Reagan’s Star Wars Initiative never died.

This is pure speculation, but follow my logic here:

If you live in the USA you don’t have to lose sleep worrying about a nuclear attack from either Russia or North Korea.

This is why.

Our DOD has been spending $700 to $900 billion per year (inflation adjusted) developing the best weapons technology available on the planet since the end of WWII.

Our military leaders saw what Germany did to London with V-2 rockets during WWII…

Certainly we have developed some sort of top secret orbital laser defense network that has been quietly orbiting the planet for the last 30 years, ready for a nuclear missile attack at any moment.

A laser beam travels at 300,000 kilometers per second, an incoming ICBM moves at 8 kilometers per second. The missile is fast, but lasers are 37,000 times FASTER.

The laser is going to prevail, especially with a computer guidance system that can retarget each missile every few milli-seconds.

There is also unimpeded line of sight once the ICBM climbs higher than cloud cover, provided there are enough low orbit satellites in the defense network.

I think Reagan’s “Star Wars” intiative from the 1980’s never died, they just kept quietly developing it.

Think about it, a comprehensive laser defense would knock intercontinental missiles out of the sky and the US government can innocently claim “that North Korean missile malfunctioned, and fell in the North Pacific, poor North Korean workmanship.”

No one would see it, except for some of the astronauts in the International Space Station who might observe bright flashes of light, and multiple explosions high up in the stratosphere…

Of course, in the nightmare scenario in which Russia launches hundreds of nuclear missiles at the USA mainland…. and all of those missiles get destroyed inside of a 5 minute window…. then RUSSIA would certainly know something was amiss.

The system would no longer be secret.

Of course, if Mother Russia launched all her nukes at the USA, then we destroyed them ALL midair… what happens to a bear when you remove her teeth and claws?

Makes her that much easier to kill.

(written October 2022)

PS… if I get audited by the IRS after writing this you’ll all know why.

Also… If I get poisoned on a train blame that dickless bastard Putin.

Gopal, Karma and Habitat 4 Humanity.

Tonight I had a solar appointment over in Dade City.

I got to town 20 minutes early… so I swung by Third St. to take the picture above.

I was one of (many) Habitat for Humanity volunteers who helped build these houses in the spring and summer of 2021.

They look great, the homeowners clearly take pride in their new homes.

++++++++++++++++++

I was going through a rough patch in 2021; a painful break-up, a motorcycle accident and knee surgery… I was lonely, a little bit lost, not in the best place.

I was having lunch with Gopal, a member of my sales team at Tampa Bay Solar, and I was telling him what I was going through and I actually broke down and started crying, right there in the middle of the restaurant.

Gopal listened quietly and then he suggested that I go and volunteer, get my karma straight, and things would get better.

He was 100% correct.

For the next few months I volunteered at Habit most Thursdays; framing up interior walls, hanging siding, installing doors, hanging cabinets, painting, and doing all the other stuff it takes to put a house together.

I learned some new skills.

Working with Habitat I met Jose Garcia, the crew leader on the team that built these homes. Jose and I had many conversations over the next few months that helped me sort out what I was going through.

I met Jose because of Gopal’s wise advice. Both men were a huge blessing to me.

There are people who come into our lives for a reason.

I see Gopal every Tuesday, at our weekly sales meeting. He’s on the left in this picture:

(These are the rockstars on our sales team; Gopal, Tim, Matt and Kris.)

+++++++++++++++

If you are not happy with where you are, wherever “THERE” happens to be… go out and volunteer, you’ll feel better about things.

Even doing something small is good, small is better than nothing.

When I drove by those two homes tonight I reallized that pain and rough times can sometimes be transformed into something good.

God is good.

Thank you Gopal.

Thank you Jose.

+++++++++

Ben Alexander

October 10th, 2022.

3 days on a chainsaw.

A few days after hurricane Ian destroyed Ft. Myers Beach I went on Facebook, found a bunch of Methodist Church pages in that area and left this message:

“I’m a member of Harvester Methodist in Land O Lakes, I have tools and a chainsaw, and I’d like to come down there and volunteer, please call me if you need help.”

This past Monday I got a call from Pastor Tim Carson, at Estero United Methodist church.

“We could use your help down here, do you have a place to stay?”

I replied “I can sleep on the floor of the church.”

Pastor Tim said “No need, I have a spare bedroom in my home, when can you get down here?”

“I’ll be there by tomorrow.”

Pastor Tim replied “Great, I’ll text you my address.”

Game on.

This was my 2nd attempt to help down there, and I did NOT want to take up space at a hotel, especially when so many folks lost their homes.

Tuesday morning I loaded up my Volt and started South.

On the way I stopped at Tampa Bay Solar’s warehouse for the weekly sales meeting.

Took this pic of some of the cool dudes on our sales team:

On the three hour drive south to Ft. Myers I saw tons of relief equipment on trailers along rte 75, these are industrial size portable power generators:

I’m amazed at how rapidly Americans will mobilize in a disaster, especially here in Florida where deadly hurricanes are becoming more frequent…. this is the speed of business.

When I got there Pastor Tim sent me to a devasted neighborhood right off rte 41.

They had a 6 foot storm surge wash over this community, almost everything was ruined.

Volunteers from the church were helping people clean out their homes. It was a mess.

Chaos and trash, everywhere. These homes were flooded, many of these folks did not have flood insurance, so this storm will financially wipe out many folks in that area.

For most of Tuesday Pastor Tim sent me to homes that needed trees taken down, I ran my electric chainsaw until the battery died.

I finally met Tim Carson Tuesday night, his dog Riley liked me. That’s Tim in the background:

Pastor Mike Briggs from the Tavares Methodist church was also staying at Tim’s home.

WEDNESDAY :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I was up at 6AM, church members made eggs and bacon and we distributed free food in the community that was flooded out.

Estero Methodist has a wonderful volunteer team. This church gets it done, for sure.

While we were handing out breakfast I met a retired firefighter, and he told me he was removing all the flooded out drywall from his home. I offered to help, so most of my Wednesday morning was spent doing this. It was a mess.

Around noon on Wednesday the firefighter had several family members arrive to help out, so I moved on to my next assignment, a huge tree down in the backyard of a church member.

See the chainsaw in the pic? I placed it there to show the sheer scale of this tree.

I worked on that darn tree until the battery died on my chainsaw that night… I stopped at Lowes and bought 2 more batteries, and a 4mm file to sharpen the chainsaw chain.

Each battery is $150, but totally worth it.

With the extra chainsaw batteries I was fully provisioned for the next day….

That night I was asleep by 9PM.

THURSDAY ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Woke up in the middle of the night to find a guest in my bed…. Riley the dog! She’s a sweetheart.

Thursday morning I went back to the same tree and worked on it most of the day.

I drove home tired and sweaty, but glad that my work at Tampa Bay Solar gives me the freedom and income to volunteer.

I have too many selfish motives in doing stuff like this; it makes me happy at a profound level… these trips are a mix of adventure, hard work and they give me new material to write about.

In the last 20 years I’ve been a volunteer firefighter, put in water filters in Honduras, went to Ukraine this past April… and now I’ve got a hurricane story as well. Can we live our lives as an expression of love towards others? I guess that’s the ideal, I fall short of that on a daily basis.

At the end of your life… all you really have is your story.

Who did you love? Who did you help?

You meet some amazing people when you put yourself out there, I’m really grateful to meet Tim Martin and all the lovely folks at his church.

Methodists are good people.

My body and hands are sore from three days on a chainsaw, I’m sunburned a bit, but I’m glad I drove down.

Ben Alexander

October 8, 2022

Chaos from Venice SOUTH.

TWO days after Hurricane Ian blew over I borrowed an F250 and loased it up with water, tools and a chainsaw, and headed south enroute to Ft. Myers.

I got a deal on 40 cases of bottles water.

The farther south I drove the more damage was evident, everywhere. Rte 75 was actually flooded over, so I got off the highway in Venice. It was pretty chaotic, NO power, so most traffic lights were out, NO gas, anywhere… but I still had half a tank left in the Ford.

There were homeowners in Venice with downed trees, so I pulled up and asked them if I could help, at no charge. Spent the day on the chainsaw, chopping stuff down and pulling it to the curb.

It was a beautiful day, lovely blue sky… in the low 80’s.

Stopped in a trailer park and handed out most of the bottled water.

Trailer park in Venice, right off rte 41.

At that point I had enough gas to go another 80 miles south, into an area that might not have gas, or drive North, out of the damage zone, and regroup.

But if I get stuck down there that’s not helping anyone at all.

I started driving NORTH, and the gas shortages ended just below Tampa.

I’m going to go back down in a few days, taking extra fuel, a heavy duty chainsaw, more rope and more water. There is still a need down there, and there will be for months.

I’d rather go down there and help rather than sell solar up here in Tampa, so I’m pushing the leads out to our team.

Funny thing is, after a day on the chainsaw I fell asleep dogtired, but feeling good.

If I won the lottery I’d volunteer full time, anywhere in the world.

I’m regrouping now, might go back down in a few days. I’ll write about it here.

Ben Alexander

October 2022

9/ 19/ 2022 :: Fasting and Writing.

Happy Monday!

Our schedule at Tampa Bay Solar is backed up 5 months, so I’m making very little effort to sell new deals in the hopes that we can get back to a 2 month lead time. Soon.

No one wants to wait 5 months to get their solar installed.

I’m using this time to finish my 3rd book and slim down to 170 lbs.

THOSE 2 things, nothing else.

I was 206 this morning.

Last time I ate was last night (Sunday at 9PM) so I’m going to try a 3 or 4 day fast this week.

I record each fast in my old timey paper planner.

It takes at least a 24 hour fast to start to rewire your brain. Your weight will drop consistently with weekly fasting, at my age fasting is the only thing that works for weight loss.

I fast during the week, eat on a more normal schedule on weekends.

I’m also doing the “One More” Push-up Challenge.

I started 2 weeks ago by doing my max push-ups, then each day I added ONE MORE to that max.

I could do 28 this morning, but my extra weight makes it harder.

My goal is to slim down enough to do 70 push-ups in one shot.

70 / 170. Wrote that formula on my bathroom mirror.

Have a great Monday y’all.

Ben Alexander

September 19th 2022.

The Beginning of the END for Putin.

Interesting news clip:

Russian television personalities are criticizing the war in Ukraine, openly, on national TV.

In a regime that jails dissidents who protest and speak out… this is clear evidence that citizens in Russia are starting to get fed up with Putin’s leadership.

My perspective on the Russian invasion in Ukraine is personal… I was in Lviv, Ukraine this past April as missiles were being fired at that city. I saw the refugees at the border, the fear on the faces of women and children who had lost their homes and loved one.

This entire conflict is one gargantuan war crime.

As the Ukrainian armed forces push the Russians out of eastern Ukraine there is more resistance to Putin’s war in his own country… especially as tens of thousands of Russian soldiers die needlessly in a conflict that never should have started.

I hope and pray that Putin is removed quickly, hopefully with a bullet to the head… and that a successor with some semblance of reason takes his place.

Only time will tell.

Ben Alexander

September 14, 2022

Grid tied, Battery back-up and OFF grid systems.

There are three basic types of solar installs on residential and commercial buildings:

Grid-tied with no energy storage, grid-tied with a battery back-up, and 100% off-grid systems with a larger battery and no connection to the power grid.   

Grid-tied Solar Arrays:

The most common and least expensive type of solar install is a grid-tied system with panels and inverters. These systems generate power during the day, and if that power is not used in real time it goes back to the power grid on a one to one basis, as a net metered system.  

Here in Florida most electric companies participate in “one for one” net metering.

About 90% of the systems installed by Tampa Bay Solar are simple grid-tied solar arrays that use net metering to store extra power, which is returned to the customer when the sun goes down. Net metered systems also build up credits during the low usage months from January to April, those credits carry forward to be used during high usage months in the summer.

Grid-tied systems have lower costs and a faster ROI, so many of our clients start with a grid-tied system and add a battery back-up later.

One note here: as of September of 2022 there are a handful electric cars on the market that have the capability to back-feed electricity to your home during a power outage. Because this technology is relatively new we have limited information on how this process will work.

Keep your eye on future blog posts here on our website for more information about how this will be implemented.

Solar arrays with emergency battery back-up.

These systems add energy storage to an existing grid-tied system. Designed for emergency use, these systems are perfect for clients who experience periodic power outages, especially after tropical storms or hurricanes. These systems require panels, an inverter, battery systems and an energy management system that keeps the battery at full charge and can shift to battery power when the power grid goes through a blackout.   

There are inverter systems that are built specifically for battery back-up, if you already own a grid-tied system these systems can easily be added to your existing system. 

Here in Florida most of our clients want enough back-up power to run an air conditioning unit, and this presents a challenge because starting any air conditioning unit requires at least 10,000 watts of on demand power. This is why it makes sense to talk with a sales rep who has experience sizing these systems.

On demand power is important, but storage capacity is also crucial during a long term blackout. If your system does not have a enough storage capacity it will brownout then blackout as the charge runs down to zero. For this reason most battery back-up systems feed kilowatts to a critical load subpanel with limited breakers powered by the battery; this might be a well pump for drinking water, kitchen appliances, internet and air conditioning only.

If your battery runs out of charge in the middle of the night it will recharge as the sun comes up in the morning.

In this regard your sales rep will look at your on-demand power requirements, storage requirements, and actual power generation from your solar array during the day.

To conserve battery power at night (during a blackout) we recommend that any high energy usage takes place during the day, when most of that power can be drawn from the solar array, not draining the battery.

Off-grid systems

Tampa Bay Solar designed an off-grid system for a client in Tampa back in 2018. This client owns a 4,000 square foot home that was designed to be highly efficient, with a solar array and solar hot water on the roof and a 40 kilowatt lithium iron phosphate battery in the garage. This system has never been connected to TECO, our client moved into the home in June of 2018 and has lived these with his family since then.  

Tampa Bay Solar also builds off-grid construction trailers with panels on the roof and battery storage systems built into the unit. See below:

Most solar installers in Tampa have zero experience with off-grid applications, we’re proud of our unique experience in this niche. We know how to do the custom jobs that national solar installers won’t (or can’t) tackle.   

The biggest challenge in configuring a 100% off-grid solar install is in balancing power production from the solar array with enough storage capacity to keep the power running through the night.

There are larger costs with 100% off-grid systems because of the need for power generation (more panels) and the extra battery storage required to make it through low solar output days.

OTHER back-up systems.

One of the alternatives to a battery back-up is a whole house generator that runs on gasoline or propane.

We don’t install anything that burns fossil fuels.

The drawback to a gas or propane generator is the noise of a running engine during use (solar with a battery is silent) and the difficulty of refueling your generator during an extended blackout combined with fuel shortages. You will also have to be careful about the carbon monoxide exhaust from these systems.  

Solar combined with batteries will recharge every morning, even in cloudy weather, with zero noise and zero air pollution.

What’s next?

Our sales team has weekly training sessions pertaining to new tech advances in solar and the latest storage technology. We would love to have a conversation with you about your options, costs, and feasibility for your home or business.

If you own a grid-tied system we can explore your battery back-up options.

Call me today : 813. 391. 3895

Ben Alexander

TampaBaySolar.com

12 months of travel.

Last September I took a solo trip out to Northern Arizona, stayed in Flagstaff, and went to see the Grand Canyon.

This was the first time I took a vacation alone, in my life. I visited Sedona, hiked in the mountains… it was a great trip.

The mountains and woods around Flagstaff are lovely.

View from the mountains just outside Flagstaff.

In November I went to see New Mexico with an ex-girlfriend and her daughter.

I’m sad to say we didn’t reconcile romantically, but we had a nice time together as friends.

Later in that same month I went up to NC with some friends to see The Great Smoky Mountains:

After that trip I stayed home for a few months, did stand-up at local comedy clubs, got a part in a play with Carrollwood Players…

Winter is not the best time to see the National Parks, and I was trying to stay busy.

Then Russia invaded Ukraine, so on April 3rd of this year I flew to Europe to volunteer at a church in Ukraine…

Leaving Tampa, destination Lviv!
Downtown Lviv, Ukraine.

I was in Europe for a month, part of that time I went to Germany then Poland:

A German Uboat in Kiel, Germany.

I went to Europe alone, but made many friends along the way….

Me and Pastor Prokip @ Lviv Methodist Church.
Me and Olga, enjoying a sailboat ride in Hamburg.

After I got back from Europe I worked, and got my home ready for 2 new guests….

Olga and Vlada got here in June, and a few weeks later we went to Miami to see family.

The ocean water was crystal clear…

Olga, in Sunny Isles, FL.

That art district in Miami was very cool:

The Miami trip was just a weekend thing, but later in June we did a longer roadtrip to the Northeast to see family… we even stopped at South of the Border:

Of course, we saw the sites in DC, NJ, Philly and NYC. Lotsa miles on my car, but worth it to see family.

My 3 siblings and Mom & Dad.
Pat’s Steaks in Philly!
Times Square, on a 95 degree June afternoon.
Vlada, with my sister’s pug in New Jersey.

In early August I took Olga and her daughter to Charleston for a nice weekend… to celebrate Olga’s birthday.

Charleston is a neat place, lotsa history, things to do, restaurants to try.

One night we drove out to Folly Beach and I showed Vlada how to catch ghost crabs!

All you really need is a flashlight, ghost crabs are pretty much anywhere on the Carolina beaches after the sun goes down.

Our last night in Charleston I took this pic of Olga at a nightclub.

Love this pic !!!!

This past weekend I drove out to Canaveral to watch the Artemis launch… but it was postponed due to weather.

So… that was 12 months of travel, taking pictures, meeting new people, falling in love, flirting with danger in Ukraine….

Mostly this was an unexpected year, who knew just one year ago I’d be at the Lincoln memorial with a Ukranian?

Life is funny that way.

I was stuck in a depressed rut 12 months ago, getting out and seeing the world cost me a few bucks, but the cost was nothing compared to the experiences.

I feel very fortunate to have met Olga and her daughter Vlada.

Now I have travel companions ready to go with me!

Ben Alexander

September 1, 2022

Top Ten reasons the USA has the largest economy on the planet!

I spent my college days studying quantitative economics, taking off a year mid-degree to teach English in Taiwan. Since my college days I’ve been back to Asia many times, along with side trips to Honduras and (more recently) volunteering in Ukraine. I’d like to think this gives me a unique perspective on the United States, and our position in the world.

There are folks that criticize the United States… but in terms of pure economics we are a true powerhouse.

The stats in this blog are readily found with a quick Google search, feel free to fact check me!

The United States has had the largest GDP on the planet since 1871… here are the TOP TEN reasons why we’ve achieved economic dominance for the last 151 years!

++++++++++++++++++

Reason #1: The USA is the top oil producer on the planet, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. This means that the dollars spent on oil and gasoline domestically STAY right here in this country.

+++++++++++++++++++

Reason #2: The USA is the largest producer of natural gas globally, followed by Russia and Iran. 88% of our natural gas is used domestically, the remainder is exported out to the rest of the world.

+++++++++++++++++++

Reason #3: Our stock market is the largest equities exchange on the planet, holding 59% of all global equities as of January 2022. Consider that American citizens only represent 4% of the global population… yet 59% of the global equities are traded and controlled right here on Wall Street. This also means that American companies that want to expand have ready access to investment capital.

++++++++++++++++++

Reason #4: The USA is the largest exporter of aerospace technology on the planet, with $81 billion in aerospace exports in 2020. Number 2 is France, at $29 billion, with Germany at $28 billion. The aerospace industry is on the cutting edge of electronics, materials science and weapons technology. This means that some of the smartest engineers and technical staff are here in the United States, using their talent and intelligence to innovate and develop our aerospace industry.

++++++++++++++++++

Reason #5: The USA is the top corn exporter in the world, producing 37% of total corn exports in 2021. Again, with only 4% of the world population we are growing 37% of the world’s corn. We are also the #2 wheat exporter on the planet… we grow far more food here than we need.

+++++++++++++++++++

Reason #6: No ongoing wars on our soil since the invasion of Pearl Harbor in 1941. This means that there has been no mass diplacement of our population or destruction of our factories (like the scenario in Ukraine right now). The USA has gone to war in foreign lands, but outside of terrorist attacks (like 9/11) we are not waging war across our country.

The USA is a stable place to run a business, raise a family… just live a successful life.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Reason #7: We have 48 million foreign born immigrants living in our country, about 15% of our population. Some of these folks take advantage of government handouts and welfare, but the vast majority are business owners, work in stable jobs, pay taxes and contribute to our economy. Foreign folks who figure out how to get here tend to be unconventional thinkers; people who are fed up with bad conditions in their own country and are brave enough to come here and start fresh.

Just offhand I can list about 50 people I personally know who came to the USA as broke immigrants, currently earn over $150K per year, own cars and houses, and they also pay high income taxes because of their tax bracket. On balance our immigrants add energy, youth and a hard work ethic to our overall economy.

Do some immigrants become criminals? Yes, but I’m willing to bet there are far more natural born American citizens taking up space in our prison system compared to foreign born prisoners.

+++++++++++++++++

Reason #8: If work your ass off here in the USA you will succeed, whether you have a job or run a business. Our economy rewards a hard work ethic. You can come to the USA as an immigrant with minimal language skills, and if you start a landscaping business and do a great job at fair prices you’ll always be in demand. This is why so many immigrants come to the USA, start a business, work 70 hours a week and become wealthy. In my 48 years on the planet I’ve never seen anyone work hard in a legitimate business and NOT increase their financial position.

American people respect those who work hard, and hard work is rewarded here.

+++++++++++++++++++

Reason #9: We have basic human freedoms, and if you pay your taxes and don’t break the law you will never hear from our federal government. In China the communist government seeks to control every single citizen, you can’t travel freely, talk freely or even start a business without government scrutiny.

Americans can even put a bumper sticker on your car that says “Fuck the President” and yet no one knocks on their door or throws them in jail.

Try to do that in Russia, Cuba or mainland China. Good Luck!

I can pack a bag today, move to Alaska tomorrow, and start a business there in a few weeks if I chose to do so. As long as I meet minimal business license requirements and work hard I’ll probably succeed.

I’m an equity shareholder at Tampa Bay Solar, and I ran a staffing agency (nationwide) from 2003 until 2018. I’ve been personally audited ONCE by the IRS, but other than that the local and state governments have never interfered with either business.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Reason #10:

Our GDP for 2022 is projected to exceed $25 trillion dollars, with China at $19 trillion GDP in 2nd place.

A far distant third is Japan at $4.9 trillion dollars.

China has massive underlying problems, from a shrinking population, to an authoritarian government to a massively built out real estate bubble that is poised to collapse in the next 18 months.

Our GDP represents 25% of the entire global output, even if China had a sudden reversal in government and became a free and open society their economy would not catch up the USA anytime soon.

+++++++++++++++++++++

There are tons of negative news articles about the “decline of the USA” or how China will overtake us in the next 30 years… but looking at the basic statistics there is clear evidence that we have the best position for global economic dominance for well into the future, barring any type of global catastrophe like a nuclear war or major natural disaster.

Just look at the numbers.

Ben Alexander

August 2022

Doing the full Brooksville.

I was in Brooksville this morning, recording radio ads for a Tampa Bay Solar commercial at 99.9 WWJB on the FM dial. They also interviewed me on the morning radio show, I talked with the host about my Ukraine trip back in April and my work with Tampa Bay Solar.

And you can’t visit Brooksville without getting breakfast here:

Already got a call in from a guy up in that area who heard my radio interview this morning!

Five years ago when I joined Tampa Bay Solar I was primarily selling to left leaning folks who had a Prius in the driveway. Those folks are still buying solar, and we love ’em for it… but in the last year or so I’ve been selling to more right wing, gun owning, Christian folks.

Hence my trip to WWJB, the Fox News Radio affiliate in Hernando county.

Over the next month I’m spending $1,000 (of my own money) on radio ads to find the GOP voting, land owning, freedom loving folks who want a huge solar array powering up a battery bank… in case the Chinese shut down the power grid…

I call these the “Zombie Apocalypse” systems.

Since I’m a gun owning, freedom loving Christian… I’m a good fit to sell to this demographic.

Gotta love the classic design of the 1911…. but I digress.

I think solar is good for the wallet no matter what you think about climate change.

Why pay the electric company $40,000 over the next decade when you can generate that much power with a ground array, or up on the roof of your barn?

If we get results from this ad campaign I’ll stretch it out for the next year or so.

Just one sale per month would cover the cost of the ads.

Yeehaw y’all!

August 18, 2022