Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Energy. Show all posts

September 10, 2020

@The Amish Experience


It was a fun time at The Amish Experience today in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania. 


One and a half hour bus tour of Amish country. 


45 Minute movie about Jacob, an Amish teen, trying to decide whether he wants to be in the outside world or in the Amish one.


And another hour of so tour of an Amish school house and home. 


Felt like I learned a lot about their culture (including no TV, internet, electricity [just batteries and solar], and education only through 8th grade). 


Honestly, it doesn't seem like they really have much a choice in whether to choose the church and become Amish or leave, because if they choose to leave they are shunned (i.e. excommunicated)!


So you either choose you family, church, community, and a wife (and there is no divorce) or you run off to G-d knows where completely alone and "divorced" from everything you know. 


The video is when we stopped at an Amish farm and I went in to the big barn with all the cows.  


After so much time on the bus, I needed to ham it up a little and have fun with:


"How now brown cow. It is so nice to eat you! You are beautiful animals.  And thank you Hashem for making you!" ;-)


(Credit Video: Andy and Dossy Blumenthal)


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September 9, 2020

Duracell Vs Energizer Showdown

This display in Home Depot was like the Duracell vs. Energizer dual to the death for batteries. 

Which one wins?

The whisper is that Duracell beats Energizer close to 2 to 1 for most things. 

Whether or not that's true, the Energizer rabbit "keeps going and going" while the Duracell is copper-topped.

Copper? Bunny? Bunny is cuter!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 1, 2020

When All The World Is Going Crazy

When all the world is going c-r-a-z-y...

The best thing you can do is stay CALM. 

- Calm is where good energy enters and bad doesn't.

- Calm is where rational thinking gets done. 

- Calm is where positive action happens.

- Calm is where our inner faith is sustained. 

- Calm is where we can inspire and lead ourselves and others to do good. 

Calm is where we all yearn to be. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 9, 2020

Pacemaker No-No!

So I learned that this is called a Van de Graaff Generator.

It generates very high voltage electricity. 

The guy setting it up asks me:
Do you have a pacemaker?

I respond in the negative and ask what's the danger zone on this thing.

He says: 
You probably wouldn't want to get within 10 feet of this!

Good to know. ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

(Please note that blog is not to be taken as medical advice.)
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December 18, 2019

Beautiful Solar Power

Thought this was a beautiful rendition of solar power. 

You can have energy. 

And you can have art. 

Here you can have both. 

It's functional to harness the sun's energy and it's designed to look sleek and fit the landscape. 

Nice job by Florida Power and Light (FPL)!  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2019

@National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence



So good today to visit the NIST Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE).

The cybersecurity solutions developed are aligned to the well-known Cybersecurity Framework (CSF). 

Got to see some of the laboratories, including demonstrations for securing the Healthcare and Energy Sectors. 

Interesting to hear about examples for securing hospitals records and even things like infusion pumps.  

The medical devices are tricky to secure, because they are built to potentially last decades and are expensive to replace, but the underlying technology changes every couple of years. 

Also, learned more about securing the energy sector and their industrial control systems.  

One scary notable item mentioned was about the "big red button" for shutdown in many of these facilities, but apparently there is malware that can even interfere in this critical function. 

It is imperative that as a nation we focus on critical infrastructure protection (CIP) and continuously enhancing our security.

Time is of the essence as our adversaries improve their game, we need to be urgently upping ours. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2017

Begone With Daylight Savings Time

Daylight saving time is one of those ideas that should be relegated to the dustbin of history. 

It serves no functional purpose and is actually a negative for society overall. 

Originally devised to have longer daylight in the Summer months by moving the clock forward an hour, it was also thought to save electricity by having more daylight.

However, research on the energy savings have had at best mixed results and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening in Summer with sunset extending to after 9 pm is necessary why???

Let's face it...it is stupid to move the clocks twice a year "springing forward" in the Spring and "falling back" in the Fall. 

Aside from the nonsense of actually having to move the clocks, it is disruptive and unhealthy to our sleep and other bodily patterns--was anyone else up too early for work this morning and hanging around until it was actually time to go in?

And it's not only people's bodily cycle that gets messed up, but animals too. One of my colleagues complained this morning about their dog needing to go out for their walk early this morning--apparently, the dog didn't get the message about daylight savings time. 

Time is not something to mess with--it should be stable like the other natural cycles of good 'ol Mother Nature--that we depend on as the "Laws of Nature!"

We don't change the number of days in December from 31 to 32 (taking it from perhaps October, which we can easily cut back on to 30 or 29 days) to extend the joyous holiday and  the shopping season which is good for economy.

We also don't mess with the number of days of the week--perhaps, for example, we should shorten the week from 7 to 6 days, so that we can have a more frequent rest cycle and rejuvenate our bodies and minds more frequently. Who wouldn't vote to get rid of Mondays and just start the week with Tuesday instead. 

Change is a good thing when it actually has a net benefit to society and it is more than negligible, but continuing to move around the dials on the clock, just because someone woke up one day with another cockeyed idea is not something to keep repeating.

It's time to recognize the bad idea for daylight savings time for what it is and restore stable time like a tick-tock that we can all set our watches consistently to. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 5, 2016

Even Our Water

So I was in a meeting yesterday. 

And someone had a bottle of what looked like very dirty water. 

I said to the guy sad-jokingly, "Where's that from--Flint, Michigan?"

He sadly smiles back and says, "No, I just filled the bottle with iced tea!"

But everyone around the table sighed at the tragic state of affairs with the filthy, contaminated water in Flint. 

The high levels of lead in the water has allegedly resulted in "skin lessons, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety."

It's unbelievable that in an American city with a population around 100,000 that they cannot safely shower or drink their water. 

To make things even worse, now banks are hunkering down and don't want to give mortgages to people in Flint until they can prove that their water is safe

What's amazing is that this miserable situation in our cities is not the exception, but the rule. 

As of 2003 already, The American Society for Civil Engineering gives us a hideous grade of D on our infrastructure that is aged and in disrepair.

This includes our:
- Energy
- Transportation
- Ports
- Aviation
- Levees
- Dams
- Schools
- Roads
- Inland Waterways
- Wastewater
- Hazardous Waste
- Parks and Recreation
- Rail
- Bridges
- Solid Waste
- Drinking Water

They estimate we need at least $3.6 trillion of investment for infrastructure renewal just by 2020. 

Interestingly enough, the useless decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan costs us over $4 trillion and the lives of almost 14,000 American military and contractor personnel.

What would you rather have a destabilized Middle East now swarming with ISIS, the Taliban, and a resurgent $100 billion richer and nuclear- and terror-determined Iran or a proper country here for us to live in with an actual strategy-driven national security and good schools and clean drinking water? 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B1ue5sky)
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December 16, 2015

DC Is Not NYC

This is a funny sticker on the streets of Washington, D.C.

It says, "This is not New York."

And it advertises a website called StuckInDC.com.

"Formed by a few friends who've probably lived in the capital long enough, but lack the wherewithal to move elsewhere."

Having come from NYC, I can empathize in many ways. 

The DC metro area is great if you are interested in working in some very cool jobs for the Federal government, and it has a fairly nice lifestyle for families here (clean and green). 

While not as exciting as NYC (it doesn't have the vibe), it's also not as dirty, congested, or generally dangerous (in DC, there are lots of gun-totting federal agents everywhere).

If you yearn for someplace nicer to live, maybe Florida for the Caribbean climate, beautiful nature, slower lifestyle, and fun atmosphere or then again, there is always the awesome Holy Land!

For now stuck in DC, after retirement who knows. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 24, 2015

Where's The Value?

So I don't know how I feel about this or maybe I do. 

The Wall Street Journal reports today that from the 10 largest companies by market capitalization:

1) The top 3 are technology companies

- Apple $679B
- Alphabet (Google's Parent) $489B
- Microsoft $422B

2) Moreover, a full 5 (half) of the top 10 are technology companies

That includes the 3 above and the other 2 below:

- Facebook $288B
- Amazon $280B

As a technology person, I am thrilled at the impact that IT has on our society. 

We are no longer the same thanks to our Apple iPhones, Google Search, Microsoft's business tools like Outlook, Office and SharePoint, Facebook's social networking, and Amazon's online shopping. 

But to think that these information capabilities outweigh by value everything else in society that we need as people is somewhat astounding.

For example, the other 5 of the top 10 companies are:

- Exxon Mobil (Oil and Gas) $346B 
- Berkshire Hathaway (Insurance, Utilities, Clothing, Building Products, Retail, Flight Services) $340B
- General Electric (Power and Water, Oil and Gas, Energy Management, Aviation, Healthcare, Transportation) $298B
- Wells Fargo (World's Largest Bank) $280B
- Johnson and Johnson (Pharmaceuticals) $278B

So when you add these behemoths up--this is what we have:

The 5 top technology companies are worth $2.158T

Vs.

The top 5 traditional companies from all the other industries combined are worth only $1.542T

Net it out:

The largest representative IT companies are worth $616B or 40% more than the other major companies combined.

(In fact, just the top 3 IT companies at $1.56T are worth more than the top 5 other companies at $1.542T.) 

Sure IT growth has been on a tear for the last couple of decades and we love everything futuristic it brings us. 

But isn't it a little scary to think that the companies that meet all our other needs from food, clothing, shelter, medicine, transportation, energy, finance, retail, etc. isn't worth more to us than just the IT alone. 

Perhaps adding it up from a value perspective just doesn't add up in a real life perspective. 

I love technology and want more and more of it, but man does not live by technology alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 1, 2015

Nothing Is Something AND Something Is Nothing


So the world financial markets continue to go haywire. 

The Uber glorified taxi service and app (with an almost half billion dollar operating loss) is now valued at--get this--over $50,000,000,000!

And commodities--you know the precious materials that REAL things are made off (gold, silver, copper, aluminum, oil, gas, coal, wheat, cotton, corn, soybeans, cotton, cocoa, coffee, sugar, beef, and more) hit a 13 year low. 

When the nothings of this world like a basic cab service become invaluable and the real things that power our homes, technology, transportation, and manufacturing become valueless--then we know a day of painful financial reckoning is coming. 

The markets can stand on their head for only so long before the blood rushes in and people become dizzy and see spots.

A reversion to the mean is the one something here that is inevitable, along with a pretty decent recession to boot. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 14, 2015

Lobbying Will Get You...Where?

In Washington, D.C., lobbying is a way of life. 

Just walking from the State Department to the Metro means you'll get accosted by somebody wanting action on some issue. 

I took this photo in action today of this guy obviously not in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. 

He equates it with "Climate Chaos!"

He is holding a sign up to me and trying to hand me some literature.

Whether or not piping tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast is net good for the economy and national security or bad for the environment and global warming, is of course a matter of debate. 

But like all issues, there are two sides to everything--so prove your case!

Maybe the point to free speech is that everyone can not only have an opinion, but also express it and advocate for it. 

There can be open and amble discussion, vigorous debate, compromises, and ultimately a vote and decision--that hopefully gets us to the best course of action. 

Unlike countries run by dictators or religious fanatics who attempt to quell all opposition--where bloggers are flogged and jailed and authors and satirists are threatened and murdered--we try to make our best case and not condemn those who simply think different than us. 

In expressing ourselves here, someone may occasionally joke and say, "now don't chop my head off for saying this," but in other countries they really mean it! 

Tyrannical dictatorships and Jihadists terrorizing and imposing their will on the masses just won't cut it anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 26, 2014

Going For A Healing

So my wife tricked me today...

First day in Santa Fe and there was so much to see. 

By afternoon, my wife said she was tired and wanted to stop in an "Oxygen Bar."

Good Jewish boy from the Bronx, what do I know from Oxygen Bars?

So they had these cool health tonics, soothing music, beautiful artwork, oxygen therapy, and...

In the back, they did healing treatments!

So my wife tells me I should do this.

Ah, why do I want to spend money on healing treatments?

She jumps up, goes over and talks to the owner, and comes back and says "Okay honey, she is going to give you a sampler."

A what!

I hem and haw, but my wife doesn't take no for an answer, so I reluctantly go to try it.

Well...

I really enjoyed it.  

From spa-type treatments to spiritual healing.

I had a smorgasbord of some light massage/reflexology, oils, sprays, rocks, branches and leaves, warm wet cloths, figure eights with a dream catcher, angels and animal spirits, and even prayers said. 

The very nice Jewish owner, Kadima Levanah, spoke about releasing your energy, having compassion on yourself, doing your best, starting anew, and having a full healing. 

By the end, I was smiling and feeling a lot more stress free--even though my wife tricked me like usual! ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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August 28, 2014

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy, Integrity Squared}

I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 

Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?

So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)...then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!

Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green...not sure why this is their slogan) that said:

Passion 

   X

Purpose

This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet's top 3 items for recruiting. 

With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.

The resulting function: 

Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}

Now that's a recruiting formula we can all follow--thank you Mr. Buffet. ;-)

(Source Photo: LinkedIn)
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April 15, 2014

Futuristic Highway


Some really great ideas here for the highway of the future.

These are the inspiration of interactive artist Daan Roosegaarde.

To save energy and increase safety, there are four concepts presented:

- Glow in the dark road markings (i.e. lane dividers) with photo-luminescent paint that charges during the day and lights up at night.

- Weather symbols on the road with temperature-responsive paint, so for example, when the temperature falls below a certain level, the roads show snowflake symbols to indicate that they may be icy. 

- Motion-interactive lights on the highway that light up when cars approach and are powered by the draft of the moving cars. 

- Induction lanes that can charge car batteries as they run along them and reenergize the cars for further travel. 

Already, there is a 500 meter stretch of road in Oss, Netherlands with the glow-in-the-dark road markings--these are almost radioactive green in color and give a futuristic Tron look to the roads.

Now the question is when can we get these high-tech upgrades for I-495? 

What an awesome high-tech display befitting our nation's capital and maybe it would help with traffic as well!  ;-)
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February 5, 2014

Sitting Ducks, Sitting In The Dark?

If you read the Wall Street Journal, then you heard today about the attack that took place last April on the power grid in San Jose, California. 

Yes, "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" and in San Jose in 2013!

Some assailants cut the telephone cables in an underground vault and shot for 19 minutes at a electrical substation with more than 100 rounds from an AK-47 and "surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley."

In this isolated case, power was able to be rerouted around the damaged site, but it still took 27 days to make the necessary repairs.

What if this was a broader attack--what could have happened? 

Firstly, since our roughly 2,000 nationwide giant transformers sit mostly in the open surrounded by nothing more than chain link fences and some cameras, an attack is possible, if not probable.

According to the then Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), "if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S."

Further, since each transformer is custom made, weighs up to 500,000 pounds, costs millions to build and are hard to replace, a large scale attack could result in "prolonged outages as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years."

Is this an isolated incident and nothing to worry about?

Uh, no! Domestically, there were 274 incidents of deliberate damage in three years. And overseas, between 1996 and 2006, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on the power grid. 

"Utility executives and federal energy official have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage." 

The Former FERC Chairman said, "What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid. This is a huge problem."  

Do you think the lights will be on forever or is it just a matter of time? 

On a personal level, have you given any thought to how you will feed your families, light and warm your homes, run your businesses, gas up your cars, and send and receive information?


Our Achilles' heels--is anyone even paying serious attention?

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal; this is not an endorsement of this book, but rather symbolic)
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November 10, 2013

Green Data Center Cooling

I read with great interest this week in BBC about 2 mysterious barges off the East and West coasts of the U.S.

One barge is by San Francisco and the other by Maine. 

The 4-story barges belong to Google. 

There is speculation about these being, maybe, floating data centers.  

I think that is more likely than showrooms for Google Glass.

These barges would potentially avail themselves of the ocean water for cooling the IT equipment. 

I would imagine that there could be some backup and recovery strategy here as well associated with their terrestrial data centers.

But how you protect these floating data behemoths is another story. 

A white paper by Emerson has data center energy consumption in the 25% range for cooling systems and another 12% for air movement, totaling 37%.

Other interesting new ideas for reducing energy consumption for data center cooling include submersion cooling. 

For example, Green Revolution (GR) Cooling is one of the pioneers in this area.

They turn the server rack on its back and the servers are inserted vertically into a dielectric (an electrical insulator--yes, I had to look that up) cooling mineral oil. 

In this video, the founder of GR identifies the potential cost-savings including eliminating chillers and raised floors as well as a overall 45% reduction in energy consumption, (although I am not clear how that jives with the 37% energy consumption of cooling to begin with).

Intuitively, one of the trickiest aspect to this would be the maintenance of the equipment, but there is a GR video that shows how to do this as well--and the instructions even states in good jest that the "gloves are optional."

One of my favorite aspects of submersion cooling aside from the environmental aspects and cost-savings is the very cool green tint in the server racks that looks so alien and futuristic. 

Turn down the lights and imagine you are on a ship traveling the universe, or maybe just on the Google ship not that far away. ;-)

(Source Photo: Green Revolution)
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August 25, 2013

PLS DNT STP


I first saw an advertisement for this music group near George Washington University. 

I was taken by their name: PLS DNT STP (i.e. Please Don't Stop).

Pretty smart!

I checked out one of their music videos online and asked my wife to listen as well. 

As it started, she goes, this is the type of thing that can give people with epilepsy a seizure.

Yes, she was joking, I think. 

But then she said she liked it and to post it to her Facebook, which I dutifully did. 

The music is a little young, but even we can appreciate the high energy and cool factor. 

I wrote on my wife's Facebook wall, "You're Bad!" ;-)
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Even The Buildings Smile

Soon we will end the weekend and move into the next workweek.

As a kid, I remember people calling it "Blue Monday"--presumably because of the feelings people had going back to work.

I know some people that don't even like to go out on Sunday evening at all, because of the anxiety they feel about the upcoming week.

But I thought this was a great photo that my daughter took to express the weekend joy and good feelings and the importance of carrying these forward throughout the whole week. 

Someone actually drew this smiley face on the side of the building!

When my other daughter, Minna, asked my mom in the nursing home today for some words of wisdom, she reminded us all that "the years go by all too quickly!"

In her words, I understood that the main thing is to find meaning and purpose, give more than you take, and remember to count your blessings every day. ;-)

(Source Photo: Rebecca Blumenthal)
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August 2, 2013

Rebuild, Not Regret

The Wall Street Journal (30 July 2013) says that it takes most people at least two years to recover from a breakup or a job loss.

And longer, if the loss is abrupt, sudden--and you are in shock, disbelief, and unprepared. 


When something bad happens, this is an important point in our lives to stop, take some time, and reexamine our lives--Where are we going? How did we mess up? What's really important? How should we rebuild? 


While you can't rush the healing process, I do think that the best medicine (after some recuperative time) is to "get right back on the horse."


When we suffer a loss, we feel traumatized, depressed, anxious, and self-absorbed.


But the best way to overcome those feelings is to take positive action.


Your feelings are important, but I don't think that the bad feelings go away until you replace them with positive feelings.


When my wife used to get some negative people in her life, she used to say, "I need positive energy around me," and I sort of used to laugh, but it's funny, in a way, she was really right. 


Positive energy replaces negative energy. Good feelings replace bad feelings. A good situation replaces a bad one. Rebuilding replaces regret and loss. 


This doesn't mean that when you suffer a loss that the void can ever be filled, but that the only real pain reliever is giving life meaning again--and that means doing something positive with it. 


No, I don't believe in just jumping in to something before you are ready, doing something foolhardy or not well thought out, but you will feel and become better again by coming up with a reasonable plan and working toward it.


Taking positive steps forward is a better scenario than sitting idly in the dumps--for two years or longer, forget it. ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Michael Kappel)

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