Friday 29 March 2013

The Joy Of Clear Glass

Mr. Savadian said that since his company invented the Winbot, he no longer does his own windows. Behind his triumph, I thought I detected a hint of regret.
The Joy of Clear Glass: Spring is just around the corner, and that can mean only one thing: spring cleaning. Actually, spring means lots of things—trees budding, birds singing, more hours of daylight—with cleaning ranking pretty far down the list, at least at our house. I'm just trying to make this column sound more timely because, truth be told, the desire I'm here to address can strike me at any season and at almost any hour.

It's not what you think. I'm referring to cleaning my windows. There are few things that annoy me quite as much as a dirty window, as having to observe the world through a layer of filth. And the great thing is, I can do something about it. I'd go so far as to say that little in life delivers greater satisfaction than transforming a window stained with dust and dirt into a perfectly transparent surface through which to admire the planet.

As a brief aside, a while back I visited 30 Rock to interview Chuck Scarborough, the veteran local NBC News anchorman. As impressive an individual as he was, I couldn't believe how dirty his office windows were. The view was great—overlooking Rockefeller Center and the ice-skating rink—but you could only dimly perceive it through the grime. He told me the landlord didn't clean them and he sounded helpless to do anything about it. "Damn it, man," I thought and probably declared, though slightly less strenuously, "you're Chuck Scarborough. You deserve clean windows."

One more almost totally unrelated point regarding the subject of window cleaning: I used to attend a writing group that met occasionally at a Central Park West apartment. The bathroom faced the park. People pay millions of dollars for views of the park, yet the bathroom window was frosted. Why? There wasn't another person who could see the occupants when they showered any closer than Fifth Avenue. And any voyeur would still have to use a high-powered telescope.

My bathroom window has no such view. Yet, when it was installed, I had the manufacturer make the bottom pane of glass frosted for privacy, but the top pane clear so that I could see the world—the clouds scudding by; the seagulls circling. I bet people don't realize there are seagulls circling the city, high in the air, all the time. I wouldn't have, either, if I hadn't insisted on a clear pane.

I offer the Chuck Scarborough outrage and my custom-made bathroom window as proof that I take window cleanliness seriously. So it made sense that when Nick Savadian, executive general manager of Ecovac Robotics, was in town recently I'd seek an audience. Ecovac manufactures the Winbot, a window-cleaning robot.

Given my passion for clean windows, you might think that I'd regard Mr. Savadian and his product as saviors of a sort. No way. Here's why: As much as I love clean windows, 50% of the pleasure—no, 75%—comes from polishing them myself. Like everybody else, I delay gratification. I tell myself they're not that dirty; it can wait; there are more productive things I could be doing with my time.

No, there aren't.

There are also elements of risk involved. My windows in the city open inward for easy cleaning. Nonetheless, I sometimes get carried away and extend my brass squeegee so far outside that I risk tumbling nine stories to the ground. (By the way, I'm not recommending those who live in buildings with old-fashioned windows purchase a harness and straps and hang out over the street for the satisfaction of clean windows; please leave those to professionals.) And my windows upstate have storm windows over them. So, for every window, you're effectively cleaning two windows. Indeed, one could spend the whole day cleaning windows, a temptation I resist.

But when the chore is completed, I never regret it. I may regret a smudge I missed or a streak from the squeegee that shows I could have done a better job. But few things fill me with the same sense of well being as the ability to see the world through clear glass. It's almost as if the sense of control you possess over your immediate space extends out infinitely. You become a god.

So, obviously, it was with no small amount of skepticism that I listened to Mr. Savadian as he touted his window-cleaning robot. He explained that it joins other domestic robots manufactured by his company, including the Deebot, which does floors, and the Atmobot, which chases down pollutants while playing your favorite music. For example, you could be sitting there smoking a Cohiba when all of a sudden you have company; it'll suck in the smoke and serenade you with something by Nirvana. Whether you want company is another matter.

The way the Winbot, which I borrowed for a week, works is that it attaches itself to a window, like a tick, and then scuttles back and forth, its brain somehow mapping the window's dimensions and remembering the area it has already covered. It has certain limitations. It probably won't conquer caked-on grime if you don't wash your windows regularly. And it will only clean windows in the vertical position. Since mine in the city angle for cleaning, the Winbot wouldn't work on them. I suppose I could just attach the device to the outside of the window in its upright position—it comes with a large suction cup to prevent it from falling—but I don't think I'd want to suffer the legal consequences if it somehow lost suction and plummeted nine stories onto the head of an unsuspecting pedestrian.

"Go and enjoy your life," the personable Mr. Savadian told me. "When it's finished, it will play a song and move to the other pane."

Actually, you have to move it. As talented as it is, it can't unsuction itself, climb down, cross the room, pause for a beer, and start on the next window. It still requires a human handler.

But that's not the point. The point is that for some perverse reason, I enjoy cleaning my own windows. (Did I mention that it also saves money? Professional window cleaners can set you back hundreds of bucks.)

"You're the second person in the world" who likes cleaning his own windows, Mr. Savadian told me.

"Who's the first?" I asked.

"You're looking at him," he said. "I'm a clean freak. Clean windows are like clean vision. The sunlight comes in differently. It changes you mood. These are medically proven facts. You have an improved outlook towards life—healthy and happy."

So why deny us obsessive-compulsive types the small pleasures in life? He mentioned do-it-yourself problems such as streaks and dirty water dripping onto floors and carpets. Details.

We even compared notes on our squeegees. He has the two-sided variety, sponge on one side, squeegee on the other. I prefer the classic one-sided squeegee, which I apply after washing the window with a separate sponge soaked in soapy water. Streaks and hard-to-reach corners are promptly addressed with a small towel, just like the pros do.

Mr. Savadian said that since his company invented the Winbot, he no longer does his own windows. Behind his triumph, I thought I detected a hint of regret.

Thursday 28 March 2013

Window Cleaning MIK In Boston

Christopher Murphy and his mother Judy Briggs opened the first Men in Kilts Window Washing franchise in the Boston area.
Men in Kilts: Coming to a Boston window near you: Starting next week, a stiff Boston breeze could mean disaster in more than one way. Men in Kilts, a Vancouver-based window washing company whose technicians wear kilts while they work, will open its Boston franchise on April 2. “When people book jobs, we always remind them – no peeking,” said Men in Kilts CEO Tressa Wood. “They always burst out laughing.” In addition to spit shining windows, the kilted technicians also clear gutters and pressure wash buildings, storefronts, homes and condos.

Boston franchise owner Judy Briggs said the unique brand could not set up shop in a better city, considering the depth of its residents’ Celtic pride. “I think it will be very well received in Boston, particularly because so many people here have Irish and Scottish roots,” Briggs said. She is one of the few females within the company to don the kilt,  she said, for the simple reason that “customers prefer to see men in kilts versus women in kilts.” Judy co-ordinated her nails & kilt for the grand opening.

Meet Judy, the first female Men In Kilts franchise owner! She'll be running her Boston Window Cleaning business with her two sons as Operations Managers.
Her son, Chris Murphy, is the company’s local operations manager, and the city’s first official kilted window washer. “We’ve had a chance to practice in the kilts. You get used to it pretty quickly. It’s actually nice not wearing pants,” said Murphy, adding that he’s already gotten his share of spectators. “We definitely get a lot of people staring at us, and comments. You can’t be shy. We tell them they’d have to hire us to find out what’s under our kilts,” he said.

The service is year-round, which means next year, Boston washers must brave the winter weather sans pants. “They wear leggings underneath when it’s cold, and big wool socks. Kilts are actually pretty warm,” said Wood. “We’re excited to start doing this in Boston. It’s a fun take on a mundane job, and it makes people smile.”

Judy Briggs, owner of the Boston-area franchise for the Men in Kilts window-washing chain, with son Christopher Murphy.
The company's newest franchise is opening in the Boston area. Other U.S. locations include markets north of Philadelphia and on the Jersey Shore. Wood hopes to open another 10 to 15 locations this year. She says entrepreneurs can sign up for a franchise with less than $50,000 for an initial investment. Wood doesn’t see the kilts as a gimmick, though the unusual uniform does help narrow down the job applicants to people who are a little more outgoing and personable. “The great thing is nobody applies for the job unless they’re comfortable with the kilt,” she says. New franchisee Judy Briggs, a Medway resident who also runs a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise out of a Holliston office, says she jumped at the chance to work with Wood again.

Briggs says she has her first clients lined up for the Boston-area Men In Kilts franchise when she starts next week, and she expects some potential clients among the property owners who use her firm for trash removal. Briggs’ son, Christopher Murphy, will be the general manager, and she says she has hired an employee of Scottish descent who is apparently psyched to be paid to wear a kilt around town. Like most other Men In Kilts franchises, Briggs’ cleaning work will be limited to buildings that are no more than four stories in height. So we won’t be seeing guys in kilts swinging from the sides of the Hancock Tower anytime soon. Briggs says another one of her sons, Patrick, is also training to clean windows, although he’s busy with the debris-cleaning side of the business. “He does have a kilt, just in case,” Briggs says.

“We’ll be doing lots of fun promotions and meet-and-greets to get to know even more people.”
Tartan Window Cleaners Arrive in Philadelphia: Local owners, Herb and Kate Madara live in the Abington suburb, fifteen minutes outside of Philadelphia. Before exploring the world of franchising, Herb Madara worked as a high voltage power lineman. After injuring his knee as a lineman, he decided it was time for a change. His research led him to many business opportunities, and he and his wife ultimately decided on a Men In Kilts window and exterior cleaning franchise. “I wanted to be in business for myself, but not by myself. 

The team at the Men In Kilts corporate office and all their franchise owners were so supportive during our research. The further I looked into it, the more I realized the huge opportunity in the window cleaning industry and the whole concept of wearing the kilt is just awesome. Everywhere you go, people approach you with a smile on their face.
Everyone wants to know what the kilt is all about, and some even want to take pictures with you,” says Madara. When asked if the crews will still be wearing kilts in the frosty Philly winters, Madara replies, “Of course! We’ll make sure the guys have something warm under their kilts!”

With over 25 years experience serving customers in a wide array of businesses, the Madara’s were confident they wanted to work in the service industry within Philadelphia. “We’ve lived in this area for a long time and we know what kind of service our locals expect,” says Kate Madara. “We’ll be doing lots of fun promotions and meet-and-greets to get to know even more people.” With the Bucks and Montgomery Counties population continuing to grow and prosper, the Madara’s see tremendous potential for Men In Kilts in their area. “We’re determined and committed to delivering a fantastic experience and putting smiles in to the world… one Kilt at a time. Just remember… No Peeking!”
says Herb.

With the goal of having a, "kilt and technician in every major centre in North America by 2017," Men In Kilts could grow into an even bigger success story.
Men In Kilts Edmonton Underdressed For Biggest Snow Storm Of The Year: It was no weather for shorts, let alone skirts, as a violent spring blizzard struck Alberta's capital region and stranded hundreds along Alberta highways. With up to 20 centimetres of snow falling, and wind gusting at 40 kilometres an hour, washing windows in kilts would not sound appealing to most. Launching their Edmonton operations on Monday; Men In Kilts, braved the snow, and cold, in order to get down to business. They work, "in all conditions," and no amount of snow could prevent them from donning their kilts to clean homes, and businesses. Although they worked under the snowy weather, the co-owner of the Alberta operations is feeling a little lucky, after hearing about the huge accident on the QE-2 highway in Alberta. "I would have been in that pileup possibly, because I would have been leaving around 1-1:30," said Chris Carrier in a phone interview, as he drove past the scene of the 100 vehicle mash up on his way back to Calgary.

With up to 20 centimetres of snow falling, and wind gusting at 40 kilometres an hour, washing windows in kilts would not sound appealing to most.
Carrier was in Edmonton to help launch operations and was set to talk with media, but the interview was pushed back. He says he feels fortunate to have avoided the pileup. Although the conditions in Edmonton were bad, it was not the worst weather Men in Kilts have faced. "In Calgary there was a snowstorm on St. Patrick's Day four to five years ago... there was almost two feet of snow," Carrier said, "We closed operations that day." That was at a time when Men In Kilts did not do snow removal; now they shovel, plow, clean gutters, as well as clean windows. Carrier co-owns the Alberta operations with his wife Robyn. They joined up with the company, "because of the brand." Carrier says he doesn't know of, "any other brand that can bring a smile to the face of a customer... or anyone around us."

More blogs on Men in Kilts here.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

A Little Safety Advice For Service Clients

Crime Tracker: How To Handle Unexpected Guests On Your Doorstep - (SPOKANE, Wash.) - Door to door solicitors seem to pop up at your front door as the weather gets warmer.  Even though most of them are honest business people, the Spokane County Sheriff's Office reminds us to take precautions when answering the door for people we don't know.

The best piece of advice if you are expecting someone: know who's coming.  For example, if you schedule a window washer to come to your home, ask what vehicle they're driving and the name of the person providing the service.  That way, you'll know who and what to expect when you get that knock on your door.

The Sheriff's Office also recommends a locking screen door.  The door provides a barrier between you and the person on your doorstep.  It allows for a conversation but provides a layer of protection.  The Sheriff's Office also says to keep the door closed.  It says there's nothing wrong with asking the person to leave a business card on your step and telling them you'll look at it when you have a chance. 

The next tip: make yourself known.  The Sheriff's Office says not to hide.  Don't make it look like you aren't home.  It says thieves looking to break-in don't want you to be there.  If you yell through the door and let them know you're home but too busy to answer the door, the Sheriff's Office says they'll typically move on.  The same goes for children who are home alone. 

Finally and most importantly, trust your instinct.  It's more important to be safe than to be polite.  If someone is pushy and insists on coming into your home, keep the door shut and call Crime Check at 456-2233.

How secure is your home? Read these tips and tricks to find out how to step up your security measures and keep your home safe. Locking your front door isn’t enough to keep your home, possessions, or your family safe. Follow these tips and tricks from ADT security to ensure that your home is safer than Fort Knox.

Assess your weak points

Stand outside your property and inspect it as if you have been locked out. Are there any weak spots in your security? If you can get inside without keys, so could someone else!

Start from the outside in
Security starts at the border of the home. This may include a locked automatic gate for vehicle entry, an electronic release on the small locked front gate, an intercom, lights to illuminate the gate area and a wall or fence with electric fencing. Also all shrubs that can hide intruders should be removed or cut back.

Shed some light
Light is a burglar's biggest enemy. Installing exterior lights outside your home that are activated by movement will light your garden and deter unwelcome visitors. Perimeter floodlights can be used when you are home alone or away and can be time activated if you are on holiday. Beams can also be installed in the garden to act as an early warning system.

Cover your entrances
Next tackle the front door. If burglars can get to it, it is easier to get your belongings out! Install the best locks possible. A deadlock provides good security but a mortised deadlock is even more difficult for the burglar to overcome. Guard against exposed door hinges, as the hinge pin can be easily broken. A 180-degree peephole is another essential and the front door area should also be clearly lit at night. Fit security gates over all exterior doors including the upstairs balcony.

Install burglar bars
Relatively few burglaries involve breaking large glass windows as this takes too long, is too noisy and there is a risk of injury. However, a burglar will break a smaller window to tamper with the window catch. Consider installing keylocks on your widows and install burglar bars.

Get a good security system
The above hints plus a modern security system linked to a reputable armed response service should encourage burglars to move on to a less secure home. A good security system should include alarm sensors on doors and windows to detect intruders and panic buttons in the home to summon help from the armed response company in case of an emergency.

19 ways to think like a burglar and prevent theft: Thinking like a criminal and anticipating their moves is your best chance of avoiding theft and burglary, law enforcement says. Davis County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Susan Poulson said people can prevent a lot of theft by thinking ahead of a criminal and taking care of neighbors. "We just recently had a case that was solved in one of our contract cities that a burglar was going house-to-house taking whatever was left unlocked or open. We had a resident who was observant and called it in." Poulson said. " He was able to give us a description of the suspect, what he was taking and where he was going." Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, interviewed more than a hundred burglars for his book "Burglars on the Job." The patterns he found included what Poulson suggested, as well as some others.
Below are 19 things a burglar thinks according to Wright.

I've been in your house: I'm the carpet cleaner, the painter, the delivery person, the landscaper.
I used your bathroom. And I unlatched the back window while I was there.
I'm polite. I always knock before entering. If you answer, I'll ask for directions or offer to do something around the house.
I won't look like a crook when you see me. I'll look like I have a job to do instead.
I've looked in your windows. I know what electronics you have and where you keep your jewelry.
I'm your Facebook friend. And I saw your posts about vacation.

Scoping the site
Toys in the yard tell me you might have gaming systems inside.
You've opened the window to air out your house. That's my invitation inside.
Your garage door is open. That's an advertisement of the things you own to me.
Can see your alarm panel and whether or not its set from the window? Consider having it installed where I can't see it from outside.
Newspapers piled up in the driveway, fliers on your door: both are welcome signs to me.
Your driveway has an awful lot of snow on it. Consider getting a neighbor to walk through it or hire someone to keep it plowed if you're not home.

Keeping me out

The sound and flicker of a TV deter me better than any alarm system.
If your neighbor keeps looking at me when I'm in your yard, I'll leave.
Loud, barking dogs blow my cover and keep me away.
An armed alarm, complete with motion detectors above the kitchen sink window and on the second floor make me nervous.

Once I'm inside ...
I check your sock drawers. I'll check the medicine cabinet and bedside tables, too.
If your safe isn't bolted down, I'll take it with me and crack it later.
I don't go into kids' rooms.
The list may seem over-cautious, but Poulson said thieves will look anywhere for clues and have no problem striking anywhere. "Unfortunately, that's the day and age that we're in. But, you just need to make sure that you keep yourself and your belongings safe," she said. "It's too bad, but that's the way it is." Also see "Burglary via obituary a growing problem."

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Window Cleaning News

A blizzard couldn't keep Men In Kilts' Chris Carrier, left, and Steven Ridden from their squeegees Thursday at a downtown Edmonton restaurant. Click to enlarge.
No skirting around requirements of this job - Men in kilts in this weather? Are ye daft? No. Just new in town. Not only did the strapping lads from Men In Kilts don their Wallace Hunting tartan on Thursday, they climbed ladders and washed windows in the middle of a nasty spring blizzard. It was opening day for the new Edmonton franchise Men In Kilts, a cleaning-services company that also operates in Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and the New Jersey shore, and is opening soon in San Francisco. The company also does gutter cleaning, pressure-washing, carpet cleaning and, in colder climes, snow removal.
The concept of kilt-wearing labourers was the brainchild of Nicholas Brand. In 2002, the 24-year-old was looking to start a company on a shoestring in Richmond, B.C., where he lived. After some research, he chose window cleaning over painting and landscaping. "We were trying to come up with an idea and a name. A friend, my wife and I were on the patio having a drink - one drink, we weren't drunk, I always have to tell people that - and my buddy says 'why don't you do it in a kilt?' "I thought nobody will forget us. We'll definitely stick out. And let's face it, if I had called it Nick's or Squeaky Clean or Bubbly, you wouldn't be talking to me."
By 2010, Men In Kilts was franchising across North America. As for the answer to the age-old question of what a man wears under his kilt while washing windows? "The most popular answer is: You've got to hire us to find out," Brand said. Edmonton’s Operation Manager, Steve Ridden says, “There is something about this brand that gets me excited. I am proud of the work we do and even more proud to be wearing my kilt while doing my job. There are not many people out there that can say that about their work. We can’t wait to offer the Edmonton community a fun and professional window cleaning service!" See the boys further down doing a little snow removal.

Window cleaners rescue trapped man from flat fire in College Road, Crosby: Two mystery window cleaners have been hailed as heroes after they rescued a man from a burning first floor flat. The drama started at 2.25pm on Saturday afternoon when firefighters were called to a blaze above Fleurs Home Boutique on College Road, Crosby. Fleurs’ owner Sandra Sharpe: “It was the first day off I had had in ages and my sister was looking after the shop. “She rang me to say there was a fire but that it wasn’t too bad. “I rushed down there and couldn’t believe it when I saw a police car, an ambulance and four fire engines. “Apparently the man who lives up there had been screaming for help and two window cleaners heard him, put their ladder up against the wall and rescued him.” On arrival at the scene Sandra was given a warning by firefighters that she had just five minutes to remove her stock from the shop before they turned on their hoses. Are you the mystery window cleaner? Please contact Jamie Bowman on or call 01704 398 261.

Sore shoulders - After a long winter, a few days of warmth in March invariably prompt inactive people to go outside and strain something. “Anytime your body suddenly does something that it’s not used to doing, you’re at risk,” said Dr. Joe Ruane, medical director of the Spine, Sport & Joint Center. “If they have not been exercising, if they’re not conditioned, if they go out and lift 50 mulch bags, they’re putting themselves at risk,” said Ruane, who also serves as team physician for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Shoulder injuries are a common springtime malady. A task as simple as window washing can inflame a shoulder, Ruane said, because working with your hands above shoulder level pinches a tendon. Unconditioned golfers, too, risk shoulder and elbow injuries. Preparing muscles for activity, he said, takes a month to six weeks of conditioning.

It’s that time of year again — the pollen is back: Mike Basaldua looks forward to the annual spring blitzkrieg of pollen that collects on cars and boosts his business. The district manager of the Splash -N- Dash car wash, 301 SSW Loop 323, said Tuesday the increase has been noticeable. “Even though it was cloudy on Monday, there was still more traffic than usual,” Basaldua said. “I was there (at the car wash) Monday, and most people were complaining about the pollen,” he said. When the pollen starts coming, people wash their cars more, and they come back often, he said.
Businesses that profit from keeping cars and windows clean and allergy sufferers comfortable when the pesky pollens make their appearance each spring often see an uptick in business, several Tyler allergists and owners of window cleaning and car wash services in Tyler, said Tuesday. Others, such as dog groomers and veterinarians, pool cleaners and lawn services, say they don’t see much of a business increase just yet, but will see more pollen-related business traffic as the season goes continues.
Although pollen season might be tough on the people and animals suffering, there is another Tyler business that benefits — window washers. Kim Chapman, who co-owns Fish Window Cleaning with her husband Derrell Chapman, said their business really picks up in the spring. “Spring is the time of year for outdoor parties and events, and people want their windows clean,” Ms. Chapman said. Business picks up even more once pollen season ends, she said. Individuals with other businesses in town say their sales haven’t changed much with the onset of pollen season, but they expect things to pick up in the near future.

Businesses doing their bit to save Wellington's water: Wellington businesses have mostly joined residents' efforts to reduce water use. Car yards and rental car companies had cut the amount they washed cars to a minimum, and water-blasting firms and painters had deferred jobs that could wait until winter, said Alex van Paassen, a spokesman for Capacity Infrastructure, which manages water for the Wellington, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt city councils. Operators who had breached the outdoor water use ban had generally done so unwittingly, and were quick to comply once they had been warned or notified by patrols. Managing the needs of different businesses had to be done on case by case, without threatening jobs or commercial viability. "Throughout this, we haven't wanted to put people out of work," he said. "It's become a balancing act. "It starts to get tricky when you're affecting people's revenue and income." Scientists predict dry summers will become the norm for Wellington, and Mr van Paassen said the water shortage had been a "learning curve" as the capital prepared for more parched summers. Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council had been impressed by water-reliant businesses, from restaurants to window cleaners, being proactive in asking what they were permitted to do under water restrictions.

When Mike Sinovcic, owner of ManMaid Cleaning, says he is looking to clean house in Alton, he is talking polish, not politics. "I really put an emphasis on upper window and door trim," Sinovcic said. "That is a place many people do not think about but it is always dirty, and dust drops on you every time you open and shut a door. "I just like to find crevices and corners that people might not see or think about." ManMaid Cleaning, established in 2011, targets professionals with hectic schedules who find time to clean a chore in itself, along with small offices and people who want a good weekend cleaning. "I had worked for a cleaning company years ago," Sinovcic said. "About two years ago, I questioned a friend who had his own cleaning business. He influenced me to go ahead and do this. He got me my first job, cleaning for a client in Des Peres and Creve Coeur, and I am still handling that client today." While the majority of his business is across the river, Sinovcic, who relocated to Alton from St. Louis 12 years ago, is looking to build a strong clientele in the city he calls home.

EDMONTON - Men in kilts in this weather? The brave-hearted Men in Kilts launch Edmonton franchise in midst of blizzard. Not only did the strapping lads from Men In Kilts don their Wallace Hunting tartan on Thursday, they climbed ladders and washed windows in the middle of a nasty spring snow storm. It was opening day for the new Edmonton franchise of Men In Kilts, a cleaning services company that also operates in Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and the New Jersey shore, and is opening soon in San Francisco. Another eight locations are in the works. In addition to windows, they do gutter cleaning, pressure-washing, carpet cleaning and, in colder climes, snow removal.

Bauhaus frontman, Peter Murphy charged with hit-and-run offence: Goth forefather crashed car while under the influence of drugs, say Los Angeles police. Former Bauhaus frontman Peter Murphy has been arrested after an alleged hit-and-run in a Los Angeles suburb. The English musician was spotted driving erratically on Saturday night, before he crashed his Subaru Forester into the rear of another car. According to the Glendale News-Press, a nearby window-washer saw the accident and took a photograph; the victim of the crash also noted the Subaru's licence plate number. She was later taken to hospital. Instead of stopping, Murphy allegedly drove around the smashed car. But he was followed: a witness in a pick-up truck tailed the Subaru all the way into Los Angeles. He was "afraid [Murphy] would kill someone with his driving", police said. The truck driver finally cornered Murphy's vehicle and called the authorities.

Women's summit spotlights aid: City of Newburgh — Women still face more barriers to economic stability than men, according to speakers at a summit presented by the United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region on Friday. But participants in the women's summit, which the United Way hopes to make an annual event, aren't just complaining about the disadvantages — such as women still earning less than men for comparable work, or employers who don't accommodate workers who become pregnant. They're doing something about it. YWCA Orange County even went into business itself — by starting a window-washing business. Christine Sadowski, executive director of the agency, said a little more than a year ago they got an idea to help women get the experience they need to move into nontraditional jobs. They bought a franchise in Fish Window Cleaning, which has more than 200 franchises nationwide. And while the available jobs are open to all, the YWCA especially encourages women and minorities to apply for them. The agency says the business provides women with training in a skilled-labor occupation — all employees are licensed and bonded — and experience that will help them move into higher-paying jobs later.

Friday at noon Charlotte play the #1 seed Saint Louis Billikens. I’m glad Charlotte pulled out the UR game, so I can tell you my SLU story I’ve been saving all season.  Have any of you ever seen The Exorcist?  It’s a classic movie about demon possession from 1973 about a girl who is possessed.  Well, it’s based on a real story of a boy possessed in the 1950′s.  And the real exorcism was performed at–drumroll please–St. Louis University.  That’s what a Billiken is: a demon.  There is a legend about how the demon never left the room where the exorcism was performed, so SLU shut up that room forever to keep people out.  A window washer was washing windows, and climbed up the fire escape to the next floor.  He started washing the window of the sealed off room.  He looked inside and saw a blue-winged demon.  After that, he refused to go anywhere near that room.

Labor Panes Franchise, a Home Maintenance, Cleaning and Repair Services Business, Sells its First Location: With beginnings as a residential window cleaning company in 2005, Labor Panes is excited to announce the sale of their first franchise location in Wilmington, NC. This sale hopes to be the promise of many more to come for this up and coming home, maintenance, cleaning and repair service business. Founded by Tyler Kirk, Labor Panes beginnings started out of necessity after most employers were not willing to even consider Kirk for positions because of his hearing disability. Rather than dwell on this, Kirk decided to start his own business--Labor Panes and now has begun franchising his business nationwide. "Losing 90% of my hearing made me even more focused on being successful. I knew I would have to work harder to make the business thrive. And my hearing challenges are minor compared to what others struggle with.” (Kirk) When Kirk began to consider franchising his successful business, Kirk asked franchise veteran Tom Fenig who founded Outdoor Lighting Perspectives in 1998 and co-founded Mosquito Squad in 2005 to take a close look at his business.

Thanong warns against rising public debt: The government's plan to seek loans to finance 2 trillion baht in infrastructure projects may raise public debt to more than 70% of gross domestic product, a level that threatens the country's credit rating, warns former finance minister Thanong Bidaya. Window cleaners work on a building at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre yesterday. Growth has been strong since the floods, but economists warn of the dangers of debt gaining steam.

The Hormel Historic Home has roughly 131 windows not including the glass atrium. Some of these windows are leaded glass, which were added during the Home's renovations by Harry Wild Jones when George and Lillian purchased it. Earlier this month, ENDRES Window Cleaning spent two full and cold days washing them all, inside and out. This has been their annual donation to the HHH for the last several years and the service is valued at $1,200. We are so grateful for the efforts of ENDRES and cannot imagine doing that job ourselves.

Chants of “Blackwell out” reverberated around Gigg Lane at the final whistle on Saturday after 10 man Colchester hung on to condemn the Shakers to their sixth defeat in seven matches. The backlash prompted the Bury manager to launch a passionate defence of his own position, while he also called for more common sense from supporters. “The crowd turned on me – yes - that always happens when you are a manager and you’re team is losing,” said Blackwell on Saturday, who argued the club’s financial problems and subsequent transfer embargo had made his job almost impossible. “I’m not a magician. “Can’t everybody see that the club isn’t flush with cash and blessed with options? “I take the fans for being a bit smarter – maybe they’re not. “But if I see a window cleaner come here with a short ladder, I realise he can’t do the top windows. “It’s common sense and I just think that common sense is lacking here.”

Sausalito Woman's Club celebrates 100 years this week: Sausalito Womans Club officers Gail Taylor, Barbara Sutak and Paula Fancher talk as a window cleaner works outside. Members and cleaning crews are busy sprucing the place up on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013, in Sausalito, Calif., as the club prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Taking money from the poorest does not stack up: Look in the small print of George Osborne's budget today and you are likely to find a nasty little cut of £250m in the Scottish budget between now and 2015. Officially, it is to help fund a £2.5bn capital spending "boost" that is so modest as to be unlikely to add even 0.1% to UK growth. Yet in Scotland it means further cuts in public services that are already at breaking point.
Because claimants tend to be concentrated in particular areas, such as Glasgow and Dundee, the macro-economic impact of these cuts on the local economy is devastating, with knock-on effects on small retailers, hairdressers, window cleaners and the like, the very people the government is hoping will create work opportunities for the unemployed. Instead, they become part of an economic downward spiral, increasing unemployment and underemployment.
Local authorities and voluntary organisations, already trying to do more with less, are left to pick up the pieces. Penalising the poorest, who are not to blame for the deficit, is not only morally reprehensible. It does not make sense economically. As more than 90% of income from benefits is spent locally, injecting £2bn into the benefits system would be a considerably more effective way of kickstarting the UK's faltering economy than sucking £2bn out.

Numsa to try to steer ANC from National Development Plan: Earlier this month, Numsa claimed that the NDP was a "right-wing document" copied from Democratic Alliance (DA) policy proposals. Mr Jim was not sparing in his criticism of the plan yesterday, lashing it for attempting to create "hairdressing and window-cleaning" jobs, instead of focusing on manufacturing and industrialisation. He argued that the NDP left intact the "existing patterns of ownership and control" of the economy, mainly in the hands of "white monopoly capitalists together with their foreign allies".

Eurozone Lying: The Root Of The Debt Crisis Problem - UK economic lying is far behind. Eurocrats have, on occasions, given their "insights" on why and how Britain's lies are simply not in the same class as their own. Some have even said this is a fault of Anglo-Saxon culture: marooned on their muddly, overcrowded island packed with the jobless, window cleaners and credit default traders - and incredibly aged punk rockers like David Bowie (with cardiac problems!) - the Brits aren't able to lie with the same flair and skill as continentals. In brief, the Brits tell simple straight economic lies, but the Europeans tell work-of-art lies.

Factfile: APG - Alternatives prove the perfect antidote for Dutch pension giant. APG Asset Management is combating the low-yielding investment environment by allocating up to 30% of the €325 billion it oversees to assets such as private equity, real estate and hedgefunds – a stance it has stuck by since 2007. APG administrates over 30% of all collective pension schemes in the Netherlands and oversees pensions sectors including education, government, construction sectors, cleaning and window-cleaning companies, housing corporations, energy and utility companies. As of February 2013 it oversees €325 billion in total assets and is sole manager of ABP’s €281 billion assets.

Hail damage extensive at state mental facilities: PEARL, Miss. — Mississippi's primary psychiatric hospital and a nearby facility for people with developmental disabilities were hit hard by this week's hail storm with damage that could exceed $1 million, an official said. Now a race is on to patch holes in roofs and broken windows at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield and the Hudspeth Regional Center before another round of bad weather hits. "I think we're easily looking at over a million dollars, possibly millions," in damage, Sumrall said. Blue tarps were stretched across the red, clay-tile roofs on many buildings at Whitfield. Most of its vehicles were damaged and unusable, so cars were brought in from other facilities. Sumrall said he estimates Monday's storm broke 2,000 panes of window glass.

A drink-driver who killed his son's best friend in a car crash has been jailed for almost nine years. James Watson got behind the wheel to travel to his home which was less than a mile away. The 38-year-old lost control of the vehicle before it overturned and crushed passenger Brendon Main to death. The High Court in Glasgow heard on Tuesday how Watson tried to shift the blame onto the 18-year-old victim claiming he had been "distracted" by the teenager. Watson - a window cleaner - was jailed for eight years and nine months after he admitted to a charge of causing death by dangerous driving. Judge Lord Burns said the sentence would have been 11 years, but if not for his guilty plea. The court earlier heard how Mr Main drove Watson, the accused's 18-year-old son Levi and another friend Michael Smith, 17, to the Ythan Hotel in Newburgh, Aberdeenshire on July 23, 2011.

A Cyclist's Lost Arm Becomes a Symbol of Reform in São Paulo: On March 9, several hundred ciclistas paulistas — bicycle riders in São Paulo, Brazil's largest city — took off their clothes and got on their bikes for the World Naked Bike Ride, the periodic, global joyride that has been called a "protest against everything." The Brazilian group had two particular concerns: the country's reliance on fossil fuels and the vulnerability of cyclists in São Paulo. The next day, Sunday, scores of cyclists returned to the Avenida Paulista for a more somber demonstration, laying their bikes and their bodies in the street to stop traffic. That morning, David Santos de Souza, a young window washer on his way to work, had been hit by a car that ripped Souza's arm from his body. Alex Siwek, the 21-year-old psychology student behind the wheel, fled the scene with the severed limb attached to his vehicle before discarding it in a nearby creek and turning himself in to police. Souza, recuperating in the hospital, is one of the lucky ones — over a thousand bicyclists, scooter-riders and motorcyclists are killed in São Paulo each year. But the outrage that followed Souza's accident has achieved something unique: a promise, from the mayor, to make bicycle safety a priority. More here.

A Wollaston grandfather is urging campaigners to rethink plans to put a youth shelter on Swanpool Park amid fears it may increase anti-social behaviour. The Friends of Swanpool Park hope to secure £5,000 to £6,000 for a new shelter for teenagers as part of plans to improve the South Road park.
But former vice-chairman of the group - Martin Hewitt, of Studley Gate, says he and a number of neighbours “totally oppose” the plan as they fear it will increase anti-social behaviour on the park rather than reduce it. Mr Hewitt, aged 51, a grandfather-of-three, says he was the victim of a vicious attack outside his house, opposite the park, as he walked home with his wife Antonita after a night out. The incident, involving eight or nine youths, left him with several broken ribs, four missing front teeth and a nasty cut to the eye.
It also left the self-employed window cleaner off work for eight weeks with no pay, a £5,200 bill for corrective dental work and “very nervous to go outdoors”. He said: “If I wasn’t the size I am - I’m sure I would have been killed. All this for standing up to anti-social behaviour.” Horrified at the thought that a new teen shelter could attract more anti-social youngsters and become a haven for underage drinkers and cannabis smokers - he says he raised his concerns at a Friends of the Park open day. But he claims his fears fell on deaf ears.

Man's house burgled while he was distracted about window cleaning: Police in Bedford are appealing for information after a home was burgled in Burr Close, Kempston. The incident happened on Thursday, March 21, at approximately 5pm when the 29-year-old victim had returned home from work. He had opened his front door and placed a brown leather bag in the hall before returning to his car to collect other belongings. As he did so he was approached by a man who asked the victim if he needed a window cleaner and after a conversation this man left the scene. On returning to his home the victim found his bag containing cash, a silver Apple MAC book, a Ferrari black leather wallet and his bank cards missing.
The officer in charge of this investigation, Detective Constable Jason Wheeler, is keen to trace anyone who saw anyone suspicious in the area. DC Wheeler said: “We believe a person has entered the victim’s property while he was speaking with the window cleaner. I would like to trace anyone who saw someone acting suspiciously in the area and I would encourage the man offering window cleaning services to come forward and help with this investigation.” If you were the man offering window cleaning services in the area that night or if you have information relating this incident then you can contact DC Wheeler, in confidence, on 01234 275328 

Last chance for work-shy Burnley mugger; A man spared jail for mugging a 13-year-old boy for his phone kept his freedom despite flouting the sentence he received. Joe Barraclough had last November been given a suspended prison term for targeting the boy, which included 120 hours’ unpaid work. But Burnley Crown Court Was told he had six ‘unacceptable’ absences from the work sessions and still had 69 hours to do. Barraclough, now a window cleaner, admitted breaching the sentence of 52 weeks, suspended for two years. He was fined £250 with £125 costs and was warned by a judge there would be no more chances.

Monday 25 March 2013

The Toronto Glass Architect Argument

When you're dealing with floor-to-ceiling glass, you're just dealing with one trade." Along Burlingtons's waterfront is the Discovery Landing Centre and Cafe, Rotary Centre Pond, and Spencers at the Waterfront.
Seeing the (wet) future in glass buildings: Toronto, Mississauga and the greater Toronto area (GTA) need their glass consciousness raised. Building experts say resiliency and energy efficiency are going out the window with all those floor-to-ceiling glass walls being installed in the city's towering condos. "There's only one reason why all these buildings have floor-to-ceiling windows: it's because architects and builders are lazy, " maintains retired architect and developer Lloyd Alter, who writes for Treehugger and teaches sustainable design at Ryerson University.

"If you have a building that's brick and glass, you've got to hire a mason, you've got to hire a window guy and you've got to co-ordinate them. When you're dealing with floor-to-ceiling glass, you're just dealing with one trade." Ted Kesik, a professor of building science at the University of Toronto and an outspoken critic of the condo development industry, says he, too, worries that condo developers care more about profits than ensuring their buildings last. "I feel sorry for people in buildings like that, because those windows are going to fall out in an extreme weather event. There will be water damage. It's just going to be a mess."
Even Toronto's new chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, allows there's a problem with the windows' efficiency. "I share those concerns, " she says. "We need to be talking about this more as a city: how do we ensure that we do build buildings that have resiliency over the long term?" It's understandable, almost desirable, that developers want to move as quickly as possible. Keeping city roads blocked requires permits and frustrates the public. Logistics are a headache, especially for some of the newer guys on the building block who lack experience. And "window walls," the system most developers are using, are not as pricey, durable or difficult to put up as "curtain walls, " which is how Toronto's commercial towers were built. Time is money. But how fast is too fast?
For Alter, the main problem is energy efficiency. The glass has almost no insulation capacity. "When you look at the size of the little window that opens - because the building code says you have to have a little window in there — it's a little slot that's the size of an ice-cream stand pass-through, " he bristles. "There's no cross-ventilation. So they're constantly fighting to generate air conditioning, to generate heat, all because they've built these incredible dense buildings and they've given them these terrible, terrible skins."
But Arash Beheshti, vice-president of construction for Concord Adex, which is behind CityPlace, says it has to be a marketable product. "People want glass because they want to look outside, " he says, adding there are "misconceptions" about floor-to-ceiling windows. "Brick doesn't necessarily have a higher insulating value than glass," he says, pointing out that usually only one side of a condo is exposed to the outside while the floor, ceiling and sides are not. "When you look at the heat loss per unit of a condominium, you're looking at way less than at a house."
For Kesik, it's also an insurance issue. "Premiums are already rising because of climate change," says Kesik, who predicts that condo owners will see increases of 500 per cent over the years. Beheshti rejects charges that glass walls are more vulnerable to weather: "The exterior building envelope is actually more watertight, weather-tight, when you actually don't have multiple segments of different products. If it's all glass, it's actually more sustainable to the exterior weather than if you have brick-block-glass-concrete-wood."
When it comes to claims that glass towers use less energy, Alter is totally dismissive. "When you take the entire population of that glass building, and divide it by the entire consumption of that building, they will say this is green; we're using less energy per capita, " he says. "It's a fallacy. "If you look at the building as a whole rather than per capita, it's using a huge amount of energy that wouldn't have to be used heating and cooling because of all that glass." Kesik, an authority on retrofitting older buildings, also says you can't just tear them down and start over because, as experts agree, the concrete structures underneath these blue-green glass exteriors are built to last. 

"I have always maintained that, when you're looking at those glass towers there, you're basically looking at the slums of the future, " insists Kesik. "No one will want to buy them because people will look at them and say, ‘Are you crazy? I don't want to buy something that leaks, that will cost a fortune to retrofit.' So when they can't get sold, they'll get rented. And they're not of a high quality, so they can't get rented for a lot of money. So who do you think is going to live there? I tell people, this is where your grandchildren are going to come to buy crack. "No one wants to talk about these things because it gets people scared, " he warns. "The guys in the condos don't want to talk about it because they're sitting there saying, ‘You can't talk like that, you're going to devalue my condo and, if you devalue my condo, I am going to sue you for having devalued my real estate investment.' "This is how bad it has gotten. It's that cruel a joke."

2400 dead birds, victims of window collisions in Toronto in 2012 on display at the ROM. Click to enlarge.
Birds killed flying into buildings on display at Toronto museum: Visitors stepped into the Royal Ontario Museum this week for a look at a piece of urban history — a layout of dead birds that had collided with Toronto buildings. The Fatal Light Awareness Program, or appropriately, FLAP, hosts the yearly exhibition using collected corpses of birds that were victims of window collisions. Sounds like messy work.

Next to artifacts from ancient Cyprus and historical architecture from China, dead birds seem like a bizarre choice for a museum. But there's a point to make here. It's that Toronto, not only its people but its very existence, is deadly to birds. About a million birds are killed every year after colliding with buildings in Toronto, according to research by FLAP. Since birds have no concept of glass, reflective windows trick them into thinking there's clear sky before them, when in fact there's an office tower. Birds also become disoriented because of bright lights shining through cities at night, according to the organization. The troubles of a migrating bird don't stop there. You try flying south across an entire continent while dodging wind turbines, condo buildings and Lachute, Quebec.

More blogs on bird-strikes here.

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