Wednesday 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas to All!

Merry Christmas everyone. My last blog post before taking a rest from the computer. Click on the picture to take you to "Its a wonderful Internet," a festive flash site more relevant today than ever before.
If you haven't already, please take the time to sign up for the newsletter (in the right hand bar) which will be making it's appearance in january 2009. All those that have already subscribed - thanks for doing so. You will be getting offers & deals that won't be put out on this blog or anywhere else on the web - only through the newsletter!

Here are a couple of videos for your enjoyment. The first one from Warner Pathe News & the second one an amateur window cleaner having a little trouble in the snow....

Tuesday 23 December 2008

Remembered: Cleaning the Empire State Building Windows

Christmas is nearly here & it usually is a time a time to reminisce over times gone by. I've decided to add this article "How a skyscraper window washer faces death" stolen from the 'Modern Mechanix' edition, September 1934. You can click on the pictures to enlarge the page.

How a Skyscraper Window Washer Faces Death: by FRED A. BELL
HAILED as supermen, stunt artists are paid fabulous sums to risk their necks for a thrill-hungry public; yet their most hair-raising feats are duplicated every day by the daring men who clean the windows of the nation’s towering skyscrapers.
Perched at dizzy heights on window ledges barely wide enough to afford a toehold, the aces of the window brigade put circus acrobats and parachute jumpers to shame. For there is no margin of error - no nets or parachutes to break a possible fall. An error in judgment, a slip of the life belt and the window cleaner has signed his own death warrant. Below him there is nothing but a yawning city canyon - a square of concrete pavement to land and die on.
One of the men best qualified to paint the thrills and dangers of this hazardous profession is Richart Hart, chief of the window polishing squad of the Empire State Building, the tallest structure ever reared by man.
Hart spent ten years mining coal in the Pennsylvania coal fields before he decided he wanted an open air job such as window cleaning. Down at Wilkes-Barre he tunneled for coal as far as 2,000 feet into the bowels of the earth. Now he thinks nothing of cleaning glass at 1,250 feet, which is the tip of the Empire State Building.
“Working with a hand-pick and shovel in the depths of the coal mines,” Hart says, “was a snap compared to brushing up a window pane on the 85th floor of the Empire State Building.

“Every morning when you went down the shaft for another day in the mine, you just resigned yourself to Fate, and if the heaviside layer of coal and rock was going to crumble over you that day, well, you figured there was nothing you could do about it anyway. It was just bound to happen.
“Now with the sparrows - that’s what they nickname us because “we can perch anywhere - it’s different, You can be the master of your own fate by being careful and alert. There’s no reason for feeling it’s the end every day.”
“We have our own window cleaning department in the Empire State Building. Three years ago I had close to fifty men under me; but it’s been a case of the survival of the fittest, until today I have just eight. But they don’t come any better. They’re hand-picked men and crackerjacks at their trade. I don’t mean that their former comrades have kicked the bucket. They’ve just wandered off to other jobs where the knees don’t get jittery from prancing around at dizzy heights.
“Last year one of my best window-cleaners decided to quit. He was 65 years old, had been in the business 41 years and wanted a rest. The other day 1 ran into him and he told me that he missed the work and had gone back to polishing panes. I guess the heights get in your blood after a while and you can’t stand what some folks call terra firma.

“The men folks who squawk when they have to clean a dozen windows in their homes will get some idea what a job we have when I say we have to keep 6,500 windows looking spick and span. We have to work fast, too, because there’s a lot of prejudice among office folks when the window cleaner barges in. Yet there’s a lot of fuss made if the windows don’t get prompt attention. So we’re always in the middle no matter how you look at it.
Window Cleaners’ Reward
“The eight men are divided in teams of two. Each team is responsible for 25 floors. Those who finish first have the reward of doing the upper stories which run up to the 102d floor. Then if they have done a good job I always let them have a little time on the Observation Tower, taking in some of the sights they don’t dare peek at while they’re minding their business.
“The mainstay of the window cleaner is his life belt. This is made of leather and goes around his midsection. It is very thick and each end hitches to a steel hook which protrudes from the side of the window where he is working. If one end of the belt should lose its grip, he would still be held by the other end. The steel brace in the back of the belt is so constructed that the leather cannot slip through it.
“We never work on rainy days. As a matter of fact, we take it easy in all kinds of stormy weather. The risk would be too great when a blizzard is raging. It’s bad enough on the streets in the skyscraper zone to say nothing of bucking the arctic gales 100 stories high and trying to put a shine on a window.
“Our jobs are most dangerous in the winter time, of course. The sills of the Empire State Building windows have a one and one-half inch margin. Look at your shoe and try to mark off one and one-half inches and then you realize what a window cleaner’s foothold must be 60 or 80 stories high.
Braving Wintry Hazards
“To give you some idea of the hazards of this business, let me picture the window cleaner’s problem on a cold winter morning. He goes to the 80th floor for work. The window is probably jammed because of the ice and cold. The sill on which he is to place his feet is sheathed in ice. He’s got to get out on that perch. No wasting of time to chip off or melt the ice. He’s got to make speed.
“His mind must be off danger. The mental hazard would lick him from the start if he gave in to it. He must remember that the first thing to do on opening the window - after he has securely adjusted the life belt to his body - is, to hook up one end of the belt to the window. Then he can step out and quickly attach his belt to the other hook.
“He must not unhook the second snap on his belt until he has placed his foot safely within the interior after finishing the job.
“The closest shave I ever had was while cleaning windows in a university which had classrooms in a skyscraper here. The idea was to have the windows cleaned during the fifteen minutes between class periods.
“I had finished one set of windows and was in a hurry to get to the next classroom. Instead of unhooking my belt and going all the way around, I decided on a short cut. I unhooked the belt and proceeded along a wall ledge, about eight feet long and six inches wide, carrying a pail and a ladder.

Death Hangs in the Balance
“Just as I got to the middle, I began to wobble. My toe-hold was failing. I had allowed one foot to get out a little too far, just enough to upset my balance. I stood still, or tried to. I teetered a little but I kept calm. I was facing the building wall, trying to hug it with my body. I glanced down over my shoulder and saw a cop standing below. There was nothing he could do. I was ten stories up, and on the verge of falling.
“In the end I managed to regain my balance and my hold. I wormed my way over to the next window and went right on with my job as if nothing had happened. That’s the worst jam I was ever in. That might have been the one fall allotted me—and fatal!
“There is a standing army of 3,000 window cleaners in New York.City, and it’s my guess that we have the biggest mortality rate of any working class in the world. Most insurance companies won’t have anything to do with us. We’re marked ‘V. P. R.’ - very poor risk.
“The average window cleaner gets $30 weekly for 48 hours under the NRA. Aside from the perils, it’s nice, clean, healthy outdoor work, and we have very little labor trouble. You see, this is one trade in which there are no strikebreakers.
“When a man applies to me for a job, I don’t listen to any hot air about how good he is. I hand him the equipment, take him to the 100th floor, show him what a swell sight it is, to see all the other big skyscrapers sprawled out below, and then I say, ‘Okay, my man, go to it. Tackle that window right there.’
“I’ve never seen it fail. If they’re not full-fledged window cleaners they quit right on the spot. It takes a lot of nerve to step out into space, 100 stories up, if you’re not made for it.
“I’m forty years old and like my job very much. We’re all a happy-go-lucky bunch and sleep a good ten hours every night. We eat lightly. You’ve got to. On Sundays we have a feast, however. I’ve got a son, 15, and he’s going to be an engineer. He says he doesn’t care much for the wide open spaces where his old man works. Well, maybe I can’t blame him after all for not wanting to lead a sparrow’s life.”

Here is another article (above) from 4 years later - Modern Mechanix 1938. Click on the pictures to enlarge.
Window Cleaners Pose For Photo “On The Job”
The unusual photograph above shows a group of men working at what is considered by many as one of the most hazardous occupations - cleaning the windows of a “skyscraper” building. The photograph was taken from the 86th floor of the 102-story Empire State Building in New York, N. Y. As can be seen from the photo, the window cleaners trust their lives to stout leather belts which pass through rings in a leather girdle strapped around their bodies, the hooked ends of the belts being attached to metal lugs protruding from the window frames.

Back in 1799, the site was a farm, belonging to John Thompson. A hundred years later, the original Waldorf Astoria sat here until 1929, when it was demolished so construction could begin on the Art Deco Empire State Building. In a record-breaking 18 months, the skyscraper rose at an average rate of 4 1/2 stories per week. Workers erected 60,000 tons of steel frames, laid 10 million bricks and installed 97 kilometers of water pipe. More impressive, however, was the fact that the building cost less than half the predicted $50 million. Updrafts are also responsible for near-magical phenomena. Visitors can see snow and rain fall up. A conical paper cup filled with just the right amount of water will swirl mysteriously outside the window without going either up or down! And since water drips up, window-washers have to clean the building's 6,500 windows from the bottom up!
But disaster as well as success has painted its history. Thirty people have jumped to their deaths on the concrete below. And 14 people were killed in July, 1945, when a B-25 bomber, traveling at 322 kilometers per hour, crashed into the 79th floor. The building miraculously withstood the impact.
And some more relevant recent photos. The second picture shows how it is done today!

The Empire State Building is a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in New York City at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street. Its name is derived from the nickname for the state of New York. It stood as the world's tallest building for more than forty years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower was completed in 1972. Following the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, the Empire State Building again became the tallest building in New York City and New York State. It is 102 stories high has 1,860 steps, the full height of the building is 1453 feet or 443m high. It also has seventy three elevators. The spire on the top of the building was meant to have been a mooring place for air ships but as it was too dangerous they had to drop the concept. It took 3400 men who were mainly immigrants to build. Fourteen of them died in accidents during the work. The men had no safety equipment & there were no health and safety regulations. One woman who did manage to survive an accident is lift operator Betty Lou Olivier whose lift plunged seventy five floors while she was still in it. The 1930's were also the time of the great depression in America and the building had problems renting out the office space, as a consequence it became known as Empty State Building. The top tier of the building is floodlit according to a particular occasion, green for Saint Patrick's Day, red, white and blue for the fourth of July Independence Day. When it opened on 1st May 1931 the lights were white, they repeated this for the seventy - fifth birthday. On a clear day, you can see for 129 kilometers.

Monday 22 December 2008

Latest Window Cleaning Videos

Tony Evans of "New View" window cleaning in Wellman, Iowa has some more winter tips for us window cleaners in the following video. Entitled "Weather or not," its another great video from Mr. Squeegee, aka Tony.

Don Marsh, the window cleaner from Gainesville, Florida talks about the most fundamental reasons why you should or should not start a business.

Remember, if you are looking for a certain video, just put in your search term in the top left search box at the top of the blog to find what you are looking for i.e. Wagtail.

Sunday 21 December 2008

GlasWeld & Scratched Glass Solutions

At a time when some companies are slashing costs and laying off workers, Bend’s GlasWeld Systems Inc. is having the best year in its 25-year history. That’s according to company President Mike Boyle, who prefers the title chief visionary officer. Earlier this month, GlasWeld acquired a Las Vegas-based competitor and is moving it to Bend. GlasWeld, which is privately-held, now has 16 employees, but Boyle expects the company will double in size in the next two years as it absorbs its competitor and continues to expand. Boyle has helped the company grow from a “garage-type” business that built and sold windshield repair kits to an industry authority that is shaking up the way glass manufacturers do business.
Its original line of business is windshield repair kits and training. According to Boyle, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer of windshield repair kits. GlasWeld’s system uses a vacuum tool that removes moisture and contaminants from a windshield crack or ding and then injects a resin into the affected area. The resin is then cured with an ultraviolet lamp. Boyle said repairing a windshield is safer than replacing a windshield, as the factory bond between the windshield and the vehicle frame isn’t easily duplicated by third-party contractors. Several years ago, GlasWeld patented a system to repair scratches without altering the optics of the affected glass. In other words, it could repair a scratch, using a proprietary compound and special buffer without distorting the glass around the scratch as buffing alone can do.

It works on windshields, but GlasWeld found it also worked on flat glass, the industry term for windows and other architectural glass. This presented the company with more than a few growth opportunities. Boyle said glass manufacturers typically send 6 percent of their production to the dump. Boyle said his company’s systems can salvage 80 percent of that glass.
In an era where waste is unacceptable due to negative environmental perceptions and impact to the bottom line. Boyle said glass manufacturers are turning to GlasWeld to help them keep costs down both in the plant and the field. “The reason we’ve gone (with GlasWeld is) we do expect to save on our service costs and the amount of glass we throw away,” said Kim Flannery, engineering director for Milgard Windows and Doors in Tacoma, Wash. Milgard’s windows have a lifetime warranty, Flannery said. To replace a scratched piece of glass in the field is expensive and time-consuming, but with GlasWeld’s system, it can take one Milgard technician as little as five minutes. And it doesn’t alter the optics, which is something Flannery had never seen before.
“The reason we never got excited about this in the past was because other scratch-repair technology changed the characteristics of the glass,” Flannery said. “If you looked at it just right, you knew something had been done, but so far that has not been an issue here, and that seems to be the thing I’m most impressed with.” That’s one prong of GlasWeld’s growth, Boyle said. Another is the company’s burgeoning forensic glass services. Boyle half-jokingly calls it Glass Scene Investigations, a play on the popular television show “CSI,” or Crime Scene Investigation.
As Boyle explained, when developers discover that the windows installed in their projects, be it skyscrapers or luxury condos, are scratched, they want to know whom to bill for the repairs: the manufacturer, the shipper, the installer, the window cleaner or the mason who may have accidentally nicked a window with his trowel.

Boyle said his company can determine from the damage who is to blame. “We know more about glass than most of the people who produce it,” Boyle said. In the past few years, GlasWeld has been called to assess the glass in several high-profile projects, including the 57-floor Comcast Center in Philadelphia and the Wynn Las Vegas casino in Nevada. At the Wynn, Boyle said, a carpenter accidently scratched the front windows of a jewelry store three days before the casino opened. The scratched windows cost roughly $60,000 and had taken six months to produce, meaning no immediate replacements were available. Boyle sent over a GlasWeld contractor who spent the next three days repairing the glass.
A similar incident happened at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson, Wyo., he said. A developer had discovered the windows in his luxury condos were scratched. Rather than replace the windows, the developer hired GlasWeld to remove the scratches. It took a few months, but GlasWeld was able to complete the task, at considerable savings to the developer, Boyle said.
Throwing glass away is expensive, he said. But several years ago, Boyle came to the realization it’s also environmentally unsound. Only bottled glass is recycled, he said, while windshields and flat panel glass usually end up in landfills. Windshields can’t be recycled cost-effectively because they have petroleum-based laminate layered between the two panes of glass that make up a windshield. Windows and other architectural glass can’t be recycled cost-effectively because they are usually coated with anti-glare or energy-conservation coating and are affixed to metal or wood frames.
The glass can be ground up, but it’s an expensive process. Most of the time, it goes into the landfill, where it sits, practically forever, he said. Glass, after all, is melted sand. With that environmental message in mind, and adopting a polar bear as the marketing tool, GlasWeld several years ago began growing its glass repair business. The company also changed some of its business practices to keep in line with its message, such as switching from incandescent to fluorescent bulbs, buying a commercial-grade printer to print marketing materials on demand rather than in bulk and reducing packaging. And it’s paid off, Boyle said. “We started building a message of sustainability … so now we’re saving money and getting more market share,” Boyle said. Boyle wants to expand the company’s sustainability message and in the spring plans to host a conference in Sisters for glass industry executives worldwide to share its message. “Our ultimate goal is to become a Baldrige winner,” said Boyle, referring to the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award handed out annually by the U.S. president to businesses that show leadership and other exemplary business practices. “To be worthy of that award, that’s when we hit our stride,” Boyle said.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Squeegee Video Tricks & Tips

Here are a few tricks from Sörbo Samuelsson of Sörbo or SPC tools. Discover new and better ways of cleaning windows with innovative techniques and tools. Get fresh ideas on how to do windows better, more easily, more ergonomically and more profitably. Also see "The Sörbo Way."

All work and no fun is not good for anyone. Here's a technique developed to take care of that prerequisite. But don't let that fool you. It's a perfectly viable technique of doing windows, and you can express your artistic side at the same time. Great for killing time on a Friday afternoon.

You've heard of the jitterbug and the macarena. You've seen The Circler. Continuing our fun series, watch The Swirl. For some real serious speeds, use longer squeegee 3X4 adjustable channels. For French windows, use the MultiSqueegee®.

Here's Sörbo with both barrels blazing. Lots of movement, plenty of action, but this is just part of our fun series. If you really want to get done fast, try out longer squeegee channels or 'The Eliminator'.

Friday 19 December 2008

Windows Of The Future

Rainbow Solar Inc. (RSi) recently announced the world’s first, transparent, photovoltaic-glass window that generates 80 to 250 watts of electrical power, while saving up to 50% on heating and cooling requirements too.
This is the first production BIPV (building integrated photovoltaic) product of its kind, an enclosed super tempered glass window system, with a patent pending, fully integrated, multi-tier photovoltaic and heat insulation technology. Current production lines are capable of producing window sizes up to 9’ x 9’ (2.74m x 2.74m) with comprehensive options, such as fire and bullet proofing, to meet design, weather, climate, and building code requirements.
The RSi PV-Glass Window uses sunlight to generate electricity, reduce heat, and provide a semi-transparent window that allows for privacy, while maintaining a comfortable level of visibility to the outside world. At the same time, RSi PV-Glass Windows provide a 100% reduction in Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation, adding an extra level of protection not offered by standard glass windows.
RSi embedded many smart home technologies into the complete window system, including an optional built-in electrical privacy curtain, to completely block out an already shaded glass window, and a new technology that converts the entire window into a light panel.
RSi’s vision is of buildings that harvest their own energy from unlimited renewable sources. What the company ultimately proposes to do is to eliminate the need for electrical power plants, as well as the grid infrastructure so that the building itself becomes truly autonomous and fully sustainable in terms of electrical power.
Since one of the biggest heat losses from a home is through a glass window, it looks like RSi has a winning combination, stopping heat loss on cold days and keeping heat out on hot days, while generating electricity at the same time. Let’s hope the opaque windows also stop birds flying into windows and then the only remaining technical challenge is implementing self-cleaning windows.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Window Cleaning with Laurel & Hardy

A little light hearted comedy leading up to Christmas. Here are some clowns showing you how window cleaning could be done. The first video are the replicants & the second, Mr. Sanchez shows us how to utilise those window cleaning tools with a little scrim talk from Phil as well.

Here are the originals for you..

More from Matt & Phil...

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Window Cleaning Videos & Other UK News

Another installment from Mark Strange of "Beautiful View" from Toronto, Canada gives us a few more unbiased reviews of products in the window cleaners workplace. This time his opinion on the Unger ErgoTec® XL handle in this weeks edition of "Tool Talk."

Sean the salesman, from window cleaning resource gives us an insight into his day to day life before he shoots out to snowboard.

Kevin, the window cleaning business coach recently gave everyone the chance to win $200 of goods over on WCR to find the best flyer or template. Above is the synopsis of the winner from the entries given. More information on the new monthly dossier here. Below is Kevins latest advise on car dealerships & profitability..


Hotel manager who cleaned windows: The winners of the South Cheshire Chamber Business Awards 2008, held in association with the Chronicle, were announced at a ceremony at Crewe Hall Hotel. In this weekly series we are highlighting each of the winners and the secrets of their business success. Hotel manager Steven Hesketh seized upon a window of opportunity to climb the hospitality ladder. The 30-year-old former window cleaner sparkled at the annual South Cheshire Chamber of Commerce Business Awards 2008, taking the title of Young Business person of the Year, which he won jointly with Jonathan Mullarkey of Willaston House Business Centre. Father-of-three Steven, who lives with his wife in Chester, headed the opening of the Ramada Encore hotel on Crewe Business Park in Electra Way only two months ago in October.
Business has been steadily growing since, and Steven says the outlook for 2009 is bright despite the credit crunch. His rags-to-riches career story struck a chord with the awards judges. Steven said: “I started as a window cleaner at a resort in Australia while I was still at school 16 years ago, and it was then I fell in love with the industry. “I moved to Australia with my parents when I was one and returned in 1998. My first job here was at the Chester Crowne Plaza 10 years ago as a receptionist. So all my learning has been on the job. He is responsible for a team of 32 staff at the Ramada Encore hotel, overseeing their development while chipping in with whichever job that needs doing at the time.

Soccer fan Michael Sheilds is waiting to hear the word that he is to be freed from jail with a royal pardon. Two High Court Judges ruled that Justice Secretary Jack Straw was wrong to decide that he was powerless to grant a pardon because the conviction happened overseas. In their deceions the judges said Michael qualifies for a pardon since in British law he is "morally and technically innocent". It is widely accepted that Liverpool supporter Michael, 22, was a victim of mistaken identity and wrongly convicted of the attempted murder of a barman in Bulgaria. But he was kept locked-up because of tangle of international red tape and politics. Michael's father, window cleaner Mike Sheilds (pictured) said: "We are thrilled at this decision. "Jack Straw knows Michael is innocent and he should not spend a single day longer behind bars.

The gift of money: With cash being tighter than ever, many Britons are hoping their stockings will be filled with the gift of money instead of traditional Christmas presents this year. New research from Halifax has shown that more than a third (35%) of Britons intends to send money as a gift this Christmas, with children also set to receive money in the form of savings, as friends and relatives choose to open a savings account rather than purchase the latest toys from the high street. Furthermore, the UK's milkmen and window cleaners will receive similar tips to last year as the credit crunch doesn't seem to have impacted people's generosity this Christmas. Most of the UK's milkmen, window cleaners, bin men and paper boys can breathe a sigh of relief as 80% of 'tippers' say they will be paying the same as last year, with 17% saying they will pay more. However, it will be the luck of the draw for service providers in the East Midlands this year as the region has the highest percentage of people planning to tip more (24%), but on the flip side, has the highest number of people who intend to tip less (7%) compared to the rest of the UK.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Window Cleaning in Commercials

I can never understand why companies don't use professional window cleaners in commercials or at least teach them some basics to begin with? Here are a few adverts to keep you amused on these winter nights.

Monday 15 December 2008

Window Cleaning News

Tony Evans (above) gives us more fun & frolics in the snow from the deepest parts of coldest Iowa.

Thief: 'Let me go, you've got the stuff back': A window cleaner who a court was told has nearly 100 previous convictions, was tackled by staff as he tried to make off with goods from a Docklands store. As he ran from Homebase on Riversway, Preston, John Hendry threw stolen items from a bin bag. Preston Crown Court Prosecutor Kirsten McAteer said security staff had seen the defendant steal lights with a value of about £280. When caught he said: "Why don't you let me go? You have got your stuff back." "I'm going out tonight and needed some money. "Hendry, 46, of Castleton Road, Deepdale, pleaded guilty to theft. The court was told he had 95 previous offences and, at the time of his arrest in May, was serving a community order for a similar matter. Defending, Roger Baldwin said in mitigation Hendry had a long-standing alcohol problem. He had started a window cleaning round and in recent years his offending had been drastically reduced. Judge Christina Lyon said Hendry's record suggested his rate of offending was slowing down. She said she would give him a chance to continue with supervision provided by the probation service. The 16 week jail sentence she passed would be suspended for a year with 12 months supervision. "If you breach these terms you will go to prison", she warned him.

Safety Media release DVD's for managers & employees. Safety Media have developed interactive content as part of this DVD. Questions are posed throughout 5 Steps - Risk Assessment in your Workplace, ensuring that the viewer fully understands the subject matter. This also gives the trainer an opportunity to discuss the content. This DVD will raise awareness within your organisation that everyone is responsible for their own risk assessment. Ideal for every member of the workforce from managers to employees. During 2004/05, 220 people were killed and over 150,000 were injured at work because of a failure to manage risk. Source: HSEIn view of these worrying statistics, Safety Media have developed a NEW Interactive DVD. 5 Steps - Risk Assessment in your Workplace is an innovative solution to risk assessment training. This DVD will show the viewer how risk assessments don't need be daunting and time-consuming tasks. An emphasis is placed on how they can easily become second nature during a working day.

Conman burglar jailed for six years: A conman who posed as a window cleaner so he could steal from people has been jailed for six years. Paul O’Hare of Meadow Bank Road, Chatham, was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court for four distraction burglaries. He sometimes posed as a window cleaner in order to gain access to people’s properties. Police reminded people to be cautious when allowing visitors entry into their home. Their advice is stop, chain, check. Use the door bar or chain before you open the door. Always ask to see identification and if you have any doubts about a caller or are not expecting anyone do not let them in, even if they say they know you. Ask the caller to show you proof of their identify, then check the caller is genuine by ringing the company using the telephone number in the phone book, not on the card. If a caller is genuine they will understand the need to check and will not mind waiting. If you are worried call the police. For more information visit the Kent police website or contact your neighbourhood officer by using the postcode search facility at

Crazy Joe's pipe dream comes true: As everyone on both sides of the debate knows full well, it's no longer legal to smoke in restaurants and coffee shops in London. There is, however, one exception to the rule, a place where people smoke every day with their coffee and tea -- legally sanctioned. At Crazy Joe's Shisha Cafe, customers are invited to smoke from a shisha pipe, puffing herbal smoke in a dozen flavours, all free of tobacco, tar and nicotine. Historically, the shisha pipe, also known as a hookah, has been used to smoke products with varying degrees of legality. Alomeiri, 44, is an energetic native of Jordan who arrived in Canada in mid-February, nearly three years ago. He came via Lebanon, where he lived for several years as a refugee. He remembers vividly his arrival to a bitterly cold city where he knew no one. "I walked around the downtown on my second day, exploring the city. It was very cold." A civil engineer by training, he quickly found work as a window washer, a business he had run in Lebanon. "When I was in Lebanon, I ran the business, but I didn't clean the windows myself. I had employees. I started washing windows and I also volunteered at Mission Services." That led to a full-time job at Mission Services for two years. However, before and during his time there, he worked at several other jobs, selling fruit and cleaning windows in what he describes as his spare time. That spare time for most people is when they sleep, but Alomeiri slept very little, and for all his pursuits he earned or gave himself the nickname Crazy Joe. A year ago, he started thinking about opening a cafe where he could showcase Middle Eastern food, drink and culture, a place where the roughly 40,000 Londoners of Arabic descent might come for a piece of their homelands.

When missionaries James and Stacy Hill came home from Turkey in 2001, one of the first things they looked for was health insurance. They couldn''t afford commercial insurance plans they saw, so they signed up with Medi-Share, a Christians-only bill-sharing program operated by the Florida-based nonprofit Christian Care Ministry. The Hills pay about $400 a month, and after a $250-per-person deductible, their eligible medical bills are paid in full. "It has saved us so much money, especially since we do have ongoing medical needs," said Hill, who has chronic neck pains and whose daughter has ulcerative colitis, which requires visits to specialists. With an estimated 700,000 South Carolinians and 47 million Americans without health insurance, it is no wonder people have been looking for alternative ways to pay for their health care. Medi-Share is one of three large Christian-based bill-sharing organizations in the country that let people pay into a pool, and get their medical bills paid in return. Illinois-based Samaritan and Ohio-based Christian Healthcare Ministries have similar programs. The $400 monthly share and $250-a-person deductible for Hill, her husband, who owns a window-washing company, and their home-schooled children, Bethany, Samuel and Nathan, was far less than premiums for commercial plans they had seen.
Anago Cleaning Systems Offers Franchise Opportunities in the Greater Phoenix Area: Anago Cleaning Systems, a franchise-based commercial cleaning company based in South Florida, is offering Arizona franchise opportunities for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own environmentally safe cleaning company in the greater Phoenix area. Anago, which was founded in 1989, has already made inroads in the Southwest with a host of Arizona cleaning services already up and running. Given its track record in the Valley of the Sun, Anago's Phoenix janitorial services offer not only a unique opportunity but also a proven pathway to success. Anago Cleaning Systems has made its mark in the commercial cleaning industry over two decades through its patented "Smart-Clean" cleaning system. This systematic system guarantees that every facility, no matter how large or small, is cleaned in the same methodical way each and every time. This attention to detail and the big picture is also a hallmark of the extensive training and education Anago provides its franchisees.

'We were desperate:' While eye-watering, at least the details of the loan are there in black and white. That’s more than can be said for the loan sharks and for a number of companies involved in another increasingly popular way of raising cash — the sale-and-rent-back game. These firms operate by buying houses from hard-up homeowners and then renting them back to them. The idea is that they give you cash in exchange for a stake in your property. That’s the theory. But as Jean and Michael Turner discovered, they don’t always play fair. In 2004, the couple, both in their 50s, had a £60,000 mortgage on their four-bedroom terrace house in Norwich. But when Michael, a window cleaner, became ill they began to struggle with their £500-a-month repayments. Faced with repossession in 2006, they were put in touch with Reading-based company Home Assured Ltd. A representative visited and persuaded them to sell the house for £100,000 — £20,000 less than its market value. The firm paid off the £60,000 mortgage, charged the Turners £20,000 to cover the costs of the transaction — and handed over the remaining £20,000 equity, only when housing charity Shelter became involved. To stay in the house, the Turners had to payHome Assured rent of £500 a month. If that wasn’t bad enough, the house was sold on by Home Assured to a second individual. He continued to take the rent — but defaulted on his mortgage. As a result, the house was repossessed last March, and the Turners, whose marriage has broken up through the stress, were made homeless and forced to move into council accommodation. ‘I lived in that street all my life,’ Mrs Turner says. ‘I had hoped to live there until I died. Everything has been taken from me. I know people will think we were stupid, but we were desperate.’ She adds: ‘I want to warn other people to be careful — these type of people prey on the vulnerable.’ While Home Assured Ltd, a company with a reputation for shoddy treatment, appears no longer to be trading, in the months and years to come the financially vulnerable won’t go away. Indeed, their numbers are set to grow as fast as the interest on a loan shark’s loan.

Sunday 14 December 2008

Isopropanol & the Window Cleaner in Winter

Those guys at the Cleaning Pro's forum have come up with some scientific testing so that you can add Isopropanol to your water tank for when you are water fed pole-ing. Testing took place in a household freezer using glass containers & different amounts of isopropanol added to find the correct amount to use to stop freezing.

The findings were as follows: the dilution rate would be approx 1 litre of Isopropanol to 600 litres of water when adding to your tank or in other words 166ml for every 100 litres for your water tank. The tds in the mix would not be enough to impair cleaning at these ratio's. Isopropanol can be taken down to -89C (-128F). This is also an alternative to using methanol for the traditional window cleaners that use buckets. It hardly has any effect on marine life & plants using the ratio's given. Although being an alcohol, the chemical will dry your hands out, so water-proof gloves are advised if you are having direct contact. Please see the MSDS at the foot of this blog for full details.

Freezing Point of Isopropanol (2-Propanol) based Water Solutions: Isopropyl alcohol is also commonly used as a cleaner and solvent in industry. It is also used as a gasoline additive for dissolving water or ice in fuel lines. The concentration of Isopropanol in water is shown below & the lower tempreratures that can be realised by concentration.

If you noticed that the world ''isopropyl" looks like it might have something to do with propane, which you know from gas barbecues and propane torches, then well-spotted. Propane is made of three carbon atoms strung in a row with 8 hydrogen atoms attached. Poke an oxygen between a hydrogen and the carbon in the middle of the row and you get isopropanol. Any of the alcohols we've been talking about will evaporate quickly carrying away heat with it, so they are useful to cool and soothe the skin. They are also all good at dissolving oils and greases and therefore good for cleaning all sorts of things. Isopropyl alcohol is also readily turned into acetone, which you probably know as nail polish remover. Sometimes rubbing alcohol contains ethanol as well as isopropyl alcohol. When rubbing alcohol does contain significant amounts of ethanol, more poisonous and evil-tasting substances are added so that people won't drink it -- a process called ''denaturation." Often the poisonous additive is methanol, which, in addition to being toxic, can blind you if it doesn't kill you. In other words, under no circumstances should you ever consider drinking any sort of rubbing alcohol!
Some safety info for you: Keep away from heat, sparks and flame. Keep container closed. Use only with adequate ventilation. Wash thoroughly after handling. Avoid breathing vapor or mist. Avoid contact with eyes, skin and clothing.
I would also like to point out that Isopropyl acohol is used in swimming pools as "heatsaver" as it rises to the top & keeps the heat in the pool. Material data safety data sheet here.

Saturday 13 December 2008

Sweating It Out

Sweat it out in the gym: World Champion Downhill skier Lindsey Vonn has the amazing physical talents necessary to compete at the highest levels of her sport, but all those she competes against also have those talents. She has the support of coaches, trainers, nutritionists, and equipment specialists but so do all the other athletes at the top level of sport. In the off-season Lindsey works out in the gym an amazing seven hours a day working on strength, flexibility, and focus. In a sport where races are won or lost by thousands of a second it is the mental toughness on top of the physical attributes and support that makes champions. Those who are willing to sweat it out in preparation are the toughest competitors. Those with the same talents and support but are not willing to put in extraordinary effort make up the rest of the field and those with a passion for the sport but don't have the talent sit on the sidelines and cheer. It's the same in every sport and the same in business.
In the business world champions are the ones that put in the effort to create business plans, strategic plans, marketing plans and then revise their plans as conditions evolve, they put in the effort to conduct performance reviews, set challenging expectations, then motivate and coach their staff to meet and exceed those expectations, they put in the effort to gaze into the future and create expansive visions then articulate that vision to pull their company forward towards reaching it.
I could go further down this thought process but these are unusual, perhaps unique, economic times. Companies are threatened in many unusual ways because of the financial situation. I guarantee you that those businesspeople who are willing to "sweat it out in the gym" will be so much better positioned to survive and thrive than those who attend to "business as usual" and neglect the planning, the motivation, the inspiration, the visioning. Those that, in more normal times, are satisfied to be "also-rans" may end up sitting on the sidelines watching. It's a choice. My choice is to get in the gym.
Send a comment or question to Larry:

"King of the Mountain" - Control versus Experiment
Remember playing the kid's game, "King of the Mountain?" It's still being played by adults in the business world, though it is given a different name.
Direct Marketing (often referred to as "Junk Mail") is a metric driven media. In other words, either it produces results or it doesn't. Often the results of a successful mailing can be expected to remain fairly constant over a very long time - there are some classic mailings that have produced constant results for decades.
But good Direct Marketers don't just sit back and enjoy their successes. They are constantly experimenting. They use the word "control" to define the consistent, results producing advertisement and, whenever they mail the "control," they send a very small amount of an experimental mailing at the same time to see if they can beat the "control." Most of the time, the "control" wins so they continue using it.
Occasionally though, the experiment produces greater results so they expand the test on the next mailing to see if that one experiment was a fluke or does, in fact, outpull the long-used winner. If the experiment consistently performs better it becomes the new "control" and the game of "King of the Mountain" continues with new experiments as the rival.
This "King of the Mountain" technique of measuring results between "the way we've always done it" versus the "new idea" works well in marketing but it is also effective in many different areas such as manufacturing through-put, office procedures, incoming and outgoing telephone sales, even in NASCAR pit stops (if holding the wrench in the right hand is faster than the left hand).
Try playing "King of the Mountain" at your place. Measure the results. When you find a technique that consistently beats the old control, expand the experiment and if it continuously wins, make it the new "King."

Friday 12 December 2008

Installing Christmas Lights as a Window Cleaning Add-On

A Greener Charlottesville - Holiday Lighting with a Green Twist: As the holidays get closer more and more people are firing up the Christmas lights but they are also raising the electric bill. Putting up the Christmas lights around your house is often times a fun family tradition but can also bring on some holiday headaches. A local company is making the process easier and with a green twist. Jim Harshaw, owner of Albemarle Window Cleaning says, "LEDs have sort of come to be the new thing in Christmas lighting and five years ago they were more or less unheard of in Christmas lights." LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes were first invented in the early 1900s but have gained big popularity in the past few decades because of there use in telephones, calculators, and TVs. Now the LED technology is making holiday lighting more energy efficient. "The roof line lighting, that we're doing on a house like this, uses one thirty second of the power." A traditional incandescent mini bulb, the kind that you usually see on a Christmas tree, uses about a half a watt per bulb. LED holiday lights only use 4 hundredths of a watt per bulb.
Not only do the LEDs use less energy but they last much longer. "The incandescents that we use are professional grade, or for instance the ones that you can buy at Walmart are usually about a 1500 hour bulb for the incandescents. The LEDs are around 100,000 hours they say." Albemarle Window Cleaning designs and installs outdoor holiday lighting for homes and businesses across Central Virginia. But this year they have started uses high efficiency LEDs and offering a carbon off-set. Harshaw says, "Someone brought to my attention all of these Christmas lights we install, and we've done probably about a hundred homes over the past 2 or 3 years, and that's a lot of lights and that's a lot of energy." At the end of the year Albemarle Window Cleaning will buy all of the carbon off sets for the lights they use, helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the holiday season. If your looking to invest in some LED Christmas lights know that they do cost more up front but are well worth the investment, both for your wallet and for the environment. Video here.

Christmas Decor, the United States largest professional holiday decorating firm is spearheading the effort to spread the use of LED (light emitting diodes) lights with its 375 locations in 48 states.

One guy has a business that tells you everything you need to know in order to make over $15,000 in your first year hanging Christmas Lights. He also has a number of different websites to go through; Christmas Light Kit, Missionary Money & Christmas Cash.

This display (below) was the work of Carson Williams, a Mason, Ohio, electrical engineer who spent about three hours sequencing the 88 Light-O-Rama channels that controlled the 16,000 Christmas lights in his annual holiday lighting spectacular (from Christmas 2004). His 2005 display includes over 25,000 lights that he spent nearly two months and $10,000 to hook up. So that the Williams' neighbors aren't disturbed by constant noise, viewers driving by the house are informed by signs to tune in to a signal broadcast over a low-power FM radio station to hear the musical accompaniment. The rough quality of the video has led some viewers to believe it was put together in stop-action form from still photographs, but that is an artifact of the high compression used in the clip circulated via e-mail. Mr. Williams has posted instructions for recreating his "Wizard in Winter" sequencing, and another of his choreographed Christmas light music. Carson's Christmas display proved so popular that it was featured in a Miller Lite beer commercial in December 2005. But so many people had been flocking to see it that it caused a traffic jam in his subdivision. There was a car accident in the subdivision and the police couldn't get to the scene because of the congestion. So he decided to shut it down.


Thursday 11 December 2008

Winter Window Cleaning News

Another installment from Mark Strange of "Beautiful View" from Toronto, Canada gives us a few more unbiased reviews of products in the window cleaners workplace. This time his opinion on Ettore & Unger swivel 'T' bars in this weeks edition of "Tool Talk."

Window cleaner Phil adds festive sparkle to work: Santa Claus is coming to town bearing a sponge a ladder and a bucket of water. East Ayton window cleaner Phil Milner is bringing some festive cheer to his customers as he gets their windows sparkling brighter than the tinsel on their tree. The 38 year old, who has owned Crystal Clear window cleaning services since 1987, is donning the traditional red suit and fluffy beard while cleaning windows in and around Scarborough. Mr Milner said: "Business has going through a bit of a quiet patch recently so I thought I'd get into the festive spirit and try to give it a boost. "If anyone wants me to dress up all they have to do is give me a ring and let me know. "I've decorated the van too so I'm fairly noticeable driving around town. At the end of the day it's all a bit of fun for Christmas." Mr Milner has been cleaning windows in the Scarborough area for five years after moving from Bradford. He says he works a large patch covering almost all of the east Yorkshire coast. He said: "I'm building up a good business in Scarborough. I now use a pole system which mean I can work a lot quicker, more safely, and provide a better service. "However I also use the traditional ladders for a few of my customers as that is what they prefer."

Hordes of shoppers are pouring into Woolworths stores this morning (December 11) in search of a bargain as the beloved high street shop holds its closing down sale. The historic chain, which has branches across the News Shopper area, collapsed last month after a rescue deal fell through. Woolies’ administrator Deloitte announced the sale yesterday leading to shoppers braving the cold to try and get a bargain. The branch of the chain in Queensway, Petts Wood, is full of people looking for cheap deals. Terry Gill, of Poverest Road, Poverest, went there to see if there were any bargains on window cleaning products. The 67-year-old window cleaner is sad to see the shop closing down. Mr Gill said: “It is sad to see Woolworths going because I have known them since I was a kid. “I used to go in to get paint and chocolate, that sort of thing.”

Aviva has announced it will give Australians in high-risk occupations and non-working spouses the opportunity to be covered under a new Income Daily Living product. Occupations traditionally classified as too risky, such as labourers, window cleaners and motorcycle couriers, will now be eligible for income protection. The new product provides a benefit of up to $5,000 per month in the event of the insured not being able to perform two out of the five activities of daily living, as well as six times the monthly benefit in the event of a defined critical condition occurring.

Mount Shasta, Calif: Whether it’s road tripping through the American West in an ambulance/RV that runs on waste vegetable oil, bike touring around Cuba, mountain guiding in the Andes, Himalayas, or New Guinea, or helicopter ski guiding in Alaska, life-long Mount Shasta resident David Marchi has chosen a “road less traveled.” It is a journey that has him regularly crisscrossing the globe in what could be construed as a non-stop adventure. When he is not off in some far-flung corner of the world, Marchi spends his time working as a climbing guide for Shasta Mountain Guides and running his window washing business, which he often conducts from a bicycle converted to transport all of the necessary equipment. The ever-jovial adventurer and entrepreneur can often be seen pedaling his bike around Mt. Shasta or ski touring on the mountain he calls home. Earlier this fall Marchi was passing through town before beginning a series of excursions that would keep him on the road through the end of the year. His “short list” of exploits would satisfy some for a lifetime. Among them (and perhaps the most significant of all) was his recent engagement to Petit Pinson, a fellow traveler, explorer and “bon vivant,” whose curricula vitae of adventure matches Marchi’s in every way. This dynamic duo recently embarked upon a journey in their ambulance/RV, dubbed “Ekawa” (when viewed in a rear view mirror, a motorist sees its as “Awake”), which Marchi had converted to run on waste vegetable oil. The two were headed off on a six-week road trip in this eco-friendly RV to promote their newly founded international guide business Global Lines. The ambulance is equipped with comfortable living space for two that includes, among other things, a restaurant grade espresso maker, recycled hardwood flooring provided by Terramai of McCloud, and an LCD projector that will allow the couple to host slide shows on the side of the vehicle. The goal of their trip was to promote their newfound business and, more generally, the spirit of adventure, connection, and awareness that is close to their hearts. If the two are able to locate the necessary waste cooking oil, which is typically available from most restaurants, the cost of running the vehicle is zero. If in a pinch, regular diesel fuel can be used.

The Santaland Diaries: Before his breakthrough, Sedaris looked to most people, starting with his family, to be a hopeless, unemployable loser, which is why he applied to be a Macy’s elf at age 33. The only thing he was good at was cleaning houses: He did windows. And he also kept a diary, which has prescribed the literary form of all his later writing. With the help of his sister Amy, an accomplished actress cited in Santaland, Sedaris started reading his material in a Chicago coffeehouse, where he was heard by some executives from NPR. They aired the narrative early in the day, which caused such a reaction as to burn up the switchboard (this was before the rise of e-mail). Before the day was over, literally by heated public demand, Santaland was broadcast a second time. And Chicago lost a great window cleaner. Confessions of a window washer; Wade McCollum (pictured) in Syracuse Stage’s The Santaland Diaries.

BidMyCleaning launches Gift Certificates For Holiday Gift Buying Season: A gift certificate may in fact be the ideal gift since according to the National Retail Federation's sixth annual gift card survey conducted by BIGresearch, 54.9 percent of consumers would like to receive gift cards this holiday season. Friends, family members and loved ones will be more than happy to receive a gift certificate in these difficult financial times, and even happier to use a gift certificate from BidMyCleaning to take some of the load off their already jam-packed to-do lists. The gift certificates are sold online in any amount from $30 to $1000 and can be redeemed for maid service, window cleaning and carpet cleaning. In just three easy steps a customized gift certificate, complete with a personalized message will be on its way to your recipient. A formatted gift certificate e-mail confirmation can be printed instantly at home to be hand delivered to the recipient or the default option will email the gift certificate to the recipient. Once received, a link on the email makes it easy for the recipient to visit BidMyCleaning to schedule their cleaning service when they are ready. There are a wide range of denominations available to accommodate a gift purchase for a whole house cleaning at around $200 for the average single family home, regular maid service for a period of time at perhaps $1000 or a starting contribution towards a service at a lower amount like $30. The cost of cleaning is tailored to the specific size, condition and location of the home but a recipient of a BidMyCleaning gift certificate is able to view a range of instant bids from local service providers in order to choose one that suits them before redeeming the gift certificate.

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Don's Back! + More Window Cleaning News

Don's back, the King of podcasts! This time talking about using Twitter in Your Business. Not that I've done much with it & looks like Don hasn't figured how to use it to a good advantage yet either. If you want to follow me for any insane reason - just click on the twitter button!

Sean Dolan, the sales guy at Window Cleaning Resource opens up to his first solo episode on sales tips & techniques. "Always strive for the best & that's what your attain."

Remember my post the other day on MRSA? And the subsequent follow up on skin care? Well I couldn't believe the news today! This unfortunate window cleaner had the worse case scenario of MRSA.....

A scratch on the leg has led to the death of a popular amateur rugby league player aged just 31. Dad-of-one, Neil Smith, a former Leigh Miners Rangers and Leigh East ARLFC junior player, had been a promising, pacy winger in his day.The former Lancashire Rugby League youth team player is believed to have died from a heart attack after contracting septicaemia from a scratch on his leg. Leigh East's chairman Keith Latham, who coached eight-year-old Neil at the Miners, said: "We are really devastated about it at the club. It was no age at all, he was only 31 and he was a great lad. "He was an exceptional talent as a youngster and he had outstanding pace. "He was destined for big things, there's no doubt in my mind that he could have gone all the way but, sadly, he went out of the game for his own personal reasons. "He was brought up in that age group where Leigh produced so many talented players. "I kept in touch and I still see his parents – who are some of the nicest people you could meet – now and again and I always ask about Neil."Apparently he'd had this cut on his leg and it turned bad." After a spell at Miners, Neil moved over to Leigh East later on in his junior career.
Window cleaner Neil leaves behind a young son, Bradley, parents Brian and Carole and a sister, Gemma. Boss Tex O'Neil found employee Neil in a poorly condition last Monday after going round to his Higher Folds flat. Mr O'Neil had become concerned after Neil failed to report for work. He was taken to hospital but died a couple of days later. His funeral will be held at noon on Tuesday, December 16, at St Gabriel's Church, Higher Folds and Howe Bridge Crematorium.

Window Cleaner discovers blood-soaked woman found in street, UK: A Window cleaner has spoken of the moment he discovered a blood-soaked woman staggering in the street with serious head injuries. Michael Bolton was first on the scene after Diane Spencer had been allegedly bludgeoned with a claw hammer in Fraser Grove, Hartlepool. He said blood was seeping from wounds to her head and face as she staggered near to her car. And the 35-year-old, who has had a window cleaning round in that area for three-and-a-half years, described the scene as like "something from a horror movie". Michael said he had just been made a cup of tea by one of his customers when he saw Mrs Spencer from about 30 yards away with blood running down her face. "At first I thought she'd knocked her head on the car and I shouted 'are you all right sweetheart?' But she was on a different planet, she couldn't say anything." Dad-of-three Michael told the Mail. "I got within a couple of feet of her and her face was like something out of a horror movie. I phoned 999 straight away. "There was blood everywhere, it was a horrific scene. I keep having flashbacks. I've never seen anyone's face look so bad." While Michael was on the phone to the emergency services an elderly gentleman and a carer sat the woman down and were trying to stem the bleeding. Michael, of Duncan Road, added: "The carer was using wipes but they were turning bright red within seconds of them going on her face because there was so much blood. The poor woman." After just a couple of minutes an ambulance and police turned up at the scene and then a police helicopter arrived and took the woman to the James Cook University Hospital after the attack in Fraser Grove, Hartlepool, at around 10.30am on Saturday. Mrs Spencer's brother Paul Anthony Wallace, 47, has appeared in court charged with attempted murder. Chairman of the bench Sidney Taylor remanded Wallace, of Fraser Grove, in custody and sent the case to Teesside Crown Court.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

Winter Window Cleaning Tips & Other News

Here is Tony Evans, alias Mister Squeegee - a Professional Window Cleaner from Iowa who will giving us hints & tips about working in the cold weather. Its going to be a long cold winter and Tony has a full list of winter window cleaning topics for us under the title "Weather or Not." Stay warm everybody.

Boston: Retailers are hoping that the combination of cold and snow will put people into the shopping spirit. NewsCenter 5's Gail Huff reported that retailers need shoppers in the holiday spirit because sales have been slow so far this year. "The snow puts people into the Christmas mood," vendor Juan Tavares said. But whether you are a window washer or a window decorator, the bitter air doesn't make it easier for anyone who is working outdoors."Three sweatpants, three sweaters, the super gloves, three hats," vendor Jimmy Milliken said. After Monday, the weather should warm up, but there is a chance of snow.

Flintshire gas blast survivor says "I owe my life to God." A window cleaner who was seriously burnt in a terrifying gas explosion at his Flintshire home has spoken for the first time about his brush with death. David Roberts says he is lucky to be alive, following the blast in Stanley Street, Mold, Flintshire, last week. In an exclusive interview with the Evening Leader, the 41-year-old recounted the moment he was engulfed in flames as the blast ripped through the house, which he shares with his parents, Derek and Margaret, blowing out the windows and doors and leaving it gutted. He said: "The whole of Stanley Street could quite easily not be here today, the explosion was that huge. "It just goes to show that no-one knows when their time is up. I owe my life to God. " have a belief that it was God that saved me and my family that day."
The drama unfolded at around 9am on Monday, December 1, when David, a self-employed window cleaner, lit a cigarette. The next thing I knew I was on fire and shouting for help," he said."I didn't even hear the explosion because I was in it. I couldn't hear or see anything."I was surrounded by rubble and I didn't have a clue what was happening."David and his parents thanked neighbours who rushed to his rescue, tending to him until paramedics arrived. They also praised Flintshire Council's emergency response team, emergency services and local councillor Haydn Bateman. More than 30 residents were evacuated following the blast, with surrounding streets being closed off for days. The family also thanked the Dolphin Inn, where they stayed on the night of the blast, and the Beaufort Park Hotel, New Brighton, where they have been staying ever since. Mum Margaret said: "We lost everything in an instant but everyone has been fantastic, and so helpful." The family do not know where they will be spending Christmas, and have been told the house will take 18 months to repair. The cause of the explosion is still being investigated.
White collar workers are increasingly dodging paying tax, MPs reveal: Builders and decorators might be the tradesmen that you most associate with tax dodging. But a new MPs' report shows that white collar professionals - including lawyers, surgeons and property developers - are increasingly fiddling their figures. The report reveals that Revenue and Customs has caught 57 barristers evading hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax. Of these, 36 agreed to return a total of £605,000 in unpaid taxes and fines. Another 21 barristers are still being investigated while the department states it is trying to trace the owners of luxury yachts and cars. However the majority of middle class tax evaders have not been prosecuted. It is all part of Britain's cash in hand culture which is costing the Treasury more than £2billion in lost revenue every year.
Around two million tax cheats operate in the black economy and their chances of being caught are 'very slight', the report says. Self-employed builders and decorators are singled out as amongst the worst offenders for failing to declare their full earnings by the Commons public accounts committee. It found that around 80 per cent of those working in the hidden economy owed relatively small amounts in tax, but that the total potential loss was 'significant'. Cash payments to workers such as a handyman, childminder or window cleaner are a feature of the UK economy. However, it makes earnings easier to hide from the taxman. A growing area of concern is individuals trading on the internet through auction sites such as ebay. The report reveals that 30,000 cases a year have been uncovered since 2003-04 - a detection rate of just 1.5 per cent. But another 11,900 cases resulting from tip offs to the Tax Evasion hotline last year are still awaiting investigation.
Boxing Window Cleaner: Allston, Boston: Tommy Duquette starts at the base of the Windsor Village apartment and townhouse complex in Waltham. Then he charges up the first 60 steps. Fast. Then he does it again, and again. Then there's a big hill. He charges up that as well. ``That's Round 1,'' he said. He does three more rounds without a rest. He does the whole thing in about 30 minutes.``It's a really intense 30 minutes,'' he verifies.
It's a workout he usually does on his own. He's tried to bring along fellow boxers from the Boston Boxing & Fitness Club of Allston in the past. They usually don't stick around. ``They don't last long,'' he admitted. ``They do it a couple of times and they say it's fine. Then that's it. They don't come back.'' But Duquette keeps coming back. Just like he keeps going back to the boxing gym where he has his own key and is its most celebrated competitor. Nearly a decade after he first laced up the gloves, the Waltham resident is still at it. He had his first sparring match at age 16. He had his big breakthrough in a tournament in Kansas City when he was 20. Now, at age 23, he is the New England amateur junior welterweight champion after winning the open 141-pound weight class in Portland, Me. two weeks ago. Next month, he will travel to Lake Placid, N.Y. for the regionals, then perhaps on to Colorado Springs, Colo. for the national championships. The ultimate destination is London in 2012. ``The Olympics have always been kind of a dream,'' he allowed. ``But you could only whisper it before. You don't really want to talk about it out loud. He had his boxing, sure, but how long would that last? To support himself, he was washing windows on three- and four-story houses in Weston. ``You know, all the mansions,'' he dismissed. He was doing it one very cold day shortly before the company he worked for closed up shop for the season when he looked around, and looked deep within himself. ``I remember the day,'' he recalled. ``It was freezing cold, and I'm out there in the winter, with this vision of all my friends I went to high school with sitting at a nice warm desk.''

How to save your skin from winter damage: While North Texas typically isn't subjected to subzero temperatures and biting winter winds, the cold months can wreak havoc on skin. From a little itch to cracked skin that hurts and bleeds, cool weather can magnify many dermatological conditions. Fortunately, a number of techniques can help keep skin supple and healthy. "For face or for body, ointments deliver the most moisture, followed by creams, then lotions, which have the highest water content of moisturizers and therefore are not as rich or effective," says Dr. Mary Hurley, a dermatologist at North Dallas Dermatology at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. "The ones that smell good aren't necessarily the best moisturizers. And anything with a strong fragrance can be irritating."
Healthy skin on your face and body is more than a cosmetic issue. "Severely dry skin can decrease the natural skin barrier, which is our defense against infection," says Dr. Max Adler of Park Cities Dermatology. Dr. Hurley recommends waiting no more than three minutes after a bath or shower to moisturize. "This is one of the best ways to seal in moisture," she says. Skin cancer doesn't take a winter break Hands often dry out fastest because there are fewer oil glands on the hands and feet than elsewhere on the body. Plus, with hands, whatever oil is there can be stripped by repeated washing.
Eczema, characterized by extreme dry patches, can split the skin on fingers and palms. Dr. Adler tells patients who have eczema on their hands "to skip antibacterial soaps and sanitizers." If you'll be travelling on a plane, carry a travel-size tube of hand and facial moisturizer. Humidity levels on jets are notoriously low. "And the soap in the plane bathrooms is always so harsh," says Curran Dandurand, co-founder of Jack Black, a men's skin-care company in Carrollton. "Reapply whenever you think about it." In the car, Dr. Adler recommends using the floorboard setting on the heater rather than having hot air blow directly onto your face. And don't forget sunscreen. "It's a little-known fact that 90 percent of the sun we get is through the car window, so wear sunscreen every day year-round," he says. Hydrate your skin from the inside out by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. "Drinking plenty of water is just a good practice regardless," Dr. Hurley says.
SOURCE: National Institutes of Health
The American Academy of Dermatology offers these tips for making skin feel comfortable during winter or when the air is dry: Use a humidifier. With the heat on and windows closed, the air indoors can become very dry in winter, worsening the dryness and itching of eczema. A humidifier adds moisture to the air. Switch to an oil-based moisturizer and use it frequently. The more oil a moisturizer contains, the more effectively it protects against moisture loss. Ointment moisturizers have a high oil content because, by definition, an ointment consists of 80 percent oil and 20 percent water. This water-in-oil emulsion forms a protective layer on the skin and is more “moisturizing” than creams and lotions. Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Use on the face, hands and other exposed skin. This acts as a barrier against the elements and is especially important if you will be outdoors. Dress in layers. The most common triggers of the scratch-itch cycle are sweating and overheating. Layering allows you to remove clothing as needed to prevent overheating. Wear loose-fitting cotton fabrics next to your skin. Shed wet clothes and shoes immediately. These can irritate the skin.
SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology


Fake window cleaner conned woman, 89: A FAKE window cleaner who stole money from an 89-year-old woman has been jailed for four years. A judge told Ian Cornell (43), of Chesterfield Road, Mansfield, that he was 'disgusted' by his behaviour in targeting an elderly woman. The victim was asleep in a chair in her living room in the afternoon on 15th October when she was woken by Cornell, Nottingham Crown Court was told on Friday. Prosecutor Paul Stimson said Cornell told the woman he had come to clean the windows on behalf of her regular cleaner, giving the other man's correct first name. "He then asked if he could come in for a cup of tea because he was cold," said Mr Stimson. Without being invited he followed her in and stole £20 from her purse while she made the tea. It was his 10th conviction for house burglary and although most were derelict properties, the last two, for which he received 28 months in prison, were lived in.Cornell, who admitted the offence, had never had help with his drugs problem and was sorry for what he had done, according to his barrister Sarah Munro. Judge Dudley Bennett told him: "You are a persistent criminal, you conned your way in with your lying pretence that you were a window cleaner."

Window cleaning yob handed CRASBO: A teenager from St Helens who carried out a window cleaning scam has been hit with a criminal ASBO. Lee James Stuart appeared at St Helens Magistrates Court last week where he was given the order after pleading guilty to criminal damage. The 19-year-old was sentenced earlier this year for fraud after taking money from a number of homeowners, promising to clean their windows but then failing to do so. Many of the targets in the unsophisticated scam lived just a few hundreds yards from Stuart's home address. He was given a 12 months conditional discharge, ordered to pay £65 court cost and pay £3 compensation. Stuart, of Brookland Lane, St Helens, admitted the criminal damage charge, which police and council chiefs to apply for the CRASBO, in August. Under the terms of the two-year CRASBO, Stuart is banned from:* Entering the front or rear paths/gardens of any residential property unless he has the authority of the tenant or owner of the property anywhere within the borough of St. Helens* Causing harassment, alarm or distress to any person.Chief Inspector Mike Constantine said: "The court recognised that Mr Stuart had been causing a great deal of distress to vulnerable residents within St Helens by demanding money for the services of cleaning windows and gutters which he had not provided."

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