Green Spot: How High Can You Go?

In the world of power generation some renewables, like wind and solar, hold a special place of fear for grid managers.  You see it adds some highly variable generation to your fleet which requires some flexible dispatching power like natural gas to cover the gaps when it is on and some fairly robust computer managing to make sure no one loses power when the wind suddenly drops off.

Yet the more I was thinking about it, if you put more power on the grid in that form in a large amount you would likely get a more stable power generation.  For example, if you put 20% wind/solar in Saskatchewan you would be hard pressed to find a day in this province when you are not going to get some power from this facilities if you spread them over a larger area.  The key would be to spread them around.

Common wisdom to date was most grids likely could not hanlde more than 20% renewables without having to modify the grid.  That’s why I like this article, which points out to some work by a graduate student in the US that shows in theory you could push it to 70%.  To date the work is limited, but if nothing else it is showing some thinking outside the box.  I wonder what would happen if more people did that?

Book Review: The Artist’s Way

Ok, warning this book has nothing to do with personal finance or the environment. So why am I reviewing The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? Simple, the book fall under the category of life transforming for me, so I’m sharing some information about it since it helped me get a lot happier in life.

The book is actually based on a course that Julia has taught for years. As such each chapter is a week of the course complete with exercises at the end of the week. I would like to say I had the book for twelve weeks and did the course, but that didn’t happen. In fact I had to borrow the book twice from the library on two separate occasions to get through the book in a mere six weeks.

In general the entire book is how many creative people: writers, painters, dancers, etc or people who think about being creative (which is really just about everyone else) are really blocking their creative outlets. They are scared of what people will think and as such develop behaviors to block themselves from doing creative work. To be honest I knew I had some issues with writing. I could do the blog, but I never took it to the next level or could get my book projects off the ground. I kept blocking myself.  What was very interesting for me to determine was reading was a block for me since I used it at times to avoid writing.  I also learned that working on the same few pages over and over is just me trying to be analytical to a progress that has nothing to do with analytical.

So after reading this book I know understand a lot more of the process of being creative and how to support that process. As such, I’m managed to come a long way because of this book. I’m doing a page a day minimum of my personal finance book project and I’m making more time for writing than ever before. I even took on a huge project in my basement to setup a second home office just for writing. I just got the writing lair up and running about two weeks ago.  All the changes might not see like a lot but the progress is more about I’ve managed to get to the point of I can just sit down and write.  No guilt, no bull, just do it and get the draft done.

Now keep in mind this book is for anyone who wants to do something creative. You don’t have to be an artist with a capital “A” to read the book. It will even help those who just dream of writing that book, story, blog post or even try a hand at painting. What ever you want to try.

I will warn you that they process seems flaky at times, painful at other times (at realizing how sad your little justifications were to avoid things) and out right strange but it’s really one large therapy session for that little creative part of your brain that’s been wasting away for the last couple of decades.  As such, if it feels a little silly you are likely on the right track.

So stop dreaming and start doing. Go find this book at your local library or buy a copy and like me you will likely find your life a lot more happy in a very short time.

Asset Allocation

Ah Asset Allocation it always brings up nice pictures in my mind of pie charts. Yet my version of WordPress has developed a sudden desire to avoid uploading images for me.  So I can’t give you one after all. Sigh.

Yet the general gist of it all was this, as of Dec 31, 2008 my overall allocation was:

22% Bonds or FIxed Income
70% Equity
8% Cash

So overall I’m actually underweight on bonds and fixed income.  Normally I would like to see that at 30%, which is odd with the market drop I figured I would have been needed to add to my equity.  So what happened?  Well a couple of things.  First off my last pension consisted of cash and equity and no bond.  So that messed up things a bit.  Now the new pension is a little more balanced so that should even out in the long haul.  Also I’ve been adding equities to the taxable accounts and building up a bit of a cash cushion for my yearly rebalance.  Normally the rebalance would have occurred on Jan 1, 2009 but I’m moving out my old pension money so I’m waiting for that to clear before doing it.

So how often do you check your overall asset allocation?  Yearly, monthly, or when you think of it?  When do you like to rebalance?