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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Green Economy wants us 'Boomers'

April 26, 2010
by Mark Ollig

Does anyone else love this time of year, waking up to the sweet smell of freshly cut green grass carried in on the breeze through a bedroom window?

Now that I found my segue into this week’s column, there is another “green” attracting the attention of folks born between 1946 and 1964 . . . you know us . . . we’re the baby boomers.

It seems there is some sort of “Green Army” out there calling us boomers into service.

The non-profit group called the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning or CAEL assists adult’s careers by broadening their education.

A report I read from CAEL said green jobs are, in essence, a “natural fit’ for us boomers.

And by green jobs, I mean energy wind technicians, solar cell designers, installers, energy auditors, and more.

According to research by Pew Charitable Trusts in 2009, the number of green jobs is climbing – up 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007. This is twice the percentage of all other jobs within the same period.

A 2008 US Conference of Mayors report states green jobs will signify “the fastest growing segment of the United States economy.”

One of the CAEL green report papers says the boomers have the assortment of skills necessary to make the switch to working in the green job sector.

Granted, many of us think about the day when we can blissfully retire into some leisurely existence . . . but, for some of us, this time in our lives will still see us “in the game.”

Personally, I think a few of us will use this time to try our hand in some endeavor we always wanted to do, but couldn’t, for various reasons. Without a doubt, many of us hard-working boomers will still want to make a difference in the world, even when we become a little older.

Our generation won’t be satisfied sitting in rocking chairs – we need to participate.

From the 1960s through the 1980s, the US labor force, made up of men and women 50 years of age and older, remained for the most part unchanged.

The CAEL report also noted boomers were working past the conventional retirement age, even before the country entered the current recession.

The report states how, beginning in the 1990s, the number of workers over the age of 50 increased as a result of the economic downturn, along with the shrinking of retirement investments. This prohibited many people from being able to take an early retirement.

Many boomers also needed to find other work when they found themselves “let go” from their employers.

Some of these people would find work in the same field they previously worked in.

However, the CAEL report said that a significant number of the boomers decided to take a different road and try something new.

It seems that last century’s dream of a leisurely retirement without any challenges are changing into an exciting and rewarding retirement, where some decide to make a real difference in society. These folks have chosen to be working in green jobs or on environmental or health issues. Some have become involved in local government.

Instead of just retiring, many boomers are entering “encore careers” and are discovering fulfillment by contributing their time and talents, involved with societal and environmental challenges.

According to the 2008 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Encore Career Survey, the encore work force in 2008 found adults age 44 to 70 have switched from their customary midlife career line of work to encore careers. This represents 8.4 million people.

Of those in that age group not already in encore careers, half say they are interested in moving into one.

It seems many of these adults surveyed are motivated to use their skills and experience to help others – and working on green and environmental issues is gaining steam.

Thirty-one percent report that “working to preserve the environment is highly appealing,” states the CAEL report.

The CAEL report lists the top three green encore job categories and opportunities.

First, the listings under Energy Efficiency include weatherization installers, weatherization crew leaders, and energy auditors.

Second, under Clean Energy Generation, they list solar contractors and solar installation trainers.

The third category is Conservation and Sustainability. The opportunities listed are advocates, consultants, and outreach workers.

The 17 page CAEL jobs green paper goes into greater detail and can be read at

You can get to the CAEL web site at

If you are 55 or better and want to share your talents on a temporary, part-time, or even fulltime basis with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Senior Environmental Employment Program, check out

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

As Earth speaks, will anyone ever hear us?

April 12, 2010

by Mark Ollig

The modern Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, got its official start in 1959, when two Cornell physicists published an article in Nature magazine.

This article illustrated the possibility for using microwave radio to communicate between stars in outer space.

Nature magazine published an article called “Searching for Interstellar Communication” written by Philip Morrison and Giuseppi Cocconi, Sept. 19, 1959.

The article was published in Nature’s volume 184, number 4690 on pages 844-846.

Being curious, I started my research for this article on the Nature magazine web site and found a link for it.

My curiosity almost came to an abrupt ending when Nature wanted me to pay $32 in order to obtain the complete article, which I thought was asking a bit too much of this penny-wise columnist.

I thought there must be a better (inexpensive) way to find this article.

There was.

After rummaging around the Internet, I found a blurred, but somewhat readable scanned image from the magazine someone had saved. Here is the link for you:

The first sentence of the 1959 article “Searching for Interstellar Communication” reads “No theories yet exist which enable a reliable estimate of the probabilities of (1) planet formation; (2) origin of life; (3) evolution of societies possessing advanced scientific capabilities.”

The third statement is where it takes a SETI turn, as Morrison and Cocconi, both New York Cornell physicists, will go into further detail on a proposal of how to search for intelligence beyond the Earth.

The following year 1960, began humanity’s first attempt at detecting interstellar radio transmissions from deep space. This was carried out by Dr. Frank Drake, who was a radio astronomer for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, WV and is currently an astronomer and astrophysicist.

According to the every-now-and-then-accurate Wikipedia, Drake “. . . reports he considered the possibility of life existing on other planets as an 8-year-old, but never discussed the idea with his family or teachers due to the prevalent religious ideology.”

SETI’s first project was called Project Ozma (after the far-away Land of Oz).

The two stars selected by Drake for this SETI search were the Tau Ceti in the Constellation Cetus, and the Epsilon Eridani in the Constellation Eridanus.

Both of these stars are as old as our sun. They are 11 light years, or 66 trillion miles away from Earth.

For six hours each day from April to July of 1960, the NRAO radio telescope listened at 1420 MHz for any consistent patterns of pulses or signals which would suggest an intelligent message.

Anxiety must have run high at one point when a secret military experiment set off a false extraterrestrial message reception alert. With this single exception, by the end of July, the only thing heard from the speaker was static.

In 1974, Dr. Drake came up with the Arecibo message.

The Arecibo message was only transmitted once into the M13 Global Star Cluster, which is 25,000 light years away from Earth, on a frequency of 2380 MHz, using the Arecibo radio telescope and transmitting antenna dish.

This message consisted of 210 bytes of information broken down into seven separate references.

The references included the digits one to 10, the formula making up deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, an illustrative stick figure outline of a human, Earth’s population in 1974, and the basic elements of life on Earth.

The Arecibo message also included a graphic of our solar system and the outline and physical dimensions for the Arecibo radio telescope and transmitting antenna dish.

According to the Cornell University news page, the Arecibo message forms a symbolic picture 23 characters wide by 73 long.

The Cornell University Arecibo message web page is:

Other greeting messages have been sent, including a small plaque attached to the Pioneer 10 spacecraft launched March 2, 1972. This plaque contains messages intended to be deciphered by any alien civilization finding it.

One of the most famous interstellar greeting messages was launched in 1977, aboard two Voyager spacecraft. A gold-covered phonograph record, etched with humankind’s messages to whatever intelligence finds it, is attached to each Voyager.

A new SETI Institute web site is called Earth Speaks.

The Earth Speaks web site theme asks the question, “If we do detect an extraterrestrial civilization, one of the most pressing issues facing humankind will be ‘Should we reply and if so, what should we say?’”

I say we reply (quickly) in order to prevent the extraterrestrial civilization from becoming upset with us. This has nothing to do with the fact I have watched the movie, "Independence Day" countless times.

In order for your humble columnist to add his own personal reply message, he needed to register before logging on to Earth Speaks.

After logging on, I went to their “Submit a Message” link.

This is where I typed out my well thought-out reply message to the extraterrestrial civilization, “Greetings and Salutations from the Bitsblogger!”

Earth Speaks also allows for a submission of a picture file, so I uploaded my prized Bitsblogger photo from the Web Site of The Week.

Submitted examples of what Earthlings would say to a new interstellar neighbor can be found at:

Earth Speaks home page is:

The history of SETI Institute can be found at: