Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When Plan B doesn't work

The problem: Hung up
about 35 feet above ground.
I think it's mentioned somewhere else on this blog how I learned to attack difficult tasks from a friend on a sailing voyage. On long ones something is always going to go wrong and what I learned watching him was he always had the next thing to try if this fix didn't work. The trick is to keep thinking; as you try one solution be thinking of what you will do if this one doesn't work. Sometimes you have to go pretty deep into the alphabet to find the eventual solution.

Today off that list of procrastinated jobs, two are complete and a couple others are farther along the way.

The biggest was finally getting that blow-down tree to the ground from where it had hung up in another tree. That one went to plan D and a half. The way it fell and stopped at about a 45-degree angle probably 30 or 40 feet above the ground, it was still attached to the stump. Some time ago I cut it free from the stump, but that barely moved it in the other tree. 

Plan D: connected and cranking. Those chunks on the 
ground are from earlier pieces whittled off the trunk.

The next was an attempt with some climbing rope and my old small comealong. The way the tree had come off the stump it was jammed against a hillock made by an older stump and that set-up wouldn't budge it. Plus the small machine and thin rope started to look a little flimsy for the job. I've always been a little timid about such things after I saw a U.S. Navy film about how a line snaps back when it breaks under tension.  

To demonstrate the force, they lined up nine mannequins along the deck of a ship and then backed down on a line until it broke. The snap back cut the first six or seven mannequins in half, and hit the next two or three with a force estimated to be fatal. As that line on the tree reached banjo string tension I decided not to go further. At that point, I left it for a few weeks while my mind worked on Plan C.

That plan simply involved more force. I brought a bigger comealong from the cabin, this one a 4 1/2-ton contraption made to move mountains.  I also brought some bigger rope to aid in an attempt to increase the power of the tug on the tree. Unfortunately that didn't do it and for the second time the line reached banjo tightness and I quit again in frustration.

I can't say I came up with Plan D myself. I pointed out what I was faced with to a plumber who came by one day and he said oh that's where your have to cut it at an angle and keep working up the trunk until the whole tree comes down. I thought about that for a while and came up with a variation that prevented the possibility that the cut would close and pinch the chainsaw bar between the two parts.
Down, finally.
I put rope and the big comealong in place about three feet up the trunk and cranked on it until the device took up serious tension. Then I started cutting the angled trunk with a cut perpendicular to the ground.  Instead of trying to cut all the way through, at about three-quarters, and before the wood could pinch the blade, I shut down the saw and took up more tension on the line. That broke the tree right at the cut and it slid  down but stuck in the ground before it could fall all the way out of the bigger tree.

The trunk however did fall away from that hillock that had it jammed and onto flatter ground so I kept cranking on the comealong and the tree began to move. But this was progress in inches. Six or seven times the effort took up all the wire on the spool and the tree only moved maybe six inches each time. But toward the end of about the fifth with a pretty loud crack it fell part way down the obstinate tangled tree and when it did, that reduced the angle against the ground. The base didn't dig in as much as I cranked against it.

Two more resets and the tree started coming easily, moving as much as a foot on each setting. While this process was tedious, progress was being made. But I was losing ground in another way.  It reached a point where the distance between the tree and the one I was using to anchor the line was so short there wasn’t much room to pull it any farther. Archimedes had said he could move the earth if he had a place to stand and I was running out of a place to stand. There wasn't another stout enough tree close and in line to which I could anchor the rope and I was starting to see how I could get the four-wheeler or the Jeep close enough to finish the job. Those would have been plans E and F.

Stacked and drying.
But that's where the "D and a half" came into play. I pushed on the tree and found it moved side to side fairly easily. And, each time I shook it, I could hear cracking up where it was stuck.  So I kept shaking and in time with a loud crack up there somewhere the whole thing came down. Finally. One job that's been a bother since last fall and now that tree was on the ground.

It only took about an hour or so to buck it up and haul the wood to the growing pile. Sometimes great satisfaction comes from solving some rather mundane problems.

One less task to procrastinate about joined that growing side of the list. Last night I planted all the seeds in the flats and pots and arranged them in the sunny windows, so that one's done too. Oh yeah the right ball hitch is on the four-wheeler now and I have a new receiver for the other trailer so it, too, will take a 2-inch ball.

So, tomorrow is a day off. Except for a doctor's appointment which is near the big box hardware store where I need to buy bolts for the small trailer hitch and tie-downs for the new trailer. One leads to another and another. Vonnegut again, "and so it goes." And pleasant to know I had Plans E and F in the bank.

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Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve