Workplace Safety in Our Industry — An Awesome Primer from Sound Prospects

Another day, another reminder of how careful we all have to be when we’re out there defying the laws of reality:

indiana-state-fair-collapse-falling

It’s no secret in our business that there are people out doing shows RIGHT NOW that should not be doing work, and companies that are one disaster from screwing up our peace and serenity with their incompetence.  There are also a lot of people out there who have never had their hands on a piece of equipment but feel qualified to give the rest of us advice on how to do things.

The opposite of the two aforementioned groups are folks like the ones at Sound Prospects in Switzerland; Sound Prospects recently wrote a great piece on workplace safety, and I needed to cross-post that article so people hear the safety chant from people OTHER than myself, Erich Friend at Teqniqal Systems (and the awesome Theatre Safety Blog), Richard Cadena from PLASA and the Academy of Production Technology, among other people chanting the Gregorian chant of survival in our business.

Please check out the article at Sound Prospects, written by Alex Schoenknecht.  I recommend also checking out some of Alex’s other articles! — a few highlights from the Workplace Safety article:

Most Common Rigging Mistakes

1.) Unrated Hardware

It is essential that the Safe Working Load (SWL) of all components in a system is known and that the Safe Working Load for the weakest component is not exceeded. Hardware that does not have the SWL clearly forged into it is a “wild card”. Most industrial applications work on a SWL of 5:1. A component that will fail under a load of 5000 lbs. that is given a safety factor of 5:1 has an SWL of 1000 lbs. In the entertainment industry an SWL of 8:1 is the accepted standard.

2.) Incomplete Installation

Even though a component may have a sufficient SWL rating, it becomes a liability if it is not installed correctly. Installations should be neat and clean with hardware properly terminated. An installation that is neat and orderly allows for easier inspections and ensures that the forces on components, such as pulleys, are within the equipment’s design limits.

3.) Damaged Equipment

A piece of damaged equipment becomes the weak link and a liability to the system as a whole. Damaged components must be replaced immediately with ones that are of equal or greater rating. Replacing a broken part, even temporarily, with a substandard piece is putting the integrity of the system at risk.

4.) Wear and Tear

Even the best of systems wear out. This is why it is essential for maintenance to be an ongoing process. Most Countries require yearly inspections of all hoisting equipment. The owner must keep a maintenance and repair log. Since we are often lifting over head the operator must be aware of any changes in how the system is running and investigate the cause immediately to ensure that safe operation is not compromised.

5.) Improper Use

Using equipment for purposes that it was not designed for, or modifying equipment for other purposes, can easily result in overloading and failure. Many components also have strict guidelines as to how and where they should be used by the manufacturer. For example Spectrum 3 proof coil chain is suitable for suspending stationary loads, but if the load will be moving a Spectrum 8 chain is required. It is important to ensure that the components are appropriate for the application.

Thanks for the great article, Alex!

Do You Scream at Stagehands? STOP IT!

yelling-myself-out-of-a-job

 

Hiya, Entertainment Industry!

I got a really interesting email last night from a local stagehand at a large concert venue in Colorado that would prefer that the venue and city in which he works be redacted, so I have done that.  But you have GOT to read the email below, it’s absolutely disgusting.  I hope you see it the same as I do.  Who the fuck do you think you are yelling at stagehands?

Jim, hi.  Love the site, we here at [redacted] in Colorado read you a lot.  Next time you’re out this way, let me know so we can get you in here and get some better pics of the venue.  I don’t want to speak for all of the guys here, but I know that we all feel the same about this.  Do me a favor and don’t post my name and don’t post that I work at [redacted].  Thanks.

I have a really important question to ask, maybe you can give us some insight on why most of the crews that come through here feel it’s the right thing to do to scream at us all day.  Most of us here are people who are just as good at the jobs we do as the tours that come through here.  Why do you think they think it’s the right thing to do to yell at us to get us to do what they need done?  I went into the Army back in the 1970s and did two tours in Vietnam.  Every very good lieutenant that I served under was the kind of man that could motivate the men without raising his voice, and every time we had to go out on patrol with a squad leader who was a screamer was more times that not a really scary time because no one wanted to help the screamer.  Don’t the people out there driving the tours understand this logic?  To us, it seems like nobody gives a shit about the crew of the day.  We hump cases, we put trusses together, we take care of what they need because it’s our job.  We’re great at our job.  All we want is that people would treat us like we were humans and not a gaggle of stupid people who need their instructions shouted at us.

I’m just an old hippy who used to love my job but it’s hard to get new people to come to the local after they see how we’re treated.  Nobody wants to work somewhere with shitty tour crew yelling all day long.  Any normal person would be just as bitter if they had to put up with this bullshit all day every day.

Keep doing what you do, you give us some sane time before and after the yelling.

[redacted]

Wow.

I suppose the first thing I should say is that I’m sorry this is happening.  I have done my share of shows worldwide, and I don’t believe in yelling at the crew.  I believe that the best way to get the crew to do any and everything that you need done is to show up in the morning bright eyed, bushy-tailed, and with donuts and coffee.  It’s true that I get a lot of shit for that (especially the coffee and donuts part) but if I have to work with guys I don’t know and I know a hard day’s coming for the locals that day, it’s part of my job for the success of the show that they believe in the show that they’re assembling.  It’s not a secret that people will work hard for you if you make them feel like human beings.  It amazes me that people decide to take the douchebag route on their local tours.  I know many people who lead crews on tour, and it’s my pleasure to say that a lot of those people are really great guys and ladies who believe the same way I do.

Are you a screamer on tour?

The first thing I want to know is WHAT is it that gives you the right to screw up the attitudes for the shows that come after you?  Who the hell do you think you are that you can treat people this way?  I know that one thing you’re doing is making a reputation for yourself that assures that your career will be short-lived, because team leaders do NOT want to hire someone who creates a work stoppage in the middle of a busy show day.  Touring is hard enough as it is without you making all of the locals hate touring personnel without getting to know us.  I know a good handful of really unbelievably great programmers and LDs who don’t work because of their attitude — one of them is an awesome cook at a restaurant in Dallas, and another is an insurance adjuster in southern Illinois.  Is this the career path you’d rather have?  Something outside of the industry you love?  If you keep yelling, it’s coming.  I’ll definitely help you exit my industry if you feel that you need to screw up the harmonious and often very rewarding work that the rest of us call a career.

To be fair, we’ve all had local crews who haven’t been worth the paper their badges are printed on, and those days do suck.  I’ve had Labor-Ready crews that barely had the skill to not be selling crack out behind the venue, and I’ve had non-Union riggers who dropped cell phones and sets of keys from the grid.  Those are rough days.  But even in those situations, it does you NO JUSTICE to scream at people.  When you’re out on a B or C market tour, you should expect to have these things happen — just recently in February 2013 in Los Angeles, I had a Union stagehand at the Event Live LA show tell me “I’m not pushing those fucking towers, one fell on my buddy and messed up his back for life.”  It was fine with me, all I needed to do was go tell his Freeman foreman that the guy wouldn’t do his job and I got someone else on the crew that would push those towers out to the truck.  I didn’t need to yell.  Sometimes you just get a hand who wants to be a jerk on the jobsite because of whatever reason there is — but just as many times as that’s happened, I’ve been able to smile at somebody who wanted to be a Summer’s Eve in at crew call, tell a few jokes, and get that man or woman to get on board with the work that needed to be done that day.  It’s amazing what can be done when you inject a bit of happiness and compassion into people’s daily existence.  If that doesn’t work, you always have the crew chief to help them get motivated, or to get someone who wants to work on your crew.

All of this is just as applicable to stage hands, too — if every day that you work is another day in hell, maybe you should get yourself into another line of work.  We’ve all got more to do in the short amount of hours in the day without having to put up with your shit attitude.  Seriously.  The large majority of us treat you all with the utmost respect and admiration because you make our days easier.  There’s no reason to act like a jerk when we’re only trying to do OUR jobs, too.

Industry pros, ask yourself:
“Do I think it’s OK to scream at my local crews in order to get the work done?”

If your answer is anything other than NO, maybe you ought to look into working with another industry’s people.  We don’t want you in our business.  You screw it up for every one of us every single time you take your personal problems out on a local stagehand.  I know the service industry is hiring, it might be a good idea to lose your God complex and see how it feels to be in service for a while.  That’s more of a humbling experience than death.

As for the talent?  Well…  as long as they keep paying, karma will sort that out on its own.

listen-to-the-stage-manager

HOG 4 TRAINING VIDEOS!

High End Systems has released a series of training videos for the new Hog 4!

HighEndSystems-LDI-2012-jimonlight-4

 

From a press release at High End Systems:

Following the extremely successful HOG4 launch and due to incredibly high demand, High End Systems is today releasing a series of Hog4 training videos.

In tandem with the large number of worldwide training classes undertaken both by High End Systems and it’s extensive distributor network, the initial 12 videos will allow everyone to learn how to use a Hog.

The videos have been split into easy to watch segments meaning that beginners as well as experienced users will benefit from them. They are also in a logical order allowing for the user to move from one element of the Hog software to another with ease. The 12 videos means that users who only need to look at a specific area of the console may do this with ease.

“The addition of these videos to our already extensive training program is testament to our commitment to offer education at multiple levels” says Jeff Pelzl, VP, Technical and Marketing Services “and we are committed to ensuring that everyone has access to Hog training.”

“We realized that not everyone is able to attend training classes and also that users want the ability to brush up on certain areas of the platform’ says Chris Ferrante, Director of Product Management “so we partnered with Colin Wood of Pre Production Services and now have a brilliant suite of training videos”

These videos can be seen at the following location:  http://www.highend.com/support/training/Hog4Training/index.asp

As well as launching this suite of videos, High End Systems has recently launched version 1.2 for the Hog4 platform adding a host of new features including Command Keys, which continues the aggressive release schedule embarked upon on the platform’s launch.

AWESOME!!!!!

The videos:

Lesson 1:  Starting a New Show

Lesson 2: Default Layout of a New Show

Lesson 3: An Introduction to Patching

Lesson 4: Basic Programming

Lesson 5: Cue Playback

Lesson 6: Using Palettes

Lesson 7: Basic Cue Timing and Editing

Lesson 8: Tracking

Lesson 9: User Kinds

Lesson 10: Command Keys

Lesson 11: Multi-Console Setup

Lesson 12: Configuring Art-Net

I hope to see more of these from MORE console manufacturers in the near future!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA! You Were A BADASS!

tesla-free-energy

Who is THAT?!  Wait, is that — is that Nikola Tesla?!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nikola Tesla!

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla

Well, it’s birthday time for one of the most prolific inventory of humanity — Nikola Tesla’s 207th birthday is today (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943)!  If he was still alive, I would definitely suggest we have a Tweet-up and buy that man a round!  A man who thought all human beings should have free energy, believed in the power of peace, and created more useful inventions than most people alive today — Nikola Tesla is one historical badass.  He also got legally fornicated by Thomas Edison, which is another post altogether, but still managed to do unbelievable work on alternating current electricity.

Tesla-life

bitch-please-nikola-tesla

We here at JimOnLight want to share your amazingness with the world:

The History of Nikola Tesla – a Short Story from Jeremiah Warren on Vimeo.

Also — from The OatmealMAD PROPS to our man Nikola Tesla!  I cross-post this with every positive intention possible:

nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-1 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-2 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-3 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-4 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-5 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-6 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-7 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-8 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-9 nikola-tesla-the-oatmeal-10

We celebrate your life here at JimOnLight.com — and here’s a toast to hoping someone makes your dreams of free energy generating devices and perpetual motion systems a reality!

nikolateslatime

Until next year…  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKOLA TESLA!

Passing Through from Olafur Haraldsson on Vimeo.

Tesla’s obituary:

tesla-death-new-york-times-1943-small

 

Thanks to The Oatmeal, Wikipedia, The Daily Kos, EEP, and Brad DeLong!

Ken Johnson, Father of Drum Tech Killed in Radiohead’s Stage Collapse in Toronto, Wants Answers

toronto-stage-collapse-radiohead

hi-stage-radiohead-truong-8col

Just over a year ago, Scott Johnson was onstage under a massive roof structure in Toronto, Ontario tuning drums for Radiohead’s upcoming show that night.  This would be the last time he ever tuned the kit again, as later that afternoon the roof structure came tumbling down on top of Scott and three other people.  The others made it.  Scott Johnson was killed.

A year has passed, and Scott Johnson’s dad, Ken, is destroyed.  He’s also pissed at how long this is taking, getting some justice for his dead son — who was doing the one thing he loved to do more than anything.  All he wants is answers, but the Crown hasn’t any for him.  From an interview article at The Spec:

Ken has been searching for answers ever since, crying daily over the loss of his only child, waiting to hear who’s to blame.

The Ministry of Labour recently announced 13 charges against concert organizer Live Nation, a staging company, and an engineer.

A postponed trial is expected to begin Thursday.

“I want to be there,” said Ken, weeping over the phone. “I want to see the people involved and hear what they have to say.”

The charges include eight against Live Nation Canada Inc. and Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The ministry alleges that Live Nation failed to ensure the stage was adequately designed and that every employer complied with the act.

Optex Staging & Services Inc. faces four charges, and engineer Domenic Cugliari is charged with endangering a worker, resulting from his advice or certification.

The maximum fine against a corporation, if convicted, is $500,000 per charge. Individuals face $25,000 per charge or up to a year in prison.

Ken Johnson, who works for a scaffolding safety association in England, is hoping the trial results in some “lessons” for those involved.

“Maybe people should have done some things differently,” he said. “Whatever the outcome of the trial, I just hope that it’s fair and honest.”

He said Scott was an honest, hard worker living his dream. Tuning drums for Radiohead was a pinnacle in his career, reached after years of determination.

“He always wanted to be a performer, but realized that wasn’t going to pan out,” said Ken, who used to cart his son around to perform small shows as a teen. “This was the next best thing.”

It breaks my heart to read of how this is going.  I know legal matters take time and accidents of this nature need investigated — but one has to wonder just exactly what is going to come of this, who is going to pay, and why.  “Scott’s message in life was to be fair, and none of this is fair,” said Ken Johnson, interviewed over the phone. “I still cry every day.”

Scott had been on the road with The Killers, the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Keane over the previous 8 years, taking on Radiohead in his career as the pinnacle of his performance.  Scott’s dad also talks about calling home once a week or more, spending time with his folks via Skype in his hotel room while on the road.

A memorial fund has been started for Scott Johnson that donates drum kits to students, along with other awesome positive acts for young musicians.  Visit the Scott Johnson Bursary Fund for Young Musicians.

scottdrumkit

 

radiohead-stage-collapse-CTV

Saturday Sustainability News

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It’s Saturday again, which means that there are lots of people waking up on either A) the hung-over side of the bed, B) someone else’s side of the bed, or C) the well-rested side of the bed, which is where I woke up this morning!

This morning brings some sustainability news stories, covering solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power wherever possible.  There’s only one reason why we can’t take ahold of sustainable and renewable energy sources right at the time when we need to develop them the most, and that’s because not enough people are stepping up.  I can’t be the only person who believes that we could all live on a planet that is consuming less power than we can generate, and where there’s enough of everything for everybody…

…or can I?

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Sustainability News

  1. The Ivanpah Solar project is over 90% complete, nearing a total of 173,500 heliostats!

  2. First Solar has 400 million in cash from their most recent stock offering…  How will they spend it?

  3. University of Florida added some solar panels to University apartment carports.  Brilliant move, UF!

  4. German community-owned solar arrays!

  5. Flattening peak and base energy prices – Analysis

  6. Conergy says Australian solar markets will grow 20% a year until 2015

  7. Goldman Sachs plans to invest in an offshore wind farm in Japan

  8. US solar market grew 76% in 2012…!!!

  9. The US leads Clean Energy mergers and acquisitions (M&A’s), Solar stays in the lead

  10. Italy reaches clean energy budget cap, stops offering tariffs on new clean energy installs

  11. Geothermal energy starts the list of US Army’s nearly ready power purchasing agreement binge

  12. Renewable energy investments focus on developing nations

  13. Solar tracking systems gain some public footing

  14. Are solar panels as inexpensive as paint nowadays?

  15. California needs 3 BILLION to finish its Energy Storage Plan

  16. New ideas for a power plant — that lives at the bottom of the ocean

  17. Ladies and Gentlemen, the first artificial photosynthesis nanosystem

  18. Solar in California breaks the 2 Gigawatt output mark!

  19. Making cheaper and more flexible silicon crystalline wafers for Solar

  20. The coming US distributed solar boom

  21. Big Coal in India takes a nibble of Solar investment

  22. Solar plane makers shows what it takes to build a solar airplane

  23. MECASOLAR from Spain leads a huge EU research and development project into Solar

  24. A strategic agreement has been met to create deployable solar panels

  25. Comcast’s “Connected Home” has smart light bulbs, web-programmable thermostats

Have an awesome sunny Saturday, everyone!

PHISH! New Video Clips of the Hampton Coliseum Reunion Shows from March 2009

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I started digging my way through the 2 terabytes or so of uncut, backlogged video I have to process.  Behind every folder is something I have forgotten that I filmed, and I am uncovering some really fun stuff!

Here’s a handful of clips from when Greggity and I flew the famous mockingbird from Columbus, OH to Hampton, VA for the Phish reunion shows on March 6-8, 2009.  The clips I had sitting in a folder were, in order:

Army of One
Wilson
Down with Disease JAM
Contact
Tweezer Reprise

Enjoy! Also check out Greg and I chatting with Chris Kuroda, Phish’s lighting designer, during the Hampton 2009 run, all four parts:

Part 1:
http://www.jimonlight.com/2009/03/23/interview-with-chris-kuroda-lighting-designer-for-phish-part-one/

Part 2:
http://www.jimonlight.com/2009/03/24/interview-with-chris-kuroda-lighting-designer-for-phish-part-two/

Part 3:
http://www.jimonlight.com/2009/03/25/interview-with-chris-kuroda-lighting-designer-for-phish-part-three/

Part 4:
http://www.jimonlight.com/2009/03/26/interview-with-chris-kuroda-lighting-designer-for-phish-part-4/

Ready?  Get your coffee, have a seat, and rock out!

PHISH! 2009 Hampton Coliseum Reunion Shows from JimOnLight.com! from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

TSA Detained Chewbacca Because They Thought His Light Saber Cane was Dangerous

peter-mayhew-twitter-lightsaber-cane

As Peter Mayhew put it, the guy who made Chewbacca all that he is in its hairy presence, “Giant man need giant cane.. small cane snap like toothpick…. besides.. my light saber cane is just cool.. I would miss it.

Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew was detained at Denver International Airport on June 3 because TSA thought his light saber cane was dangerous.  So, his oversized acrylic light saber cane was dangerous.  You guys at the TSA do know that light sabers don’t quite exist yet, right?  You have several of my 8″ crescent wrenches, and definitely a handful of Gerber tools you’ve taken from me over the years.  I still will never understand why you tell me I can have a 7″ crescent wrench but not an 8″ crescent wrench every single time you take one from me.  If I had a 7″ crescent would you tell me I could only have a 6″ crescent?

From an article at CNET:

Mayhew’s explanation for this cane possession was very simple: “Giant man need giant cane.. small cane snap like toothpick…. besides.. my light saber cane is just cool.. I would miss it.”

Who could possibly argue with that? Well, the TSA folks wanted to.

However, quite extraordinarily, American Airlines intervened. Mayhew is an extremely frequent flyer and it seems that someone from the airline may have whispered to the TSA: “Do you really think a famous actor is going to hijack a plane with a lightsaber cane?”

Or words with that same ultimate meaning.

This was not before some of Mayhew’s Twitter followers made merry with this terrestrial nonsense.

One, Shane Moore, offered: “@TheWookieeRoars Chewie hijacks plane with light saber… takes passengers to Kashyyyk. Story tonight at 10!”

Mr. Mayhew, who goes by TheWookieeRoars on Twitter, took to Twitter to let the world know what was up.  Chewbacca was just flying home from the Denver Comi-con, and TSA decided to snag his cane because it “looked dangerous.”  After a little bit, some magic happened — TSA released a statement because Mayhew sent out a tweet to 20,000+ followers.  As you’ll notice in the picture above, it took three TSA agents to detain Mr. Mayhew, and I’m sure an entire communications department to decide what they should do that someone called them out on being ridiculous.  Oh, I love paying tax money for these people.  I have no job, and they have eleventy jobs.

Ah, bureaucracy.

Here’s a better shot of that awesome cane:

peter-mayhew-cane

Last Week’s News Catch-up – Wybron Closing, Live Nation Sued, Trees That Glow, and More!

It’s been a busy weekend, and now that Monday rears its ugly head, it’s time to get back to work.  For some of us, it means looking for work, and others it means working hard and keeping busy.  With the summer season coming up, I have to believe that the “keeping busy” part won’t be an issue.

Let’s catch up on last week — a lot happened last week that was of industry importance.

First — Wybron, Inc is closing its doors on June 28, 2013.  After 35 years in business and with tons of technological development for and in our beloved Lighting Industry, the maker of the Color Scroller (et al) says goodnight, and good luck.

wybron-closes

 

Then — Live Nation, Optex Staging, and Domenic Cugliari (an individual engineer that allegedly signed off on the Radiohead stage that collapsed and killed Scott Johnson, Radiohead’s drum tech) were sued by the Ontario Health and Safety Board.  This is a huge deal in the world right now, especially since summer gigs are kicking full steam ahead.  Are you safe in the workplace?

radiohead-stage-collapse

Next — a Kickstarter campaign by some extremely intelligent and driven individuals to manufacture the first man-made bioluminescent trees.  I highly recommend this as a respite from the news about disasters.

glowing_plant

 

Then — are you an expert of light?  Think you know the difference between Luminance and Illuminance?  Then put your knowledge where your mouth is and take the JimOnLight LIGHT Quiz!

LIGHTQUIZ

Stay tuned, world — more to come soon, and I wish you all a Happy Monday!

 

Wybron Closing Its Doors After 35 Years of Business

wybron-closes

Wybron, the company that invented the Color Scroller back in 1980, is closing its doors for the last time at the end of June 2013, according to a company email sent to its dealer network last night.  From the email, sent to JOL from a source not authorized to comment – bolding is mine:

Dear Dealers,

After a long and pleasant relationship with you, Wybron is ceasing business at the end of June. A press release will go out on Friday to the public announcing  the same.

The text of the press release follows:
Wybron Closes Doors After 35 Years of Innovation in Stage Lighting Industry

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – June 6, 2013 – Wybron, a leading stage lighting supplier announced today that the company will close its doors on June 30, 2013.

The company is best known for transforming entertainment, church and architectural industries with its innovation of cutting-edge lighting products.

For years, the stage lighting industry has been led by companies with three-letter names,” said President and CEO Keny Whitright.  “PRG, ETC, ELS, TMB, and BMI are just a few of these. For 35 years Wybron struggled through with the burden of a six-letter name,” Whitright said laughing, “We finally realized we have too many letters in the company name.  It was time to close the doors.

Whitright said that closing the Wybron manufacturing plant is bittersweet.  “I will miss the business that I know and love.  But, I am looking forward to scaling back and becoming an FTD man.  Fishing, Traveling and Driving my cars will fill most of my days,” said Whitright. “Notice that I am planning to carry the three letter theme into my retirement.”

Wybron will host an online garage sale starting June 14, 2013, in order to liquidate its remaining new and used products and spare parts.  It will offer amazing deals and extraordinary closeout pricing. Visit the Wybron website at www.wybron.com beginning June 14 to learn more about the garage sale offers.

Any pending orders are  being filled, but if you have registered a job past June, we will be unable to supply that gear.

Service on existing equipment is uncertain at this time. We are looking for a company to do service, but don’t have anything in place now.

Best Regards,

Keny Whitright
President, Wybron, Inc.

Keny, I’m sorry to see Wybron close.  Some of my most enjoyable work was designed the right way because of your product.  From a grateful industry, JimOnLight.com says thank you for all you’ve contributed to the Industry.  I hope that you fill out your days with the happiness that you deserve, and that your roads are always clear and sunny.