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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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The wiener dog is gone, but certainly not forgotten


All last week (and then some). we had a special guest at our kidless, petless home: a brown wiener dog named Brazen.

Brazen is 11 years old, which is pretty old in dog years — but, for 11 days and nights, this cross between a weasel and Rin Tin Tin ruled every inch of our house, yard and back deck.

If you’re not familiar with the dachshund breed, allow me to educate you a bit.

According to the website dogbreedinfo.com, the wiener dog “is curious, clever, lively, affectionate, proud, brave and amusing.” But there’s so much more — and the insights I’m about to share do not come from any book or website.

Both the other person who lives at our house and I have had wiener (or wiener-related dogs) in our pasts. We kind of understand them, and we like them.

The dachshund has the distinction of possessing the largest ego on the planet. It considers itself not only the king of all dogs — it’s actually the king of all living things. And this includes human beings, which they begrudgingly view as almost equals.

Almost, but not quite.

To be more precise, Brazen possesses the same cocky strut exhibited by Jack Nicholson (as a swaggering swabby) in the movie “The Last Detail.”

Our guest dog belongs to co-worker and friend Christina Lent. She dropped him off at our house on a Thursday evening. That night and the next were horrible. Brazen spent pretty much every minute staring at the front door — the one Christina walked out of and therefore the one he assumed she would come back through at any moment. As much as we tried to divert his attention, playing with him, taking him for walks, sitting with him and watching TV (all favorite activities of his, according to Christina), he fell into a deep, black, death-spiral of melancholy and depression.

He really didn’t seem to care if we were alive or dead.

Eventually, though, that changed. Once we convinced him that our only purpose in life was going to be to see to his every need, he began prancing around our humble abode with the same self-important, royal bearing normally reserved for his home castle, in the kingdom of Beaverton.

Brazen came to us with an assortment of supplies. His mistress made multiple trips from her car to the house, packing his bed, his plaid blanket (to go on the bed), his large Rubbermaid container full of dog food, his silver bowl, his water dish that automatically fills itself because it features an upside-down plastic jug very much like the ones in offices, his leash, his harness that resembles the bullet-proof gear worn by police officers and Navy SEALs — and his two favorite toys.

These toys are important, so let’s discuss them at some length.

First, there is the stuffed alligator, roughly the same length and height as Brazen himself, but tightly bound in a tough material that refuses to fray or come apart at the seams, no matter how much biting and killing it receives. It also has a cartoonish face, complete with large, goofy eyeballs, which tend to make the little reptile and its master both look comical when the brown dog enters a room with gator snout protruding out one side of his mouth and gator tail out the other.

The other important toy is called a KONG. Apparently, all dog people already know all about this little gem, but for those who don’t, imagine a little black snowman, made out of super-hard rubber, with holes in both ends. In the mouth of a wiener dog, this is one hilarious contraption, with the sturdy little dog trotting around with what appears to be a huge, horribly misshapen cigar sticking out the side of his mouth.

And what he does with it is even more comical. He drops it, then runs to the far corner of the back yard and barks at the nearest human to throw it. Trouble is, he doesn’t drop it anywhere near any humans. It might be a few feet from him. It might be in the ivy off the deck. It might be in the ferns behind the hydrangeas. Actually, there’s no telling where the dumb thing is. But that doesn’t minimize his righteous demands one bit.

“Do I have to do everything myself?” his barks seem to say. “I’ve given you one simple task, and you are failing miserably!”

I have another KONG-related news flash. Although these things are supposed to be indestructible (another co-worker swears it’s the only thing his Rottweiler cannot destroy), Brazen managed to puncture his, just in the few days he was with us.

As soon as I saw the damage I heard the voice of an NCI forensics expert in my head: “This hole could only have been caused two ways — either a direct hit by a slug from a .357 Magnum or the chomp of a wiener dog. You do know, of course, that it is the king of all dogs.”

To which I say, yes sir, I do know.

Mikel Kelly is a former editor for numerous community newspapers, including the Times newspapers, Woodburn Independent and Lake Oswego Review. He now works on the central design desk laying out pages and contributes a regular column.