Of the dozen or so daily Google Alerts I subscribe to, the most anticipated is the one bearing the subject line “plywood.”

Over the past couple of years this keyword has brought my attention to dozens of plywood mill closings reported by news media throughout North America. I have also seen more than my fair share of links to articles about runs on plywood to barricade homes and businesses in response to hurricane or tropical storm warnings.

Beyond the routine, I have also found that this simple term can yield some items that are entertaining, unusual or even off the wall. For example, I come across numerous articles in which plywood is the substrate for artwork, not to mention all of the interesting items that are fabricated with this venerable product.

One of my all-time favorites is a news report last August about a pair of Indiana con men who tried to pawn off a plywood sheet tightly wrapped in dark plastic as flat screen TVS.

There was also the story of a Mississauga motorist who according to the press account “was shaken but unhurt after a large sheet of plywood fell off a high-rise construction site and smashed the back window of his car… The 2-cm-thick plywood sailed more than 100 meters from an upper floor of the high-rise.”

Recent plywood in the news encounters
Recently, thanks to the term “plywood,” I received a Google Alert on the arrest of six people involved in a theft ring of building materials in Central Kitsap, WA. The perpetrators allegedly traded in stolen plywood and other building materials totaling more than $10,000 for gift cards at area home improvement stores. The gift cards were then traded or sold, sometimes for 50 cents on a dollar.

Another example is the "flatpack bike and scooter" I came across last week. Each device is entirely assemble with parts nested from a sheet of plywood. Check it out.

The bottom line is that my Google Alerts for plywood are a constant reminder of the role plywood plays in the daily fabric of modern times. The plywood search term also serves as a recall of my days as a cub reporter writing the police beat for a paper in Chicago’s southwest suburbs.

Look for more adventures of Plywood in the News in future blogs.

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