Friday, June 27, 2014

Energy Leak?

Look at the following graph -  what does it tell you?


I have purposely eliminated the title, scale and legend to show that graphs can automatically describe a story and serve as a basis for analysis and problem solving.  This graph would cause you to wonder about the sudden spikes in 2007 and now 2014 (the 2014 data is forecasted).
This graph is actually the Kwh usage for our home (blue line) with a linear trend line for the 10 years of data.  A declining line means less electric usage.  So what happened in 2007 and  what created the trend line down?  AND ....  what is happening in 2014 (annualized 6 months of data) that is reversing the trend? 
The big spike in 2007 relates to one of the hottest summers in Cincinnati history.  August alone had 25 days over 90 degrees. The record for total number of days over 90 degrees for the summer (defined as June 1 - August 31) was 1936 (the Dust Bowl) with 64 days (and 12 were above 100).  Cincinnati averages 19 days over 90 and 0 over 100.  If you want to compare to your city click here ===>
This was a call to action and we have put in several big energy saving features -  new windows, insulation, roof R30 six inch layer, high efficiency HVAC, which created a steep reduction from 2007 to 2013. This was excellent timing since more hot records were broken:
2010 - 12th warmest summer of all time
2011 - Record 17 consecutive days over 90 
 So the mystery is what is going on in 2014?  Do I have some kind of energy leak?
 Stay tuned for the answer.  Luckily I can try to solve this before the hot days of August arrive.
Addendum:  7/23/14  "Hottest June on record since 1880"    But not in Cincinnati :(          The mystery continues.

Cincinnati Hi./Lo vs Avg  June 2014

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

BBQ Branding Irons

I discovered a great guy gift -  Branding Irons for BBQ/Steaks and a web site that will custom make this novelty gift item  -  Brand First.  This will be something I add to my wish list (future Father's Day gift). 

Back in 2011, I decided to create a fun project with Dad and create wall plaques of my Grandfather Well's cattle brand and gave them as Christmas presents to the Wells boys (Kris had the original branding irons).

Wells Cattle Brand - The Rocking W
As I mentioned in the October 8, 2011 post, my research to find Grandpa's Cattle Brand Registration was futile.  The Kansas Historical Society found no record for a brand registered to William L. Wells nor could they locate the image.  Lynn Wells suggested I contact the Oklahoma Cattleman's Association - so I may get remotivated to see if I can find if the brand was registered in Oklahoma.

So now I will request my own personal set of BBQ branding irons for grilling out back.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mixed Marriages

The Saturday Wall Street Journal had a humorous article about Mixed Marriages - Political ones :) 

WSJ - "Sorry Mom, I Married a Democrat"  6/21/14
It was timely since Susan and I were honored to attend J.P.'s wedding.  Naturally, I was questioning the family backgrounds (especially when I discovered the Columbus Accenture Partner J.W. that was related to the wedding party groom).  And after listening to The Modern Scholar audible series by Betty Dexter Dryer "The Basics of Genetics", and subscribing to, I have been fascinated with family trees and lineage. 

Where do we get our religious and political points of view?   Nature or Nurture?

Wikopedia describes exogamy benefits as individuals who breed with more exotic partners and thereby avoid incestuous relationships and tend to have healthier offspring due to the benefits of Heterosis

That reminds me of the Andy Rooney short piece on the TV show "60 minutes" -   "A" people are destined to marry "Z" people.

"A" people carefully squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube  ...... Z people .......
"A" people are early risers ......  Z people .......

You get the idea.  Now go out an mix it up!  :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

So That

Last night, I attended the Social Venture Partners (SVP Cincinnati) training session titled "Meetings Suck".  Facilitated by Eric Peguro,  he provided one of the most useful techniques for effectiveness in meetings that I had ever seen (or heard of).  It came down to two words ..... "So That"

I had previously learned (and applied) the concept of being prepared for meetings at Accenture.  I would always ask myself (or the team) to define what we hoped to accomplish in the meeting and what would be the definition of success.  This technique came from the long tradition at Accenture  with written course objectives and learning expectations in every training module at St. Charles. This technique was also a standard requirement in designing system training materials for any installation.

So when Eric said the most critical element of effective meetings was written desired outcomes, I was nodding in agreement.  But he hit the "home run" with his definition of "proper" written outcomes:

(1) The outcome must be a noun (e.g.  document, agreement, understanding, etc.).  NO VERB ALLOWED!
(2)  Add the words  "SO THAT" after the outcome.  This will define the accomplishment expected.

Try it out.

A 3 month action plan .....   SO THAT .... everyone will see our goal and how they fit into the effort.

Eric had many more "jewels" of wisdom in meeting effectiveness making the evening a self help junkies delight.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

To die ... or not to die

I just finished week four of The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future by Dr. Jacob L. Wright (Emory University), who postulates that the Bible authors champion a normal way of life (man, wife, family), procreation, education and the preservation of people as the [my words now] purpose God provides for us.

SO - you can contrast Horace's view:  "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"  - It is sweet and fitting to die for one's country"

with Bertoit Brecht's view:   "It is sweeter and more fitting to live for one's country." and

with the WWI poem by Wilfred Owen "Dulce et decorum est" that graphically opines his view.

War or Peace -  "To die ... or not to die" that is the question.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

And Your First Born

Today's tight credit environment continues to prevent people from getting loans.  I remember the refinancing headaches I had in Sept. 2011 with the volumes of documentation required.  Yesterday I received the inch thick confirmation letter that the bank is required to send "In accordance with the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (S.A.F.E. Act) of 2008. 

With the consumer protection packet came MLO Registration Number, Credit Score Inquiry, Insurance disclosures, and about 12 state specific forms, housing counseling agency, and other Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) stuff.

You can see first hand. the burden of regulation and over protection that government mandates when they feel guilty about being "asleep at the switch" during the big housing crash.  This layer of inefficiency has not improved the risk of lending - it has impeded the process.

The banks are doing business reluctantly with fear of liability.  The volume of documentation they require is an indication of government mandating how they do business - which assumes government knows how to measure quality credit risk.  Instead of increasing quality and judgment, government is eliminating business judgment.

Don't be surprised when the next lending form will be promising your first born as collateral.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Home Networking

Last week we started yet another home renovation project at our house.  With the remodeling of four rooms, the issue of home networking has reared its head (see Tangled Wire Mess 12/4/2011).  Cincinnati Bell Telephone is preparing our neighborhood for Fiber Optics (within the next 90 days) and that will provide some "peace" in the household by increasing our internet speeds.

However the issue is what wire (or wires) should I install in the remodeled rooms (Cat 5e, Cat 6, Coax Cable etc.)?  AND.... what configuration do I want to plan for the new wireless LAN at home?  AND ....  how much of the legacy wires should I keep  OR should I "bite the bullet" and set up a logical (and clean) home network hub?

Well, as tempted as I am to design and install a "clean" network at home (with expansion for future unknown requirements), I have decided to just proliferate the spaghetti mess of wires. 

It follows the old adage - don't mess with what works.

Monday, June 16, 2014


"I hate returning items", was my conclusion to the story about my patio furniture experience.  "Do you know why people avoid and hate returning items? A.M. added.  Puzzled, I pondered what it was that caused my stomach to contract when thinking of the return process - the effort, repackaging the items, the wait in customer service line, the potential conflict, or the time to rebuy.  It was none of these. 

"It is because the return confirms you are a loser" - A.M. bluntly revealed.  

That was it!  The return was confirming I had wasted my time in the original procurement, AND that I was wasting even more time "undoing" the purchase AND I might even waste additional time rebuying the item in the first place.  Then there is still the risk the process could happen again.... and again.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Deep Conversational Strokes

Conversations strokes (like your tennis strokes) can be short and simple or deep and long.  If you conversation is shallow your relationship with the person you are talking to will likely return shallow or non existent volleys.  The deeper your conversation will create an opportunity for more enriching "conversational play". 

For those people you love the most, practicing deep conversational strokes will provide you a more satisfying and pleasurable conversation.  There are risks in hitting a tennis stroke deep - it could go "out of bounds" or be interpreted as a ball not to be returned.  However, in most cases your conversational player will see the effort you are putting into your stroke and attempt to return it deep also.

Here is a deep volley question:  "What made you feel good about yourself today?"   Notice how it is an open ended question; it is very personal; it is positive; it indicates a sincere desire to learn more about the feelings of others.

I suggest you try some "deep volleys" first with your spouse, parents, brothers and sisters and then "graduate" to best friends (caution is warranted here - be sure you know what a best friend is). 

Remember, hitting it deep means more challenging returns - but a more enriching game.

Credit for this entry idea:   Six Questions that will save your relationships  by
I suggest you watch the video that they put together on their blog site.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cats in the Cradle

One of the keys to interacting with Cat people is to keep the focus narrow.  Too much stimulus will overwhelm a Cat - which applies to choices, number of people, noise levels, etc.  Think of it like the Cats Cradle game - the game with two people focused on exchanging turns in methodically pulling the string into a new formation.

Keep the movements simple, consistent, and predictable.  There are a finite number of moves (i.e. choices) and expected results. 

When a Cat person is focused on a result, then they can tune out some of the more troublesome distractions that can "spook" them.

The Cat's in the Cradle is the Dog's silver spoon. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conversational NET-working

This may be a stretch in the tennis analogy - but being strategic in conversation will add significantly to your personal NET-work.   So in this case you want to capture all conversations you have with people in your personal network.
Why is this important?  Well, one of my Accenture partners once told me that your greatest asset in a job and career (and life) is your personal network.  You can measure this by the number of business cards you collect or the number of Linkedin contacts (and here I mean ...... meaningful contacts) you have. Other social networks also apply (e.g. Facebook, Pinterest etc.) But remember these are conversational physical networks not computer passive virtual networks.
When you are in conversation with someone, you will want to create a memory of that person and a category (e.g. where they work, their interests, their expertise, etc.) to file away in your personal network memory file.  That way should a need arise you can call upon them for help or advice.  In fact, you might even be able to help them someday with a need they described to you.  Finally, you might even be able to connect two strangers unknown to each other - because you put "one and one" together by matching their need which you discovered in your independent conversations with them.
If you think about trying to find a meaningful category in which to "file" that person into your personal network, it can help you with the ease (and less stressful) conversational flow.  It's fun to be a conversational detective and find out interesting facts about someone else.

SO .......  In tennis you want to always hit the ball over the net.  But in Conversational tennis you want to end the conversation ball in the NET -----  your personal NETWORK!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Boston Legal 3 - Loyalty

Last Thursday (6/5/14), the guys got together for "Boston Legal 3" - possibly a tradition in the making.  J.P. hosted number three event which included reports from each of us on Global Trends and investments.  I decided to invest a small amount in each area (EPI and DDD) to track for the next 30 years :)

On the "lighter side", I brought a movie that I discovered researching the poem by Edgar Allan Poe - Eldorado (see blog 11/18/2010). We watched (in its entirety)  "Mountains of the Moon" a 1990 movie about the search for the source of the Nile.  It is amazing how well true stories and their drama can translate into a great movie experience.  I was "sparring" with J.P. in our ongoing debate about morality (and in particular Loyalty) when a scene in this movie created an "ethical debate between the two explorers.

The two friends and explorers Captain Richard Francis Burton and Lt. John Hanning Speke each have different personal reasons for searching for the Nile but agree to share the glory.  However there emerges both a dispute (about the true source) and a falling out by Lt. Speke presenting his view prematurely without a joint presentation. 

Rwenzori Mountains  Uganda

Scene:  Chapter 23    T: 2:00:36      LOYALTY
Lt. John Speke walking in the hallway leaving the Royal Geographical Society.  Isabel Arundell (Captain Richard
Burton's wife) confronts Lt. Speke in hallway.

Isabel:  Do you really  want this debate?
John:  Why Not?

Isabel: It's the last thing that Richard wants
John: Yes ...  I suppose he dreads the outcome.
Isabel: No...He knows you are incapable of assembling the proofs of your arguments
and that you will lose.
John:  I'm sorry.  I can't discuss this.  (putting her off as unworthy to discuss this further)
Isabel (emphatically):  No one - not even myself knows what you went through together. 
Those people [Royal Geographical Society] in there, they don't know and they don't care.
They need you as adversaries now and Richard doesn't.
John (visibly irritated): Then why is he here!
Isabel: He would cancel tomorrow. He knows no truth will emerge and in the absence of
truth he respects only one thing   ......   He respects LOYALTY.  
Isabel (as John walks away):  ....... John .....  he respects you.
I won't give away the ending but you are welcome to read the entire story on Wikipedia
Truth, Loyalty and Respect  -  A fitting trio :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Cat People NonVerbals

Non verbal body language explains a great deal about the difference between Cat people and Dog people.  In fact Cat people are more "tuned" into non verbal communication than Dog people [generally speaking :) ].   Cats demonstrate their attitudes with their eyes, ears and tail (I've already shown many illustrations). 

Look for body signals of the Cat person to determine their inward feelings:

Eyes - Do you see any similarity between the following two pictures?

Look at the Cat person eyes - enlarged pupils indicate powerful emotions - fear, anger, suspicion but also arousal, excitement and interest.  You need to judge which side of the emotion spectrum it might be.

Ears -  Well for the human the ears are not much help.  However you can look for other facial expressions - eyebrows, wrinkles, mouth, temples etc.

Tail -  Cat people have no tail ...... but look carefully at what they are doing with their hands and feet.  When a Cat person is impatient, wanting to leave, the hand may begin to move rapidly (as if tapping) up and down on the knee or table. Or maybe the leg is jiggling or foot swerving in circles, or even knees knocking back and forth.  Careful looking under the dining table will tell you a lot about the non verbals for Cat people.

Purr  ...u rrr.....u rrrr  - You are in best shape if you can detect (visually or even audibly) the Cat person's purr.  Just like a cat there is no definitive answer why Cat people purr.  But like a Cat, there is a high probability that it indicates they are content with the situation.  Sometimes it is a self soothing/self healing state of mind - almost like a monk chanting.  It is definitely a state where they are saying:
                                                   "All is right with the World!"

And for you Dog people .........      Purring Cat means Peaceful Dog Habitat      :)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Cornered Cat

It is a fallacy to think a Cat person is a "push over" - a quiet, vulnerable, intimidated, creature of a weak species.  One slice of the nose off the Dog person's face will disprove this theory.  Hence the danger of cornering a cat as further evidence of the Cat person's need to always have an exit path.
In fact, the most content cat is one that is placed in the most flexible position (e.g. on a couch ledge, or under a bed) for viewing any noise or movement that would alert them for an easy exit to safety.  Therefore the opposite of this environment is ......  backed into a corner.
So the best advice for a Dog person who wants to interface with Cat people is to establish environments that NEVER corner the cat!   This would include physical arrangements and plans, and/or verbal situations.

Cat in the corner is dog meat.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Most Cat people are comfortable (on their terms obviously) with one on one interactions.  With enough time and space a Cat person can actually become semi-comfortable (and I stress the word - SEMI) around a Dog (and notice the word "a" - meaning ONE DOG).   I illustrated this in the first blog with Nellie (our black lab) and Freckles (our Calico Cat).  Even this one on one interaction is "Cat driven" - meaning ... WHEN ... the Cat person feels "in cat-control", THEN (and only then) will there be an interaction.

The problem multiplies exponentially when additional dogs are added to the picture. So how does a Cat person deal with situations with a multiple Dogs? 
How can the Cat person maintain ...... "Cat-control"!

Multiple Dog people could potentially surround the Cat which would provide no path of escape.  Add to that stress, the rapid movement, loud nature, and over excitement of Dog to Dog interaction and you have a formula for Cat "stressure" (that is my word for Cat hair raising pressure).  One of the key's to "Cat-control" is to show NO cat "stressure".

So let's set up a scenario with three couples out to dinner together (this is the toughest of all Cat "stressure" environments because of the amount of time and fixed seating arrangements).  You are the Cat person with four other Dogs and one other Cat (but the other Cat might be a Lion).  What should you do?
First  (and foremost) recognize that the Cat's are outnumbered (but at least you have some alliance with the Lion).  Second, visualize the Dogs as "dumb (and cute) puppies instead of attack Dogs (or even think of them as other Cats).  Third, establish your location (and timing expectations) and always have a contingency exit strategy.

These three fundamentals will help (but not solve) the initial dinner "preliminary pleasantries". But there are other techniques to lower the "stressure":
(1) Avoid too many conversations that involve all the Dogs simultaneously.  Remember they get excited easily, and will raise the conversational levels several decibels.
(2) Sit next to a favorite Dog (the calmest Dog) or the Lion (for protection)
(3) Practice an exit strategy (leave the table for some brief period)
(4) If you have the ability to choose a location - choose your most comfortable setting and preferably a quiet one
(5) Maintain a quiet and consistent "purr" (more about this later)

 A Cat person can survive in a group of Dogs.  It just takes continuous Cat-control.  Remember a Cat person can look like a Lion to a Dog person. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cat Territory – Don’t change the terrain

Watch what a Cat does in a new environment. Take for example a bedroom – the cat will hide under the bed surveying the remaining territory for seemingly endless time. Waiting for all other people to leave the room and then some. Ever so slowing (as they do in stalking prey) the Cat begins to emerge from the bed (always with a plan of retreat) and determines the geometry of every square inch of the room working the back and forth from the perimeters to a retreating back under the bed each time.

This method of creating exact blueprints of the room provides an infinite set of exit strategies in case a dog would suddenly emerge.

And so it is with Cat people. Watch as they enter a hotel room. Since they can’t fit under the bed the first action is to find the bathroom. Like the Cat under the bed this provides time to remember the metrics of the hotel room – inventory of furniture, closets space, balcony, and even testing the adjoining locked door to an adjacent suite
So the more expansive the new territory (as in a vacation rental home or friend house) the more time is needed for Cat people to acclimate to the new territory. The difference between a house and a hotel room is that there could be Dog people coexisting in the same territory with easy access to the Cat person’s space.
So how can a Cat person minimize the stress of a change in terrain?

(1) After a brief introduction to the new terrain – both of you should leave the room giving the Cat person time to evaluate the metrics (e.g. exit strategies). This also serves the purpose of identifying the perimeter (i.e. the broader territory – floor, hotel lobby etc.) and broader exit strategies.
(2) Be quiet once the new terrain is introduced – let the Cat person concentrate on their analysis. You might even leave the room to go get something thereby simulating an entrance of an intruder upon your return.
(3) Point out the secure nature of the new terrain
(4) Unpack some items to make the terrain seem normal
(5) Open and Close the drapes to any outside openings
(6) The smaller (and more securely contained) space the better

The key objective is to provide time and space for the Cat person to adjust to new surroundings. Remember if the surroundings are not adequately secure to the Cats liking, then there is no hope of interacting with any Dogs.

Monday, June 2, 2014

You're a Cat ... They're a Dog

OK – So let's assume you’re a cat person and there are all kinds of dogs in the world, how can you survive? Yes I used the word survive because the natural state of cats and dogs is one of survival.

However there are examples where cats and dogs become acclimated to each other (example our dog Nellie with the cat Freckles) – they even become best friends.
So how can a dog and cat become best friends? The answer – it requires lots of time and space. Ultimately it is the decision of the cat – the cat “elects” the dog as their friend. What that really means is that the dog must “understand” and “change behavior” to win the cat’s trust. However it doesn’t mean success is all dependent on the dog, the cat must also be willing to take risks outside normal “cat risk profiles”.

So let’s start with the basics – the primary differences between "cat like" people and "dog like" people.

Cat people:
(1) Primarily from the DNA genre of introverted behavior (although remember Lions are cats too)
(2) Typically most comfortable in a one on one setting
(3) Likes softer tones, slower movements
(4) Need permission to be approached

Dog people:
(1) Primarily from the DNA genre of extroverted behavior (although remember there are calm breeds of dogs also)
(2) Can be one on one or excited in groups
(3) Moves fast, jumps, always licking and smelling new objects
(4) Approaches at an instant

Now these are just a starter list of stereotypical cat and dog like personalities. Naturally there are all types of breeds and variations. Understanding breeds of both types are critical to determining if a successful relationship can exist between the two.

Future Blogs will consider various Cat people issues:

(1) Cat Territory – Don’t Change the Terrain
(2) A Cat in a Group of Dogs
(3) The “Cornered” cat
(4) The Cat in a Cradle
(5) Cat’s outward signals (e.g. purring, tales and ears)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dog Eat Cat World

I think the world of Cats and Dogs can be a great analogy to understanding your personality. Just watching them as pets has caused me to believe that people are either -  a Cat type,  or a Dog type.  It is tempting to generalize this idea into introvert (e.g. Cat) or extrovert (e.g. Dog) but there is more complexity to my premise of Cat people vs Dog people.

Regardless,  there is some basic (and primordial) tension that exists between Cats and Dogs.  This is the most difficult for the situation where the Cat person must deal with the Dogs.

My subsequent blogs will be addressing this challenge for Cat people.  How a Cat can live in a Dog eat Cat world?