The Energy Blog – War of the Currents Round 2

This posting was originally published with Sustainable West Seattle  in June 2010

The War of the Currents was fairly fought over 100 years ago and the winner was the undisputed better technology; a technology that has served us well. Electricity has worked its way into every facet of our lives and into almost every corner of the country. To be off-the-grid practically means to be Amish or The Unabomber. It’s so critical that when we had an extended power outage here in Seattle in 2006 eight people died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. So what has changed to make we want to take up arms and fight for the discredited Direct Current?

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The Energy Blog – War of the Currents

This posting was originally published with Sustainable West Seattle  in June 2010

War of the Currents: Round 1

Before there was HD-DVD vs. BlueRay, Mac vs. PC, or Beta vs. VHS there was AC vs. DC. And if you think that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had a rivalry, check out Edison and Tesla, two of the greatest innovators ever and bitter foes in the War of the Currents.  This posting will be a bit more technical than I usually get, but I won’t assume you know anything about electricity and there will be no math.

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Summer is coming (i.e. Greenland is melting, fast)

When I wrote “The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar” (available for $1 at as an e-book) one of the plot points was that sea levels were rising much faster than predicted, mainly due to loss of ice from Greenland. New data from the CryoSat satellite supports other data that might have been frighteningly prescient.

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Hillary is an Order Muppet; Donald is a Chaos Muppet

The Presidential race now makes sense to me. I just realized that Hillary is an Order Muppet and Donald is a Chaos Muppet. This is based on the theory that we are all either Order Muppets (Kermit, Bert, Sam the Eagle) or Chaos Muppets (Animal, Miss Piggy, Gonzo).

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The Dinosaurs’ Last Roar is Free on Amazon Kindle this week



I wrote a collection of connected short stories and published it on Kindle as The Dinosaurs’ Last RoarNormally it sells for the low, low price of $1, but for this week, in celebration of getting this blog going, I’ve lowered the price to the lower, lower price of $0.  The deal only lasts until the July 22nd.


Hydrogen Power and the Tokyo Olympics

There are a lot of stupid things that happen in the name of protecting the environment (e.g. corn-based ethanol) that you just know that someone with power and influence is making money. So it is with Tokyo’s commitment to power the Olympics in 2020 in part with hydrogen. And this is a commitment backed up with $350 million in cash to subsidize hydrogen-powered cars and fueling stations. In addition they will be building a 6,000-unit Olympics village powered exclusively with hydrogen fuel cells. I’ll explain what all of this means, why it sounds like a good idea, and why it’s actually a bad idea.

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Land Use: Ethanol vs Solar

This article was originally published on my blog at in 2013

On a recent trip to Minneapolis, I looked out the window of the plane and saw a vast expanse of land growing corn. It had me thinking about ethanol, since much of that corn is being grown to feed not man nor beast, but cars and trucks. I wondered if we wouldn’t be better off covering that land with solar panels. On my return, I looked up some numbers and my suspicions were confirmed: we could produce about 4 times the electricity consumed in the US by covering the land now used to grow corn for ethanol with solar panels.

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Falling Out of Love with Waterfall

This is a reprint of a blog post I wrote for Product Creation Studio

Waterfall project management is the paradigm taught by the Project Management Institute, the grantee of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. It’s so ubiquitous that if someone says “project management,” waterfall is probably what they mean. It’s an incredibly powerful approach, allowing one to manage projects of immense complexity, efficiently and successfully. The intention of waterfall is that the tasks flow from one to another as effortlessly and inevitably as water falling down a mountain.

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Electric cars and the grid

This article was original published with Plug-in-America, the voice of plug-in vehicle drivers across the country.

One of the things that we hear as owners of electric vehicles (EVs) is that we’re just moving pollution from the tailpipe to the smokestack of a coal-fired power plant. Is this a fair complaint today and does it have to be in the future? What if there are 100 million EVs driving around the US? Can we charge them all using renewable power?

In this post I’ll show that not only can renewable power like wind and solar provide the energy we need, but EVs actually can increase grid stability and ease our transition to a carbon-free electrical grid.

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