Friday, 4 May 2012

Friday Window Cleaning News Round-Up

Sussex squeegee swinger: A window cleaner, viewed from Blanshard Street, hangs from the side of the Sussex Building on a sunny spring morning. Window washers are kept busy during springtime in downtown Victoria, as this worker shows outside the Sussex Building on the corner of Douglas and Broughton streets.Victoria, Australia.

Window Cleaning Resource officially move to new, larger premises - it's official once you have your sign up!
No safety line.
Window cleaners work outside a high-rise building in New Delhi: Dubai's EFS acquires Dalkia India; Dubai: EFS Facilities Services, a UAE-based integrated facilities management service provider, has acquired Dalkia India Pvt. Ltd for an undisclosed amount. "It is a complete acquisition and with this, we are planning to spearhead our expansion in aouth Asia," Tareq Chauhan, group managing director of EFS Facilities Services, told Gulf News.

Look up! London’s Pretend Olympic Military Terror Tests Start Today: Those odd war games the Ministry of Defence has been planning are about to kick off today, with the series of military tests seeing jets and choppers buzzing over London for the next seven days. According to the MoD, today will see HMS Ocean berthing at Greenwich with several of its Royal Navy Lynx choppers disembarking and flying about the place. We’ll also see other “fast jets and helicopters over Greater London and the Home Counties” as if the European patent war turned really serious overnight. The controversial six ground-based air defence systems will be popping up on some London rooftops to really scare the window cleaners, plus those not living in London might see some increased action in the ports and skies as well, with Navy vessels heading to Weymouth Bay and landing at Portland Harbour.

BT phone nightmare for ill Faversham couple: A vulnerable elderly couple who needed urgent medical help were cut off when British Telecom gave their telephone number to a window cleaning firm. Dennis Ramsden, 93, and his wife Christine, 87, tried but failed to call for an ambulance after they both became unwell through long-term health issues. When their son Nico Ramsden of King’s Road, Faversham, tried to contact them, he realised the line was dead. He said: “I was connected to a window cleaning company with an entirely different number. There was no service or dial tone at my parents’ house. "I discovered the window cleaners had signed up with Sky for their phone service and BT had assigned my parents’ existing number to them.” Nico contacted BT to report the mistake and told them of the fragile health of Mr and Mrs Ramsden, and how they had been unable to call for an ambulance. He asked them to reinstate the number as a matter of urgency, and was assured they would be given priority status, but says nothing was done.
He said: “On the same night the paramedics had to be called again for my father, and my mother had to go to a neighbour’s house to make the call. "She was in a state of panic and felt cut off being unable to contact either medical help or family. “I called BT five or six times over the next two days, only to be told that the matter was being progressed with welfare priority status. “I was then told by the window cleaning company that their Sky line had been cleared on the next afternoon and was working normally on their original number. My parents’ phone was still dead.” Nico discovered that a BT Openreach engineer assigned to the re-connection had only received instructions to attend that morning. “My parents’ line was re-connected later that afternoon, nearly a day after the window cleaning company line had been restored by Sky,” he said. “I want them to make sure that when a matter is afforded priority welfare status it actually receives immediate priority attention. “I am appalled that Sky customers should have received better service than my aged and extremely vulnerable parents.” BT spokeswoman Emma Litlejohn said: “We are still looking into this issue, but we do apologise if the service received from BT added to the distress of the situation. “Openreach does not prioritise for different service providers and all parts of BT strives to provide excellent customer service and respond swiftly especially – for vulnerable customers. “We are liaising directly with the customers’ son.”

Czech cardinal calls for delayed state payments to keep restitution deal on track - Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, Czech Catholic speaks up for delayed payments from state to get restitution settlement passed. One of the top figures in the Czech Catholic Church has suggested that it makes a gesture to the government in difficult times and delay the financial payments planned as compensation for property confiscated during the communist era. Cleaning windows; Vlk was persecuted by the communist regime, sent as a priest to small out-of-the way parishes where his influence would be limited. At one stage he was banned from being a priest and forced for a time to become a window cleaner for a state company before being transferred to work at the archives of the Czechoslovak state bank.  He continued to practice as a priest in the “underground” church which sought to avoid communist persecution.

City planners set to have their say on skyscraper windmills: It’s something you might see in the television skyline of a future city: flying cars, window-cleaning robots, and gently spinning, power-generating pinwheels rising from the roofs. A future of wind turbine-topped buildings got a boost recently when the New York City Department of City Planning included a provision for wind towers of up to 55 feet in height in its proposed “Zone Green” amendment to the city’s zoning code, currently under public review. But, experts say, the limitation of wind-power technology means the zoning change, if approved, is unlikely to drastically alter the appearance of the city any time soon. “We can design something that can be very spectacular with a turbine, but there are a lot of practical limitations,” said Jason Kim, a senior associate at Kevin Kennon Architects who has worked on a number of LEED-certified projects. In cases where wind turbines have been installed in the city to date, they have been relatively small and may contribute more to the marketing and image of a building than its power consumption. A facility that generated enough power to make economic sense would put considerable structural strain on the building beneath, according to Anthony Pereira, president and CEO of altPOWER, a Manhattan-based firm that specializes in the design of sustainable energy systems. “The nature of turbines is that they move,” he said. “Unless the structure is made for them, they’re probably not going to be a good alternative.”

Omaha products keep national parks clean naturally: Two decades ago, Don Eby was searching for what was next in his career. The Nebraska native had recently left a Lincoln-based window company that he helped grow as an executive and investor. He tinkered with various small businesses and invested in others but wasn't completely fulfilled. It was around that time in 1992 when Eby, now 70, met through a mutual acquaintance a Missouri chemist named Greg Weiner, who had been developing environmentally friendly cleaning products. Weiner needed cash, so Eby drew up an investment plan. Then he realized Weiner was really on to something with his cleaning products — he was creating “green” solutions before environmentally friendly products blossomed into a huge market. So the two partnered to launch what is now the Clean Environment Co. Its products are used in 58 national parks, including Yellowstone and Yosemite, and are under contract to be used by state governments in California and Colorado in addition to the cities of San Francisco and Seattle.

Awards Action: Congrats to filmmaker Nadav Kurtz, whose “Paraiso” just won the best documentary short award at the Tribeca Film Festival — the prestigious film fest co-founded by Robert De Niro in the days following 9/11.“Paraiso” focuses on three Mexican immigrants, brothers  Sergio and Jaime Polanco and their cousin Cruz Guzman , who daily risk their lives working as Chicago high-rise window washers at Neal Zucker’s Corporate Cleaning Services — the city’s largest window-washing firm. The film delves into the three men’s lives, their thoughts about rappelling up and down Our Town’s towers and the people they observe inside the buildings they clean. See here for film.

Third Party Injury Claims and Construction Accidents: Third party injury claims extend beyond workers compensation to ensure victims of work related injuries receive compensation to cover medical and rehabilitative expenses. This was recently highlighted in the Financial District of San Francisco, California. A crane used to update window washing gear at a Bank of America building was in the process of transferring a container with over five tons of mechanical equipment when a gust of wind snapped a portion of the crane. The crane stalled and was unable to finish moving the massive container -- leaving it hovering dangerously over traffic. After four hours passed, workers were able to begin moving the container to safety.

15 sculptures dress up Gateway Center plazas:  Those silent folk standing, sitting and working around Gateway Center haven't been body snatched by an alien force. They're actually realistic bronze figures by sculptor Seward Johnson brought to Pittsburgh by the Laurel Foundation to draw visitors and area residents Downtown. The 15 works will remain in place through Aug. 5. The figures blend into the city because they're of people you're likely to see on a given day: a child crossing the street, a man sitting on a bench under the trees, a window washer.
Mr. Johnson, 80, is a philanthropist and heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortunes. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is in private and public collections. Many of his pieces are permanently displayed at Grounds for Sculpture, a 35-acre contemporary sculpture garden he founded in Hamilton, N.J., where his studio is. The figures shown here are from Mr. Johnson's "Man on the Street" series, parts of which have been exhibited in cities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. See the window washer here.

"Nosebleed" / 9-11
Weird Coincidences From Movies And TV: Here's an almost-coincidence that might not actually be true but it's too good to pass up. It has to do with a movie that was never made, a Jackie Chan action/comedy called "Nosebleed." The movie's plot had to do with Chan as a window-washer at the World Trade Center, and in true Chan fashion a sequence was to be filmed "for real" at the World Trade Center. Here's the creepy part: According to legend, production was scheduled to begin in New York City on the morning of September 11, 2001. Had production not been stopped, Chan would have been clinging to the side of one of the towers when the planes hit!

Washing windows on National Prayer Day: Schoharie, N.Y. – “Not a day goes by that you’re not reminded of something.” The dust stuck on the windows and building of Deborah Clapper's Schoharie store front is a constant reminder of damage from Irene. That's why The River of Jubilee Church in Spakers decided to travel to the village Thursday to help wipe away some of those bad memories. “Everything helps. Every little bit. Just a clean window looking outside makes you feel better sometimes,” Clapper said. “Just visually, we wanted to help bring some of the pristine back,” said Pastor Gail Adamoschek. Pastor Gail Adamoschek organized this event, bringing with her close to 30 volunteers, all with soap, squeegees and sponges in hand. Their trip is their way of celebrating National Prayer Day. Adamoschek said, “We’re spending the whole time praying and asking God to bless the area.” “A lot of people need a lot of help. It’s great to have people around,” Clapper said. “The littlest things help a lot.” “It brings another sense of community, an unexpected sense of community and that was kind of heartwarming to see,” said Bernadette Kloczko. And businesses aren’t the only ones getting the special treatment. Homeowners will also be coming home to cleaner windows. “People are pulling for the area. People all over are praying for the area,” Adamoschek said. And its volunteers like these ones that keep the morale of the community high. “You got Schoharie County mud on your boots, but you pull up those straps and make it better and that’s what everyone here has done,” said Kloczko.

Glouster cleanup campaign makes national news: Organizer James "Sonny" Cotter, 81, now lives in Kettering, Ohio, near Dayton. He grew up in Glouster, however, and attended Glouster High School. His sister, 83-year-old Jody Moore, still lives in town. Cotter reportedly got the idea of making his hometown look a little nicer while taking a stroll through the village. "He just started walking through the town, and decided it needed something to spruce it up a little bit," explained Bev Wyatt, a Glouster resident and Ohio University employee who has helped publicize the campaign. "Just to kind of brighten the area up."
Cotter, who owned a sign shop for decades before retiring, said he actually started his efforts last year, by offering his services to village Mayor Miles Wolf to paint fire hydrants and bridges. When he had finished with those jobs, he asked his sister what else needed to be done in town. "She said, 'Boy, I'd like to see all those windows of those closed stores (in town) washed,'" he recalled. This led to Cotter's taking a spray bottle of window cleaner and hitting the downtown area.
When that job was done, he and his sister then put together a group of volunteers to touch up and seal a mural on the front of old photography studio in town earlier this year. From there, the project expanded to painting any homes or businesses in town whose owners or inhabitants agree to let it happen. So far, Wyatt said, about 20 homes and businesses have gotten free makeovers, including the high school stadium, which is getting not only a paint job, but some structural improvements. The whole thing is funded entirely by donations of paint, supplies, money and volunteer labor. Many of the volunteers, like the Dugans, are pitching in out of community pride.

Scene when the crash happened in July.
Burnley lamp-post crash man spared ban: A motorist has escaped a driving ban for a collision which saw a lamp-post crash down on a window cleaner’s van in Burnley. Lee Pickering and his boss Neil Holt narrowly escaped serious injury when the lamp-post toppled onto their van on Centenary Way. Only the ladders on top of the vehicle prevented the 20-foot light from causing more serious problems. Police later quizzed David John Pounceby, 39, over an earlier incident where his black Chevrolet Captiva had hit the same lamp-post, shortly beforehand. Burnley magistrates heard that Pounceby’s Chevrolet overtook another car, in excess of the 40mph speed limit, before he mounted the kerb and struck the stanchion. His car came to rest ‘a considerable distance’ away and prosecutors said that the impact directly led to the lamp-post toppling over. Pounceby, of Imperial Court, Burnley, denied driving without due care and attention on July 15 last year but was convicted after a trial. He was fined £350 with £650 costs and six penalty points were imposed on his driving licence by magistrates. But magistrates, after hearing Pounceby already had six points on his licence, decided not to disqualify him from driving, as he may lose his job. Speaking after the original crash, Mr Holt said: “We were a bit shook up — it’s not every day that a lamp post collapses on top of your van. “Luckily we had the ladders on the roof or we could very well have been killed.” Original story here.

Screw Lemon—Let’s Clean With Vodka: I was reading an article on ‘eco-friendly laundry tips’ this morning (yep) when I came across this gem: To quickly freshen clothes in between washings, spray them with a 50/50 mixture of water and vodka. Vodka? I’ve heard of a lot of green-cleaning alternatives in my time, but vodka is a new one. Which got me wondering … what other types of household chores could use a little Popoff or Absolut? Turns out, quite a few. A quick search for “cleaning with vodka” reveals a slew of articles and blog posts on the topic; instructional YouTube videos; and even a website One of the best reasons to use vodka for household chores is that, unlike many commercial cleaning supplies, it won’t leach toxins and VOCs into your home and air. It can also be cheaper than buying lots of specialized cleaning products (obviously, you want to use the bottom-shelf brands). To some of you, this might seem like an affront to perfectly good booze, and I sympathize—but you could always institute a ‘one for me, one for my window cleaner’ shot policy. I’m not a vodka gal myself, but just saying.

Does black tea work as glass cleaner?  Black tea is awesome in about a million and one ways, not the least of which is that it tastes great and keeps me going strong, but it also boasts an impressive list of DIY prowess. For this particular project, I’ve put it to the test as a glass and mirror cleaner. I steeped an extra-strong glass of simple black tea (I used earl grey, my favorite) -- 3 bags in an 8-oz glass. I let it steep and cool for an hour to really draw out all those tannins. Then I transferred the brew to a spray bottle (ex-chemical cleaner bottles, well washed of course, work well for this), and put it to work on the dirtiest window in my house. Dog noses and kiddie fingers have pressed at this window for months. Perhaps that says something about my cleaning skills, but let’s just say it was for science. On the right hand pane I used plain water and scrubbed with newspaper (newspaper leaves less streaking than rags, and can still be recycled when you’re through).  On the left I used tea. The tea cleaned away all of the smears and smudges.

Clean the house like Granny did: Mrs White's favourite product for most household cleaning tasks was vinegar. "She used to use it for everything," says Lawrence. "It's astringent, so cuts through grease, it's antibacterial, and it cleans windows without leaving any streaks behind, although it does leave a bit of a vinegary smell." As well as being effective, simple, natural cleaning products have environmental (and therefore health) benefits, Lawrence says. "Lots of commercially produced cleaning products contain damaging chemicals. You can absorb them through your skin and breathe them in. Until about 10 years ago, natural cleaning products weren't that widely available. There weren't really viable natural alternatives, but now there are."
Inspired by the tradition of leaving bowls of chestnuts on windowsills to deter spiders, Roullier White sells a spider repellent spray called Leg It. "Spiders 'smell' through their feet," Lawrence explains. "Our spray contains chestnut oil, which they hate. If you spritz your window frames and doors, they won't come near." Another product that's inspired by Mrs White's notes is the Swatnot spray, which repels flies. "It's made with chrysanthemum oil," Lawrence says. "It works as well as any fly spray but doesn't contain chemical pesticides or toxic heavy metals as some off-the-shelf sprays do. It's handy for the home, and it's completely safe to use around animals and children."

Humane Society of St. Lucie County - Volunteers recognized: The Humane Society of St. Lucie County recognizes Anne Malone and Steve Willison as Volunteers of the Month. They are both dedicated to the homeless pets at the PETCO satellite adoption center in St. Lucie West. Anne Malone, a 22-year resident of the area, is a retired special education teacher and has two cats of her own. She has been volunteering for the Humane Society for two years at PETCO. Steve Willison is also a long-term resident of Florida and started volunteering for the Humane Society more than a year ago. Steve works for 1st Base Window Cleaning, but his passion is rescuing strays. He owns two dogs and two cats that are rescues.

Serial entrepreneur cleans up with invention: Tim Meester hates dirt — but he also hates cleaning. So the serial entrepreneur spent about 10 years tinkering with a cleaning solution before launching his latest venture. His creation, Screen Magic, is a spray-on solution that dissolves dust and bugs on door and window screens and makes them look shiny again. Consumers don’t have to use a hose or a scrub brush. Meester previously owned a company called Arizona Outdoor Theaters, which provided equipment for consumers to set up backyard movie theaters. “It was a high-end luxury item, and sales fell to zero in 2007-08 when the economy tanked.”

Z: A Novel by Lauren Baratz-Logsted: After years living of living in Los Angeles, novelist Nix Carter returns home to Connecticut to care for her ailing father. As she reconnects with childhood friends, she encounters a window washer who also happens to live in a mansion, throw lavish parties and go by the name of Zorro. Yes, Zorro. But is he really the caped man of legend? Or just an eccentric who drives a horse-drawn cart and wears a cape while washing windows? And what will happen when the townspeople who once flocked to his parties and drank his champagne become suspicious of him?

Rescuers use Miller Park to train for dangerous real-life rescues: While the Milwaukee Brewers were in sunny Arizona for Spring Training, the Milwaukee Fire Department turned Miller Park into a playground. The Milwaukee Fire Department’s Heavy Urban Rescue Team invited FOX6 News along to check out a stunning and very different kind of practice at the ballpark. Miller Park sits somewhat silent during most of the Brewers’ off-season, but on a frigid Friday in March, Jenny Schaefer helps rescuers repel from the ballpark’s roof. Over Schaefer’s shoulder, Milwaukee Fire Department Battalion Chief Terry Lintonen keeps a watchful eye on the action. “Miller Park offers us a great variety of training opportunities here, so opportunities like this are few and far between,” Lintonen said. Rescuers know when it comes time to save a construction worker hanging from a building, fear cannot be a factor. “This is all general stuff that could happen at any time, and we have to be prepared to adjust to any setting,” one rescuer said.
A second exercise is buried behind one of the biggest score boards in all of baseball. It’s where Rescue Team recruit Tom Kasprzak hangs helplessly. Firefighter Joe Flick is lowered down and in the back of his mind, Flick plays out what might happen. “The first thing you’re obviously dealing with is the height. Whether the patient is conscious or not conscious, whether he’s panicking,” Flick said. No matter what a rescuer finds, Flick says the key is to remain calm. “Just kind of talking to him, keeping communication with him, making sure he’s good to go,” Flick said. Kasprzak is a relatively relaxed and alert patient. Flick attaches Kasprzak to his harness. He could just as easily be saving a stuck window washer or house painter. “That’s what we’re going to run into in the real world, and that’s why we have to train in these environments,” Flick said.

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