Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
But I am not here to preach 'doom and gloom'! I only want to call this to your attention. The question that you must ask yourself, however, is: "What can I do to make a difference?"
The answer to that question can take on many forms. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Do a Water Use Audit.
2. Use water-efficient landscaping and irrigation with native plants.
3. Use high-efficiency clothes washers & dishwashers.
4. Use ultra-low flush (ULF) toilets.
5. Use low-flow faucets (bathroom and kitchen sinks and shower heads).
There are rebate programs available for doing the aforementioned tasks. In fact, there are FREE low-flow shower head exchanges by various government entities. "Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department (WASD) will exchange your actual shower head for a more streamlined, cost-effective "High Efficiency" shower head as well as provide you with a conservation kit for your home."
Reducing your water usage can also decrease your hot water usage, thus lowering your electric bill. But remember, it’s not just about saving money; it’s about saving resources (people, time, money, etc).
Many homes still have the regular, more common incandescent light bulbs. These bulbs only covert 10% of electrical current into light while 90% is converted into "latent heat". Latent heat is unexpected or hidden heat that is released or absorbed when a substance changes form (liquid to gas etc). Fluorescent light bulbs (Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs or CFLs), on the other hand, is more efficient as it converts 80% of electrical energy into usable light energy and produces only 20% heat. This can be tested by a simple touch test. Ever noticed that after several hours you can still touch a CFL, but after only 5 minutes an incandescent light bulb can cook a turkey?
Using fluorescent lights instead of incandescent lights can reduce the amount of electricity used for lighting by about 75%. FPL is offering to help: "Residential customers will receive one free compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and qualified business customers will receive two bulbs when they take the online survey aimed at providing tips for energy and monetary savings."
Veterans Energy Solutions is taking a more proactive approach. We will replace ALL your light fixtures with CFLs when you schedule an energy audit/energy rating today (mention this blog post to receive free CFLs). Take a bold step today and join Veterans Energy Solutions in accomplishing the mission, one bulb at a time.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Health consciousness, especially dieting and exercising, is a great example of this. With over-consumption reaching epidemic proportions we realized that things cannot continue this way. Awareness about issues that arise out of over-consumption motivated understanding of how to change. We realized how actions today, such as eating unhealthy fast foods, can affect us in the future. These problems manifest itself in the form of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, just to name a few. These diseases affect our quality of life in the future.
Many Americans started dieting as a result of this understanding. Results, however, were mixed and folks got frustrated so different techniques were invented and tried. Dieticians and nutritionists encouraged folks to try different techniques in order to find what worked for them. Many techniques were popularized, such as Atkins Diets, South Beach Diets, etc – all of which were some variation of the other.
The many diet programs led people to conclude that dieting was a new “fad.” What is a fad? A fad is a craze or a short-lived fashion where something is embraced very enthusiastically for a short time, especially by many people (Encarta Dictionary). So, it would seem to fit the mold. However, this isn’t a clothing item that one can wear for a time and discard as it fades in popularity. This is about people; not about a thing. Expanding this thought further, this is about people, their health, their future, their family, their friends, and their kid’s future – so this goes deeper than just a fad. Calling dieting a fad is an over-simplification and quite honestly, totally misconstrued. Besides, it has gone on longer than what someone would call a “short time.”
Anyhow, soon enough, folks discovered that dieting only accomplished so much by itself. And so, exercising was also encouraged to accompany dieting. Combining the two is no easy task nevertheless, this reinforces the notion of: “No Pain; No Gain.”
But those who tried different programs learned through trial and error. Lots of them plunged into a program without proper prior planning and got a poor performance. Could this be called gaining pain for no reason? I think so, what about you?
Anyways, Going on a diet without a game plan is like taking a trip without a road map: You’ll eventually reach your destination, but it will take you longer, be more of a hassle and cost you more. So, personal coaches and dieticians were frequently sought after to help develop a plan and even help implement the programs.
Increased awareness of how actions we take today affect us tomorrow also helped in consensus building. We recognize that we can take actions into our own hands and effect change. So, we have become the consummate consumer. We are skilled at finding information that is useful and applying it to our individual lives. And we are good at discerning what the right, sensible move is. But since we have our daily lives to run, procrastination can get in the way and only delay the inevitable.
So to bring this discussion full circle, what can dieting & exercising teach us about Environmental Consciousness...??? They show us that a sensible, detailed plan, tailored to our individual needs in combined efforts can achieve the results we desire. Together they magnify the value of the program. Together energy efficiency and solar technology magnify the value of the program.
At any rate, doing what you do best and tending to your daily lives is hard enough as it is. So, bringing in the specialist to collaborate is the best way to create a game plan. They can make things happen because they have a passion for it and they are motivated to act on your behalf. Besides, they've trained extensively for it.
This increased level of awareness is empowering us on individual levels to take actions on our own behalf. These individual actions add up to an aggregate level of achievement that can astonish anyone. Dieting & exercising leads to a healthier lifestyle and lower demand for medical attention. There is also less costs to individuals and less lost productivity due to medical issues. As more individuals become healthier – going outward – so too does the household, the community, the city, the county, the state, the region, the nation, the hemisphere, and finally Mother Earth. The same applies to Environmental Consciousness.
Knowledge can be a burden but it carries a responsibility. The responsibility is to share it with someone. Knowledge doesn’t exist in a vacuum either. So, have them tell someone else. Knowledge is powerful. And as it spreads the value of that knowledge increases in orders of magnitudes. Then the burden you first felt no longer feels so weighty. Finally, I always say:
Knowledge is power: Wield it. But wield it responsibly.
Friday, November 30, 2007
We need to ask ourselves, a hundred years from now, will it have made a difference that I lived? Did I wake up every day and give it my best, pursuing my dreams and goals? Did I keep my heart of compassion open, helping others, giving, caring, serving? Our attitude should be, “I’m going to leave this place better off than it was before. I’m going to make a difference with my life.”
Don't just make a living, make a difference! This holiday season, lets give a gift worth remembering. A gift of energy independence. A gift of clean technology. A gift of green and sustainability.
This song has been a source of inspiration for me over the years: We are the World!
Tile: Michael Jackson - We Are the World
Lyrics from http://www.lyrics007.com/
There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
We can't go on
Pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We are all a part of God's great big family
And the truth, you know love is all we need
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me
Send them your heart
So they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me
When you're down and out
There seems no hope at all
But if you just believe
There's no way we can fall
Well, well, well, well, let us realize
That a change will only come
When we stand together as one
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we'll make a better day
Just you and me
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Growing up in the famous Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and Grenada, and my 10 year military career, I had the opportunity to travel and explore the natural beauties and wonders of many countries and islands. I was fearless as my twin brother and I braved the heat, insects and rugged terrain to explore new frontiers. I enjoyed exploring new adventures and territories.
This same enthusiasm burst forth as I explored the various ecosystems in South Florida. I braved the same heat, humidity and insects, as well as the gators and other animals of the Everglades National Park. I waded through the marshes and wetlands, walked through the trails of the Pine and Cypress Ecosystems, Hardwood Hammocks, scrubs and coastal dunes, I snorkeled the patch reef of Key Largo where I came face to face with a 4-foot Nurse Shark and a 3-foot Barracuda.
It reminded me of when my grandmother would take us into the woods and teach us about the animals, insects and every tree/plant on the island. She would teach us how to recognize a plant/tree by its leaves, bark or fruits; by sight, taste and smell. She taught us the importance of certain plants – food, medication, etc. The same was taught about the insects and animals of the islands. My mom and dad also taught us how to plant and harvest various crops and also how to dive and fish (see more here).
Similarly, Ecology of South Florida taught me about the soils, plants, insects, and animals, and the important roles they played in maintaining the biodiversity of the Everglades. These Ecosystems are not only important for biodiversity and the environment, but they are also vital to our tourism-based economy.
My mom and dad taught me fishing and agriculture, my grandmother taught me ecology. However, I felt ignorant of the Ecology of South Florida. My first impression of the Everglades was a yucky, sticky, hot and humid place full of mosquitoes. However, having made Miami my home, I wanted to learn more about it. This course proved to be worth more than just a mere requirement for graduation. It bridged the knowledge gap that I was missing. Thanks to Professor Patricia Houle and Alex Chidakel, I can now use this new knowledge to woo friends and family who come to visit as well as to educate others on the importance of these Ecosystems.
Monday, November 12, 2007
These stories share principles of contribution, charity, attention, responsibility, courage, discipline, integrity, humility, gratitude, vision, innovation, quality, respect, empathy, unity, adaptability, magnanimity, perseverance, balance, simplicity, and renewal -- all of which are timeless. All of which transcends the everyday politics as usual.
These timeless traits are what we remember Veterans for -- not necessarily the wars they fought and even less so the politics of it.
When I say the word Veteran: I think of these principles, I think of a work ethic worth emulating, I think of being a part of something greater than oneself, I think of sacrifices, I think of a brotherhood/sisterhood, I think Honor.
TO ALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN ARMS PAST & PRESENT:
And now I leave you with an excerpt of a Presidential Proclamation by President Dwight D. Eisenhower:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America , do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 , as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Plug in and Spark Up a Conversation.
Knowledge is power: Wield it.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Since then, GM has turned things around and has put out a number of Flex Fuel and Hybrid vehicles, one of which VES owns. VES bought GM’s 2007 Saturn Vue Hybrid. This, as does everything VES does, has some strategic implications behind it. In Florida, transportation is ranked number one in fuel consumption by end use sector (http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/state/state_energy_profiles.cfm?sid=FL):
1. Transportation – 33%
2. Residential – 30%
3. Commercial – 24%
4. Industrial – 13%
VES has chosen to attack the top two end uses and GM just became a partner in helping us achieve our mission of Energy Independence.
After touring the Volt and taking a few photos, we had dinner with the Senior Creative Designer from GM’s Advanced Technology Studio Team Mathieu Boimare at the Jaguar Restaurant. We carried on further discussions over wine and fine dinning. I was impressed by the wonderful buzz surrounding the Volt and by how receptive Mathieu was to our suggestions and how helpful he was in explaining how the design and concept came about. The Chevrolet Volt is an electric car ahead of its time. Its posh design and green technology puts it in a class of its own. It’s just too bad we could not take it for a spin. The Volt is slated to come out in 2010.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Nevertheless, the conversations almost always gravitate to becoming “Green” in general. Unsurprisingly, many ask what the payback is to make an investment in “Going Green.” So, it would seem that the incentive for “Going Green” is getting “Green” back – that is the Greenback (as our Dollar is affectionately called). This can be a misnomer as “Going Green” can cost more than the Green you get back (think Greenback). The reason is tied to simple nuances in the variations of the definition of terms we use to discuss this phenomenon. I would be asked: “Does it make economic sense?”, “Is it financially feasible?”, etc. Both questions to the untrained eye mean the same thing. But does it? I will answer that in a later post – stay tuned! ;-)
Getting back to the point of the post.
I was recently helping an uncle of mine move into his newly purchased home where we talked about energy independence and the notion of paybacks. I gave the example that if my home lacked proper insulation, it could create a problem where the resistance to heat is low enough that the air conditioner would come on frequently to cool down the home. This frequent running of the AC translates to higher energy usage and finally a higher electric energy bill.
After discussing the benefits of diminishing this problem we talked about a recent remodel job he did to the bathroom of his recently purchased home. So, I wittingly asked: What kind of payback do you expect?
He returned a blank stare and asked: “Payback?! I have a bathroom that I can proudly use and entertain guests without shame. I remodeled it because it needed to get done, not because of any payback.”
I wonder if his point would be well taken.
Knowledge is power: Wield it.
"Because of your work with Spark Plug and your interest in energy issues, General Motors would like to invite you to an exclusive event featuring the Chevrolet Volt concept car on Thursday, October 18th at CocoWalk."
What is the Volt?
The Chevrolet Volt concept is a plug-in electric vehicle that will drive up to 40 miles without ever using a drop of gasoline -- which according to government data, would be enough to handle approximately two-thirds of American commuters' daily drives. The first vehicle in GM's "E-Flex" family, the Volt will be powered by an electric motor, which draws its energy from on-board batteries. The batteries, in turn, will be re-charged by a small internal combustion engine that will run on gas, diesel or ethanol. When not in use, the batteries will be re-charged by simply plugging the Volt into an electric outlet. You can find out more at:
On the evening of Oct. 18th, GM will host an exclusive event for online media, such as Spark Plug, that will include a walk-around of the Volt with Bob Boniface, GM Design Director E-Flex Systems. This will be followed by a group dinner, during which Spark Plug will have a chance to discuss the design, technology and engineering of the vehicle. A post will follow this event.
The Volt Miami Tour Schedule:
7am to 10am: Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach (1775 Collins Ave.)
5pm to 11pm: CocoWalk in Coconut Grove (30115 Grand Ave., in front of the Gap Store)
6:30pm to 9pm: Online media dinner with Mathieu Boimare
7am to 3pm: Government Center in Downtown Miami (111 NW First St., outside under metro rail)
6pm to 11pm: Sunset Place (South Miami, 5701 Sunset Dr. in front of Dan Marino restaurant)
9am to 10pm: Sawgrass Outlet (Sunrise, Oasis Location 2608 Sawgrass Mills Cir.- in front of Gameworks)
8am to 5pm: Florida International University (South Miami, 11200 SW 8th St -- front of Graham University Center)
10am to 9pm: Dolphin Mall (Doral, 11401 NW 12th Street, in front of the Texas de Brazil restaurant)
I would like to commend FPL for the good work they do in our community. Working on such projects as Habitat for Humanity also adds value to our community.
I am a firm believer in: Praise in public, reprimand in private. ;-)
Monday, October 8, 2007
Green Flamingos is a conversation event where five presentations of five minutes about five new ideas for sustainability spark the exchange of ideas in one of the liveliest exchanges of information about green ideas in Miami. Green enthusiasts and the general public came to learn what their peers in the green movement are thinking, doing and talking about.
Our presentation was short and to the point. It demonstrated our knowledge of the industry and technology as well as our passion for Energy Independence. Our products and services were the most technical, yet our presentation had the least technical information. We presented that way to keep it simple.
Most folks identifyed with the growing frustrations felt at home, on the road and at the work place. Moreover, they are disenchanted about the lack of action taken. The time for talk and half measures is over! Veterans Energy Solutions (http://ves1.com/)will execute on its Vision: to become one of the economic engines to drive us to energy independence. Every little bit counts. Help us accomplish the mission.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
February 14, 2005
Many people say that a picture speaks a thousand words. Some say it speaks louder than words. This particular picture evokes a thousand emotions. It was taken on board the USS Yorktown (CG-48) on April 24th, 2004 in Iraqi territorial waters by an intelligence officer, who was standing on the aft missile deck of the ship, facing the action. The aft missile deck is located in the back one-third of the ship and is where missiles are launched. The photo shows a part of the missile deck at the bottom of the frame. It is late afternoon just before sunset on an overcast and windy day. The sea is moderately choppy, and the air humid. Coalition forces have placed an exclusion zone of one nautical mile around the Khawr Al-Amaya and the Al Basra Oil Terminals. This area is heavily traveled by fishing and cargo dhows (boats). The oil terminals are the lifeline of the Iraqi economy, producing one million barrels of oil per day. There are two oil tankers docked at the Al Basra Oil Terminal, pictured at the left. Center stage shows the US Navy Patrol Craft USS Firebolt (PC-10) maneuvering to intercept a cargo dhow as it encroaches into this exclusion zone. The Yorktown is also maneuvering to avoid another dhow heading directly toward it. Everyone is alert as adrenaline kicks in.
We, the USS Yorktown, had departed Bahrain at 0400 that morning after three days of well-deserved liberty. We met up with the USNS Supply (AOE-6) to replenish our fuel, food, and ammunition. Our helicopter, Proud Warrior 433, also helped to expedite our replenishment. After about three hours alongside, we began our long journey back to Iraq. Once we arrived, the US Coast Guard Patrol Boat USCGC Aquidneck (WPB 1309) came alongside to be replenished. Two hours later, we brought the Firebolt alongside and replenished her. Soon after we cast her off, I reported to the pilothouse for my 1700-2200 watch as the Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch. On my watch team, I had three lookouts, a helmsman and a messenger. There were also a quartermaster of the watch and three officers in the pilothouse. At the time the picture was taken, we were all poking fun at one of the junior officers and just having a good time. The captain and some crew members were having a cigar social on the helicopter flight deck. It had been a very long day and everyone wanted to make the best of it.
As the sun was setting and the day unwinding, a big event was about to unfold. The dhows we were maneuvering around were not the normal dhows that transited the area. Although they looked the same, these dhows looked suspicious. They were laden with cargo but only had one or two personnel on board. They were also heading either toward the oil terminals or toward the Navy ships in the area-usually they would keep their distance. These suspicions led us to investigate the situation more closely. The same situation was unfolding at the Khawr Al-Amaya Oil Terminal, where the Australian Frigate HMAS Stuart (FFH-153), British Frigate HMS Grafton (F-80), USS Thunderbolt (PC-12), and USCGC Aquidneck were patrolling. Since we were the command ship, we directed the Firebolt to send a boarding team on a rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) to shadow the dhow that was heading towards the Al Basra Oil Terminal, and to escort it out of the exclusion zone. Nevertheless, the captain of the dhow seemed defiant and undeterred by the Firebolt’s boarding team and continued on course. The Firebolt then requested permission to board the dhow and commence a search. Permission was granted, and the boarding team proceeded alongside the dhow. As the Firebolt’s boarding team approached the dhow, they noticed two more dhows approaching the oil terminal. As they radioed for backup, a big explosion ripped through the RHIB. We were under attack!
As soon as we discovered this was not routine traffic, we contacted Central Command to alert them of the situation. We simultaneously directed the Stuart to take tactical control of the other US ships near the Khawr Al-Amaya Oil Terminal in order to secure it. The Grafton and Firebolt conducted the search and rescue operation of the fallen comrades while we responded to the other threats. The other two dhows approaching the Al Basra Oil Terminal were successfully blown to pieces about 100 feet from the oil terminal. We immediately launched two RHIBs to aggressively pursue any dhows within the exclusion zone. Meanwhile, the USS George Washington (CVN-73) Carrier Strike Group was about 200 nautical miles away and was sending two MEDEVAC Helicopters to airlift personnel injured or killed in action.
All these events unfolded in a span of about five hours, which covered my watch. As the effects of the adrenaline wore off and reality set in, I became very exhausted and was ready to go to bed. After all, it had been a very long day and the events, surreal. Little did I know that I had been selected to lead a small team to patrol throughout the night. I thought to myself: “Why me?” I later found out that I was one of three people qualified, capable, and trusted to lead such a mission. Naturally, I was to relieve the other two guys who were already out patrolling.
We were briefed on the mission of our patrol as well as on the rules of engagement. I laughed at the rules of engagement part because it was the same that had been applied ineffectively earlier that day. In any given military operation, there are guidelines and standard operating procedures. However, under the decentralized command philosophy, the commander makes decisions as the battlefield situation and information change. I decided this would apply in our situation since mission success and our survival depended on it. As we departed on patrol, the MEDEVAC Helicopters arrived and refueled on board the Yorktown before heading to the Grafton. While the helicopters were refueling, we discussed the events as they unfolded. We wondered how the guys on the Firebolt were coping with everything. The mood was somber with a hint of anger.
The patrol lasted for about six hours and was very eventful. As we patrolled the area, we searched for debris and any unexploded devices. I spotted a few pieces of debris floating in the water and maneuvered toward them. We pulled out a few pieces of the dhows that had blown up and an exploded Improvised Explosive Device (IED). We also retrieved a partially burnt hat and some melted plastic. As we continued our patrol, we surveyed the damage done to one of the tankers and the Al Basra Oil Terminal. There was glass strewn everywhere and the oil tanker nearest to the attack was dented by the blast. The Khawr al-Amaya Oil Terminal was damaged slightly but was functional by morning. The blasts damaged generators at the Al Basra Oil Terminal necessary for loading and unloading tankers. We were very exhausted and finally relieved by a fresh team at 0500 the next morning.
This well-coordinated attack was poorly executed, but deadly, nonetheless. Two US Navy sailors died instantly from the blast while a Coast Guardsman died the following morning. Three other sailors were injured but were listed in stable condition. One of the deceased sailors was two weeks shy of terminal leave and ultimately, retirement. “Coast Guardsmen don't get killed. Marines get killed," was being echoed throughout the media along with the news of the first Coast Guardsman to die in combat since the Vietnam War. As the news reached all coalition troops in the area, anger and discontent were aroused.
This long and arduous combat deployment was very emotionally and physically draining. Long days often merged into long weeks as one mission led to another. It was not uncommon to work 130 to 140 hours per week; sometimes going on only 45 minutes of sleep. Skimpy meals were often cut short by unexpected events. Sleep and free time were rare commodities. At some point during the attacks, e-mails and phone calls were ceased for tactical silence. The morale of the crew plummeted due to the attacks and was directly related to the relative frequency of the e-mails and letters we received. Despite these circumstances, I was able to maintain a level head and respond positively to every event. This experience taught me how to perform efficiently under extreme pressure. I understood the rigors of our tight schedules and limited resources, and developed the capacity to accomplish the mission on time in spite of tremendous stress. I learned the critical importance of mission accomplishment and troop welfare. Accordingly, I was instrumental in implementing a flex schedule that increased rest and relaxation while simultaneously reducing the stress level of my sailors. I was also able to whet my leadership skills. I led by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. This proved very important throughout the attack as I mobilized the anger and adrenaline of my sailors to achieve positive results. I also learned the true essence of teamwork as we depended on each other to make it through this ordeal. In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, I triumphed over great adversity. I have proven my mettle in mission critical situations demanding endurance, stamina and flexibility. I overcame personal anguish through strength and determination to survive. I also learned the real values of life and the evils of combat. As a result of these lessons and experiences, I decided to leave active naval service and re-concentrate my efforts on another frontier – ENERGY INDEPENDENCE.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
FIU's Energy and Business Forum and General Motors held an open symposium discussing the status of E85 ethanol in South Florida. Presentations about E85 ethanol infrastructure, technology, and availability was discussed by senior engineers from General Motors, and distinguished panelists from the areas of academia, government and industry. An announcement was made about the first Ethanol gas station in Miami, FL: the U Gas at 210 NW 79 Ave. Read more about it here: http://www.miamiherald.com/business/story/235713.html
For future events on Energy or Business go here: http://krcem.fiu.edu/energyevents.html.
Attending this forum was not only educational but motivational! Seeing the growing support for Energy Independence helped fuel my already growing enthusiasm and excitement of executing on our vision: "To serve as an economic engine that will drive us to become energy independent."
However, with excitement there is always some negatives that are discovered. Most people argue that certain technologies are not efficient enough or they create more negatives than positives. Ethanol is a great example of this. Most critics argue that it uses more energy than it produces and that it uses food stock and water inefficiently and inappropriately. These critics fall in various places in the spectrum and while their criticisms are valid to a certain extent, it does not solve the broader issue of environmental degradation and energy independence.
Technology, just like education and just about everything else in this world, does not exist in a vacuum. In order for it to become better, people must buy and comsume those products. In turn, they will complain along with those famous critics to make the product better. Technology evolves; it does not jump from one extreme of the spectrum to the other. There is a middle ground that must be traversed. In that middle ground, prices change (mostly declining) as the product improves.
If we sit by and wait for the technology to become "perfect" then it will never get there. All it does is hinder the process. Everyone knows that there are three types of people in this world:
1. Those who make things happen,
2. Those who watch things happen, and
3. Those who wonder what happened.
Which one are you?
Be a part of the solution NOT the problem. While serving on active duty in the military, I always made my guys come to me with a possible solution to whatever problem they were having. This had the effect of catapulting the issue to successful mitigation. The same can be true of the challenges we face today.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Have you thought of putting solar panels on your roof to substitute fossil fuel generated power with a renewable source?
Well, couple this with energy efficiency improvements in your home and you can make the biggest individual impact by doing two things:
1) Moving us all to energy independence,
2) And helping the environment.
Friday, August 31, 2007
Anyhow, here is an excerpt of JFK's Inaugural Speech:
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility - I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
An excerpt of The Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You speech by John F. Kennedy January 20th 1961.
Anyhow, I'd like to mention some things I heard there - some of which I'd heard before. Treat them as food for thought. Here they are:
About 1,000 people move into Florida everyday.
“There may be no more pressing issue in our state than the impact of our country’s current level of use of fossil fuels on the state and global environment. The relationship between our energy sources and our security, economy and environment demand a bold vision. Of all the states, Florida has the most at stake - and must take a leadership role.” - Century Commission, First Annual Report to the Governor and the Legislature (2007)
Sustainable energy is the efficient use of renewable resources to provide society's need for energy while minimizing the impact on our environment
• Efficient Use
• Renewable Resource
Reduce Global Warming with ICE. I=Insulation, C=Conservation, E=Efficiency.
Get more info here:
Thursday, August 30, 2007
My entrepreneurial journey began two years ago when I left active military service and could not find any jobs. I applied for over 200 jobs in 2 1/2 years and only got 3 hits. One was temporary and the other 2 never panned out. As a result, I decided to create opportunities of my own.
Additionally, my upbringing on a 32 foot Pacemaker Cabin Cruiser in St. Thomas, USVI, my military service guarding oil terminals in Iraq, recent up ticks in hurricanes (we lost over $100 worth of food because of Katrina), gas prices, electricity prices and foreclosures in South Florida all helped to motivate this venture.
Part of entrepreneurship is having passion. If you are not passionate about your product or service then no one will buy or use it. However, passion alone will not suffice. Passion must be tempered with mindfulness in order for us to see things how they truly are or truly can be. And it helps to have a story behind everything.
While attending the prestigious Florida International University, I used every class and every research paper/project to better understand every aspect of my business idea. This proved beneficial as my business plan won 1st Runner Up (2nd place) in FIU's New Venture Challenge Business Plan Competition.
Recently, I was 1 of 20 chosen out of hundreds of applicants to attend the inagural Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for OEF/OIF Veterans with Disabilities at Syracuse University (SU). SU is ranked #1 in the nation for Entrepreneurship on the graduate level and #2 on the undergrad level. This experience has increased my knowledge and understanding of entrepreneurship as well as nationalized my network.
The bootcamp began with a 3 week online phase and a 10 day in-class phase. SU spent over $10,000 per veteran to train us from concept/idea selection, to business plan writing, to funding the venture, to operationalize the business plan, to manage the venture and finally grow the venture.
A special thank you to FIU Entrepreneurship Center, SU's Whitman School of Business and FAU's SBDC for helping make Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC a reality!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Anyhow, in the last post I mentioned Conservation is a bad word. And that was because, in the forum one of the presenters stated so in so many words. I sighed heavily when I heard this because I very strongly disagree with that. But interestingly, another panelist picked up at the end of that statement and added a couple of statements in agreement. Yet the very last statement was a complete contradiction of what was stated that essentially nullified that trend of thought. So, to help beat it to death I raised my hand and stated unequivocally that his last statement says that Conservation is feasible. And he agreed adding more statements in support. Yaay!
A bit later, I asked about cisterns since I didn't hear any mention of it. So, one of the presenters stated that it was not used because it isn't a cost effective technology to deploy. And we were back at one. Conservation is economically feasible; it just needs the right dynamics to be in play. Namely, policy incentives, innovation, entrepreneurial risk taking, etc. Besides, we use it today and it is widely used in Third World Countries. We can't afford them but they can? That's absurd.
Anyways, here is why I take issue with the notion of the lack of cost effectiveness in these issues:
We don't currently pay for resource usage what we really should be paying. That is we are not paying its true cost. We tend to have a specific focus on cost in terms of dollars without regard to the broader implications that comes as a cost. There are abstract costs involved that can also be quantified and are usually left out. This would help the dynamics I mentioned above.
Anyhow, saying that cisterns aren't cost effective is an excuse that skirts the issue. If it isn't cost effective today; it means we can't do it right now or today but it doesn't mean it cannot be done in the future. But more importantly, if we skirt any issue by saying it isn't cost effective then we are simply compounding the problem and delaying the inevitable.
Lets look at it another way. If our troops disagree with any war being fought and decide that their bloodshed isn't cost effective then we wouldn't be the great nation we supposedly are. Their sacrifice is the ultimate and sacred. So too are the contributions of our citizens. So to say that it isn't economically feasible is a sacrilege. A specific focus on cost undermines our ability to enhance the greater good of our community.
We can effect change that could cultivate the dynamic that would make this technology cost effective. In my research, I've come to realize that cost effectiveness is tied to a lack of education & awareness. And so educating the public and building awareness helps to drive the cost down. Another interesting concept is that any technology that is point-of-use drives conservation.
When I lived on a boat, we had to carry 5-gallon jugs of water from the parking lot to the dinghy and then lift it out of the dinghy into the boat. These jugs were heave and it was a task that I deplored. So we found ways to make that water last longer. We would use the seawater to get wet in the shower then follow it with a freshwater rinse to get the soap to lather. Then we'd rinse with the same sequence afterwards. Many of my friends who were landlubbers had to pay attention to how much water they used because they would run out of water if they didn't. I could just go on because there are so many things to say. And the full has never been told.
I speak from experience and acquired knowledge. Cisterns as a point-of-use technology are a good conservation driver. Solar is too. So, don't be surprised to hear anyone talking these forms of technology down. Especially large establishments such as the utilities. Take their words with a grain of salt.
Knowledge is power: Wield it.
The panel of experts discussed projects and concerns related to the management of water resources, water quality and water quantity in South Florida. Also discussed was active and planned projects dealing with concerns about water that have a direct impact on the quality of life in South Florida.
It was a very enlightening forum with lots of information about ongoing projects. Questions were held for the end and the exchange was pleasant yet interesting. At any rate, it became evident that the issues facing our county and even the state is much bigger than most folks realize. And this issue underscores a few developing concepts:
1) Energy is not the only "major potential" problem we're faced with.
2) The "major potential" problems we face arise due to our consumptive habits that affects the environment.
3) Conservation is a bad word.
4) We need need to educate the public, remain informed & connected, and build more awareness.
5) We underpay for the resources we consume.
All of these concepts seem to apply to any environmentally related issue we face today.
Anyhow, the many projects that are currently being worked on are of great importance to solving this problem. And that was the recurring theme throughout each presentation. Nevertheless, one presenter talked about things a bit differently that I thought was the missing ingredient until his presentation.
He stated that it doesn't take a genius to understand these issues.
1) We have 1000 people moving into Florda everyday.
2) We are borrowing water now for high levels of consumption that is creating long-term deficit issues.
3) We need to educate the public, remain informed & connected, and promote interaction.
Essentially, we are digging ourselves into a hole that would be difficult if not impossible to get out of unless we start taking action now. Every issue seems to have some ominous development that threatens our survivability in the future. Yet we are not fully aware of these issues, nor are we well educated on them and even worse not doing much to address them. Education doesn't exist in a vacuum and so a lack of knowledge on the issues, the disconnectedness I alluded to here and in previous posts (see post on You can't handle the truth) will continue to haunt us.
So then, perhaps my dad's little quip suffices: "If good can't get better, then worse will have to continue".
Knowledge is power: Wield it.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
During this time, our source of electricity was a 12 Volt battery that powered the lights, bilge pumps and vital onboard instruments. And our only source of electronic entertainment was a car radio that my dad installed to keep us plugged into society. For refrigeration, we had a big insulated icebox that was never full.
Leading such a basic life meant that we didn't have huge stockpiles of food and gave us much flexibility in answering one of our basic economic questions: What do we eat? We kept dry stock and canned foods that were simple in preparation. So, if we wanted to eat a meal that consisted of fish, all we needed was to get the meat. We would simply jump in the dinghy and go around the point just east of us (approx 100 yards away) and drop a line. The whole family can go and within a few minutes of having four lines in the water we'd have the meat for dinner. That was quicker than going to the store. What a simple, hassle-free life?! We didn't have to get aggravated by traffic or long lines at the check-out counter!
Fast forward a few years later to after Hurricane Katrina in Miami where we lost over $100 worth of food due to the power outage. This prompted us to be more mindful of our purchasing habits and over the course of the next few weeks was better prepared for Hurricane Wilma. We essentially took a back to basics approach where we kept a low inventory of refrigerated foods. Here's a thought: have the supermarket store your food and bear the burden of maintaining refrigeration. This minimizes the risk of losing food during the hurricane season - especially during the height of storm activity in late August to mid September. And this action also reduces the need to refrigerate many items and gives you the flexibility to engage in more cost saving tactics. You can essentially lower your electric bill too.
It seems to me that we had the makings of a just-in-time inventory mechanism similar to what Toyota uses. Could we have been onto something? Makes me wonder.
Did you find yourself fighting back tears?
Lets support the troops by marching one step at a time towards Energy Independence. Tell someone that they can do something about this issue.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
At any rate, I find this fascinating for two reasons:
1. Most of the civilian population cannot fathom nor stomach some of the experiences that the troops face in war – much like the restricted line officer.
2. And this same resentment is sometimes projected towards civilians due to their lack of understanding of the predicament of the troops.
This begets an issue that I discovered leads to a further perpetuation of events. Due to the above reasons many become disconnected. This disconnectedness comes about in a variety of ways. For example, I’ve been told by many lately that they no longer watch the news because it is too depressing. They stop watching the news and get disconnected. So, that comes as no surprise to me when I talk about an improvised explosive device (IED) that was mentioned in the news, they ask: “What is that?” So, what is the point here?
Well, when I spoke to a Middle Eastern businessman recently he stated that no one cares much about the war and anything associated with it – especially with all the dying and the negative things. He goes on to say that they only care about their day-to-day activities and as long as gas prices are in decline – all else is trivial. In his words, as long as it’s a small pinch; never mind the big pinch to come. I understood this to be him referring to a similar experience of the oil crisis a few decades back. Something that is like the Great Depression: far removed from our minds and just a noteworthy occurrence in history. Now, while I think he has a point, I’m not ready to accept this. Not yet, not yet.
Pay attention because this concept about being or becoming disconnected will be a major issue moving forward. I say this in all sincerity and this does not have to do solely with the war and its conduct. The concept of disconnectedness has broader implications that will be revisited time and again – not just here either. But another example that illustrates this would be a few friends of mine getting connection-weariness to where they delete their MySpace profile – it’s a withdrawal of sorts. I liken it unto drinking: after a night of drunken debauchery when that hung over feeling sets in you don’t want to see or hear about alcohol for some time. Well so too does all that communicating, etc set someone in a sentiment of disillusionment.
Anyways, much too often we focus on the negative aspects (and I’m not one to catastrophize) but when we feel disillusioned and disconnect from the world we only compound the problem. It is much easier to get bogged down commiserating about the bad things that are happening. But this perspective or manner of approach is what puts us in a downward spiral. We can all stop focusing so much on talking about the problem and spend more time understanding it and working out a solution.
Disconnectedness revisited. At a recent green function, I heard the mention of a disconnect of some sort that existed in the community. And I instantly thought of a gap that seems to be occurring. I noticed this in our research and found that the way to bridge this gap is through education. That is sharing with the community that there is a solution to the problem. That it is economically feasible and that its time for adoption is nigh at hand. If you are disconnected, you pass up the opportunity of finding out about this and just like some late real estate investors you jump on the bandwagon too late and lose out on the gains. This applies to many evolving trends: most play the wait-and-see game until they feel they can’t hold out any longer. And that could lead to a late entrance. You hold the power to act individually. And that is why I was not yet willing to accept that businessman’s viewpoint. He misses the possibility that more and more people will come back into the fold and take action as they feel more empowered to do so. They will no longer wait and see.
Finally, as the famous General Patton said: “A pint of sweat will save a gallon of blood.”
Let’s Reconnect. The time for talk and half measures is over. Energy independence will be realized because that was the last wish of a dying man. Imagine it and it shall be so.
Knowledge is power: Wield it.
Monday, July 23, 2007
The talk was focused on a few things. One of which included how municipalities could join the Tree City USA organization as one of the starting points to growing more trees (dubbed as increasing tree canopies). The benefits of trees were discussed and touted. And ideas were shared -- some came from successful programs such as the one in North Miami Beach and Coral Gables.
Trees are needed for a few reasons: They have been identified as a good source of Carbon Dioxide (aka See-Oh-Two) Gas reduction and a good way to cool local areas. Of course, there is the added benefit of the aesthetic aspect of having more trees. It seems there is a trend developing here: Society would like to move back into balance with nature.
In the past we lived in the jungle of trees then we developed the land which included cutting down trees and turned it into a concrete jungle. This leads me to wonder: What kind of jungle is next?
Friday, July 20, 2007
"There have been 3,922 coalition deaths -- 3,630 Americans, ... -- in the war in Iraq as of July 20, 2007, according to a CNN count. At least 26,806 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon." And Countless Iraqi civilian deaths.
What's not reported here is the change that several hundred thousand of our troops have undergone as a result of their service. This change comes in the form of injuries that include back injuries, brain injuries, missing limbs, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc that has ramifications going beyond that experience on the ground. These are things that they have to live with. But the recent fiasco with troop care at Walter Reed underscores another side to their suffering that is not known.
Many believe that the war was about the lesser mentioned oil resource market. Namely freeing up that resource that was under restrictions. And as a result, they are fed up with not just the conduct of operations but also with our dependence on fossil fuels.
LETS NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE POLITICS OF WAR AND MOVE BEYOND THIS TO COME TOGETHER AND VALIDATE THE SACRIFICES OF OUR TROOPS. BOTH SIDES OF THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM HAVE AGREED THAT OUR DEPENDENCY ON FOREIGN OIL GIVES RISE TO TERRORISM.
ARE YOU READY TO DECLARE ENERGY INDEPENDENCE?
Saturday, July 7, 2007
With over consumption reaching epidemic proportions many Americans are going on Low Carb Diets. This trend has expanded into the energy sector where Americans are going on Low Carbon Diets. Thus, “the New American Trend” is becoming the consummate consumer.
More to come...!!!