July 4

Independence Day is hot. The temperature is expected to reach 112 degrees today. It was already 87 by 7:00 in the morning. Fires and disasters dominate the news. Some of them are not that serious, but they make good pictures for the television news. The most interesting was the explosion of a truck carrying fireworks. There is a serious forest/brush fire near Tucson. It has already burned some homes and recreational sites. Fire has become a bigger menace in the West as people move into rural areas and lawsuits and regulations prevent the thinning of forests. In the natural scheme of things, some types of forests are programmed to burn every once in a while. That is cold comfort to the guy who just built a new house in the path of the fire and most of the fires burning now are not natural. We are going to Tucson next week. I suppose that the fires will still be burning, but I don’t think it will interfere with our plans. There is a lot of empty space around here. Hundreds of hectares can burn in the mountains and you don’t see any sign of it except a little haze.

We bought our car today – a new mini van. It is much like our previous van, although a different color. When you have five people in your family, you really do need to own a van. I don’t car much about cars in general and could never understand why people get so excited about them. If the car gets you where you want to go safely, inexpensively and in reasonable comfort, it is good. I would not bother to cross the street to look at a fancy sport car and would not want to own. Obviously mine is the minority view. Many people define themselves by the cars they drive. I have noticed that some of the dumpiest houses have fine cars parked outside and for the price of some of these cars (including insurance and upkeep) you could attend a four-year college in most states. I guess that does say a lot about the owners; a fool and his money are soon parted. I respect the point of view of my brother in law Ray, who still drives a Toyota that he bought when Ronald Reagan (or maybe Jimmy Carter) was in the White House and before my children were born. Of course he can’t park his vehicle too close to a junkyard for fear of it being mistaken from scrap metal and being brought inside by one of those big magnets. There are also practical problems. Old cars have maintenance problems and generate a lot more air pollution than newer models (a new SUV makes less pollution than an old Volkswagen), but the lack of presumption in he shows by owning a car like that is refreshing.

We went to see the fireworks in Chandler, which is close to Phoenix. They went on for a long time. We did not get close enough to see the show at the park, but we could hear the music as the fireworks went off. July 4th is much less an event here than it is in Washington. I don’t think that could come as a big surprise.

Espen introducing the younger kids to the joys of video games.
Chrissy and her sister Lisa in front of our new car.
Typical car for the area.