Meta Project

So I realized that when I talk to some people about my solar project (and to a lesser extent, my thermoelectric project) they tend to assume that I’m trying to be green, or concerned about the environment, or whatever. The truth is, I’m really not. Aside from the fact that so many things passed off as “green” these days couldn’t be less so, it’s just not my primary motivator. I’ll concede that maybe months, or years down the line, all my R&D might lead me to something that might have a real impact on environmental savings, but not right now; not from a solar cell phone charger that only just works. I could never delude myself into thinking I was making any kind of difference (even a small one). I think the whole notion of being “green” at the moment is too much of a trend and not much of an actual desire to do something real. I’m almost certain this is the case. Why? Because things that are passed off as “green” aren’t typically difficult, and being genuinely green is. It’s easy to say you’re doing this or that, but people never see things big picture. Major impacts require major action, and driving around in a prius packed to the hilt with rare earth metals isn’t going to cut it.

Anyway, right now, my biggest motivator is the love of the puzzle. I’m constantly thinking about the charger. What can I do to make it better? How can I make it more efficient? What could I change about it to make it work differently? All day long I’m thinking about this stuff. It’s a real challenge to build things. Then I might have a new idea, and I need to do some research on it. More things to do. It’s probably 95% the chase, and 5% the result. I think the result will evolve, and even more so than it already has. I had a good idea today to use a photoresister to regulate the charge voltage when I realized that I have to set it before I leave in the morning, literally guessing how strong the sun will be that day. I need to do some calculations on that, but I’m pretty sure it will work.

Confession #1

Alright. Confession number one. I have always been single. I’ve never had a girlfriend. I’ve only been on two or three “dates”. I once held hands with a girl in high school. That’s all there is.

There was a time when I wouldn’t even be able to admit any of that so simply. There was an even more recent time I couldn’t even think it without becoming very depressed. The reasons it’s bothered me have travelled across the entire spectrum over the years. When I was younger, there was the obvious pressure of friends. Even though my friends back then weren’t the type of people to have lots of girlfriends or go on lots of dates, they did have girlfriends. In retrospect, I handled their pressuring me pretty well. It bothered me, but I didn’t do anything too crazy, and it did culminate with me holding hands with that girl once.

As time went by, other things superceded my “always single” status as primary concernes. That was especially true early in college when I was absolutely paranoid about screwing up academically and struggling horribly to make friends. My inexperienced status has always come back to me though. I think what bothers me the most isn’t that I feel alone in this status (I definitely do), but rather that I can’t really see any reason for it. Any internet search, even with Bing, will turn up more articles, questions, pages, blogs on guys of any age who’ve always been single. Many of them have obvious reasons: lack of self esteem, body image problems, being uncompromisingly nerdy*, etc. I never felt that I had any of those obvious shortcomings. I’ve always been pretty well liked, easy going, and had a wide array of different types of friends. In college, I hung out with the English major crowd in clubs and activities, but a nerd at heart, my time was mostly spent in computer labs. The lack of reason is the most frustrating part. I’m an engineer, a problem solver. Problems have solutions where I live. I don’t think this one does in this case, and that is frustrating.

I won’t go into any more analysis or opinion on this topic here now. This was just a confession. I will note that it feels good to just say it, because at heart, I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with it. It just really bothers me on a personal level.

* There’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. I’m a nerd. But if you’re a nerd, either tone it down or just hang around with like-minded nerds. Getting frustrated because most people aren’t smitten by your collection of novelty 20-sided dice is just stupid. I guess my message is: be realistic in your expectations.


Sometimes I seriously start to wonder what the point of all my insightfulness is. I’ve always been very introspective and insightful, but to what end? Has it made me happier? Quite the contrary. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know all the things I know. Sometimes I wish I couldn’t do math. Sometimes I wish I just didn’t need to worry.