Lower-cost clean energy rises in NC

The following are a few excerpts from an editorial written in The Charlotte Observer on Sunday by columnist Ned Barnett. While the focus is on what North Carolina has done the past ten years, it shows what can happen with a focus on renewables and attracting business. It should be noted a lot of NC’s success is in part due to companies like Amazon, Facebook (now Meta), Google and IKEA setting up centers powered by renewable energy, which got the attention of legislators.

“A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group gives North Carolina strong grades for renewable energy. In measures of growth since 2011, North Carolina ranks third nationally in solar power, 10th in energy efficiency, 17th in electric vehicle sales, 20th in battery storage of renewable energy and 26th in wind power. ‘It’s amazing the difference that a decade can make and how many people are choosing to embrace renewable energies like solar power,’ said Krista Early, an advocate with Environment North Carolina Research & Policy Center.

That growth raises prospects that seemed hopelessly remote just a decade ago: widespread use of electric cars that could eliminate the volatile cost of gas and a power grid driven by renewable energy that will reduce utility bills. North Carolina’s move toward renewables will be accelerated by this year’s passage of a major energy bill, House Bill 951.

Steve Levitas, a vice president at Pine Gate Renewables in Asheville, one of the nation’s fastest growing renewable energy companies, said the new state law will have a big effect. ‘HB 951 is going to drive a dramatic transformation of the state energy sectors,’ he said. ‘It will drive retirement of (Duke Energy’s) coal fleet and will result in more renewables. That’s going to happen.’

The new federal infrastructure law and the possible passage of the Build Back Better bill will also expand the use of renewable energy. While renewables still produce a small fraction of electric power, Levitas said the rising use of solar and wind power will make renewable energy an increasingly cheaper option to fossil fuels. ‘People predicted a long time ago that if you created demand, that would drive down costs and that’s been proven to be true many times over,’ he said.”

Note, while the reference to renewables providing a small fraction of electric power may be true in NC, in places like Iowa, Texas, California, Oklahoma, et al, the percentages are not small fractions. Iowa gets over 40% of its electricity from wind energy while Texas is right at 20% on electricity from renewables, primarily wind energy.

Progress is being made, but we now need to hasten it as we have passed the tipping point. Yet, what business has started realizing the past several years, if they do not keep up, their ability to compete may be compromised. State legislatures must recognize this as well.

Read more at: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/article256092197.html#storylink=cpy

News that is not news

While I do like reading and watching less biased and more credible news sources, I have dialed it back some. A key reason is even the better sources focus too much on whose tribe is winning or losing on an issue and less on the issue itself. As a result, fewer issues of import are discussed. 

One reason is the politicians focus more on getting or keeping their job and less on doing their job. What results is a mind-boggling amount of time spent keeping things from getting done even when the action is helpful to people and the majority actually want it done. And, it is even more frustrating when politicians are against something they have supported in the past only because the other tribe brought it up

This blocking of actions is aided and abetted by pseudo-news sources and opinion hosts. These sycophants play a heavy hand in the BS that is a poor substitute for facts and data. I sadly expect this from pseudo-sources and opinion host, but it frustrates me when better news sources speak on who is winning or losing as much as they do.

Our infrastructure bill is at least ten years overdue. There are have been multiple bipartisan pushes to get something passed. Even the preceding president mentioned it during his campaign and Democrat leadership actually welcomed discussion, in spite of efforts to rewrite history that they did not. It has finally gotten passed and yet the tribal protections have gotten in the way of saying this is a good thing even though Americans favored it.

So, let’s encourage our elected officials and news sources to focus on the issues and less on zero-sum games of winning and losing. Accelerating action on climate change, addressing global water concerns, addressing the huge plastic island floating in the Pacific, dealing with debt and deficit issues, expanding health care access further, etc. are all issues that need to be discussed and dealt with.

News that is not news can be ignored. And, citing the latest name calling or labelling of a perceived enemy tribe is just reporting on childish behavior. I don’t need the news to tell me some politicians are being childish.

A Beautiful Mind has it Right – the Nash Equilibrium shows the power of working together

The following post was written seven years ago, but holds true even more so today with the recently passed infrastructure bill as well as the need to work together in our global economy on trade, environmental, and human rights issues.

One of my favorite Russell Crowe movies is “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard about the schizophrenic Ph.D. in economics, John Nash. If you saw the movie, you know that Nash won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his theory which became known as “Nash Equilibrium” that was used in game theory, economic development and other areas. In short it was all about maximizing everyone’s gain. From Wikipedia, this example might help define what Nash’s theory was all about:

“Stated simply, Amy and Will are in Nash equilibrium if Amy is making the best decision she can, taking into account Will’s decision, and Will is making the best decision he can, taking into account Amy’s decision. Likewise, a group of players are in Nash equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others in the game.”

The reason I raise is this is that we can all benefit more if we work with each other rather than against. If we all try to win the game, whatever that is, we will actually end up in a collective lesser state. This is a key reason why collaboration is vital to the success of most endeavors, including and especially politics. But, let me use a real example of how a region can benefit more economically through collective partnering under Nash Equilibrium.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, we have a terrific new “transmodal distribution facility” that is near the airport. The facility is adjacent to and incorporates railroad train tracks in the distribution process. It is also very conveniently located to three interstates (I-85, I-77 and I-485) and a fourth four lane highway (US 321) which connects to I-40 about forty miles away. If you know your North Carolina geography, you will know that Charlotte is right on the border with South Carolina and several towns in SC are actually included in the Metro Charlotte area.

A key reason for its success is more than the rail, highway and air access. Charlotte is also a convenient driving distance from ports in Charleston, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. With the deepening of the Panama Canal set to be complete in 2015, bigger ships can sail from Asia-Pacific (China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, etc.). Yet, unless these ports are dredged to become deeper, the bigger ships cannot enter the harbors there and will sail past. Activity has begun in various stages, but here is where Nash Equilibrium should come to fruition.

The states of North and South Carolina (and Florida and Georgia) should work collectively along with business and the Federal government to deepen all ports noted above. We will all benefit more greatly if we invest together. This would be true on other economic investments where we should work less at cross purposes and compete as a region. I recognize there have been pockets of success where this has been done, but to me, with the significant cost of dredging these harbors and the stalemate in fighting in Washington where Congress is moving money around to fund a very limited transportation budget for infrastructure, this a keen example of why we must work together to benefit more.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell have been promoting a bipartisan investment in our infrastructure, each representing the major political parties. LaHood said this is the best jobs program we could possibly have. And, as I have said before, borrowing money to invest in assets, is different from borrowing money for operations. This is where we need to spend our money as the collective return on investment is huge.

So, to the state legislatures and Congress, let’s get with it and work to invest in America’s ports and roads. As Rendell said, if we don’t deepen our ports, the ships will sail right by us to Canada. John Nash indeed had a beautiful mind. We should follow his direction to maximize our collective gain.

The calorie high

Thanksgiving is the best of holidays, but one of its benefits is one of its shortcomings. Too many good food options, often prepared homemade. I was doing pretty well at our big family celebration which we held in a picnic shelter for the second year, until it was time for dessert.

My entree/ salad plate had tiny portions of several things to make sure I got a taste of everyone’s cooking. I decided to go especially frugal on the carbohydrates. So, I was feeling pretty good until I realized how many homemade desserts there were.

With our best pie maker home sick in another city, we had a lot of finger food desserts. So, I felt I was being less sinful by sneaking on an extra homemade cookie. Yet, one of my sons made a cupcake size cheesecake that was wonderful, but quite filling.

So, I was in a high calorie stupor the rest of the afternoon. Nonetheless, we had a great time. Our count was down to sixteen with above illness (and her family) and another late cancellation. Yet, it was a beautiful day. Inside the open shelter, it did get a tad breezy, so were glad we had the fire going for the duration. We are also glad we brought tape to secure the discount paper table cloths, so they did not blow away or turn someone’s plate over.

We started the picnic shelter gathering last year because of the pandemic and we held it on Friday, as we did this year. So, we had a small family gathering on Thanksgiving with the larger one the next day. We have latched onto this new tradition as it gets us out into nature and is a more central location. Plus, a few that could not make it called via Face Time.

This year, we had three new/ old relatives that joined us as they were down visiting other family. One of two remaining members of my deceased mother-in-law’s family of nine kids came with one of his daughters and her husband. Since dementia is slowly taking over this very smart and congenial man, his daughter had brought him down to see his remaining sister. My mother-in-law died from complications due to Alzheimer’s.

I hope everyone had delightful holiday, if you celebrate Thanksgiving. It is the best of American holidays in my view. Have a great weekend.

They’re all my chairs, but you can sit in that one (a reprise)

I wrote this post in tribute to my grandmother on her birthday seven years ago. She was Thanksgiving to me.

My grandmother, who we called Big Mama, lived life large. She was quite the character and was unlike the acquiescent namesake in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She would tell you what she thought and was usually pretty funny in so doing. The title of this post is one of her familiar sayings. When she would get up from her chair to go in the nearby kitchen to begin cooking, we would ask if we could sit in her chair. To which she would respond, “They’re all my chairs, but you can sit in that one.”

Big Mama would have been 103 on her birthday next week, so she is in my thoughts. Although, she died fifteen years ago, her memories and funny stories echo and certain events will bring them to the forefront of my mind. In addition to being a character, she was a person of character. My grandmother had a tough time the last ten years of her life, as she worked on her feet most of her life as a clothing sales person. With osteoporosis, her body would begin falling apart and she would often fall breaking things. In fact, one doctor said he believed her hip just broke, then she fell.

She ran the Boys and Men’s Clothing sections of the stores where she worked in a large, small town. Her clients were lifelong, as men would get out of college and go see her to be fitted with a business wardrobe. My favorite story about Big Mama was when she teased her cheap boss in front of the President of the company who had come to visit. After lending the President her pen to write something down, he put it in his pocket. She said, “Sir, that is my penMy boss is too cheap to buy us pens, so I brought that one from home.”  That got a chuckle, albeit a nervous one from her boss. She made the company so much money, she would not get chastised for telling the painful truth.

Yet, when I think about Big Mama, I think of Thanksgiving. Our ritual was to pack up our family and go to her house for the holiday. The family of one of my mother’s sisters would attend as would several of Big Mama’s close by siblings and their spouses, whose kids lived far away. Even after she could not walk much, my wife and I would go and she would direct us on how to make the various dishes. With her fingers ravaged by arthritis, I would tell her as she would micromanage too much, “Big Mama, don’t point that crooked finger at me,” to which she would laugh. To do this day, I make Big Mama’s cornbread dressing, which is the name it is given. To me, it is my way of paying it forward, as our house has become the go-to house for Thanksgiving.

Big Mama was the next youngest of a family of twelve. The rhythm method was not very effective as a birth control means. She got her large personality from her mother, whom everyone in the community called Mama, even my mother and her sisters. Mama was also the local medicine woman, as the hospital was so far away. Big Mama told us the story of her younger brother who knocked his front teeth out as he attempted being a gymnast unsuccessfully. Mama sat him down and boiled some water, while she rinsed his teeth off. She placed a towel in the hot water and gave it a quick rinse and told her youngest son to shove the towel into his gums. The gums swelled up and she jammed his teeth back in and they held. Big Mama learned from the best.

I have written before about my quiet grandfather. He and Big Mama were a perfect match, a yin and yang. My grandfather that I knew was my step grandfather, as Big Mama’s first husband did not stay home very much. She divorced him at a time when few people did, so it shows that she was not going to live with her mistake any longer. Being a small community, everyone understood. But, her greatest heartbreak was when she had to bury her youngest child, my favorite aunt. No mother or father should have to bury a child. I cannot imagine a greater heartbreak. While hard, we are heartbroken, but less surprised when we have to bury a spouse as we know that is part of the pact. Yet, a child should outlive his or her parents. Even when the child is in her fifties, it is still hard, especially after the child had health issues all her life.

She mourned my aunt’s passing until she died. Like any mother and daughter, they butted heads, but loved each other greatly. We all did. Big Mama, you are the best. You are one of the biggest characters I have known. You also were a person of character. We are better for having known you and you are still missed. Happy Birthday.

I am thankful (a reprise)

The following post was written nine years ago. We are up to 36 years of marriage and are now retired, my mother has since passed due to Alzheimer’s complications, our children are now adults, my sister moved up here to be close by and the summer moments have subsided for the most part, we think.

In the quiet before we continue our preparations for the feast and family arrivals this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a few thoughts to my blogging friends. Please feel free to respond with your own as we have a nice community that comes together on-line from around the planet. I have seen other comments and stories on their blogs, but always welcome the company here. I am thankful for….

– my bride of 27 years. We ying and yang pretty well together on our journey. We are both dealing with her extended “summer moments” as she calls this phase of her life. I end up wearing more sweaters as she freezes us all to stay cool, but she in turn deals with my many issues and imperfections and has for years.

– my healthy family of five; we are far from perfect, but we do the best we can. And, when we fail, we help each other up and encourage us to do better. I tell people who are expecting their first child, you never know how much your parents truly love you until you have a child of your own. My cup runneth over with three.

– my mom. My dad has been gone for six years and is remembered well. She is teacher for life, both to her former students, bible study class and her children. Mom, you are the best.

– my sister who moved back to live with my mom. For adult daughters who can envision living with a parent as an adult, you can appreciate my thanks to my sister and wish for her the patience of Job, wisdom of Solomon and the space for her time.

– my new teammates at work. I left a bigger company with many bureaucracies and listmakers who wanted to tell people who knew what they were doing, how to do their job. I am now with a small company who has people who know what they are doing and we try to do something unique – provide the opportunity to do their job.

– my former colleagues at my old job in my office and around the world. You are the company, not that bureaucratic mess. Good people over come bad structure, but it should not be so hard. I miss the ones who gave a damn about serving our clients and each other.

– my friends and relatives. It will be great to see many of them today. And, although I am not in touch with friends like I should, I remember them well. Plus, my new job allows me to see more work related friends and colleagues. That is very nice.

– and, finally, my new blog friends. I enjoy reading what you think, how you think, what you believe and your life based context for these perspectives. I very much enjoy your reflections on your history and current joys and challenges. Keep on writing and I will keep on reading and offering a comment or two.

Happy Thanksgiving. This holiday is truly what is best about America. The others pale in comparison. I hope people around the world have something similar they can call home.  Best regards to all.

Travel safely, be well, respect flight attendants

Here in the US, my favorite holiday is upon us, Thanksgiving. I encourage everyone to travel safely, use meditation and patience to remain calm and be well. A little more walking or aerobic activity to counter vent the calorie intake would be wise.

Also, try not to accost the flight attendants. When wound up passengers do that, they are like the monkey climbing a tree – at some point they bare their hind end. I did see where airline attendants are learning self-defense techniques to ward of those wound up few

For some reason, these wound up few believe being made to follow the rules to protect everyone is a personal affront to their liberties. Just like any set of rules, you know them beforehand. If you don’t like it when on the plane or after a few drinks, then you missed your chance to vote with your feet. Once on the plane, the best advice is to sit down and shut up.

I mention this as I learned yesterday that seven anti-vaxxer doctors have now come down with COVID after attending a conference together. This follows on three months of five anti-vaxxer radio hosts, unfortunately getting and dying from COVID. One of the now sick doctors was mad at his father, who at the age of 99 had gotten both doses of the vaccine. I do not wish COVID on anyone, but I am not surprised when unvaccinated people come down with it.

As for me, I am scheduled to get the booster after Thanksgiving. My sister got the booster two weeks ago and had zero complications. With her job and other health issues, being fully vaccinated is key. My wife will, be getting hers after me.

I am aware of over fifty people who have had the vaccines, with only a few sore arms, some fever or body aches just afterward. What I find sad and amusing is some folks would rather take an animal de-wormer which is not meant for humans than a vaccine that has been tested and has data to support its overall efficacy. No drug is perfect without some side effects for a small few (just read the warning labels), but a de-wormer? Really?

So, count me in the vaccine camp, the human one. That is what I am going to do, as it protects me and others. Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods yet, as the numbers are expected to uptick again. Getting things closer to fine takes some effort, a community effort.

That is what communities do. They help each other out. Some guy named Jesus said that. Also, Gandhi talked of a community’s greatness being measured how they take care of the less fortunate. Neither person mentioned beating up flight attendants.

So, travel calmly and safely. And, be well.

Interesting thing about masculinity

In an article I read today, one political party is beating on its chest about masculinity. I guess it is some crazy notion or slogan similar to real men don’t like quiche. I guess they are saying only real men vote for our party or tribe. What I find interesting is the person who is the standard bearer of this political tribe exhibits so very few of the attributes of being a man or adult for that matter.

Mind you, I am positive there are more masculine men than I am, although I do try to stay in shape. To me, being a man or adult is being accountable and responsible. What I have witnessed for a long while, the standard bearer of this tribe blames anyone for his mistakes or what he did or failed to do except the man who looks back from the mirror when he shaves. I have rarely, if ever, heard this person say it is my fault. Even when he apologized after four years about his bogus claim that Obama was not born in the US, he blamed Hillary Clinton for his story. It is her fault that I have been making an issue of this for four years.

Yet, the best example is how much of a hissy fit this grown male has thrown over losing the 2020 election. As his niece Mary said, her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election. A real man would have sucked it up a long time ago and accepted his loss, especially after failing to prove his claim in over 65 court cases and numerous audits. In other words, this person who hates to lose continues to do so with his bogus claims. Even yesterday, a Federal Judge noted in court that Al Gore was a real man who admitted he lost the 2000 election after SCOTUS ruled against his last request on the Florida recount. This latest former president still has not admitted such.

Finally, a real man or adult shoots straight with people. Outside of autocratic heads of state, I have never witnessed a more untruthful person as a democratically elected leader than the latest former president. Through numerous sources and individuals who worked with him, the truth is a rare occurrence by this party standard bearer. What frustrates me is people get hurt or die when some lies are left unchecked. The former president missed a golden opportunity to lead us when the pandemic struck, but his naysaying and hoax dealing still impact people twenty months later. He also put his most loyal followers in danger with the pandemic, when he admitted later he knew of the danger when he invited them all to rallies.

False bravado is not masculinity. It is akin to chest beating to garner attention or promote fear. It is the epitome of fake news. A real man or adult does not need to boast. I am not saying those who do are not real men, but they better be able to back it up. To me, there is an old saying – beware of the quiet one. The one who shows up, does his job well, and does not boast about it. That is the one to be reckoned with.

The Yogi of malapropisms (or Yogi-isms)

A malaprop is defined as “the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, ‘dance a flamingo’ (instead of flamenco).” A malaprop or malapropism is the closest word(s) to describe what a rather famous baseball player would articulate to reporters on a recurring basis. The player had the iconic name of Yogi Berra.

Yogi was actually a very good and well-liked ballplayer on a very good team, the New York Yankees. As the Yankees were in the World Series with regularity, reporters had a lot of access to Yogi and what would become known as “Yogi-isms.” The funny thing about Yogi-isms is while they may sound unusual, they actually had a basis of simple truth holding them up. In other words, when you studied what he was trying to say, it actually made sense.

Here are a few Yogisms

It gets dark early out there – Yogi started as a catcher, but as he aged, he was moved to left field because he was such a good hitter and needed to be in the line-up. Late in the afternoon, the sun would cause shadows in the outfield which made it hard to see the baseball coming your way.

The future ain’t what it used to be -This may be my favorite Yogi-ism. In essence, things are happening so fast in the world, predictions of the future need updating. This is even more true today with technology advances.


It ain’t over ’til its over – This may be truest of all Yogi-isms as he has witnessed many a come from behind victory as a winner and loser. The game is not over until it is over. There is always a chance to win or lose, so finish the game.


When you come to a fork in the road, take it – This one needs to be read with a smile. You think you know what he means, but it is funny to play it against Robert Frost’s road not taken. Which way should you go? In Yogi’s mind, make a change. Or, is he saying stay the course? Or, maybe he is just saying don’t stand still, make a choice.

You can observe a lot by watching – this is one of the obvious truths. Shut up and watch what is happening. I have often felt reporters just loved to hear Yogi talk, so they would make big deals out of anything he said. Since we still have too many folks that are not present in the moment, this Yogi-ism is good advice. Pay attention, you might learn something.


Baseball is 90% mental; the over half is physical – this is one of his more famous lines. Math must have not been his strong suit. Or, more than likely, he forgot the first percentage when he closed out his point. Any endeavor has a mental aspect to it, even one where there is a ball, bat and glove involved.

Yogi-isms are priceless. They are funny, yet profound on occasion as the examples above portray. When I said he was well-liked, that is not an overstatement. He was charming and self-effacinig. He did not look like a star player, like his teammate Mickey Mantle, but he was a very good one. Kids, especially, just flocked to Yogi.

Please let me know your reactions and any other favorites.

Just a quick word on Jill

Our friend Jill is still having a tough time in her recuperation. She let me know she misses all of us and wishes she could start blogging more. As many of us know, Jill puts a lot of research into her posts, so her opinions are well -grounded. So, to her, blogging is more than just stream of consciousness writing. It is like cooking a well-prepared meal. She takes her time.

She hopefully will be having a treatment which will be beneficial to her. She had a couple of procedures last week to remedy a few related items, but she needs to have this procedure. I am sorry to be so vague, as I did not want to share too much of her personal travails.

Just keep her in your thoughts and let her know that you are thinking of her. If you would prefer to respond here, I will cut and paste into an email to her. The last time I committed to do this, she responded herself on my blogpost.

Jill;, we miss you and are thinking good thoughts for you.