1. Easiest to just paste my response to a far-distant friend, who'd written to those she knows in the fire zones asking how we were:
Several people I know had to evacuate from the fires, but as far as I know none had homes burned. Fortunately for us, the Santa Cruz fire never crested the mountains, but if any future ones are on our slopes, I anticipate trouble.
The smoke earlier on was bad enough that we bought an air purifier and have been hunkering down at home with that. The latest smoke is mostly in the upper atmosphere, so the breathing isn't bad, but for a couple of days we were living in a good simulacrum of the darkened sky in a Ted Nasmith painting of Mordor.
It's the heat - now off the table as the smoke is blocking the sun quite well - that's been causing me the most suffering; I got an air-conditioned hotel room for a couple of days when it got above 100F.
2. We're being encouraged to vote early, but we haven't yet heard anything from the elections department. Endorsements on the state propositions have come out both from out local paper (which I don't entirely trust) and one local political blogger whom I do trust, so at least I know what those are; and we're starting to get the phone calls earnestly soliciting us to take one side or another on, say, Prop 16, always assuming that we can recall offhand which one Prop 16 is.
A little searching has also revealed the names of the candidates for my city's mayor, the first ever direct election for the post. They're 3 of the 4 previously generally-elected council members whose (first) terms are up this year, at least one of whom lives in one of the new districts that isn't up this year, so this is the only thing he can effectively run for. I noticed that two of the candidates both claimed endorsement by the same political club, and thought I'd caught a falsehood, but no: on checking the club's website, they've endorsed both of them. Criminy. More on this later, especially if there's a candidate forum.
3. We're also being encouraged to get flu shots early this year. But not too early, because it wears off after a few months. (This will be the problem with a covid vaccine, since that's the same type of virus.) Some pharmacy chains are already offering it. Kaiser, my insurer, is not, which is probably a wise restraint for the moment. But it will be soon, they say, and it will be drive-through, so maybe that's what all the rope barriers clustered up in their back parking lot are for. We'll see.