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    As summer comes to a close, some random thoughts about what’s going on out there…

    1– The GANA Fall Conference now is a mere six weeks off. If there are any technical subjects you think the BEC Tech Committee needs to start looking at, please let me know. We’re going to talk about glazing certification and about porcelain panels in glazing applications.

    For that matter, if there are other subjects you think other parts of GANA ought to look at, please drop me a line or give me a buzz. There are a couple of on-going items in other GANA Divisions I’m interested in tracking, most notably the discussion about ceramic frit and glass strength (being tracked by the Insulating and Tempering GANA divisions), and of course, the handrail glass discussion, most notably how the glass should stay in place after it breaks, much like in a hurricane glazing application, to prevent fall-through.

    2– Employer/employee rules are changing at the federal level, not only whether an “independent contractor” is really an employee, but also the rules about who is or is not an exempt and non-exempt employee, and whether or not they’re entitled to overtime pay. For the latter, methinks some of this is being handed down by the government looking to increase its income – if an employee works more than 40 hours a week and qualifies for overtime compensation, Uncle Sam’s cut increases.

    Better minds than mine can explain the intricacies of these regulations, but it occurs to me that any employer better have these matters down cold when classifying its workers. As most of glazing subs are smaller organizations, I’m curious how you manage to stay on top of this when an organization’s size doesn’t support a full time HR department, which is where larger companies can put the responsibility for staying current on such issues. Or, are employee work rules just one of the many variables small-shop owners/managers have to juggle to run a successful business? Do you hire a third party, much like you hire an accounting firm to help with the financial side of the biz, who can consult regarding HR issues?

    3– Ads for 3D printers from the big box retailers and specialty computer shops are out there, bringing that technology to the local level. I’m telling my kids now to pool their resources, as I’d like to get one for Christmas. While 3D printing is becoming the “next big thing,” one question is whether it will take over construction one day.

    We might be one step closer in the glazing biz given what MIT researchers have accomplished with a ribbon of glass. Small steps now, and the MIT application might be better suited for decorative glass applications. But, is it too much of a leap to envision a robot putting up a continuous glass band say 2- to 3-feet wide for the full height of a building for 3-4 stories? Up to X-feet wide by 2030, or sooner? Perhaps the lessons learned in these early phases will move to more broadly based applications, including windows and curtainwalls.

    4– Lastly, Deb Levy commented in one of her recent blogs about seeing The Pieta by Michelangelo through a silicone butt-joint glass display. I, too, saw the Pieta at the ’64 NY World’s Fair, which has stuck with me all these years. A year after, my parents had me watch the Charlton Heston/Rex Harrison movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. When I later learned that he was also an architect (the Dome at St. Peter’s is his design), I was hooked on all things Michelangelo.

    So Deb, here’s my two cents/recommendations for fixing the problem: With the large lite capabilities that are out there now (remember the 45-foot-wide by 10-foot-high piece of laminated glass (two half-inch-thick pieces of glass) that was displayed at AIA a couple years back?  I got a dollar that says those large lite manufacturers would chomp at the bit to be able to furnish the glass. Finding a glazing crew to make the change might be a trick. I’ll volunteer to be PM if you find a funding source. I’ll work gratis, but someone has to pay the travel bills an endeavor such as this will certainly entail.

    But in the meantime, may I suggest you work any ties to European glazing outfits that you might have who might be willing to take that on?

    The logistics of getting a single piece of glass into that space might be problematic. But, like the Liberty Bell being moved out of Independence Hall in Philly, due to the wear and tear and resultant damage it was doing to the hall, it might be time to create a dedicated building or room where the Pieta can be displayed – one that can then be designed to the demands of protecting the work behind a single piece of glass while still facilitating its public display.

    Please ask that they use non-reflective, low-iron clear glass.  Keep the glass as flat as possible, not tempered or heat strengthened.  If there’s any outfits out there that can make it flatter than standard float glass, that would be a plus for minimizing distortion.  But, lami’s going to be a must (for security reasons). Any design has to make the glass all but disappear. Those minimal qualifications will have my vote.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend.  Anybody know where the summer went?

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  • On a VERY personal note, I hope you’ll forgive an indulgence…

    On August 22, Vicki will have been putting up with my shenanigans for exactly 40 years. So, I had to go out and buy her a new house, and romantic devil that I am, we’re likely moving into it on that date – or unpacking or whatever else goes on. And, she’s OK with that, believe it or not. To see Vicki move, we don’t stay packed very long. She hangs pictures the first night! So in the lead up to everything that goes on with a move, this is a very short blog today.

    For any of you that know me (or her), you realize that her putting 40 year in qualifies her for sainthood, right? As for me, I hope the Good Lord lets me ride in on her coattails. Besides her being a mom and nanny, I wake up most days just amazed she’s hung in there this long. I am most fortunate. Call it lucky or blessed, or whatever, maybe all of the above.

    Here’s to another 40, darling, and as grandpop used to say, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.”  Thank you for your love, patience and above all, a heck of a great time. And I have loved every minute of it.

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  • For it being the dead of summer, it sure has gotten busy. From leaking skylights to laminated glass, a couple of news items caught my interest recently.

    With all the rain we had this spring up and down the Midwest and other parts of the country, many folks in the industry have been called about leaking walls, windows and skylights. Yikes!

    This situation reminds me of an owner who thought he didn’t need to remediate a 40-year old wall because it didn’t leak. The gaskets were rotting out, had pulled out of the corners, and so were generally in need of replacement. But, since it had been a dry spring and summer, he leapt to the conclusion that the wall was in great shape – until it started to rain, which it inevitably did, and began to ruin some of the interior finishes already installed during his remodel. He changed that tune pretty quickly, then had to hustle to catch up the remediation of the leaks.

    I recently participated in an ASTM working group about construction air tightness in areas other than curtainwall and windows. Our friends north of the border and in the UK are doing this already on a full-building basis. The timing of testing, near the completion of the building, leaves some lingering questions, most notably how to fix the hard to reach wall areas when the building is almost finished.  Stay tuned, this is something that the building commissioning folks will be looking for when it gets to field testing. Granted, it’s not directly related to windows and curtainwalls, but can you imagine the blowers and testing to determine the air tightness of the WHOLE building? Picture blowers the size of semi-trailers.

    Having our Navy son transferred to Kansas earlier this spring made his mom happy, as you can imagine. No, he is not stationed on any ships calling Kansas City their home port, as we’re a little too far upriver on the Missouri for that to happen. He’s pulled a recruiting billet here for the next couple of years. After the recruiting center shootings in Chattanooga happened, I’m paying a little more attention to the news – you do that, don’t you, when someone you know might be involved, whether it’s tornados, hurricanes, other natural disasters, or man-made tragedies? All of a sudden, talk not about bringing your work home, but having it come home nonetheless. I sent him to work with some facility suggestions for his superiors. I hope they’ll listen.

    I’ve seen that companies are actively marketing bullet-resistance glazing to schools, but what about other facilities? Getting strip mall owners (where most armed forces recruiting stations are located) to upgrade the glass walls might be a bit of a reach. For very selfish reasons, it’s OK by me if the Navy spends some of my tax dollars upgrading them on their own.

    Last year, after Julia Schimmelpenningh’s presentation at the GANA Annual Conference about lami glass offering a quick / simple solution for upgrading school or other building entrances, please call your school district’s facilities management staff and offer them your services gratis. One of the news feeds mentioned that any kind of protection need offer only a four- to six-minute delay to an intruder, the time it takes first responders to get on site.  Laminated glass can help do that. If you have kids or grandkids, just do it.

    And now in the heat of summer, another story about a “death ray” building. It looks like they’re fixing that problem on the so-called “walkie-talkie” skyscraper in London by putting screens over the glass (see the third photo from the top). But, now the concern is about people being blown over by high winds.  Anyone who’s walked the streets of downtown New York or Chicago knows of this phenomenon all too well.  For those of you that live and work in DC, with its maximum height restrictions, do you see much of that?  Maybe the canyon effect in a city with a lot of tall buildings, might be something to that.

    Keep your chin and nose up, there’s a heck of a lot going on in these dog days of summer.

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