Final Expert Interview

The first thing I learned about my final interview is…

that databases are a difficult subject to make interesting.

One evening, Sami was explaining his work with databases to me. I soon I found myself sitting with him for an hour learning about the technological significance of databases in the business and online. I became interested in the topic and asked him to be my expert a few days later. Then, as I told my friends what the interview was about, I started seeing a few contorted faces. It then hit me, the hows of online are boring. Realizing this just a tad too late, I tried my best, but recognized that this would be a difficult topic to make relatable.

Unless you’re in the world of IT, it is a dense and complex subject to relay. As a viewer, you have to have some understanding of computer programming to understand all of the terms. Because I was aware that the viewer is not experienced in this field, I felt somewhat constrained by what I could ask in order to keep it basic enough for the audience. Had my audience been an IT crew, I would have asked different questions.

The conversation itself went fairly smoothly, but at the end you can see where I lose control. I didn’t keep it in the full, but at the very end of it all, Morgan had not stopped recording yet and the first thing I blurt is, “I lost control! I really get what that means now.” This could partly be because I have this horrible habit of wanting to ask whatever comes to mind. This obviously works well for coffee, but certainly not for Good Morning America. Fortunately for our interviews so far, I have been able to talk to individuals about their personal lives. This is topic I typically dig into naturally. However, this time I had to talk about a more specific and removed topic, which felt very unnatural to me. It was difficult to balance information with emotion. Usually, I can zero in on the emotional aspect of an interview and feel out my interviewee. I found that I floundered a bit more when I didn’t have this natural tendency to fall back on. All in all, I’m not sure preparation could have fixed this, but if I were to practice a more apathetic approach, I might (eventually) struggle less with this style of interview.

Although I was happy with the interview, it was certainly a learning experience and definitely the most difficult interview I have ever conducted.

For the sustainability lovers,  deciding whether something belongs in the trash or recycling bin is the last thought given to their garbage. But what happens after the trash collectors have picked up your scraps on the side walk?

Most of the time, the trash ends up here. A  landfill. Ever consider that maybe some of your energy is going here? That’s right, your house. Companies for the last several decades have been working toward perfecting waste to energy facilities around the globe.

In the Washington, DC area alone, Convanta Energy  owns three facilities that collectively power about 120,000 homes by incinerating trash.

trash to energy conversion

trash to energy conversion

So in brief, how in the world does this work?

  1. The trash is brought to the facility 
  2. The trash is burned
  3. The heat created boils water
  4. The water creates steam that turns a turbine
  5. Electricity is produced and put on the grid

(For those who might get a little confused about this long process, Convanta kindly created a step-by-step if you are looking for even more details).

More recently, gasification is becoming more popular in trash to energy facilities. This process doesn’t actually burn the trash down, but rather breaks the trash down with heat and oxygen to create syngas. This chemical combination has the ability to also create energy and does not release pollutants into the air like incineration does., there are 89 waste to energy facilities in the country producing about 2,500 megawatt hours of electricity. According to Covanta, about 10 megawatt hours of electricity can fully power approximately 20,000 homes. For those of you who aren’t math geniuses and calculate that in your head, that means that the US is powering about 5,000,000 homes with trash right now.

How does this compare to other countries? Well currently, 54% of trash in the united states ends up in landfills. In Denmark, only 4% makes it to a landfill. So clearly we still have a long way to go.

But most importantly, what about that smell? Don’t worry, they have fans everywhere sucking it up so they don’t have unhappy neighbors. To the workers, after day 26  its starts smelling like roses.



Cheap or Green? An Intro.

Let’s face it. We’re all in a difficult position, holding thin wallets with no prospects of it getting any thicker any time soon. It’s not only the college kids pinching pennies these days. As we crunch numbers to get the minimum on our grocery list, the first items that seem to disappear are the organic and ‘green’ items. They’re typically more expensive and in all honesty, the generic brands are good enough…right?Image Continue reading