Man’s Search For Meaning: An Author’s Take

Meaning

Victor Frankl‘s widely read masterpiece unlocks a part of the brain not often used in the fast-paced 21st century: Introspection. His story is a tragic one, wrought with the kind of death and despair so common during the Holocaust. Still, he managed to find meaning in those hard years. For him, it was about helping others find meaning in their lives. As a neurologist and psychiatrist, perhaps he was uniquely qualified to do this.

Meaning in Writing

After reading the book, I found myself asking myself what exactly my purpose was on this Earth. I’ve known since I was about eight that I wanted to be a writer, but beyond that I’ve always found it hard to discern what it was I was doing.

This begs the question: why do I write?

A Writer’s Curse

Do I write for fame, money, or influence? Do I write to entertain? To answer that, I had to look deep inside to realize that a lot of what I had done in my youth was directly related to what I’m doing now. I’ve played the guitar since I was eleven years old, acted in plays growing up, and was in the background of many a TV commercial, TV movie, and network television shows. I suppose I’ve always liked to entertain. The world has so much darkness in it, at times it’s hard to see the light. I enjoy showing others that there is a better way to approach life.

A way that includes introspection and enjoying the little things that make you happy.

Now, if only it paid the bills.

Chasing Delta

I once watched an interview with Elon Musk in which he mentioned the concept of delta in regards to changing the world. You can either create a large delta, or change, to a small amount of people, or a small delta to a vast amount of people if you want to change the world.

My goals for delta are two-fold.

First, I intend to reach the most readers I can and entertain them with my writing. However, beyond writing, I intend to do what I can for my community, mentoring others when possible and giving back in any way I can. In this way I can touch a large amount of people in a small way and a small amount of people in a large way.

For more on Elon Musk, consider reading the recent biography of him. It was well-written, definitive, and definitely an eye-opening journey into his world.

Writing for money

Although my ultimate goal is to entertain, I also need to eat. That’s why some of my books are free while most are not. However, I believe if my meaning is to entertain, then eventually I will make enough doing it to support myself solely with it. Given the trend in my sales figures, that time is coming fairly soon. Most writers, I believe, don’t write solely for money. If they do, I think the reader would be able to tell pretty quickly.

The Machine

Writers often find themselves in this sort of conundrum. Should I eat? Or, should I follow my dreams?

I’ve been there myself a number of times. However, at the end of the day, even if I’m doing a job to make ends meet while writing at night and in the early mornings, those moments while I’m writing make the rest worth it. It can feel at times like you’re a machine, working and working and seeing little return. Given enough time and dedicated practice, it does get better.

I’ve seen it with myself and I’ve seen it with my dad’s writing career, which only really took off after about twenty years of pounding out manuscript after manuscript and chaining himself to his desk. However, in the last 5-7 years he’s seen more success than most authors ever will.

Man’s Search For Meaning

Even if you don’t find your meaning upon completion of this book, the story is one worth being read by all. It is critical that the experiences of those who suffered through the holocaust are remembered for generations to come. I can’t recommend this book highly enough for all readers. It is a necessary read. It is a read that will turn your attention inward during times of strife.

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Science Sunday: Tesla to Create Batteries to Power Home

Tesla’s earnings may have disappointed, but what Elon Musk said in passing could change the way our power grid works.  Seriously, the implications of this are huge.  Musk said, “Some will be like the Model S pack: something flat, 5 inches off the wall, wall-mounted, with a beautiful cover, an integrated bi-directionl inverter, and plug and play.” Apparently a fully charged cell could power a typical home for a week.  A week!  Think about that.  If there was a power outage on the grid, almost all of them are fixed within a week.  But that’s not where things get interesting.

This isn’t just some off-the-cuff statement.  This is actually happening.  Musk said that about 30% of the Gigafactory being constructed near Reno, Nevada will be dedicated just to this function and they’re in talks with utility companies to discuss terms (on a side note, it’s possible the Gigafactory will be completed in 2016, rather than 2017).  Anyone familiar with Nikola Tesla‘s headbutting that occurred between him and the utility companies of his day will get a kick out of this.

So, what is Tesla Motors, an electric car company, doing in the utility business?  Musk also started SolarCity, a solar power company.  His cousin is the current CEO and Musk is the Chairman of the Board.  If you have SolarCity’s panels on your roof, they can power your home and store excess electricity in the Tesla battery, which you can use to power your home or charge your Tesla car.  It’s beginning to become one big circle.

Consumers should embrace this advance in technology because it not only makes sense, it will save them money.  Customers lease their roof space out to SolarCity, so there’s no cost to it.  Currently, you only pay a minimal amount to the utility company for power during night hours and some extra fees. Overall you still pay far less for your utilities. As long as you don’t mind the aesthetic of a solar panel on your roof (which I think looks like the future and is awesome), then there’s really no downside. Admittedly, this model works better in the Southwest and places that get more direct sunlight. In the future, we need to harness every bit of power we can as the population of the planet balloons.

I think we’ll get a lot smarter as a collective people and start implementing more ideas such as this. Something I’ve always been fascinated by since I first saw it mentioned is Vertical Farming. I’ve used this concept to some extent in my writing because it not only makes sense, but I think it will become a necessity as an estimated 80% of the world’s population will live in Urban areas by 2050. By that time I expect our abilities to increase crop yields and create these ingenious urban farming practices. Those buildings might just be powered by solar panels by SolarCity or a similar company and store power in batteries created at the Gigafactory.

I’ll leave you with this: if Tesla’s Gigafactory isn’t a flop (which I don’t think it will be), and SolarCity continues to expand, how will our power grids change and who stands to make out? Do you think this news is overstated or do you think it will truly change how we get power in this country and potentially the world? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts!

UPDATE 5/1/2015: Tesla Energy has been announced. Tesla will create batteries to power homes and businesses at a starting cost of about $3000 for home use and more for the product known as the ‘power wall.’

Scientists Trying to Mine Metal From Plants

Scientists Trying to Mine Metal From Plants

At first this might sound a bit strange, but bear with me.  Scientists in Australia are using plants to harvest metals like Nickel, Zinc, and Cobalt from the soil.  These plants are called ‘hyperaccumulators’ because they suck up relatively huge amounts of metal.  A single one of these plants can take 11 pounds of Nickel from the soil.  Imagine planting a ton of these plants at a spent Nickel mine and accumulating hundreds of extra tons of Nickel.  Each ton is currently worth around $20,000.

This kind of news story gives me a lot of hope for the future because scientists are finding new ways to do more with less.  Similarly, Elon Musk is about to try to land a rocket on a floating platform in the ocean.  If that works out, it will prove the viability of a truly reusable rocket, which will in turn drive down the cost of sending rockets to space and space exploration in general.  It is estimated that reusable rockets would cut the cost of space travel by 100 times. It’s a really exciting time to be alive.