Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year To All Readers: A special thank you to the sponsors of this blog who have supported it for so long & thank you yourselves for the readership! All the very best, Karl.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

The Power Of No - The Gift Of Squeegee

He used the money to buy a squeegee and parlayed his token donation into a window washing service. But McGee was even more inspired to see what happened next.
The Surprising Power of a Gift of ‘No’ (by Collette Caprara): The gift of “no”—captivated participants at The Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Antipoverty Forum. The tale was told by the gift’s donor, Patrick McGee, the prison initiatives manager of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP).

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program is a nonprofit organization that links the nation’s top executives, entrepreneurs and MBA students with convicted felons, providing an entrepreneurship “boot camp” and re-entry programs to prevent recidivism and maximize self sufficiency and transform broken lives.

From personal experience and from his service to incarcerated men, McGee is a firm believer in self-determination, having witnessed the power an entrepreneurial venture can have in providing a threshold to becoming a productive, contributing member of society, even for those whose personal history dims prospects for employment.

So, when one of McGee’s nephew in his early teens asked if he would buy him a pair of athletic shoes, McGee declined the role of the generous uncle. He said, “No.” But he did give his nephew $15, and suggested that he make the most of it.

And his nephew did. He used the money to buy a squeegee and parlayed his token donation into a window washing service. But McGee was even more inspired to see what happened next.

The teen noticed that many of the homes that he visited in his neighborhood needed address markings on their front curbs. In response, he invested a portion of his earnings in stencils and spray paint and broadened his business to include that new service. In time, he had earned enough money to purchase a lawnmower, and soon his lawn-care service expanded to the point where he hired additional youths from his community to take on a portion of his growing list of clients.

McGee reported that his nephew is now finally old enough to get his driver’s permit and that he is very excited about getting his license—not as most teens are, with visions of cruising the streets with friends, but with a plan to purchase a truck to take his growing enterprise on the road. McGee summed up his story with a wink and a declaration: “That is a pretty good return on the gift of a No and $15!”

Had McGee chosen to purchase those athletic shoes, they may well have been replaced and discarded by now. In contrast, his small contribution came with a lesson that will serve his nephew for a lifetime.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Window Cleaners Monkey Around

MEN AT WORK: A child gazes at window cleaners working while dressed in sheep and monkey costumes in Tokyo, Japan. Click to enlarge.
Washing away the old year: A child looks on mesmerised as window cleaners dressed as a goat and a monkey go about their task in Tokyo. According to the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2015 is the year of the goat or sheep and 2016 is the year of the monkey. The duo dressed up as monkey & goat commemorated the end of the year by reading some puns. The pair then climbed to the top floor of a skyscraper and got to work making the windows shine.

With just 10 days left in 2015, Japanese window cleaners traditionally dress in costumes representing the Chinese zodiac animals for this year and the next. A worker dressed as a sheep (2015) and another in a monkey costume (2016) started from the rooftop of a 15-floor building, cleaning as they worked their way down.

Monday 21 December 2015

Guard Dog Attacks Window Cleaner

Window cleaner tells how he fought for his life during attack by Alsatian guard dog.
Window cleaner tells how he fought for his life during attack by Alsatian guard dog: A window cleaner has told how he fought for his life after an Alsatian attacked him while he was working at a house. Chris Cooper said he thought he was going to die after the guard dog tore at his face, his throat, his chest and his arms. The 33-year, from Knighton, Leicester, said: "As I grappled with the dog I could see in its eyes that it wanted to kill me. "It all happened so fast but I knew I had to fight for my life otherwise it would rip my throat out."

Chris said the dog went for his face as he bent down while cleaning the ground floor windows at the back of a house in Aylestone, at about 3.30pm on Thursday. He said: "Before I knew what was happening the dog had its teeth in my face, then it went for my throat as I tried to fight it off. "It bit me in the chest. I thrust my right wrist in its mouth and as it chewed on that I grabbed it by the throat with my other hand."

Chris, who is 6 ft tall and 16 stones, said his size allowed him to overpower the dog briefly. He said: "When I had the dog by the throat I opened the back gate and threw it in. "The attack probably only lasted about 30 seconds but it felt like an hour."

Chris went to Leicester Royal Infirmary where some of his wounds were glue together. He said he had cleaned windows at the house up to 20 times before and had met the dog. He said: "Despite my injuries I don't want the dog to be put down. "I was brought up with dogs and my mum breeds them. "It was just doing his job. I was just unlucky that it somehow got through the gate." Chris said he called the police and they are due to visit him on Tuesday.

Friday 18 December 2015

Window Cleaner Misplaces Arm - Wants Bionic One

Robert Hunt (pictured before accident) suffered life-threatening injuries and had to spend three months in hospital following a collision with a lamppost in November 2014. The 22-year-old, who grew up in Bracknell , had his whole arm amputated as a result of the crash.
Robert Hunt who misplaced his arm in a motorcycle crash appeals for bionic arm funds: An amputee father who was left clinically lifeless in a motorbike crash has appealed for the general public to assist him increase cash for a brand new bionic arm so he can get again to the ‘prime of his life’. Robert Hunt, 22, from Farnborough, Hampshire, misplaced his left arm and was pressured to spend three months in hospital after crashing his Hyonsung GTR250 motorbike in to a lamp post.

The window cleaner’s limb needed to be minimized off on the shoulder after his primary artery was severed and he additionally suffered a near fatal coronary heart assault following the crash in Sandhurst, Berkshire, in November. Mr Hunt, was put in to a three-week induced coma at St George’s Hospital in London. He additionally dislocated his knee and suffered ligament injury in the devastating accident, which occurred as he tried to swerve right in the rain.

He’s now on anti-depressants after struggling to adapt to the NHS prosthetic arm he acquired after the crash, and seeks £13,000 to pay for a carbon fibre alternative limb. Mr Hunt, who had been driving motorbikes on the roads for a year after driving off-road as a teenager, stated the lack of the arm has turned normal duties into a chore. And he says the aluminium prosthetic that he was issued by the NHS rubs the scarring on his arm, leaving him in agony. ‘I’ve seen some movies of men with these arms and what they do is superb.’

Sandhurst dad launches campaign to get bionic arm after motorbike crash: A former window cleaner who was in a near fatal motorbike accident in Sandhurst has launched an online campaign to help him get a bionic arm. Robert Hunt suffered life-threatening injuries and had to spend three months in hospital following a collision with a lamppost in November 2014.

The 22-year-old, who grew up in Bracknell , had his whole arm amputated as a result of the crash. The father-of-one has since had surgery at Queen Mary's Hospital in London and it was there where he saw someone with a bionic arm. After being told it was not possible to get one on the NHS, Hunt was told he needed to pay around £13,000 for one. He said: "It would be life-changing for me. Basic things become impossible and I can't do sports like I used to.

"It's been a pretty hard year to say the least but getting a bionic arm would help me get some sort of control over my life again. "I was in extremely good shape so to go from being like that to becoming disabled is something I'm still coming to terms with. "Most importantly having a bionic arm means I would be able to live with my daughter Sapphire again.

"I'm living with my dad at the moment because I can't live with her due to my injuries. I just can't care for her properly anymore. "I'm missing her growing up and she doesn't understand why she can't be with her daddy all the time."

Hunt has had counselling and therapy over the last year following his release from hospital. He was initially given a fake arm but feels a bionic arm would give him much more flexibility to feel like 'a normal person' again. "I technically died because my heart stopped when I was in hospital," he said.
"I've now got scars all over my body and had six out of the eight surgeries - I'm still building up strength in my knee so there's a way to go yet.

"The problem with the fake arm was is that it doesn't move or anything, it's just an aluminium counterweight. "It rubs on my scars so hurts to wear and I feel like it's holding me back a lot. "I would love a bionic arm to feel like a normal person again but unfortunately it's not covered by the NHS and there's no way I can find that sort of money myself." If you would like to donate to Robert's campaign, go to his fundraising page here.

Thursday 17 December 2015

German Politician & Window Cleaner Faces 5 Years For Tattoo

Window cleaner & Politician Marcel Zech, 27, is accused of displaying this tattoo showing Auschwitz and a Nazi slogan in public at a pool in Oranienburg, 15 miles outside of Berlin.
German charged over 'tattoo of Nazi death camp: Zech, a member of a state council, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison if convicted under strict laws which ban the display of Nazi imagery. He is a member of the far-right National Democratic Party, and won a seat on the council of the state of Barnim, which is in north-east Germany and borders Poland. Zech made the pool visit on November 21, where he was pictured with his tattoo on display.

Local police launched a manhunt at the start of this month to find the man's identity, which led prosecutors in the town of Neuruppin to name Zech on Friday. Zech has a criminal record for race hate crimes. In June this year he was ordered to pay €360 after posing as a police officer to try to learn the identities of anti-fascist demonstrators who tore down his party's posters in his hometown.

In a 2013 court appearance he was fined €1,200 for assault. He won his council seat in 2014. He works as a window cleaner and, according to local media reports, has been seen at least once before swimming in a lake with his tattoos on show. On his stomach he has the old Reich eagle tattooed - not a forbidden symbol. On his left arm he has a black sun, a typical Nazi-era symbol. Germany's Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency, lists him as a 'neo-Nazi'.

He belongs to one group which provocatively buried a wooden swastika in the ground opposite the gates of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. Zech has so far declined to comment on the charges.

A German man has been charged with incitement to hatred after he was pictured with a tattoo apparently of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. The tattoo has the slogan "To Each His Own", which was on the gate of the Buchenwald concentration camp. The photo was taken at a swimming pool in the town of Oranienburg, north of Berlin, at the end of November.

German media named the man as Marcel Zech, a member of the far-right National Democratic Party. Mr Zech sits on the council in the district of Barnim in eastern Germany. The trial process has been sped up, German media reports say, and is scheduled to start on 22 December. Germany has strict laws against the promotion of Nazi ideology in Germany. The punishment for Mr Zech if he is convicted could be as much as five years in prison.

Artist Jonathan Meese was prosecuted in 2013 for giving Nazi salutes at an event the previous year, but successfully argued the gesture was part of an interview-turned-art performance and was acquitted. The latest case comes after several violent incidents this year at reception centres for migrants in Germany. A senior German intelligence official told the BBC in October that Germany's decision to take in asylum seekers was fuelling a resurgence in the far right.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

The Window Cleaner & The Wreath

A window cleaner in the Inglewood Drive and St. Clair Avenue East area spotted a green bag in the back of his truck, opened it and found the wreath.
It's a Christmas miracle: Stolen wreath found by Toronto window cleaner: Remember this Christmas wreath, the victim of a brazen theft earlier this month? The wreath was stolen 20 days before Christmas, from a home in the Yonge Street and Summerhill Avenue area. This is “the Grinch that stole the wreath off my door at 3 a.m.,” Sabrina Magyar posted on Facebook on Dec. 5. Well, the wreath has been found.

A window cleaner in the Inglewood Drive and St. Clair Avenue East area spotted a green bag in the back of his truck, opened it and found the wreath. He then gave it to a friend, thinking nothing if it, until he heard a radio interview on Monday where Magyar was describing it. He went home and told his family. His daughters looked up the video on the internet and they all agreed it’s the same wreath.

He then called his friend to get the wreath back and emailed CityNews. CityNews showed the wreath to Magyar and she confirmed the sparkles are in the right spots – it’s her wreath. The thief was a well-dressed woman, bundled up for the cold in a sleek, quilted coat and wearing a square messenger bag.

Magyar alleges the thief that took her wreath is a repeat offender. In a later post, she wrote that the woman can be seen leaving her property “and picking up a second wreath which is likely acquired from someone else in the neighbourhood.” “At the end of the day, it would be great for her to return it. It would be a Christmas miracle,” Magyar said. It appears that that miracle has come true.

A woman is seen taking a $200 wreath off a door in this image taken from security camera video in Toronto, Dec. 5, 2015. (Sabrina Magyar).
Stranger returns Christmas wreath stolen by 'Grinch' - A Christmas wreath has been returned a week after a Toronto homeowner posted security camera footage of the theft online. Sabrina Magyar posted video of the theft on Saturday, Dec. 5, saying the woman in the video stole her wreath at approximately 3 a.m. The wreath was reported stolen from a home on Macpherson Avenue, in the area of Avenue Road and Dupont Street. The video went viral, being shared more than 5,000 times, and viewed nearly 320,000 times.

Police are still investigating, but Magyar told CTVNews on Tuesday that the wreath had been returned. She said a window cleaner found a bag in the back of his truck, and opened it to find the wreath. Magyar said he'd heard her story on the radio, and suspected it was her wreath. The wreath was returned to her home on Tuesday. "It's hard to believe, but I guess it was a Christmas miracle," she said.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Changing Color With Smart Windows

Nanoparticle based windows could switch colors on demand.
Nanoparticle-based windows could switch colors on demand: One day, you might not need special bulbs to give your room's lighting a different hue -- you'd just tell the windows themselves to change. Rice University researchers have discovered that you can change the colors transmitted through glass by sending a voltage through pairs of gold and silver nanoparticles, which you frequently find in stained glass windows. Jolt a window one way and you'd get a bright red; reverse the voltage and you'd get blue. All you're really doing is forming or removing chemical bridges between the particles.

The technology is still far from production, so don't expect to renovate your home just yet. However, you only need tiny amounts of the precious metals to achieve dramatic effects. As such, you might well find yourself upgrading to color shifting smart windows around the whole home, not just in one or two prime locations.

Medieval artisans unwittingly used nanotechnology when they mixed gold chloride into molten glass to create richly hued stained glass windows. Soon we could have full-color displays or stained-glass windows that change color at the flick of an electrical switch, thanks to the same kinds of light-scattering nanoparticles.

We’re one step closer to such wondrous things with a new method for connecting metal nanoparticles via teensy “drawbridges” of thin layers of silver, developed by researchers at Rice University. This lets them link pairs of nanoparticles that scatter different colors of light together to form simple color displays. The scientists described their work in a new paper in Science Advances.

Nanoparticles are special because they straddle the boundary between the macroscopic and quantum realms, where classical physics and quantum mechanics hold sway, respectively. It’s their size that matters: a nanometer is equivalent to one 25-millionth of an inch, and nanoparticles range in size from a few nanometers to several hundred nanometers. That gives them unusual properties not found in the same elements at the macro scale.

This includes optical properties, notably how metal nanoparticles in particular scatter light. Scientists have analyzed medieval stained glass windows, and found gold and silver nanoparticles are the key to the deep reds and yellows found therein.

The gold nanoparticles absorb blue and yellow light; red light, with its longer wavelength, reflects off them and passes through the glass. Something similar happens with silver nanoparticles; only bright yellow light scatters off and passes through the glass. Make gold spheres a bit larger, and you can get green or orange. Make the silver nanoparticles smaller, and you get blue.

They have interesting chemically reactive properties, too. In 2008, for instance, scientists at Queensland University of Technology found that some stained glass windows actually helped purify the air when the sun shone through them. The secret ingredient was gold nanoparticles. Sunlight activated the nanoparticles so they could destroy volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) — the source of that new car smell, for instance, but toxic if inhaled in larger quantities.

The properties of medieval stained glass are so unique, Welsh scientists recently used their own versions of the material to build a special 3D panoramic camera for the European Space Agency’s 2019 Mars rover mission. In that case, the useful property was the way the glass resists fading — even after hundreds of years of exposure to the sun’s UV radiation. By blocking UV radiation, the nanoparticles in the stained glass chips will capture the true colors of the red planet.

Soon We Could Have Displays and Windows That Change Color with the Flick of a Switch. But it’s proven challenging to induce metal nano particles to switch colors, a critical ability if you want to build a color display with them. Past work has managed some slight shifts in hue by linking nanoparticles with nanowire bridges. The Rice scientists improved on those techniques to make the color shifts stronger via a kind of chemical bridge.

First, the Rice team fixed pairs of gold nanoparticles to a glass surface coated with conductive indium tin oxide, or ITO (it’s in your smartphone screen, for instance). They used the ITO to coat the surface of the gold particles with a silver electroplate. Then they immersed them in saltwater electrolyte with a silver electrode to form a circuit. Zap the nanoparticles with a negative voltage, and a conductive silver “drawbridge” forms. Reverse the voltage, and the bridge withdraws.

“The great thing about these chemical bridges is that we can create and eliminate them simply by applying or reversing a voltage,” group leader Christy Landes said in a press release. “This is the first method yet demonstrated to produce dramatic, reversible color changes for devices built from light-activated nano particles.”

Monday 14 December 2015

The Stingray Indoor Cleaning System

Introducing UNGER Stingray,  a revolutionary, ready-to-run solution to your indoor window cleaning needs.
The Unger Stingray Indoor Cleaning System: Recent research indicates that when cleaning indoor surfaces, such as windows, mirrors and elevators, cleaning professionals face 2 key challenges – efficiency and safety, especially when working at height. Current tools and methods require time consuming re-arranging of furniture and electrical equipment for safe access or to reach high or unusually positioned windows. Result - wasted time and increased risks and costs associated with the use of ladders and access equipment. Moreover, the need for intensive staff training creates additional problems.

Introducing UNGER Stingray,  a revolutionary, ready-to-run solution to your indoor window cleaning needs, also perfect for a multitude of other surfaces too. Cleaning windows up to 25% faster and using up to 39% less chemical than conventional sprayer and cloth method, the Stingray is the most efficient indoor cleaning system ever!

Ready-to-use, easily replaceable pouches for Stingray Indoor Cleaning System, pre-filled with highquality 3M Scotchgard™ professional glass cleaner. Effectively removes dirt, grease and fingerprints. Fast drying, leaves no streaks or marks. One pouch cleans up to 150 sq.m, given low to medium surface pollution.

An efficient indoor cleaning tool. Inspired by the power and glide of its namesake, the UNGER Stingray utilized several patent pending features to overcome the challenges associated with indoor window cleaning and delivers outstanding cleaning results. Perfect for cleaning indoor glass & windows, glass partitions, showcases, mirrors, glass refrigerator doors, elevators, washable doors & tables and much more! Speeds up indoor glass cleaning by up to 25%. Ensures 39 % less liquid consumption. The length of the Stingray Indoor Cleaning Kit-Handheld is 0.51 m (1.7 ft). Thanks to modular design, greater heights of up to 4 m (13 ft) can be reached by adding Short or Long Stingray Easy-Click Poles.

Replacement microfiber pad for Stingray Indoor Cleaning System eliminates dust, fingerprints, grease and other light dirt. Triangle shape for perfect reach into corners. Lint free, easy glide microfiber. Pad design incorporates protective cut-out area for precise liquid application directly to surfaces. Enclosed spray nozzle prevents liquid overspray and inhalation. 1 in./25 mm deep microfiber edge for simultaneous cleaning of windows and frames. Elastic straps in each corner secure the pad in place. Material composition: 70% polyester, 30% polyamide. Machine washable up to 200 times.

The New Black line.

Friday 11 December 2015

Safety Alert - BMU's - Suspended Scaffold Cradles

Failed bolt connecting the winch and the cradle.
BUILDING MAINTENANCE UNITS AND SUSPENDED SCAFFOLD CRADLES - Safety Alert | 06/11/2015 - This safety alert reminds owners and users of building maintenance units (BMUs) and suspended scaffolds of the need for ongoing inspection of critical components.

BACKGROUND: Two workers were seriously injured in October 2015 when the BMU cradle they were working in fell 10 storeys onto an awning below.

Initial investigations indicate the cause of the collapse was a failure of the connection between the winch and the cradle. This connection used a single bolt, loaded primarily in tension, at each of the two winches. It is believed one of these bolts failed, causing a sudden transfer of load to the bolt at the other end which then also failed.

The bolts are hidden within the connection and cannot be inspected without the connection being disassembled. Inspections revealed that both bolts show signs of significant fatigue cracking which would have weakened the bolts, resulting eventually in the sudden failure without obvious external warning signs.

In a similar incident in 2009 the failure of a simpler connection on a suspended scaffold cradle was also due to undetected fatigue cracks. It resulted in the death of one worker and serious injury to another.

Suspended scaffold connection bracket failure showing fatigue cracks.

BMU and suspended scaffold cradle owners must:

  • identify critical components in BMUs or scaffold cradles – eg where failure of a component would risk the safety of anyone in the vicinity of the BMU or suspended scaffold
  • assess whether the current inspection and maintenance program adequately deals with these critical components, especially any components that need disassembly to inspect
  • upgrade the inspection and maintenance program if necessary
  • include non-destructive testing or regular replacement of components as part of the program where visual inspection alone is not adequate to detect potential developing defects, such as fatigue cracks
  • carry out a major inspection on any BMU that is over 10 years old and has not yet had a major inspection
  • carry out a major inspection on any BMU that has had a major inspection:
but is overdue for its next recommended major inspection, or
five years after the last major inspection where no recommendation was given.

Preliminary findings of window cleaners’ fall in October released: A Sydney window cleaner was injured after falling approximately four floors onto a balcony while cleaning windows on a hotel at Gloucester Street in The Rocks. The window cleaner, who was using rope-style window cleaning equipment, is reported to have suffered leg injuries in the fall.

SafeWork NSW is investigating the incident which comes as they release the preliminary findings of their investigation into an incident where two men fell approximately 10 storeys from a Sydney CBD building on Tuesday, 20 October. The men, who were harnessed, were cleaning windows on a 12 storey building on the corner of Pitt and Bridge Street in the city when the window cleaning cradle that they were working in suddenly fell to the awning below.

SafeWork NSW commenced an investigation into the incident which included sending the window cleaning cradle, known as a building maintenance unit, to SafeWork NSW’s TestSafe facility at Londonderry for testing and analysis.

The initial findings of the investigation indicate that the cause of the collapse was a failure of the connection between the winch and the cradle. The connection used a single bolt, loaded primarily in tension, at each of the two winches. It is believed one of the bolts failed, causing a sudden transfer of the load to the bolt at the other end, which then also failed. The bolts, which are hidden within the connection, cannot be inspected without the connection being disassembled.

Inspections revealed that both bolts showed signs of significant fatigue-related cracking which would have weakened them, resulting eventually in the sudden failure which occurred without warning.

In response to the findings, SafeWork NSW will undertake an awareness program and verification activities in early 2016 on buildings where Building Maintenance Units and Industrial Rope Access are used. SafeWork NSW Executive Director, Peter Dunphy urged all owners and users of building maintenance units and suspended scaffolds to inspect their equipment in the lead up to the verification visits.

“Operators should undertake regular inspections of building maintenance units and suspended scaffolds so that defects such as fatigue cracks are identified,” Mr Dunphy said. “They should also consider whether their current inspection and maintenance programs are adequate to prevent equipment failure in the future.

“A similar incident occurred in 2009 due to undetected fatigue cracks on a suspended scaffold which resulted in the death of one worker and serious injuries to another. “Fortunately, although the workers were seriously injured, they both survived, but the result could have been very different.”

SafeWork NSW has published a safety alert with guidance for owners and users of building maintenance units and suspended scaffolds on how to prevent similar incidents. Operators seeking further information on building maintenance units should refer to the Australian Standard.

Thursday 10 December 2015

Webinar Tonight - Automate - Grow - Sell

 8:00 pm Eastern Time (US and Canada), GMT +5 (1 a.m.)
Window Cleaning Webinar Tonight: Chris Lambrinides and Josh Latimer founded cleaning companies from scratch with no money. Fast forward a few years and they had a combined 75+ employees with just under $500,000 a month in collective revenue. Let them show you EXACTLY what they did to achieve this. Better yet, Josh only worked 4 hours a week on his business the last two years he owned it. The content in this webinar series took Josh 2 months to put together. It is REAL insight with zero fluff.

Automate - Learn the nuts and bolts of how to build systems into your business that will create freedom so you can spend your life doing what you really want. 

Grow - Josh and Chris grew their combined service businesses to over 75 employees with just under one half million a month in revenue. Learn how you can triple your revenue with-in 24 months from guys who have done it.

Sell - Find out why you should build your business to sell even if you never plan on selling it. Learn the techniques, create real value and equity in your business. 

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Cleaning With Cow Urine

Could it be the chemical of choice for the future window cleaner? They are also selling cow urine cola (Cow-Cola).
Could cow urine replace phenyl as a hospital disinfectant? Moves are being made in India to replace traditional hospital disinfectants with cows' urine. New Delhi congress official Parminder Bhamra claims to use the substance in his home every day. He says it kills germs and is easily available. "I get it from the nearby cattle shed," he said. "I'm sure even hospitals can be cleaned properly using it."

His words come as a pilot scheme is set up at a Jaipur hospital where cows' urine is to replace phenyl as a disinfectant over a 15-day period. The Rajasthan government has tasked a committee of doctors with analysing the use of Gau Clean - a product based on refined cows' urine - in various medical settings to assess its disinfectant properties.

The product will be tested in intensive care wards, on items of medical equipment and on hospital floors. If proved effective it is thought that cows' urine could become a new source of income for cow-keepers. "Once 'Gau Clean' gets its licence it can be used in other government offices and buildings - and people will even buy it from the market," said Otaram Dewasi who heads up Rajasthan's cow-rearing ministry.

Cow urine is already the base ingredient for a number of products in India including shampoos, soap - and even a health drink. A floor cleaning agent is produced at a cow urine refinery that opened in Jalore earlier this year. And the substance is also used as a folk medicine in Myanmar and Nigeria.

Congress Corporator Parminder Bhamra's Malad home has always been cleaned with gomutra (cow urine), he says.
Use Cow Urine to Clean Hospitals, Urges Mumbai Corporator (Mumbai):  Congress corporator Parminder Bhamra owes his good health to cows - not just for the nourishing milk, but also the 'germ-killing' urine that has been used to clean his home all his life. And now, if he has his way, hospitals across Mumbai could soon be sanitised using cow urine. "Gomutra has been used for this purpose since ages. I use it at home every day. It kills germs and is easily available; I get it from the nearby gaushala (cattle shed). I am sure even hospitals can be cleaned properly using it," said Bhamra.

The corporator from Malad has put forward a proposal in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, seeking that both public and private hospitals be cleaned with cow urine. On the other hand, top BMC health officials sounded unsure about using gomutra for hospital hygiene but tiptoed around the subject like a sacred cow. "Gomutra has been used by individuals for cleaning since ancient times, according to ayurveda. But I am not sure about its usage in hospitals," said Dr Mahendra Wadiwal, in-charge of BMC's peripheral hospitals.

However, Dr V L Deopurkar, former director (Research) Nagpur Veterinary College and associate dean of Bombay Veterinary College minced no words on the topic: "Gomutra will never be accepted as a cleaning agent because of want of scientific data on it. Unfortunately in our country, many politicians are uneducated. Gomutra is used for agriculture purposes, but never for cleaning."

Even at the Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra (GVAK), which has been researching the properties and uses of cow urine for close to two decades, experts did not seem keen on its application in sanitation of hospitals. "Gomutra has anti-fungal, antibiotic and anti-oxidant properties, along with disinfectant elements. We have 300 plus patents in 40 plus countries of various products made from gomutra, but we neither manufacture nor do we promote it as a disinfectant. We think that gomutra should be used for more essential purposes such as farming and medicinal benefits to people and animals. Whatever is left over can be used for cleaning," said Sunil Mansinghka, coordinator at the Nagpur-based GVAK, who is also a former member of the government's National Cattle Commission.

Bhamra's proposal is marked on the agenda for the BMC general meeting on November 3, and has already received the backing of his party, which holds 55 seats in the house. It's hardly surprising that the BJP (with 30 seats) has also expressed support, considering the party's ideology and past comments by BJP leaders (see 'Cancer cure'). The Shiv Sena is also expected to get behind the proposal, adding its own strength of 70 seats.

When it was pointed out that it is usually saffron parties that push for the use of cow urine, Bhamra responded, "Congress is the oldest party; we have been around for a long time and it is our ideas that are followed by everyone else. My idea has been supported by my party and I am sure it will be passed in the house."

In March, cow urine was touted as a cure for cancer in the Rajya Sabha by BJP member Shankarbhai N, who had said, "If you want to save yourself from cancer, there is a need to protect cows on a priority because cow urine is effective in curing cancer completely. It can cure cent per cent. I can vouch for it."

Monday 7 December 2015

The Gig Economy

In a certain light, the gig economy looks like a dream. Cleaning services company Homejoy shut down on July 31 after struggling to raise a big enough round of funding. The company had already been facing growth and revenue challenges, but CEO Adora Cheung said the “deciding factor” was the four lawsuits it was fighting over whether its workers should be classified as employees or contractors.
The Gig Economy won't last because it's being sued to death (By Sarah Kessler): - If Uber, Lyft, and others don't stop relying on contract workers, business could crumble. Is it time for a new definition of employee? When Vilma and Greta Zenelaj came across a Craigslist job ad that promised they could make as much as $22 an hour and get paid fast, it seemed like a good deal. The Albanian sisters had moved to Santa Monica to get a foothold in the film industry, and though they had produced a few independent features, they had run out of savings before they could also make a living. Now they were desperate to pay their bills.

Handy (then Handybook), the company that posted the Craigslist ad, is best known as a cleaning service. But unlike Merry Maids or your local cleaning franchise, it doesn’t actually employ any cleaners. Instead, it relies on an army of independent contractors to complete jobs, taking a 15% to 20% commission of every hour worked. It’s part of the "gig economy," a much-hyped new class of the service industry where workers are expected to operate like mini-businesses. The influence of these companies is growing: according to an analysis by Greylock Partners, the value of transactions over platforms such as car services Lyft and Uber, grocery delivery service Instacart, courier service Postmates, and others could grow as large as $10 billion this year.

But the Zenelajs had never heard of the gig economy, and it wasn’t until orientation that they realized they would not be employees of Handy. Soon they were booking up to four cleanings a day through the platform. Handy promised to turn them into entrepreneurs, and it was true that when things went wrong, they were responsible: They didn’t get paid to wait for a client who was running up to 30 minutes late, though they drove to his house (Handy does reimburse cleaners for one hour if the client doesn't show up); they didn’t get paid if they stayed home sick; they didn’t get paid when they got stuck in traffic between jobs. There was no overtime pay or benefits, and they had to buy their own supplies and gas.

But the sisters (pictured above) allege that other kinds of work independence were a farce. When they couldn’t finish a job in the allotted time slot, they had to call customer service if they wanted to stay longer for more pay. First-time clients could not book cleanings with them specifically, which made leveraging relationships for recommendations difficult. They say there were suggestions, which they interpreted as rules, about how to listen to music (only with headphones, with permission from the customer) and go to the bathroom (discreetly). After about two months, both of them were banned from the platform: Handy says one sister performed poorly and the other sister funneled jobs to her after she was banned. (Vilma and Greta say they had just teamed up to complete jobs, which is also against Handy's terms of service, and that's why both of them were fired.)

"It is not fair, because there are laws here," says Vilma. "They are claiming to be just giving us contracts, and they’re not. They’re acting like an employer. But they’re not paying for it."

She and Greta filed a class action lawsuit against Handy in October, alleging that the company misclassified them as independent contractors. They are seeking compensation for missed lunch breaks, minimum wage compensation, reimbursement for business expenses, and overtime, in addition to other penalties. According to Handy’s math, this compensation would cost $291,000, not including attorney’s fees. Not only that, if Vilma and Greta prevailed, the lawsuit would also apply to all its current and former workers in California over the last four years. As of this past fall, that was about 2,000 people. That’s a potential penalty of almost $600 million—a lot of money for a company that has only raised about $42 million in venture capital.

Lawsuits like the one being brought against Handy are just the most threatening cloud in a brewing storm. Uber drivers have protested in San Francisco and Los Angeles and gone on strike in New York. Anecdotes in high-profile stories about Homejoy, a cleaning service similar to Handy, detail grueling hours and so little pay that in one instance, the worker was homeless. Workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, an online platform that pays independent contractors cents per task, recently orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to Jeff Bezos asking for him "to see that Turkers are not only actual human beings, but people who deserve respect, fair treatment, and open communication." Legally, Uber and Lyft are also facing charges of misclassifying workers, and a case against an online work platform called Crowdflower that uses independent contractors to complete tasks is in the process of being settled.

This rising legal retribution is a huge threat to the gig economy. Not being responsible for employees’ taxes and benefits allows companies like Handy to operate with 20% to 30% less in labor costs than the incumbent competition, leading to eye-popping numbers like Uber’s $40 billion valuation or Instacart’s latest $220 million round of funding. Lose this workforce structure—either by a wave of class-action lawsuits, intervention by regulators, or through the collective action of disgruntled workers—and you lose the gig economy.

"If you had the liability that we’re talking about for Handy, it would shut a lot of these companies down," says Shelby Clark, who runs an organization for sharing economy workers called Peers, which is at least partially backed by stakeholders in the platforms they work on. 

What’s at stake with these lawsuits and protests? The very definition of "employee" in a tech-enabled, service-driven 21st century American economy. Gig economy companies do not own cars, hotels, or even their workers’ cleaning supplies. What they own is a marketplace with two sides. On one side are people who need a job done—a ride to the airport, a clean house, a lunchtime delivery. On the other are people who are willing to do that job. If Uber and other companies are going to be as big as some claim, a new deal has to be brokered, one that squares the legal rules governing work with new products and services. What benefits can you expect from a quasi-employer? What does it mean to be both independent and tethered to an app-based company? The social contract between gig economy workers and employers is broken. Who will fix it, and how, will determine the fate of thousands of workers and hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a certain light, the gig economy looks like a dream; after all, full-time employment has been falling for years. Between 1995 and 2005, when the government kept data on what it calls "contingent workers," about 30% of the labor force fell into this non-full-time-employment category. In 2009, employment law firm Littler Mendelson estimated that about half of the jobs added after the recession will be contingent, making the workforce 35% freelance, temp, and part-time workers. A year later, Intuit estimated that it will be more like 40%. Meanwhile, the United States has a record number of 2.87 million temp workers, who arguably occupy the bleakest corner of the contingent worker universe.

Thanks to these new on-demand startups, though, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom with a few odd hours to spare or a recently unemployed fast-food worker who needs to make ends meet while looking for a job, you can work whenever you want, doing whatever you want. "I like the flexibility and I feel like it gives me a better work and life balance," says Chris Otey, who has worked as an independent contractor on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for about the past five years. In the gig economy, you’re better than an employee; you’re a little business. "I want to live in a world where people can become entrepreneurs or micro-entrepreneurs, and if we can lower the friction and inspire them to do that, especially in an economy like today, this is the promise of the sharing economy," Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, once told the Wall Street Journal. Just like the government didn’t begin to regulate the Internet before it was a behemoth, these people argue, regulating this new economy before it’s fully created could halt innovation.

But the gig economy can also be interpreted as a loophole for avoiding labor laws—more of a familiar nightmare than a new dream. Robert Reich, a political economist and the former secretary of labor, compares it to the piecework system of the late 19th century, the very same system that led to trade unions and labor protections in the first place. "There is no economic security, there is no predictability, and there is no power among workers to get a fair share of the profits," he says. "You and I and everybody else, if the present trends continue, will be selling what we do to the highest bidder."

There’s not much public data about how many people try and fail to make money with gig economy jobs, and platforms are unlikely to volunteer it (Uber recently released some data about its drivers' pay, though it did not account for driver expenses like gas or disclose data about driver turnover.) But it’s safe to say that there are advantages to being an employee (security, safety laws, minimum wage, benefits) and that there are also advantages to being an independent contractor (freedom, independence). Similarly, there are advantages to hiring employees (quality control, dependable workers) and hiring contract workers (cheaper, don’t need to guarantee work). Where platforms get into legally dubious territory is when they try to claim the advantages of both systems at the same time. "These weren’t just people working for five minutes, they were putting in hours and effort," Otey says of his time working for one Amazon Turk user, a company called CrowdFlower. "I didn’t have control over the work I did. It was all done on their platform. I couldn’t choose my own hours. I had to work when they provided the work. They pretty much controlled all the aspects of the work that was being offered."

The laws that determine independent contractor and employee status vary from state to state and from situation to situation, but many of them focus on the question of how much control workers have over their work. If their employer is mainly focused on the outcome of that work, there’s a good chance they’re fairly being classified as an independent contractor. When their employer begins to control not only what work they do, but how they do it, that classification gets murky. So Handy, by doing things like giving workers suggestions for how to clean and asking them to wear a shirt with the Handy logo, made itself more vulnerable to a lawsuit. Similarly, though traditional taxi drivers are often independent workers rather than employees, a platform like Uber takes a certain amount of control when it fires them for low ratings or changes their fare prices. "Imagine going into work one day and your boss tells you that you’re going to have to do the exact same job you did last week but for 30% less money," is the way one Uber driver put it recently.

"They almost can’t help but step into the shoes of the employer," says Alek Felstiner, a labor lawyer with Levy Ratner, PC in New York who has studied independent contractors on platforms like Mechanical Turk. "They are going to have a choice between taking actions that make them more marketable, and thus becoming vulnerable as employers under these laws, and remaining completely hands off. But they can’t really can’t have their cake and eat it, too."

Lawsuits are a big, visible threat to the gig economy, but even if none are successful, there’s another, slower-burning problem that will corrode the gig economy if left unresolved. It’s a problem that gets worse every time a worker like Solominsky, who has completed almost 600 jobs on the TaskRabbit platform with nearly unanimous perfect reviews of his work, who the company once interviewed on its promotional blog, decides that there is nothing that TaskRabbit could ever do to win him back as a dedicated laborer. "They don’t have our interests at heart," he says. "It’s a shame, because they really lost lots of good people who used the site."

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Friday 4 December 2015

Staying Safe For The Holidays

Marc Darnell, a window washer right, hangs holiday lights on Tuesday in St. Joseph. Mr. Darnell owns a business during the holiday season called Marc Not Clark Lighting. He and his employees hang the lights that he rents to clients.
Stay safe while decorating for the holidays: Every year, emergency rooms across the U.S. treat about 12,500 people for falls, cuts and shocks due to holiday lights, decorations and trees, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Candles account for 150 deaths, and Christmas trees cause 300 fires and 10 deaths. The recent rain in the area poses additional concerns, officials said.

“We’ve had a lot of rain lately,” said Sheldon Lyon, executive director of St. Joseph Safety and Health Council. “We don’t want to lay those extension cords in standing water. Because if there’s a nick on the cord, it could energize that puddle of water and we don’t want to see electrocution as a result of faulty wiring.”

It’s important to inspect decorations, lights and cords to ensure they are not damaged, he said. Avoid using wires with electrical tape. The frayed or damaged cord could become energized and cause an electrical shock or fire.

Marc Darnell has been in the window washing business for 17 years. He began installing Christmas lights on commercial buildings eight years ago, and on residences four years ago. There are many safety rules his team follows, he said, but overall the most important one they follow is to use common sense.

“There are no heroes, no one does anything crazy because we wanna have fun tonight,” Mr. Darnell said. “I’ve had one scare in 17 years.” The incident happened while he was on a ladder. It shifted and he almost fell backward. Luckily, he was able to grab the ladder and prevent a fall.

Mr. Lyon recommends following Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) 4-to-1 ladder standards. For example, a 10-foot ladder should be placed 2½ feet away from the structure.

Mr. Lyon said Christmas lights should be used appropriately. Interior Christmas lights should only be placed indoors and exterior lights should remain outdoors. Outdoor lights are manufactured to withstand cold and wet conditions, while indoor lights are safety tested to ensure they are not a fire hazard on Christmas trees.

Outdoor lights used indoors may become a fire hazard since they are often hotter. “If the lights are older, throw them away and get new lights. They are not real expensive and certainly give you peace of mind knowing your family is safe,” Mr. Lyon said. Following a few safety tips can reduce the chances of having an accident and keep the holidays merry.

Thursday 3 December 2015

UK Window Cleaners Down League In Tipping

UK window cleaners, bottom of the league when it comes to tips.
Britons fall out of love with tipping - do you always leave a tip? Millions of Britons do not leave tips and those who do give just 7 per cent on average, according to new research. A survey by uniform provider Simon Jersey found one in 10 people in Britain do not leave tips, with plumbers, window cleaners and beauticians the least likely to be left extra money. Respondents said they are most likely to tip waiters and waitresses, with the most popular reason being polite service (61 per cent). Only 20 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed said they always leave a tip and 31 per cent said they only do so if they receive 'exceptional' service. Top 10 professions tipped;

1. Waiters/Waitresses

2. Taxi drivers

3. Hairdressers/barbers

4. Takeaway delivery drivers

5. Hotel staff

6. Café/coffee shop workers

7. Bar staff

8. Beauticians

9. Window cleaners

10. Plumbers

A spokesman for Simon Jersey said: "Tipping is something which is customary and not compulsory, but this can make it quite confusing as there are no hard and fast rules. "Some people always leave 10 per cent of the bill, regardless of how much this is, whereas others put down a random amount based on their experience or what they have in their purse or pockets.

"And it seems it's not just the level of service you receive which is the deciding factor in how much money you leave as a tip, or even if one is left at all. "Being polite and friendly is a big factor in whether any extra is left on top of the bill, but even the appearance of the server contributes to the tip left." Top 10 reasons we tip;

1. If they were polite

2. If they had put more effort into their work than they really needed to

3. If they were friendly and chatty

4. If they smiled

5. If they appeared to be extremely busy but still completed my work to a high standard

6. If they had completed the work earlier or quicker than expected

7. If they looked smart and tidy

8. I asked something out of the ordinary of them

9. If they were wearing a nice uniform

10. If they were attractive or I fancied them

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