Zipper Traffic Machine: The Future of Rush Hour

In reading about a story of a selfless man adverting a major pileup on the Golden Gate bridge last night by using his Truck to gently force the stopped unconscious motorist ahead of him out of on coming traffic, (thank God) I've come across a cool sub story of this cool machine called the Zipper.
If you've ever driven across a bridge that has changing lanes during peak rush hour times you agree with me that it can be dangerously surprising if its your first time and you find your self in on coming traffic if your not paying attention.

What the world needs is a movable wall between these lanes of traffic.

Enter the Zipper.

The "Zipper Machine" is rather impressive; it's a huge truck-like device that lifts the movable concrete median barrier about 6 inches off of the roadway, shifts it over, and then places it back down onto the roadway.

The barrier is comprised of segments about 5 feet long, with strong interlocking steel brackets that hold the segments of the barrier together, so that it can "flow" through the Zipper Machine as well as have linear connectivity if a motor vehicle collides with it. Jersey-type median barriers weigh 500 pounds per linear foot or more, so it takes a large powerful machine to perform this task, and it moves at 3 to 4 miles per hour.

There is over a mile of movable barrier on the project, and it took about 20 minutes to move the entire barrier. Actually it takes two passes to do this, twice moving the barrier over by one lane; in other words, the barrier needs to be moved two lanes in all at the daily start of work, and then back two lanes at the daily end of work. The movable barrier is "parked" right next to the permanent highway median barrier when the bridge has its full 6 lanes open to traffic.

It's all visible in the photo if one looks closely. Each barrier segment has a two-sided flange at the top, and the "zipper channel" has two tracks of closely-spaced small wheels that the flanges roll over. While it moves slowly, it will move a mile of barrier in 20 minutes, which would take a crew of four all day to move and expose all of them to the traffic while placing the barriers. That would involve a small truck crane to lift and replace the barrier segments one at a time, and a means to detach and reattach the interlocking steel brackets that hold the segments of the barrier together. The Zipper Machine does it far more efficiently.

Both front and rear wheel trucks are steerable, and you can see a steering wheel and steering crewman at each end of the machine.

The Zipper Machine is actually a quite large vehicle, when seen up close. It takes a tremendous amount of power to move a heavy concrete median barrier, and to do it as quickly as this machine does it. It is fairly quiet when in operation, though. The motor is not loud, and the lowering of the barrier segments back down to the roadway provides a quiet 'plunk-plunk-plunk' sound that is not very noticeable even when you are standing under the bridge when the machine passes across the deck overhead.

As you can see, each side of the bridge (actually two separate bridges that are about two feet apart) has been restricted to one lane each way as the temporary concrete median barrier is being shifted over. Construction workers, trucks, machinery and a large truck crane are already moving into place to begin work on another section of bridge deck replacement on the northbound side. The lighter-toned deck is the portion that has already been replaced.

[via roadstothefuture]

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Top 10 Amazing Facts About Dreams

This afternoon I had a (very rare) nap. During that nap I had a lucid dream (most of which I no longer remember). As I was waking up, I was thinking about my dream and thought that it would be a great idea to write a list about dreams for the site. So, here are the top 10 amazing facts about dreams.

10. Blind People Dream


People who become blind after birth can see images in their dreams. People who are born blind do not see any images, but have dreams equally vivid involving their other senses of sound, smell, touch and emotion. It is hard for a seeing person to imagine, but the body’s need for sleep is so strong that it is able to handle virtually all physical situations to make it happen.

9. You Forget 90% of your Dreams


Within 5 minutes of waking, half of your dream if forgotten. Within 10, 90% is gone. The famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, woke one morning having had a fantastic dream (likely opium induced) - he put pen to paper and began to describe his “vision in a dream” in what has become one of English’s most famous poems: Kubla Khan. Part way through (54 lines in fact) he was interrupted by a “Person from Porlock“. Coleridge returned to his poem but could not remember the rest of his dream. The poem was never completed.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Curiously, Robert Louis Stevenson came up with the story of Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde whilst he was dreaming. Wikipedia has more on that here. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was also the brainchild of a dream.

8. Everybody Dreams


Every human being dreams (except in cases of extreme psychological disorder) but men and women have different dreams and different physical reactions. Men tend to dream more about other men, while women tend to dream equally about men and women. In addition, both men and women experience sexually related physical reactions to their dreams regardless of whether the dream is sexual in nature; males experience erections and females experience increased vaginal blood flow.

7. Dreams Prevent Psychosis


In a recent sleep study, students who were awakened at the beginning of each dream, but still allowed their 8 hours of sleep, all experienced difficulty in concentration, irritability, hallucinations, and signs of psychosis after only 3 days. When finally allowed their REM sleep the student’s brains made up for lost time by greatly increasing the percentage of sleep spent in the REM stage. [Source]

6. We Only Dream of What We Know

62305681.Jlab2Xvw.Img 0568

Our dreams are frequently full of strangers who play out certain parts - did you know that your mind is not inventing those faces - they are real faces of real people that you have seen during your life but may not know or remember? The evil killer in your latest dream may be the guy who pumped petrol in to your Dad’s car when you were just a little kid. We have all seen hundreds of thousands of faces through our lives, so we have an endless supply of characters for our brain to utilize during our dreams.

5. Not Everyone Dreams in Color

07 04 06 B Flat Landscape

A full 12% of sighted people dream exclusively in black and white. The remaining number dream in full color. People also tend to have common themes in dreams, which are situations relating to school, being chased, running slowly/in place, sexual experiences, falling, arriving too late, a person now alive being dead, teeth falling out, flying, failing an examination, or a car accident. It is unknown whether the impact of a dream relating to violence or death is more emotionally charged for a person who dreams in color than one who dreams in black and white. [Source]

4. Dreams are not about what they are about

Enlightened Symbols

If you dream about some particular subject it is not often that the dream is about that. Dreams speak in a deeply symbolic language. The unconscious mind tries to compare your dream to something else, which is similar. Its like writing a poem and saying that a group of ants were like machines that never stop. But you would never compare something to itself, for example: “That beautiful sunset was like a beautiful sunset”. So whatever symbol your dream picks on it is most unlikely to be a symbol for itself.

3. Quitters have more vivid dreams


People who have smoked cigarettes for a long time who stop, have reported much more vivid dreams than they would normally experience. Additionally, according to the Journal of Abnormal Psychology: “Among 293 smokers abstinent for between 1 and 4 weeks, 33% reported having at least 1 dream about smoking. In most dreams, subjects caught themselves smoking and felt strong negative emotions, such as panic and guilt. Dreams about smoking were the result of tobacco withdrawal, as 97% of subjects did not have them while smoking, and their occurrence was significantly related to the duration of abstinence. They were rated as more vivid than the usual dreams and were as common as most major tobacco withdrawal symptoms.” [Source]

2. External Stimuli Invade our Dreams

Dream Caused By The Flight Of A Bumblebee Around A Pomegranate A Second Before Awakening

This is called Dream Incorporation and it is the experience that most of us have had where a sound from reality is heard in our dream and incorporated in some way. A similar (though less external) example would be when you are physically thirsty and your mind incorporates that feeling in to your dream. My own experience of this includes repeatedly drinking a large glass of water in the dream which satisfies me, only to find the thirst returning shortly after - this thirst… drink… thirst… loop often recurs until I wake up and have a real drink. The famous painting above (Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening) by Salvador Dali, depicts this concept.

1. You are paralyzed while you sleep

Picture 3-4

Believe it or not, your body is virtually paralyzed during your sleep - most likely to prevent your body from acting out aspects of your dreams. According to the Wikipedia article on dreaming, “Glands begin to secrete a hormone that helps induce sleep and neurons send signals to the spinal cord which cause the body to relax and later become essentially paralyzed.”

Bonus: Extra Facts

1. When you are snoring, you are not dreaming.
2. Toddlers do not dream about themselves until around the age of 3. From the same age, children typically have many more nightmares than adults do until age 7 or 8.
3. If you are awakened out of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, you are more likely to remember your dream in a more vivid way than you would if you woke from a full night sleep.

[via listverse]

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20 Photographs Taken at the Exact Right Angle

Juxtaposition 2

They say timing is everything, but some photographs (such as these) become brilliant or hilarious because both the timing and the angle work out just right. Sometimes this means catching people or objects lined up perfectly at the ideal moment. Other times these are staged for maximum effect. Here are 20 examples of photos taken at the exact right angle.

Distance Illusion 4

Distance Illusion 1

Distance Illusion 5

Distance Illusion 6

Distance Illusion 3

Distance Illusion 2

Illusions of Distance: These can be anything from poetic to comedic or even crass, as the above images demonstrate. Almost always such shots are staged, but sometimes in public you might catch just the right elements in alignment to create an accidental masterpiece of art or humor.

Humorous Closeup 10

Humorous Closeup 9

Humorous Closeup 8

Humorous Closeup 7

Humorous Closeup 3

Humorous Closeup 6

Humorous Closeup 2

Impossible People and Animals: these can be silly or sublime, depending upon the subject, but almost inevitably result in a confused double-take. We all know what people can and can’t do, how they are built, what the limits of the human body are, yet some images challenge the brain and create illusions.

Humorous Closeup 1

Juxtaposition 1

Intentional Overlap 1

Inteional Overlap 2

Humorous Closeup 4

The Art of Juxtaposition: a set of objects, people and/or animals behaving normally independently can take on a new life entirely when properly juxtaposed in a picture. What might seem like very ordinary behavior, from grabbing a magazine to stretching for a job, can take on a new and strange meaning when captured on film from just the right angle.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

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Used Condoms Recycled Into Hair Bands?

Used condoms as hair bands? We're all for recycling and everything, but this story pushes boundaries of good taste... and public health.

China Daily says that used condoms are being recycled and sold as hair bands in China. The condom bands are cheaper then bands that were not formerly prophylactics. The recycled condoms are quite popular, but risk infecting users with the diseases that they were meant to prevent.

People could be infected with AIDS, warts or other diseases if they hold the rubber bands or strings in their mouths while weaving their hair into plaits or buns," the paper quoted a local dermatologist as saying.

That's just nasty. We wonder if this story will turn out like the cardboard food scandal.

[via consumerist]

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WTF? This is the scariest thing you'll see all day!

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An Indonesian man who suffers from a rare disease which causes tree-like growths all over his body is seeking help from American medics

An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor - and Vitamin A. Dede, now 35, baffled medical experts when warty "roots" began growing out of his arms and feet after he cut his knee in a teenage accident.

The welts spread across his body unchecked and soon he was left unable to carry out everyday household tasks.

Sacked from his job and deserted by his wife, Dede has been raising his two children - now in their late teens - in poverty, resigned to the fact that local doctors had no cure for his condition.

To make ends meet he even joined a local "freak show", parading in front of a paying audience alongside victims of other peculiar diseases.

Although supported by his extended family, he was often a target of abuse and ridicule in his rural fishing village.

But now an American dermatology expert who flew out to Dede's home village south of the capital Jakarta claims to have identified his condition, and proposed a treatment that could transform his life.

After testing samples of the lesions and Dede's blood, Dr Anthony Gaspari of the University of Maryland concluded that his affliction is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a fairly common infection that usually causes small warts to develop on sufferers.

Dede's problem is that he has a rare genetic fault that impedes his immune system, meaning his body is unable to contain the warts.

The virus was therefore able to "hijack the cellular machinery of his skin cells", ordering them to produce massive amounts of the substance that caused the tree-like growths known as "cutaneous horns" on his hands and feet.

Dede's counts of a key type of white blood cell are so low that Dr Gaspari initially suspected he may have the Aids virus.

But tests showed he did not, and it became clear that Dede's immune condition was something far rarer and more mysterious.

Warts aside, he had enjoyed remarkable good health throughout his life - which would not be expected of someone with a suppressed immune system - and neither his parents nor his siblings have shown signs of developing lesions.

"The likelihood of having his deficiency is less than one in a million," Dr Gaspari told the Telegraph.

Dr Gaspari, who became involved in the case through a Discovery Channel documentary, believes that Dede's condition can be largely cleared up by a daily doses of a synthetic form of Vitamin A, which has been shown to arrest the growth of warts in severe cases of HPV.

"He won't have a perfectly normal body but the warts should reduce in size to the point where he could use his hands," Dr Gaspari said.

"Over the course of three to six months the warts should be come smaller and fewer in number. He will be living a more normal life."

The most resilient warts could then be frozen off and the growths on his hands and feet surgically removed.

Dr Gaspari hopes to get the necessary drugs free of charge from pharmaceutical firms. They would then be administered by Indonesian doctors under his supervision.

Still intrigued by the origins of Dede's peculiar immune condition, the doctor would like to fly him to the United States for further examination, but fears the financial and bureaucratic barriers would prove too difficult to overcome.

"I would like to bring him to the US to run tests on where his immune condition has come from, but I would need funding and to get him a visa as well as someone to cover the costs of the tests," he said.

"I've never seen anything like this in my entire career." [via telegraph]

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Man (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles

If you can’t afford to buy your own tropical island paradise, why not build your own? That is exactly what Richie Sowa did back in 1998, from over a quarter-million plastic bottles. His Spiral Island, destroyed years later by a hurricane, sported a two-story house, solar oven, self-composting toilet and multiple beaches. Better yet, he has started building another one! His ultimate goal? To build the island bigger and bigger and finally float out to sea, traveling the world from the comfort of his own private paradise.

Spiral Island Construction and Steering

The original Spiral Island was (as its successor will be) built upon a floating collection used plastic bottles, all netted together to support a bamboo and plywood structure above. Located in Mexico, the original was 66 by 54 feet and was able to support full-sized mangroves to provide shade and privacy, yet also able to be moved from place to place by its creator as need with a simple motorized system.

Spiral Island Early Stages

An environmentalist to the core, Sowa is also an artist and a musician. More than just the universal dream of an island retreat, Spiral Island is also his vision for low-impact sustainable living. The next version of the island will be built to withstand more treacherous weather than the first and will also be located in a more sheltered part of Mexico’s waters.

The Above Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not video is a great introduction to the island, which conjures images of Gilligan-done-right. Spiral island is able to exist and move about in Mexico in part because it is classified as a ship, not an island, like an atoll out of WaterWorld (only much much cooler). On September 7, 2007 the new Spiral Islander social network utility was opened to the public to allow visitors, Spiral Islanders and friends of Richie Sowa to connect and communicate about the history of Spiral Island and to learn more and discuss Richie Sowa’s new Spiral Island.

[via ecoble]
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Dirty Secrets About Hotel Drinking Glasses

Hidden camera investigation on how room service actually cleans your rooms drinking glasses. NASTY!

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FREE TV on Your PC: Hulu, Joost and Miro Reviewed

This lovely review by Gizmodo breaks down the future of whats to come between the forced marriage of your TV and Computer...

The Writers Guild strike already stripped us of our Daily Show and Colbert Report, and now it may take away Heroes and House as well. Looking to escape Reality TV hell? We've painstakingly reviewed three free (and mostly legal) video services—Joost, Miro and Hulu—for your faux-TV enjoyment during these dark times.

The Contenders
Hulu: NBC Universal/News Corp.'s mutant is a sandbox-y YouTube for their properties. Joost: Streaming P2P service from Kazaa/Skype founders that wants oh so badly to be real TV. It's got deals with Viacom and other name players—News Corp.'s rumored to be at the table as well. Miro: Open-source Cory Doctorow-anointed Joost-slayer. You download, rather than stream. It uses RSS-based channels and BitTorrent for its P2P workings.

How They Look (and Feel):
Joost's translucent black interface wins hands down in the Slickness Dept., and its channel grid layout is the standout of the three. One issue is that player controls disappear when you're going through channels or shows, so you can't mute or pause a video playing in the background while surfing. But in terms of intuitiveness, on Joost, it's naturally apparent how to click around then start watching shows. (The "oh no, we can't play this now" error message assailed me more than a couple of times, showing there are still some P2P kinks to work out.)

Miro is more powerful for tweakers and creators, which contributes to it being less straightforward.
It's not immediately obvious how you start watching stuff. Since its channels are RSS-based, you have to subscribe to them first, and then pick episodes to download. I should add, the best (though perhaps non-legal) content might require you to hunt outside Miro's interface for a torrent. Miro's the least flashy, using a modified browser scheme that takes longer to zoom through than Joost or Hulu, which is a problem when it overwhelmingly features the most content.

Hulu's good for a browser-based streaming player
, as I've said, with a clean, mostly easy-to-navigate system.

In the end, no one's really nailed the content organization bit.
None of them are bad, but they don't make surfing for new stuff particularly intuitive or fun. It can be a chore, and sometimes it feels like a long one.

Ads, I mean uh, "Revenue Model":
Miro is blissfully ad-free, but the other two are not. Joost's bumper ads are quick and not overly annoying. The ones that occasionally interrupt shows without rhyme or reason, however, are too long and randomly timed. They'll drive your head into your monitor. Hulu's gotten worse since its debut week, where I saw a single 30-second clip per 40-minute show. Watching Heroes the other night, I got slammed with an ad at each of the dots in the timeline. The Meat:
Joost has 356 total "channels," though some aren't channels in the traditional sense. There's stuff from MTV, Comedy Central, Adult Swim, CBS, Warner Music, as well as channels of CSI, Happy Tree Friends, Transformers and GI Joe. There's offbeat stuff, too, like the Really Terrible Film channel.

Used within legal boundaries, Miro lacks solid mainstream content. Comedy Central's "channels" are stand-up clips and web shows only, and Adult Swim just contains their video podcasts. But Miro boasts 2,756 channels, with everything from "Ask a Ninja" and National Geographic to NASA and Wired Science. But yes, you can start your own channel—all it takes is a torrent and a dream.

Hulu's the slimmest, but it has the most recent episodes of the best shows: House, Battlestar Galactica and any other popular shows from NBC Universal and News Corp., like SNL, The Office or Family Guy. There's no indie or offbeat content whatsoever—it's a totally corporate venture.

Across the board, scattershot content is still a major issue. Joost has a Comedy Central channel but no South Park or Chapelle's Show. Miro's kind of defined by being whatever from whoever. Hulu's trimmer offerings at least have an internal logic, with the newest five or six episodes of current shows available, and full seasons of past shows like Buffy.

What You Now Know:
No matter what service you pick, you won't find everything you want, thanks in part to corporate hang-ups and in part to the primitiveness of these early stages. They're maddeningly incomplete, like a crappy library in a rural town. Joost is probably your best bet in terms of quantity and quality, with Miro working better if you want a ton of new programming but don't care about corporate quality. And if you want Battlestar, well, the choice will be made for you. [Joost, Miro, Hulu, Flickr]

[via gizmodo]
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We Knew This Was Going To Happen: iPhone Equipped Passenger Takes On Flight Crew Over Weather

So I am sure I am not the only one to have seen the newish iPhone commercial where the pilot or whatever pulls out his iPhone and tells a story about how he avoided a 3 hour delay by looking at the weather on his iPhone. Well, lets suffice it to say that commercials are about as fictional as cartoons, so you shouldn’t believe everything you hear.

Sure enough, some jackass with an iPhone gets notice that his plane is landing at a different airport due to delays caused by bad weather. And what does he do? Exactly what he saw on the commercial, he picks up his iPhone, checks the weather, determines the coast is clear, and relays the message to a flight attendant.

The flight attendant then relays the message to the captain over the PA. That’s when the captain hits that pretentious prick with nugget of epic proportions:

“If the passenger with the IPhone would be kind enough to use it to check the weather at our alternate, calculate our fuel burn due to being rerouted around the storms, call the dispatcher to arrange our release, and then make a phone call to the nearest Air Traffic Control center to arrange our timely departure amongst the other aircraft carrying passengers with IPhones, then we will be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the Flight Attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multi-million dollar aircraft and its passengers to safely leave.”

BAM! I really don’t think that guy will ever say anything again, in fact, I bet he sold his iPhone, same day.

[via slashgear]

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Memories processed seven times faster than reality

Scientists have show that when rats sleep, they play back memories as much as seven times faster than the events really transpired. The research, conducted at the University of Arizona, may shed light on how memories are processed. From a University of Arizona press release:

Memory stores patterns of activity in modular form in the brain’s cortex. Different modules in the cortex process different kinds of information – sounds, sights, tastes, smells, etc. The cortex sends these networks of activity to a region called the hippocampus. The hippocampus then creates and assigns a tag, a kind of temporary bar code, that is unique to every memory and sends that signal back to the cortex.

Each module in the cortex uses the tag to retrieve its own part of the activity. A memory of having lunch, for example, would involve a number of modules, each of which might record where the diner sat, what was served, the noise level in the restaurant or the financial transaction to pay for the meal.

But while an actual dining experience might have taken up an hour of actual time, replaying the memory of it would only take 8 to 10 minutes. The reason, (professor Bruce) McNaughton said, is that the speed of the consolidation process isn’t constrained by the real world physical laws that regulate activity in time and space.

The brain uses this biological trick because there is no way for all of its neurons to connect with and interact with every other neuron. It is still an expensive task for the hippocampus to make all of those connections. The retrieval tags the hippocampus generates are only temporary until the cortex can carry a given memory on its own.


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Marijuana Compound May Stop Breast Cancer From Spreading, Study Says

A compound found in cannabis may stop breast cancer from spreading throughout the body, according to a new study by scientists at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. The researchers are hopeful that the compound called CBD, which is found in cannabis sativa, could be a non-toxic alternative to chemotherapy.

"Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer," said lead researcher Dr. Sean D. McAllister, a cancer researcher at CPMCRI, in a news release. "Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects."

The researchers tested CBD to inhibit the activity of a gene called Id-1, which is believed to be responsible for the aggressive spread of cancer cells throughout the body, away from the original tumor site.

"We know that Id-1 is a key regulator of the spread of breast cancer," said Dr. Pierre-Yves Desprez, a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the senior author of the study, in a news release. "We also know that Id-1 has also been found at higher levels in other forms of cancer. So what is exciting about this study is that if CBD can inhibit Id-1 in breast cancer cells, then it may also prove effective at stopping the spread of cancer cells in other forms of the disease, such as colon and brain or prostate cancer."

Comparing it with another ingredient isolated from marijuana called THC, which is used in some medical treatments, the researchers said CBD does not have any psychoactive properties, so using it would not violate any state or federal laws. However, the researchers stressed that they are not suggesting that breast cancer patients smoke marijuana. They say it is highly unlikely that effective concentrations of CBD could be reached by smoking pot.

The study is published in the latest issue of the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.

Source of study:


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7 Warning Signs that make you wonder what they were thinking when they made it

Wait what?

They probably needed this one.

Nevermind the lawsuit, your left arm is too fatty for the tigers and might upset their stomachs.

I would never operate a machine whose inventors felt this sticker was necessary. How many times has this happened? They never found a cause? Gee.. I have an idea, lets make more of this wonderful vehicle and sell them to people.

Malicious threats are often easier and more effective than calling a tow truck to get people out of your space.

Wow, that quite the steep penalty you've got their buddy

Wrong on so many levels...

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