I was lost but now am found

Have you ever noticed things that seem to work out even when the odds are against them?  You pause when the light changes … for no real reason … and someone runs the red light at high speed and you think “wow … they would have hit me and probably sent us all to the hospital!”  My wife and I use the phrase “it just so happened” to explain these “God Winks” as we refer to them.  Well, here is another one that just happened in our life.

It all started on a Friday evening when Susan and I went to grab some drinks and dinner with some friends at Smokerise Country Club. As usual, we sat outside to enjoy the evening air when we got there and one of our friends had heard a bird chirping which proved to be a cockatiel. She offered it her finger and it then hopped on her shoulder and just sat there happy to be with people again.  Clearly this bird had been part of a family and had become lost. If you Google this breed of parrot you will see they are incredibly social and just love to interact with people.

Since she had dogs at home she said she couldn’t bring it home and neither could anyone else there we met at the club, so we did. We at first kept it in a storage container overnight since we couldn’t locate a cage from friends. We had some bird seed for our feeders and put a cup of water in the container for the night.  The next morning I offered it a finger and it quickly hopped onto my shoulder and also looked for every opportunity to have its head and back petted. While we found it to be hilarious to be around, we are not pet people … we travel and work outside the home. So, my first priority was to see if I could locate its rightful home and report it found … without letting anyone know what it looked like so we could avoid scams or someone who just wanted a pet.

So, the first thing I did was to go online to figure out how you post the fact that you have found a pet that clearly belongs to another family. Figuring it was a long shot to find them, I also searched for how you could bring a bird to a shelter … and learned you can’t bring them to a bird dealer because of the risks of the bird bringing in a disease. I of course posted the fact that we had found a bird on my Facebook page but without any pictures or descriptions other than it was a cockatiel.  On the chance the bird was not lost locally, I also found a website for “lost and found” parrots designed specifically to reconnect these family members.  Three days later I get a picture of a bird that someone had lost and it was clearly the bird we had. Go figure … but the story gets even more interesting.

They offered a phone number to connect and I spoke to the mother of the young girl whose bird it was. The bird had escaped last November (10 months ago) and had its wings clipped so it could not fly. They lived in Marietta some 35 miles away.  Oh, if the bird could talk!  Perhaps someone had found it closer to their home and transported it? How many people had entered this bird’s life? After all, how could a bird with its wings clipped fly 35 miles and why to our country club? That is a story we probably will never know completely. What we do know is the bird was lost and now has been found.

She told me that her daughter was despondent and inconsolable after losing the bird. Her friends kept telling her not to lose faith … someone would find her bird and bring it back to her. When I told her I thought we had found her bird I asked her for some more pictures and sure enough it was clearly her bird. Cockatiels are quite varied in their colors and this one was a very unusual grey and white with color splotches.

At that point I shared the picture I took just before calling her where the bird insisted on having its head and backed scratched. That was the same action it took on Friday night. What I found most endearing however was her note back to me that if we had bonded she understood fully why we might want to keep the bird. She was just elated to know her friend was safe and found. There is certainly more to this story we can never fully know, but what we can know is that this bird is a model for how community works successfully in this digital age. For all the bad things we know and read about, I do hope this story is uplifting and encouraging. The bird is now back “home” finally.  The mother called it her “prodigal child.”  Oh if only birds could talk.  But, perhaps the beauty is in the mystery itself since they can’t.

Carbon Capture? Stop the Madness!

Please watch and consider this latest video from the Wall Street Journal:

Coca-Cola’s and Microsoft’s Latest Gamble: A Giant CO2 Vacuum Cleaner

If you start to cringe when you hear the justifications and just how far out of reason this idea is you are at least a critical thinker.

However, please consider WHY a company would do something so uneconomic in the short run?

Is it because they are climate activates and want to help startups prove out technology?  After all, the now ubiquitous LED was once uneconomic and unrealistic. Not at all.

Take another gander at what they are making at this feverish pace … bottled water.  That should be illegal if you are a climate activist!

Virtue signaling at its best … that is what you are watching.


Misleading Solar Rooftop “Pitches”

Perhaps it is no surprise to any of you but today’s solar vendors are misleading customers about the economics.  Customers are being told that rooftop solar is free and paid for on the savings on their electric bills. How can they make that claim?  Easy … just exaggerate the savings and understate the costs.

Several of you have shared the detailed stories about listening to the pitches yourselves where the savings are unrealistic and escalated every year even when the electric rates have no history of rising at all at these levels.  And, the costs seldom include added insurance, possibility of needing an umbrella policy, or the higher cost of reroofing.

Why do customers fall for this?  For many, their money is simply not earning enough in savings accounts and they like the idea of doing something to show they are advocates of solar.  Part of the current situation is also the deceptive way financing is used.   After all, customers do not think about the purchase price if they are offered low-cost financing.

So, what happens when they sign up and they still receive high bills from the local electric provider?  They call their electric utility to complain.  They are mad and they think they are being cheated.  Of course, in many cases this is the first time the utility found out they had installed panels even though customers were supposed to file applications in advance.  So, wouldn’t it be a lot wiser to head this off at the pass with some educational online tools to help alert customers to the true costs of going with rooftop solar.  The free ones provided by vendors are not presenting the full cost of ownership and use misleading and unrealistic assumptions.

Plus, most of you now have better options for your customers anyway … like buying into your true supply-side solar farms, which the application we build will encourage as a better alternative.

To learn more join Joel Gilbert for a webinar presentation, Solar Shenanigans, Oct. 5th at 2 Eastern, when he will take a candid look at this topic.


The Waffle House Index

There are times when the free market can offer a better interpretation to weather and its impact than all the meteorologists combined.  I am a regular customer to Waffle House and have talked to the staff there about their company views about being open when storms ravage the area.  It is almost a religious commitment to stay open if it is at all possible.  So, when Waffle House closes or indicates they may not be at full capacity … beware … it is one hell of a storm.

The term “Waffle House Index” was apparently coined by FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in May 2011, following the 2011 Joplin tornado, during which the two Waffle House restaurants in Joplin remained open. The measure is based on the reputation of the restaurant chain for staying open during extreme weather and for reopening quickly, albeit sometimes with a limited menu, after very severe weather events.

My conversations have always indicated that Waffle House has become a societal barometer of the wellness and survivability of a community.  If Waffle House is closed (condition red as they call it) you really do need to worry about the situation.  It is funny how the innovative initiatives to be open when others are not is such a symbol to a community.

So, here’s to Waffle House … smothered and covered with appreciation from its loyal base.

Falling into Good Habits

The name itself comes from the fact that the leaves fall from our trees.  Wow … one more year is about to end, and we thought we were finally done with COVID!  Who would have believed that we are still being impacted by this after almost two years?  This is wearing on everyone in our community and has done so much damage it’s hard to comprehend.

So, when we think of the season of Fall, some become understandably depressed.  We remember how to set our clocks with another negative connotation.  In the spring we set them forward and it the fall we set them backward.  Backward sounds negative, and even the word Fall sounds less than optimistic.  On a positive note, we need to remind ourselves that we gain an hour at this time of the year!  I really like that because I read an article that eating hot dogs took an hour off my life.  You know what?  I really enjoyed that hot dog and I am OK with debiting my life one hour.

Maybe we need a new name for the season … calling it windfall since the winds pick up at this time of the year.  I don’t have the answer here, but I do have an illustration for those of you who want to call things what they are.  Life insurance was originally called what it is … death insurance.  But they couldn’t sell it when they called it what it was.  So, they switched the word and meaning on its head and called it what it wasn’t but in fact what people wanted to buy.

Of course, we are not selling this season for any reason are we?  Perhaps we need to market this season for what it truly is: wonderful!  This is one of the prettiest times of the year here in Atlanta.  The weather is once again mild, the mornings are crisp, and we still have flowers blooming.  We can sit outside most days and enjoy the gentle weather and the first signs of the leaves turning beautiful colors.  It is a glorious time of the year.  Let’s celebrate that!

My Jewish roots remind me of the wise sayings I grew up with about how to think about our lives.  While it might be considered terrible theology, it does help.  I was taught not to complain to God about anything in my life.  My rabbi said if you complain to God he will say: “Oh, you think that’s bad?  Let me show you what bad is!”  I was told, by contrast, we should give thanks no matter how bad things were because God would say: “Oh, you think that’s good?  Let me show you want good really is!”   As I said, this might be bad theology.

Or is it?  My medical friends all tell me that a positive attitude is essential to good health and that despite the best medical treatments a bad attitude can literally kill you.  Then, we should have a thankful attitude, no matter what our circumstances are. But what does it take to do that?

I observe that we allow way too many things into our lives and beings that simply do not help.  I stopped watching TV years ago because I found most of it far from uplifting.  I have chosen now to go back to that strange thing that sits on our shelves that does not need a battery to operate … books.  Read a good book or two.  Trust me, you can still do it.  Turn the TV off and read without any background noise.  Let your mind and heart escape to the world described by that author.  If you have a book you read once before a while back, read it again.  You will find different things hit you upon another reading.