Friday, March 11, 2011

Calgary Car Show 2011

Every year, since I was about 12, I have looked forward to this show. There's nothing like walking around with a bunch of your buddies and sitting in cars that you could never afford. As we grew up and started jobs and careers some of these cars became more or less affordable to us. Of course, as we grew up, we drifted apart. There was a time when I would go with my family and son. Then for the past 4 years, I have gone with my lovely wife and sometimes my son. Every year I get excited about going, even though I have no intention of buying a new car. Let me share a few of my impressions of this years show.

The first area that we went to was the Chrysler display. They have billed it as Canada's Newest Showroom. This is because within the past year, every Chrysler/Dodge/Ram product has been updated or completely re-designed. The most noticeable vehicle at the display was the new Fiat 500.

This is a cute little car that will be available for sale later this year. It is very small. It seats 4 people (skinny people). It has a 1.4L engine that outs out 101hp, which for the size of the car isn't too bad. It is more of a premium car than a cheap people mover. It will cost around the $20,000 mark when it arrives.

Next up was the new Dodge Durango.

First off, this is a BIG vehicle. I was a little taken back with how big this truck is. When the Durango first came out, it was a "mid-size" SUV that was between an Explorer and a Tahoe in size. Now it is as big a Tahoe was back then (the Tahoe has grown also). The models that they had were the Citadel trim level (the highest). The layout of the dash is very nice and functional. The materials were of a high quality and looked good. The layout was nice and everything, heater/radio controls, were placed where you would expect them to be. But again, it seemed very big.

I then went over to the new Charger!

It was nice, of course I have a Magnum, so I like these types of cars. This was a big change. The interior was all new as well as the outside. It looked a like it went on a diet as it seemed a little smaller and a little sleeker. The interior was the biggest change. The materials and layout were top-notch. When I first sat down I was quite impressed with how the car seemed to fit me as opposed to my magnum, which feels like sitting on a couch in front of a wide expanse of plastic. The dash seemed to be focused on the driver and all the controls seemed to be intuitive and easy to find. When my Magnum finally needs to be replaced, this car is definitely on the list to replace it.

The next vehicle that struck me was the Mini Countryman.

I actually liked this little car. Even better though, April really liked this car. The car is bigger than the regular mini and was very comfortable to sit in. The dash is typical mini, with the large center speedo and toggles switches to control the windows and such. The main problem with this car is the strange arrangement for the center armrest. The is a rail system that stretches from the from between the front seats to between the rear seats. Of course this arrangement means that there is only seating for 4 people. I'm sure this car drives like the other Minis, which is a plus.

After the Mini display, there wasn't much that caught my eye, until we saw the exotics. There were the usual, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, & Aston Martin. The interesting thing is that right next to the Porsche display were the Kia's. All the Kia's were nice, but the 2012 Optima was a stunner!!

This car is beautiful!! It was, unfortunately, up on a stand, so we couldn't sit in it. From there we went to the Audi display. While walking through the cars, I had to make sure that my drool stayed in check. All those cars are gorgeous!! I just about lost it when we got to the R8 Spyder V10!!!

Pure sex on wheels!!!!!!!!!!! What else can I say.

From there the next area that caught my eye was the GM display. They had the new Buick Regal:

The Cadillac SRX:

But the ones that caught my eye were a couple of concepts cars. One that will be produced, and another one that most definitely should be produced.

The one that will be produced (supposedly) is the GMC Granite:

This "car" is about the size of a Honda Fit, but looks way cooler!!

The car that should be produced is the Cadillac Converj:

This sexy little coupe is an upscale version of the Chevrolet Volt (which was also there).

It has a battery pack that powers the car for the first 70kms, then a small engine turns on and acts like a generator and powers the batteries for another 500km. If you plug this in every night you will use very little, if any, gas. And with gas prices on the rise, that seems like a very good idea.

Then I saw the new Chevrolet Orlando:

This is a neat little vehicle. Yes I did say little. It is what people in Europe refer to as an MPV. It will seat 7 people, although the ones in the back row will be small or uncomfortable, and is powered by a small displacement 4cyl. engine. The one that I sat in also had a 6 speed MANUAL transmission. This is very rare. I could really see this replacing the fit if we every have the triplets that April wants. It was very nice to sit in and you could see outside very well. All the controls seem to be placed nicely and everything felt of a good quality. The production version lost some of it's appeal from the concept:

but I still like it a lot.

Then came the Ford display. Now I must admit that in the past few years Ford has been doing a lot of nice things. So much so, that I don't automatically disregard them when looking at cars. First off there was the Taurus SHO:

A very nice car, and quick too. It is powered by a 3.5L V6 Turbo engine that produces 365hp. I have read nothing but praise for this car. It is also on the list to replace the Magnum when needed.

Next up was the Fiesta:

Again, a very small car, but kind of neat looking. Then came the new Focus:

A lot of people have heaped a lot of praise on this car, but I just couldn't see why. It was a nice enough car, but it wasn't anything special. It had a nice interior and was a 5-door hatchback, but it didn't wow me as I thought it would. After being underwhelmed by the Focus, I had few hopes for the new Explorer.

I was wrong. This is a very nice vehicle. It's as big as the Durango, but it feels smaller. The dash is quite interesting in design, but not weird like some others. It had good build quality and the materials were soft to touch and looked of high quality as well.

The one thing that I really noticed this year was how much technology has been added to these cars. Almost everyone had Bluetooth standard or as a option on the lowest of trim levels. A lot of the cars also had Navigation standard or as an option, and there wasn't a manual window to be seen anywhere. The amount of technology that is in these new cars can be a little extreme, but I guess that's what people want these days.

Well that was my impression of this years car show in Calgary. One day I hope to go to the Detroit car show as it is the big daddy of them all. I'll just have to convince April to go to Detroit in January. That shouldn't be too hard now should it??

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So it' sbeen a while, but here I am. I'm not sure what to write about, but I figure I should write something. I have finished the second chapter in the story that I am attempting so here's the latest part.

The next day, there was a lot of commotion surrounding the events of the previous day. At least there was amongst the slaves. The Egyptians were agitated and began to question everyone whether they knew this Moses or where he had gone. They searched all living spaces as well as any other buildings in the area. After they searched for half the day, they decided that he had fled and died in the great desert. After lunch, it was back to building the great tomb.
The tomb was not much different from the others that had been built before, but it was much larger. The stone needed to be sent up the river from the quarry many miles away. Once it got to the building area, it was unloaded and prepped for installation. Some of the rougher stones were used on areas that would not be seen when it was completed. The nicer ones were saved for the outside of the great building. These were the stones that Efram and his crew were installing. The main part of the tomb had been completed, and now it was the outside walls that needed finishing. That would still take a while, one maybe two growing seasons. The design of the building was very simple. It started out at the ground as a big square, then as each level went up, the square got smaller until eventually it came to a point at the top. They had already put the last stone on the top and were now filling in the ramp from the top to the bottom. This was a little difficult as the ramp was sloped, but the stones needed to be flat. They had solved this issue by cutting a smaller stone at the angle of the ramp and placing it on top of a square stone. As they moved down the ramp they removed these stones and placed square ones on top. It was very tedious work, and a slow process. At sunset, they had only replaced one stone the whole day. The Egyptians were angered by the slow pace of the slaves. There would be no dinner tonight.
When the tomb was completed, Efram was 15, and very strong because of the work that he did. He never heard from or about Moses since that brief encounter 3 years ago. People had started to say that he was not real and that Efram and his buddies had made it all up. Efram and his friends were the laughing stock of the whole slave camp. Except, there was a young girl named Rachel, who believed Efram and his friends. She was one of the daughters of Baal, who was a carpenter slave. Baal did not like Efram and because he didn’t believe him about Moses. He thought Efram was just trying to get everyone excited about maybe leaving this horrible place. The truth was that Baal thought that being a slave wasn’t that bad. They got free food and shelter, not much, but it was free. They were able to try and grow a few crops to sell during the growing season for a bit of money to buy some provisions. He always told his daughter that the only people who didn’t like being slaves were those that caused trouble and were whipped for it, so of course they wouldn’t like it. Rachel didn’t think the same way her father did. She thought that the slaves were destined for greater happiness and prosperity. She liked Efram and wanted to be his wife, but she was still two years from being eligible for marriage. Besides, her father would never agree for her to marry Efram. She had two years to win her father over and marry Efram.
Efram began working on a new tomb for the king’s son. It was not as grand as the king’s, but Efram was sure that would change once the king died and his son started to rule the land. Sure enough, one year later, the king died and his son changed the design to be even grander than his father’s tomb was. He almost doubled the size and wanted a lion to guard the entrance to his tomb. As work started and the stones brought from the quarry, there were rumors of a man asking for the slaves to be freed. This, of course, caused everyone to get excited and work a little slower. This, in turn, outraged the Egyptians, and made everyone work longer and harder than ever before. Efram was elated and began to think about life away from the slave drivers. What would he do? Would he be a farmer? A shepherd? A carpenter or a mason? All of a sudden, there was a terrible stinging in his back, and he was roused from his daydream. The slave driver that whipped him yelled “Stop your dreaming, you’re never going to be free”.
That night, around the fire, there was much discussion about these rumors. Baal got up and spoke. “These are only rumors. Who would have the nerve to go to the king and ask for our release? If anyone had, he surely would have been killed before seeing the king.” This all made sense. No one was allowed to see the king unless he requested a visit. Then Efram spoke without thinking. “What if was Moses from many years ago?” Everyone laughed and told him to be quiet. The Rachel spoke. “How can we be so sure it isn’t?” Everyone around the fire was dumbfounded. Here was a woman questioning the men. Baal was enraged and went to strike his daughter. Efram got to her first and deflected the blow from her father. Baal was shocked! How could this young man defy tradition and defend this girl from her father. Baal lunged again, but was easily bested by Efram. With that, Baal said to Efram. “If you want to protect her that much, she’s yours. I want nothing more to do with her.” Rachel was elated, but Efram was shocked. He did not want to marry yet. He did not know what to do. The group then dispersed and everyone went home. Except for Efram and Rachel. After a few minutes, Efram decided that they should go to his parent’s house and explain what had happened. When they got there, word had already reached his father as to what had happened. While his dad was outraged, his mother was ecstatic and welcomed her in at once. For tonight, she would sleep with Efram’s sisters, then in the morning, they would find a suitable arrangement. Efram did not sleep that night; He kept going over in his mind the events of the night. All he did was try and protect a woman from a beating, and now she was going to be his wife.

I hope that you like it. I'm going to keep writing it and trying to explore my more creative side. Here's a picture of a painting that I just completed.

I hope that you like it as well.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.