One of my favorite shows years ago was Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Funniest Things.  I guess I should not be surprised that our son, Stephen, brings us new insights every day with his perspective on politics, college classes, programming, and the list goes on.

We were catching up with him last week about an article on the Internet, and he responded, “TL;DR.”  When I asked what that stood for, he said it was Internet slang for “too long; didn’t read.”

I told him that was going to be the basis of a blog for sure as I researched it.  The implication is that some online text being replied to has been ignored due to its length. The abbreviation is based on the principle that, if the writer does not invest the time to convey their message concisely, the reader is justified not investing the time to read it. Alternatively, it might mean that there is insufficient material of value or interest to justify the time required to read it.  He let me know it was not a new term…

As I found, the phrase dates to 2003 and was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2013.  But even before that, in the late 1800s, Mark Twain made famous the quote referencing a related concept, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Well there you go … if you needed more proof that today’s youth simply do not read and would rather watch videos, you now have it.  It does take a lot of time to make a short, punchy, relevant, personalized message.  This is precisely why we are seeing such universally positive reactions to our proactive, personalized video messaging.

Far Far Away?


No doubt you have been hearing that NASA has discovered what could be other “Earth-like” planets … and in astronomical terms, they are just 40 light-years away.  On a cosmic scale, that’s right next door. Of course, practically speaking, it would still take us hundreds of millions of years to get there with today’s technology – but again, it is notable in that the find speaks volumes about the potential for life-as-we-know-it beyond Earth.

Now, let’s see how many news articles point out that these planets are irrelevant to us.  They may in fact be gone, if their demise occurred any time in the last 40 years.  But, don’t get me wrong.  This is still interesting, but just not important or relevant today.

Meanwhile, here on planet earth we are trying to decide how we persist for the next forty years or more.  We have energy choices to make, lifestyle decisions about how and where we live, and of course how we use energy as a result.  We certainly have enough fossil fuel to get through this time span, but we are not making any more … so we will eventually run out.  Thinking this way means we need a long-term portfolio that will include a full range of technologies far beyond wind and solar alone.

But, a news article on this very real and relevant challenge will not get air time.  Watch how much air time the NASA discovery gets.

Can’t get your balance?

Courtesy White Bear Mitsubishi

We all can be thrown off by our environment.  What we rehearse perfectly may not happen when we are “in the moment” or run into unexpected conditions.  And, sometimes we set ourselves up for the fall when we fail to consider the actual environmental conditions.

Take a look at this attempt to film a commercial

I remember a field audit at a fertilizer processing plant where I showed up wearing dress shoes.  Bad idea.  They were covered in muck and grime in no time … I looked pretty stupid.  But, no one laughed at me.  Nice of them.

Pitty the poor individual stuck in the costume … but you have to admire the persistence!

Side Effects

You all must cringe at what you hear on TV as you watch all the pharmaceutical commercials that dominate the air waves.  Side effects are enumerated and include some rather severe consequences, including death!  One could simply dismiss these warnings as a hedge against lawsuits.  Others could argue that these side effects are rare but possible consequences.

I cringe that so much money is being spent on promoting items consumers do not simply go out and buy … they are clearly there to raise the awareness of possible improvements so the viewing audience will go and ask their doctors for them.

As I remember this trend over time, I seem to conclude that fixing my bald spot dominated the news years ago.  Now, these ads seem to be focused on quality of life improvements that clearly raise the cost of medicine.  Well, wait a minute … didn’t we just go through an election where the cost of health care was a significant bi-partisan priority?

Our industry has been aware of side effects in energy policy and regulatory agendas for years.  We call it “unintended consequences” to refer to things that can go wrong with seemingly wonderful primary energy policy agendas.  Seems to me that we are embroiled in just such challenges associated with feed in tariffs and energy efficiency incentives during a time when loads and load factors are declining.

Medical discussions seem quite comfortable with warnings about side effects.  Maybe our industry should learn something from them as we continue our journey toward better energy alternatives for consumers.



Long in the Tooth

I was scanning the headlines this morning and this one struck me about an iconic NASCAR driver. Read the MSN article here.

So, as I am accustomed to do, I checked out where the phrase “long in the tooth” comes from.  According to many sources it derives its veracity from the fact that horses’ teeth continue to grow unlike us and most other mammals.  So, it is simply a statement that someone is getting old.  But, as you watch how the phrase is used, you will clearly detect a tone of disdain and disrespect.  After all, how can older be better?

The phrase being used today in our industry is DOUG: Dumb Old Utility Guy.  Sorry to those of you whose name is Doug.

Really?  Many of the ideas I hear from the newbies in the industry are DAD: Dumb as Dirt.  Those of us who have lived in the industry during the past few decades of change can see things that these very bright but totally ungrounded new entrants simply don’t.

Hmmm … it seems that every culture around the world values those who have lived a long time.  I remember constantly being told to respect our elders.

Seems like very good advice.