Everybody wants to know and who can blame them. There is always an advantage to those who can imagine or perhaps even see into the future. Of course, none of us can … at least not with total clarity, but we can and, sometimes with better vision than we might normally believe, predict the future based on current events or ongoing developments. Now as has been said on these pages before, everything – with perhaps the exception of personal relationships and religious beliefs - is driven by the forces of economics. The government will regularly tinker with all of this and often temporarily derail progress, but, in the end, the laws of economics always prevail. So with this in mind, we have to ask … what is next??? What is the next BIG thing??? And for the answer to this, think green. No, not that kind of green … the real kind of green as in money!!!. What will make the most economic sense given today’s climate (literally) and the quick answer is energy. Yes, energy, as in cheaper and politically-correct energy. Wind, solar (which will continue to become more efficient and therefore more usable) and the next really big thing – natural gas - is where the future is headed. Vehicles and perhaps even buildings will start to use more and more natural gas (including manufactured natural gas derivatives), which will prove better for the environment and economically more viable. As an industry, we will be impacted greatly by any and all changes that take place regarding energy use and or conservation. We already have been and there is much more to come!
Cost Concerns??? … We’ve been keeping an eye on this (construction costs) for some time now and, while I don’t want to be an alarmist, I am concerned. You see, according to this week’s issue of Engineering News Record, the cost index reports in the building trades continues to rise and, in the twenty cities participating in the most recent report, all but one had increases and the one that didn’t increase (Kansas City) was flat. There are some – and I am one of them - that are concerned that, as the economy continues to improve, inflationary trends in the construction sector are going to take off. Many complain that because of the lack of demand for building materials and the labor associated with installing those materials over the past few years, that prices have been unfairly depressed and that once demand starts to go up with any real pace to it, prices will have to rise simply to “catch up” with deferred increases. Big inflationary spikes could dampen or even delay a true recovery for the construction trades. Hard to say … hard to predict … important to watch though!
Fourth of July Follow-Up – Part Two … Got to hear my favorite band (Finding Valor) play on July 6th at the Taste of Lombard in the western suburbs of Chicago and as usual, they were terrific. Also got to spend some time with most of my grandkids at the event, so it was a good day. Rumor has it that an attempt is being made to have Finding Valor perform at the October Glass Expo Midwest being held in Schaumburg, Ill. I hope it happens!
I Knew They Would Be Back – Part Two … Just a very quick follow-up on the Twinkies story. To the point … they are now on the shelves at many stores and, in some ways, things are once again right with the world … in the snack food world anyway. By the way, did you know that the Twinkie was invented in Chicago? Well, they were!
Catching Up With A Legend – Part Two … Thank you to those who e-mailed (or in one case actually called) thanking me for including the Jim Charles Denver AIA interview in last week’s blog. Jim really is a legend in the industry and people commented that it was nice to see that Jim is still out there having a positive influence everywhere he goes. Glad you liked it!
The Sports Thing … I’m really starting to worry … about myself! You see, I have always been a baseball guy. Ever since I was a kid. My favorite thing to do as a kid was play baseball and my favorite – actually only - hobby as a kid was collecting and trading baseball cards. I fell asleep on warm summer nights listening to White Sox games on an old upright wooden Philco radio that I still have sitting just four or five feet from the desk where this is being typed. It doesn’t work very well anymore, although I have put a new speaker in it and cleaned up all the tubes and mechanics on the inside of the thing. I think I keep it because it was my Dad’s and I don’t ever remember listening to anything other than baseball games on the thing. But now, I just can’t get into baseball … not sure exactly why. Maybe the success of the Chicago Blackhawks has made baseball in Chicago less interesting. Hockey’s pace is unsurpassed by any other sport and both of Chicago’s baseball teams are having miserable seasons, but even last night’s MLB All-star game did nothing for me. I’m really having a problem with this. OK, enough of this. I’m going to slap myself silly and see if that helps! By the way, in case you missed it, the American league won 3-0 … Mario Rivera was named MVP.
The Quotable Thing … This week’s is from Tom Monroe who admits that he pulled this one out of a recent Reader’s Digest but regardless of where it came from, I really like it and it is attributed to Warren Buffett and who can argue with him? I like it – the quote that is - but in some ways, it’s a lot easier said than done!
“You only have to do a very few things right in your life, so long as you don’t do too many things wrong”
Have A Great Week Everybody!!!