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July 4th: A Look at “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”

July 4th: A Look at “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?”

July 4th is a joyous and patriotism-fueled occasion for some Americans. But for others, it acts as a bitter reminder that our nation still does not value the freedom of all its citizens equally. Today, we invite you to consider the words of Frederick Douglass. When asked to speak on July 5, 1852, he shared some unexpected words. His podium stood in Rochester New York just 34 years after he’d been born into slavery.

Douglass summed up the heart of the speech pretty early on. The third line reads: “Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” He echoes this feeling throughout the rest of his address. Again and again, he asked the crowd to consider: did they really expect the black community to celebrate freedom only white citizens possessed?

July 4th: Then and Now

In the time since Douglass’ speech, we have made progress. But that doesn’t mean we have reached equality. The effects of slavery are far-reaching.

Consider how we live in America today. At the root of most comfort and success is one thing: money. We can argue that drive and ambition act as accessories, but the fact remains: it’s difficult to get anything done without financial backing. Statistics show that Black citizens are twice as likely to experience poverty as their White or Asian friends. For years, quiet laws and ordinances have continued to segregate our country.

Keep in mind that the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. Not even sixty years have passed. And while hard work and good luck can help propel individuals in this country, wealth is often multi-generational. The opportunities afforded to us frequently depend upon our ability to pay for them.

So during this holiday weekend, let’s keep in mind that there is still work to be done. July 4th does not, in fact, celebrate the freedom of all American citizens. If you have friends who seem reluctant to celebrate, be sensitive. This holiday might not mean to them what it means to you.

Racial Profiling Lands Couple in Hot Water

Racial Profiling Lands Couple in Hot Water

The racial profiling of a neighborhood activist has landed locals in some trouble. Wife Lisa Alexander and husband Robert Larkins stand accused of implicit bias in the court of public opinion. And while they may not see legal action, their discriminatory behavior has cost them.

Resident James Juanillo posted a video to Twitter last week which has since gone viral. In the two minute clip, Alexander and Larkins approach Juanillo as he uses chalk to stencil a Black Lives Matter logo in front of his own home. Juanillo has lived at this address for nearly twenty years. Yet Alexander presses him, claiming she knows the owners. Juanillo invites her and Larkins to call the cops if they are concerned. Finally, the couple walks away.

In the days since, both Larkins and Alexander have faced backlash. Raymond James, a San Francisco financial form, fired Larkins from his position with them. Their statement reads: “Raymond James has zero tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind. An inclusive workplace is fundamental to our culture, one in which people are free to bring their whole selves to their careers. We expect our associates to conduct themselves appropriately inside and outside of the workplace.”

Alexander serves as CEO of LA FACE but has since deactivated the company’s site. She has also deleted her Twitter. Distributors such as Birchbox have since ceased their working relationships with LA FACE. They do not intend to work together in the future, either.

Reflecting on Racial Profiling

The consequences of the couple’s actions have had a lasting impact. Alexander issued an apology upon reviewing the video for herself. “There are not enough words to describe how truly sorry I am for being disrespectful. Last Tuesday, I made the decision to question him about what he was doing in front of his home. I should have minded my own business.”

She cites the lesson as “painful.” But she also admits being naive and ignorant. An apology may be too little, too late. Still, we are seeing the impact of holding people accountable. Hopefully, this becomes a teaching moment for many.

The cops did make an appearance that day. Being familiar with the area, they recognized Juanillo. He claims they didn’t even exit their patrol car. Even so, he remains bothered by the whole event. He identifies as Filipino. And he recognizes the role that plays.

A recent tweet reads: “People should ask themselves if this Karen would have believed me if I said, ‘Yes Maam, I sure do live in this multi-million dollar mansion, for almost 18 years now!’ If she was capable of believing that in the first place, she would never have bothered me.”

The Chevy Vega: Worst Car Ever

The Chevy Vega: Worst Car Ever

The Chevy Vega is heralded as one of the worst cars to ever grace the market. From its mechanical failures to its awful longevity, the vehicle is nothing short of a disaster.

The Vega Beginnings

During the late 60s to early 70s, muscle cars were all the rage. Everyone had to get their hands on the next Chevy Chevelle, Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, or Chevy Camaro. The Vega was meant to take the sporty ride and turn it into a more affordable consumer car.

Then the oil embargo hit. This would help sales in the short run. With the embargo came limited gas consumption for all vehicles. That awesome, new Trans-Am your neighbor has? Well, it took up too much gas and he had to sell it. That super sport Chevelle? Too much of a gas hog.

The Vega was designed as a compact sports car. It…sort of delivered? Sales were awesome during its first run. With over 2-million Vegas sold in the US, this car was hyped to be the next big thing. Unfortunately it had some problems.

Actually, The Car Had A Ton Of Problems.

From mechanical failures in the engine to hoses leaking the Vega was ill-designed. Some may say that it was doomed from the start.

The car was designed to compete in the newly emerging compact car industry. This was a failure as the car was still relatively large by compact standards. The engine had multiple failing parts, and the body would rust jut one year after a New England winter.

The car proved to be so much of a terrible idea that Chevy was forced to cancel it by 1977.

Some may say this is the worst car ever built, but forget that it was built in competition against the Ford Pinto. Take that as you may.

Solving The Climate Crisis

Solving The Climate Crisis

The current climate crisis has been put on the back burner due to current COVID-19 issues. While the media has pushed this issue aside, many are still wondering when and how the current issues facing our global climate will be solved.

A long time ago, a friend and I were driving around our town and typically just wasting gas. We had talked about our long drives going nowhere and realized that our carbon footprint must have been large due to our overuse of fuel. This was also the time that gas had reached the high record to date. We were both 16 in 2006 and at that time we had been questioning everything.

Climate Crisis From a 16-Year-Old’s Perspective

“Let’s just buy an old VW Bus and convert it to run bio-fuel”, my friend said. So, at 16, my friend and I got side work. He cut lawns and got a paid internship at a law firm…and I hung wallpaper. We saved enough money to purchase a 1982 VW Vanagon. It was a heap of junk and needed most parts replaced in order to get it running. Once we rebuilt it, we decided to put straight vegetable oil into the gas tank. It was a diesel engine so it had the durability to handle fuels other than traditional gasoline.

We had it running for about 4-months of just throwing raw canola oil into the engine. Since we were practically neighbors, we took turns having the bus in our driveways. One fateful morning we went to start it up and heard the very distinct knocking sound of a blown head gasket. This ended our first attempt and becoming environmentally conscious. For 16, we impressed most people especially ourselves.

How This Has Helped Us Get a Better Idea of Climate Change

At the time, gas was approaching $4/per gallon. We were pretty fortunate to have that due to the rest of the country facing even harsher gas prices. We didn’t spend a dime on fuel. Honestly, we thought we were giving a big metaphorical middle finger to “the man”. Our fuel source came from a deal with a local restaurant to use their used oil. We would put it through the filtering process and use the remains to get us to school and back.

Through this process, we realized that our carbon footprint was 1/16th that of a traditional car. Through self-analysis, we were able to deduce that if most people running this way (which we hoped would actually happen) then carbon emissions would help in the world’s fight against the climate crisis.

The Naivet Of Youth

Being naive is one of the best functions of youth. It allows younger people to experiment with solving problems. This holds true with all younger generations learning to solve problems. When we built our bus, my parents thought we were doing it to be cool. Little did they know we learned and developed our own ability to help the environment and I urge all younger generations to do the same.

COVID-19 Driving Rules

COVID-19 Driving Rules

COVID-19 has affected large parts of the country. With places like New York City and Los Angeles under strict quarantine enforcement, many are not traveling. Empty streets and highway across the US are susceptible to poor driving practices. Many often view this as the perfect time to take their suped-up sports car out for a test drive. Despite the limited amount of cars currently on the road, the dangers of reckless driving are still whole-heartedly prevalent.

Unnecessary Speeding

One of the largest issues facing the COVID-19 self-isolation period is speeding. With multiple-lane city highways now open, many are finding an opportune moment to gun it home. This has still lead to multiple car accidents. This also not only takes police away from handling the current crisis, but also if something serious comes from a crash i.e. a life-threatening injury, or injury, then a medical professional is now taken away from his position of helping those suffering. The goal is to limit the overextension of resources that can be used for people who aren’t being reckless and are in need of serious help. 

Double Parking In Populated Areas

The issue with highly populated areas is double parking. Many large cities have relaxed on the restrictions of parking to better accommodate everyone living at home. This also ensures that people need to leave their home as little as possible. The issue is that many are assuming that cars will not be moving for a while and will double park for extended periods of time. This has worked to create issues in case of emergencies. First responders, as well as paramedics, are finding that certain areas that are designated for emergency use are being blocked. The same goes for residents in apartment buildings. If an emergency were to occur, and a resident must receive medical help or go see a doctor, they are finding they are unable to due to being double-parked. In order to prevent these issues from happening, the cities have done away with many parking restrictions.

COVID-19 Means Staying Home

One of the most important things to maintain during this time is social distancing. Unesseary trips out increase the risk of contracting and spreading the current pandemic. It is imperative that trips out of the home are for essential purposes only. Getting gas, food, prescriptions, and work are the main reasons why someone should leave their home at this time. Staying home and being safe is the best way to fight against this issue in order for everything to bounce-back to normal.

Biodiesel: Extraction Process

Biodiesel: Extraction Process

Biodiesel has everyone turning their old diesel engines into recycled veggie cars. With the world constantly searching for alternative fuels, what makes biodiesel such a sought after fuel source? Also, how can one make it in their own back yard?

THE FIRST STEP: KNOWING IF YOUR CAR CAN USE BIODIESEL

The first thing is first, do you own a diesel engine? If so, then the answer is yes. Almost all diesel engines can run on alternative biofuels. Even Rudolph Diesel (the guy who invented the diesel engine) developed alternative fuels by converting cooking oil into fuel. This was on August 10th, 1893….so it’s been around for a while.

WHERE TO OBTAIN BIODIESEL

Essentially anywhere. From the back of any restaurant to the grocery store, these oils can be found, or purchased and brought home. Now, going to the grocery store for this oil can actually put you further behind on your budget which is why so many people “loot” the back of restaurants for their used cooking oil. This will typically cost you nothing (if you play it smart), but we’re not here to tell you to rob anyone of their hard-earned grease. ost places, you can actually work out a deal with the owner or pay them some money. Just be careful and respectful.

FILTERING

Once you know that your car can handle biofuels and you have access to a large quantity of oil, now comes time to bring it home and filter it out. Many people will use window screens in their vat to filter out the “used” components (you wouldn’t want to stick a french fry in your gas tank). Depending on how refined you want your cooking oil to be, you can use a thinner strainer. I have used everything from window screens (for the big stuff) to cheesecloths.

There are a lot of steps you can take when filtering, but once everything is filtered through a couple of times, you can (essentially) use this oil. I typically put 8 hours-1 days worth of straining (its a process). Many others like to heat the oil and extract the fatty acids that rise to the top. You can do this too! This works to remove the “gunk” that can potentially clog up your engine.

BIOFUEL KITS

This is where I am typically “hazy” on the matter. I have people tell me that they put the oil straight into their gas tank. I have also seen (and from my own experience) people using modification tanks specifically for the oil. For the people who put the oil straight into their gas tank, I can picture issues happening down the line sooner than later.

POURING IT STRAIGHT INTO THE TANK: ISSUES

Many of the older engines that Mercedes and VW use have components that might corrode faster than you’d expect. Not only because they are old, but the rubbers and materials used aren’t necessarily meant to handle french fry oil. From rubber stops to hoses and lines, make sure everything that you are using can handle this transition. If not, the whole process will be for not. The principle here is to either save money, be more environmentally friendly or, dare I say – both.

BACKYARD CHEMISTRY SETS

You’ll find that many people have some backyard laboratory. You don’t need this. Simple essentials can take you just as far. The people with the backyard lab are utilizing a larger-than-most scale quantity. Still, it’s cool to watch. They want things done as correctly as possible. As from my own experience, every part of the process is done correctly, but some people put more time into the setup than others. Don’t feel like you need to have this in order to start your journey into bio-fuel.

BIODIESEL FUEL EFFICIENCY

Once everything is said, done and filtered, you can go ahead and add the oil to your car. Many individuals take the diesel route due to their car maintaining a far better gas mileage than regular petroleum-based fuels. Where my Mercedes can reach up to 33.4 miles per gallon, you will notice that by using cooking oil, your car will have lower efficiency, but don’t worry. The average drop is about 8-10% depending on how you drive. This is due to the combustion rate of cooking oil. On the plus side, chances are you didn’t pay (or paid very little) for the oil in the first place, so you’re still going to be set for a long time.

BE CAREFUL

Colder areas can lead to some issues. The first is, yes, it is still a diesel engine and cold-starting can drastically affect how it runs. The second is with colder areas – the biofuel will coagulate. This will cause your fuel lines to clog up as well as your fuel injectors. For those individuals who utilize biofuels in colder areas, there are just a few more rounds of extraction. You want to get those fatty acids out of your mix as much as you can.

Another issue to watch out for is making sure your fuel is clean enough for your tank. Yes, it can be a process, but hey, its practically free, so it’s worth putting your time into it. The better you become at the extraction process, the better your driving lifestyle will become.

Biofuel for Military Use

Biofuel for Military Use

Over the past decade, there has been a significant influx in biofuel consumption. The biofuel industry has taken massive strides to integrate itself within the confines of American culture. From Semi-Trucks to your neighbor’s old 1985 Mercedes Benz 300, the biodiesel world has come into the fray. None have taken a more solid stride with the world of renewable energy than all five branches of the US Military.

Global Fuel Price Issues

Many people have seen the issues facing the fossil-fuel industry for decades now. From the oil embargo’s of the ’70s to the collapse of the oil industry in the ’80s many people had to save money one way or another. The ’90’s presented a small break, and due to this, the massive SUV craze took off. The military took advantage of this and was able to launch the Hummer program for marines on the ground. Then, in the early 2000s, many of the gas-guzzling SUV enthusiasts took a massive hit for their budget. With the instability of the fuel market, nations turned to alternate forms in order to cut down on its gross-domestic war efforts.

Many Nations Searching For Alternative Biofuel

With one of the largest at-home producers of petroleum, the United States wasn’t worrying about the financial burden of using gas-guzzling planes, tanks and literally anything else military. While we weren’t stressing too hard, European nations were looking to more effectively spend their money on more reliable resources. Where most of Europe relied heavily on diesel gas for their automobiles, they would incorporate B20 (20% Biofuel mixed with 80% Diesel). This presented amazing improvements to both their environmental and recycling concerns. This would incorporate with their respective military budgets and spending programs. A decade later, the US would follow suit.

How the Military Utilizes B20

Non-tactical vehicles receive the most love from biofuel. The use of biofuels for truck carriers and many other utilities have shown that the effective rate for biofuels has become significantly larger. With aircraft and reconisance vehicles utilizing more cost-effective and greener strategies, many are wondering when the US military is going to go full bio. Unfortunately, this won’t be the case and might not ever be the case. The performance rating for biodiesel has a substantially lower effective range. Often underperforming the vehicle’s ability by upwards of 10%. These numbers can directly affect the ability of higher performance vehicles like jet fighters and tanks. These poor guys still have to rely on fossil fuels due to the lack of performance from biofuels.

Biofuel Use Outside of Vehicles

Many US military bases rely on the use of the neighboring town’s electrical grid. These electrical grids can often be the targets for enemy attacks. If a grid gets hit with an IED or taken out by any other means, This creates a problem. This creates an issue for not only the base but for the adjacent town or city. With biofuel generators, the military base can remain operational along with medical tents for soldiers and civilians, floodlights, alarms and anything else that a military base will need in order to fully operate. It takes the reliance off of any area that could affect bystanders or the city and puts us on a fully sustainable network.

Issues with Full Biofuel Overhaul

The conditions for biofuels are great. But the world simply has not been able to create a more effective power output in terms of supplying its military with the best possible energy options. Biofuels typically produce anywhere between 8-10% fewer miles per gallon in a standard diesel engine. This coincides with the nature of the beast: Efficiency. The term efficiency not only comes from how many miles per gallon a vehicle may get but also performance. 8-10% reduction in engine performance has a definite impact on life or death situations or marines face every day. The military isn’t the necessary figurehead for “cheaping out” either. Every inch and every second of planet Earth’s finest engineering needs to be about protecting those who serve.

Family Time While On The Road

Family Time While On The Road

Truck drivers spend a great deal of time on the road and away from family. Some truckers are gone for days, weeks, or even months at a time. It doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

As an OTR driver, you sacrifice time away from the family. There are days you’ll go without seeing them, and many important events that will be missed. And this can take a toll on not only the truck driver but the family as well.

However, there are ways to balance family life and the demands of a busy schedule that’ll make everyone happy.

Keep Yourself Entertained

The road can get lonely, especially if you’re in it for the long haul. There are times when you will miss your family so much that it may depress you. Before that happens, find things to do to. Crank up the music or read a book. Educate yourself and learn something new. It is sure to lighten the mood.

Stay Connected

Communicating as much as you can is key. Whenever time permits, call home! Furthermore, creating a call schedule can also be helpful. Don’t worry if there are times when you can’t stick to it. The surprise, unplanned calls are sometimes even better!

Schedule Quality Family Time

And, finally, when you are home, make the most of it. Although rest and relaxation are critical during your days off, dedicate some of that time to the family as well. Just be sure not to overexert yourself as you will need your sleep too. Try to plan out some quality time in advance. It will help keep you on track.

Moreover, despite what others may think, it is possible to have a family and a great trucking career at the same time. But there is no perfect formula. Whatever works for you and your family. However, with proper planning and effort, it can be done.

Hills: How To Destroy Your Engine in SF

Hills: How To Destroy Your Engine in SF

San Fransisco has notoriously steep hills. Some of the steepest hills for driving in America, to be exact. There is a multitude of issues that can come from driving through San Fransisco hills and many residents pay their dues.

Hills Hurt Your Suspension

If you are a resident and you live on a hill, you’re putting a lot of stress on your suspension. Parking sideways on a 6% grade hill and leaving it there will wear down the suspension system. So much so, that your car might end up lop-sided. A true tip would be to alternate how your car sites. On one day, park your car nose first, and on the next, back in. this will create even wear and save yourself time and money.

A Good Way To Wear Down Your Brakes

When going down, you have to keep your foot on the brakes at all times. Even driving in a lower gear is going to require consistent braking. Purchasing higher-end brake pads are typically the way most San Fransisco residents manage. Although they are more expensive, you’ll be paying more, even in the short run, if you purchase lower quality and cheaper brake pads. Chances are, that if you live in SF, you can afford the higher quality pads anyways.

Transmission Failures

Imagine going up a hill and your RPM’s read 7000, but your miles per hour gauge says 4. If this is the case, then get ready for engine failure. If you’re going uphill, then that makes things worse. Imagine climbing Mount Everest only to find that Kilimanjaro is just after the next ridge. Car transmissions can handle low-gear acceleration, but only so much. If you are consistently driving uphill then perhaps walking or taking the trolly might be the best option to get around. If you arent careful, something is going to blow, and that can cost you more than you think.

Electric Cars: Getting Louder?

Electric Cars: Getting Louder?

Electric cars have become a staple in the auto industry. With noise pollution being a large factor in why consumers purchase these models, the industry is looking at increasing the noise, but why?

Electric Cars: A Silent Issue

Hybrid Cars have been the focus of many issues. A large factor is from pedestrians who have a hearing disability. Another is from children who are not aware of their surroundings. They make up a percentage of electric car accidents.

The Hearing Disabled.

Hybrid cars do not emit enough sound if they are traveling under 30 miles per hour. This means that in low-speed, high pedestrian areas, this can present a problem. For pedestrians who are hard of hearing, this has equated to a larger number of incidences. Typically, louder engines were a signifier that the car was on and running. Thus, A louder engine means that you can hear it coming from a distance away. With hybrid vehicles, even those without impairment have trouble hearing them.

Unaware Children

Reports of children in accidents involving hybrid vehicles have increased. This due to how silent they can be. If a child is running through the parking lot and doesn’t hear the car coming, they might think that it is safe to run out. As reports have shown, this has been the case. A large indicator that a vehicle is approaching is the sound of the engine. Parking lots are where this happens frequently. Children, being children, don’t hear the engine and they think it is safe to run into the road, but unknown to them, there is a vehicle coming, they just can’t hear it.

Electric Cars: Possible Solutions

The original idea was to cut down on the amount of noise that an automobile can produce. With hybrid/electric cars, this was an industry standard. It might seem like adding more noise is working backward from the original intent but it is the spatial awareness that is being worked on. Many industry leaders are experimenting with noise emitting technology that will alert pedestrians that a vehicle driving under 30 mph is nearby. This works perfectly for children and those hard of hearing. Typically low-speed areas are the highest at risk for these situations, so having a vehicle emit a noise that can be registered by everyone is imperative. Parking lots will be much safer for families and friends if their awareness of their surroundings is further expanded.

Some car companies have even decided to create a fake engine noise in order to make areas safer. When the vehicle is driving under 30 mph, a small speaker outside of the vehicle will be triggered and many in the surrounding area will be able to hear it.

Working Backwards

As we have mentioned before, the idea of adding noise to an electric car may seem ironic or at least moving backward, but there are solid arguments and information to state that this might not be the best-case scenario. Especially for pedestrians who have an issue with hearing a vehicle coming up to them. Adding a level of noise will help reduce injuries and accidents for many people on the road and off the road.

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