California Dryness

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It’s dry.

At the end of January, I visit Sacramento, California for four days.  The moment I step out of the airport terminal at 9:30 p.m., I feel that all is not as it should be.  I grew up in the Sacramento valley.  In January, the weather should be rainy, overcast, maybe windy.

My mother and brother pick me up at the airport, and in the car the drought is the main topic of conversation.  When I step out of the car in one of the city’s famous tree-decked neighborhoods, I smell the acrid scent of a heavy layer of smog.  The temperature is a spooky, not-normal 60 degrees.  Dry leaves fallen from the huge trees have turned to dust underfoot.  My mother hacks and coughs because of the dust and smog.

“It hasn’t rained at all for 51 days,” my stepfather says.  He has a long memory of the local weather; he has lived here since the 1960s. The governor of California declared a drought emergency and asked people to voluntarily cut back water use by 20%.

What does reducing water use by 20% mean? my mother wonders.  It means watering the lawn with their lawn sprinkler system only about every 10 days.  The lawn grass is thin and dry.  They do not have a dishwasher, but wash dishes in the sink, using an environmentally friendly dishwashing soap.  We start transferring the used dishwater into a bucket to pour it on the roots of the roses, geraniums and raspberry bushes.

We turn off the water when we brush our teeth, and flush the toilets less often, unless what occurred requires flushing.  Run the washing machine with full loads only – check.  Don’t wash the cars or hose down the driveway and sidewalk – check.

When we walk the dog and find ourselves crossing a soaked sidewalk next to someone’s emerald green front lawn, I feel resentful.  Don’t the occupants of that house realize the seriousness of the water situation?  Water for drinking, washing and medical uses is more important than their green lawn.

I remember the western Washington drought of 1987.  We took brief “Navy” showers, and stopped watering the lawn, which turned brown and looked dead.  We collected water from warming up the shower, and from dishwashing, and used it to try to keep the most valuable landscape plants alive.  I had no vegetable garden that year.  It took care and dedication to achieve our goal of using less than 60 gallons a day, but we did it all summer.  Our water agency applied large surcharges for excess water use, to make people comply.


Ripples on a section of dry lake bottom near Folsom Dam, east of Sacramento. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

If it doesn’t start snowing in the Sierrias soon, California is in for a tough summer.


Lessons from Steve Rubel, EVP Edelman, on Social Media

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In 2011, I attended a seminar by Steve Rubel on social networking.  Here are my notes.

  1. Learn about Attentionomics – realize the value of attention, not just the number of friends.
  2. Be a digital curator – separate the “good stuff” from the junk.  In a business, curation needs to be collaborative and social.
  3. Develop engagement – make information about user needs accessible to those who develop apps and content.
  4. Use transmedia storytelling – “People crave stories.”  Stories need to be more visual; the classic beginning-middle-end is no longer the best model for a corporate story.  Equip employees or users to tell their own stories.
  5. Engage thought leadership – in a business setting, use the right people to engage in the social media space.  Educate them and fan them out in media areas.
  6. Integration – in business, social media needs to be everyone’s job.  Learn how to be a social media-engaged business or organization. Build a social media command center. Integrate and share intelligence.
  7. Ubiquitous social computing – social media is going to be everywhere.
  8. Content is no longer going to be consumed the way you “designed” it.  For example, what does your website look like on a smartphone.  Do your social media channels link to each other?
  9. Blend local, social, photo, mobile, tablet.
  10. Deal with social media overload – people begin to choose only certain channels because they are overwhelmed by too many choices.
  11. Make social participation effortless.  An example: Google will (or as of this writing already has) engineered their way to index Facebook and other social media content.  To leverage this, you need to change your headline to what you think people are searching for.
  12. Make your website more elegant and integrated with social media.
  13. ROI = Reach (how many)+Engage (how long)+Sentiment (what do users say to others about you)+Participation (do they sign up)

Thunderation! It starts

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This is my first blog post.  It is probably very much like other people’s first blog post.

Thunder and lightning is happening where I live.  Summer is ending.