Dear Logan (by my sister Karah)

Great post by my little sister down in New Zealand about our Cousin Logan. Love you Sis.

karahzy

(I recently had one of my little Cousins die. It was very unexpected, and I could not be with my family for the ceremonies. I still want them to know how much I care. Here is a little something I wrote with some pictures to remember him… read until the very end.)

Dear Cuz,

            You know those things that you never really like to tell anyone? Those things you like to keep secret? Well one of those things for me was my admiration and love for my family. I have loved them no matter what the situation. I have always thought of the heart as a special object, for everyone. The only thing is that I believe the heart is more than just an object you give away to someone, or a thing that gives you feeling. I believe that the heart is a vessel, which allows you to…

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Logan

Cuz…

If I could tell you one thing,
I would tell you that you are loved more than you know.

If we could talk once more,
I would remind you how proud I am of everything you’ve done.
How proud I am of how hard you work,
of how committed and steadfast you are,
of how great it is to have you around,
and how you’re going to grow up to be so much cooler than your big cousin.

If I could see you once more,
I wouldn’t miss your last baseball game.

If we could hang out one more day at the lake,
I would still be in awe of your perfect gainers.

If you could teach me one more thing,
it would be your serene calm under pressure.

If I could hear you now,
your infectious laugh would fill the room.

If I could show you one thing,
it would be a world incomplete without you.

—Rest in Peace Cuz—

Logan Herr (1996-2012)

[Updated: 09-Jul-2012 @ 1:45 pm] There has been a great outpouring of support for my family over the last day, Thank you so very much for all of your love and kind words. Some of the boys in EDH even painted the rocks in memory of my cousin (my dad took pictures this morning):

[Updated: 09-Jul-2012 @ 6:00 pm] Please pray for strength for my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. I invite you to share your kind words in memory of Logan:

Logan Herr on Facebook.

Logan Herr on Twitter.

A memorial fund has been established to keep Logan’s (Trub’s) fun loving and adventurous spirit alive. In lieu of flowers please consider donating in Logan’s name:

Please Consider Donating in Logan's Name


[Updated: 11-Jul-2012 @ 12:50 pm] If you are more comfortable donating at a physical location, a memorial fund has also been established by our close family friends at Bank of the West in El Dorado Hills (Thanks Donna!):

The Logan Herr Memorial Fund
Bank of the West
2211 Francisco Drive, #100
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

Please contact Donna or me if you need the routing and account number for an out of town transfer. Thank you again so much for your support of my family.

[Updated: 16-Jul-2012 @ 7:00 pm] My family is holding a Celebration of Life for my Cousin Logan Daniel Herr this week:

Celebration of Life for Logan Daniel Herr

Wed June 18th @ 11:00 am

Rolling Hills Christian Church
800 White Rock Road
El Dorado Hills CA 95762

Let The Avalanche of Action Flow Through You

Instead of filling your life with other people’s stories, gossip, news and social media; fill life with your own stories of action. I encourage you to find and bless the world with your unique value of creation… your creativity, your perspective and your passion shared with the world for the benefit of all, yourself included. Listen in the stead of talking. Walk the talk to let your voice be heard through others. The sound of one rock rolling pales in comparison to the avalanche of action. Let your value flow through you and let nothing stand in its way.

The LiveSTRONG Reminder

Synopsis:

I have had my LiveSTRONG braclet on my wrist for about seven years; ever since my grandmother passed from Cancer. Sure I purchased it in memory of my grandmother, but the bracelet and the memory of my grandmother (one of the most powerful and competitive women I have ever known) remind me to live every day to the fullest. I encourage you to create similar reminders for yourself such as notes in your wallet or goals on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself constantly of the things you want to accomplish in life, the virtues, morals and standards you want to uphold, and the person you want to be every day. I encourage you to create a token or a reminder for yourself to keep your goals in the front of your mind.

My Video Rant: The Ivy-League Stigma

Video Synopsis

When I tell people that I graduated from Cornell University, there tends to be a certain stigma associated with going to this ivy-league school and I want to clear up some misconceptions of the stereotypes that are made of me. I was not a National Merit Scholar, I was not lucky, I did not have an inside connection there, nor did I come from a rich family: I simply had (and have) determination. It took two rejections before I was finally accepted to Cornell and even then my first semester I received the worst grades I ever had in my life earning a 1.53 GPA with my first ever C, D, and F course grades all in one term. I took winter and summer courses throughout the following three years to make sure that I graduated in 4 years total after only receiving 26 of 42 transfer credits from Washington State and receiving unacceptable grades for graduation in my first semester at Cornell. Graduating from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life and is a firm example of my determination, not the result of coming from a big money nor influential family. Thanks for listening to my rant 🙂

In a World of Encrypted Search Terms

Once upon a time there was a world of perfect web information when you knew where you visitors came from, what they were looking for, what they found, how long they stayed, and where/why they left.  I don’t know about you, but more than 30% of my web visits these days come from “encrypted search terms.” From WordPress Jetpack to Google Analytics I see “(not provided)”, “encrypted search term”, “unknown search term”, or “other search term” every day in my keyword referrals.

Where is this going as more an more people opt to select “do not track”? Will our information as content creators, web designers and curators be incorrect? If I do not know which of my content is most effective, how will I deliver what is most valuable? What happens when and if privacy concerns get to the point of website users not wanting website owners to even know when and if they access content?

Completely anonymous browsing would lead to imperfect websites, where in order to find out what works and what doesn’t, you would have to go back to focus groups and test sample markets; supremely slow adaptation is what this reads. No longer could the web be dynamic, custom tailored, or quick to change in meeting our every whimsical desire. No longer would the try and fail quickly, iteration, least viable business model approach work. Will that happen, likely not.

Sure many people will stick to their privatest ways, hiding in the dark shadows of the web, creeping on websites and hiding browsing data with the fear the Uncle Sam is watching my every move. The derived right to privacy seems fundamental to our US culture, but technology and the web has dipped dramatically in the favor of public good and connectivity. Have you ever asked how Google gets its live traffic information on Google Maps? I looked the other day to find that when Andriod users are opted into location tracking (to show where they are on the map, identify close restaurants, directions, etc) they are also agreeing to share their location constantly with Google. When Google see’s a bunch of Android cell phones slowing down at the same time, it knows there is likely traffic their. Crazy hunh?

In my opinion this is all great stuff that truly does you little if no harm, but I am sure that if everyone knew that, it could turn into a big privacy uproar eventually leading to Google needing a more costly, non crowd-sourced way, of identify traffic delays. To me what all of these privacy questions will lead to is a need for more good-ol-fashion statistics. No longer will you know the entire base of your population, but you will have to derive a population mean from your sample with a determined confidence requirement.

Perhaps someone will read this as a substantial business opportunity for the future (which will likely be captured, created at, purchased by, or merged into Google, Apple et. al. eventually) is web statistics simply integrated in graphic form with web analytics. I think most people’s eyes glaze over at the first mention of statistics, standard deviations, and confidence intervals, but to me that is the opportunity shinning its head. Will some people ride the privacy crazy train, yes; lets just hope not too many. All that can be told is that future will definitely unfold new needs for solutions (new opportunities) in a world of encrypted search terms.

How Do I Pick a Solar Installer? 10 Questions to Ask a Solar Installer

For disclosure and so you know where I am coming from: I am a Civil Engineer by training, spent two years managing a renewable energy installation company in Northern Nevada, followed by a general contractor focusing on green building and energy efficiency. I have since moved on to become a program manager the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, a 510(c)3 nonprofit organization. Alright, lets get to it:

First thing is first, don’t even consider installing Solar until you have made your home or business more energy efficient (see my post from last week about how to do this yourself). Energy efficiency is often the lowest hanging fruit with the quickest bang for your buck, and every dollar you save is a many more dollars you don’t have to spend on Solar. While they often cost a few hundred bucks, you can also consider a home (or business) energy audit to expose your areas of greatest concern; that lowest hanging fruit.

The most important thing today when considering installing solar is to be an informed customer. I have seen too many people of the past five years be taken advantage of by shysters in the industry looking to make a quick buck on the uninformed with hard sales tactics and brutal lies. I have found from firsthand experience that if your installer is straightforward and honest, the sales cycles is often about 6 months. These means from a customer perspective from the first time you talk to someone about solar, until the time you feel comfortable about going forward with it can be six months. Solar has become a full technology industry and installing a system is a sizable investment for anyone requiring an objective financial decision as well as the emotional desire to do so.

When selecting your solar installer, make sure you get at least three estimates. Here are the most important due diligence questions to ask before you make a final decision…

Dan’s “10 Questions to Ask Your Solar Installer”:

  1. Are you licensed, bonded, and insured as an electrician or solar installer in the state?
  2. Are your installers locally licensed if required (such as Nevada OSHA PV License in Nevada)?
  3. Are you NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) PV Installer certified?
  4. What size systems can I actually fit on my roof?
  5. What brands of solar modules and inverters will you be using on my system? What are their warranties (expect 10+ year inverter warranties and 25-30 year power performance guarantees of 80%+ on the modules as well as a 2-year workmanship warranty)?
  6. Can you show me some systems that will be similar to mine that you have installed before?
  7. Do you finance solar projects or offer a solar lease? Can you get my payments less than my current monthly electricity costs? If not, what are my upfront costs and what does my return cash-flow look like?
  8. Is my roof in good enough shape to last for the life of the solar system (25-30 years+)? Do I need to re-roof beforehand?
  9. Will you help me understand and secure rebates & tax incentives? Can you help me finance or roll these cost savings into my financing package from day one (so that I don’t have to pay anything more out of pocket upfront)?
  10. What are my additional expenses over the life of the system? Will I need to replace the inverter(s) in 7-10 years? Do you cover that?

If you are looking to dig into this a little more, the National Renewable Energy Labs have some good consumer resources:

While I am no longer managing a solar installation company, if I can be of any assistance in helping you make a decision I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, via a comment below. Thanks! – Dan

Video Post: Get the Funk Out


Rough Transcript

This video is about getting yourself out of a rut. This video is not for everyone, but for some there are times in life when it feels like you’re just going through the motions, going to the same job via the same rout, running the rat-race, sitting in the same cubicle and “farting in the same chair,” as some might say. There can be times when life loses that excitement and you don’t know how to reinvigorate yourself. You see people around your doing great things with their life, accomplishing things that feel beyond your grasp. You may not know how to push through.

Well the answer is baby steps. Start by doing a little something to make the mind think today. Throw a curveball into your life. Go somewhere different. Shop at a new grocery store, take a different route home. Change it up.

Taking those little baby steps will serendipitously begin to turbo charge the mind. You might stir up old memories, rediscover a passion, meet a new special person, who knows.   Take some time, do a little bit of urban exploring. Make some time. I am sure that will help get you out of your funk. Happiness is a choice; make the choice to push yourself in the right direction and you will be surprised at how much more you are capable of.

Home Energy Efficiency Hacks

For disclosure and so you know where I am coming from: I am a Civil Engineer by training, spent two years managing a renewable energy installation company in Northern Nevada, followed by a general contractor focusing on green building and energy efficiency. I have since moved on to become a program manager the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, a 510(c)3 nonprofit organization. Alright, lets get to it:

First thing is first;

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”
– Benjamin Franklin 

I know it’s not sexy, but ever dollar saved in efficiency (insulation, better appliances, and HVAC) is a dollar that you don’t have to spend on renewable energy, and efficiency is generally a lot cheaper. There are plenty of companies out there doing energy audits, personally I don’t like have people rummage through my place for a few hours and they will likely tell you exactly what I will site-unseen:

  • 60%+ of all utility bills for a house go toward heating and cooling.
  • Get a NEST Learning Thermostat (I got one in February 2012 and it definitely saved $30 in energy bills in the first month). It has a barometric pressure sensor, motion sensor, light sensor, and temperature sensor (and works with your iPhone – my fianée loves to turn it on from bed in the morning 🙂 ). I am in now way affiliated with NEST, but this thing is awesome, is detects when you are home and away and you can turn on your cooling on your way home. For $250 I think it is worth it.
  • You are wasting 50% of your heating (or cooling) to the outside and your house has the equivalent of a  24″ x 24″ hole of leakage that should be sealed off and gaps calked (you might be able to do this)
  • Many of your ducts are detached, kinked or improperly taped off (If you can use duct tape, you can do this)
  • Your forced air system doesn’t evenly distribute air through your house (hopefully you made this a little better with the kinks)
  • A little extra insulation in your roof wouldn’t hurt
  • You should probably insulate your foundation stem walls in your crawl-space under your house
  • Most of the pipes running through your house on the exterior have too much free space around them
  • If you want to take things a little further, go get a point-and-shoot infrared thermometer at Home Depot or Lowes for $30 and check out all the hot spots (or cold) on a hot (or cold) day. Hint: check out the temperature difference between your external walls near your windows, electrical sockets, and switches as compared to your internal walls. Also look at your surface roof and floor temperatures room by room if you feel like it.

If you got your mortgage through FHA, there is something called an Energy Efficient Mortgage through which you could finance all of the work above and save money every month (you can even refinance to make this happen in many cases and mortgage brokers definitely wouldn’t hate helping you do this right now).

If you are really keen on hiring someone to do an audit make sure:

  • They are HERS Rating or BPI Certified
  • Get some references and ask around about them first
  • Find out they will do other than a blower door test
  • Find out if they are tied to / feed leads to a contractor
  • Make sure they will provide recommendations above an beyond a report that is darn-near impossible to decipher
  • If they don’t crawl under your house or in your attic they aren’t worth a darn
  • Get two other quotes
  • Compare prices based upon per square foot & deliverables provided

I will publish a post next week about how to choose a solar PV installer. Stay tuned: you are welcome to connect with me on Twitter @DanHerr or LinkedIn.com/in/danielherr.

My First Video Post: Creating a Job For Yourself After College

Rough Transcript from my Video:

Today’s video is geared toward recent college graduates or graduates to be, whether you’re a senior, or working on your masters or even a PhD. There comes a time in life when you have to enter that scary realm of going out into the “real world” and getting a job.

First and foremost understand that you are not going to walk out of college and get a management job; its not going to happen regardless of the degree you get. I made the same mistake thinking I would walk out of college and be a Vice President, Director, or Manager. I’m know I’m not the only one that has thought this way; many people walk out of college thinking they are going to have a high-paying ($60,000 – $100,000 per year job) with management experience. Be realistic, it is not going to happen.

Secondly be persistent and determined at whatever it is that you truly want to do. Sending out your résumé through the Career Navigators and Monster.com’s of the world doesn’t work anymore; times have changed. I encourage you to adopt an inbound marketing or guerrilla marketing approach to getting the job, creating the job that you truly want. There are ways to create a position for yourself in organizations and industries that you are interested in. Be persistent and truthful about where you really want to go with everyone that you speak with. Most hiring managers today will only glance over a résumé that ends up on their desk without the context of conversation or a relationship connection behind it.

Thirdly, no one is interested in hiring someone who waffles about what they are interested in and throws their resume in every pile hoping for a job. [On a side note, if this is the case, perhaps you need some perspective by getting outside of everything that you are familiar with – read “go travel outside the country”]. If you are determined to work in the companies and the industry of your interest it can happen, but it takes hard work, lots of networking and relationship building.

Networking isn’t just showing up at a mixer [especially if you only talk  with people that you already know]. You need to meet the people in and around that organization or company that you are interested in. Start to develop those relationships [meet people for coffee, lunch, a drink, or a round of golf if you have time]. [If you don’t know where to start, or what people at this organization do outside of work, simply ask; ask them if they have few minutes to get together with you to tell you more about their company… people love to talk about themselves, but you have to be willing to listen]. Every time an opportunity presents itself (as is naturally the case when asking people about themselves), be straightforward about what you are true interests, what your goals are, and where you would like to be.

Coming from an engineering and mathematical background I always thought it was about getting the best grades, doing the best that you could at your assignments, and that putting together the best resume was what would get me the job. [In doing that with limited experience, you tend to stretch the truth because you need “x-years of experience” to get the job, but you need the job to get the experience].  Today it is not about the résumé landing on their desk; many hiring managers today actively pursue candidates instead of the wasting time posting an ad or a listing. Many will even pre-qualify applicants by, for instance, doing a simple boolean search in Google (i.e. “site:linkedin.com inurl:in Reno Nevada Solar MegaWatt Project Manager” to find a Solar Project Manager in the Reno area on LinkedIn who has experience with MegaWatt-scale systems).  But most hiring managers do not even make it that far; they start by asking through their network of colleagues, friends and family to see who they might know that could be a good fit for their company, for a potential opening, before it is ever posted (in fact it never will be posted).

Even before there is a “Job Description,” many managers are looking for the right people for their team. You need to show them that you are the right people. Perhaps they don’t have the capacity to hire you right now, but if you are determined to work with that company or in that industry, don’t stop turning over new leaves, meeting new people in and around that organization. Create opportunity for yourself.

Be Persistent.

Please let me know if I can help you in any way. I would love to connect with you @DanHerr on Twitter or LinkedIn.com/DanielHerr