Monday, June 29, 2009

New Car sales down? Prices dropping? Not in Calgary!

After a few weeks of discussion, Mrs. CalgaryRants decided that she needed a new vehicle. She has been driving the same Ford since it was new in 2002, and figured it would be best to get rid of it now, before we have to waste money on repairs. Also, we did not like the fact that we both have 2dr cars, since I dumped my Ford Escape last summer for an Altima Coupe.

Now if you believe the media, you would expect the car dealerships to be begging for your business and that every car lot looks like the picture above! Well my friends, in my experience this weekend, it just isnt so...

Deciding that we needed an SUV ( reasons to follow in a later post) we finished our research and headed out to look at some vehicles. My wife decided on the NISSAN ROUGE, TOYOTA RAV4 and the SUBARU Forrester, based on their 4Cyl engines. ( We would have looked at a domestic, but being behind the 8-Ball, they do not have any 4cyl SUV's.) Now, neither of us is an environmentalist in any way, but my wifes decision is based soley on gas milage as she has a 30+ KM commute each way in the city! With our picks in mind, we headed off to the dealerships to make a deal.

Figuring that there would be some excellent deals on these vehicles, we were pretty excited to see what kind of deal we would get. Much to our dismay, there were no deals to be had! Surprisingly, these import dealers are NOT moving off the sticker price, as they feel that they do not need to. Pretty cocky? Every dealership we talked to confirmed that there is very little room to move off the sticker price and that unlike GM/Chryler, there are no "massive" price reductions in the works.

At least in Calgary, the 2008 models that we want are in very low supply, which does not add to our search for a better price. My wife is a master negotiator, (knocking $5K off my Altima last year) but we found a much different atmosphere this time around. If there is a recession and the dealers are hurting, we did not see it at all. It was almost like they had the upper hand, with a "take it or leave it" attitude. Pretty odd scenario....

Well, back to the drawing board. Do we pay the full list, minus their pittance discounts of a few thousand dollars, or wait for the 2009 models? And I thought this would be an easy process!

P.S.>> If you really want your intelligence challenged ( or like to be personally insulted) head down to Brasso Nissan in the Automall and look for the clown we dealt with. You can't miss him, he is a cross between Herb Tarlick (WKRP) and the creepy handyman from One Day at a Time.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

1993 Pre-Internet View of the future!

This is a great montage from 1993! I remember hearing about this fancy new Internet thing around this time, as I was in high school then. My social studies teacher was ranting about how this whole internet thing would change the world. We thought he was a little odd because up until then, we only used computers to type our school papers! My how things have changed.

It is kind of interesting how some of this stuff is here now and some of the ideas in the ad are already obsolete.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still Just for fun...Mark Dyrholm team closes the "interweb" gap!

In what was supposed to be a lighthearted post on June 14, I jokingly compared the social media following of the two declared WRAP candidates. It set off a funny set of comments, including some from Mr.Dyrholms team.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the numbers stand up now, almost 10 days later....

June 14:

Danielle Smith:

Facebook: 140 Followers.
Twitter: 696 Followers

Mark Dyrholm:

Facebook: 58 followers
Twitter: 90 Followers

June 24:

Danielle Smith:

Facebook: 235 Followers.
Twitter: 911 Followers

Mark Dyrholm:

Facebook: 212 followers

Twitter: 727 Followers

Looks like a big jump for Mr. Dyrholm. I know I have received 3-4 requests to add Dyrholm as a "friend" on facebook from a certain well known member of his campaign team, so they are obviously pushing the social media well.

What does this mean? Absolutely Nothing!

Young Liberal candidate ( Calgary Glenmore) Cory Hogan had 222 friends on facebook....yet he could not sell enough memberships ( 100 people total voted at the glenmore nomination meeting) to win the nomination. Pretty sad.

Moral of the story? Social Media is important in getting your message out...but unless you actually sell memberships and gather supporters, you will find out who your "friends" really are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Calgary Glenmore Liberals stick with Avalon (Also-Ran) Roberts...

The Calgary Glenmore Liberals have once again decided to go with constant loser Dr. Avalon Roberts as their candidate in the pending By-Election. Losing this race was Cory Hogan, a young liberal activist. I see that Cory's website already re-directs to info on Calgary Glenmore. It looks live even Avalon is surprised by the win, as she does not have her website set up. Oh those 60-something liberal candidates....its hard to stay up with all this interweb stuff!

For a "live" blog update on the nomination meeting, check out this link by Matthew Naylor.

Now, although I do not support the liberal party, I commend Cory Hogan for stepping up to the plate and putting his name forward. I grew up in Calgary Glenmore and I am just a few years older than Mr. Hogan, so I am pleased to see people my age engaged in the political process. This is probably a good thing for Cory's young political career, as this riding is not ready for a liberal switch.

I am not sure why the Liberals want to go back to a constant "also-ran" in Dr. Avalon Roberts? She has lost this riding once in a Federal Election and Twice to the PC's in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Seriously, why go back with the same old tired candidate? Perhaps the party has bigger plans for Cory and wanted to avoid his destruction at the polls this time?

Now, we just need to get the WRAP nomination complete. I love the new Radio Ad's targeting Calgary Glenmore...the tag line of "Send Ed a Message" is pretty powerful stuff.

Anyways, it will be an interesting summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Iris Evans, Contests and Latchkey Kids...

I was disappointed to read the comments made by Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans this week. As a PC supporter, I tend to just grit my teeth and occasionally roll my eyes at these gaffes, but these comments really got to me. My wife (who would rather stick pencils in her eyes than talk politics) was so furious about these comments that I knew I had to post something about it. As a child of a two working parents, she found the comments by Iris Evans highly offensive.

The debate is out there and people are talking about it already. To me, the bottom line is this...

  • What do these PRIVATE, PERSONAL Family decisions have to with the FINANCE PORTFOLIO?
  • Perhaps if Alberta had a better tax structure and incentive program, many parents would choose to stay home with their kids. Again, if they chose to. Each family is different.

Now, I know that Mrs. Evans is 67 years old and comes from a different time and set of ECONOMIC realities, but her comments are flawed. It is a reality that most parents have to both go to work to support their family. Mrs. Evans had the luxury of gaining extra income from being a "PROFESSIONAL CONTEST ENTERER" ( that a real word?) as a young mother. Not all Albertans will have such a wonderful second income stream.

What really worries me here is that episodes like this just lead most of the public to believe that the PC party is out of touch with regular Albertans. And that my friends is a dangerous thing.

I would hope that going forward, the Party will spend more time trying to BALANCE its own budget before interfering in Albertans personal lives.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Concrete Equities? Not so great after all...( and how I dodged that bullet!)

Is that not a nasty, nasty picture and sign? It is pretty powerful stuff...
In the spring of 2008, flush with some extra cash from a better than average work year, I started looking at some alternatives for my RRSP. Now, I had been investing in mutual funds since I was 20, but thought it was time to branch out a little bit more. Knowing that I needed to put the money away (for tax reasons mostly, as I have 25+ years until retirement) it was just a matter of WHERE/WHAT I was going to do with it.
After a bit of research, I started looking at these private real estate investment plays. I looked at Platinum Equities, Genesis Land Development, FRPL ( Fairmount) and a Concrete Equities. Most of them were not really my thing, but I was intrigued by Concrete Equities. After all, I had heard their daily radio and TV ads. Also, they are the main sponsor on CBC's Dragons Den ( A favorite of mine) so I thought I would meet with one of their reps to see what they had to say.
The meeting was average at best and the rep ( who was a VP) did not seem to like all of my questions. I think he was insulted that I actually knew what I was talking about, which was my 1st clue to get the heck out of there.
The whole Concrete Equities plan is ridiculous in my opinion... In a nutshell it works like this:
  • Concrete buys a building for say $10MM ( Market value is $10MM)
  • Concrete buys TV/Radio Ads and becomes a big corporate sponsor, in an effort to LEGITIMIZE their company.
  • Concrete sells partnership units, in $10,000 increments to hundreds/thousands of "investors"/marks.
  • Concrete Promises 75-94% returns in 5 years (varies per property), by re-mortgaging the $10MM property (say at $13MM) and handing out the refinanced funds.
  • Bottom Line...they use your money to pay the mortgage in the meantime.

Some further research showed me that one of the senior partners had some problems with an Alberta Real Estate licensing board. The biggest turn off for me was when I found out that the CEO of this company was Dave Jones. Now I have been hearing Dave Jones WealthStreet Wealth Watch reports for a few years on QR77 ( which is an advertisement, pretending to be the news.) and everytime I hear him, I puke a little in my throat.

Dave Jones's wealth must rival that of Warren Buffet's, because he always seems to have picked the winning stocks for the day. ( After the market closes of course...) Perhaps he borrowed Doc's DeLorean and brought back some stock reports? Its all smoke and mirrors. This Jones chap is not a stockbroker, he is an "alternative" investment dealer. ( Ie. Not Stocks, Not Bonds, Not Mutual Funds...perhaps a ATM syndicate or in pop bottle empties?) Lately, it appears Dave's biggest job as CEO was to push the Concrete Equity property syndications.

Well, it looks like the house of cards has fallen. Concrete Equities has been in the news as of late as some of their partners are feeling duped!
If you want a really interesting take on all of this, from an Inside shareholder, check out the link here. Pretty excellent blogging on this matter!
Now, although I appear bitter at Concrete/Jones, I am NOT an INVESTOR...thankfully. I had reviewed all of their info/contracts and talked to my Father-in-law, who is the Buffet in my family about what I should do? He told me to stay away from these things and set up a Self Directed Stock account, which I did. Maybe the stock market had fallen and some investments are down 25%, but I tell you... its better than losing $10-20k with Concrete (crumbling) Equities!
Thanks Pops! I owe you a beer....
Update- 8/13/09- Follow up post located here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Alberta Political Parties love using blogs for information!

As per my previous post, I was pleased to see that the Windsor Star quoted from my rant about George Dadamo. This was an interesting example of how the MSM uses the blogosphere for information and research.

I was also surprised when I received a email pointing me to a link on the net, highlighting an Alberta Liberal Party document from May 20/2009. This pdf document highlights the days news stories and key events etc. (Its called "Clippings"...but at 108 pages, its quite comprehensive.) I tried to do a search on the Alberta Liberal Party website to see if they list all of their archives for this type of document, but I cannot seem to find the pathway? (Maybe I am just not that computer literate?)

Anyways, I noted that throughout the 108 Page summary, the Liberal Party has included many different blog postings from local blogger's. The blogger's listed include Ken Chapman, WRAP Blogger Travis Chase and myself. I would assume that this likely occurs on a daily basis and that the communications team trolls the local blogs for daily inputs into the quickscan document.

While a quick look at the sitemeter stats often show references to the different Alberta Political Parties visiting my site, I now know for sure that they actually read and share the information that we post on our blogs! ( I had always assumed this anyways...)

As an aside, I have also noticed that all party's and many MLA's have Twitter and Facebook accounts, which I think they use to get a general sense of whats really going on in Alberta. ( Or, to push their message I find it interesting that there is such a shift in the flow of information between the elected officials and the people. ( Look at the "live tweeting" during the Bill 44 Marathon) This was unimaginable 5 years ago!

Now, if only they would all follow through with some of our ideas and comments!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Calgary City Council Report Card receives a passing grade.

Yesterday a coalition of business lobbyists released their mid-term report card on Calgary City Council. The report was based specifically on business related issued and rated the City Councillors and the Mayor on their performance. Seeing that half of council received a FAILING GRADE, those with losing marks cried foul with the report. ( Naturally...)
I was pleased (and not surprised at all) to see that my Alderman, Ric McIver received the highest grade! A++. Ric has always been a voice for lower taxes and creating a friendlier business environment in Calgary. I am sure that this A+ ranking is driving Bronco crazy! Also, it appears that "D" student Gord Lowe took a shot at Ric yesterday by stating "If you never propose, you only oppose, you get a higher mark." Perhaps this is in reference to Ric's
Dr. No nickname?
At the bottom of the scale, Sugarplum & Fairies Alderman Druh Farrell received a justifiable F grade. If this report card was based on $25 Million pedestrian bridges or closing down Memorial Drive on Sunday's , I am sure she would receive an A+. ( I have heard rumours that she is considering a run for mayor...can you imagine that?)
I know the detractors ( ie. supporters of those who failed this report) will say that this report is biased or unfair, but each and every Alderman was tested the same way. I am sure Bronco, Pincott and Hawksworth will ask the Liberal/NDP establishment to commission their own fairy tale report soon. Trust me gentlemen, it looks like you will need any good press you can create heading into the next election!
Ric McIver for Mayor in 2010? Lets hope so...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just for Fun...WAP Leadership Race via Social Network Stats!

Just for fun on a lazy Sunday morning...

While two candidates have come forward in the Wildrose Alliance Party leadership race, I am going to save commentary on each until all of the candidates have come forward. That said, I have been following both Danielle Smith's and Mark Dyrholm's web presence with interest. Here are my thoughts...


  • Danielle's website is clean, bright, crisp and visually appealing. It is easy to navigate and simple but highly effective.
  • Mark's website is good, but it has the PGIB/Chandler NASCAR advertising style, which may turn some people off. It is not as easy to read and forces you to read long winded letters of endorsement, with a few website links from those endorsing him. Hmmm...

Now, just for fun...( don't read too much into it) lets look at the Social Media following of each leadership hopeful....

Danielle Smith

  • Facebook: 140 Followers.
  • Twitter: 696 Followers

Mark Dyrholm

  • Facebook: 58 followers
  • Twitter: 90 Followers

Edge: Danielle Smith by a mile.

Now, It looks like Craig Chandler and his PGIB crew were a little slow getting the Dyrholm website up and twitter account up and running, so this may be the reason for the "gap" here. Perhaps it may also be a demographic issue, as older people generally do not use Facebook or Twitter?

Anyways...I just figured this would add some mindless banter! Time to grab another coffee...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thanks Premier Stelmach!

I had the chance to attend a breakfast last week hosted by Calgary NW PC Association, with Premier Ed Stelmach as the guest speaker. While I have only attended a few events like this, I was surprised that the room was booked solid and sold out. ( Calgary Chamber of Commerce)

I was also surprised when the Premier came over to say hello to me, even though there were 100+ people mingling and trying to get some face time with him. Now, I am a nobody and he did not know me, but I was impressed that he took the time to spend a few minutes listening to what I had to say. Some will say that this is typical "political schmooze" common at these events, but I must say that our Premier definitely has a different vibe about him.

In my opinion, the man is as genuine as they come. I know that he is not as flashy as Mr.Klein and I think his low key approach is often a source of attack from his opponents, but I find his honesty kind of refreshing.

Most people realize that I am a PC volunteer and supporter. Do I agree with everything the government is doing? The answer is no. Do I think that they made a lot of mistakes over the past year? Yes. Do I still believe that they are going in the right direction and are the best party to lead the province? Absolutely.

I know for a fact that many PC supporters are frustrated with this government and are starting to look at some other conservative alternatives. I hope that these people will use their energy to enhance the PC party and bring about a change within their own party. Given my brief encounter last week, I believe that Premier Stelmach would encourage this kind of discussion.

Happy Weekend!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Calgaryrants quoted in the Windsor Star

When I first wrote the post about George (Who) Dadamo earlier this week, I figured it would be a "one-and-done" piece ( like most of my rants on here). However, I have been totally surprised by the amount comments and emails I have received about this mysterious mayor in waiting.

I was also surprised to see that the Windsor Star had a nice plug for my blog in their paper this morning. Check out the story here.

Its a good example of how the main stream media uses the blogs for information and quotes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Way to kick off your campaign George Dadamo!

Oh cannot make this stuff up! In a previous post this week, I talked about a fellow named George Damado, who has confirmed yesterday that he plans to run for Calgary Mayor in 2010.

In a strange twist, Dadamo was forced to fire a key campaign organizer just hours before the official news conference to announce his candidacy for mayor! It would appear that his campaign organizer, Joshua Bredo has quite the controversial background. George Dadamo confirmed that he never did a background check on this chap. I find this odd as George's early campaign marketing strategy has been to flood the Internet with marketing ideas and capitalize on social media. This tells me that George or his team is actually computer literate, so why not run say....a quick Google search?

Well a quick Google search under Joshua Bredo comes up with an easy result as noted on the link.

What is the lesson we can learn here from George? Perhaps it is that you cannot just throw your hat into the political ring on a "whim". His rush to get organized and to make a name for himself has backfired. While we all make mistakes, this lack of judgement and planning has destroyed a lot of his credibility and diminished any goodwill media that he would have encountered following his official announcement.

Looks like he got "Dadamo-ed".

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Calgary Hays PC Association/MLA Art Johnston Golf Tournament

We still have a few spots available for the Calgary Hays PC Association/MLA Art Johnston Golf Tournament on Friday June 26, 2009. This year, we are partnering with the Parkinson Society of Southern Alberta and our special guest will be the Honourable Ron Liepert, Minister of Health and Wellness.

If you are interested, send me an email or check the link on the PC Alberta website. Spots are filling quickly, but I thought I would share this in case there was any interest.

I attended this event last year and it was a blast. I can't wait to hit McKenzie Meadows Golf course again this year. Hopefully, my game will be better than last year!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

George Dadamo...One Ambitious Fellow.

Although I am new to Twitter, I was surprised to see that George Damado started following me there. Like most Calgarians, I had never heard of the man until a post by daveberta few weeks ago. With the surprise twitter notification, I thought I better find out a bit more about this fellow. Well, I can confirm that I am pleasantly surprised by Mr. Dadamo's ambition.

A quick look on his fancy website clearly shows that the gentleman has a ambitious plan for 2010! Also, his Facebook page (65 Followers, mostly from the Alberta Liberal crowd.) shows another link to a George Dadamo for Mayor site, where he is the administrator of this page.

Well, I am pretty well read and I try to keep up with local politics, but I don't have the slightest clue who this man is? His political background bio page highlights his time with the Bob Rae Ontario NDP government in the early 1990's, which I am sure impresses most Albertans. His website claims he is a community organizer ( akin to President Obama?) and activist. Hmmm...still never heard of him.

I watched the above video, from his DadamoTv youtube page, which is quite amusing. The page is a Obama style populist ad, with catchphrases such as "a new kind of politics", "from a grassroots leader" with a catchy baptist soul song repeating "We Need a Change". The funny part about it is the visual content. It appears that all of the photographs are taken in late May 2009 at the Speak Out 11 event and the Lilac Festival. If this man is such a Community Leader/Organizer and a "grassroots leader" then were are all the photographs highlighting his expansive community service in Calgary? ( The best you can show is two events from the end of May?) Its so cheesy, that I think I tasted something funny in the back of my throat. ( Trying to keep it PG here folks.)

On Tuesday June 9, George Dadamo will announce that he is running for Mayor in 2010. Seeing that he failed to get elected as an Alderman in 1997 in his hometown of Windsor, what makes him think he can just pop into the Calgary Mayor's seat?

If all it takes is a cool website, a tiny Facebook following and a cheesy web-ad to run for mayor, then I should reconsider my career options.

Again, Mr. Dadamo is very ambitious, which should make the mayors race very interesting. I just wonder if Bronco is pissed that another Liberal is gunning after his seat?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Will Ignatieff force a Summer Election or dust off the old dancing shoes?

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff will decide next week weather he will "force" a summer election. ( yawn....) I have heard this before and will hear it again....and again. However, you just never know with this leader. Here are my thoughts on his options...

1) Iggy may well choose to force a summer election, as his future depends on it. ( This way, when the Conservatives destroy the Liberals at the polls, Iggy will still have time to rush back to Harvard in time for the fall semester. I hear its nice there in September.)

2) Iggy may want to take some notes from the awesome video above of a Calgary dancer aka "Dancing Man" and wait until the FALL for an election.....

Look at how he starts out all alone, with no support. ( Thinking he is the "chosen one" begging and pleading for others to join him. ) Finally, a wave of people rush to dance with him. Hilarity ensues.

If I were Iggy, I would pay less attention to the elite strategists, dust off the old dancing shoes and spend all summer making some youtube videos of his own sweet dance moves in Downtown Toronto or Montreal. Just imagine the viral marketing campaign Iggy. Who knows, you may even pick up a few donations for your party!

Happy Weekend everyone!


Britian's Parliment is a mess! Luckily, a friend of Calgaryrants is running in the next election.

Oh, to be a blogger in the UK right now! I must admit that I am a "casual" follower of British Politics, but I now have a personal interest in them!

While Canadian Liberal MP's posture for public opinion, their counterparts in England are fighting for their political survival. The Labour Party's 12 year grip on power is in doubt due to a series of scandals and resignations. Even today, it looks like PM Gordon Brown is in big trouble, as his own party appears to be turning on him. The British Government quickly disputed a rumour today that he will in fact resign, which affected the value of the British Pound this morning!

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. I hope that the Canadian MP's can learn a lesson or two from this fiasco. I am sure the British people would prefer that the government actually spend their time trying to fix the social and economic problems facing their country. ( Sound familiar?)

On another note, a business associate of mine is actually going to be running in the next British election. Check out her blog here....

Karen Allen is the Conservative Party candidate in the riding of South Shields. This riding is currently held by David Miliband (Labour), Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. While it is always a challenge to run against a cabinet minister, I am confident that the people of South Shields will support Karen and the Conservative Party in the next election. I will be following this closely and wish Karen success.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Six Months Already...Wow, time flies!

When I started this blog in January, I heard that many people give up after a month or so and just quit. Never being much of a quitter, I am pleased to see that I have gotten over the the initial six month hump and look forward to the rest of the year.

I am still trying to find my voice and determine exactly what I want this blog to become and I appreciate everyone's comments over the past few months. I'll find my niche yet!

Thanks to the following bloggers who put up with my email questions ( when I should have bought the book at the top of the page!) and for the initial links on their sites!

Anyways... thanks to everyone who reads this blog and comments on my hacks.

I look forward to boring you for many more months!