NREL Interview Questions and Answers

Career Goals.  Why work at NREL?

Why do you want to work at NREL?  Why do you want to work in Commercial Buildings in particular?  How does this job fit into your longer term career goals? Please take a look at this website for more information about the work done here at NREL in the commercial buildings area.

I believe that in the coming decades providing the plentiful energy which is currently synonymous with a high standard of living is likely to be a serious problem for humanity, and more generally for the terrestrial biosphere.  Today our energy is derived overwhelmingly from fossil fuels which are polluting, finite, unevenly distributed, and whose combustion is substantially altering the composition and optical properties of the Earth’s atmosphere.  Any one of those characteristics would be enough to cause grave concern.  Together they make significant change in our global energy systems imperative.  I want to be a part of that change.

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Autumn is Here

Fall arrived today, not officially, and not to stay, but for sure it’s now begun.  And it’s not just the shit-slinging monkeys running for public office that tips you off.  We didn’t need the fan last night.  We kept the windows closed.  The breeze at home is cool even at 3:45pm.  I wanted to wear long sleeves.  I didn’t want iced coffee.  The shadow of the shade cloth is falling on the planters in the courtyard, and the light has that golden hue.  The middle of the day is disappearing, and edges are rushing in, changing the feeling of solar time as we tilt away from the sun.

I’m sure it’ll get hot again.  The offical weather reports don’t even seem to admit that it’s cooled off now (highs are supposedly still above 30°C… but they sure don’t feel like it).  It can be 40°C in October here.  But the blinding and oppressive light that summer wields is weakening.  The darkness is coming back.  The safe and enveloping darkness we can hide in.  The sun that grows broccoli and chard and peas and mustard greens, but puts habañeros to sleep.  The gray marine morning.

Longing for Colorado

Fickle weather.  Deep, stony, mountain gorges.  Bike paths and festivals.  Rides up the canyons to picnics by the creeks.  Cool winds and thunderstorms.  Bright sun and clouds that move.  Margaritas and popcorn.  Shortness of breath on 13,000′ peaks.  A change of seasons in twelve hours.  Collegiate girls lounging in the sun.  Green smoke in the woods.  Busses that work.

Visiting makes it harder not to stay.

Parkwood Tomatocide

I give up. The tomatoes just aren’t tomatoing. The three cherry tomatoes on the S. side of the back house in 5 gallon pots just won’t stay wet enough with my attention span. They’re crispy. The fruits they have made are leathery and dry, so out they go. The 2 year old Cherokee Purple is likewise fruitless, and turning itself into an arbor crossing the already very narrow walkway. I pruned it back to just the new green growth coming out of the stumps. I think I’ll move the habañros over there now.

There’s definitely a psychological pattern with the garden. So far anyway. Excitement early on, with rapid new green growth, and then confusion. Am I doing this right? Am i overwatering? Is there something wrong? And then less watering. But maybe too much less. And somehow, the plants take it – they put up with it anyway. It seems to take a lot to actually get them to wilt. once they’re a little woody. But maybe it’s enough to keep them from fruiting? And now despair. Something terribly wrong. 40 tomato plants and 10 tomatoes.

Luther Burbank’s Children

On the way out to Bodega Bay yesterday we stopped in Sebastopol at the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm, or what’s left of it anyway – all but three acres of an original 18 have been sold off. It is disheveled, and there are no guided tours, just a few acres of numbered plants, mostly fruit and nut trees, that you can look up on a brochure and map in a box by the barn. That didn’t matter at all. It’s a wonderful place.
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