Archive for August, 2012

Chicago – The Sears Tower

Chicago – The Sears Tower

Chicago is where the Sears Tower is located and this world famous landmark is an attraction that is always popular with local residents and tourists. The Skydeck is the 103rd floor observation landing that is the main draw for people visiting Sears Tower. From this vantage point it is possible to see Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin in the distance. It is also one of the best places to experience the sway of a “tall scraper” as it reacts to the Chicago wind. This 108 story building was completed in 1973, and its height of 442m gave it the distinction of being the world’s tallest building at that time. Today it is the tallest freestanding structure in the US, but it is only the 4th tallest in the world.

This mighty skyscraper will soon be undergoing a name change in 2009. The Sears’ Company lost the naming rights in 2003. When the right to the name expired, it was still being referred to as the Sears Tower but for the past 6 years this name has been unofficial.

In March of 2009 much of this building was leased by Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., a British insurance brokerage firm. The contract was drawn up and approved with the stipulation that the company would have the right to name the building. The new name, as of the summer of 2009, will be the Willis Tower. This is not the only change that is planned; the London based firm is also revamping the outer appearance by painting it silver.

In The Sears Roebuck Company was known as the largest US retailer in the 1960s. Company executives wanted to create an office building to house all of the Chicago based workers. In 1969 they gave the contract for Sears Tower to the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. From the very first everyone knew that they would be creating one of the largest structures in the world. The chief architect was Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan was tapped to be the head structural engineer.

The executives knew that many of the floors would be devoted to their own workers, especially the large number of employees that dealt with Merchandise and Sales. However, they also proposed that the additional office space be rented out to others until it was needed by Sears. They wanted smaller sized floors with lots of big windows to make the rental option attractive to smaller firms and professional businessmen. This decision played a part in the overall design of the Tower. With the company pushing for smaller sizes for the floors it meant that the building would have to be even taller than they had first thought. The architects drew up plans that used the larger floor designs in the lower section of the Tower and then they tapered the sizes of all of the other floors. Today this sturdy, unique look is a distinct and identifiable feature of Sears Tower.

Although the company was able to finance the construction costs, the 70s had a devastating impact on the Sears organization. The growth and profits did not materialize and other retailers moved in and took large chunks of their customer base. It became difficult to even find businesses to rent office space in Sears Tower during the 80s. The company was forced to move from the building in 1992 and since this time the landmark has had several different owners. Hopefully 2009 will be the year when this impressive skyscraper will regain the elegance that it displayed when it first opened in 1973.

Top 4 Volunteer abroad books

Top 4 Volunteer abroad books

“No matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides, it can never take the place of volunteers.”- Ronald Reagan. Volunteering abroad is an endeavor that changes the lives of the volunteers as well as the lives of those being helped. As volunteer, especially those who are first time volunteers, they are excited about the prospect of going abroad and helping out. They have a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty because they don’t have much information on how life is abroad, and the kind of work that they will do. There is information on volunteer work on the internet on blogs, reviews and volunteer service organizations. In addition to information on the internet, there are books available. These books are written by past volunteers on how life is abroad. The authors are writing from firsthand experience on volunteer work abroad, and life in different countries.

These volunteer books are: How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Abroad It is authored by Joseph Collins, Stefano DeZerega, and Zahara Heckscher. The book is Based on six years of research that included fieldwork in over 25 countries, the book is not just a directory of opportunities, but a critical review of over 80 volunteer placement organizations in this rapidly growing field, as well as a detailed but easy to read manual about everything from why to volunteer to what to do when you get back. It is an in-depth guide for anyone who wants volunteer in Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East or Eastern Europe Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Others The authors are Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger, and Ed Asner. This book provides one to two pages of information on 150 organizations through which travelers can help others while on vacation at locations both in the United States and around the world. The authors state that they have carefully vetted the organizations but they have stopped short of providing reviews or ratings. While essential information on each organization’s work, locations, costs, needed skills, age restrictions, and contact information is provided, the authors encourage readers to research further on their own. They provide tips on how to evaluate an organization, and they intersperse inspiring testimonials from former volunteers throughout the book. This guide is both a good starting point and a sound overview for those interested in undertaking a service-oriented vacation. The International Directory of Voluntary Work It is written by Victoria Pybus. The book is a freshly revised eighth edition of the book that covers all types of voluntary work all over the world. Over 700 organizations worldwide need all types of people, both skilled and unskilled, for all types of work. Residential work available worldwide includes schemes such as organic farming in Thailand, nursing in Chile, archaeological digs in France, re-enacting battles in Pennsylvania, bird observation in the Madagascan rainforest, bee-keeping in Hungary, working with street children in Brazil, studying humpback whales in Hawaii, teaching English in Laos, or running development programs in India. The book also covers non-residential work in the UK and the USA such as planting trees in San Francisco, caring for seal pups in Cornwall, helping to re-house homeless people, working in a dragonfly museum, restoring steam locomotives, and preparing food for dolphins in Florida The straight stuff about joining the Peace Corps It is written by Dillon Banerjee. The book grew from Dillon Banerjee’s personal frustration trying to answer these questions for himself: he couldn’t find a single book written from the perspective of a Volunteer. It is organized around 73 questions starting with “1. What is the application process like?” and ending with “73. Would you go back and do the Peace Corps all over again?” The nine appendices are rich with information including PCV requirements and how to strengthen your own application plus lists of loan programs and RPCV support groups arranged by state.