Posted by Dean M. Cole

Is This ‘The End’ for Nuclear Energy?

First of all, my thoughts are with the Japanese people as they try to cope with and dig themselves out of this three tiered disaster. Hit by a trifecta of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown, their losses look to be well in excess of 10,000.

With 500,000 evacuated and displaced, further complicating an already horrible situation, the rest of the world looks on with shock. This tragedy will have many ramifications, not the least of which will be its effect on the global energy picture.

The ‘Nuclear Renaissance‘ is over.

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Like no other country, Japan invested more engineering and money into their plants’ safety systems and redundancies than anyone on the planet. This isn’t a Chernobyl; nuclear proponents can’t write this off as shoddy engineering, antiquated systems, or loose government policies.

Kyodo Newshas reported that the Fukushima #2 reactor’s fuel rods are fully exposed. Apparently a meltdown scenario is ongoing. There are reports that several hundred evacuees and rescuers have been exposed to radiation, possibly lethal levels. This extension of the tragedy will play out across the world’s TVs in the coming weeks, months and years.

Today European leaders suspended plans to extend their nuclear footprint.

Der Spiegel reported:

German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn’t safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Last year President Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to Southern Company to build two nuclear power plants in Georgia. Edit: As I write this, a report just came out that President Obama “Stands behind nuclear power.” As stated earlier, I think he’ll be hard pressed to maintain that position as the scenes play across the world’s televisions.

Joe Lieberman said, “I think we’ve got to kind of quietly put, quickly put the brakes on until we can absorb what has happened in Japan as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami and then see what more, if anything, we can demand of the new power plants that are coming on line.”

Wikipedia states there are 439 nuclear power plants supplying 14-16% of the world’s energy needs. Thirty-nine are under construction, with more than 400 in the planning stages. The power needs these planned projects were designed to meet won’t go away in the interim.

I can hear the screech of skidding tires from here.

With North African and Middle East unrest, cancellation of nuclear projects, and the continued de facto drilling suspension in the Gulf of Mexico, $5/gal gas is already a reality.

While the financial impact of this tradgedy looms large, it pales in comparison to the huge personal losses hitting the Japanese people. Keep them in your thoughts and help in any way you can.

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Posted by Dean M. Cole

It’s so Good to be Home!

March 9, 2011, From the Deck of the Ensco 8501 (Ensco 8502 in Background)I’m finally home after way too many days away from my soulmate.

Here’s a picture I took yesterday from the deck of Ensco’s 8501 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

In the background you can just make out the Ensco 8502.

We followed out the weather and arrived at the 8501 just after the line passed overhead. The photo is the sun peaking through the backside of the frontal boundary.

Posted by Dean M. Cole

New Year’s Resolution Slippage?

Fitness, Dieting & Writing Tips.

We’re two months into the New Year. How’s your resolve? Have you stuck with your potentially intoxicated December 31st 11:59PM resolution to do better in X, Y, or Z?

Most of us set fitness goals. January and February gym attendance will attest to that fact. Over the years I’ve watched the ebb and flow of the seasons as marked by said attendance of the New Year’s Resolutioneers, or lack thereof come the third month of the year.

By March—the time of the year when the gym’s switch from trying to woo you to trying to sue you—most people have fallen to the wayside. They either loose interest or just get too busy. Either way, I believe the main reason is because they never established good habits and haven’t achieved the results they’d hoped for.

In this blog I’d like to pass on a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years as my fitness goals have waxed and waned.

  • Habits are slow to catch on and easy to break (unless we’re talking crack or nicotine.) It typically takes twenty-one days to mentally transition a chore into a habit. And in my experience less than a week to reverse the process.

So first, in able to make something a habit you have to deliberately set aside time for it on a daily basis, yes that’s seven days a week for at least the first twenty-one days. Even if it’s just thirty minutes. I use this technique to establish habits for everything from writing to working out. (Note to self: better start twenty-one days of blogging.)

After that initial twenty-one day period you’ll find yourself automatically making time for your designated activity. You’ve burned the habit into your neural pathways. It starts to feel ‘wrong’ if you’re not doing your activity on a regular basis. Now you can shift to doing said activity on a normal schedule.

  • Avoid long breaks! Remember my earlier note; if you go more than seven days without doing your ‘thing’, you’ll break the habit (still not talking crack or nicotine.)

If you find yourself in an unavoidable scheduling conflict, ie: extended travel, then form a mental substitution. Write notes on a notepad, or for the fitness regime, do some sit-ups and pushups in your hotel room.

  • “You have to measure what you want to improve.” As your old high school coach used to chant (and you’ve heard it at every business seminar you’ve ever attended.) If you want to improve something you have to measure it.

That goes for everything from waistline to calorie-count to page/word count. How do you know you’re improving if you don’t know how much you did or how much you lost?

Like me you probably think, I know how much I ate/wrote/worked out/lost. But as I found out the hard way, the subconscious is very good at deluding you. One only need use a calorie tracker for a couple of days to figure that one out. When I first started dieting I would use some good practices, ie: not eating empty calories, avoiding processed sugar and excess fat. I kept my portions in check too. But I was treading water. After a couple of months I hadn’t lost any significant weight (and I had a good twenty or thirty pounds to loose—happily married weight.) I was treading water.

When I started counting calories—measuring­—I discovered I was still overeating. By the end of the first day the list of food FAR exceeded my perception of what I had consumed throughout the day.

So I made counting calories a habit (see 21 days above.) Three months and 25 pounds later my measuring habit has paid off.

So hang in there. You can do it, and it does get easier as it becomes a habit. (Whatever it is for you.)

Good luck!

Posted by Dean M. Cole

Daddy Needs a New Pair of ‘Wings’

$1M 330 Knot Homebuilt Turboprop

I want one!

Saw this at work today. Brand new Lancair Evolution. It’s a (employ Dr. Evil tone here) one million dollar homebuilt kit plane. Seating four in its pressurized cabin, it has a max cruise of 330 knots at 28,000 feet with the pictured  Pratt & Whitney PT-6 Turboprop.

Y’all need to tell all your friends to go out and buy my book … otherwise I’ll never afford this thing. (Cue rimshot and laugh track.)

Posted by Dean M. Cole

Twinkie Diet?

Here’s a CNN story I read in mid-November. I hope you find it helpful; for me it was a true ‘light bulb’ moment. To prove calorie count trumps all, a nutritionist ate nothing but Little Debbie Snack Cakes for a couple of months and lost 27 pounds. Not only did he lose the weight, his blood work improved. Counter intuitively, his triglycerides and glucose levels got BETTER.

He doesn’t espouse Twinkies as a nutritional mainstay. It’s just an exaggerated means to illustrate the relationship between caloric intake and weight control.

Bottom-line: If you eat less than you burn, you WILL lose weight.

He is roughly my age and weight. So following his example I began a limited calorie diet the week before Thanksgiving (there’s an app for that.) I’m happy to report that in the intervening weeks I’ve lost 24 pounds, having gone from 200 to 176 pounds (as of this morning, 2/26/11.) And I’ve eaten everything from pasta to Mexican food—albeit in limited amounts.

Yes, I mixed in healthy foods too, but the freedom to eat what I wanted made this a maintainable diet.