Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bowie Restaurant Project: (96) Chipotle Mexican Grill (Marketplace)

Chipotle Mexican Grill,
15475 Annapolis Rd,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 3/23/2017
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

As I noted in my review of Chick-fil-A, I am not really keeping up with the Bowie Restaurant Project, but if I happen to visit a restaurant in a way that enables a review, I'll add it to the list.

As I noted in my 2012 review of Chipotle's original Bowie location, I don't like Chipotle. On the other hand, one of the inspirations for the Bowie Restaurant Project was overhearing someone remark that since he was in Bowie, he was going to eat at Chipotle. That was fine if that was his favorite restaurant, but part of my goal has been to find better options for people.

Anyway, I found myself in possession of a $10 Chipotle gift card, so fate was telling me to write this review. First, I used the web to create an order. The estimated total was $10.02. When I tried to plug in the gift card, it told me that I didn't have enough money to pay for my lunch, and offered me no way of kicking in the two cents in another way. So I changed my selection to "pay at restaurant", and the web site told me that it was now too late to get my food when I originally asked for it. In the ensuing chaos, I accidentally ordered it for over an hour in the future.

The person at the restaurant was very nice about fixing my error when I called, and they were unnecessarily apologetic when the food wasn't ready when I arrived. I definitely give them high marks for customer service (though low marks for the web interface). As it turned out, the web site actually knocked the extra 2 cents off when I finally placed the order. That was nice, but it was dumb of it to complain about my gift card balance if it was going to do that.

The food was fine. As noted before, one of the reasons I don't eat at Chipotle is the resulting digestive disruption I experience. Because of this, I can't rate it too highly. Hopefully soon we will have real Mexican food back in Bowie.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Google Local: Four Photos

My phone has been prompting me to add pictures to various places I've visited, so that Google can display them to people who are looking for the establishments in question. Free labor for one of the world's most valuable companies? Sure, why not?

For example, if you search for "D&D Cleaners" in Virginia, you will see featured a photo I took (mostly to make a joke about the name).

Google from time to time will e-mail me with a total number of views on all of my photos (as I look now, the D&D cleaners photo has 432 views). As that number got into the tens of thousands, I conceived of the goal of getting a million views.

My reasoning was that the number of views each photo gets should go up linearly over time. If I contribute photos at a steady pace, the total number of photos should also go up linearly. So, the total number of photos should go up quadratically. (You did know I'm a mathematician, right?)

As my number of views passed 100,000 this week, I thought I'd take a look at how my theory is working out. Well, as it turned out, roughly 70% of my views are from just four photos. That sort of blows apart my theory that quantity of photos is key to upping my views. (Unless more photos means a greater chance of having one of the "good" pictures.)

Here they are:
#4 Jumping Jack Sports, Ashburn, VA, 14,840 views, January 2017.
#3 Rubio's, San Diego, CA, 16,470 views, August 2016.

#2 Arby's, Beltsville, MD, 21,263 views, January 2017.
#1 Wendy's, Chantilly, VA, 21,600 views, August 2016.

I have no idea what the lesson of this is. I guess three out of four are panoramas of store interiors, so maybe I should concentrate more on interiors than exteriors. I had switched to exteriors lately on the theory that it would be more helpful to show people how to find the place. I guess if exteriors really are better for views, those will shoot up the rankings, and I can correct. I don't really see what's going on with the Rubio's picture. That seems singularly unhelpful, yet popular.

I guess I will try for more interior panoramas. I really don't want to spend much time on this project, so time spent while waiting to order or waiting for my food (or watching my kid play at a birthday party) seems like a good time to add to my totals.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Scottish Football: European Speculation

With the final four set for the Scottish Cup, it's time for me to offer my second annual preview of who might represent Scotland in Europe.

To recap, the goal is to get good results and see the UEFA coefficient rise to the point where Scottish teams are treated better. This year's coefficient drops to 25th, which puts the Scottish Cup winner in the Europa League first round. Next year, it will probably be 23rd, which puts the Cup winner in the second round. If APOEL Nicosia continues their Europa League success, Scotland could drop to 24th, but that still would mean a second round entry. The upcoming season (2017/8) affects the matches in 2019 and beyond.

So let's look at the contenders.


Chances of playing in Europe: 100%
Path to Europe: They are going to win the Scottish Premiership. They have won all but one match this season. In the amazingly unlikely event that they lost all further matches, there is no way Aberdeen wins enough to catch them. And they are favorites to win the Cup.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Very. They are the only Scottish side structured to make some noise in the Champions League.
Managerial dysfunction level: Low. Brendan Rogers knows what he's doing, and he hasn't had enough success at Celtic to move on to an English club yet.


Chances of playing in Europe: 95%
Path to Europe: They are currently sitting second in the Premiership. Rangers might catch them, but third would be good enough. As long as Hibs doesn't win the Cup, even being caught by Rangers and Hearts would still leave them in Europe. And they could still win the Cup.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Quite. Over the past five years, the three best European performances not belonging to Celtic are the past three years of Aberdeen results.
Managerial dysfunction level: Low. Derek McInnes knows what he's doing. He could get lured away by a bigger club, but I heard a commentator say he probably wants to get through to the Europa League group stages first. Hopefully this is the year for that.


Chances of playing in Europe: 75%
Path to Europe: They are sitting third in the Premiership. As with Aberdeen, second, third, or probably fourth would get them through. They've looked uneven lately, so this isn't a lock, but Hearts hasn't looked great either. And they could win the Cup.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Mostly happy. They have the second-biggest budget in Scotland, so they should be able to make some noise. On the other hand, the last few years they have improved from very messed up to somewhat messed up as an organization. If they can get their act together, they should contend for the group stages.
Managerial dysfunction level: At least medium. Their last manager either left or was fired (they are still arguing that) while looking to jump to an English side. The are (so we hear) closing in on a Portuguese manager who sounds promising, but is mostly an unknown quantity. There's a lot of risk here.


Chances of playing in Europe: 65%
Path to Europe: If they can maintain or improve their fourth-place standing, they're in as long as their arch-rivals Hibs don't retain the Cup.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Not too unhappy. They did OK last year under their previous manager. They're one of the biggest five clubs in Scotland, so they have the resources to put together a decent side.
Managerial dysfunction level: Medium-high. After Robbie Neilson moved to England, they appointed the young and inexperienced Ian Cathro and the results have not been there. Optimism says he needs time to find his footing and get the club playing the way he wants. Pessimism says he's in over his head. The club has been smartly focused on getting the finances and stadium set for the future, but that doesn't help the short-term results.

St. Johnstone

Chances of playing in Europe: 30%
Path to Europe: Overtake Hearts and/or Rangers for one of the top-four spots.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Not very. They put together a string of four appearances which was broken last year. Of Scotland's 18.925 coefficient, that run contributed 1.35. I groan when I think about them showing up again, as they don't have the resources of the other clubs.
Managerial dysfunction level: Low. It takes skills to keep St. Johnstone so high over the years, and Tommy Wright has them. As long as he doesn't get lured away, they are going to be dangerous domestically.


Chances of playing in Europe: 10%
Path to Europe: Repeat as Cup winners, in hopefully their last season in the second tier.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Happy. Despite the fact that they're in the second tier, they have a first-tier manager with European experience. They will very likely be promoted, so they'll have a first-tier budget, especially as one of the five biggest Scottish clubs.
Managerial dysfunction level: Low. Neil Lennon had great success at Celtic, and is still licking his wounds from his time in England, so he should be there at least another couple of years.

The Field

Chance of playing in Europe: 25%
Path to Europe: Stumbles by Rangers, Hearts and St. Johnstone could bring Partick, Dundee or someone else into contention.
How happy we should be if they're in Europe: Not. Smaller clubs have a record of dragging down Scotland's UEFA coefficient.
Managerial dysfunction level: Variable.