Sunday, December 7, 2008

Price sets highest going rate for prime spot in Vail Village’s Founders Garage

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado — Skier parking rates are going up in Vail, Colorado, but so are the going rates for Vail Village’s prime spaces.

In fact the latest price for a spot in Vail’s Founders garage, located in the Village across from the Christiana, is $500,000.

“That’s what I think the going rate is going from now on,” said Buzz Schleper, the spot’s owner. “Parking is going up in Vail, and it’s a block from the Vista Bahn.”

The latest parking spot sales in the garage went for nearly $350,000, said real estate agent Craig Denton of Ron Byrne Associates.

Another spot almost sold for $385,000, but the deal was not completed, he said.
Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Ski Shop in Vail, said he thinks his price is fair, because the spot is located on the top floor next to the exit.

He isn’t in a big hurry to sell the spot — he posted an advertisement in the Vail Daily Monday — but he thinks that eventually there will be takers.

“There’s always somebody out there who has money to spend on a good Vail parking spot,” he said. “I’m sure it’ll sell. There’s no hurry.”

He said he owns another spot on the bottom level of the garage, and is selling the top-level spot to “raise a little capital for a project.”

The Founders Garage opened in 2005 and has 114 spaces in an indoor, heated building.

Eric Strauch, of Edwards, said he sees the spots in the village as prime real estate investment. Strauch is currently selling a spot on the top floor of the Founder’s Garage for $385,000.

“It’s supply and demand,” he said. “There are lots of very wealthy folks around and this connects them to the (slopes). It’s an investment in Vail Village real estate. I’ve sold some in Beaver Creek also.”

Strauch has advertised the spot in the Vail Daily for a few weeks and received 15 to 20 phone calls from people interested in the spot. Many callers were homeowners from downvalley, he said.

“There is actually a market. When people will spend that much, they do care where (the spot) is. Mine is on the top floor,” he said.

He said he thinks the parking space market in Vail is comparable to New York City. Actually — a prime Vail spot can cost even more.

According to articles by the International Herald Tribune and CNN Money, the going rate for a New York City parking space can go up to $275,000 or $300,000, and waiting lists for spots starting at $225,000 can be up to seven or eight people long.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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British surgeon tells of how he carried out amputation via text message

A surgeon carried out an operation in Congo using instructions he'd been sent in a text message. ;

The first thing I realised when I saw J was that he was dying. All that remained of this 16-year-old's arm was six inches of skin; the rest had been shot off when he became caught in gunfire between the Congolese army and rebel forces. A further amputation had left him open to infection, and now he was facing the prospect of an awful, agonising death over a period of several days – hallucinations, dehydration, his kidneys packing up, his breathing going and then, finally, his heart.

It was my first day in the Democratic Republic of Congo, working with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). I had been offering up my services as a vascular surgeon to aid agencies for 14 years – working in places as diverse as Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Darfur, Liberia, the Ivory Coast and southern Sudan. Congo was by far the most beautiful country I had been to, but it was obviously also very dangerous - heaven and hell rolled into one.

I arrived at the beginning of October, when the latest bloody conflict started building. I was assigned to a mission hospital in Rutshuru, which was basically a building plonked in the middle of the jungle. It was very basic, manned by a few MSF volunteers and some local staff. The post-operative "ward" was just some tents outside. One day, we received 75 patients with gun shot wounds – men, women and children. There was a two-year-old who had been shot in the chest; the bullet had missed her heart but it had passed straight out the other side and her lung had collapsed. There were only eight staff in total working that day, and we were there for 22 hours. Quite unbelievably, nobody died.

Even more remarkable, though, was the story of J. His mother and father had been killed in the conflict, his siblings had fled into the jungle. He was all alone and I knew that the only way to save him would be to perform a forequarter amputation – removing what remained of his arm, and his shoulder. It is an incredibly difficult operation and only about ten people in the UK undergo it each year. There are only two or three surgeons in the UK who are able to do it, and I was not one of them. Fortunately, I knew somebody who was.

Professor Meirion Thomas is the head of cancer surgery at the Royal Marsden hospital in London. I had done operations with him before and I decided to text him to ask if he thought it a good idea to carry it out. I was just not sure that it was the right thing to do. I couldn't ask J because of the language barrier and even if I could, he was so ill he would not have known what I was talking about. The quality of life in DR Congo is so poor, and he was so alone, that I wondered if it would not be better off for him to die. But the local staff gleaned from him that he wanted to live – which is unusual in the region. The Congolese do not mind dying. They expect it. J did not.

Prof Thomas texted me the instructions for the operation. Though the procedure was tricky, his instructions were crystal clear – it was like reading the ingredients for baking a cake. He signed off the text with a playful "easy!" but I was concerned. Nobody in the hospital, including myself, had ever carried out an operation on this scale. They all thought I was a mad foreigner. And we barely had any blood. We probably needed five or six units but only had one. I told myself that it would better for J to die on the operating table under anaesthetic than conscious and in immense pain.

We did the operation on the afternoon of my third day. It took three hours and went smoothly; Professor Thomas' text was absolutely spot on. But the worry was whether or not J would recover. Would he have enough blood in him? Would it clot? Would he get further infections? We pumped him full of fluids and antibiotics and we waited and we hoped.

And he has survived. I was astonished when I saw a picture on the MSF website of him looking so well. He has been discharged now, and I do worry for him, because what hope does anyone have in DR Congo at the moment, let alone a teenage boy with only one arm and no social backup? But God works in mysterious ways, and I must have faith that Prof Thomas' text was God's will.


Start on clavicle. Remove middle third. Control and divide subsc art and vein. Divide large nerve trunks around these as prox as poses. Then come onto chest wall immed anterior and divide Pec maj origin from remaining clav. Divide pec minor insertion and (very imp) divide origin and get deep to serrates anterior. Your hand sweeps behind scapula. Divide all muscles attached to scapula. Stop muscle bleeding with count suture. Easy! Good luck. Meirion

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Teen gets college degree in just 2 years

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A teenager graduates from the University of Texas this weekend at 16, an age when most students have yet to receive their high school diplomas.

Andrew Brisbin of Denton, Texas, entered North Central Texas College at 14 and transferred to the university a year later, the Austin American-Statesman reported. He completed the requirements for a bachelor's degree in finance in two years by attending summer school and taking a heavy course load.

He was to get his degree Sunday.

He said that being several years younger than his fellow students was not a major problem.

"Some of my professors don't really know how old I am," he said. "I fit in just fine."

William Way, the faculty adviser at the university's McComb School of Business, described Brisbin as "very mature."

Brisbin was home schooled, keeping to a rigorous schedule. His parents lived some of the time in Austin while he was at the university to help him -- and especially to provide transportation because he was too young for a driver's license.

He plans to go to graduate school but wants to get some work experience first.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Some schools stop giving F's

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Some schools in the United States have stopped handing out failing grades, or at least are delaying them while students get a chance to improve.

In Grand Rapids, Mich., work that would justify an "F" will get an "H" for "held," ABC News reported. The school superintendent, Bernard Taylor, said students will have several choices -- including retaking a course, doing additional work or agreeing on another plan with teachers -- but the grade will become a failing one if nothing is done within 12 weeks.

"I never see anyone doing anything but punishing kids," Taylor said. "If the choice is between letting kids fail and giving them another opportunity to succeed, I'm going to err on the side of opportunity."

Taylor and many other teachers and administrators say they believe many children quickly become discouraged and failing them contributes to the country's high dropout rate. He argues that children need to see a way forward.

Critics say the practice is amounts to coddling children.

"The task is to change the reality, not the labeling of it," said Alan Kazdin, a child psychiatrist at Yale.

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Top Gear USA's Adam Carolla on the Auto Bailout: Exclusive Interview

Adam Carolla
(Photograph by John M. Heller/Getty Images)

Funnyman, car guy and host of both NBC's upcoming Top Gear USA and The Adam Carolla Show on KLSX radio in Los Angeles, Adam Carolla tells PM in no uncertain terms that the years of poor product coming from GM and the rest of Detroit brought these companies to the brink. —Ben Stewart

Popular Mechanics: So do you support the idea of bailing out the auto industry?

Adam Carolla: Every car guy or maybe even every American is torn because we hate to see these marques we've grown up with go away. But the thing about American car companies is that they have been making a subpar product for a lot of years.

Remember when the Japanese crept into the market? Instead of reacting, we all had a laugh about it. We blinked our eyes and they had the lion's share of the market. Somewhere around the early '80s, we started to realize we were getting our butts kicked by these little efficient Japanese cars. So we needed to start focusing on smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, and quality. We kind of got our act together. Then we started cruising again with Hummers and Denalis. We took our eye off the ball.

When you take a look at many American cars today, these aren't bad products. They're just not as good as Audi, Volkswagen, Mercedes or Lexus—the list goes on and on. When you see some of the stuff that Pontiac in particular has been doing for the last 20 years—it's insulting. And the interiors especially are insulting. I gotta say, every time I see one of those Pontiacs, I just want to throw up in my mouth.

Even Vettes, up until about 10 minutes ago, were sort of laughable from an interior standpoint. Really, an '89 Jetta had a nicer interior than an '04 Vette. The buttons were too big, the gauges looked bad, the finish wasn't great. Let's face it: The product wasn't there and they've had plenty of opportunities to correct it.

I don't understand it. We can build the greatest fighter planes on the planet. It's not like technology is the problem. There is no reason why there should be this kind of separation between Europe, Japan and us.

Everyone wants to make the product issue about price. But I had a MINI Cooper S for a couple years. That car was sturdy and it looked good. It was smart, it was fast and it was fun. And that's a relatively inexpensive car.

But what about some of the new muscle cars like the new Camaro and Challenger that Detroit is building? Those are exciting, right?

I'm not into American muscle myself. I never really fully understood it. I mean, I understand the big horsepower, but I never really got into the leaf-spring suspension and the live rear axle and the iron block and the pushrods. I take a look at those Mopars that everyone goes nuts for at the auctions. I see the bad pistol grip handle with the fake wood on it, and the fake wood steering wheel, and all the vinyl and plastic. I'm not turned on by it, so I'm not what you call a "muscle head."

So, all the American companies can think to do these days is reintroduce the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang? They're literally looking in their rearview mirror when Europe and Japan are looking through the windshield. I'm waiting for a day in the future when Chrysler or Ford pulls the sheet off something at an auto show, and it's a horse. Not a Mustang, not a Pinto, it's actually a horse. They'll go so retro, it's actually a living horse.

These companies should be looking forward. I don't know what happened with GM. I know 10 years ago GM had an electric car, and they took them all back and put them in a crusher. So should we bail out the company that crushed the first modern working electric car? I don't think so. Now they have a new plug-in electric car called the Volt. What happened to the one from 10 years ago and what have they been doing for the last 10 years? For me, it is sort of tough love time.

So you think for the most part, product is the problem. What about the UAW and legacy costs?

If it's gonna cost you $2000 more to produce every Pontiac than it does every Prius, and everyone wants the Prius, you've got a serious problem on your hands. The only way to remedy this deficit is to create some kick-ass product that people simply cannot get enough of. But they're not creating those products.

Do you think many Americans feel like they were so burned by bad product over the past 20 years that they can't trust the Detroit automakers again? Can good products today draw buyers back into our domestic car dealerships?

I think people have a really short memory. And that's good when it comes to cars. Look, not so long after WWII, everyone across the U.S. was driving a Japanese car. If the product is there, we have a short memory. I think Ford, Pontiac, Chrysler, GM—these guys are one good car away from success. We're not prejudiced against American cars. We're prejudiced against a history of subpar products.

Here's what Americans will do. If it's a coin toss between buying American or buying foreign, we'll buy American every time. If it just comes down to the exact same product at the exact same price, we'll buy an American car because we're patriotic. We'll do the right thing, but not if it costs more and not if it's a subpar product. What the American Big Three have forced us to do is start being unpatriotic, so we ended up buying cars from other manufacturers.

Anyone who has driven a BMW 3 Series knows what I'm talking about. The second the Americans come out with a car that really is better than that BMW, the Audi A4 or the Prius—then we're back. There is a whole new generation turning 16 and getting a new set of car keys every day. We'd like to do the right thing. We'd like to buy American cars, just not with the current product. But they could turn things around.

Remember Audi's problems? Audi was a joke 10 years ago. How bad was Audi? Audi in the mid-1990s was just about gone. I can remember in the mid-'90s, if someone told me they were thinking about getting a used Audi, I would have punched them. Now I think they make some of the most exciting products—all the way across the brand. Audi was dead. And Audi picked themselves up from the ashes. How? Started making good cars. Well, I think that's your answer.

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Exclusive: Jay Leno on the Bailout—Once you Lose American Manufacturing, It’s Gone Forever

Mercedes-Benz A170 A-Class

In an exclusive interview with PM, Jay Leno gives us his take on the auto bailout:

I think we should bail them out. To me it’s like class warfare. The white-collar guys get a bailout and the blue-collar guys don’t? That’s crazy. You know, I’d rather help a guy with a wrench in his hand than some guy sitting in front of a keyboard.

We’ve given the banks $700 billion. Does it seem like anything has actually happened with that money? No. But when a factory closes, boy, you’ll see the effect of that right away. You’ll see towns go under and you’ll see lives ruined. That town will never be a manufacturing center again. At best those old buildings will become a mall or a Wal-Mart.

I look at it this way: I don’t necessarily want to loan my brother-in-law money, but he’s family. To me, GM, Ford, Chrysler and the suppliers that go along with them are our family.

We barely make anything in this country anymore as it is. And once you lose this manufacturing infrastructure, it’s pretty much gone forever.

During World War II, Henry Ford converted his automotive plant to airplane production. Every hour, another bomber came out of the Willow Run plant in Michigan. We actually made planes quicker than the Germans could shoot them down. Once a country loses its manufacturing base, it’s in trouble.

And when a country manufactures a product, there are many other companies that feed and live off what was produced. When Henry Ford made the Model T, it opened up an aftermarket industry that was the biggest in the world. Think of the folks that make saddlebags and chrome parts for Harley-Davidsons—today, all these companies prosper from Harley’s original bit of work.

There’s a precedent for this bailout too.

In 1979 the government gave Chrysler a loan of $1.5 billion. Hey, we all made jokes about the old K-cars at the time, “some assembly required,” right? But Iacocca turned Chrysler around. It paid that loan back in half the time, with interest, and the government actually made money.

And that’s good enough reason for me to support a bailout now.

The whole auto industry is in turmoil; it’s not just GM, Ford and Chrysler. Sales are down. Mercedes-Benz just leased another 15 acres of property in Long Beach to stack up all the cars that are arriving that they can’t sell. The trouble is, people coming into dealerships to buy these cars can’t get loans anymore. It doesn’t stem from bad products.

Were mistakes made? Sure. Should the automakers have produced more fuel-efficient vehicles sooner? Yes. That was the big mistake. But those cars, like the Chevy Volt, are now on the way.

And GM has done a great job with many of its recent products. Cadillac, for example, has turned itself around from an old man’s brand to a hip car company that makes world-class automobiles. For the first time in a long time, these cars are respected by the European manufacturers as real contenders. How sad would it be to get so close to the finish line and not win the race? We have the ability and we have the technology. So do we let our auto industry go under? I don’t think so. --Interview Compiled by Ben Stewart

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