My Favorites

These are the people and places that sell the things I use. They are, I think, the best at what they do. They exemplify the best qualities of customer service (they take care of their customers with a goal of total customer satisfaction), best value (service, knowledge, price, quality merchandise available, and they don’t shove what they want to sell you down your throat), generally pleasant shopping experience, knowledge of products sold. I’d rather buy from these places than from any of their competitors. In other words, I recommend these establishments because I know you’ll be treated with care and respect as I am, and I know you’ll find the professional help you need at the best price possible in consideration of the service received. Of greatest value is that you can take their advice, offered with your best interest in mind and not because it is best for their bottom line.


DriveSavers (Data Recovery Specialists)

Hard drives are getting bigger and bigger. They’re exceeding 1TB in consumer computers and who knows where it will go from here. Now, if you’re smart and NOT lazy, you have gotten the message already that it’s a good idea to store all those music and image files on CDs and DVDs you can burn yourself. If you’re smart and NOT lazy, you have backed up your irreplaceable data files (those documents and work projects that took so long to complete, not to mention all your financial data), just in case a tragedy strikes.

You know the tragedies, don’t you? The hard drive fails. Kaput. That’s all, folks. Or, you drop your laptop and toast the drive. Worse yet, your home or office burns, taking with it your computer and the backup discs you made because you keep the backup in the same place as the original files. You know, in the drawer, right there next to you. Consider yourself lucky if the tragedy bug has never bitten you.

Even though I usually back up my data, though not as often as I should, one day, a drive failed. It just quit working. I heard the drive whirring, but it was not accessible as far as my computer was concerned. It was, at least electronically, toasted. I really needed those files. I was sunk and heartsick.

I called and made arrangements to ship the drive to DriveSavers. All the data, every last byte of it, was recovered. I opted to have it put on DVDs. It took just two days! I was impressed.

If you ever have an “oops” losing data from a data storage device of any kind – hard drive, camera memory, USB stick or anything else that stores data – and you absolutely, positively have to get it back, DriveSavers is the only call to make.  They can even act as your “grief counselor” during the process.  What, you think customers don’t call, bawling their eyes out over what has just happened?  They do!

DriveSavers helped me as they’ve helped thousands of others, and they can help you. It’s that simple. Bookmark DriveSavers’ toll-free phone number is (800) 440-1904.


SearchAlert (TSA Approved Luggage Locks)

Remember the good ol’ days when you could lock your luggage for air travel? Since the 9/11 tragedy and the advent of the TSA, air travelers have been prevented from doing so. Well, the good times have returned . . . IF you use an approved lock.

As a seasoned and busy traveler, I agonized over the fact that my luggage has been vulnerable to anyone interested in opening it because locks were no longer permitted. I realize that anyone determined to get inside will find a way, in spite of any locking mechanism. Nevertheless, I like to keep the double zippers closed, if for no other reason than to prevent accidental opening and all my stuff falling out as my luggage tumbles down the belt after baggage handlers toss it from the cart behind the scenes at baggage claim.

I also like to at least make it a little more difficult for anyone to deliberately gain access and snoop around for goodies to lift. If there’s a lock, then maybe my luggage will be spared.

I am happy to let you in on my secret; the correct locks. After looking at several products, the ONLY one I have selected for my own use and recommend to you is the SearchAlert Combination Luggage Lock by Sesamee, a well-known and respected industry name. It’s from the same company whose locks I used prior to 9/11. You will likely also see the CCL Security and even Prestolock brands. They are all the same, so long as you see the SearchAlert name. These are the only ones that show users if the TSA has opened luggage for inspection, hence the name SearchAlert!

As a matter of fact, every piece of my family’s luggage is equipped with SearchAlert locks. Period.


C. Crane Company

These folks are the absolute best at what they do. You won’t find a nicer, more thoughtful, knowledgeable and caring bunch in the industry. Located in beautiful, downtown Fortuna, California, about five hours drive north of San Francisco, I just can’t say enough positives about Bob Crane and the entire staff.

What do they sell? C. Crane designs and sells an eclectic mix of high tech, best anywhere AM and FM radios (portable and WiFi Internet radios), LED lighting products, including must-have CC Trek flashlights and leading-edge, reliable and best-in-class GeoBulb LED light bulbs. You MUST get their catalog! Luckily, they are also on the web at Call them at 1-800-522-8863 and please let them know Mr. Gadget sent you.  Prepare for an uncommonly wonderful experience.

There is always something new and worthwhile from my friends at C. Crane!

C. Crane Company has my full support and trust. I am confident they won’t let you down.  For more than 22 years they have been my favorite go-to company for the things they sell and I never get a complaint.


Westlake Independent Honda and Acura

Where do you take your Honda or Acura for service, that is, if you live reasonably close to Westlake Village, CA?  There is only one place I take ours or recommend to others, and that is Westlake Independent Honda and Acura.  Now, I realize this info is useful to only a select few who not only read this but are in the vicinity and own Hondas and Acuras, but to you, and you know who you are, this is a place of uncommon excellence.

How do I know? Most readers do not know of my former life as a Zone Service Manager for Pontiac Motor Division of GM.  I worked for “the factory” first as the factory rep customers would meet at the dealerships when they did not like what the dealer had to say about some service issue with their new or recent vintage Pontiac. Then, I worked my way up to be 2nd in command in Zone service management for the Corporation, the youngest (so I was told) with that position.  I was responsible for managing the factory’s service obligation through all our Zone’s dealerships, totaling through my career about three hundred. Through this nearly seven year career with GM that included becoming a fully certified ASE technician, as well as being a mechanic who fixed cars as I worked my way through college, I developed the ability to spot excellence in an automotive service operation.

In all my life, I have NEVER seen a better-run shop. Period.  That is why I am proud to recommend this facility to anyone and everyone without hesitation.  When was the last time you could take your car in for service and feel totally confident of and pleased with the experience from write-up to completion, being treated in a friendly and professional manner, and knowing you received the best value for your automotive service dollar?  When I take our cars to the shop, with my own jaundiced view of the service industry borne of my former GM experiences, I am so confident and relieved and always satisfied that I give them the keys and do whatever it is they tell me is needed.  I know they are always correct. Now, that’s confidence!  And on the odd occasion that things did not go exactly as planned, they have always done the right thing, being honest about the situation and taking responsibility when needed.  They are always fair and do what is right by the customer, even if it might cost them.  Other shops find a way to make sure it is always the customer’s responsibility.

I’ve sent many customers their way, with raves all around.

And so, if you’re in the area, please stop by to see the shop and say hi to proprietor Bruce Nation and the gang.  And if you have a Honda or Acura, you will feel at home there for all your service needs, including rental cars and body shop.  Oh, and they can also find and sell you your next Honda or Acura, as they are also licensed for new and used vehicle sales. I’ve bought three Hondas and Acuras from them!

In my family, their shop is a major factor as to why we keep buying Hondas and Acuras. I’d just hate to have to go somewhere else for service, and don’t get me started on the subject of dealership service (except for needed warranty work).

Westlake Independent Honda and Acura Service, since 1988, has been my repair facility since 1993. They are located at 31290 La Baya Drive #1, Westlake Village, CA 91362.


Savinar Luggage

I found this Los Angeles institution quite by accident a long time ago. Since that time, I’ve been a happy Savinar Luggage customer, only buying luggage from Savinar through their San Fernando Valley location, though the original shop in the heart of Los Angeles is also a good choice.  And now with the advent of the Internet, they are slowly, surely, getting to be high tech, so one need not be local to shop and buy from them.

I need to have reliable, sturdy luggage to stand up to the rigors of my busy and hectic travel schedule, year after year.  I rely on my friends at Savinar to tell me what to buy that is both cost effective and long lasting so I can get the most, best for the money in durable luggage I don’t often need to replace. I am not into luggage fashion, but, rather, luggage function.  It has to be heavy duty, light weight and smartly designed. Savinar knows the luggage industry like few others, as it has been their family business since 1916!

Their family atmosphere and friendly, knowledgeable staff has never disappointed me or anyone referred.  Again, you need not be a local to get their outstanding, better than others’ prices.  Hit the company link above to see locations and phone numbers at the Contact Us tab and call or email.  They carry only the best brands at the best prices.  For the serious traveler, it is THE place to buy luggage and many travel accessories, and the only place I get my and the family’s luggage.  Trust this advice and trust Savinar as I do.  Please let them know Mr. Gadget sent you!

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