Think Local, Act Global but Buy a Car Made by US

Lincoln MKZ Hybrid Made in America!                   45 MPG 45 MPG 45 MPG 45 MPG

I am NOT paid for any of this, but You Need to know.

Buying a car is often difficult, yet important personally, locally, and nationally. We all buy imports and that’s good. It is time, however, to support the American auto industry NOT with subsidies but with purchases of American automobiles. Now, IF we’re in the market for a car, it’s possible to buy a really good, competitively priced high quality American car.

We pretty much adored our 2006 Prius Hybrid at 58 mpg. Loved to say, “Toyota lied to us! They said the Prius gets 60 mpg when in fact we get only 58!” Even more fun pulling up to a service…oops…gas station to “fill ‘er up! All 7 gallons for a full tank and usually less than $25. That’s money in our pocket.

But, after 6 years of driving a small car – our ONLY car – we needed a new, roomier with a smoother ride. Also, over the years, the mpg decreased to 42-43 mpg. Still better than the 35-38 mpg our friends brag about in their CTS, Lexus, Honda, whatever. Spoiled us, we demanded great mileage.

Repeatedly, I suggested that if US produced a decent hybrid, we should buy it. Consider we have 1 car and prefer driving the 1,032 miles to visit our 4 grandchildren, and, we still drive around town wherever whenever. Hence, we really need a comfortable car with good gas mileage.

In truth, I accidented on the MKZ 2.0 Hybrid. Searching for an approximation of Prius miles per gallon, much greater comfort for road travel, beauty, and Please! Made in U.S.A. Shocked was I, totally to discover a luxury vehicle. A bit disappointed it was not made by GM, more disappointed that GM is squandering its patriotic cache and not supplying US with a gorgeous fuel efficient machine to be envied by the world, more upset that Detroit gave away the auto industry. Hard for me to get over that.

But: LINCOLN FORD is bringing US back to automotive quality, beauty, reality. Service? Incredibly Good, beginning with the sales associate Mike Goch at Pompano Beach Lincoln on Federal Highway. We told Mike how many years we’ve been buying cars and our needs were specific, no fooling’. And, our patience was nil, we just wanted to buy a car. When Mike had the black MKZ hybrid pulled under the canopy, and the door opened revealing the Dune interior, I thought, “OMG, this guy LISTENED and truly wants to me to drive a Lincoln. This is perfect.” Only this car was better than expected, with more options than we ever thought about, yet reasonably priced. Yes, reasonably. Compare for yourself with Cadillac and Lexus. Lincoln offers more for less.

This baby’s motor, mechanics, technology is every bit as reliable as Toyota, every bit as svelte as the CTS, and not just made in America, but made at a factory owned in America; The Lincoln MKZ is not a traditional muscle car yet delightfully spirited, and carries a    W-I-D-E body with a “smooth as glass” ride that literally conjures the feeling more akin to gliding over the highway rather than just moving’ on down the road.

I am put in mind of Uncle Leo saying, “You’ll have to stop that car every 5-minutes, get out, and let your behind side laugh!” Yes, and the MKZ is marvelously quiet. If I were to shut up long enough, I could hear myself think! The oppulent tuxedo black glitters, as if a visiting Washington, D.C. dignitary has come to town!

How fun to have this honey recognize me when I touch the door handle. Even the seat recognizes me! I love answering the phone through the radio. No, my hand never reaches my purse, but simply presses the green “Accept” button, and talking proceeds through the radio speakers. Call me; you’ll be on the radio! Great reception, Bluetooth music from my iPhone, local radio and Sirius with its free 6-month trial. In the evening, lights inside the car turn blue or red! The leather interior is enhanced with just a touch of classic wood trim on the steering wheel and doors to feel luxuriously Lincoln. Of course, the seats are heated, and. air conditioned. Cool!

Not bragging, just saying: 45 MPG 45 MPG 45 MPG 45 MPG and MADE in U.S.A.

After 4 months of comfort, convenience, great mileage, Now, I’m recommending.

Buy American.

If you prefer not the Lincoln, you’ll love the Ford Focus. Slightly smaller, faster and Yes! 45 MPG 45 MPG

Happy Trails

 

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Golf Less Goofy than Plaid Pants Show

People ask me if I play golf and, as usual, my answer is honest. “I own a set of clubs but few would call what I do ‘golf’. Mostly, I encourage my grandchildren to play because it’s hard to get hurt in golf, unless your feelings are too tender.

Stone Golfers x3  5.3

It’s a great game, for me discovered late and only then because Ger is a real gamester. I even had to learn chess. Golf, like bridge, which he also conjoled me into, is superior because You play against Yourself.

The issue is how well did “you” play. Definitely, keep score, compare you against them. The person who plays the designated number of rounds in the fewest strokes wins. Whatever! if you have a bad game, that’s on you. For the most part.

There are exceptions. Sometimes our presumed friends with whom we share a sport either know not the rules and etiquette or they deliberately undermine your play. Oh, yea, that could happen. Much is revealed about a person by their play of the game.

Nice to know a few USGA rules and be polite while being competitive.

First, slow play affects everyone playing behind you. Learn the USGA Pace Rating for the courses you play

Know which golf ball is yours. Can’t identify your ball? If not, it’s lost

During a hole, practice a swing but not play a practice stroke

Play the ball where it lies. Do NOT touch it unless rules permit

Play the course as is, though you may remove LOOSE impediments with your hand or club

Do not test the surface by scraping it or rolling a ball

Always hole out in individual stroke play. There is no “gimmee”

Do not talk as others line up their ball and swing

Keep your shadow off the visual line of the person playing

Do not stand in the visual line of the person playing

Contribute to the silence during any player’s turn

Your ball on the putting green is not allowed to touch the flagstick

A ball, not in play, falls off a tee or knocked off by player may be re-teed

Do not use an artificial device to gauge or measure distance or condition

Do not ask for advice from anyone except your partner or caddie and do not give advice to anyone other than your partner

When my game noticeably improves, I’ll join the Sunbelt Senior Professional Golf Tour, write a book about how to play winning golf, and design my fashion golf clothing line, particularly hats.

Meanwhile, tee-off to enjoy the sunshine, mild breezes, and natural challenges of golf without getting teed-off at other players or at yourself.

Tee-Off green 2x1

 

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There’s No “To Bee or Not to Bee” Because There Must BEE!

On The Circle of Life and Health of the Economy

Some of us recall public swimming pools. For me it was Duncan Park in Natchez, MS, and Fair Park in Little Rock, AR. Our family immigrated to the US from Lithuania and Poland. We took full advantage of state supported recreational areas. Fair Park is what my cousins and I under age 20 called “Leetle Rrrock” was most enjoyable because my aunts, uncles, and cousins from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Illinois, would meet. It was grand and I’ve old photos to prove how happy and adorable they all were. OK, they were a tad skinny, but that was the Old Days, before those ever-present mechanized purveyors of sugar and carbonation. I refer to vending machines.

I recall Uncle Don throwing me, a teeny 6-year-old, in the deep water (three feet…well over my head) teaching me to swim. Perhaps it was also to deal with gallons of water rushing up through my nose. Terrified and nose burning, I refused to drown. Out of breath, gasping for air, proud, I climbed out of the water over a steep, rough pool edge, panting, knowing they saw me swim. Greeting me with a smile, Aunt Florence offered solace and sandwich at our lunch bench.

bee 2x1 crop

The glow of family love sweeping over me, I sat down to eat, then stood up between the table and bench to reach for my drink. Immediately, I screamed horrifically. My wet foot had stepped on a bee flitting around a neglected mustard covered hot dog bun under the table. Ouch!

Through tears, I couldn’t see who removed the stinger, but relieved when the ordeal ended. The sympathy was a magical healer! The deep ache of having been stung stayed with me for a long while, as the did warmth of folks caring. I had no idea that worse would’ve happened had I been allergic!

Several lessons learned that day. Watch where you step, and, clean up whether or not it’s your mess! Anyway, “Life goes on given the slightest chance,” according to singer Beth Nielsen Chapman. We can only hope that goes for the honey bee. They’re moving as fast as they can. The wind at their back, breeze in their face, a natural travel plan, and built in GPS! Bees jump from flower to flower pollinating plants. Giving a little, taking a little.

That’s an old and treasured story that could have a not-so-sweet end. People activity and other circumstances sometimes disconnect bees from seed bearing plants. Reducing uncultivated areas or in any way blocking bee paths to flowering plants results in starvingpansy parking 3.5x2.4

the bees and damaging our crops. Without flowers, there’s no bee food and bees die, and that ain’t good for our food supply.

Bee farms and wild bees need stable, quiet nesting areas, sunshine and clear tracts of ground with lots of different nectar and pollen-rich plants. High diversity of flowering plants guarantee a greater number of bee species. Plant life and animal forms flourish with a large selection of flowering plants for bee-havior.

We can work together easily with bees, beekeepers, and farmers as individuals and collectively. Leave field margins, ditches, roadside verges (Yep, bees are on the verge!) and woodland edges unsprayed with chemicals, and undisturbed to facilitates bee conservation.

That’s important why? Because bees pollinate about one-sixth of the world’s flowering plant species and at least 400 agricultural plants. Scientific writer Elizabeth Grossman wrote, “One of every three bites of food worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest.”

2.3x1.68 IMG_9728 free bee

Just in the U.S., every year honey bee pollination can be monetarily quantified in the billions (bee-ily-ion$). Poorly pollinated plants produce fewer, often mis-shaped, fruits and lower yields of seed. Hard hit quality and availability negatively impact food price. People, particularly children, the elderly, the weakest in our society, go hungry. Managing bees in ways that encourage pollination is one of the best strategies to protect and increase the amount of food we produce.

You get it. Colony Collapse Disorder is everybody’s problem. Bees are struggling with varroa mites, loss of wild bee nesting habitats, low world honey prices, Africanization of bees, and pesticides. All of that pushes bee conservation higher up on our protect list.

What can YOU and I…We…do?

1. Do not use deadly chemicals at home or in gardens. Friends of the Earth, BeeAction.org, advise that poison “neonics hide in popular brands.” Based on a scientific review by European Food Safety Authority that neonicotinoids produce “unacceptably high risks” to bees, birds, earthworms, mammals, and acquatic insects, the European Union is suspending use of three neonic pesticides. Neonics are found in these products: Aloft, Arena Grub-No-More, Shrub Care, Imicide, Imid-Bifen, Lada, Malice, Nuprid, Pronto, Sagacity, Triple Crown Insecticide, and more.

2. Grow bee friendly plants in your house or garden. Plant black-eyed susan, aster, blazing star, calstrop, creosote bush, currant, elder flower, goldenrod, joe pie weed, snowberry, stonecrop, sunflower, wild lilac, plus many others.

3. Use alternative pest control methods: landscaping to attract beneficial insects and eco-friendly pest control products

4. Tell everyone: Family, Friends, Colleagues! Bees are important and all of us can help.

For more information, please visit the website shown below: http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/60/a/3130 Gardeners_beware_report_8-13-13_final_updated.pdf

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“Tweety” is a Rooster

But Don’t Call Me Mitt!

Ahh, ya doesn’t has to call me Twitterer! You can call me Git, or you can call me Gitter, or you can call me Bitty, or you can call me Sh …not don’t do that!, or you can call me Ditter or Ditterer…but ya doesn’t hafta call me Twitterer.

My Twitter user name is DKBesser. Whatever the name of those signed on for the FREE (Twitter) appp confining us to 140 characters including spaces, are called Twitterers.

Twitter.com is the internet address enabling FREE social text networking about YOU, what you’re doing or thinking, and with or to those interested in your loving or loatheful comments. You write messages; your updates show on your Twitter profile page via SMS text messaging, Twitter web site, instant messaging e.g. iMessage, RSS, email, Facebook, and other social apps.

A Follower is someone who receives Your or other Twitter messages. You Follow others and others, not always the same people, Follow you. You can see who is following you, and, Twitter offers you opps to follow those whose tweets seem related to your interests. The latter may be your Followers or people writing about similar issues, regardless of your agreement with them. You can determine how closely your views match.

Know paramenters

Send a sweet tweet

Rather than uppercase screaming or repeated shrill sounds, both of which bore and aggravate everyone, you too can be avant-garde along with millions of other microbloggers. Join scribes and scribblers using their free Twitter account to post their point. If you’re a ‘newbie’ to technology, or even just to Twitter, here’s how to enter the magic world of concise communication.

Tips about opening a Twitter account

  1. Profile pictures are those people tweeting, or their chosen graphic to publicly depict themselves
  2. Posed or perfect professional photo of a tweeter indicates they’re selling something. They go away IF you ignore them.
  3. Do NOT trust anyone who says Trust Me or who declares themself Expert. They are neither.
  4. Engaging comments increase Twitter followers; banal remarks yield fellow twits
  5. Re-Tweet (RT) or Modified Tweet (MT) does not indicate close relationship with original tweeter, only a quick link

Seven Ways to be all a twitter

  1. Be brief. With practice, 140 character/spaces turns to poetry
  2. People who sign on to read your tweets are called followers.
  3. Everyone has a Twitter name, chose your own. e.g. I’m DKBesser
  4. Four ways to see a particular person’s tweet:

a) follow them

b) someone you follow re-tweeted your tweet

c) search the Tweeter’s name or a word they used in a tweet e.g. twitter.com/DKBesser

d) follow a hashtag, i.e. the pound symbol (#) with a recap of the topic

  1. All words beginning with # are hashtags. If you want to label your tweet with a subject, e.g., #exercisecanbefun, place a # in front of the word or phrase sans spaces. Anyone interested can follow. They see your tweets without actually following you. Tweets of those folks show up a different color. Click their hashtag for all tweets that include it to appear.
  2. Often you’ll see the @ symbol. To reply or comment to a tweet and get a specific person’s attention, use their Twitter name with the @ symbol in front of it. They’ll see it even if they aren’t following you. When a tweet begins with @ and a name, the tweet was directed to that particular person. Everyone can read the tweet because it is public. It’s a tweet!
  3. RT (re-tweet) or MT (modified tweet) are common. RT means someone else tweeted and  indicates original tweet is forwarded. The name of the person usually follows the RT.  MT is a modified tweet. If you shorten the original or make other changes, use MT in the name of honest reveal who wrote what. Recently, many retweets are put in quotes sans RT.

Find Friends and Enemies on Twitter

Open your browser (e.g. Safari, Firefox, Camino, Chrome, even Internet Explorer)

  1. At top menu, see  long rectangular blank used to type in a URL (Universal Resource      Locator) aka website address.
  2. Type in Twitter.com
  3.  IF you know Twitter name, e.g. @DKBesser then type Twitter.com/DKBesser
  4. IF you DO NOT know, type Twitter.com and at top of Twitter menu see Search field
  5. ALERT! There are at least 50 Twitters named, e.g. Donna Besser! Verify, somehow, you have  found the Twit you seek.

Sample Tweet, RT, MT

your mother is calling@whoeveroriginallytweetedyou.

RT @whoeveroriginallytweetedyou @ialwaysrespond great bcause Mom in heavenly abode is truly long distance #heavenly

Whatzitmean? 

Someone named @whoeveroriginallytweetedyou sent a tweet to me saying “your mother is calling.

My RT to that tweet (RT @whoeveroriginallytweetedyou followed by her original tweet) and added the statement, “great as reaching her heavenly abode is truly long distance.”

The hashtag was added so that anyone following “heavenly” would see this tweet.

More

…don’t wait, but there is more; although by following your nose, you’ll see.

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Consider This: Everything’s NOT Always Black and White

Why Blog?

Mother always said, “You’re too smart for your own good.”

She probably was correct, but I didn’t take Mama seriously (on that issue), but simply accepted another Mother Curse. You know, like, “You should have one, just one, just like you.” Ok, the latter actually was a blessing.

As children, my two revered older sisters Cheryl and Sheila, used to put me on the spot, jokingly, “What ya got on? Your mind?” Litttle sis Joann, on cue, always rolled over with laughter. From the get-go, my family members have lots on their minds. The underlying goal drilled into us by our parents is leaving this world a better place than we found it.

Husband Gerald (my renaissance man whose input you’ll also receive) and I presented to the universe our version of two stellar citizens, a boy and a girl. Happily, we woke up one day realizing our progeny, like us, are writers and enablers with a sense of humor. We unashamedly boast that we’re producers via Nathan M. Stone inventer and manufacturer extraordinaire, and, on the other, we’re stooges, sharing close DNA with Joe Besser aka Curly of The Three Stooges.

Under various circumstances over several decades, I’ve been paid to share my educated, practical, and oft-times humorous opinons. Our children, now professionals in the world of politics and publishing, urged me to blog. They were not alone in their insistance.

By nature, formal education in journalism and history, corporate communication and non-profit organization employment, and university appointments, others look to me for answers. While this blog is a personal commercial-free effort for my self-indulgence, “they” still pay me to teach graduate courses in communication and philanthropy, in addition to my computer tutoring senior citizens eager to unfold the mysteries of the Cloud and tech connect with their families.

This blog is my less-than-modest attempt to publish what’s on my mind and how to affect tikkun olam, improving the world. From low brow to high ed, you’ll see my offerings relating to ukulele and guitar, drawing, photography, bridge, walking, bicycling, computing, sewing, knitting, carpentry, genealogy, networking, healthcare, languages (especially English, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew), cooking, and more, surely!

Here’s the More!

Detroit nettled me by tossing away the auto industry

We’re green, not with envy but environment. Ger and I recycle, turn off lights, keep house temps below 75 in winter and above 75 in summer, and for seven years we drove a Prius. Fun to exclaim, “Toyota lied to us promising 60 mpg. We never got more than 58 mpg!”

Feels good, after cruising range of 400 miles, pulling up to refill the tank at 7 never more than eight gallons, usually paying $25 or less. Totally fantastic car that near-maintenance-free Prius, except at this stage, we need a modicum of comfort during those 1,018 miles between Florida and Maryland or 2,680 to California.

Time for a softer ride but loathe foregoing hybrid mpg. We had said when the US offers a hybrid, we’ll buy American. This year, we accidented on the Lincoln MKZ H @ 45mpg.

That’s when we were reminded of the horrors of changing cars.

My sister Joann drives a Lincoln MKZ, but not hybrid. Smoooooth, beautiful! So, I ran first to Consumer Reports then online to Edmunds.com, KBB.com, AutoTrader.com, CarGurus.com, local dealers, among others to read reviews, select brand, model and whittle down to most likely choices.

We looked at Prius, hoping 2014 wheelbase increased. Not wider but yes pricier and Toyota wanted us to give them our Prius, practically gratis.

Lesson revisited: when buying a car whether newly minted or new-to-you, do NOT “give” your car to the dealer. Sell it yourself — benefitting you and your buyer.

After laughing off our tuchas then walking out of two Toyota dealerships, we reviewed other hybrids, until we found Lincoln. OMG! AMERICAN! Beautiful, bigger, 45 mpg, and low range for luxury. Further online research revealed the average price paid for new 2013 and 2014 Lincoln MKZ hybrids.  And, we were sufficently knowledgeable about brands, models, and values comparisons and, ready to pay a price satisfactory for us and the dealer. Yep, we’re thrilled with our new, American-made Lincoln MKZ hybrid.

Meanwhile, our grandchildren reached driving age. Oy! I can’t begin to deal with this nerve-racking development, remembering my early car experiences. But our baby’s babies need a good, used vehicle. Thought I, “Why would they buy an unknown used vehicle when we have on the ready a known, reliable vehicle?” Moreover, we aren’t tormented trying to trade in while moving up. Relaxing and feeling good we passed our Prius to the grands.

Then we learn our daughter-the-minimalist, still driving a 2000 Dodge Caravan with 125,000 miles, called to say, “I’d like a new car.” Really! I laughed t myself. We’d try to buy her a car around 2004 before she moved to California. Her reply? “Wait until I find a parking space.” Guess she found one.

I shoulda known better. She didn’t mean newly manufactured, just new to her. Maybe a 2004 or 2005 SUV, enabling her 4’11’ frame to sit higher. Naturally, our car search began anew because neither she nor her husband have any experience in buying or selling cars. To that end, Ger, based on our 50-year experiences (also aided by our parents) of auto acquisitions put together the suggestions below:

Used Car Talk from Ger

1) If you get a lemon, it’s because somebody broke it by abuse – all vehicles these days are pretty good … owner probably drove it too rough or didn’t do fluids maintenance

2) I always buy from an individual, not a dealer or car lot (though I have done so … your brother’s car was found on eBay from a guy who had been selling cars on eBay for 10 years). An individual will price a car $300-$500 more than he/she is willing to take for it and will usually accept $500 less than asking price if offered cash. Dealer always wants at least $1,000 more than an individual, and sometimes a lot more. They have overhead, and know many tricks that make the car look much better than it really is. They will lower the price, but they know what they can get for the vehicle and will hold out for that. Even CarMax, which claims to be selling cheap, is still just a dealer

3) Today’s cars, maybe even since 1990, will get 150,000-plus miles if they’re treated right, but I try not to buy one with any more than about 50,000-75,000, and that’s hard to find in a car that’s more than five years old; a “lightly driven” car should have only about 10,000 per year (people don’t turn back odometers any more; too much online paperwork exists)

4) Yes, a lot of information exists online. CarFax or Kelley Blue Book or AutoCheck are commercial online sites that provide a report on the car’s history, but usually the seller gives an online link or copy of the vehicle’s history) or says “clean title.” Put in the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and you can get what happened to it from the time it was sold, including all other sales and accidents and damages. Don’t buy a used car without searching, but I don’t pay for a history report when, apparently, this is something the seller offers.  Don’t buy without “clean title”; no clean title the car was damaged, in an accident and may not be insurable. This kind of information is new with the Internet, but lets you know things like was the car used as a commercial vehicle or had its engine replaced or an in accident that required a police report, etc.

5) Engines. Frankly, the rest of the car doesn’t matter. If the engine is original and in good working shape, you can usually deal with most other problems. When you test drive, try to get performance out of the car: gun it on the freeway; hit the brakes hard on a surface street and then gun it again. Look at the cool-heat gauge afterwards. Open the hood and see if the engine is steaming or leaking. Look for smoke coming out of the tailpipe. If you have a friend who knows cars, maybe he/she will test drive with you to assess the engine. I’ve replaced two engines; car never ran the same afterwards.

6) Transmission. Pretty hard to hurt one these days, but you can usually tell if it’s bad by driving and listening for any peculiar sounds. Brakes. Most used cars will need a break job and front-end alignment within six months. You can figure spending $500 on a used car in the first six months.

Some things to look for: 

a. Do air-conditioner and heater work

b. Do electric windows open and close – often a problem; Do electric seats work

c. Is the pickup good

d. When driving 50 mph, can you jam accelerator to the floor and have the car jump ahead to 70 mph response –– needed to get out of trouble on highway, shows good engine and transmission

e. Does the car waggle or veer quickly when you let go of the steering wheel at 35-40 mph – could just need a front-end alignment or might be a serious steering issue

f. At about 40 mph, jam on brakes to see if the car stops quickly, and does it pull to left or right

g. Ask seller about when water pump and fuel pump were replaced – usually fail at 75,000-90,000, and these are $300-$400 expenses each

h. Ask if timing belt was replaced – usually needed at about 100,000

i. Sometimes a dashboard warning light will be on … maybe an electrical wiring problem, which can be a precursor of more electrical problems.

I worry that people sell cars because the cars have some problems (air-conditioner doesn’t cool enough, transmission slips, engine overheats, needs another repair that will cost the person $400). So why do I buy used? Because my experience is that the problem may be minor, and maybe the person just wants a newer car … always ask why they’re selling (and evaluate their lie).

Obviously, if I had been stung on used cars from individuals, I wouldn’t buy them. I’ve had good experiences, especially buying locally where the guy selling might be worried that you’ll come back and visit him next week or next month (dealer doesn’t care) or spray-paint a four-letter word on the front of his house.

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