Archives for category: Miscellaneous
Tree HUgGAs, unite!

Tree HUgGAs, unite!

I drove by this tree transplanter for several days before I got to see the contraption at work. A South Carolina-based team received a large-sized grant from the University of Georgia to plant trees throughout the campus over the course of a year. They’re at around 1,000 now…mostly oaks. Makes me wonder where.

UGA has traditionally kept immaculate grounds while maintaining storied shade. Nevertheless, since my college days here, lawns and grassy or vacant spots have disappeared. So much of the green space has been taken over by awkward-looking, chunky McBuildings. These monstrosities are far too big for their respective lots. What’s more, their boxy structures can only mean that the sites were clear cut.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

Now you see it, now you don’t.

In this case, the land was for as long as I can remember a field, possibly a cotton one, as Athens was once a key brokerage center for the southern commodity. The row here stands in front of what will next year be the university’s new $105 million Veterinary Teaching Hospital. (“Equine Teaching Unit” once marked an entrance, but the sign is gone, and there’s no replacement.) Perhaps they haven’t figured out what to call it yet or are waiting to honor a major donor with naming rights. Some fortuitous timing in this Chinese year of the horse!

A dirt missile.

A dirt missile.

Big John lifts a 10,000-pound root ball. That’s mega dirt! The tines nudge closer and closer together, disappearing into the earth. In a matter of minutes, the four steel arms cradle the red clay in a tightly closed tulip form and raise the entire plug onto the lift bed. The guys then truck this off to a nearby tree farm where it is swapped out for a newbie. Hydraulics are amazing.


Rudbeckia beckons me.

The 2010 night slugs got most of these, but this year they have come back strong.

Technicolor Easter

This time of year reminds me of summers on my paternal grandparents’ farm. I remember keeping vigil over the conveyor belt as the eggs rolled by and into the processing center. My cousins and I helped spot the irregulars, the too bigs and the too smalls (we had them for breakfast the next day), gently placing each in its own cardboard nest, pallet after pallet. Maybe that’s how I mastered my stacking skills. A quick dip into the walk-in freezer or a swing in the hay barn, and all was well on an otherwise blistering South Georgia day. You are never too old to dye. Happy Easter!

Esquire Humor




It all started back in 1981with this identity-marking device. I bought this at an antiques store in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter when I was an exchange student there during my senior year in high school. At that time, I didn’t know the connection between this instrument and that thing called branding or the German linguistic heritage.

What was the draw? My maternal grandfather had a farm after he retired as a boilermaker, and my paternal grandfather was a farmer his whole life. Both had cattle. On several occasions I helped my Grandfather Reed prepare the ear tags for his four-leggeds. I don’t recall why I didn’t get two, but it’s likely there was no iron with an “N” on it. I remember they did have other long-handled ones there, but they would have proven more difficult to get home.

Imagine how quickly one of these would be considered a weapon in post-9/11 think, even if you innocently bought it as a souvenir. As a matter of fact, I collect old wrenches and gears, so a branding iron is merely a natural addition to my other tools of various trades of an almost bygone era.

What better way to cool off in this incessant mid-90° heat than armchair-traveling to the extreme north…you know, way up there, the Arctic. I just finished the book, Ending in Ice, about the German expeditionist, Alfred Wegener, who led the then unthinkable pursuit of further developing what would eventually give rise to the continental drift theory…that continents move horizontally with respect to one another and that Earth’s continents were indeed once joined and had drifted or torn apart from one another. (Remember learning how eastern South America uncannily lines up with western Africa?) In terms of leadership, perseverance, putting the lives of his fellow team members before his own, keeping his word amidst diversity, thinking on his feet, mentoring, etc., he’s right up there with Shackleton. Yet, most people have never heard of this first-rate climatologist.

And that was exactly his problem…letting his fellow scholars too narrowly define him by his meteorology background or more precisely, by what he was not: a geologist. Circa 1915, when Wegener was hot on the cold trail, researchers and professors rarely strayed into others’ disciplines. That was akin to personal brand dilution, even professional suicide. Being able to hypothesize, collaborate and bring about results “cross-functionally” was not the desirable business skill set that it is today. In fact, the territorial academic mindset was frozen (pun intended) until the early 60’s, some 30 years after Wegener’s death.

While the book is unfortunately not well written (too much jumping back and forth which causes repetition), it is worth a read. Wegener is a compelling figure with numerous accomplishments to his credit, and I enjoyed learning about him. If you’re in NYC before January 3rd, be sure to take in the American Museum of Natural History’s “Race to the End of the Earth,” an exhibit of southern polar conquest and exploration.

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