The 2015 North American International Auto Show

Last week marked the conclusion of 2015’s North American International Auto Show. This annual event invites the world to Detroit in January, a really wonderful, WONDERFUL time to visit the Motor City – the dead of winter. My husband loves to go. When we first had moved in together, he didn’t come to the apartment with a lot of ‘personal effects’. But there were pictures of a past visit to the auto show shuffled in with shots of beloved family members and celebrations.

For the uninitiated, the auto show is all the major automotive brands doing one of three things.

Thing the first: ogling a pretty car none of us can touch. Exhibit A is the new GT from Ford.

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Thing the second is sitting in cars you can touch. It’s like a car lot with none of the pressures of sales people. We sat in cars we could never afford. We sat in cars we would never pay a cent for. But we could sit in them and for a brief moment imagine that they were ours.

The third thing is the reason I tag along with my husband while he gets excited and judgey about cars. The third thing is the Parade of Marketing Opulence. In these displays, the lengths that the manufacturers go to with this ‘ooo ahh, wizz bang’ design to distract and delight you is just incredible. Originally I was taking pictures of car butts so I could do stuff like this:

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aforestBut instead I’ll share with you all the wizzbangery I found the most distracting. Let’s start with Ford. Behind that mob of people gawking at the GT, there was a goddamn forest. They planted a mini living forest inside their display. Inside of the forest was a park with cell phone chargers attached to benches, seats you could spin around in, and a giant camera that took picture of the park and displayed that picture on the ceiling.

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Here’s a picture of the picture that was taken of me and projected on the ceiling. Why can we do this and we don’t have flying cars? Don’t ask me.

Part of what makes the auto show unique is that you’re able to view cars in ways they’re not normally displayed. On their side, see-through, lifted up.

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That last photo is a Lexus that’s on lifts, to draw attention to the “Rear Bumper Exhaust Diffuser”. I pointed out that my husband had one of those, too. Hashtag fart joke, hashtag LifttheRC.

But for everything that allowed uncommon visual access to the cars, there was a really weird thing happening for NO apparent reason. Take for example THIS abomination:

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That is a talking iPad type thing strapped on to a rolling Segway, brought to you by Volkswagen. I say talking because there was a human person interacting people via a camera and asking them if they were enjoying the auto show, via the display on the non-iPad. It was weird. I have covered up the child’s face in this photo, ‘cause I didn’t know her, but let me assure you the expression is accurate.

There were people 3D printing a car BECAUSE THEY COULD. Car with a fish tank in it? SURE. You could high five a Michelin Man who was walking around or a dude dressed exactly as Abraham Lincoln (obviously a tie-in for the Lincoln MKC). My husband tried out the new virtual reality goggles called Oculus Rift and drove a virtual Lexus on a virtual race track. The experience felt very real but left him disoriented and feeling a bit drunk, which honestly I could use THAT to make a great analogy about the whole auto show experience but I have one more weird thing to show you.

Scion had a free swag vending machine that was triggered by an Instagram photo tagged with your GPS location. While this might feel creepy and like a violation of some kind of civil liberty of mine HEY COOL FREE STUFF. I, of course, used it as an opportunity to troll them.

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If you can’t tell, that is a picture of my husband’s butt and the butt of some Scion with the text, “I like the rear end on this one.” The Swag Machine has declared, “NICE SHOT”. I was rewarded with free earbuds.

So there you have it. The North American International Auto Show. I’d like to end this post with just one more photo. It’s actually the first photo I snapped when I was there. It was at the GT. There was this huge crowd and everyone was facing this tremendous blue bullet made of steel and carbon fiber and wonder. And there was this baby, on someone’s shoulders.

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While everyone is facing towards the shiny car, the baby is looking at the camera (which nearly bonked him in the head). Keep your head turned, baby. Keep looking where no one else is. Perspective is everything.

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I know it’s fall when the sunflowers come in.

In Dearborn, in front of Ford Motor Company World Headquarters, there is a spectacular sight every fall. An ocean of bright, beautiful sunflowers.

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I discovered them one day when driving around. I’ve come back to them every fall since. Sometimes they get planted early. These photos are from about a month ago when they were in their prime. They’re starting to yellow a bit now. I have a picture from last year at about this time where the heads hadn’t even opened up yet. So it varies. But they always come when the air is starting to get chilly in the mornings and the dark comes sooner in the evenings and I know soon I’ll be immersed in apples and scarfs and leaves and everything that is fall.

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I decided to research the field for a class project. There are several other fields around, but they’re all wildflowers and grasses. They also have ‘no trespassing’ signs posted. This sunflower field doesn’t. In fact, a sidewalk winds along the edge of the field, so anyone passing by can enjoy them. The field is at Michigan Avenue and Mercury Drive.

Going out there, you can hear hundreds of birds. Standing next to the flowers you can observe bees happily hovering from face to face of the giant blooms. It’s nice to commune with nature this way.

But why? Why have this sea of sunflowers?

After poking at Ford’s website, it seems that the answer is that they are pretty and provide food for local wildlife. Okay. Cool! Ford goes on to explain that the fields are part of an effort to improve biodiversity, provide a habitat for animals, and since it’s not a giant grass field they need to mow, they don’t use as much fuel. I try to be as ecofriendly as I reasonably can be, so I was pretty excited to uncover these as the reasons Ford has the field.

I’m still waiting for a call back from the company that maintains the sunflowers. I have a few more questions about how this came to be. There was an article online that attributed the idea to an employee that was like, “Hey, you know what would be awesome? NOT ANOTHER GRASS FIELD.” (not a direct quote) (good thing this is for my blog and not my news writing class) (but wouldn’t it be great if they had?) Maybe I’ll share an update with you guys here later.

Whatever their origin, I’m just happy they exist.

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Happy Friday, everyone.

I used to work at a candy store.

I used to work at a candy store.

We’d get shipments of both candy and fun non-candy at the store. I’d say the stock was about 50/50. One of the vendors we’d get items from was Gund, maker of adorable stuffed animals and more. We got in these boxes of awesome dragon themed items and one of the boxes had little dragons holding a wire with a clip on it.

“They’re photo holders!” my manager explained. I’d never seen a photo holder and certainly couldn’t imagine them selling well. The manager agreed it probably wouldn’t be a hot item. I mentioned that they looked like they were holding little signs. I mused, “What kind of sign does a dragon hold anyway? Something advertising that he burned a village?” YES. DONE.

I busted out the markers and made signs for the dragons as well as burning buildings (you can kind of see them in the back). And they sold LIKE HOT CAKES. My manager was SHOCKED. I was especially happy to hear that one was being purchased to go to the room of a child patient down the road at the medical center. My dragons were spreading joy… and fire!

The Maple Leaf Pub

The Maple Leaf Pub

I suppose this is a late addition to ‘things I miss about Houston’. This is a picture I took once on the patio of a bar there called The Maple Leaf. It was our hockey bar, the only one in the hot and humid area so-far-I-could-tell. It was a nice bar. Plenty of seating, as long as it wasn’t playoffs. Trivia on Thursdays which was also a cheap ‘Steak and Potato Night’. One of the tables was IN an honest to god penalty box. A PENALTY BOX.