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dc_denizen Jun 8, 2014 7:36 PM

In London, UK currently.

I just want to say, I have been vastly surprised by how incredibly hostile this city is to pedestrians. Not on the level of a Miami or a Jacksonville, with massive arterial roads that peds are forced to cross. I mean in the "enlightened" context of a Portland or DC or SF, or a Northern/western European city.

Cars, not pedestrians, have the right of way at ALL times. There are no stop signs, so cars zip through intersections. The idea of yielding to a pedestrian at an unsigned intersection is unknown. Motorists will NOT wave you through.

Some interchanges have lights, and no walk/don't walk signs, and the way the traffic signals are situated often doesn't inform you as to the lights of oncoming traffic. You literally have to step onto the street blind.

"Zebra" interchanges exist giving pedestrians the right of way, but these are rare and untrustworthy given that you can't have confidence that the motorist notices the different type of crosswalk.

I am perplexed as to how London can have SUCH an auto-centric transportation design given the volume of pedestrians.

amor de cosmos Jun 9, 2014 5:11 PM


Average Age of Vehicles on the Road Remains Steady at 11.4 years, According to IHS Automotive
U.S. Vehicles in Operation (VIO) Hits Record Levels at More than 252 Million; Scrappage Rate Declines Significantly

Category: Automotive
Monday, June 9, 2014 8:00 am EDT
Dateline: SOUTHFIELD, Mich.

SOUTHFIELD, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The combined average age of all light vehicles on the road in the U.S. remained steady at 11.4 years, based on a snapshot of vehicles in operation taken Jan. 1 of this year, according to IHS Automotive, which incorporated Polk into its business last year.

Total light vehicles in Operation (VIO) in the U.S. also reached a record level of more than 252,700,000 -- an increase of more than 3.7 million (1.5 percent) since last year, said the IHS Automotive analysis from July 2013. In addition, new vehicle registrations outpaced scrappage by more than 24 percent for the first time in a decade, according to the analysis.

The average age is in line with the trend shift first seen in 2013, in which the combined fleet of cars and light trucks on the road is older than ever. New analysis, however, indicates the average age of light trucks has increased in the past year to the same age as passenger cars, both at 11.4 years. This milestone marks the first time this has happened since 1995, when the data was first reported.

“In our history of tracking, we have seen a gradual increase in the average age of vehicles on the road,” said Mark Seng, director, aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader at IHS Automotive. “This year, we’re seeing somewhat of a plateau in the market, and expect it to remain over the next few years, without a major change in either direction. We attribute this to a number of factors, including the economy and the increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

seaskyfan Jun 10, 2014 12:48 AM

Link to walking tour of the new University Link tunnels (connecting Downtown Seattle to Capitol Hill and UW Stations):

amor de cosmos Jun 11, 2014 6:20 PM


Lighter cars with new robotic welding method
11 June 2014 University West

A vehicle typically consists of several thousands of spot joints such as rivets, clinch joints or spot welds. They are used to bond together different parts of the vehicle, for example the car bonnet. But the rivets are costly and do not have great strength. Moreover, spot joints require a certain sheet thickness to provide sufficient strength. At the same time, however, the automotive industry is keen to use thinner sheets, in order to build lighter vehicles and reduce production costs. More and more car manufacturers choose a hybrid design, where a combination of different materials such as steel and aluminium are joined.

With classic welding methods, joining of dissimilar materials has not been possible. With friction stir welding, on the other hand, high quality dissimilar joints can be obtained. The welding temperature is kept below the melting point, which means that the alloy properties are not destroyed and strong joints are achieved.

In FSW, a rotating non-consumable cylinder is pressed into the material. The combination of frictional heat and the mechanical “stirring” creates a high-quality welding joint, without melting the material.

One of the problems with this method has been that the temperature becomes excessively high, with the result that the metals reach the melting point and the welding tool sinks through the sheets. In order to achieve good welds with a FSW robot, both the process forces and the temperature must be properly controlled.

Researchers at University West in Trollhättan have now invented a welding tool that also functions as a temperature sensor. The temperature is measured continuously and, if it becomes too hot, the heat is regulated by controlling the force and tool rotation. The researchers have also made use of an industrial robot to perform the welds and achieve a constant welding quality. Jeroen De Backer has written his thesis on this new method:

“It’s thanks to this temperature controller that we’ve managed to raise both the quality and the productivity of the robot system. The robot welds with higher precision and with the temperature controller it only takes a few hours to programme 3D joints. Manual programming of a similar component took up to a week.”

amor de cosmos Jun 12, 2014 6:28 PM


Tesla will open up its Supercharger patents to boost electric car adoption
BY Sharif Sakr
June 9th 2014, at 6:39:00 am ET

Tesla's CEO has been carefully dropping hints that he might "do something controversial" with his company's collection of technology patents, and now we know what he's on about. Speaking at the UK launch of the Tesla Model S yesterday, Elon Musk said that he specifically wants to open up the designs for his Supercharger system in order to create a standard technical specification that other electric car makers can adopt. As part of this, it's possible that Tesla might need to give away some intellectual property about components within the cars themselves, but the general idea ties in with a commitment Musk made a while ago about not wanting Superchargers to become a "walled garden." Besides, it makes a lot of sense -- especially when you imagine what it'd be like today if we had to put up with manufacturer-specific gas stations.

Then again, Superchargers are more than just fancy plug-in points: they're also a business model in which electricity is given away "free for life" for Model S owners, with all costs factored into the upfront price of the car. Musk is very clear that other EV makers would have to subscribe to this same business model if they want to partner up. They'd also have to contribute a "fair" proportion to the maintenance and running costs of the ever-expanding Supercharger network itself -- costs which he insists aren't very onerous, especially since the physical locations are often given to Tesla rent-free, and in some cases they're powered by solar panels. Rival companies might turn their noses up, of course, and in fact they're already battling over alternative charging standards, but it's clear that the offer is there if they want it.


Chevy Volt Was The Highlight Of Bob Lutz’s Career

For 47 years, Bob Lutz has bounced around the auto industry, holding high-ranking positions at Ford, Chrysler, BMW, and finally GM before his so-called “retirement”. He has seen some of the auto industry’s highest and lowest paint, and had a hand in developing cars like the Dodge Viper and the new Chevy Camaro.

But Bob Lutz’s favorite car from his 47-year career is none other than the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid. That’s saying something.

The revelation came during a recent speach at Eastern Michigan University, where the Eastern Echo quotes Bob Lutz as saying his last ten years at GM were his favorite and that “Developing the Chevy Volt was without question my favorite.” He must certainly be proud to see that sales of the Chevy Volt have continued to make it a solid contender for global EV supremacy.


Video: 500 Horsepower Tesla Roadster Headed to Pike’s Peak

Tesla will make its racing debut this month at Pike’s Peak, when a specially modified Tesla Roadster will race Monster Tajima’s badass plug-in up the mountain at America’s oldest and most historic motorsports event!

After crashing out at last year’s Pike’s Peak International Hillclimb and destroying their bespoke, one-off PP01 prototype, the EV racers at Drive E0 are returning to all-electric action at this year’s race – and they’ll be bringing along a specially modified Tesla Roadster. A Tesla Roadster that’s packing nearly 500 horsepower. That new racer, dubbed the Drive E0 PP02 (prototype 2, as it were), features modified rear axles powered by 360 kW (peak) twin-motor system and a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. According to the team, the PP02 project is “aiming to validate the new components ahead of scaling them up for successive electric super car projects, which are already on the drawing board.”


A 750 Horsepower Electric Mustang To Silence The Haters

Finally, somebody is taking a classic Ford Mustang, and stuffing a powerful electric drivetrain under the hood. That someone is John Wayland of Plasma Boy Racing and White Zombie, the 10-second 1972 Datsun EV. He isn’t alone though, having teamed up with eager Texan tech CEO named Mitch Medford, who had the dream of a powerful electric Mustang as a Tesla competitor.

Together, John and Mitch have built a 750 horsepower 1968 Ford Mustang that runs on pure electricity, and can dash from 0 to 60 MPH in 3 seconds flat. Hemmings Auto Blog reports that Mitch came up with the initial idea of building a high-power, all-electric classic Muscle car. During his research, the name John Wayland kept coming up, so Mitch eventually reached out, and the two found enough in common to strike up a business partnership. Together them assembled a team to make the dream come true.

That dream came in the form of a 1968 Ford Mustang, originally powered by a 289 V8. That engine was removed in favor of dual 11-inch electric motors and a pair of Zilla controllers, a Gear Vendors overdrive unit, and a 40 kWh Kokam battery pack. This setup is good for an estimated 750 horsepower, 1,800 ft-lbs of torque, and about 120 miles of driving. The drivetrain adds about 600 pounds to the Mustang’s weight as well, but I think 1,800 ft-lbs of torque more than makes up for that. Coilover shocks, 13-inch disc brakes all around, and a Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end help put that zero emissions power to the pavement. Let me again mention that 0 to 60 MPH figure of 3 seconds. Mmm mmm good.

Video Link

amor de cosmos Jun 13, 2014 6:12 PM


Public Transit Accessibility Growing In America

For the last 50 years, Americans have watched their public transit systems dismantled in favor of an over-reliance on personal automobiles. But high gas prices and Millennial’s mass exodus from the suburbs to the cities has given public transit a shot in the arm. The first decade of the millennium has seen particularly positive growth in public transit growth and access

Street Blogs reports on a study by the Federal Transit Authority which shows that from 2000 to 2010, the number of regions with access to either railways or buses with dedicated roadways grew from 27% to 40%. With more systems and accessibility came more riders. From 1996 to 2008, the number of American transit riders grew 36%, and that’s not even accounting for the record levels of ridership we’ve seen post-recession.


Rick Perry Shows Up In A Tesla Model S

While Texas has been one of the few states to shut out Tesla’s direct sales model, Elon Musk’s electric automaker has made a few unexpected allies. This includes Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has been doing his best to bring the Tesla Gigafactory to the Lone Star State, so it’s no wonder why he showed up at his Hyatt hotel in a Tesla Model S.

Perry tweeted the above picture, along with the caption that said “The only way to make this car faster is to make it in Texas.” Succinctly put, Governor Perry, though you should remember you’re competing for a battery factory, not a Model S factory. Elon Musk has floated the idea of a Tesla truck factory in Texas, though that won’t be until after the Model X and Model E debut.


Thursday, June 12, 2014 15 Comments
The Ridiculous Politics That Slow Down America’s Best BRT Route
by Angie Schmitt

Cleveland’s Healthline is widely viewed as the best bus rapid transit project in the country — and for many good reasons. Running on dedicated center lanes, the Healthline isn’t bogged down by car traffic on the most congested portions of its 7.1-mile route. With about 14,000 daily trips, the Healthline has increased ridership nearly 50 percent (though some of that is attributable to elimination of redundant routes), and local officials credit it with spurring billions of dollars of development nearby.

But it could run much faster if officials fixed one small thing that is completely within their power to address: the signal timing.

While the Healthline has many hallmarks of good BRT like the center-running lanes and off-board fare payment, it lacks transit signal priority — the technology that turns traffic lights green as buses approach. As a result, Healthline buses don’t travel nearly as fast as they should.

The Plain Dealer reported in 2010 that it takes an average of 44 minutes to travel the seven miles from downtown’s Public Square to East Cleveland. That’s only three minutes faster than the bus line it replaced, and more than ten minutes off the 33-minute pace that project planners promised. Despite some tweaking around the margins, not much has changed since 2010, according to sources familiar with the project.

The frustrating thing is that the Healthline could easily run faster. But the city of Cleveland simply hasn’t activated the transit priority technology for most of the route, according to advocates.

“We all know it takes 10 more minutes than it should because of the light issue,” said Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake, a Cleveland-based environmental think tank that has been active in trying to resolve the issue.

amor de cosmos Jun 14, 2014 5:12 PM


The whole city of Florence can fit in one Atlanta cloverleaf
Lloyd Alter
Design / Urban Design
June 12, 2014

Florence, Italy is perhaps the most wonderful place to walk that I have ever been in. In a discussion I had recently about the city, I remembered a post architect and writer Steve Mouzon did a few years ago on the true cost of sprawl. Steve wondered why cities give up so much land that supports no retail, no residential, pays no taxes, just to move people out of town on highways. He showed this extraordinary coupling of two photographs at the same scale: one of Florence, Italy and one of an interchange in Atlanta, Georgia. Steve wrote:
The need for speed devours huge chunks of American cities and leaves the edges of the expressways worthless. Busy streets, for almost all of human history, created the greatest real estate value because they delivered customers and clients to the businesses operating there. This in turn cultivated the highest tax revenues in town, both from higher property taxes and from elevated sales taxes. But you can't set up shop on the side of an expressway. How can cities afford to spend so much to create thoroughfares with no adjoining property value?

Video Link

shivtim Jun 15, 2014 3:15 PM

"The whole city of Florence can fit in one Atlanta cloverleaf"

Uhhh... that's not the whole city of Florence, and that cloverleaf isn't in the city of Atlanta. I understand what they're trying to say, but what a bad way to make the point.
Let's compare this Florence interchange to downtown Atlanta:

Busy Bee Jun 15, 2014 5:00 PM

^yeah it's bupkis. The comparison should have been 'this Atlanta metro area interchange' is the same size as the 'historic Medievel center of Florence.' But such differences are often lost on many, much in the same way media fails to distinguish the difference between city proper and metro population counts.

SHiRO Jun 15, 2014 5:13 PM

That interchange is 10 km from Florence city center. Downtown ATL is directely surrounded by multiple of such interchanges. Doesn't really matter if the one depicted is technically outside the city of Atlanta, because Atlanta has plenty of others...

shivtim Jun 16, 2014 2:37 PM


Originally Posted by SHiRO (Post 6619282)
That interchange is 10 km from Florence city center. Downtown ATL is directely surrounded by multiple of such interchanges. Doesn't really matter if the one depicted is technically outside the city of Atlanta, because Atlanta has plenty of others...

And so does every other city in the US. What's your point?
Man, this New York City interchange is a sprawling disaster:
I sure wish New York was a more dense compact city, like Florence.

I'm not being an apologist for Atlanta. Metro Atlanta is a sprawl poster child. But at least make the comparisons fair.

M II A II R II K Jun 16, 2014 3:54 PM


Bus Station at Spaarne Hospital (Sesign aarne Ziekenhuis)

Design: NIO architecten

Location: Holland




Poole Bus Station

Design: Penson Architects

Location: UK




Arriva Headquarters Guimarães

Design: RVDM Arquitectos

Location: Portugal




Slough Bus Station

Design: Bblur Architecture

Location UK





Cloud-Like Canopy for Bus Station in Aarau

Design: Vehovar & Jauslin Architektur

Location: Switzerland



Preston Bus Station

Design: BDP

Location: UK




Bus Station in Osijek

Design: Rechner Architects

Location: Croatia




Vauxhall Bus Station

Design: Arup Associates

Location: London




Bus station, Thiais

Design: ECDM

Location: France




Busbahnhof Poppenbüttel

Design: Blunck + Morgan Architekten

Location: Germany




M II A II R II K Jun 16, 2014 5:34 PM

Why Japan's high-speed trains are so good

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MANY countries seem obsessed with high-speed rail. On June 4th in the Queen's speech, the opening of the British parliament for 2014-15, the government confirmed its commitment to a controversial high-speed link known as HS2. France is slowly expanding its high-speed lines (known as the TGV) while other countries, such as Spain and China, are rapidly enlarging their networks of whizzy trains. Japan's high-speed "bullet" train is often held up as an exemplar by rail boosters and governments keen to acquire their own shiny new train-sets.

- In 1987 Japan's national railways were divided and privatised into seven for-profit companies. JR East, the largest by passenger numbers, does not require any direct public subsidy from the Japanese government, unlike the heavily-subsidised TGV in France. One reason for its efficiency is that JR East owns all the infrastructure on the route—the stations, the rolling stock and the tracks—meaning there are fewer management teams duplicating each other's work. (By contrast in Britain, for instance, ownership of the tracks and trains is split up.)

- But the railway also thrives because of a planning system that encourages the building of commercial developments and housing alongside the railway route. JR East owns the land around the railways and lets it out; nearly a third of its revenue comes from shopping malls, blocks of offices, flats and the like. This money is reinvested in the network. In Britain, where planning and transport are rarely aligned, it is hard to create similarly successful commercial developments. Indeed, most of the plans for the areas around the stations of HS2 are vague, and some of the stops along an earlier line, HS1, are still underdeveloped, years after the line was built.

- The ability to build large developments alongside the high-speed railways is a boon to the Japanese bullet line, as is the ability to charge high ticket prices. (When Koichi Tanaka, a scientist, won the Nobel Prize in 2002 he was reported as saying he would use the money to buy a ticket on the Shinkansen, to loud cheers.) But even so, 71% of the revenue from passenger tickets at JR East comes from the conventional, slower railway. Countries looking to lay down speedy new tracks might want to consider investing in their existing railway lines as well.


amor de cosmos Jun 16, 2014 8:19 PM


World's top electric car makers 'talk collaboration'
4 hours ago

Electric car-makers Nissan and BMW are keen to collaborate with rival Tesla after the US company agreed to share its patents with competitors, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

"It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars," the financial daily quoted an unnamed executive as saying.

The world's biggest electric-car manufacturer, Nissan, along with rivals BMW and Tesla, together account for about 80 percent of the world's battery-run electric car sales, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for Germany's BMW told AFP that executives had met with Telsa for discussions, but declined to give further details.

"We do not comment on media speculation. Both companies are interested in promoting the topic of electric vehicles in the world and contributing to the success of this technology," he said.

Nissan declined to comment on the talks, with a spokesman for the group in Tokyo saying simply it would "welcomes any initiative to boost the number of electric vehicles".

Tesla last week took the rare step of agreeing to share its patents in the hope of increasing global production of electric cars.

SHiRO Jun 16, 2014 10:34 PM


Originally Posted by shivtim (Post 6620033)
And so does every other city in the US. What's your point?
Man, this New York City interchange is a sprawling disaster:
I sure wish New York was a more dense compact city, like Florence.

I'm not being an apologist for Atlanta. Metro Atlanta is a sprawl poster child. But at least make the comparisons fair.

Every other city in the US, but not Florence or any other city in Europe...;)

M II A II R II K Jun 23, 2014 2:55 PM

Design your own fantasy transit system with Transitmix:

M II A II R II K Jun 25, 2014 4:34 PM

How Cars Constrain Freedom

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When cars were first introduced, writes Jason Segedy at Notes from the Underground, they appeared to signify a tremendous advance for personal mobility and freedom. But Segedy — who heads Akron’s metropolitan planning agency, AMATS — notes that over time, what has become a near-total reliance on cars for transportation has infringed on our freedom in important and sometimes difficult-to-recognize ways.

- Before the automobile was invented, most people had a fairly convenient and quick way to get where they needed to go — it was called walking. Cities and towns were built to be navigated easily on foot, and barring long trips to distant locales, most people could get to almost everywhere they needed to go in 20 minutes, just like most of us can today — but without having to own or operate a car. --- Yes, the car has helped us cover long distances more effectively. But it has also made us travel long distances for things that we didn’t always have to — a loaf of bread, a haircut, a postage stamp, or a box of nails.

- We all pay dearly for that freedom now, Segedy writes, through the high personal costs of owning cars, the high public costs of car infrastructure, and the high environmental and social costs that cars impose. And the people who pay the highest price, Segedy says, are those who don’t drive. And we tend to forget that. We’ve reordered our entire society; our built environment; even our very way of life, to serve this machine that we were told would serve us.


shadowbat2 Jun 26, 2014 8:06 AM

The cat that saved a Japanese train station
Meet Tama, Japan's cutest stationmaster, and her adorable cat-shaped station home


Some 30 minutes from central Wakayama City in southeast Japan is the quiet, rural neighborhood of Kinokawa.

Despite the area's un-remarkableness, its train station attracts no shortage of visitors, most under the age of 12.

These tourists may not know what there is to see or do in wider Kinokawa, nor do they seem particularly interested -- all they want to do is visit Kishi train station, which serves Kinokawa. They come seeking time, and hopefully a photo, with Kishi's stationmaster, a calico cat named Tama. Tama’s duty is napping in her office (a converted ticket booth) and her salary is practical -- an unlimited supply of cat food.

Another lazy-looking cat in relatively comfy digs. So far, like the area she resides in, Tama seems unremarkable. Except that this feline has actually saved the station from financial ruin. It's a 14-kilometer train ride from Wakayama City to Kishi Station in the outskirts of the city. For years, the journey was lightly traveled. As a result, Nankai Electric Railway, which managed the route, closed down in 2004 due to financial difficulties.

As a way to revitalize the station, in 2007 the company appointed Tama -- a cat owned by a local shopkeeping family -- to serve as stationmaster. Dolled up with stationmaster cap and badge, Tama soon became famous not simply as the mascot of the station, but the entire area. It proved quite the catcall -- Tama pulled in the crowds.

Since her appointment, the station has witnessed a healthy growth of visitors arriving just to see Tama. More importantly, the train line was able to continue service for local residents. Kishi station currently houses a Tama-themed cafe, as well as a souvenir shop with items ranging from the usual array of pens, staplers and other supplies to Kishi Station uniforms.

Tama’s cuteness is exploited wherever possible -- from the chairs to the cakes in the cafe to the cat-shaped station building itself. There's also a cat stationmaster apprentice, Nitama, who shoulders some responsibilities for Tama. Sleeping and doing nothing is hard work, you know?

Tama works from Tuesday to Thursday; Nitama substitutes for Tama on weekends. Cat working hours are a very agreeable 10 a.m.-4p.m. Done with Tama and the station? Fruit picking and visiting local shrines are also popular family activities in the neighborhood.

How to get there

Get a direct ticket to Kishi Station at platform 9 at JR Wakayama Station -- follow the cat paw prints on the floor. A timetable is available for visitors to look up departures of special trains to Kishi Station.

M II A II R II K Jun 26, 2014 3:38 PM

Arup reveals a vision of the Future of Rail

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The Future of Rail 2050 unveils a vision of the future of rail travel in light of trends such as urban population growth, climate change and emerging technologies.

The report foresees predictive maintenance of rail lines by robot drones; driverless trains travelling safely at high speed, freight delivered automatically to its destination, and smart technology designed to improve passenger experience and enable ticketless travel. Arup used developments from current rail projects it has led on around the world, as well as insight from the Arup Foresight + Research + Innovation team and global contributors, to inform the futuristic predictions outlined in the report.

With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, the report looks at future construction and maintenance techniques, predicting intelligent robots building new, and retrofitting old rail infrastructure. Improvements in - and the widespread distribution of - driverless systems and trains, will further optimise the running times and could eradicate journey delays. The report also considers how freight transport will take place high above (via elevated platforms), far below (in tunnels deep underground), or even through a new generation of airships.


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M II A II R II K Jul 8, 2014 7:11 PM

Battery-topped electric buses flash charge in 15 seconds

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In Geneva, Switzerland, the TOSA (Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation) pilot project is testing electric buses with an unusual method for keeping charged up. The articulated bus has a battery pack on top of the vehicle. When it pulls into certain stations, it connects through a robotic arm to what is essentially an electric bus dock. A 15-second rapid flash charge helps to keep the buses running all day.

- Each bus can hold 133 passengers. The fast charge is enough to get the bus to the next charging station, usually located at every few stops. The goal of the TOSA project is to determine the most efficient and cost-effective way to implement electric buses in mass transportation systems. It was built by ABB, a Zurich-based corporation known for developing robotics and power and automation technologies, in partnership with the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, a Swiss technology institute.

- Getting to this test phase required the use of a complex mathematical model that takes into account variables ranging from the cost of batteries to the placement of recharging stations to electricity rates. The pilot project acts as a real-life proof for the concepts behind TOSA. Geneva is the first city expected to adopt a TOSA bus line as part of its regular service, with a start date sometime in 2017.


Video Link

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