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February 27, 2013

If you jumped off the bridge in Paris…
Filed under: Ned Weirdness — Tags: — nedpelger

Here are some thoughts that may bring a mid-week chuckle. Many have an engineering or construction twist.

Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’

A rubber band pistol was confiscated from algebra class, because it was a weapon of math disruption.

A grenade thrown in to a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

A hole has been found in the nudist camp wall. The police are looking into it.

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway. One hat said to the other: ‘You stay here; I’ll go on a head.’

I wondered why the baseball kept getting bigger. Then it hit me.

I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian .

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’

When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

If you jumped off the bridge in Paris, you’d be in Seine.

There was the person who sent ten puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Thanks to whoever developed this list of puns. It has been flitting about on the internet and I saw it on an ENR blog.


February 25, 2013

Skanska Pre-Fabbing Hospital Rooms for $250M DE Project
Filed under: Innovation in Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

Take a few minutes to read the ENR article about Skanska pre-fabbing hospital rooms. It’s fascinating how repetitive projects (like hospital rooms or dorm rooms) can be done so efficiently off site. The article goes on to say:

In the slow recovery from the construction slowdown, Skanska, owned by a Swedish company, has been adapting European prefab models to commercial projects, including both Nemours and an 800-unit, six-story dorm project at the nearby University of Delaware, among others.

“This is a radical departure,” Corrado said. Instead of building every tray, curving every pipe, fitting every duct, and walking them up ladders to bang together into a suite of rooms, everything goes in what Corrado called “one big box.” Then it is linked by headwalls studded with gas, water, electric, air and dentist-office-style folding booms, and approved, pre-installation, by inspectors from Underwriters Laboratories, as if each room was a giant appliance.

So, as you consider project that have a repetitive component, think about the possibility of pre-fabrication. We’ve got to keep changing our methods to increase efficiency.


February 22, 2013

The Exquisite Meanness in Construction
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

Steve called me the other day with a great construction story. He runs a small electrical contracting firm and often works with a general contracting firm. They prank each other regularly, but Steve tends to be the more aggressive prankster.

Steve was working on a project for which he’d pulled an electrical permit, but knew the GC had done some work on the project without pulling a building permit. The building inspector who would have been involved is a real prick and would have made a big stink over the permit.

So Steve calls the GC and tells him the inspector was just on site and really steamed. Steve gets the GC worked up into a lather before he starts laughing and admits to messing with him. The GC responds, “Burn me once shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me. You will NEVER fool me again!”

Of  course, that sounds like a hard to resist challenge to Steve. A few days later, he’s working at an attorney’s office and shares the story with her. Coincidentally, the GC had done some work on her office that wasn’t permitted. The Attorney jumps at the chance to extend the prank and calls the GC and tells him that the miserable inspector stopped by and was furious when he noticed that work had been done without a permit.

The poor GC again falls completely for the story (never considering that Steve would enlist a client for his dirty work) and obsesses over the trouble coming his way. This time, Steve lets it simmer a day or so. Ah, the exquisite meanness in construction.

Hope your day is better than that of the hapless GC.


February 19, 2013

You Only Had One Job…
Filed under: Ned Weirdness — Tags: — nedpelger

Lex sent me a fun site with lots of photos from folks that only had one job to do and managed to screw it up. If you want a few chuckles, go to You Had One Job.

Imagine walking up the stairs after hanging this door and looking back.

I’ve had plenty “Oh Crap” moments in my life and expect I will continue to have more. If you put yourself out there and try things, you will make mistakes. Learn to laugh at yourself and others (especially others) and you’ll be fine.


February 18, 2013

More American Construction Jobs
Filed under: Industry outlook — Tags: — nedpelger

ENR annouced today that international energy pipeline giant Tenaris SA plans to build a $1.3B US manufacturing facility south of Houston. The 1 million-square-foot facility will complete in 2016.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday that Tenaris, the world’s No. 1 producer of steel tubing for the oil and natural gas industry, is receiving $6 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund to close the deal.

Perry said he persuaded the Luxembourg-based company to choose Texas while expanding its U.S. workforce during his economic development trip to Italy last year.

The plant will feature a seamless pipe mill, heat treatment and premium threading facilities. It is expected to eventually produce 600,000 tons of pipe annually.

The highly automated plant will produce many construction jobs but only 600 permanent jobs. As I’ve written before, that trend of bringing manufacturing back to the USA (for products to be used in the USA) will continue, but the automated plants won’t spew jobs like in the past.

In some other good news, ENR reported that New York state and local agencies will receive $287 million in emergency federal highway aid to reimburse them for repairing roads and bridges damaged by Hurricane Sandy and other storms. That’s a good chunk of cash for NY infrastructure projects.

So the construction recovery news continues on a positive trend. Many of my customers seem bullish on business prospects and want to improve their offerings with new facilities. If you have business decisions to make, consider this trend and be aggressive.


February 15, 2013

Friday Fun: Wheelbarrow Pitstop
Filed under: Ned Weirdness — Tags: — nedpelger

These guys look like they’re having some fun. Oh to be young.


Hope you have yourself a fun weekend. It will be what you make it.


February 13, 2013

$300M Exploratorium Project: The Grand Daddy of Science Museums
Filed under: Cool Projects — Tags: — nedpelger

Forty years ago, physicist Dr. Frank Oppenheimer opened The Exploratorium a few miles from San Francisco. He developed the concept of a hands on science museum. Growing from that start, 1000 participatory hands on science museums now exist around the world.

ENR reports that the Exploratorium’s $300M project, that moves the facility to the downtown pier area, will complete April 17, 2013. Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis M. Bartels said in a recent press release:

“The scale of our new home on Pier 15 will not only allow us to welcome a magnitude of new visitors, but also broaden our impact around the world by developing new experiences that make science accessible to all.”

They plan to be the first net zero energy large museum in the world. The 1.3-megawatt high efficiency SunPower solar power system on the roof  will supply are their electricity. System performance will be displayed in the lobby.

The Exploratorium construction website does a great job show casing how the project has been built. Photos and videos from the pier construction to the observatory steel shown above give a great sense of the construction process.

Pulling more American youngsters into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields needs to happen. The Exploratorium leads the way. I’m looking forward to visiting San Francisco and experiencing the exhibits.


February 12, 2013

Sashy Beauty
Filed under: Carpentry — Tags: — nedpelger

Lex sent me a website called Cabin Porn that showcases photos of rustic cabins. I love spending time in the woods (just got back from a dark turning to dawn walk in the woods a few minutes ago) and find these photos comforting somehow.

One of my favorites was a couple in West Virginia that salvaged window sash and scrap lumber for years. Doesn’t their cabin have a certain beauty to it?

I hope you get to build or design something today that causes you to stop and appreciate its beauty. Perhaps even the beauty of its efficiency. Take a moment to appreciate our opportunity to create in this great construction industry.


February 11, 2013

DOT Ray LaHood Notes His Legacy
Filed under: Industry outlook — Tags: — nedpelger

The US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be stepping down after four years of service. He had a ten minute interview with ENR that outlined his major accomplishments. Here’s what he said:

I really think that one of the real legacies for President Obama when it comes to transportation will be high-speed rail. When you look…over four years, we’ve invested over $12 billion, which is 12 billion times more than has ever been invested in passenger rail. I think that’s a huge investment in just a very short period of time.
LaHood checked out the high speed rail systems in China, France, Germany, Japan, and Spain. He noted that in each case the federal government had to take the lead to get the projects done.

Personally, I think the high speed rail is a crazy government boondoggle.  The airline system solves the problem well, in conjunction with buses and passenger cars. The huge investment would be so much more valuable fixing existing bridges or making the electrical grid smarter.

If they want a bold new program, free high speed WiFi could make a huge difference in many cities and towns. Google just set-up a free WiFi trial in the Chelsea section of NYC, that includes high and low income housing. It will be fascinating to see the positive outcomes that grow from this experiment.


February 8, 2013

After School Special
Filed under: People Skills — Tags: — nedpelger

My son-in-law just had his first piece of writing published at NIB Magazine. As a piece of flash fiction, it only takes about two minutes to read. I encourage you to head over and read it. Please consider leaving a comment if you do.

The piece has a cool vibe, kind of reminds me of The Outsiders by SE Hinton. I know this has nothing to do with construction, but sometimes my mind wanders.

Speaking of a wandering mind, I’ve been trying to get a hotel addition project out for bids for the last week. I have everything I need except my own concentration. Sometimes I amaze myself with my ability to avoid the one thing I need to be doing. Alas, today is the day.

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