Do you BLESS their life?

(Mom, me and my oldest daughter Claire… Mother’s Day 2021)

My good friend Marcus Price and I meet up occasionally and have interesting conversations about family, dating, business, and space alien theories.

I wrote about Marcus in my 2nd book, Fishing on Wednesday. He’s the founder of a chain of post office stores called Goin’ Postal…. and a bit of a character in his own right.

Marcus and I have known each other for many years, it just so happens he was married in 1997 and divorced in 2017, almost at exactly the same time as me. This past year we’ve become good friends, and he’s a great guy to keep me in check when I have crazy ideas.

Marcus was telling me how I could be a blessing in the life of certain women that I’ve dated, or not.

Marcus’s comment got me thinking, about how we can be a blessing to so many folks around us, especially if we are INTENTIONAL about it.

But what if that is not the case?

Maybe your presence in someone’s life is NOT a blessing! In that scenario you probably won’t be in their life that long, unless they’re family, which is another can of worms entirely.

Sometimes I’ve FAILED at being a blessing to others, to my eternal regret.

Sometimes I was so wrapped up in my own head that I failed to look outward and recognize that I was more of a curse than a blessing!

I don’t know what my daughters would say, but I’d like to think I’m a blessing in both their lives, just as Claire and Grace are a massive blessing in MY life. Same goes for my parents, my siblings, and the rest of my extended family.

Having Mom and Dad down here in Florida is really wonderful. I see them once (or twice) a week, and I treasure that time we share together.

Mom and Dad are a huge blessing in my life.

To a lesser extent I hope I’m a blessing to all the clients who’ve bought solar from me the last 5 years or so… and by extension I hope I’m a positive blessing for our installers, admin staff and sales team.

I hope I’m a blessing to the folks at church who see me on Sunday mornings. They are a blessing to me, just by being a part of my Faith community. The mostly retired folks who go to Harvester Methodist love me exactly where I’m at, and I’m grateful for that.

Even my Fervently Atheist friend Marcus is a blessing to me, but I’d never TELL him that.

I’d like to move through the rest of my life being a true BLESSING to everyone I meet, even if just for a brief moment.

If we were all intentional about BEING A BLESSING to everyone we meet imagine the love that we can cultivate everywhere we go?

Imagine if all husbands were a huge blessing to their wives?

I’ll bet the divorce rate would plummet.

My biological odometer clicks over to 48 years old in March… and with the finite years (weeks?) I have left on this spinning blue marble I’d like to be a blessing to everyone, as much as humanly possible.

That’s a good way to live one’s life.

Ben Alexander

October 7th, 2021

My Next Electric Vehicle?

There are 2 main versions of the new all electric ID4 from Volkswagon; the 200hp rear wheel drive version, and the more lively 300hp (all wheel drive) model featured in this video.

A month ago I drove the 200hp ID4 and I really liked how it handled, the acceleration, and how silky smooth it felt on the highway at 80+ MPH.

The all wheel drive ID4 with 300hp will be even better, no doubt.

I’ve been driving a Chevy Volt for the last 5 years (had a 2013, then a 2017 model) with over 150,000 miles driven in that time. About 30% of the miles driven in my Volt were electric only.

As a shareholding partner at Tampa Bay Solar I don’t believe in spending any of my future dollars on anything that burns fossil fuel, especially now that there are so many electric vehicles out in the marketplace…. and my roof (sunshine) fuels my electric car.

My actions are congruent with my beliefs, which is why I have a solar array on the roof of my home, a solar hot water heater, and a plug-in electric Chevy Volt.

My Volt has an 18 kWh (kilowatt hour) battery that gets about 45 miles on full electric before the gas motor kicks in. When running on GAS the Volt is louder, and not as smooth. In many ways the Volt is a strange compromise that straddles both old and new technology.

If I buy the ID4 I’m keeping my Volt for work, especially the rare days when I drive over 300 miles.

I’ve closed solar deals all over central Florida. Once in a while I have a 300 mile day.

The 300hp Volkswagon ID4 gets 240 miles per charge, with an 82 kWh battery.

With the low maintenance and long life of electric vehicles the ID4 is the type of vehicle I could drive for many years, especially if I use my Volt for work.

I can charge BOTH vehicles at my home, using the solar array on my roof.

I might need to add a few more 420 watt panels, which is easy enough to do.

With a 240 mile range the ID4 will be perfectly fine 99% of the time. New ID4 owners get three years of free access to the Electrify America fast charging network, so If I need to drive further I can access this feature.

Electrify America is adding 10,000 chargers to their existing network of 2500 chargers that exist today.

Most of the time when I travel I’m taking a flight somewhere and renting a car.

I drove to Pittsburgh in July in my Volt…. about 1,000 miles from here to there… and I wish I had flown!

I’ve also been kicking around the idea of buying the all electric F150 Lightning… but I don’t need a huge vehicle like that. They Lightning looks cool, but I really like how the ID4 drives, even the slow version.

So, why pay a few grand extra for the 300hp Volkswagon vs. the slower version?

The 300hp ID4 goes from 0 to 60mph in only 5.5 seconds. Am I going to drive that fast all the time? Probably not… but any reader of this blog knows about my motorcycling proclivities, and that rush of speed is just FUN, whether I’m in an SUV or in the open air on a crotch rocket.

I also like the build quality that Volkswagon brings to the table; the ID4 that I test drove was as tight as a drum and felt planted to the road. The competing Tesla doesn’t have the same road feel. Driving a Tesla feels like driving a laptop with wheels and a motor, the ID4 feels like a real car.

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My other reason for NOT buying a Tesla is that I don’t want to advertise for a solar competitor, and Tesla installs solar here in Tampa, albeit with a slew of consumer complaints.

I have a ton of respect for what Elon Musk has done with SpaceX and Tesla Motors, but Tesla Solar has really dropped the ball lately…

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In terms of getting the ID4 I’m in no rush, my Volt has 99,000 miles on it, so I might wait a bit until the 300hp version is widely available.

Ben Alexander

October 1, 2021

Rivian R1T is the real deal.

There are some hyped up electric car companies that keep making promises, but they haven’t released a viable product.

Until I watched the recent videos about Rivian’s new R1T I thought Rivian was firmly in the “Hype and BS” sector of EV startups.

After seeing this review… the new Rivian truck looks like the real deal.

The YouTube guys who review these products had nothing negative to say about the Rivian, even after spending a few days beating the hell out of it in the Colorado mountains.

This is the warning shot across Ford, Dodge and Chevy’s bow.

Gasoline trucks are going the way of the Horse ‘n Buggy.

Between the Ford Lightning, the record breaking (1/4 mile drag) Tesla Plaid and the Rivian I’m really optimistic about electric vehicles, solar and even the mitigation of global warming.

Heck, I’m even thinking about buying the twin motor Volkswagon ID4… and when I do you know I’ll write all about it.

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Ever get behind a diesel pick-up in traffic on a beautiful day when your windows are down?

I’m NOT OK with choking on diesel exhaust, and trucks like the Ford Lightning and the new Rivian prove that trucks don’t need to burn dead dinosaurs to climb a mountain.

When rednecks start buying electric trucks that’s a big deal. I’m excited about these new EV’s because I’ve been driving a plug-in Chevy Volt since 2017, and as electric vehicles become common everywhere rooftop solar follows soon after.

The Ford Lightning, the Rivian, The electric Hummer, the Tesla Truck… all these vehicles will use a ton of power, especially if the owner has a 50+ mile daily commute.

No one wants a $400 monthly electric bill. Solar is far more attractive when the homeowner is paying $5,000 each year to the electric company.

More folks are coming around to the idea of “fueling your car off your roof”.

Rooftop solar, combined with NOT spending $300 per month to gas up your truck?

The gas savings makes the ROI on rooftop solar that much faster.

If you power up your electric F150 Lightning with a nice solar array your ROI on the solar install shrinks from 8 years to around 3 or 4, based on how many miles you drive daily.

I will indirectly profit from the sale of electric trucks, but everyone wins when exhaust belching trucks are replaced by these new electric models.

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Gasoline and diesel? So yesterday.

Ben Alexander

September 29, 2021

The Amazing Jester Hairston :::

The gentleman in this video might look familiar to you, in the 1980’s he played an older man name Rolly Forbes in 110 episodes of the sitcom “Amen”.

In this clip he’s directing the Rowan University Chamber Choir along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the massive Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Jester was 93 years old when this was filmed in 1994!

Born in 1901, the grandson of slaves, Hairston had an amazing career that spanned movies, television and music composition. He passed away in 2000.

Jester’s film career started in 1936 and his last movie credit was in 1999!

My personal connection to this video? I’m actually in it, 2nd row in the baritone section!

You can see me at the 5:01 mark, right behind Hairston’s shoulder. That young kid….

I was a freshman at Rowan University, there on a music scholarship to study opera. My professor Dr. Eugene Simpson was also a composer / arranger of Slave Spirituals, a genre of music that was the pre-curser to modern church gospel music.

I’m amazed that Jester was out and about, still conducting and doing cool stuff well into his 90’s.

What an neat guy, what a great honor to sing with him in this setting!

Someone posted this video to YouTube, and I’m grateful they did.

Ben Alexander

September 29, 2021

Ms. Lemons is moving out!

Grace brought Ms Lemz home as a kitten just before she went off to Carnegie Mellon four years ago.

Claire stayed here with me and went to college locally, but Claire and Grace are both out of school now, working full time. Claire has been looking for apartments with her longtime boyfriend, Paul.

Ms. Lemons is really bonded with Claire and her boyfriend, so she’s moving out with Claire in a few weeks.

I’ll miss Claire, as well as Ms. Lemons. Both have been my roomies for four years. I’ll have to visit them both at Claire’s place. Lemz will be happier with Claire and Paul, she’ll get more attention from them than from me, especially if I’m out of town.

Things change, our lives move on. I’m glad Claire and Grace have grown up, it makes me really proud as their father.

This is a new chapter for me, and since I’m traveling frequently I don’t want to have another pet that needs daily care. All the plants around my house are enough, thanks to Grace!

A few weeks ago I dropped $140 at Lowe’s to buy a bunch of flowers for the front garden.

I’m rocking various pentas, some mums, roses and some celosias. Bees love my front garden.

I even planted flowers around my mailbox.

I’m totally at peace being here solo, being healthy, having a lovely home.

I also have a ton of options… the future has not been written yet, but I’m optimistic.

Ben Alexander

September 28th………………… 2021

Purpose; Professional, Personal and Spiritual.

(Beautiful birch grove, just outside of Flagstaff AZ)

This past Saturday I sang two hymns at a funeral service for a lovely woman in my church community.

Delaine Holsopple passed peacefully in her sleep last week, and her husband Gary asked me to sing “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace”.

It was an honor to do so.

Delaine was a deeply Christian woman, and Gary told me she liked those songs.

As I sat there in church, getting ready to sing, I realized that I was supposed to be THERE in that moment, there was NO other place where I was meant to be. God blessed me with a decent voice, He blessed me with my church community, and the best way that I could serve my community in THAT moment was to sing for Delaine.

For the last few years I’ve struggled with my PURPOSE, I knew that I had found my professional purpose with Tampa Bay Solar, that was a no brainer; help roll back global warming AND make a great income?

I’m grateful to be in the solar business.

In my personal life I know that my purpose is to be a good father to Claire and Grace, a loving son for my Mom and Dad and a good sibling to George, Andrea and Danielle.

Even a good uncle to my nieces and nephews.

Perhaps at some point in the future: a kind and loving husband to my wife, if I’m blessed to be married again.

Being single has given me cause to reflect, and I know that things are happening right now for a reason.

My times of loneliness, isolation, sadness have given more insight in regards to my Spiritual Purpose.

I’ve found a certain measure of Peace in this.

I’ve drawn comfort and connection from the folks in my church community.

Perhaps my Spiritual Purpose is to be with these people, love them, even sing to honor them.

There are larger forces moving within my heart, and that is OK.

Ben Alexander

September 27, 2021

Online dating weirdness.

I’ve been on and off Match since my divorce back in 2017.

This is from a Match profile I saw this morning:

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No Non-Christians/masons.  No drama/melodrama.  No drugs/meds/alcohol/addiction/midlife crisis/emotionally disturbed/mental health issues.  No conning/lies/secrets/hidden agenda/gaslighting/mind-games/diversions/sabotage.  No self-aggrandizing/attention-seeking/superficiality/vainglory/vanity/selfies/shallow-mindedness.  No egoism/egocentrism/greed/golddigging/bankruptcies/failed business ventures/second mortgages/debt/credit issues.  No criminal/dubious/nefarious activities.  No entitlements/trust funds.  No communists/socialists/democrats/liberals.  No cats.

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I love how she lists all these awful things, and then “no cats” at the very end.

Her NO list makes me wonder how many awful guys she dated!

The hard part about finding a partner at my age (47) is that everyone has been hurt, everyone has had some relationship disappointments, everyone has walls up.

I get it.

I’m still optimistic about my search, mainly because this process has taught me more patience and more discernment. Going back to church helps.

More of Him, less of Us.

I’m taking action on a daily basis to be MORE healthy, more kind, more compassionate.

I don’t pray for the perfect woman, because she does not exist. I’d rather pray for more wisdom in this process.

Meanwhile? I’m doing my 10,000 steps, going to a Men’s Leadership class at at church, selling solar and paying off my dwindling mortgage.

Traveling, sometimes alone, and seeing all the amazing National Parks around the United States.

Today I’m singing 2 hymns at a funeral…. for a woman who passed in my church community.

This is my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Ben Alexander

September 25th. 2021

Going to see the Grand Canyon; September 2021!

Last week I flew out to Flagstaff and toured a bit around the northern half of Arizona.

Went to see the Grand Canyon, from the ground and via helicopter!

If you have never seen the Grand Canyon in person…. save up your money and go see it!

Worth every penny. The helicopter ride was $219 per person.

I got a funky little Air BnB in Flagstaff and discovered the beautiful mountain woods and Snow Bowl mountain near that area, see pics :::::::::::::

(both views from 11,500 feet at top of Snowbowl Mountain just NORTH of Flagstaff)

Sat at the top of SnowBowl and just felt peaceful. The clouds, the valley below…. pics don’t do it justice.

Explored the area around Sedona and even the weird hilltop town of Jerome.

Took a Ghost Tour. Did not see a ghost, it kinda felt like a scam.

Friday night I was driving in the mountains from Sedona back to Flagstaff and I pulled over and turned off the car lights just to look at the sky… it was so dark I could see the Milky Way and a billion other stars right above me. Worth it just to see the dark sky like that, at higher altitudes.

Travel is mentally healthy, and all that hiking and exploring is helping me get back in shape after my knee surgery last March. I’m not fully recovered yet, my health is not where I’d like it to be. I’m taking daily action to change that.

My next trip is to see Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico… by then I’ll be a bit thinner, a bit healthier, etc.

One thing I realized while hiking at almost 12,000 feet? I’d like to be in better cardio shape, and maybe 20 pounds lighter! After I got back I downloaded the Noom app and bought a new Fitbit.

Doing 10,000 steps each day NOW will get me in better shape for my New Mexico trip!

I was totally solo on this trip, and I’ve never really done that before. During the trip I was uploading some of these pics to a family group text, so I was sharing my experience with my family…

This year has not been easy for me, there were moments when I was in pain, moments when I prayed, and cried, and felt down. I needed this trip. It was a great reset.

I’m glad I went to see the Grand Canyon, and I’m ready to move forward to a new chapter in my life that is healthy, with travel, and new horizons, maybe even new relationships!

Ben Alexander

September 17th 2021

I want to ride my bicycle.

I bought a used Talera mountain bike over a year ago… and barely rode it until recently.

My left knee was reconstructed in March, and the physical therapist told me biking would help it heal.

For several months after my surgery it was implossible to ride a bike, my range of motion had not come back yet.

When I could pedal again I started doing shorter rides…..

In the last few weeks I’ve been pedaling a 17 mile route through Wesley Chapel and New Tampa, mostly on trails and sidewalks…. takes me almost 2 hours, but it feels great when I’m done. 17 miles is no bullshit!

The bike also fits in the back of my Volt!

I went from going 170mph on a 200hp Kawasaki ZX-14 to pedaling at 15mph through the suburbs… but I’m healthier, so there’s that.

170mph is an adrenaline rush, for sure. NOT real healthy if something goes sideways at that speed.

I could still get walloped by a car on my mountain bike… so I wear a DayGlo yellow high vis t-shirt.

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I hope y’all are vaccinated!

Have a great Labor Day!

-Ben Alexander

September 6, 2021