Tuesday 31 January 2012

Access Problems, Cleaning Windows Between Neighbours

John Byron claims John Trayers, who lives in an apartment above him, blocks access to his door when he puts up a ladder to clean his windows.
Row gets messy: Feuding Blackley neighbours fall out over window cleaning - Two neighbours are locked in a bitter feud – over window cleaning. John Byron, who lives in a ground-floor flat, complained when John Trayers – who lives in the apartment above – began using a ladder when he washed his windows. Mr Byron claimed the ladder blocked access to his front door. The pair had a blazing row about the issue – which ended with Mr Byron locking himself in his flat to avoid his neighbour.

Both men then went to Northwards Housing, which owns the properties in Elder Mount Road, Cheetham Hill, asking them to take action. Northwards have now written to Mr Trayers, 50, advising him to send Mr Byron a note giving 24 hours’ notice when he intends to put up the ladder. The letter, in the name of Rob Doherty, Northwards’ local services manager, reads: “As you do not want to speak to your neighbour when cleaning your windows I think the best way forward is that when you intend to clean the windows in the future you post him a brief note the day before with the time you expect to clean the windows the following day.”

Mr Byron, 45, who is on disability benefits, said he had been hoping to reach an agreement face-to-face. He claimed Mr Trayers had not been willing to co-operate. Mr Byron said: “He has been left in this situation because of his unwillingness to speak.  “Northwards Housing and myself wanted mediation. “When he first put the ladder up I could not see who was at the top and thought someone was breaking in.  “When John came down he flew off the handle at me and I threw him off my property. “I locked myself in my home.”

Unemployed Mr Trayers is seeking legal advice over Northwards’ ruling. He said: “I find the whole thing ridiculous. “The idea that I will put a note through his door when I want to clean my windows – it just doesn’t happen.  “I’m entitled to clean them. He has never had problems with this before. It is nonsense. “It is ridiculous that they are telling me what to do.” Mr Trayers said the claim he could be hindering Mr Byron entering his flat was ludicrous – as Mr Byron has a back door. He added: “I would rather not clean my windows than speak to him or put a note through his door.  “It is not about cleaning windows. It is all about principles.” A spokesman for Northwards declined to comment, but said they hoped the neighbours could resolve their dispute.

The letter sent to Mr Trayers.

Monday 30 January 2012

Stained Glass Windows With A Difference

Transparent Stained Glass Prints Hang in the Church of Geek: You don’t have to be religious at all to enjoy these fantasy prints designed to look like stained glass windows. Created by Marissa Garner of Fay Productions, they incorporate a variety of entertaining subjects from Batman to My Little Pony. Despite just being ink on transparency paper, they’re designed to be taped up to your window or a light box to create a cool stained glass effect.

Characters from the Batman comic book universe.

Or if you fancy the original X-Men, you can get Iceman, Miss Marvel/Jean Grey, Cyclops, Angel and Beast to hang up too. You’ve gotta love Professor Xavier filling everyone’s minds from the center.
Wales’ finest stained glass gets window online: Anyone interested in church history can now view and research more than 2,000 stained glass windows from hundreds of churches in Wales online. From medieval to modern, the windows have been photographed and catalogued in a project by the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies. The website allows all the windows to be searched thematically by date, artist or location. The project was initiated by the artist and photographer Martin Crampin. “Stained glass is part of the visual vocabulary of many of our churches, and a pictorial manifestation of the church’s faith and tradition,” he said. “Yet often little is known of the artists or studios that made them, and sometimes the meaning of the windows is unclear to those that worship in their midst today.” The catalogue covers stained glass from medieval times up to the present day, including the fine collections of medieval glass, imported continental glass, work by the large Victorian firms and artists of the arts and crafts movement, as well as more recent windows by artists trained and based in Wales from the second half of the 20th century up to the present day.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Window Cleaning News

Click to enlarge.
‘They delivered what they promised’ - With an impressive business portfolio including a restaurant, retail operations and hotels, experienced entrepreneur Ali Khandokar quickly recognised the huge potential that commercial cleaning franchise, Totally Clean Solution, had to offer. Having owned and operated a variety of businesses over the years, Ali Khandokar was eager to find a new challenge that would allow him to utilise his management experience and offer him financial security. It was during his visit to a franchise exhibition in 2010, that Ali first discovered commercial cleaning franchise, Totally Clean Solution (TCS).
"Having researched the franchise industry extensively, I felt that franchising offered a more secure route to success," he explains. "I connected well with the TCS management team and their philosophy on business." Upon joining TCS, franchise owners are provided with a minimum of £7,500 worth of cleaning contracts for their first month of trading and a team of cleaners – so you can have your business up and running from day one. Also, as TCS has a dedicated sales team to secure your contracts, there will be no door knocking for you.
Since launching his Brixton-based franchise, Ali has been very impressed with the training and ongoing support the TCS management team has provided. "TCS have delivered what they promised, the training has been excellent," he enthuses. "The support has been very good, particularly the monthly review, which has been useful for keeping track of my business performance against my business plan."
TCS franchise owners and their staff are fully trained in the skills they need, as well as customer appreciation and service. As a fully trained TCS franchise owner, you will offer the following services: contract cleaning, one-off cleans, window cleaning and hotel and housekeeping services. Ali has thoroughly enjoyed being his own boss and is pleased to say that the only challenge he has faced is trying to keep up with the customer demand.
"Quite honestly there haven't been many challenges, but explaining the TCS franchise format to clients has been difficult as they can't believe we can deliver such great services for the contract price," he enthuses. "Learning new skills and meeting new people from all backgrounds and levels has really boosted my confidence. My plan for the future is to build my business to a point where my family and I are financially secure."
Totally Clean Solution (TCS)
  • Summary of Operation: A ready made commercial cleaning business staffed and operating from day one.. A recession proof business. Training in all aspects of running your business is included. We do the selling - no door knocking for you.
  • Ideal Franchise Owner Profile: Self-motivated, good sound management background, with the ambition to run own business.
  • Cost of Franchise: £33,000 + VAT
  • Year Company Established: 2010
  • Year of First Franchise Owner: 2010
  • Training Provided: Operationally to achieve brand standards delivery as well as cleaning standards delivery. Financially with regards to cash flow and profit and loss. Anyone can be a busy fool. Ethically to treat people legally and with the respect they deserve.
  • Support Services Provided: All invoicing, account collection, sales, full call centre and logisitcs back up. You will receive assistance from the senior management team which has over 70 years of franchise experience. Our operational support system is 'Best in Class'. Financial support that means growth is always affordable – earn your way to a successful business.
Karren Brady, 42, became the youngest managing director of a public company when Birmingham City Football Club floated on the London Stock Exchange. She was also the first woman to hold such a post in the top flight of English football when the club was promoted to the Premier League in 2002. Now vice chairman of West Ham United, she is also a columnist, author and Lord Sugar's sidekick on The Apprentice. She lives in Birmingham with her husband, Paul Peschisolido, 42, and their children Sophia, 15, and Paolo, 13. How do you separate responsibility for financial decisions with your husband? Who takes a stronger role? I do it all. Some years ago a window cleaner was touting for business down our road and knocked at our door when I was out. Paul later told me the quote had seemed a bit expensive – £500. I couldn't believe anyone would charge so much so I asked him to tell me more and it turns out the guy said "five" and Paul, assuming no one would clean windows for £5, had thought he meant £500. He hasn't a clue about money.

From Corporal to Captain: While Johnson is no stranger to aggressive policing tactics, his initial attraction to law enforcement was the potential it offered for helping others. "That's my main goal," he said, "I like to help people." A graduate of the Franklin Learning Center, Johnson signed on to the PPD in 1988 after serving three years of active duty in the Marine Corps as a bulk fuel specialist. In 1992, Johnson was involved in a highly publicized police shooting known as the "Window Washing Charlie shooting," in which a West Philadelphia resident was shot 22 times by police after he pointed what turned out to be an empty gun at them, according to archived reports. He considered leaving the police department, and took classes in nursing at the Community College of Philadelphia.

People Are Strange - Betting Tips for Normal People. He reminded me of my sister's window cleaner who realised he was scared of heights one afternoon. Unfortunately, this epiphany occurred when he was up a ladder throwing a cloth over some dirty panes two storeys up. The fire brigade suggested a change of career.

Patch sits down with the state senator for Southwest Minneapolis and Richfield. What bills will you be introducing this session? Kelash: I’ll be introducing a bill related to window-washer safety and another one supporting the extension of the Mall of America’s Tax Increment Financing district (for infrastructure improvements). There’s great economic development potential there. Also, the jobs bill that the governor is promoting will wind up in my committee.

More Kentucky schools may go green to clean: More Kentucky schools could start using environmentally friendly cleaning products if a bill making its way through the state legislature succeeds. House Bill 146, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Carl Rollins, would direct the Kentucky Department of Education to promote “green cleaning” programs. It sailed through Rollins’ House Education Committee Tuesday morning. Cleaning products are considered “green” when a third-party has determined they are nontoxic and meet standards for health and the environment. Local school officials say they are already using cleaning supplies that are safe for the environment, students and employees. Assistant Superintendent Charley Preston says Franklin County Public Schools buys green cleaning products whenever possible. Supplies are bought at the district level and distributed to each school.
Preston says the products cost about the same amount as conventional cleaners, or a little more. The cost has come down over the last several years, as they have gained in popularity, he said. HB 146 stipulates that the Kentucky’s education officials publish an annual list of preferred green cleaning supplies, including all-purpose cleaners, bathroom cleaners, window and glass cleaners, carpet cleaners, floor care products and hand soaps. The bill directs state education officials to consult with the Department for Environmental Protection and the Kentucky chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to promote the program and recommend cleaning procedures, local policies and ideas for staff training. Schools that participate would see their names on a statewide list.

Bridport: At last! Peter gets his pineapple: Peter Pinker, a semi-retired window cleaner, persevered in spite of suffering many a horticultural setback over the quarter-century. “All the other ones I’ve grown I’ve over-watered and they rotted, or I’ve left them outside and a cold spell killed them off. But I’m pleased to say that after 25 years of trying I’ve finally got one to bear fruit,” he said. He decided to give it a go back in the Eighties when he read about pineapples in a gardening magazine. In spite of the 15 or so failed attempts, his ‘never say die’ spirit has finally been rewarded with a fruit currently the size of a small aubergine. He grew the plant by cutting the top off a supermarket pineapple and simply planting it in a pot in his conservatory. Tending the plant required just a little water and some tomato fertilizer once a month. But getting it to fruit proved trickier until his wife, Jan, intervened. “She kept getting stabbed by the sharp leaves and told me that either it went or she did,” he joked. “So I cut back the leaves and shortly afterwards the fruit came.” Mr Pinker, who has also grown sweet peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes in his conservatory, has no intention of eating his prize specimen just yet. “I’ll wait and see how big it grows and then I’ll eat it” he said. But he acknowledged that Mrs Pinker might be looking forward to the day it’s gone. “She says I think more of my pineapple than I do her,” he laughed.

Meet the new guy: Ald. Will Burns isn’t a complete stranger to South Loop. Between 2008 and 2010, he represented the 26th District in the Illinois General Assembly, a district that stretched from Gold Coast to South Shore neighborhoods, moving through South Loop along the thin sliver of land east of Michigan Avenue. As an alderman, Burns joined the Reform Caucus his predecessor helped to establish and sponsored a number of reform initiatives. Those include: The Responsible Bidder in Service Contracts ordinance, which would increase scrutiny over bidders for city janitorial, security and window washing contracts. As of this writing, those ordinances are either being held in committee or await City Council vote.

Michael William Sarback: Michael William Sarback, 95, of Stratford, husband of Isabelle Irene Barrett Sarback, died Jan. 20. He was born in Bridgeport to the late William and Mary Sherbatiuk Sarback. Mr. Sarback was the proprietor of Central Window Cleaning, retiring at 88. He was a member of the PAL Cadet Drum Corp, vice commander of the Corp and director of PAL Thunderbird Color Guard. He was an avid UConn, NY Mets, Giants and Rangers fan. One of his favorite pastimes was woodworking where he spent countless hours in his workshop creating items nothing less than beautiful, his family said.

Is this the best husband ever? The man who combines his workout with housekeeping: Housekeeping and exercise are both chores that, though essential, can be tedious to carry out on a regular basis. But one man believes he has found a solution that is both time-effective and fun: combining the two to create a cleaning regime that doubles as a workout. Steve Markovich, 57, from Crescent Springs, Kentucky, has perfected his hybrid routine over the past 16 years. Marrying popular resistance-training methods with day-to-day housework, it comprises vacuum lunges, window-cleaning squats, sofa-lifting and even kitchen karate kicks.

Modified bath salts now appearing under new labels: Drugs similar to recently banned bath salts are back in some convenience stores in the Upstate, now packaged as glass cleaner. Bath salts were banned in South Carolina in October, but the bans failed to include modified drugs in the same chemical family. State Rep. Anne Thayer of Belton has filed a bill that would extend the ban to similar stimulants. Thayer says the bill will likely make it to the House floor on Tuesday. Bath salts, the term for powdery, paranoia-inducing drugs, were sold in gas stations and some head shops before bans at the federal, state, county and municipal levels last year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration deemed mephedrone, methylone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV, three common stimulants found in bath salts, as controlled substances in October. The same ban included synthetic marijuana. According to a forensic chemist, there are 45 modified versions of stimulants found in bath salts. This week the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office discovered a package marketed as glass cleaner. A December seizure by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office of $39,000 worth of bath salts at Randy’s Smoke ‘n Holes in Anderson included several packages labeled glass cleaner, spokesman Chad McBride said. Manufacturers of the stimulants are skirting the law, marketing stimulants as harmful as the original three banned for the DEA. The stimulants are being sold not only as glass cleaner but also as window cleaner, plant food and axle grease.

Lawmakers also discussed legislative plans to ban synthetic drugs. Lundberg said he “went into a head shop” to find out what it’s like to buy the synthetic drug known as “bath salts.” “I said ‘I would like to buy some bath salts,’ and they said ‘We don’t sell bath salts,’” Lundberg said of the experience. “(They said) ‘We sell window cleaner.’ I said ‘OK where do I get the window cleaner?’ He opened up a strongbox and brought up a little vial. ... I said ‘OK, I’m not going to get through many windows with that.’” State Rep. Tony Shipley, who is advancing legislation to create new felonies for manufacturing, distributing and selling synthetic drugs, described a meeting he had with school students to discuss the issue.

Brighter, bigger, wider: interior design using glass: Lang believes glass is the simplest method to attain an open living area. He uses glass not only as a window to the outside world but also as a form of furnishing, as a stair, as a floor-window or as a sliding door. Glass was first used to divide up space in offices and businesses. Only later did it find a wider use in homes. 'It's mostly used to allow light to enter the interior from the building's facade. Sometimes it's used to allow light to pass from room to room,' says Johannes Berschneider, an interior designer. Glass can also play a role in energy-saving such as by using a skylight to allow natural light into a walk-in wardrobe. Glass partitions are gaining in popularity. 'What people often want today is more flexible use of space,' says Berschneider. If you want a clear view from the dining table, through the kitchen and into your living room, then glass is the best why to get it. On the other hand a glass partition can instantly give an open plan area a more private atmosphere. But how can transparent glass generate an intimate and private feeling? 'You can make the surface of glass translucent or matt by sand-blasting it or using acid,' says Jochen Groenegraes from Germany's Bundesverband Flachglas, an umbrella organisation that represents the glass manufacturing and retail sector in the country. Translucent glass has given architects more scope for design. 'Glass gets really interesting when it's used in an artistic way,' says Lang. That arty look can be achieved by using especially clear Optiwhite glass or reflective glass, which is often used in spa areas to mirror water. Translucent glass for home use does not need to be exclusively matt or enamelled but can also be printed with photographs and patterns. Varnished glass can be used as a floor covering or as an alternative to tiling on walls. When using glass on floors and walls safety aspects begin to play a major role. 'You must use safety glass in the home,' advises Groenegraes. Only use laminated safety glass in flooring or as an overhead window. Laminated glass consists of two layers of glass bonded together by a middle layer of plastic resin to prevent it from shattering. For other uses in the home, tempered glass will usually provide an adequate standard of safety. If safety is your top consideration then you can rest assured that glass can find a place in the home. But even the experts think glass is not suitable for every application. 'Glass is not a material that a person will feel most comfortable in,' says Berschneider. 'Glass steps always feel smooth and I hate it when a ceramic coffee cup clatters on a glass table surface.' 

Window size: The size of the house windows determine whether it will be cool or not. The bigger the windows, the cooler the house will be. Large windows allow in a lot of cool air and allow hot air out easily. However, for this purpose to be fully served, Pagril says the size of the fraction of the window that opens has a part to play.  “In the case of sliding windows, they might be big but because its only one fraction of the window that opens, it limits the air coming in and out whereas in the case of shutters, because both windows open, they will allow in more cool air,” he says. Pagril adds that with the new way of construction, most people have the tendency of having the ventilators fixed with the windows. In this case, when you place the curtains, they will end up covering the ventilators thus limiting the aeration in the house. So it is important that when constructing, people consider the old style of constructing by having the ventilators above the window because these contribute towards the air circulation in the house. 

Firm's weather products create storm of interest: It's handiwork can be found all over the globe, from the depths of the Amazon jungle to top of soaring Asian skyscrapers. And now a small North East firm, whose success shows that Britain is not the only weather-obsessed nation, is preparing to break into the vast US market. North Shields-based Environmental Measurements Limited (EML), and its team of six, supplies rain and wind gauges to markets across the world, including China, Russia, Turkey and Korea. Closer to home, on top of the towering Milburn Stand at St James’ Park, EML’s wind gauges are used to determine whether or not conditions are safe for window cleaners to go to work on the glass exterior of the stadium. The company produces wind,speed and direction sensors, aerodynamic rain gauges, data-loggers and automatic weather stations.

Man jailed for burglary and drug-related offences: A young man who targeted maisonettes and flats in Bukit Batok and Jurong West to break in was packed off to jail for 42 months on Friday for burglary and drug-related offences. Adam Jamaluddin's crime spree lasted about five months before he was caught by the police at his home on Nov 18 last year. The total amount of property he stole was worth approximately $37,500 of which $8,110 worth of goods had been recovered. The 21-year-old former window cleaner, who faced 23 charges, pleaded guilty to six charges of housebreaking and theft and one each of heroin possession and consumption.

Vinyl windows: Vinyl windows should get a yearly inspection. Clean window tracks of debris, says Burt Harold, a rep for Pella Windows. Make sure weatherstripping is sound and making proper contact. Replace as needed. When cleaning, never use abrasives, which can damage the window's vinyl skin. If you need to lubricate a track, use pure silicone spray, not WD-40. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for caulking. When washing windows, be aware that bleach can discolor dark vinyl colors. And, remember, window films can void your warranty.

Saturday 28 January 2012

Looking Up & Drugs Killed This Window Cleaner

Window washer Winnipegger Wayne Hamilton suffered a fatal heart attack and stroke in September 2004 after taking Vioxx for nearly two years. Hamilton's widow claimed the drug caused his death, and Wilder's firm filed the man's suit barely a week after Vioxx was pulled from the market.
Millions to be paid out in heart attack drug settlement: A few hundred Manitobans could be eligible for part of a settlement that was recently reached in one of the largest and most complex pharmaceutical lawsuits in Canadian history. Late last week, pharmaceutical giant Merck reached a settlement with thousands of Canadians involved in a class-action lawsuit with the company over its former Vioxx drug, which was pulled off the market in September 2004.

The company has agreed to pay between $21.8 million and $36.9 million to a pool of eligible claimants whose family members took Vioxx then suffered heart attacks, sudden cardiac deaths or strokes. At least 200 Manitobans and 1,300 other Canadians will likely be eligible, with the potential for more, said Sam Wilder, a senior partner with the Winnipeg law firm Wilder Wilder & Langtry, which was among the first in Canada to file suit against the drug-maker in the fall of 2004.

"Some families have been waiting more than seven years, so people are very happy to see the end of this," Wilder said. "In Canada it's quite a large settlement for a pharmaceutical case. It was a difficult case because every individual has a different result (depending on their medical history and other factors). It was probably one of the most complex pieces of litigation in any pharma-related case in Canada." Merck issued a statement last week saying the settlement "does not constitute any admission of liability."

According to the statement, Merck "continues to believe that the evidence shows the company acted responsibly with Vioxx, from the careful study in clinical trials involving about 10,000 patients before its approval by regulatory authorities around the world, through the careful safety monitoring while Vioxx was on the market, right up through the decision to voluntarily withdraw the medicine." Wilder said the settlement was reached "on the basis of scientific evidence," noting the evidence was strongest with respect to people suffering heart attacks within 60 days of taking Vioxx.

Winnipegger Wayne Hamilton suffered a fatal heart attack and stroke in September 2004 after taking Vioxx for nearly two years. “He was a window washer and took Vioxx simply because he had neck problems from looking up,” Wilder said. Hamilton’s widow claimed the drug caused his death, and Wilder’s firm filed the man’s suit barely a week after Vioxx was pulled from the market. It was among the first in Canada, but similar suits quickly followed, leading to a class action that was certified in Ontario a few years ago.

Courts in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec must now approve the settlement, after which anyone wishing to join the claim will have four months to do so. After that the settlement — minus $9.5 million for legal costs, administration and payments to provincial governments — will be divided up among the successful claimants. The individual amounts will be based on a points system that depends on medical history, age, habits, and circumstances of the case.

Still believe that Pharmaceutical Industries are only it in for your health? ...

Friday 27 January 2012

Magnetic Soap Could Revolutionise Cleaning

A droplet containing the soap is attracted to the magnet at left.
Magnetic soap could help in oil spill clean-ups: An international team of scientists has demonstrated the first soap that responds to magnets. This means the soap and the materials that it dissolves can be removed easily by applying a magnetic field. Experts say that with further development, it could find applications in cleaning up oil spills and waste water.

Details of the new soap, which contains iron atoms, are reported in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie. It is similar to ordinary soap, but the atoms of iron help form tiny particles that are easily removed magnetically. "If you'd have said about 10 years ago to a chemist: 'Let's have some soap that responds to magnets', they'd have looked at you with a very blank face," said co-author Julian Eastoe of the University of Bristol. He told BBC News: "We were interested to see, if you went back to the chemical drawing board with the tool-kit of modern synthetic chemistry, if you could...design one."

Soap is made of long molecules with ends that behave differently: One end of the molecule is attracted to water and the other is repelled by it. The "detergent" action of soap comes from its ability to attach to oily, grimy surfaces, with the "water-hating" end breaking up molecules at that surface. The soap molecules then gather up into droplets in which all the "water-loving" ends face outward. Prof Eastoe and his team started with detergent molecules that he said were "very similar to what you'd find in your kitchen or bathroom" - one of which can be found in mouthwash. The team found a way to simply add iron atoms into the molecules. The droplets that the soap formed were attracted to a magnet, just as iron filings would be.

The soap could make for a far easier means of gathering oil from spills.
But single iron atoms would not behave as tiny individual magnets, so some other process had to be at work. To get a look at what was going on in the chemical process required a view at the molecular level. So the team sent their samples to the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, where an intense beam of the sub-atomic particles known as neutrons shed light on the matter. They saw that the iron particles were clumping neatly together into iron nanoparticles, tiny clumps of iron that could in fact respond to a magnetic field.

Prof Eastoe said the research was still at the laboratory stages but was already the subject of discussion. "The research at the University of Bristol in this field is about how we can take the ordinary and give it extraordinary properties by chemical design," he said. "We have uncovered the principle by which you can generate this kind of material and now it's back to the drawing board to make it better."

Scientists Produce World's First Magnetic Soap: Scientists from Bristol University have developed a soap, composed of iron rich salts dissolved in water, that responds to a magnetic field when placed in solution. The soap’s magnetic properties were shown with neutrons at the Institut Laue-Langevin to result from tiny iron-rich clumps that sit within the watery solution. The generation of this property in a fully functional soap could calm concerns over the use of soaps in oil-spill clean ups and revolutionise industrial cleaning products.

Scientists have long been searching for a way to control soaps (or surfactants as they are known in industry) once they are in solution to increase their ability to dissolve oils in water and then remove them from a system. The team at Bristol University have previously worked on soaps sensitive to light, carbon dioxide or changes in pH, temperature or pressure. Their latest breakthrough, reported in Angewandte Chemie, is the world’s first soap sensitive to a magnetic field.

Ionic liquid surfactants, composed mostly of water with some transition metal complexes (heavy metals like iron bound to halides such as bromine or chlorine) have been suggested as potentially controllable by magnets for some time, but it had always been assumed that their metallic centres were too isolated within the solution, preventing the long-range interactions required to be magnetically active.

The team at Bristol, lead by Professor Julian Eastoe produced their magnetic soap by dissolving iron in a range of inert surfactant materials composed of chloride and bromide ions, very similar to those found in everyday mouthwash or fabric conditioner. The addition of the iron creates metallic centres within the soap particles.

To test its properties, the team introduced a magnet to a test tube containing their new soap lying beneath a less dense organic solution. When the magnet was introduced the iron-rich soap overcame both gravity and surface tension between the water and oil, to levitate through the organic solvent and reach the source of the magnetic energy, proving its magnetic properties.

Once the surfactant was developed and shown to be magnetic, Prof Eastoe’s team took it to the Institut Laue-Langevin, the world’s flagship centre for neutron science, and home to the world’s most intense neutron source, to investigate the science behind its remarkable property.

When surfactants are added to water they are known to form tiny clumps (particles called micelles). Scientists at ILL used a technique called “small angle neutron scattering (SANS)” to confirm that it was this clumping of the iron-rich surfactant that brought about its magnetic properties.

Dr Isabelle Grillo, responsible of the Chemistry Laboratories at ILL: “The particles of surfactant in solution are small and thus difficult to see using light but are easily revealed by SANS which we use to investigate the structure and behaviour of all types of materials with typical sizes ranging from the nanometer to the tenth of micrometer.”

Up, up and away: This photo shows the magnetic soap rising up through the test tube.
The potential applications of magnetic surfactants are huge. Their responsiveness to external stimuli allows a range of properties, such as their electrical conductivity, melting point, the size and shape of aggregates and how readily its dissolves in water to be altered by a simple magnetic on and off switch. Traditionally these factors, which are key to the effective application of soaps in a variety of industrial settings, could only be controlled by adding an electric charge or changing the pH, temperature or pressure of the system, all changes that irreversibly alter the system composition and cost money to remediate.

Its magnetic properties also makes it easier to round up and remove from a system once it has been added, suggesting further applications in environmental clean ups and water treatment. Scientific experiments which require precise control of liquid droplets could also be made easier with the addition of this surfactant and a magnetic field.

Professor Julian Eastoe, University of Bristol: “As most magnets are metals, from a purely scientific point of view these ionic liquid surfactants are highly unusual, making them a particularly interesting discovery. From a commercial point of view, though these exact liquids aren’t yet ready to appear in any household product, by proving that magnetic soaps can be developed, future work can reproduce the same phenomenon in more commercially viable liquids for a range of applications from water treatment to industrial cleaning products.”

Peter Dowding an industrial chemist, not involved in the research: “Any systems which act only when responding to an outside stimulus that has no effect on its composition is a major breakthrough as you can create products which only work when they are needed to. Also the ability to remove the surfactant after it has been added widens the potential applications to environmentally sensitive areas like oil spill clean ups where in the past concerns have been raised.”

Thursday 26 January 2012

Kansas Kauffman Klean

Click to enlarge all pictures in this series.
Jeremy Lamb, of Excelsior Springs, uses high-pressure hot water to clean the exterior of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Kansas City on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Lamb, a 20-year- veteran of high-rise window washing, uses a main line and a safety line to dangle from the center. Lamb, a supervisor with Shawnee Mission-based MTB Services, has been working on cleaning the interior and the exterior and the exterior of the building for about a month. He plans to be finished by this weekend.

What began as a sketch on a napkin has become an architectural icon and home for the performing arts in Kansas City. The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts has changed Kansas City’s skyline, as well as the experiences of artists and audiences throughout the region. Designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the building’s most distinctive features are the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Theatre, Helzberg Hall, Brandmeyer Great Hall, its acoustical design and accessibility.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts being built.
Each space contains dramatic eye- and ear- catching design that combines sophisticated aesthetics, acoustics and technology with the intimacy of a smaller space and the comforts of home.
The building Features nearly 285,000-square-foot facility with two main performance halls. Exterior surfaces include glass, pre-cast concrete and bead-blasted stainless steel. 27 cables are anchored by the weight of the pre-cast walls and hold up the glass in the lobby. It also has 196 public restroom stalls in the building!

Click to enlarge.
The Day's Best: A window washer works on the side of a hotel, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Atlanta.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Energy Efficient Windows Melting Houses & Cars

Energy Efficient Windows Melt Vinyl Siding: Boston - Deb Vincequere's home in Worcester, Mass., is a mess because her vinyl siding is melting. "It's so upsetting I could cry. I'm not kidding you. I cry all the time. It's buckling, it's lifting off the house, it's curling up, it's just totally ruined," Vincequere told Team 5.

Carolyn Dillon of Watertown, Mass., is also upset with the way her home looks. "I'm horrified. I think it was almost a $10,000 job," said Dillon, who installed different vinyl siding but experienced the same melting problem. "About 15-16 pieces have dents or rolling areas in them." In both cases, local building inspectors said the damage was caused by sunlight bouncing off double-pane energy efficient windows on nearby homes.

Windows called low-e glass or low-emittance are energy efficient and even required by some building codes. But they can also warp inward and act like a magnifying glass, concentrating too much heat on nearby homes. Gerry Brady from Infrared New England recently studied Vincequere's house. "This looks like someone took a blow torch to it."

Normal vinyl siding begins to be soften and distort at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. "We had temperatures that were 248 degrees Fahrenheit," reported Brady. Both the Vinyl Siding Institute and the National Association of Home Builders acknowledge the problem, but say it is not widespread and the siding and windows are not defective.

A recent study by the association found that a combination of contributing factors must be present before the effect occurs, including concavity in the double glass panes, a low angle of sunlight and close proximity to adjacent homes. Any double-pane window can cause this effect, but the group reported that double pane low-e windows are more likely to cause the problem. "My home is ruined and at no fault of mine whatsoever," said Vincequere.

Vincequere's warranty has expired and Dillon's warranty specifically excludes damage caused by heat or reflection from windows. "I was shocked," said Dillon. Both Vincequere and Dillon told Team 5 they were shocked that no one is warning homeowners melting siding can occur. "They're not doing anything about it and that's what really bothers me," said Vincequere. A state spokesman for the state Board of Building Regulations and Standards told Team 5 Investigates they are researching the problem and their responsibility to homeowners and will discuss both at a meeting next month.

Woman Claims Neighbor’s Energy Efficient Windows Are Melting Her Toyota Prius: A SoCal woman says the energy efficient window installed in a neighbor’s condominium is melting the plastic components on cars parked in her carport. Heather Patron of Studio City was dealing with a mystery regarding her Toyota Prius. “The side view mirrors were melting,” says Patron. “Anything that was plastic on the car was melting.”

Toyota told Patron nothing was wrong with the car. After having the mirrors replaced, she noticed the mirrors on the car parked next to hers were also melting. Patron then observed a powerful beam of light that was reflecting off the window of a next door condominium, casting a concentrated beam over her carport. CBS2’s Randy Paige placed a thermometer in the pathway of the beam on a partially cloudy day. The temperature registered over 120 degrees in less than five minutes. “I’m positive that this window is what is causing the damage to my car,” says Patron.

Patron is not alone. Reports across the country have alleged damages brought on by concentrated sunlight reflected off of energy efficient windows. The National Association of Home Builders is now conducting a study on the matter. “I just don’t feel like it’s fair,” says Patron. “I feel like it needs to be known that this is happening. And a lot of people probably have damage out there, that they aren’t aware that it’s the windows that are causing this.”

The Los Angeles City Department of Building and Safety says even if the window is the source of the damage, there are no code violations involved. The department says it’s not against the law to install a window that reflects sunlight.

Energy-efficient windows intensify fire: South Buffalo, N.Y.  - Firefighters were right around the corner when fire broke out in South Buffalo Tuesday night. They made two searches of a burning Seneca Street house, but learned none of the three residents were inside. Division Chief John Mogavero says improvements to the house actually intensified the fire.

"Energy-efficient windows are fantastic, but the trouble is, not only do they keep the cold out, they keep the heat in. And when you have a fire like this, it keeps the smoke contained, the heat contained, it's an oven effect almost," explained Mogavero. The fire left $75,000 in damage to the house.

Low E Glass - A quick guide (Previous blog).

Tuesday 24 January 2012

The New Aqua-dapter® Mk3 WFP Controller

The Aqua-dapter® Mk3 is here! Available for immediate despatch, the Aqua-dapter® Mk3
is lighter, easier to fit, doesn’t need a Clamp & comes in a choice of colour (Silver, Blue, Red, Gold)

Click to enlarge.
We’ve continued to work on making the Aqua-dapter lighter, without sacrificing it’s durability and robustness.  Here’s more information about the main differences:
  • Now 180g – 35g lighter than a Mk2 with End Screw Adapter and Push Fit Straight Connector
  • The design no longer includes the Aluminium pipe, so the Aqua-dapter is faster and easier to fit… feed the hose through the pole and out of the top, push the hose into the connector, screw the No.1 section of the pole into the Aqua-dapter® – that’s it!
  • The Aqua-dapter now has an integral screw thread so it fits directly onto most poles with the need for an End Screw Adapter or Clamp – no clamp to get caught on cills (or anything else) and  fitting is easier.
  • A robust push-fit connector is now fitted  inside the body of the Aqua-dapter®; protected from any knocks or bangs when fitting or in use, so increasing durability (and no Aluminium pipe needed).
  • Available in new anodized colours: Silver, Blue, Red and Gold.
Buy your Mk3 Aqua-dapter direct from www.aqua-dapter.co.uk or from your favourite Stockist. (USA here). see previous blogs on Aqua-adapter here.

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