Oct 30, 2011

Don't Quit!

"A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits."

-Richard M. Nixon

Oct 29, 2011

Leadership Watch

Leaders are being watched all the time. They must set the tone for excellence and appropriate business behavior in everything they do. These behaviors must be continuous and genuine, not situation-specific and contrived.  

Oct 28, 2011


A start-up company will announce on Wednesday that it is beginning commercial operations at a factory in Southern California to capture lithium from existing geothermal energy plants, a technology it says has the potential to turn the United States into a major lithium exporter. 

The plant, built by Simbol Materials near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley, will also capture manganese and zinc.  None of the materials that Simbol plans to produce are so-called rare earths, but a study by the American Physical Society in February identified lithium and zinc as likely to be very important in the new energy economy of the future. The society considers them “energy critical elements.”

Lithium is a crucial element for batteries that power electric cars, and manganese is used in batteries and in specialty metal production. The United States imports much of its lithium and does not produce any manganese at all.

The company, based in Pleasanton, Calif., will piggyback on an existing geothermal plant that makes electricity by pumping hot water from deep underground and using its heat to make steam to drive a turbine. Then it re-injects the water into the ground. The “water” is actually a very strong brine, composed of about 30 percent dissolved salts, according to Luka Erceg, Simbol’s co-founder and chief executive.

Simbol officials say they have developed a proprietary filtering process that takes minutes and will be located on piping that is a minor detour for brine that the geothermal energy company is pumping anyway. Costs are low enough to compete in the world market, company officials say, and environmental impacts are small since the geothermal plant is already in operation.

The plant will process 5,000 to 6,000 gallons of water a minute, and in the same period will produce 10 to 20 gallons of salts that include the marketable metals. Since last October, Simbol has been running a modest pilot plant that filters about 20 gallons a minute, Professor Jaffe said. The brine from the Salton Sea contains lithium in a concentration of 200 to 400 parts per million, and the extraction technology is about 93 percent efficient, he said.

Oct 27, 2011

Mind Set

Describe the core concept for us behind “Mindset”?
People have different beliefs about their talents and abilities. Some people hold a “fixed mindset”: They believe that their talents and abilities are fixed traits; you have only a certain amount and that’s that. This is a mindset that turns people away from risks or challenges that may reveal deficiencies and, in this way, can work against innovation and growth.
But other people hold a “growth mindset”: They believe that their talents and abilities can be developed over time through learning, dedication and mentorship. They don’t necessarily believe that everyone’s the same or that anyone can be anything, but they believe that everyone can grow their abilities. This is a mindset that leads people to stretch out of their comfort zone to try new things. They are less interested in proving how smart they are than in getting smarter.

Can someone change their own mindset? How?
Yes, it’s never too late. In a fixed mindset, challenges are threatening, criticism is threatening, and the success of others is threatening. But in a growth mindset, all of these offer opportunities to learn.
Learn to listen to the fixed-mindset voice in your head that tells you you have to look smart at all times and that tells you that challenges, criticism and the success of others are indictments of your ability. Answer it back with a growth-mindset voice, as you take on these challenges, listen to criticism, and learn from the success of others.

I believe that mindset is a critical thing in how you approach life, whether at work or in your personal life.  Certain cliches apply; "Is your glass half-full, or half-empty" or "Don't burn your bridges".  So how do you approach life?  I say continue to "live and learn" and to embrace change.  


Oct 26, 2011


"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."
-Beverly Sills 

Oct 25, 2011

Big Dog!

BigDog uses a system of hyper-responsive hydraulic joints, sensors, accelerometers and gyroscopes to keep it on its four legs. Boston Dynamics says the creature can run at 4 mph, climb slopes up to 35 degrees, walk across a wide range of terrain, and carry 340 pounds.

This is pretty impressive. For more, click here or here.

Oct 24, 2011


"Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature."
-Eric Hoffer

Oct 22, 2011

Night Game, Go ND.

This is the only night game on the schedule, but an important ramp-up to a Bowl Game.  The Irish are coming off of a bye-week, and that has been a great time for coach Kelly's teams.  Should be a different environment, and we expect to meet up with some fellow tailgaters. 

Hope your Saturday is a great football day :o)

Happy National Pie Hole Day!

Fukushima Daiichi - Update

NRC Creates Long-Term Fukushima Steering Committee

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has created a steering committee to oversee the longer-term review of lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident and implementation of recommendations from the agency’s near-term task force. Its responsibilities also include identifying additional steps for the NRC to take.
  •  Decontamination work has started in Fukushima City, a project that will clean 110,000 houses as well as public facilities and roads near schools by March 2013. Workers are cleaning roofs, removing topsoil and cutting down vegetation. Residents and volunteers have been asked to help in areas with lower radiation levels.
  • Farmers in Nihonmatsu City in Fukushima Prefecture are shipping this year’s rice crop following confirmation that radiation levels are below the government limit. The city is about 40 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility.

Plant Status
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s revised three-year recovery plan for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility describes how the utility will maintain stable conditions at the plant. Among other actions, the company will install additional pumps to inject cooling water into the reactors and replace existing hoses. A major step in the plan was achieved recently when the temperatures in all three damaged reactors was reduced to below the boiling point.
  •  Workers at Fukushima Daiichi continue to decontaminate and manage water that has accumulated at the site. Water continues to be transferred from a temporary tank to a large storage barge anchored offshore. Decontaminated water is cooling the three damaged reactors at the site.

Media Highlights
  • With radiation levels dropping at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility, a Reuters report looks at the next steps to stabilize the plant.

Upcoming Events
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and its Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will hold the second joint hearing on the NRC’s near-term post-Fukushima task force recommendations Nov. 3. All five NRC commissioners will be invited to testify. The first hearing was held Aug. 2.
  • NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko will speak on lessons learned from Fukushima Oct. 24 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. Details are on the AAAS website.

Oct 21, 2011


"Forgiveness is the economy of the heart... forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits."
-Hannah More

Oct 20, 2011

Graduate Lessons

At graduation time, students leaving high school and college receive wisdom from prominent leaders. What should experienced leaders be reminded of periodically through their careers?
1. Work hard — earn your success. 
2. Practice the Golden Rule. Treat everyone with respect, as you wish to be treated. 
3. Follow a moral compass and maintain your ethical standards. 
4. Keep learning.
5. Maintain a safety net of relationships. Leadership requires healthy relationships to support the application of learning resources on the job. A safety net can include coaches, mentors, peers and supervisors.
Experienced leaders need to be reminded of the factors that, along with hard work, contribute to sustained success: reliability and reciprocity, courage and commitment, adaptability and flexibility.

Oct 19, 2011


"Many people have ideas on how others should change; few people have ideas on how they should change."
-Leo Tolstoy

Oct 18, 2011

Hot Air!

A hydrogen refueling station in Fountain Valley, California is not only providing fuel for vehicles, but is also helping to supply power to an adjacent industrial facility, and it is reported to be the first "tri-generation fuel cell and hydrogen station" in the world.

The hydrogen energy station is located next to a wastewater treatment facility, and biogas generated from that facility provides the feedstock for the system. The biogas is converted into hydrgen which is then available for refueling hydrogen vehicles as well as for a hydrogen fuel cell from FuelCell Energy which generates 250 kilowatts of electricity for the wastewater plant. Approximately 25 vehicles per day can be refueled from this station, in addition to the electrical power generated.


Oct 17, 2011

Blood Sport.

From intestines to tracheas, tissue engineers are building a handful of new body parts — but progress on larger organs has been slow. This is mainly because tissues need nutrients to stay alive, and they need blood vessels to deliver those nutrients. It’s difficult to build those vascular networks, but now a team from Germany may have a solution: Print some capillaries with a 3-D printer.
Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB developed special printer inks containing synthetic polymers, as well as biomolecules that will prevent the artificial tissue from being rejected. Chemical reactions turn the printed material into an elastic solid, allowing the researchers to build highly precise three-dimensional structures.
The next step would be to build entire organs, vascularized with this new printing method. Those may never be transplanted into a human, but they could be used as a test bed for new drugs or therapies, replacing animal subjects in clinical studies. Transplanting synthetic organs is still farther into the future, the Fraunhofer team says.

Oct 15, 2011

Be Happy :o)

"You  live longer once you realize that any time spent being unhappy is waisted.

-Ruth E. Renkl

I truly believe in this one, even though the price has been high...

Oct 14, 2011

Deer Season

When a deer is in the path of your vehicle, your first instinct is to get out of the way. But swerving to avoid wildlife often results in a more serious crash.

Most deer crash injuries and deaths result when drivers attempt to avoid the animal. If a collision with a deer seems probable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your vehicle and staying in your lane. Swerving could cause you to lose control of your vehicle -- into opposing traffic lanes or off the road.
Hunting season dates vary across the country, but it is certain with the start of fall that deer-crash season has begun.
The middle of October through the end of November is the time of the year wildlife officials call the "rut" -- the deer mating season. There is a lot more movement of deer during the rut than at any other time of the year. Add to that hunting activities and harvesting of fields, and the probability of deer-vehicle accidents significantly increases.
Use the following tips and information to prevent deer-vehicle accidents in your AEP or personal vehicle:

  • Always wear a seatbelt. 
  • Drive with extreme caution, at or below the posted speed limit. 
  • Use your human performance improvement and hazard recognition tools to identify issues and react accordingly. 
  • Leave home a few minutes early and use that extra time to slow down and watch for animals. 
  • Eliminate distractions in the vehicle to ensure your focus is only on one task, driving. Talking on a cell phone is an example of such distractions. The National Safety Council reports that inattention blindness and tunnel vision can occur when you are performing multiple tasks while driving and impair your ability to react quickly. 
  • Carefully scan the road and shoulders of the road ahead of you. Looking ahead can provide the time needed to react safely. 
  • Two-lane roads that divide agricultural land from forested areas are especially high risk for animals in roadways. 
  • Deer are creatures of habit and use the same pathways to food, water, and shelter repeatedly. Pay attention to deer crossing signs; they are indications of this. 
  • Highest-risk periods are the hours around dusk and dawn. 
  • Deer often move in groups. If you see one deer on or near a roadway, expect that others may follow. 
  • After dark, use high beams when there is no opposing traffic. The high beams will illuminate the eyes of a deer on or near a roadway and provide greater motorist reaction time. 
  • Report any deer-vehicle collisions to local law enforcement agency or state wildlife officials within 24 hours; immediately if the animal is blocking the roadway and poses a danger to other motorists. 
  • If your vehicle strikes a deer and the animal is injured, do not attempt to move the animal, as the animal could hurt you or itself. Contact law enforcement.

Oct 13, 2011

Who Needs NASA?

In the shadow of Launchpad 39A--where the Space Shuttle Atlantis once stood ready for orbit--a team of former NASA engineers laid off when the shuttle program ended are building a rocket-inspired street legal tricycle. And it’s not just for kicks. Treycycle Gold--as the company building the bikes is now known--aims to employ more than 100 people within the year, breathing new life into the Space Coast’s engineering economy.

The company started with roughly 15 NASA engineers facing imminent termination and a little help from the Emerging Growth Institute, a non-profit that works with emerging technology companies. They decided to flip their vast experience in vehicle design into a new breed of tricycle that is part car, part bike, and all muscle, accelerating from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds.
The Treycycle packs a Chrysler 300 3.5-liter engine that supplies the vehicle with its 260 horsepower all packed inside a molybdenum alloy frame offering more strength than the average motorcycle. Unlike three-wheeled motorcycles with their high centers of gravity, the low-to-the-ground Treycycle’s long wheel base makes it extremely difficult to roll over while cornering.
All that may seem like novelty, but people are lining up to buy the vehicles--specifically, 150 people who are already on the wait list. The company is even developing a three-seater “family” trike. For now the company will roll out two Treycycles every three weeks, but as demand dictates they will grow the company further--perhaps to as many as 130 people within a year. That’s good news for a region packed with engineering talent but without enough industry to employ all the smart people falling out of NASA programs.
For career Space Coasters, finding new ways to apply their know-how is a matter of pride. Hence the specialized serial number plates, which also read: “Made on the Space Coast in the Sunshine State.”

Oct 12, 2011

Solar Innovation

The Cincinnati Zoo's 6,000 solar panels generate 1.5MW of electricity
Millions of visitors go to the Cincinnati Zoo every year, but the newest attraction isn’t the new baby giraffe — it’s a solar panel. More accurately, over 6,000 solar panels installed over the zoo’s parking lot, spanning an area the size of four football fields. The sheer size of the arrays is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as their price tag: absolutely nothing.

The Cincinnati Zoo is the latest solar leasing success story, an innovative program that matches up investors with property owners who want to install solar but may not be able to afford the up-front costs.

While the new solar array has made the Cincinnati Zoo one of America’s greenest, it’s also making a lot of financial sense. The panels produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the zoo’s total energy needs, and on extremely sunny days, the zoo doesn’t draw any power from the grid. “On a day like today, every single building in our zoo is off the grid,” said Mark Fisher, senior director, Cincinnati Zoo. “When I got my first energy bill, I started reading down and it was zero.”

The $11 million project was financed through a complex web of private investors, federal tax credits, and Ohio’s alternative energy incentives. The zoo pays a locked-in rate of about 10 cents per kilowatt hour to the solar panel owners, roughly what it would have paid the local utility. Over time, however, the zoo could save millions as electricity prices rise. “This is the future,” says Steve Melink, who runs the Melink Corporation, an Ohio firm that designed, owns, and operates the array.

Solar leasing isn’t just for large landowners – homeowners can also take advantage of the financing model to put solar panels on their roof for next to nothing. But in order to work for homeowners, the process must be affordable and simple to understand. “We know for consumer to adopt solar in the mainstream, it can’t be hard and it can’t be more expensive,” said Lynn Jurich, SunRun cofounder. SunRun is one of the largest providers of residential solar in the country, with 11,000 homeowners signed up, and they hope to hit 22,000 households by 2012.

This is pretty cool, there is a company in South Bend that just signed a partnership agreement with GE to build solar charging stations for cars.  I thing 10 years from now, this will be the norm.

Oct 8, 2011

Great Day, Great ND Win!

What a great day today.  We tailgated at the ND vs. Air Force game.  A beautiful Indian Summer day, 79 degrees, sunny, wonderful.  We were treated with a Stealth Bomber flyover, and then a great game and a victory for the Irish!


"Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes is right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error."
-Andrew Jackson

Oct 7, 2011

Bye Bye Tooth Fairy

Last year, a group of French scientists discovered a tooth treatment that would stimulate regrowth of a natural tooth, obviating the need to drill and fill cavities in the tooth.  The treatment is a gel made from a natural chemical in our bodies, that had recently been found to be an important contributor to bone regeneration - melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) - and it had proven effective at tooth regrowth in mice that had cavities.  Now, British researchers at the University of Leeds report creating yet another kind of gel to enable tooth regrowth....

The British 'magic fluid' was developed in the Leeds' School of Chemistry. The fluid contains a peptide called P 11-4 that has the capacity to develop into fibers.  Under the right conditions, including when the fluid is applied to a tooth, it is drawn into the areas of the tooth that have decayed, establishing scaffolds that attract calcium, thereby, regenerating the tooth's mineral growth from within.
Out of the lab and into the dental chair, a small group of humans with initial signs of tooth decay got to sample the 'magic fluid,' and it was successful at reversing the destiny of their teeth - without drilling and filling!
"The results of our tests so far are extremely promising," said Professor Paul Brunton, who is overseeing the patient testing at the University of Leeds Dental Institute. "If these results can be repeated on a larger patient group, then I have no doubt whatsoever that in two to three years time this technique will be available for dentists to use in their daily practice."

Perhaps the French and the British are not the only countries competing in this potentially lucrative arena, but a Swiss company has been developed to commercialize the Leeds' magic liquid: "a novel enamel/dentin remineralization system which will revolutionize the treatment of small caries lesions and related illnesses and needs, providing dentists with an efficient tool in tooth remineralization and helping patients to protect and regenerate their teeth."

Oct 6, 2011

Gordon Ramsey Leadership Lessons :o)

Leadership problems are always the same (and by default, the solutions as well), whether you are in a Restaurant, a Wall Street Firm, or any other profession. I am a huge Gordon Ramsey fan, so what lessons can you learn from him?

1. Without exception, poor leadership is at the heart of every business problem.
The Navy SEALs have a saying: “There are no bad boat crews, only bad leaders.”
They’re right.
We are social animals, like bees, ants and wolves. In order to function properly in crises, we need a leader.
Look at any stalled organization in the world, from a small mom & pop restaurant in Devonshire to a nation the size of the US: Stagnation, uncertainty, lack of direction, these always stem from an absence of clear leadership.
Watch enough Gordon Ramsay shows and you will notice a universal constant: Every restaurant in trouble has a leadership problem.
If a new hire sucks at their job, whose fault is it? (Who hired them? Who hired the person who hired them? Who hired the person who hired the person who hired them?) If a project team is stalled and things aren’t moving forward, whose fault is it? Who owns that project? Who is holding them accountable?
Who sets the example? Who makes sure things get done? Who makes sure things are done right? Who sets expectations for the entire business? Who is in charge here?
A leader in denial isn’t a leader. He’s a drunk driver pretending to be sober, driving his car and everyone in it into a ditch.
2. Passion is the fuel of excellence.
Motivation comes and goes. Motivation is needed at regular intervals, but at some point, if people don’t learn to motivate themselves, “motivating” people in an organization becomes a full time job.  True motivation comes from doing things that are meaningful and yield results.
If you have to motivate someone to do their job every day, why are they here to begin with?
There is no gray area here. Passion vs. no passion. Success vs. no success.
There’s an honest conversation that needs to happen between a boss and an “unmotivated” employee (or between a consultant and a client), and it centers around passion. The question is this: Why are you here? 
Whatever you end up doing, whatever profession you end up pursuing, it’s going to be hell.  It doesn’t matter what the job is: Actors, musicians, copywriters, photographers, salespeople, product managers, engineers, chefs, firefighters, EMTs, if they’re worth a damn, they all bleed for their passion. They suffer for it every day.
The more passionate you are about something, the more you are going to give up for it, the more it’s going to make you bleed. And here’s the key to it all: The more you’re willing to bleed for it, the more you will. It’s just how it works.
The death of passion in any business, from a small restaurant in Devonshire, UK to a global super-brand means the death of forward momentum, the death of quality, the death of every single competitive advantage fought for in the past. If you cannot re-ignite passion in a company’s leader, nothing else you do will yield results. Just like a chef who is not passionate about food can not make a restaurant be successful, a CEO who is not passionate about what they does cannot make their company kick ass.
3. Sugar-coating the truth is for suckers.
When a ship is sinking, every minute counts. This means that every interaction counts. Why sugar-coat the truth? Why perpetuate belief systems that have led to mediocrity or failure? If product quality sucks, it sucks. Say it, own it, try it on for size.
If half the fun of watching Gordon Ramsay’s shows is to watch him rip restaurants apart and yell at incompetent chefs, the real value of his apparent meanness is this: Gordon Ramsay isn’t there to make people feel good about failure. His objective is to fix restaurants in trouble. You don’t do that by wrapping the cold hard reality of failure in a blanket of warm euphemisms. If something sucks, it sucks. If something rocks, it rocks. Honesty, even when it comes across as being brutal, forces people who are living in denial to face the truth. is it a shock to the system? Yes. It is meant to be.
To many TV viewers, it seems that Gordon Ramsay is nothing but a loudmouth, pretentious asshole. The reality of it is that he has figured out that success and positive results are infinitely more valuable to confidence, self esteem and professional pride than platitudes and bullshit. In that context, sugar-coating bad news only prolongs mediocrity, failure and pain.
That’s reality, and if it needs to be brutal, then it needs to be brutal. Deal with it.
Your job, believe it or not, is to do your job. If the client can’t face the truth and wants to fire you, then guess what? Let them. It’s their company going down in flames, not yours.
You have to be willing to be blunt. If the only way honesty will get someone’s attention is to deliver it brutally, then you have to find the courage to be the guy who delivers bad news to the CEO without embellishing or minimizing the bad news. That’s your job.
Here’s the lesson: The faster you get to the truth, the clearer your perspective of where you are and where you need to go will be. It’s that simple. Anything that slows down or otherwise hinders that process is a liability. Get rid of the bullshit. Cut to the chase. The more painful and unpleasant it is to hear, the more valuable it is to you and your organization.
4. Competence is key.
It is not enough to be a critic and point out what’s wrong with a business. Anybody can do that part. Once you identify the problems and make the brass understand what is wrong with their operation though, you also have to know how to fix them.
Theory might be great on paper, but you need to be able to show people how to get their job done.
One of the things Gordon Ramsay does in every show is teach restaurants in trouble how to do things they don’t know how to do. Note that he doesn’t leave his “clients” with a strategic brief or a findings report. He doesn’t just recommend that they revamp their menu or that they improve the quality of their dishes. He gets in the kitchen and teaches their chefs things they need to learn how to do in order to move forward. He shows them stuff that works, stuff he knows will work because he’s used it before.
Competence here makes all the difference in the world.
Competence, defined in only 6 words, boils down to this: Don’t just tell me. Show me.
Poor leadership, the slow death of passion, cultures of denial and the erosion of competence. Everywhere you go, you will find the same thing: The Post Office, your local bank, your favorite software company, a global superbrand, the local steakhouse. Each of these four factors will kill a business, any business, faster than you can say “no customers.” And while Chef Ramsay’s unorthodox style (unapologetically pointing out key problems, confronting those responsible, breaking them down, then dragging them – kicking and screaming – towards resolution) might seem inappropriate for “the real world” of business, while his body language and choice of vocabulary and confrontational style may seem out of place beyond the shock-happy world of reality TV, the guy is spot on. He is there to perform an emergency intervention, to turn a failing business around.

I recommend going to the Source, there is much more there!

Oct 5, 2011

New Standards, New Design!

Downshifting Ford's three-cylinder engine is expectedto debut in 2012 or 2013 in the Fiesta hatchback Ford Motors

Carmakers have spent the past few years aggressively downsizing engines throughout their lineups to meet increasingly tight fuel-economy regulations. But with the sole exception of the three-cylinder Smart Fortwo, four cylinders is as low as carmakers have expected Americans to go. Three-cylinders are common in Europe but have been scorned in the U.S., where they're tainted by association with claptrap cars like the mousy Geo Metro. Now, with fuel-economy standards set to rise as high as 56.2 mph by 2025, Ford is planning to bring the three-cylinder to the American mainstream.

Ford's 1.0-liter engine,the latest in the company's cylinder slashing EcoBoost series, will be smaller than the average Harley motor, but with the help of turbocharging and direct injection, it should match the horsepower and torque of a typical 1.6-liter four-cylinder. For an easy comparison, Ford's 2011 Fiesta hatchback wrings 119 horsepower and 40 highway mpg from its 1.6-liter four-cylinder. Drop a turbocharged 1.0-liter in a similar-size car, and you can expect 45 or 46 mpg-within spitting distance of the most frugal hybrids. Brett Hinds, a Ford engine-design manager, says the forthcoming three-cylinder will produce more than 100 horsepower per liter, blowing past a longtime engine-efficiency benchmark.

Such efficiency is the result of many small technical victories. Unlike conventional engines, the new EcoBoost will use an offset crankshaft, which reduces friction and puts more energy into creating motion and loses less to heat. A split-cooling system warms the engine block quickly, making it easier for the engine to pump cold, thick oil, thereby using 1 to 2 percent less fuel. Higher-quality aluminum alloy in the exhaust manifold helps to trim 11 pounds from the engine. And unlike some three-cylinder engines, which require an energysapping balance shaft to counter shake and rattle, Ford says the EcoBoost is inherently balanced.

Ford has withheld most details, but it has said that the engine will eventually replace four-cylinders in millions of small models around the world. Expect other carmakers to follow suit.