Ethan Banks On productivity.

Explain A Tree


Imagine that someone asks you to explain a common, everyday item. Let’s say, a tree. You’re asked to explain a tree. And you say, “Well, it’s a bit of a big rooty thing with leaves and bark. Squirrels live inside. Hitting one with your car is bad.” And for most of us, that explanation is sufficient. A big rooty thing with leaves where the squirrels live.

Okay. Now imagine the person asking you to explain the tree is big. Really big. Bigger than you’re trying to visualize right now. He’s standing right in front of you, and he has a gun. And it’s not so much a gun, as a hand cannon. And that big person with the cannon just wrinkled his brow in response to your “rooty” explanation. No…no, your explanation wasn’t good enough. The big person pulls back the slide on the hand cannon, chambering a round that would stop a bull moose at 300 yards, aims it at your forehead, and says,

“Try again. Explain a tree. I want to know about the root system, nutrients, reproduction, sap, chlorophyll, cellular structure, and why evergreens are evergreen but oak leaves fall off in the winter. You get the idea. Tell me everything. I want to know it all. Your ignorance of the facts is no excuse. So start talking…NOW.”

And you start talking, the threat of a large caliber bullet emptying your skull of cerebrum filling you with adrenalin. You talk and talk, drawing on every bit of knowledge you have about trees, and even things only vaguely related to trees. You talk about woodworking, building your deck, and maple sugaring. You cover stacking cord wood in preparation for winter. You tell the story about that kid in first grade who got a splinter so big, he passed out. You talk about everything you remember from earth science back in high school. You even drum up some knowledge from an old Boy Scout manual your Dad had back in the 50’s. You spill your guts, drawing on what you hope are new insights as you babble on and on, making fresh inferences from a knowledge base you’d forgotten you had.


Sometimes I feel like that guy trying to explain a tree when I write these blog articles. I read, I read and I read again. Eventually, it sticks, at least conceptually. And so I can write it down in my own words. I’m sure there any number of errors in my posts, but overall, I think I was able to spit back what the book was getting at. Of course, the devil’s in the details, and sometimes I don’t remember my hello intervals or my BGP attributes too well. But I get what we’re trying to do here. I know where the protocol or the architecture is taking me.

But this 350-001 test is starting to LOOM. It’s looming big, and it has me a little spooked. I would feel a lot better if this was the pre-version 3.0 test. But with the change to the 3.0 version of the 350-001 written test, it sounds like it might be a bit of a bear. More of a bear than it was before.

Ah, well – nothing for it. Into the abyss. In 2 weeks, I’ll know where I’m at. What I know and what I don’t. And if I have to study more, and take it again – I will.

In the meantime, one more OECG post that I’m going to keep brief – “OECG – Appendix C “MPLS” – MPLS/VPN Architecture” coming up next…

By Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks On productivity.

You probably know Ethan Banks because he writes & podcasts about IT. For example, he co-authored "Computer Networks Problems & Solutions" with Russ White.

This site is Ethan on productivity--not tech so much.

Find out more on his about page.