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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cars

The mighty Buick Roadmaster wagon is quickly disintegrating and I needed to replace it. But what to buy? Most of the cars on the road today are too dull to even contemplate. The choices seem to be SUVs, bigger or smaller, Mommie vans, jelly bean imports, and those cutesy cube boxes on wheels that you have to be 20-something to own. Dull, dull, soul killingly dull.

With the 200 mile commute to and from NJ I wanted something that would be comfortable on the road. And I wanted some room to pack my dirty laundry and some other stuff as I went back and forth. The Miata is a great car but I want to keep it for all the fun times, not just the drone back and forth each week.

I looked at several '97 Thunderbirds as a good road car with some style and flair but every one I looked at had a rust problem. One I found near Atlanta had ultra low mileage and (presumably) no rust but it was a bit more than my budget allows at the moment. Did I mention that I require a car that I can pay cash for?



Yesterday I opened CraigsList for another tour of rust and destruction. Whoa, right at the top of the list was a '95 Lexus SC300 coupe! The asking price was a stretch but it's a car that I've always thought was one of the prettiest cars ever built. Very understated.



I has a straight 6 cylinder engine with an automatic transmission. It's roomy for 1 or 2 with a back seat for groceries or amputees. Best of all the owner and I were able to come to a price that we could both live with. In my best juevenile delinquent manner I drove it home with plates from another car. I'll get it registered next week.


It won't be able to tow or carry dirt bikes but it will be a delight to drive. It's basically a Toyota Supra in a Lexus body. I can't wait to try out the heated seats on the next freezing morning!
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Continuing to settle in

Life in a new place is always exciting. Especially when your toes are getting wet because the plumbing just sprang a leak. I was able to fix it so I could finish brushing my teeth and get to work. Mechanical skills can be so handy whether it's vintage motorcycles or household fixtures.

Herman sent this link. Reminds me of my trip around the White Rim Trail except that I made it all the way around safely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLuuWhK559A&feature=player_embedded

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Schuberth Helmets On Sale

This is from the Transalp list where Claudio is an active member.


Hi guys,
Just letting all you guys in the USA know that we just signed up with Schuberth GmbH Helmets from Germany and we're doing a dealer buy in. Those interested in aquiring a new C3 Modular (only one available for now) please give us a call or email me for more information. We are offering them at a great discounted price and free shipping until the 10th of April. You guys already know how much they cost retail.
Here's more info:
Most sizes and colors in stock.
Call Adventure Moto @ 561-242-5158 if interested.
Ask for me.
Thanks,
Claudio

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Retail thoughts

I finally found an apartment so that I don't have to live out of a duffel bag anymore. I don't know what the deal is with real estate agents and apartment managers. You would think that calling you back was a favor they bestowed only on a few special people. I can't count the number of messages I left with no response.

When I did find a place, which I would charitably describe as funky I made the mistake of telling the landlord that I was on contract to hire and that there was the faint possibility of being terminated at the end of 6 months. He called back the following day to tell me that he had changed his mind and couldn't take the risk.

He did me a favor as the next day I made contact with an owner/landlord that had a nicer apartment for the same money and was genuinely happy to have me as a tenant. It's in an older neighborhood that's a block from the water. Boats tied to the docks and little shops and restaurants are nearby. Best of all I'm only 3 miles from my office so it will be perfect for the CT90. One more chore checked off as I exit the chaos and return to a sense of normalcy.

Here's an article I ran into at the Louis Boston site. I used to shop there when I was single and more style conscious. Like Brooks Brothers you pay more but you get so much more. I like clothes that will wear well and stand the test of time; button down shirts, blue blazers, khaki pants, penny loafers, and such. Call me Preppie but that's what I like and I always feel at ease no matter what the crowd or occasion.
The Big Box-ification of American Retail

A certain giant retailer (that I’ll call “W”) really understood the frugal nature of the American people. Many assume the company got traction in the midwest, because their values at first seem so midwestern, but frugality is a nationwide characteristic in America and it runs deep in rich and poor alike. “W” understood the psychology behind the thrill people get from saving money. They understood how to make the value of shopping in their stores about saving money and nothing more. That singular message “lowest price” was all they needed to convince all kinds of shoppers that their own worlds would be richer if they spent less.

But the catch was that the consumer had to eliminate any convenience they were used to experiencing in a traditional store. In fact, W counted on the fact that the customer thought they were the most frugal only if they suffered through the process of shopping. Think about the 4 A.M. “After Thanksgiving Sale” they instituted. Customers trampled and killed a security guard in one of their stores just to save money on a CD player – of which they already had twenty. The need for the consumer to suffer to feel like they are saving money is “key” to the perceived value.

But there was more to W’s strategy. They gave “BRANDING” a power that was once the sole purview of luxury designers. The marketers at W knew that if the consumer already recognized the product by its BRAND, the only thing the store needed to provide was the lowest price. Well it didn’t take long for other retailers to adopt this strategy. From W to luxury department stores, retailers are relying on the power of the BRAND to sell itself while the retailer only has to house and offer the product at the best possible price in order to succeed.

The biggest complaint consumers have today is “the sameness” they find at stores…all stores. The source of “the sameness” is that the same BRANDS are carried in all stores at every price level. When stores rely on BRANDS to create their identity, they give up any chance of actually having their own identity. Most BRANDS supply the stores with their own merchandise selections or merchandise that is in their BRAND advertising, on-line web sites or fashion shows. After a while the only chance for these stores to get ahead is to win with the lowest price. First we had “friends and family”, then “special discount nights and weekends” – and now the consumers have been taught to wait for the BRANDS to go on sale (i.e. W).

What this means is that consumers are self-servicing themselves out of choice, out of surprise, a chance to look distinctive and to benefit from the assistance of a consultant, to buy only what national brands decide will sell to the greatest number of people in their geography and demography. And on top of everything else, shopping just isn’t fun anymore. So what’s the real price of that?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When Men Were Men

Racing has been a part of the history of everything that moves. Safety has not. There was a time when they raced convertibles in NASCAR.


Killed Myself When I Was Young from The Jalopy Journal on Vimeo.