ONE OF MY New Year's resolutions is to learn a new language. This is not a new goal. My past efforts have been unproductive. For example, I've spent many hours watching Spanish television shows, some with subtitles, as an effort to learn the language. Yet I can't even figure out what's happening, even on reruns, because everyone speaks too fast. Now I'm actually willing to invest some money into learning a new language.

I mentioned my 2010 goal at a recent staff luncheon. My publisher, ever so supportive, insisted I begin with English. To my dismay, others at the table quickly started up a collection for an English as a second language kit.

I have a professional reason to expand my language skills. Concrete construction is becoming more international in study, sharing, and application. And if I want to participate, I must add a second language.

I was reminded of this just before Christmas. The World of Concrete's show manager asked about my availability during next month's show. A European concrete industry official who is planning to attend the show contacted her. He was hoping to meet appropriate counterparts from the U.S. market to share ideas and problems. With the help of WOC's great group of industry co-sponsors, we have arranged to set up some important sessions with translators.

More than ever, the world is looking at the U.S. for innovation in concrete construction. While European and Japanese researchers have led many concrete material improvements, there is no substitute for American engineering and concrete construction know-how. And we know how to build fast, safely, and creatively with concrete.

What makes U.S. concrete construction so different? It's our large number of concrete contractors. In other parts of the world, most concrete work is self-performed by the general contractor. So thanks to American ingenuity and initiative, our contractors are willing to embrace new ideas and materials faster than large engineering firms. And thanks to our great customers, American producers are the world's best.

It's this spirit of producer-contractor-driven ingenuity that draws ever-increasing numbers of non-North American attendees to the World of Concrete. Last year, we welcomed visitors from 105 countries. And non-U.S. visitors typically account for about 10% of the show's attendees.

I urge you to welcome our foreign visitors. Be open to their questions, and help direct them to your favorite tool, product, or piece of equipment. If you not not attend, please join our new LinkedIn account at

Fly ash update

In mid-December, our industry's future was put on hold again. The EPA delayed the fly ash as a hazardous waste ruling. In a note, NRMCA stated, “following months of anxiousness, multiple Congressional hearings, and countless Environmental Protection Agency and Office of Management and Budget meetings with fly ash stakeholders, the EPA announced the delay of its anticipated proposed rule that would have determined coal ash to be a hazardous waste. The rule, originally expected near the end of 2009, will be “delayed for a short period due to the complexity of the analysis the agency is currently finishing,” EPA said.

As for a new due date, “EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has been committed since the beginning of her administration to complete these efforts, and expects to issue a proposed rule in the near future.”

I urge you to read our story on this important issue on page 29.

Editor in Chief