Monday, March 5, 2012

So Long, Old Friend

So last week my parents sold old Mortimer. After having a few days to reflect on it, I decided to put up a post about the times I had with him, the summer of 2010, and what he meant to me as my first car. Note: Some parts of certain stories will have been omitted for brevity/so my parents won't kill me.

I got Mortimer in late May of 2010, just as my Junior year was coming to a close. I remember the first time I ever got to drive it on public roads was when I went with shopping with my mom. It was such a thrill to be able to drive a car that I knew was about to be available for me to use whenever. The first time I ever drove it without someone else in the car was a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some soda for some reason. That's when I discovered the amazing ability of my front bench seat. When it's folded to be an armrest with a console in front, two 2 liter bottles of soda fit perfectly in the cubby under the arm rest. I think that discovery was the highlight of my week.

Thinking of that car reminds me of the whole summer of 2010. That summer was a truly therapeutic time for me. It was made especially awesome because the song "Therapy" by Relient K came out just as I got my car. The opening lyrics are "I never thought I'd be driving through the country just to drive, with only music and the clothes that I woke up in. I never thought I'd need all this time alone, it goes to show, I had so much, yet I had need for nothing but You." That song spoke to me in a number of ways, but most of all, it sounds so happy and carefree. I needed a soundtrack to go along with my life at the moment, and God gave me "Therapy". I could sing that song while driving around with my windows down on my way to cross country practice, The Gathering (a church event), or just to hang out with my friends. I could either forget about the things I had recently gone through, or look at the positive side of it. Thing is, as long as I was around Mortimer, my friends, or under the summer sun, the negative could never get to me. And "Therapy" helped keep those thoughts at bay when I was elsewhere. I decided to learn to play guitar at the beginning of the summer. I had tried several times before, but once my fingers got to hurting, I stopped again. I had just gotten out of an admittedly unhealthy relationship, but I really liked the girl. I forget who gave me the idea, I think it may have been my best friend, but I was told to find something productive as a hobby to help me out. I decided that I'd learn guitar, fingers hurting or not. Well, I stuck with it, and sure enough, I can play pretty well now. That old car has carried my guitars to some strange places, such as my electric guitar to a back parking lot of my church, where I plugged the amp into Mortimer and started to jam.

That car also allowed me to meet some of the most influential and important people in my life. One of my best friends, my "twin", and several other people from my church. I remember the first time I hung out with my best female friend; we went to Chipotle. Now every time we go there, we sit in the exact same spot. My "twin" is a great friend of mine, and also one of the best guitarists I know.

I remember working for a man for about two weeks at his landscaping and irrigation company, as well as volunteering at my grandparents church, helping to finish out the building. Both of these experiences taught me a lot, especially that I love physical labor. Believe it or not, those hot, sweaty, exhausting days were sometimes the most rewarding. To get to the church, and also one of the ways to the job site when I was working for that company, I had to drive down a road called FM 545. That road is a beautiful stretch of tarmac, said by some to be the best motorcycling road in Texas. It's also very dangerous. With a speed limit of 55-65, and blind corners that can be taken at a max of 40, there are flowers and crosses all along it. But that road has a special place in my heard, due to the lessons learned while traveling it. As a matter of fact, I may just drive down it over spring break.

Needless to say, that summer was amazing. And most of it was because of Mortimer. Once school started, the fun I had with him didn't stop. It was my senior year, I had great friends, a car, and (eventually) a job. One day in Astronomy class, while not paying attention like we always did (Sorry Mrs. Stephens) one of my friends took my phone and started texting horrid, filthy lies to our mutual friend who was in our class, but not that day. So to get him back, I somehow worked out where he lived and called the friend he texted later that night. I asked if he wanted to go get him back by wrapping his car. My friend agreed and I went to Walmart, got some saran wrap and shaving cream and went to pick my buddy up. After about 45 minutes of driving around his apartment complex, we couldn't find the offending party. Did we call it quits and go home? Of course not! We went and got another one of my friends for no reason. I wrapped while my friend shaving creamed, and then we peeled out of there. We made it just in time, because apparently the person we got came out just as we were leaving. What I had forgotten to research, however, was whether or not shaving cream would take off car paint. This was worrying when my friend asked. After he checked on Google, we started freaking out because we might have just ruined this dude's car. Thankfully, all turned out well. I've had quite a few similar adventures in that car, and I hope I never forget them.

The last story I have to share is my least favorite. The story of how I got my first ticket on the last day of high school. Picture this: Lovely summer day. All your underclassmen friends are in school. All that's standing between you and the cap and gown is a graduation practice. After that, you are having lunch with your best friend, and her best friends. Great day, huh? Well, coming back from school, I was blasting music, enjoying the weather, and about halfway home, I passed a motorcycle cop going the opposite direction. I looked at him and he looked at me. I just knew... Now, to get you to understand the irony of this situation, I have to tell you something else. I know quite a few of the officers in my home town. He is one of the few I don't know. I was blaring "Re-education Through Labor" by Rise Against, an extremely anti-establismentarianist, anti-government song, which I listen to just because of the beat. All of the sudden, my great day was rained upon by established government... After I got home, I  immediately called both my parents and told them the bad news. It sure shook me up and got me to slow down. I may forget the details of that incident, but I will never forget my first car. The car that brought me to wherever I needed it to, and gave me the friends I cherish now.

Goodbye, old buddy.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Just a Random Post Because I Have Nothing Better to do

Alright. I know I haven't posted in a number of days, so here you go. I don't have a plan or a topic for this specific blog post, so I'll just go with it. At my school, there is a Campus Crusade for Christ chapter. I'm pretty involved in it; I go to the big meeting, the smaller, just freshman guys meeting, and I'm also in a 1  on 1 discipleship with the leader of my small group. Recently, my discipleship leader told me that writing/underlining in my Bible would help me study. I decided to try it during my quiet time. Let me tell you that it's really effective. Let me also tell you that you should take into account the stability of the furniture you and your Bible are on, your fine motor skills, whether or not your hands shake some, and the size of the print in your Bible. If all of those are questionable, you may want to use a different Bible. I was on a slightly rickety dorm room bed, having just woken up, writing in a Bible with size 8 font. Needless to say, some words in Galatians are now a bit difficult to read...

On Tuesday night, I played my second game of Ultimate Frisbee ever. I've decided that I love it. Ultimate is sort of a cross between soccer and football that's played with a frisbee. If any of you have played Flickerball, it's a lot like that without the tagging. It's really difficult, but fun no matter how well you do. Heck, I had fun my first time, and I was playing with a broken finger on my good hand. But we played for a good two hours, and the next day I could barely move. I dove for the disc about 7-8 times, and ended up with various cuts and scrapes, but I somehow managed to land on one part of my ankle every time. It has turned into a big spot on my leg that has some qualities of an infection and some qualities of an alien invasion. For example, it was partly green for a bit. And today in the shower, the middle of the scab just got all wet and gross and fell off. My roommate is convinced that one day it will develop limbs and crawl off my leg and try to eat him. I think it's a legitimate possibility. Which is unfortunate because he was nice enough to take me to the hospital two weeks ago when I was starting to go blind from pink eye. Here's a picture of my horrific injury for your enjoyment:

Ok, so it doesn't look that bad. But you have no idea. All the protective covering that made it look so bad is gone. And I found bits of turf rubber in it that I had to dig out two days after. So that was fun. And it HURTS, you guys!

On Friday night, I went to go see Contraband at the school movie theater with some people I met playing Ultimate. How did Kate survive? I mean, after Sebastian accidentally knocked her against the counter, I figured "Oh, she can't be dead." And then when her finger twitched I knew she would make it. But then he had her wrapped in plastic for like 5 hours and he dumped her down that mold for the concrete machine thing. Anyway, that bugged me. I'm glad she made it, though. And Mark Wahlburg is an amazing actor.

Last night, I played racquetball for the first time in about a month and a half. I still haven't found anybody who can beat me consistently at this school. Which makes me weep for mankind. Because I'm not all that great. And apparently Roommate is afraid of racquetball... Nobody knows why. The sensation of acceleration (provided he's not driving) scares him, too. And he never drives fast, so he never gets to experience the wonders of speed.

Here, enjoy this picture that I found:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

2013 Ferrari 620GT

Yesterday I ran across some news about a new Ferrari. It's called the 620GT, and it seems as if the styling was done by both Aston Martin and Maserati together.

This is the picture I saw, and it's quite a looker. The windshield and roofline look like an Aston DBS or DB9, and the front looks very GranTurismo-ish. Put those together and there's a wonderful combination of class and ferocity that you don't see very often. It's about like seeing a lion wearing a monocle. You know he's about to tear your arm off, but you also know he's going to be as polite as possible while doing so; even offering you some imported German chocolates to ease your discomfort. Anyway, its slated to have a V12 engine, and given the name of the vehicle, it should be around a 6.2, maybe 6.25 liter. Transmission will be a 7 speed, my guess would be a double clutch paddle shift, given the success Ferrari had with the 458's. Rear wheel drive, none of the too-fancy-to-be-practical FF-style all wheel drive system. Should hit 60 in about 3 seconds dead, and it'll probably sound amazing while it does so.

Of course, those are just my thoughts on it, I'd love to hear your opinions on the new 620GT, and I'll keep you updated as I learn more. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: Ferrari has (from what I can tell) changed the name upon release to the F12 Berlinetta. I have no clue why.

Friday, February 24, 2012

2012 Camaro ZL1 against the 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500

So, if you read my last blog, you'll remember I said I'm a Chevy boy. However, I developed a lot of respect for Ford when they stepped up their game for the 2011 Mustang. Developing the Coyote engine to bring back the legendary 5.0 and also launch the 'Stang into a competitive position with the Camaro was well done. Desperately needed, but well done nonetheless. So, that being said, I'm going to try to keep this as fair as I can.

To start, the ZL1 simply looks amazing. Trim specific rims, the mohawk-like air extractor, that massive rear spoiler all combine to give the car a distinctive look that can't be matched by any other Camaro. The convertible, which will arrive in 2013, looks even better in my opinion. And that's a lot coming from a guy who really doesn't like convertibles. I mean, just look at it!

I have to say, though. The Shelby isn't too hard on the eyes either. I'm using a 2012 Shelby picture here, but it hasn't changed much at all.

The tail lights and headlights somehow just look both menacing and enticing. The racing stripes and scary cobra badges all around. And last but definitely not least, if you are lucky and can get close enough to one, you can read the "Powered By Ford" badges on the side. Those are extremely sought after bits of plastic, available only on the black market, where they fetch (or so I've heard) around $300 a badge, or you can get Ford to replace them. If, of course, you can provide enough evidence that you actually own a Shelby and send in the broken pieces of the old badge.

So far so good. Both are great looking cars, but how about the price? The ZL1 starts at $54,095 and the GT500 price hasn't been released yet. However, with the current 2012 model starting at $48,810 I would guess that it would be upwards of that several hundred dollars due to the work they put in compared to the 2012 offering. That would put them at about equal price with the Shelby probably a bit cheaper than the Chevy.

Performance wise, the power numbers seem like it's going to be a blowout for the GT500. 650 horsepower, 600 lb-ft of torque compared to the 580 horses and 556 torque developed by the ZL1's mill. In fact, Ford took the title of most powerful production V8 in the world. Of course, it's not in production just yet, and I have a feeling the 2014 Corvette ZR1 might have something to say about that. How did Ford manage that, you might ask? Well, they took the 5.4 liter from the 2012 Shelby and increased engine displacement to 5.8 liters and swapped out the Eaton M112 supercharger for a four-lobe Eaton TVS supercharger. Which, surprisingly, is the same one used by the ZL1, Cadillac CTS-V, and Corvette ZR1, which all share the same basic engine. Add to that some new, more efficient heads and some other little adjustments, and the end result is a lot of power. Another thing worth noting is that the supercharger isn't the only thing the two cars share. In fact, they both have the same transmission, the Tremec 6060 6 speed. The ZL1 is powered by the LSA engine, the same exact engine the CTS-V (the worlds fastest production sedan) uses. This engine, like I said, is based off of the LS9 engine used by the Corvette ZR1 just with a smaller supercharger. Same actual engine displacement; 6.2 liters, just less boost pressure.

Now the power ratings are only part of the story. The Mustang has a history of having tires way too small and slick to use the power. The ZL1 uses Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires, the same tires used by Corvette ZR1 before the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires came out; the grippiest tires legally allowed on the road. The Eagle F1's are just a step behind the Michelins, and miles ahead of the traction provided by the R-Compound tires on the Shelby.

One problem the Shelby will run into is its live rear axle. This basically means that the rear wheels are connected by a solid piece of metal so that if the right rear wheel hits a bump, the wheel will rise up because of the suspension. This will cause the wheel to pivot around the differential, pushing the left wheel into the ground. It also pushes the left wheel onto the outside edge and off of the inside edge, causing a loss of traction. Long story short, a live rear axle is a nightmare for handling. It's about as sophisticated as my doorhinge. The ZL1, on the other hand, has independent suspension all around, which allows each of the wheels to move without affecting the others. This is one of the main reasons the Camaro is able to lap the Nürburgring in just over 7'41". That's an incredible achievement.

Overall, I think the Camaro ZL1 and the Shelby GT500 are equally matched. The sheer power of the Shelby basically negates the handling advantages the ZL1 has. Both look incredible, and the cost is similar. Of course, these are only my opinions, and if you have anything to say, I'd be happy to hear your input. Thanks for reading, guys!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

About Me, My First Car, and Other Things

So I'm new to this whole blogging thing, but I caught a wave of inspiration and decided to give it a try. I guess I'll start off by telling you who I am. My name is Caleb, I live in Texas, and I'm a freshman in College majoring in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. My true passion for cars started when I was 16 and looking for my first set of wheels. At that time, I knew absolutely nothing about the automotive industry. Heck, I thought the Corvette was a Pontiac. As I did more and more research, I soon learned all of the manufacturers and many of their models. I discovered the difference between front and rear wheel drive, I even learned to drive standard (though that was later, and a whole different story). I decided I didn't much care for Mustangs, but I adored the new Camaro. Once I got my facts straight about the Corvette, it quickly became my dream car; the new ZR1 is the best supercar in the world in my book. of course, I didn't end up with any of these. I got a 2001 white Ford Taurus. Now for a Chevy boy, that was disappointing. But, I made the most of it, and as much as I disliked it, I loved that car. Maybe it was the fact that it was my first car; the symbol of freedom. I could drive wherever and whenever (provided my parents approved). Eventually, my Dad got a Can Am Spyder, and we switched cars right before I left for school. I got the keys to his 2000 V6 Camry; the car I had thought for years would be my first one. Although it's faster and "cooler" than my old car (dubbed "Mortimer", yet another story), it's still not a Camaro or Corvette or even a 2011 'Stang (why I'd take one of those is, you guessed it, a story for later). But for some reason I wouldn't trade this one at the moment. I grew up in this car, and I have some great memories in it. Going to my senior Prom in it was a blast. The Camry was the car we always took camping, and I love the outdoors. The Camry was my Dad's car. My Dad is one of my best buddies. We play paintball, racquetball, video games and go running together. It's the car I got my first big burn in. Wait, that's not a happy memory... Anyway, it's my car now, and I love it as much as I love/hate old Mortimer.
The girls section on here is probably just going to end up being me griping about not understanding women. But I'll try to keep it as fair and even as possible. Oh, and if any of you are experts on women, let me know. I'll hire your help.
So that's about all I've got for now. Chances are nobody'll read this till a while from now, but if anyone does, give me some suggestions on some posts. I'm planning to share my thoughts on the 2012 Camaro ZL1 versus the 2013 Shelby GT500 and how that stacks up.
So thanks for reading, and I hope you'll come back!