Don't be fuelish
With Americans currently paying among the highest fuel prices on record, Goodyear says inflation is playing a big role at the pump-the air pump, that is.
We're all aware of the ``ouch factor,'' as prices at the gas pump, by mid-March, had risen to a nationwide average of $1.71 per gallon for regular. On the Left Coast prices have topped $2 per gallon or even higher. Here's something worth noting to your customers, Mr. Tire Dealer: When tire care is factored in, the rising fuel prices become even scarier, according to Goodyear. ``Running a tire 20 percent underinflated-only 5 to 7 pounds per square inch-can increase fuel consumption by 10 percent. That can easily cost motorists two or three miles per gallon.''
It also translates to abnormal treadwear that can reduce a tire's life by at least 15 percent, said John Peer, director of retail operations for Goodyear.
You may want to suggest your customers check tire inflation at least monthly and especially before a long trip. If gas prices continue to climb and the fuel supply situation ever reaches crisis proportions as it did during the oil embargo of the 1970s, motorists will probably have a lot of time to get out the ol' tire pressure gauge and check those donuts-while they're waiting in long lines at gas stations.
This 'n that
Battle of the bulge-We read that Group Michelin was recently upgraded from ``Equal Weight'' to ``Overweight'' by analysts at Morgan Stanley.
That means, according to a news item out of Paris in Tyres & Accessories, that the total return on the tire maker's stock is expected to exceed the average of those companies reported on in the same industry over the next 12 to 18 months.
We thought it meant that, despite his efforts to slim down in recent years, Michelin's ``Bibendum'' mascot was again packing on the pounds.
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Name game-With apologies to a certain Asian-American TV journalist, if tire maker Continental A.G. merged with Chinese food firm Chun King, might the resultant offspring's moniker be Conti Chun?
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No golden arches-Racing and burgers...inseparable. The PRO Hot Rod & Muscle Car Nationals Show Series recently announced a new sponsor for its PRO Fastest Street Car Drag Racing Series: Hamburger's Oil Pans.
The oil pan and accessory maker from Cerritos, Calif., will sponsor the Hamburger Nostalgia Super Street Class racing season through 2005. (Is that like having indigestion recalling a good burger you had?) The obvious question: You want fries with that?
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Technology gone awry-With all the news about our government setting up shadow operations to spy on persons who might be suspected terrorists, we read of a guy who was arrested for doing just that with his former live-in girlfriend of three years.
In a high-tech example of stalking, he planted a Global Positioning System (GPS) homing device under the hood of the woman's car. Prosecutors said he used the GPS-which uses satellite and digital cellular technology to pinpoint a target's location-to keep track of her whereabouts, then began following her on errands and when she went to work. The guy was charged with stalking, burglary, second-degree reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct and was held on $50,000 bail.
Maybe the court can order him up one of those nice, comfy leg brace-type tracking devices to see how he likes it.
Dead letter department
We swear this is a true story... reported by Ananova.com, which bills itself as ``news on the move.'' The subject in this case, however, hasn't moved in quite a while.
David Towles, who died in 1997, recently received a telephone bill at Hillside Cemetery, Evergreen Section, in Auburn, Mass. Cemetery Superintendent Wayne Bloomquist told Ananova he was quite surprised to see the bill from Sprint for 12 cents, including 10 cents for a call placed on Feb. 16-five years after Mr. Towles died at age 60. ``Our clients here don't usually get mail,'' he said. ``I wondered if maybe we should start putting mailboxes on the monuments.''
The bill, which by March 6 had increased to $3.95 due to charges on the unpaid account, was turned over to an interim town clerk. She said (hopefully tongue firmly planted in cheek) that she'd hold onto it for a while because ``Mr. Towles' credit could be affected if it remains unpaid.''
Traditionally, armored-car makers have found their biggest customers in developing countries, where civil unrest never seems to take a nap.
But Newsweek reported the U.S. is now one of the fastest-growing markets for those bullet-proof wares, as homeland insecurity rises and a lot of company executives apparently are looking for protection in a big way. Ford Motor Co. is introducing the $140,000 Lincoln Town Car BPS (for Ballistic Series), which can stop an AK-47 and block a grenade. General Motors Corp. is preparing to roll out an armored Cadillac Deville capable of deflecting bullets from a .44 Magnum, not to mention introducing a new tank-like Chevy Suburban. BMW is offering a vehicle that can hermetically seal shut in the case of a gas attack and provide occupants with germ-free oxygen.
The story said that beneath the shiny exteriors of some of the limos rolling up to the red carpet for the Academy Awards presentations were the latest aftermarket accessory: bulletproof armor. As some CEO's try to protect themselves against possible terrorism, movie stars also are getting death threats and rappers, according to Newsweek, fear assassination attempts.
One armored-car exec explained it thusly: ``This is absolutely a sign of the times.''
For the right price we can provide deals on a Bradley fighting vehicle and an Abrams battle tank.
Wine, women and tread
As ABC has tapped the wine keg, so to speak, in announcing the next star of the alphabet network's ``The Bachelor'' TV show, we can just hear the pundits sharpening their wit along with their after-dinner aperitifs.
Mind you, the newly minted bachelor is no average Joe Millionaire sloshing around in a cheesy TV hot tub. He's the real thang: 27-year-old Andrew Firestone, great-grandson of Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. founder Harvey Firestone and son of Brooks Firestone, who began California's Firestone Vineyard. Andy's mom is Catherine Boulton, former soloist in the British Royal Ballet.
We're wondering how many lame tire references the media will be able to work into celebrity items. MSN.com's Web site headline said the new Bachelor ``is no re-tread.'' Can other bon mots be far behind? Alas, for us the temptation's overwhelming. Will his romance go flat? Andrew, sales manager for the Firestone Family Estates, lives in San Francisco and, from the photos we've seen, is a trim young man with no spare tire to speak of. Remains to be seen whether he has an over-inflated ego.
And although it's doubtful TV show execs will be parroting the old Firestone motto-``Where the rubber meets the road''-they'll probably enjoy some success because ``the name that's known is Firestone.''
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikoljaczyk