Car Envy - Car Reviews, News, and Auto Industry Insight from Alberta’s Heartland

Reprogramming “Making” For A More Transparent World


2014 Ford Fiesta front grill

by Peter Dushenski

As I kid, I was a complete Legomaniac. I rushed home from school to play Lego, I bought Lego with every dollar I earned after a good report card, and I even won a few Lego competitions. When I was 7, I even had my Grandma knit me a Legomaniac sweater. I was obsessed, through and through. But in all my years of devotion, I never made a single Lego car, fortress, city, or airplane. Not one. All I did was sift through vast containers of miscellaneous pieces, find the ones that fit my vision, and assembled them together.

There’s a big difference between “making” and “assembling”.

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The Private Buses of Bogotá

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by Peter Dushenski

I first learned about Bogotá’s bus system, the TransMileno (seen below the fold), from watching Gary Hustwit’s documentary Urbanized. If you haven’t watched Hustwit’s latest film, an in-depth look at how different urban development strategies are shaping the world’s largest cities, I’d highly recommend it. The TransMileno bus system was featured for its flexibility, affordability, and unique solutions to mass transit. As someone living in a largish city currently debating how best to solve its own transportation mess, the TranMileno greatly impressed me. So when my mother announced that we were planning a family trip to Colombia over New Years, I was excited to try it out for myself.

Bogotá, at a lofty 8,612 ft above sea level, is home to 10.7 million people in the metro area. Spread across an ancient lakebed and surrounded my lush mountains, the capital of Colombia is emerging from decades, if not centuries, of political and social upheaval. To mobilize this many people is a challenge for any city, particularly one with a relatively small middle class. Former Mayor Enrique Peñalosa solved his city’s transportation hurdles with dedicated bus lanes for the TransMileno, dedicated bicycle lanes, a network of private busses, and a crazy number of taxis.

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The 5 Books (And 1 Article) That Shaped My Thinking In 2013

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by Peter Dushenski

As you may have noticed, there weren’t a ton of new articles on CarEnvy.ca in 2013. Not because I wasn’t thinking about cars, but because I read over 60 books, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and read thousands of articles. It was a year of absorption rather than production. It also didn’t help that the site was hacked and a few articles that I wrote in the first half of the year were lost, including the piece introducing my new 2012 Fiat 500. But, c’est la vie.

So, since I spent so much time digesting new information this year, I thought I’d share the 5 books (and 1 article) that most shaped my thinking.

For your holiday enjoyment and in no particular order:

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Happy 5th Birthday CarEnvy!

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by Peter Dushenski

When did she grow to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall?

It happened so fast.

Firstly, I want to thank you, dear reader, for continuing to share in this experiment we call “CarEnvy.ca”. I take great pleasure in sharing the written word with you, and I consider it a privilege to have this platform upon which to do so.

CarEnvy.ca has matured and evolved throughout its existence, constantly morphing to reflect my personal development. It started in October 2008 as a for-profit (or rather, for-loss) partnership between myself and a techy friend who came up with the idea of a car blog after he started up several successful websites. We soon launched and hired a few other writers, together publishing several, largely newsy articles per day. That first iteration didn’t last forever, but it did help to launch the career of at least one auto journalist.

The next chapter saw us moving away from news and towards editorials and reviews as we finagled relationships with auto manufacturers for the first time. This was a very exciting and gratifying time. Lots of buzz, a few all-expenses-paid trips, and a smidge of status for this little project. But this chapter didn’t last forever either.

The subsequent chapter was a particularly interesting one that saw the dissolution of most of the manufacturer relationships after a few controversial articles. This left me with my integrity and sense of fun intact at the expense of some perks. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Today, 5 full years into this experiment, we reflect on this journey and appreciate how far we’ve come. From a car salesman that could only muster a C+ in English 101 to an editor of 6 writers to a government-employed “auto journalist”  with ten manufacturers lined up to a storyteller/bitcoiner/philosopher who sometimes mentions cars – it’s been a spectacular evolution. It’s been trying at times, particularly when the site was hacked and content was lost for good, but the thrills and opportunities have more than made up for it.

Five years ago, I could’ve never imagined that I’d be so comfortable putting my thoughts to paper, much less that I’d also have taken up a hand-written journal, nor spent so much goddam time tweeting. This blog has opened doors for me and changed my life for the better. And I want to thank you all for sharing in this experience.

Now, I’d like to look back at a few of my favourite articles from the past 60 months. These 5 stories are a glimpse at the journey thus far, but as I’m sure you can guess, they show little about where CarEnvy.ca is going in the future.

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Part II: What’s More Precious Than Platinum – Technology or Muscle Cars?

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by Peter Dushenski

[Read Part I here]

So what’s the cure for  isolation?

Go-karting!

I hadn’t been in a go-kart since I was in my early teens, so when a local Ford dealer invited me to a track day recently, one of the last at our beloved Stratotech Park, I jumped at the chance for a cure and drove myself there in the big, bad Platinum.

Arriving from downtown Edmonton just 40 minutes of bumper-riding later, I sat down for a brief safety lecture, grabbed the biggest helmet in sight, and plunked down in a kart on the front row.

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Part I: What’s More Precious Than Platinum – Gold or bitcoin?

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by Peter Dushenski

Since the Neolithic Revolution some 10,000 years ago, when humans started organizing into larger and more agricultural societies, there have been “haves” and “have-nots”. At the highest levels, the haves wielded political, manufacturing, and military power, which they naturally sought to maintain. To maintain their power, the haves needed something scarce and portable – something that could transfer accumulated wealth from one generation to the next, keeping the power in the family.

Enter: gold.

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Ending Bachelorhood With Energi

Cabins

by Peter Dushenski

No strippers. No champagne. No painful encounters with a tile floor.

Just 9 young men, the Canadian Rockies, and more fireside bromance than you can shake a cover story at. For the record, I always wear turtlenecks in July. Because Steve Jobs.

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Are Russians Really That Bad at Driving?

CarEnvy’s resident Russian explains why Russia generates so many car crash videos.

Typical dashcam. Image credit: www.av-tribune.ru

Typical dashcam. Image credit: www.av-tribune.ru

By Artem Barsukov

Russia has always been famous around the world for three of its exports: vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists.

And guns. Lots and lots of guns.

Make that four exports, then. Yet, in the past couple of years, the country has firmly established itself as the world’s number one producer of the web’s latest craze: dashcam videos!

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