California: A Burnt Chicken Nugget

By: Nick Swafford

You know what? California is a burnt chicken nugget. But I still love it.


First and foremost, anyone who understands my reference—hats off to you, glad I’m not alone. Vine left a massive hole in my heart when it died in 2016, but its memory lives on in the fact that literally every single person around my age will immediately understand what I’m referring to. Quite a feat if you think about it, getting an entire generation to memorize the same exact five-second video clips and having them still reference and quote them on the daily after a little over two years of being shut down.


Too bad not everyone understands my endless SpongeBob quotes on that same level.


Back in 2016 there were memes, vines, vidoes, and gifs about California. As a hotspot for political controversies, natural disasters, and media drama, there’s a boatload of material around every corner just waiting to be made into multiple memes. Not to mention, there are several sources for that material, such as the large amounts of celebrities that live there, Hollywood, and pretty much just California itself. Got to hand it to those meme, gif, and video creators—they created some pretty fire stuff.


Speaking of fire, that’s literally what California is: a giant state of fire. It seems like every week you can find a new fire roaming somewhere in California, causing a ruckus and burning things down. The state is like my humor:too dry for its own good. The heat that encompasses California makes the shrubbery and plants very volatile if they come into contact with a spark. One spark is all it takes to ignite an entire half of California. That spark is often caused naturally through a variety of processes, but there is also a large percentage of fires created that are caused by people. Our own incompetencies are sometimes the cause of some of the largest fires that hone in around urban areas.


This proneness to catch on fire has multiple causes, one of which is surprisingly our own attempts at fire suppression. You heard me right; by trying to help, we are part of the problem. In attempts to prevent disaster, the United States has been using several techniques to suppress natural fires for a long time. A lack of fires to burn through landscapes leaves many plants and shrubbery in fact. At first glance this may seem like a good thing, and at the time, I suppose it was, but here’s the catch:by stopping those fires, we have made the fires that occur now so much worse. All that extra shrubbery and plant life that has been left undisturbed due to human influence now provides even more fuel for the fires that arise today, letting them become larger, faster, and more deadly.


As this combines with California’s never-ending drought, it quickly becomes a recipe for disaster. Not to mention how during certain seasons, dry, hot winds come from the Great Basin region otherwise known as the Santa Ana winds, these winds blow in and do their best to make every plant as dry as possible. And they are very effective. Without much rain to add moisture, the plants stay dry, and as the winds also have the ability to carry embers, fire becomes much more common. Those fires also generally become much faster and tend to burn closer to urbanized areas.


Fun fact: for a large portion of my life, I lived in southern California, and my elementary school even had a VERY close encounter with fire. A strong wildfire came super close to my school and, if I remember correctly, entirely encapsulated the building in flames. Imagine a giant circle of flames around a school, and while I didn’t attend the school at the time, there were several photos of it. In the office there was even a framed photo of the flames around the school from a birds-eye-view. Insanity, I know.


The harsh reality is that all of these factors accumulate and cause California to be perpetually inflamed. There’s probably not even a fix to this, and I think many Californians have just accepted that fact and moved on to how to handle the flames quickly, so they don’t have as big of an impact. Besides, they live with somewhat frequent earthquakes, so fire is just another common natural occurrence. Truly a breed of their own in terms of adaptability. Anyways, there you guys have it. Maybe California isn’t the “Golden State” it is made out to be, it is actually more of a fiery orange.



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