Another Step on the Journey

On October 28th I received the gift of sight from a person who selflessly donated their eyes so that others might see. Kat and I are gearing up for the next transplant surgery. We are very thankful for the prayers of so many. A simple “thank you” is just not enough for the many expressions of thoughtfulness made in so many different ways during this difficult time.

My computer time continues to be very limited as I am recovering, but Kat has been wonderful to read many messages to me. Here is the text of a letter I wrote to the family of my eye donor, the identity of whom I will never know. This letter was mailed to the Eye Bank last week:

Subject: Please Convey My Sincere, Heartfelt Thanks

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Words cannot express the difference your loved one’s gift of vision has made in my life, and to my family. My entire life I have had useful vision in only one eye due to a birth defect. Beginning in 2007 I began to lose that vision due to a corneal disease called Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy.

Fuch’s disease not only causes loss of vision, but in its later stages extremely painful blisters can erupt on the eyes, causing severe pain. For the last six months I have suffered from multiple blisters on both eyes. The pain and loss of vision are a terrible combination.

This October, at the age of 54 my vision was so bad I had to stop my college teaching due to the loss of vision. I could no longer work to support my two young children, aged 7 and 13. This was a very stressful time for my family.

By the grace of God, I found a very gifted surgeon at the University of Alabama, Callahan Eye Hospital. Dr. Parker was able to perform a transplant for me on October 28th that not only restored my vision to 20/20, but also took away the terrible pain in one of my eyes. Your loved one’s gift changed my life.

I am scheduled to receive another corneal transplant soon. Our hope is that it will eliminate the pain and restore some vision in my other eye with the birth defect. That eye also has multiple blisters from Fuch’s disease.

Thanks to the caring donation of the eyes of a kind, selfless person I am able to see. I can’t describe the powerful explosion of color, beauty and light that I have seen this week. When we returned home I was able to see the faces of my two children again. In January of 2015, I hope to return to teaching at the Community College to continue making a difference in the lives of hundreds of students.

Please know that your loving donation of sight has made a HUGE difference, and has touched many lives.

With Sincere, Heartfelt Thanks

(for a complete story of my two corneal transplants please visit: )


New Challenges, But Not My Last Post

The last few months have been very difficult. I have struggled from one day to the next in a good bit of “extreme” pain as my vision is slowly taken away by Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy. Much of my limited computer time is done with the help of a magnifying glass or the accessibility tools. Last week I turned over all my Fall classes at RCCC to other professors.

I remain steadfast in my faith that God has directed me to a wonderful transplant surgeon. My hope is that soon I will once again be able to “see” my children grow up for a few more years and to see many more happy moments with my wonderful wife Kat.

Even when faced with the vision challenges we added another 3 kW of solar in the summer of 2014. What stronger statement could I make than to undertake a solar project while in the midst of a potentially life-changing event? Make no mistake, I had a laser-like focus to ensure the project would provide continuously increasing benefits to my family for many years to come.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to all my students of the past 23 years! I hope that each of you will continue to be life-long learners. The best things in life come through faith, perseverance and hard work. I know we worked hard together in my classes.


Thanks for Attending the Basics of Solar Thermal @ RCCC

Thank you to everyone who attended
“The Basics of Solar Thermal” class today at RCCC !
Don’t forget the Solar Electric Generation Class next Friday, May 2nd from 10AM-12 Noon.
Walk-in(s) on May 2nd are permitted, but please register
to ensure the class gets run!
The link for class content is below the photo
The Basics of Solar Thermal


Video: The True Cost of Gasoline

Sometimes the truth hurts a lot. But then again, so does COPD and not being able to breathe. Watch this video on the true cost of gasoline.


Battery-Less Wind Turbine and Micro-Inverter

Primus AIR-40 Wind Turbine

Primus AIR-40 Wind Turbine

I have been interested in small wind turbines for some time. But, not because they are practical in my area from a power production perspective.  My interest is that I could use the wind turbine’s production to reduce the demand-charges imposed by our utility.  With our time-of-use service, the power company imposes an additional charge for each kW we draw during the peak rate periods.

While a wind turbine’s payback in my area is pretty long based on power production, if it reduced demand charges that is a different matter.  In fact a wind turbine might pay for itself very quickly considering that when we don’t have good sun, we usually have wind.

Another detractor regarding the wind turbines is the added complexity of a battery bank and dump loads.  The cost and maintenance of a battery bank just did not interest me. All that changed yesterday when I found a Masters Thesis by Christopher Eldridge (2011) at Kansas State University.

In his thesis, Eldridge experimented with using an Enphase micro-inverter, and a Primus AIR Breeze 160 watt wind turbine without a battery bank.  His thesis is very interesting.  I expect to be looking for some capacitor boards, and power NFETs very soon.  Mr. Eldridge’s work is much appreciated and definitely changed my perspective.

Thoughts and insights from other solar producers are welcomed!

Here is the information on his thesis:

Using super capacitors to interface a small wind turbine to a grid-tied micro-inverter

Author: Eldridge, Christopher Sean

Publication Date: 2011
Graduation Month: May
Degree: Master of Science
Department: Department of Electrical Engineering
Major Professor: William B. Kuhn


NISSAN DC Fast Charger in Salisbury, NC

As of today, NISSAN electric cars with a quick charge port can charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes here in Salisbury, NC.  The fast charger should really help folks driving I-85 between Greensboro and Charlotte since we are right in the middle. Kevin Murphy of Ben Mynatt NISSAN sent me this photo today of the new DC fast charger that is now operational:  click to view status .

New 480 volt DC fast charger in Salisbury, NC

New 480 volt DC fast charger in Salisbury, NC


Regressive New NC Fee for Electric Vehicles

NC Discourages EVs

NC Discourages EVs

So, with the New Year, the Legislators officially embark on another quest to discourage electric vehicles. We all breathe the same air, so they will be inhaling the effects of their own work along with the rest of us. Lets hope that all the studies about the ozone and air quality are wrong, otherwise they should worry about the increased risk of COPD, heart disease, lung cancer, etc.

On an optimistic note, I don’t think their new fee applies to hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Anyone reading this with a different interpretation please comment. Here is a copy of the new law with references:



SESSION LAW 2013-360




The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:



SECTION 34.21.(a) G.S. 20-87 is amended by adding the following new
subdivision to read:

“(13) Additional fee for certain electric vehicles. At the time of an initial

registration or registration renewal, the owner of a plug-in electric vehicle that is not a low-speed vehicle and that does not rely on a nonelectric source of power shall pay a fee in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) in addition to any other required registration fees.”

SECTION 34.21.(b) This section becomes effective January 1, 2014, and applies to initial or renewal motor vehicle registrations on or after that date.


North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) (2013, July 26), Senate Bill
402 / S.L. 2013-360 Appropriations Act of 2013, Retreived from NCGA Web site: on January 1, 2014

According to the Carolina Dealer Training (CDT) Web site of Kat Messenger, this new $100 fee is only applicable to vehicles with the fuel type “E” on the registration

Also, it is imperative that you make sure the fuel code is correct. This is for
“plug-in” electric vehicles with a fuel type of “E”; meaning, purely electric, and does not rely on a nonelectric source of power.


Carolina Dealer Training (2013, Nov. 1), One Day Delay in Additional Registration Fee for Electric Vehicles. Retrieved from Carolina Dealer Training Web site: on January 1, 2014


Seven Years of Biomass

Seven years ago we installed a LMF 100,000 Btu Biomass furnace.

Biomass 100,000 Btu Furnace

Well, it is still running — especially last night and today. The temp recorded on the solar thermal collector last night was 14.8 degrees here just outside Salisbury, NC.  There is no replacement for solid fuel combustion — talk about HEAT.

It is currently running on soft-wood pellets. I took this photo today of the flame — the blue diamonds remind me of SR-71 exhaust..

Biomass Furnace Combustion

Our house is so well-insulated and air tight that the big biomass furnace just idles most of the time.  Over the last seven years we have saved an average of $2,500 per winter on heat, moving from propane to biomass (aflatoxin corn, barley, rye and wood pellets).

Here is a link to my post from 2007 when the furnace was installed:


Catawba Sustainable Communities Talk

Photo of Catawba College

Catawba College, Salisbury, NC

I gave a one hour talk to the Sustainable Communities class at the Center for the Environment of Catawba College located in Salisbury, NC today (November 11, 2013).



FILL-UP, SCHMILL-UP – Last Fill-UP Six Months Ago

Last Fill-Up 6 Months Ago

Last Fill-Up 6 Months Ago

Are gas prices high these days? I wouldn’t know. Most Volt owners fill up once a month, but by charging regularly, I just went 6 months without a fill up in my Chevy Volt! Learn more about how it works:

The VoltDC reports 277 gallons of gasoline saved.  Running the math @ $3.30 per gallon that amounts to $914 saved in less than one year.

We could not be more pleased with our Chevrolet Volt!  There is no comparison to the Nissan LEAF that I owned for one year.  Chevrolet really stands behind their car and its battery!

Volt Gallons Saved!

Volt Gallons Saved!