Thursday, March 15 2012
Today I took advantage of the continuing warm weather to make further progress on the treefall clusterfuck at the edge of our neighbor's field. There hadn't been any wind and I didn't feel like waiting for it, so I decided to try pulling the tree down with a cable. So I tied some nylon rope to a weighted bean bag and threw it up over the limbs that were stuck in the massive White Pine. I then used the rope to pull through a length of sturdy quarter-inch cable. About four years ago the neighbors cleared this field of pine saplings, so it was possible for me to drive the Subaru and use it to pull on that cable. Unfortunately, though, it wasn't strong enough to pull down the tree. It's a little weird to drive to the end of a cable and feel it pull you to a complete stop. Part of the problem was that the cable had ensnared several branches, which acted like a massive spring as the cable tightened around them, which gave my car less of a jolt as it reached the end of the cable.
Eventually I decided to try sawing off one the trunks near the root pile it had pulled up as it had fallen. The tree was so thick near the root that my eighteen inch blade couldn't reach completely through it, leaving a narrow band of wood. I heard (or, more accurately, given my hearing protection, felt) the whole scary complex pop at one point and quickly drew back. There's no telling how exactly the vectors will resolve when there are two large tree trunks suspended at thirty degrees and a couple of intermediary trees helping to hold them up.
I went around to the other side of the tree to cut through the part I hadn't been able to reach, working beneath the other massive trunk that was also hung up. Working from this side, it didn't take much to make the trunk I was cutting let go and fall to the ground. As it did so, it provided enough relief to also release the other trunk. Things always happen slowest near the stump end of a tree, and I had plenty of time to get out of the way as the trunk I'd been working beneath fell, pulling up still more of a root ball. The second trunk wasn't completely down; it was still somewhat hung up in the small hemlock. But, in terms of widow making capability, this clusterfuck was pretty much spent.
At some point in all of this I went into town to get cat litter, drop off our tax information at our accountant's office, and pick up my new prescription glasses. Their frames are a bit purpler than I would have wanted, but on the plus side they're auto-darkening.
With the mail today I took delivery of yet another USB 802.11n WiFi adapter. Recently I've bought several such WiFi adapters, always getting the kind with RP-SMA antenna connectors that claim to be long-range. My luck with them has been mixed; sometimes they work great with the included omnidirectional antenna and then are underwhelming when attached to a parabolic dish. Today's adapter, a model called Slate that appears to only be available via eBay (perhaps it violates FCC regulations), though, proved to be the best adapter I've ever tested. Hooked up to a 24 dB dish, it found twice the number of WiFi hotspots of the other so-called high-power adapters. These hotspots, by the way, are all somewhere out in the Esopus Valley, two miles away at the closest. It's not often that I stumble onto a great product without following someone else's recommendation, but the Slate USB WiFi dongle is as good as such dongles get.
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