More Thoughts On Eastern Cottonwood

“As exasperating as cottonwood trees can be to some forestland owners, they are an invaluable wildlife habitat resource throughout their range. Where they can be protected do it! And if they don’t occur within suitable habitat on your property, they are easily planted. In fact they are one of the easiest species to propagate, and one of the fastest to deliver results.”

See What Good Is A Cottonwood Tree?

The more I read about Populus deltoides, the more I love it. It’s a really fast-growing tree and apparently it can deal with the muck in my yard I call soil. If one wants to sequester carbon from the air, why not plant a bunch? I can envisage an acreage just filled with these giants. One could easily be self-sufficient in firewood, lumber for beehives and fencing, mulch for the garden, have abundant shade, food and shelter for many birds, swings for the grand kids, etc. Just plant cuttings or seedlings, add water, and wait five years. Amazing.

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New Tree In The Yard

I’ve long known the existence of the “cottonwood” trees, Populus deltoides, but I had no idea until yesterday that I had one in my yard. You see, my yard is full of young trees. I had assumed this tree was just one of several kinds of poplars growing in the neighbourhood. A seed must have landed and germinated in my yard and I moved the young seedling into a row along the periphery, out of the way of other things I do…

The problem is that Populus deltoides, the Eastern Cottonwood, is not like the other local poplars. They remain skinny and not too tall. The Eastern Cottonwood grows quickly like other poplars but it lives to be a century old and huge. It’s not a tree to put on the property line. It doesn’t make good neighbours. On the one hand its huge branches are likely to break off and fall on the neighbour’s property in the wind and on the other, some Eastern Cottonwoods are male and some are female. The females produce an abundance of cotton strands to carry their seeds in the wind. It can be too much of a good thing. Nick a root and it will send up a “sucker”. Just mowing the lawn or raking it can encourage suckering…

What to do? I could leave the tree as is. That’s the procrastinator’s option which I often favour. I could destroy the tree. That’s not very “green” of me.  I could let it grow to a good size and convert it to lumber or mulch. It’s not the best of lumber having a rather soft wood but I could make pallets or beehives out of it. I could move it away from the property line but TLW would not approve. She hates trees that she does not buy in stores…

Most likely I will do nothing. I might make cuttings and plant them in better locations. That’s the easiest solution.

How do I know this young tree is a cottonwood? After all, we know babies all look alike… It’s in the twig. It’s in the leaves. I had noticed the leaves were rather more broad than most local poplars but these were gigantic. It just did not dawn on me that it was a cottonwood until yesterday. The trigger was my noticing the branches have prominent ridges descending from nodes on the twigs. Most poplars don’t have those ridges. The Eastern Cottonwood sometimes has them. A search of images on Google found this link. It’s pretty good confirmation that this tree is a variety of Eastern Cottonwood.

It’s rather rare in these parts, mostly growing to the south, east and west of us but it’s here. The City of Winnipeg lists only 52 of them on their property compared to 12500 poplars of all kinds.

| 7738 | Poplar species                   | Populus spp.                       |
| 4317 | trembling aspen                  | Populus tremuloides                |
|  206 | silver poplar / European white p | Populus alba                       |
|   78 | largetooth aspen                 | Populus grandidentata              |
|   74 | balsam poplar                    | Populus balamifera                 |
|   52 | Cottonwood                       | Populus deltoides                  |
|   36 | Prairie Sky poplar               | Populus x canadensis               |

UPDATE I did a walkaround today after venturing out into the cold of the morning to plant my last arborvitae. The only difference I see in this monster from descriptions of Eastern Cottonwood is that the buds are about the same size as our local poplars. Most descriptions describe 3/4 inch buds. These are about 1/4 inch and still quite tight. OTH, ISTR that this thing was just a seedling when I moved it to the side of yard. The subsequent year’s growth seems to have been two feet. Last year’s growth was six feet! It is indeed a monster. It may have crossbred with the local poplars to have smaller buds but there’s no denying the colossal growth rate. I think it is too large to dig up easily. We’ll see what happens. I’m tempted to take some cuttings to see if I can plant two close together to give the grand kids a swing in the shade.

We have to live with it.  We have to love such a vigorous tree. Anything that will grow in my yard must be respected and valued.

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To Be Or Not To Be…

The train-wreck continues. Trump continues to abuse anyone critical of his perverse policies. Gifted civil servants have to choose whether to risk unemployment or passively tolerate Trump’s outrageous statements and deeds.

It’s election year folks. It’s not the end of your career if Trump fires you. If you have faith in democracy you will know that Trump will be kicked aside by the electorate and even the Electoral College. You can safely speak truth to power and maintain your integrity and continue good works for society. The next government will reinstate you for your expertise most likely. You are valuable to society and can find another position one way or another. Speak the truth. It will set you free.

Let’s hope Trump fades away like the virus he is.

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Update on Everything

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. A lot has happened. Here’s my take on it.

Trump has turned daily briefings into political ads for himself. It won’t work. Even Rasmussen has him far down in the polls. They’ve supported him through thick and thin. This is thinner. Trump can’t blame Obama for what Trump has done to gut USAian response to COVID-19. Trump can’t blame Obama for deaths on Trump’s watch. The %$#@@@! is hitting the fan. Things like this just smell bad as the bodies pile up. Even SD, out in the sticks just south of where I live, has had a meat-packing plant close because there weren’t enough healthy workers to do the jobs. How is USA to reopen on May 1? Only with a wave of dead USAians in his strongest supporters. Of course a lot of Ds are dying but the turnout on election day will be overwhelming. Trumpism is toast. The day of retribution draws nearer. I can see subpoenas and arrest warrants going out all over the land on 2021 January 20. I think transition teams will be making lists. I would not be surprised if SCOTUS justices are asked to sign warrants on the dais at the inauguration of Biden. Trump will either have to fly to Russia on Trump Air earlier or lead a coup. Neither will succeed. There are enough good USAians to prevent those outcomes from succeeding.

The winter was mild but I’m impatient for spring to spring. We’re just ending a cold snap but above normal temperatures are expected. My living room is full of seedlings soaking up the rays nevertheless. It looks like a good year for sour cherries. They seem to love the muck I call soil and one gave fruit last year. I’m going to propagate by seed and cuttings to fill up the rest of the yard before TLW (The Little Woman) notices. Except for Christmas ornaments and fixing her berms she barely walks around the yard. She won’t notice new seedlings and cutting popping up everywhere. The plums are slowly but surely taking hold. I expect some flowers this year. Amen. It’s all good.

Damned COVID-19 marches on. My part of the world has largely been spared but we’re taking no chances. Grocery shopping is down to monthly and we even had Easter over the Internet. I missed the chocolate… I expect it will be more than a year before COVID-19 is handled and Trump will be in the news but in a good way for a change, in the rearview mirror.

The new Beast which I call Ghost of Beast is singing and dancing before me. The hardware is rock-solid and a bit quicker than my old computer. Databases, web-applications and desktop applications all work well. I’ve even grown comfortable talking to Beast over SSH from the comfort of my Lazy Boy chair via stupid phone. So far, the only problem seems to be that I have 99% occupancy on one partition. I may actually have to start deleting stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. I’ve taken to deleting images I stored in the 20th Century that aren’t of much particular interest. Stuff like people I don’t remember doing stuff I don’t remember. I keep a few that do connect with my failing memory. I have about 20 databases I haven’t used in years. They could go. The root directory of my web-server is cluttered with applications connected to such databases. They can go. I do have a grand daughter who might like to inherit my dabases of recipes and texts from the web. I expect she will have her own computer soon, so we could have a database-transferring party…

Thanks to Trumpism and COVID-19 the price of gold is approaching another all time high. It could be a very good year for my investments which I bought for pennies a share and are now sitting on $billions worth of gold. Unfortunately, my Solo EV seems to be still over the horizon. I’m definitely over the hill. Maybe we will meet on the other side.

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Sharks Become Real When They Circle Your Lifeboat

Yesterday sharks became real for me. Before then COVID-19 was mostly something in news stories. Yesterday, I encountered sharks circling my lifeboat:

  • toilet tissue became scarce in the big box stores
  • bleach became scarce in the big box stores
  • a grand daughter was pulled out of school as a precaution
  • a relative planned a trip with quarantine built in to the itinerary. Now the trip seems likely cancelled.
  • ordinary folks I know are talking about contingencies and washing hands and keeping apart religiously
  • random folks all over North America are being diagnosed with COVID-19 infections

While I still have no understanding of how serious COVID-19 will become, it’s clearly going to have major negative consequences:

  • a global recession/depression is inevitable
  • it is likely that a billion or more infections could happen this year
  • it is likely that hundreds of thousands or, more likely, millions will die, apparently with my age-group in the lead…
  • healthcare systems will break
  • communities will break

It’s not the “apocalypse” but close enough. There will be some silver linings also likely:

  • even Trumpists will see the truth that Trump is a lying bastard
  • even the rich and powerful will see the necessity of MediCare for All
  • it’s almost certain that Trump will be voted out, possibly before he destroys USA
  • governmental debt will become reality and it won’t be left to our descendants to pay it off…
  • what doesn’t kill us will actually make us stronger
  • I may shower more and use less toilet tissue...

So, hunker down. Slow down the spread long enough to make immunization by natural or medical means effective. Reflect on what’s really important. Reconsider buying another gas-guzzler even if it’s just to avoid filling stations. Live long and prosper any way you can.

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High Noon For Democrats

Today will be a day that might live in infamy in Democratic politics. Rats leaving their sinking ships have clambered aboard the SS Biden, hoping to defeat Universal Medical Care… Sigh. Why has a country known for innovation refused to adopt single-payer health insurance long ago? Why are they willing to pay twice what other countries pay for healthcare with worse results? Why do they believe a broken leg or heart attack should lead to bankruptcy for the middle class? I just don’t get it.

We shall see the writing on the wall later today when the ballots are counted. I bet enough of the stranded voters won’t even know their rat has abandoned ship or they voted in advance so Bernie will retain a slim lead in delegates. The Convention will be bloody. Let’s hope Bernie wins and can rally the troops by November.

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Great Day!

Beast has been having a hard time connecting hard drives and its soul for a year or so. Intermittent problems are so hard to diagnose. Finally, an in-law donated a used PC, we moved over the hard drives and fired up the “ghost of Beast” like it was as good as new. This is very cool.

The new machine is a few years old with multiple SATA ports, USB3, 4X 3.2gHz CPU, and even a 120gB SSD… Amazingly, it booted what worked for AMD64 even though it was an Intel system. The display driver in Debian’s xserver-xorg-video-intel was missing and the Ethernet did not work. There were mysterious messages in the logs about Ethernet drivers. Finally, I figured out that a USB-dongle had an Ethernet port. However, two other Ethernet ports did not work, not one of three… It turned out that a helpful person (ME!) had been annoyed by an alarm and I turned off an old UPS which just happened to power our network switch… As soon as I figured that out, I downloaded the video driver and here I am editing my first post from The Ghost of Beast.

Next, I will blow away That Other OS which resides on the SSD and free myself again from slavery to monopolists.

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Wind & Solar Power Defeat Trump

“Trump does not like wind and solar power, but the market absolutely loves wind and solar power. The EIA predicts wind, solar, hydro, and energy storage will be 78% of new electrical generation capacity in 2020. We will see 5.57 GW of coal retired and no new coal plants!”
See Wind & Solar Power Will Dominate 2020 In US, Despite Trump

Chuckle! Trump “digs” coal but coal is dying anyway. Do you think the coal-miners who voted for Trump will reconsider in 2020? Enough will to matter. Even a coal-miner knows when a lie had been found out. The real question is whether they just won’t vote this time around or whether they will vote Democratic. Trump won by just a few thousand strategic votes last time. We shall see whether impeachment or encumbency matter more. It’s all good. Whatever happens, the world will be a better place with less coal burnt. The world will be a much better place with Trump locked up.
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Solo Gen III

“In early 2019, we took delivery of 50 pilot production vehicles from our strategic manufacturing partner in China, Zongshen Industrial Group, and deployed these for on road validation testing throughout the United States and Canada. The “real world” tests resulted in engineering changes to the vehicles including; switching to a liquid cooled electric drive, modifying the steering geometry and additional fine-tuning of the Electronic Power Steering calibration. As these changes took time, we also refined the SOLO in subtle, but important, ways as well – integrating notable performance and driver-comfort improvements. For instance, the production SOLO’s will offer a new seat design, enhanced stereo system with Bluetooth technology, and reduced interior cabin noise. All of these upgrades have taken time to integrate but will ultimately prove invaluable, helping to ensure the successful launch of the SOLO and positive consumer feedback.”

See NewsletterElectra Meccanica keeps grinding on apparently getting closer to actual production and sales but the excitement has gone for me. I’m just grimly clinging to hope that I will ever drive a Solo EV. I don’t know anyone who did not like the seat, or the air-cooled motor or the steering. Why change what works? OK, maybe more people will like something more complex but to me more complexity is just more ways to fail. I hate failure. I just want to drive alone electrically. Why won’t EMV let me do that? Why won’t they let me buy one of those 50 Solos?

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Iran has been around for millennia and isn’t going to go away or change any time soon. What should we do about Iran? How about leaving it alone?  How about not trying to get Iran to copy our mistakes? How about getting rid of Trump?

In my lifetime, the West has been meddling in Iran setting up the Pahlavi regime to keep oil online, supporting Israel in a misguided attempt to soothe consciences over treatment of Jews before and during WW II, and generally treating Iran as a pariah. All that history can’t be undone and we can’t “fix” Iran. Leave that to Iranians. It’s their country.

Now we have Trump assassinating the second in command in Iran in the hope it will make Iranians love him. Another lie. This lie is more serious than others pushing us to war. I can think of a hundred responses by Iran and a thousand counter-responses by Trump and they all lead downhill into the pit of war.

The problem here is not Iran but Trump. His short-sighted transactional view of the world is making war inevitable. Better to impeach him for making war without approval of Congress as soon as possible, perhaps tomorrow, then bring back the nuclear treaty and get rid of some sanctions and …

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Fallout From Trump’s Tariff War OR GNU/Linux Beats TOOS

“In a major blow to Microsoft, the Chinese government will be replacing all PCs that run Windows by 2022, and could instead use a Chinese-created Linux distro, such as Kylin Linux.”
See China to ditch all Windows PCs by 2022 – could this be Linux’s time to shine?
Well. I don’t expect Trump’s reign to turn out well at all but this could be a silver lining in that cloud. Anytime millions switch to GNU/Linux is a good few years by me. China will outlast Trumpism. So will GNU/Linux one way or another.

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The OS Wars Continue

“Beijing has ordered all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within three years, in a potential blow to the likes of HP, Dell and Microsoft.”
See Beijing orders state offices to replace foreign PCs and software
Chuckle. While attempting to protect “intellectual property” and enhance security, the Trumpists ban Huawei and slap on tariffs. China is now banning some of that intellectual property including TOOS and hardware from several USAian manufacturers. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
I have mixed feelings. On the one hand this will reduce the GOP’s hold on USAian politics as manufacturing and the GDP suffer under this crap but on the other Free Software may actually get a boost in China. Go GNU/Linux!

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