Wednesday, January 30, 2008
By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
People who travel a lot in their jobs tell me it gets tiresome.
That may be true. But flying from bitterly cold Baltimore to Sanibel Island, Fla., in January for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance 8th Annual Conference has little downside as far as I’m concerned. My flight even arrived 35 minutes early, and my suitcase was one of the first to come out at baggage claim.
I found a great Internet rate for a non-stop flight for $79 that got me here in 2 hours, 15 minutes. The funny thing: The taxi ride from the airport to the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa took 50 minutes and cost $68 with tip.
The resort, of course, is on the water. It’s quite a contrast from the snow on the ground in the Northeast to palm trees and blue water here on the Gulf side of Florida.
The temperature upon landing was 63 degrees. Projected daytime temperatures this week range from 75 to 81 degrees.
I’ve spent much of Monday and Tuesday inside a meeting room. However, as I walked to breakfast Tuesday morning, I witnessed a beautiful sunrise. And the windows on the one side of the meeting room have a fantastic view of the beach and water as far as the eye can see.
I’ve read about the benefits of daylighting in schools and work places. Having natural light and a view of the beach does wonders. Greg Carney, GANA technical director, is sitting at the head table this morning for the Technical Services Committee. "I can't sit near a window and stare out at the Gulf all day," he said with a smile.
Friday, January 25, 2008
That’s right, it could be YOUR GLASS* on the cover of our magazine. Are you excited? I am.
April is decorative glass month around these parts (I love decorative glass month!), and we want to get you involved. It’s a party and everyone’s invited! Just send me your photos of your favorite decorative glass projects, and we’ll slap the prettiest right up on the April cover of your favorite magazine (that’s Glass Magazine if you weren’t sure).
A team of highly trained glass media professionals will select the winner. Let me just clarify that, while we will not be swayed in anyone’s favor, I see nothing wrong with a few bon-bons sent directly to my attention.
Send your pics* to me by Feb. 8: Lhancock@glass.org.
So how do you feel about me using the blog for shameless promotion of our own contest? I bet you like it.
* Glass only, please. Pictures of you holding a delicious lemon pie (that you just ate half of) will not be considered. Thank you.
* Pics is one of those new-fangled-internets colloquialisms for pictures or photographs. Some of you may know them as prints or portraits. Glass Magazine, in this particular case, is looking for digital images in a high-resolution format, large enough to fit our cover. This translates to some big-fanny files that, when you view them full size, measure at least 8.375 inches wide by 11.125 inches tall. We’re going for 300 dpi resolution. OK, you know what? Why don’t you just send a link to this page to your marketing department and let them deal with it. They’ll know what to do. And if you don’t have a marketing department, just send me the biggest file you can find. Are you confused? Wondering what the heck a “glassblog” is in the first place? Wondering how we can be so entertaining and so relevant to your job at the same time? I know, it’s mind boggling. Just relax. Everything will be OK. But watch out for the Internet coming alive in the middle of the night and stealing your spoon collection … I’ve heard things. It’s all over the blogs.
Monday, January 21, 2008
I grew up in Richfield, Minn., and I abandon the more temperate climes of the East Coast to return home for the winter holidays. (Note: On Friday in Richfield, the temperature was 1 degree, but it felt like minus 19; in Brooklyn, N.Y., it was 43 and sunny.)
When I took a job at Glass Magazine, I started mixing business with my vacations. As John Van Dine, president and CEO of Sage Electrochromics Inc., Faribault, Minn., says, Minnesota is the “Silicon Valley of the glass industry.”
My Midwest glass travels have taken me to Owatonna for a tour of Viracon, to see glass shops in Bloomington and Hutchinson, to Fargo, N.D., to visit Tecton Products, and most recently down to Faribault to tour Sage.
(Note: Friday in Faribault, the high was a balmier 7 degrees, with wind chills only approaching minus 15. During my tour, the high was a touch above 20.)
Lou Podbelski, vice president of marketing, showed me around the manufacturing facility for the company that makes switchable glass products.
The Sage facility is unlike any other manufacturing environment I’ve seen. The place is clean—really clean—right down to the polished concrete floors. And the plant is also daylit and bright from windows on all sides that fill the plant with natural light. For photos, click here.
The multiple coatings required to produce Sage glass requires plant cleanliness like that at silicon chip manufacturing facilities, according to the company’s Web site.
As for the natural light, Podbelski said it was a conscious decision made for employees. “There are all kinds of studies that show productivity increases with natural light and windows. But, it’s not just question of daylighting. If you’re a human being, you love to have the association with the outdoors. Everyone wants to know what’s going on outside. If it’s snowing—we’re in Minnesota—if it’s raining. … That’s the main reason,” Podbelski said.
After the tour, I sat down for an interview with Van Dine about the growing green market, the high cost of Sage glass and the future of the company. Watch the interview below.
(Note, in closing: Minnesota is a lovely, beautiful place to visit. I recommend July and August.)
Monday, January 14, 2008
—By Matt Slovick, editor in chief, Glass Magazine
As most of you know, 2007 ended with the news that Randy Johnson had died from pancreatic cancer the day after Christmas.
Those of you who have received your January issue of Glass Magazine saw that we featured Randy in our Looking Glass department on Pages 90 and 91. Editor Katy Devlin had the privilege of interviewing the man, who had been in the industry since 1965. The magazine includes a photo of Randy and his wife, Joyce, who partnered with Randy not only personally but professionally as well. "My wife has been an integral part of my work my whole career. It has worked famously," Randy said during the interview.
Mike Schmaltz, executive director, Minnesota Glass Association, wrote a small note to include with the Looking Glass feature on our Web site. Part of the note said: “The title ‘sales representative’ is a weak description of this man. His family always came first and he had an incredible circle of friends. The line between family and friend quickly faded once you came to know him.”
Click here to read the Looking Glass feature.
In the interview, Randy said he worked hard at building relationships because “it betters me and it betters my customers.” When asked what advice he could give, Randy said “I’ve always believed that people should not have a job but a way of life.”
Randy lived that way of life up until his final days. He will be missed. But he will also be remembered.
Randy and Joyce Johnson at the Midwest Glass Conference, Oct. 19.
Monday, January 7, 2008
—By Katy Devlin, e-newsletter editor
When I set out to write a glassblog during my New Year’s vacation to Prague, I assumed I would focus on the few iconic glass buildings that rise up in the famed City of 1,000 Spires—perhaps Frank Gehry’s Dancing House with its dramatic curved all glass façade on the banks of the Vltava River. However, after I learned of the city’s rich—and unbelievable—history of defenestration during my audio tour of Prague Castle, I chose to use that for my window-centric Prague blog (try to say that five times fast!).
I suppose I should begin with a definition of defenestration. (Apparently, it's neither a four-letter word, nor a tawdry form of deglazing.) My friend Merriam-Webster’s Online clarifies that defenestration is:
- a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
- a usually swift dismissal or expulsion
Prague’s history of defenestration concerns the former definition—specifically the throwing of many persons out of windows.
The First Defenestration of Prague, so deemed by Frommer’s and several other handy travel guides, occurred in 1419 when a crowd of Hussites—a radical segment of the early Protestants—tossed the town council members from the third-story windows of the New Town Hall on Charles Square for refusing to release Hussite prisoners. The incident served as a catalyst for the 15-year Hussite Wars that ended in the defeat of the radical Protestants.
Prague’s next, and more famous, defenestration—simply called the Defenestration of Prague—occurred at Prague Castle in 1618 when two Imperial governors were found guilty of violating the right to religious freedom and thus thrown—along with their innocent scribe—out a window 16 meters above the ground. All three miraculously survived the fall thanks to a large pile of manure in the dry moat below (at least according to my occasionally less-reliable Web friend Wikipedia). This defenestration led to the uprising of the Czech estates and eventually the Thirty Years’ War.
Let that be a lesson to you: Don’t pick fights around windows in Prague.
If you know of any other fantastic tales of defenestration, please comment below.