Setting the Stage for 2009

Submitted by R-Squared Energy Blog

I wanted to just have one housekeeping post here at the beginning of the year covering a wide range of topics: From posting etiquette to themes to my internal debate over whether to proceed with a book. So here goes.

First, some reminders about posting etiquette here. While I encourage debate and disagreement, I discourage gratuitous insults and profanity. There are elementary schools that have used some of these essays for current events classes. I don’t want them exposed to the worst of what I have seen here on occasion. So if you keep that in mind, I don’t think we will have any problems. You are free to disagree – even vehemently – and you are free to criticize to your heart’s content. But please keep it civil.

Also, I have started enabling moderation on posts that are over 2 weeks old. What that means is that when you post on an older post, it won’t show up until I release it. The reason for this is that the older posts attract a lot of spam. Legitimate posts will be released from moderation as quickly as I can get to it.

Second, some themes for the year. One thing I have a lot of trouble with is saying no. I am writing off and on for several other sites, and it spreads me pretty thin. Sometimes I throw up a post here in haste just to provide an anchor for conversation. This year I am dialing those outside writing projects back. I won’t take on any new ones. If the Wall Street Journal calls, I will keep an open mind. But I am going to limit my outside writing this year.

Whether I will scale back my posting frequency is another story. I never set out to write 5 posts in 7 days, it just happens. Other times I may write 1 post in 10 days. It all depends on how much extra time I have at that particular moment. I like to rise early and write, which is what I am doing now. It is 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and I am the only one up. I like to write in those instances. I also like to write in the evenings when I am in Europe, and right now it looks like I will continue to make my monthly trips over. The next one is scheduled for this Monday.

I do encourage guest posts on any energy/environmental topic. Over the past couple of years, I have had some really good ones (and admittedly, a few not so good ones). But I am happy to post your viewpoint. Even if it is contrary to the views of most other posters, this blog is for debating energy issues. So I am happy to post contrary views.

Lots of people have written to ask about the status of the book I was approached about writing. I got lots of good feedback from readers on the sort of material that either hasn’t been covered, or hasn’t been covered well. I think the type of book that I would write is sort of a layman’s guide to energy. What are the pros and cons of crude oil? Ethanol? Why is energy so important? That last one seems to obvious, but I think the public is very ignorant about the topic. So I would write aimed at the general public, in as objective a fashion as a can.

BUT, I have decided not to do the project right now for a couple of reasons. First, since I was approached my organization at work has grown by an additional 20%. I now have seventeen people reporting in to the engineering branch, and it takes a lot of time to properly manage that many people. If I attempted to write a book right now, either my job would suffer, my time with my family would suffer, my blog would go on hiatus – or all three would happen. So I have decided to keep the idea in the back of my mind, perhaps organizing some of my essays into chapters over time. But I am going to set this project aside for now. As my CEO recently said to me – “You can write a book when you are 50!”

The other thing is that I am already committed to write another book chapter this year. Professor Emeritus Roger Rowell from the University of Wisconsin has had a book idea accepted for publication, and he has asked me to write the chapter on biofuels and bioenergy from wood. Professor Rowell is an expert on wood chemistry, and has written several books previously. (See here for his book list). This is what my (very) rough draft looks like at this point. I will probably ask for reader input at some point in filling in the gaps.


    1. Burning Biomass for energy
      1. Biomass for steam and electricity
      2. Biomass for cooking and heating
    2. Alcohols
      1. Methanol
      2. Ethanol
      3. Higher alcohols and mixed alcohols
    3. Renewable diesel
    4. Miscellaneous
      1. Bio-oil
      2. Syngas

Finally, I want to say a heartfelt “Thank you” for those of you who comment here. Without you, I probably wouldn’t have the motivation to continue writing. People often tell me that they learn a lot here. Well, I have also learned a lot from people’s comments. This was in fact a big part of why I wanted to start the blog. I felt like I had something to offer, but also felt like this could help fill in some gaps in my energy/environmental knowledge. I have been correct on that, and thanks to various readers I know more about specific categories of energy than I did a couple of years ago.

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