The Latest Pied Pipers

Pied_piperAccording to the ultimate reference for all truth, Wikipedia, the Pied Piper of Hamelin is the subject of a legend from the German town of Hamelin during the Middle Ages. The earliest references describe a piper, dressed in multicolored (“pied”) clothing, who was a rat-catcher hired by the town to lure rats away with his magic pipe. When the citizens refuse to pay for this service, he retaliates by using his instrument’s magic power on their children, leading them away as he had the rats. This version of the story spread as folklore and has appeared in the writings of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Brothers Grimm, and Robert Browning, among others.

There are many contradicting theories about the Pied Piper. Some have been proposed suggesting he was a symbol of hope to the people of Hamelin, which had been attacked by plague; he moved all the rats out from the town of Hamelin, thus saving the people from the epidemic disease.

We get the phrase “pay the piper” from this story and, while rarely used in today’s conversations, most of you of my generation will immediately remember this story if I use that phrase.

Well now, isn’t that interesting.  Wouldn’t that be an interesting question for Millennials?  Do they know the story?  Would they consider it a fable or a myth?  Fables are useful stories because they illustrate truths … sometimes much deeper than we can do with real stories.  We have the fox and the grapes, the tortoise and the hare, etc.  Do we relish the art of fable telling anymore, or are we too callous to entertain them?

To me at least the art of storytelling is better than the harsh realities of today’s truths because it guides our hearts and minds for the long run.  We dream dreams and see visions of what can truly be a beautiful future.  It acts as a compass to keep us on the right course.

What I also like about stories like this is that they do not contain yelling and bashing of people.  They remind us that subtle truths require our minds and hearts to “soak in” these ideas so they permeate our perspectives and result in true balance.

We certainly need to rid ourselves of rats.  We also need to protect our customers from rats.  There is a lot of work to be done.  Perhaps we need a new flute or a better tune to play.  At Apogee, our work is devoted to developing cutting-edge tools and technology that help our utility clients build trust and stay engaged with their customers. That’s our tune and we are stickin’ with it.



Wired Up Backwards

Backward BikeSomeone posted this video on my Facebook page and I believe it holds a fundamental truth about habits and instincts.

As I posted a while back, we all have a lot to learn about the way we learn to ride a bicycle. Today’s experts will all tell you that taking off the pedals will accelerate the learning dramatically … most can learn to ride in just a few minutes when you do that.

However, watch this video and realize that once you learn, your brain is wired up backwards to ride this bike. It is almost impossible to unlearn and relearn. Click here to view the video.

How many of today’s challenges are made worse because our brains are wired up from previous points of view?

I am not sure, but I would suspect we have a lot to learn from Millennials who seem to see things very differently than we do.

In fact, this election cycle is likely to reveal a lot about the way they are wired.

They seem to walk to the beat of a different drummer.

I just hope it is not a Pied Piper.

Now that will be the subject of another blog for sure.

Thanks for being part of my journey through all this.



“Hello Darkness, My Old Friend…”

Simon Garfunkel

Released in 1964, Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” is one of the most culturally important songs to emerge out of the 20th century. It’s Paul Simon lamenting his fellow man’s inability to communicate on an emotional level, fostering a generation that doesn’t know how to love, and came hot on the heels of both the Civil Rights Movement and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.   The simplicity of   “The Sound of Silence” – just the voices of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel with Paul’s acoustic guitar accompanying them – is what makes this classic so incredibly powerful, standing the test of time nearly half a century after its release.

Only the most callous person can fail to be moved by the song’s simple truth. We all need each other … well, if we were really honest with ourselves, we would admit that. The waters are troubled these days. The information age has covered us with things that can give us sleepless nights. The one thing the information age has not given us is “true connectedness” … we are more disconnected emotionally than ever before … distracted by the sense that we are somehow connected digitally.
As someone on Facebook posted the final performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by these two iconic professionals, it struck me how prophetic the lyrics were.

Please enjoy this final performance: Click Here
I was attending Rennselaer when they performed on campus. I can still remember how powerful their music was. However, I must admit today that I didn’t realize how accurate their poetry was. They were, and still are, modern day prophets. Their lyrics could be some of the best reflection of the New Testament story for today.
The short segment below is from “The Sound of Silence.” While each and every word is profound, it struck me that this short passage says it all about where we are:

“And in the naked light I saw, ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared, and no one dared
To stir the sound of silence”

We should all just take a deep breath and ponder this just a bit more deeply. It is time to build those bridges … no … it is long overdue that we all work harder at building bridges. There is plenty of troubled water. There is much to do.

Groundhog Day


Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday celebrated each year on February 2.

According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, the spring season will come early. However, if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den and winter weather will persist for six more weeks. If you saw the news this year, you know that an early spring is predicted. We will see.

Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper Punxsutawney Spirit at the time, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official “Groundhog Day meteorologist.” The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, starring Punxsutawney Phil.

Perhaps we need a mascot to give people a fun, folksy way of passing the time, talking about the future, and not simply staying in our burros? There is something cathartic about silly exercises like this, especially when you can associate it with cute animals.

Where is Reddy Kilowatt when you really need him? Can we locate Willie Wiredhand? Oh … that’s right … at least we now have, unafraid to predict the future, and way more reliable than Phil, Captain Obvious!