Halfway Out of the Dark

Solar Winter

“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs. As if to say, ‘Well done. Well done, everyone! We’re halfway out of the dark.’ Back on Earth we call this Christmas.” – Doctor Who

I confess, I’m addicted to data.  I love building graphs and colorized charts to visualize that data.  When we installed our Tesla Energy solar panels back in September, I was delighted to have our house powered by that ancient and reliable thermonuclear fusion reactor that shows up each day in our sky.  But, I wanted to see the data!  I soon discovered a wealth of information available from our new Tesla Energy Powerwall system.  I began mining it and even created a simple python library, pyPowerwall, to make it easy to manipulate.  Using that and Telegraf, InfluxDB, and Grafana I had an observability platform and dashboard to feed my data and visualization appetite.  Naturally, the graphs were in full color.  

It’s getting dark.  You don’t need a graph to tell you that.  Our days get shorter in the winter.  We all observe the blanket of darkness that gradually pulls over us, stretching deeper into our mornings and evenings.  But what you may not know is how dramatic that change can be in terms of energy.   Our solar energy system went online at the beginning of October, with 35kWh of energy captured from the sun every day.  It has been on a steady ramp down since that first day.  As we tick inescapably towards our winter solstice, in just two months the energy we get from our heavenly benefactor has dropped in half to 17kWh per day.  The day-to-day graph shows the flattening of the curve as it bends down ominously towards the winter solar abyss of December 21st.   It’s victory over us is felt in the cold wind, the fading colors and the melancholy shadows that scrape against our souls.  Darkness is here.

Light a candle.  Our human family has witnessed this solar dance since our beginning.  We measure the sky and plot the stars to know where we are. We embrace the rhythm of the year by decorating it with celebrations and traditions.  In the darkness of the winter, we light our lights.  We illuminate our winter journey with candles.  We adorn our homes with fragrant greens, twinkling lights, cheerful ornaments and glowing fires.  All the while, we know, the light is coming again.  The glory of the sun will return!   But for now, we celebrate.

It’s almost here.  The dead of winter has arrived.  Cuddle up with a warm cup of coffee or tea, your loved ones and a glowing fire.  The light will return.  We are halfway out of the dark!  Celebrate it. 

Merry Christmas! 

Enjoy the Ride

“I am confident the need for great storytelling will endure for generations to come, enhanced by new technologies that will bring these tales to life and deliver them to people around the globe in even more extraordinary ways… we will always gravitate to stories that bind us together—tales of adventure, love, friendship, and heroism, tales that enable us to escape, that comfort and inspire us, that give us hope and reason to be optimistic, tales that inform us…. and, of course, touch our hearts.” – Bob Iger, Farewell

I woke up this morning and glanced out the window to see the sun peaking over the mountain tops.  The beams of light struck the beautiful and brilliant red and golden leaves of the trees behind our house.  The backlit spectacular was incredible!  As I soaked it in, I was struck by the temporal nature of this artistry.  The occasional leaf would detach and glide to the ground.  Soon, this majestic presentation would be gone and all that would be left will be the branches.  It occurred to me, how tragic it would have been if I had missed it.  It’s a great reminder that things change.  New scenes are appearing all the time.  The lesson is, enjoy the moment, those golden nuggets of time that grace your path.  Drink them in.  Be grateful for the show that was made, just for you.

I noticed another changing of seasons today.  Disney’s former CEO and Chairman, Bob Iger’s farewell email landed in my inbox this morning.  As with the beautiful sunrise, it definitely has me nostalgic, a bit misty eyed and grateful.

A few months after I started at Disney (now sixteen and a half years ago!) a new CEO was announced, Bob Iger.  Disney was a strong brand, but creativity and storytelling had become stagnant and mundane.  Bob came in with a simple yet powerful plan.  He identified three strategic pillars that would propel Disney forward: 

  1. Creativity – We would focus on creating compelling content and telling stories that delight our guests in new and powerful ways.
  2. Technology – Second only to creativity would be the adoption and innovation of new technologies to help us create and deliver those storytelling experiences. It would help us amplify the magic, better connect with our guests and allow our guests to better connect with us.
  3. Globalization – Disney would expand into new markets around the world.  As part of that effort, our content, products and experiences would strive to reflect our diverse human family around the globe, both on screen as well as behind the scenes.

The result of Bob’s strategy was a return to epic storytelling, investments and innovation in technology and the expansion of our impact around the globe.  It resulted in us welcoming PIXAR (2006), Marvel (2009), Lucasfilm (2012) and most recently 21st Century Fox (2019) to the Disney family.  Adding those creative engines, brilliant teams and storytellers, along with new innovative technologies, amplified our ability to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe.

Like many of my fellow cast members, I feel like I have had the privilege of sitting in the front row watching the incredible transformation Bob Iger unleashed for Disney.  And like many others, I am incredibly grateful to have been able to participate and be part of that “ride of a lifetime” story with Bob at the wheel.  

I am sad to see Bob Iger leave, but I’m incredibly optimistic about the future.  The work Bob started is growing and shaping Disney into a modern force for good. I’m convinced it will continue.  Sure, we will make missteps, try and fail at times, but our mission to deliver magic, entertainment and inspiration to the world is still key.  It is an honor to be part of an organization that is about elevating the human experience across the planet, especially when it includes unlocking the potential of technology to do so.

Have a great week!  And don’t forget… enjoy the ride.