Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Check out Village12, an Volunteer Training organization in Haiti ! I'll get more information on here when it's all ready.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In Dominican Republic, relaxing after some months in Haiti

Hey folks,
So last summer (2011) I had a long break from my wind job. I found an organization building schools in Haiti called All Hands, Thought I'd check them out and see what Haiti was like. In the first couple weeks down there, I realized how passionate I was for this kind of non-profit type work... so I took a leave of absence from my wind job and stayed in Haiti for four months.

So I decided to take a break from Haiti and check out the Dominican Republic. This place is beautiful. Interesting how much more developed DR is than Haiti. I'm hanging out in a little bunglow in Puerta Plata thinking about what I'm going to do with myself. I'm down here with my friend Andy. He has a business in transcription services. His business offers transcription services in the UK, New Zealand and the US. So if you need any transcription services done, check him out.

Here's a pic of our bungalow in the jungle. haha, life is tough...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moving Along

Yo. whats happenin people?

So I just spent the last couple months in Bismarck, North Dakota. The job is good, I’m feeling more comfortable with what is expected of me. It is very corporate – meaning I have a very limited number of responsibilities. And all of my coworkers have limited responsibilities. And all of the transportation, manufacturing and even mining people around the world involved in making these wind turbines have limited responsibilities. It’s the corporate model – to make an awesome product like a wind turbine, you divide the work among thousands of tightly defined jobs and conquer. And they do. Of course, while I can appreciate this business model, I think something is lost when you teach people only to focus on one task. It is so important to educate people on how the whole system works. Although this kind of education is counter to capitalism because this invites competition. Oh competition. Anyway…

North Dakota is very small townish, as you might have imagined. The people are super nice and speak with a slight North Dakoooodan accent. I lived in a house where my landlord/roommate never locked the door. Pretty safe place. It wasn’t too cold when I was there either – its frozen over now. I got out just in time. Oh yeah, I also didn’t see any people mulching machines. Thanks Fargo movie for the false assumption :)

I left North Dakota a couple weeks ago for Brazil. My friend from college, Drew, got married to a Brazilian girl he met during a work abroad program 5 years ago. A bunch of friends and I went down there for the wedding. It was memorable. There’s something about just being in another country that excites me. It’s like everything is different and there’s so much to take in and appreciate. I always return home from being abroad with a kind of whole feeling having widened my perspective on the world. I was also hungover – a week of heavy drinking and getting little sleep can wreck you. ahh, good times.

As for Peace Corps … my country director forwarded the “To Make a Village” video (the one about how to make Peace Corps better from the last email) to some of the top dogs in Washington. I have since had several conversations with the Deputy Director, the Africa Regional Director and some other change-makers in Peace Corps. They asked me to read and respond to their “Vision” paper – a report describing their ideas on how to change Peace Corps. And, in few words, I feel their hands are tied by rules, regulations and general complexity of change… to enact change. So I have taken these crumbs of information and decided that real change comes from engaging and gaining support from the public. So, I’m building another website that aims to do this. Shouldn’t be too long till it’s done. It’s like, you can get really angry at “the system”, or you can channel that rage into figuring out how to do it better. Column B keeps me occupied.

Tomorrow I leave for Lincoln, Maine to bear the winter on a new wind project. Yikes.


PS – Have you seen the movie Inside Job? I highly recommend watching it. Great insight as to why the US is in a recession. In short, for the last two decades our country’s economic policies have been directed by, and are still directed by, shortsighted cowards. The answer? I think all we need to do is make responsible loans – go to

some pics fo ya:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

wind turbines in wyoming

I'm well into this job now. After a month of classroom training in New York, I was sent to Illinois for a few weeks for on-the-job training and now I'm Wyoming going full time.

As for what I actually do in my job - I'm settling into a "Technical Advisor" position. You may have seen large wind turbine components sailing down the highway. First, these wind components arrive on the construction site. GE sends inspectors to greet the drivers and inspect the loot for damage. If it is badly damaged, they send it back to the factory. If it's good, the construction company will offload the component with a small crane.

Once all these pieces arrive in good shape, my coworkers and I step in and inspect the components to make sure all of the ladders are intact, bolts are torqued to the correct value, all of the bus bars (the aluminum rods that carry the electricity down the tower) are in good shape, etc. We make sure everything is installed to specification. Then the construction crews erect the towers. One medium-sized crane will set up two tower sections and build the rotor on the ground. Then the next day or so, another big crane (350 ton lifting capacity, 500 ton by weight - that's a 1 million pound crane) will come along and "top out" the tower - finishing out the last tower piece and setting the nacelle (the box behind the rotor where the electricity is generated) and the rotor.

My coworkers and I will do another inspection from top to bottom once the tower is built. We make sure the turbine is perfect - all parts are accounted for, are installed correctly and are clean. Once we finish our job, our commissioners plug her into the grid, hook her up to a GE-wide ethernet system and finally turn her on. If all goes well, she'll purr like a 21st century, $3million, 1.5MW cold-rolled-steel kitten.

Some numbers on the models we're erecting in Wyoming:
Each turbine is 80m tall. The rotor diameter is 77m wide.
Each turbine costs $3 million.
The output potential is 1.5MW. This is equal to the power consumption of 400-600 homes.
The expected lifetime is 20 years and the payback rate is 5-7 years (ie 13-15 years cool profit).
So bottom line, it's a clean energy cash cow if you have $3 million laying around.

(btw - These are my estimations coming from conversations I've had with different people in the past few weeks. They are not official numbers from my company. I'm just throwing something out there to wrap your head around if you're curious or want to spend $3M on something awesome.)

Anyway, I don't mean to over inform, I'm just trying to offer concrete information for anyone interested. I think my job is pretty awesome. And I'm certainly grateful for this opportunity to work and learn about this stuff.

Above are some pics from the job site.

I had one great video of the construction crew flying the rotor. It's pretty cool to watch... so I decided to put some more photos in there to show more of what's going on:

Also here's a link to my Peace Corps Manifesto, if you will, called "To Make A Village". It's a slathering of ideas on how to make Peace Corps better and simpler. And how to integrate new technology into the program:

okay well, I hope all is well with you good people.
until next time,