Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The sirens Charybdis and Scylla resided in the Sicilian Sea. Homer tells us that because Charybdis had stolen the oxen of Hercules, Zeus struck her with a thunderbolt and changed her into a whirlpool whose vortex swallowed up ships. In Charybdis the circular movement of water inside a transparent acrylic cylinder forms an air-core vortex in the centre. Steps wrap around the cylinder and allow spectators to view the vortex from above. The cylinder was manufactured in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Charybdis is William Pye’s largest vortex water sculpture to date, and he has used for only the second time the clear acrylic polymer he employed in Clearwater Cube. This material has enabled Pye to extend his sculptural language and to explore more ways in which to challenge the wayward element of water. A high level of water filtration is essential for maintaining transparency and thereby expressing the drama of the vortex.


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Getting some cool tunes from lately...

Soapnix is an irregularly-updated group music blog without a theme. If you like what you hear, or have something you think we’d be interested in, drop Keith a line. All correspondence appreciated; every submission heard. soapnix {-at-} keithganey {d-o-t} com

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The BMW F1 Team is developing an electric KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) brake energy regeneration and storage system for use in its F1.09 next year. Starting with the next season, Formula One regulations allow for the use of hybrid technology to increase the output and efficiency of the race cars.

The BMW Sauber F1.09 KERS system—a combination of electric motor and generator, the requisite power electronics and an energy storage module—will store enough energy under braking to provide an additional 60 kW of output over about 6.5 seconds of acceleration. Weighing less than 40 kg, the power density of the F1 KERS technology is considerably greater than that of the electric regen and capture systems currently used in standard production vehicles.
Too bad it electrifies the vehicle.....
BMW mechanic escapes KERS scare


Questions about the safety of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in Formula One were raised again on Tuesday when a BMW Sauber mechanic suffered an electric shock after touching a car fitted with the device during testing at Jerez in Spain.

BMW Sauber were conducting further evaluation of their KERS on the first day of this week's test, with Christian Klien at the wheel of a modified car that featured some 2009-aero concepts and an early version of their energy recovery device.

Klien had just completed a three-lap installation run in the morning when he returned to the pits. After stopping in the pitlane, mechanics attended to the car to wheel him backwards into the team's garage - but the first mechanic to touch the car fell to the ground after receiving an electric shock.

He was pulled to his feet by fellow team members and, after being examined in the medical centre, he was found to have suffered no serious injury.

Klien has not yet returned to the track and is unlikely to do so until the team fully understands what went wrong this morning.

A team spokesman told "During the testing of the KERS car at the Jerez test track today, there was an incident involving a mechanic when the car returned to the pits. He touched it and suffered an electric shock.

"He sustained slight injuries to his left hand and grazing on his left arm. After a brief examination at the track's medical centre, he has returned to the test team. We are currently investigating the incident."

The Jerez pitlane incident comes less than a week after Red Bull Racing were forced to evacuate part of their factory in Milton Keynes after a battery system test of their KERS went wrong.

The issue of KERS safety has been discussed between the teams already this year, but with work now accelerating on getting the devices ready for 2009, there is a renewed urgency to the matter.

Toyota team principal John Howett told in Hockenheim: "I think all of these issues have been on the table from the beginning. So you have voltage issues, you have the battery issues; you have the cost of registering the batteries to transport them. People who use high-speed rotating flywheels have also got issues there.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Two NYPD officers were trapped in their patrol car yesterday after another cop took the wheel while drunk and blew through an intersection, causing a three-car pile-up, police sources said. Rookie off-duty cop Andrea Soto, 24, fled the crash at Davidson Avenue and Fordham Road in The Bronx at 4:30 a.m., but was tracked down nearby and nabbed for DWI and reckless driving, according to the sources. She allegedly rear-ended a taxi with such force that it rammed into the patrol car carrying two officers rushing to intervene in an assault. She was pinned in her car, but, like the occupants of the other vehicles, was not seriously hurt.


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I once wrote an article titled " I'd Rather Get Mugged Than Get A Traffic Ticket". Basically I said that getting mugged was faster, cheaper and has no long term repercussions such as increased insurance premiums or loss of my license. If I get mugged, the guy is only going to get $20.00 or $30.00 sometimes less and its over in about 30 seconds. If I get a ticket, it will cost $150.00 to $500.00 or more. If I didn't have car insurance that ticket for no insurance will be about $1,350.00. The mugger would love a score like that.

Unfortunately the traffic ticket fine is just the beginning. If you don't fight each ticket you get points against your license which could lead to the loss of your driving privileges which could eventually lead to the loss of your job and your ability to support yourself or your family.

The next thing you might face if you don't fight each ticket is an insurance rate increase or something worse like cancellation by the company you've been paying faithfully year after year after year. Insurance companies love to see us get tickets because they can raise our rates. Naturally they want the speed limits lower so we will get more tickets which means higher rates and more money for them.

Did you know that insurance companies spend 26 million dollars a year checking peoples driving records? Believe me they are not checking to see if you have no tickets so they can give you a good driver discount. They are checking to see if you have any traffic tickets so they can increase your rates accordingly.

One last thing - in a mugging the mugger might get arrested but never the muggee. Sit in on any traffic court and you will hear the judge issuing arrest warrants for things like failure to appear, contempt or whatever else is on the agenda that day. I swear to you, I was in traffic court this morning and someone failed to appear in court. The judge threw the file to the clerk and said "issue an arrest warrant with $10,000.00 bail".

The reason I got started in my campaign against unfair traffic tickets is because I have always felt like a victim whenever I have received a ticket no matter how well deserved. This feeling usually comes right after I get the notice that the extra 8 MPH over the limit will cost me $350.00. At that point I begin to feel like I've been robbed at the point of a radar gun by a masked (sunglasses) bandit in a black and white car or motorcycle who was hiding behind a huge garbage dumpster.

They always say they are writing these tickets in the interests of my safety. This may have been true at some point in the past before tickets became big business. Now I believe most are written to raise revenue, not for safety. If they were really interested in safety they would not hide behind walls and bushes but would be stationed out in the open where they can be seen and thus be a true deterrent to unsafe driving. The problem is that if they did this they would not make any money.

Hiding behind buildings and bushes doesn't cause anyone to drive slower or safer. It only causes bad relationships between the driving public and the police.

Radar traps good speed control or cash cow?

If you were on Steeles Avenue in Toronto two Sundays ago, you might have got mugged. Actually, you might have felt like you got mugged, although the lifting of funds from your pocket would have been perfectly legal. You wouldn't have been the only one to get mugged; I counted one person every two minutes getting fleeced. And the police were right there.

In fact, if one were so inclined, as a certain auto writer has occasionally been accused, one could say it was the police doing the mugging. OK, for the record (and so I don't get sued), I will categorically and definitively state that there was no police-involved mugging going on. But it was a speed trap, all laser-gunned out with multiple police officers writing tickets as fast as their keyboards could swipe driver's licences.

Any of the legendary speed traps -- New Rome, Ohio, Summersville, W. Va. -- would be justifiably envious of Toronto's finest as they raked in the big bucks on Steeles just west of Leslie.

In a scene often repeated in exactly the same spot, multiple cruisers were parked with one gendarme manning the laser gun while his colleagues wrote the tickets. Business was so good, in fact, that the guy manning the laser often had to abandon his post to aid in the prescription writing. In the time I was watching, they were averaging about one ticket every two minutes. They could have done more. The laser gun operator was seldom back at his post for more than 30 seconds before some other miscreant was unceremoniously flagged. Donations were so abundant that at least five collectors could have been kept busy.

But, Dave, you say, surely this was a particularly dangerous piece of road that they might focus their efforts so strenuously? Au contraire. Leslie after it leaves Bluffwood Avenue westward has no specific trigger points. There are, for instance, no bus stops before the police officers' hidey place is reached. There are no side streets to cause merging traffic and there is virtually no pedestrian traffic on the north side of Steeles walking westbound. In fact, all of that exists on the other side of the street in the eastbound lanes, which, as you might have guessed, remains consistently free of policing.

The reason for heavy policing on the westbound lanes is that they are downhill. Drivers, feeling comfortable with three lanes of relatively unobstructed traffic, don't dab the brakes quite enough and, bam, the long arm of the law nabs the miscreant. Even at only $100 a throw, this gang was contributing significantly to Toronto's coffers.

But my neighbourhood isn't the only cash cow. The same circumstances prevail on Eglinton eastbound between Don Mills and Lawrence -- multiple lanes, great sight lines, little side traffic, relatively few pedestrians and, of course, one mother of a long downhill run to encourage misbehaviour. My last traffic ticket was on Bathurst, where a police officer was picking off errant motorists on the long downhill just before St. Clair.

It's not that I don't believe in speed enforcement per se. If our constabulary, for instance, were to hang out in each and every one of Toronto's school zones and charge anyone driving more than 40 kilometres an hour with reckless driving, I'd stand up and applaud. And should they decide to come just up the road a bit and "calm" traffic along Bluffwood so that the many toddlers in my neighbourhood can feel safer, I will personally thank each and every one. I'll even bring them coffee in the morning. But trying to tell me that they are writing a speeding ticket every two or three minutes for my safety while barely having time for a perfunctory "and slow down" before grabbing the next poor unfortunate does not fit into my idea of "serve and protect."

We are being inundated with information that says speeding is the No. 1 road safety enemy, though we are given precious little proof that it is, in fact, the top cause of accidents and fatalities. Nor is there any delineation as to when and where -- residential/ urban streets, rural byways or high-speed motor-ways -- the dangers actually occur.

We are simply told that all speeding is bad, softening us up to accept an egregious enforcement of rules of questionable merit.


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Monday, July 28, 2008

You know those roadrunner cartoons?.....

Ski accident

Bet you can't watch just once.

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Not A Smart Career Move: McLean County Illinois Deputy Sheriff Ramiro Bosquez Quits After Calling Stanford Police Chief Everet Copeland To Brag About Writing Mayor Traffic Tickets - Chief Loses His Job And Town No Longer Has A Police Department - Caught On Video

STANFORD, ILLINOIS — A McLean County sheriff’s deputy has resigned and the Stanford police chief has lost his job in the aftermath of allegations the town’s mayor was targeted in a traffic stop in March.

McLean County sheriff’s deputies will continue extra patrols of Stanford, said McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery. Stanford has not had a police department since mid-May.

The McLean County state’s attorney’s office, after reviewing a state police investigation, said earlier this week it won’t pursue criminal charges, said Emery Thursday.

Former McLean County sheriff’s deputy Ramiro Bosquez, then a part-time Stanford police officer, issued tickets to Stanford Mayor Margaret Campbell during a traffic stop March 21. They included failing to dim headlights when required, driving without working headlights and having an expired registration ticket. In late April, McLean County State’s Attorney Bill Yoder said evidence indicated Campbell was targeted and he dismissed the citations.

The Stanford Village Board voted unanimously Wednesday not to renew Stanford Police Chief Everett Copeland’s contract and to keep him on paid administrative leave until next Thursday, said Emery, who attended the meeting. The chief made no comment at the meeting, also attended by a couple of others with business with the village who then left.

In mid-May the board voted unanimously to put Copeland, a part-time employee of 13 years, on paid administrative leave. The only remaining part-time deputy was paid for scheduled hours through May’s end, but didn’t work because of no one to supervise him.

Copeland, who previously denied any of his officers has ever gone after anyone personally for a traffic stop or arrest said in April the mayor had a vendetta against him.

Bosquez resigned June 28, but has a job. “He went back to his previous position — he started as a tele-communicator with Metcom,” said the sheriff. A hearing was to be scheduled before the merit commission, but the officer resigned first.

Bosquez was placed on paid leave after the incident, and his permission to work in Stanford was revoked. In May, the sheriff said Bosquez was disciplined, but declined to be specific, citing confidentiality of personnel matters.

Emery said his department will help Stanford in any way they can to rebuild the department, including employee screening for police chief applicants.

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Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

Almost 5 million views...(1:16:27)....

Randy Pausch, a computer science professor whose "last lecture" about facing terminal cancer became an internet sensation and a best-selling book, died on Friday, July 25, 2008. He was 47.

Pausch died at his home in Chesapeake, Virginia, said Jeffrey Zaslow, a Wall Street Journal writer who co-wrote Pausch's book.

Pausch and his family had moved there last autumn to be closer to his wife's relatives.

Pausch was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer in September 2006.

His popular last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University in September 2007 garnered international attention and was viewed by millions on the internet.

In it, Pausch celebrated living the life he had always dreamed of instead of concentrating on impending death.

"The lecture was for my kids, but if others are finding value in it, that is wonderful," Pausch wrote on his website.

"But rest assured; I'm hardly unique."

The book The Last Lecture leaped to the top of the non fiction best-seller lists after its publication in April and remains there this week. The book deal was reported to be worth more than US$6 million.

Pausch said he dictated the book to Zaslow by cellphone, and Zaslow recalled on Friday that he was "strong and funny" during their collaboration.

"It was the most fun 53 days of my life because it was like a performance," Zaslow said.

"It was like getting 53 extra lectures."

He recalled that Pausch became emotional when they worked on the last chapter, though, because that to him was the "end of the lecture, the book, his life".

At Carnegie Mellon, Pausch was a professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design, and was recognised as a pioneer of virtual reality research. On campus, he became known for his flamboyance and showmanship as a teacher and mentor.

The speech last fall was part of a series Carnegie Mellon called "The Last Lecture", where professors were asked to think about what matters to them most and give a hypothetical final talk.

The name of the lecture series was changed to "Journeys" before Pausch spoke, something he joked about in his lecture.

"I thought, damn, I finally nailed the venue and they renamed it," he said.

He told the packed auditorium he fulfilled almost all his childhood dreams - being in zero gravity, writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working with the Walt Disney Co.

The one that eluded him? Playing in the National Football League.

"If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you," Pausch said.

He then joked about his quirky hobby of winning stuffed animals at amusement parks - another of his childhood dreams - and how his mother introduced him to people to keep him humble: "This is my son, he's a doctor, but not the kind that helps people."

Pausch said he was embarrassed and flattered by the popularity of his message.

Millions viewed the complete or abridged version of the lecture, titled Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, online.

"I don't know how to not have fun," he said in the lecture.

"I'm dying and I'm having fun. And I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left. Because there's no other way to play it."

Pausch lobbied Congress for more federal funding for pancreatic cancer research and appeared on Oprah and other television shows.

In what he called "a truly magical experience", he was even invited to appear as an extra in the upcoming Star Trek movie.

He had one line of dialogue, got to keep his costume and donated his $217.06 paycheck to charity.

Pausch blogged regularly about his medical treatment.

On February 15, exactly six months after he was told he had three to six months of healthy living left, Pausch posted a photo of himself to show he was "still alive & healthy".

In May, Pausch spoke at Carnegie Mellon's commencement ceremonies, telling graduates that what mattered was he could look back and say, "pretty much any time I got a chance to do something cool, I tried to grab for it, and that's where my solace comes from."

"We don't beat the reaper by living longer, we beat the reaper by living well and living fully," he said.

Born in 1960, Pausch received his bachelor's degree in computer science from Brown University and his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon.

He co-founded Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, a master's programme for bringing artists and engineers together. The university named a footbridge in his honour.

He also created an animation-based teaching programme for high school and college students to have fun while learning computer programming.

In February, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in California announced the creation of the Dr Randy Pausch Scholarship Fund for university students who pursue careers in game design, development and production.

Pausch is survived by his wife, Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe; his mother, Virginia Pausch of Columbia, Maryland; and a sister, Tamara Mason of Lynchburg, Virginia.

In a statement on Friday, his wife thanked those who sent messages of support and said her husband was proud that his lecture and book "inspired parents to revisit their priorities, particularly their relationships with their children".


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The World’s Highest Swing

There was nothing better than swinging high during childhood. Oribi Gorge is the place in South Africa where you can find this favourite childhood pastime but with a rush of adrenaline added to it. Located along the ravine of the Mzimkulwana River, Oribi George has the base formed out of rocks over 1000 million years old, while the cliffs are a result of sandstone deposited about 365 million years ago. The Mzimkulwana River flowed over the surface and gradually eroded the rocks away, cutting into the earth’s crust.

The world’s largest and highest swing, the Wild Gorge, is a ride that will leave you breathless but thrilled and exhilarated. Placed at the top of Lehrs falls, the swing plunges you into a gorge 100m deep (33 stories). The entire ride lasts no more than a minute, but it’s one of the most terrifying yet addictive things you can experience in a lifetime. A full body harness is used to allow for a comfortable ride and trained personnel are present to assist you with the dive.

The scenic Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve where the swing is located is one of the most spectacular sights a tourist can find on the continent. The reserve has numerous mammal species and over 250 bird species that make bird watching a fascinating experience. The nature reserve inside the gorge is approximately 27 kilometers long and up to 4 kilometers wide.

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Valentino Rossi, a.k.a. Billy Elliot.


Anyone else out there losing more and more respect for the police? THEY'RE SUPPOSED to PROTECT us.....

Critical Mass Bicyclist Assaulted by NYPD (1:10)

Another Critical Mass ride, another stunning display of police brutality. Watch as one of New York's finest violently shoves a cyclist off his bicycle, launching him through the air to the curb at 46th street and Seventh Avenue during Friday night's monthly Critical Mass ride.

Although a judge ruled in 2006 that the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides could proceed without a permit, the NYPD's stance remains somewhat adversarial. Though the city has not been enforcing the controversial parade permit law when it comes to Critical Mass, police have been ticketing cyclists during the ride for such infractions as not having the required lights.

A representative for TIMES UP! tells us that the cyclist in this video was arrested, held for 26 hours, and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest. One other cyclist was ticketed Friday night for riding outside the bike lane, which is not actually illegal and often necessary, considering how popular bike lanes are for double parking.

The New York Police Department has stripped a police officer of his badge and gun after a video posted on YouTube showed him body-checking a bicyclist who was part of a well-known monthly bike ride through the city.

Witnesses said the incident occurred Friday in Times Square during the Critical Mass ride, a monthly protest of urban reliance on vehicles.

The video shows the cop standing in the street as bikes whiz past. He begins to slowly walk to one side as the cyclist, Richard Vazques, approaches. Vazques appears to veer left to avoid the cop, but the officer seems to speed up his pace and then violently knocks Vazques to the ground in front of crowds of people.

"Critical Mass is a peaceful, nonviolent bicycle ride promoting the use of nonpolluting transportation," said Critical Mass participant Barbara Ross, in a statement. "There is no reason for the police to use such unprovoked violent tactics."

The NYPD placed the unidentified officer on desk duty pending the outcome of a department investigation.

Police could not confirm witnesses' reports that the Vazques was arrested and released 26 hours later.



Finally had to... there's now a "Badcop" tag for my blog. You men in uniform should be proud.


The cop not only is a chunk of trash for bodychecking the cyclist in the first place, he's now blatantly LYING about the incident. Courtesy of,

Pogan offered a fantastical version of the incident. Pogan claimed that Long drove his bicycle directly into him, knocking the cop to the ground and causing "lacerations on deponent's forearm."

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Little insight into the life of a doc....

Sid Schwab
I'm a mostly retired general surgeon. My intention is to inform, entertain, and possibly educate the reader about surgery, and about the life and loves of a surgeon: this one, anyway.

Memorable patients: part four

I didn't know her name until it was over, much too late. What I knew was she was thirteen and that on this winter day someone in her family had been pulling her behind their car, on a sled. No doubt laughing and looking in the rear-view mirror, the person driving had whipsawed around a corner, and the young girl -- probably screaming (fear? delight?) -- held onto the sled as it careened off the road and into the side of a concrete culvert. The girl took the blow in the middle of her right side. Reportedly, as they helped her up, crying, she fainted. The family member did what a family member who'd pull someone behind a car on a sled would do: took her home and laid her on the couch. About forty-five minutes after that, when she was unarousable, 911 was called. Half an hour after that, she arrived in the ER, in full cardiac arrest, which was also the way the medics had found her.

There was still electrical activity in her heart. Her pupils were dilated, we couldn't measure any blood pressure. But she was thirteen. Several IVs were started, massive fluids infused, and she started to produce a pulse. Her belly was greatly swollen. We got her to the OR before the O-negative blood arrived (it can be given fairly safely to anyone, regardless of blood type), and continued the resuscitation until it seemed possible to anesthetize her and cut her open.

Blood had filled her abdomen. I scooped it out, mopped it out, suctioned it out. Her liver looked as if someone had inserted an M-80 firecracker into it and lit it off. As soon as I'd gotten in -- you can slash inside pretty rapidly when you need to, making a nick in the upper abdomen, inserting a couple of fingers, lifting up hard, sticking the scalpel between the fingers and zipping straight south in one motion -- I'd put a clamp across her abdominal aorta, just below the diaphragm, to limit the amount of blood that could enter and leak out; plus, it helps maintain blood pressure to the head and heart. I stuffed a few packs into the crater of her liver and pressed on them. Had I gotten to the point of trying to repair the damage, it would have been hard as hell.

Instead, my aim was just to control bleeding, enough to give the assembled group of nurses and anesthesia folk time to catch up on her fluid needs, push in pint after pint of blood; try to get her stable enough to see what would happen. Clamp on the aorta: done. Pack the liver: done. Pringle maneuver: did it. For a while, we observed a sustained blood pressure, so I made ready to see what I could do about the wreckage. Then her EKG complexes started to widen. Eventually, they became slower and slower, flattening out, resistant to all the drugs that were tried. I took turns with the assistant compressing her chest. And finally, when it was beyond obvious, we stopped. In-field CPR for half an hour before arrival, plus who knows how long in arrest before the medics arrived: too little, too late.

When you close an abdomen after a failed rescue, the OR is silent. No beeps from monitors, no sighs of the ventilator, no small talk. You use a large suture on a giant needle, taking big bites of tissue, making it quick. On a thirteen year old, with a baby's beautiful skin, healthy tissues giving more resistance to the needle than usual, perfect organs disappearing from view, you are sewing through tears. You feel the loss as if it were your own.

I went alone to the family area. I've done that walk a few times: If the earth were to open up and swallow me at that point, it'd be ok with me. The mom was there, maybe a few others. Seeing the look on my face, she stepped toward me, hand in a fist, pressed against her mouth. "I'm sorry," I said. "I couldn't save her." Without a pause, the mom began beating me on the chest, with both fists, hard, yelling and moaning, crying, "What do you mean you couldn't save her? Why? Why? How could you not?" "I'm so sorry," I said, again, finding none but the predictable words. "We tried everything, but there was too much damage." Letting her beat away without raising my hands, forcing back the obvious statement: had she been brought in immediately we'd have had a chance. "Oh my God. How could you not save her? Oh my God, oh my God, oh Amy, oh Amy."

So that was her name. Amy.



Pikes Peak hillclimb - older vid, but it won several awards, and is a testament to excellent driving and the danger associated with climbing a mountain on dirt at high speeds. Several of the higher switchbacks have nothing but blue sky on the outside, going off would ruin your whole day. Impressive driving and filming. just sit through the intro and you'll be rewarded.

Pikes Peak Hill Climb Peugeot 405 T16 (5:14)

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The 2008 Perseid meteor shower

peaks on August 12th and it should be a good show. "The time to look is during the dark hours before dawn on Tuesday, August 12th," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center.

"There should be plenty of meteors--perhaps one or two every minute."

The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the comet stretches all the way back to Earth. Crossing the trail in August, Earth will be pelted by specks of comet dust hitting the atmosphere at 132,000 mph.

At that speed, even a flimsy speck of dust makes a vivid streak of light when it disintegrates--a meteor! Because, Swift-Tuttle's meteors streak out of the constellation Perseus, they are called "Perseids."

(Note: In the narrative that follows, all times are local. For instance, 9:00 pm means 9:00 pm in your time zone, where you live. )

Serious meteor hunters will begin their watch early, on Monday evening, August 11th, around 9 pm when Perseus first rises in the northeast.

This is the time to look for Perseid Earthgrazers--meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond.

"Earthgrazers are long, slow and colorful; they are among the most beautiful of meteors," says Cooke. He cautions that an hour of watching may net only a few of these at most, but seeing even one can make the whole night worthwhile.

A warm summer night. Bright meteors skipping overhead. And the peak is yet to come. What could be better?

The answer lies halfway up the southern sky: Jupiter and the gibbous Moon converge on August 11th and 12th for a close encounter in the constellation Sagittarius: sky map. It's a grand sight visible even from light-polluted cities.

For a while the beautiful Moon will interfere with the Perseids, lunar glare wiping out all but the brightest meteors. Yin-yang.

The situation reverses itself at 2 am on Tuesday morning, August 12th, when the Moon sets and leaves behind a dark sky for the Perseids. The shower will surge into the darkness, peppering the sky with dozens and perhaps hundreds of meteors until dawn.

For maximum effect, "get away from city lights," Cooke advises. The brightest Perseids can be seen from cities, he allows, but the greater flurry of faint, delicate meteors is visible only from the countryside. (Scouts, this is a good time to go camping.)

The Perseids are coming. Enjoy the show!


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So, there's a guy, "Nonybikerider" who's got some youTube videos up of my area....





Sunday, July 27, 2008

Creeping Oobleck...(1:32)...

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Two stories about how out of control our police/security have become.....

Mich. police taser Durango newlyweds during wedding reception

The Michigan wedding of Durango newlyweds Andy and Ania Somora came to an abrupt end last weekend after the bride and groom were tasered by local police and spent their wedding night in jail.

According to a news release from the Chikaming Township (Mich.) Police Department, Officer Jeff Enders responded Saturday to the Burnison Art Gallery in Lakeside, Mich., after gallery owner Judi Burnison asked for assistance with unruly guests at the Somoras' wedding reception.

Burnison, who rented the gallery to the Somoras for the reception, told Enders the party had gotten out of hand, and there were broken glasses and spilled drinks.

Burnison declined to comment Wednesday, but she said her lawyer would respond to questions.

However, no call was received as of Wednesday evening.

Enders told the assembled guests to leave, but many became upset, police said. Enders called for backup, and 14 law-enforcement agencies responded to help clear the crowd. Police said that many of the 100 guests left peacefully, but several continued to be disorderly and to swear at the officers.

However, eyewitness Kacpar Skowron, a professional Chicago photographer and friend of Ania Somora, said police overreacted and ruined a perfectly good wedding.

"My perspective is that the main officer (Enders) handling it was cool at first, but then he started threatening that everybody would be arrested. But trying to kick the party out at 11:20 (p.m.) on a wedding night when we had a contract to be there? He was a big jerk," Skowron said.

Skowron said the crowd got particularly unruly after police handcuffed Andy Somora's father and put him in the back of a police cruiser. He said the elder Somora, whom he described as "a distinguished older gentleman," was trying to talk to Enders to defuse the situation.

"I didn't believe it, but I witnessed it. It was brutal, and that's when Andy got really mad," he said.

Skowron said Andy Somora had to be restrained by police and was tasered at least twice. His wife also received a shock because she was touching her husband during one of the incidents. Skowron said husband and wife were both arrested, but Chikaming police would not confirm that claim, and no mention of the use of a taser is included in the news release.

Chikaming police arrested four men and one woman, but the department would not release the names of those arrested until they were arraigned.

The charges against those arrested include assault and battery, disorderly conduct, resisting and obstruction of police officers, and damage to property.

An arraignment was scheduled for Wednesday, and media calls were referred to Enders as the investigating officer. However, Enders was off duty Wednesday and did not return a phone call for this story.


Yeah, it's long.

Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife’s Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?

by Nicholas Monahan

This morning I’ll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn’t want to do it this way – neither of us did – but sometimes the Fates decide otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees.

On the morning of October 26th Mary and I entered Portland International Airport, en route to the Las Vegas wedding of one of my best friends. Although we live in Los Angeles, we’d been in Oregon working on a film, and up to that point had had nothing but praise to shower on the city of Portland, a refreshing change of pace from our own suffocating metropolis.

At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that’s all the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me àla a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees weren’t just examining me, but my 7½ months pregnant wife as well. I’d originally thought that I’d simply been randomly selected for the more excessive than normal search. You know, Number 50 or whatever. Apparently not though – it was both of us. These are your new threats, America: pregnant accountants and their sleepy husbands flying to weddings.

After some more grumbling on my part they eventually finished with me and I went to retrieve our luggage from the x-ray machine. Upon returning I found my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears and sobbed, "I’m’s...they touched my breasts...and..." That’s all I heard. I marched up to the woman who’d been examining her and shouted, "What did you do to her?" Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt like a clown," my wife told me later. "On display for all these people, with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That’s when you walked up."

Of course when I say she "told me later," it’s because she wasn’t able to tell me at the time, because as soon as I demanded to know what the federal employee had done to make her cry, I was swarmed by Portland police officers. Instantly. Three of them, cinching my arms, locking me in handcuffs, and telling me I was under arrest. Now my wife really began to cry. As they led me away and she ran alongside, I implored her to calm down, to think of the baby, promising her that everything would turn out all right. She faded into the distance and I was shoved into an elevator, a cop holding each arm. After making me face the corner, the head honcho told that I was under arrest and that I wouldn’t be flying that day – that I was in fact a "menace."

It took me a while to regain my composure. I felt like I was one of those guys in The Gulag Archipelago who, because the proceedings all seem so unreal, doesn’t fully realize that he is in fact being arrested in a public place in front of crowds of people for...for what? I didn’t know what the crime was. Didn’t matter. Once upstairs, the officers made me remove my shoes and my hat and tossed me into a cell. Yes, your airports have prison cells, just like your amusement parks, train stations, universities, and national forests. Let freedom reign.

After a short time I received a visit from the arresting officer. "Mr. Monahan," he started, "Are you on drugs?"

Was this even real? "No, I’m not on drugs."

"Should you be?"

"What do you mean?"

"Should you be on any type of medication?"


"Then why’d you react that way back there?"

You see the thinking? You see what passes for reasoning among your domestic shock troops these days? Only "whackos" get angry over seeing the woman they’ve been with for ten years in tears because someone has touched her breasts. That kind of reaction – love, protection – it’s mind-boggling! "Mr. Monahan, are you on drugs?" His snide words rang inside my head. This is my wife, finally pregnant with our first child after months of failed attempts, after the depressing shock of the miscarriage last year, my wife who’d been walking on a cloud over having the opportunity to be a mother...and my anger is simply unfathomable to the guy standing in front of me, the guy who earns a living thanks to my taxes, the guy whose family I feed through my labor. What I did wasn’t normal. No, I reacted like a drug addict would’ve. I was so disgusted I felt like vomiting. But that was just the beginning.

An hour later, after I’d been gallantly assured by the officer that I wouldn’t be attending my friend’s wedding that day, I heard Mary’s voice outside my cell. The officer was speaking loudly, letting her know that he was planning on doing me a favor... which everyone knows is never a real favor. He wasn’t going to come over and help me work on my car or move some furniture. No, his "favor" was this: He’d decided not to charge me with a felony.

Think about that for a second. Rapes, car-jackings, murders, arsons – those are felonies. So is yelling in an airport now, apparently. I hadn’t realized, though I should have. Luckily, I was getting a favor, though. I was merely going to be slapped with a misdemeanor.

"Here’s your court date," he said as I was released from my cell. In addition, I was banned from Portland International for 90 days, and just in case I was thinking of coming over and hanging out around its perimeter, the officer gave me a map with the boundaries highlighted, sternly warning me against trespassing. Then he and a second officer escorted us off the grounds. Mary and I hurriedly drove two and a half hours in the rain to Seattle, where we eventually caught a flight to Vegas. But the officer was true to his word – we missed my friend’s wedding. The fact that he’d been in my own wedding party, the fact that a once in a lifetime event was stolen from us – well, who cares, right?

Upon our return to Portland (I’d had to fly into Seattle and drive back down), we immediately began contacting attorneys. We aren’t litigious people – we wanted no money. I’m not even sure what we fully wanted. An apology? A reprimand? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter though, because we couldn’t afford a lawyer, it turned out. $4,000 was the average figure bandied about as a retaining fee. Sorry, but I’ve got a new baby on the way. So we called the ACLU, figuring they existed for just such incidents as these. And they do apparently...but only if we were minorities. That’s what they told us.

In the meantime, I’d appealed my suspension from PDX. A week or so later I got a response from the Director of Aviation. After telling me how, in the aftermath of 9/11, most passengers not only accept additional airport screening but welcome it, he cut to the chase:

"After a review of the police report and my discussions with police staff, as well as a review of the TSA’s report on this incident, I concur with the officer’s decision to take you into custody and to issue a citation to you for disorderly conduct. That being said, because I also understand that you were upset and acted on your emotions, I am willing to lift the Airport Exclusion Order...."

Attached to this letter was the report the officer had filled out. I’d like to say I couldn’t believe it, but in a way, I could. It’s seemingly becoming the norm in America – lies and deliberate distortions on the part of those in power, no matter how much or how little power they actually wield.

The gist of his report was this: From the get go I wasn’t following the screener’s directions. I was "squinting my eyes" and talking to my wife in a "low, forced voice" while "excitedly swinging my arms." Twice I began to walk away from the screener, inhaling and exhaling forcefully. When I’d completed the physical exam, I walked to the luggage screening area, where a second screener took a pair of scissors from my suitcase. At this point I yelled, "What the %*&$% is going on? This is &*#&$%!" The officer, who’d already been called over by one of the screeners, became afraid for the TSA staff and the many travelers. He required the assistance of a second officer as he "struggled" to get me into handcuffs, then for "cover" called over a third as well. It was only at this point that my wife began to cry hysterically.

There was nothing poetic in my reaction to the arrest report. I didn’t crumple it in my fist and swear that justice would be served, promising to sacrifice my resources and time to see that it would. I simply stared. Clearly the officer didn’t have the guts to write down what had really happened. It might not look too good to see that stuff about the pregnant woman in tears because she’d been humiliated. Instead this was the official scenario being presented for the permanent record. It doesn’t even matter that it’s the most implausible sounding situation you can think of. "Hey, what the...godammit, they’re taking our scissors, honey!" Why didn’t he write in anything about a monkey wearing a fez?

True, the TSA staff had expropriated a pair of scissors from our toiletries kit – the story wasn’t entirely made up. Except that I’d been locked in airport jail at the time. I didn’t know anything about any scissors until Mary told me on our drive up to Seattle. They’d questioned her about them while I was in the bowels of the airport sitting in my cell.

So I wrote back, indignation and disgust flooding my brain.

"[W]hile I’m not sure, I’d guess that the entire incident is captured on video. Memory is imperfect on everyone’s part, but the footage won’t lie. I realize it might be procedurally difficult for you to view this, but if you could, I’d appreciate it. There’s no willful disregard of screening directions. No explosion over the discovery of a pair of scissors in a suitcase. No struggle to put handcuffs on. There’s a tired man, early in the morning, unhappily going through a rigorous procedure and then reacting to the tears of his pregnant wife."

Eventually we heard back from a different person, the guy in charge of the TSA airport screeners. One of his employees had made the damning statement about me exploding over her scissor discovery, and the officer had deftly incorporated that statement into his report. We asked the guy if he could find out why she’d said this – couldn’t she possibly be mistaken? "Oh, can’t do that, my hands are tied. It’s kind of like leading a witness – I could get in trouble, heh heh." Then what about the videotape? Why not watch that? That would exonerate me. "Oh, we destroy all video after three days."

Sure you do.

A few days later we heard from him again. He just wanted to inform us that he’d received corroboration of the officer’s report from the officer’s superior, a name we didn’t recognize. "But...he wasn’t even there," my wife said.

"Yeah, well, uh, he’s corroborated it though."

That’s how it works.

"Oh, and we did look at the videotape. Inconclusive."

But I thought it was destroyed?

On and on it went. Due to the tenacity of my wife in making phone calls and speaking with relevant persons, the "crime" was eventually lowered to a mere citation. Only she could have done that. I would’ve simply accepted what was being thrown at me, trumped up charges and all, simply because I’m wholly inadequate at performing the kowtow. There’s no way I could have contacted all the people Mary did and somehow pretend to be contrite. Besides, I speak in a low, forced voice, which doesn’t elicit sympathy. Just police suspicion.

Weeks later at the courthouse I listened to a young DA awkwardly read the charges against me – "Mr. Monahan...umm...shouted obscenities at the airport staff...umm... umm...oh, they took some scissors from his suitcase and he became...umm...abusive at this point." If I was reading about it in Kafka I might have found something vaguely amusing in all of it. But I wasn’t. I was there. Living it.

I entered a plea of nolo contendere, explaining to the judge that if I’d been a resident of Oregon, I would have definitely pled "Not Guilty." However, when that happens, your case automatically goes to a jury trial, and since I lived a thousand miles away, and was slated to return home in seven days, with a newborn due in a matter of get the picture. "No Contest" it was. Judgment: $250 fine.

Did I feel happy? Only $250, right? No, I wasn’t happy. I don’t care if it’s twelve cents, that’s money pulled right out of my baby’s mouth and fed to a disgusting legal system that will use it to propagate more incidents like this. But at the very least it was over, right? Wrong.

When we returned to Los Angeles there was an envelope waiting for me from the court. Inside wasn’t a receipt for the money we’d paid. No, it was a letter telling me that what I actually owed was $309 – state assessed court costs, you know. Wouldn’t you think your taxes pay for that – the state putting you on trial? No, taxes are used to hire more cops like the officer, because with our rising criminal population – people like me – hey, your average citizen demands more and more "security."

Finally I reach the piece de resistance. The week before we’d gone to the airport my wife had had her regular pre-natal checkup. The child had settled into the proper head down position for birth, continuing the remarkable pregnancy she’d been having. We returned to Portland on Sunday. On Mary’s Monday appointment she was suddenly told, "Looks like your baby’s gone breech." When she later spoke with her midwives in Los Angeles, they wanted to know if she’d experienced any type of trauma recently, as this often makes a child flip. "As a matter of fact..." she began, recounting the story, explaining how the child inside of her was going absolutely crazy when she was crying as the police were leading me away through the crowd.

My wife had been planning a natural childbirth. She’d read dozens of books, meticulously researched everything, and had finally decided that this was the way for her. No drugs, no numbing of sensations – just that ultimate combination of brute pain and sheer joy that belongs exclusively to mothers. But my wife is also a first-time mother, so she has what is called an "untested" pelvis. Essentially this means that a breech birth is too dangerous to attempt, for both mother and child. Therefore, she’s now relegated to a c-section – hospital stay, epidural, catheter, fetal monitoring, stitches – everything she didn’t want. Her natural birth has become a surgery.

We’ve tried everything to turn that baby. Acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, underwater handstands, elephant walking, moxibustion, bending backwards over pillows, herbs, external manipulation – all to no avail. When I walked into the living room the other night and saw her plaintively cooing with a flashlight turned onto her stomach, yet another suggested technique, my heart almost broke. It’s breaking now as I write these words.

I can never prove that my child went breech because of what happened to us at the airport. But I’ll always believe it. Wrongly or rightly, I’ll forever think of how this man, the personification of this system, has affected the lives of my family and me. When my wife is sliced open, I’ll be thinking of him. When they remove her uterus from her abdomen and lay it on her stomach, I’ll be thinking of him. When I visit her and my child in the hospital instead of having them with me here in our home, I’ll be thinking of him. When I assist her to the bathroom while the incision heals internally, I’ll be thinking of him.

There are plenty of stories like this these days. I don’t know how many I’ve read where the writer describes some breach of civil liberties by employees of the state, then wraps it all up with a dire warning about what we as a nation are becoming, and how if we don’t put an end to it now, then we’re in for heaps of trouble. Well you know what? Nothing’s going to stop the inevitable. There’s no policy change that’s going to save us. There’s no election that’s going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It’s here already – this country has changed for the worse and will continue to change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.

And that’s the first thing that child of ours is going to learn.


I continue to see and hear the erosion of individual rights in this country, the fearmongering and the increasingly arrogant attitude of those who are supposed to protect the public, the absence of any accountability or responsibility. Sad times.

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Winter Road Damage Limits Access to Windy Ridge on the East Side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Forest Road 99, which provides access to the Windy Ridge viewpoint, has opened to the Bear Meadows interpretive site. Forest road crews recently encountered several areas affected by heavy snow pack and winter storm damage on this high elevation road (see photos posted at the bottom of this release). A major failure of Forest Road 99, which accesses the east side of the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument (MSHNVM), will prevent visitors, for the remainder of the summer, from accessing the popular Windy Ridge viewpoint over looking Spirit Lake as well as the northeast side of the volcano. Forest personnel are completing road damage reports.

Visitors will only be able to access Windy Ridge on foot or by bicycle, as the road will remain closed to motor vehicles until further notice. It is approximately 11 miles one way from Bear Meadows to Wind Ridge. Forest staff recommend that visitors with RV’s and trailers leave these at the Wakepish Sno-Park, at the junction of Roads 99 and 25, as parking at Bear Meadows is limited.

The following is a list of approximate one way mileages from Bear Meadows to sites along Forest Road 99:

* To the Blast Edge Viewpoint: 1.5 miles
* To Meta Lake and the Miners Car: 4 miles
* To the Norway Pass Trailhead: 5 miles
* To Cascade Peaks View Point: 6 miles
* To the Independence Pass Trailhead: 7 miles
* To the Harmony Trailhead: 9 miles
* To the Windy Ridge Viewpoint: 11 miles.

The 17-mile Forest Road 99 enters the core of the area devastated by the 1980 eruption, and terminates at the Windy Ridge viewpoint. It offers views of Spirit Lake, the debris avalanche, and the northeast side of the volcano and crater.

In the late 1980’s the road was upgraded, as a result of a major reconstruction effort, to a two lane asphalt standard. Side slopes are often very steep, and much of the outside lane was constructed on fill material of deep pumice soils. Once the snow melts out in the late spring, there are typically small slides and minor damage to the shoulders of this road. These slides can normally be cleared through routine maintenance activities.

Heavy snow this past winter delayed the typical opening date, normally between Memorial Day and mid-June. Fall storms also battered the area, which resulted in emergency declarations for surrounding counties. This may have triggered or accelerated the failures.

Forest Road 25 on the east side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument opened recently. This road provides key north/south access from Randle and Packwood to Swift Reservoir and other areas on the south end, and also on the east side of the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Drivers and motorcycle riders should use caution on Forest Road 25 as some road areas may have settled; and rocks and other debris may be on the road bed. The road offers several views of Mount St. Helens. Secondary roads off of Forest Road 25 may have snowdrifts, fallen trees, and rocks.

On the north end of Forest Road 25, the Woods Creek bridge project will enable coho salmon to access additional habitat in Woods Creek. A temporary bridge bypass allows drivers to access Forest Road 25 with only minor delays at milepost 4, south of Randle, Washington. This bridge project has begun.

Looks like one of my favourite motorcycle road will be out of commission for some time. Too Bad.


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Like the audio from a Youtube vid? If you wanted it, you had to get a .flv downloader, download, then convert it to an audio format. Many steps. This site does all the work for you, just copy/paste the Http: address of the video, then click the download link to download the mp3 it extracts. Easy.

Three caveats, though. The site only give fairly low quality files, and they don't store anything locally, so the download button disappears in a relatively short time frame whether you've pressed it or not. Last, there's one of those intensely annoying autoplaying audio ads on the site, too

Just want to keep the video?.....

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built in series

With its 3.47 meters total length, the GUNBUS 410 reveals to be the most perfect combination of a tremendous performance potential and a well-balanced design: an overwhelming monument made of steel and aluminium.

Due to the unusual dimensions of the individual vehicle components, it was an extremely interesting challenge to realize the overall concept of building this motorcycle, including the demanding mechanical and technical requirements.

Just a look at this massive, 410 cubic inches, two-cylinder V-type engine in a standing position makes you feel the huge elemental force resting in this fascinating aggregate.

It is the classical, clear and elegant shape of this motorcycle in prefect harmony with its distinctive, mechanical design which lets the GUNBUS 410 appear to be an especially charismatic vehicle with an irresistible visual effect. And moreover, since the creation of GUNBUS terms such as size and performance have been given a completely different meaning.

Technical Data


* 2-cylinder; V-type arrangement
* Cylinder angle: 45°
* Stroke of piston: 176 mm
* Boring diameter: 156 mm
* Piston capacity: 6728 cm³, 410 cu inches
* Compression ratio: 8,7 : 1
* Maximum engine torque: 710 Nm at 1900 RPM


* 3-gear sequential transmission with reverse gear


* 3-disk, sintered metal dry clutch
* Diameter: 140 mm
* Hydraulic operation

Driving gear:

* Primary driving gear: duplex roller chain, 1"x 11/16"
* Secondary driving gear: single roller chain, 1"x 11/16"


* Steel tube frame; 25CrMo4; TIG welding
* Steering head angle: 65°
* Steel tube trapezoidal fork; 25CrMo4

Mixture control:

* 2 single throttle valves; 70 mm diameter
* Sequential fuel injection; lambda-controlled
* Regulated catalytic converter; dual ignition
* Electronic engine management with switch-off slip control


* Front: 38” diameter; 11” width; Manufacturer: RIGDON, Germany
* Rear: 42” diameter; 15” width; Manufacturer: RIGDON, Germany

Braking system:

* Front: two disks; 310 mm diameter
* Rear: one disk; 310 mm diameter


* Dry sump lubrication

Dimension and weights:

* Total length of vehicle: 3450 mm
* Wheel base: 2410 mm
* Total height: 1480 mm
* Sitting height: 800 mm
* Total weight, empty/curb weight: 650 kg

The site

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