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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

1966 Volvo: 2,700,000 miles!

New car dealers probably would shudder in fear if they heard the names Irv Gordon, Alvin Elam, Pete Biro, and Rebekah O’Connell. Those four own cars that have at least 231,000 miles on them and are four reasons why the car service centers mentioned in the previous blog are doing a great business during the recession.

Gordon’s story is the most impressive as he drives a 1966 Volvo that he bought new and so far has driven it an astounding 2,700,000 miles according to a recent story by William Jeanes, former publisher of Road and Track.. The car is currently in the shop getting its carburetors rebuilt which Gordon says is important to have done "every 900,000 miles whether they need it or not."

Elam, Biro, and O’Connell aren’t yet in Gordon’s league for getting maximum mileage out of their cars but Elam has coaxed 447,000 miles out of his 1992 Toyota Camry, Biro has 231,000 on his 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and O’Connell has 307,000 on her 1997 Honda Civic.

They all agree on one thing: It is extremely important to read the owner’s manual of your car and follow all the instructions on maintenance. Gordon mentions that finding a good mechanic is also essential along with keeping your car clean. He says a good mechanic will take you more serious if your car is clean and well maintained than if it is dirty and filled with trash.

So, why keep a car so long and run up all those miles? If you look at the numbers, it can save you a lot of money over buying a new car. If you drive 22,500 miles per year (average is 15,000) you will cover 112,500 miles in 5 years. Normal maintenance cost during that time is about $3,500 or $700 per year. If you bought a new car for $20,000 and financed $18,000 of it at 7% for 48 months, your payments would be $5,160 a year plus maintenance costs.

When I look at those numbers, my old ‘98 with 116,000 miles looks pretty good. So far, I have taken good care of it so maybe I can get a few hundred thousand miles on it. In the current economy, I’m certainly not in the mood to be buying a new car.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Some businesses doing well

A recent AARP Bulletin mentions four businesses that are doing well in spite of the recession. They are car service centers, beauty schools, shoe repair shops, and thrift stores.

Beauty school sounds like an up to date version of the old barber colleges where a guy could get a haircut for free while a barber wannabe experimented on his head with what he learned in the latest chapter of his barbering textbook. Hmmmm, how about a flat top today, sir?

A beauty school in New York is packing them in with a $7.50 shampoo, cut, and blow dry. That’s a helluva deal as long as you don’t come out looking like Larry of The Three Stooges.

Shoe repair shops seem like a no-brainer to have increased business in hard times. During the Depression of the 1930s, there were 100,000 shoe repair shops in the US. Now, there are 7,000 and these guys are BUSY! One guy says his normal workload has gone from 200 pairs a week with a three day wait to 250 pairs and a 10 day wait. Repairing Gucci shoes used to be unheard of, now it is common.

Thrift shops are doing a land office business. Overpriced junk like Prada handbags that sell new for $700-$800 at Nordstrom’s, can be had for under $200 at the thrifts. The 99 cent stores also offer good deals on a lot of items that they buy up as overstocks or obsoletes.

There are not a lot of new cars flying out of the showrooms these days but the repair shops are doing great as many people are repairing the old heap in an effort to keep it rolling until better times. I called Sun Devil Auto yesterday for an appointment and was told they are booked until Monday. Another location had one appointment available for tomorrow which I quickly snatched. I wonder if I’ll meet the guy who wears the Gucci shoes while I’m there.

I don’t have any information on how the dental colleges are doing. They used to give free dental work and I imagine they are getting extra patients now but I don’t recommend they wait for my business. I have to draw the line somewhere; I don’t want amateurs mangling my molars!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The "Guerilla Queer Bar"

There is a gay organization in some cities like San Francisco, Boston, and Detroit, called the Guerilla Queer Bar. It is comprised of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people and their goal is to gather all their members, usually 100 to 200, and take over a traditionally straight bar in their city for one night every month.

The group is not confrontational and when they make their decision which popular straight bar they will visit, they always contact the bar owner and manager for his or her reaction. Usually straight friends accompany the group and there have been no reports of violence, so far. One male member stated that "A lot of people have never been around a lot of queer people before and they were fascinated." Really? About what? Is it that fascinating in the 21st century to see a man wearing a blue sequined dress? Is that any more fascinating than to see teen age boys punch holes the size of quarters in their ear lobes? That’s typical stuff these days.

I have nothing against these people if they want to take over a straight bar once a month in some large city. I’m sure the bars that are not doing much business are glad to have a couple hundred paying customers pack their place. Since being gay is still a stigma in many areas, I guess they just want to appear a bit more mainstream and encourage acceptance of their lifestyle within the straight community.

I haven’t heard of a Guerilla Queer Bar in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area but an incident a couple of years ago in Scottsdale resulted in Anderson’s Fifth Estate lounge going gay. As far as a couple hundred gay people taking over a straight bar for the night in Scottsdale, I would have concerns. With the bar scene being what it is in Scottsdale and the various outbreaks of violence over the years relating to gay customers, there could be some difficulty. On the other hand, nothing major has happened in other cities, so maybe that would be the case here. We may find out.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

"LovRub" and Coke

That's Barb and me presenting the Passover Coke to Mary (left) at Randy's in Scottsdale.

JUST OBSERVING: I saw an ad on television last night that has to be close to the Cialis ads for humor. Most of you know the Cialis ads with the old guys and their gals "getting IT on" and relaxing at sunset in their seaside bathtubs. If you haven’t seen the ads, just tune in to the Golf Channel. They show them all day long and, although several of us on the blogs play golf together, I haven’t met anyone, male or female, who owns one of those bathtubs.

Anyway, last night I saw an ad for something called "LovRub." A good looking guy and gal are eyeing each other at a staff meeting of some company and as the voice over pitches us on the product benefits, we see the aforementioned couple emerging from behind a door labeled "supply room." The guy is tightening his belt and straightening his tie while the gal is tucking in her blouse. Whoa!

"LovRub" must be quite a product. The good news is I didn’t hear one word about side effects being blindness, heart attack, or death and the young couple looked happy as hell. The bad news is that I didn’t hear where I could buy the stuff!

MOVING ON: We discussed "Passover Coke" during April and I had mentioned that Safeway was carrying it. I based that on seeing the stuff at my local Safeway in north Scottsdale. I assumed that with the Jewish population in Scottsdale, and with Safeway being a chain, all the Safeways in the area would have the sucrose Coke but I was incorrect.

I found that out when reader "Mary" drove to several Safeways in search of the good stuff and couldn’t find it. Since I am a sympathetic guy and am fond of the lovely Mary, I offered to present her with a free two liter bottle of Passover Coke to at least partially compensate her for her trouble. Below is the presentation ceremony made at Randy’s Restaurant in Scottsdale. Notice the yellow bottle cap which ensures that the Coke is genuine Passover Coke.

That's Barb and me presenting the Passover Coke to Mary (left) at Randy's in Scottsdale.

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