By Ron Young —
While attempting to navigate the shoals of life’s challenges, when you find yourself out of your depth on a particular matter and need to call in an expert, you’re going to encounter three types of people. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s a problem related to a mechanical or electronic device or a medical problem or a relationship problem.
There is the garden variety, “never found a problem I couldn’t make worse by making you feel worse” type of person. The proffered solution consists of admonitions about why you shouldn’t have the problem in the first place and then grave pronouncements about what you need to do to make sure it never happens again. An actual solution never materializes and if you press for an answer you get more admonitions and more pronouncements from this well-meaning but helpless IRK.
Then there’s the person who has some knowledge on a subject but has embellished it with a lot of bull hockey; you know, the sport for bovines on ice. In this scenario if you are naive you can easily have the wool pulled over your eyes, as apparently that’s what bulls do when they play hockey. Not sure why; it’s some kind of farm animal thing. I call these people BULHPS.
Finally there is the person who has actual Experience, Expertise, and Knowledge. You’re going to pay for this person to provide their E.E.K. and, of course, that’s where the slang term “eek” came from as that’s one’s typical reaction to encountering a situation that you instinctively know is going to lead to the $udden employment of an E.E.K.
In the financial world there is a well-known phrase that says your first loss is your best loss. I understand that to mean that if you encounter a situation where you need an E.E.K. it’s best not to go fumbling around talking to IRKs or bull hockey players. IRKs are generally pretty easy to recognize but BULHPs have a highly developed gift of gab and often an accompanying charm factor that makes it very difficult to find out if they really know what they’re talking about. They will surround a kernel of knowledge with layers of highly technical sounding gabble that sounds convincing but is actually just distracting nonsense.
Using the E.E.K. formula to determine a person’s suitability to perform a particular task works pretty well. You aren’t putting all your eggs into one basket, for example, relying on knowledge (education) as the sole determining factor or relying on experience, which can often be faked or be irrelevant. I have worked with some individuals whose past experience is impressive but totally unrelated to the task at hand. When you are dealing with cutting edge, rapidly evolving technologies like we have in the renewable energy field, experience that is several years old or from an unrelated field is not useful at all.
Expertise, as an additional measuring stick in the E.E.K. formula, is impossible to determine by just having an interview with the individual. You can’t see expertise unless it is employed and that is after you have hired the individual. But expertise can be determined by speaking with others who have used their service in the past and for that reason word of mouth recommendations are pure gold.
On a different subject, I would like to debunk a few myths about solar energy in the next few paragraphs. For example, one common misconception is that solar panels stop working in the winter or during cloudy weather. Solar power can actually increase in colder temperatures, as solar panels are better able to conduct electricity when they are cold. Reflected light from snow can further increase power output. Germany, a country that ranks low in sun hours per year, is considered the solar energy capital of the world.
Another misconception is that because solar panels are made of glass they are easily broken. The tempered glass used to cover the solar cells is highly impact resistant and is designed to withstand a hit from a one-inch hailstone at 60 mph. I have seen solar panels with bullet holes in them out in the wild west Chilcotin and they are still functioning, albeit at a lower output.
Myth: Solar panels wear out in a few years. Fact: Commercial grade solar panels like the ones you would put on your home or cabin are guaranteed to operate to at least 90 percent of their rated output for 10 years and at to least 80 percent for 25 years. After that they still work just fine, just at lower efficiency, usually caused by etching on the glass from environmental factors. On the other hand, consumer grade solar panels like the ones sold by many big box stores for camping and RVs often use a different technology known as thin film. These panels will degrade in power output much more quickly.
Until next time, if the sun stops shining in your world, try to avoid the IRKs and BULHPs and go straight for the E.E.K.
Ron Young is a renewable energy professional that designs and sells and installs solar, wind, and micro-hydro systems. He operates the earthRight store in Williams Lake, BC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Ron Young 2014