Friday, January 30, 2015

North Dakota Tales

Old AF Sarge has a story about Minot, N.D.

that took me down a memory lane. His picture and description of Air Policeman struck a nerve.

I had been canvassing North Dakota on behalf of a remanufactured engine company and was heading back to Fargo in a rental car. It was Sunday, and my route went by the Peace Garden of the "Peace Garden State" fame. Why not a visit?

Coming up to the border passed a large dilapidated yellow metal building. The entrance to the park was before reaching a substantial building housing Canadian customs. Reaching the entrance, the entry fee schedule put me off. $20 to walk around? No thanks.

After turning around, found the yellow building housed the US Customs. Seems I had entered Canada. Even spending less than ten minutes in Canada and never leaving the car, I now had to clear US Customs. Took two hours! Slow day, full staff and everybody got into the act. The car was thoroughly searched. Rear seat removed. A dog was involved. Had to take my bags inside where they were carefully checked. My drivers license was run for wants and warrants.

The similarity to Air Policeman was attitude and attire. All the Customs personnel had dark blue uniforms with enough crap on them to stand formation in a banana republic. As Old AF Sarge would say, these were SERIOUS people. Somehow I kept my temper and a leash on my caustic tongue.

Some people in North Dakota are humor impaired. In Fargo,  there is a neat airplane museum where every plane is airworthy. Big pans under the radial engines to catch the oil leaks. Visited it with an associate. While we were there, a catering company was setting up for a wedding reception. Me being a smart ass, said,

   "Hey, our admission includes lunch"!

   "Touch anything and I'll break your arm", said the lady in charge with a vocal inflection that lead me to believe she was a SERIOUS person.  Sheesh.

Man is Fargo flat. The highest hill is an overpass on I-29.

So why wouldn't I spend $20 to visit a park but paid $15 without complaint to look at airplanes? Priorities! I can see flowers most anywhere but an airworthy Corsair?

We flew back to Denver the next day on a Bombardier CRJ. I got a window seat and a fiftyish lady had the aisle seat. Coming into Denver on a summer afternoon can be "interesting" and this trip was more interesting than most. By the time we landed, the lady had put more hands on me than probably she had on her husband. I don't blame her. Experiencing positive and negative G's and 70-degree banks are not what you want in a commercial airliner. Lots of subdued, and not so subdued, groans and screams that afternoon. While I wasn't concerned, I had better things to do than bounce around in a regional jet that flew three different approaches. Tiresome, it was.

Call me narrow-minded, but North Dakota still isn't very high on my bucket list.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bison and Cops

Working for Steve Lance's Cowboy Corral Kia has provided material for many blog postings. Working for Steve was seldom boring and often brought unique assignments.

Steve had some items at a high-end antique consignment shop including a wall mounted bison head. Seems insects were infesting the mount and the store wanted it gone, now. Steve sent me to fetch it. (yep, a good assignment for a top level senior executive) At the time,  I was using a minivan with the seats removed in lieu of a truck. The van had very dark tinted windows.
A city policeman pulled me over. He thought I was driving a wee bit over the speed limit. Coming up to the driver's window, he glanced in the back. The glass eyes of the bison head were staring back at him. He visibly recoiled.

After a fairly long question and answer session and document check, he sent me on my way with a stern warning. Still wonder how many times he told the story of that unusual traffic stop.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why I Own A Truck

We have a need for extra storage. A four drawer lateral filing cabinet with working locks from Habitat for Humanity, under $70 out the door. So many times having a truck available has saved me time and money.

Yes, professionals, that "Bed Web" isn't a professional tie down  but for the three miles on city streets I needed to haul the load, it met the need.

It will not hold files. Rather, assorted  "junk". I think the current term is "repurposing" instead of "poor people have poor ways".

In the background is an atrocity, a Dodge with a lift kit. We don't have much in the way of swamps in Colorado, and your axles and differentials are what get caught. How much more ground clearance do you get with bigger tires, 2"? Oh well. I'm not in charge of the world.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tolerance? Hell No!

Radical Islam has been on my mind recently. Bloviating Zeppelin (BZ) has put up a post everyone should take the time to read and digest.
Consider it as clear a warning as you well ever read.

This was brought into focus today by a man of Hispanic descent (fuck PC, a border jumping beaner) who took it upon himself to give me a hard stink eye. Fifty or so, he was about 5'8", and a solid 200 lbs. What provoked him I don't know or care.  Most likely he hates all gringos and makes himself feel powerful by intimidating them.  The look he got back from me was, "Come get some". He kept walking.
So here we have a 70-year old overweight whiter than white Irishman playing macho shit in a Habitat for Humanity parking lot.  "Oh, WSF, why couldn't you be the bigger man"?

  "Because I'm not, and I don't let high sounding words excuse a lack of guts".

Intimidators, in my experience, are bullies. The only sure way of stopping a bully is convincing them their behavior will result in personal pain. Occasionally, they need the full meal deal. Always, they need to be called on their shit.

In the car business, I dealt with a lot of immigrants from the Middle East, the Balkans  and  Iran as customers, co-workers and competitors.Almost all were intimidators, liars and unscrupulous.

   "Oh, WSF, you are stereotyping".

   "Damn right I am".

I've been around a lot of cattle and sheep. Not every Angus bull or Suffolk ram charged me  but enough did to make me always aware of where they were.

There is a technique used by good salespeople called visualization anchoring. You play scenarios in your mind over and over then create a physical "anchor". I see myself approaching a customer. I am exuding confidence and friendliness. My head is up, my shoulder back, my stride confident and my visage open. Then I do some physical "anchor" like snapping my finger. I do this over and over, days, weeks, and years. I see a customer. I snap my fingers. Instantly, regardless of what has been happening, I am at full throttle ready to roll.

Using the same technique, I play situational awareness scenarios in my head. I'm in a convenience store. Two or more individuals enter but separate. In my head, where are the exits? What is my move if they approach the cashier from opposite directions with nothing in their hands? Which one is blocking the exit? I do an "anchor" like clenching one fist. Silly, you say? Once I was waiting to pay for my coffee to go when the place was robbed.

More recently I've been doing jihadists attack scenarios in my head. How do I get out of Wally World? Where are exits? Does the Optical Department have an outside door? Where are deliveries made to the fast food concession?

Odds are I will never experience a situation like any of these. I certainly hope so. I also hope I never need to use my fire insurance.

One thing I have decided is,  I will not stand by when someone is using intimidation. I will not tolerate it. It is my business, because the more times it works for the asshole, the more they will use it. Something along the lines of "An armed society is a polite society". If we all speak up, if we are all willing to suffer some pain, mental or physical, we can put a stop to this intimidation and all be safer.

As always, YMMV.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Karma, Do You Think?

Some fifteen years ago at a buffet restaurant, my late brother in law was cracking wise about, "Geezers and their geezerettes". Was reminded of that today as a friend and I had a buffet lunch. The place had a good crowd, and the hostess asked if we would share a table. "Sure, no problem".

Nice lunch, and nice conversations with the geezers and geezerettes sharing the table made for a pleasant hour. Thought of my late brother in law and then it struck me; I fit right in at that table.

I am a Geezer!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Maxine Gets Violated

My sister likes to give names to vehicles. I've owned three old Mitsubishi Mighty Max pickups in recent years. The first, a 1984 4x4 Turbo Diesel she named Maximilus. The second, a 1986 4x2 automatic with a 2.6 4cyl gasoline engine was named Mad Max. My current truck, a 1986 4x2 2.0 5 speed she named Maxine.

Maxine needed a U joint and center carrier bearing replaced. The mechanic I use was once the service manager at a dealership we both worked at for years. Semi retired, he has two bay shop in back of his house that is better equipped than most car dealerships.

Yesterday Doug called me, said get your truck in right now or wait a week. While not feeling well, I drove down to his shop. Two of his mechanic friends were there visiting and drinking beer. 

Maxine didn't give up her 29 year old parts easily but the job got done. All the mechanics got involved.  I've never argued with Doug about what he charges, and it has always been far less than regular shops. What comes with his work is a ration of shit and listening to bad jokes. We have a long history of breaking each others balls. He also has a disgusting habit of restoring Chevy muscle cars but I have learned to tolerate that.

Talking with my sister, I told her Maxine had her drive line pulled, center bearing replaced, u joint replaced and drive line put back.

"Oh", she replied. "Maxine had sex; did she like it"?

Mighty Max's are far cheaper to fix than Toyota, Nissan, and Mazdas. Anyone of the four is noisy and rough riding. My needs in vehicles is something reliable that will haul my fat ass around cheaply. After all those years in the car business, the only thing that makes me tingle is a large gross profit.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Roadshow Wrangler

These photographs were taken with a disposable camera. While moving, I came across them and scanned them. Hence, the quality isn't great.

Steve Lance's Cowboy Corral KIA was my employer for many years. Steve, although most definitively not lacking in self esteem, had his name plastered on everything because he believed every customer should have someone to talk to if they were unhappy with their dealings. He wanted to be easy to find. He was a professional bull rider (cue up all the jokes).

We were comfortably setting along Interstate 25, Exit 240, North of Denver selling used diesel 4x4s and gooseneck utility and stock trailers when, in 2002, Steve was convinced to become a KIA dealer. KIA USA was being run by Peter Butterfield who, though not a rodeo contestant, had the same mentality. In the coming years, Steve ended up with four KIA stores.

Steve decided we should have offsite sales. He, and his General Manager, Greg Miller found a guy who could put together a crew. When Steve bought property in Grand Junction for a KIA store, part of the deal was buying the seller's last remaining motor home. That became the sales office.

Steve and Greg wanted me involved. I was interested, but they didn't like my terms. One, money. Two, anything I was responsible for I had full dictatorial powers, and only answered to Steve and Greg. After the second sale, Greg called me into an office and closed the door. 

   Greg, heatedly.  "If I give you what you want, will you do the job for me"?

   My reply, "Yes". And so it started.

For the next three years, I lived on the road. We did 60 sales in 26 different Colorado locations. Each sales was like starting a new business from scratch. Find and rent a location. Obtain all permits from the local government bodies. Get a State offsite permit. Rent motel rooms. Arrange advertising. Get landline phone service. Everything involved a shit load of details. Forget cell phone minutes. Think cell phone days.

Steve has an unusual management style as he is a clear thinker and is decisive. 

"This is what I want done. This is how I want it done. This is where I want it done. This is when I want it done". From that point all he wants to know is, "It is done, or it is not done because......" Doing those sales I spent over $2,000,000 of Steve's money. I doubt we spent more than three hours talking during that time.

Greg Miller has his own direct and to the point management style.

"I want you to do this job, and only this job. I don't want you doing any other jobs. I want you to do just this job"!

Greg and I did spend a fair amount of time talking. In addition to marrying one of the smartest woman I've ever met, he was one of the three best "desk men" I ever worked with. His understanding of the nuances of retailing cars was unmatched by anyone else I worked with.

What made all of this work was that Steve  and Greg totally backed me. It wasn't easy because I operate with the subtlety of a bulldozer at full throttle. There was always some butt hurt manager enraged because I didn't give a damn for their input, desires, or opinions. 

But we had fun and sold cars! 
And, of course, we took trades.
Financial managers will tell you the number one cause for repossessions is a car breaking down and the people not able to afford both the repairs and payments. People in the smaller cities and towns could buy a new KIA about as easily as a used car. KIA's 5 year, 60,000 mile warranty meant real security for the lenders.

Previously, I mentioned Peter Butterfield. He put up significant sums for those dealers with the balls to go for it. Big balls, as we had $32-35,000 committed to every sales with no guarantee of a return. No pressure there.

So how did I become the Roadshow Wrangler? The activity was known  internally as "the roadshow" and neither Steve or Greg would approve "Cat Herder" as a title.

Peter  Butterield built up KIA USA from ground zero. Then Hyundai bought KIA. At a dealer meeting in Las Vegas, the Koreans called Buttefield out into the hallway and fired him. Cost them a ton of money; he was no fool and had an ironclad contract. Down the road this led to another adventure with Steve. Peter Butterfield bought control of ATK Vega Engines, an old established engine remanufacturer and later brought Steve in to  jump start the marketing. Future blog entry.

Since I've "retired", several times I've been approached to organize offsite sales. Always, I listen, and always say "no thanks". When we started doing them, they had never been done on the scale we did them. There was no, repeat  no, blueprint. I loved the job, the challenge, and the self satisfaction of doing something few people could do. I also learned some very hard lessons on what works, and what doesn't work. As Steve remarked one time, I was bored selling cars. The roadshow never became boring.

The single critical item is time. You must make decisions quickly, and you cannot waste time with meetings or waiting for others to get off their asses. At one point I had over $8,000 of my money sunk because one of the financial people wanted control and was slow walking the checks. Once Steve found out, she got an ass chewing she probably still remembers. That is why I won't do sales for other people. Too many "chiefs" with their own little patches of turf they feel they must defend. Fuck'em. Stay on the porch, little dogs.

I'm Tired of the Islam B.S.

All these idiots saying terrorists are not Muslims is like saving the Provisional IRA aren't Irish.

Then there is the matter of "72 virgins" with  the implication these are virgin women. Not necessarily so.

Any attempt to apply Western standards to these animals is doomed. Kipling had some advice that shouldn't be ignored.

The evil and the good.
Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the
     Christian down;
And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of
      the  late  deceased,
And the epitaph drear:  "A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the

Homosexuality has always been a trait practiced among humans and animals, but constantly frowned upon in human societies as an act of immorality. To maintain the norms of the culture in which he lived and the religions from which he plagiarized, Muhammad made homosexual acts haram, prohibited, in the earthly life. However to ensure that everyone fighting in his cause had ample remuneration in the hereafter, he also promised pre-pubescent boys in Paradise. So after committing plunder, loot, rape and murder in this life, the followers of Islam get "rewarded" by untouched virginal youths who are fresh like pearls.
Q52:24 And round them shall go boys of theirs as if they were hidden pearls.
Q56:17-18 Round about them will go boys of perpetual freshness with cups, and jugs, and a glass of flowing wine.
Q76:19 And round about them will be boys of perpetual youth: if thou seest them, thou wouldst think them scattered pear

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Moving OnUp

Moved into a new place and have been without Internet for a few days so am way behind on reading and commenting on blogs. My Latter Day Luddite computer skills isn't helping. In addition, I've gone from Windows XP to Windows 7 so have a new learning curve. Please bear with me.

One good thing about moving is getting rid of "stuff". Here is a pile going to ARC.
My sister, the insurance adjuster and her assistant were in a nearby small town and just happened to visit a thrift store. They spotted and bought these books for me. Thanks Sis and Little One.

The Martin Caidin book was copyrighted 1960.

The move is about 90% done, and the last storage shed gets emptied 1/15/15. New chapter in my life that I am looking forward to with good spirits. What is a bummer is once again being reminded I'm 70. I've always taken a certain private satisfaction in my physical powers. In my younger days could easily bench press twice my weight and work nearly everybody into the ground. Not so today. Oh well, life is a bitch, and then has puppies.

Once again I remember the wise words of my late father.

"The best way to move is with a 5 gallon can of gasoline and a book of matches".