Sunday, September 28, 2008

happy gold(card) anniversary...

it was fifty years ago this month that a middle manager at bank of america had his "golden" idea...take the new concept of well-to-do clients of diner's club and american express carrying a plastic card in lieu of the "bother" of cash...and mail 'em to the masses.

they called it the fresno drop...and the world, for better or worse, would never be the same.

later perfected by a gent appropriately named mr. hock, the use of credit cards for purchases this year exceeded cash sales for the first time...


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

from the dept. of...i did not know that!

with apologies to johnny for stealing his line, here's food for, make that fuel for thought...

when i was picking up the new truck, the sales guy took it to fill up the tank as i was signing the papers...there's a big new racetrack discount gas/c-store right across from the dodge dealership, and when i saw the salesman pull out and pass it up to go to a station further up the road, i wondered why, since racetrack gas is usually the cheapest around.

when he and i did the delivery checkout on the truck, i asked him why...turns out his boss is willing to pay an extra buck or so per tankful to get bp gas, and that's because (and this is the part i did not know), bp is the only gas in our area that has no ethanol mixed in.

well, i vaguely remembered reading that some outboard motor owners had claimed the 10% watered down fuel damaged their engines, and that others said their mileage suffered when using it, but i didn't give that much thought or credence.

but here's why the dealership owner specified new-vehicle fillups with bp only...because it vastly reduced the complaints of lower-than-expected gas mileage from new owners, and therefore lowered his cost of time spent explaining and improving the overall experience...well, beyond the surprise of a business owner actually giving a ratsazz about customer service and satisfaction after the sale, could the bp gas really make that much difference? well, i like most others had always avoided the local bp stations because their gas is always a nickel or so higher...why piss away money when the stations next door were cheaper?

but i was able to answer that question for myself on this trip from central fla to north ga...starting out in sebring with a full tank of my usual chevron, we always fill up in valdosta because it's just about exactly halfway...but when i went to our regular racetrack station right next to i-75 exit 18, they were out of gas (day after ike hit), but a bp was right across the street and not wanting to waste time finding another place, i filled up there.

when i zeroed out my odometer and onboard mileage meter, i saw that i had gotten 15 mpg on the first tank; a little less than the 16 that i expected but not too bad for a hemi 4x4 truck cruising at 75-80.

but here's the surprise; when i got to my northern terminus and decided to gas up right away in case the stations up here ran short also, the mileage for that leg of the trip was 17! well, not only did that bring my trip average to the expected 16, it also really shocked me to see such a difference in mileage just because of the non-diluted fuel, but it was true.

for a truck that holds twenty five gallons, an extra 2 mpg means an extra 50 miles per tankfull which in turn equates to three less gallons used! now i'm no math whiz but that looks like a savings of 12 bucks per tank to me, in exchange for paying a buck or so extra at fillup.

nothing scientific about my little 'speriment; striotly anecdotal and experiential, but it sure convinced me...guess where i'm going to be buying my gas from now on every chance i get?

and that's not even counting the great little side benefit of a more pure fuel for my rides, and a big fat slap in the face to the "environmentalist" airheads who advance the notion of an additive that costs more than it saves, reduces mileage therefore increasing usage, and is bad for the engines it's made for, is actually somehow a good thing...


Monday, September 15, 2008

4 sale...

one of the main reasons for this trip up to ga. is to get my son's house squared away for sale, and get it listed with the realtor.

it's a great little house, we bought it three years ago and moved eric and his fiance up on katrina weekend...that was scary.

they had bought a business here in this bedroom town of ball ground (north cherokee county; lots of commuters here into the atlanta area about an hour away), and 8 months later we ended up buying a house for ourselves nearby instead of up around blue ridge where we had vacationed for years and had always kind of planned to retire to.

but they parted ways (hard for him, but good riddance really) and sold the business. he has moved back to central fla and now i guess we've got a couple extra houses we need to sell. this one first and then i guess we'll move on to the other one where i am for a few days now...other than it being hard on my boy and pissing away a fair amount of retirement funds. when all is said and done, we're not that upset about it...retiring up here full time turned out to be more seperation anxiety from the grandkids in fla than wifey could deal with, so i guess we'll end up staying in fla mostly and continue to come to the hills for a break now and then.

anyway, nice house for a young family...anybody interested can check out the listing here... or here.


lil' red truck...roadtest!

had to make a quick trip up to the georgia mountain place saturday, and it was the first real shakedown run for the new truck.

contrarian that i am, when nobody else is buying, that's when i get interested...because anything that's not a perceived gas-sipper (like suv's, trucks, and anything with a v-8 that they were clamoring for a year ago) are now seriously discounted by the factories and dealers that have a ton of them in the pipeline...they've got to move that inventory to cut costs and raise cash to keep heads above water, and there's a real chance that at least one of the domestics won't make it...

that has resulted in $10k and more off of msrp for all of the fullsize trucks, even toyota and nissan. and then dodge got real serious...40% off sticker for all ram 150's. i had been thinking of swapping my little explorer sport-trac which was four years old with an expired warranty and in need of tires, brakes, belts, radiator flush, etc...about a grand worth of work. i had been wanting something with four doors, 4x4 for 'splorin the ga. woods, and i wanted a heavy duty tow package to pull large trailers full of crap from place to place.

so when my son and i checked out the local dealer to be sure the deal was for real and not padded with dealer add-ons, etc., he was drawn to a red quad-cab hemi that was pretty loaded and had a factory sticker of 39k and the only dealer adds were a bedliner and step bars (which i would need anyway for my barely 5' sweetie) which totalled the retail at exactly 40k...would they really take off 16k and sell this truck at 24,000? they did, plus took the sport-trac in trade at 10 (i paid 16,5 for it new), and added only ttt (no "dealer fees").

so, out the door at 16; pretty hard to beat even for a gas hog...but is it really such a hog? the 6 cyl. ford got real-world 14-15 mpg locally, and 20 on open the first two weeks around town the hemi 4x4 got 11-12, which included pulling my 16' box trailer some of the time and keeping my foot into the throttle a good bit to hear and feel that rumble...then this road trip of a little under 600 miles returned exactly 16mpg; not econo by any means, but not bad at all especially considering that i had cruise set at 75 most of the way on the fla turnpike and i-75.

okay, a little 'rithmetic's in order; the new truck gets 4 mpg less than the old truck and figuring 12k miles per year and four bucks a gallon for gas, it'll take more than 16 years to use up that 10k extra discount...and that doesn't take into account the grand that i was about to have to put into the ford, a fresh bumper to bumper warranty on the dodge, or the fact that the new truck will do a lot more of what i need/want to do...the stampede to econoboxes just doesn't make economic sense.

and yeah, that's my son's mccain/milf '08 sticker on the left rear; it's days are numbered though...wifey says it's disrespectful and she has a point, plus not very becoming with an old gray-hair at the wheel (still like it though; palin probably would too).


Friday, September 12, 2008

come 'n get it!

tam's been censored at both cafepress and zazzle...copy&paste her beautiful creations to your blog in protest...and maybe toss a few bucks in her tip jar to show your appreciation.

...and dare anybody to do anything about it.

can you say Constitutional Rights?



you see those terms thrown around a lot as if they're interchangeable...they're not.

there's a good illustration of this over at sailor curt's.

price is easy enough; for most things including the ak-47's at the heart of curt's post, it's the wholesale replacement cost, which is a pretty fixed amount...for instance decent clone ak's at bangers are under $400 to ffl's...anything extra is blue sky, and like i said at curt's, ain't nothing wrong with that, but how much?

well then you're talking about value, and there's nothing fixed about that...what i normally did was charge a $50 markup to order any firearm on a prepaid basis, so about $450 plus nics and tax; dealers who price their inventory at normal retail might use a 50% markup for a price of $600...though they may not sell to legal buyers in no hurry and with a dozen competing gun sellers in town the value would probably be $450-$500.

but throw in an "exigent circumstance", (cops aren't the only ones...heh...who face those) and well...if i was in new orleans in '05 or maybe in houston today, the stores were closed and i didn't have a gun? that value shoots right up there to about whatever i had to pay.

or if i was an illegal-immigrant dope-ganger i guess the value would be what the evil, criminal p.o.s. with a "not-prohibited status" charges me to buy it and resell it to me.

and if i was lieutenant spokesperson of the hometown sheriff's office? well, i'm going to grab onto the highest figure i hear anybody within a mile of the investigation mention...'cause that makes us look good and goes over real big when the sheriff is beggin' for tax money to fund the new ninja squad...them's $700 ak's by gosh, that pot plant's worth $5000 of pot, and the mangled gold chain with a true melt value of $200 looks a lot better on the recovered-property sheet at the $2000 jacked-up-500% retail tag price down at mayor's jewelry...

price is easy...value is a whole 'nother thing.


Monday, September 8, 2008

"reagan in a skirt"

that's what tam at view from the porch said in a comment about what libs really fear about palin...

it just don't get no better'n that.


Friday, September 5, 2008

my son the conservative horndog...

my 24-year old son got his package from cafe press today...they should have sent it in a plain brown wrapper...

he's always had a thing for ladies older than he, and with his conservative views and visceral disdain for bo, when he listened (and watched) that speech the other night, he was hooked.

so when i showed him (via tam) sharp as a marble's, he was on cafe press making his order.

for this...

and this...

and this, which went on my new truck that he is borrowing for the weekend; he better enjoy it because i don't think my little georgia girl is going to let that stay on the truck that i'm driving around.

you know, what's funny is that i get the impression that palin would get (while probably rolling her eyes) the off-color humor and take it as the compliment that he intends.



there's a whole big thing over at the munchkin wrangler's about believing/thinking/feeling becoming real world fact...i'm afraid i innocently kicked it off thinking in pretty pedestrian (but still critically important) experiential terms...and before you know it all the smart kids in class were tossing around quantum physics and the subatomic makeup of the universe...shit.

i was speaking in more day-to-day terms; that discussion got way over my comparatively ignorant head pretty quick, although i'm not sure perception/reality in the real world is much different than theory/science in theirs.

here's some illustration of what i was really talking about;

when it comes to perceptions and reality i've always been one to swim against the current...i was selling my real estate investment properties when everybody was buying...a little too soon, really, but at least i didn't wait until nobody was buying...listen to all the blahblahblah you want about what caused the bubble and the bust but there's really only one reason prices went up so much and have come down so much...perception. if people believe it, it very quickly becomes true. actually right now i'm starting to look at buying again...because few people are.

same thing with silver...when other dealers and pawnshops were turning down sterling silver, silver coins, and even silver bars because the price was too low (about $4per troy oz.), i bought everything in sight and piled it up in the safe...until '06 when all but some of the most interesting antique or handmade stuff went to the refinery...with spot price then at $ was similar; chains, bracelets, etc. that i was retailing from my showcase for $10 per gram brought $18 in melt...largely because the false perception of a shortage became the reality of market price.

now what everybody's buying is small gas sipping vehicles...and that makes sense to a degree with gas at four bucks...but in the rush to save a buck (and of course to be seen as urbane and pc) sheeple are virtually giving away the big v-8 stuff that they lusted for just a few years ago. and in the process, they have nearly bankrupted the manufacturers who still had a ton of the big stuff in the pipeline.

and that means those manufacturers are desperate to raise cash and liquidate in the spirit of helping them out, or else kicking them when they're down...i bought a new truck last week. i wanted four wheel drive so i can go places i have no business going when we're up at the north georgia place, and i needed decent pulling power and a receiver hitch to pull trailers full of shit that i have no business when dodge ran 40% off on all ram 1500 trucks, i checked it out at the local dealer to be sure it wasn't the typical bullshit; it wasn't...they had a lot full of trucks at true 40% off the sticker. my son was drawn to a red quadcab with a hemi engine and 20" wheels, (that's a stock photo, mountainous backgrounds are a little scarce here in central fla, but my truck is identical), and since it had what i needed (and quite a bit more) i bought it...factory sticker of right at 40k became buy price of 24k...minus 10 for my four year old 6-cyl. truck which i bought new for 16.5...

the little truck got 20 real mpg on the highway and the hemi 4x4 gets that rate it'll burn an extra 150 gal. per year; even at $4 gal. it will take 16 years to burn up the extra 10k off that i figure is the "market adjustment"...and that doesn't take into account that i now have more of what i need in a truck and that i was about to have to spend 1k (tires, brakes, and other regular maintenance) on the little truck...there's no economic sense to it so it must be paranoia with a little pc bs mixed in...more flawed perception nevertheless morphing into self-fulfilling reality.

the reverse is true of market adjustment, too...last year i preordered one of the tiny new "smart" cars designed by mercedes to use as a dinghy for the motorhome, but by the time it arrived at the end of this may, gas prices had gone nuts and the same pc sheeple who are dumping their suv's were paying several grand over sticker to get one rather than getting on the year+ waiting list...and since we had decided to not take an extended motorhome trip this summer (i'm contrarian, not dumb...that v10 ford drinks a gallon every 7 miles), i stuck the smart on ebay the day after i bought it at 15.5 out the door and an atlanta lawyer drove his hybrid lexus up to buy it for 18.5 the next day...i wish i'd have ordered a dozen of 'em, i'm a sucker for making a buck, especially off of yuppie tree huggers with too much money.

yep, perception equals reality...if you let it.

let's hope the perception among the stadium's masses that the man from hopeychangey is the savior of us all doesn't become'll be hard to flip him in the market and make a buck.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

older is better! well, sometimes...

sevesteen discusses form and function...

ditto from me on appreciation of simple, functional elegance...and watches, cars, and guns exemplify the best and worst of those attributes.

rolex watches were a specialty of never ceased to amaze and disgust me that so many of these fine handcrafted mechanical wonders would be festooned with diamonds and colored stones on the bezel, face, even the band...heresy, really.

i still come across and appreciate some of the early models and am always entranced as i fondle one and envision the craftsman carving it long ago from a block of gold and skillfully making and assembling that beautiful movement...

cars? how many of us who remember and/or appreciate American detroit iron from the fifties and sixties wouldn't trade our new benz, lexus, or suv for a showroom '67 chevelle ss? screw gps-equipped, ipod-ready, four-wheeled, three thousand pound bundles of microcomputers with an internal combustion engine buried somewhere deep inside and require an electronics degree to decipher!

and is it really possible to improve upon the smooth, sexy functionality that mr. browning designed a century ago?

since turning 50 in '04, i've developed a serendipitous appreciation for examples of these three categories that were all produced in '54, the year i myself debuted.

four years ago for my fiftieth birthday, i got a '54 chevy pickup that had been tastefully hotrodded with a built 350, four wheels discs, ac, was the last year for this classic body style that is now copied in the new chevy ssr...coincidentally, that same year a local deputy traded to me a very clean unmolested colt cobra snubbie revolver (for a glock m27, which he wanted as a backup to his department issue m22). a little research later, if found that the colt was built in '54 and its lovely fifteen-ounce self has been my regular carryon ever since.

then while cataloging my inventory in '06 as i prepared to turn over my business to a new owner, i took a closer look at an old omega seamaster wristwatch that had been in the showcase for over a still had the original box and certificate and was in near-perfect cosmetic and functional condition. when i traced the serial number on the movement, i found that the range of numbers for 1954 included it...i'd always worn a rolex from the showcase; usually a two-tone datejust or submariner, and occasionally a presidential or cellini dress model...these are all priced in the k's, some way into the k's, and i enoyed wearing them, but mainly it was a sales device; i sold many of them right off my wrist. but the simple elegance of the little seamaster, with it's bumper automatic movement and clean unadorned face is now my everyday watch; it keeps near-perfect time if worn daily and is instantly readable by my 54 year old eyes even at arms length.

so i have kind of inadvertently surrounded myself with mechanical examples that are the same age as me; i depend on them all almost every day, and i have no qualms about trusting them as they are equal or superior to any newer or more elaborate versions available today...and i know that when (if) they do wear out they can be repaired/restored to like-new, serviceable condition...for another 54 years.

i only wish the same could be said for this also-made-in-1954 thing i call self...i'd replace the high-wear parts; a fresh set of laserbeam eyeballs, new springs for my ticker and my step, and maybe even a brand-new, supercharged umm...plunger mechanism...yeah, baby!


do overs! do overs!

after having himself a new asshole torn by our "it" girl, don't you know that bo is
desperately wishing he had swallowed his prissy pride and tapped hills for his veep?


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

nyt: "disclosures about palin raise questions"

yep, and the "questions" they want answered the most after it was "disclosed" that pops picked palin?

"where tf did she come from and what tf are we gonna do now?"