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Something Between The GS 300 And GS 400

Dissatisfied with the old GS 300, Lexus decided to start over, almost from scratch. The result is not one but two new cars: the GS 300, powered by an in-line six-cylinder engine, and the V-8 equipped gs 400. Both are mid-sized 4-door sedans whose declared mission is to upset the BMW-Mercedes applecart.

Inside

The inviting, easily accessible cabin has very comfortable seats upholstered in leather and equipped with power lumbar support. The driving position is very good, and the tilt- telescopic steering wheel retracts when the ignition key is removed to facilitate entry and exit. The driver’s-side seating memory (seat, mirrors and steering-column) can only be activated with the   transmission  in Park.

The rear bench can comfortably accommodate two adults, as long as they are not too tall — head room is tight.

The trunk is bigger than before but still just average in size, with a dual-level floor that adds nothing to practicality. The rear seat back does not fold and does not have a port to accommodate long objects.

Convenience and safety

The GS is impeccably fitted and finished but can get a bit noisy on rough pavement. Of the many storage compartments, the glove compartment is especially impressive; it houses a six-CD disc changer as well as a pollen filter.

Everything in the GS bears the stamp of quality. The various controls have a solid feel, and all are ergonomically perfect. Our one small complaint concerns the click of the turn signals, which is practically inaudible.

Comfort and convenience features include an excellent dual-zone climate system with separate driver- and passenger-side controls, and a powerful audio system.

The analog dashboard information is projected into deep dials. The projection is clear and easy to read, never tiring for the eyes.

Safety features include dual front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control, and lockable head restraints. Xenon headlamps turn night into day; other headlamps pale in comparison. The view to the rear is limited by the rear head restraints, spoiler and small window.

Engine and  transmission 

The silky-smooth engine is lively and progressive through most of the rev range, thanks to Lexus’s VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence) system. Acceleration, both standing and passing, is adequate but timid compared to the gs 400.

The six-cylinder engine is melodious, if not spirited. More work is required to make the accelerator more progressive and communicative, and to rid it of its artificial fee.

The  transmission  is normally very smooth, but it can be slow to downshift in quick stop-and-go driving or when slowing almost to a stop, then re-accelerating. Combined with the jerky accelerator, this can generate abrupt, annoying shifts, inconsistent with Lexus’s “Relentless pursuit of perfection”.

Roadability

The GS 300 offers a very smooth ride, occasionally firm, never uncomfortable and perfectly compatible with its sport sedan status. The 300 has a very firm grip, a solid feel, and is agile and easy to handle on winding roads. When it detects a skid, the VSC (vehicle skid control) system applies the brakes selectively at one or more wheels while reducing engine power. Despite the feeling of safety, drivers should ignore the temptation to override the laws of physics.

Quick and precise, steering is a bit heavy at slow speed and should provide more road feedback. The brake pedal requires a firm foot to obtain full braking power.

The GS 300 is impeccably built underneath, an examination at the CAA-Quebec inspection showed.

Conclusion

Lexus classes its GS vehicles as luxury sport sedans. While the six-cylinder engine may not fully merit the “sport” label, the GS 300 is nonetheless a finely balanced car offering inspiring handling. Careful construction, quality materials and generous standard equipment are an added appeal in a vehicle built by a company recognized for the reliability of its products.

Automatic Motorcycles

German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach first developed motorcycles in 1885. It was a revolutionary petroleum-powered means of transportation that had provisions for a pair of stabilizing wheels. It came to be known as the riding car. Former models were large, bulky and had poor handling capabilities. Development of motorcycles began to progress after the First World War that saw extensive use of motorcycles, especially by Germans. These models were made with the help of new internal combustion engines that many manufacturers and producers of bicycles adapted in their designs.

Motorcycles were widely used as an economical solution to deal with rising prices of transportation. Prices of motorcycles were high at that time but yielded better returns over a period of time. As new internal combustion engines became additionally powerful and designs outgrew its bicycle origins, the number of motorcycle producers reduced. India was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles until Harley Davidson launched its bikes in the market in 1928.

Motorcycles are moderately complicated machines that make use of a “chassis” to support other parts of the bike, a “fairing” to mask the front end of the handle, “suspensions” to absorb shocks and reduce wear and tear of the motorcycle, wheels, an engine, a   transmission , and brakes. These are a few basic elements of a bike, along with some more technical mechanics involved, such as oil tank, chains, odometers, and so on. The engine comes in two variants where one of them is a popular option for most due to its simple usage.

Automatic Motorcycles eliminate the hassle of frequently changing gears during traffic or other stops. Nevertheless, manual  transmission  is preferred as it is more economical that the automatic  transmission  models. Auto  transmission  feature takes a toll on the fuel consumption of the bike. Young people find it easy to use automatic Motorcycles because this operation is less complicated and the performance is comparable for limited use.

While purchasing an Automatic Motorcycle it is advisable to opt for a 4-stroke engine as it provides better fuel economy.

Metal Fabricators – A Boon to Metallurgy

Every now and then, we keep hearing of the term ‘steel metal fabrication’. But have you ever wondered what metal fabricators are used for? This article will give you a glimpse into the world of fabrication and how it is fast becoming the next big thing in metallurgy.

As the term suggests, fabrication means constructing metal structures with the aid of cutting, bending and assembling. The processes of shearing, sawing and chiseling are utilized for the cutting part. The bending of the metal is done by hammering or by using press brakes which can be done both manually and by using power. Last but not the least, the assembling process is conducted by welding, and then attaching them with adhesive, riveting or threaded fasteners.

The metals which are essentially required for steel fabrication are structural steel and sheet metal. Besides these, one also requires welding wires, flux and fasteners to attach the metal cut pieces. For the process of metal fabrication both human labor and automation is required. The final products are sold in shops which also specialize in metal stamping forging and casting.

Steel metal fabrication is used in various segments and we will explore various areas where it is extensively used. It is generally used in fabrication and machine shops which basically deal with metal assembly and preparation. In these shops, metals are dismantled and cut and they also deal with machines and tools. Black smiths also use the process of metal fabrication and so do welders to create weldments. Boiler makers and mill wrights who set up saw and grain mills extensively also extensively make use of metal fabricators. The steel erectors or iron workers use prefabricated segments in order to initiate the structural work and then they are transported to the work site by means of truck and rail where they are installed by the erectors.

The technique of metal fabrication involves changing metals from one form to another. There are various classes of the fabrication process including structural, architectural, ornamental, recreational and artistic. If you are interested in fabricating a metal you have to determine whether it contains iron or is ferrous or whether it is non-ferrous. You have to choose the appropriate welding instrument which will correspond to the metal which you are going to fabricate. Before beginning the work you have to prepare a well-laid plan which includes the details relating to rolling, bending and bolting metal pieces together to create a highly specialized structural piece of work.

Finding Gas Scooter Parts

From time to time pretty much any vehicle will break down or have mechanical issues and need to be fixed – that’s a given. This is true of electric or gas scooters and motor bikes. This can get expensive, especially if you have to pay for both the parts and the labor. If you are mechanically inclined, you might be able to fix a lot of problems on your own, as long as you know what is wrong with your scooter and what parts are needed to fix it.

There are many ways to get gas scooter parts. You can always go the easy route and take the bike to a mechanic, who will be able to both get the necessary parts and fix the bike. This is probably the most expensive way to go however. You can also go to a parts store and see if they have whatever you need. They may or may not have it, but most times they will be willing to order it for you.

The easiest thing to do might just be to go on the internet and order the part from the comfort of your own home. There are a number of websites that sell scooter parts, and most make it easy for you to locate just the right part. They allow you to search by the part or by the make and model of your bike so that you can make sure you choose the right thing. You might have to pay a shipping charge, but if you find the parts on sale somewhere you could end up saving money even with the shipping.

Whether you need a starter or a part for your   transmission , you can find what you are looking for on the internet. Even if you don’t have one of the new models of gas scooters or electric bikes, you are likely to be able to find what you need with a little bit of searching. Searching the internet is much easier than going to a lot of different parts places looking for what you need, so this is probably the best way to go if you want to purchase the parts to do a repair on your own.

In With the Nu

AS YOU sit in one of the small and scruffy departure lounges at Kunming Airport, waiting for the connecting flight to Xishuangbanna in the southwest, you turn your attention to two large billboards situated prominently near the windows facing the cluttered airstrip. The posters, with glossy defiance, celebrate the ongoing construction of two large hydropower stations on the Jinsha River, the western branch of the Yangtze. The plants, built also to reduce the siltation pressures on the Three Gorges Dam further downstream, are airbrushed in clean and shiny whites and greys, and the water around them remains a perfect and implausible blue.

They are among many such construction projects currently being considered in Yunnan, where economic development has been given the priority above almost everything else, and where power corporations from the east have been rushing to take advantage. A project that will eventually submerge the celebrated Tiger Leaping Gorge – on the section of the Jinsha north of Dali – is also underway, arousing significant international opposition. The International Rivers Network says that the damage caused by the flooding of the valley to the local ‘cultural heritage sites’ will be ‘irreplaceable’. They are also concerned by the irreversible changes to a unique ecosystem.

Meanwhile, the provincial capital of Kunming continues to grow. The train station, renowned as the most unbearable in the whole of China, is still surrounded by rubble and temporary wooden partitions marking some new road or building. The entire city, cowed by roadblocks and scaffolds, picked at by cranes, seems – like many others in China – to be on the verge of an explosion. As the government slogan announces, peremptory and beyond refute, ‘Development is inevitable’.

In the far west of Yunnan, the untouched Nu River seemed to have been given something of a reprieve a few months ago. China’s single remaining virgin waterway, which winds north through some of the province’s most beautiful landscape, was about to be given a big seeing-to by the nation’s energy-mad authorities. Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao was said to have intervened personally, asking developers to reconsider their plans. Still, one imagines that the ‘rape’ of the Nu is just a question of time.

The philosopher, Martin Heidegger, chose to illustrate the two different approaches to nature by comparing the construction of a bridge with the construction of a hydroelectric dam. Modern technology, he wrote, was ‘a manner of unprotecting’ nature. A bridge, connecting up the two banks, shows ‘respect’ for the river, but a hydropower station actually turns nature into part of its own ‘inventory’. The power plant is not built into the river, but the river is built into the power plant.

To illustrate the difference in perspectives, Heidegger compared the Rhine as part of the inventory of modern technology with the Rhine described in a poem by Holderlin. After it has been devastated by technology, the river remains as ‘a provided object of inspection by a party of tourists sent there by a vacation industry’. Such a description seems appropriate in modern Yunnan. While the power companies work their way through the region’s rivers, foreign and domestic tourists have transformed old cities such as Dali and Lijiang, and plans to improve the transportation infrastructure to the west and to the south will see the character of prefectures such as Xishuangbanna and the Nu River changed beyond recognition.

There are a number of small bridges connecting the banks of the Nu, but the favoured means of crossing by the local farmers seems even purer than that. Hooking themselves into a harness consisting of a rope and a piece of flat canvas, they sweep back and forth at massive speeds on a cable attached to a couple of trees, and carry bags of cement, grain and sometimes even livestock between their knees as they do so. One farmer agreed to carry me. Slung across the grey autumn waters and into a patch of worn grass on the Nu River’s left bank, the bowel-shaking fear quickly gave way to a sense of exhilaration.

I was taking a long ride from Dali with an incompetent local tour guide to the town of Liuku in western Yunnan, right on the bank of the Nu River. The area is a picture of health, ruddy and rugged and robustly green. Farmers spin past on motorbikes, trading chunks of meat with local guest houses and restaurants. At one stop along the way, situated on a bend on a country road, a three-legged horse skipped past – cheerfully enough, considering the circumstances. The half-whistle, half-bleat of the local birds could be heard everywhere. Tiny communities lived in wooden shacks on the hills, emerging on Tuesdays to trade at the local markets.

It was tempting to call the place quaint, and worthy of any preservation order that might be made to stick. It was, however, dirt-poor, and though much better and much more lively than a decade or so ago (according to our guide), most of the people living here would love to replace their stilted huts, their latrines, their drafty outhouses, with new buildings and indoor plumbing.

Usually, it is only outsiders who get sentimental. We, after all, can go home somewhere else. One isn’t entirely sure that the life of the poor throughout China would be improved by any degree were their barns, their slums, their shanty towns to become ‘heritage sites’. On the other hand, it is clear that the mass destruction caused by economic growth is not of much benefit to the communities affected. It is also clear that the ecology of Yunnan – one of the most varied and vibrant in China – is being put under threat.

Still, crossing the upper reaches of the Mekong, watching the silt-filled, chocolate-coloured waves and negotiating the old van past the piles of rocks cast down during a recent landslide, one cannot fail to be impressed somehow. I have been bruised, stupefied and generally thrown about by hundreds of poor-quality roads throughout China. Here, the biggest challenge was the occasional ford cutting across a narrow but mostly impeccable mountain pass. In harsh conditions, the road builders had performed well.

Roads are the big thing in Yunnan. Plans are underway to complete a regional high-speed road network that will connect Kunming with Singapore. Coming back from the wild elephant park in Xishuangbanna, we were halted by a fleet of trucks and steamrollers inching along to assist a team of miscellaneously-dressed labourers spreading grit across the tracks. Above us was the skeleton of an overpass, its bare stanchions planted in the fields nearby. The old road will eventually become superfluous for the majority of freight traffic surging through the region and into southeast Asia. Things will change, we thought, and Jinghong, the region’s major city but run at a painfully slow pace, will no doubt be brought up to speed by an opportunistic migrant population from Sichuan or the northeast.

LIUKU is a small urban centre and trading spot for the hundreds of small counties and villages scattered throughout the area, several hundred kilometres west of Dali. Whatever purists might think, the locals would love it if streams of tourists were suddenly to pour in from the more fashionable areas further east, but apart from the way it nestles comfortably – if a little chaotically – in the mountains running along the banks of the Nu, there is little to distinguish the place. Its greatest advantage is its location, and visitors note the great potential of the riverfront, where a couple of cafes now provide much of the town’s nightlife.

As one enters the town, an old Ming Dynasty temple lies on the mountain above the intersection of the Yagoujia River and the Nu River itself. As is customary, the temple appears as if it was built out of papier mache and painted yesterday morning by industrious local schoolkids. A huge laughing Buddha decked out in gold paint seems to dominate the gaff from his little stage. Dogs patrol the high steps, and spiders, each two inches long, nest in the frames of doors and in the overhead lights.

Across on the other side of the river, the effects of the previous night’s rain storm were clear to see, with policemen knee-deep in mud and the road – the only route north – blocked by piles of displaced rock.

The foreigners, so prevalent in Dali, and less so in Jinghong further south, were nowhere to be seen. Hardcore travellers head north to see the enclaves of Tibetans, or the old ethnic ways of the Lisu, the Nu and the Drang nationalities. Some come to see the immense volume of indigenous butterflies, with a couple of Japanese collectors even managing to steal a few rare specimens under the noses of the local authorities a few years ago. There were also stories of a pair of American travellers crossbowed in the back by Lisu hunters after trying to abscond with some significant local religious icon – the man with the story wasn’t quite sure what the object was. The rest of the local legends about foreigners involve them being attacked by Tibetan dogs and carried out of the forests, bleeding. Still, foreigners here are once again the objects of fascination, rather than the sort of seen-it-all-before scorn one gets in Shanghai, or the dollar-sign gazes in Dali and Lijiang.

Guidebooks such as Lonely Planet abhor the current pace of Chinese development, of course, and as the years pass and the new editions enter print, the laments about the high-rises and highways seem to get longer and longer. China is losing its character.

We can understand this. And yet, after a week on the road along the Nu River, speaking no English and staying in the dingiest of guest houses, we still longed for the pizzas, banana pancakes and foreign influences in Dali. Many agreed, and many long-hatched tour plans are thwarted by the magnetism of the town’s bars and cafes. Some foreigners on year-long tours find themselves stuck, unable to leave, trapped in a perpetual marijuana haze and remaining lucid enough just to teach a few classes in the main city and pay for their lodgings.

Travelling further north from Liuku on the way to Fugong the following day, rain clouds lingered like smoke on the mountains, and dozens of blue, three-wheel buggies chugged down the slope on the only road out. We drove through building sites, where workers squatted on dunes of mud, and through villages in which cattle and old nags wandered wearily past, and where tiny, friendly little dogs lounged on almost every stoop. Streams of water, bloated by a heavy rain storm the previous evening, cascaded into the rough Nu waters.

We stopped off in a small market village called Gudeng, close to the Binuo Snow Mountain, and watched the local farmers manhandling a couple of disobedient black pigs. Another offered us a glass of warm corn liquor he had just produced at a makeshift stove attached to a dirty plastic pipe. The dominant presence in the town was the family planning centre, where government slogans about improving the quality of the population were pumped out from a pair of loud speakers, drowning out the Chinese disco beats emerging from the market itself. Apart from the family planning centres, there are other things that seem ubiquitous throughout China, from Xinjiang to Shanghai and from Guangdong to Yunnan. One of them is the pool table. Another is the bill poster advertising cures for sexually-transmitted diseases.

WE CAME to understand that in the pretty little town of Fugong, where we spent Mid-Autumn festival, the local residents – mainly of Lisu minority – would also have longed for the sort of opportunities afforded to Dali. Cafes, restaurants, and a place on the tourist trail would revitalize the place, and would ultimately be of far more value than a hydropower station. Can the two be disconnected? Some of the villages along the banks of the Nu River didn’t even have a watt of electricity until the last decade. It is a fact of life that further development – including the tourist industry – requires more power.

Purists are unlikely to consider the contradiction, and may indeed prefer to slum it – for a week in any case – in tents or in the dingy, second-rate guest houses available en route. Still, the woman at the reception of the guest house in Gongshan seemed apologetic. ‘Are you sure you want to stay here?’ she said.

Heading across the river, we came across a large wooden public house built on an old water mill. Wheels driven by the Nu River itself churned away beneath a section of rooms lined with soggy woven carpets and old Lisu paraphernalia – the traditional costumes and weaponry of the bulk of the local people. A dozen girls from a local hair salon were dancing in the middle of one of the stages on the upper tier of the building, moving two steps forward and two steps back, hand in hand. They greeted us favourably, encouraging us to join in their drinking games. We had a ‘one-heart drink’ (tongxinjiu) – where two people drink from the same glass, their cheeks and mouths touching – with every one of them, the sweet local liquor dripping onto our clothes.

Hours later, after crossing the bridge again and singing Lisu songs as we parted company with our new friends, we managed to stumble through a tunnel and into the grounds of the local Public Security Bureau, where the Fugong police were also celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival with a form of dance which, by the time we started to participate, seemed to involve running at top speed while kicking our legs as high as possible in the air. Local police chiefs, conforming to the stereotypes of drunkenness that seem more or less international, told us that national boundaries didn’t matter, and that friendship transcended all countries. We agreed.

The next morning, driving out of the town and past a long row of old wooden buildings with red sliding doors and a range of shoddy garages that serve as shops and diners, we headed for Gongshan along a spectacular stretch of scenery, part of a 300-km gorge lined with waterfalls, brooks and white cloud pierced by the mountains on both banks. Houses seemed to balance precariously on the plateau, only a storm away from complete collapse. Women carried large squares of corrugated iron along the slopes, their children following.

The whole Gongshan region, an old man in the guest house told me, has now been renamed the ‘Three Rivers Gongshan Region’. ‘They are creating a trademark,’ the man said, shrugging his thin shoulders. The Mekong, the Nu, and the Jinsha all pass through before reaching their source, and the local government are trying to draw in the trade.

The town itself, another sleepy cluster of apartments, restaurants and trading posts all piled up in layers along the slopes leading from the river to the mountain, was actually far from untouched. As was the case in Liuku, the missionaries had already been and gone, leaving a curious legacy of Roman Catholicism among the local minority communities. Mothers sat weaving on the steps of a church – a square, squat one-storey affair with a bright red cross built on the mountain – waiting for evening prayer. Prayer notices on the wrought-iron door of the church were transcribed in a romanized version of the local Lisu language. Some hours later, an implausible disco beat pounded out from a wooden house further up the hill, and the church was empty.

A Tibetan girl, working in a curious entertainment complex close to another Catholic church further down in the valley, asked us if we were fellow believers. She answered to her Catholic name of Mary, and was from Dimaluo, an ethnic mishmash of Tibetans, Lisu, Drong, and others some way further north along the river. There was a sadness to her as she told us her life story, about her stalled education, about the death of her father after a sudden and inexplicable ‘infection’, and about her preference for the countryside from which she hailed.

In the stores nearby, posters of Zhou Enlai, Sun Yatsen and the Panchen Lama swayed slightly in the wind, and beneath them lay the usual clutter of mooncakes, cigarettes and cheap, defective batteries.

What worried us about ‘untouched’ places like Fugong or Gongshan was not so much the prospect of development, and the ‘exploitation’ or ‘despoliation’ or ‘swamping’ of the local culture and character, but the thousands of local residents, educated to a degree, certainly aspirational, but cut off even from the possibility of ambition, marooned in a remote town that is linked to the nearest city only through a single mountain pass that requires two days to traverse. As we did at the Three Gorges, we started to wonder whether the sacrifice of the local scenery could somehow be made worthwhile, if it could allow these people a way out. After all, it might be more appropriate to judge the vitality of a culture by its porousness, and more pertinently, by the opportunities it gives its members to escape and try something new.

Heidegger hated the way the Rhine had become an object of the tourism industry as well as the hydropower industry, but on the Nu River, we had to allow for the fact that the proposed construction of an airport in remote Gongshan, the construction of highways, and the development of local industry might actually be good for the area, in the absence of any other options. Heidegger hated TV and spent most of his final, disgraced decades in a wooden shack in the Black Forest, but he had choice. The local residents in Fugong and Gongshan have TV, and they see the glitter of wealth and opportunity. But they have no wealth. And no opportunity.

And yet, the ‘current mode of development’ is all about exploitation, and the further enrichment of China’s east coast at the expense of the west. The scenery is ruined, the ecology is damaged, and old farming communities are moved to nearby urban slums, where they have little prospect of work or prosperity. Here, as in the Three Gorges and other regions, one imagines that the local people will reap little of the rewards of ‘opening up’.

Fax Machines Reviews

In the field of telecommunications, the word fax (facsimile) refers to the act of transmitting copies over a telephone network. This system enjoys a distinct advantage because the transfer is immediate. This machine consists of a modem and an image scanner. Sometimes, the equipment is equipped with printers and photo-copiers. Although these machines have existed since the last century, they began to gain popularity in the last two decades due to their economic affordability.

Digital fax machines gained popularity in Japan. In recent years, the internet has made inroads into the field of telecommunications but the machines have continued to remain a popular choice, even in the corporate world,for the transfer of documents. Fax servers have replaced the old fax machines. These can receive faxes and transmit the information over the internet to the user. There are two kinds of fax machines.

The analog machines used earlier, are no longer in vogue. Digital machines have replaced them. The digital machines have two groups, Group three and group four. The machines are classified on the basis of the time they take to transmit a document. There are also different classes of this machines and different transmission rates. These machines use a variety of modulation methods to transmit data. It use two different methods of compression to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted between two machines. These methods are Modified Huffmann and Modified Read. In the Modified Huffmann method each word is scanned and compressed independently. The amount of white space is also reduced considerably. This helps in minimising the time taken for transmission. The Modified Read Method uses a slightly different method of compression.

The first line is scanned using the MH method. The second line is scanned and the differences are determined. These differences are transmitted after a process of encoding. This method pre-supposes that these differences are minimal. The Matsushita White Line Skip is another method of compression but it can be used only on Panasonic machines.

Most of the machines that are used currently belong to the Group Three. Documents are scanned in black and white. Thermal printers that were hitherto used have given way to a generation of this machines. Thermal transfer printers,laser printers and ink-jet printers are some of these machines. Thermal fax papers, however, do not possess legal validity as the ink used in these papers is not indelible.

Fax machines come now in compact sizes and are very portable. They are also all-in-one machines that lend themselves to official and personal use, that can print, scan and fax. These machines have become versatile and they are invaluable in any corporate setting or a business house.

Communication in Today’s Corrections (Part One)

Anyone that has ever worked as either a Police Officer or a Corrections Officer knows the following: It’s either brawn or brain that will get you through the day. They also know that you have to use both (on occasion) if you are going to be successful at your job.

Those of us in the Correctional Profession know that most of the time, and not all the time, the physical confrontations that we encounter are the result of our actions. Now, I understand that some people might disagree with this, but it’s a hard reality to face. Where do we go wrong that leads to this type of confrontation? Communication.

There are really just two ways in which we communicate with people: Verbal and Non-Verbal. Most of our communication (roughly 85-87%) is done through body language. We can all tell when someone is upset, happy, mad, angry, indifferent, you get the point. When our body language says one thing and our mouth says another we tend to run into problems. Inside of a correctional facility we do not have the luxury of firearms, Tasers, or any other type of intermediate weapons on a regular basis. If you do, trust me when I tell you that the rest of us are extremely jealous of you! What does that leave the rest of us? Our mouth/brain combination and our hands.

True, some people have lost that all important connection between their brains and their mouths (also known as verbal diarrhea) but for the most part, the rest of us still have it intact. As an instructor, I always ask my classes the same question: “What’s the difference between a Correctional Officer and an Offender?” As expected, the answers I get are varied: “We go home at the end of the day!” “We didn’t kill anyone!” “We didn’t rape anyone” and the list goes on. I then pause and ask question again.

By this point they are looking at me with confused looks on their faces. I reply back to them “Although you are correct that we didn’t rape or kill anyone, and we do go home at the end of the day, the only difference between them and us is that they got caught and we didn’t.” I then go on to ask “Who in this classroom has never, in their entire life, done anything that someone is not currently doing time in a local, county, state, or federal correctional facility?” No hands go up….

Now keep in mind that I said “never, in their entire life, done anything…” We all have. Whether it was steal something as a kid or adult (office supplies anyone?) it’s still larceny. Got home after going out with friends and saying “I shouldn’t have driven home!” (We’ve heard the slogan “Buzzed driving is drunk driving”) You get the point.

Now that we have established that they are just like us, let’s establish another all important fact: Not everyone that is incarcerated will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. They are going to get out and become our neighbors.

Correctional Departments throughout the country have moved their old way of doing business into the modern era: Rehabilitation and Re-Integration. If we look their Mission Statements, we will likely see a common theme: Public Safety, Pro-social behavior, Re-integration and rehabilitation.

In order to effectively re-integrate and rehabilitate, we must do one thing: Communicate. Communication in a correctional facility can be broken down into 4 main categories:

1. No communication

2. Operational Communication

3. Human-Respectful Communication

4. Cognitive Reflective Communication

No Communication

Easy enough: we don’t talk, they don’t talk, we point, they do as told and we go on our merry way. Officers are separated from the offenders and there is almost no interaction.

Operational Communication

We say the bare minimum in order to get the job done and maintain control (“Come here!” “Go there!” “Chow time” “Do this!” “Don’t do that!” etc, etc, etc). Although there is still a separation between Officers and Offenders, there is more interaction than there is with no communication.

Human-Respectful Communication

This involves talking to offenders like a person, just like you would to anybody else you meet in public. Pro-social communication is effectively done at this stage. Although the use of “please” and “thank you” towards an offender would insult many Correctional Officers, it is part of being respectful and communicating effectively within a correctional facility. (More on this in Communication in Today’s Corrections Part Two).

Cognitive Reflective Communication

This is THE hardest form of communication to achieve. It involves a person to be willing to think about, and change, their behavior, thought process, and accept the consequences of their actions. And what’s the thing most of us hate the most? Change! And that is the reason why it’s the hardest form of communication/thought process that we have.

Once we learn how to communicate effectively, we can reduce the amount of problems that we face on the job every day and increase our “safety factor” exponentially. The proof is in the pudding…

Hansens Lepresy

Since the beginning of time, Hansen’s disease has been recognized as a problem. Reported in Egypt in as early as 1350 BC, Lepresy is the oldest disease known to man; this is according to the Guinness World Records. Frequently, Lepers have lived outside of society. This is partly due to the fact that for a long time the disease was believed to have been caused by a divine, often times associated with demons, curse or punishment. This idea changed in the middle ages, when people started to believe that lepers are loved by God, and that it is humans that have cursed them

Another reason for secluding the Lepers what that in the past it was believed that leprosy was highly contagious. If was even taken to the extent that leprosy could be spread by the glance of a leper or an unseen leper standing upwind of healthy people. Today we know that the disease is much less contagious than we once believed in the past. Lepresy is caused by a mycobacterium that will multiply at a very slow rate. The disease mainly affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes. The organism has never been grown in cell culture, because of the difficulty that is involved with doing so. This difficulty is as a result of the fact that the organism is an obligate intra-cellular parasite. This means that it lacks many necessary genes for independent survival. This is also evident and provides proof for it having such a slow rate of replication.

Uncertain today, is the method of   transmission  of Hansen’s disease. Many people believe that it is spread person to person in respiratory droplets. What we do know though, is that most of the population is naturally immune to the disease. The disease is chronic, and often times patients are classified as having paucibacillary, which is a form of multibacillary Hansen’s disease.

The “Worthy” Poor VS The “Unworthy” Poor

In American Society, we have divided the poor into two classes, the “worthy” poor and the “unworthy” poor. The “worthy” poor are those we feel are worth being on state/federal aid and do not complain about assisting. The “unworthy” poor are those are receive aid as well but for some reason society feels they could take care of themselves and not depend on the aid.

Society feels that those in the “unworthy” class are capable of providing for themselves financially. The reason being that most of the people who fall into this class are younger then the people who fall into the “worthy” class. Many who fall into the “worthy class” are the elderly who are beyond working age, and find it hard to support their selves without some form of a fixed income.

Although the majority of the “worthy” class is made up of the elderly, there are certain situations where the “worthy” class also includes some of a younger generation. Many of those come from the deeply impoverished corners of the United States Society. Many don’t have a chance of surviving and living a better life then they are being given unless the someone, whether it be the government or a small organization, step up and find some way to show them the way to improve themselves.

There are a few such organizations and federal programs in place already, but there are not nearly enough to tackle the large need that we have for the issue. Many people feel that even though they fall into the “worthy” category, they are still not worth wasting time, resources, and money on to educate towards a better life. Many look down on those who need aid regardless of the situation and feel the same about them. They think that they are children, and as they grow they will learn and they will make something better of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not true. As they grow up in a poverished lifestyle they will learn from what they are surrounded with. They will grow up and realize it isn’t so bad to be where they are, because they have not had anyone show them that there is a different way in life.

As American’s, we are a large extended family. Everyone is supposed to look out for their family and protect them. I do not know why no one is protecting the children of these “unworthy” groups and showing them the way to better themselves and enrich their lives. It is going to take more then giving their family a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps and other aid to teach these children how to succeed in life. It is going to take educating them. Not only do these children need to be shown the way, but their parents/parent as well need to be educated on how to enrich not only their lives but their children’s lives as well. It is a two step process, and it is time as a society we step up and start making it a reality instead of a vision. With a little hard work I honestly believe that poverty in the US could be helped dramatically by just a few nice neighbors holding out their hands and showing that they are willing to assist.

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.