Reflections at the Crossroads

I spent this weekend on a couple of offshore production platforms. The isolation provided a very reflective atmosphere for me, and some things came into focus. I have been trying to juggle a lot lately. It has come to the point that I effectively have 2 full-time jobs. I spend 45-50 hours a week at work, and another 40-60 hours doing work related to this blog. That work involves writing essays for this blog and for other websites, answering e-mails, and doing technical evaluations on various ideas that people send me.

The writing is the easy part. I can knock out an essay very quickly. But let’s face it: I have a combative personality. I feel like I need to address every criticism from every critic (even the obvious nut jobs). I know I shouldn’t, but that’s the way my brain is wired. And that takes an incredible amount of time. For a while I have been wondering how long I can keep this up, but this weekend proved to me that I have reached the end of the line. The status quo must change.

Here are the issues that have come into focus for me, followed by the options I have identified for moving forward (or not). Suggestions are appreciated.

Family Issues

Because of my juggling act, I don’t always pay as much attention to those around me that I should. This past week, my 11-year-old son watched a movie that he really liked. I told him, “Yeah, I have been meaning to watch that with you.” He then looked at me, and asked “But why didn’t you?” Do you know why I didn’t? Because I was on the Internet, “in combat mode”, as my wife likes to call it, addressing critics. But it was really one of those sobering moments where you think “What am I doing?” You know that song, “Cat’s in the Cradle?” I could hear that playing in my head when my son asked me that question. And even though I love talking and debating about energy, I don’t want my kids to grow up with memories of me glued to the computer.

I could juggle all of this when I was here in Scotland by myself, because the discussions kept my mind occupied and off of the fact that I was going to be a long time away from my family. But now that we are all back together again, I find that it is very easy to get sucked right back into things. I think “I will just post a short essay”, and before long I find that I spend 10 times that effort responding to comments. And that’s when family time suffers.

Work Issues

Walking around those platforms this weekend, it became clear how much I do not know. For those who don’t know, my assignment in Scotland is quite different than my past experience, which has been primarily in downstream production and R&D. So, I am in a position where I am on a very steep learning curve, and this weekend it came into sharp focus just how high that mountain is that I have to climb. Yet I have been heading down parallel paths – the outside interests and work – both of which are demanding more of my time. This is keeping me from climbing that mountain as quickly as I should.

I always performed at a very high level as an engineer. I have always had a knack for finding creative solutions to problems. And I have been able to advance on the basis of intelligence and creativity. Presently, I am responsible for a team of 13. Within my group, there is an incredible amount of information that I need to manage. And I just can’t get by solely on the basis of intelligence and creativity. I can’t handicap myself by staying up until midnight debating energy, and then go to work tired and with bloodshot eyes, and still excel at my job. If I don’t make a change, I am going to go from excelling as an engineer to mediocrity as a manager. And not only do I not like the idea of mediocrity, but mediocrity in this business can get people hurt.

Legal Issues

Another factor in my thinking concerns advice I received recently from two different attorneys. As many of you know, I have provided free technical evaluations for numerous projects/ideas. The number of times I have done this from e-mails alone is certainly over a hundred. Other people write to tell me they are acting on the basis of something I have written. And while I am eager to help people out, one of the lawyers advised me that I am exposing myself to liability. If I provide useful advice to 50 people, then I will probably never hear anything else about it. But if the 51st person feels like they got bad advice because they made a bad investment as a result, they may decide they should sue (even though the advice was free).

This was really news to me, but I was assured that it happens. I was told that I definitely need to put up disclaimers to the effect that if you decide to act on any of the opinions expressed in this blog, that you are on your own. But it has also made me decide to permanently take my e-mail address offline. I don’t have time for it, but throw in the possibility of a lawsuit, and it becomes a no-brainer.

Outside Projects

I have picked up an outside project that has a lot of promise. But it is clearly going to take some of my time. And there is just no way that I can juggle my family, my job, my outside project, and this blog. I am reasonably confident I can juggle the first three.

Options

I have been kicking around the options. I am getting reasonable traffic, and a good number of consistent, reasonable posters regularly comment. I don’t want to just close the doors, so here are some things I have been kicking around.

1. Simply cease writing essays. Of course this option would mean that the reasonable posters would eventually drift away, and I think we have some good discussions here. The blog would remain as a source of information for people doing Google searches, which account for a fair fraction of the traffic.

2. Post one or two brief energy blurbs a couple of times a week as the basis for discussion. I wouldn’t necessarily participate much, as that’s a quick way for me to get right back to where I am now.

3. Invite a few of those consistent, reasonable posters to join the blog and post their own stuff. There are a lot of group blogs out there. With multiple people contributing, it takes a lot of pressure off of me. Right now, I am a one-man show, trying to manage an operation that is beginning to consume me. GraphOilogy, with 4 contributors, is a good example of an energy blog based on this concept. So if anyone is interested, let me know. I even make that offer to critics, and those with very different opinions, as long as energy is the topic. You would be free to post essays, and could also help police the nutters.

That’s about what I have come up with. If anyone has other suggestions, let me know. It has become crystal clear over the past weeks and months that I was coming to a crossroads: I had to either devote more time to the blog (and less to family and work) if I want to maintain it at a high level and grow, or I have to greatly cut down on the blog and rededicate myself to more important pursuits. But the status quo was clearly reaching a breaking point.

50 thoughts on “Reflections at the Crossroads”

  1. Everybody’s answer is different, obviously. I do think the small-group site has advantages, but like any partnership you need to find people with the right kind of agreement and the right mix of strengths (and maybe a few interesting disagreements). If it was me I might just go hiking …

    On that note, here’s my question: is this energy and environment field really a slower one than people want to believe?

    A daily newsfeed is nice for readers, and comment critters … but what will the rate of change really be out there in industry and society? Will (for all the essays and comment written) the energy mix be all that different a year from now?

    (Note that I’m not promoting inaction, more that we could all do to pace ourselves.)

  2. Robert, that is a big call. I enjoy reading your essays and find them interesting, balanced and insightful.

    My suggestion is that you keep posting but spend less time answering the comments page. Maybe someone else could offer to moderate/monitor the comments.

  3. FWIW, I can skip past trolls. You don’t have to waste your time on my account. I mean the real live kind, not the automated comment spam … but I think blogger is pretty good at keeping that kind out.

  4. I pretty much agree with what anonymous #1 says.

    Eliminate the free analysis of other persons’ ideas-which it sounds like from a legal standpoint you are already doing.

    Pick and choose more carefully your essay topics. I know it’s entertaining to say I told you so about Xethanol & the ilk or to whale on idiots who don’t understand that supply & demand affects the price gasoline. but your time could be spent more judiciously. Edit yourself and give us more on green diesel or the electrification of transport or feedstocks for ethanol or……you know what I mean. The meaty topics that provoke real thought.

    I think your thought of posting occasional news items of interest, perhaps with a comment from yourself,would be a great spur to discussion. Again, be selective- this is your blog & not a bulletin board, right?

    Anonymous1’s thought of some help to edit out trollish comments is a good one. Nothing too time-intensive-just get a friend to take out the really obvious garbage for you.

    One thing though: don’t stop writing. Obviously you are passionate about it and this blog gives you the place to do it. Besides, your accumulated work here gives you weight in other arenas, so keep it going.

    Cheers!

  5. I think I have some of the same character traits and spent almost all of my time in the last year working on my SHPEGS project. I also had a very difficult time ignoring critics and felt I had to put huge efforts into explaining the concepts so that they would understand the design and the open development philosophy.

    I decided to take a hiatus from the project over the summer and spent the time catching up on my sleep and with kids, spouse and friends. I still find the renewable energy topic very interesting, but what I actually have to do is write down a priority list of what is really important to me and then allocate my time accordingly. Taking care of myself and family time comes first and getting sucked into internet dicussions on energy is very far down the list.

  6. Your 11 year old son will probably not want to “hang” with daddy for very much longer. Spend what spare time you can find with your family. He will be at the “borrow the car keys – See you later, can I have them please?” stage all too soon.

    Your essays are essential reading for me but occasionally you do wade into areas where you lack expertise. I would suggest picking one or two topics per week and leave it at that. You can let your critics rage for a few days and then respond in one summary post. That way you could digest the valid criticisms and eventually teach yourself to ignore the static.

    I think there are enough like minded groups out there commenting on energy issues. If you turn this blog into another one, what will be its defining characteristics that would make it different from the others? If you can’t come up with much then you will probably answer that question.

    Thanks for schooling me on energy. You have contributed much to the energy awakening that is well underway for the average person. You can lay your cross down anytime, there are others ready and willing to pick it up.

    BTW – If you find writing so easy, you should take all that knowledge and write a book. Your “insider” status would make for very interesting reading.

  7. This blog is one of just a handful that has a real engineering orientation to energy and environmental issues. It’s apolitical, objective, focussed on problems and solutions. Too many others are either pollyanish or doomerist, and few others bother to “do the math”. IMO it would be a mistake to make any change in authorship. Perhaps you could cut back to one posting per week? If need be you could allow someone else to field questions, filter trolls, etc.

  8. I have been reading your blog for a while and found it extremely interesting. Your site, along with a few other energy-subject blogs, help me keep on top of new ‘stuff’ much more completely than reading the news does.

    If you can’t keep up the current pace (spending time with your family is so much more important) please consider adding a few other writers and maintaining editorial control. It would be a shame for such a good resource to die off.

    odograph – The energy/environment field can be pretty slow, but different parts of it heat up at different times. Right now the number of countries with biofuel production/consumption policies is skyrocketing – certainly a fast moving time for that part of the ‘energy’ industry. So while there may not be much to talk about when it comes to coal, electric cars, etc. right now, there always seems to be something going on.

  9. Robert – I too would be sorry to see you completely abandon the field. There are too few engineers blogging already.

    But spending less time on this blog you might reach the greenness of Mrs. Bill Clinton

    Grist: How Green is your Candidate

    For you Odograph: Read down to the last comment. Mrs. Clinton claims to have reduced her power usage from 14,000 kWh/yr to 4,300 kWh/yr. That is just 358 kWh/month. For a big house in Westchester County, with secret service camped out in the garage apartment, and a house in DC near the Naval Observatory?

    Sorry, I just don’t believe it.

  10. Nobody else has mentioned this so I will… how about quitting your day job and making your night job (this blog) your full time gig? A selfish suggestion, since I really enjoy reading your blog. And I guess it all depends on the size of your readership whether ad-based income would be enough to make a living.

  11. Robert:

    I respect your dilemma and would echo the comments of others. With your obvious skill at essay-writing you might consider channeling your energies into a book (or several).

    As wonderful a tool as blogging has become, I think the direct and immediate criticism the medium affords can be overwhelming – particularly when serving as both moderator and content provider.

    Books (or even articles for journals) can provide a more flexible timetable and removes you a level or two away from dricet dialog with critics. Particularly those critics who choose to exercise noise over substance.

    Regardless, I know I speak for many who support your decision and look forward to learning from you in other formats in the future.

    All the best!

  12. “To keep selling shrimp to Wal-mart, shrimp farmers are actually reducing the harm caused by their farms.”

    From time to time in my job I get to meet interesting people. I spent an afternoon with Sylvia Earle, former head of NOAA and an environmental pioneer. She said that bottom shrimp trawling was like “clear cutting the forest to harvest the squirrels”. Wild shrimping is extremely damaging to the ocean bottom and to fisheries.

    Good for WalMart.

  13. I think the thing to do would be to stop or substantially reduce your blogging and spend more time with the family and the learning curve with your new job function.

    Once you get the job learning curve done then maybe you can start doing some more blogging.

    Or you could continue blogging but just blog about the (non-confidential aspects) of the work you are doing.

    I suspect there are a lot of engineers reading your blog and they like to hear what technical issues other people face and how they solve them.

    It would also be interesting for the non oil field, non engineering people to learn more about the technology used in oil and gas production.

    If you do go back to blogging it would probably pay to leave the comments off on most posts. This would reduce the chance for falling into time consuming arguments.

    As a final note for someone with your writing ability and techncial skills, there are probably some very interesting and high paying jobs at banks, and other financial institutions.

    They need people who can create technically accurate, readable research reports.

    I have enjoyed the blog and the good job it has done illuminating some of the unfortunate stupidity that energy policy is often drowning in.

    Enjoy the additional time with the family and good luck with your projects.

    TJIT

  14. You write fine material, so I hope you still will, but you have to do the family stuff now. You didn’t mention it, but I hope you’re taking care of your health. Maybe you have the right genes to get away with it, but your description sounds like “sitting at computer, working towards heart problems”, i.e. just like I was in the 10 years before I had a heart attack & quad bypass. I do not recommend these experiences.

    I’d suggest:
    1) Write an essay, say once a week.
    2) Do NOT even look at the responses for a {week, 10 days, whatever.}
    3) Then, make one pass over the responses, ignore the DBATs (Drive-by Anonymous Trolls), and write one overall response to the thread, after the dust has settled somewhat. [People will either ignore the DBATs or take care of some of them, so you don’t.] DBATs can waste an arbitrary amount of time if you let them. Decades ago, in USENET comp.arch, I used to try to reply to every silly post. Bad Idea.

    Anyway, it is far more effective for a knowledgable person to generate longer, coherent essays than do the combat.

  15. Priorities my boy, priorities. Set them and live by them.

    Your first priority should be your health. If that goes, everything else will go with it. Are you eating right? Getting enough sleep? Enough exercise?

    Next is your family. You have been away from them physically and mentally. Are they joining you in Scotland? It will be a tough transition for them, you have to be there for them — literally. And, don’t forget your wife. She will be with you after the kids have gone off on their own. She needs your time and attention.

    Of course your profession and your job need your commitment. Where is your boss? Have you sat down with him for a heart to heart lately? You owe it to yourself and your family.

    Blogging and the internet belong to the category of things like watching television and reading thrillers. If they are taking up too much of your time, something is wrong, and you need to either cut-back or figure out why your energies are being channeled away from your priorities.

  16. A very common dilemma, with a pretty simple tool for fixing it:

    Imagine that you go to your doctor next week and you are told that you have between one and five years left to live. What would you do then? Would you quit your job and blog full-time? Or would you attempt to maximize time with your friends and family?

    Do whatever you would do under those circumstances because, for all you know, that’s exactly the case. I quit a “good” job and changed careers at age 40 when a guy I sorta knew at work keeled over at 42 — I realized how pissed I would be if, in my dying moments, I realized that I had devoted my life to trying to build up a stack of greenbacks for retirement rather than leading a good life _before_ retirement.

    Time is precious, it’s the only truly nonrenewable resource; use it well.

    I hate to say that because it probably means that we’ll see you a lot less here; so it goes.

  17. BUDGET
    Set an essay budget, a comment budget etc. Only write the number of essays or comments you’ve budgeted for

  18. Robert-

    First of, do not bother with TOD. I have seen you there in long, long discussions with dubious people. Additionally, association with the TOD decreases your credibility. The TOD publishes under psuedonyms. That is not credible. Then they scaremonger relentlessly, raising questions about what their real agenda is. Hedge fund front? At first, I wondered if you were a real person also, and I further devalued your observations on gasoline as well, for the same reason.
    Secondly, do not answer every gibe.
    Thirdly, possibly, develop a list of stock answers – you can say, here is my stock answer, it is what I believe, and I am open to change it, but until then, here it is.
    Then, perhaps limit yourself to 1-2 hours a day on your site, then wrap it up.
    On the other hand, you saw what treehugger sold for.
    I blog at TheMoneyBlogs for no pay. I write a column on crude oil, and advise on call and buy options. Maybe I will get sued, but I doubt it. Tons of people write fianancial advise columns. At the end of every column, I tell people they could lose all their money trading options. I see nobody writing on oil futures, especially with some perspective on it. I want to do it. Screw the lawyers.
    Lawyers love to say you get get sued. For specific advice pertaining to a very particular technical problem, perhaps.
    Hey, I put my factory building up for sale a while back, then decided not to sell, signed nothing. I received one bid on the property, below selling price. That bidder decided to sue me for not selling, a groundless suit, dismissed. Then he sued his own broker, who is countersuing me, also groundless.
    The lesson? Screw the lawyers. We cannot live is we follow their advice. You wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Do you really want to turn away earnest requests for help?
    Maybe you can solve the problem by framing each piece of advice with this: “I am not advising this, but some people have solved your problem this way….etc. Look into it.”
    I would consider writing the oil future blog on your site, once a week. No pay, but the goal would be to do a treehugger somewhere down the line. I think I am a good addition as I really like this stuff, and tend to be more optimistic than most. (OPEC just said they expect less demand for oil next year, not more. Peak Demand is already here and we have a growing world economy). We get two more really good bloggers, all oil. All weekly submissions. (I wrote a couple book for Bloomberg Press).
    Try to sell R-squared in two to three years.

  19. The only reason I read TOD is for yours, ThatsItImOut’s and a couple others postings. I think blogs like yours are vitally important to the energy debate and I would hate to see it go away, but you are right; family is more important. I’ll try not to challenge you so often, I promise.

  20. There are plenty of blogs out there posting news items of interest. What I come to your blog for is your in depth comments from the viewpoint of an engineer in the oil industry. So I’d agree with picking and choosing more carefully your essay topics. Sticking closely to your expertise could reduce the flood of comments. Don’t quit your day job, it keeps your knowledge fresh. I’m not sure I’d be interested in reading a group blog, (I rarely read TOD) but spinning off the job of blog moderator could work. Mashey’s idea of not looking at comments or responses for a week sounds good.

  21. A couple of comments from a dedicated reader but seldom commenter, in agreement with others here:

    Most valuable and interesting to me are your insightful essays. Fewer would be ok. (I find them easiest to read here, vs. dealing with 200 comments on TOD threads.)

    Save time for your family, your health, your job, and your soul. Before you know it, your son will be grown and you’ll marvel on how fast the time passed. (Mine’s going on 24.)

  22. Robert:

    IMO the comments above contain some excellent advice. I’d advise concentrating your blog time on your essays, writing to those of us in the middle attempting to retain an open mind. Occasionally scan the comments to gain a perspective on what people are thinking more to gauge the direction of the wind and how to adjust the tiller than for direct response. Some very successful academic bloggers never appear to respond to comments and others do so very sparingly but only to certain types of comments or questions.

    IMO you write from a unique technical perspective with a voice that would be a great loss were it silent. On the other hand, you must have balance with yourself, your family and your work. You may suffer a great loss if you don’t. Remember the proverb that nobody lies on their death bed regretting not spending more time at work but many that they spent too much.

    Thank you for your posts.
    JMG3Y

  23. As a father who wishes he’d spent more time with his now grown-up son, I heartily recommend that you invite some people in to share the blog with you, and spend some quality time with your son. You won’t regret it. In no time at all, your son will want to be with his friends instead of his parents, and you’ll have plenty of blogging time then.

  24. 1. spend more time with your family. My kids are 5 and they still want to play with me. It won’t be long before they don’t.

    2. I would read your blog if you turned off the comments.

    3. don’t bother with free advice, your time is worth more than that.

  25. You do what you have to do.

    My take:

    Stop reading/answering comments.

    But don’t stop writing, just cut in half (or third or).

    Writing is thinking and reflecting.

    We all need that.

    But most of the comments?

    Like this one?

    Fluff 🙂

  26. First of all, thanks for all your work on this blog and at TOD. My advice? Put your family first. Then find a career in biofuels/renewables where they let you blog as part of your job! Conoco will survive without you; we need you elsewhere.

  27. I check this blog every day, and sometimes more often. I enjoy the essays, and have learned a great deal from them.

    I recall that you’ve said you are running this blog, in part, to make a better world for your family. I think you are changing a least a few minds. You’ve pushed me to start making changes. You’ve got people from important places reading this blog. It has momentum. Don’t let it go, you are making a difference.

    Stay away from TOD, respond to comments once a week, and no more….but keep those essays flowing.

    Mark

  28. I agree with much of the comments on spending more time with your family and staying away from TOD.

    I would suggest being more selective with topics (I know you are tempted to expose all the frauds out there).

    For example, did we need another essay on Xethanol? You have cut the whole ethanol craze down to size and you have exposed Xethanol’s … eh… optimism before. Maybe you need a “shorts” section where you can have a sentence or two on Xethanol and refer the interested reader to earlier posts.

    Not sure sharing editorial responsibilities will work for you – just my gut feel.

  29. Robert, only you know what’s most important in your life, and thusly where to allocate your time and energy. I’m sure you’ll find a solution that best fits your priorities. Whatever solution you come to, your writing to date has been much appreciated, and however much more of it we get to enjoy will also be appreciated. Best of luck in your ruminations, and may you make sound decisions from a place of inner tranquility.

    Cheers,
    BKM

  30. Robert,

    I’m not involved in the industry but your blog has been invaluable in helping me understand oil/gas/alternative energy issues.

    I would love to see you continue writing at a reduced pace; perhaps you schedule yourself one session per week of writing, and post however often you can given that schedule (weekly? monthly?)

    I agree with those who have said that blogs don’t require comments. If you can’t ignore them, then turn them off.

    Finally, if you can’t work within those constraints, then quit. I’ve started and stopped blogging myself a couple times as my situation changed and I realized it wasn’t worth the hassle.

    Regardless, good luck to you and thank you for sharing your expertise.

  31. Agree with the above: please keep posting, even if only infrequently. And turn the danged comments off if they’re getting in the way! Software guru Joel Spolsky recently opined that comments generally do more harm than good in blogs- see his first few paragraphs at
    http://tinyurl.com/2gd999
    So please keep writing, even if only for an hour a week (because you clearly enjoy doing it, and lots of us enjoy reading it), but also make sure you spend 10x as much time with your family.

  32. LOL, if you want to keep your self-image as a guru, it might be important to turn your comments off!

    (I didn’t go read that post from Joel. I read his blog off and on in the old days, but it’s one of those things where I found the author to be often right, but sometimes spectacularly wrong.)

  33. (Note that I have my comments off, and that my own blog idle. I don’t think you need any big reason to do things like that … just do what feels right.)

    We are just a million monkeys at a million typewriters …

  34. FWIW, “guru” was my word, not Joel’s – I’ve been reading him for years (and met him in person briefly) and I don’t recall ever seeing/reading/hearing him refer to himself as such. Substitute “pundit” or “commentator” if you like. And Joel was actually quoting (and expanding on) a piece by Dave Winer, who may not be a guru, but is certainly one of the silverbacks of the ‘Net.

    My point was to encourage RR to turn comments off (if that would keep him posting) by showing that he’s not alone in finding that comments can be a counterproductive distraction.

    (This one excepted, of course. 🙂

  35. It’s hard for me to read of Dave Winer’s decision, without thinking of some comment (and email) conversations I had with Dave back in the old days 😉

    But that would be another story …

  36. More generally though, isn’t the temptation in a closed forum greater to just “bigfoot” an issue?

    On a technical level, if “trackback” functionality had worked out a little bit better, no one would need “comments” at all. With that and voluntary, collaborative, filters, the load would be taken off the individual site owner … if he is willing to cede thresholds and filtering to the many.

  37. I get a lot out of reading your blog. Although I seldom contribute and would probably be grouped with the “nuts”, I hope you’ll continue. It would be a personal loss to me and, I’m sure, many others if you stopped posting essays.

    I hope you’ll go with option #3 or consider a fourth option: Just post the essays and eliminate the comment section, which seems to be the source of your problems, and de-activate your email, so you can’t get any blowback.

    When you get to the top of the learning curve in your new area, think about resuming the comments at that time.

  38. Robert,

    I’m a lawyer but I know one important rule of parenting: “quality time” is a function of “quantity time”; the latter is a necessary condition of the former. Either SCHEDULE a large chunk of time with your kid EVERY day or wind up with him having grown up without you in a world of depleting resources whether you keep the rest of us educated about them or not.

  39. Robert, I wish you the best of luck no matter what you decide to do and how. Your work has been extremely valuable and of rare quality.

    Have you thought about making the kind of work you have been doing with the blog, TOD and related efforts your main means of income? I would hazard a guess that the potential income is substantial. The need for someone like yourself to fill the void as you have is critical. Those you battle who push their unsound agendas, such as corn ethanol, have great staying power due to the source of their income being based upon the furtherment of those agends. They more often defeat the objective scientific viewpoint of those like yourself just because they are not in a position where wearyiness and family commitments eventually burns them out. You seem to be in this position. I am sure that you will add value where ever you go and whatever you do. But where is the greatest value to you (and especially to the rest of us – it is hard not to be selfish here) going to be? It becomes a sort of eroi question relating to human endevor.

    Just my perspective and I hope I do not offend you by offering it.

    From TOD: “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…”
    —Winston Churchill, November 1936

    No truer words could apply. Wyoming

  40. Combat is wired into your brain?

    Well I guess you should drop the blog. Use the “combat” gene to debunk bad ideas that are getting funding.

    Like with a VC group? It might mean more money for you.

    Blogs take too much time especially if you can’t stay out of the comments.

  41. IMO comments are important for the kernels of wheat scattered among the chaff. If a statement is factually or logically wrong, it seems to me that a correcting comment is very useful to both the statement maker, whether blogger or commenter, and subsequent readers. I’ve learned a lot from reasonable comments that provide a fresh perspective. The problem occurs when the wheat to chaff ratio is way too low, making the valuable comments few and far between. Hence, I think the possibility for two directions of communication is important and I dislike blogs without comments. On the other hand, as a reader I don’t hold the blogger responsible for addressing comments and read several bloggers that don’t but allow comments.

  42. Robert,

    The very first time I read one of your posts, I thought to myself, this guy is going to play an important role in helping solve the transition to renewable energy.

    I think you should put your family first and then concentrate on whatever it is that really excites you. If you do that, you will find you have enough money and your performance will be far from mediocre.

    Like some of the other people giving advice, I would hope that you would write a book so you can speak to a wider audience. As far as your blog goes, if you did one major post every two weeks that you could tie into your book, I feel you would be doing all of us a great service.

    Good luck!

    Tom

  43. The suspense is killing me!

    (Do I have a blogs addiction or what?)

    Seriously, enjoy the Scottish summer with your family, and maybe save the blogs for cold shut-in months.

  44. I’d be lying if I said nobody could see this coming.

    I’m reading this as my own blogging is likely to be on the upswing (I’m in the last stages of recovery from a computer glitch which has made it far more difficult for me to write, and I have more time for the moment).  I’ve got a pile of stuff in my queue, with one piece in the final stages of editting (I need to put it past a few folks for review).  Robert, I hope that you’ll still take a little time to provide that expert review for those of us who are putting our work before the public.

    And now it’s time to put the 48th out of 52 backup disks into the machine so I can reload the OS without risking years of data.  I’ve been at this since this afternoon; it is now after 1 AM.  So it goes.

  45. Robert,

    This is the first time I have been here since you posted your “Reflections at the Crossroads” discussion, due to absolute insanity where I work (new ownership, 10th anniversary of the office locaton where I have been from the first day ten years ago, organization for new clients, etc.)

    In other words, on a smaller scale, I have been dealing with what you are discussing {and I do mean a much smaller scale…I am grateful for the kind mention by anonymous up string, but respectively decline to think that I am carrying anywhere near as much as you do (first of all, I have no kids!)

    Let’s just admit it, blogging/researching/discussing is addictive. I post on TOD and some other sites occasionally, plus have a small (ten members or so) energy group of my own, and I have recently become dismayed at the amount of time I spend on them, and online in general.

    I do most of my posting/writing on my weekends off, but to what gain am I using up whole sections of my weekend reading and posting? I have often used the writing and researching to clarify my own thinking, and then voiced what I had been able to learn, or “unlearn” online, but it does take time.

    I am now trying to limit myself more to a few information blogs, such as Energybulletin, GreenCar Congress, Promethius.org (solar) and sites that can help guide my technical knowledge and investment choices. as these will have a larger effect on my life overall, or at least that’s the view I am taking.

    Robert, you have been a great educator for me, and I have enjoyed your blog and your other writings, but I think anyone will understand your need for a change.

    Here’s a thought….every now and then, if an issue really gets to you and you have to vent, write an essay, give it to your wife, and tell here to post it so that you cannot see the reactions or surrounding comments and posts….:-)

    Good luck in whatever choice you make, and thanks again for all the things I have learned!
    🙂

    RC
    ThatsitImout

  46. Robert,

    I can’t help you balancing your work, family and your hobby, but I can tell you what I see.

    You are a talented engineer and you are committed. Further, your insight is balanced, i.e. you don’t get carried away too much.

    A small point would be that you really should let go of the negative parts. Don’t worry too much about what other people think, you don’t have to react to everything.

    Thanks,

    Richard

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