Concrete Blogging – The Year in Review (and other inspirations from Janus)

It is hard for me to believe, but this blog entry marks the end of one year of blogging for me. Even though I was reticent to start blogging at first, the favorable responses I have received from around the world have made it well worthwhile. Comments from friends, colleagues, people I know of from their writings, complete strangers and even the “cute young thing” who was about my daughter’s age have made me truly grateful to be in this industry. At the same time, I don’t think that I am in danger of winning the Pulitzer Prize for “Most Widely Read Blogger”. Let’s just say that I write for a very narrow niche market, but I think that I am read by a good number of people in that niche.

I’d like to thank Ron, Shawn and Michael at Command Alkon for “prodding” me to write this blog. I would also like to thank the people who have commented on my articles, both on the blog site and also in private communications off the site. It is nice to get occasional confirmation that someone out there really is reading my articles.

For today’s blog I would like to summarize what I have written over the last year. In case you are wondering, the most widely read entry was “Well Graded Aggregates vs. Gap Graded Aggregates” with over 1300 pageviews in the last year. After that we have “The 0.26 w/c Myth-Conception” and “Missed It by That Much – Concrete Tests and f’c”. I guess I need to do more articles on concrete mix design.

Below are the articles I have written for my blog:

4/10/12 – “Hello, World” – – Welcome to my new blog.

4/30/12 – “ACI SDC meeting in Phoenix” – – A summary of what happens at one of the most forward-thinking meetings from the American Concrete Institute.

5/14/12 – “NRMCA RES meeting and Sustainability Conference” – – The 7 th Annual Sustainability Conference, held in Seattle, WA. FYI, the 8 th Conference is coming up and will be held in San Francisco, CA May 6-8.

5/29/12 – “Top Websites for Concrete” – – My picks for the Top 10 best concrete websites.

6/11/12 – “Well-Graded Aggregate vs. Gap-Graded Aggregates” – – My analysis of the controversy over the importance of combined aggregate grading evaluation. Even though I definitely have an opinion, I have tried to make this article even-handed.

7/2/12 – “If I Ruled the Concrete Industry” – – My biggest complaints about the concrete industry and what I would do to change them if I were in charge. I got a lot of favorable feedback from this article. I guess it is good to be king!

7/23/12 – “Quality Plans for the Concrete Producer” – – This article stresses the importance of planning for quality and not just waiting for it to happen. It discusses highlights of the NRMCA 2010 Quality Survey.

8/13/12 – “The 0.26 w/c Myth-conception” – – Many people say it only takes a 0.26 w/c to fully hydrate cement. Where did that number come from and why is it misleading?

8/27/12 – “Concrete Videos & Internet Resources” – – What are the best concrete QC resources on the Web?

9/10/12 – “ACI SDC – Where the past meets the future” – – The second ACI SDC meeting I wrote about was in historic Quebec City.

9/26/12 – “Missed it by that much – Concrete Tests and f’c” – – Just because a test result is below specified strength doesn’t mean that it is a failing test!

10/8/12 – “Let the bakers bake!” – – The need to switch the U.S. from prescriptive concrete specifications to performance specs.

10/22/12 – “Of gods and monsters” – – It isn’t the latest “exciting” news and technology that is most memorable about industry meetings, it is the people.

11/5/12 – “Superman, MacGuyver and Concrete!” – – The abbreviation “f’c” is being used in two entirely different ways by the Design and Production communities. Find out how this is causing confusion in the industry. (Yes, I know I misspelled “MacGyver” in the original title.)

11/19/12 – “A Tale of Two Conferences” – – The importance of attending industry meetings to keep up with the latest developments in concrete. Not everything in our industry moves at a glacial pace!

12/3/12 – “Now we’re cookin'” – – Concrete temperature can tell us a lot about concrete performance. Find out what’s hot about concrete.

12/17/12 – “The ABC’s of EPDs” – – Environmental Product Declarations are coming, and if a Producer isn’t prepared and doesn’t participate, it will cost him a lot of money.

12/31/12 – “Perfection not required!” – – Even the best quality of architectural concrete isn’t totally uniform. If a designer wants “uniform” he should specify “paint” (and even that isn’t totally uniform). The results of a visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, TX.

1/14/13 – “Thereby hangs a tale” – – In the concrete industry we concentrate entirely too much on “facts” and forget about the “stories” behind the facts. Without sufficient context, we get the story wrong.

1/28/13 – “Mix Design Method Survey Highlights” – – The highlights of a survey I created to find out more about how people around the world design their concrete mixes.

2/11/13 – “Fun at the World of Concrete 2013” – – Despite a recovering economy and low attendance, the World of Concrete is still the place to wind out about all the great new technologies in the industry.

2/25/13 – “QC KPI Survey Highlights” – – The highlights of my second survey on Key Performance Indicators.

3/11/13 – “Concrete at Disney: Not Mickey Mouse stuff” – – EPCOT shows off how concrete is truly a sustainable material.

3/25/13 – “Performance Concrete at a Crossroads” – – Has the “performance concrete” initiative stalled out? Here is my perspective on what is happening.

3/27/13 – “Think Pink for Concrete” – – This is a shameless plug for the Concrete Cares initiative and their plans for an October 1 demonstration of support for breast cancer awareness.

In looking back over the last year, I am pretty satisfied with what I have written. I have stated my opinion, provided technical guidance, and pointed out things that needed pointing out. Now I have to figure out what I’m going to do over the coming year. This is where my buddy, Janus, comes in. Janus was the Roman god of Time. He has two faces so he can look backward to the past, as well as forward to the future. While I can remember the past (somewhat), I’m not as talented as he is when it comes to the future. In fact, even over the past year, many of my ideas didn’t come to me until the day my blog was due. If any of you have ideas that you would like to see discussed on this blog, please let me know. Until then you just have to suffer with whatever I think I should write.

Here’s looking forward to another year.


(Picture of Janus statue courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the Vatican Museum in Rome under their freely licensed media guidelines.)

About Jay Shilstone

I am a concrete technologist for Command Alkon, Inc. and have been in the concrete industry for over 35 years. For 28 of those years I have been working on quality control software for the concrete industry. I am a Fellow of the American Concrete Institute and a member of multiple ACI, ASTM and NRMCA committees. I look forward to talking about concrete mix design and quality control with everyone.

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