Hitten' the highway Car thieves just seem to be getting younger all the time.
In Fairfield, Ohio, a six-year-old boy slipped away from his day-care center, figured out how to hot-wire—yes, hot-wire—a mini ``Monster truck'' toy vehicle parked outside a nearby childrens' resale shop, then drove it for a mile along a bustling state highway.
Authorities told the Associated Press that an alarmed motorist called police to report John T. Carpenter cruising alongside regular-sized vehicles just outside Cincinnati. The cops sent out a trooper to pull him over.
The resale shop's co-owner said she unhooked the toy truck's wires so no one could ride off in it, but somehow little Johnnie figured out how to reconnect them.
Some auto service shop might be smart to hire this enterprising kid. Talent like that should be harnessed to produce good—like labor rates of at least 50 bucks an hour.
Skating on thin ice
In another effort by Marketplace to provide info on some unusual products—remember the car ``diaper'' for those nasty, habitual oil leaks?—we've found a somewhat different way to move your car around. (Would-be car thieves, please ignore this item).
P & J Products Inc. in Birmingham, Mich., is marketing the ``Car Skate,'' which it claims can turn a two-car garage into a three-car garage. All you have to do is jack up a vehicle, or piece of equipment, and place a skate—with four three-inch casters—under each wheel. Then easily turn the car or trailer around.
Each skate has a 1,500-pound working capacity and, though no batteries are required, some minor assembly is. A set of four skates goes for $160.
A couple of the ``safety tips'' suggested by the company are real no brainers: ``Remember there are no brakes'' and, of course, ``Watch out for slopes.''
If you don't heed those warnings, at least make sure your car insurance is paid up. Trying to explain to your agent how your car rolled away might be a bit ticklish.
This 'n that
Big mother is watching: A Colorado mom thinks she's found a good way to keep an eye on her teen-age son's behind-the-wheel antics, National Public Radio reported.
She put one of those ``How's My Driving?'' stickers—along with her phone number—on his car. Whether or not he gets his driving privileges yanked depends on how many calls she gets. Hopefully, she's figured out a way to screen out practical jokers and the just plain mean-spirited.
Good quote: Discussing the threatened mass ``resignation'' of Major League baseball umpires Sept. 2, a sportswriter said that when he was growing up, the familiar call was ``kill the umpire.'' So it's kind of ironic that they're now considering (professional) suicide.
And another: During congressional hearings on Akron-based B.F. Goodrich Co.'s merger with Coltec Industries Inc. of Charlotte, N.C., Rep. Dennis Kucinich questioned the $55 million in severance pay built into the deal for nine execs.
``Maybe that is why those executives decided to change the merged company's name from B.F. Goodrich to Inrich—or should we say `Enrich,''' the Cleveland Democrat noted.
Talk about bad breath: Our never-ending search for cheap ways to provide stupid entertainment has discovered ``Suiso,'' a new beer all the rage in Tokyo karaoke bars. We can only hope it's headed to U.S. watering holes.
Asaka Beer Corp. replaces carbon dioxide in Suiso with hydrogen which, like inhaling helium, causes a drinker to talk or sing in an abnormally high voice, an Akron Beacon Journal story said. But if you remember your high-school chemistry, hydrogen also is flammable. So imbibers who belch with a cigarette between their lips send impressive, dragon-like flames shooting from their mouths.
The practice has already spawned at least one lawsuit. Remember, we all must do our part to keep lawyers busy.
A Wile E. move for Chevy?—The folks at General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division either love cartoons or, more likely, see a shrewd business opportunity.
Automotive News predicted Chevy will soon make a move to reach families with kids by announcing a limited-edition 2000 Venture minivan with images of Looney Tunes cartoon characters on the seats. (Careful when you sit on old Wile E. Coyote there, pardner.)
While a Chevy spokesman wouldn't confirm or deny a Venture tie-in with Warner Brothers, which owns Looney Tunes, execs close to GM said the deal is done.
Last year, Warner Brothers' Tasmanian Devil stepped out of the 'Toons long enough to ink a deal as a front man, er, monster, for Chevy's Monte Carlo in ads and merchandise.
Can an endorsement from Popeye and Olive Oyl be far behind? "...the mini-van Sweet Pea loves to ride in."
What a deal: So you want some of the same stuff Bill Gates has? Well you missed a chance to get a car previously owned by one of the world's richest guys.
The fully-loaded burgundy 1990 Lexus LS 400 with 82,000 miles on it was previously owned by the founder of Microsoft Corp. It was to be auctioned online last month via CarScene.com, an online auction site for specialty cars.
The seller had bought it at a charity auction and said he would donate proceeds from this sale to the Humane Society of Portland, Ore. The car's Kelley Blue Book value was tabbed at about $18,765, but by early July the highest bid was already $32,500.
If Microsoft had designed the vehicle, would it feature a ``retry/restart/abort'' button?
We can't believe they issued this—You gotta wonder what the folks at Business Wire were thinking about when they issued a press release July 19 in conjunction with the impending liftoff of a NASA space shuttle.
It said: ``Fabio to attend NASA shuttle launch.''
Wow. Mr. ``I Can't Believe It's Not Butter'' himself. Apparently he was the special guest of astronaut Cady Coleman, described as a longtime fan of the ``King of Romance.'' Slow news day?
Calm after the storm
You can usually count on tire dealers to lend a helping hand when times are tough—like during natural disasters.
Take for instance last May 3, when a tornado slashed its way through Oklahoma City. According to thank-you notes published in Big O Tires Inc.'s Treadmore Tribune newsletter, it seems several Big O dealers went the extra mile.
Fire Chief Gary B. Marrs cited the efforts of one Big O dealership that repaired fire department vehicle flat tires resulting from driving through debris. ``This was a tremendous help to us during this very hectic time,'' he wrote.
In another letter, Samuel Combs III, vice president-Western Region for the Oklahoma Natural Gas Co., applauded a Big O franchise managed by Sharon Midgett and Bruce Barringer for allowing the utility's service personnel to set up an emergency communications command center in the store's parking lot. Employees supplied coffee and water for gas company workers checking for gas leaks in the area ``and the shop began repairing flat tires immediately at day break the next morning (May 4).''
``We suffered a high number of flats because of the debris that these vehicles were traveling through,'' Mr. Combs said, ``and yet this store would not accept remuneration for their very valuable and necessary service.''
Hey, Big O'ers—take a bow.