'Leapers' take to the skies
You've got to be careful with a headline like that, so no one confuses these people with lepers.
As Leap Years go, at least 173 people found a unique way to celebrate their Feb. 29 birthdays.
They lined up either at Goodyear's Mogadore, Ohio, or Pompano Beach, Fla., airship hangers to vie for a ride on a Goodyear blimp. The first 25 to show up at the blimp bases at 8 a.m. with proof of birthday in hand won a ride for two on an airship. The Akron-based tire maker doesn't normally give away or sell rides to the public.
The first person in line, Heather Merckens of Marblehead, Ohio, arrived in Mogadore at 7 p.m. the night before, while the 26th person in line arrived at 4:30 a.m. Eventually a crowd of close to 300 milled around ready for a party, a Goodyear spokeswoman said. Those unlucky enough not to get a blimp jaunt got a tour of the airship facility and blimp and were entered into a drawing for one of 29 rides another day.
Goodyear said birthday celebrants ranged in age from 8 to 72-or from 2 to 18, if you consider they could officially celebrate their b-days only once every four years.
In his recently published book Kidnap of the Flying Lady: How Germany Captured Both Rolls-Royce & Bentley, British journalist Richard Feast tells of how roughly half of the revenue at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars during the mid-1990s was attributable to a pair of stupendously wealthy Brunei princes. The royal family's lust for fancy big-buck cars literally underwrote the two nameplates, according to Mr. Feast, a former Automotive News international editor.
Quick civics lesson: The tiny former British colony of Brunei, with a population of about 330,000, only became fully independent in 1984. The phenomenal wealth of the nation and its leaders stems from oil and natural gas, of course. Government departments employ 75 percent of the working population, who pay no taxes and enjoy free education and health care.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah rules the tiny realm from a gold-domed, 1,700-room palace built on the edge of the Borneo jungle. He acts as prime minister and defense minister. His younger brother, Prince Jefri, is the country's finance minister and head of the secretive Brunei Investment Agency.
An Automotive News story excerpting Mr. Feast's book pointed out the astounding fact that royal prince Jefri spent $747,000 a day for 10 years. And he bought so many Bentleys in the mid-1990s that Rolls-Royce created a department just to handle the orders.
Oh, to even handle a third of the royal family's tire orders would be a princely sum, indeed.
This 'n that
License to kill-No, we're not talking about James Bond. As the story goes, a game warden stopped a deer hunter and asked to see his hunting license. ``This is last year's license,'' the warden informed him. ``I know,'' the hunter replied. ``But I shouldn't need a new license since I'm only shooting at the deer I missed last year.''
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Want some fries with that grease?-Don't know how we could have missed it. But last year Shell Oil, part of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, expanded its line of industrial products in the U.S. to include a line of fluids and greases-for the food and beverage industry. So with the current low-carb, high-fat diet craze, maybe consumers could eventually order their burgers and fries cooked with either 10W-40 or 5W-30. Nothing like a lube job while you eat.
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Something's burnin'-As part of a certain tire company's promotional campaign for an event, a Tire Business staffer recently received a tire-scented candle.
Light that baby up and let the gentle fragrance of a burning tire waft its way through your office, home or car? What would OSHA say?
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Live or Memorex-Sorry we missed Detroit's big North American International Auto Show in January. We could have gotten to see the traveling cardboard cutout of Ellen DeGeneres, which made an appearance at the Nissan exhibit.
Actually, show attendees got the chance to talk live with Ellen in Los Angeles via phone during the taping of her TV show. Or they could have just talked to the cutout.
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Clever wordplay-During the Detroit auto show, the usually pretty pedestrian Business Wire news service pulled off a nice news story headline especially appropriate for Motown.
It said: ``Tiers of a crown-the ever-changing face of automotive tier supplier economics.'' That's probably how Smokey Robinson would have sang ``Tears of a Clown''...if he were Japanese.
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Fore!-Since a lot of dealers practice at (notice we didn't actually say ``play'') golf, we thought you might find it interesting why full-length golf courses have 18 holes rather than 20, 10 or even a dozen.
According to, hiccup, reliable souses...er...sources, a discussion was held in 1858 among the club membership at St. Andrews, the home of Scotland's oldest university, founded in 1413, and oldest golf course. One of the members pointed out that it takes exactly 18 shots to polish off a fifth of Scotch. By limiting himself to only one shot of Scotch per hole, the thrifty Scot (and you wondered where that term came from?) figured a round of golf was finished when the Scotch ran out.
Got that rundown feeling
You can call him one of the luckiest men alive.
Back on New Year's Eve in Rochester Hills, Mich., a guy was walking along minding his own business when, according to a news report, witnesses said a set of massive tires came barreling off a tractor-trailer. The tires rolled across a parking lot of a crowded shopping center, ricocheted off a wall and struck the man in the chest moments after he had bought a cup of coffee and was walking to his car.
A deputy with the Oakland County Sheriff's Dept. estimated the tires-which weighed close to 1,500 pounds-came rolling at the man at about 20 to 30 miles an hour. Before hitting him, they took a chunk out of a building, which absorbed some of the impact and probably saved his life. Sheriff's investigators believed a defect, possibly in the truck's axle, caused the tires to snap off.
Mr. Lucky, who was hospitalized for a short time with a minor head injury-and probably one heckuva headache-should have considered playing the lottery that week. Meanwhile, is that the sound of salivating lawyers we hear?
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk