Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I have moved

I changed the url and title for my blog. Don't get excited, though: I still don't plan on posting much, if at all. I mostly just wanted to grab the url for the future. I don't plan to do any fancy imigration of RSS feeds, either. I think there are only like two of you reading this through RSS, so it ain't worth it.

New blog:


Sunday, May 23, 2010

On Public Urination

A few months ago, I was monitoring one of my projects in Accra, walking from shop to shop to sit in on interviews. The sun was hot, so I drank lots of water, then had to urinate. It's totally cool in Accra to pee facing a busy street out the leg of your shorts (don't know why, but that's the preferred technique, rather than dropping drawers). So rather than seek a latrine/toilet, I paused next to a wall, thinking, "Well, I'm only exposed from one direction..."

So, of course, a gaggle of schoolchildren emerged from that one direction, led by their dotting grandmothers. One of the grandmothers shook her head at me and clucked, "You come here to learn, but what you learn is to pee in the street".

One year on, I'm learning to note which way the wind blows before lifting my shorts.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Walmart Gives $2 Billion in Food Aid... to America

From the Christian Science Monitor, Wal-Mart has pledged two billion dollars in food aid to help feed hungry Americans. I told this one my Ghanaian coworkers:

Me: Wow! Wal-Mart just pledged $2 billion in food aid!
Jonathan: To Haiti?
Me: No, to America!
Jonathan: $2 million?
Me: No, $2 billion!
Jonathan: Wow... that's the last thing one would ever think of.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

JPAL's new website

JPAL finally put up their new website! It's worth checking out.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Barbers Without Borders Not Fulfilling Mission

Accra, Ghana

Numerous reports from “the Field” indicate that Barbers Without Borders is not fulfilling their mission to provide affordable yet fashionable hair-styling services for Africa. Ethnic minorities and migrant laborers throughout Africa are living with unkempt hair because the local economy does not support barbers who use scissors. These ethnic minorities – who are often young, often skinny, and often sick – live in constant fear of ridicule by their local partners, who scoff at their unruly hair, dirty clothes and smelly feet. Anyone who visits a government ministry in Africa will quickly note the difference in personal hygiene between the local managers and the minority “technical consultants”.

“We believe that the lack of barbers is the root cause of poor hygiene among migrant laborers in Africa,” said a spokeswomen for Barbers Without Borders who refused to be named because I made her up. “What incentive do they have to shave or wash their feet if their hair is messy anyway? If we can just provide a few more stylists in key areas – Accra, Abijan and Lagos come to mind – we believe that we can unlock the key to growth in hygiene among expatriates in Africa,”.

But if this is the mission of Barbers Without Borders, where are the barbers? Many ethnic minorities and migrant laborers report going months without haircuts, often waiting for “home leave” to get their hair cut. Others take the drastic step of flying to London for the weekend to get haircuts, buy electronics, and go clubbing. But, as if often the case, the hardest hit are those without jobs, working as volunteers or low-wage labor at not-for-profits.

“It can be tragic if you choose the wrong barber,” said one such migrant laborer. “The last haircut I had, I walked out 3/4 of the way through out of sheer frustration; he seemed to be trying to shear me. I tried to clean it up myself when I got home. I did what I could, but, well, you can see the result,” the laborer said sheepishly. He refused to give his name for fear of public shaming, but referred to his latest haircut as “the Skunk” because of the trough the barber carved down the back of his head. “Barbers Without Borders has some questions to answer,” he concluded.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Surveying Christopher Walken

Thanks to my new-found Youtube-downloading capabilities, check out this SNL clip where Christopher Walken fills out the census. Administering questionnaires really feels that hard sometimes.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Watching Youtube on a Slow Connection

WARNING: It's about to get nerdy up in here.

At best, the internet at my house is like a fast 56k connection, and at worst (when it's working at all) I could probably get faster download speeds from my cell phone. I have been using the wget utility to download important files, which works, but wget uses the command line prompt and could never be called user-friendly.

But wget does not work on youtube videos, so I've been totally lost on pop culture. I didn't discover The Rock Obama* until a month ago, and spent probably 45 minutes watching the status bar load (even less fun than watching water boil). You can often view youtube videos by pausing it and waiting for the whole video to load before watching it, but if internet connection drops out while it's loading, you can't resume loading it without completely restarting. This happened probably 5 times while I was trying to watch the This Too Shall Pass* video -- incredibly frustrating!

I think I have found a solution using Firefox plug ins. I had, like Owen Barder, recently switched to Chrome, but might have to switch back now -- these pluggins are great!

The first thing to do is to add the Firefox Downloadhelper plug-in. This lets you download flash videos from Youtube at the click of a button, and is a good solution in and of itself.

Unfortunately, Firefox's download utility isn't made for African connectivity. When the download fails, you can manually restart it and it will actually resume where it left off, but if your internet is bouncing up and down, this is a real pain.

What we need to do is use wget to download the downloadhelper files. If you right click the file in Firefox's download manager, you can select "Copy Link Location" and then paste that into the command line to use with wget... but it's the year 2010, we must be able to do better than that!

Enter VisualWget, a user interface that lets you use wget in a much more friendly environment. And, VisualWget can work with a Firefox pluggin called FlashGot to let you download files from Firefox using wget at the click of a button. This works great for downloading .pdf articles and other links, but I still need to copy and paste the downloadhelper url in to download youtube videos. Also, it can take FOREVER to download, but at least it works!

Steps to Watching Youtube in Sub-Sarahan Africa, Northern New Hampshire, Or Anywhere Else with Bad Connectivity
  1. Add the Downloadhelper Firefox plug in
  2. Download and install VisualWget
  3. Add the Flashgot Firefox plug in
  4. Follow the instructions on the VisualWget website (near the bottom) to add VisualWget as the default FlashGot download utility.
  5. Click the annoying spinning Downloadhelper thinger to start downloading a youtube video

  6. Right click on the file in the downloads box to copy the link location, then cancel the download

  7. Go to Tools > FlashGot > FlashGot All to launch VisualWget

  8. Press control + v in the url box to paste in the link and press OK to start downloading the file
  9. Get back to work. It will download, don't worry!
  10. Once the file downloaded, you may have to edit the file name and delete anything after .flv. You can view it in VLC media player, or use something like Youtube Downloader to convert the file so you can watch it on an ipod.

Now it's time to watch some South Park!

* You can't actually watch either of these from Ghana anymore... Anyone know how to mask your IP address?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"The majority of our students graduate"

The majority of our students graduate. Most see an increase in wages.

That's the ringing endorsement of for-profit schools by a spokeswomen for Corinthian Colleges, Inc, a publicly traded company with $1.4 billion in revenues. An outstanding NYT article calls into question what return on investment students are really getting at these schools, which derive 70-90% of their revenue from federal student aid, could collect $10 billion in federal Pell grants in 2011-2012 under Obama's "college and career" readiness initiatives, yet have 3-year student loan default rates of ~12% and questionable placement success.

Industry advocates argue that they shouldn't be held responsible for the defaults because their recruiters are barred from making promises about future income. To me, that's exactly why they should be held responsible. If taxpayers are going to finance 80% of their revenue, we deserve to know what's going on through readily available data on actual placement rates and future earnings. Right now, I'm making my own decision on whether to seek more schooling. This type of information is essential to informing my decision, and I couldn't imagine choosing a graduate program without it.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Phantom Clarinetist

Went out to Duncan's for the ole 1 yr anniversary the other night. The Lonely Planet guidebook describes Duncan's as "Nothing more than a few plastic tables out on the street, Duncan's is nevertheless a popular drinking spot with locals."

Wow, to me, it is so much more than a few plastic tables... it's the home of the best banku and tilapia around, for one, and is also (supposedly) the home of the best (and only) cat kebabs around. I suppose I should be thanking LP for keeping all the 2-week tourists out with such an underwhelming description.

Anyway, Duncan's attracts a pretty mixed and middle class expat-local crowd. It is right on the sidewalk, so sometimes different people will wander up and try to sell you random trinkets or Chinese dvds. And if you're lucky a pair of Rastas with a guitar and a djembe will come by to serenade you with torturous 10-minute renditions of "Three Little Birds".

No hawkers this time, but the Rastas were much better musicians than usual. The djembe player was tight, the guitar player knew more than two chords, and they actually harmonized! After a couple of rounds through "Three Little Birds" they started in on Lucky Dube's "Nobody Can Stop Reggae"... and a random obruni popped up from the table next to us with clarinet-in-mouth, busted out a baddass 15 minute clarinet solo and sat back down to his banku and tilapia.

Most unexpected yet awesome musical performance ever.

Did I Give Bad Advice?

Perhaps #10 should be amended to include: and use a mosquito net. New research shows that mosquitoes are more attracted to bear drinkers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 Tips for New Expats

Tomorrow marks the end of my first year in Ghana, and I have now spent 2 out of the last 4 years abroad. My brother recently moved to Chile, and just celebrated the end of his first month abroad. I decided to whip up some advice for him and all those other wethorn, green-behind-the-ears expats out there.

  1. Buy a phone with a flashlight
  2. They're nifty, extremely useful, most often very cheap, and a great signal that you don't have bottomless pockets. Well worth the investment, even if you're only visiting.
  3. Learn to sleep in the heat
  4. With my patented 4-step technique!

    1. Lie on your back. Don't bother trying to sleep yet; it's too hot. The goal of this stage is to build of a rich lather of sweat.
    2. Roll on your right side and fall asleep immediately. The sweat evaporating off your back should cool you down just enough to be able to fall asleep. If you don't fall asleep right away... good luck
    3. When you wake up because it's too hot again, switch sides to let the right side's sweaty lather evaporate as you fall back asleep (and let the right half of the sheets dry).
    4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 as needed.

  5. Treat napkins as precious resources
  6. You will get only one. Use it wisely.
  7. Trust your gut
  8. Both in the food and the George Bush ways. If the well lit street feels dangerous, it probably is. If the dark, dingy street feels safe, it just might be. If the street food looks warm and appetizing, it probably is. If the fancy-pants restaurant's food feels suspicious, leave it on your plate.
  9. Be Responsible
  10. Don't dive if you don't know the depth. Utilize body-augmenting technologies (sunscreen, condoms, earplugs). Call your mother (she's worried about you).
  11. Take the bus
  12. Minibuses, Microbuses, Tro-tros, Matatus, Colectivos, whatever they call 'em, hop on. Buy a map and learn the routes. Scope the map during the ride so you can orient yourself when you hop down.
  13. Find your happy place
  14. And go there every time your knees are in your teeth on the bus.
  15. Cut Your Coat to Your Size
  16. Or else people will laugh at you! (My favorite Ghanaian proverb) There are tailors everywhere; there's no excuse to look like a fool. Collared shirts also keep the sun off. And while you're at it, shave.
  17. Dance like a fool
  18. Because life is more fun that way.
  19. When in doubt, drink
  20. The beer is always good to drink.

Monday, March 8, 2010

And We're Back!

Dear Adoring Fans, [Dear Mom and Dad,]

I would like to offer my sincere condolences for the dearth of new material of late. [Sorry I haven't written you.] I was called upon to attend various exigent circumstances that required my diligent attention, leaving nary a moment to spare for my usual pellucid pondering or droll anecdotes. [I was busy have fun with the visiting Girlfriend and -- surprise, surprise -- studying for the GRE]. I will endeavor ameliorate any inimical or disconsolate sentiments arising from my anomalous abeyance through a series of particularly erudite observations and acerbic tales, although my peremptory adherence to an austere regime of vocabulary-augmenting activities may preclude the deluge in postings some my more devoted fans may dream for with cupidity. [I'll try to write some good stories soon to make up for the absence, but I'm also going to keep studying for the GRE, so they may not be as frequent as Mom hopes].

Yours Truly,

[PS I realize how lame and nonsensical this post is... please forgive me... it actually was a great way to study]

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Accra Road Language Part 1: The Art of Honking

Marginal Revolution linked to a Slate piece on the non-verbal signals that drivers give each other in the US. You know, like flashing your lights if there's a speed trap or flashing the bird if you get caught off. These things happen sometimes in the US, but Ghana takes it to a totally different level. You could literally devote an entire blog to this subject, but I'll start with the Art of Honking.

Living in Accra, you quickly learn to distinguish between the three major species of Honk. First, and most critically, there's the "LEAP OUT OF THE WAY RIGHT NOW OR I WILL HIT YOU" Honk, which must be heeded, and sounds like: MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET.

Then there's the Taxi Honk. Taxi drivers are truly prolific honkers. It would be impossible to overemphasize how often taxis honk. They literally wear out their horn buttons and have to install a new horn trigger on their blinker paddle. Some even install a new steering wheel paddle dedicated solely to honking, to make incessant honking more convenient. Think Formula 1 race car shifting paddles, but dedicated solely to the Art of Honk.

There are two subspecies of Taxi Honk. There's the "WHERE ARE YOU GOING?" honk and the virtually indistinguishable, but less common, "I HAVE PASSENGERS!" honk, which makes hailing a taxi lots of fun. "Where are you going?!" sounds like: MEEET MEEET; and "I have passengers!" sounds like: MEEET MEET. Drivers look befuddled when I can't distinguish between them.

Finally, we have the "I'M DRIVING!" Honk. There is little order to this honk. You can be pull this honk out at any time for any reason, but common uses include approaching a blind corner or an intersection with people, or because it had been more than 3.2 seconds since your last Honk, and you have a compulsion about not going more than 3.2 seconds between Honks. It sounds like: MEET-MEET, MEET-MEET. Some, but not all, taxi drivers also utilize the "I"M DRIVING!" honk, which makes hailing a taxi even more fun.

A quick way to tell who's new to Accra is to watch for people who turn their heads for each honk and people just instinctively leap for the Leap-Out-Of-Harms'-Way honks. The old hands also know to watch out for the old hand signals that tro-tros use to advertise their routes, which will be the subject of Part 2.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elephants Are Feminists is Currently Plus One

My girlfriend (yes, I can call her that now. After two years, we are now FBO -- that's Facebook Official, if you're as out of touch with the youth as I am) is visiting from the US, which among many other things, has made me realize what a solitary activity blogging is. So I'll be taking off my nerd-glasses and pretending to be hip for the next couple of weeks (shhh, don't tell her! Somehow, she's still convinced I'm interesting). which will mean less time spent blogging. But don't worry, she's nerdy enough herself to let me still post occasionally, and I like to pretend I'm an arteest when she's around, so there may be some pictures of our travels to look forward to. If you ask nicely, she may even grace Ye Loyal Readership (Mom & Dad) with a guest post?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Ethics of Randomization

I took my surveyors out to dinner last night and asked what we should do differently if we repeated our study. Their responses were all along the lines of: this was good, but next time, you should let us pick who gets the capital grant instead of letting the computer decide. Or, this was good, but next time you should give everyone GHC 200 instead of only half the people. So I had the ethics on randomization on the brain when I listened to a podcast by David Rodin from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.

Rodin brought up an interesting hypothetical: Say you’re stuck at the bottom of a well, and an innocent fat man gets pushed down the well. The fat man will surely crush you. But you have a ray gun! You can choose to either vaporize the fat man with the ray gun, thereby saving yourself from certain death, or let the fat man fall, thereby ending your own life. What do you do?

David Rodin says that the only ethical choice is to let the fat man fall. The fat man has no agency: he doesn’t want to kill you. He therefore did not forfeit his own right to not be killed. By killing him, you would be taking an innocent life. I’m not convinced.

There are two rights violations in this scenario. The first is the choice by whoever pushed the fat man to kill one of the two of you. The second is that the pusher is forcing you to choose which of two innocent people die, which surely violates your right not to be harassed.

In my mind, the two choices are equally bad. You either end the life of the fat man and live with the fact that you chose to take an innocent life, or let your own life end and make the fat man live with the fact that he squished a saint– someone so altruistic that he took his own like rather than kill one innocent falling fat man.

But what if there’s a third way? What if, as the fat man came careening down on you, you reached in your pocket, took out a coin, and flipped it? Heads, the fat man’s vapor. Tails, you’re jelly.

In my mind, this is the only ethical thing to do because it results in a net decrease in rights violations. The guy who pushed the fat man is still committing one violation of rights by forcing one of you to die, but you rob the pusher-man of the second rights violation of forcing you to choose between lives. Now, the fat man can’t squish a saint and you can’t take an innocent life: whoever lives just got lucky.

So when it comes to questionable acts of self defense involving falling fat men and ray guns, randomization is the only ethical choice. Do you think my surveyors would buy that explanation when it comes to randomizing capital grants?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Critically Important Update!

I know ya'all are just reading this to stay current on my viciously hip hairstyles. Well, I finally went under the knife again today (literally... he took out a razor blade to make some unwelcome finishing touches). I call this one the "So That's What I'll Look Like When I'm 55!" I went back to the creator of the "Egghead". Why? I don't know. I tried to explain how I wanted it to be like last time, only less round... which translated to: "Please shave off the lowest quarter inch of my hairline. I'd really like to know what I'll look like when I start going bald."

I think it's really great that elders are respected in Ghanaian culture. I do. But I'd be OK with just stopping to say hi when I walk by and not emulating their receding hairlines on my 25-year-old forehead.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haitian Solidarity Concert

Last night the Alliance Frances hosted a Haitian Solidarity concert to raise money for the Red Cross. All the Ghanaian highlife/pop stars performed a song or two gratis. It was great: The soundtrack of my Ghanaian experience, performed live, which let me put a face to the songs I've heard 10 million times. (A Ghanaian friend almost died laughing when, after the song Angelina by Praye I remarked, 'So that's where that song comes from'. Their response: 'Don't you watch TV?' Well... no, apparently not...)

It was also fun to see the Ghanaian community reaching out of Haiti (although much of the audience was foreigners). Haiti's ambassador to Ghana was there, who is apparently Haiti's only ambassador in all of Africa. It was a great reminder that, no matter how much you have, you can always afford to give.

It also led me to discover a Universal Truth: Everyone in the world knows the first 4 words to the first verse of every Bob Marley song. Only true rastafarians and trustafarians know the next four. (There were quite a few touching but sometimes mangled versions of a 'No Women No Cry'/'3 Little Birds' mashup, with the Haiti as the subject).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nerds Hack Online Dating

Well, it happened. Nerds finally started using internet dating sites. But first, of course, they had to whip out the old statistical analysis software and develop model to maximize their chances of dating a model. The results are here.

Via Marginal Revolution.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What I've Been Reading on Haiti

I'm no expert in disaster relief, but it seems like a lot of the bloggers I follow are -- or at least, have a brother-in-law whose coworker's very good friend is -- so I've been reading a lot about the relief effort. Some of the better posts/articles:

* Nobody wants your old shoes
* What is Haiti poor? Chris Blattman responds to David Brooks
* Tyler Cowen's excellent but unlikely ways to help Haiti
* "Texas in Africa" has a number of excellent posts and links, including the UN picture in this post
* Why is distributing aid in Haiti so difficult?
* A letter to the editor from Satan, re: Pat Robertson

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Earthquakes Go Viral

Yesterday was the quietest day we've ever had in our office, for an unexpected reason: most of our staff woke up in the middle of the night and ran outside. A viral message had spread through text messages and cell phone calls that a major earthquake was imminent and everyone needed to get outside, like, immediately. Our staff is a pretty worldly bunch, so after a bit most of them returned to bed... but, with all the coverage of Haiti, how well would you sleep if your father had just called you up, insisting that the roof was about to fall down?

Everyone was very relieved when a former-geologist-now-survey-printer stopped by (I had recently successfully printed something!) for a very nerdy conversation about fault lines near Ghana and the fact that earthquakes can't be predicted... by scientists:

Me: Nerd nerd fault lines nerdy offshore nerd-nerd.
Geologist-Turned-Printer: Nerdy nerd rock fractures under Accra; nerdy seismic nerd.
Me: Nerd! It's strange that the radio and TV didn't squelch this rumor earlier.
Geologist-Turned-Printer: Haha, yes. There's really no way to predict earthquakes. [Smile drops from face] Unless someone Prophesied it. [Introspective look up and to the left] But there's no way for scientists to predict earthquakes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Blog in 2010

I've given some serious thought to rolling up Ye Olde Blog with the end of 2009. I haven't had much success attracting readers: pageviews peaked (at ~10 per day) around August-September and have steadily declined ever since (to ~2-3 per day). My more popular posts have been stories/observations made in the course of my work, but I've started sending those stories to the IPA blog where I think they will get more exposure. The average quality of my posts has probably declined as a result, so I don't blame anyone who stopped following me.

Basically, I'm weighing the chance that I'll say something stupid and it will come back to bite me against the chance that I'll say something intelligent that will come back to benefit me.

If my goal is to keep family/friends in the loop, I could avoid public exposure by sending group Facebook messages (as now even my grandfather is on Facebook) or something like that. On the other hand, if I ever do stumble upon an idea worth sharing, would I know how to express it if I don't practice?

A dilemma. I think I will keep the blog because I like it, but post irregularly because I know that Mom, Dad and Girlfriend will read it anyway. I might also try out a few different titles and layouts or possibly change the address. And if a goal of the blog is to practice writing, more criticism from my intrepid readers would be helpful.

Any thoughts from Ye Loyal Readership?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Curse of the Free Upgrade

I finally arrived in Ghana at about 2 am this morning, 3 days after I was originally scheduled to arrive. I was supposed to leave on Tuesday, but with the heightened security measures, the weather in England, and some confusion about the departure time, I missed the flight and was put on standby for the next day.

The next day's flight was delayed, but when we eventually left and I was surprised to discover that I my seat was in first class. I should have known something was up: on the way to Boston from Heathrow I had a free upgrade it to "World Traveler Elite", where I got to sit for an extra 4 hours waiting for de-icing. This time the upgrade was to true, seats-lie-flat-champagne-served-from-a-glass-bottle-dinner-options-include-pan-seared-mahi-mahi first class. Very comfy... only this time, we never even made it to our destination.

We were diverted to Glasgow in Scotland, a charming city with an overnight low of -21.5 Celsius, just short of the overnight low in Antarctica of -22 Celsius. Dressed for the tropics, I didn't do much exploring... We spent the night at a Ramada Inn and tried to leave for Heathrow again on Friday morning. I was supposed to be in Ghana on Wednesday, so by now I was understandably cold and tired, and didn't think that I should decline the empty "World Traveler Elite" seat I was offered. Mistake! We were delayed waiting for de-icing again, and by the time I arrived in London and collected my bags, I only had 20 minutes before the flight to Accra was scheduled to leave.

I talked to 3 different agents before I finally found someone willing to print me a boarding pass with so little time. (The others tried to convince me that another night in a frigid hotel would fun, or that Abidjan is close enough to Accra). This agent gave me a 2% chance of making the flight, and I had to beg her to please, please just let me try to make it before she finally printed a boarding pass.

Boarding pass in hand, I was off, elbowing my way through the frequent flier express line security line (I thought I might have to pause to make fisticuffs with an 80 year old who elbowed back), throwing coats, belts and shoes at the X-ray machine, then sprinting through Heathrow terminal 5 with pants drooping and all 3 bags flailing (no time to check luggage, just carried it all right through).

I slid to a stop (no time to put shoes back on) in front of the board to check the gate and..... my flight was delayed. The delay ended up being about 5 hours. (I had a sweet exit row-like seat with no seat in front of it, which explains the delay). If I hadn't begged the women to let me on the flight I never would have known about the delay and would right now be sitting... who knows where, still trying to get back to Ghana.

I don't know how I managed to get so many good seats, but next time I will stick to coach and an on-time arrival. And after seeing this photo, I don't blame the airline company for anything (except perhaps making me miss the flight on Tuesday, but it never arrived at Heathrow, either).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Y2K and Global Warming

The New York Times has a great op-ed today about the great apocalypse of the previous decade, the dreaded Y2K. While the article doesn't make the comparison to our current favorite apocalyptic scenario, global warming, it is hard not to ignore the similarities.

What if global warming turns out to be just as disastrous as Y2K (which is to say, not at all disastrous)? In my view, it's still 100% worth investing as heavily as possible in zero-carbon/low-carbon technologies. Why? Well, if we invest in keeping carbon levels down and global warming is another false alarm, we will have spent millions upon millions modernizing our energy delivery infrastructure and giving a whole host of clean technologies a jump-start in cost effectiveness. The Y2K modernizations similarly "wasted" millions upgrading computer systems, but we were able to put these new systems to use. The return on the money invested might not be positive, but it certainly won't be zero.