The official site of Nuke the Whales International with offices in Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, and Venezuela.

Mortimer Snert and the Effects of Falling Objects on Deformable Bodies

It was a frigid day in the neighbourhood when Mortimer Snert ventured out into his backyard to assess the aftermath of the recent ice storm. It was a pretty cool mess, he thought, intending no pun of course. The damage had been caused by a freakish storm, it had been just colder than Hell, and then rained. Now normally this would not have caused a problem, except for the fact that the wind was not blowing at all during this process, which caused massive accumulations of ice on everything in sight. As soon as everything was coated with 2 or 3 inches of ice, the wind returned, causing trees to snap off and fall onto power lines and such likes. Outside of town, there was a huge stretch of very high voltage power line that basically ended up on the floor, due to the fact that the wooden poles on which it was suspended succumbed to the excess weight and stress from the ice and wind. So the entire town was without electricity. On top of that, in Mort’s back yard, the trees had snapped off, relieving his house not only of the line to the pole, but also the riser and meter base which connected the electricity to his house. Now this was unfortunate, because this was not something that Mort could just kind of repair himself, and sneak in under the radar, as it were. No, this would require a real live electrician to repair this, and every electrician in town was really busy, repairing similar damage to other people’s houses. So it was that Mort got put on the waiting list for the electrician that lived across the street, and was pseudo friends with Mort.

Now Mort was not particularly one to just sit around and wait for electricians to come around, and so he decided to venture into the back yard to see what progress he could make in attempting a clean up of the mess. The major cause of damage in his back yard was a series of renegade mulberry trees, which the neighbourhood birds had been so kindly as to plant for him by eating the mulberries from the tree in the corner, and then roosting on various power lines and fences and such likes and crapping out the seeds, which immediately sprouted into trees. He had fought with these particular trees for ages, trimming them and trying to keep them from getting too obnoxious, but the last time he had been outside with one of his three chainsaws, the neighbour had accosted him, and asked him not to saw off the trees, they were providing some sort of shielding from harmful ultraviolet rays or some such nonsense. Now Mort was a nice neighbourly type of feller, and agreed to let the trees stand, provided they didn’t shove over the garage, or do anything equally as obnoxious. However, it was these very trees that had gotten out of hand, and extended over the power lines and had just recently become full of ice and such likes and snapped off and amputated his power line. And in Mort’s little mind, that qualified as being obnoxious, and being such, all promises were off. So he waded out into the backyard armed with a particularly large and industrial chainsaw, and proceeded to saw on everything in sight.

A lot of the trees were already on the floor, and he started with these, hacking them up into little pieces that would fit in the back of his truck to haul away. In no time at all, the backyard was a maze of sawn up branches and stumps. Mort was quite proud of himself. Having succeeded in this, however, he now eyed the remaining trees which were standing, and decided that it was time to do something about those, so the process would not repeat again the next winter. It was about this time that the electric company brought up the power for this particular neighbourhood, conveniently neglecting to check and see how many wires were not necessarily connected to houses any more, and Mort was suddenly aware of a nasty electrical hum emanating from the side of his house. Beating a hasty path over to where the riser was suspended by wires from the meter base, he witnessed a very impressive session of arc welding emanating from the meter, and at about that same time caught a whiff of molten pvc insulation. Looking quickly around, he discovered that the wires which had formerly attached his house to the pole were smoking quite impressively, and the plastic insulation was beginning to drip off the triplex. Just as he was about to do something drastic, the fuse on the pole in the alley finally blew, instantly deafening him and sending flaming shrapnel raining down on the back fence.

Mort was thoroughly unimpressed with this display, and wondered how many times this process would repeat itself before the wires either melted or caused his house to burn to the ground. So armed with his handy chainsaw, he picked a likely place and sawed the wires in half, and applied a copious amount of electrical tape to the ends, and hurled the entire mess out into the alley. Now he was faced with a line of mulberry trees that was in desperate need of being sawn down. Being mulberry trees, Mort noticed that the structure of these was such that they started at the floor with a stump which extended about 10 feet into the air, and then had 537 branches. And these branches extended a fair ways, and each branch had 537 branches. And so on and so forth. The result of this was that about 30 some odd feet in the air, these things formed an impermeable canopy of branches. And since there was a row of these trees, the whole side of the back yard was one huge nest of tangly branches.

And it was this very row of trees that Mort was preparing to saw down. Now the tangled nature of these things did not fully register on him until he sawed one of the trees off at a bit above ground level. He had done all the proper lumberjack things, determined which way the wind was blowing, cut a notch in the correct side to permit the tree to fall in the proper direction, cleared the area, and sawed the tree off. Now what happened next was completely unexpected. As he was sawing off the tree, and expecting it to take a dive, the blade of the chainsaw suddenly pinched and brought the whole process to a screeching halt. Looking the situation over carefully, Mort determined that the saw had indeed cut all the way through the stump, and the tree was now sitting firmly on the chainsaw bar. This was not what he had expected, and giving the tree a shove to see if it would indeed fall over, Mort was surprised when the stump swung away from where he had sawn it off, and the tree, instead of falling right over, was suspended in mid air by the tangly branches above him. This was indeed not a good thing.

The particular tree that he was working on was in close proximity to the garage, so with a little thought, he decided to climb up on the roof of the garage and see if he could saw some of the branches off and cause the tree to topple over. The problem with the garage roof was that it was taller than any of the ladders he had on hand at the time, and not wanting to brave the elements and go find a ladder which would safely reach, Mort dredged out the step ladder, leaned it up against the side of the garage, heaved the chainsaw up onto the roof, and standing on the top rung of the ladder, launched himself onto the roof also. The side of the roof that Mort was now standing upon was relatively free of ice and such likes because it was exposed to the sun. This was not necessarily the case with the other side of the roof, as Mort quickly discovered while making his way to the offending tree branches. As soon as his feet hit the other side, they went out from under him. And he and the chainsaw took a dive down the other side, only to end up wedged between several branches and the roof. Mort was exceptionally glad he had not started the chainsaw before getting in place. Carefully extricating himself from the branches, he located a relatively safe place to stand, and carefully started the chain saw and reached out and sawed off a branch or 3.

And nothing happened. The tree was still firmly held up by its neighbours. And now there was a nest of sawn up branches on the roof of the garage. So very carefully, Mort got back down from the roof, and proceeded to the next tree in line. Doing all the proper lumberjack things, he sawed this tree in half also, in hopes that in doing so, he would dislodge the initial tree from it’s state of suspension. And like it’s next door cousin, this tree stood in place, held up by the neighbouring branches. This was really not good. It was not good on so many levels that it was not even funny. So Mort stepped back to observe the process, and in doing so, noticed that the initial tree was now leaning a bit towards the centre of the back yard, and there was a rather sizeable branch that was hanging down in such a fashion that he could reach it. Now Mort was not inclined to do stupid things or get in a hurry, but the tree hanging thing was about to get to him, and in an act of desperation, he reached up, grabbed the branch, and gave it a mighty heave ho. This caused a bit of movement in the tree, so being the safety conscious person that he was, he cleared out a path amidst all the rubble in the yard, proceeded back to the tree and started yanking for all he was worth.

After a few vicious yanks, the tree did indeed start to take a dive, and being the safety conscious person that he was, Mort stepped quickly out of the way. Not to be outdone, the neighbouring tree saw what was happening, and reached out and grabbed the falling tree by the branches, causing it to change direction abruptly and head directly for where he was standing. Being the quick witted person that he was. Mort quickly jumped to the side again, only to find his escape path firmly blocked by a huge pile of sawn off tree branches. Turning quickly the other direction, he took a dive, just as the tree reached the very spot on which he was standing. The tree struck a glancing blow on his side, and caused him a wicked bruise that extended from his shoulder all the way to his ankle, with the added bonus of a vicious lump where the tree located his wad of car keys in his pocket on the way down and tried to implant them into his leg.

Now Mort was not one to be inclined to curse for no apparent reason, but the falling tree hitting him in such a fashion was apparently good enough reason, and as he was standing there being unpleasant, he noticed out of the corner of his eye the second tree that he had sawn off was now also in the process of taking a dive, and indeed, was taking it’s dive quite directly at where Mort was standing trying to recover from the assault by the first tree. Being the safety conscious person that he was, Mort dove under the stump of the initial tree at just about the same time that the second tree impacted on it. Fortunately for Mort, no further damage was caused, and sensing that he was pushing his luck, he quickly collected his chainsaw and retreated to the safety of his house.

The very house, which by the way, was devoid of electricity and heat of a conventional nature, and also hot water. So he proceeded upstairs, carefully removed what was left of his clothes, and rinsed off the blood and guts that the falling tree had so kindly provided him with. Now he was faced with another dilemma. His wounds were grievous enough that he didn’t dare put clothes back on, but the house was about as warm on the inside as it was on the outside, which was not very warm at all, and he was not particularly fond of the aspect of freezing to death. So he dredged out some wooly blankets, dragged a chair in front of the fireplace, and camped there for a day or 3, complete with semi frozen cats who fought constantly to try to obtain a warm place on top of him.

Eventually the electricity was restored, and the heat came back, and Mort and the cats thawed out, and his wounds healed enough that he could go outside again. However, his tree sawing days were officially over, and it would be several years before he ever ventured out into the yard with a chainsaw. But that’s a different story, for a different time.