Monday, October 31, 2016

Post Hurricane Blues and the removal of a tree

The leaning pine before the clean up started

 Everyone seems to have the blues.  Things have been crazy after the hurricane (and then there was that unexpected hospital stay the week before the storm).  We are all on edge, it seems.

At least the number of calls for the fire department have decreased.  The week after the storm, as trees were coming down, we had many calls for broken gas and electrical lines.  All the utilities are under ground, but as trees uprooted, they broke gas and electrical lines.

One of the strangest call was for a burning palm tree.  The owners of the house had no idea why it was burning but it was burning all up the trunk.  We pulled a one inch line and started to douse the tree, then the fireworks started.  The problem was the electrical lighting in the ground (which were covered with saw dust from another tree that had been removed).  The wires were damaged and shorting out, causing the fire.  When water started soaking the ground, the sparks started.  Certainly one of the more interesting fire calls.

In addition to my volunteer work, I have also been teaching graduate class at a local university.  It is my first time teaching on this level and I'm enjoying the class but it is requiring a lot from me so some things have to slide and blogging in one of them.  So with that excuse, I will post a photo essay from one of our trees that was dangerously leaning after the storm.  It cost $1500 to remove this tall pine and a smaller maple that was dying.
This was a big tree
Life hasn't been all work.  I have enjoyed the World Series (one that I want both teams to win).  On Saturday, I did sail and in four races we took three first place finishes and one very close second place finish.  The second place finish was because our spinnaker twisted and it took too long to get it to fly, allowing the other boat to overtake us on a downwind run.  We were only seconds behind as we crossed the finish line.
Topping out the tree
Piecing down the trunk
a crane lowered each piece
The limbs were feed into a shredder...
One of the workers told me bodies had to be frozen
or they made  a mess!

The stump grinder

Chewing up the tree

Finishing up with the maple stump
(I"m still waiting for the county to pick up stuff in the yard)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Update

Preparing to evacuate (before the storm)
This past week has been crazy.  Last Thursday afternoon, after working with my staff to secure the office computers (my manager took the server with him and I took the backup for it with me) and securing what I could around home, we all headed to safer locations inland.

Georgia Central Engine in Dublin, GA
I went to Dublin, unfortunately not the one in Ireland but in south-central Georgia.  There I hung out for two and a half-days as we watched Hurricane Matthew chew its way up the eastern seaboard.  With fears of tide surges as high as eleven feet and wind and waves on top of that (my house is at 14 feet above sea level), I was a little nervous as to what I might come back to find.  In all, it wasn't too bad except for the 1000s of trees down or leaning precariously.  The survey of the golf courses on the island (there are six) indicate that the courses themselves have 1500 trees down.  We didn't lose any trees at home, but one huge pine is leaning over and will have to be cut down.  If it falls, it won't damage any houses, but will block our road.

Our community is known for funny street names.
This street names seems prophetic

The storm hit our area around 2 AM on Saturday morning.  From those who stayed, 4 AM was the witching hour when the winds were at the peak and trees could be heard falling all around.  Being a volunteer firefighter, I was allowed back on the island early and arrived back Saturday afternoon around 4 PM.  I had to go through several checkpoints (showing my ID badge) to get back into the county.  There was no power and thankfully little traffic, so it wasn't too hard to make it through Savannah and out to Skidaway.  Crews were already hard at work and the main roads were passable.  I spent Sunday and Monday with a crew opening roads and checking on those who rode out the storm (some had to have trees cut to get out of their garages) along with homes of friends.

Power came back on Tuesday and Wednesday, depending on where you lived.  I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer.  That was our biggest loss.  Thankfully, few people on the island  had water damage (unlike what's happened in North Carolina and in Haiti).  On Tuesday, we set the office back up and on Wednesday, we were back at work...  Like I said, it's been a crazy week.  Here are a few photos:

back deck after the storm

House after the storm (the leaning tree is not in the photo)
If you compare it to the photo above,
you'll see how trees behind the house were "thinned out"

Fixing coffee first morning back

Fixing lots of coffee on the second morning back!
Notice the "tree" on the propane bottle with a light on top

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Catching up

You don't get much of a view for the money...
A week ago, I was in the hospital.  This was a first for me.  I have had two surgeries, the latest last January, but both were out-patient.  This all changed surprisingly last Monday when I woke at 3 AM, thinking I was coming down with the flu.  I was sweating and freezing while my body ached, classic flu symptoms.  I moved to a recliner at 6 AM, having drenched my bed-sheets.  I sent a few emails out, redoing my schedule as there was no way I was able to make meetings scheduled for the morning.  As I was getting ready to take Ibuprofen, a little before nine in the morning, I decided to take my temperature.  It was 104 degrees.  I called my doctor and he said go straight to the emergency room.  30 minutes later, I had IVs dangling above me as they pumped fluids and antibiotics into my body.  My heart was racing (up to 125 a minute), my white blood count was around 18000, and I felt like crap.  They began treating me for sepsis.

Six days earlier I had a simple procedure.   The doctors didn’t think it was going to be anything to worry about but since my PSA levels (which is released by the prostate) had been rising, they thought it advisable to have a biopsy.  It was a mildly uncomfortable procedure, with the doctor shooting something through the wall of my anus into the prostate.  When it was over, I felt like someone pushed a shotgun up my butt and fired a round of birdshot.  But by the next day, I felt fine. I was back at the gym, on Friday I took a decent bicycle ride.   Even as late as Sunday night, when I was at a reception which I was to give a short talk, I was feeling well.  But that changed on Monday morning.  The urologist had warned me to get back to him if I had a temperature over 100 degrees F in the 48 hours following the procedure, but I was well beyond that window.  I stayed two nights in the hospital, eating crappy food and watching an even crappier Presidential debates (heaven help us if this is the best we can do).  On Wednesday, they sent me home with lots of antibiotics, which I’ll be on for another week or so.  I go back the middle of next week to see the urologist.
I am trying to take this week as vacation.  I was going to be in the middle of the Okefenokee Swamp for several days, but being that far from care if something arises (along with the unpleasant side effects of the drugs), I cancelled that as well as a bike trip.  Then I planned a road trip to Warm Springs and Plains, GA, places I haven’t been, but now I’m waiting to see if Matthew is going to visit.  

The good news.  As I was getting out of the hospital, my urologist stopped by and said the biopsy had come back clear.  At least I won't have to worry about that!  More later