Sunday, January 31, 2010

Signs, the dashboard of life . . .

Ok, that title is a bit reaching but let me first off start with observations of my "hot chocolate cup smiley face light dusting miracle" : after finishing a hard afternoon of shoveling of what was suppose to be light dusting of snow I was amused at this as it made me smile and totally changed my mood. I mean who's happy at chipping away at packed snow in 20 degree cold wind and with crisp white snow blinding you in the face?

But this isn't what was on my mind, what I really want to talk about is my Toyota Hybrid Camry - I think it's on the recall list but not sure now. Either way the whole pedal think is scaring the crap out of me. But it's not the gas pedal issue that pisses me off - I mean this happens from time to time, kudos to Toyota for taking the high road and doing what's right except for the maintenance light . . .

About 3K miles ago my maintenance light came on and wouldn't go off. When I finally got to taking it in thinking this was important, it's a hybrid after all, I was told what was part of this process: I got the typical Oil change, top off of fluids, replaced filters, tire rotation which didn't include the alignment, PVC valve and some additive put in that is suppose to coat the fuel injection system which you can't buy in an auto store. All this for the low low price of $300.

But wait, I'm suppose to be getting free oil changes for the life of my car - I said this. Oh, we can knock off $20. Serious? I thought the normal cost of that service was closer to $35? It took 3 more phone calls to 3 different people before I finally had the price down to $200 all because of this stupid dashboard light. I really need a light to tell me it's time to rotate my tires? I mean hello? I'm getting signs in my hot chocolate cup I don't need Toyota dashboard warning lights to give up more dough.

I hate warning lights that really don't have anything to do with something that's wrong but instead are a means to get me to pay the dealership for overpriced items I could get for half price at Track Auto. But this is what I did get for my money . . . the process to turn off the warning light.

After repeated requests one of the techs came out and showed me how to deal with the warning light. So here is the process if you own a Toyota Camry Hybrid to turn off the maintenance light and it won't cost you a dime:

Hit the power on button once without starting the car
Press the odometer stick on the dash until it says Odo A
Hit the power button again until the cars electrical accessories are off
Press and hold the odometer stick while pressing the power button twice and wait till you see the screen say "resetting maint mode"
When the flashing indicator lights finish let go and now start the car as normal.

Ahh yes, the dashboard of life - did I ever tell you how much I miss a tachometer? The gauge they have on the Hybrids that show my fuel efficiency doesn't do it for me. It's the most useless gauge I have ever seen, bring back my tach, let me know how hard those chipmunks are turning in there before I inadvertently accelerate into the poor schmuck in front of me on the DC beltway!

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's not easy being green . . . NTEN proves it

Right before I headed off for vacation I had worked a solid 10 days straight. So when I was asked to present a 20 min session on how NWF was implementing green technology into the program I must have been giddy or high when I said yes.

Now I have to actually put something relevant together. My friend Peter Campbell, who dreams this stuff up and can do this in his sleep - see his blog for proof, amazes me with how he speaks to the level of detail and scope that the "green IT" movement plays with the NPO's we all support.

My challenge is that no matter where you look these days there is an onslaught of material and experts talking about Green IT, originality is out the proverbial window. The game is now trying to make sense of it all and find a niche that works for you.

Perhaps that will be my approach during my 20 min of fame, explaining how we are trying to use what we have and be smart when it comes to being green. I may be out in left field as I don't consider what we do to be groundbreaking - don't get me wrong, I love the opportunity to be part of NTEN in any way possible and to share what we are doing, I'm all for sharing our stories as it's how we learn.

What NTEN provides is a pool of some of the most inspiring folks who give their life blood to help promote the use of technology in our non profit world. They in fact are the ones that inspired me many many years ago to realize when it comes to tech there is more to just keeping the lights on or the concept of having the most toys wins. What "wins" is how we use the toys, selecting the right "toys". While we do have to keep the lights we also need to once in a while get into the sandbox and play.

Has anybody seen my rake or shovel?

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Purple Cow - I've seen one, have you?

As I wrap up the last few days in a very relaxing setting aka Palm Springs, CA we took the opportunity to visit Joshua Tree National Park - first time for that. If you've never been there before as you first drive in one can't help but be wow'ed by all the rocks.

ROCKS - all shapes, sizes, formations - even people climbing rocks. After the first twenty minutes of being enamored by the rocks we quickly started to mock the rocks. "oh look, rocks" one of my kids would say and I quickly thought back to Seth Godin's Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. In this case I was looking for that remarkable rock, the stand out, the one that makes me stop, get out and want to climb. The one thing that struck me about Godin's book was how it's all been done before, to be noticed, even for a short time, you have to stand out.

It's like having that one awesome or stand on its' edge idea that can take your organization to new places. I had this very same discussion last week at the Choose Clean Water conference where I had engaged with folks who were asking about my former organizations attempt to run the Captain John Smith for President campaign. It was out attempt at resurrecting a 400 years old dead guy and bring attention to clean water, hence the connection. When asked what I thought had failed the campaign a slew of thoughts went thru my head but the primary one was front and center in Godin's Purple Cow, and I quote:

I don't think there's a shortage of remarkable ideas. I thing your business has plenty of great opportunities to do great things. Nope, what's missing isn't the ideas. Its the will to execute them.

At this stage in my career I feel hopeful in knowing the leadership at NWF is open to the execution of new ideas, it's what keeps us at the leading edge of our industry. Next week we send representation of the organization to Doug Halls Eureka Ranch: The idea, learn how to think and execute that Purple cow and prepare us for the changes we expect as the culture changes in how we connect and communicate.

So transforming business or rocks - I think there's a correlation, don't you?

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You are the army!

I'm slowly recovering from what was for me an exhausting yet rewarding couple of days. I had the opportunity, actually the privilege of being a member of the team that put together the very first Annual Clean Water Coalition Conference. This was over 250 people, which I swear peaked at one point to close to 350 when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed the crowd, of like minded groups and individuals who wanted to make a difference for clean water and a clean bay in our region.

For me it was a bitter sweet moment - at times it reminded me of an "alumni reunion" as so many of the folks in attendance I had worked with in some capacity while I was with my former NPO the CBF. In fact, as I was reminded on more then one occasion, they were also in the same "alumni club" being as many of them were also ex-CBF, sort of like a breeding ground of sorts! What touched me the most though, besides the reconnecting and the long hours committed to support of my new NWF team, who BTW were amazing to work, had to have been the opening keynote address by Congressman Elijah Cummings.

I had never heard the Congressman speak before and while he passionately addressed the crowded ballroom at the Renaissance M Street Hotel for almost 40 min, what I share with you here is just a small part of what he said that touched and reached me. In this video at the 1min 40 second part his passion and intonation sent shivers down my spine - here are just a few of the quotes which got me, I hope they do the same for you.

The hopelessness that exists, expectations are so low they don't expect to accomplish anything
That's why we are so important . . . making the world a better place
Do not be distracted, we are about effectiveness and efficiency
I've got too much to do and so little time to do it
Make a difference for children
We can do better
You are the army

Till next time . . . peace out.

See all of Congressman Cummings address at

Posted via web from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Friday, January 08, 2010

Clean Water - it's more then a passion

Starting on Saturday I'll be part of a team that will embark on a mission to bring together a coalition of organizations and individuals for 3 days to focus on the issues of the Chesapeake Bay and how we will keep or rather restore it to the point that it's clean.

The agenda is packed and I mean packed - lot's of amazing speakers with tremendous stories to share.  All of which I get an opportunity to participate in.  I'm indeed fortunate to indulge my passion for the Bay in a unique way, in this sense of providing technology to support the messaging, ideas to engage an audience, and keep the folks I'm charged to support connected and in constant communications with their peers and supporters.

I'm so excited to be once again working, dare I say playing in this arena again.  Being able to introduce streaming video services, VoIP in the mobile office, video blogs - yes, I'm very geeked to be part of this.  What I really love about my gig at NWF was how much I was encouraged to participate.  There was no questions asked and that for me was indeed the icing on the cake.

If you get a chance, please follow along - make sure you check out the twitter hashtag:  CleanH2O  or CleanH20 - some folks have used a Zero and not an Oh.  Of course there's the web page - maybe you'll see or hear me online!

A little about the conference:

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Coalition is excited to announce the first annual Choose Clean Water Conference!  Join several hundred key leaders of non- governmental organizations, the philanthropic community, elected officials, federal and state partners and green industry in three days of discussion about policy strategies to restore the hundreds of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.


Posted via email from Michael's Ramblings . . .

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Visiting family, friends and don't forget the snow

It's the "palindrome" day - where the day and month in reverse is the same as the year: 0102, 2010 I didn't actually know that I had to read about that in my brand spankin new Kindle.  It's also the last day of our trek upstate NY to visit friends and family.  I love upstate NY after a light snow, it's so picturesque.

Besides misplacing a few brain cells along the way ( if you find them, please send back pronto ) it was fun catching up with friends and family that we have seen in years.  I think what made it went so well was how we now keep up via social networking platforms.  Because are so connected in the digital age we didn't have to spend a lot of time rehashing any back stories.  Instead it was as if the conversation had been continuing all this time.

I was surprised in a recent study that found our culture is actually using texting, IM, email, Facebook, Twitter more then actual phone calls.  Looking back at this past year I would agree with that study, which just reinforces my commitment this year to do more face to face. 

So here's to a new year!

Posted via email from Michael's Ramblings . . .