Charting economic climate

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Courtesy of Universal Pultrusions LLC

The economic climate affects our day-to-day lives. Work activities are intricately interconnected with social well-being which in turn effects family harmony and trickles on down to impact personal wherewithal.

Still, 'climate' is what it is. There is nothing any of us alone can do about it. At the same time, however, how we think about it tends to shift the reality we experience day to day. Cognitive science has redundantly proven that if we think things are going well we are more capable to recognize legitimate opportunities. At the same time, if we chronically believe that things are going poorly we may end up like Joe Btfsplk of Lil'Abner fame.

Consider the findings of the 2009 Economic Outlook Survey done in the first quarter of this year by Globalspec, Inc.

The diagram shows that 37% of companies surveyed have the same number of projects on the drawing board now as they did a year ago, 33% have more projects and 30% have less. Taken at face value, this indicates 3% overall growth which most would count as good news. Looking at things another way it could be said that 67% are at a stalemate and be seen as cause for woe.

Of course neither perspective changes the fact that jobs have been lost and businesses shut. Still, our individual pro/con assessment of any situation greatly determines the course of our own actions and these individual actions add-up to foster widespread marketplace conditions.

There is a classic black & white graphic which shows an old woman facing to the left with her chin tucked-down to her chest and a young girl looking over her right shoulder. The two images are interwoven, existing in the same space at the same time with each woman’s portrait perfectly visible and crystal clear, yet you cannot see both the old woman and the young woman at the same time. It is either one or the other.

According to the Pacific Institute, people build blind spots -- called scotomas -- which keep them ignorant of information which contradicts preconceived beliefs.

Classified as 'either/or' thinking, certain information goes completely unobserved when it conflicts with established 'norms' and traditional ideas. And because critical information simply doesn't get factored into decision making, this is a dangerous habit because its repercussions are symbiotic.

While most of us do this from time to time, a strong desire to open-up our own thinking and observe all the possibilities will keep us from getting stuck in a black and white world. ~~~

A WORKABLE REPLACEMENT TO ENERGY-GUZZELING AC?
The new Coolerado produces 6 tons of cooling using only 600 watts -- that's about half the amount of electricity used by a typical hand-held hair dryer. The downside, however, is that these units only cool and do not dehumidify and therefore are not recommend for high humidity climates. Also, the evaporative cooling system uses about 4 gallons of water per hour (roughly 96 gallons per day). ~~~

FRP 101: The replacement of steel doors (personnel doors, utility doors, flush doors) in caustic, abusive and/or corrosive (indoor or outdoor) environments.

Research establishes that industrial-duty FRP (fiberglass) doors give longer service, deliver greater ROI and are generally kinder to the environment.

Doors, doorframes, louvers and other FRP products come in two classes: (a) those manufactured by the form-molded gelcoat method, and (b) those which are manufactured by the pultrusion method.

Pultrusion does for conventional FRP products what extrusion does for aluminum and what vulcanization does for rubber: Causes molecules to link in a way that creates a more stable and durable product. ~~~

HYDROGEN TOWN
Rapid economic development in Asia has accumulated over recent decades in serious health and economic concerns. To stave off unwelcome consequences, the Fukuoka Hydrogen Town project brings fuel cell cogeneration technology to 150 homes in Maebaru City, Japan. Each 1 kW systems, fueled by hydrogen in LPG form, promises to supply roughly 60% to 80% of the electricity a homeowner needs for lighting, bathing, cooking, and technology use. The downside is cost which currently runs about $32,500 per unit -- which over 30 years averages only about $95 per month but does not include the cost of financing, maintenance or the LPG fuel. Thus the importance of demonstration projects, such as the Fukuoka project, which also endeavors to reduce residential energy consumption by about 30 percent. ~~~

BIOTIC COMMUNITY: Animal, vegetable or mineral?
Everything science knows to exist in the universe may be classified as animal, vegetable or mineral. From meteorites to amoebas, frogs to copy machines and humans to apple trees, diversity ranges freely within and among these seemingly unrelated groups.

Over the last several decades science has become increasingly aware of a fundamental symbiotic interdependence among living things and the inanimate characteristics of the environment they (and we) inhabit. Called a 'biotic community' the living organisms, which inhabit it, are interestingly classified as:

Producers, who sustain their own well-being by converting raw energy (sunlight, water, air) directly into their own life-sustaining sustenance;

Consumers, who sustain themselves by eating the food produced by others, and;

Decomposers, who convert the 'waste' created by everyone into the nutrients that keep them alive.

Essentially, a family is a biotic community. So too is a company unto itself, and at the same time both family and company are members of the biotic community we call the marketplace.

Interactive and symbiotic, nested in sets of graduated size, biotic communities stack together building societies which optimally benefit 'the greater good'. ~~~

WHERE THE GROWTH IS
According to a new Borrell Associates report, by the end of 2013 advertising expenditures by small-to-medium U.S. businesses will grow by almost 34 percent from 2008 levels. Considering that roughly 80% of new jobs are created by and workers are employed with small-to-medium sized companies, this bodes of increased employment opportunities over the next four years. ~~~

WHERE THE SALES ARE
To locate suppliers, components and services, 73% of those participating in a recent GlobalSpec survey reported spending at least three hours per week surfing the Internet and 43% are spending six or more hours a week doing business online. ~~~

GEMSOLAR USES MOLTEN SALT
Seville, Spain will be the site of the first utility-scale solar thermal power plant with molten salt heat-storage and central tower technology. Expected to be operational in 2011, the Gemasolar plant will generate 110,000 MWh/yr from 2,500 heliostats focusing up to 95% of solar radiation onto a collector tower. Heat trapped by molten salt in the tower is converted to steam to drive a turbine, and excess heat will transfer to a storage tank to enable nighttime or cloudy day operation. As reported in The Engineer, this technology should support 15 hours of power production. ~~~

'Knock'
'Who's there?'
'Opportunity!'

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