November 4, 2011 • Emerging Technology

Developing countries, part I

by Ann Barczak

It’s that time of year again.  The weather is turning colder, football is in full swing, and the kids are back in a school routine. Once school starts in our house each fall, the crazy begins. No matter how much preparation goes in the night before, mornings are chaos. There is fighting, moodiness, confusion, yelling… . Breakfast is every man for himself and resembles a scene from Lord of the Flies. The dogs circle the kitchen, desperately hoping that the baby is just sleepy enough to drop his waffle on the floor. A child screams, “Where’s my belt?” Well, it’s right where it should be of course – looped around the bathroom door by one brother to keep another trapped inside. continue

May 19, 2011 • Electricity

Oh, the irreverent tanning salon…

by Ann Barczak

Tanorexia - silent killer.

I was making Easter dinner when I remembered that I forgot to buy butter.  Real butter.  Contrary to the belief of my sons, real butter is not the stuff that sits in a tub and never changes shape.  I have to have real butter on holidays.

The grocery store was closed, so I made my way to an open drugstore hoping they might have what I needed. I noticed the tanning salon was open next door.   Easter… Fourth of July… Festivus… nuclear holocaust… nothing could close the irreverent tanning salon.

Tanning salons are a lot like traffic court. You never know what you might run into. I think my favorite experience at the tanning salon would have to be the young mom who couldn’t understand why she couldn’t take her baby into the booth with her. I’ll save my traffic court stories for another post. continue

April 1, 2011 • Current Events, Electricity, Emerging Technology, Energy Efficiency, Perspectives

Cautionary Tale or Rude Awakening?

by Ann Barczak

I call home a unique little place in northern Alabama.  My home town of Huntsville has a small feel with an unexpected aspect of cosmopolitan.  The school system is impeccable, the cultural arts will rival any larger city, and at last count, there were more Auburn fans living there than Alabama fans.

Huntsville, Alabama, has a special link to the U.S. Space Program, of which we are exceedingly proud. Huntsville is home to Marshall Space Flight Center, where the Saturn V or “America’s Moon Rocket,” was developed by a team of engineers and scientists led by Wernher von Braun.  The Saturn V Rocket sent astronauts into orbit around the moon for the first time in history. continue

March 3, 2011 • Current Events, Perspectives

Sadat, Stability and Self-Government

by Ann Barczak

Crude Prices Up with Threat of Violence in the Middle East

This headline stirred all kinds of emotions in me – shock, horror, absolute disbelief.  A “threat” of violence in the Middle East? Say it isn’t so. Every  indicator   from the Nikkei Index to the Brazilian Bovespa has gone haywire upon hearing the “startling” news. Apparently, global markets have no memory of the last 50-something years. Surprisingly, this amnesia is suffered by a great many of my contemporaries.

I found that the majority of people believe that the first indication of the epic problems in the Middle East was a Tuesday in September, 10 sad years ago.  Too few of us remember, or know about, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, the Achille Lauro, the Munich Olympics, Lockerbie or Robert Stethem.   Violence and unrest have characterized the Middle East for so long, it is hard to define this area without them. continue

January 17, 2011 • Energy Innovation, Energy's Lighter Side, Perspectives

Offensive Coordinators are Communists

by Ann Barczak

strategies in football...strategies in energy...

I never miss an opportunity to relate football to any subject.  As a manager with direct reports, I used to hold a “Monday Morning Quarterback” meeting each week.  We would review relevant topics such as “never let it come down to your kicker,” or “…to be successful with the Wildcat offense, you have to have the best backs…”  Football is one of those universal sports, that resonates with a variety of people.  Knowing the game has served me well in a male-dominated industry and even prepared me for motherhood -who knew that a  topiary could be used as a weapon?  “Don’t hit your brother – that’s roughing the passer!  Ten yards from the spot of the foul or you go to bed early!” 

I began my undergraduate studies in the heat of the fall in South Alabama as a co-ed at Auburn University. I spent four years at the loveliest village on the plains.  I walked the halls that once housed the likes of Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and John Heisman.   Auburn girls participate in sorority rush a few weeks before classes, but more importantly, we like to be settled on campus in time for the first home football game.   From that first game, until we breathe our last breath, we are officially Auburn Girls.  We know and love football.  We especially love our Tigers. continue

November 23, 2010 • Perspectives, Sustainability

Sustainable Past, Renewable Future

by Ann Barczak
Me in Sea Isle City with my first flounder!

Me in Sea Isle City with my first flounder!

A recent conversation with a client regarding their corporate sustainability strategy brought to mind one of the smartest people I have ever met. He was generations ahead of his time. His daily life was a practice of sustainability and energy management before those words would even become relevant. He had no more than a sixth grade formal education, but my Grandfather Jim, or “Red” as everyone knew him, learned his trade through apprenticeships, on the job experience and observation. He ended up becoming a valued electrician and member of the AFL – CIO, but more important was the value he gave to his 30 plus grandchildren.

As many summers as we could, my family would make the long trek from Roswell, Georgia to Sea Isle City, New Jersey. Sea Isle was home to Pop Pop’s “Beach House”, as we Southerner’s call it, or “Shore House” as my northern relatives would refer to it. It was a duplex with a ringer washing machine, one shower and a screen door that had a distinctive latching sound that would rat you out at night if you dared to come home late. continue

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