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A field report from inside a Pizza Hut & Keith in San Diego really lets me have it…he’s about done with Screencaps
Hot on the heels of my recent observation that Bob Evans has to be on its last legs comes my newest observation that America is also losing the nostalgia of taking the family to Pizza Hut for a deep dish and pumping quarters through a jukebox.
Last night, it was time for our oldest son to cash in on his reading prowess that led to a huge win in the form of a complimentary Pizza Hut personal pan pizza. Because we want our kids to experience some of these old chains before they’re bulldozed, I suggested taking the kids to the Hut for a dine-in experience right here in town where we live.
It’s probably been 18-20 years since I’ve sat inside a Hut, so it only made sense to go get the experience before corporate pulls the life-support plug once and for all. Needless to say, it didn’t disappoint.
Nobody out pizzas the hut dine-in quick hitters:
• It was a seat-yourself night at the Hut, meaning try to find a table that was semi-cleaned off. Options were limited. There were two booths in use; one was occupied by a guy just trying to eat a pizza in peace and quiet while another booth was occupied by a mother and daughter. Let’s just say it was a quiet night at the Hut.
• Pizza boxes were piled up 10 high on a bar top table in the middle of the dining room. Yes, it caught the eye of my oldest son. There was a TV on a divider in the middle of the room with wires hanging everywhere. It wasn’t on and I don’t even have a guess as to the last time it worked.
• YES, there’s still a pizza buffet bar. “It’s only open 12-2 on Saturdays,” a worker told me. He wasn’t even sure about the buffet price. BTW, there were just three workers. None were wearing Pizza Hut gear like in the old days.
• What about beer? Remember when your dad would get a pitcher of suds back in the day? Yes, I asked if they still serve beer. “We’re out,” one of the three workers told me. Oh, so you still serve beer? “Yeah, we’re just out,” the worker replied. Who knows how long until they will serve beer to dine-in customers. The workers weren’t in the mood to give up that intel.
• No jukebox. It was probably auctioned off or repossessed.
• No sound of any sort. Complete silence in the dining room.
• The red booths? Gone. Tiffany Pizza Hut lamps. Gone. The walls have been painted white. Zero joy in the dining room.
• Yes, they still use red cups in the dining room. Just don’t plan on the waitress — she spent most of her time in the back slicing pizzas — stopping by very often.
• I wanted to ask the workers if there would be mini March Madness basketballs available in March, but I didn’t want to confuse them. Zero chance they would understand.
• The pizza was fairly good. I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near the best in town. The carryout side of the business was hopping.
Now, what’s next? I’m in the mood to fill up on nostalgia. Do I hit up a TGIFridays on a Friday night to see if it’s poppin’ with an after-work crowd? Hooters with the boys? I’m all ears here.
Let’s get to Keith in San Diego who is absolutely furious with me — especially over my selections for the “Numbers from” section — and how I’m treating Lib Lib Judd F. in Ohio.
I’d like to remind Keith that there are very few websites out there that will even let Keith have a say, but that’s not how I roll.
• Keith has the floor:
I have been a Screencaps reader for two years and I worry my time is running out! This isn’t some grand “I need to announce I am leaving” like all the dumb blue checks tweeted when Elon bought twitter. I am just reckoning with something I enjoy, seemingly changing. And if you care to know, it was your answer to Judd’s last email that may have sealed the deal:
“It sounds like Judd’s not on board with the Lib Libs and their transgender sports heroes, but he’s not allowed to say it because it’ll ruin his street cred within his lib lib circle of friends, I get it.“
Judd’s email was funny, but instead of acknowledging he also had a point, you just tried a version of the quote-tweet + dunk. As if the Outkick model isn’t: “Liberal ESPN is the worst for politicizing sports!! But hey also, let’s politicize some sports!!” That’s fine, it is a business!! But to me, Screencaps was always a bit above the fray. And to me, the Screencaps tone used to be “this is a bastion from ALL the craziness” and now is “this is a bastion from a CERTAIN craziness”. A micrcosm is that the last screenshot before the ladies used to almost always be a quirky or interesting stat, and not it’s something negative about the economy. To me, the tone has gotten snarkier and dismissive. Maybe I am wrong. Quite possibly, but then again I don’t pretend to know all the answers.
And the problem is those who think they do. Anyone who thinks their “side” has all the answers is a fool and a narcissist. You have a reader here who voted for Biden. Ok, well I am not a lunatic. I don’t think Lia Thomas should have been able to compete with the women, but I also think people cried about a so-called rigged election for far too long. I think abortion should be legal, but I don’t want to defund the police ever. Go figure. Nuanced viewpoints. It’s almost like there are more types of people out there than snowflake lib libs and basement-Cruella de Ville MTG.
Anyhoo, I appreciate what you do a lot. I appreciate doing hard things, attacking bucket lists and creating a community. But I fear the internet rip current is pulling Screencaps out to sea. Judd seems to agree. Maybe the readers can convince us otherwise.
If being concerned for my fellow Americans who are taking on huge debts is my crime, then I’m guilty as charged. If Keith, who has sent me two emails in two years, has numbers he’d like to present, then by all means, fire away.
Dealing with friends who go to jail on serious charges
• Kirk W. has an answer for Jason D. and the dilemma he faces over dealing with a friend going to prison:
I greatly appreciate your hard work on the ‘caps community. I read it pretty much every day, but I do not feel compelled to write in often. Most of the silly discussions of lib lib Judd or Hildee’s navel do not affect me in the slightest (but I will say that Yanet Garcia has rapidly become my kryptonite); book recommendations and bourbon recommendations vary for everyone’s own taste. However, the question that came up regarding a friend going to jail hits close to home for me.
I have actually had this happen to me two times now, and both of the incidents and people involved are from (1) people that I have known for 10+ years, (2) something that was so far off from their standard behavior (3) virtually not even something that I would have even thought they were capable of. That said, the sense of betrayal that I had each time was an absolute kick in the gut. There is something to reading about someone you are acquainted with going to jail, but it hits just a bit different when it is someone that has eaten dinner in and been welcomed into your own home.
I want to remain vague about their particular issues, but both were crimes against adult women, but not rape or sexual assault. Had it been anything to do with a child, or rape or sexual assault, it would have been an immediate dealbreaker for me. I would not have even bothered to listen. I have remained friends with one, but I ended the friendship with the other.
Not that either of these men owed me anything, but I had to know if it was something that I had just overlooked in their personality. The friend I chose to keep was a very difficult decision, but when I looked him in the eyes and asked what happened, his response was I messed up and I messed up big time. He owned his issue. It was not that it was just an accusation, or something that was he said/she said. He was remorseful and absolutely soul crushed, and not because he was caught. He was almost suicidal at that point, because he had let so many people down.
The other friend that I chose to end the friendship with was a completely different outcome. When I sat down with him and asked what happened, his response was my lawyer thinks he can get me out of the situation. This to me showed no remorse, and that he was not only looking to avoid jail time, but responsibility for the commission of the crime. He did not care about those that he had hurt, he merely wanted to save his own ass.
I think Christ said it best with “let he who is innocent cast the first stone”. While I have never committed crimes that would put me in jail, I have done things that were harmful to other people, just not illegal. Does that make me better? No I do not think so. In times like these I do ask myself one question, and that question is – if the roles were reversed would I expect others to react the same as I do or would they do something different.
Hope this helps someone, but make the decision that you think is correct for you and own it.
One last thought on other subject matters the scroll wheel on the mouse works just fine, if you write something I am not interested in, I can scroll right past it and get to the things I like.
Kiawah Beach observations
• John L. writes:
Joe, another great LOL column on Wednesday–thank you!
My wife, dog, and I have been escaping the snow in upstate New York down in Charleston’s 60+ degree sunshine. The attached photo is from Kiawah’s Beachwalker Park. Some quick observations:
– Gas is definitely cheaper–around $3.10 per gallon.
– But groceries are significantly more expensive, like over $5 for something that costs $3.79 back home.
– As you drive around outside the downtown area there are storage units for rent everywhere. Do people here just own too much crap?
The locals have been very welcoming. Next stop Savannah.
Let’s talk about national debt…Keith in San Diego can pass by this one & go straight to Jake Plummer….the beauty of Screencaps is that this column heads in 50 different directions…deal it Keith!
• Resident economist Jared P. answers a question from Dan McM:
Here is my response. I hope it helps. Blessings.
Let’s start with some basic definitions. National debt is the sum total of all money the federal government has borrowed through time. You can also state it as the accumulation of all past deficits. A deficit is when the federal government spends more money in a year than it brings in in tax revenue. Deficits increase the debt while surpluses decrease the debt.
National debt can be broken into two components: debt held by the public and intragovernmental debt. Debt held by the public is any debt that is not held by a U.S federal government agency. Who holds this debt? Individuals (think of savings bonds or i-bonds), financial firms like banks (banks must hold a certain amount of safe assets as a capital cushions and US Treasury bonds fit this definition), investment firms like Vanguard, insurance companies, state and local governments, and central banks (both the Federal Reserve and foreign central banks).
Intragovernmental debt is debt that one part of the federal government owes to another part of the federal government. A good example of this is Social Security. For most of its existence, Social Security brought in more tax revenue than it spent. The Social Security Administration lent these excess funds to the rest of the federal government and in return received bonds. That is, the federal government owes money to itself. However, it is important to understand that the money the federal government borrowed from Social Security has been spent, so when Social Security spends more than it earns in tax revenue, which it has done for several years now, the federal government must pay the money back to the Social Security Administration with money from the general fund. Put simply, when Social Security was running surpluses, the government’s deficits looked smaller and its surpluses looked better. As Social Security runs deficits, this exacerbates the government’s deficits.
As of February 6, the total US debt was $31.45 trillion. Of that, $6.828 was intragovernmental debt and $24.625 was held by the public (see here for exact numbers). If you more detail, though with a few months lag, you can look at the most recent Treasury Bulletin from the Bureau of Fiscal Service from September 2022 (the most recent data; the next update is in March 2023). Table OFS2 shows the breakdown of who holds the federal debt. Just to show two examples, foreign and international investors hold $7.4 trillion and mutual funds hold $2.8 in national debt.
If you are curious as to which countries hold the most US debt, you can find the answer here. Japan holds the most US debt ($1.08 trillion) followed by China at ($870 billion). In comparison, US federal reserve banks hold $6.097 trillion in federal debt.
Another question people ask is who is buying the federal debt. This chart shows that over the last few years private investors have increased their debt holdings more than the US federal reserve banks or foreign investors and central banks. Will this trend continue? That I cannot answer.
Great job, Jared. This guy already has a stressful job and then he takes the time to answer questions on the minds of the readers. Now, I know Keith isn’t reading that, but there’s no denying that Jared P. presented some numbers. Lots of numbers.
COVID is still going strong in Japan
• John H. is in Japan and reports:
Consistent with Ian Miller’s reporting, masking in Japan is quite high. Compliance is at least 99% indoors and on public transportation. Compliance is probably 90% outdoors, in groups and solo. Many wear masks while jogging outdoors, including those moving at an appreciable pace. Most drivers are wearing a mask even when by themselves in the car. Mask compliance was 100% in the gym we visited.
Most restaurants and stores have an employee by the door to ensure patrons are masked and use hand sanitizer upon entry. If the food is served at a bar, patrons are asked to wear a disposable glove when gathering food. We have seen some complying with the elevator “rules” you see below – each patron standing in a corner, facing the corner. In totality, it would be a reasonable assumption that if these prevention measures were efficacious, covid transmission would be reduced.
Although current data demonstrates a three consecutive week decline of new cases, Japan was near a record high for new cases in January 2023. Further, Japan continues to have record highs in covid related deaths despite over 80% of the country being vaccinated. We are unsure why the compliance level is so high for measures that are demonstrably ineffective.
Does anyone miss those dividers at restaurants? It looks like we have plastic hanging from those aluminum frames like the dividers they were forcing us to use in Michigan at golf courses back in 2021.
Sir, that’s not a Pizza Hut
• Speaking of pizza, Mike T. has been eating the real deal. Look at this work of art:
And that’s it for Thursday. Again, I have about 50 emails to sift through. Hang tight. We’ll get there.
Now, go have a helluva day and enjoy that Wasted Management Open coverage tonight while drinking a nice glass of Busch Light.