Archive for July 2009

Progressive browser upgrade request

July 30, 2009

Lots of ads on the internet. You can’t browse without having some fool yell at you.

The last fool that yelled at me was Progressive with regard to auto insurance. Okay, lets see what sort of scam these guys are running.

I clicked on their ad and was informed that I needed to upgrade my browser to IE6 or Firefox.

I just finished trashing Firefox because it would not run under some of the older operating systems I use.

I am not about to take computer advice from an insurance salesman. No, I do not need to upgrade my software. Folks at Progressive need to learn to use the internet effectively.

In a year I will check back and see if they have learned anything. Makes me suspect their products as well.

A little less arrogance would go a long way to attracting prospective customers.

We Will Meet or Beat Anyones Price

July 27, 2009

I have heard this line of crap for decades. Usually on the radio and more often than not in automobile dealer ads. They spout this line as though they are proud of it and expect you to hold them in high esteem for offering not to screw the buyer. Is that really what they are offering?

After some reflection, I think not. Folk that offer you this ‘deal’ are virtually admitting that their prices are probably higher than anyone elses. They are daring you to find a lower price, which you probably will. Then, because they are greedy, they do not want you to do business with the dealer giving you the fair price. They will forgo their confiscatory pricing this time if they can deny the fair dealer the sale he rightfully deserves.

When viewed in this light the guy who will meet and beat anyone elses prices is identified as a super sleazeball.

How proud are you going to be to tell your friends that you bought your car from a super sleazeball dealer? That you allowed yourself to get screwed?

What if you have trouble with the car? Is Mr. sleazeball going to meet and beat all maintenance and repair charges or is he going to charge you extra because you cost him a profit by finding a lower price for the original purchase?

Then the most obvious question arrises. You have to be nuts to go back to the higher priced option when you find a dealer that is offering you a lower price. When all things are equal you need to be doing business with the fellow offering value for your dollar. Mr. ‘meet or beat’ is out to screw you. Why woud you empower him to do that when there is another, more economical alternative?

Penny Washers

July 18, 2009

Since I have decided to qualify for the coveted scrooge award, I have gone out of my way to ‘economize’. This post is an example of extreme economy. The scrooge award is a plaque awarded yearly to a person who can demonstrate he is the cheapest man on three continents. It is not as popular or well known as the Darwin award but in the same category.

I was restoring three deck chairs. These are of cedar construction. Legs and back are bolted to a seat and back structure with 1/4 inch bolts. The cedar was split and weathered. The hardware was rusted. The chairs were a wobbly mess. Maybe that is why they had been discarded.

I successfully restored two of the three and was working on the third. The third was a real mess. I had to reconstruct the back out of cedar 2X4s (also salvaged from the scrap pile created when my neighbor removed a rotted deck). The 2X4s were cut into 2X2s and the rotten wood was discarded (saved for the fireplace).

All that was needed was to bolt the last chair pieces together, paint and varnish and I would have a decent set of three deck chairs.

During the restoration I had lost some of the hardware. I was short four washers for the 1/4 inch bolts. I looked through my large collection of hardware but no washers were found. At least none that would fit the 1/4 inch bolts.

My first inclination was to get some washers at the hardware store. We have a local hardware store just blocks away. After recalling that nickel plated steel washer in 1/4 inch size would cost at least 5 cents each I decided to save myself the trip. I retrieved four pennies from the penny jar and drilled a 1/4 inch hole through each one. These washers only cost me a penny each instead of a nickel.

Turns out pennies are no longer solid copper. The ones I drilled were copper clad aluminum. No problem, They worked great.

So instead of spending 20 cents and wasting a half hour going to the hardware store, the washers only cost me 4 cents and ten minutes at the drill press.

True Value

July 16, 2009

It is finally official. Our local ‘true value’ hardware place has turned into rip-off central.

I needed an ac plug to install on a line cord for a lamp. I searched my garage and found some dippy little contraption where the connection to the wire was through spikes that would pierce the insulation to make contact. Either the spikes were too short or the wire insulation was too thick or both. This approach did not work.

Off to the hardware store. This was a common item which was certainly going to be in stock and affordable.

I finally found a bin full of plastic plugs with screw connections for the line cord. Price: $1.78.

Now it is not that I could ill afford to pay that much. I had a twenty burning a hole in my pocket but I was not about to pay nearly two bucks for an item that was worth 50 cents, tops.

So off to Harbor Freight. They only had the super quality Hubble style connectors. The ones with three prongs that you see on professional extention cords and industrial, heavy duty power equipment. Not really suitable for a lamp cord plug. Even so I made note that they were reasonably priced. Two bucks for the male and three bucks for the female. I have seen these same connectors at 8 bucks each at Home Depot.

Off to the local Albertsons. It was on the way home from Harbor Freight. Sometimes gocery stores have small hardware sections and sometimes they have ac line cord plugs. Not this time.

Stopped at a surplus machine tool shop on the way home. They did not have any ac line cord plugs either but they did have some really nice machine tools. They made Harbor Freight look like a junk store and their prices were only slightly higher than Harbor Freight.

Came home empty handed but better educated and a little wiser. No more True Value for me. Ever since they changed hands, they have gone downhill in a steady decline. You can pretty much tell if a place is worth entering by the number of cars parked in front. This particular hardware place used to have a full lot of cars at nearly any hour of the day. When I got there today I was the second of two cars parked out front. I also noticed that the Sears lot was practically deserted too. I have not been in a Sears in over two years. Soon I will be able to say the same for ‘True Value’.

A 20 minute search through 20 boxes of stored parts and I had the plug I needed. I knew I had one somewhere but thought it would be eaiser just to buy a new one. Next time I will know better.

Harbor Freight

July 15, 2009

My father used to warn me not to buy cheap tools. He always went first class. After he died we found a tool box full of expensive tools most of which were broken.

That is not to say it is a bad idea to go first class. If you can get someone else to pay for it, do it. Like if you use the tools professionally as a contractor or jobber. In such a case you can always add the cost of your equipment to what you charge for the job.

If you are just a handy-man you may not need a tool that works for more than one job. Perhaps you can even do the job without having to use that special tool that makes it easier.

I like to watch handy-man shows on TV. They always build something neat. They always make it look so easy. They always have tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment to help them. When you stop to think about it, it makes no sense at all to spend several thousand dollars on tools just so you can build a 100 dollar bookcase.

Harbor Freight specializes in affordable tools and equipment of all kinds. When you can buy a ‘skill’ saw for under 30 dollars, it really does not matter if it quits working in a year of intermittant use. At 30 dollars you can afford to throw the thing out with the scrap at the end of the project. That way you can avoid the frustration when that cheap bit of nonsense finally quits on you.


July 13, 2009

I like bananas. Must be the monkey in me. I have one in the morning for breakfast and one in the evening for a snack.

I like the taste and the price. A bunch of six or so go for $1.50. That is about 25 cents each.

The only problem is that they do not do well even when kept in the refrigerator. Buy them green wait a day or two for them to turn yellow so you can peal them. A couple days later they start getting brown spots, then all brown, then black.

You can avoid the brown and black transformation if you keep the purchase down to one bunch of six. Trouble is I don’t want to go to the store every week or three days. I would rather buy enough bananas to last me for a couple of weeks.

I finally found a way to keep them indefinately. Just freeze them. Peel them first. Put them in a freezer bag and leave them to get frozen. Takes about two hours to freeze, overnight to get really frozen hard.

Bananas have a thermal coefficient that makes them particularly good at staying cold. A frozen banana is as good as a slurpy at causing a brain freeze.

So, next time at the store load up on bananas and freeze them if you have room in the freezer.