Was expecting to have to ride to the cities for a meeting yesterday, but that got rescheduled to sunday. So the BRK annual meeting/capitalist woodstock/bargain hunting orgy 230 miles away in Omaha begged my attention. By noon friday I surrended, though in respect for the weather I took the VW Golf TDI. Besides, I can’t fit enough bargains on a bike.

A brief backgrounder on BRK is in order here: BRK got started when it’s octegenerian CEO, Warren Buffett,  started an investment fund back when he was merely middle aged. A student of financial history, Warren bought well, amassing a collection of profitable companies like Geico and Nebraska Furniture Mart. He also built a following of incredibly loyal stockholders by holding the ultimate annual meeting. Got a question or complaint about how the company is run? Warren answers questions in front of god, the media, the stockholders, and everyone all day. And Warren’s expertise and opinion is so respected that a lot of the questions don’t even involve the company- Warren’s my kinda billionaire, a guy that’s lived in the same house in Omaha for decades and thinks he should pay at least as high a percentage of his income in taxes as his secretary. Suffice to say, we should just fire most of the other CEOs, maybe the government too, and let Warren Buffet run the country.

And that’s just the show in the packed with shareholders 40,000 seat arena. Next door in the exhibition hall, BRK’s dozens of companies were showin’ off there stuff and even offering some bargains for the shareholders. Let’s start with BNSF- the best run railroad in America and tied for the biggest with UP. Wanna be an engineer? They brought not one but two locomotive simulators… first come, first served! Learned a bit about the future of big scale logistics from the BNSF managers present too… Glad these folks are runnin’ the company.

Next door was Justin Boots, another BRK company, with thousands of boots and staffed by folks who know everything there was to know about boots and then some. Despite the huge selection, a staffer apologized that they didn’t have their 12 inch boots that are popular with motorcyclists there in every color. I got a great deal on some new boots, and they feel great!

Need an air compressor or some spray painting gear? BRK’s company that makes that stuff was there too. Had electric power washers for $50 less than Costco, but the helpful staffer advised that I really was overworking the electrics and should get a gas powered one. Went looking for my debit card with the higher balance and realized I’d left it home… Damn! Bought a couple little $10 tire inflators for the bikes anyways.

Damn (again)… BRK’s Nebraska Furniture Mart was there too, and the shareholder discounts were in the range of 30%… The meter wide TV will have to wait for next year. Guess my shopping was prematurely over. Oh well, plenty more gearhead delights on exhibit… like the machine tool company that BRK owns whose tools seem to be capable of turning metal into engines and trannies by the thousand.

Or Marmon, which deserves a paragraph all by itself. Yup, Marmon of Indy, early four wheel drive, luxury car, and custom built trucks. Now they make truck axles, railcars, “Trackmobile” railcar movers, semitrailers, the fifth wheels to hook those trailers to trucks and landing gears for when they’re unhooked, and hundreds of other stuffs. Unfortunately, Navistar got the “Marmon” truck name when they bought and murdered Marmon Trucks and has been squatting on it, so they can’t put Marmon trucks back into production.

Like happens on any decent ride, it was time for ice cream. Yup, BRK’s into that too, owning Dairy Queen. They kept us supplied with dollar Dilly Bars and such all day, with the proceeds generously donated to Children’s Miracle Network. After my first break at DQ I wandered on to Forest River (busses and RVs, Shaw floorings (sorry, no checkered flag flooring on exhibit), and Clayton Homes, another BRK company that makes homes so affordable that you’ll have $$$ left over for a shop and interesting vehicles to fill it.

Having wimped out and driven, after a bit of showers and tornado warnings on the way down I had dry roads all the way home. Then, about as soon as I got the garage door closed, the skies opened up for hours… The Shop Vac got some exercise this morning!

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