Dog Days

Today, August 11, marks the end of what is often called “the dog days of August.” For those in the northern hemisphere, this time of the year the Dog Star – Sirus, in the constellation Canis Major – can be seen rising just before dawn. Millennia ago, Sirus also showed up during the summer, but in conjunction with the Sun (meaning it was visible during the day). Not surprisingly, ancient Egyptians and Romans dogbelieved that Sirus made summers hot by adding its heat to the Sun. Today, we know that that’s not true, although we do think about climate change and global warming being contributing factors! But according to folklore, the dog days signify that summer is almost over and that August is our last chance to take a break from the demands of the workplace.  This is certainly true at Microsoft as many of my colleagues are taking time off  after a hectic July of meetings and events.

Me, I like to mix a little time off and work catch-up during the “Dog Days”. This tends to be my time of reflection.

Portugal Gives Itself a Clean-Energy Makeover

Being an optimist at heart but also a realist is often a very sobering experience, especially when it comes to the modernization of the world’s electric power infrastructure. Just yesterday I was with Utility executives and we were debating the reasons as to why this modernization is so fragmented and moving at a much slower pace than many of us in industry would like.  Remember, earlier this year our worldwide survey of several hundred Utility executives indicated that more than half (55%) haven’t yet started their smart grid projects yet.  With this in mind, an article in the New York Times on Monday, August 9th by Elisabeth Rosenthal caught my eye. It’s about Portugal’s journey to a country whose power grid runs on nearly 45 percent renewable energy. It’s quite a story and definitely worth a read as it holds some lessons and challenges for the rest of us. Certainly Portugal could be thought of as a microcosm of larger countries but it clearly demonstrates what can be done and some of the sacrifices that have to be made.  You can read it here.

Now back to the final hours of the “Dog Days” of August! – Jon C. Arnold