Yes, Plastics News is 30 years old. I can't believe it. It seems like yesterday when I walked into the PN office for the first time. It was Akron, Ohio, in 1989 … cue the dreamlike music.
Carl Kirkland was smoking at his desk. It was years before we would have a shared, walk-up computer linked to the internet, so sometimes I would run over to the Akron library, or just find Carl as he cleaned gray cigarette smoke from his tiny computer screen. Carl Kirkland, the veteran plastics reporter, quickly got sick of all the newcomers saying things like, "Hey Carl, what's injection molding, anyway?"
Today, Audrey LaForest informed me she learned about injection molding by watching YouTube videos. This is how far we've come as a society! She didn't have to talk to anybody! (Audrey is a millennial if you couldn't guess). Audrey and I both cover the machinery beat, and she is the heir apparent to the empire of plastics machinery journalism that I have built. That will include the New Products writeups, Audrey.
Congratulations! I'm preparing your New Products certificate now, since I heard in a seminar that millennials need constant recognition because our baby boomer generation made the mistake of giving every single person on the youth sports team an award.
When I started, just before we began publishing in March 1989, I learned by bugging Carl Kirkland or Dan Charnas, our first resin pricing reporter and the only person besides Carl who knew anything about plastics. George H.W. Bush was the president (he's the first one, and yes, I did Google that). I learned how machinery actually works by covering plastics trade shows. Back then, when you walked up to say, Cincinnati Milacron's booth, the sales guy would wave his arms around and jab his finger back and forth to describe the injection process.
Audrey was 28 when she joined Plastics News in 2017. She was born in 1989 — the year Plastics News began! I was 27 when I started at PN. Of course, this makes me feel old, but when I think that I am 58 and still employed in journalism, it's really amazing in this present day where daily newspapers are dying. Hell, even Mad Magazine is shutting down. Alfred E. Neuman said "What, Me Worry?" I wish I could say the same, but I'm very worried about the future of journalism.
Audrey LaForest, you must maintain the integrity and readership of Plastics News!
My journalism career started in seventh grade when our middle school newspaper was on mimeographed paper. If you're old enough, you remember that smell of a freshly mimeographed test, and thinking, I'm getting high off this.
So Audrey, here is some advice for you:
1. According to our data expert Hollee Keller, I wrote more than 4,600 articles in the last 30 years. I'm throwing down the gauntlet: You have to stay at Plastics News for 28 more years and write beaucoup stories to break the record. This would be like Hank Aaron beating Babe Ruth's home run record. This happened 15 years before you were born, so Google it. And this column makes it 4,601. Records were made to broken, Audrey.
And Audrey: You are doing a great job as the host of Plastics News Now, our weekly TV program, and so you are now more well-known than me after writing 4,600 articles, which is why I still love print because this makes me jealous and crazy.
2. Embrace the machinery beat. Learn to love the little details like co-rotating vs. counter-rotating screws and intermeshing vs. non-intermeshing. And auxiliary equipment, well, that gives an embarrassment of riches — variable speed compressors vs. fixed speed; gravimetric vs. volumetric blenders (hint: gravimetric has long trumped volumetric). Adiabatic coolers. These all can be talking points for your next backyard barbecue! Oh, I forgot, you're a vegan. That brings me to the next bit of advice.
3. Audrey, when you're covering the K show later this month in Germany, do NOT join your fellow staffers at Schweine Janes in the Alt Stadt of Düsseldorf. This is where you sit outside on benches with strangers and devour schweinshaxe — something you could imagine Fred Flintstone demanding that Wilma fix for dinner. Consuming giant, rich and fatty pork knuckles and beer, or as they say in Germany, bier. And Wilma in German is Vilma, just another lesson in sprechen ze Deutsch. Well, let's just say strangers become friends at Schweine Janes. But note: Don't go there.
4. Appreciate those geeky-sounding machinery product names. Here are two injection molding presses that Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd showed at NPE2018: FNX460III-160A and FNX220IV-50A. (When you visit Nissei's booth at K, ask them what the "A" stands for).
5. If one day, after you have decades of experience covering plastics machinery, you have the sacred duty to be the truth-telling expert: "No, company X, that zecotantric core pull is NOT a new technology. It was done back in 2018." Things like that. You. Must. Uphold. The sanctity. Of the New Products report.