Sunday, February 23, 2020

Conflict 2020: Restaurant Experiences

This is an interesting article. Lindsay Christians surveys [1] the battle between restaurant owners and food delivery companies.

Getting restaurant information from Grubhub, EatStreet or Uber Delivery?

There is a better way. Explore Madison and the world with the amuz app: iPhone/iPad Android.


“We didn’t give them permission to put us on their platform and we don’t deliver for a reason,” said Le. “If a customer has ordered it, we don’t want to refuse something that has been paid for. But we’re trying to stop having our menu on these platforms.”

As Wisconsinites hibernate on frigid winter weeknights, demand for delivery naturally ticks up. Over the past few weeks, restaurateurs across Madison have been raising a chorus of frustration over the tactics of third-party delivery companies like DoorDash, Grubhub and Postmates.

In an attempt to acquire more market share and prove demand, some delivery companies scrape menus from restaurant websites and post them online without the restaurant’s consent or knowledge. This has led to bad feelings all around — diners upset that their food is cold, wrong or late, restaurants feeling duped and taken advantage of.

“We can only manage the business that we know about,” said Le. “If the delivery is a third party service, we don’t have any control or knowledge of what’s going on with the food when it leaves our restaurant.

“I don’t think anybody all of a sudden wants to find out they’re in an unknown partnership.”

Digital background

US court legalized website scraping [2]:
The decision was made during the trial of LinkedIn (owned by Microsoft) against a small data analysis company called hiQ Labs.

HiQ linked data from publicly available LinkedIn user profiles and then used it to consult employers whose employees posted their resumes on the site.

LinkedIn has tolerated hiQ activity for several years, but in 2017 sent the company a request (a cease-and-desist letter) to stop automated data collection from profiles. Among other things, LinkedIn claimed that hiQ violated the computer fraud and abuse act (CFAA), the main American law against hackers. Adopted more than 30 years ago, this law prohibits “access to a computer without authorization or with exceeding access rights.”
The Wisconsin State Journal has posted images from Yelp users, as well. [3]


  1. Delivery app purchasers expect a great product and receive cold food.

  2. Restaurants lose control of their brand experience

  3. Food delivery aggregators increase their "Total Addressable Market" or TAM. A larger addressable market is fodder for fund raising, valuation and marketing rhetoric along with fee opportunities.

  4. Google, the most popular search and advertising engine, copies much of the world wide web, email, android and other related activity. Google services are generally built on other people's data, including Yelp. [4]


[1] Grubhub bubbub (and Eatstreet among others)

[2] Parsers case summary.

[3] The top 25 Madison restaurants of the decade according to Yelp.

[4] Yelp Accuses Google of Stealing Its Content Again

Friday, February 7, 2020

Ice, Ice Baby

An ice fishing enthusiast, the kind parking attendant wore multiple layers to better enjoy the clear Lake Geneva evening. She mentioned that, of course being inside the ice castles was colder than the parking lot. Following a new years’ resolution to “get outside more” my husband and I had likewise bundled up to explore the Ice Castle experience.

Billed as “an award winning frozen attraction located in six cities across North America”, the nearby Geneva National Resort and Club installation was too good to miss. Our companions for the evening included families and young couples.

The ice castle origins explain why it connects with that demographic. Founder Brent Christensen crafted his first ice cave for his family in a Utah front yard. He wanted his six children to get outside in the winter. His creation was a hit, sparking a business established in 2011. Brent's admirable mission is to “create happiness, laughter and unforgettable winter memories”.

The Geneva National facility has been transformed into an orderly entry to the frozen world. Tickets were sold out for the Thursday evening we attended. We did find the entry process slightly humorous when we were admonished “not to jump on or lick the ice sculptures”. Ice artists created hundreds of thousands of icicles. Considering the volume of visitors and common sense we had no intention of licking anything!

We entered the scene to the strains of a young family belting out the title track to “Frozen”. That did not last for long though as entering the ice world of tunnels, thrones, slides and fountains made visitors stop and gawk. Ambient music set the scene and complimented the surreal geometry of the icicles.

It was also clear that this place was Instagram nirvana.

LED lights create an enchanting rainbow effect beneath the ice sculptures. Of particular interest for the gram set were the frozen thrones. Thankfully there were also fire pits for warm ups.

Hot chocolate, coffee and adult beverages were on offer. In a few short months golfers will be practicing their tee shots where the ice castle once stood.

Definitely visit and “let it go”. This is a magical way to discover winter fun in Wisconsin!

Explore Ice Castles, and the world with the amuz app: iPhone/iPad Android.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Dog Days of Winter

Bayfield has a serene beauty in the winter. At a time of year when it is easy to burrow deeper into indoor activities and hibernate until spring, Bayfield beckons. It is a year round destination even when blanketed in three feet or more of snow. The great views overlooking Lake Superior are unobstructed and the streets uncrowded in late January. Still, there is plenty to do for cross country skiers, snowmobiles or even city dwellers who want to explore a bit.

We built a weekend around the 25th annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race [1].

For us the race was the perfect way to experience the Northwoods' forested beauty and cheer on the magnificent dog teams and their mushers. The Siberian huskies were exuberant and thrilling to watch. There were 8 and 10 dog team races as well as family and kids race events. One of the participants was from Alaska.

The Bayfield Chamber of Commerce [2] gets high marks for assisting with hospitality and race organization.

Waiting in the woods for the teams to progress on the race course, an out of doors tavern atmosphere developed. Lots of cheerful volunteers in their official bibs offered best guesstimates on the imminent appearance of the teams. It was almost like a surprise party where one anticipates the arrival of the honoree.

The race officials announced the imminent approach of each musher and their team. The crowd would enthusiastically cheer the swift progress of the dogs, then return to greeting neighbors and friends. Like any respectable tailgate next to coffee and hot chocolate, the Wisconsin trinity of brats, beer and cheese were available.

Bayfield’s spirit and hospitality were on display. We felt welcomed without any awkwardness or concern about who or why we were there. I chatted happily with a retired couple in matching snowmobile suits who clued me in about the accompanying events of the weekend which included a taco dinner to meet the mushers. The keynote speech of the event was to be given by an accomplished Jamaican musher, Newton Marshall, who raced in the fabled Iditarod in Alaska. I think this quote is apropos of the bonhomie and spirit of the event.
“It is amazing how much love and laughter they(dogs) bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” – John Grogan

Things we enjoyed in Bayfield area:

The Fat Radish

Bodin’s Fish Market

Washburn Cultural Museum

Cafe Coco

The Old Rittenhouse Inn

On a future trip we might even experience our own team ride at Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing.



Explore beautiful Bayfield, and the world with the amuz app: iPhone/iPad Android.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Addressing Airport Boredom: Brussels Edition

Rounding a corner to face a very long, slow moving queue is best avoided. But, sometimes we lack options, with only one narrow exit ahead.

I found Brussels Airport graphics to be illuminating and enjoyable, despite the lengthy line.

Someone decided to promote their assets, from the arts and comics,

to beer, biking and racing.

Smart. Explore the Brussels Airport in amuz, including panoramic scenes.

Oh, and a rocket, too

Tap to visualize your airport assets, from airside retail and advertising to ground transportation options.

Your airport, in their pocket. amuz

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Cheap Airfares? No! Driving the Douro from the Quinta de la Rosa

"You drove? But, airfares are so cheap!"

We heard those words several times during a recent journey.

Driving the valley mixes picturesque vistas, twisting roads and alluring villages.

The Douro's vistas were well complemented by the cool professionalism of our overnight destination, Quinta de la Rosa, a Pinhao family owned winery.

First things first.

Four glasses of the vineyard's 2017 reserve were immediately poured upon our arrival.

Check in progressed quickly as we enjoyed the wine. A knowledgeable concierge walked us to our spacious rooms.

The Valley is stunningly beautiful.

Of course the region is known for wines - particularly Port - made from the grapes grown on its hillsides.

The vines and terraces are almost gravity defying.

The landscapes are enchanting and blissfully peaceful.

It was delightful to stay in elegant accommodations at the Quinta de la Rosa.

The winery's location is ideal for sunset views, the exploration of small villages, wineries and douro Valley vistas. We were fortunate to have rooms in the Amarillo house. There was a private entrance to a terrace that abutted the vineyard.

Watching the sun go down and stars come out over the river below was magical. Our room was serene and a minimally chic design, convenient to the gardens and vines.

The Amarillo house included a large sitting room with a wood burning fireplace.

The vineyard, views, inn and the restaurant - Cozinha da Clara - was easily the highlight of our visit.

Don't miss gourmet delights in the dining room. Dinner at Cozinha da Clara confirmed the taste and professionalism so evident throughout our stay. Chef Pedro Cardoso's kitchen produced a number of delicious plates, including pork, lamb and a delectable seafood stew.

The food was inventive and elegant, with a complimentary amuz bouche at dinner.

The attentive staff anticipated our needs and are a credit to the establishment. It is easy to recommend a stay at this beautiful Pinhao destination.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Granada in Winter

William Dalrymple:

I saw in the new year with my family a short walk down from the Alhambra in Granada — one of the best travel decisions I’ve made for years.

It was also just what was needed at a difficult time. My father had recently died, following a decline brought on my mother’s death several months earlier. The home I had been brought up in was suddenly empty, and Scotland with its frosts and bare trees, its short days and long nights, seemed black with grief. Andalucía brought us back to life.

Even arriving in Granada was like coming up for air. I never knew a European winter could be so mild or so beautiful: the high, cold perfectly blue skies of early morning, with wisps of mist in the valleys, would give way to wonderfully warm afternoons: shirtsleeves weather. Bright wintry light illuminated the stucco stalactites of the Salón de los Embajadores, and swelled the oranges ripening in the Generalife palace gardens. Without a breath of wind, the still mirror-pools perfectly reflected the Moorish horseshoe arches rising behind them. Concluding every view, brilliantly illuminated, rose the snow-peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

Andalucía is beautiful in winter, particularly around Christmas. Explore in amuz

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Virtual Travel

Sara Toth Stub:
Significant technological hurdles stand in the way of their ultimate vision. The amount of data needed for live, 360-degree, three-dimensional video isn’t possible to transmit without significant time lags on current wireless networks, said Jacob Chakareski, who runs the Laboratory for Immersive Communication at the University of Alabama. Headsets tend to be clunky and expensive, and the systems require additional graphics cards and cables, he said. The emergence of ultrafast 5G wireless networks and computing that would allow data to be processed closer to devices—rather than in the cloud—could help these issues. But 5G service is still in its infancy, particularly in the U.S. Some startups are already developing live VR without drones. Students who attend New York’s Fordham University, which has two campuses, can use a service called Chimera, developed by New York-based startup Pagoni VR, to sit in on live classes on the other campus. Immertec, a Tampa-based startup, partnered with Johnson & Johnson to provide physicians with live, VR-enabled streams of real surgical procedures at dozens of U.S. hospitals, including Baylor Scott & White Surgical Hospital at Sherman and Vitruvio Institute of Medical Advancement in Dallas.
Hmm. Explore the world with a few taps in amuz:

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.