Has Google/Android jumped the shark?

Hey y’all. I was on a boat Saturday after being thrown from the tube being pulled behind it when I saw some footage of the wipeout on an iPhone. I said that I really wanted that footage and the girl said that it would be easy if I had an iPhone because she could beam it to me, but she had no service at the lake.

I thought about mentioning that this was a feature of an Android phone from years past and that it had (to my knowledge) been retired as it wasn’t widely used, but I stopped short and thought that comparing features and timelines really isn’t the point in the Android v iPhone debate. What really matters is overall experience and compatibility with the technology of your friends.

I’ve been using Android phones from the start, with my only non Nexus/Pixel phone being the Droid Incredible, and that’s only because the OG Nexus device wasn’t available on Verizon. I’m a homer who buys paid apps frequently. My history is tied to my Android account. I love buying a new phone and adding the wi-fi and watching everything just work.

But has Android jumped the shark?

Remember when Google+ came out? Sure they made a few mistakes, first of all with the name of the service. Google is a polarizing company, and naming a social media service after the parent just advertises bad vibes to anyone who distrusts Google to begin with. Then there’s the policy of requiring real names and making that spill over to YouTube as well. Despite a few miscues, they were innovating like crazy at that time. In the Google+ features, the various Google products, and also in Android. Everywhere you looked, Google was making things awesome! When is the last time a Google innovation made you do a double take and just know that this was a game changer?

What happened to Google? What happened to Android? Where did the excitement go? Have we reached a point where a few apps like iMessage, Garageband and FaceTime will eventually win the market for Apple? Is Google/Android unable to put together a compelling feature any longer?
My next phone will likely be a Pixel, more because I don’t like change than because it’s a better experience than a comparatively priced iPhone 8. But will I end up regretting not getting a phone that can get away with adding retired 8 year old technology?

I ask in another way. Has Google lost it’s competitive and/or innovative spirit?

CHAZ is the new Tiger King

My fascination with CHAZ is a lot like my previous fascination with Tiger King. Both are train wrecks filled with terrible people doing terrible things to other terrible people, terribly. CHAZ is a six block area in Seattle and the name means “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” According to the signage on the barriers surrounding the zone, they are no longer a part of the United States of America, hence the term “Autonomous.”

I’m not sure what is autonomous about begging others for food because you didn’t think that far ahead. They do have some huge demands against the rest of society, which is odd seeing that they are no longer a part of our country, according to their own statements. More realistic demands they have made include cigarettes, clothing, and tents. Oh, and sunglasses! They have defined their border with a wall. They patrol that border with scary looking guns. They have no police, but they do have “warlords” who apparently don’t see eye to eye with each other.

BLM members have started to complain that the Antifa agenda is pushing out their desired utopian societal demands. The… um… peacekeepers are already accused of many extortion charges and Seattle’s 911 has been called to that area at a much greater rate than previously, but the group declares itself autonomous and won’t allow authorities in.

Unless there’s a dumpster on fire in there. And of course, there was.

You couldn't feed ONE person with this garden

The community garden is a great metaphor of their worldview. It is way too small. It is only an inch deep. The ground underneath hasn’t been prepared so the roots of their plants won’t take hold. And some of their life saving plants include geraniums. Is that flower even edible?

I’m not sure what I would do if I were in charge of a city with a non-autonomous zone like this. They should be shut down. They should not be allowed to leech community resources if they are to be their own country. They should be assisted with the legal steps to renounce their citizenships if that is truly what they desire. They should be allowed to continue for now, if for no other reason than they highlight the idiocy of their worldview. All people are to be respected. Not all ideas share that biblical protection.

This will end. It will not end well. They do not have a center that can hold. The city of Seattle is just fine with it for now, and for the moment, I’m popping a tub o’ corn. But like everything else in 2020, the situation as well as my reaction to this can turn on a dime.

That’s a mic drop.

Covid-19 Statement

You’ll have to forgive me for my stance that I still hold. You see, the ever present danger I grew up with was “Mutually Assured Destruction” and we, as a society, refused to cower in fear over the Communist threat.

This generation is more interested in sprinting toward Communism and fear porn over an incorrect computer model and real world statistics that cannot be padded enough to justify our actions.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m unloving. Call me a science denier. Because you will be arguing against top scientists from Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon and other institutions of higher learning. And when I say that our reaction to this will cause more suffering and death than the virus, I am getting my projections from the United Nations.

Loving your neighbor is not the same as telling your neighbor only what they want to hear. Your neighbor is not limited only to the aged and immune compromised. This virus is hardly unprecedented, but our reaction to it is.

Mutually Assured Destruction was my generation’s fear. We were told that the nuclear stockpiles of the USA and USSR were enough to kill all life on the planet 6 times over. We went about our business. A virus that kills far less than 1%, still a tragedy and do not assume I don’t take every death as a tragedy, stops us all in our tracks.

Our economy won the cold war. Our productivity was a huge factor in both world wars. It was largely the economy that decided the Civil War. But rather than allow and expect the young and healthy to continue to live their lives while seeing to the needs of the at risk population, we abandon our greatest strengths and even undermine them.

Changing Restaurant Paradigms?

I remember when getting pizza meant going into town and sitting down at the Pizza Hut, where we had a waitress and a pitcher of Pepsi. There was a Space Invaders game, and if I had been good, my dad would give me a quarter to play a game while we waited for the pizza to arrive. Also, the Book-It program gave my family one more reason to go to Pizza Hut and gave me an incentive to get better grades

The model evolved and Carryout became more common. And we ate Pizza Hut more frequently. There was no pitcher of Pepsi and no Space Invaders at home, but we had pizza. Pizza that wasn’t as hot and fresh as we had it at the store, but my parents didn’t have to load us all up and drive into town.

Enter Domino’s and the delivery model. Even though my family lived outside the area where pizza delivery was practical, we knew the paradigm had changed. As time went by, the Pizza Hut lost more and more in-store business. They hired drivers and tried to compete on two fronts. Dine In and Eat at Home.

Now, for a chain pizza place to be solvent, delivery is a given. A dine in pizza place seems quaint, and it must have superior food and service to attract enough customers to stay in the black. The market has changed. The dining location for pizza is now the home, not the dining room.

My wife and I picked up dinner tonight at Biaggi’s, a family favorite. Due to the Wuhan virus, all dining must be done outside an eating establishment, otherwise we would have enjoyed the experience in the dining room. The waitstaff is always helpful and attentive. The drink refills come quickly, the specials are described, special orders are no problem, and so on.

Our dinner was not a disappointment at all. It wasn’t as hot as it would be due to the drive home and setup at our own kitchen table. To offset this, and to keep their business going in this environment, Biaggi’s gave us 20% off the order. At a first glance, that seems like a huge cut! Restaurant profit margins are usually pretty tight.

But there are expenses associated with running a restaurant. They didn’t have to pay their wait staff, the bartenders, the table bussers, the hostesses and other positions I’m unaware of. The dishwasher could focus on the kitchen utensils, without worrying about any customer dishes and silverware. The cost savings they experienced may or may not match the 20% discount they offered, but a businessperson would need to factor that in.

Now picture a restaurant in the same category as Biaggi’s but without inside dining. Better food (by far) than an Applebee’s, but without any need to cater to a dining room full of customers. No need to hire staff to seat them, to clean up their messes, to serve them really at all. And then factor in the much smaller customer parking you would require and the smaller taxes that would be levied on your establishment due to the smaller footprint.

I don’t think nice mid-range restaurants are a thing of the past. I couldn’t imagine that! People in the US will continue to look forward to an evening of being served, of eating freshly cooked food and not having any dishes waiting when they are done eating. But I could see a delivery and/or carryout option available for people who want a nice meal for a lower price than the mid-range restaurant and who don’t mind cleaning up after themselves.

As a hobby, I like to forecast market trends. Not anything specific enough to buy shares of this or that stock, but enough to look at macro trends and forecast what the next stage might look like. I’m no expert in this, but I could imagine some company coming up with an option like this. There are Americans who would like an upgraded dinner, but who may not want to pay the price for the upgraded experience or who just want to eat their restaurant meal in their own homes.

Most restaurants already offer carryout and delivery via GrubHub and similar third party services. This viral event has opened my eyes to a new business model that specializes in the cost savings of carryout/delivery and doesn’t even bother with the dining room at all. As long as these restaurants are seen as a new model and not as one that replaces the affordable once in a while visit to a family favorite, I think it could be a regular thing in a post-Coronavirus world.

And I believe the advancements that a specialized restaurant could make in this category could become something pretty special.

The New England Patriots and their Deal with…

What happened to all the quarterbacks already? Andrew Luck suddenly retired. Nick Foles is out with a collar bone, an injury he really needs to let heal rather than return this season. Ben Roethlisberger says he’ll return next year after his elbow surgery, and for what it’s worth I believe him. Eli Manning is no longer starting at the Giants, and if I were him I’d try to join the Jags post haste to close out the career with Tom Coughlin. Drew Breese will be out six games, making the Saints an unlikely playoff team. Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis, which sucks, but at least he will return this season and the likelihood of his team making the playoffs is unchanged in that there is zero likelihood.

And what is the common thread in all of these stories? The New England Patriots.

It must be nice to walk between the raindrops every year. It must be nice to be in a division of ineptitude. It must be nice to get a first round bye and then play the remaining playoff games in front of your home fans every year. Gee whiz, what would need to happen in order for a team to get that sort of perpetual bliss?

Well you start by being in a division with the Jets, Dolphins and Bills. And I guess that’s really all you need. Let’s look at their schedule though. Week one was against the Steelers, a team built upon star players, having missed their two greatest players in the last two years and then not adequately replaced. Week two was against the Dolphins, a team that should be the subject of a class action lawsuit by their season ticket holders for tanking the season. Week three is the Jets. Will Sam Darnold be back from mononucleosis by then? Then comes the Bills, Redskins, Giants (sans Eli Manning), Jets, Browns, Ravens, then the Bye.

Going into the Week 10 bye, if the Patriots are 8-1, that will be perceived as more than just a little bit disappointing. And WHEN they are in the playoffs, most likely starting in the Divisional round, they already know that their biggest foes, the Steelers and the Colts, will not be around to challenge them. The AFC has become a dumpster fire with very few exceptions.

Can you name any real rival to the Patriots this year? Can you say with certainty that any other team is guaranteed to be in the Super Bowl? Heck, I’ll roll the dice here. The New England Patriots will WIN the Super Bowl this year and will do so convincingly.

My Happy Birthday (Literally)

On the subject of my birthday, which just so happens to be today, let me tell you a little something about my birth.

In 1973, my mom’s water broke during the 1st trimester. The doctors were planning a D&C after that weekend, but stopped when they detected a heartbeat using technology that was new at the time. Instead of my life ending that day, a surgery was performed to assist my mom in carrying me as long as possible. She was warned that I still may not make it. She was told that if I did make it I would likely be deformed or experience mental challenges. She was placed on bed rest the remainder of her pregnancy. She prayed for me.

I was born premature because my mother walked up a half flight of stairs to use the restroom, rather than pull my dad from a volleyball game on his birthday. Once I was birthed, I was rushed out of the room to an incubator. About a week later, my parents brought me home. Technically, I’m normal. You can use your own judgment on that though. I don’t mind.

Heartbeat = life. Yes, it’s personal. Abortion = murder. Yes, it’s personal.