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Text Version    RSS    Subscribe    Unsubscribe    Archive    Media Kit December 10, 2014
Vol. 45 No. 16

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Harl P. Aldrich, Jr., P.E., Sc.D.
Haley & Aldrich
The geoprofessions have lost a paradigm of professionalism: Harl P. Aldrich, Jr., P.E., Sc.D. has passed on. One of the ten men who established the Associated Soil and Foundation Engineers and Terra Insurance Company in 1968, Harl was a great professional engineer not so much because he was "just" a creative technical genius; he was a great professional engineer because of his rock-ribbed personal integrity; his strong sense of propriety; his ability to convey his thoughts clearly; his eager willingness to help others. While thousands of structures throughout the United States bear his imprint, those who had the great good fortune to know and work with Harl realize that his personal imprint was far more substantial. We rejoice for his many contributions to our environment, but, even more, for his many contributions to our development as professionals ...and to our memories. We mourn his passing.
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The GBA Transition Plan Q&A
In his message to the membership conveyed via the November 26, 2014 NewsLog, GBA President Steven D. "Steve" Thorne, P.E., D.GE (Terracon) unveiled details of GBA's now-complete transition plan. He concluded by stating, "I'm sure many of you have questions about the decision to change. Those questions may include, 'Why are we doing this?' 'Did the Board really think this through and give this decision the proper evaluation?' 'Why was self-management chosen?' and 'What is the Board doing to make sure that GBA doesn't implode during this time of major change?' In short, I can assure you that the rationale for transition was sound, that much time and effort have been devoted to evaluating this decision, and that we have a solid plan in place for assuring our membership that GBA will emerge from transition stronger than ever. For those of you who are interested in a little more background, I'll provide detailed answers to those questions in the next NewsLog." Steve has been as good as his word. The answers are yours to review.
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FROM THE BENCH: Important Texas Decision Upholds ELD
In 2002, the Dallas Area Rapid Transportation Authority (DART) hired the low-bidding Martin K. Eby Construction Company (Eby) to build a light-rail line between Dallas’ downtown West End to the American Airlines Center. Soon after starting construction, Eby claimed, it discovered that the plans — prepared by LAN/STV — were riddled with errors, necessitating major changes that disrupted its schedule, causing significant damages. Eby sought recovery from DART, with limited success. Then it sued LAN/STV, claiming that the firm negligently misrepresented its plans to be buildable. In some states, such lawsuits are upheld; in others, they are not, because of the economic-loss doctrine (ELD). The ELD posits that one party should not be able to sue another via tort law — professional negligence and negligent misrepresentation are torts — when the damages are purely economic. Such lawsuits should be based on contract law, because contract formation permits the parties to assess the risks and negotiate accordingly. The case wound its way to the Texas Supreme Court, which decided to uphold the ELD and rule against Eby, in part because constructors that experience purely economic damages can seek recovery from the owner, which — in turn — can seek recovery from its design professional.
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We Told You So, Colorado
The Denver Post
"Millennials are flocking to Denver, interest rates are low, and the area's economy is doing better than other cities'….Condominiums are an important piece of the housing picture — often affordable homes that appeal to first-time home-buyers and empty-nesters. Cities hope to add more condos around transit stops instead of apartments, believing that giving people a sense of ownership will encourage more stable, lasting communities." So says an editorial in a recent edition of The Denver Post. Nonetheless, as the editorial points out, "The most recent figures show condos represented only 4.6 percent of the total new home starts in metro Denver, compared to 26 percent in 2008." Why such a small supply when demand is so strong? The newspaper blames it on "Colorado's vexing construction-defects law" that creates "an overly litigious environment around construction-defects claims."
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Navigating Risk with Less Stress and More Success
Most of us are burning the candle at both ends trying to keep up with the ever-changing demands of society. We feel the pressure of client concerns, technology advances, family commitments, and health changes. We may feel guilty putting our own needs first, leading to tiredness, worry, and stress. Looking for some guidance? Watch what Valentina H. "Val" Ries, RN, MBA, ACC had to say during her well-received presentation at the GBA Fall Conference in San Francisco. Learn empowering techniques to navigate the demands; techniques to increase your resiliency in times of change in order to deepen your bottom-line results, relationships, and work/life success. The presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $99 for everyone else.
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ASTM Issues New Standard for Selecting Passive Samplers
ASTM International
ASTM D7929 — Guide for Selection of Passive Techniques for Sampling Groundwater Monitoring Wells — examines the advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of passive-grab, diffusion, and accumulation samplers. The new standard was developed by Subcommittee D18.21.04 on Groundwater Sample Collection and Handling, part of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock. The subcommittee is currently working on the reinstatement of a practice on low-flow purging and sampling of groundwater. Equipment developers and manufacturers are encouraged to join, as are members of both the regulatory and sampling communities.
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Small Projects, Big Ideas: Abstracts Wanted
Geo-Institute of ASCE
Great ideas for solving geoprofessional-project challenges can be applied equally to big projects and those that aren't so big; their application depends on engineering and construction creativity, and an owner's willingness to take a chance on something new. With this premise, the theme of the Geo-Institute's September/October 2015 issue of Geo-Strata is "Big Ideas for Small Projects." Because there's no readily identifiable constituency for a topic like this, the Geo-Institute invites you to submit — by January 31, 2015 — a 75- to 100-word abstract describing your big idea(s) for a small project. Submit your abstract to James L. "Jim" Withiam, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE at If the Geo-Strata editorial board selects your abstract, you will have until April 9, 2015 to submit your draft.
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Troubled Bridge
The Associated Press via The Washington Post
Commerce in the Northeast Corridor (between Washington and Boston) produces 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States. One therefore would assume that politicians would consider "essential to the national interest" having an effective, commerce-friendly transportation system there. But we know what happens when one assumes! Now beginning to roil is a strong disagreement about replacing northern New Jersey's Portal Bridge. Spanning the Hackensack River, the bridge carries 200,000 commuters daily. The bridge swings open to allow vessels to pass underneath; unfortunately, it often fails to close all the way, a problem principally responsible for more than 200 delays during a recent 18-month period. Why such a balky design? Maybe because the bridge was designed about 110 years ago. Replacement will cost an estimated $940 million. Will the federal government help? Don't bet on it. Those opposed to spending money on the bridge say new tunnels will help solve the problem. The new tunnels may be ready in ten years. Don't bet on that either!
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Water Scarcity: Where Do We Go from Here?
Climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet. Floods, temperature extremes, and erratic and powerful weather events have become almost-everyday events, with droughts being particularly problematic. In fact, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions reports that, in 2012, drought affected more than 81% of the continental U.S., causing some $30 billion in damages. Now, the Western U.S., and California in particular, is undergoing its worst drought in more than 40 years. What does that mean for geoprofessionals? Learn from the experts who work with California and Nevada agencies that are trying to combat water scarcity. Our 2014 Fall Conference panelists provide insight, set expectations, and discuss what some are doing right now to prepare for and react to water scarcity, using the Western U.S. as the latest example of what could continue to be an ongoing, broad-scale, climate-driven environmental challenge for us all. This great presentation is free to members with the discount code and just $199 for everyone else.
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Tri-Generation Hydrogen: A New Market for Geoprofessionals
Scientific American
Hyundai, Toyota, and Honda will start selling commercial fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) next year; other automakers plan to launch their FCVs soon thereafter. In fact, the University of California, Davis, estimates that, by 2025, some 250,000 FCVs will be operating in the Golden State. Now, in a Los Angeles suburb, FuelCell Energy, Inc. is operating the world's first "tri-generation" plant. At the heart of the plant is a 300-kilowatt-hour molten-carbonate fuel cell that uses anaerobically digested biogas from the Orange County Sanitation District's municipal wastewater-treatment plant to convert sewage into heat, electricity, and hydrogen; thus "tri-generation." The hydrogen is captured, compressed, and sent to an on-site public hydrogen-filling station for FCVs. The system produces about 100 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day, enough to fuel 50 FCVs. The plant also demonstrates a distributed approach to energy supply, where a filling station is sited near the supply. According to Jack Brouwer, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, the distributed approach is best, because, where there are people, there is waste. Is your geoprofessional firm poised to take advantage of this emerging new market?
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Date Event Location
Jan. 23-25, 2015 GBA Winter Leadership Conference Hyatt Dulles
Herndon, Virginia
April 16-18, 2015 GBA Spring (Annual) Conference J. W. Marriott Marquis
Miami, Florida
Oct. 8-10, 2015 GBA Fall Conference St. Regis Monarch Beach
Dana Point, California

  For a complete list of upcoming events, click here.

Napoleon was not short. Bananas do not grow on trees. Humans have far more than 20 senses. Bats are not blind. You can swim immediately after eating without increasing your risk of cramps. Dogs do not sweat by salivating. Touching a baby bird does not cause its parents to abandon it. Vikings did not wear horned helmets. Waking a sleepwalker causes no adverse effects. What other myths do people believe in? And you?
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PROFESSIONAL SELLING: Closing the "I Don't Wannas"
So there you are, trying to close a sale and bring in a new client and the commission your "go/no-go" analysis showed would be worthwhile. But the client representative's enthusiasm seems to have waned a bit. What you thought would be your time to get the right name on the proverbial dotted line has turned into a hem-and-haw sessions, with the client rep asking the same questions as before; stalling; seemingly afraid or unwilling to make a decision. So what do you do? The standard sales protocol calls for you to learn what the customer's pain point is, pitch the solution, and go in for the close. Or should you take other action? "Other action" is what entrepreneur, writer, speaker, and Alumnify CEO AJ Agrawal advises. Says he, dictate the meeting's end time, flip the questions around, and apply pressure by applying no pressure at all. Will it work? Let's hope so, because the conventional approach wastes a tremendous amount of valuable time and may be nothing more than a forced march to square one.
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Steven D. Thorne, P.E., D.GE
(Terracon / Somerset, NJ)

Gordon M. Matheson, Ph.D., P.E., P.G.
(Schnabel Engineering, Inc. / Glen Allen, VA)

Joel G. Carson
(Kleinfelder / Omaha, NE)

Charles L. Head, P.E., P.G.
(Sanborn, Head & Associates / Concord, NH)

Kimberly F. Morrison, P.E., R.G.
(Morrison Geotechnical Solutions, Inc. / Denver, CO)

Laura R. Reinbold, P.E.
(TTL, Inc. / Nashville, TN)

Alex Sy, Ph.D., P. Eng.
(Klohn Crippen Berger Ltd. / Vancouver, BC)

Woodward L. Vogt, P.E., D.GE
(Paradigm Consultants, Inc. / Houston, TX)


Phone: 301/565-2733

Executive Vice President
John P. Bachner
Ext. 223 /

Operations Director
Sarah P. Lanning, PMP
Ext. 231 /

Program Director
Barbara A. Nappy
Ext. 222 /

Program Manager
Sara Menase
Ext. 232 /

Associate Program Manager
Melody A. Patrick
Ext. 225 /

Membership Manager
Susan A. Ford
Ext. 227 /

Phillip D. Pettway
Ext. 233 /


John P. Bachner, NewsLog Editor-in-Chief, 301.565.2733 ext. 223   
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