Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It is the 3rd day or so of intensive and near continual chainsaw use right near our house as these guys from Asplundh make their way up the house cutting down all branches within 7 feet of the power lines.  Often this means whole trees.  It is not ideal for trying to jam in material for the CFP Retirement Planning exam I take 6 days from now, but thankfully we've got a fine public library and I was able to arrange for a private study room for most of today.

In general, it's a pretty astounding, downright monumental undertaking to manage the above ground power lines on the east coast.  If we think back to August, 2003, the big blackout that took down the grid on so much of the East Coast, it was caused by some random trees somewhere in upstate NY near Canadia.  Now, since then, I like to think that some kind of circuit breakers have been put in place to limit the systemic impact of similar events -- and I think there have been -- but still... we have lots of little outages with no explanation, and we did in Princeton too.  Which is not to complain.  We haven't had anything in our fridge go bad in years, and if you go to sleep by flashlight once in a while, hey, it's kind of a fun family thing, it's good for the kids, I think.

Now, think about the monumental reforestation of the East Coast since WWII.  I remember reading in the New Yorker, probably an article by Elizabeth Kolbert, about how spring on the East Coast is totally viewable from space and meteorologically impactful in the sense that there's this huge carbon sink that reappears and starts pumping oxygen back into the global system.

So there's a lot of trees and a lot of power lines.  And these guys in front of our house are moving slowly, maybe 50-100 yards up the street a day.  They have to. Big trucks with cherry pickers, four guys.  They are probably union or, if not, at least relatively skilled labor, and paying to insure them is expensive too.  Map that out across the whole wooded portion of the United States, and the cost of maintaining lines is huge.

But they could have picked a better week!  Oh well, back to the coal mine I go.

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