In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 6, 2012 / 16 Tamuz, 5772

Candor, Web Smarts Might Have Helped After 'Derecho' Storm

By Mark Kellner

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | One day after having electricity restored at home, it's beginning to seem like a very bad dream: Some 81 hours without power, sweltering temperatures, and the contents of a refrigerator-freezer relocated to the trash. I'm guessing my financial hit is somewhere around $1,000, although others almost certainly fared worse.

That said, I counted nearly 100,000 customers of Dominion Virginia Power, Pepco and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) listed as being without power on the morning of July 4, according to Website information from each of these firms, having searched for numbers from Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia and Montgomery, Prince George's and Howard counties in Maryland. So, my neighbors and I are quite fortunate, and we're all grateful for the hard work of utility crews in bringing back service.

At the height of the ordeal, the frustration level was high, due in large part to incomplete and conflicting information from BGE, of which more in a moment. Public officials excoriated Pepco for its alleged lack of progress and candor during the outages: Montgomery County executive Isiah "Ike" Leggett declared Pepco's restoration timetable "unacceptable," while Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley used rather earthy language to tell Pepco he'd closely monitor their activities.

Much of this, I believe, could have been avoided. Ironically, Pepco had in place tools that could have brought more information, and help, to its customers; Dominion Virginia Power and BGE displayed varying degrees of candor on their Websites. In 2012, there seems to be little excuse for the fog of confusion that enveloped out-of-power customers for days after the storm.

Not only did the utilities, by and large, fail to restore service as quickly as customers (and politicians) wanted, they failed - if my experience is typical - to provide the accurate and honest information customers deserved in order to make critical decisions in an appropriate manner.

Pepco has a mobile application - available for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry platforms - which is said to deliver information on outages and restoration status to customers. The app, and underlying service, comes from iFactor Consulting, a firm in Scottsdale, Arizona, whose Website claims New York's ConEdison, the South's Entergy and Kentucky's LG&E and KU power companies as customers, along with Pepco.

In theory, the Pepco app should work; media reports indicated some users were less than thrilled with the results. But at least those customers had something to work with.

Dominion Virginia Power provided a bit more information to its users, posting a daily update of work locations - right down to specific intersections - where crews were dispatched. As with Pepco and BGE, the Virginia firm had an online "outage map" that was periodically updated.

My service provider, BGE, represented a challenge when it came to providing information. The utility presently has no mobile app for its customers, and telephone service reps dispensed at times rather optimistic forecasts (at 11:14 a.m. on July 1, this columnist was told it was "pretty sure" power would be back by 9:30 that evening, almost 36 hours before it actually happened). Work location listings were general, giving only names of towns or neighborhoods, no intersections.

True, no utility can guarantee uninterrupted service, and so-called "acts of G0d" are just that. But given that BGE traces its history to 1816, a customer might expect that in an emergency, more candid and helpful information could be provided, online, to allow customers to make appropriate decisions.

In a telephone interview, Rob Gould, vice president of corporate communications for the utility, said "the nature of storm restoration ... does not lend itself to specificity, it's a really delicate balance." He explained that what might look like a simple repair task can become complex once workers are on the scene, and the suddenness of the June 29 storm, unlike hurricanes for which a forecast can be made early, was also a challenge.

At present, Mr. Gould said, "We have no idea of what's going on at the [customer's end of the electric] meter" until customers call in. He said "smart meters" are beginning to be installed that can communicate outage information to the utility, and that BGE is in the process of developing a mobile app for customers.

Those are hopeful signs, but perhaps a little push is in order: While political leaders such as Messers. Leggett and O'Malley invoke hard language after a disaster occurs, I believe it would be better for consumers, and communities, if regulators required more complete disclosure from utilities during a crisis. Uncertainty, predictions based on unknown data, and confusion help no one, least of all the (truly) powerless ratepayer.

The storm may or may not have been predictable. Given the technology now available to utilities, however, helping customers more easily deal with the consequences should be.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.


© 2012, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com