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If that were all it were, I would probably be OK with it. However, I do have a problem with it, not with bourbons, shots or beers, mind you, but with trash, pounds and pounds of trash. GarbageHaulSmallA couple of times a week, we have to walk our 800 feet of road frontage and pick up trash. A couple of times a year, our neighbors have to join together to do a much larger clean up. Seriously, in this day and age, littering is still a problem?

The trash we pick up ranges from the Big Gulp Styrofoam cups, McDonald’s sacks, every imaginable brand of soft drink cans, to an unfathomable number of beer cans, beer bottles, vodka bottles, whiskey bottles, etc. etc. etc. For the record, these alcohol bottles are empty and thrown from cars…and we have an open container law? There is even one guy that must have a serious problem because we find an empty pint bottle of Jim Beam every Monday. I even sat behind a red pickup the other day, when the driver opened the window of his cab, stuffed a bag of McDonald’s trash out of it and threw it, not into the bed of his truck, but right on the side of the road. My honk, only drew a one fingered salute. Seriously?

We live in one of the most picturesque parts of our city. A few minutes east of one the largest shopping malls and one of the busiest intersections in the state, you descend into beautiful wooded valley. Trees overhang the road on both sides, a creek meanders through meadows and yards. It is quiet (except for the speeders who think it is a drag race, but that is ANOTHER post), it feels as if you are out in the country, not a part of a major metropolitan area.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4ozVMxzNAA&w=420&h=315]

There are only a few houses in this area, so most of the cars are “passing through” on their way to one of the most affluent suburbs in the region. When I drive through those areas, I do not see roadside trash scattered on their manicured lawns, it seems as if, they have decided to literally trash our road instead of their own.  Where do they think that trash goes? Who do they think cleans it up? (btw, some ends up in our rivers and streams see my previous post  A Dishwasher, two hot water heaters, and a hide-a-bed )  Do they not care what it looks like to drive by miles of soft drink cups? Seriously?

I fantasize about tracking some of the litterers down and dumping their trash onto their lawn, but that would make me no better then them. I have thought about collecting the trash and building a monument for all to see, but then I would just have to look at it (and people would probably litter more). Seriously?

I really can’t think of a solution for ignorance. I can’t think of a way to make people care.  Until then, we will continue to pick up after them and pray they don’t wrap their car around one of our trees. Seriously!

If anything you read here or in other posts strikes a chord, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment, hit me up on Twitter (@jtongici), find me on LinkedIn, or Google +.

No, that is not my shopping list for a home renovation, believe it or not, this is a partial list of the junk we found during the White River cleanup last Saturday! The list also includes over 20 car tires (some still on the rims), a couple of truck tires, ½ of a boat, a chair, part of a dock, and mounds of trash! All in, our crew of 14 hauled an estimated ¾ of a ton of trash and debris out of a 2 mile section of the White River.

For our Fall Cleanup we joined forces with groups across four counties that worked to remove over TWENTY TONS of trash, two and half tons of recyclable metals and several hundred tires. What is absolutely mind boggling, is that this was the 15th annual clean up…you’d think we would run out of crap to pick up…but no…people keep tossing in more junk. Some of this stuff is thrown off of bridges or down embankments, purposely tossed into the river. Other stuff comes from parking lots, roads, and fields where people throw out their trash and it washes into the rivers. What really scares me is that this 20 tons of trash is only the stuff we can SEE. What about all of the crap that is either buried in the river bottom or in water too deep to spot it…or what about the stuff we can’t see because it is chemical in nature?

A Network of Support - Partnering to Protect the White RiverI could go on and on…but what I really wanted to do was to thank the 14 people that gave up 5 or 6 hours of a gorgeous September Saturday morning to provide the muscle needed to accomplish this daunting task! Our 11 canoeists were ably supported by a land crew of three that helped shuttle us along the route and made sure lunch was ready when we were finished. The 11 members of the water crew weere in six canoes (thanks Alan for volunteering to go solo!) and had a fantastic barge provided by the City of Noblesville. Within the first quarter mile we had amassed so much stuff, we had to offload the barge and a couple of canoes at the 206th bridge, where a group of boy scouts helped to move it to the dumpsters.

Before we had gone much further, the barge was again loaded down with enough junk that it could not be towed behind a canoe. So Skipper Scott Martin hopped aboard, sat on an over turned barrel and PADDLED the barge downstream. It looked like the Beverly Hillbillies on their way to Hollywood! After piling on the dock, an erosion tarp, and a half dozen more tires, even Skipper Martin couldn’t steer the load. Yours truly grabbed a rope and pulled the barge downstream towards the finish, aided by some pushing from the team of Brown and Brown. After a mile or so, 51 year old legs and lungs gave out, and Skipper Martin grabbed the rope and finished the journey. Skipper Martin Barge Pilot Extraordinaire

About a half dozen of the tires we collected had to be hauled out of the river more than once. Within sight of the take out, a stack of tires shifted in one of the canoes…sending them, other trash, and the pilot of the vessel into the water.

After a little over three hours, we arrived at the take out, unloaded the canoes and barge and hauled our collection up the banks where employees of the City of Noblesville loaded the refuse into trucks for its trip the main collection site.

Many, many thanks to the canoe crew of: Scott Martin, Carrie Tarver, Don Weiser, Jamal Handy, Alan Francoeur, Rick Brown, Cody Brown, Brad Ton, JT Ton, and Carmen Ton. Thanks also to our land crew: Andrea Osman, Mary Ellen Ton, and Gene Ton. In addition to the donations of time and muscle, we were supported by a group of sponsors who helped by providing much needed financial support. The sponsors helped to provide lunch, t-shirts and prizes for the event. Many thanks to Elements Engineering, Ron West, Nishida Services, Arete Software, Cisco Systems, Brad Real, and ROI-LLC!

This was in the River??

No, this is not another post about the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, based on the lack of hits THAT post received I don’t think even my mother read it! This is about my favorite new yard tool! I have been searching for years for a way to take care of my yard and not burn gas to do it. Short of ripping out all the turf grass and replacing it with native plants and grasses, which neither my wife nor my HOA will allow, I have been stymied.

Years ago I tried using one of those throwback mowers. You know the kind, the reel mowers, the kind used before gas powered engines. That experiment did not work. Just ask my son, JT, who was just old enough to help dear old dad with the yard work. Our yard was too big, had too many bumps, twigs, rocks and other things that would get stuck in the blades as they spun bringing the mower, and the mow”er” to an abrupt stop. So we gave up on that idea, donated the reel mower to Goodwill and went back to the old Briggs and Stratton. But…my quest continued.

Fast forward about a decade and half. My wife and I were touring the Smart Home at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Read More) when we reached the garage, there it was, in the corner, next to the hydrogen powered car, The Neuton, a battery powered lawn mower (Read More). I swear there was a bright light from the heavens and a celestial chorus. (Ok, maybe it was just the solar powered lights in the garage and the radio, but hey, it’s my story). I knew right then and there, I had to have one.

Since it was autumn and it didn’t make much sense to take advantage of the six month money back guarantee when there wasn’t anything move, I anxiously awaited spring. In March, I placed my order. I was concerned about the size of my yard, so I ordered the larger of the two models and an extra battery, and of course I had to have the accessory pack which includes a weed trimmer/edger that attaches to the mower itself…how cool is THAT? Now before you shake your head at my wanton consumerism let me assure you, my current mower was over 10 years old, need significant repairs, AND I ordered one of the used, refurbished models.

I was like a kid at Christmas when it arrived, tore open the box and assembled it right there in the family room. It was a thing of beauty. I don’t know what was used and refurbished about it, it looked brand new!

A few days later it finally stopped raining and I gave it a whirl. It does a tremendous job on the yard. We have about 7,000 square feet of yard and it breezed right through it. I was glad I had ordered the extra battery for trimming, but to mow the yard itself I can do it with one charge. The trimmer attachment does take a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of maneuvering the mower with the trimmer attached it did a great job as well.

One of the amazing things about this mower is how quiet it is. As I am pushing it, I can actually hear the blade cutting through the grass. When my neighbor is mowing at the same time, I can hear the roar of his engine above the sound of the Neuton. I have even startled my wife as she works in the yard because she can’t hear me coming.

As for my old mower, after one time of using the Neuton, I donated the old mower. It’s now almost the end of May, two months into the mowing season here in Indiana, and I have yet to use any gas to mow or trim my yard. The batteries charge in about 24 hours and use just pennies of electricity. If you are looking for a way to reduce your carbon foot print or to stop fooling around with gas cans, I highly recommend the Neuton Mower. They even throw in a stylish ball cap with the lizard logo on it, so now Jim Morrison is not the only Lizard King!

No, this is not another post about the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, based on the lack of hits THAT post received I don’t think even my mother read it! This is about my favorite new yard tool! I have been searching for years for a way to take care of my yard and not burn gas to do it. Short of ripping out all the turf grass and replacing it with native plants and grasses, which neither my wife nor my HOA will allow, I have been stymied.

Years ago I tried using one of those throwback mowers. You know the kind, the reel mowers, the kind used before gas powered engines. That experiment did not work. Just ask my son, JT, who was just old enough to help dear old dad with the yard work. Our yard was too big, had too many bumps, twigs, rocks and other things that would get stuck in the blades as they spun bringing the mower, and the mow”er” to an abrupt stop. So we gave up on that idea, donated the reel mower to Goodwill and went back to the old Briggs and Stratton. But…my quest continued.

Fast forward about a decade and half. My wife and I were touring the Smart Home at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Read More) when we reached the garage, there it was, in the corner, next to the hydrogen powered car, The Neuton, a battery powered lawn mower (Read More). I swear there was a bright light from the heavens and a celestial chorus. (Ok, maybe it was just the solar powered lights in the garage and the radio, but hey, it’s my story). I knew right then and there, I had to have one.

Since it was autumn and it didn’t make much sense to take advantage of the six month money back guarantee when there wasn’t anything move, I anxiously awaited spring. In March, I placed my order. I was concerned about the size of my yard, so I ordered the larger of the two models and an extra battery, and of course I had to have the accessory pack which includes a weed trimmer/edger that attaches to the mower itself…how cool is THAT? Now before you shake your head at my wanton consumerism let me assure you, my current mower was over 10 years old, need significant repairs, AND I ordered one of the used, refurbished models.

I was like a kid at Christmas when it arrived, tore open the box and assembled it right there in the family room. It was a thing of beauty. I don’t know what was used and refurbished about it, it looked brand new!

A few days later it finally stopped raining and I gave it a whirl. It does a tremendous job on the yard. We have about 7,000 square feet of yard and it breezed right through it. I was glad I had ordered the extra battery for trimming, but to mow the yard itself I can do it with one charge. The trimmer attachment does take a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of maneuvering the mower with the trimmer attached it did a great job as well.

One of the amazing things about this mower is how quiet it is. As I am pushing it, I can actually hear the blade cutting through the grass. When my neighbor is mowing at the same time, I can hear the roar of his engine above the sound of the Neuton. I have even startled my wife as she works in the yard because she can’t hear me coming.

As for my old mower, after one time of using the Neuton, I donated the old mower. It’s now almost the end of May, two months into the mowing season here in Indiana, and I have yet to use any gas to mow or trim my yard. The batteries charge in about 24 hours and use just pennies of electricity. If you are looking for a way to reduce your carbon foot print or to stop fooling around with gas cans, I highly recommend the Neuton Mower. They even throw in a stylish ball cap with the lizard logo on it, so now Jim Morrison is not the only Lizard King!

I have a confession to make. I have an annoying habit. Ok, right now, I can hear my wife saying “AN annoying habit? As in singular? One?” So, yes, I may have more than one, but for this post let’s just focus on the one. I have a tendency to listen to the same CD or CD’s over, and over, and over again.

I can remember as a kid, I owned one 45 RPM (ok kids, look it up 45 RPM, it will be listed right under LP). I listened to “I’m not Your Steppin’ Stone” by the Monkees over and over and over and over again…and over. One afternoon, my older brother was driven NUTS by the “I, yi,yi,yim not yer steppin’ stone” that he appeared at the top of the stairs and literally bombarded me with dozens of 45 ‘s from his own collection, in essence giving them to me so I would play something else. I don’t remember how long that lasted, I am sure not long.

Today I still listen to basically the same music I did growing up (except for a brief foray into No Doubt – thanks Tami!). The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Led Zepplin, Rod Stewart, John Mellencamp, Muddy Waters to name a few. What I like to do is to load my car CD changer up with six CD’s from the same band and listen to them for months. Over, and Over and Over again.

In February, my wife gave me the boxed set from The Doors. Six CD’s in fact, the perfect number for my car. So, yes from February until now I have been listening to Jim Morrison and The Doors. What I realize is that for most people, they either love them or hate them. They say there is a fine line between genius and insanity. Morrison walked that line. If you ever want to stare into the face of insanity read the book “Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive”, it’s a chilling biography of James Morrison. If you ever want to see genius read his books of poetry. Yes, poetry. He wrote some amazing stuff and published a couple of collections of them.

However, I digress. So for three months I’ve been listening to these CD’s of songs that I have been listening to for 30 years, I can’t tell you how many times I have listened to “When the Music’s Over” from the Strange Days LP (again, kids, look it up), hundreds probably. This week, while driving back from Chicago, I finally heard it though (Ok JT, Brad, what is the line from White Men Can’t Jump? The one about listening to Jimi but not hearing Jimi?), Jim Morrison was an environmentalist! Yes in 1967 he was lamenting about the damage done to our planet…and warning of the end.

“We’re gettin’ tired of hangin’ around
Waitin’ around, with our heads to the ground
I hear a very gentle sound
 
Very near, yet very far
Very soft, yeah, very clear
Come today, come today
 
What have they done to the Earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down
 
I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground
We want the world and we want it…
Now
Now?
NOW!”
 

The words jumped out of the speakers at me. I listened to them (you guessed it) over, and over, and over again. I think the words are even more sobering today than in 1967, we are only now waking up to the facts of global climate change, the devastation to the earth, our fair sister. Listen to the earth. HEAR the earth!

Thanks Jim, RIP!

Since I wrote about receiving a Kill-A-Watt for Christmas last year (see blog post “Kill-A-What?”) I have been bombarded with a slew of inquiries about our progress. (OK, really, one guy asked! But I didn’t even know he was a reader, so it was still cool. Thanks Mark!)

You may recall that I was driving my wife crazy by plugging in the Kill-A-Watt, seeing how much power the device was “stealing”, and then shutting it off. We now have power strips all over the house. In that way we can shut off things like the TV, but leave the cable box with the DVR powered up so we don’t miss Lost; or I can power down my home office but leave the printer and the print server active (yes I AM a geek and we have a home network with more computers than people!). We learned (uh, I learned) don’t shut the power off to the cable box in the bedroom, it takes 10 minutes to reboot and by the time its ready, Letterman is done with his monologue.

So how are we doing? Over the last three months we have reduced our monthly kilowatt usage by almost 17% when compared against the average of the last four years (weather corrected, of course). That’s pretty good, I think. It equates to about a 12% reduction in our bills. Rates have gone up. Oh, wait, let me correct that. Rates have not gone up (they are quite proud of that) but a bunch of extra fees have been added on top of the rates.

My goal was to reach 20% so that we would offset the 20% surcharge we pay to have 100% Green Energy. While I haven’t quite made it to that level yet, it is in reach. I think wrapping the main heat duct in the basement (it’s the warmest room in the house) and wrapping the hot water pipes might push us over the top.

Meanwhile, its spring and my mind has turned to our yard and yard work. I recently purchased a (used) Neuton Lawnmower. The Neuton is a battery powered mower…no gas and MUCH quieter. It even comes with a trimmer attachment, so theoretically I will be able to do my entire yard without burning any gas and for pennies in electricity. I can’t wait to get out and do the first mow. (However, as I write this it is 40 degrees and yesterday it snowed! Maybe by the weekend!

Other yard projects include a small wildlife habitat, complete with native grasses, plants and shrubs and my wife’s favorite…ground cover for some little critters (maybe those chipmunks will move out from under the deck)! In the meantime, it’s more topsoil and mulch than I care to think about at the moment.

Final touches for this year, includes a couple of rain barrels (if approved by the HOA) and perhaps a couple bald cypress trees.

I will let you know how it goes…but you know, if you aren’t doing anything a couple Saturdays from now…beer and burgers at my place…did I mention that top soil and mulch?

Another Earth Hour has come and gone. Did you observe it? I have to admit, this was the first year that I participated.  What? You aren’t familiar with Earth Hour? Shame on you! That must mean you are not a reader of my Rivers of Change Action Alerts J. What? You don’t receive Rivers of Change Action Alerts? If you would like to be included in the email list either post a comment here or shoot me an email.

Ok, enough of the shameless promotion of Rivers of Change, back to Earth Hour. If you observed Earth Hour, please add a comment to the post describing how you passed the hour. If you did not observe it, I would love to hear from you as well…was it because you didn’t know about it, were you at work, or was the NCAA game on TV just too mesmerizing to remember to shut off your lights?

As for us, as I said, this was our first year. The first task for the day, was to identify which circuit breaker would shut off our outside carriage lights (shhh, don’t tell the HOA police). While doing this, I made a couple of interesting discoveries. First, electricians have pretty crappy handwriting. (At least the one that installed our breaker box and identified the breakers did) Second, I really DO need my glasses to read anything. Third, even with my glasses on the print was too small read. So I did what any helpless male would do. I asked my wife to read it for me. Excellent , breaker 25.

That evening, as it neared time for the appointed hour, I turned off the Pitt/Villanova game, started a fire in the fireplace and uncorked a bottom of wine (sorry Laurent, it was California wine) while my wife lit several candles around the house. At about 8:25 a huge thunderstorm hit. (Wouldn’t be ironic to have a power outage right about now?). I dashed out to unplug our garden lights and to trip breaker 25. Oops, not the right one. I don’t know what I turned off, but it was NOT the carriage lights. Frantic now to get the lights off (after all, I had to go dark, I had sent out the Rivers of Change alert to hundreds of people, I couldn’t leave my lights on!) I dashed back in the house and yelled for my wife. Thinking the only thing that would cause me to get so agitated was an impending tornado, a serious injury or a Dolphins loss she came running. Throwing caution to the wind, she calmly flipped breaker 27 and the carriage lights went out. (Damn, now why didn’t I think of that!)

So now, it was dark and just in time, too! The lights were off, the candles were lit, we had a roaring fire in the fireplace and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and we cozied down in the family room to…

Play The Lewis and Clark Board Game, of course! What were YOU thinking? Yes, there really IS a Lewis and Clark Board Game and YES, we really played it! In fact, at the end of the hour, we were not finished with our game, so we continued until my wife won AGAIN (she happens to be undefeated in that particular game). So for us, our Earth Hour was actually two.

You’ve now heard about my Earth Hour, now tell me about yours. I’m willing to bet you did not play The Lewis and Clark Board Game!

I must apologize to all my faithful readers; I’ve been silent now for a couple of weeks. Frankly, I’ve been stunned into silence by something I read. The Missouri River is sinking. Yes, sinking. In some areas between Nebraska and St. Louis the river is now 12 feet lower than it was 50 years ago, relatively the same amount of water, but the bottom of the river as “sunk”.

What stunned me was this…scientist and engineers are trying to figure why. Really? The word EROSION comes to mind, but what do I know. The article went on to say that the engineers are trying to figure out what to do about it. Really? Another word comes to mind…NOTHING!

Now, I love all rivers, but I have a special affinity to the Missouri River. This River, by most accounts is the longest river in the United States. It begins in the mountains of Montana and carves its way for over 2600 miles to the Mississippi. It is UP this river that Lewis and Clark and their men (and one woman and an infant) rowed, poled, pushed, and pulled their boats in an attempt to discover a northwest passage over 200 years ago. It is UP this river, that I myself, once planned to retrace their steps (or strokes as the case may be) in a canoe. Operative word is PLANNED, until an acquaintance from Kansas City exclaimed, “You are going to do WHAT on the Missouri River? Have you SEEN the Missouri River?”

The Missouri has cut its path across the western United States since the last ice age. During those thousands of years its channel has “wandered” across the plains, especially south of the Dakotas and into Missouri. What I mean by wandered is that it continues to cut new paths through the sandy soil. Lewis and Clark campsites that were on the north side of the river 200 years ago, are now on the south. Sections of river they traveled are now oxbow lakes. During their trip up the river the described countless times when the banks were caving in around them as the river eroded the backs, giant trees crashing into the water. Islands on which they camped on the way up stream where GONE three years later when they returned. They had been eroded away by the powerful current.

Aerial photographs of the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi show the color of the Mississippi changing to a muddy brown from all of the sand and silt being carried by the “Big Muddy”.

So, what has changed in 200 years? We have constructed six dams, impounding 35 % of the river. This prevents the river from flowing freely as it once did. This has had huge impacts on the down stream portions of the river. In addition, we have channelized the river by dredging (especially in the 700 hundred miles between Rulo, Nebraska and St. Louis, Missouri. We have constructed wing dykes, which force the water to the center of the channel, and we have constructed levees to protect our cities.

In a real sense, we have shackled the river and no longer allow it to wander. We continue to use its sands as a free source of sand for concrete and other uses. In the year 2000 alone 7.4 million tons of sand was dredged from the river for commercial uses and development.

Now, a sinking river does create an incredible set of complex problems ( imagine a bridge pylon that was buried 16 feet into the river bottom and now is only buried 8 feet), but does anybody else out there see the correlation or is it just me. We have strangled the river, forced it into a channel, stolen its resources for concrete and yet, we are mystified as to why it is sinking?

Now, what do about it? Imagine, if you will, the discussion a couple of kazillion years ago as the Colorado River began to cut its way through the soft rock of the Arizona desert. “Gosh, do you think we should do something about it? Maybe if we divert some of the water, it won’t wash away the village. Maybe we could line the bottom of the river with those big hard rocks and it won’t wash them away. OrOR, MAYBE WE SHOULD JUST MOVE THE TEEPEE TO A SAFER LOCATION!”

So when ARE we going to learn that you really can’t mess with Mother Nature; you can’t REALLY control a river; you can’t really prevent a flood; when you build in a flood plain you are just asking to get wet? My vote is, move the bridges, don’t move the river!

Mention Green IT to most CIO’s and they will talk about reducing the energy consumed by their data centers through strategies like virtualization, data de-duplication or cooling alternatives. Some may talk about energy settings on the desktop, LCD monitors vs. CRTs or maybe even desktop virtualization. Fewer still will go beyond the traditional role of IT and talk about things like building lighting systems, HVAC systems or building plug loads. In fact, very few CIOs get involved in facilities management or building operations. 

 As a former CIO, I think it is time we ventured beyond the accounting systems, order management applications, and website software, roll up our sleeves and learn about the buildings we work in every day. Technology can have a significant impact on the amount of energy consumed in the operations of a building. Let me rephrase that…Technology can have significant impact on the reduction of the amount of energy consumed in the operations of a building.

The popular quote, “If you can measure it, you can manage it,” certainly holds true in the area of energy consumption. This is where IT comes in! Building Management Systems (BMS) have been around for many years now. Typically, they are a single PC connected to the HVAC system that lets the technicians control the operation of the equipment. Some systems take it a step further and connect the building systems back to a central server that gathers the data, sends out alerts, and provides some reporting on the information. This has given birth to middleware applications that warehouse the data and provide analytics and additional insight into the information. Many of these systems have roots from the equipment manufacturer themselves. This has led to multiple standards, multiple formats and disparate systems that don’t communicate well with each other. As more devices become IP-enabled (lights, window shades, water systems, and yes, even paper towel dispensers) this issue will continue to grow.

This provides an incredible opportunity for IT help the business harness all of these systems and their data and drive costs out of the business. Every dollar saved through energy reductions has a direct impact on the bottom line results of the business. Whether you are a tenant in a building, the building manager or the building owner energy reductions can generate substantial savings, and, in the case of the building owner, increase the value of your asset.

CIOs and IT departments everywhere recently received a huge assist from networking giant, Cisco. They recently announced the launch of a new application, EnergyWise. EnergyWise will reside on Cisco switches and provide the capability to capture energy data from devices connected to the switch and, more importantly, they will be able to control the energy used by the devices connected to the switch. Initially, the management and control will be for devices that are powered by the switch using Power Over Ethernet (POE) technology. Subsequent phases will extend to Non-POE devices and building management systems.

This puts the CIO on center stage and gives him or her the ability to remove thousands of dollars of cost from the company. Remember the IBM commercial about green IT? How much did we spend on energy last year? The opportunity is enormous!

For those that are wondering, yes, I know how to spell awareness (and so does my spell checker)!

I recently read the book “Awearness”, by Kenneth Cole, yes, that, Kenneth Cole, the fashion designer. (Thanks for the gift Jane!). I must admit, I was not AWARE of Mr. Cole’s involvement in social, environmental and political issues. He truly leads his company with a triple bottom line approach of People, Planet and Profit.

 It was my reading of this book that inspired me to create the “Rivers of Change Action Alert” that many of you received. (If you did not receive it and would like to receive a periodic email highlighting areas in which you can become involved, or you would like to see a sample, please drop me an email or post to this blog).

 The chapters in the book are divided into issues confronting the world such as: Political Activism, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, AIDs, the Environment and more. Each chapter begins with an introduction of the topic by Mr. Cole. Following the introduction are articles written various people, some who have reached celebrity status and some who may not be household names. These articles zero in on specific aspects of the issues. One of the things that set this book apart in my mind is the way each chapter closes.

 Each chapter ends with a section titled “HOW TO…” which details several ways an individual can get involved with the issue covered in the chapter. These actions are categorized by “Time”, “Items”, “Expertise”, and “Dollars”. Following that is the “WHERE TO…” section which provides descriptions and web addresses for a multitude of organizations working on that particular issue.

 This book has something for everyone from Robert Redford writing on free speech to Rachael Ray on nutrition for kids. The list of authors is incredible: Melissa Etheridge, Martin Luther King III, Ashley Judd, Russell Simmons, Jon Bon Jovi, Lauren Bush, Lance Armstrong, Dr. Victoria Hale, President Bill Clinton, Sir Elton John, Ludacris, Sarah Brady, and many, many, more!

 The Environment chapter, titled “Is It Us, or Is It Warm in Here?” begins with an article by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. about kicking our carbon addiction, moves through Avery Hairston encouraging youth involvement and Woody Harrelson on sustainable living and ends with Alicia Silverstone on the impacts of our diets on the environment and Lance Bass on how to spread the word. The “HOW TO…” section has suggestions for using our Time to become politically involved or encouraging involvement at work or school, and thinking green at home. The Items category recommends BYOB (Bring your own bag) shopping or building a rainwater-catching system. It goes on to encourage using our Expertise to produce a website, become a public speaker, or start a community garden. We can also put our Dollars to use by buying local, or save money by saving energy, or sponsoring and endangered animal.

 I am certainly not doing the book justice here. I encourage you to check out KennethCole.Com or Awearnessblog.Com and of course read the book! And please, let me know your thoughts after you do!