Friday, 14 December 2012

Window Cleaning News

English humour from Harry Hill, 48, Comedian. My house is nicer than my old one. I moved because a window cleaner knocked at my door and said: "Oh, you! I thought you'd have a better house than this."
Window Cleaner Bill Tyler with daughters Leah, Jodie and Amy and the Christmas light display.
Chingford father's Christmas effort for daughters; A father has created a festive wonderland in his garden for his young daughters to enjoy. Bill Tyler, 43, of Friday Hill, Chingford, has Father Christmas disappearing down the chimney, as well as Bart and Homer Simpson building a snowman in his front garden. There is also a train on the roof and around a thousand lights to wow daughters , 15, Kayleigh, 12, Amy, 8, and Leah, 4. Mr Tyler said: “I’ve always loved Christmas and I want to make an effort for my daughters because they grow up so fast. “They love it and their friends love it as well.” The Christmas scene takes Mr Tyler three days to put up and it is lit up between 3.45pm and 7pm every day. He added: “The neighbours think it’s great. I’ve done it every year for the last four or five and we do a round of Chingford in the car as well to see other people’s decorations.”

Pakistan cricketer drinks soap solution, out of danger: Captain of the Pakistan cricket team for the blind Zeeshan Abbasi, 30, was admitted to the M.S. Ramaiah Hospital here on Saturday morning after he consumed ‘diluted soap solution’ kept on the breakfast table mistaking it for drinking water. The partially blind cricketer was discharged in the evening after an endoscopy showed he was normal. The Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC), in a release, said it accepted the apology tendered by Moevenpick Hotel and Spa, where the team is staying. “The administration of PBCC, in the better interest of cricket and to fasten the relationship between the two countries, accepted the apology of the hotel administration.” Pakistani manager Bilal Satti said the team considered that the “matter is resolved.” Earlier, a controversy arose after a statement by the team management that Mr. Abbasi was “served cleaning acid,” sparked apprehensions that the team, which had thumped India by eight wickets the previous day, was targeted by miscreants.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Satti had said: “We arrived at 7 a.m. for breakfast in the hotel – these water bottles were the brand we have been using throughout our visit. It appears that there was some cleaning acid in the bottle. It so happened that the captain drank it. He spat out the liquid when he realised that it was not water.” Due to play against Bangladesh in a league match on Saturday as part of the ongoing T20 World Cup for the Blind, Mr. Abbasi proceeded to the venue with the rest of the team. However, he complained of soreness in the throat and the team management rushed him to hospital. Naresh Shetty, president of the hospital, said the liquid “was not acid” as it was initially feared by the team management. The hospital in a statement said the solution could be either diluted phenyl or soapwater. The management apologised for the incident and said the liquid was soap detergent meant to clean windowpanes. The hotel said the diluted soap solution bottle was erroneously left on the table by the banquet team member and his services, along with that of his supervisor, were terminated. Mr. Abbasi said his health was fine and he was looking forward to leading Pakistan in its remaining matches.

New Social Entrepreneurs: One in a hundred adults is incarcerated in America. “That’s an economic, social, and moral problem,” says Baillie Aaron. “And when people are released from prison, few employers will hire them—regardless of their crime. The consequences of this reality really fired me up to want to make a change.” Such zeal, and a deep desire to help people “reach their potential,” led her to found Massachusetts-based Venturing Out Inc., which runs a 10-week course on entrepreneurship for inmates. Since 2010, 227 men and women have completed the course: many are now running businesses such as church-window washing, online talent recruitment, and chemical-free landscaping. “It’s not a therapy or counseling program, nor does it focus on improving weaknesses,” Aaron adds. “We assume people are resourceful and capable, and teach them how to apply their existing skills to become economically self-sufficient.” The idea behind Venturing Out came [after graduation] when Aaron, then a research assistant at the Kennedy School’s Program in Criminal Justice, was tutoring a young man at Boston’s Suffolk County House of Correction. She noticed not only his ability to work hard but also his keen business sense—a trait shared by many prisoners, albeit often gained through illegal activities. “I saw an untapped market” for transferring those skills, she recalls, and entrepreneurial aims that were “highly achievable.”

Thousands in Southwest Florida try business ownership: In Lee County, popular startups from 2007 to October 2012 were in miscellaneous maintenance or repair, janitorial service and retail sales. During that time frame, 2,464, or 7.2 percent, of startups were for miscellaneous maintenance of repair. Startups for janitorial service were at 2,297, or 6.7 percent, and retail sales had 1,804, 5.3 percent. Collier County didn’t have similar data. But from July 1 to Dec. 3, the most-held active license category was retail sales with 1,836 licenses. It was followed by maintenance service/no contractor work at 1,752 and restaurant at 1,614.
Johnson said maintenance and janitorial-type jobs were popular during the recession because they required little up-front costs. After losing a job, people want a low-cost business. Washing windows, for example, only requires a bucket and a squeegee. “It’s inexpensive and you don’t have to go to the bank,” he said. “You can get into business by using your credit card.” And although the number of occupational licenses declined, it doesn’t mean people weren’t opening successful businesses.

Teen wins award for robot: A groundbreaking window-cleaning robot has won an Auckland teenager an international award. Sohail Abdulla, 17, from Mt Roskill Grammar School began inventing a robotic window cleaner for his father who suffers back and knee pain. But judges at the Genesis Energy Realise the Dream event thought his device had more merit than just as a handy tool for Abdulla's dad and tonight he was awarded the inaugural American Ambassador Outstanding Award.
They were particularly impressed with Abdulla's understanding of the engineering research and development process through to testing a prototype. Abdulla has been offered an all expenses paid trip to participate at the INTEL Science & Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2013. The fair is the biggest of its type in the world with over 1500 participants from around the globe showcasing their science research and innovations. Abdulla has spent the last week at Realise the Dream, a national event which rewards 20 students for their science research or engineering.

Winbot is a Window Cleaning Machine: Seriously, its a machine that cleans your windows. Hands-free design, in the vein of the carpet-vac Roomba, Winbot affixes itself to your window and propels itself forward, cleaning whatever scuffs, dust, fingerprints, debris, etc. that is in its path. Compared to other window cleaning techniques, Winbot sweeps the competition. (I’m sorry, couldn’t help it.) Ecovacs has set out to create the most user-friendly and easiest way to clean windows. With Winbot, I think they’ve done just that. Their advertisement features a cute tag: “Clings like a gecko; cleans like a champion.”
Using reusable cleaning pads and a cleaning solution, the Winbot suctions itself to the window as a light turns on. First, the device measures the best method of cleaning and then begins a zig zag pattern, covering every inch of the window. The rear of the Winbot features a squeegee, which after the pads have moistened the glass, cleans the surface before a dry pad absorbs any residual cleaning solution. When finished, the machine sets off an air release trigger to disengage Winbot from the glass surface. The fantastic hands-free window cleaner will debut at the 2013 (Las Vegas) CES in January — the same event where Ecovacs presented the beta version last year.

Robots should be cleaning your home: Internet entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are now investing in spaceflight. Why are you putting $25 million into robots? "There are a lot of tasks they can help with. Telepresence robots bring opportunities for doctors, travellers and business people. There are also domestic robots that can do a lot of stuff that is difficult or not interesting. If you look around, you see how many repetitious tasks people are doing that it would be much better for a robot to do: cleaning the house, washing a window, bringing something to your home."

Europeans buy fewer household lines to afford food, finds SymphonyIRI: Latest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry research from SymphonyIRI Group highlights the extent of the pressure some of the biggest non-food brand owners are under to meet their growth projections as price inflation continues to outstrip wage growth and real incomes are squeezed. In SymphonyIRI’s Retailer Private Label in Europe report released last week, private label is doing particularly well in the household category and challenging national brands as shoppers become more reluctant to pay for top names. This is particularly true in glass/window cleaners, dishwashing and hand dishwashing and household cleaners.

Tributes paid to brave ex-soldier: A brave soldier who survived of a terrorist attack nearly 60 years ago has died at the age of 77. Stan Taylor, of Windhill Road Eastmoor, died peacefully on December 3 after a short illness.  He was only 19 when he lost a leg in an ambush while performing his National Service in Malaya in 1955. The dad-of-four went on to work as a window cleaner in the well known Taylor brothers’ firm despite his injury and also enjoyed a career with Slazenger Sports in Horbury and as a caretaker at his old school, St Austin’s on Back Duke of York Street. Even after he retired Mr Taylor did voluntary work for the British Limbless ex Servicemen Association which saw him visit and deliver parcels to war widows. Wife Jean Taylor, 78, said: “That was his life - to overcome his handicap.” Mr Taylor is survived by his wife, four children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. His funeral was held at Wakefield Crematorium on Wednesday.

Window cleaners preyed upon man with memory loss: Two window cleaners preyed on an elderly man, stealing a laptop containing the only photographs he had of his dead son. Joe Tate (right), 22, and David Bradley (left), 27, have been jailed for targeting the man, who had suffered a brain haemorrhage. In a victim impact statement read out at Hull Crown Court, the man's wife said: "They targeted my husband on one of the few occasions I went out and was not with him. "I remember speaking to them both previously about his illness. "We both feel cheated by this offence. We feel they deliberately targeted us."
Knowing the man suffered memory problems, Tate and Bradley had waited for the man's wife to leave before knocking on the door of the couple's house in Bransholme. They had gone to his home to ask if he wanted his windows cleaned, even though they had only done them just two days earlier. Bradley noticed the laptop sitting on the table before he was told by the man to come back when his wife was home. Tate then knocked on the front door, asking if the man wanted his gutters cleaning, giving Bradley the opportunity to break in through the back door and steal the computer. Bradley sent Tate a text saying "Bang Now" to distract the victim.
The pair made off with the computer, worth £479, which contained photographs of the couple's son, who had died. They both pleaded guilty to the burglary on July 5 after they were caught when neighbours reported them to police. Detectives discovered the text message on Tate's phone, which had been sent seconds before the burglary happened. Tate has a previous conviction for a distraction burglary.
Judge Simon Jack said: "It was an extremely mean offence, committed against a very vulnerable man at a time when his full-time carer, his wife, was away. "It caused a significant degree of sentimental loss to the victim. The material on the computer was irreplaceable. "This is a case where the victim was deliberately targeted because of his vulnerability. "You had been told by his wife of his difficulties which involved his memory loss and that made him an easy target. You picked a time when his carer was away and I'm satisfied this was not a coincidence. The two of you worked together to distract him to steal his laptop. "There was a significant degree of planning and organisation." Tate, of Borthwick Close, Bransholme, has been jailed for three and a half years and Bradley, of Blackhope Close, Bransholme, has been jailed for two years and four months. Tate has 10 previous convictions including burglary convictions.

Sci-Fi items stolen during Telford house burglary: Thieves broke into the property sometime between 11.45am and 3.10pm by smashing a window in the patio doors at the back with a brick. Once inside the property, the thieves carried out a thorough, untidy search of the property before stealing a number of items and making their escape. Among the items stolen were a wedding ring, a number of antique Star Wars models worth around £200 and some Star Trek magazines. In addition, around £450 in cash was also stolen as a result of this break-in. A police spokesman said: “The victim – a lady in her 60s – has been left devastated by the break-in as the stolen items are of great sentimental value to her. “She has no idea who broke into her home but she did receive a visit from an unknown man offering window cleaning services a short time before she went out yesterday morning. “Officers investigating this incident would like to speak to anyone who may have information about it and are especially keen to speak to the man who offered his services as a window cleaner so they can establish exactly who he is. “Anyone with information about this burglary is asked to contact police in Telford on 101 or 0300 333 3000, quoting reference number 390S 101212.

Our good friend the former convict: Kathy Curran always checks the doors and windows before leaving her smart home just north of London. "I know all about security," she laughs. "I've been trained by the best." By the best, she means Brian, a career criminal who has spent nearly 30 years inside. She and Brian have formed an unlikely but remarkable alliance over the past eight years. It has culminated in his looking after her children and even going on holiday with her and her husband. Kathy, a criminologist with a doctorate from Cambridge, specialises in the rehabilitation of repeat offenders. A brief spell in the Probation Service convinced her this wasn't the way to build up trust and really make a difference. She says you need to spend time with people, have a drink and a chat in the pub, take them shopping. "Once you've established trust, people are more receptive and more likely to listen to advice." The theory is one thing, but inviting a criminal into your home is quite another. "Getting that first job is key," she continues, "but in reality no one wants to employ an ex-offender. That's why I decided to do just that."
Determined to practise what she preached, she visited New Life, an organisation (now sadly defunct due to lack of funding) that helped former prisoners to learn the skills they'd need to gain employment. It was here that she first met Brian (not his real name). Eight years later , she's never looked back. "He was very smartly dressed in a matching suit and tie, with polished shoes and slicked-back hair. But he looked really nervous, too," she recalls. "I told him I wanted him to come and paint the outside of my house." "This was my first chance to earn clean money," Brian chips in. "I'd had it drummed into me that if I worked and paid taxes, I was a mug. Going out to earn money, before, meant I never knew if I'd make it home in the evening. So I felt utter relief when Kathy offered me this chance and I grabbed it with both hands."Brian, now 50, reels off an impressive A-to-Z of his past offences – shoplifting, fraud, drug dealing, armed robbery ("just till money"), and "creeping". For the uninitiated, this is when you dress up as a window cleaner, for example, go into a commercial property and pilfer from people's coats and desks.

Detective Constable Lloyd Davies of West Mercia Police said: "If neighbours see anything suspicious, such as strangers in back gardens or loitering outside homes, or hear glass breaking or an alarm sounding, it is vital they contact us immediately, preferably with descriptions of potential offenders and any vehicles they are using. "Sometimes we get calls about people hanging around outside houses and it turns out they are looking for a lost pet or we are alerted to people climbing over garages with ladders who genuinely are window cleaners. "Anyone who rings a suspicious incident into the police with good intent need not worry about wasting our time, and with Christmas approaching and people likely to be out more or going away for a few days we urge everyone to be good neighbours and keep an eye on each other's homes.

Window Genie of Fort Worth will Give Up to $500 to The Salvation Army in Exchange for Facebook “Likes” - Chuck Street and his crew at Window Genie promise to give $1 to The Salvation Army for each “like” they receive on Facebook through December 27th. Those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are urged to help Window Genie give back this holiday season. They hope to raise awareness for not only their brand but The Salvation Army ARC Adult Rehabilitation Center in Fort Worth. Street promises those in the community that if they “like” the Window Genie Forth Worth Facebook page he will give $1 on their behalf to The Salvation Army. His goal is to be able to give $500.

Chicago-Area Business to Give Away 400 Boxes of Twinkies for Holidays: The giveaway is limited to one box per person and will continue until all 400 boxes (or available takers) run out. In the wake of Hostess’ bankruptcy troubles, Cherry Logistics was able to obtain a 400-box cache of the now-endangered dessert. Company owner Michael Healy thought the best way to enjoy the prize was to give it away in the holiday spirit. “This is our way to wish our neighbors and guests here in Chicagoland a happy holiday season and pay tribute to the passing of some truly iconic junk food at the same time,” said Healy. “We welcome any and all to stop by, grab a box on us, and say hello.”
Cherry Logistics, Inc., headquartered in North Aurora, IL, was founded in 2003 as a snow removal service. Since that time the company has become a premier provider of consolidated facilities maintenance services including window washing.

Mayor Risks Becoming Scrooge In O’Hare Labor Controversy: Did you hear those Christmas carols at Mayor Emanuel’s home, sung about the janitors at O’Hare? The floor-washers, window-wipers, the toilet-scrubbers at O’Hare, caroling for their salaries, walking in the dark and cold, pleading with Mr. Mayor to save their jobs. Please, they sing, don’t pink-slip us, not now, sir, not before Christmas. Do you hear them, Mr. Mayor? Are you listening to the pleas of 300 janitors being fired before Christmas, so that you can hire new janitors for less pay, so that you can save $11 million in your $8 billion budget? Minority janitors, immigrant janitors who have followed their dreams to the middle class in Chicago, working jobs that most people don’t want, for $12 or $13 an hour — being knocked down to the bottom class. To save a few million out of $8 billion? That’s not being Mr. Mayor at Christmas. It’s being Mr. Scrooge. Also here & here.

Broadway faces potential holiday labor headache (New York) - The union representing hundreds of Broadway theater cleaners, porters, elevator operators and bathroom attendants voted Wednesday to authorize its leaders to call a strike if a new contract isn't approved by the end of the month, potentially throwing a wrench into a busy holiday season. Members of the 250-person 32BJ union voted during a noisy rally on the street outside the Times Square offices of the Broadway League, which represents producers and theater owners. They stood in the cold and heard speakers blast Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," ''Family Affair" by Sly & The Family Stone and Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." Any strike would affect workers at 32 of Broadway's 40 theaters where the 32BJ has a contract, meaning all the Shubert, Nederlander and Jujamcyn-owned theaters, as well as the Circle in the Square Theatre. The eight other Broadway theaters have different arrangements. The 32BJ, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, has more than 120,000 members, concentrated in the Northeast. It represents janitors, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, window cleaners and food service workers. Also here & here.

Documentary shorts: Also with an editorial pedigree is Nadav Kurtz who continues as an accomplished editor at Cutters. He made his directorial debut with Paraiso, which recently made the Oscar Short Subject Documentary shortlist. Paraiso tells the story of Chicago high-rise window washers, many of whom are immigrants, most coming from a small town in Mexico. "The film," related Kurtz, "explores why they have chosen this occupation, what their spiritual beliefs are given that they face their own mortality on a daily basis, and what they see inside those buildings, which lends itself to several funny stories."
Paraiso was co-produced by Kurtz's The Strangebird Company and Dictionary Films, which is part of the Cutters' family of shops. Kurtz noted that he would have never been able to bring the short film to fruition without the production resources of Dictionary and post support from Cutters. Kurtz continues to edit spots via Cutters, adding to credits that include collaborations with such directors as Tony Kaye (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), Vincent Haycock (Absolut), Sean Thonson (Central Dupage Hospital) and Jordan Brady (Chicago Crystal Meth Task Force). Kurtz is now also on the lookout for select shorts and other artistic projects he can direct.

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