Has a Spring Sprung?

The residential homebuilding market has also been the bellwether of the entire construction industry. This miner’s canary, which has lain barely breathing for more than three years, has started to chirp again. I thought of this a few weeks ago, while watching a presentation at the HSG Summit in Florida by Alan Beaulieu, an economist with ITR Economics. Alan and his brother, Brian, are both economists and many years ago, Brian came up with an algorithm that he used to predict changes in the economy.  He proceeded to show a series of graphs with his modeling followed by what actually happened. By golly, he was right. Alan said that in… Read More »

Morning Woe

Mornings are not my friend. Never have been. If I had my way, the day would start around 11 and sail on past midnight. But some changes in my schedule that began last August have become habit and I now rise pretty much every day at 4:47 a.m. (well 4:45 seemed so middle-of-the-nightish) and continue on until I collapse around 10 at night. I try to keep to this schedule lest I fall back into my old ways (meaning my bed) which is how I have come to be writing this in the 5 a.m. hour of Sunday, February 24th. So when the sky and the coffee are both real… Read More »

Katie ‘n Me


It took me awhile, decades in fact. I have always admired Katie Couric, especially during her hard news years on the “Today Show.” She is an excellent interviewer and a good journalist with strong skills. Yes, Katie seems to have it all –wonderful job, first sole woman anchor of a major TV network evening news show, hot drummers 20 years her junior following her around and two great daughters. So over the years in my bouts of Katie-envy, I’ve always looked for our similarities. As you can imagine they are few and far between. But now I have found a strong one–an indestructible, irrefutable bond. It’s our navels. That’s right–our belly… Read More »

100 Proof

As a fellow member of the glass industry, I am guessing that you get a ton of questions about glass from family, friends and even acquaintances who seek you out at everything from cocktail parties to kids’ soccer games, looking for the answers to their questions about glass. Though the approaches may differ and the actual questions vary, they are all singular in purpose. I have found they all want just one thing; they want proof. Consider the recent tragedy in Newtown, Conn., which put a Christmastime break in the collective heart of this country. I am sure you heard the reports the gunman had broken through the glass door’s sidelite… Read More »

Be It Resolved

I had a bunch of them this year, in all different areas and I was determined to fulfill everyone. I planned them–or should I say I planned my behavior to meet them–but it was only January 7 and my first New Year’s resolution had already gone astray. The resolution in question was the one in which I internally resolved that the first blog of the year would be a two-parter and, more importantly, when I planned something like that, I would stick to it. It was to focus on the top glass-related stories of 2012, and it did. You can see it here. But then it was to be followed… Read More »


I didn’t know Brian Baker of Willamette, Ill., but I wish I had. I hope he and his family don’t think me rude for writing about him just a few weeks after his death, but I feel compelled to do so. You see, Brian Baker had accomplished quite a bit in his 58 years. He was the president and founder of Vestor Capital in Chicago. He held undergraduate degrees in accounting and finance from Georgetown University and a law degree from Notre Dame University. His talent must have been widely recognized because he also served on a number of boards and voluntary committees including the Dairymen’s Inc., Regina Dominican High… Read More »

Jumping In

My mother’s words echo in my head as I write this. “Debra Anne,” she would say, and believe me, whenever she said Debra Anne and in that tone to boot, I would surely listen, “Debra Anne, if everybody was jumping off a bridge would you do it, too?” Now being the analytical child that I was (though my mother might call it ‘obstinate’), I would stop and think a minute and say “Well, Mom, it would depend on the bridge. Because if the bridge was on fire and I was going to burn, yes, I’d jump … or if people I could save people from harm, then I would, too.”… Read More »

A Quiet Revolution

If you are in any part of the curtainwall business, you know there has been a quiet revolution going on slowly for the past 15 years—and with lightning speed during the past five. It’s no secret that major Chinese companies have been manufacturing and exporting curtainwall systems into the United States since the late 1990s. The first efforts by these manufacturers were pretty poor; they generally lacked both the quality and design capabilities necessary to provide products in the United States. But in the last five years, most of the major Chinese companies have hired their own U.S.-based professional representatives and made great strides in quality. In short, they’ve gotten… Read More »

Why the @#$% Did You Run That?

“What is wrong with you people? Are you crazy or just nuts? How could you possibly have run that story? Why are you endorsing what they did? And just where do your real interests lie anyway? Why the @#$% did you publish that story?” I get this series of questions, or some variation thereof, more than rarely but less than frequently, so let’s say occasionally throughout the year. Usually, it comes in reaction to a story which we have linked on one of our daily newsletters: USGNN.com, glassBYTES.com or dwmmag.com. And usually, the person firing the questions at me is pretty fired up too. On the USGNN side, stories about… Read More »

Giving Thanks–and More

This is Thanksgiving week in the United States. And though we here as a country certainly have our issues, we definitely have more to be thankful for than not. I also believe that we, as an industry, are a generous one and no where has this been more true than in the aftermath of the hurricane that hit the East Coast. And that’s why I am writing today. Two weeks ago, in response to numerous requests for help from shops hard hit by the storm, we set up a web page where people could go and request help. We took it off line late last week as the requests were… Read More »

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