Category Archives: Dramatic

A robot security guard is terrifying homeless people in San Francisco

NY Post

The San Francisco SPCA, a non-profit whose mission is “to save and protect animals … and enhance the human-animal bond,” is reportedly doing just the opposite with its latest robot security guard.

It is terrifying homeless people that hang out near the SPCA building in the Mission section of the city, which was part of its objective, but it is freaking out residents as well.
According to San Francisco Business Times, the robot ─ dubbed K9 ─ was put into place to try and deal with the number of needles, car break-ins and other crimes that have reportedly come from a nearby encampment of homeless people.

“We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment,” Jennifer Scarlett, the SPCA’s president, said in an interview with the San Francisco Business Times.

After the SPCA implemented the robot, Scarlett said homeless encampments disappeared and fewer cars were broken into. She added that it was not clear whether the robot was the cause of the decrease in crime, but that there was a correlation.

Upon seeing the robot, some of the people in the encampment expressed their annoyance, putting barbecue sauce on its sensors, knocking it over and putting a tarp on it, Scarlett said.

The people in the homeless encampment were not the only ones who were freaked out by the robot.

San Francisco resident Fran Taylor, who lives near the SPCA location, said the robot approached her and her dog while she was out for a walk. The dog began barking and attempted to go near it, while she yelled at it to stop. The robot eventually stopped 10 feet away from her.

Taylor wound up writing a letter to the SPCA, expressing her displeasure after her run-in with the robot. The SPCA responded saying it had security concerns and that the robot was part of its solution.

Last week, the city of San Francisco ordered the SPCA to keep its robot off the sidewalks or it would face a $1,000-a-day penalty for operating it in the public right-of-way without a permit.

This is not the first run-in citizens around the country have had with robot security guards.

In January, a Knightscope robot was seen patrolling the streets of New York City and attracted the attention of curious onlookers.

In April, a man in Mountain View, California attacked a 300-pound security K5 robot made by Knightscope on the company’s campus. He claimed he was trying to “test” the robot and was ultimately charged with being drunk in public and a Knightscope employee requested his arrest for prowling.

In July, a Knightscope robot drowned itself, falling into a fountain after it was “hired” to patrol a Washington, DC office building.


What is the difference between renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel – if any?

From Nestle News via California Rail News

Lower emissions, cleaner, and more efficiently burning than traditional biodiesel, with better cold and storage properties. Many motorists are not aware of the differences between Neste’s renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel, even though they should be.

High-quality renewable diesel (also known as Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil or HVO) and traditional biodiesel (also known as Fatty Acid Methyl Ester or FAME) are often confused. They are, however, different products, even though both are made from organic biomasses. The differences can be found, for example, in their production process, cleanliness, and quality.

Premium-quality, HVO-type Neste Renewable Diesel is made primarily from waste and residues. In the production process, impurities are removed from the raw materials which are then hydrotreated at a high temperature. The outcome is a colorless and odorless fuel of an even quality that has an identical chemical composition with fossil diesel. It is also often called an “advanced biofuel” or “second-generation biofuel”.

Traditional, first-generation FAME-type biodiesel, on the other hand, is produced by esterifying vegetable oils or fats. The esterification process restricts the use of poor quality or impure raw materials, such as waste and residues. The quality of traditional biodiesel varies also in other respects according to the raw materials used.

Only renewable diesel can be used as such

Even though both bio-based fuels help in replacing fossil fuels with renewables and thereby reduce global climate emissions, only renewable diesel can be used in high concentrations and even as a standalone product in all diesel engines. The use of renewable diesel in high concentrations and as such became recently even easier in Europe thanks to a new EN 15940 standard. In the U.S., the product has already been used in high concentrations as the diesel fuel quality requirements there differ from the European ones.

From the perspective of chemical composition, conventional fossil diesel and renewable diesel are both hydrocarbons. Traditional biodiesel is an esther, which may cause problems in some motor engines. This is why the use of traditional biodiesel is still limited to a maximum concentration of 7% in Europe (based on EN 590 diesel standard), and up to 20% in other parts of the world, varying from country to country and state to state. Any higher concentrations can cause problems, such as damage to the rubber and plastics parts in the fuels system or carbon build-up in the engine. Traditional biodiesel can also absorb water, which may result in microbial growth in the fuel tank during storage.

It may also contain impurities due to the raw materials used or the production process. Modern automotive technology and advanced engines have considerably higher requirements for the quality of the fuel, after all.

No special requirements for the vehicle, stands cold and storage

The user of Neste Renewable Diesel does not need to fear microbial growth caused by impurities, which could clog the fuel filters of the car. Its use does not increase the frequency of the periodic maintenance of the car or need for oil changes, either, which is something that might happen with some traditional biodiesels. Its use does not require any modifications to the fuel systems of the vehicle, regardless of the age or make of the car. In other words, renewable diesel can be taken into use right away.

Neste Renewable Diesel is made for cold, even arctic conditions. Its properties are identical to the highest-quality fossil diesels. The motorist does not have to fear that the car breaking down on the road even in the coldest winter temperatures.

The high cetane number, 75-95, means that the fuel burns cleanly and the car engine gets more power. It also makes starting the car engine easier in cold temperatures and decreases fuel consumption, especially when driving in an urban environment.

The cetane number of traditional biofuels is usually 50-60, and their cold resistance and shelf life of are considerably weaker. With them, problems related to cold temperatures have been observed even at mild temperatures of +5 °C (41 °F).

Cleaner air both locally and globally

The greenhouse gas emissions of renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel are both smaller than those from fossil diesel, but renewable diesel is better option also in this respect.

When renewable diesel is used in 100% concentration, the carbon emissions from traffic are most effectively reduced and reaching of global climate targets best supported. For example, the renewable diesel produced by Neste in 2015 reduced greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming by 6.4 million metric tons. This corresponds to permanent removal of 2.3 million passenger cars from the roads.

The use of Neste Renewable Diesel also reduces particle, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions. These tailpipe emissions affect the quality of local air in particular. Renewable diesel is, thus, an excellent choice also in urban conditions, such as for buses, waste transport, emergency response vehicles, and corresponding applications.

All in all, the renewable diesel and traditional biodiesel differ quite a lot; in fact, they are two completely different products. Because renewable diesel is a cleaner, higher quality product that stands cold and storage much better than traditional biodiesel, the benefits that renewable diesel offers to the vehicle, the motorist, and ultimately the climate are the greatest when 100% renewable diesel is used.

Blocking Viet Nam Troop Trains

Picture above is protestors blocking a troop train.

Over 40 million men and women served in W.W.II and almost every one of them rode a Troop Train during that war. In the latter part of the war on any given day over one million servicemen were riding a Troop Train. The US was averaging 2500 Troop Trains a month.

We continued to use trains to transport soldiers during the Korean War. Large numbers of military units in the eastern half of the US rode trains to the West Coast to ship out to Japan, and then Korea.

The last major troop train to be used was in 1965 when 15,000 men and their equipment from the 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) rode the rails from Ft. Riley, Kansas, to Oakland, California on their way to Vietnam. I never realized at the time I “rode” in it that it was the last major one. Makes sense though. By 1965, passenger was passé. It was probably tough to find all the equipment. What we had was a bunch of “rainbow” trains.

During W.W.I and W.W.II railway bridges and tunnels were guarded to prevent sabotage from disrupting the critical flow of troops and supplies. When the 1st Infantry Division deployed to Vietnam many of the same bridges were guarded against American war protesters trying to stop the Army from sending solders to another foreign battle ground. Times had changed since the Pearl Harbor generation rode the rails to war.

My one and only involvement with troop trains was to go from Junction City, Kansas to Oakland, California in September, 1965. I never made a written record of this trip (who expected to be writing about it 25 years later and besides I had other things on my mind). I was part of a large movement of several trains but not in a position to know how many trains were required, what type of equipment was required, or the routes. Both men and equipment went West and not all trains took the same route.

The 1st Infantry Division consisted of 15,000 men and tons upon tons of equipment. As much as possible, our equipment was packed in containers which we trucked to rail sidings. Vehicles were driven on flat cars and then tied down. Fortunately, Fort Riley, Kansas had ample sidings at several spots. It was on the Union Pacific. Junction City was not a big rail center; it was named for the junction of two rivers, not the junction of two railroads (although a Katy branch once ran there and a Union Pacific branch to Concordia was intact but out of service). The Rock Island ran on the other side of the fort (a 104-mile branch between Belleville on the Colorado line and McFarland on the Tucumcari line), but was not used at all for this troop movement.

The trip began early in the morning (doesn’t everything in the Army?). I rode in a Union Pacific sleeper consisting of 4 double bedrooms, 4 compartments and 2 drawing rooms. I was approximately fifteen cars back but every once in a while I could spot at least three cab units pulling us. Our diner was also Union Pacific and had real china, glasses and tablecloths. While I was an officer, I understand that everybody in the division had comparable transportation. A 1940-era draftee would have felt out of place.

1965 was near the end of good intercity rail transportation. My understanding was that Pullman was contractor to the military to assemble the equipment. They pulled equipment from railroads all over the country. The resulting trains looked like the “rainbow trains” in the first years of Amtrak.

We ran day and night, but held up several times for as long as two hours. We went west to Denver, then through Wyoming to Utah. At Ogden, we ended up on the Southern Pacific “Overland Route” through Reno and Sacramento to Oakland. The trip was almost 1900 miles and not as interesting as trains in the East. Remember Reno in the middle of the night: not very sophisticated looking place! The only real excitement was as we neared Oakland and each grade crossing was protected by National Guardsmen (the first train had delays because of war protestors). At Oakland, we pulled onto a siding that ran right on to the dock. This gave us only a short walk to the transport that sailed us across the Pacific.


Find other great stories on the military


Hurricanes and Rain East Coast US

Steady rain drenched much of the East Coast on Wednesday, flooding roads, closing schools and forcing some people from their homes. And forecasters say the worst is yet to come.

The rainstorms may soon be joined by Hurricane Joaquin in a powerful weather system that could linger for days and dump as much as 10 inches through early next week in some places. The deluge has the potential to saturate the ground so heavily that trees topple onto power lines even without heavy winds.

“The bottom line is: We are expecting very heavy rains all the way from the Carolinas up into new England,” said Bruce Terry, lead forecaster for the government’s Weather Prediction Center.

Before the hurricane draws close to the U.S., an area of low pressure in the Southeast and a front stalled over the East Coast will pull moisture from the Atlantic Ocean that falls as rain over the next few days, Terry said.

The heaviest rain is expected in wide swaths of North Carolina and Virginia, along with parts of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, according to a National Weather Service forecast map.

How Philly’s Businesses Are Prepping for the Pope

If you had to, could you double your staff in one weekend for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

That’s what many companies are going through as they prepare for the more than 1 million people visiting Philadelphia this weekend. Most of the visitors are coming to see Pope Francis and attend the World Meeting of Families, the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families, held every three years. Pope Francis will appear at the World Meeting’s closing ceremonies Sept. 26 and will celebrate Mass the following day.

The influx, which local reports estimate will yield a $420-million economic impact (including 100,000 short-term jobs), is both a privilege and a headache to the many businesses involved.

The privilege, they say, is participating firsthand in a transcendent, singular event. “It’s not just a religious occasion, it’s a cultural moment,” notes Jonah Berger, Wharton professor and bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On. “It’s something people want to be a part of, whether just to see it, or to be able to tell their kids they were there.”

Read more about the Pope’s visit


Read more about tourism in Philadelphia




The Raven's Nest

I wonder why and when do children stop asking?

It is nested in the higher ground above the sacred door.

Only one at a time can reach it through the snail staircase: an uneven wooden spiral. Alone you climb and all light is withdrawn. You can only face yourself and all your hopes to play it right.

There it is now, sitting on a narrow ledge with an outstanding view of the choirs steps. It is fragile and the heavy instrument seems so out of place in such a small space. A raven’s nest.

You made it finally, there is no higher and you know it, not even the preacher can order you. Master and commander of the flock’s voices towards all divinities, you have the power to ask, but you don’t. You won’t anymore, not because you know the answers, but because you accepted you will never know them.

Why and…

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Texas Pizza Worker Saves Kidnapped Child

The Feels

On July 9, Courtney Best, 26, stepped outside of the Papa Murphy’s pizza in Corpus Christi, Tx. where she works, for a quick cigarette. Instead of going out back—her normal routine–for a smoke, on this day, she stepped out front and the move may have saved child’s life.

“I stepped outside, I was standing by the trashcan, and I [saw] a white car pull up, and I just happen to take my phone with me, cause we don’t look at our phones at work, and I looked down and I saw ‘white Dodge Avenger Amber Alert,’ and I was like, ‘Nah, that’s not him,'”

Courtney Best Being Interviewed

The Amber Alert was for 7-year-old Nicolas Gomez who had been abducted from Alice, Tx.

Best told the news station that she saw the man who was with a child but still wasn’t convinced that the person was suspect.

“The man was walking across the parking…

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