Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2003

a message from the publisher

Seeing the Light

It’s 10:45 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day 2003 as I write this. There’s a fierce thunder and lightning storm raging beyond these four office walls, and it’s amazing how motivated those forces of nature have made me. Rather than walk out into the torrents, I decided four hours ago just to work a little longer and do a few more quick things. Normally, the weekend before an issue is put to bed, I get to take it home and review the final proofs. But all this rain means I’ve done that here already and gotten to see everything almost put together right before writing this column. (Putting a magazine together is a lot like building a house. It looks “almost done” way before it is, the little stuff takes just as long to do as the big stuff does, and move one thing around the wrong way and it all collapses.)

Anyway, all I can think about are light bulbs. There’s wind howling outside and the sound of emergency vehicles in the distance but all I’m thinking about are light bulbs. It took me a few minutes (it is past my bedtime after all), but I figured out why.

When I have a tough or difficult problem to solve, I think about it constantly. Most times I can’t solve it quickly because it’s a tough problem, not an easy one. After total immersion in and exhaustion from thinking about the problem, I usually admit to myself that I have no idea how to solve it, and stop thinking about it for a while. Most of the time, as if by magic, a solution will jump into my head—usually at the oddest time—waking me from a dead sleep or in the shower. A solution will present itself; a voice will well up inside me and say, “That’s what you should do.” And that’s usually what I do. Most of us don’t realize what a luxury a solvable problem is; it’s the ones that we can’t solve that haunt us and zap our spirits.

Anyway, I call that a light bulb moment, just like the one Wile E. Coyote gets over his head when he comes up with another sure-fire way to snare the Road Runner. This issue reminded me of two light bulb moments I’ve had.

The columns by Dez Farnady and Max Perilstein (pages 8 and 16 respectively) point out the problems our industry has working with architects. Dez even says he doesn’t have a clue how to solve it. About 15 years ago, I attended a meeting sponsored by a very large organization for architects. The purpose of the meeting was to review general terms and conditions incorporated by most architects in their bids and documentation. I was told that the group was updating the section on glass and could use my help. We first tackled types of glass. I mentioned a few new kinds (low-E was a newborn product then) that should be added, and they all just stared at me. 

“We don’t need to get into that now,” said one of the architects. “It isn’t necessary.” I was a lot younger, I was a woman and I wasn’t technically in “the trade,” so I let it go. 

Then we got to the coatings section. They had a list of coating types to include. About one-third of the coatings were no longer made or had been made by companies that no longer existed, which I told them. 
“I don’t think you’ll want to say ACD coating in the spec, (the words ‘or equal’ were just starting to gain popularity) because the company is out of business.” 

“It stays,” said the chairperson of the committee in what was a light bulb moment for me. “Oh,” said that little voice in my head. “They don’t really care. They don’t really care if it’s wrong. This is how we get such messed up specs. They just don’t care.”

Well, I am sure some care, but there are not enough of them to improve the architect-glazing contractor interface, and that lack of concern leaves us all with a problem that can’t be solved.

The second light bulb moment occurred in 1988. That was the year I attended the then Flat Glass Marketing Association’s second annual Glass Week. It was filled with high-quality people working extensively on important technical issues without fanfare. I was impressed to see its members working so aggressively for the good of their membership and the industry. I was impressed beyond words. 
“Oh,” I thought, as the light bulb clicked on above my head, “this is what trade associations can do. This is what members can accomplish when they work together.”

Now, 15 years later, our magazine has the privilege of working with that same association, now known as the Glass Association of North America (GANA), by serving as its official publication. We are very proud to be working with an association of such substance and look forward to bringing you more news about GANA’s efforts in the coming months.

Well, I’d better stop now. The rain is lightening up a bit and the winds have died down. I am going to make a run for it. I notice that one of the offices next to me that had lights a few minutes ago is now dark. I’m the only one here, so maybe it’s a blown fuse. Hopefully we haven’t been hit by 

Nah, it’s probably just a burned out light bulb …

Debra Levy


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