Book Review – Little Book of Lykke

Thanks to Maria for the guest book review, a follow-up to her earlier review.

Little Book of Lykke: Secrets of the World’s Happiest People
by Meik Wiking, 2017

From the same author who brought us The Little Book of Hygge (reviewed here), the Little Book of Lykke looks analytically at the six factors that the Happiness Research Institute thinks are at the basis of a society’s happiness level: togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness. It is worth reading the physical book since there are graphs and data (and some pretty pictures). It does not turn into a glorification of Denmark nor an attack on the US or other nations, and in fact highlights what various people around the world are doing to increase their society’s happiness, but it does give context for why the Danes and other Scandinavian countries tend to have such high levels of happiness. Hint: it has a lot to do with the fact that quality time with friends and family is more important than working 70+ hours a week, among other work-life balance aspects, plus not having to worry about health care or child care costs, naturally building mood uplifters into the day (in Denmark, a huge percentage of the population bikes to work, which is exercise that lets you start and end the workday in a good mood), and having a feeling of belonging in a society. It is a quick read (only took me a couple of hours) and offers some ideas and perspectives on happiness I hadn’t considered before (and I read a lot of books about happiness). Recommended.

Energetic 20180118

Plunging solar+storage costs.

The median bid for a wind project was $18.10/MWh; the median for wind+storage was $21, just three dollars higher. The median bid for a solar PV project was $29.50/MWh; the median bid for solar+storage was $36, just seven dollars higher. (Keep in mind what median means: Half the projects bid cheaper than this.)

435 miles per charge?

Double-paned solar windows.

When quantum dots absorb blue and ultraviolet portions of the solar spectrum, the dot then re-emits a photon at a longer wavelength. That is guided to the glass edges of the window where integrated solar cells collect the light and convert it to electricity.

Book Review – Lights Out

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath
by Ted Koppel, 2015

The first thing that interested me about the electric grid was the question of its resiliency and protecting it from attack. While my academic research has mostly focused on economic questions, the topic of resiliency is still interesting to me. Koppel’s book discusses the possibility of losing control of the electric grid due to a cyberattack and urban areas having to cope with a loss of power for weeks or months.

Generally speaking, the US seems unprepared for a cyberattack. Assuming the government was not protecting a classified plan, they did not have a plan to share with Koppel for how to deal with a prolonged grid outage. It is unlikely that the government will provide food, water, and basic supplies if an outage exceeds a few days. The alarming part is how unprepared for this outcome most city dwellers seem to be.

About half of the book discusses the disaster preparation plans of more prepared people. While this was, by itself, interesting, it was a little far from discussing the resiliency of the grid. I would have preferred this section to be shorter. Few, if any, of the preppers were focused on an extended grid outage.

It is interesting (ironic?) that we are more connected than ever due to the internet, but in the event of an electric outage, we will be less connected than ever. There needs to be operational plans in place for how to handle an extended outage, and these plans should be communicated BEFORE the outage, as there will be little ability to communicate them after the outage. Seems like a good outlet for operations management and risk management.

I listened to this book on tape.

Book Review – Still Life

Thanks to Telesilla Kotsi for the guest book review!

Still Life
by Louise Penny, 2005

A woman is found dead in the morning of Thanksgiving Day in Three Pines, a small village not far from Montreal. This is how “Still Life”, a mystery novel, begins followed by an elaborate description of the nature in Quebec and all the characters involved.

Highly recommended, although I do not prefer mysteries lately. It is not because I do not like them, quite the contrary. When I start one that I really like I cannot stop reading until I discover the solution to the mystery. This one was very well written, with wonderful setting and characters: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec who comes to Three Pines to decide if the death was a hunting accident or a murder; Jean Guy Beauvoir who is the right hand of Inspector Gamache; Clara and Peter Morrow, both of whom are local artists, closely related to Jane Neal, who was the one found dead in the woods. What I liked the most was that all people in this small village where related to the crime but their motive was not obvious since they all seem to like Jane in the first place. Coming from a small place – fortunately not as small as Three Pines – I could relate to all these odd, tangled, interpersonal relationships. The plot is engaging and there was a point towards the middle of the book that I would change opinion every five minutes about who killed Jane. If you enjoy autumn colors and you want an easy read in front of your fireplace, you would definitely agree with me when you read “Still Life”.