Sunday, January 22, 2017

Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago)

Nannyberry is auditioning as a specialist in the Landscaping for Wildlife project I am helping with.

Area "F" is swamp/marsh
There is a significant amount of "swamp" and marsh that would benefit from patches of cover and winter forage for birds.

It is not very photogenic this time of year.  This specimen gives you a sense of how it forms a thicket.
The seed is slightly larger than a watermelon seed and nearly the same shape.  It tasted a bit like a date.  Nothing special but not obnoxious, either.
Each spear-shaped terminal bud will become a sloppy "snowball" in early June.  Literature suggests that more berries will be produced if another clone is nearby to provide pollination.
Close-up of the terminal bud.  As always, you can click on the picture to make it larger.

The plant suckers profusely from the shallow roots.  It can grow up to the edge of standing water.  The branches are smooth and not too difficult to push through.

Many of the bushes are still retaining fruit, even in mid-January (all pictures taken January 22, 2017)
This species is much easier to find when in flower.  Once you are keyed in, you will see them everywhere. This image is from gobotany.
Unfortunately, these flowers do not smell very good.  I wonder if it can hybridize with V. carlesii? Image from Prairiehaven.

Bonus pictures, a local hawthorn
Not very many thorns.
It tasted like an over-ripe Golden Delicious apple.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Poverty is a risk to your health

Poverty is a risk to your health.

Men's average longevity from age 50 "binned" by income quintile.  These are not projections.  This is data.  Green was longevity in 1930.  Orange was longevity for men who were age fifty in 1960.  Data from the National Institute for Health.
Same chart for women, average longevity from age 50 binned by income quintile.
Household income, average for each quintile, 2014:
Lowest Quintile:  $11.7K
Second Quintile: $31.1K
Third Quintile: $54.0K
Fourth Quintile: $87.8K
Highest Quintile: $194K

I am now going to commit a statistical sin, I am going to combine 1960 data (life expectancy) and 2014 income data.

Based on the combination of these data, every additional thousand dollars of income (per year) raises life expectancy by 24 days for men and 27 days for women.

It should be noted that this is significant under-estimate.  "Households" often include both women and men and my math made the very conservative assumption that the increased longevity was not cumulative.  The increased life expectancy might be as much as 65% higher than reported in the previous paragraph.

Converting this to "packs of cigarettes", the loss of one thousand dollars per year of income has the same impact on life expectancy as smoking 165 packs of cigarettes.  Note:  11 minutes per cigarette is a figure that is commonly bandied about.

Is this still true?
Lets use diabetes and obesity as a proxy for life expectancy.

Income by county.  I took the liberty of outlining an area that is pale yellow, i.e. lower income.

Counties in black are in the top two quintiles for both diabetes and obesity.
Here is some data from Canada
The population  binned by income quintile, the vertical axis is the percentage of that sub-population exhibiting two or more of the following chronic diseases: arthritis, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), mood disorder and anxiety disorder. Source
There are many theories as to why poverty is bad for your health.  Some of those theories involve culture (fried foods, aversion to exercise).  Some of those theories involve loss of agency.  Some of those theories involve lack of access to healthcare (doctors), "healthy" food and safe places to exercise.

Assuming that lack of access to health care, "healthy" food and safe places to exercise is at least a partial factor, then factors that hamper personal mobility must be considered unhealthy.  Perhaps even as a cause that contributed to a person's early death.

It amuses me, in a cynical kind of way, when economists calculate that the Volkswagon diesel pollution "cheating" is responsible for an additional 5-to-20 deaths in the United States each year.

What about the 860,000 people in the bottom quintile who die every year in the US?  Surely, a very large number of them died early because of the high costs of vehicles....high costs driven, in part, by regulations that past the point of diminishing returns a long time ago.  Hmmm.  5-to-20 deaths a year vs 430,000 deaths a year in just the lowest quintile.  Seems like we are focusing on the gnat and not the elephant.

"Joe," you say, "poor folks don't buy new vehicles."

True, but the buy the vehicles that the new car buyers dump to make room in their driveway.  It all flows downhill.

Given the relationship between income and life expectancy, I believe that all regulations should be tested against the known opportunity costs.  That is, the expected improvements due to a regulation must demonstrate 130% improvement over the proven costs that the  regulation will have on life expectancy due to reduced buying power.

Another day in the woods (a problem tree dealt with)

Looking  at the south side.  If one tow strap is good, then two is better.
Looking at the north side of the soft maple.  These were 2" tow straps.
Looking up the guy rope that ran east from the tree.
Clearing an escape path.  Some of the trip hazards were frozen in place and took some prying to remove.
That was not so bad...except it crushed all of the hinge cuts we made to the east of that tree.  In the future we will drop the big trees first and then hinge cut the little ones.
The crack that scared us runs horizontally in this section.

Zoomed in a little bit.

The bigger ones don't want to stay hinged.  The current plan is to attempt to hinge cut everything less than 8" diameter.  Trees bigger than 8" we will not fiddle with, we will just dump onto the ground.

A corollary to the 8-inch guideline is that we should probably hinge-cut again when the largest new shoots are 6" in diameter.

That might be a while.  I counted 25 rings on this elm sapling.  This was a typical size for the area.
Bonus pictures

And the sun came out just as we finished.
We spent two-and-a-half hours chainsawing today.  We figured that was a decent day for a couple of fat, old men.  I considered today a great success.  We did not get hurt although I am getting blisters on the bottoms of my feet.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Collusion and Predatory Pricing

Red dots are positive Rabies tests on dogs in 2014.  Source

   Red dots are positive Rabies tests on Bats, by county for 2014. Source

ERJ:  "Hello, I want to bring my dog in for his legally mandated Rabies shot."

Receptionist:  "Great.  I have an opening on Monday at 9:00 AM"

ERJ:  "How much will the Rabies vaccination cost?"

Receptionist:  "The Rabies vaccination is $25."

ERJ:  "I called one of the other vets in town and they told me that they also have a mandatory "Wellness Check".

Receptionist:  "We do too."

ERJ:  "Is the Wellness Check included in the $25?

Receptionist:  "No, that is an additional $30."

ERJ:  "I don't want to pay for the Wellness Check."

Receptionist:  "It is for the dog's health.  The Wellness Check is mandatory."

ERJ:  "I will sign a release to not hold you accountable if there is a bad outcome."

Receptionist:  "It is mandatory."

ERJ:  "Is that you saying that or the doctor?  Can you go ask her?"

Receptionist:  "(Sigh) Give me a minute."

Receptionist: "The doctor says that the Wellness Check is mandatory."

Primary wildlife reservoirs for Rabies. Solid borders represent 5-year rabies virus variant aggregates for 2009 through 2014.  Cross-genus infections are rare.  Source
If they quote one price but you cannot back out the door with your dog until you pay them more than twice the quoted is that not predatory pricing?  Specifically, Bait-and-Switch

If every Veterinary Practice simultaneously switches to this pricing structure, then how is it not collusion?

I bet there is a trade organization or trade publication that "highlighted" a Veterinary Practice that beefed up its revenue by creating more billable events.  And of course, everybody thought that was a GREAT idea.

And it would be if it were possible to opt out.

But since it is not possible to opt out, it is an example of an entire industry colluding to engage in predatory pricing.  And they are backed up by the heavy hand of the law...there are grave consequences if you choose to not vaccinate your animals for Rabies by a licensed Vet.  You could do it yourself in front of a Notary Public and it will not count in the eyes of the law....the law states it must be a licensed Vet.

It really pisses me off! Rabies vaccine costs $2.40 a dose.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sixty Feet and 7000 Pounds of Bad Altitude!

The tree shown in the center of the photo is a sixty foot tall Silver (aka Soft) Maple.  It is 18"-to-20" in diameter.  It double-trunks at about 12 feet.

We had been cutting for about three hours when we got to this tree.

It scared us.

As seen from the south, looking north at the tree.
The trunk has a vertical crack that spirals a quarter turn around the trunk.  The crack is visible on both sides of the trunk and it clearly starts at the narrow crotch where the tree double-trunks.

The tree leans about five degrees in the direction of the prevailing wind...leaning to the east-northeast.

Our original thought was to cut it when the wind was blowing in the direction we wanted it to fall.  On rethinking this, this might be a bad idea.  The amount of potential energy increases with the wind speed as the bowing due to the wind adds to the flexing caused by the growth not being perpendicular to the ground.

Trees that lean have lots of potential energy.  In this case, it is easy to think of them as a loaded diving board.  The black circle is the pivot and the green pac-man is where the fixed end is pinned down.

In the case of our scary tree, the crotch is the round, black pivot and the cut would be the green pac-man that un-dogs.  The blue arrows are the velocity vector.  The smiling face becomes unhappy.  The twisting crack makes the direction of the springback unpredictable.
The tree species matters.
The grain of some species interlaces and it takes a lot of energy to cause it to split.  Just ask anybody who split a full cord of elm.

This is similar to how some seat belts and fall harnesses absorb energy.  They are engineered to have the stitching tear out.

Other tree species split like a dream.  Soft Maple falls into that category.  There is no controlled release of is like the pac-man un-dogging.  BAM!

I am very open to suggestions from my readers.

There are two serious proposals on the table.  One of the proposals involves Tannerite.

The other proposal involves wrapping the trunk with about four turns of a yellow, 4" wide 20,000 pound ratchet strap and snugging it down as much as we can.  The ratchet strap would be just a bit above where we will make the cut.

Either method ought to keep the smiley face smiling.

A Day in the Woods (Hinge Cutting)

We did a trial run on hinge cutting.
No, Salamander, I am not climbing that tree.
It went slowly at first because we were taking the plan and fleshing it out with details.
One of the details was to move the south boundary of the hinge-cut area 25 feet to the north so it would not be visible from the road.
Sal and I have different personalities.  He is methodical and precise.  I am half-fast.  He has good great equipment.  Mine works...most some of the time. 

One key to getting along with people who are different than you are is to not argue with them.  So I let Sal drive our equipment out to the site in his tractor.  I am good that way.
We make a good team.

It is a provable fact that falling trees are attracted toward expensive equipment.  Here, I graciously allowed Sal to use my Poulan as the target.
The trees were dumped on the ground, vines and all.  The vines will knit these together and form a curtain that provides side cover....we hope.
Dead trees down "hinge" for doodly-squat so we figured out some field expedient methods to make-do.
A few photos of the hinge-cut
As seen from the field (and what folks driving down the road will see)
Looking north but inside the tree-line.  The cuts are at chin-high.
Looking from the west-toward-the-east.
Bonus pictures

This Red Fescue has been growing here for 30 years with no attention at all.
View from the bottom.