Skinny Jeans


20160506_093633_001I adore skinny jeans, compression leggings and jeggings – the kind of pants that give a comforting hug to my hiking-weary old legs.

But the current below-waist design of today’s skinny jeans drives me batty. I keep struggling to pull the darn things up, thinking they’ve got a hankerin’ to wander below my butt. And all that yanking threatens crotch chafe.

skinny-jeansThese duds seem designed for croptop-loving women who yearn to show off their midriffs.

Well….It’s gonna take a few thousand more crunches for me to go that route – if it EVER happens.

It seems that those skinny-jean manufacturers expect women my age to be settin’ our fat, blue-haired bodies in front of the daytime soaps. I imagine they think we all wear seersucker, snap-front house dresses.

Perish the thought —

and put some more material at the top of my skinny jeans, PLEASE!

On Writing


Writing is the ideal remote work for boomers and seniors. It takes little upfront expense or hardware to get started. It can be done from anywhere, including an RV. Of course, it takes skill, and if you have some innate talent much can be learned without a huge financial outlay. Best of all, you are totally in charge of what you write.

I have a damn good ear for when something I’m writing is “off,” and when it’s really really good. My practiced ear comes from years of writing but I think it’s been primarily developed by reading voraciously since I first learned to read.

As Stephen King has said: “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”

If my writing is “off” I seldom know why right away. I have to put it aside and read something else – writing tutorial, a good novel, a great blog. Or just get to my best thinking places – hiking trail, treadmill, pool side. Inevitably something will hit me about what I must change and how. Often the insight comes from an unexpected source.

stephen-king-on-writingThis week’s insight about what the hell was wrong with parts of my first e-book came from the wonderful On Writing book by Stephen King. I’m reading his delightful story about how he got started and wham! something he says sets my creative lightbulb to high beam.

Today I’m spending reworking the e-book’s problem areas – thanks to Stephen King.

Can’t hike for a few more days on orthopedist orders, so my break will be swimming – and more On Writing pool-side reading.

If you write or want to write, you MUST read this book. It’s not only full of irreverent stories of his early years – stuff we don’t hear about him anywhere else – but it teaches in an easy-to-read, immensely retainable way, many tips and tools for writing success.

 

Have you Ever Thought about Starting your Own Business?


If you’re not sure what you might want to do, and you don’t have a lot of money to invest,  consider your loves – what you enjoy doing, what gets you so involved that you forget to eat, miss appointments, and lose all track of time. Jot these down somewhere – perhaps a tiny notebook that you carry with you at all times, a sticky note on your laptop, or memo pad on the home page of your smartphone. It might be swing dancing, hiking, writing, volunteering, or baking.

Add to that list your areas of experience and expertise. Think about your jobs and the things you accomplished that make you proud. Were you the first in your department to make a suggestion that came to fruition? Did you design the first “XYZ”? Have you been a mentor or SCORE counselor to someone whose budding business is now worth millions? Did you start as an overweight couch patio and teach yourself to hike 10 miles a day and slim down? Are you an accomplished business plan writer? Pianist? Wood carver? Programmer? Floral designer? What do you know that others might want to learn about?

Now think about what you bring to the expertise table that is unique. If you’re a wood carver, for example, are you lightning fast? Or do you / would you create customized pieces for others? Have you been doing this since age 5 at your grandfather’s knee? Do you have or could you take great pictures of your finished products?

At this point you’ll probably have a hefty list. If not, ask others that know you well to tell you what they see as your strengths, skills and accomplishments.

Now, add to that list your funny, entertaining, heart-wrenching, and / or uplifting stories – the ones that elicit the response, “you ought to write a book” from the friends, colleagues and family that you tell them to for the first time. Perhaps you, a Minnesotan, went hiking in Arizona for the first time with a friend and it got hot, you both got overheated, and had to be rescued, just in the nick of time.

As example, I remember well our family dog Poco developing tumors right after my mother died of cancer, and my sister and I trying to put bandaids on Poco so she’d heal. Dad then took her to the vet and we asked him over and over, “You’re not going to put her to sleep, are you?” and him saying “No” over and over again.

Later that day I returned to the house to find dad burying Poco in the backyard. While I had held it together throughout mom’s funeral and burial this was the last straw. I screamed at dad. I cried for days. I’ve longed to write a book about Poco and what she meant to me, and how she stayed by mom’s side as mom got sicker and sicker. And then Poco died of the same disease shortly after.

clip-art-of-a-chubby-businessman-working-at-a-desk-by-dennis-cox-858So, if friends say, “You ought to write a book” – well, you ought to.

Amazon has a great program with its Kindle division. Anyone can write about anything, and quickly be a published author. I have trained to do so, and am just starting my first e-book, hopefully out Dec. 1. But this isn’t about me, and so I’ll tell you more later. This is about YOU.

If you write well, and are disciplined, you should be able to do this in 2 weeks or less. Just set aside some time each day to write. Then go to Udemy and sign up for a free or inexpensive course on publishing in Kindle. I took two dynamite courses – one free, and one $11, that taught me how to determine if my idea was marketable, how to market it and how to publish.

You can hire someone to do the publishing end of it instead of tackling that yourself.

For inexpensive book covers, and / or publishing help go to Fiverr and hire a freelancer. My book cover is costing me $25, and that includes an extra $5 tip I gave the artist. I am handling the publishing myself.

If you DON’T write well, I would be willing to ghostwrite it, or edit it, for a percentage of its sales, provided you can convince me it has an audience. Or we can work out a fee. You can also look to Fiverr for a ghostwriter or editor.

For success, you must have or build up a strong social following on such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and / or LinkedIn. Amazon lets you keep 70 percent of all sales if your book is priced $2.99 – $9.99. Above or below that and your take is 35%.

While Kindle isn’t the only publishing option, having your book on Amazon is a great way to get your e-book author feet wet.

Sun City, AZ – a beautiful bargain


20160714_090434I’ve been a resident of Sun City for over a year, and I highly recommend it as a place to thrive as snowbird or year-round resident. Yes, it’s a hot hot summer, but within 90 minutes or 2 hours are Arizona cities such as Prescott, Sedona, Payson and Flagstaff that are 20 to 40 degrees cooler. The Grand Canyon is a mere 3 hour drive.

Sun City has 7 community centers, each with pools, hot tubs, fitness centers, meeting rooms, and restaurants.

20160714_081639Two centers have libraries and bowling lanes, racquetball and billiards. Many have outdoor game fields such as bocce ball and miniature golf, and gyms that host dancing parties, free movies and fitness classes.

There’s a park with waterfall, gazebo, lake and pedal boats, a Sun Dial outdoor concert arena, a baseball field, and two 18-hole golf courses.

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More than 200 clubs give residents a chance to get to know each other and pursue their favorite pastimes, from Zumba to politics.

You can buy a house or condo. I own a condo. My HOA is responsible for the landscaping, the roof, air conditioning maintenance, trash and sewer.

Sun City is safe. Security is a prime concern, and the Sun City Sheriff’s Posse – a group of volunteers – work with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office – to watch over the empty homes of snowbirds and make wellness checks on the elderly.

Sun City is an inexpensive retirement place. When I moved from Phoenix my car insurance immediately decreased $15 a month. Because there are no schools property taxes are incredibly low.  I pay $276 a year – yes, a YEAR!

To move in, you pay a one-time $3,000 fee. Annually there is a $476 fee for use of the facilities and free access to concerts, movies and other events. Should a friend or two or three come for a visit they can take part at no charge if with you, or you can buy a 2-week $20 pass for them to go without you.

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Sun City is a fun, economic, beautiful place in which you can feel safe to walk at any hour of any day or night. You would love it here!

Smart Car Shopping – Here are some Tips


Since recently hearing a couple of horror stories about car shopping, I decided it might be a good time to share some tips on savvy car shopping.

If you’re a member of USAA, do take advantage of its Auto Circle program to buy a car at a considerable discount. The program not only  lets you take advantage of negotiated discounts from USAA, but it also lets you head to the dealership with that dealer’s agreed-upon price in hand, and even a guarantee on the trade-in value of your current vehicle, assuming you were honest about it condition. It’s the way I bought my last car and I was pleased as punch. I got online at Auto Circle, chose the car I wanted, got to look at area dealers and the discounted price they had negotiated with USAA printed out my promised price.  Then I filled out the online form about the make, model, year and VIN of my truck, how much I still owed and the condition it was in. They told me what I could get for it on trade-in. With these two papers in hand I headed to Larry Miller Hyundai. Ninety minutes later I had my new car. USAA has a similar Home Circle program for home buyers too, that sets them up with a USAA-approved agent. There are other organizations who negotiate member discounts from dealers, too. I believe Costco is one of them.

If you’re a woman who doesn’t feel comfortable about car buying, look for a woman-certified dealership. These dealers have been trained to know what women want in a vehicle, the questions they might have, the information they typically need, and have been certified as being honest, reliable dealers who take care of their female customers. There are two sites that specialize in training and certifying women-friendly dealers. They are AskPatty.com, and WomenCertified.com. Head to either site if you want a female-friendly auto dealer or repair shop.

Edmunds.com recently put out a helpful announcement about how to shop smart for a car. I’ve posted it in its entirety below.

Edmunds.com Shows Shoppers How to Buy a New Car in Less Than a Day

SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Shoppers who know the right path to car buying can seal a deal faster than they ever imagined, even in as little as a few hours, says Edmunds.com, the premier resource for automotive information. And while Edmunds.com highly recommends that shoppers take as much time as they need to make such a big purchase, Senior Consumer Advice Editor Philip Reed shows how buyers in a pinch can easily start and complete the process in less than a day.

“Break the task into the steps listed here and you’ll save time and money and still get the best car for you.”

“Even though a car is a big-ticket purchase, you can do it quickly and with little stress,” says Reed. “Break the task into the steps listed here and you’ll save time and money and still get the best car for you.”

Assuming you already know which model you want, Edmunds.com lays out the following three steps to expedite the buying process and still get a good deal on a new car:

Step 1: Locate Your Car

Use Edmunds.com’s New Car Inventory page or a local dealership’s own inventory tool on its Web site to find the color, trim level and options you want. Call the dealership and ask to speak with the Internet manager to make sure the car is still on the lot.

Step 2: Make a Deal

Ask the Internet manager for the dealership’s best price and see if any incentives or rebates are available. Hang up the phone and compare these figures to the Edmunds.com True Market Value (TMV®) price of the car. If the price quote you get is at TMV or below, you’re in good shape; if it’s higher, call back to negotiate a figure that meets the TMV® price. If the Internet manager won’t budge, contact other dealerships in your area or a neighboring city. And before you agree to any salesperson’s offer ask for an “out-the-door” price that includes all taxes and fees. Make sure the fees are legitimate using Edmunds.com’s guide at http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/what-fees-should-you-pay.html.

Step 3: Arrange Delivery

Before you say yes to the deal, say that there’s one condition: The dealership has to deliver the car to you. The salesperson should oblige and arrange to have the car driven to your home or office. Inspect the car to verify it is the year, make and model you want and make sure there are no dents or scratches and all the equipment that’s supposed to be there has been included. Next, review the contract. Make sure the amount matches what you were given as an “out-the-door” price and that the down payment and monthly payment is exactly what you expected. Assuming all is correct, you will give the Internet manager your payment and he will give you the keys to your new car.

More details and additional tips on how to pull off a new car purchase in just one day can be found at http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/buy-a-new-car-in-one-day.html.

About Edmunds.com, Inc.

At Edmunds.com, we’re committed to helping people find the car that meets their every need. Almost 18 million visitors use our research, shopping and buying tools every month to make an easy and informed decision on their next new or used car. Whether you’re at the dealership or on the go, we’re always by your side with our five-star Edmunds.com iPhone and iPad apps and our Edmunds.com Android App. Our comprehensive car reviews, shopping tips, photos, videos and feature stories offer a friendly and authentic approach to the automotive world. We’re based in Santa Monica, Calif., but you can connect with us from anywhere by following @Edmunds on Twitter or by becoming a fan of Edmunds.com on Facebook.

Update – Mark Mitsubishi not making good on problem sale, friend says


I just got a call from my friend – the one whose 80 year old mother replaced her car because of a safety recall that never was. Well, turns out GM Dylan has told me to “Watch out. My attorneys are watching you.” Seems I wasn’t to have used the word scam in my blog post. Actually I called it “alleged scam.” Glad to know I’m rattling cages, though.

First, bring it on. My friend needs all the publicity about this horrible situation as she can get. One correction, however – which I’ve already posted in the auto dealer DealerElite discussion forum. I had it wrong – her mom didn’t go alone, she went with her granddaughter who had never bought a car before. So, at least there was a witness. Glad of that.

Oh, and my friend just told me that GM Dylan told her they would not be offering any compensation, return of money, or change in sale or contract whatsoever. It seems, that bogus recall or not, she signed the contract so oh well.

Even the other auto dealers on DealerElite are astounded by what one of them called “outrageous” behavior. And no, it isn’t just competitors taking advantage. I didn’t name the dealership, and they’re not just local.  And, attorney, I’ll tell you what my attorney can also tell you later. I am a journalist and I know the law. I said “alleged scam.” If my readers want to decide that the fact that both a Google search and Mitsubishi corporate verify no recall of the braking system, and yet your sales rep said she couldn’t keep the car because the recalled braking system couldn’t be fixed, (it couldn’t, right? You never tried to sell it later,. right?) and sold her a new more costly one, is a scam  – well, I didn’t tell them that. Your behavior did.

Oh, and you want to know what other dealers had to say? Take a gander on DealerElite. net.

From now on I’ll let my friend, her mother, their attorney, and all their social network friends and followers deal with this. But the next time I buy a car, guess where I am NOT heading? In fact, I should give my favorite, honest, reputable, reliable local dealer and service firm /body shop a plus. Larry Miller – You have done right by me time and time again. Were that they were all like you.

Glendale auto dealer allegedly scams 80 year old woman via bogus safety recall


A friend’s 80 year old mother recently bought a car from Mark Mitsubishi of Glendale, AZ.  When she returned to the dealership for an oil change, according to her daughter, she was told by a sales rep that there was a braking-system safety recall for the vehicle but no worries, he could put her in a new Mitsubishi for the same price. The octogenarian agreed, and signed the contract. It wasn’t until later she discovered two things:

  • She had committed herself to an additional $4000 in auto payments
  • There had never really been any recall

She and my friend returned to the dealership and talked to the sales manager, who told them they were out of luck, as she had signed the contract.

I have to stress that I wasn’t there, and that the information comes from an 80 year old who might not have gotten all the facts right, heard correctly, or been duly careful about understanding what she was signing. Nevertheless, it certainly seems as though fraud might have been perpetrated here, not to mention that salespeople need to be cautious and very very clear with an 80-year-old attempting to transact business on her own. The best thing might well be to ask that senior to return with a younger family member or trusted advisor. UPDATE  – she was not alone. Attended with her granddaughter, who had never bought a car before.

My friend and her mother have solicited the help of one of the local television stations, and I encouraged them to review the dealership on every auto review site they can find – especially DealerRater. Additionally, they’ll be rating it on Yelp and discussing the issue on theirs as well as the dealership’s Facebook page, and Google+ and other presences including Twitter.

While I want to stress that I was not a fly on the wall when any of this happened, I would caution any vehicle shopper to ask questions, take names, document, and perhaps even record every conversation and transaction between you and this or any other dealership. Most are reputable – this one might not be.