I suppose I did not realize the absurdity of what might be one of Oklahoma's more revered holiday traditions until this weekend when, whilst standing next to a gentleman I'd later learn was visiting from Virginia, dozens in a local watering hole spontaneously broke out in belting the BC Clark Anniversary Sale jingle.
The 30-second long tune, which advertises Oklahoma City jeweler BC Clark, was first introduced around Christmas of 1956 and has ever since been become just as synonymous with the Yule season to us Okies as any holiday standard ever recorded by "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy", Gene Autry.
The song's bizarre cult-status within my home state is legendary, where I've seen it performed more than a few times as part of school and church Christmas pageants. I'm told recordings of it are included in holiday care packages sent to overseas members of the Oklahoma National Guard, it's been performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and it has its own website and Twitter feed. Even in Tulsa -- some 90 miles away from the nearest BC Clark -- it's spun regularly by disc jockeys in their rotation between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In other words it's deeply-ingrained part of Oklahoma's holiday culture, but it hadn't really ever sunk in just how laughable it is until the Virginian pulled my sleeve and yelled "What the hell is this?" while everyone else was singing, "Jewelry is the gift to give, 'cause it's the gift that'll live and live. So give the gift you know can't fail, from BC Clark's Anniversary Sale".
As ludicrous as it sounds, however, it wasn't until clinking glasses and joining in singing the jingle in that dingy dive bar Saturday night that it finally registered within my brain that Christmas is actually upon us, and being now sufficiently in the Christmas spirit, I suppose it's only appropriate to share the Hydro Group's wishlist for the hydropower industry.
And so, in no particular order, here are a few things Elizabeth, Greg and I are hoping Hydro Claus leaves under our tree this year:
- A more universal acceptance of hydropower as a "renewable". Both in the United States and abroad, hydro still often fights to be included as a source of "green" energy alongside emerging forms like wind, solar and geothermal. This omission is particularly concerning given the renewable portfolio standards being established by many governments around the world. Hydropower must be included in the mix.
- Even more hydroelectric-friendly legislation and policy within the United States. Sure, American hydro got a nice bump when President Barack Obama signed the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency and Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower and Rural Jobs acts in August 2013. But, there's still room for more support at the local, state and federal levels.
- Stronger momentum within the marine and hydrokinetic sector. Though MHK doesn't seem to be going away, it doesn't seem to be growing as much might be expected given the field's enormous global potential. And though announcements like the National Hydropower Association's recent partnership with the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition and development in Canada's Bay of Fundy and Scotland's European Marine Energy Centre are certainly welcome, exits by companies like Siemens and Pelamis Wave Power still reflect the sector's vulnerability.
- Further multinational investments into emerging and recovering markets. With an inadequate power supply often cited as being the largest hindrance to commercial and industrial development in emerging countries around the world, a number of lenders are choosing to invest in hydropower for both its energy production and ancillary benefits. This has been especially true within the African and Asian markets, where large, multinational investments have been common occurrences over the past year.
- Better cooperation in cross-border water usage. With the demand for water at an all-time high and water supplies, in some parts of the world, at an all-time low, usage of the resource has never been a hotter issue. This is particularly true when water use decisions cross borders, and though many countries do an admirable job in working together in building symbiotic relationships, disputes have still been a common issue through the past year.
So, there are just a few of the things we're wishing for this year, and from everyone in the Hydro Group -- Marla Barnes, Elizabeth Ingram, David Appleyard, Gregory Poindexter, Howard Lutzk, Amy Shinkle, Alasdair Evans, Ella Coulson and myself -- Happy Holidays to all our friends around the world.