What do these 6 actors have in common?

aside from the fact that they’re all male…


Post-Storm Thoughts: Big Nebraska Trees

On Friday, June 27, 2008, at about 5:00 pm, a big, nasty scary storm blew through Omaha, complete with 90 mph winds and big ass hail. It was scary, to say the least, but the scariest part has been the sight of large felled branches, trunks, and entire trees lying cracked, prone and uprooted all over town. It took about ten minutes for this storm to blow through and take out trees that had stood collectively for thousands of years. It’s been just over 2 weeks and I’m still amazed at the size of the logs and broken trunks I keep finding as I drive to different parts of the city.

So that got me to thinking. I’ve seen some of the biggest trees in the United States, but what about the biggest trees right here where I live in Omaha? And in the State of Nebraska for that matter? How did they fare during the storm? And how does one go about measuring the girth or height or overall largeness of a tree anyway? Here’s what I found out:

As part of the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Forest Service keeps track of big trees throughout the state on its Nebraska Champion Tree Register. Big trees are categorized by four different criteria; circumference, height, spread and overall “points.” The Champion Tree Program’s Nomination Guidelines define these critera and include instructions for measuring trees on one’s own.

The biggest tree in Nebraska in terms of circumference and overall points was, until the summer of 2007, this National Champion eastern cottonwood near Seward, NE.

Native Nebraska Tree
National Champion Tree
Scientific Name: Populus deltoides
Circumference: 36.75 ft
Height: 85 ft
Spread: 107 ft
Points: 553
Date Measured : 1/1/2001
Date Nominated : 1/1/2001
Location: 2 mi S and 2.75 mi E of Seward on Fletcher Rd.

This tree was struck by lightning and felled in two. The tree could not be saved.

Currently, the biggest tree in Nebraska by circumference, spread, and overall points is this silver maple located in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Native Nebraska Tree
Scientific Name
: Acer saccharinum
Circumference: 22.50 ft
Height: 100 ft
Spread: 118 ft
Points: 400
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/2002
Location: Chautauqua Park (North of Grable), Beatrice

The tallest tree in Nebraska is this white poplar in Fremont, Nebraska.

Scientific Name: Populus alba
Circumference: 16.42 ft
Height: 115 ft
Spread: 89 ft
Points: 334
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/1981
Location: 423 West 11th St, Fremont

In Omaha, the largest tree in terms of circumference and overall points was this huge northern catalpa.

Scientific Name: Catalpa speciosa
Circumference: 20.00 ft
Height: 65 ft
Spread: 60 ft
Points: 320
Date Measured : 1/1/2000
Date Nominated : 1/1/1995
Location: 4508 Burdette St, Omaha

Omaha’s tallest tree, the tree with the largest spread and the biggest tree in terms of overall points is this pin oak.

Scientific Name: Quercus palustris
Circumference: 15.17 ft
Height: 80 ft
Spread: 85 ft
Points: 283
Date Measured : 1/1/2002
Date Nominated : 1/1/2002
Location: 5647 Florence Blvd., Omaha

If anyone has any info on these trees, or any other big trees in Omaha or Nebraska, please feel free to comment or drop me a line! Thanks.

Can the measure of a man be found in song lyrics he wrote in his early 20’s?

So, in the shower this morning, I remembered a song I wrote when I was 20 or 21.  The particular verse that came to me goes like this:

“I don’t want your life, and I’m
Far too scared to let mine go –
Still afraid of saying yes,
Terrified of me I guess.

Please don’t ask why
And sit and cry like you don’t know.
Accept that there’s uncertainty
In everything surrounding me,

And I need to see that you don’t need me.
I need to see that you choose to let me be me.”

© Ivan Velasco, Jr. 1998

 I wrote this at a time when a large amount of responibility was suddenly thrust upon me by someone, and I was coping.  Upon seeing these lyrics now, they seem harsh.  Am I saying that I’m unreliable?  Am I stepping out and saying I refuse all responsibility because I value my independence too much?  And how much of that attitude do I carry with me today?  Is it really immature to say “I want you to let me be me,” or is that a difficult but necessary requirement of stable adult living?  And what about the imperative “Accept that there’s uncertainty”?  Am I saying that I will never be a known quantity, essentially that I can’t be counted on, and that those close to me will just have to live with that.  That hardly seems fair or mature.  To what extent do I still feel that way, and to what extent do I use it as a defense mechanism – because that’s what I think it might be.  I’m afraid I have a fear of failure, which leads to a fear of letting other people down, which I guard against by – in extreme circumstances – trying to keep others from counting on me in the first place.  And maybe I disguise it all by asserting a right to “individuality,” which in this context is perhaps more accurately a disguised form of individualism.

 Clearly, this deserves more thought.  More on this later….

Errant hair

I have several thoughts about hairs.

 1.  Have you ever found a random hair in your stuff and had no idea where it came from?  I just found a long blondish/brownish hair on my desk at my office, between the pages of a deposition transcript.  Not mine, not my clients, doesn’t match the head of anyone in the office.  I suppose it could have been the court reporter’s, but what the hell?  She’s leaving little presents for me in my depo transcripts?  I know it’s just a hair but I feel frustrated, bewildered and violated.  Hmph.

2.  Why are some people so offended by hairs anyway?  Is a single strand of hair really a dirty thing?  Certainly I don’t want strands of ANYTHING in my food, especially if such a strand has spend a good deal of time on another person’s head, but when you take an individual hair and inspect it, I think you have to admit it’s typically a fairly sterile looking thing.  We would certainly not be so offended by a strand of synthetic monofilament, but that’s not so different from what hair is.  So is it that we don’t know where it’s been?  Or that our imaginations provide us with too much information about where it could have been?  The fear and disgust seems irrational to me.  But it’s still there.

3.  Hair seems to have its place.  When its on someone’s head and is styled and clean, it can be wonderfully attractive.  Anywhere else, on or off the body, and it’s nasty.  What is this strange, inherent mystical power that hair posseses over our minds???

 Ugh.  I’m tired of hair now.  Somebody change the subject.