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Wayne Mackie

Wayne Mackie

Contributing Writer for The Rock Father. Pop Culture Fan. Music Fan. Dad. Hailing from the Los Angeles area, Mackie and his family recently relocated to the Midwest.

Few people would argue that ride sharing platforms rely on drivers to operate. But Uber maintains that its drivers aren't a central part of its business operations -- and that the company won't need to start classifying its workers as employees, regardless of what a new bill passed in California might say.

The passage of bill AB5, which further clarifies a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that outlines a test used for employee classification, should theoretically have companies like Uber shaking in their boots. But according to Uber's top lawyer, its drivers will remain independent contractors -- meaning that they won't be given benefits and that the company can continue to shirk liability in a number of situations.

According to the 2018 ruling, workers are considered employees if they perform duties that are under a company's control; if the work they do is essential to the company's business; and if they do not have independent enterprises within that given trade. Interestingly, the company maintains that the drivers who pick up customers for Uber are somehow not integral to the organization's operations. According to chief legal officer for the company, the "drivers' work is outside the usual course of Uber's business, which is serving as a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces."

Whether anyone will buy that argument is a different story. Previously, Uber has noted that classifying their drivers as actual employees would completely change ride sharing as a whole, eliminating the flexibility of their current business model. They'd supposedly have to force shifts on drivers and hire fewer of them, along with restricting them from working during certain hours or in specific areas. Those claims have been debunked by California Labor Federation spokesperson Steve Smith, who pointed out to a local ABC news affiliate that there's nothing in the labor code that would prohibit driver flexibility and added that this line of thinking is nothing more than a "corporate scare tactic."

Furthermore, the company seems to want to have it both ways. Uber may protest that its drivers aren't an essential part of its business model, but the company also recently argued that its driver roster should be regarded as a closely guarded trade secret. Although over 85% of misappropriation cases involve the business partner or employee of a trade secret owner, this scenario played out a bit differently. When the leader of an academic project requested the names of Uber drivers from Chicago officials in 2018, the Freedom of Information Act request was denied on the grounds that releasing this information “would cause competitive harm specifically by allowing their competitors to target and 'poach' their drivers." A Loyola University Chicago business school assistant professor requested the information again this year, maintaining that the information should be publicly accessible considering that drivers are licensed by the city. And while the average citizen can easily look up taxi vehicles and their license holders, that same access is not granted for cases involving holders of ride hailing licenses.

According to documents acquired by Bloomberg, ride hailing companies are worried about drivers abandoning one platform for another; the potential for poaching would increase if those names became public, according to Uber, along with other safety liabilities. But -- depending on the state -- ride hailing companies cannot demand exclusivity from their drivers, as this is yet another point that would likely force Uber to reclassify their independent contractors as employees. That would make drivers "under the company's control," which falls in line with the first point of the bill recently passed in California. But judging by how important the identities of Uber drivers seem to be, many are skeptical that the company will be able to convince anyone that their role in the business structure is anything but essential.

Still, West is confident that Uber will win out in the end. In a conference call with media, the chief legal officer explained that they'd have no problem complying with the necessary criteria: "Just because the test is hard does not mean we will not be able to pass it. We continue to believe that drivers are properly classified as independent... We expect we will continue to respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court, as necessary, just as we do now."

Video games have gotten a bad rap when it comes to maintaining personal relationships. More often than not, the gamer in the relationship is considered lazy, emotionally stunted, and a bad force in society. Even though over 20% of marriages end within the first five years, couples have undoubtedly mentioned that video games impacted this final decision.

But like most good things, video games have gotten a bad reputation when people take this hobby too far. In fact, the World Health Organization has recently classified video game addiction as a type of medical issue, known as gaming disorder.

Unfortunately, hobbyist video gamers are still lumped into this category. There are plenty of people who manage to find a work-life-video game balance. It's the rotting few in a bunch of good apples that deleteriously affect society's views on gaming. Just like 59% of workers claim that communication is the biggest obstacle to success, gamers who don't communicate with their partner are apt to follow a similar path in their relationships.

In fact, it was only after playing video games with her partner that Eve Peyser's views changed.

"It took a couple of months to crack me, but my view began to change with the first game my boyfriend persuaded me to play," she explains in an interview with The New York Times. "My boyfriend's gaming never actually put a strain on our relationship, but when I started playing with him, it went from being one of his boy hobbies I could never possibly understand to an experience we could share, something that highlighted why we worked so well together."

Now, the duo is smiling more than ever. And since more than half of people agree that smiling is the most important feature as we age, finding ways to continue to smile is essential in a healthy relationship.

That being said, let's look at some of the best games to play with your partner before the cold months of winter strike.

Bomberman

Let's start with a classic: Bomberman is a co-operative game that came onto the scene over 30 years ago. It's a strategic, competitive option that relies on manipulation to trick your opponents into falling for your traps. Rounds often go quickly and there aren't too many mechanics involved, making this a fun game for just about anyone, gamer or not.

Portal 2

The first Portal game was -- quite literally -- a game-changer for puzzle games. But Portal 2 flipped the script and became the first game in the franchise to offer a two-player option. If you're a puzzle lover and want to work cooperatively with your partner to meet a common goal, this is the modern game for you.

Left 4 Dead

Everyone loves a good zombie game, right? If you're not in-tune with the online hijinks of today, this cooperative option enables players to kill zombies in campaign-mode. This allows users to save and pick up where they left off next time, a welcome change from the online games we know and love.

This popular shooter game relies on a heavy dose of cooperation in order to make it through each level. Even if you're scared of zombies, knowing your partner is at your side can make you brave enough to tackle anything -- including the witch.

Monster Prom

This lighthearted game is a welcome option after fighting zombies for a few hours. It doesn't take itself seriously, nor does it rely on serious competition to beat the game. All you need for this simulator is a good sense of humor as you navigate the ups and downs of monster dating.

Little Big Planet

This co-op game is another puzzle option. Only this time, it features cute stuffed toys that you can customize to your liking. Beat big bosses and try to make it to the end of each level without dying. Luckily, your partner can bring you back to life so you're never out of the game for too long.

Did you know that 52% of young couples claim that gaming has helped improve their relationship? Whether you want to introduce your loved one to a new hobby or find new ways to improve your teamwork, relying on video games might be the perfect option for you.

Refrigerated trailer gaskets are used inside trailers to prevent the leakage of cold air from the trailer. They are installed at the periphery of trailer body doors and vents. The global refrigerated trailer market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.8% from 2016 to 2022. Additionally, according to a new research report by Persistence Market Research, the entire industry is expected to reach a market value of over $30 million by the end of 2025. 

The research report explored every aspect of the global refrigerated trailer market and highlighted the fact that high demand for frozen foods and perishable goods is driving the growth of the market. When transporting perishable food, a combination of insulated packaging and dry ice will preserve food for 24 to 48 hours

Many of these trailers — and their towing trucks — are manufactured from recycled metal. Currently, about 40% of steel production across the globe is made with recycled metal. According to Truck News, truck and trailer orders could soon suffer, however, due to uncertainty stemming from the trade war with China and other political issues. 

"When you're a business decision-maker trying to decide, 'What should I be doing?' when that uncertainty enters, you say 'I'm not doing anything,'" said Eric Starks, CEO of FTR. "The market continues to be relatively healthy. We are seeing a normalization within the market." 

October will be a crucial month for the market as a whole since truck inventories are currently high, meaning retail sales all need to continue to gain steam in order to prevent unhealthy inventory for dealers. 

What's more, drivers need to focus more on safety and keeping their hauls securely inside their trailers and not all over the road. Each year, approximately 16,000 chemical spills occur from trucks, trains, and storage tanks, often when materials are being transferred. Here are some of the most notable trailer accidents that result in products dumping out of their trailers: 

  • Bell Peppers: Crates of bell peppers covered the Interstate 10 median near Milton, Florida, after a truck driver lost control of his vehicle. WKRG reports the driver said a steering malfunction caused him to veer into the median, overturn, and spill his cargo. 

  • Beer: A truck transporting Budweiser products completely overturned in Mariposa, California. 

  • Milk: Hundreds of gallons of milk mixed with about 100 gallons of diesel fuel spilled all over the New York State Thruway in Plattekill, New York, after a Mack truck swerved to avoid another vehicle and subsequently rolled down a center embankment before overturning. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation responded to the scene to clean up all the fuel and milk spillage. 

  • Potatoes: "There are no injuries, but potatoes everywhere." -- That's what was tweeted by the Hillsboro Police Department after a truck carrying lots and lots of potatoes spilled its contents across the roadway. The potato roadway incident occurred on Highway 26 in Oregon. 

This industry might not seem like it affects everyone, but it truly does. From potatoes to medical equipment, all sorts of products are carried inside these trailers and the market needs to continue to do well.

Square Enix Collective will bring Circuit Superstars, to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2020.

Circuit Superstars combines arcade-style racing with a more realistic driving model that enables new players to jump in and race, but sets a high skill ceiling for serious players looking to set the fastest laps possible. It will feature a range of on- and off-road racing categories – from rally, GT, classic cars and even trucks – all in a unique and gorgeous visual style.

Original Fire Games is a six-person team, originally started by three siblings from Mexico (Carolina, Carlos and Alberto Mastretta). Together they have a combined total of 14 years in game development, as well as more than 15 accumulated years of real motor racing experience – and it’s this experience they’ve drawn from to make an accessible game with a realistic edge.

“Over the last three decades we have seen a fascinating evolution of racing games,” says Carolina Mastretta, Director & Producer at Original Fire Games. “And these days, we can drive almost any type of car on amazing recreations of the best tracks in the world. However, we believe it’s time to try something different, and we want to do this by reviving a style that pioneered the racing genre decades ago.”

Phil Elliott, Director of Indie Publishing at Square Enix (and avid racing fan) is excited to be bringing Original Fire’s debut game on board. “Here at Square Enix Collective, we’ve been hoping to find a great racing game for some time – and we’re so happy to be working on Circuit Superstars. It’s one of those rare games that has charm and style, but also an edge to the handling that makes you strive to get better with each lap you drive.”

Wednesday, May 22 2019 13:52

GM Introduces New Carbon Fiber Truck Bed

General Motors has announced they will be beginning regular production of a carbon-fiber cargo bed in the 2019 GMC Sierra Denali and Sierra AT4. This material has not been regularly used in automotive production before and GM hopes to apply it to other vehicle models in the future.

While vehicles rely on a lot of materials and substances to be manufactured and run properly, like steel, aluminum, and oil, which is produced in more than four billion metric tons around the world every year, carbon fiber is a durable and lightweight material that is typically not used in vehicles. But with more and more regulations regarding fuel economy being introduced, GM and other automakers are having to find ways to make their larger vehicles, like trucks, more efficient.

Truck beds are typically steel and even though stainless steel can contain more than 60% post-industrial recycled material, it's still quite heavy. Switching to the CarbonPro cargo bed will shave off 62 pounds compared to traditional steel. Furthermore, when the ability to get rid of bed liners is considered, almost 100 pounds can be lost. And although it's much lighter, it still has the same impact resistance of steel.

Not only is the new cargo bed lighter, but it can be designed differently too -- the carbon fiber can be produced with molded floor cavities to help secure motorcycles safely and add extra room for cargo.

GM has been fighting the high cost of carbon fiber by using a combination of as many as 13 different materials to help improve the fuel economy of their vehicles, as well as driving performance and the overall quietness of the truck.

Experimenting with different methods, GM has found a new way to use bonding and adhesion methods to work with the expensive material -- and the automaker plans to continue working on refining the method.

According to Mark Voss, engineering group manager for GM's pickup boxes, GM had to do a lot more development and testing that is usually needed for a standard steel bed -- GM has been working on the carbon fiber box for about eight years.

"Steel boxes have been around for 100 years; you don't have to do that level of developmental work on a steel box. Once you do the production design, you validate it [by the] normal process," Voss explained.

And during tests of their new product, GM was able to show just how much better the new bed is than steel options and even Ford's choice of aluminum. GM put their work to the test, throwing sledgehammers and cinder blocks onto the carbon fiber bed, their own pickup trucks with steel beds, and the F-150. Unfortunately for Ford, some of the objects pierced right through the F-120 bed. GM engineers recorded the tests, showing that the carbon fiber beds were barely impacted by the heavy objects.

With there being about six million car accidents every year, automakers are always striving to make their vehicles more durable and safe. And the use of carbon fiber for new truck beds will increase durability, safety, and sustainability all at once.

If you own a vehicle, you should understand the importance of keeping it clean and properly maintained. Simple maintenance tasks can help you keep your car in pristine shape, saving you time and money down the line. And seeing as how something like a good cleaning can remove about 70% to 90% of the plugged ash in your truck's DPF, there are a lot of simple maintenance tasks you should be doing regularly. Let's take a look at a few of these tips so you can keep your car in good shape.

Check Your Fluids

One of the easiest things you can do to keep your car in good condition is checking and changing the fluids regularly. Your engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluids should all be checked as needed for your car. If you fail to refill or replace fluids as stated in your vehicle's manual, your car could run into some serious problems. While stainless steel pipes can last more than 100 years, fluids in your car can get dirty and sludge-like, causing the vehicle to have to work harder to run. So changing the fluids regularly will ensure your car can run smoothly.

Get New Windshield Wipers

Your windshield should be kept clean and clear so you can see properly. After all, visibility is a key component of being able to drive safely. This is why you should consider not only cleaning your windshield, but replacing your windshield wipers, too. A lot of dirt and debris can accumulate on your windshield, which can hinder your ability to see -- removing this buildup is as simple as using some glass cleaner and a paper towel. And if you have old and ripped windshield wipers, you're not going to be able to properly see when it's raining or snowing. Replacing your wipers is a low-cost and easy task that can make a big difference when you're on the road.

Keep Your Engine Clean

If you don't fully understand the inner workings of your car, that's totally fine -- you can still keep the exterior of your engine clean and in good condition. While many people focus on keeping the exterior of their vehicle in good shape, especially with the possibility of it taking up to 100 small pushes before a dent can be removed, the condition of the exterior of your engine is important as well. Debris like grease and dirt can buildup and can do quite a bit of damage if not taken care of. So invest in a good cleaner (The Rock Father™ likes Tub 'O Towels) and give your engine a gentle but thorough cleaning.

Tub 'O Towels

All of these tasks can be done quickly and easily, even if you have little to no experience working on cars. So if you have been slacking on your car maintenance, consider completing these tasks to keep your vehicle in good shape.

Top Photo: Dinocar by Ryan McGuire

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