I hope you have had the chance to see this play. Perhaps you are fully aware that it is “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz” based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It represents an alternative telling of the witches from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” and L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum’s novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda the Good, who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace.

On one level, this is simply a great back-story. However, most people who see the play agree that it is an interesting commentary on what is truly or not truly wicked about a person and their deeds in life. My favorite part of this is the soliloquy by the Wizard in the song Wonderful where he states:

“Where I come from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true. We call it history. A man’s called a traitor or liberator. A rich man’s a thief or philanthropist. Is one a crusader or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities, so we act as though they don’t exist.”

What brings this to mind is an article in the Wall Street Journal lamenting the shifting sands of taxation as the internet continues its growth, you, and I stop buying things in conventional ways. Taxes are being reduced as a result, so taxing authorities try to find new ways to tax their replacements. We stop buying DVDs, so let’s tax video streaming services like Netflix.

Shouldn’t we first ask the question why taxes are being collected in the first place? If I watch TV on my computer, I see ads that pay for that service just like ads pay for TV being broadcast to a TV set. What difference does it make whether I watch the program using the over-the-air broadcast system or I watch it online. I have to pay for the data when I do that online.

So, who is being evil here? I think the taxing authorities should first be explaining why we should be paying the taxes in the first place and for what purpose and then work through the new supply chain to see who would be willing to fund the rightful costs in exchange for their imaging or good will. We have the Public Broadcasting Network already built on that model.

Taxing the economy is just like the play Wicked. It is a matter of perspective only after you take a very close look at both sides of the issues. It seems we are excessively prone to continue taxes just because those depending upon them feel they need them. I am not convinced.

Sitting on the Premises


A recent Sunday school lesson started with a play on words shown as the title of this blog. Everyone in the class laughed immediately. No one needed any explanations. Besides being a twist on the title of a familiar song, “Standing on the Promises”, it was just so profoundly accurate and descriptive of life today.

That prompted me to check out who wrote the song.   It was composed by Russell Kelso Carter, a star athlete, excellent student, successful teacher and coach, an ordained Methodist minister, and a doctor of medicine! He was also a musician and songwriter. In 1886, he co-authored a hymn book with John Sweney that included Carter’s most famous hymn, “Standing on the Promises”.

At age 30, Carter’s heart was failing and physicians of the day could do no more for him. Carter turned to God for help and healing and it was then that he began to stand upon his understandings of the biblical promises of healing. He was determined to believe no matter what his physical condition, nor how he felt. Over the course of the next several months, his strength returned and his heart was completely healed! Carter lived another healthy 49 years.

The hymn Carter had written several years before his healing miracle had now became more than words and music to him. He stopped “sitting on the premises” and the act of “standing on the promises” became an integral part of his life. So, even for the guy who wrote the song, sitting on the premises was an easy trap to fall into and certainly not enough. Interesting and inspiring.

Perhaps this then is also a lesson for all of us today in the energy industry. Perhaps we have been too comfortable and complacent just sitting on the sidelines accepting the status quo and business the way it used to be. Maybe this is a call to stand for what we believe in and act in ways that produce positive outcomes. Something to ponder.

Eat Your Spinach!


It is funny to me how differently people think about things. When President Bush complained that he didn’t like broccoli, it set off a series of lawsuits. Now, the movie Jurassic World seems clearly to be setting records at the box office while movie critics complain that it is a terrible movie … kind of like complaining that people do not eat their spinach. After all, it is good for them.

Take a look at this rant: Jurassic World is a Huge Mega Hit

I remember Popeye the Sailor who did eat his spinach. He can have the maiden Olive Oil for all I care. Not my type. And, frankly, I like spinach, broccoli, and get this … Brussel sprouts … which my children always called with distain, Brussel bumps! Yes, I really do like them. But, I am in a rare group who do.

If we are going to measure success by what customers buy, perhaps we do have to lower our academic and philosophically elitist standards. We are not wrong … we are perhaps just a bit naïve. That my friends is why I used James Carville’s one-liner from Bill Clinton’s campaign: It’s the economy stupid!

That is why I wrote the book about how measuring temperature is going to turn the energy world upside down … in ways very similar to the reasons why Jurassic World is so popular … people want this type of information. They don’t want to work hard to understand things. It’s the Thermostat Stupid.

If you want a digital copy just let me know.


Fine Whine

fine wine

No I did not misspell that title … and yes, it is a play on words. I was scanning the Wall Street Journal this morning and found an article about scoring fine wine.  Now I have to admit, I have been very suspicious of the wine scores I see in the store, but to be perfectly honest, I only look at them when I am tempted to buy a cheap bottle at Publix and just want to be sure it will not taste awful. I find most wine is pretty good these days even when I am only paying a few dollars for a bottle of red.

Now, yes, there are times when I truly enjoy some of the “better” wines but I am perfectly fine with garden-variety wines for a glass with my meal … seems like one of those lovely pleasures in life.

So, what is my point about whine vs. wine? We have now become connoisseurs about too many things and have let the quest for the perfect get out of balance with the reality that there is always a law of diminishing returns. People who know a lot about a subject can strut their stuff and many times convince us that simple solutions are simply not as elegant and therefore as desirable as the best.

In a previous blog, I pointed out that NASA spent millions of dollars designing a ball point pen that would work in outer space. The Russians simply chose to use pencils.

We are all now listening to politicians and their ideas about immigration issues. Truly, this situation deserves careful and thoughtful actions. It is terribly complex, especially after decades of kicking the politically charged can down the road. But, in our small company we just lost two valuable employees who had perfectly valid work visas because they failed to file a certain form on time and were GONE two days later … no ifs, ands, or buts. Two perfectly productive, tax-paying individuals were ejected from our country for simply not having a form filled out after years of productively working here.

To me, what we are listening to from all too many politicians is a fine whine and little leadership to resolve the problem.

The Penalty for Leadership


This will be a short blog, but it will not be sweet.

Our politicians love to create glib legislative objectives: 20% by 2020… almost as if the numbers aligned with some form of cosmic numerology.

Then, they glibly decide base years for their metrics… with absolutely no regard for rewarding those who acted early to do the right thing according to these same metrics.

For example, let’s say the government decides to give people health plan discounts for maintaining their weight. Base year thinking would be to give credit to those who lose compared to a point in time, so someone who weighed 250 pounds and lost 20 pounds might get a credit of x. The person who was at their ideal weight all along and lost nothing would get no credit. The penalty for leadership in action.

So, when companies with vision and leadership do the right things ahead of these superficial decisions, they are not going to get to “take credit” according to these arbitrary and capricious rules created as a part of these political grand plans.

So… why do the right thing when it literally pays to drag your feet and wait to the very last minute so you can the cheaply and easily do what you should have done all along … because there is a penalty for leadership.

Think about it. This is truly sad. When are we going to confront it?