Dry Rot Causing Structural Issues Across the Northwest
Jun29

Dry Rot Causing Structural Issues Across the Northwest

Dry rot is a fungal timber decay that occurs in poorly ventilated conditions, resulting in cracking and powdering of the wood. This issue happens all over the place but has been a major concern across the Northwest in recent months. In fact, dry rot is actually the number one cause of damage to wooden structures in Portland, Oregon. The life-cycle of wooden structure decay from dry rot can be broken down into four main stages: beginning as a microscopic spore resembling fine orange dust particles, followed by hyphae white strands that eventually grow into larger mass known as mycelium, and lastly progressing to a fruiting body which pumps new spores out into the surrounding air, causing major structural damage. According to The Daily Astorian, bridges across Oregon have been decaying as of late thanks to age and structural deficiencies like wood rot. The Oregon Department of Transportation rated crossings of U.S. Highway 26 (over Little Humbug Creek), U.S. Highway 101 (over Ecola Creek), and Oregon Highway 104 (over the Skipanon River) as structurally deficient in the 2017 report on bridge conditions. In order to address these bridge decency issues, more and more construction workers and welders will need to be contracted to repair and rebuild these bridges — and not just in Oregon, but across the entire United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers is projected to reach 412,300 in 2024. “In the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s, as kind of a cost-cutting measure, there were a lot of timber bridges built,” said Bruce Johnson, Oregon’s bridge engineer. “Because of the master climate in Region 2 (spanning the Oregon Coast from Astoria to Florence), that timber rots pretty quick.” State officials estimate that more than 90% of timber bridges have exceeded their designed lifespan (which is about 50 years). Of the 298 distressed bridges across the region, 56 of them have structural timber elements. “I think we’ve done a pretty nice job around here of preserving and maintaining the historic structures,” added Daniel McFadden, bridge maintenance coordinator whose crews maintain roughly 400 regional spans. Additionally, dry rot has caused some major residential issues across the Northwest, as well. According to KATU, a jury recently sided with a tenant in a $20 million lawsuit against a landlord over fall and safety hazards involving structural defects. A Multnomah County jury ruled in favor of a Robert Trebelhorn, a Portland man who argued that his former landlord had failed to make necessary building improvements to the aging apartment complex where he lived. Trebelhorn fell waist-deep into a rotting, second-story walkway and subsequently...

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Sales Tax for Online Purchases
Jun29

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Sales Tax for Online Purchases

Thanks to the Supreme Court of the United States, online shoppers will soon collectively pay between $13 billion and $20 billion more a year than they already were. Why? A SCOTUS decision last week will allow states to start collecting sales taxes from most internet purchases for the first time. In 2016, nearly 22% of small business owners didn’t know their effective tax rate, according to a CNBC Small Business Survey. Business owners are encouraged to keep their in-store and online purchase revenue separate so they know which are applicated for sales tax, and this could cause some major confusion. The National Retail Federation is calling this ruling a “major victory” for retailers. “Retailers have been waiting for this day for more than two decades,” said NRF’s president and CEO, Matthew Shay. “The retail industry is changing, and the Supreme Court has acted correctly in recognizing that it’s time for outdated sales tax policies to change as well. This ruling clears the way for a fair and level playing field where all retailers compete under the same sales tax rules whether they sell merchandise online, in-store or both.” The Supreme Court’s decision was five to four. The case was South Dakota v. Wayfair. The state of South Dakota was suing Wayfair, an e-commerce retailer that doesn’t collect state taxes. Prior to the ruling, businesses were required to collect state sales taxes only from buyers who lived in the state where the business had a physical presence. That’s not the case anymore. While many people are probably seeing this change as a negative thing, there is a silver lining. With the extra revenue in the states’ hands, it could allow states and cities to spend more money on services, fix roads, improve schools, or even lower other taxes. Brian Kirkell, a principal at tax audit and consulting firm RSM, says, “Once we get past the short-term hurt to consumer spending power, we’re likely to see those amounts returned to us indirectly as states spend surpluses either through reduced taxes, infrastructure spending or the expansion of business incentive...

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Have You Ever Wanted to Change Your Smile? Here’s How
Jun29

Have You Ever Wanted to Change Your Smile? Here’s How

Have you ever wished your smile was a little nicer? While everyone has a naturally beautiful smile, there are some easy ways to improve your smile naturally. This can help you look more photogenic in candid photos and give a great first impression. Do the occasional smile exercise The muscles in your face can be controlled to form a more natural smile. After all, a smile is just the movement of face muscles into a different position. Through muscle memory, you can use this exercise to improve the control you have over your smile. There are a few steps to the smile exercise: first, stretch your lips laterally and keep your lips together for 10 seconds. Then, slowly begin to part your lips, holding each stage for increments of 10 seconds each. You should start lips closed, then move to partial teeth, half teeth, then all of your teeth. Then, run the whole thing in reverse. Reduce smile lines Reduce the lines around the corners of your mouth with one simple exercise once a day. Simply purse your lips and suck in your cheeks — you should look a little like a fish. While you’re puckering, try to smile without breaking your pucker. This will help reduce the look of lines, but only do it once a day to prevent straining your facial muscles. Smile with your eyes If your eyes don’t scrunch when you smile, this makes your smile look insincere. Try to actively smile with your eyes when you do smile to give you a genuinely jovial appearance. Whiten your teeth naturally A white smile is seen as an attractive smile. Practically 40 million Americans use products to whiten their teeth to achieve this desired effect. For a natural method, try eating more fruits and vegetables. You can also consider switching to a natural charcoal-based toothpaste and brush your teeth after each meal. Smiling is an activity for everyone, but it can be hard to improve your smile. Try these tips to create a naturally beautiful...

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Electric Heating Might Create a Huge Push for Decarbonization, But Costs Are Still a Problem
Jun25

Electric Heating Might Create a Huge Push for Decarbonization, But Costs Are Still a Problem

According to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), businesses and homes can cut anywhere between 10% and 30% of America’s carbon emissions by switching to electricity for heat instead of using fossil fuels. The report also concluded that the reduced emissions can increase the use of smart grid-connected devices, maximizing the use of renewable energy. In this new RMI analysis, they looked at electric space and water heating compared to fossil fuel-sourced heat for new construction and home additions with varying electric rate structures in Oakland, California; Houston, Texas; Providence, Rhode Island; and Chicago. Water heating accounts for roughly 18% of your home’s energy use. Currently, more than 70 million homes and businesses in the United States burn oil, natural gas, or propane on-site to heat their water and spaces. This generates 560 million tons of carbon dioxide every year. A goal is set in place to eliminate 75% or more of these greenhouse gas emissions, and it will require eliminating almost all of the CO2 produced by furnaces and water heaters across America, partnered with other measures too. Speciality heat pumps that control temperatures by drawing air in and out of a building have been created to help the deep decarbonization goal set in most states. Right now, roughly 12 million American homes are using these systems. Most of them are in mild climates in the Southeast. The new RMI report claims that using these systems could be expanded markedly. The only issue? Cost. According to the report, 56 million Americans use natural gas to heat their homes and water because it’s cost-effective, and they will have to pay much more for energy bills every month if they switch to electric heat pumps at today’s prices. With 70 million buildings already relying on fossil fuels for heat, the electric heat pumps are more expensive than natural-gas heating. This is where demand flexibility comes in. According to the new report, the value of demand flexibility will increase as variable renewables grow, increasing the price spreads in the electricity market. “Demand flexibility technologies allow commercial customers to manage their energy use without sacrificing productivity or occupant comfort, and minimize energy bills,” RMI principal Mark Dyson said at the...

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Revolutionary Innovations to Impact Global Machine and Manufacturing Sectors
Jun11

Revolutionary Innovations to Impact Global Machine and Manufacturing Sectors

Machining is, and has been for years, one of the most important industries across both the United States and the entire world. Without quality machining operations, so many of the world’s most important industries would struggle to not only sustain throughout the fast paced, changing times, but wouldn’t even be functional in some instances. For a machine shop in Wapakoneta, Ohio, a new machining innovation will likely significantly improve their own product line, as well as other machine shops across the country. According to News Thomas Net, Midwest Specialties just announced that they are breaking ground on a brand-new manufacturing facility for their computer numerical control (CNC) equipment lines. This new facility will improve equipment like high-precision tapping machines, die grinders, custom lifting solutions, and torque reaction arms. Load cell and torque sensor units are designed to operate in a wide temperature range of negative 452 degrees Fahrenheit to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Since these temperatures are so extreme, CNC machine shops need to be extremely careful throughout the manufacturing and machining process. The new $4 million facility upgrade will include 40,000 square feet of space for innovative machining work, as well as double its workforce by hiring 35 new machinists, CNC technicians, programmers, assembly techs, and more. Another innovation has already begun impacting machine-related industries across the country. According to Engineering.com, industrial automation utilizing robotic movements are improving load cell and sensor technology output. “There are many applications where they have always wanted to use force and torque sensors, but the cost was prohibitive,” added Catherine Morris, director of automotive sales at ATI Industrial Automation. “By packaging such a small, accessible product that still delivers the same accuracy and repeatability, it opens up a lot of market opportunities.” CNC manufacturers and machinists across the country are excited about welcoming some of these new technologies and it seems as though the machining sector will continue to grow on a global...

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