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`08 Elise-SC-220
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If they offer a coupe with a manual I might be interested. My 2007 is showing it's age. The new GTI's have gotten too techy and too expensive for the likes of me. Christian Koenigsegg likes a 3-cylinder and say's they have a very satisfying sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #262
I don't care about # of doors but I also want a manual.
 

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Discussion Starter #263
View attachment 1261565

If they offer a coupe with a manual I might be interested. My 2007 is showing it's age. The new GTI's have gotten too techy and too expensive for the likes of me. Christian Koenigsegg likes a 3-cylinder and say's they have a very satisfying sound.
Do you have a 2007 GTI? I do love my XRS, but it could use a bit more TQ.
 

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`08 Elise-SC-220
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Do you have a 2007 GTI? I do love my XRS, but it could use a bit more TQ.
I do. That is my car. Bought it in 2015 from a water skiing instructor who needed the money to complete the little house he was building for his parents that he was bringing over from England. One of the nicest car purchasing experiences I ever had. He loved my Elise too.
 

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Discussion Starter #265
MEET THE AMAZING INTELLIGENT "ALIEN" OCTOPUS

DK





The International Wildlife Film Festival, like all other events, is a Virtual Festival this year. One can buy a Virtual Pass (with a cool stylized wolf on it!) at IWFF VIRTUAL PASS • International Wildlife Film Festival and open a digital doorway to the most amazing adventures! One such is “The Octopus: Making Contact,” which was a PBS Nature program, about an hour long. It is the story of a man and his daughter raising a small octopus in their living room and interacting with her in the most amazing ways.

But I was already wowed by the Octopus! My first amazement was the octopus in a German zoo, who correctly predicted multiple World Cup winners. Wikipedia reports that he “correctly chose the winning team in four of Germany's six Euro 2008 matches, and all seven of their matches in the 2010 World Cup,” as well as picking Spain as the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner. Wikipedia states that he “amassed an overall record of 12 correct predictions out of 14: a success rate of approximately 85.7%.” Octopuses are notoriously short-lived, the saddest fact about them; this one lived almost two years. No doubt the odds makers of the world were devastated.

I later read Sy Montgomery’s book, “Soul of an Octopus,” and I would not have believed I could shed tears at the death of an unknown octopus, but I can. And did. I highly recommend the book, though, tissue at hand. It is a sweet and poignant love story of sorts. Not unlike the Nature documentary. (Montgomery has also written an article published in Orion magazine, titled “Deep Intellect”; another worthy read. )

So, what is it that is so appealing about this prehistoric oceanic creature? Well, she has three hearts. She has intelligence, and some of that intelligence is distributed through her eight arms, not just concentrated in the head like us poor limited humans. She shows interest and emotion, curiosity and memory. She watches you as you watch her. She will remember you, for good or bad, as to how you treat her. She plays, if given something to play with.

She is on her own from the first moment of her short life, speeding away from her mother the moment she emerges from the translucent egg in which her fetal growth can be observed. No childhood here! Birth to Adulthood in one fell swoop! She has to make the most of her short time: the smaller of her species lives no more than a year. Two is long. The giant Pacific octopus lives about three.

But for me, besides her apparent interest in and even affection for some people near her, the most amazing thing about her is how she mimics her environment! She changes shape and color; she has a wide range of colors which she can exploit, on and off, in an instant! Sometimes they are used as camouflage, but sometimes they seem to be expressing emotion. And she actually begins to color, and to change colors, while still in the seed bubble before birth. She can even become almost invisible, by turning totally white; a ghost or cloud effect. Finally, she can also change texture, using her muscles, so that she blends invisibly in to a rocky shoal, for instance.

I have never met an octopus up close and personal. It is all vicarious for me. But I have come to admire, respect and feel affection for this creature of the deep. “Release the Kraken” will forever mean something very different to me than it did to Zeus and his victims!
 

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Discussion Starter #266
Things I could do without:


Legos in any form

Sedans called coupes (huge fines, possibly jail time)

Model cars

Hot wheels

Bad remakes (if 10 pts or more worse on Rotten Tomatoes, 1 year in jail; no more remakes for director and producers)

All religions; Yes, yours included

Burn outs: waste of time and rubber

Drifting; more an aberration than a skill

Cornering tail out. Slowest technique as Bertil Roos Racing School made us prove on the track

Trolls in any form

Gnomes

Fake nude photos of nude famous people (3 years in jail)

Donald Trump and his entire crew

Trucks raised so high that they’d go right over the safety beams in car doors.

Overuse of “epic” and “awesome”

Vast underuse of a favorite word, “nifty”

1955-57 Chevys. Yes, not bad looking, but why decide to follow the huge crowd? Be more imaginative.

Diamonds and any company recommending how much to spend on their product
 

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Discussion Starter #267
OK, time to get away a bit (mentally)

Diana Rigg_Gallery-5.jpg
Diana-Rigg-263x328-15kb-media-1549-media-100609-1129350306.jpg
Diana-Rigg-325x500-15kb-media-1549-media-96516-1112055902.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #268
I do. That is my car. Bought it in 2015 from a water skiing instructor who needed the money to complete the little house he was building for his parents that he was bringing over from England. One of the nicest car purchasing experiences I ever had. He loved my Elise too.
I've noticed that the most popular purchase among auto writers is the GTI. Not a surprise.
 

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Discussion Starter #269
Things I could do without:


Legos in any form

Sedans called coupes (huge fines, possibly jail time)

Model cars

Hot wheels

Bad remakes (if 10 pts or more worse on Rotten Tomatoes, 1 year in jail; no more remakes for director and producers)

All religions; Yes, yours included

Burn outs: waste of time and rubber

Drifting; more an aberration than a skill

Cornering tail out. Slowest technique as Bertil Roos Racing School made us prove on the track

Trolls in any form

Gnomes

Fake nude photos of nude famous people (3 years in jail)

Donald Trump and his entire crew

Trucks raised so high that they’d go right over the safety beams in car doors.

Overuse of “epic” and “awesome”

Vast underuse of a favorite word, “nifty”

1955-57 Chevys. Yes, not bad looking, but why decide to follow the huge crowd? Be more imaginative.

Diamonds and any company recommending how much to spend on their product

and....

Am very serious about this one: When a company such as Wells-Fargo scam their customers, people need to go to jail. We can fine a company millions or a couple of billions, but it was people who decided to initiate defrauding innocent customers.

We need those miscreants to not work in those industries; to lose their careers.

Not much is more of a deterrent than being perp-walked on TV and then going to prison.

As it is now, the criminals can always move to a different firm.

One of my very few complaints about Obama admin was that too few went to trial due to the credit crisis. I’ve heard Holder’s explanation and don’t quite buy it.
 

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Discussion Starter #270
Movie Recommendation:

A BOY AND HIS DOG
Critics Consensus
An offbeat, eccentric black comedy, A Boy and His Dog features strong dialogue and an oddball vision of the future.
76%
TOMATOMETER
Total Count: 33
63%
AUDIENCE SCORE
User Ratings: 9,968

Based on the novella by Harlan Ellison, A Boy and His Dog is set in a post-apocalyptic future where canned goods are used as currency and where entertainment often consists of old porn reels. Vic (Don Johnson) is a violent, illiterate scavenger, principally interested in getting laid. He communicates telepathically with his deceptively cute-looking dog Blood (voiced by Tim McIntire); Vic finds food for Blood, while Blood sniffs out girls for Vic. One of these girls is the sexy Quilla June (Susanne Benton), who, unbeknownst to Vic is a spy for an underground society, headed by a Mr. Craddock (Jason Robards Jr.). This subterranean civilization needs a human "sperm bank" to stay alive, and the oversexed Vic fills the bill. Produced by character actor Alvy Moore (Mr. Kimball of TV's Green Acres), A Boy and His Dog was written and directed by another veteran actor, L.Q. Jones.

Gee, I just read this and have always liked Harlan Ellison!!
 

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Discussion Starter #271
How to Properly Reheat French Fries and Onion Rings

Cover the bottom of a non-stick pan with olive oil. Just a little oil.

When oil begins to simmer, throw in the fries and rings.

Onion rings are only turned over once, but fries might require 3 sides in oil.

Tasted as good as when they were first made!
 

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Discussion Starter #272
Scientists Consider Indoor Ultraviolet Light to Zap Coronavirus in the Air


Some researchers hope a decades-old technology might get its moment and be deployed in stores, restaurants and schools.




A patient room with an ultraviolet light, upper left, installed to zap pathogens. The practice, called upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, was first tested in the earlier half of the 20th century


As society tries to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, some scientists hope a decades-old technology could zap pathogens out of the air in stores, restaurants and classrooms, potentially playing a key role in containing further spread of the infection.

It has the ungainly name of upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, and it is something like bringing the power of sunlight indoors.

“We have struggled in the past to see this highly effective, very safe technology fully implemented for airborne infections,” said Dr. Edward A. Nardell, a professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard Medical School. “We’ve done the studies. We know it works.”

Sunlight disinfects, and the UV part of its spectrum is particularly effective at knocking out airborne pathogens.

This is not what President Trump incomprehensibly described in April when he suggested irradiating the insides of Covid-19 patients with ultraviolet light. Portable ultraviolet units are already being used to sterilize surfaces in hospital rooms and subway cars, but these can be used only when those spaces are unoccupied.

In the approach scientists like Dr. Nardell describe, fixtures mounted on walls or ceilings, similar to fluorescent lights used today, shine ultraviolet light across the top of an interior space, well above people’s heads. Ceiling fans are sometimes installed to draw air upward so that floating bacteria, viruses and fungi are zapped more quickly.

A different frequency of ultraviolet might be even safer, even when it shines directly on people, which would also allow disinfection of surfaces.

Ultraviolet light mangles the genetic material in pathogens — DNA in bacteria and fungi, RNA in viruses — preventing them from reproducing. “You’ve killed it essentially,” said William P. Bahnfleth, a professor of architectural engineering at Pennsylvania State University.



Four ultraviolet fixtures, placed in the corners of a room with a ceiling fan to draw air upward, could effectively remove floating bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Dr. Nardell estimated that installing commercially available fixtures for an intermediate-size warehouse-type store like Walmart would cost about $100,000, which might be too expensive for some smaller businesses.

The systems also add to electricity bills and require cleaning and maintenance. “They’re not plug in and walk away forever,” Dr. Nardell said.

In the 1930s, the first upper-room ultraviolet fixtures were installed around Philadelphia.

During five years of experiments at several schools there, students in classrooms outfitted with ultraviolet fixtures were less likely to catch and spread some contagious diseases, such as smallpox and mumps.

The most striking divergence occurred during the spring of 1941 when measles swept through schools around Philadelphia. At Germantown Friends School, one of the schools studied, ultraviolet fixtures had been installed in the primary grade classrooms. There, about 15 percent of children who did not possess immunity to measles — that is, those who had not previously contracted the disease — became sick.

In the upper-grade classrooms, where ultraviolet fixtures had not been installed, more than half of the susceptible students contracted measles.

“There’s no doubt that wavelength band will kill or inactivate micro-organisms,” said Dr. Bahnfleth, who recently presented an online seminar on the topic.

But experts concede that the use of ultraviolet light indoors could be a tough sell. After all, people have been told for decades to wear sunscreen to ward off skin cancer caused by the ultraviolet rays in sunlight — the wavelengths known as UVA and UVB.

For that reason, the germicidal fixtures employ wavelengths of light known as UVC that are shorter than UVA and UVB. The shorter wavelengths mean that the particles of light, or photons, are of higher energy. Counterintuitively, this means UVC is safer for people, because it is absorbed by proteins in the outer layer of dead skin cells before reaching the DNA in the living cells. (Outdoor sunlight is devoid of UVC, because Earth’s atmosphere blocks it.)

UVC can irritate skin and eyes, which is why the light is usually restricted to above people’s heads, or for use in unoccupied rooms. The irritation usually clears up within a couple of days. The safety of UVC “is really long established,” Dr. Nardell said.

Sometimes UVC lamps are installed within ventilation air ducts, out of sight and completely shielded from people.

Syracuse Hancock International Airport in upstate New York, for example, has installed the fixtures above security checkpoints and its arrivals areas.

“Historically, it’s been homeless shelters and medical centers,” said Daniel Jones, president of UV Resources of Santa Clarita, Calif., a manufacturer of the fixtures used by the airport. Sales are up tenfold in the past month. “The demand is through the roof,” he said.

Dr. Nardell started research in the field in the 1980s after an outbreak of drug-resistant tuberculosis at a Boston homeless shelter. Later, in a tuberculosis ward in South Africa, he and his collaborators installed ultraviolet fixtures, which were turned on every other day. When the fixtures were operating, air from the ward flowed to a chamber of 90 guinea pigs, which can contract tuberculosis. A second group of 90 guinea pigs served as the control group. When the fixtures were off, untreated air was sent to their chamber.

Many more of the animals in the control group became infected. The ultraviolet light reduced transmission of the disease by about 80 percent, the researchers concluded.

Scientists are now also exploring what is called far UVC — an even shorter, higher energy wavelength — that appears to be even safer and which could be bathed throughout a room continuously, disinfecting surfaces in addition to destroying pathogens in the air. Manufacturers are just beginning to ramp up production of far UVC fixtures.

“Not soon enough to help us with the current wave,” said David Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University Medical Center. “Perhaps soon enough for the next bump everyone says is coming.”

Dr. Brenner is conducting laboratory experiments that will shine far UVC on hairless mice for eight hours a day for 60 weeks. After 40 weeks, there are no signs of precancerous lesions or eye damage, he said.

One of the challenges in the wider use of ultraviolet lights is showing that it works well in a variety of settings. Hospitals are generally well ventilated and well maintained. Would air in a cavernous department store flow close enough to the fixtures to be disinfected? Would a fixture on the wall of a restaurant be effective enough to halt virus from traveling from an infected diner at one table to the neighboring tables?

“The mall owners are calling with the exact same question,” said Jelena Srebric, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.

Part of the challenge is that the placement of fixtures and fans would need to be optimized for specific spaces, and the effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated in big public areas.

Earlier computer simulations by Dr. Srebric showed that her models matched experimental tests, but the work looked at small spaces like individual rooms.

Ceiling fans helped, improving the efficiency by about a third. Without fans, about 25 percent to 30 percent of the pathogens were never killed, because pockets of air never rose into the path of the ultraviolet rays.

She and Dr. Nardell are now applying the models to bigger spaces like airports and retail stores.

“I know it will definitely improve safety,” Dr. Srebric said, “but I cannot tell you by how much or how safe or whether I would go to a mall.”
Then there is the problem of calling the technology ultraviolet germicidal irradiation. Dr. Nardell thinks it needs a new name, perhaps something as simple as “light disinfection.”

“We’ve had a P.R. problem for decades and have suffered from it,” Dr. Nardell said.
 

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Discussion Starter #273
Kentucky Garbage Man Hadn't Seen Elderly Woman's Trash Can Out, Rightly Felt Something Was Amiss.

DK

Jake Bland has two roles at his job at Hometown Hauling, a refuse collection company in Louisville, Kentucky.

He’s the operations manager and he’s also on the truck picking up his customers trash.

He noticed that one of those on his route, an elderly single woman, hadn’t put out her trash for two weeks...he felt...he knew...that something just wasn’t right. So instead of just moving along without a second thought, he called his dispatcher, Bernice Arthur, and voiced his concerns.

She called the 91 year old customer and was relieved that she answered the phone, but was heartbroken when she found out why she hadn’t taken out her trash.

She didn’t have any.

Said Bernice, "She just didn't have nothing to eat….and that's why she had no trash to put out there."

For over two weeks, because her caregiver quit over pandemic fears, she had no way to get food or even leave the house, as she is wheelchair bound.

And she ran out of food.

Ten days before.

"She has no family, nobody.

I said, ‘You do have a family now.’”

After his shift, Jake returned to her house and told her to please compile a grocery list, which she did.

But it was too short, so he asked her to please add more to the list.

But it was still too short.

He asked permission to look in her fridge and kitchen cabinets, and when she said yes and he did….they were empty.

He then gently insisted that she go to town and really compile a list, with his assistance.

When Jake was satisfied that the list was now complete, he then went shopping and delivered the car load to ‘Mrs.W.’

Paid for by the company.

Said Bernice, "Had we not reached out to her….she wasn't reaching out to anyone, and it taught me, regardless, check on them. Put something on their porch. Let them know."

And the company vowed to check on the many elderly and disabled customers that they have, as throughout the country, many of these brothers and sisters are struggling to get food.

Even more so than they usually do.

And that they will check on Mrs. W every week.

And as Jake observed, "It was even in a nice neighborhood. You never know what's going on in your neighbor's house."

As WDRB noted….

Bland and Arthur played a pivotal role in potentially saving the woman's life, and they hope their story serves as a reminder to check on loved ones in any way possible.

Indeed.

I have very recently read comments here by errant community members disparaging those from Kentucky.

Just because...

Imagine if they thought that they worked in refuse.

Imagine if they knew that Mrs W is a sister of color.

Well, here are the faces of two good neighbors that seemingly care more about the well-being of the meekest and weakest in our society then no less than 53 U.S. Senators and 196 members of the House of Representatives.

Well dressed and finely educated though they may be.
 

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Discussion Starter #274
U.S. roadways more lethal during pandemic, safety group says

U.S. highways have been emptier during the coronavirus pandemic, but they have also been more deadly, according to statistics released Wednesday.
The National Safety Council said preliminary data show that in March, when most Americans began to drive less because of pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, the fatality rate per mile driven went up by 14 percent compared with March 2019.

The traffic fatality data, compiled from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, confirm the alarming reports across the country that speeding and reckless driving during the health crisis are leading to a disproportionate number of crashes and fatalities.

“The risk on our roads has actually increased,” said Ken Kolosh, the council’s manager of statistics, who ran the data analysis. “Although an 8 percent decrease in deaths from one March to the next March is great news, that decrease should have been even greater if the risk on our roads had stayed the same. We should have seen closer to an 18 percent decrease in deaths.”

The coronavirus pandemic emptied America’s roadways. Now speeders have taken over.

The overall number of fatalities went down by 8 percent, according to the report, a decline that is attributed to shelter-in-place orders and other restrictions across the country.

The number of miles driven dropped 18.6 percent in March compared with the same month last year, according to the council. But the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.22 in March, up from 1.07 in March 2019, the organization said.

The surge in speeding and reckless behavior on the nation’s roadways has alarmed police and road safety groups, and prompted increased patrolling on some highways and renewed calls for drivers to slow down.

As traffic volumes fell dramatically following the stay at-home orders, average speeds increased significantly above posted limits, more than doubling in some cities, traffic data show. Police agencies from New York City to Los Angeles reported more speed-related crashes. State troopers in Maryland, Virginia, California and Minnesota have reported writing more speeding tickets. Some drivers have been caught traveling at speeds topping 130 mph.

The National Safety Council numbers are the first official statistics confirming the trend, which experts think continued in April and this month.

“We really have to keep a very close eye on the trends going forward,” Kolosh said. “Unfortunately, with the anecdotal reports of risky driving, we fear that the fatality rate per hundred million miles traveled is going to continue to be elevated.”

Road safety advocates and police are urging people behind the wheel to slow down, not to drink and drive, and to wear seat belts.
About 40,000 people die on U.S. roads each year.

More Americans have died in car crashes since 2000 than in both World Wars: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local...5e6_story.html

Over the Memorial Day three-day weekend alone, the council estimates 366 potential fatalities — the lowest number of fatalities for the holiday period since 2014, in part because fewer people are expected to travel.

Even with the 8 percent decline in fatalities in March, the council said road deaths were up 2 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same time period last year.
 

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Discussion Starter #275
"The Invisible Man" remake


Simply terrific movie. Inventive and exciting. Elizabeth Moss does a wonderful job. (I always prefer Amy Adams, but producers don't consult me.)


Rotten Tomatoes:

THE INVISIBLE MAN

Critics Consensus: Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes, the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.
92%/88%
 

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Discussion Starter #276
Teen Immigrants Scaled Up And Rescued Scared, Disabled Elder From 3rd Story Apt Engulfed In Flames.

And now there is a demand to naturalize them and give them full citizenship.

On April 15th, Dombaev Dzhambulat, Ouloubaev Asla and Ahmedov Muhsinjon, three friends originally from the Russian Republic of Chechnya, were at a park in the French area of Montereau-Fault-Yonne when they spotted smoke two blocks away.

They ran over to find a crowd yelling up to an elder man who took refuge on his patio whilst the smoke from a fire that entered his apartment from the hallway was so thick, it was hard for him to be seen.

Without hesitation, Dombaev scaled the building’s facade with Ouloubaev and Ahmedov close behind.

Whilst leaning into the patio, he asked the elder to come over to him.

"He said to me, 'I'm scared, I'm scared, I can't walk', Dzhambulat recalled.

From behind his friend nudged him, "Come on, let's get him."

They climbed in, saw the fire was close to the patio itself, then working as a team they lifted the man up and carried him from his patio to the adjacent patio, all the while comforting the scared man whilst the crowd below cheered.

There was no time to wait for the firefighters.

They had to act...and act they did.

Others from the crowd had likewise climbed up to assist.

Bravery abounded that day.



Reporters asked him if he was afraid, and Ouloubaev’s response was, "I did not have time to be afraid, I had to go."

"I was doing gymnastics with my wife and my friend in Square Beaumarchais when I saw smoke coming from a neighboring building," recalled Dombaev.

His gymnastics certainly came in handy.

Sadly, the building fire took the life of a mother and her 3 year old daughter.

Now the general public has called on the powers that be to naturalize these two men and make them full citizens.

They have lived in France for seven and nine years, respectively.

Ahmedov Muhsinjon is already naturalized.

A petition www.change.org/… was started by the Monterelaise population to President Emmanuel Macron and to the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner.

And it says….

Mr. President, Mr. Minister of the Interior,

A fire hit one of the Montereau neighborhoods on April 15, 2020, an old man was trapped on his balcony in the building fire. Dombaev Dzhambulat and his friends Ouloubaev Aslan and Ahmedov Muhsinjon risking their own lives, climbed the facade of the building up to the 3rd floor in order to rescue this frightened old man who had taken refuge in his balcony. Dombaev Dzhambulat with the help of his friends went to look for the old man on his balcony, passed him over the void and then put him safely on the neighboring balcony.

As for Karim Boukhetala, accompanied by a friend of his, entered the burning building, opened the doors and used fire extinguishers which he had recovered when he saw the fire in the distance. This gesture facilitated access to the building for the firefighters.

Faced with these acts of bravery which aroused applause and great relief from the population, we ask you Mr. President and Minister of the Interior to be able to give them another life. We demand the regularization of the situation of these heroes of society. These "lambdas" citizens did not hesitate for a second to put their courage at the service of others. Who saves a life, saves all of humanity.

I do not know these men personally, but I and the people of Monterrey wish to say THANK YOU.





As do we.

”Who saves a life, saves all of humanity.”

Now where have I heard that before?

When told of the petition, Dombaev replied, “I've been dreaming about this for 7 years, all I want is to live as a simple person. "

These men have shown to be everything a country could possibly want from a citizen.
Sacrifice, bravery, compassion, heroism, service.
We certainly recognize it for what it is.
Hopefully, Macron will as well.
May we all exhibit these traits if and when the time comes.…
...and duty calls.
 

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Discussion Starter #277
Mr Rogers:


I recently read an article about Fred and saw a documentary and the Tom Hanks movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood".


I was surprising to me as to how impressive this man was. How many loved him. What he did for children and their families.

The way he saw the world and approached what he saw as problems.

His heart and beliefs.

He was real and a wonderful person.



My only (and minor) complaint is that the scene in which Fred washes the sore feet of a black cast member on camera was not shown. That was, to me, a huge moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #278
I believe this important enough to merit our attention - g



A 260,000-Mile Subaru Fueled by Hope: The Fear of Failure

Millions of Americans don't have enough in savings to cover a car repair. They also have cars regularly in need of repair. What's it like when your car is a blessing and a curse
?






Turning the key has become an act of faith. As the engine grumbles to life on this fine southwest Colorado morning, the yellow check-engine light comes on, as it has every day for the past four years, and the same questions swirl in my mind. Is this the day that tiny head-gasket leak turns into a gusher? Is this the day the catalytic converter chokes closed for good? Is this the day that one speck of sand too many works its way into that cracked CV-joint boot, causing it to seize up at some bend in the road and send me spinning into a ravine, not to be discovered until spring?

I baselessly reassure myself that everything is going to be fine and pull onto a narrow Montezuma County back road, headed to the nearest "big" city, Cortez, for supplies. It's a 40-mile round trip. The concern now is less about my car's specific ailments than the overriding reality that if I break down on one of the more desolate stretches of this road, I likely won't be able to find a usable cell signal, much less anywhere to get help for my car.





I intimately know everything wrong with this car. I feel the squishy brakes and the engine straining to get up a hill, and I hear the ominous grinding sounds coming from under the right-front wheel well. But I can't afford to do anything to ward off those looming disasters.

And I'm not the only one. There are a lot of folks in this predicament. According to a survey conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2018, 27 percent of participants claimed they would be unable to cover a surprise $400 expense without borrowing money or selling something, and 12 percent said they couldn't come up with that amount at all. And according to a study by Bankrate, an online financial services company, 28 percent of U.S. adults have no emergency savings. Those numbers become especially alarming when you consider that the price of a car repair—which by nature tends to be a surprise—is typically between $500 and $600, according to AAA.

Finally, consider that at 11.8 years old, the average age of the 278 million vehicles on American highways has never been higher: According to research firm IHS Markit, that figure is up nearly 4 percent from just five years ago. One reason for this may be that modern cars are simply built better and last longer than before. Just as likely is the possibility that many Americans—in a time of stagnant wages combined with soaring consumer debt and a high cost of living—can't afford to replace their old beaters. Or if they can get another vehicle, they're only able to replace it with another beater. It's never been more expensive to buy and operate a new vehicle in the U.S. than it is today. Per AAA, the average annual cost of owning a new small SUV—based on 15,000 miles driven and taking into account financing, repairs, maintenance, fuel, insurance, depreciation, and licensing and registration fees—is nearly $8400, a prohibitive amount for many.

There are now a lot of high-mileage cars being driven by people for whom even a minor repair bill could be ruinous. It's a great and horrible irony that in a society where so many working-class people are forced to rely on their vehicles to get to work, the last thing most of us can seem to afford is a working vehicle.

My wife bought our white 2004 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport wagon new as a birthday gift for herself. By all measures, it has been a brilliant vehicle. It's been steady and reliable on every surface one could encounter—rain, snow, ice, mud, sand, bare rock, and everything in between—and in temperatures ranging from 20 below zero to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. And except for a tornado-wrecked hood and a couple dead batteries over the course of its life, the Subie has always started and safely delivered us wherever we needed to be. We even gave it a name, Oliver, because, yes, we watched that one episode of Top Gear just like everyone else.

In this case, though, the name fits. Oliver's grille and headlights form a dopey, endearing grin, and he has always loved to play in the snow and mud, just like a big happy dog. Back when our financial state was better, I daydreamed of turning Oliver into some weird off-road rally car that could somehow also be a daily driver. But now he's pushing 260,000 miles. And thanks to too many lean years of unemployment or underemployment—last summer, my wife and I were both laid off from our respective and not very lucrative jobs on the same day—we can't afford to keep up on his current maintenance, much less fix all the stuff we've put off.

Which hurts, because my wife and I courted each other, went on our honeymoon, attended weddings and funerals, moved multiple times, brought our newborn son home, and had adventures from Florida to California in Oliver. He's as beloved a part of our family as any pet. Entropy catches up to everything at some point, but I genuinely believe that with some care, Oliver has another 100,000 miles in him. Of course, sentimentality is often the first sacrifice when you're broke. We'll probably need another 100,000 miles out of Oliver whether we can properly care for him or not.

Despite the popular notion that poor people are poor because they're "bad" with money, most poor people I know actually have a grossly underappreciated knack for budgeting the little money they do have down to the penny. We can stretch a dollar in ways that many middle-class consumers could likely never imagine. But that also means we have to make choices that middle-class consumers will likely never have to face. Even a $30 oil change can be a bridge too far when you know that same $30, with a little creativity, can buy enough groceries to last our family of three for a week. Or it could make the difference when it comes to being able to pay our rent on time. Or it could mean new school clothes, another present under the Christmas tree for our young son, or simply another tank of gas to keep us limping along. Thirty dollars is a hell of a lot of money when that's all you've got.

It's a subject that Linda Tirado knows all too well. In her 2014 book, Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, Tirado describes the often perilous existence she and many other Americans face on a daily basis: the soul-numbing, low-wage jobs that can disappear in a heartbeat; the endless string of plain, gritty apartments with bugs, balky appliances, and shady landlords; the brutal truth of how quickly even those basic things can vanish when you lose your only means of transportation.

In one chapter, Tirado details how her pickup truck was impounded after she admittedly—but unknowingly—parked it illegally. "I was 19 and from Cedar City, Utah," she says now with a laugh. "I didn't know how cities worked! Where I came from, nobody got towed unless they got in a wreck or were pulled over for a DUI or something."

She writes that when she called the towing company, she was told she owed a couple hundred dollars for the impound fee. What she wasn't told was that in the interim until her next payday, when she might be able to pay that fee, she would also be charged a couple hundred dollars a day in storage fees. When she went to retrieve her truck, she was presented with a bill for over $1000—nearly three times her paycheck. The tow company told her that it would hold the truck for a few months to give her some time to come up with the mounting storage fees, but then it could sell it at auction. Should that happen, it would give her any of the proceeds from the sale after deducting its fees, if there was anything left.

In the end, she lost her truck and, along with it, her and her husband's only realistic means to get to work on time. The couple soon lost their jobs. Not long after that, they lost their apartment.

One of the hardest ironies of all for the working poor is the often unspoken truth that in America, you usually have to already have money to even get an opportunity to make money. And simply moving someplace with better jobs and higher pay isn't really an option when you're broke.

Improved public transportation would probably help take some of the pressure off the working poor. It's difficult to imagine the nightmarish perpetual traffic jam New York City would become without its flawed but vital subway system. But outside of major cities, public transportation is, at best, spotty. And for great swaths of small towns and rural areas, it's completely nonexistent.

The problem is often one of distance and population. For example, getting our son to and from school adds up to 80 miles, and we do that four days a week. It takes around seven hours to drive from Cortez to Denver—a seven-hour drive from New York City could get you to Cleveland, Ohio.

Effective public transportation is difficult—if not impossible—to create when you're planning usable daily routes in a sprawling place like Montezuma County, which is roughly one quarter the size of New Jersey. It's also almost impossible to pay for when the entire population of the area numbers less than that of most Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Tirado says that she's often been required to take a long and hazardous hike to get to work or to go grocery shopping. She says that people in the West might have a difficult time imagining the population density in the East, but people in the East seem to have no concept of the distances involved out west.

"It blew my mind when I first went to New York," Tirado says. "I was like, 'You mean you can just take the train and they run everywhere? What are you people bitching about?' When I moved to Chicago, people would tell me that the buses there suck. I was like, 'Why? Because they're a few minutes late sometimes? Do you know what a miracle it is that you can just step outside of your house, walk a block, and then just stand there and a bus will pick you up?' "

To keep Oliver running on schedule, I've taught myself some basic maintenance and repairs using only YouTube instructional videos and a collection of random tools I've accumulated over the years. I know how to decipher an engine-code reader. I can install new brake pads, change the oil, replace spark plugs, change headlight bulbs, and do many other minor tweaks.

Admittedly, those "fixes" sometimes have more than a twinge of desperation to them. I once found a bottle of some sort of oily goop that promised to "flush out catalytic converters" for $25 at a local auto parts store. Oliver had begun sputtering and stalling frequently, especially after fill-ups or when the engine was cold, and I knew after consulting a mechanic that Oliver's catalytic converter wasn't long for this world. I asked the clerk if the stuff worked, and he gave a suspiciously enthusiastic "Shoot yeah!"

So, with time running out and looking with despair at a potentially disastrous bill for a new catalytic converter, I invested the $25 and gave the cleaner a try. Oliver hasn't sputtered or stalled in a while, which is a good sign. But I have no clue if the additive actually did anything to lengthen the life of the catalytic converter or if it instead damaged some other expensive part I've yet to discover even exists. I guess that's just another leap of faith, too.

Last fall, we got a second vehicle to take some of the pressure off Oliver: a new Mazda CX-3—a very generous gift from my father who was worried about our ability to safely haul our son around out here. Adding another vehicle to our insurance was a hard pill to swallow, but the CX-3 has roughly 250,000 fewer miles on it than Oliver. The Mazda doesn't have a name, though.

It's hard to get that youthful sentimentality back once you've come face to face with real-world realities. When you can't count on your car, you're often forced to count on other people. Out here in the West's vast open spaces, that's actually somewhat comforting. You aren't really as alone as it seems when the engine rattles. If you're clearly in distress on the side of the road (provided that road isn't too far out of the way), eventually some decent soul will stop to help with water, jumper cables, a can of gas, or a ride back to town. Sometimes you'll even get a helpful "Ah, now, here's your problem . . ."

Because when you live in a place where the distances are great and the money is short, you understand that there but for the grace of God—or whatever cosmic force holds dominion over head gaskets—go you.



For references and side bars:https://www.caranddriver.com/feature...ueled-by-hope/
 
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