Wednesday, 30 March 2016


I came to a topic the other day when I was reading over an essay by a guy about 'deals'.....where he chatted about the five best and worst deals of his life.  It was an interesting topic, which consumed a good bit of my time pondering about this later.

So I had five on my list:

1.  It didn't happen to me but a guy I worked with around 1998.  We were working in Germany, and he'd always had this dream about a Porsche 924.  So he came up with this purchase deal....buying a 1981 Porsche 924 (it was 17 years old).  I think he paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,500 for it.  When he showed it to me.....I just looked at this crappy vehicle that really needed a lot of work (the whole interior smelled like a dog-house and the seats were in marginal condition).  I didn't think it was worth more than $1,500.

Over the next two months, he put around $3,000 into the vehicle.  Then one afternoon....the clutch gave out....which amounted to a special repair of $2,000 by the time everything was done.  A month later....some axle problem occurred, and he put another $2,000 into the car.  Over the course of twelve months, with the $3,000 of upgrade, and extras.....he had put around $11,000 into this car.  I made a comment one day that for such-and-such amount.....he could have bought a four-year old 924 and not gotten all the heartache.  He hated to hear such talk and continued on.  A month later, another $1,500 repair was necessary.  Shortly after that.....he put the car on the for-sale lot of Ramstein and sold it for roughly $3,900 (the new rims and fancy new tires helped on the price).  

2.  I was offered this fantastic deal by my Bitburg boss.....a satellite receiver and a 1978 Mercedes 280....for what amounted to roughly $150.  The satellite receiver, I figured was worth $ you can guess the value of the Mercedes.

The thing is.....he found it in a barn around the Bitburg area and it'd been sitting there for eight years.  The whole left panel on the drivers side was eroded and bad shape.  The car had a mildew smell.  But the rest of the car was in fantastic shape, and it was an executive class type car.  The thing could easily handle 200 kph and had a trunk big enough to hold a dozen golf-club bags.

So I bought it, and drove it passionately for seven months.  Then one day.....the axle broke.  The mechanic said as nicely as he could.....but it'd be at least $1,000 for him to do the work, but I'd have to find a junker car with an axle on it.....figure forty hours of my time in searching for such a vehicle and trying to swing some really good deal via a junk yard.

I gave up and handed it over to the junk yard.

3.  I worked with this guy in Tucson who wanted to buy a house.  He sat there at some real estate office one day, and they noted that they had this quick-to-sell deal.  It was a house owned by a guy who'd been busted on drug sales....big-time.

So he asked about the the foothills....originally priced in the $200,000 range.....door broke down and plywood nailed over it.  Vacant for six months.  They wanted $100,000.

I quizzed him over the deal.  He drove straight over to view the place.....nice pool in the back.  Three-car garage.  Great landscaping.  Huge kitchen.  It was a fantastic deal.  The thing was....this big plywood over the front door and the reputation of it being a druggie-house.  He drove back to the real estate guy's office on that afternoon, and started the paperwork to buy it.  A half-price house, but with a reputation.

4.  I worked with some airman around 1998....who'd gone over to the sports shop of the BX, wanting a mountain-bike.  They had one as a floor model, which had a 10-percent off deal (original price in the $3,000 range).  He went up and noted that there were some issues with the seat and kick-stand (it was missing entirely).  So he wanted another 10-percent off.  Then he noted that the sports shop was having another 10-percent off deal on everything sold that weekend.  Finally, he whined about one of the was losing air.  He ended up with the $3,000 bike being sold to him for $1,800.  Other than $50 in parts for fix whatever was wrong....that was the extent of his deal.

5.  My real estate agent who was fixing up the K-town house purchase for me in the 1990s.....related that the local bank wasn't that eager to deal with Americans.  I asked about the reason.  So, they'd had this American arrive in the Kaiserslautern area....with a German wife, who had relatives who were all carpenters and plumbers.  He wanted to build his own house, from the ground up.....he just wanted the bank to fund $100,000 in raw materials.

I'm guessing that they had these kind of deals before and they always went well.  So they signed off.  For one whole year.....this house progressed and the bank was happy with things.  One day.....the guy's German wife found out about an affair with the American husband going on.  Divorce soon occurred, and the house construction stopped.  The American just packed up one day and left.  The house stood there....thirty-percent done, and all these raw materials laying there on the ground.

The bank was stuck with property and a house with no real structure.  For them, it was an incredibly bad deal.

Famine Version 2.0

Two days ago in North Korea.....a bit of warning came out via the state-run news folks that North Koreans should prepare themselves for a possible famine and a downward economic spiral.  On the positive side, the same article noted for the benefit of North Korean folk.....“the road to revolution is long and arduous."

You can imagine Hu (the local streetsweeper) and his wife standing there....both near forty years old. Both having gone to bed hungry for most of the forty years of their life.  Hu weighs maybe 140 pounds, and his wife is a lean 88 pounds.  There might be one or two days out of the year when some extra portion of food was dealt out in celebration of some national holiday, and they can remember some day in 2003 when they got real ice cream one afternoon.

For all these years, Hu and the wife both thought they were presently in a famine and in a downward economic spiral.  Now?  He'd be shaking his head and realizing that this was the good times, and as good as things could get.

Now, not that I encourage this sort of behavior.....but IF I were South Korea.....I'd make up this postcard (waterproof).  It'd be a picture of a Kai sports vehicle (fully decked out), with a pallet of beef and a pallet of beer on one side of the vehicle, and a pallet each of rice and fresh fruit on the other side, and a caption...."Free for each North Korean citizen upon the downfall of Kim and reunification".  Then drop the postcards via some launch device or balloon.....into North Korea.  Fifty thousand North Koreans would start some kinda of coup attempt by tomorrow morning.

The thing is....if you were thinking the situation was pretty bad and simply accepted this as normal.....for decades, and now some idiot came up to suggest worse times ahead and some fake talk of a hike on the road to'd be asking stupid questions....well, if you were anyone but a North Korean.  Apparently, they've reached a point where they just suck it up, and just keep walking.