Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Tree of Life

If you ever get a chance to visit Florida, do not miss the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. The center piece of the park is the Tree of Life. If you zoom in on the tree’s trunk, you will see why it is so named.

In his book The Growing Tree, Brayton Wilson writes the following: “Most people have an intuitive sense of what a tree is. They visualize a tall, single-stemmed, woody plant with a branched crown and many leaves.” He continues on and states that all trees share the following attributes:

1. They specialize in becoming the tallest, and longest-living of all the plants

2. Their design is complex and dynamic

3. Their basic design is like a tower bearing many tiny solar collectors

When you visit Disney’s Tree of Life, you will discover it’s special attribute!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Idaho Experience

During the summer of 1972, I was a member of a six person timber crew working on the Boise National Forest, near Lowman, Idaho. Oh what a summer is was! We lived in a tent camp that was more than seven miles from the nearest road. Needless to say, the night life was nearly nonexistent! The Forest Service would fly us by helicopter into the forest where we would spend the next ten days living out of the tent camp shown in the pictures.

Despite the lack of recreational activities, we never seemed to lack for things to do. We all shared in the daily maintenance tasks which were not limited to the following: cutting firewood and building the cooking fires, hauling drinking water from the creek, meal preparation, and the never ending dish washing.

Since we had no refrigeration, all fresh food was prepared and consumed within the first two days. For the remaining eight days, we ate lots of Spam, deviled ham spread, and anything else that came in a can. More than thirty years later, I still have no desire to eat Spam regardless of how it’s prepared!

Evenings were spent huddled around the camp fire waiting for nine PM because at the hour the temperature would drop and magically the ever present horse flies and mosquitoes would disappear. Just as soon as the insects disappeared, the field mice would begin their nightly raids on our supply tent. If the food stuffs were not in a can or a wooden box, the mice would feast until stuffed.

The summer camp out experience of 1972 is one I will never forget! Despite the fun and adventure, I also believe that it was the year that my love affair with camping ended abruptly. Now my idea of camping involves getting a good spot by the pool at the Holiday Inn.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Blown Off The Grid

In the late hours of Sunday, December 2nd, an intense Pacific storm battered the coasts of Oregon and Washington with wind gusts exceeding 100 MPH. The local airport in Astoria recorded a wind gust of 85 MPH before the station's data link was severed.

As we live on Astoria's north slope, we tend to be sheltered from the winter's strongest winds. Despite this, my weather station still registered a gust of 46 MPH. Throughout the night, the side of our house was pelted with shingles torn from our neighbor's roof. The winds also deposited numerous trash cans as well their content into our side yard.

The following pictures shows the neighboring duplex with a sixty foot tall red cedar crushing the roof.

Needless to say, it will be a long time before these units are once again livable!

The storm also trashed the power distribution system, especially on the south slope of the city; we were without power for four days. It certainly could have been much worse especially when you consider the damage to the southeastern states in 2005.