Monica and I returned from a trip to Schuylerville and
Schenectady , NY . Monica had a concert at Union College in
Schenectady and we stayed with Hilary Tann and her husband David
Bullard in Schuylerville. Hilary is a professor of music and the
recognized national composer of Wales . Her music concentrates
on nature. She writes beautifully and captures the moods of the
landscapes that she musically profiles. Of special interest to
me is that her music is accessible to the general public, a
feature not shared by all contemporary composers of serious
David and Hillary was a real treat. They live in a historic home
called the Marshall House. You can read about it at
www.themarshallhouse.org . The history of the house is
fascinating and the surrounding countryside is bucolic. To the
east, the Taconic mountains rise and to the west the southern
tip of the Adirondacks . The Marshall House is on a hill above
the Hudson River . Located north of Schuylerville about 12 miles
is Argyle. There stands the northern most stand of tuliptrees
according to a local lumberman who I met. Needless to say there
will be a trip to Argyle when the weather improves. On Wednesday
night, the temperature was -7 degrees in Schuylerville. On
Thursday it was bitterly cold all day with a bone chilling wind.
No tree hunting in such unpleasant weather.
On Wednesday afternoon I waited while Monica conducted a class
as a guest lecturer for Hilary. I began thinking about
presenting a set of simple problems to the list Ė one at a time.
Each problem would hopefully stimulate the tree measuring Ents
among us to think not just about the problem being presented,
but also about related problems and their solutions. We would
gradually build up a bank of solved problems relating to
determining tree dimensions. Maybe Ed could create another
button on the website to store the problems and solutions as a
worthy topic. We would start fairly simple and build up to
include a more sophisticated problem set over time.
It might seem odd to some Ents that I would suggest building a
bank of solved problems. Donít all Ents who measure trees know
how to solve a sufficiently broad set of problems associated
with determining tree dimensions? Do we really need an on-line
tree measuring course #101? Well, some Ents do currently possess
the basic knowledge, but we need to always be sensitive to the
fact that others are still in the learning phase. Then there
will always be the new recruits who come into the game
amidst technical terms being bandied about with no accompanying
explanations . While the mathematics we employ is usually
limited to basic algebra, trigonometry, and geometry, this level
can be intimidating to people who tend to shy away from math.
Seeing formulas can quickly discourage an even
enthusiastic and talented would-be tree measurer. However, there
are no true shortcuts. People who try to master tree measuring
by peering through an instrument and reading a scale that
presumably does all the necessary math behind the scenes tend to
make whopping big errors. There are no free lunches.
How do we transfer our reservoir of tree measuring knowledge in
ENTS to the beginners and those who become stuck on two or three
types of measurements? The solution is to present lots of
on-line problems to expand the base of problem solvers that we
can call upon. We need to expand the number of Ents who deal not
only with tree girth, height, and crown spread, but also
measurements like limb length, crown area, trunk volume, limb
volume, and perhaps trunk form ratios that can be quickly
applied to the more uniform trunk shapes to derive volumes and
predict radius at specified heights.
Okay, Iíve made my sales pitch. Later today, I will attempt to
jump start the process with an email devoted to
problem #1. I welcome comments from all interested parties on
how to make this new project/mission work for us.