Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another "E" for the DOE

I hammer the Department of Energy a lot and its makes some you squeamish. However they are really deserving of the bashing. Today’s latest? A story in the New York Times about the fact that the DOE doesn’t pay attention to its thermostats! Yes instead of putting in controls to dial thermostats back when people aren’t in their buildings they just let em run! A recent audit shows they could save 11.5 million in annual energy costs by just doing what they tell all of us to do! It’s another classic example of their pathetic waste and why they are allowed to run that division so poorly, when energy is so crucial is a mystery. So add this to the DOE giving money away like candy, blindly allowing the NFRC and other special interests to dominate them, and failing to control their own efficiencies. The NYT piece in its depressing glory is HERE.


-- If it wasn’t already clear enough, the Chinese influence in our lives is pretty severe. This week on the Solar side one of the biggest solar players, Suntech, said the following in the New York Times:
In response to this, and to reduce shipping costs, Suntech plans to announce in the next month or two that it will build a solar panel assembly plant in the United States, said Steven Chan, its president for global sales and marketing. “It’ll be to facilitate sales — ‘buy American’ and things like that,” Mr. Chan said, adding that the factory would have 75 to 150 workers and be located in Phoenix, or somewhere in Texas.
So no need to hide this it’s pretty obvious… you know so they can meet that pesky “Buy American” and things like that…. Yep keep supporting these guys as it’s just a matter of time before they come take your business. By the way in the same article, Suntech said they’d sell solar panels below cost to gain market share too… that’s a healthy maneuver… but they can do that because their government will subsidize them… while our government subsidizes some of the most worthless things ever. And they noted that they have gotten involved with the solar trade groups in order to protect themselves…. Unreal.

-- Speaking of subsidies… the all famous Stimulus money is being used for interesting things… it was reported this week:
Among the most titillating grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health are studies that would:
* Examine "barriers to correct condom use" at Indiana University, at a cost of $221,000.
* Study "hookups" among adolescents at Syracuse University. Study's cost: $219,000.
* Evaluate "drug use as a sex enhancer" in an analysis of "high-risk community sex networks" at the University of Illinois, Chicago. That study will cost $123,000.
* Study how methamphetamine, thought to produce an "insatiable need" for sex among users, "enhances the motivation for female rat sexual behavior." Some $28,000 has been awarded for the University of Maryland at Baltimore study

Yep and while that million or so would not make a dent in the deficit it surely could be put to better use. But I have to ask, how do you get to lead one of those studies and what do you do? Have people out on the street asking if they know how to put their condom on right? I mean seriously?

-- The power of Twitter… GM used the reaction and posts on Twitter to help decide the fate of a new Buick concept vehicle. The “Twitterers” or “Tweeters” said they did not like it and thus GM/Buick killed it. So when people say that social media is just for telling people inane things, evidently some people are taking it very seriously.

-- Speaking of Twitter, the gang at USGlass have been using it to tease the world on their next issue. Evidently it’s a blockbuster… and most likely it gets that status because this month’s offering will NOT feature an article by yours truly….

-- Hey when can we do “Cash” for single pane windows?

-- The latest ABI is out and it actually has better news to it. I'll get into that more next week as a part of the analysis was very interesting.

Off to the Links!

-- Ok maybe this is worse than the above Stimulus sex spending…. A study on if Zombies existed how we would handle an attack…. Yep…. Man people have waaaay too much time on their hands.

-- I am not a fan of the writer Rick Reilly, but this piece on kids who have a rare disease going to Yankee stadium is excellent.

-- Uh oh, beware the killer cow?

Video of the week:

Classic TV news blooper… reporter tries to show her skateboarding “ability” and well you can pretty much guess what happens…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BIM me up Scotty

The story of BIM (Building Information Modeling) has been one that continues to stay in the news. What looked like a “flash in the pan” effect has withered away and every day the BIM movement gets traction. The big move this week was the announcement in Texas that the state facility commission will use BIM for its projects. Steps like this obviously push more legitimacy to BIM which really has been lacking it thanks to many platforms, suppliers and overall styles. Not to mention costs that are pretty intense too. I have been on both sides of the BIM argument (yes I am a flip flopper) as I see the value but I also felt like there’s more hype than true substance. On the value side, it surely could help speed processes and make people more efficient. On the hype side, it’s not everywhere yet, and there’s still a massive majority of architects just not ready to dive in. In any case news like the Texas announcement move the process forward, now we’ll see if some of the issues that plague BIM (platforms, costs etc) will even out and allow it to become more mainstream.


-- By the way, the newest issue of USGlass also has some serious BIM info in it too... always leave it to the talented people there to stay on top of the trends.

-- On the rough side, I have been getting comments and e mails regarding some depressing news in our industry… and yes I have chosen NOT to print it as it is not confirmed. And yes I know I am hypocrite because I did stuff like that in the past… so hammer away at me. But maybe this is me turning over a new leaf as I think I am like many of you out there, just not interested in wallowing someone else’s misery. And right now, there’s a lot of misery… (and if you are not miserable then you are in denial)

-- I am also totally depressed that due to a scheduling snafu I won’t be at GANA’s Fall conference. I was so looking forward to the epic return of Greg Carney and also seeing the great things about our industry. So many good and talented people in one place does help to inspire me and focus. Funny, I am sure there are a couple hundred people who WILL be at Fall Conference thrilled that they know I won’t be there!

-- Greenwashing… yes the process of over-selling your “green” ability has always been an issue… now for those of you who care about this stuff, there’s a 41 page report on the evils of greenwashing… it’s here and it’s actually somewhat interesting…

-- One of the greatest movie lines of all time was from “Stripes” and it was:

John Winger: C’mon, it’s Czechoslovakia, we zip in, we pick em right up, we zip right out again. We’re not going to Moscow, its Czechoslovakia! It’s like going into Wisconsin!
Russell Ziskey: Well I got the **** kicked out of me in Wisconsin once. Forget it!

Well last week, the meaning of getting the crap kicked out of you in Wisconsin came out when a would be robber walked into a bar with the intention of holding it up… except he picked a bar in Janesville, WI that was hosting a night out for Wisconsin POLICE officers! Needless to say… he got the **** kicked out of him in Wisconsin! Life imitates art… I love it.

-- Sad news on the passing of Peter Lisec. Our condolences to his family and the folks at Lisec. You know you are legend when your name is used the way his was. The “Lisec” line is akin to using Kleenex or eating Jell-O. And for most people in our industry automated machinery started and ended with the Lisec products. Obviously a great loss for the industry.

-- Amazing that this week saw our first foray into Hurricane season… but as many people forget Hurricane season goes until November 1st, so there’s a ton of time left to see what happens- though the experts are saying it will be a light season. We will see…. You know the conspiracy theorist in me says we need one to threaten the Gulf, so gas prices can rise just because….

Off to the links…

-- You may not know this but the all famous “link chick” is a world class track and field star…. So I am sure that’s what drives the world’s current fastest man… Usain Bolt with an incredible world record smashing effort…

-- A nun chases down a burglar…. The only thing that would’ve made this story perfect is if the nun was from Wisconsin!

-- And finally, awesome news… the potbelly look is back!! Hooray…. Who needs that diet now! Plus no need to have the Walker boys dress me according to this article, I am in style baby!!

Video of the week:

From the “people have waaaaay too much time on their hands” department…. There’s folks out there that are “mashing” music- basically mixing full songs together… and I was sent one this week- check this out… it’s the classic “We will rock you” set to the tune of Outkast’s “Hey Ya”…. Creative as heck, just wonder who has time to do this stuff!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An old favorite...

After a few weeks of the battles domestically, it’s time to change the focus to an oldie but goody topic. China. Yes my pals from China are back in the news again and it continues to amaze me how they get away with what they do. Last week there was a widely published story on how the Chinese glass industry was doing and it stated the pricing in the marketplace there. But of course when you figured it all out, the pricing of the material being sold in China for that market is double or more the price that they dump…errrr sell it here for. But alas buyer beware as you really do get what you pay for from there. Right now there’s two large jobs, one on each coast, that are turning into quagmires of bad product…. All courtesy of the Chinese. And I have a feeling some North American companies will take some serious heat and hurt while the Chinese reps and suppliers will whistle quietly down the road….
By the way… speaking of the Chinese… one of the largest American Solar panel manufacturers, E Solar, was proud to mention that they bought 24,000 mirrors from China for their last project. Wonderful. And thus the problem with the “green job” theory… the products needed for these “green jobs” will come from China and that is not good for anyone….

-- Good news about people working together for the GOOD of the industry… as mentioned here several weeks ago, the newest plan for ASHRAE would limit the overall glass usage on buildings. And while parts of the plan are good, there are parts that are just not logical or helpful for our industry. Well the folks at GANA stepped up and have gotten every main player in our industry on board on promoting a unified message. It is truly wonderful that this unselfish industry first approach took place. Now hopefully the folks at ASHRAE and DOE will take the necessary value in it. But even if they don’t kudos to everyone who did the right thing!

-- Did I re-jinx gas prices? I wrote months ago that gas would go to 4 bucks in the summer… thankfully it didn’t… so I ate the crow and celebrated the lower prices… well since then prices are on the rise again and oil has been trending upward. High gas prices is surely not what we need now or going into what looks like a pretty ugly winter.
-- Class Act alert… the gang at Edgetech IG did a tremendous thing last week acting as the “Rally Point” for a bike run to honor veterans. The bikers were transporting a traveling Vietnam Memorial wall and paid homage to those incredibly brave folks who fought in that war. Very classy and patriotic and props to all involved at Edgetech who made it happen.

-- Last week I linked to the tremendous article on Harvard and their lost endowment cash and I had incredible feedback. I think many went into checking that link with expectations of a blah story about a rich university but got totally engrossed into the amazing story that came out. The comment made by most people after they read it was- “amazing that they could blow so much money”- well sometimes all the smartest people in world can’t keep egos in check….

-- Pre-season football is HERE! And I know it’s horrible to watch but it is football and dang it I am very pumped…. All I can say is… Here we go Steelers… Here we go!
-- Have I told you how big of a sham that lawsuit against the primaries are lately? It just kills me that we will be wasting time, money and resources on the ultimate ambulance chase while so many other more crucial issues happen around us.

Off to the Links!

One e mail last week to me said “too many Max links, not enough Link Chick”- so your wish is my command… 3 good ones from the lady of the links!

-- “Who can it be now”…. Famous line from the 80’s singing group “Men at Work”…well now they are being sued for plagiarism! Wow.

-- A floating apartment complex.... Wonder what the backcharges would be if you needed to set up a swing stage…. Would hate to have any failed IG on this one! Neat stuff…
-- The most “unfortunate” names list… you really wonder what the parents are thinking here…

Pictures of the week...

Instead of a video this week we have pictures of some jobs gone really bad… YIKES!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

And here we go again... but with a great twist!

So last week I wrote about the TRACO-Peerless issue and I mentioned that another similar situation was happening on the primary glass side. And thanks to several readers, I got confirmation. Cardinal Glass decided to take a shot at Guardian by having a note out there basically saying that Guardian’s published and tested performances on their Low E glass were wrong. The piece focused on the emissivity values and quite frankly stunned me for many reasons. First it was the whole “taking a shot” angle that I mentioned last week. Second was the fact the Cardinal not only accused Guardian of having wrong totals but they also listed one CARDINAL product as being wrong. (So you are accusing them of something you may be guilty of?) And of course third was the fact that Cardinal is basically not only accusing Guardian of being wrongful, but in turn they are saying that YOU CAN’T TRUST THE NFRC!
These were NFRC tested totals. Cardinal is basically saying they are wrong… hmmmmmm So the mighty NFRC, which Cardinal loves CAN’T BE TRUSTED! Someone wake up Marc LaFrance! Seriously this is an amazing accusation which leads me to ask… if NFRC totals are wrong, why are we suffering through this crap again? As for the issue at hand, Guardian obviously tested everything via NFRC and their procedures and their numbers came out to what was published. Knowing the folks at Guardian, and especially their Science and Tech guys, I am pretty dang confident that there is no way they are in the wrong here. Obviously someone is jealous.... So I think Cardinal is misguided here, while they try to take a shot at Guardian, at the end of the day the finger is actually pointed at NFRC! (Note Cardinal went and had samples they acquired of the Guardian product tested and came up with different totals than the NFRC ones...)
And like last week, when you take a shot like this, to me it shows a serious weakness. To make claims like this instead of trying to sell the products on their merits really shows some desperation. Anyway color me stunned that Cardinal, the biggest NFRC booster around, would basically tell the world that YOU CAN’T TRUST NFRC TOTALS!! Classic!

Maybe the NFRC needs a 3rd party to check their 3rd party stuff eh?


-- Speaking of NFRC… class act Chuck Knickerbocker of Technical Glass Products has a tremendous and passionate post online about the NFRC. You can access it HERE. Chuck’s reaction is what most people will have as it starts to go more and more mainstream…

-- Congrats to PPG and Rob Struble on winning a national marketing award from the Business Marketing Association. I know I pick on PPG from time to time, but I have a ton of respect for Rob and the work he does and it’s great that he and his group are getting some recognition. There’s no doubt they deserve it as Rob has consistenty positioned and marketed PPG extremely well over the years.

-- CONFLICT OF INTEREST ALERT! Over the last few years the ICC (International Code Council) has fought back attempts by AAMA to have their 3rd party certification track be considered an equal to NFRC. The NFRC trots out their tried and true supporters and the ICC buckles- despite the logic involved. Anyway now look who is advertising in the ICC newsletter/website…. NFRC… wow… isn’t that special? So the ICC takes ad dollars in from a group that needs their endorsement and support. Filthy. So AAMA, why don’t you advertise in there… maybe it will help your case?

-- Twitter… yes I broke down and now do Twitter. And for the last two days I am taking tons of fun abuse about… Twitter….

-- Now while I may Twitter I actually don’t watch American Idol (doesn’t Twittering and watching AI go hand in hand?) so I am one of the people who have no idea why the outrage over Paula Abdul not coming back to the show. My brother on the other hand is an AI expert so I’ll have to ask him for the proper insight. Now that Paula has time on her hands she can come to Atlanta and work Glassbuild…

Off to the LINKS…

-- Another article on the Cap & Trade… this one talking about costs. It’s funny health care came about and Cap & Trade really fell to the background… just wish it would fall all the way off the radar…

-- Long, but worthwhile read on the problems at Harvard… and for those of us in the building industry you can see the BOOM and the bust, just by reading what Harvard did over the last few years. By the way the author of this piece Nina Munk wrote an awesome book about the AOL downfall called “Fools Rush In” and that too is a great read.

-- From the “Link Chick” and this will make you laugh… and cry… a highway sign in dire need of spellcheck!!

Video of the Week:

Also from the “Link Chick” the classic video about a 7 year old taking the family car for a drive… this is some amazing stuff… and at 7 my man is very advanced!