My Process for Becoming a Bus Operator for First Transit

On break while driving for First Transit under contract by Savannah College of Arts and Design (SCAD)

As of January 22, I started training with First Transit’s Safety Department in Garden City, Georgia. My safety director had two of six students who showed up with only one (me) remaining at the end of the training sessions. Training lasted two weeks and consisted of lectures, video lectures, knowledge tests, then behind the wheel training. The behind the wheel training included 10 hours of closed-course training, and a lot more hours of on road training. For the on road training, I drove and maneuvered around wide roadways with less traffic. Once the trainer was satisfied with my skills, we moved onto narrower road ways to ensure that I cornered properly without hitting cars, curbs, signs, etc. Upon completion of my second week of training, I passed all of my behind the wheel driving and knowledge tests.

So here I am, close to six weeks in and I love my job. I love working with the students that I transport and with the staff I work with in Garden City. Everybody is supportive and I’ve been given great advice from multiple drivers whilst driving with other trainers on their routes. I appreciate all of their help and take pride in receiving criticism and other helpful information because I really want to improve upon my skills.

Not only do we respect each other, CAT (Chatham Area Transit) and trolley operators respect each other on the road. If one of us is caught in a tight left turn at a stop sign or traffic signal, the driver who is going straight or turning will stop to allow the other driver to start and complete the turn so that they do not have to wait behind traffic on the opposite end of the intersection.

Tripp Lite 45U Open Frame Rack

Tuesday I placed an order for a rack so that I could get all of my networking equipment off of the floor and the rack came in the next day. The rack is a Tripp Lite 45U Open Frame Rack purchased through PCNation for approximately $110 with shipping/handling for 2-3 day shipping. It came in it’s new/unopened box from a warehouse located in North Georgia, I assume because it’s much closer, with protection on the inside. The order was delivered by FedEX who knocked without waiting leaving the order at the door. As I brought it in, the box stated that there was a signature needed with the FedEx man ignoring the request, oh well. Anyhow, it took approximately 30 minutes to an hour to put together alone, although it is recommended to have a second person to hold one of the rails as it is ratcheted into place.

At the present moment, I only have one patch panel installed, but will have four switches, server, modem, phone, UPS, Raspberry Pi 3 with Apache, and a wireless AP installed by the end of the month. More money equals more equipment.

I found this to be the best deal out there for a 45U rack, especially from Tripp Lite. Now I have read previous reviews from customers of PCNation who stated that they had delayed shipping and horrible customer service. I recommend using Amazon, for a few more bucks, as your purchase is guaranteed even in the event that something does not go right with the seller. They will ensure that you get what you want. Please use the link below to locate the item to view more details about the rack. I will also include a link to the Raspberry Pi3 that I have as well.

Recommended Books

Today, I have three recommended books. Well, I must say comic style books by Grace Mineta who is a Texan living in Tokyo. She travels around Japan with her husband experiencing new things and writing about them in comic form. Ms. Mineta also includes little tidbits of information for certain topics that are covered in the comic style strips. I personally enjoyed all three of the books and am now looking forward to reading the fourth. Her first book was released in November of 2014 called My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy, second released in February of 2015 called My Japanese Husband Still Thinks I’m Crazy, third released in June 2015 called Confessions of a Texan in Tokyo.

If you want to find out more information of the author, please visit Texan in Tokyo.

Also, if you would like to purchase these books, please use the links below. The links also assist me in furthering my review of products for you, the viewer.

Solar Based Energy Systems: The Implementation of Solar Panels

by: Joshua J. Meunier

Today technology is expanding. One of those technologies is the ability to produce energy with solar power. Solar power harnesses the power of the sun and converts it to energy that is stored in battery stations and is converted to power to be provided to homes. Solar energy, itself, is a very efficient technology that does not harm the environment compared to nuclear power plants. Today the people of the United States see solar power as a great technology; however, there are still a number of people who see downsides to keeping and running solar power due to budget costs and hazards. With the minor flaws to installing this technology, solar power is a great technology that can be implemented throughout the world.

Today there are thousands of uses for solar power. Solar power can power homes, businesses, transportation, and even small to medium weight electronics. According to the video Conservation and Energy Alternatives: Powering the Future, Dr. Zhengrong, an established business owner of Suntech, owns the second largest solar cells selling company. One of the students that worked with him claimed that solar panels are going to be a worldwide necessity as prices go down over the next few years. “As prices of both thin film and standard screen printed solar cells come down, we’re going to see them integrated everywhere” (Conservation). This indicates that solar power will be utilized everywhere in the world as time comes. Not only businesses will be utilizing the technology but homeowners will be utilizing it.

Solar cells and energy peak the interests of people because it does not require as much work as is required to install gas lines, power lines, and more. In a recent study, the nuclear power industry asked over “1,000 Americans what energy source they thought would be used most for generating electricity in 15 years” (Revkin A1+). The number one choice was solar energy. Brown states that the solar energy development is hastening in this economy as the installation of rooftop solar water heaters proceeds (Brown).

In addition Amanda Wilson, author of “Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy,” states that several students built and displayed solar houses on the National Mall in Washington (Wilson). This shows that there are many college students willing to prove that solar power is a very effective way to provide energy to the people of Earth, and also off Earth missions for NASA. Wilson goes on states:

The energy-efficient homes were designed and constructed during the Solar Decathlon, a biennial collegiate competition sponsored by the Department of Education (DOE) that challenges students to design and build solar-powered homes that are affordable, energy-efficient, and architecturally well-designed and then present them to the public (Wilson).

On the other hand, there have been a few accidents from building homes with solar panels. Building homes with solar panels involves enhanced more techniques, but includes the same duties as a home builder who doesn’t install solar panels. The installation of solar panels is much more dangerous such as slipping and falling due to no support while walking on solar panels to get to the other side of the house. In her article, Tiffany Hsu tells her readers that a student who was on break from his graduate studies went to work in a housing complex. After six months of installing solar panels he fell to his death (Hsu B.1). Even with the hazards, the numbers are still very small compared to wind turbine power. “Wind turbine accidents involving injuries and equipment damage have surged over the last Decade…” (Hsu B.1). Hsu also states the following information about wind power compared to solar power:

In 2008 with 128 incidents worldwide, according to the Caithness Windfarm Information Forum. Since the 1970s, there have been 78 fatalities, with about half in the U.S. The number of solar incidents is harder to gauge, but most industry workers say it’s rising (B.1).

The U.S. government along with other countries is interested in this technology because, yes, it helps the environment and is a lot better to implement. This is why the U.S. government and the Obama administration are getting prepared. “The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled its road map for solar energy development, directing large-scale industrial projects to 285,000 acres of desert land in the western U.S.” (Cart AA.1). So far the U.S. is prepared to implement this state-wide solar energy system. So, the Department of Interior (DOI), according to Gillette’s article, has permitted nearly 31 renewable energy projects with 17 of them being solar energy since 2009. This is the first time the government has approved solar projects on public land (Gillette). Several million houses will be powered by this new found technology once built.

Currently, we are using wind turbines out in the West; however, having the turbines alone does not help since wind is not constant and causes more harm than solar power installation. Same goes for solar power: the sun is not always available, meaning at night, so we have to run off of energy we have stored in those power houses that energy from solar panels store.

While we are concerned for solar power in the United States, we are looking at other countries as well. In June, the Secretary of the Interior approved a solar installation project in an Indian country. Gillette also states that the project is part of Obama’s strategy for solar energy installation and turning the world green (Gillette). We are not the only country in the world with poverty and with energy needs. America wants to help other countries and has decided to help these Indian countries with their energy needs. Many of the Indian cultures do not harness the power of energy, so they use what they have such as candles, fires, and other alternatives to light. Now that the U.S. has approved solar project installations in their country, they will not hurt from the inability to advance technologically.

With the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) leading the project, “the Moapa Band of Paiutes came to the Interior Department with their development partner… to discuss their plans and after initial discussion, BIA recommended that the project be included on the Department’s Priority Project List (Gillette). So the Department of the Interior and the Obama administration are not only interested in themselves, but they are interested in outside countries incorporating the technology.

In order for the world to continue its energy use, we are preparing solar powered systems to sustain power. The college students who participated in the Solar Decathlon, helped show the American people that solar energy can be harnessed and used in homes and that it can be built. Even those outside of our country are benefiting from the use of solar power, as we help them, especially with the lowering prices of materials required to make the solar panels and solar cells. The 1,000 Americans who answered the surveys proclaimed that the world would be utilizing solar power as its number one power source within the next fifteen years. We have already prepared for solar installation with the start of rooftop water heater installations, which brings us closer to advancement. The number of accidents and hazards due to the installation of solar panels is very low compared to the numbers when installing wind turbine generators. Therefore, using solar energy is the better choice than the other alternative energy.

Works Cited

Brown, Lester R. “Turning Toward the Sun for Energy.” Global Information Network. 09 Jun. 2011: n.p. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 16 Jul. 2012.

Cart, Julie. “Solar Energy Zones’ Set Aside.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Oct. 2011: AA.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 15 Jul. 2012.

Conservation and Energy Alternatives: Powering the Future. Films on Demand, 2001. Galileo. Web. 1 Jul. 2012.

Gillette, Jodi, Del Laverdure, and Tracey LeBeau. “Interior Department Helps Indian Country Go Green.” U.S. Dept. of the Interior. 22 Jun 2012. SIRS Government Reporter. Web. 25 Jul 2012.

Hsu, Tiffany. “The Dark Side of Solar, Wind Power.” Los Angeles Times. 03 Aug. 2011: B.1. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 16 Jul. 2012.

Revkin, Andrew C., and Matthew L. Wald. “The Energy Challenge: Solar Power Captures Imagination, Not Money.” New York Times (New York, NY). 16 Jul 2007: A1+. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 25 Jul 2012.

Wilson, Amanda. “Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy.” Global Information Network. 04 Oct. 2011. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web 15 Jul. 2012.

College Students Respond to Tuscaloosa’s Needs

College of Coastal Georgia's Mariners' Log
(Brunswick, GA)
July 2012, p.6

Copyright 2012 Mariners' Log. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

College Students Respond to Tuscaloosa’s Needs

by: Joshua J. Meunier

On April 21, 2011, the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was struck by an EF4 tornado that destroyed houses, vehicles, and businesses; dozens of people lost their lives. According to the mayor of Tuscaloosa, more than 5,000 residences were affected by the storm. About 2,500 homes were damaged, and another 1,612 were considered severely damaged; 1,257 homes were completely destroyed or no longer standing.

More than a year later, the need for major repairs still exists. Homes need rebuilding, people are still waiting for permits to rebuild, families are waiting to move into new homes, debris still litters many yards, and so on.

Among the many volunteers still working every weekend to help the city recover are hundreds of college students. For example, on the one-year anniversary of the tornado, over 1,200 students, faculty, and alumni from the University of Alabama volunteered around 4,800 hours of service to help rebuild their community.

The city still worries because tornados can touch down any day, so volunteers are doing what they can to help build houses that will better withstand storm damage, and city personnel are increasing efforts to track how and when tornados will hit and to keep residents informed.

On May 8, 2012, I joined eight other students—Drake Aldredge, Mercedes Bartkovich, Patrick Jackson, Justin Schreiner, Brandon Massaro, Kari Butler, Chynna Seymour, and John Dixon—from both the College of Coastal Georgia and the University of Georgia for the eight-hour drive to Tuscaloosa. We then spent a week helping several Tuscaloosa families to rebuild their lives.

The first day that we started working, May 9, we met with Jon Lambert, Student Involvement Coordinator of the Tuscaloosa Area Volunteer Reception Center, who introduced us to staff members of the organization. We met with McCarlie Thomas, Safety and Logistics Coordinator, who briefed us about safety regulations before we headed out to our first assignment. We had to make sure that we had the proper shoes, tools, clothes, and knowledge for the work we’d be doing.

At our first site, we cut fallen trees into 8-foot pieces so that the debris could be stacked at the curb for pickup by road crews. Later that day, our group split in two. Three of us went to a house where we painted one of the bedrooms a dark orange color. The family was very appreciative and hopes that we will return to help out in the future.

The other six members of our group helped another family, the Jenkinses, move furniture into their new home. Mercedes had met the family and worked on their home on an earlier trip to Tuscaloosa. After my group finished painting, we joined them to move furniture and small electronics into the house. Some of us kept the children occupied while the others set up the two children’s bunk bed and the mother and father’s bed.

Mrs. Jenkins expressed her deep gratitude by thanking God for sending us to help her get moved in and set up. Once we were finished, we stood together with the family and prayed for the protection and blessing of God on the family.

As we were leaving the Jenkins home, Patrick reflected on the progress that had been made in the past year. He had gone to Tuscaloosa last May with Converge Ministries, and while he could see how much work has been done, he also recognized how much the city still needs volunteers like us.

Through the rest of the week, the group worked outside, cleaning up lots that were more jungle than yard. In fact, someone who had watched The Lion King way too many times got us started singing “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight”—and we couldn’t stop. For two and a half days, we sang as we cleared yards of weeds, bamboo, sticks, fence posts, and debris.

As we worked, we found wonderful opportunities to learn from each other and from the families we helped. Mercedes, who was the leader of the University of Georgia group, spoke with me when we got back to the house where we were staying, noting, “There is plenty of physical work to be done, but to me, the biggest help anyone can give is simply listening to people’s stories.”

On our last day, May 15, we helped with a Habitat for Humanity build. Two of us built a frame for displaying the address, pricing, and lot information; three others built wooden frames for the floors of the houses, and the rest helped to hammer and nail those frames into the infrastructure. We enjoyed working with the crew and getting to know them.

At the end of the week, none of us felt that we had helped enough. Patrick, for example, commented, “The first time I was here, we drove around and saw some of the houses that were completely gone and everything, so after seeing all that, I felt that I would do anything within my power to help out those communities.”

Mercedes stated that from her first experience, the people of Tuscaloosa have made her feel very much a part of the community. Whenever workers reach a milestone in a project, she is ecstatic. She says, “The town has my heart completely.” Even if she could stay for several months, she would still feel that she hadn’t done enough for these people who are now like extended family.

Drake, vice president of Baptist Collegiate Ministries and a member of Converge Ministries, also feels a special bond with Tuscaloosa and with other volunteers. He was motivated, he said, to help not only the people affected by the tornado in Tuscaloosa but also the team that took the journey to Alabama. He appreciated everything he learned from everyone else. We all hope to return there next summer.

Today Tuscaloosa still needs help, so if you are around Tuscaloosa even for a day or two, please contact the Tuscaloosa Area Volunteer Reception Center (TAVRC) at or call (205) 248-5045 to find out what you can do as a volunteer. No matter what time or day of the week, your help can improve their town and will be really appreciated.

Coastal Georgia’s New Pilot Program for Students: The Jekyll Island Pass

College of Coastal Georgia Mariners' Log
(Brunswick, GA)
Oct 2010, p.3

Copyright 2010 Mariners' Log. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Coastal Georgia’s New Pilot Program for Students: The Jekyll Island Pass

by: Joshua J. Meunier

The College of Coastal Georgia is proud to present the college’s new Jekyll Island Pass.

Early this fall, Dr. Valerie Hepburn, President of the College of Coastal Georgia, worked with the Jekyll Island Authority to get students a pass that would allow them to enter Jekyll without paying the $5 fee. Dave Leenhouts, former Director of Student Life, shared Dr. Hepburn’s excitement about the passes: “The idea is for students to be able to enjoy the beach as a part of being a student at CCGA.” The new pass allows students taking over nine credit hours to enter Jekyll Island and allows students unlimited access to the island.

Leenhouts was very enthusiastic about the passes. He said, “The opportunities at Jekyll for recreation, for relaxing, even for learning are numerous. One of the exciting opportunities that has emerged for CCGA as a four-year institution is the possibility of building more outdoor recreational and social functions.” Leenhouts also said that Jekyll Island is a great place where biology students can gain lab experience.

Students will have access to public outdoor areas, including picnic spaces, beach parking, and beach access points, playground, soccer complex, 250-acre historic district, fishing pier, bicycle paths, nature trails, and more. Andrew Smith, Coordinator of Student Engagement, says, “The amenities—quiet beaches, bike trails, and redevelopment—truly make it Georgia’s Jewel.”

At this time, the Programming Board is working on both curricular and non-curricular activities for CCGA students. Smith states that as the fall semester progresses, the Board will be planning events for the spring. Smith said, “Potential events include intramural activities, club soccer, student organization meetings or parties, and, of course, community service projects.”

Not having to pay that $5 parking fee makes Jekyll’s many events even more attractive to students. Some participated in the TRI-RED Triathlon, a 400-yard swim, 16-mile bike ride, and 5K run on October 10. Many are looking forward to Holidays in History, when Jekyll Island is transformed into Holiday Island with a Christmas tree lighting and a month of festivities beginning on November 27. The New Year brings Island Treasures, with highly skilled artisans creating and hiding an array of stunning, hand-worked glass globes for visitors to find and take home.

The Jekyll Island passes are in the Business Office now. Any student enrolled in nine or more credit hours who does not already have his or her pass should get it now. Don’t miss out on another minute of Jekyll fun—with free parking!