Scott Wapner and the Fast Money traders, Pete Najarian, Tim Seymour, Karen Finerman and Guy Adami…

Smoke Wallin on CNBC’s Fast Money

A few shots from the day at CNBC:
 

 

 

 

Jackson Browne – Standing In The Breach – Tour Rocks Indy

Jackson Browne – Standing In The Breach – Tour Rocks Indy

Well I’ve been meaning to post about Jackson Browne who we had the pleasure of seeing Saturday October 18 at the Murat (Old National Center) in Indianapolis. This is his “Standing In The Breach” tour which combines his classics and his new album. We paid up for the Ticketmaster “Rock for Reading” VIP opportunity. The reception room was kind of lame as the Heartland Film Festival banquet was going on and they took the cool bars. That said, we did get to talk to Jackson’s VIP host for a bit and he explained that the new album included a number of songs Jackson had not quite finished over the years. My feeling was they really sounded a lot like his older stuff, which I love. The seats, Center in the 11th row at the Murat were unbeatable. It is a great venue really in almost every seat, but that close was simply wonderful.

  2014-10-18 23.00.18 2014-10-18 18.30.28-22014-10-18 20.02.53-2

 

The band was terrific! Jackson finished the 1st set with Fountain of Sorrow, my 2nd favorite. He finished the encore after the 2nd set with For a Dancer, my favorite song of Jackson’s of all time. What a way to end a remarkable performance!

 

I give the show 5 out of 5 stars! Here is the set list, not in exact order, but I think I got most of the songs…

 2014-10-18 21.37.53 2014-10-18 21.25.23 2014-10-18 20.02.53-2

The Barricades of Heaven

Looking Into You

The Long Way Around

These Days

Shaky Town

I’m Alive

The Pretender

You Know the Night

I Love My Country (Little Stephen)

Leaving Winslow

Fountain of Sorrow

 

– Intermission –

 

Rock Me On the Water

If I Could Be Anywhere

Which Side?

Standing In the Breach

Looking East

The Birds of St. Marks

In the Shape of A Heart

Before the Deluge

Doctor My Eyes

 

Encore:

 

Running On Empty

Take It Easy

Our Lady of the Well

For A Dancer

 

 

Theft Ain’t So Easy Anymore; My iPad’s Incredible Adventure

Theft Ain’t So Easy Anymore; My iPad’s Incredible Adventure

Over the years, I have been an early adapter of technology.  In 7th grade (1978), I won 2nd place in the Manatee County Science Fair for a program I wrote on a Commodore 64 that allowed one to take a quiz on the Solar System.  I had the first MAC in 1984 when I went off to Cornell University as a Freshman.  It was very cool, except when it made that unhappy MAC face (often).

JSW Mac at Cornell

Fast forward a few years in business (and a budget) and I always had the latest devices in laptops and phones and crossover gadgets almost every year since 1992.   From my cool Radio Shack phone (big and rectangular) while still at Vanderbilt for business school in 1993 to the dark grey Motorola Flip to the StarTac (almost $1k when it came out).  Since I had companies I ran outright or for which I oversaw the technology side of things, I had an obligation (it was part of the job) to test out the new devices.  After a long and loyal run on Blackberry’s (I had the original pager shaped device and almost every one since, until 2011), my current device set looks like a commercial for Apple.  It includes an iPhone 5, a PowerBook Pro and an iPad mini.

220px-Mobile_phone_evolution

Over the years, I have broken, lost or had stolen (from me) my fair share of these.   Invariably once missing, always missing with a couple of exceptions of cell phones returning to me from taxis in Chicago and New York and a laptop coming back from the back of a plane seat.   But it was not until this summer that I experienced a fundamentally different experience in attempting to retrieve a missing device. 

 

This story is about my iPad mini’s theft and return.

 

In July we went out to Denver to visit family in the mountains.  After a couple of days up at Grand Lake, CO (amazing lake at 8,000 ft surrounded by mountains at the back side of the Rocky Mountain National Park), we enjoyed an evening of friends and music while Anitra performed with her old band mate Ryan Tracy. 

 

2013-07-25 19.45.27  2013-07-27 18.59.18

 

Sunday morning we had early flights out of Denver International Airport with kids flying in different directions and us heading back out to Napa, CA.   In our hectic exit, my iPad mini (I love it, but it is a “mini”) was inadvertently left wedged between the front passenger seat and the console of our Avis rented Tahoe.  I realized this during my Southwest flight back to Sacramento.   We immediately called Avis lost and found (I have had some success in having things returned if you realize it quickly enough).  In the past insisting on having the rental company re-check a vehicle several times has been required.  I did so this time to no avail.  They said it was not there.  I was 99% positive it was.

avis-logo

That evening after I hosted a beer tasting at our brewery Napa Smith Brewery, I went online and reported my iPad stolen on the very user friendly Denver Police website (which was quite user friendly). The next morning, I turned on the “Find my iPhone” and searched for it using Apple’s iCloud service.  Sure enough, it found it, but it was in an area of Denver that we had not been.  I screen captured the image of the location and sent that on to the Denver Police.

findmyiphone

Note: I password protect all my devices.  While I’m sure a sophisticated criminal technology ring could crack the 4 digit code, I felt I had a little time to keep searching.  The alternative is to “wipe” the device.  This protects all your personal information, but prevents one from tracking the device ever again.  I choose to keep it intact to try to retrieve it.

 

Smoke's missing ipad in Denver

 

At this point my working theory was either Avis re-rented the vehicle and the iPad was in it OR it was stolen by someone at Avis, who had then either taken it home or handed it off to someone else.  I received a call from Denver Police detective Gomez who asked me to send her directly the picture of the location.  She told me she would call me when she got there and I planned on “pinging” it.  iCloud allows one to cause a device to make a sound, very useful in finding a missing one or stolen one.    When the detectives arrived on the site, they called and I began pinging the iPad.  They went door to door.  The find your iPhone is amazing, but it is not easy tell EXACTLY where it is, only within a very small area

Nothing.  The detectives even went into a couple of apartments (with permission).  They told me it appeared to be a retirement home of some kind and they did not think it was there.  I was confident it was on site given the images.  They told me to let them know if it moved or I had any new information and left the site.  Frustrated but with little recourse, I kept checking the site.

Sure enough shortly after the police left the scene, the iPad was on the move.  I tracked it and kept pinging it, hoping that whoever was driving would hear it and either fear they were being tracked or look at it and call my mobile number, which was prominently displayed on the front screen.  For a while it was at what appeared to be a junkyard. My working theory at this point was the perpetrator got scared and tossed it .  However, this theory was dispelled when it went on the move again, eventually returning to roughly the same spot where the police had been earlier.

smokes ipad on the move 2.37mt  smoke ipad new location - by junk yard

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning while my Peet’s coffee was brewing, I checked the Find my iPhone site.  Lo and behold it was on the move.  I kept refreshing it and it was clearly on the way back out toward the airport.  Sure enough, it pulled into the Avis lot.  We immediately called Avis again and told them and sent them a picture of where it was.  Remember, these pictures are a current location overlaying a satellite image that was taken some time ago.  So while you can look at cars and other things on the ground in the image, these are from a different moment in time.  Interesting.

Smoke's ipad route from the old aged home area back to the Avis lot at Denver Airport

Now my working theory was maybe the Tahoe was re-rented and it is now just returned.  Or the perpetrator panicked from the police visit was trying to bring it back. Or it never left the perpetrators car and was simply in it as they returned to work after 2 days at home.  They reported to work at 8am.

 

The image I sent Avis appeared to be in the employee parking lot.

Smoke's ipad current location is at Avis

Our Avis representative Yolanda went out to the area and began searching with some of her colleagues.  3 times they went out looking to no avail.

 

Then all of a sudden the iPad appeared to enter the Avis building.  We called Yolanda and told her it was on the move.  Quickly it moved back out into the parking lot into another area.  My theory at this point was the perpetrator knew there was a search going on, had retrieved the device and was moving around with it.  One possibility was they were part of the search group.  It felt like the Kevin Costner movie, “No Way Out” in which he was the spy but part of the search party looking for the spy.  Crazy.  Frustrating.   I was determined to get to the bottom of this.  Sitting in Napa, CA, watching my iPad move around Avis at the Denver airport – was simply amazing.

 

After a short while, Yolanda called back and gave us the good news that they found the iPad mini.  Relieved, and now more curious than anything, I wanted to know the answer to what happened and who did it.  Yolanda told us it was in a rental truck, but NOT our Tahoe.  My working theory at this point is someone took it, realized it was being tracked (police visits and pings), brought it back when they had to return to work, realized there was a search going on and planted it in a similar rental where Avis found it.  I reported all this to Detective Gomez at DPD.  I believe it’s not too difficult for Avis to figure out who worked on Sunday July 28, had off on the 29th and 30th, and then reported to work on the 31st at 8am.  This person likely lives at or right around the location of the iPad where we had the police search.

I am still curious as to the final outcome.  I’m sure Avis has every reason to find out who did it.

IMG_1787 smoke's ipad

I want to compliment the GREAT service I received at Avis, especially Yolanda.  My expectations were exceeded greatly with the excellent customer service from the Denver Police Department, especially Detective Gomez.  Both were terrific and it was appreciated.  This service from Apple is AWESOME!  I was so glad I had a fully charged iPad so we had the time it took to track it down and get it back.

 

With all the disturbing revelations regarding the NSA tracking, the targeted drone strikes and other technology enabled activities governments are now able to do, at least in this regard, the technology was put to great use!

 

While I can think of some enhancements to make this even easier, perhaps, make the iPad talk to the perpetrator – warning them that “I belong to Smoke, he is looking for me and will find me soon”, current level of function was sufficient to have a positive outcome.

 

It sure ain’t so easy anymore if crime was your chosen field…

Family Predictions… 2012 Outcomes

Family Predictions… 2012 Outcomes

So, we don’t do a lot of politics here, but occasionally will weigh in on what is going on or an important event.  Today is one of those important events – the US Elections.  I thought it might be fun to ask around a few of my family members what their predictions are going into today and also share a few thoughts of my own.  You will note I have family with widely divergent views to my own, but in the spirit of this great nation, and the true purpose of debate…  “not victory, but progress” – I share a few of them here with permission:

———

First, my prediction:

Romney wins in a landslide. All those normal folks who were afraid of the drone slinging pres/gov and would not answer pollsters, actually vote their conscience.  That is, for a smaller, less intrusive government led by a moderate smart successful caring  person, who did what he had to do to get the nomination.  The country moderates back to a post ww2 equilibrium of about 20% fed gov spend of GNP and taxes. Balanced.   This fixes the problem. Yes there are some sacrifices re various worthy spending causes.  But alas, my parents retire with full current benefits, and those of us under 50′, buy into a new social pact whereby we know gov is there for a certain amount, but not for everything we need.  The gen x and later generations have to make the hard choices that the free spending baby boom generation of bill Clinton and our parents did not make.  Instead we focus on personal responsibility, hard work and innovation to get us to the place we need to be as a nation.  No more blaming the past or others for our predicament.

There is a complete rethink in academia…. Ayn Rand was right.  Hayek is the new Jay-z.  As a people, we recall what made us revolt from the British empire and create the greatest nation in history. We will remember Ben Franklin.

This will unleash an unprecedented burst of entrepreneurial activity fueled  by the billions and trillions of money on the sides lines during these dark times.   This will create opportunity for all. Women, Hispanic, Black, American Indian, Asian, all of us will benefit as a result.

Life will be grand.  🙂

———-
Now my Dad’s – Luke Wallin
———-

“The president is re-elected by comfortable margins in the popular vote and the electoral college.

The senate and house remain as they were.

In the coming year many republicans copy the strategy of “say anything.” However, it doesn’t work. This causes PhD dissertations to be written on why it worked for Romney but not for others. When the first of these works comes up for oral defense, a faculty member points out that “it didn’t work.” The thesis is rejected and all the others are quietly tossed as new topics are floated.

Chris Christie leads the party back toward moderation. This brings a war with the Tea Party, backed by the Koch brothers. Karl Rove backs Christie. Outcome too close to call.

The NRA HQ disappears in a flash of light.

Somebody said they thought they saw a drone.

What say you?”

———-
Now my oldest son, Skye Wallin
———-

“I predict a narrow Obama victory… almost certainly a victory in Ohio.

But he certainly could lose and I don’t pretend that it’s out of the realm of possibility.  Indeed, with the hurricane disruptions of voting in NY, NJ, CN, Obama may lose the popular vote and still win the College.  I hope this isn’t the case.

If Obama loses, it will be a sad thing not because he’s the greatest president, but because it will make cynics out of his supporters and cynics out of the citizens of the world who witness America fire the young man they chose to rescue us from the most catastrophic presidency in history.  People like to say that after 4 years, you can’t blame Bush anymore.  Well, I blame a lot of people and two parties, but Bush changed the world forever and wrecked a lot of things with draconian, expensive policies.

If Obama loses, it says that Americans really don’t have an ounce of patience and give up on promising individuals.  Barack still has lots of potential… after 4 years, I think he has learned what works, what doesn’t, and will approach governance more forcefully in the second term.  What kind of people are we to not even give him the chance to succeed.  As the economy improves, as the occupation of Afghanistan winds down, and as the recovery in Sandy-effected territories gets underway, what kind of sense does it make to fire the Commander?  With all the legislative nonsense that has occurred of recent, I think people blame Obama way too much–Congress is to blame for the vast majority of our problems.

With respect to foreign policy, Obama acts with a restrained neo-conservative strategy full of violence but less stupidity.  He is a scholar of the world with empathy, but unafraid to fire missiles and send in the SEALS…and go to war.  He has adopted responsible Republican tactics, so any argument that he’s soft on terror is entirely cynical and political.

WIth respect to the Supreme Court, it goes without saying that a more liberal court is a good thing.  If you are socially liberal, you understand that the Court is where those decisions get made at the end of the day.  Romney will nominate a smart, but potentially draconian conservative justice with lasting implications for civil rights and other important topics.

In the end, these men are not all that different and to assume there is a fundamental divide just isn’t true.  THe question is, do we fire our guy after his first try?  Just as things seem to be improving?  Or do we throw it all away and let Romney take the credit for someone else’s leadership?

Again, Obama wins Ohio.”

———-
Whatever your views, if you do not exercise your right to vote you really do not have much of a basis to argue about the outcome.  When all is said and done, I do hope as a country we can try to come together.  That does not mean abandoning ones principles just for unity.  It does however mean, finding ways in which, given the realities of a divided and diverse nation we can come focus on the big problems that need big solutions.  Stop politicizing everything and everyone.  Our nation cannot continue on its current trajectory and expect to maintain or grow our standard of living, our standing in the world or create opportunities for the next generations.  Stop pretending we can leave “as is” the social programs put in place in a different day and age when in fact they cannot continue as is.  That is not political.  Stop spending more than we take in.  That is not political.  Possible?
———
There a people out there who are indeed thinking along these lines. I recommend checking out Dave Maney and his recent piece in the Denver Post, and this CLAYTON M. CHRISTENSEN - NY Times piece “A Capitalist’s Dilemma, Whoever Wins on Tuesday”
———
Back to the family, exercising our duty as citizens, this morning at 6am at the polling station in Carmel, IN – Anitra and my oldest daughter Sierra (who got to vote for her first time today).  Pretty cool.
  
Well that about sums it up.. the family disagrees.  Do any of you have family members this divergent?  I may add more family predictions here as they trickle in.  Stay tuned…
%d bloggers like this: