Friday, August 24, 2012

Blazes...and Ultrarunning

Nope, this post in NOT about those helpful painted marks on trees and rocks that show you where the trail is.  I love me some of those blazes!

Rather I want to talk about fires.  Or more properly, people talking about fires, as in newscasters.

Seems that there are a lot of serious wildfires out west right now.  It's been a hot, dry summer, making conditions right for fire.  National news has been devoting a lot of coverage to the situation, especially since many homes are at risk, to say nothing about the thousands of acres burned.  I have nothing but sympathy and heartfelt wishes for a good outcome to all affected.

But what I really wanted to get to was the use of the word "blaze."  See, I think it's fair to say that you and I never use the word blaze, as in "Did you see that house over on Madison Street that was destroyed in a blaze?", or "Man, those blazes out west are really terrible this year!"

Nope, blaze is a word only used by newscasters.  Every time I watch the news (whether national or local) and they present a story about a fire (whether structure, grass, or forest), I wait for the talking head to use the word blaze.  It actually would make a good drinking game, where you have to take a drink every time the TV person uses the word.

It usually is not long in coming, as newcasters must get tired of repeatedly saying  fire this and fire that.

Except that normal people simply never say blaze.  It sounds contrived, and it is.

The connection to Ultrarunning?  My thing about blazes--the trail kind, not the fire kind--is that I wish they would incorporate some sort of reflective component into the paint.  Many times when I am running in low light conditions, say around sunrise or sunset, or if it's foggy, having a blaze reflect back at me from my flashlight or headlamp beam would be SO very helpful.

I expect to begin some volunteer trail maintenance duties soon with the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, and I will be sure to make the case for reflectivity.


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