The focus of this blog is construction-related topics. The purpose is discussion, so please feel free to comment! See Specific thoughts for thoughts from the daily life of a specifier.

27 September 2013

Above and beyond…

Published each year, CSI's "Honors & Awards Guide" describes the requirements for each Institute award and honor, and contains the information needed to make a nomination. Despite the availability of the Guide, which is posted on the Institute website, many nominations are deficient in one way or another. Given the amount of information in the guide's forty-five pages, it is not surprising that questions arise, but staff, the chair of the Awards Committee, and the chair of the Jury of Fellows will gladly answer those questions.

Requirements for awards are relatively straightforward, each having specific qualifications that must be met. In contrast, honors acknowledge a body of work, often lifetime contributions of many types. In particular, there always seems to be a bit of mystery and confusion surrounding Fellowship.

20 August 2013

Awards and honors…

Each year, most organizations set aside one day to acknowledge the efforts of their members, and to honor those who have made significant contributions. CSI is no exception; we have award ceremonies at chapter, region, and Institute levels. The crowning moments take place at the annual convention, where Institute awards are presented, where we honor those selected for Distinguished Membership, and where we honor those who have been elevated to Fellowship. While the criteria for most awards are fairly straightforward and easy to understand, there is a mystique surrounding Fellowship; but more on that later.

I suspect many members don’t give these affairs much thought, unless they are nominees, but it's worth taking a few moments to consider what awards and honors signify. To be meaningful, an award must be earned, and it must represent something important.

26 July 2013

Absolute zero

And then there are dimensions…

In the last article, "Absolute nonsense", I wrote about the great number of words available to express fine distinctions of meaning, and how, properly used, they can be quite precise. In daily use, however, words often are used incorrectly, and most would agree that many disagreements are based on different interpretations of what we say.

In contrast, we usually think of numbers as being exact. After all, it's easy to look at a set of drawings and determine the exact number of doors, or windows, or any other object. Dimensions, however, cannot be precise, even though they are stated as if they were.

22 May 2013

Absolute nonsense

A few weeks ago, while patiently waiting in that a.m. parking lot we call a freeway, I was listening to a drive-time talk show. "Not many specifiers calling in today," I thought. Caller after caller would agree with the host's comments by saying "Exactly!" - even when the stated position was complex, and the callers appeared to grasp only part of the issue.

Scalpel; United States Patent and Trademark Office
Our language is a rich one, with many words available to express a wide range of meaning for most ideas. In writing, this gives the careful writer a way to accurately communicate with the knowledgeable reader. A multitude of synonyms, adjectives, and adverbs makes it possible to

24 April 2013

24/7; Déjà vu all over again!

"Existing communication methods have done a good job of addressing most of the information exchange involved in construction. E-mail and electronic file transfer are commonly used between owner and architect, and between architect and consultants. One conspicuous oversight has been the contact between the design professional’s office and the contractor in the field.

"Several computer programs are now available to dramatically improve the exchange of information between office and field. This type of program is so powerful and compelling that it may well be considered the "killer app" for construction administration, just as CAD became a killer app for producing working drawings."

The above quotation is from introductory paragraphs to "Killer Apps!", an article that appeared in the February 1999 issue of the Construction Specifier

25 February 2013

Because we can

Isn't it interesting, that amidst all the hoopla about "sustainable" design, there has been little reduction in the stream of new, improved, state-of-the-art, can't-live-without-them products that increase energy demand? Most of these supposedly life-changing inventions offer needless conveniences, and most of them require electricity to operate. They appear to have been created for no better reason that someone could do it.

Some of you may recall the introduction of digital watches and clocks in the '70s. As happens with all things electronic, the first ones were extremely expensive, but within a few years the price dropped - and dropped and dropped; there was no bottom. Suddenly, everything you bought had a digital clock in it. After hundreds of years of surviving with a single watch, or no watch at all, we suddenly couldn't survive without clocks everywhere! Rulers had clocks, pencils and pens had clocks, key fobs had clocks, and countless things with no apparent purpose other than to sit on a desk had clocks. I saw a tape measure with a clock in it.

I'm pretty sure no consumer research drove this frenzy; clocks were added to everything simply because it could be done. Despite the concern about energy consumption, the "because we can" attitude continues today...

06 February 2013

Why get certified?

Aren't you tired of all this talk about certification? No one will tell you, but there are a few good reasons to save your time and skip the exams. Why waste the time and effort on something you probably don't need? If any of the following reasons apply to you, sit back and relax - you're in great shape. For now, anyway...

30 January 2013

Faith-based specifications

One of the most difficult things specifiers do is try to decide if one product is equivalent to another. Fortunately, many product characteristics are based on industry standards, which can make those products easier to specify and to evaluate.

For example, many hollow metal door manufacturers produce doors and frames that comply with either Steel Door Institute (SDI) or Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) standards. In fact, many manufacturers' products comply with both industry standards, and standards produced by the two organizations are similar. There are differences, but at least the standards are available and one can quickly tell if a hollow metal door complies with one or the other - assuming you have faith in the industry standards.

Other products can be far more difficult to evaluate…