Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The moment my life changed

It was 6:30am and we were at St. Vincent's Hospital awaiting surgery.  This was Marci's 3rd thoracotomy in 18 months.  You see, her lung tumors were growing ... more rapidly than they had in the 28 years prior.  She had met with the surgeon a couple days prior ... I had offered to go with her, but she simply said, you need to go to work ... Don't worry, I've got this."  And so I went to work.  I relived that decision almost every day ... for a very long time.  What didn't she tell me?  What did she hear about the true risk of the surgery she was agreeing to?  Did she go in expecting to once again endure the inevitable pain of recovery?  Did she think she would have hope ... Maybe be part of the emerging clinical trial of viral therapy to treat lung tumors?  Or did the Dr. tell her that this was her last and final hope to live even 6 months more ... To hold her 2 young boys, to feel her husband laying beside her for a little while longer?  Maybe justa little  more time to prepare ... To make plans and make peace?  
In her gown, in her last bed, this mass produced and easily cleaned hospital bed ... she said goodbye.  I said, see you in a bit ... Like this was her going in to the dentist to have a tooth worked on ... A routine that we'd been through ... Familiar, not pleasant, but known.
We sat in the lobby ... Marci's mom, sister, brothers ... Waiting. Chatting a bit and reading the current issue of US magazine... Watching whatever was on at 8 am ... Good morning America or some such thing... Waiting. We knew she would be thin, weak, in pain... She was always in pain... Healing is painful but we would help ... We'd be there to help her. 
When they moved us to a private waiting area ... We knew the routine was broken ... By the time the anesthesiologist came in ... Eyes down... Defeated ... We were broken... Everything was broken... Ground zero.  And at that moment ... My life, everyone's life ... Changed. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New thinking in EERE projects

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy ( EERE ) seems to be a puzzle that the current banking professionals seem to be attempting to solve with the same old tools ... term financing structures composed of principal and interest, fully amortizing over the useful life of the equipment (5-10 years).  This is equipment finance traditionally constrained by capital equipment used in the everyday operations of going concern businesses. 
The gap comes in our uncertainty regarding the production capacity of this equipment, or retrofit system solution.  What happens if the spring turns out to be colder and darker that we would otherwise expect.  The equipment generates less power and that power generation translates into reduced income to service debt.
Government subsidies defined by the PUC compound the issue.  For example, the current Feed In Tariff  (FIT) was calculated so as to pay for the cost of solar PV systems over 15 years.  Within that calculation, the PUC included the cost of financing, but did so assuming a fixed rate, 15 year, fully amortizing loan facility.
Again., the gap is that this particular loan facility is seldom used, and when it is used, banks tend to add a loan pricing premium as a hedge to rising cost of funds and a generally escalating interest rate environment.
We need to think about renewable energy in a new light.  I would like to throw out an idea that I think holds water as supporting vehicles for a growing EERE market.
First - when financing solar PV in concert with the FIT program, a reasonable structure for loan service would be monthly interest payments with an annual leveling payment.  What I mean by this is for banks to take assignment of the FIT revenue stemming from energy production of a Solar PV system and apply that revenue to the interest portion of the loan on a monthly basis.  During the winter months, the loan, consisting of an interest account and a principal account, would self service the interest portion of the debt, but would likely not reduce the principal balance of the loan.  This "issue" would self correct over the Summer and fall months when the sun shines longer and the days are longer.  I would expect that the interest portion of the loan would self correct over the summer months and the principal portion of the loan would be reduced.  In the event that the production of the system exceeded projections, the loan would amortize faster than expected ... a good situation for the bank and for the system owner.  In the event that the system failed to generate a minimum production capacity over the year's time, a leveling payment would be required by the system owner.  This leveling payment could come from a pre-determined cash reserve account required by the bank at loan inception.  This type of approach would mitigate payment and amortization risk to the bank and keep the investment of the system owner at a minimal level, thereby preserving the owner liquidity.
Wind systems could be addressed in a similar way ... monthly interest payment with scheduled principal balance reductions in order to keep the loan performing to the expectations of the bank or financing entity.
With some creative thinking and a willing finance community, EERE projects can be a profitable and predictable market sector. 

Monday, July 5, 2010


When life seems to be going in all directions without focus or reason, and it seems our choices are not our own but belong to others more concerned with their own rewards, and not how their actions are affecting others ... what is the answer to living with some amount of serenity, calm, and assuredness that everything is truly advancing according to the greater plan and trajectory of life?  How can we see the perfect workings of God's perfect creation ... that each and every turn, each participant, is truly perfect at that moment?  Can it be perfect when there seems to be so much pain and suffering in the world ... so much doubt and uncertainty ... so much that is seemingly wrong?
"All things work to the glory of God."  All things ... not some ... not only the pleasant and beneficial ... All.
 Abundance and scarcity, joy and pain, certainty and doubt, faith and hopelessness.  All things are needed ... all things serve a purpose ... all things.
As the seasons change and the trees give birth to leaves, providing shade and nourishment, which then fall to the ground, dead, to nourish the soil and begin again ... so our lives go in endless cycles of blessings and need.  We get so caught up in the moment ... Tolle writes that there is only "now" ... we find our balance in now.  But when now seems to be in the vortex of a tornedo of doubt and uncertainty ... when life seems to be spinning according only to friction caused by opposing winds and temperatures ... when there seems to be only turmoil and strife ... where is the serenity in the moment ... in now?
So I think it is more than that ... more than "now" ... it is the necessary balance of opposing forces that drives our lives ... our growth comes in recognizing the fleeting, temporal nature of the moment and that there is harmony in opposition.  Great evil demands great good ... great selfishness demands great philanthropy.
Imagine a world where the difference between excess and want is so small that there would be no need for heroism?
The golden rule of selflessness and benevolence points to our natural ability to eliminate disparity.  What a wonderful picture ... yet as we are only infants in our ways ... still fighting for our needs to be met now ... it's hard to see the big picture ... and so our comfort comes in the belief that everything is necessary ... and our desire to be on the giving end of the continuom ...
Our choices within the malestrom of life - to love, give, support and build - to accept and adjust and adapt - to the extent that we can, to teach, and honor, and give thanks.  Our choices reside in the stillness found when we let go of our fears ... in the moment ... and trust that the universe and all the worlds, nations, people, animals, plants and cells ... are working in concert and accomodate our choices as necessary workings of the greater whole ... in that moment and realization ... we find the glory of God.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I feel like I have gone over this so many times. But then, when you lose the wife and mother of your children to cancer, I guess abandonment, attachment, and related themes will repeat themselves.
What's important ... what's the secret to Happiness? Mitch Albom, in his book, Have a Little Faith (Hyperion, 2009) gives us his two cents. "When a child comes into the world, his hands are clenched ... because he wants to grasp at everything ... the world is mine. When an old man leaves the world, his hands are open ... he has learned the lesson ... you can take nothing with you. The sercet to happiness ... Be Satisfied ... Be Grateful ... For what you have, for the love you receive and for what God has given you ... That's it."
Sage words from an author who is so adept at showing us the beauty and transience of life.
Below all of that gratitude is TRUST. Trust that there is a larger plan, that the universe is on a perfect path, that injustice will ultimately serve God's purpose because God can turn the faults of man and make them levers to activate the hearts of those who can and are willing to change. Change themselves through growth and self-assessment, change the world through vision and inspiration.
So, where does it all lead? ... tonight I have not the foggiest idea. I wish I did. I do know that it is better to believe that our pain will turn to hope ... loss will turn to compassion ... less will become ample ... and the least shall be exalted. I want to experience this ... I say, "God, I want a full life ... I want it all" ... and in the process I am blessed with self doubt, insecurity, fear ... above all fear. And through all of that, I learn to Love, to trust, and to be grateful for all that I have, for the love I receive, and for what God has given me. That's all there is to this life ... all that I really know, believe, and hope for. I am sure this will come up again ... it has for thousands of years ... attachment, prosperity, now ... all teach of the transience of our life here on earth and ask us to look for your rewards within our hearts - faith, hope, compassion, gratitude, and service ... I ... I am working on integrity ... that my words and actions align in all directions, connotations, directions, steps ... that I may act and be in harmony with every act, utterance, and leaning - ultimately holding to the highest standard of thought and deed. Yeah - I know - good luck with that. It is worth striving towards ... funny that I have no shortage of persons willing to point out my inconsistencies - the loudest being the ones I love the most.
And so I pray "God - in all of your glory - make this imperfect one serve your greater and higher purpose ..."
Til next ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009


PensamentImage by Sergi Monsegur via Flickr

Life guides us to the place where we can make the greatest impact ... the place where we are most effective. Interestingly, we don't necessarily know where that is at any given moment in time. What I have recognized is that when I look at my personal and professional trajectory - it seems to be moving always in the same general direction ... whether by choice or by circumstance.
It's important to find that quiet place and to take the time to step back, without agendas or expectations, and to just observe the course of one's life. Accept it as necessary to grow, learn, become, and be ... living a life in harmony with all that surrounds us.
Change starts with a harmonious announcement ... the symphony teaches us that, flights of birds, the sunrise and sunsets, blossoming flowers ... all of the wonders of life ... they demonstrate how beauty erupts in concert with its environment.

My place, our place, is to develop a sense of becoming, accepting the nuances and guidance of our environment, and to announce our self, through action, in harmony with our surroundings. We can all become that clarion call, inspiring others to join us ... I believe we can hear it each day and that it moves us to our place of effective and genuinely joyful living.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009


Andrew Revkin was in town today speaking on the question, "9 Billion people + 1 Earth = ?"
It is the essential question that he addresses on his Blog "Dot Earth," and I believe an important one ... maybe the quintessential question of our time.

His ideas point to how the success of any answer addressing global population growth is dependent on the broader cooperation of every stakeholder in the proposition.

China cannot succeed without Europe, and the US, and So America, and others. The developed world cannot adequately address the problem of global warming and eradicating poverty, unilaterally.

The solution will take the efforts and best thinking of all parties and will require consensus and collaboration.

From that broader premise flows the local application ... Oregon's problems are solved only through broad consensus, collaboration, risk-sharing and accountability. Government alone cannot create the economic opportunity needed to bring us out of this recession - nor can the entirety of the burden be borne solely by the private sector, equity or institutional finance. It will take the knowledge and collaborative application of solutions that are born of discussion, of mutually beneficial agreements, and of mutual risk-sharing.

Al Gore states that it is a question of political will ... until our elected officials look to the long range solution, and decouple that solution from short term gains, will we make any progress. I know that Umpqua Bank is wrestling with this issue. How do we create alternative forms of agreement between public, private, and institutional sources of financing that are prudent in approach, limit the downside risk, and spur economic growth and development, both in terms of jobs and in terms of opportunity for the communities in which we live? The answer is one of recognizing the connectedness of our people and those institutions which rely on those people to thrive.

Research, Academia, Finance, Government, Service, and Manufacturing all have the same goal. Strengthening the foundation of talent and of production that will keep our economy growing. It is time to enlist the input of all stakeholders and to do so regularly ... with the singular focus of creating economic opportunity, strengthening educational programs, and sharing in what works and what has proven to be problematic.

And so I challenge each of us to reach out to those of similar and differing opinions to have an open conversation about our path through the current economic difficulties. What role and responsibility will each of us accept in our path forward? What will our commitment be to each other for our mutual benefit? We can take the long view and grow together ... we must. In so doing, we will insure our future place in the forefront of growth and prosperity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Holding on

What do we hold on to? Family, friends, old loves, hurts, success, failure, money, notoriety, our self and how we want to be, are, were? In these times of constant change, attachments are weak at best, how things have always been, and how they are in the moment, often have little in common. So what do we do? What can we do to live and thrive in the world as it is - constantly changing, fluid, and uncertain?
I find myself observing more and more. To be aware of the ever changing landscape of my life and the business community is more than a full time job. Within the observing, there are seams of opportunity - like eddies within a strong current. My ability to create lies in how easily I slip into those seams and use its gentle flow to move in the direction of where I want to go. It is in that un-resistant environment that I create.
Incremental progress towards the larger good ... that is where opportunity lies. And so, I let go of my desire to make broad leaps and bold moves, and I recognize that in the lesser effort of letting go and moving in concert with that fleeting eb, against the heavy current of skepticism and doubt, I can change little aspects of life. And in so doing change in concert with it.
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Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Our place in this world ... in a sense our aspect of the world through the lens of our experience and beliefs ... is a microcosm of the world itself, and it is the totality of the world as it exists.

Put simply - I and my community are mutually dependent, and not only that, we are one. I used to think that I could exist apart from the world ... When I was younger, my youth pastor used to tell me that we live in the world, but are not of the world ... "In it, not of it." Christians are separate, better than, saved. If there is a downfall to most organized religion, it is the thought that once a person is "Saved or Converted" they become new, different, distinct, and separate. In all respects, that is a fallacy.
We cannot exist separately from our environment, our community, our family, or our self. It is that isolation that becomes the slippery slope to thinking that we can act selfishly, that we are alone, and is the beginning of all illness, both personal and environmental.
Our society needs to relearn the meaning of integrity and use it as a universal aspect of our existence - we are never apart from; we are. We exist in concert with everything, and everyone. I hope that the environmental movement will inspire the general populace and our elected and chosen leaders to remember one simple fact ... apart from anything, we are nothing.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Safe Harbor

The wonder of life is our opportunity to create and re-create. Outside of ourselves, within ourselves, through ourselves ... we create. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book "Eat, Pray, Love," recalls how she decided to think in only positive and loving ways, of herself and of others ... her mind was a safe harbor - a refuge from all of the uncertainty of life. I so admire her willingness to put that thought out there. We are our own safe harbor - sheltered from the winds of uncertainty and the rising tide of doubt. We believe, than act, and in so doing move the world incrementally towards a higher purpose and being.

Although today I had my moments of sorrow and regret ... I am becoming each day more in awe of the wondrous journey that this life is for me ... and laugh out loud at the riddle of its meaning. I am safe harbor, calm, and a beautiful part of all that is.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome the weather

These are amazing times. Amazing is one of those words that can be used to describe unbelievably good, or unbelievably bad: unbelievable is another one. Anyways, regardless of whether times are good, bad or somewhere in between - I am always taken by how the world around us is interpreted through our lens of expectations, hopes, fears, and past experiences.

Sometimes, I find myself running through a vast dialogue of point / counter-point on a topic of conversation that never occurs. It almost sounds a bit looney, really. We are all human, intelligent, and we learn. Through experience, and the learning that results, we are able to predict outcomes ... and there is nothing wrong with that. I would take it one step deeper to say that it is not really a question of right and wrong. It is more a question of comfort and discomfort, or of harmony and dischord.

I have been trying the following exercise ... prediction and effect, and then the next effect, and then the next effect - following that prediction / effect sequence to its final outcome. Each time I find that the final outcome is not really all that bad ... and if I take the time to look for the opportunities within each effect and outcome, then they are there in amazing numbers.

I would posit the each outcome has either a desired effect and known impact, or it has an unexpected effect and unknown impact. Either way, there are opportunities available. So our attitude towards what we predict to happen has everything to do with our attitude towards opportunities ... do we welcome them, or are we trying to keep our heads down and "ride out the storm?"

I am realizing that I really enjoy the weather - yesterday's thunder and lightning was amazing in both its speed and its intensity - and then it was gone, leaving that clean, fresh, ozone laden air that I love here in Oregon.

So, welcome the storm, look with unbiased and open eyes at each moment and find the beauty, grace, joy, and challenge in it. I like to say that we don't board the roller-coaster ride to fall asleep - he board to experience the joy of momentum, of gravity, and of weightlessness - how much greater are the experiences in life. It is a great ride, don't you think?

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