Friday, August 29, 2014
  Symbolic tree trimming

A few weeks before the '96 icestorm, Avista sent around postcards saying that they were going to do preventive tree maintenance. They didn't get to the prevention, but the icestorm pretty much took down all the tree branches and wires and poles that were susceptible to being taken down by an icestorm. Presto! Announce the job, and Nature does it for you, with a bonus of several days of lost power!

Several months after the icestorm, the prevention (now postvention) finally occurred. Avista crews took down some insignificant trees and brush, including a little 10-foot maple on my lot that wasn't going to touch any wires. They skipped my fruit trees, which were still menacing the wire and had clearly been damaged by the icestorm. (Much later, in 2011, I had all of my trees cut down. Zero problems now.)

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A few weeks before this July's superwindstorm, Avista sent around postcards saying that they were going to do preventive tree maintenance. They didn't get to the prevention, but the July superwind took down all the trees and wires and poles that were capable of being taken down. Presto! Announce the job, and Nature does it for you, with a bonus of dozens of squashed houses and several days of lost power!

Today the prevention (now postvention) finally occurred. Expensive Asplundh tree crews, with "on contract to Avista" permanently painted on their trucks, were working down the line in this area. As far as I can tell they didn't cut anything. I didn't hear any chainsaws, didn't see any climbing, and the trees look the same as before. But the crews did run their woodchipper for about 5 minutes in each location, feeding it some small pine branches.

Where did those pine branches come from? The crew didn't cut them here, and the Hank Hill types in this neighborhood don't allow loose branches to sit around.

This seems to be some kind of superstitious ritual, done more to satisfy the stock market than to prevent real damage to real wires.

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Few days later, now that I've got time to look around: No. Asplundh didn't just play with symbolic branches. What they did was worse. They cut all the branches on one side of a 60-foot pine next to the wires, thus killing it and guaranteeing that it will fall in a typical windstorm. Really dumb. [I'm not sympathizing with the tree. I have a specific interest in this particular tree. It's the only remaining tree that could possibly hit my house when it falls. The height of the tree and the distance to nearest corner of house appear to be about the same, so it would likely be more of a slap than a crush ... but my estimate could be wrong either way.]

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Semi-related. Got monthly Comcast bill today: it shows a month past due, plus the current month. Especially annoying because Comcast was dark for a full week after the superwindstorm in July, so in theory I should pay less, not more.

I've been highly systematic about bill paying for many years now, ever since frugality brought a constant and comfortable surplus. Now I don't need to wait for income. After earlier times of broke desperation, it feels damn good to knock out every bill instantly. Well then, maybe someone stole the check after I sent it? Oooooops. Checkbook shows that I didn't send a check to Comcast last month.

The date would have been right around the superwindstorm, so I must have accidentally tossed the bill in my jangled and overwhelmed condition.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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