Taking care of your kitchen

by S&M

This may speak to the many cooks in the group. I’m sure many have thought about the unifying effect of food, or felt what the interviewer describes in feeding his daughter (note: it’s become familiar to me again recently, as my son’s tastes have widened. Last night he happily ate chicken and yellow rice I made. The first few times that happened, a month ago, I literally cried.). But the interview also has a “things to teach your kid before they leave home” list that comes from a different slant than the very pragmatic perspective of other lists we’ve discussed. My favorite part of it is the following exchange, which connects global and local, personal and political:

FL: Right now, we are in an intense moment, maybe an existential moment, in our politics. You are obviously very busy because of that. This is a weird question to be asked, because we asked you onto our food show, but does it feel trivial, in this moment, to be talking about baking pies?

CR: We’re all human beings. We have to live through this period, and I actually think it’s really important that we retain our humanity now. One of the things that has been interesting to me – and I feel like people are recognizing that – is that at a moment in which the message out of some politicians is so divisive, they speak about fellow human beings in ways that dismiss their very existence or their right to exist, I think it’s really important that we have other things that can begin to bring us together. One of the things I have felt so strongly about and why I’m traveling around the country now talking to women is I think we haven’t been listening to each other very much. I think a lot of politicians are telling us what we should believe, they’re not really listening to people. Cooking meals, eating, sharing food, is something that is so basic to our humanity, and I think folks are retreating to some of these tried and true methods of being people together. So, I love it; I think it’s important. Probably the most special times of my lifetime are ones where I remember being around the table with family or friends, cooking and enjoying food together. There’s something that is just a common thread that runs through all of us.

Pie and politics: Cecile Richards on the unifying power of food

I think this interview on “taking care of the kitchen that takes care of you” went a bit awry—think she was more after things like how to refresh your cutting board by oiling it, and he was more into the food– but the topic (from both interviewer and interviewee’s perspectives) is an interesting one.

The best thing I’ve done for my kitchen recently is ditch half of it. I decided a few years back that I like a pattern on some china I have from my grandma better than what I chose at my wedding, and I started buying pieces to complete the set. I also have lovely mixing bowls from my grandmother, but one has a crack, so I asked for similar ones for Christmas a few years ago. What my sister got me, a set made of plastic that can go in the freezer, with lids that seal well, that have an ugly shape, just irritated me every time I used them. So the china went to Replacements.com, and the plastic bowls, along with a lot of hand me down odds and ends all went out. The things that are left are things I intentionally chose. I don’t want to get all Kondo here, but that little pang of love and happiness I’ve always gotten from using the original bowls (which I have kept) shows up a lot more often these days, when I pull out something I decided to keep.

What about you? What do you do to take care of the kitchen (or other spots) that take(s) care of you?

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100 thoughts on “Taking care of your kitchen

  1. Neat topic! This is a challenge, as we cook a lot. The one thing I need to do every time I do the dishes is to wipe down the sink. If I don’t wipe down the sink, it seems dirty to me. I also am fairly good about cleaning out the drawers and fridge.

    What I suck at is cleaning the oven and cleaning the cabinets (exterior) regularly.

  2. Example of a big thing: We got our kitchen cabinets refaced a couple of years ago, and they look great. They went from tired-and-dingy-looking to a beautiful, soft white. The surface is really easy to clean with just a damp cloth. It wasn’t cheap, but it was money well spent.

    Example of a small(ish) thing: A few years ago, I got rid of all of the old, mismatched “everyday” dishes we’d been using, and got a nice sturdy set from Williams Sonoma. I also ditched the “everyday” flatware (which again basically consisted of a lot of old, mismatched pieces), and started using our wedding flatware (which is stainless steel, not silver) for all meals, not just “special-occasion” ones. Mealtime really is better when you’re eating with decent utensils off of decent dishware.

  3. One other thing I did is that a few years ago, after my mother died, I put a rug that she had owned on the kitchen floor. It’s a small, very colorful, thick-pile Persian that can stand up to a lot of wear. My mother was a great cook, and I still make a lot of her recipes. It’s nice to have that little remainder of her when I’m cooking.

  4. Fun and timely! I move back into my house this weekend and can’t wait to enjoy my new kitchen. When I was packing it up I realized that we had a lot of unnecessary dishes, glassware, and tools. Not to mention several spaghetti servers that were broken to some degree. I’m looking forward to organizing and buying durable replacements (like new spaghetti servers).

    Also, about nine months ago I threw away all the plastic leftover containers, and bought durable rubbermaid ones that stack nicely in each other.

  5. NoB —
    I’m thinking of having my cabinets refaced and I might consider Home Depot. Did you use a big chain or a smaller contractor?

    “I realized that we had a lot of unnecessary dishes, glassware, and tools.”

    I’m constantly getting rid of stuff because extras seem to accumulate so easily. At one point I got rid of several bowls and got these, which are lightweight, can go in the microwave, and are in constant use. Plus I like the colors. (I just noticed they sell them with lids, which I did not get at the time.)

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ESYN1GO/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&th=1

  6. July — We used a company called Cabinet Cures. I think they are in some locations other than MA, but I’m not sure they work in the NY area.

  7. Great topic. I really love my kitchen and try to take good care of it. Our house cleaner gives it a top to bottom cleaning once/week, including taking all the burners off the cook top and wiping down cabinets.

    I have 2 pantries, one for food items/dry goods, and another for small appliances and serving pieces. Both pantries are small, the size of a small non-walk in closet, so they hold a reasonable amount but not a huge amount. A couple weeks ago I cleaned both of them out and was ruthless. For the non-food pantry, I took absolutely everything out of it, spread it all over the dining room, and only put back in the items I use frequently or really love. I think only 50% went back in. The rest went into a huge box and straight to Goodwill.

    For the fridge, I try really hard to clean it out once/week on Sundays. Any lingering leftovers or unsalvageable food bits get tossed and things that have crept out of their designated spots get put back. Condiments are the culprit here – they have their own 2 shelves, but prefer to party in the main part of the fridge apparently.

  8. I get anxious if my stuff is too pared down. I’m kind of the anti-Kondo. I have tons of kitchen equipment, and I’ve decided I’m keeping it until I actually go to the nursing home. That way, I shop the basement, which is cheaper than shopping at Williams Sonoma. Big stand mixer, food processor, bread machine, multiple coffee pots, dehydrator, sous vide circulator, Foodsaver vac n seal, electric skillet, electric kettle, stick blender…hey, what’s the point of living in contemptible flyover country (my portion of which is apparently #9 on the Unaffordability Index) if you can’t have a big kitchen, big basement, etc.?

  9. July. I used Kitchen Magic, a national chain. It was good enough but not high end and there is zero follow up. The good flip side of being a volume business so they meet the deadline. Got new easy wipe cabinet doors and slow close drawers. Good selection of hardware. They put a laminate veneer on the existing sturdy wooden cabinets to match the new doors and drawers. Also did a quartz countertop and new undermount sink through them. If all you need is refreshed cabinets a local guy or mini chain may be better value.

  10. DH doesnt cook, but is great at wiping down the counters doing all pots n pans except cast iron and all the dishes. The cleaners take care of sorting and cleaning the fridge, cleaning the microwave conv tabletop combo and wiping all the cabinets and appliances. The fridge condiments dont migrate from their trays very often. I dont scrimp in kitchen appliance purchases, since both DD and I cook all the time. The new induction range was worth every one of its considerable pennies. The magimix toaster is a daily delight. I replace things when they get tired, not when they actually break. The very basic Fridge will be an exception since the size is impossible to find. I have special oil for all the wooden stuff and also re season the cast iron if a guest “helpfully” washes it. All tge linens are vintage, mostly Mad Men era, even tge dish towels.

  11. “that little pang of love and happiness I’ve always gotten from using the original bowls (which I have kept) shows up a lot more often these days, when I pull out something I decided to keep”

    We have Fire King jadeite mixing bowls from my maternal grandmother – both DH and I place a silly level of sentimental value on them. In cleaning out my mom’s attic last winter we came across two small Fire King jadeite cereal bowls. Those two little cereal bowls that would have meant nothing to anyone else really wowed us.

    We also kept a really tacky spoon holder. It’s about 4×6, ceramic, with an awful painting of a cat or some nonsense (there has never been a cat in any of our homes) that had mom’s name on it. Looks to be vintage 80’s K Mart. We always hated it, but since it has her name on it and *she* liked it, it’s now suddenly wonderful! We embrace the tackiness with gusto and have warned the kids that death is a suitable punishment for breaking it. They completely get it and treat it with the tongue-in-cheek reverence it deserves. And that is how you make a kitchen feel like home.

  12. What is a spaghetti server? We use metal tongs.

    When I buy appliances, knives, etc. I try to get the best I can afford (without going too crazy – I’m not a professional chef!) on the theory that they’ll last longer. So far, its proven true. So much of my stuff is easily over 15-20 years old and looks the same as ever.

    I also like the idea of getting rids of odds and ends stuff for daily use and using a nice matched set.

    We get a TON of takeout plastic containers so I do try to reuse those or recycle them if they yellow or we simply have too many.

  13. I do a good job cleaning my counters, floor, sink, handles, stove etc. I have to spend more time inside my cabinets and fridge. I don’t do this on a regular basis, but I try to keep it clean.

    I use my Breville mini oven all of the time. It’s my favorite and I find it so much easier to use than my real oven. It’s a Thermador and it takes a long time to heat/cool.

    I was just thinking about whether I have the ingredients I need to make a soup in the Vitamix. I’m still in the experiment stage with the blender, but it’s a soup type of day. I had to break out my warm winter jacket and snow is about an hour away. I’m just glad that the snow held off so that there was a full day of school.

  14. I do a bit of cleaning-decluttering here and there. I will focus on one drawer in the kitchen, one shelf in the pantry, etc. This week, I will do a bit more, since I’m hosting Thanksgiving for my parents and my sister’s family.

  15. Now that I read more carefully, I wonder if the bowls that irritated S&M are the ones that I use. :)

    MM — I’m having the cleaning lady come for a special visit to clean our oven, fridges, windows/sills, blinds. It will be a pleasure to outsource all that. My job will be snapping out all the faux pane dividers so the whole window can be cleaned with one swipe. It’s a bit tricky and the cleaning lady wisely advised that I do that.

  16. I love the kitchen in L’Abbey. It is giant and has tons of drawers, including some Fibonacci series knobs. :) The only drawbacks are the brass, the backsplash, the ovens, and the range hood fan. I am REPLACING THE OVENS before Christmas – can’t wait! Getting a double wall oven Bluestar. :) We inherited a lot of dishware and glassware from the old owners – I hope at some point DH will let me clean out some of that stuff! I do the same as Houston, one drawer here and there.

    In 2 years or so I will replace the range top (currently Viking, 20+ years old) with another Bluestar and will have to amp up the vent fans – I think the one we have now is only 400 cfm and it is almost ineffective. I may try to touch up the cabinet paint at the same time – would probably have a painter do that, though. The company that put in the kitchen is very high-end and local – although painful we have been using them for the small kitchen projects so far, since they can replicate all the finishes in their shop.

  17. Ours is a basic kitchen. With MIL in residence, it can turn into a turf battle. I have given up trying to fight that battle. She wants to cook, so I stepped back. All of our dishware is white. I would like to have some color but then I remember growing up with my grandmother’s china – but with several mismatched pieces because you cannabilized from sets in storage when pieces broke. I now make use of everything and not keep things in storage for years because they are too nice to use.

  18. Our kitchen is too small, even two people trying to do stuff are constantly getting in each other’s way. Our dream is to open it up to the dining room and make it into a big kitchen, but that’s a pipedream.

  19. My kitchen is small & basic, but very functional with a good layout and great storage for the space.

    I have a decent number of gadgets and small appliances. I did work for a housewares retailer for many years, including the year I got married. (Oh – the work shower when everyone has a discount!) I’ve gotten rid of a few things that I never used (fondue pot, electric knife, ice cream maker), but I refuse to give up anything I even use once a year (waffle maker).

    I need to get my knives sharpened.

    I love the glass snapware sets sold at Costco for leftovers. I ditched all my crappy plastic stuff & replaced them with a few sets of the glass awhile ago, and I love it.

  20. We have a few glasses and other serving pieces that belonged to DH’s mom. They’re not expensive, but they mean a lot to him. I am trying to convince him to toss a set of steak knives, but he doesn’t seem willing to part with her knives.

  21. Small kitchen, not as functional as it could be, but got SO to agree to *some* remodeling likely next year. He agreed to (1) new cabinets (with lower drawers) and a new back splash. After measuring and looking at things, I am pushing to go a bit further. We have the raised eating bar that I would like to lower to be cabinet height and would give more working counter space. This means new counter top and sink. The new counter top will also allow putting slightly different footprint cabinets on the other side to the kitchen which will give more counter space and allow the cabinets on each side of the stove to be the same size. We have a drop ceiling in the kitchen, but all the florescent lights were taken out before we moved in. If we take that out I can get another foot of cabinet height, which means I can raise the cabinets a bit higher off the counter top. Also new cabinets will come with adjustable height shelves, which is a huge part of the problem with our storage now.

    As far as cleanliness – it is sort of like playing chicken. DD#2 is supposed to do the dishes, but she is not home much during marching band season. SO tries to out wait her hoping she’ll do them, but that means they often sit. I prefer to wash or load in dishwasher right after use. Neither of them are good at wiping counters, so I go behind them and do that. SO unloads the dishwasher, but hates to put things in lower cabinets (even after I reorganized them to put what we use regularly in the easiest to access locations), so I find all that on the stove in the morning to put away. THIS is why I want lower cabinets to have drawers!!!

    I have some stuff of my grandmothers’ and mother’s that is more sentimental than useful. We have a Cutco knife and utensil set (ages ago SO was offered a salesman’s set from a guy who no longer wanted to sell them) that we have added a few knives to over time. About 5 years ago, we sent them all off for the free sharpening. The local seller told us to send everything including the holders and knife sharpener. Some knives they sharpened, some they replaced, and both holders and the sharpener were replaced. We only had to pay the one-way shipping. The 5 we use the most likely should be sent off after the holidays for re-sharpening.

  22. SO unloads the dishwasher, but hates to put things in lower cabinets (even after I reorganized them to put what we use regularly in the easiest to access locations), so I find all that on the stove in the morning to put away.

    And then everybody wonders why women marry later or not at all.

    DH, whose ONE household task is to load and start the dishwasher, let the roasting pan and rack sit on the oven until I told him they could go in the dishwasher. I then put them in the dishwasher myself, because Jesus Christ.

    He never, ever washes cooking pots and pans, on the assumption that he’ll “ruin” them.

  23. We have a small kitchen (house is 100+ years old), so I have to keep things pared down. I’ve taken to storing small appliances on top of the fridge. I hate that look, we use them regularly. I ditched all my chunky plates and bought Corelle plates. We only have one cabinet for plates and bowls and they don’t take up as much room. I do have a set of pretty china/serving dishes and nice glassware in the built-in cupboards in our dining room though.

    I use Pyrex nesting glassware for storing food. I have a lot of baking things and have a dedicated baking cabinet. I rarely purge things unless I never use them. I also have a little section down in the basement filled with some kitchen things that only get used every so often (roaster, pitchers, cake stands, etc.).

    My dream is a farmhouse style kitchen with a big table in the middle of it.

  24. July, they were a cool set of bowls/lids, if that was what you were looking for, but it wasn’t. I feel a little guilty that I didn’t give them to the newlyweds (over a year, but still), but his mom had given them to me so…..awkward!

  25. Too funny! I did not know your kids went for dinosaurs.

    I’m more of a laid back food truck kind of person

  26. Not in my basement! My basement is pretty damn nice after we spent a ton of money getting it finished. Bedroom, full bath, DH’s woodworking shop/room, sitting room with wet bar, and our fitness room. My in-laws stayed down there and were happy as elderly clams.

  27. Rocky, it sounds like your basement is just too polyamorous for Kondo. You put some of your kitchenthings fown there, so you can love the ones you’re with, until it’s time to rotate.

  28. I didn’t even realize taco holders were a thing – maybe it’s because we always do soft tacos, not the crispy-shell kind?

  29. So after tonights total traffic/tansit meltdown, I wonder if Amazon might reconsider. The roads were all closed, the GWB was closed, the Port Authority had to close down because they couldn’t fit any more people in, the LIRR shutdown, and NJ Transit had huge delays. I heard that at Port Authority, they were telling people to just leave and try to get home any other way – but NJ Transit and the ferries were a mess too. Boy, a little November ice storm and everything falls apart.
    It took me over 4 hours to get home from Queens, btw

  30. “I have to spend more time inside my cabinets and fridge.”

    LOL.

    I know what you meant, but what you wrote is funnier.

  31. “I refuse to give up anything I even use once a year”

    We have a roasting pan that gets used every T-day, and some years might get a second use. But I’m not about to get rid of it and have to buy another every year.

    By the same logic, we don’t buy new Xmas decorations every year. We also use the same plastic pumpkins once a year.

  32. I don’t want to hear the word “snow” right now. Although by the time I got home, the sky was pelting huge globs of ice at me.

  33. There’s a problem with the tacosaurus rex. The website indicates it’s for Jurassic taco tuesdays, but T-Rex is from the Cretaceous period.

  34. Cretaceous Taco Tuesdays would be better anyway because Cretaceous has all the letters for taco, and they’re even in order! (Albeit with an intruding e.) Jurassic has only the a and the c.

    OK, I guess it’s getting to the loopy time of the afternoon for me.

  35. My sympathies Mooshi. I am guessing the best thing for Amazon employees is to live as close as possible to the office. It was definitely a lesson, we learned after we bought our first house.

  36. Oh Mooshi. Did you just have a good cry when you walked in the door? The only time it ever took me that long to get home I walked in the door and had a good 15 minute cry. Exhaustion and stress was at a new level. That was the snowstorm where a Southwest jet crashed through the wall at Midway and killed some people in a car.

  37. Yesterday’s commute was horrible for many people around here. I’m sure many headed for a beer when they finally got home.

    “SO unloads the dishwasher, but hates to put things in lower cabinets (even after I reorganized them to put what we use regularly in the easiest to access locations), so I find all that on the stove in the morning to put away.”

    The kitchen can be the worst room for squabbles between spouses. At least that’s the case for our home. I like clean counters, but my H leaves stuff out all the time all day long. Empty containers, crumbled paper towels, used dishes, etc. left on the counters seem invisible to him but annoy me to no end. Well, after all these years I’ve learned to live with it because a divorce would be too much trouble. Another irritant is splatters caused by heating up food in the microwave without using a lid. Just cover the dish for goodness sake! Oh well. My burden is heavy but I am strong. :D

    At least I’ve trained him not to leave dishes in the sink. Unlike most folks, I would rather have an empty, clean sink with dirty dishes stacked on the side counter ready to go in the dishwasher. That’s the exception to my clean counter rule. Yes, my rules have exceptions. :)

  38. Apparently, DD#1’s school has delayed class starts until 10 am. So, the first test of does she have all the appropriate clothing she needs. Based on a text yesterday evening (to let me know she got her birthday care package), more than one pair of long johns may need to grace her wardrobe!

  39. Our schools just closed for today. It was supposed to be a two hour delay, but snow/ice/rain here again this morning.

    Kids were stuck on buses in our town until 6. The police finally got to them and brought them to the police station.

    Even though it was a horrible commute, it is nothing compared to what people in CA are living through right now. This is just one miserable day compared to total devastation. My friend’s school district is also closed today due to dangerous air quality. Their schools are south of San Fran airport so over 150 miles from the actual fire.

  40. We got 8-9″ at our house; it was really overnight (10p-4a) so everything happened as normal yesterday for schools and today only some of the rural districts are closed. The city and suburban schools are all open, since the plows had from ~4-630am to clear the roads without much traffic getting in their way.

    My only downside was my plow guy came before the town did our street so I had to dig a passage for DW, our housekeeper, and me to get out and in the driveway today.

    Oh and my hardcopy WSJ was not delivered. I’ll get it with tomorrow’s paper.

  41. We got about 5 inches of snow from about 6pm to midnight. Then rain. So heavy shoveling this morning. The nice part is… when all this snow melts, we’ll have a pristine yard because the landscapers came yesterday morning to do the fall clean up! Ahh! The life.

    Bonus today – no coworkers in my office! I get the whole place to myself! I locked the door to our suite and have my music going. This is the life.

  42. Lauren, thank you for remembering us in California. My kids school was closed yesterday because the air quality is hazardous. Visibility is less than half a mile. It is cold for us and we have housands of people, including seniors and children living outside. The list of the missing in heartbreaking and potential death toll is staggering.

    There are many groups popping up on Facebook trying to find or coordinate housing for the evacuees, asking people for granny flats, extra rooms, places to park RV or set up tents. Those who have found rental housing have no household goods. Butte County lost 10 percent of its housing stock, there was only a two percent vacancy ten days ago before the fire started.

    We need rain to stop the fire and clear out the rain, but that will be another load of misery for the people outside.

  43. Cassandra – it’s heartbreaking. I have a friend who’s a recent transplant to Rocklin. The photos she’s showing are insane. I cannot believe the devastation and destruction. I hope people are able to find shelter. I hope you and your family continue to be safe.

  44. Here, we had tons of rain. I wish we could send some rain to California. We went from warm, muggy summer like weather to cold and rainy winter weather overnight. Lots of leaves still on the trees. We skipped fall. Nice weather for next week, the sun is out today.

  45. My kids are just leaving for school now – 2 hour delay. I very much fault the schools and universities for not closing early. The forecasts had already changed by noon,so they knew what was coming. There were kids stuck on buses in NJ until 9pm last night. My own university did not cancel late afternoon or evening classes, and I think that was true across the board, so all the faculty and students trying to get to and from classes added to the mayhem. Plus, the schools and universities are signallers – if they close early, employers are more likely to let their employees go early. As it was, everyone was trying to leave between 4 and 6, which was just too late.

  46. I was listening to an interview on NPR last night about the housing crisis in California. The official being interviewed basically said that it is not realistic to think that they are going to be able to find housing for that many people in that region, and that many people will end up leaving the state. It sounds like a lot of the displaced people have little money to fall back on – no insurance, no savings – so it doesn’t look good for them.

    I am also sad to hear that the death toll keeps going up, and worse, there seems to be a big increase in the number of missing

  47. “The official being interviewed basically said that it is not realistic to think that they are going to be able to find housing for that many people in that region, and that many people will end up leaving the state.”

    This is probably realistic, but it sucks.

  48. @Cass – It is really heartbreaking. I really feel for everyone in your area. I have been seeing lots of photos of missing grandparents on Twitter & Instagram.

    @Lemon – I forgot about that! I think I blocked it out. I was still commuting to the suburbs then, and it was awful. I’m pretty sure I drank heavily that night. When the next massive blizzard came that shut down Lakeshore Drive & trapped people in their cars, I was no longer commuting, Thank God.

  49. This storm reminded me of a storm we had maybe 10-11 years ago now… DH was working for a local U that didn’t close. I headed home early (perks of being a grad student), and he was stuck. It took him 4 hours to do a commute that usually took 25 minutes. I kept checking in on him because I didn’t know what to think at that point. He was so exhausted and burnt out that he collapsed on the couch. I don’t remember if he even made it to bed that night.

  50. We got snow but the timing was excellent. The car service was early for the 430am pickup and we are now in ATL and our bags are already on the plane to HNL.

  51. My Bay Area friends keep posting pictures of the horrible smoke. De Anza Community College and San José State University were closed because of the terrible air quality. And they’re a couple hundred miles away from Paradise. A few of my high school classmates live up there and lost everything. It’s not a wealthy community.

    For those of you with charitable impulses, the Chico Enterprise-Record provided this list:

    https://www.chicoer.com/2018/11/09/heres-how-you-can-help-camp-fire-victims/

  52. Here in the Northeast, we badly need to put the power lines underground, especially in the dense suburbs around the cities. Europeans are always baffled by our frequent, widespread power outages whenever the weather gets bad

  53. “Underground is about 10 times more expensive than overhead,” said Malashenko, who is the PUC safety and enforcement division director. “If we were to underground (throughout) California, all our rates would go up ten times.”

    Um…that makes no sense. Transmission costs are only part of the rate.

    California is prime earthquake country and seismic activity is more likely to disrupt underground wires than overhead wires.

    I don’t believe that’s true either. Earthquake damage is caused by the ground moving and buildings, due to their mass and inertia, attempting to stay in place. Tunnels (BART, etc) contrary to popular belief, are quite safe as they move with the ground so there are little to no sheer forces.

  54. Major devastation/environmental change (fires in CA, Katrina in LA, dust bowl in the 1930s) leads to population shifts. Some estimate as many as 40,000 people who fled into the East Texas area have made that their new permanent home. It is hard and sad, but more common than we think.

  55. All modern structures in the area – including bridges and highways – must be designed with earthquake safety in mind. But geotechnical and structural engineers agree that tunnels are among the safest places to be during an earthquake.

    Some folks find this counterintuitive. How is it safe to be underground when the earth starts shaking? Turns out underground structures are safe because they move with the soil, while structures above ground sway back and forth.

    http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct/Status/Blog/tunnels-and-earthquakes

  56. Here we have a mix of underground and overhead lines.

    To Rhett’s – it is recovering the initial cost of burying the lines vs. maintaining current overhead lines. The more difficult to dig, the more it costs.

  57. We definitely need power lines buried here. If you add up the costs of frequent outages due to fallen trees and the cost to repair them it would not take that long to be equivalent to burying the lines. It is also dangerous. We had power lines sagging due to fallen trees right at the entrance to my kids school and in various places around the city. Some of these took days to fix.

  58. AustinMom,

    There is no doubt it will cost more. But that it costs 10x more means rates will go up 10x is blatant nonsense.

  59. But that it costs 10x more means rates will go up 10x is blatant nonsense.

    Not when it’s all privatized! It’s like how airline prices go up when fuel costs do, but they don’t go down when fuel prices drop.

  60. I was just looking through the fire photos CNN has online. The ones that struck me the most were of the firefighters. They are battling an impossible fight, and then they have to dig through rubble to look for human remains.

  61. It’s like how airline prices go up when fuel costs do, but they don’t go down when fuel prices drop.

    That’s not true.

  62. Mooshi – so sorry you went through that.

    I had no problem with the subway. The kids’ school canceled the late bus, putting everyone on the early bus, to beat rush hour. Thank goodness. Regular school day today, disappointing the kids greatly.

    The pup loved his first snow!

  63. We have underground power lines and we don’t pay 10x as much for our electricity.

    The pricing that always drives me nuts is when oil prices shoot up, gas stations raise their prices the next day. But when oil prices drop, they don’t decrease the prices right away because “it takes time for the change to work it’s way through the system.”

  64. “It sounds like a lot of the displaced people have little money to fall back on – no insurance”

    Help me understand, please. I have all the sympathy I can muster for anyone who loses their home/everything but how is it these people don’t have fire insurance on their homes? I totally get not having flood insurance and/or earthquake insurance if not required, but I’m assuming almost all of these folks have mortgages so they’ve got to have homeowners’ (fire) insurance that’ll help them get back on their feet financially.

    I understand also about the difficulty of rebuilding a whole town’s/city’s housing stock in short order so the idea that many will leave the area/state makes sense to me.

  65. I have all the sympathy I can muster for anyone who loses their home/everything but how is it these people don’t have fire insurance on their homes?

    Many would be renters and they may or may not have renters insurance. Also, I think you’re forgetting how close most people live to the edge. If you came home to find your house burned to the ground you’d presumably head out to dinner with you wife, maybe stop at the store for some underwear and a change of clothes and then check into a hotel. Then you’d find some extended stay or furnished rental to ride things out until your house is rebuilt. Sure, you’ll get a lot of that outlay back from insurance, but that may take a while especially with a flood of claims. Many people don’t have that kind of money.

  66. Fred, a lot of the people were in trailers, often old trailers, that simply weren’t worth enough to insure. I get the sense that this is not a wealthy part of California

  67. MM – I hadn’t thought of that…when I envision “thousands of homes destroyed” I think of single family owner occupied homes. And I grew up in CA. Thanks.

    Rhett – thanks to you, too. I hadn’t really thought of the renter angle. At least for apartments the typical coverage is $5k or $10k for personal property.

  68. OK, I have to keep harping on yesterday’s storm because I am still really pissed that the various levels of government in both NY and NJ paid so little attention to the forecasts. I knew 24 hours in advance that it was not going to be a fun commute home. I would have worked from home but I had to be at a mandatory afternoon meeting. This article is great – talks about the kids stranded on buses due to total lack of planning. The comments in particular are telling

    “Every time I read the word “unexpected” used with this storm I just shake my head. Total fiction. This storm was well forecast almost a week ago. Yesterday, in my area of NJ it was forecast to be 5-8 inches. The total amount wasn’t the problem. The problem was zero preparation for this storm.”

    “The storm struck Philadelphia in the morning. Wasn’t that warning enough? No, instead DiBlasio blames all the traffic jams throughout the city on the Port Authority, for closing the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. ”

  69. “Many would be renters and they may or may not have renters insurance. Also, I think you’re forgetting how close most people live to the edge. If you came home to find your house burned to the ground you’d presumably head out to dinner with you wife, maybe stop at the store for some underwear and a change of clothes and then check into a hotel. Then you’d find some extended stay or furnished rental to ride things out until your house is rebuilt. Sure, you’ll get a lot of that outlay back from insurance, but that may take a while especially with a flood of claims. Many people don’t have that kind of money.”

    The area that burned is a relatively low income area with about 25 % retirees. Even if people had the money to check into a hotel in normal times, there isn’t the housing stock available to to absorb 30,000 people. We often talk about cognitive capacity, many of the oldsters are in the time of life when faculties start to fail. Fleeing an inferno and then figuring out what next is incredibly difficult for the elderly who were just keeping in together before. The hotels are full, the fairgrounds are full, and it is cold. Housing was insanely tight before the fires. It got worse after the Santa Rosa fires, but Paradise burning down takes this to another level.

    The short term problem is that the shelters are full and people are camping in the WalMart parking lot because there is no place to go. All the fairgrounds in the surrounding counties are either at capacity or being used as a command center for the fire crews.

    Losing a single house in a fire is awful, nowhere near the level of awful of a town burning. To rebuild even a fraction of the housing stock requires labor and material. At the beginning of the month, there were more jobs than people in the country. Now, where will we get the people to rebuild Santa Rosa and Malibu and Paradise?

    Rebuilding housing stock requires lumber, concrete, unskilled and skilled tradesman. There was an article in the WSJ a few weeks ago about the backlog in lumber mills in the south. There was plenty of timber, but not enough sawmill capacity to turn it into lumber. Rebuilding of the Oroville Dam sucked up most of the concrete capacity in the region/state for the past two years.

    For those unfamiliar with California geography, the Oroville Dam almost collapsed not quite two years ago and 180,000 people evacuated. Both the Oroville Dam and Paradise are in the same county.

  70. DD and Lark and others, thanks for asking how to help RMS’s list is a good one. Also, the Sikh community has opened their hearts and temples to everyone. I will try to find a link to donate to them. Funny, it’s easy to find out how they are offering to help, but not so much on how to donate to them.

  71. Even if people had the money to check into a hotel in normal times, there isn’t the housing stock available to to absorb 30,000 people.

    If their jobs and schools and homes are gone then relocate them to Reno or Vegas or wherever has spare capacity. That’s what I would do. But I can see how most people don’t want to leave “home” even if it’s been destroyed.

  72. Rhett, it’s hard to explain if you haven’t spent a little time there, but Reno and Vegas are kind of the anti-Paradise. In the Northern California hills/mountains, there’s a kind of redneck/hippie blend. It’s hard to describe. They have guns and attitudes, but they also love nature and smoke dope. Sort of libertarian combined with ecology-minded. You’d have to meet some of them. It’s a strong presence in the Santa Cruz mountains/San Lorenzo Valley area too.

  73. RMS, I used to know a family from that area. You are exactly right. They were off the grid hippies with a couple of kids. Very nice, kind of progressive hippie libertarians, if that makes sense.

  74. “If their jobs and schools and homes are gone then relocate them to Reno or Vegas or wherever has spare capacity. ”

    IIRC, there was a lot of that sort of relocation in the aftermaths of Harvey, Katrina, Irma and Maria.

  75. One datum WRT burying stuff: About 6 months after the Loma Prieta quake, my drains backed up. What apparently happened was that the sewer main from my house cracked during the quake, and it took about 6 months for enough roots to grow into the pipe to block it.

    More generally on putting utilities underground, IMO, whenever major road reconstruction is done, it should include laying of several conduits and pipes, at least one for electrical utilities, one for communications, one for water, and one for sewer. During such reconstruction, the marginal cost of adding this infrastructure is fairly low, and if long enough stretches are built, costs can be recovered by leasing those conduits.

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