When I moved from Seattle back to New England I knew I'd be leaving one of the most technologically advanced and prosperous places on Earth.
What I wasn't prepared for was how different life is in rural America.
Vermont is beautiful. Land and homes are cheap. People are kind and neighborly. Everybody knows everybody. Especially at the local diner. Where they serve bottomless coffee.
Montpelier, the beautiful capital city, has a population of just 9,000. It is the only state capital in the USA without a McDonald's.
Or a Starbucks.
In fact there is only 1 Starbucks in the entire state of Vermont. That's 2 hours from us, in Burlington.
When I first got here I did a Google search, and got zero Starbucks found. I though my phone was malfunctioning. I kept making the map bigger. Shit. Where's my fix?
So if you want to meet someone for coffee, you go to the Royal Diner, where the waitress calls you "sweetie-pie" or "darlin".
If you want a Latte you go to McDonald's.
Their McCafe beverages are clearly branded as a defensive position against upscale coffee shops. I figured they'd be bad. So I stayed away.
I had not been inside a Mickey D's in 25 years. Why? Same reason I don't drink alcohol or snort coke anymore. I'm afraid I will love it too much if I do.
Some people actually eat there regularly. It's a necessity, because they work long hard hours and don't have time or budget for anything but fast food. They also don't have much time to read a book or in depth news. They get the fast food versions on Facebook.
That's another story.
Back to the Golden Arches.
I made a vow not to eat there, but I would get a coffee. Sugar Free French Vanilla Latte. Two bucks and change. And it was surprisingly good.
And they have an App. And every 5 you get one free. And now Kiosks. Strange to see this tech driven change in a land that has been stagnant for about 30 years.
One day a deal popped up on my App. Free Fries Friday. Fuck me. I can't turn them down if I'm here and they're "Free"! Free Medium Fries with any purchase.
Mmmm. I was making happy sounds like Homer Simpson and Scooby-Doo. This is what relapse must feel like.
Gotta stay away on Friday.
I mentioned it the other day. Kiosks are about to become one of the biggest game changers in America.
Not because they save money by replacing humans. Because they can make a lot of money by doing a better job than humans. No burger counter person is going to program me to change as effectively as a computer.
The App (which is just a Kiosk on my phone) texts me when I'm near the store. "We see you're here. Would you like to eat inside or curbside service to your car?"
Now I can custom craft a grilled chicken sandwich and substract the mayonnaise calories, then favorite it in the App. Oh yeah, I forgot. I made a vow not to eat there.
But since they let me design the sandwich, I couldn't resist.
Remember that everything at McDonald's used to be pre wrapped. You couldn't customize, and if you did it would gum up the works. Two all beef patty's special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun. It's burned into your brain like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
But now you can have it your way. And not just at Mickey D's.
There was a post last night on Facebook about people boycotting self serve checkouts at the grocery store to try to save the jobs of the cashier. It won't work and it shouldn't.
Why? Do you dream of your precious little boy or girl growing up to be the best cashier at Walmart? Or perhaps stuffing goods into boxes for Amazon?
Unless you're willing to put down your phone, which put the Telegraph companies under. And I'm just talking dial up. Your smartphone is made by Asian slaves and is destroying businesses every day. You know it.
Why don't you get rid of your horseless carriage while you're at it? Ride a pony to work and help save the Blacksmith!!!
Here in Vermont you might still find a few talented blacksmiths, come to think of it.
But if you drive through the center of Springfield or Claremont or one of the many formerly prosperous factory towns here, there are many entire city blocks with empty stores. And you can blame yourselves for loving cheap everyday prices.
You wouldn't understand if you're in Seattle.
Trump's no dummy attacking Amazon. We crave someone to blame. And Trump's just an opportunist, not the cause of any of this.
And what is Amazon.com but a giant Kiosk between you and anything you desire? You are in control. At least you think so, but make no mistake, you are Homo Sapiens. You are easy to train.
Big data is studying us and designing ways to influence our behavior at lightning speed.
It knows everything about you. Your favorites are there, you've got history. It archives you're every move. Recognizes and predicts patterns of behavior. It's building a database that will eventually know you better than you know yourself.
And now you've invited a robot named Alexa inside your home, and she's listening 25/7. Eight days a week.
I'll bet in the middle of the night she says "Hey Google, I'll show you mine if you show me yours!"
"Alexa, I've been dying to get into your Database".
Yes the Kiosks are going to eventually get married. What then?
In just about a week, we're up to something like 250 subscribers. I enjoy writing. And plan to continue 5 days a week, but I need your help. If you're having fun reading and you think this is interesting material that your friends might like, let them know. You can say it on Facebook. Or forward the email. Tell them to click at the link on the bottom or just go to bobrivers.blog
If each one of you got 3 friends to try, we'd have 1,000 people in no time.
I've noticed that Facebook chokes my blog posts. They can tell when I'm soliciting. They now want to charge me to "boost" them. If I post pictures and tell a story about my Maple Syrup everyone likes and sees. If it's a link to the blog, a little box says I can pay to promote it.
Be warned. Facebook is in the business of monetizing their audience. I know of Realtors who can't get their listings seen without paying the Zuckerberg Mafia. Facebook is a one way street. They make you "think" you're a broadcaster. You're not. It's greatest for family photos (which they then own forever) and cat pictures.
So the only way I grow subscribers is to please my audience and have them tell their friends. And I'll let you know each day how many new subscribers we've got.
Thats how we find most of our content these days. Word of mouth. Still the most meaningful social networking.
People told me you've got to watch "Game of Thrones!" Or Stranger Things, or Black Mirror, Ozark, Billions. I trust them more than the hype for a reboot of "Roseanne".
Coming soon. Am I working on a bigger radio show? The answer is yes. You will hear about it here first.
Radio Host from age 14 to Present. Currently blogging, planning to launch a new radio show later this year.
Listen to 30 years worth of Twisted Tunes at bobrivers.com
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