Odds, ends from the editor’s desk

The worst Canadian import since Nickleback, last year’s wildfires from British Columbia were dreadful.

This year, it’s stepped up a notch, with something in the range of 540-plus B.C. wildfires burning prompting 29 evacuation orders affecting about 3,000 Canadians.

Poor air conditions — and that’s being generous, I suppose — forced a number of local activities indoors or completely canceled them after much of Washington state was put on an air-quality alert by the National Weather Service. Port Angeles scored a 194 rating (151-200 is deemed “unhealthy”) in the middle of last week and the entire Olympic Peninsula was at about a 184 early this week, according to AirNow.gov.

While the air is predicted to clear a few hours after you read this, about 5 p.m. on Aug. 22, there’s a good chance this isn’t a freak occurrence. Heed the words of Fran McNair, executive director for the Olympic Clean Air Agency: “We’ve got to realize this is our future.”

Dr. Allison Berry Unthank, Clallam County’s new health officer, urged residents to stay indoors with the windows closed if temperatures allow, and not to exert themselves outdoors if they have to be outside.

Further more …

We’ve had enough tragedies or near-tragedies on the hiking trails these last couple of years. Olympic National Park and the county coroner confirmed that the body they found recently near Hoh Lake was Jacob Gray of Port Townsend, who had been missing since April of 2017.

And early this week, a 59-year-old Sequim man got lost near the Lower Dungeness Trailhead when the smoke from the B.C. wildfires aided in his disorientation.

In both cases, the men were hiking alone. As someone who enjoys an occasional hike on my own, I understand the draw to get out in the park or forest on a solo trek. But I’ve seen enough really experienced hikers get themselves in bad situations by doing this, and it’s just not worth the added risk.

Scam scare

A former colleague of the Gazetteers sent me a note this week — three actually — describing three different “phishing” scams she received in the past couple of days over the phone.

Many of you are probably dealing with these as well now, as they seem to come in spurts, but here’s a quick run-down of what she received: 1) a man “representing the IRS” who said the revenue service has filed a lawsuit in her name, then suggested she call a number (she didn’t); 2) an automated female saying the local police will be coming to take her into custody unless she calls a number (619 area code) within 24 hours; and 3) an automated call saying her Windows’ license has expired and that if she doesn’t call an 800 number, she won’t be able to use her computer.

As always, it’s good policy to believe it is a scam if it sounds like one. If you didn’t ask for a service or don’t know the other person on the end of the line, hang up and report it.

Many of these are seemingly coming from the IRS; we had a spate of these last year. The real IRS offers this process to staying scam-free: 1) Record the employee’s name, badge number, call back number and caller ID if available; 2) Call 800-366-4484 to determine if the caller is an IRS employee with a legitimate need to contact you; 3) If the person calling you is an IRS employee, call them back; and 4) If not, report the incident to the IRS by email at phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘IRS Phone Scam’).

Lost in space …

A study published in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series detailed what scientists are calling a strange, 200 million-year-old object with the mass of a planet that is producing an unexplained aurora and traveling through space alone about 20 light-years from Earth. Named SIMP J01365663+0933473, it’s about 12.7 times the mass of Jupiter and about 1,500 degrees F on its surface.

And while scientists are keeping close tabs on it from afar, Sequim residents can get a view of good old SIMP J01365663+0933473 throughout the tourist season, occasionally maneuvering its way through the Washington Street-Sequim Avenue intersection, towing a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Michael Dashiell is editor of the Sequim Gazette. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.