An attitude of gratitude…

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and I’m holding on to the good vibes.  Like everyone, I suppose, I am prone to distraction, sometimes forgetting to take moments to be grateful for the gifts I receive each day.

This past year has truly been a whirlwind of change, professional and personal.  At times it felt like the pace was unbearable, but in retrospect, I couldn’t feel more grateful for every moment I was given…

I loved reading posts from some of my favorite bloggers this past week, each sharing the things that meant the most to them.  (I was especially inspired by Johnny, Ilina, Sonia, Deirdre, and Erika)  While we all seem to agree these thoughts are of the sort we should entertain daily, for one reason or another, I don’t always make it there.  I want to change that.

Back on the path we go.

I have many reasons to give thanks…

For every moment I’m able to share with my patient and kind husband, Andrew, and our prodigious son, Joe.

For every member in our family, alive and in spirit, and for the love we’ve been able to share in this life.

For every friendship I’ve ever made, for the memories we’ve created and the ways our relationship shaped my life.

For the amazing home we share in a beautiful neighborhood, with some of the best neighbors a homeowner could hope for.

For the ongoing awesomeness of our Main Street community, and for our local newspaper that brings me joy almost every day.

For the freedom I’m afforded with my work, allowing me the ability to live anywhere near an airport with an Internet connection.

For the technological and organic opportunities available in our lifetime.

For you.

For the people who work hard every day to make life better for the rest of us.

For the programs and projects I’ve been a part of, and for the wonderful individuals I have worked alongside.

For my mentors, who have changed my life beyond comprehension.

For my formal education, which continues to prove its value on a daily basis.

For the opportunities that continue to present themselves, and for all those that have already been realized.

For the obstacles that gave me great fight stories, regardless of whether I won or lost.

For unanswered prayers.

For the countless albums that are woven into my soul, and for the musicians who gave birth to them.

For everyone who has helped me, whether he let me merge in front of him in traffic or she sponsored my tuition for a life-changing course.

For everyone who has allowed me to help him or her in one way or another.

For a life that allows me to give more than I take.

For a life that allows me to live the way I want to live.

Thank you for being part of my story.  I hope you’ll let me know if I can more positively impact yours…



Rock & role: Writing stories that sell

Many moons ago, I decided I liked a band named Throcket Luther.

To show my adoration, I did as anyone would have… I bought the shirt, the CD, the stickers, and then I joined the band.

See, I was classically trained in music theory, starting at a young age and revisited in college. I began with piano in elementary school and later played guitar in my college’s guitar club (sponsored by a peculiar Algebra professor with a sensitive, yet sensible ponytail). My music tastes were as varied then as they are today and I sang along with all of it.

Considering all my fancy training and exposure, I felt confident I could jump into Throcket Luther and rock their socks off. They weren’t even looking to add a player, so I had to make sure I cashed the rather large check I’d written. Only that’s not how it worked out…

I knew every song they played. I knew all the words. I could play along to most of them, and the ones I couldn’t was simply because we hadn’t practiced yet. My adoration for the guys was mutual and we had a blast hanging out. The problem came from the one place I never imagined… I didn’t understand the actual practice of harmonizing and I ended up sucking big time.

I’d read about harmonies. I’d heard them. I understood them in principle. What I hadn’t yet done was try to sing them. Well, not really…

Prior to this, I have to believe that any harmonies I sang were done in the most unintentional of fashions. I don’t think I understood I was doing it, but when I did, it sounded better than when I simply sang along with the melody.

I just hadn’t connected the dots yet due to a lack of experience…

With regard to my writing, Storyselling 101 gave me a Sharpie to do just that.

Getting the lead out…

Most of my days are spent writing and editing in a technical “stand and deliver” style, with narrative playing second fiddle to cold, hard numbers. I had to learn how to do this, but once you get used to writing that way, it’s a hard habit to break. Prior to listening to Johnny’s lessons, I didn’t realize just how much I was ignoring the quintessential rule of blogging: write things people want to read.

My most popular posts are the ones where I provided (albeit unintentionally) those good ol’ fashioned storytelling basics. The ones that fell flat did not share such allegorical finesse. I kind of understood that, but Storyselling made it completely clear… and now I can do better.

While I was unable to recover from my Throcket Luther suckage and found myself bandless (though we all remained friends), I can fix my writing. And so can you.

Tell me more, tell me more! (like, does he have a car?)

Johnny is offering Storyselling 101 through the weekend at half price. I know $147 sounds like a lot of money, but if you’re serious about your writing, you will make well more from these lessons than you’ll spend on the course. I feel so strongly about this product that I’m not even using an affiliate link. It’s that good.

As a writer who finds herself dancing the line between technical and conversational, this was one of the most important lessons I’ve gotten from Johnny since I started working with him a year ago. And that’s saying something…

So, if you feel like this might be helpful, I’d encourage you to check it out. Johnny obviously frames this in such a way that it’s about selling, but really it’s about engaging. Recruiting readers who will cheer for you, be there for you and eventually write posts about your products without affiliate links. It’s about giving them a reason to care.

Go get ‘em, writer…

*Note: This product will not improve your harmonizing abilities. Much like writing, you actually have to spend time doing it to get better…

Are CFLs killing you?!

Prior to Sunday, I had never seen the press surrounding a Trent University professor’s claims that CFLs were quietly destroying my health.  When I first saw the video that Maura shared, I was very skeptical.  And mildly concerned.

We recommend CFLs all the time and I have personally witnessed the significant advancements they’ve made over the last few years.  They’re quicker to light, more efficient to operate and far less expensive than they used to be.  So why hadn’t I heard about their plot to kill me?!

Probably because there isn’t one.  What we have here is a sensational story that spins something you’ve probably known your entire life…

I’m going to guess that at some point, you’ve been told it’s not a good idea to put your head in or near a microwave in operation.  Why? Because it produces waves that may or may not be bad for you.  No need to risk it.

What this story is talking about is something real.  Well, the loaded name “dirty electricity” refers to something real, anyway…

Droppin’ science, droppin’ it all over…

Electromagnetic fields, or EMF (no, not that EMF), radiate from obvious sources like power lines and transformers and perhaps less evident electronics like computers and cell phones.  You probably read about the push to limit cell phone use because studies implied negative health effects could result.  It’s because of the EMF.

Opponents claim that the blood sugar of diabetics will climb and that asthma in children worsens when near these magnetic fields (no, not those Magnetic Fields).  They have studies to prove this, though overall agreement on the matter remains largely splintered with contradictory results abound.

Most of the time, the studies that show links between horrific health issues and EMF surround enormous amounts of radiation.  There’s a rather large difference between the amount of EMF from a power line and from a CFL.  That’s not to say it’s totally “safe,” but there are much bigger fish to fry when it comes down to radiation exposure.

If you wanted to completely protect yourself from EMF radiation, you’re going to need to ditch your computer, cell phone, portable house phone, TV, alarm clock, and just about all other electronics you have in or near your home.  Fortunately, no study has been able to consistently prove your use of a computer will definitely cause a brain tumor (though I strongly suspect extended exposure to Badgers will do just that).

Back to the video…

The original source of this information came from a YouTube video, posted by a company that sells (you know it) electromagnetic radiation detection and safeproofing services.  They were interviewed as part of the story, which was delivered by CBC Montreal.

This 2009 story is not easy to find on the CBC website, though I was able to find that Health Canada was planning to test the safety of these bulbs.  After that, the coverage on the potential dangers of CFL stopped.  Health Canada completed their study on the ultraviolet radiation and magnetic fields from CFLs this past January.

Regarding both EMF and UV exposure, test results showed that CFLs (single or double envelope) do not pose a health hazard.

There certainly are measureable effects that come about when you spend a great deal of time within an inch or so from the bulb, so you should probably avoid that.  Risks are significantly lessened the further you are from the source.

(Note: You may have noticed that the “readings” shown in the news video were done within an inch of the bulb, which wasn’t even plugged into a real lamp. Thank goodness that expert was there to show a product he sells that could save us from the readings he provided.)

Deep breaths…

The bottom line here is that your CFLs are not going to kill you.  Sure, they can get hot and may burn your face if you stay too close to it for an hour or more, but that’s hardly a reason to continue using inefficient light bulbs.

Consider using LEDs if you can afford them, which produce no “dirty electricity” and significantly less heat.  Otherwise, keep on using your CFLs in a responsible fashion.  Just remember this important piece of advice:

If you hear a ringing sound, don’t answer the lamp.

With that final tip, I’m off…  A few quick notes before I go:

  • I’m not a doctor or an EMF scientist.  It’s best you consult a medical professional if you think there’s a chance magnetic fields are actually affecting your health.
  • If you have an energy-related question that you’d like me to answer in a future post, tweet @Renewabelle or get in touch with me one of a few other ways over here.
  • If you have any follow up questions or notes you’d like to add, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  I hope this information proves useful and that it finds you well.


Crowdsourcing the dream…

For the last 10 months, I’ve been making excuses.

I’ve been playing it safe.

I’ve been seeking answers to questions with no solution and questioning the validity of null responses in general.

I’ve done just about everything shy of emailing my story to Steven Pressfield as an example of “Resistance Gone Wild.”

And all this time, I was looking for the answer to one simple question: what am I supposed to do to bring value to the world?

Numerous bruises and bumps later, I am sure of only one thing as far as my professional life is concerned…

I want to inspire you to improve the way you consume energy.

That sentence took me 10 months to complete. What’s funny is that my biggest sticking point was the sheer amount of information I’d been consuming in an attempt to perfect my plan. Well, that shit is over…

I’m tired of trying to appease the kings and queens of ulterior motives, following their lead as I work to collect a drop of enlightenment. I will not find what I need from their position, only from my own. Extrapolating insight from a sample group that’s incapable of sharing my goals was one of the smartest and dumbest things I could have done.

Crowdsourcing a dream is like teaching a pig to sing… Your crowd conflicts and the dream is too bizarre to work with. The problem is, everything is crowdsourced when you think about it.

We are little more than perspective collectors, expanding and contracting through each experience. All the roads we travel are responsible for our current location, and every interaction we have with the world becomes a part of who we are.

The point I’m trying to reach here is that I’ve finally found that “thing” I wrote about last year and I’m okay with the fact that some people will not like it. This isn’t about them

Ecodesiac is going to change the way you think about energy. It won’t be ready for a little bit, but if you’d like, please do sign up to be the first to know when we’re good to go.

This will be a product priced so accessibly that ANYONE will be able to afford it, so you need not worry you’re signing up for some list that will pre-sell you for six weeks before dropping a big-dollar bomb on you. Providing value doesn’t always mean pillaging, especially when I’m running the show.

See, it’s not so much the money as much as it is a positive outlet for me to share what I know for the betterment of others, most especially for you. I’m working my ass off to get this done soon, because the heating season is coming up and I want to make sure I’m able to help you start saving before the chill janks your bills.

And if you’ve read this far, I’m certain this is going to rock your world.

I’ll be back after the holiday weekend with more energy tips, but I really wanted to share this with you. I can only hope things are going as well in your neck of the woods…


Help Renewabelle Green SXSW ’11!

Hi.  Since we’re all busy people, I’ll get right to it…  I hope to talk to people at South by Southwest Interactive about energy-efficient computing, and I need your help to do so.

The average desktop PC wastes nearly half the energy it consumes.  Energy is money, and I think we can all agree that there are better ways to blow your budget.*

In my opinion, the biggest reason more people aren’t maximizing efficiency opportunities is because it can be a bit of a hassle to research and evaluate the options.  This is where I’d like to step in…

As a neutral and experienced resource, I’d like to provide simple solutions with proven savings and explain the implementation process.  From software to hardware (heh), this session will focus on the best bangs for your buck and the real-world savings you can expect for each.

(you can vote now… you don’t even need to keep reading unless you want to)

This is an excellent opportunity to reach a lot of people with a timely message.  Last year’s Interactive conference attendance was estimated between 12-13,000 people.  This year is poised to be just as big, if not bigger.

If only 2,500 of those people implemented computing efficiency measures, annual cost savings could reach $125,000 with absolutely no reduction in performance.  That’s approximately 1,621,250 pounds of CO2 or 735 barrels of crude oil (DOE) that don’t have to be wasted.  Avoiding this loss would be equivalent to planting more than 23,000 trees or taking 172 cars from the road. (EPA)

Trust me… it’s much easier to make some minor adjustments to your computer than to actually plant 23,000 trees.  Help me do my part to make this happen.

Please go here and give this presentation a thumb up.  Voting closes tomorrow (not sure when), so time is of the essence.

If this resonates with you, please tell a friend.  This kite can use all the wind she can get.  :)



* I would never advocate fiscal irresponsibility, but if you were going to do it anyway, wouldn’t you want it to be more fun than paying a big electric bill?

POST EDIT: Now that the voting is closed, I’m happy to tell you all that I am making a mentor-level donation to the Kramden Institute.  Thank you to everyone who supported my proposal.  Please consider joining my support of Kramden as well.  Special thanks go out to Allison for introducing me to this wonderful organization ;)