In “Braveheart,” one of my favorite movies, commoner William Wallace unites 13th century Scots in their battle to overthrow English rule. Wallace, played by Mel Gibson, states, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”

Henry David Thoreau similarly wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

Do you still have a song still waiting to get out? Or do you wake up with a sense of adventure as you look forward to what each day brings?

When I worked at Georgia Power, utilities were getting out of the testing business, so I developed this flawed goal to work at the last surviving utility lab in North America. That “hanging on” philosophy resulted in me getting more and more depressed. I even added in a few panic attacks (which if you haven't had one, makes depression seem a relative breeze). It was time for me to make a career change and reconnect with my former fun-loving self.

So I left the safe confines of the power company, telling my boss, Hollis; “I am looking for the highest roller coaster I can find, and I'm not worried about the lows.” I have since been on quite the ride here at Transmission & Distribution World. But with a new professional career in the chaotic media business, I realized I also needed a new mantra to go with it and decided to “have a blast while I last.” Instead of looking for a place to hide, I began to look for ways to make a difference.

In the Giving, I Found the Sweet Spot in Living

I now travel around hunting up transmission and distribution technologies and applications to share with you. In just the past year, we put together supplements on HVDC, smart grid communications and connecting renewables to the grid. And in July, we just hosted an executive roundtable on the pending FERC Order 1000, which we have published in this issue. This is quite a read on this order's likely impact on the future of transmission. I am really into utilities sharing their views and successes, and I'm thrilled to play a small part in this endeavor.

I still get a rush when each new issue of T&D World is delivered to my desk. And I love interacting with you, whether you are looking for more information, commenting on an article, asking for a contact or suggesting ways to make the magazine better.

Of course, life is more than work. And we have the opportunity to make a difference in so many aspects of our life. That is why we created our “Characters” column to celebrate the lives of those who are working in our power industry, but who are more than their jobs.

My Latest Adventure

My son Lee is an Eagle Scout, and he found himself a little restless at work and maybe feeling a little caged in at home with 10-month-old Ben. Feeling the call of the wild, Lee asked if Alice and I were up for a week in the wilderness, tent camping in the boundary waters located between the United States and Canada. His wife, Millie, was up for an adventure, too, and Ben can't talk yet, so we took his silence as a tacit indication he was up for the trip.

My wife, Alice, also likes the outdoors, and she couldn't wait to get her arms around baby Ben for an entire week. So we were off on an adventure, with my 17-ft Old Town Canoe strapped to top of the minivan while towing my 14-ft aluminum V-bottom boat for the 10-hour drive to northern Minnesota.

In a sense, we knew what we were getting into: a camping site with no flush toilets, no showers, no running water. On the flip side, we did have a fire ring and a picnic table, and our view of the lake was breathtaking, clouded only by the occasional mosquito swarm.

Here are a few of the highs:

  • A July 4th parade in downtown Ely (population 4,500)

  • A picnic in the park, rolling around in the grass with Ben

  • A 36-inch Northern Pike caught on a red and white-striped Rebel Spoon

  • Breakfast of coffee, bacon, eggs and toast cooked over an old, reliable Coleman stove

  • Walleyes that made a short trip from the lake to the frying pan

  • Ben “landing” his first fish

  • Waterfalls and rainbows.

Of course, there were some lows:

  • A massive storm that blew our tarp down while rearranging the campsite

  • A torrential rain that soaked our sleeping bags

  • A boat trailer that disintegrated when we hit a big bump in the middle of nowhere

  • Biting flies that took a real liking to me.

Many of our highs were related to the people we met. And the people in Ely are truly the most genuinely friendly people you will ever meet anywhere. As the parade wound down, a storm began to brew, so we decided to wait out the rain squall over an extended lunch in the Ely Steakhouse. Ben was a hit with the folks at nearby tables. We even loaned him out to the couple next to us who couldn't keep their eyes off our babbling babe.

Oh, and I even managed to transact a little business at the restaurant. One guy spotted my International Lineman's Rodeo T-shirt and introduced himself as an employee at Great River Energy. It turns out that Rich Samec is the senior engineering project manager over regional transmission development. And I had already chatted with Randy Fordice at Great River Energy over getting an article on their part in the CapX2020 transmission project.

Now I have a question for you: If everything goes as planned, have you had an adventure? I would posit no. I'm not recommending you skip planning. But I am suggesting that you consider putting yourselves in challenging situations you care about that lead to living a life that matters.