In the year 2015 fuel economy is generally a standard when it comes to most vehicles, and while gas prices are pretty low, having a lower emission vehicle is helpful in saving some cash and the environment. I have been driving a hybrid car for about two years now, and I have to admit it has been a great change from the standard engine. Hybrid cars run quieter and use less gas than normal vehicles, so gas station trips are kept at a minimum. It also helps that living in NYC with a 25 mph speed limit keeps gas use incredibly low, the engine basically runs on electricity when the speed is that low. Cars these days are advancing at an incredible rate, and a current regular engine can keep up with the fuel economy of most older model hybrids, so the biggest issue I would say with a hybrid today is resale value. Since all cars are advancing quite rapidly, newer hybrids have almost twice the fuel economy of a four year old version, and with fully electric vehicles on the rise, it may not be worth the investment to purchase a hybrid at all these days. I love driving a hybrid, and I am glad to have owned one for these past few years, but with the rapid advancement of automotive technology, I will most likely have to make my future car a full electric vehicle if I want to save on gas as well as own a car with decent resale value.
Even thought the iPhone 6s was released less than two months ago, there are already rumors about Apple’s next entry into the mobile phone market. The iPhone 7 figures to be the name of the next iPhone, and along with a slightly upgraded look, Apple plans to make this phone the slimmest smartphone of all time. I am all in favor for making phones more compact, but in order to achieve this slender profile, Apple is rumored to be doing away with the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is the universal standard for smartphones and multimedia devices, and while Apple has plans to replace it with their lightning connector, ridding their phones of the standard headphone jack will almost certainly alienate costumers who are looking to try an iPhone. Apple is used to introducing new iterations of old products in an effort to shake up the phone industry, but this change may be a huge mistake. I don’t think Apple will lose customers with a drastic change in the phones facade, but they will definitely annoy many, by turning their expensive headphones into obsolete peripherals of the past. I hope this rumor isn’t true, and as with all rumors it should be taken with a grain of salt, but Apple has shown in the past that they would be willing to make big changes to fit their style. I guess we will all just have to wait until the release of this phone before we start assuming the worst from its potential design.
The Philladelpia 76ers now hold the record for longest losing steak of any team in any American professional sport. This team is currently 0 – 17 for the season, and they have lost 27 straight games dating back to the end of last season. The futility of this organization was once seen as a plot to amass a group of young talented number one picks, but that idea seems to have backfired in a terrible way. The Sixers seem to have nothing going for them at the moment, the team has had several early picks in the draft over the last decade, but injuries have left the team with many young players that have no position on the court. It doesn’t help that the team has drafted a center in consecutive drafts, and traded for another high draft pick that can essentially play the same position. The true issue with the 76ers is that they absolutely lack direction, this team is like a talented child that has no idea what they plan to do with their life. If the owner of this franchise ever wants to put a serviceable team on the court, they need to get new coaching, get a new GM, and get a plan of action. The 76ers have been losing for so long that it is their culture, I don’t expect the losing ways to end anytime soon, but anything is possible once a legitimate plan of action is put into place. I know it seems like a long shot, but the 76ers may be one management change away from being a championship team.
The day after thanksgiving is known simply as “Black Friday,” it was traditionally the day when Christmas shopping was so prevalent that retailers finally made a profit or got their finances “in the black” for the year. These days Black Friday has become a day of huge sales and major discounts, so it has led to mobs of unruly shoppers and almost unbearable holiday hours for retail employees. I believe that the holidays are a time to spend with family so I have always been against stores opening on Thanksgiving, but as a frugal shopper, I love to take advantage of some of the available deals of the day. I have never waited in a line or rushed a store for a sale, but stopping into a shop and grabbing a chance deal is always great during the day. Many retailers have been trying for years to use this day to drive revenue while ensuring the safety of their shoppers, and while lines and lotteries have helped avert tragic events of the past, people are still too violent and aggressive these days. Shopping should not be a stressful or dangerous event, and holiday shopping should be about buying something special for your loved ones and not a sale. This year’s Black Friday has already been filled with stories of fights and mobs, and since I don’t plan on ever finding myself in a situation in which I have to fight for a tv, I think I will keep my major purchases to “Cyber Monday” sales.
Thanksgiving day is upon us, and along with all of the food, sales, and football, one thing is generally always forgotten on this day, and that is to give thanks for what we have. On this day, I believe it is a time to be thankful for everything you have, and to ignore everything you don’t have. This day is not supposed to be a day to fantasize about what you will buy tomorrow or what you eat tonight, but it is a day to honestly be thankful for anything and everything. I am thankful for my family, even when they annoy me they are my home. I am thankful for my friends who I can speak to about things I can’t with my family. I am thankful for my health, I am thankful for my brain and mind that sometimes have an odd way of piecing together all of life’s puzzles. Even in the bad times if you look not so hard enough you can find more than 10,000 reasons to be thankful, so take the time today to be thankful and be happy, because that is what this day should be about. Happy Thanksgiving all!
Last week was my worst of all in terms of NFL picks, and based on the recent trend, my picks seem to be getting worse and worse. I managed to predict only six correct games out of fourteen, and if the tread holds true, I will only have five correct this week. I am still set on getting at least one perfect week this season so this week, with every team playing once again, I am determined to get it right. Week twelve of the NFL season starts with the great tradition that is Thanksgiving football. There are three games being played this Thanksgiving so I will be expecting a day full of football, food, and family. In the first game to be played, I expect the Lions to defeat the Eagles, and in the late afternoon matchup of the Cowboys and Panthers, I fully expect the Panthers to put up a large score and keep their undefeated season going. Game three of Thanksgiving is an NFC North matchup of the Bears and Packers, and while the Bears have played well as of late, they will fall to the Packers in this game. As for the first of the Sunday games the Bills will beat the Chiefs in a blowout, the Bengals will defeat the Rams, and the Texans will win a close game against the Saints. The surging Buccaneers will defeat the Colts, the Chargers will beat the Jaguars, and the Dolphins will defeat the Jets. The Vikings will win an interesting game against the Falcons, and in a pivotal game for the weak NFC East division title, the Giants will defeat the Redskins. The Raiders will beat the Titans, the Cardinals will dismantle the much weaker 49ers, and the Steelers will win a close game against the Seahawks. As for the primetime games, we start with an interesting matchup of the undefeated Patriots and the Broncos, I expect the Broncos defense to hold strong against the heavily injured Patriot lineup and get a big win. The Monday night game will be something of a snoozer as two teams with lost seasons look to battle for the bottom of their division. I expect the Ravens to win the final game of the week against the Browns, even though they will be playing short handed. There you have it for my week twelve picks, hopefully I can break the streak of terrible weeks, enjoy the extended Thanksgiving weekend everybody.
Thanksgiving is days away, and before I state what makes me thankful, I would like to take a moment to admire the bird of the hour, the turkey. A turkey is the bird that millions of Americans will be gathering around, but why exactly do we eat a turkey of all birds? I know that turkeys are delicious, and they are rather large birds so they can feed many, but I like to wonder what the day would be like if we just ate chicken or duck. One of the major reasons for turkey being eaten on thanksgiving is because, during the early years of this continent’s colonization, these birds were quite plentiful and native. The early celebrators of the holiday possibly had easy access to the birds, and due to the large size of these fowl, I’m sure they were extremely thankful for their bounty. While I don’t exactly like turkeys since they are known for chasing people around, I still find them quite tasty, so I definitely can’t wait to “dig in” this Thursday.
Marvel and Netflix have done it again and created another perfect binge watching masterpiece. Jessica Jones is the newest Marvel superhero to grace the small screen, and while she was virtually unknown to most viewers I am sure this show has caused a boom in interest in this character. Earlier this year when marvel released Daredevil, they laid out plans to create a small screen connected universe of their lesser known properties. Jessica Jones is the second hero marvel decided to introduce, however I don’t know if Jessica can be considered very heroic in the standard sense of the term. The character of Jessica Jones is known for being a failed super hero who has relegated her life to alcoholism and a private investigation company. While the Netflix show delves deep into her alcoholism, it never shows her as a failed hero, but more as an underachiever who seems to be crumbling under the weight of her own talents. Jessica Jones is a show that is ripe with character development, as it quietly introduced somewhat in depth origin stories of several other lesser known Marvel properties while masterfully explaining what makes Jessica tick. Much like Daredevil, the show is made almost entirely on the sinister nature of the main villain, and the major external antagonist of Jessica Jones is a devious man named Killgrave. Killgrave is a psychotic, sociopathic individual, who has the power to compel others to do anything he wants, however he uses this power almost exclusively to torment Jessica into choosing to be with him. While the Killgrave of the comics was much more sinister than the version on the show, the writers perfectly portrayed how awful this individual’s perception of reality and morality actually is. Jessica Jones is a terrific show, it is a bit raunchy and extremely violent, but that is to be expected in the world of Netflix dramas. Each episode is almost an hour long, but the story flows seamlessly enough that it is easy to find yourself watching two or three episodes at a time. I was actually able to watch the entire season in one weekend, and while I enjoyed the show, I now have to face the realization that season two is going to be an entire year away.
With modern advancements in technology, it is no longer a question of if you can do something on your mobile device, but when. In just a mere eight years, mobile phones have gone from being a luxury device to an everyday companion to over a billion people around the world. I once worked with mobile phones and I have to admit there were several things I believed would never make it to a mobile device, and today I can proudly list the top 5 things I thought would never be doable on a smartphone.
1. Order and Pay for Takeout
I am still getting used to no longer having to dial up Pete down the street when I am hungry for some pizza, but apps like Grubhub and Seamless have made ordering delivery or takeout as simple as a few taps on a screen. I have to admit I never thought my clumsy old blackberry would be able to deliver my lunch, but now we are possibly a couple of years away from it being able to control my entire kitchen.
2. Hail a Cab
Catching a cab in New York City can at times be stressful, but apps like Uber and Lyft have cut out the waiting and given customers like myself a personal car service in the palm of our hands. Now we are able to sit inside our warm offices as we wait for our ride home.
3. Pay for Purchases
There is absolutely nothing better than running out to the store with only your keys and your phone in your hand. Apple Pay has made shopping hassle free and has all but eliminated the need for a wallet.
4. Find a date
I am not big on online dating, but for those who are, smartphones have become a reliable wingman. Apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder have become a one stop shop for singles looking to meet someone special, and they can both be used without stepping a foot out of the door. I bet you never thought your phone could help you find a wedding date.
5. Travel the World
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have made our world closer than it has ever been. I am now able to travel to the Pyramids of Egypt without buying a plane ticket. Nothing beats the real thing, but it is amazing that our phones are able to take us to such far away locations at a moments notice.
This afternoon while I was shopping, I realized that I a no longer had to take my wallet out of my pocket in order to pay for my items. With apps like Apple Pay and Android Pay, millions of smartphone users can now tap their phones at a pay station, and keep it moving with their items in hand. These mobile phone based payment systems are extremely convenient, and so far they are relatively safe, it is a wonder that we even use paper currency at all anymore. Today’s smartphones have the processing power of an older model computer, and the portability of a pocket watch, I just wonder if we can soon do away with the bulk of wallets and keys all together and just use our smartphones. These days there are basically apps that can do anything imaginable. It is possible to start a car, order food, and even find a new friend over the phone, however we still use paper currency and identification. I understand that many people don’t fully trust the digital advancements that are being introduced, and that apps are not perfect, but if we could slowly start to shift to a more digital norm, the changes would be less daunting to those who are afraid of the future. The biggest fear of those who are against digital payment systems is the fear of hackers, but with the security measures many companies have put in place, using a smartphone to pay is possibly safer than carrying a credit card. I am sure that the introduction of mobile payment options is just a start to what is planned for the future of a paperless planet, I just hope security measures can continue to improve in order to prevent the fears of many from coming true.