Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Cammo wrap.

Whenever I am in Santa Clara I like to drive by the Byton Campus. I think if they are going to have a real car, you'd start seeing it around campus. I have driven by probably a dozen times, and nothing. Until today.

It is a very busy small campus. At first I tried taking stalker pictures with zoom, and then I was like - they can't make me get off the sidewalk. So - after I was done today, I went back and just took pictures from the sidewalk. They still had guys watching the car. Eventually I asked if I could take pictures a little closer. This meant stepping on their property. And they were fine with it.

The only thing they said was not to take pictures of the interior. I took a couple of shots thanked them and walked off. But I did wonder what they thought I didn't need to see. I've seen this car at CES and Pebble beach. So I've already seen the inside.


  1. I think I've gone off cars again, and gadgets (other than the ones we make) aren't doing anything for me ...

    This has been creeping up on me for a while, but the trip out to Nassau and to some of the surrounding countries made this a bit more obvious.

    Aside from having some kind of vehicle to do errands, I'm apparently pretty much OK with having someone else do the driving. Taxis, limos, airport shuttles, tour buses, and a rental for two days ... it was all pretty much OK.

    There was even a semi-crappy transit system involved, and using it did not kill me or give me a persistent case of head lice.

    I also found out that connecting to my VoIP provider from the islands more or less works without a lot of drama. Bizarrely filtered hotel Wi-Fi is still a problem, but I can get a pretty decent LTE prepaid setup going for about what it costs here, maybe a little less in some countries, and that's enough to make my phones work.

    Now what I want in a phone is more LTE bands, not a better camera, not a 3D camera, and so on. I want at least 64 GB of internal storage so I don't have to jump through hoops with Android app movers and linkers. All of this is doable with an unlocked phone that costs less than $500 now, and paying more than that just gets me something that's less likely to fit in my shirt pocket.

    And so it is with vehicles: I'm selling off everything and buying something super-cheap because I'm not going to keep it for more than two years. Even with that, I'm probably going to drive it into the ground if I'm not actually going to drive it into a charity to give away when it's time.

    But why two years?

    Because that's apparently the top speed of all of the paperwork.

    I don't have every last dime out of my companies, and by selling them I'll probably get sixty cents on the eventual dollar as things stand now, but that's pretty decent all things considered. There still has to be some value left in them for someone else to want to take them over, after all.

    But the day after I got home, I started getting that sell-off into motion.

    This is really why I've been hanging around in apartments -- I didn't really know when I'd actually want to start cashing out. After that last house experience, I didn't really want to go through another one.

    There may yet be a new place that I'll actually buy, but negotiations have just begun, and so I don't know how that'll really work out.

    As for the stalker? That's been dealt with, but the thing that got me thinking was that I'd gone out of my way years ago to try to set this person up with something really good when the old company got closed.

    I read something about a comedian recently who had the same kind of problem where the people he wanted to keep close kept trying to screw up his act while he was performing. Now I totally get it -- if you're a celebrity or you have some notoriety, you wind up with a bunch of acquaintances and have to be very, very careful about friends and associates.

    Especially the ones you had before you reached that point in your life.

    The Adam Curtis "Hypernormalization" thing came up because when I got back, I did not feel like this was at all normal, even though my mode of travel allowed me to avoid having the TSA try to stick a thumb up my butthole.

    Selling off everything, even in slo-mo, feels right.

    It's actually going to be drawn-out and painful in a lot of ways, but despite that, getting this started feels right ...

  2. That is something I can really relate to. People can be real vampires sometimes. Some day I am going to have to get the backstory on some of that.

    I wonder all the time if I can be alone with my own thoughts in a place like that. It's always fun for a little while. What are you going to do with your over active brain? And honestly the thing I am most curious about - have you seen the swimming pigs yet?!?

    Seems like all the islands need to have something to swim with. And maybe Nassau doesn't have stingrays.

  3. "What are you going to do with your over active brain?"

    I'm not retiring, that's what I'm not doing with my over-active brain. :-)

    But maybe I'm designing and making the wrong stuff for the wrong people, even though it's doing a decent job of keeping some people safe while also making it possible for them to do their jobs better ...

    Bermuda might have it right: they passed some corporate anti-bullying laws when it came to chain businesses, and so in Bermuda you won't see a McDonald's, Burger King, or anything else like that.

    I've eaten a pretty good bit of "fast food" there, but it came out of restaurants that would sell those items as take-out. I didn't get some kind of food poisoning, I didn't develop some kind of severe food allergy, and it was all at least pretty good.

    So maybe if you set a high enough standard for people, they'll live up to it?

    And maybe kiosks are an admission that there's something wrong with what that society's idea of standards happens to be, or that they're totally broken?

    Kiosks are a message: hello, dear customer, and welcome to our restaurant where we don't trust the cashiers enough to not fuck up your order, where we don't trust the people in the cooking area (which we dare not call a "kitchen") not to fuck up your order, except when we put everything to them in such nit-picking order that they don't even have to think about what they're doing.

    And so the standard "Egg McMuffin" becomes English muffin half, splash of butter sauce, Canadian bacon slice, round egg patty, piece of cheese, English muffin half. Do not think, do not vary from the recipe except as indicated by the assembly rules, repeat until breakfast hours are over.

    The next time you're feeling mean at a regular McDonald's without kiosks, try this:

    "I want an Egg McMuffin, hold the Canadian bacon, add three slices of cheese and two round egg patties ..."

    And then watch the cashier absolutely melt down.

    Oh, we're not done yet.

    "Oh, wait, I want six of those."

    Now we're done. :-)

    So are kiosks a sign of a bullying corporate culture, or are they really a better interface for an out-of-date restaurant concept?

    I never really thought about it before.

    This is just a way to get to where I really wanted to go with this: technology isn't value neutral.

    If you want "sleeper cars", you get social and government infrastructure to support that technology. If you want Uber and Lyft, you get another kind of social and government infrastructure.

    What I figured out is that I don't want "sleeper cars" and I want more Uber and Lyft, especially long-haul versions that work with inter-modal transport systems.

    And I also figured out that in a society where it's "OK" to run a business in a way where you can bully customers and bully your employees (albeit in different ways), then running a business where your customers are happy, profit from your existence, and never want to sue you may mean you are doing something wrong.

    I'm still going to run whatever comes next like that ...

    But someone else can take over what's been built, because I'm not sure whether the next stage involves inviting in just enough crapness of scale to undo that reputation.

    One thing is for sure: whatever's next will not be boring.

  4. A few more things then ...

    I have never seen swimming pigs on New Providence, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. That just means I've never seen them there. The swimming pig thing happens on one of the other islands.

    Stingrays are less of a problem at certain tourist beaches, presumably where they've been thinned out a bit because of power boats, jetskis, and other things that tear stingrays to shreds, but they still can be a problem, even in Nassau.

    Nassau isn't where I'll be going, it's just a place where I can get my airplane connection mojo working better. Sometimes I fly to Sint Maarten instead, but I try not to because the landing approach is one of the scariest things you will ever see.

    Especially on the ground, but it's no joy in the cockpit either.

    Cockpit view of landing at SXM.

    Listen to the altitude warning call out while still on approach -- this pilot is barely over the runway when the altitude warning is calling out way less than 100 feet.

    Now let's do that from the ground. :-)

    Beachgoer view of landing at SXM.

    This happens every single day, and it's even scarier in a smaller airplane with less power and lower speeds.

    Now here's the really crappy part about those low landings: there's a road on the end of the runway that's next to the beach, and if you don't have a high level of awareness of your surroundings that leads you to avoid the road when planes are coming in, your vehicle could be overturned if it's in the path of a large airplane on approach.

    Even that AA A319 is big enough to flip a car in the wrong circumstances.

    There's also something else unusual about Sint Maarten with regard to previous conversations, but I'll see if you can figure out what that is. :-)

    But yeah, Nassau involves less drama ...

  5. I didn't know I was going to be tested with this. Give me a minute and let's see if I can figure it out.

    As far as the kiosks - I sort of equate it to when they allowed you to start pumping your own gas. Which was a little before my time. When I was growing up you weren't forced to let them pump for you. At that time you could pay extra if you wanted that service. All of a sudden they felt we were adult enough to pump your own gas. And that is sort of how I feel about ordering your own food, or bagging your own groceries.

    I do think in some ways the kiosks slow down the line... but just let us be adults! We can do it. And really what kid growing up these days needs to work in food service? Even when I was growing up I think I spent a week there. And tapped out as soon as I realized I didn't look good in the uniform. You can still learn those skills elsewhere.

  6. "There's also something else unusual about Sint Maarten with regard to previous conversations, but I'll see if you can figure out what that is."

    A pretty amazing medical university?/hospital? That thing seems really giant for the area.

  7. The gas station guess was a good guess, but ...

    My guess is you don't remember 1979 very well if at all.

    I remember gas prices below 50 cents per gallon ... before 1979.

    After 1979, I remember people being pressed so hard over gas price increases that they weren't in the mood for full-service gas stations.

    So eventually full-service stations added more self-service pumps, except in Oregon where there's some kind of "pumping lobby" ... at the gas stations, although there's probably some other kind of "pumping lobby" in Oregon these days. :-)

    When 48 cent gas was only 58 cents with full service, people didn't see it as a big deal. When 1.18 gas was 1.38 gas with full service, it was a big deal, especially since most people's purchasing power didn't improve for many years.

    Reagan gets a lot of crap about "trickle-down economics", but he did not actually crap all over the economy like Carter did.

    So it's not about companies deciding people could be "more adult" -- people just voted with their wallets and eventually the companies caught up with demand.

    As for Sint Maarten, they have a European McDonald's, and you'll usually never see Sint Maarten in lists of McDonald's locations in North America because they're technically considered to be part of the Netherlands.

    So they have an extra-stealthy McDonald's ... if you actually need one.

    The good hospitals in that region are in Martinique, BTW.