Friday, December 31, 2010


Place: Whataburger
Lunch: Whataburger 5-3-1, fries, Dr. Pepper

The 5-3-1 is called such because it has five pickles, three onion rings, and one pepper sauce.  It's a half-pound double-patty with two kinds of cheese (American and Monterey Jack) on Texas toast.  It was supposed to end its run in mid-December, but it apparently didn't.  Another interesting LTO from Whataburger, who I have grown increasingly fond of over the years.

It took until the end of the year to realize I'm in kind of a funk.  The first part of the year was busy with a work project.  The second third of the year was extremely busy with said work project.  The rest of the year was still busy due to the aftermath of said work project, but I still found time to realize I'm in a funk.  So my new year's resolution is going to be to get out of said funk. 

(Side note to dance party enthusiasts...This is completely different than 'bringing the funk'.)

This won't stop me from doing what we all do at the end of the year...reflect on it.

Dumb Move of the Year - In January, Qwest added a $1 'convenience fee' to people who had the audacity to pay their bill online without signing up for auto-pay.  So I started mailing payments, which costs them WAY more.  I guess I wasn't alone...They got rid of said fee within a few months.  Idiots.

Dumb Shopping Mall Tricks of the Year - Those kiosks in the middle of mall corridors are getting out of hand.  I saw a kiosk HAIR STYLIST.  The guy was REALLY pushy to passing women too.  Cell phone stores, satellite TV outlets, and skin care con artists are getting to be pushy too, making malls start to feel like sleazy flea markets.

Dumb Restaurant LTO of the Year - Burger King's Ribs.  Yeah, that didn't go so well.

Awesome Restaurant LTO of the Year - Whataburger's Bar-B-Que Cheddar Burger.  Hands down.  No contest.  Well, okay...Taco Cabana's Brisket Tacos were amazing too.

Odd Fast Food Promo Combo of the Year - Runza was promoting a combo meal of a cup of chili, cinnamon rolls, and a drink.  Chili and cinnamon rolls?

Fast Food in a Timely Fashion of the Year - Hardee's Counter Girl: "How long on the hash rounds?"  Girl cooking hash rounds: "59 minutes".

M&M's New Flavor of the Year - There weren't any that I saw except Pretzel, and I hated those.  Weird.  But I'd sure like to try the orange chocolate ones they're selling in other parts of the world.  Couldn't find them at World Market or Jungle Jim's.  Somebody also mentioned a 'cherry cordial'?  Didn't see them either.  I WILL say that the fall color mix for Peanut M&M's was quite lovely, though.

Oops I Hit The Wrong Button of the Year - Don't you hate it when you accidentally hit the "Print" button and print a 200-page document you had no intention of printing in this lifetime?

Television Remembrance of the Year - "Twin Peaks" turned 20.  And USA Network's "Psych" did a "Twin Peaks" parody episode that included some Twin Peaks alumni that was pretty funny.  Sherilyn Fenn's still got it.

I Drove a Hybrid - and it was pretty cool.  They still need to get a little more practical in design and cost for me to consider actually buying one, but...

Hot Dog of the Year - Probably the one I had at the Reds game.  Not so much for the hot dog as much as for the experience.

New Soda Discovery of the Year - Cheerwine, a longtime staple of the Carolinas.  Available in cane sugar form in glass bottles.  Yes.

Ice Cream Flavor of the Year - Tillamook Caramel Butter Pecan.  Brilliant.

Weird Flavor Combination of the Year - Del Taco came out with fries topped with taco meat, ranch, barbecue sauce, and bacon.  I'm thinking 'gross'.  Until I tried them.  It surprisingly worked.

Creepy Moment of the Year - Walking through Walmart by a top-to-bottom wall of "Baby Alive" dolls, which are apparently motion sensitive, and they all started bobbing their heads up down and making noises.  ALL OF THEM.

New Business of the Year - Trader Joe's came to town (see November archive).  Favorite thing there that I didn't find until after I wrote my blog post where I tried a bunch of items: Lasagna Bolognese. 

Albums of the Year - "July Flame" by Laura Veirs led my summer driving music.  The woman is based in my hometown and has been recording for years and I had never heard of her until one of those Amazon recommendations.  Then Kim Taylor, who I've known about for awhile now thanks to her occasional appearances with Over the Rhine, released "Little Miracle".  And it is.

Best Album of 2011 that I've Already Heard - If your favorite band is capable of releasing an album in 2011 half as good as Over the Rhine's forthcoming Joe Henry-produced "The Long Surrender" (in stores 2/8/11, pre-order here for instant gratification), it will probably be the second best album of next year.

Best Band Show Promo Ever - "Wow.  Outside the "venue" in Modesto.  It's an arcade...and with 7 BANDS tonight!  I hope you guys are coming to see this...should be hilarious."  - (The Birthday Massacre, on Facebook)

Dumb Movie of the Year - Oh, probably "The Losers".  That's ironic.

Movie of the Year - I didn't see nearly as many movies this year as I have in the past, but "Kick-Ass" really brought the awesome.  I actually gave "Toy Story 3" a higher rating, but Kick-Ass will be the long-run keeper. "Scott Pilgrim vs the World" gets runner-up nods.

Forthcoming Movie Question of the Year - Apparently, the next Batman movie is called "Dark Knight Rises".  So does that mean plenty of Viagra product placement?

TV Can't Possibly Get Dumber of the Year - Every year, I wonder if NBC and Toyota's stupid Football Night in American halftime sponsorship gimmick can get any dumber.  Every ensuing year, the answer is Yes.

Bad TV Casting Idea of the Year - Elliot Gould was a guest star on an episode of the original CSI this year.  This was a bad idea because he made the regular cast look like community theater rejects.

Awesome TV Commercial of the Year - Sprint's 'unlimited' commercial where the girl is breaking up with her boyfriend.  Her gleeful facial expressions totally make it.

Cancellation Double-Take of the Year - TV weather cancellation scroll..."Iowa-Iowa State hockey game canceled".  Me..."Iowa and Iowa State have hockey teams?"

Retail Double-Take of the Year - Why would you name a swimsuit store "Anything but Water"?

New Product of the Year - If you have one of those homes with a lot of recessed ceiling lighting, you might want to look at Home Depot for EcoSmart LED Downlights.  10.5 watts, last like 30 years, and really awesome light output. $50 each (although supposedly on sale for $19.95 in stores until Jan 1)...but considering the savings and not having to get the ladder out on an annual basis, they just might be worth it to you.  Even if you just phase them in as your existing bulbs burn out.  I replaced the CFL bulb over my sink with one of these.  Completely outperformed the CFL and gave me back the light level of the incandescent the CFL replaced.

Maybe We're Going to Open, Maybe Not of the Year - New Denny's at the Love's truck stop signage Monday: "Open Tuesday".  Tuesday PM/Wed AM: "Open Wednesday".  Wednesday PM: "Coming Soon".

Ugly Building Conversion of the Year - Our old Saturn dealership was converted into a Mini dealership.  They painted the entire building BLACK.  It looks horrible.

Tasteless Marketing of the Year - I saw a billboard in Ardmore, Oklahoma that said "YOUR WIFE IS HOT!" in big block letters.  It was promoting air conditioning.

Bumper Sticker of the Year - "Punk Rock isn't just for your boyfriend".

Fortune Cookie of the Year - "Borrow money from a pessimist...they don't expect it back".

Reason Not To Lose Weight of the Year - If I were worth my weight in gold, my worth as of October 15 would have been $5,694,624.00.

The Dumbing Down of America of the Year - At hotel, a woman in the room next to mine was trying to teach her two teenage sons how to unlock their door with a key card.  They weren't grasping the concept.

Suggested Tax Dollars At Work of the Year - I would support a federal program that bought all the Pontiac Azteks and crushed them in the name of national beautification.

False Alarm of the Year - Heard Chester Cat yelp like he was in pain...and turned to find him beating up my laptop bag.

Cat Barf Casualty of the Year - One of my cats puked on my Harmony universal remote and killed it.  Wouldn't have guessed that's all it would take.

IT Quote of the Year - "I'm a tech person, and if it doesn't break, I can't enjoy it."  (Company IT guy, explaining why he doesn't like Macs.)

Overheard in a Restaurant of the Year - "The first time he kissed me, I don't think he was impressed.  But then we kissed again and he asked me if I'd changed my medicine!"

Overheard in the Break Room of the Year - "He was on a motorcycle.  You would think he could see a cow standing in the middle of the street."

Retweet of the Year - "Whenever I hear a strange noise outside my room at night, I worry that it's David Lynch, doing something I wouldn't get."  (@Jordan_Morris)

Have a happy 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pepper Run

Place: Del Taco
Lunch: Del Beef burrito, Del Classic chicken burrito (no lettuce, no tomato), Classic taco (no tomato), hash brown sticks, Dr. Pepper

I'm at the newest (and only) Del Taco in Texas.  It's not the first time Del Taco has tried to make a go of it here.  This one probably won't last.

It's an odd location in that it's the only Del Taco I know of that shares real estate with another tenant. The duplex building is Del Taco on one side and Five Guys Burgers & Fries on the other.  There's another reason this is odd...Del Taco ALSO sells burgers.

A rare Texas Carl's Jr is on this row too in a building that originated as a Krystal.  Wienerschnitzel used to be up the street.  I'm pretty sure one of Texas's first In-N-Outs is planned along this strip.  (That's not a joke...they're really coming.)  Might as well be in California.

Del Taco has FINALLY come up with a new decor package.  It's about ten years past due.  It's not exactly head-turning, but it's an improvement.

I ordered my food from Confused Counter Girl.  It was one of those experiences where I double-checked the receipt (which she printed out THREE TIMES) to make sure it was right.  I got my drink and settled into one of the bright green plastic chairs that dominated the half-filled dining room.  Every new Del Taco outside of their core markets I've been to are usually this busy.  But they never last.

After awhile, I wander up to the counter to see where my order is.  There's the tray with one taco and one burrito on it.  Hmmm.  It's clear from the kitchen conversation that nobody has any idea what they're doing, and every order is a big mess.  Another customer slides up next to me.  "How's it going?" he asked.

"Fine," I say.  "How are you?"

"Not too bad.  What's your order number?"


"Oh good, then it's not just me."

"I get the impression this isn't the most experienced crew," I say.

"They just opened two weeks ago, and half the crew has already quit," he says.

You know, this guy actually looks like Morning Drive-Thru Window Guy at the Lehi, Utah Del Taco now that I think about it.

They call my number, which gets the other guy excited.  "Hey!  That's you!"  On the tray is two tacos and one burrito.  I pull out my receipt and show the guy what's supposed to be on it.  He shouts to the crew, "This isn't right!  He has his receipt, and it's not even close!"  He sends me off with the burrito, taco, and extra taco. I discover they made both tacos the way I ordered the chicken burrito (with no lettuce and tomato instead of just no tomato).  I'll pass that one.  The chicken burrito and hash brown sticks are delivered to my table a few minutes later.

The guy I was talking to is sitting with his wife and child.  They now have their food, and they start praying.  They're praying hard.  REALLY hard.  I ate half a burrito in the time it took them to finish.  Maybe they were praying that their order was right.

I'm on the 'way back' side of the semi-annual Dublin Dr. Pepper run.  I started this at 2am.  I was up at 2am because I fell asleep at 7:30 last night.  No idea why, but I sure have a lot done already today.

Can't complain about that.

Monday, December 20, 2010

London, Rome, Paris...Kentucky

Place: Tastee-Freez
Lunch: Angus Coney dog, Tastee burger, chocolate milk shake

For years, Champaign, Illinois had the only Wienerschnitzel east of the Mississipi.  It was run exactly like any other Wienerschnitel.  It had the same dogs and menu items made exactly the same way, had the same promotional materials, had the limited time offerings.  That's kind of unusual...many chain locations out in the middle of nowhere are just a little bit odd compared to the core markets.

It finally closed about a year ago and probably should have been left at that, but the corporate Wieners (ha ha ha!  see what I did there?)  kept trying to find somebody to take it over. 

It's finally happened.  The yellow A-frame was repainted blue, and the red W started sharing space with the Tastee-Freez logo.  The classic Tastee-Freez logo, even!  Technically, they're calling it a Tastee-Freez, but it's really a co-branded Wienerschnitzel/Tastee-Freez.

Wienerschnitzel bought the Tastee-Freez brand seven years ago.  Tastee-Freez has always been sort of a knockabout chain where franchisees bought the Tastee-Freez ice cream equipment but otherwise did their own thing.  The 40 or so remaining locations continue that way, but Wienerschnitzel has added Tastee-Freez treats to over 300 of their Wienerschnitzel and Hamburger Stand branded stores.

This store, to my knowledge, is the first fully Wienerschnitzel-authorized branded Tastee-Freez outlet with a full menu created by the company.  Which includes, of course, the full Wienerschnitzel hot dog menu.  If it's an attempt to revive the Tastee-Freez brand and get Wienerschnitzel hot dogs more widely available in the Midwest, I'm all for it.

I had breakfast in Paris over the weekend.  Paris, Kentucky, that is.  Had a nice drive on some old narrow winding two-lane blacktop amidst hilly snow-covered fields immaculately maintained with stone wall fencing.  Really, really beautiful.  And the people of Kentucky are some of the nicest you'll ever encounter.

On Friday, I had breakfast at the Hen House, a restaurant in an old barn-like structure just off I-74 at the Mahomet, IL exit that I always thought would be fun to try.  REALLY good pancakes.

Had a ticket to go to the Bengals-Browns "Battle of Ohio" game on Sunday.  Didn't bother.  After spending Saturday night in the cramped quarters of the Taft Theater, I really didn't think I could handle three hours on a hard plastic seat in 20-degree weather.  Plus, when even the Bengals broadcast station promos say "Will they even bother keeping score?", it's hard to get excited.

I don't know...It's been hard to get excited about ANYTHING this season.

Christmas in a week?

I didn't even buy cards this year.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Loyalty Cards

Place: smashburger
Lunch: Chili dog (no jalapenos), chili (no jalapenos), Dr. Pepper (no jalapenos)

So last night, I was at Cold Stone.  I got my usual ('like it'-sized cake batter with cookie dough mix-in in a plain waffle cone).  Smiling Counter Guy asked if I had a punch card yet.

Me: "No, and I don't want one".

Him: "Oh, uh, okay."

Recently at a favorite restaurant, the server, knowing I ate there often, gave me a loyalty card to register online.  Something about a free meal every ten, I think.

Haven't been back since.  Said card is sitting by my computer, unregistered.

I hate these things.  Supermarkets and restaurants are the most common places to issue loyalty cards or punch cards or whatever.  They get a bunch of your information for the purpose of micro-marketing to you, then they have specials that are applicable to only those with cards.

Meanwhile, your wallet is bulging at the seams with plastic and paper cards.  And coupons.  I hate those too.

What am I supposed to do...start carrying a purse?

Nobody's forcing anybody to carry them, of course.  You can pay full-price for whatever it is you should be already 'saving' on (which was probably already at an inflated price to begin with).  And in some places I've been, even when I didn't have a card, I got the discount anyway.  The clerk either ran their OWN card through, or they used a spare one they had lying around.  One clerk recently even borrowed the loyalty card from the customer behind me and got me the discount THAT way.

I've basically allowed myself to carry five.  One for a hotel chain, one for a supermarket chain, one for a pet store chain, one for a department store chain, and one for a restaurant chain.  Mostly because these specific places are the only places to offer specific things I regularly want, and they do save me a significant amount of money.  I've actually long since lost the pet store one...I just give the clerk my phone number.  My phone number from several years ago, because I've long since moved, and the pet store doesn't have any easy way for you to change that information.  And I have absolutely no reason for them to have current information anyway.

Doesn't that really defeat the purpose for them?

I would MUCH rather shop at a place that offers good prices for the stuff I want without having to sign up for one of these things.

I was already loyal.  Why force the issue?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Slip and Slide

Place: Cici's Pizza
Lunch: Pizza, soup, cheese breadsticks (dipped in Alfredo sauce), Dr. Pepper

As usual, Dora the Explorer is on.  Today, Dora and Swiper are on the same side.  Huh?  Apparently, Dora's trying to help Swiper get off Santa's naughty list.  You'd think Swiper would be practical enough to know Santa doesn't exist, wouldn't you. 

While traveling the world, my new PC speakers showed up.  I'd been eyeing these for awhile and they came up as a Cyber-Monday deal, so I ordered them from the road. 

I installed them last night.  This was a bit of production because they're HUGE in comparison to the little Gateways that came with my PC.  I just had those sitting behind my LCD monitor in the vast space that was intended for a CRT monitor.  The new ones are up top on the shelf above the monitor.  I can't believe the included wiring was actually long enough to complete the job.

While I was at this, Chester Cat was going through the various boxes (three total) the speakers came in. In between two of the boxes was some shipping paper the shipper had wadded up and wedged in as packing material.  Chester pulled it out of the box immediately. 

I'm not sure what happened after that...I was busy untangling wires and figuring out how to lay everything out...but when I got done with my project and turned toward the door, Chester was proudly sitting on his shipping paper, which he had managed to unwad and perfectly stretch out across the floor.  All three feet of it.

THAT is one smart cat.

This paper is now his new favorite thing. He sleeps on it, burrows under it, and dives on it like it's a slip-and-slide.  It makes all sorts of noise whenever he moves on it, of course, which I assume is the attraction.  I'm pretty sure he played with it all night. 

I'm actually glad to be back at work.  Who knew.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Against the Wind

Place: Wienerschnitzel
Lunch: Angus chili dog, Pepsi

Vacation.  A week and a half of not thinking about anything.

Or TRYING to not think about anything, anyway.

I don't think I realized just how wound up I've gotten until Monday, when I started getting weirdly paranoid.  Then I started getting snippy at work on Wednesday.  It was an hour before time to hit the road, and seemingly everybody started firebombing me with stuff that just had to get done right now.  Couldn't have happened last week...right freaking now.  This describes my Tuesday as well.  I may have felt a little of what it's like to have a nervous breakdown.  I'm pretty sure I literally did break down in front of at least two people.  I realize now that I should have taken Monday-Wednesday of this week off too.

But finally, the time came (okay, slightly past the time came), and I hit the road.

What a road trip it was.

Omaha - This is where you say goodbye to Iowa and celebrate with a meal at Taco Bueno.  Or at least, I do.  Then you realize you have seven hours of driving to do through a state where the highway patrol acts like their slogan is 'We work hard to ruin as many people's holiday as humanly possible'.

York - Stopped for gas at Black Bart's.  The wind was howling and it was freezing.  I need to find my hat and gloves.  Also stopped at Runza for a milk shake and ended up with a mini Italian Runza.  That was tasty.  While waiting for my order, I saw a 'chili, cinnamon rolls, and a drink' combo special.  Chili and cinnamon rolls?

Somewhere between Kearney and North Platte - As usual, the Nebraska Highway Patrol were as thick as mosquitoes on a Minnesota summer night.  One cop finished with whoever he had pulled over, pulled into traffic, and pulled over the next car in front of him without ever even bothering to turn off his light bar.  This pattern only enhances the mosquito comparison.

Ogallala (Sapp Bros) - Slowest.  Gas pump.  Ever.

Cheyenne (night) - Stopped for the night.  Very stiff and sore.  Been like that a lot lately.  No wonder I'm so grumpy. 

Cheyenne (Thanksgiving morning) - Topped off the gas tank at Safeway and picked up some snacks...a bottle of Simply Limeade, Gatorade, and a couple of bananas.  Decided for no particular reason to not have breakfast.

Slightly west of Cheyenne - Oh great.  I-80 is closed.  I-80 between Cheyenne and Laramie gets closed often when snow and heavy winds converge.  I didn't think to check the road reports before heading out.  Headed down I-25 to Fort Collins, as US 287 between Fort Collins and Laramie is the only viable alternate route.  I couldn't resist breakfast at the Fort Collins Waffle House.  I KNEW there was a reason I blew off breakfast earlier.

Fort Collins, Colorado - I used to spend a lot of time here years ago.  On the way to my detour route, I passed through downtown, where a marathon was starting up.  They'd closed the southbound lanes.  They may as well have closed the northbound lanes too because people were walking right up the middle of the street as if it were their own private Idaho.  Until they turned and saw me riding their tails.  Then they looked startled.  I literally parted the masses.  Cop working the event gave me a shrug like he was saying "Yeah, I don't know."

US 287 - US 287 is a beautiful scenic drive even on a bad day, and today the sun was up to the east, and the moon was still up to the west. Still windy, but not as bad as it was on I-80.

Laramie - I-80 re-opened in the time I took to get here, but I was still a good half hour ahead of where I would have been if I'd waited in Cheyenne.

West of Laramie - The wind today is absolutely howling, with 60mph gusts according to the highway reader boards.  Makes yesterday look like a breeze by comparison.  My poor four cylinder is working overtime and getting barely 16 mpg...easily the worst gas mileage I've ever gotten with this car.

Rawlins - Gassed up at the always windy TA Travel Center (formerly Rip Griffins).  On this day, I am freezing even WITH my hat and gloves.  I'm also REALLY tired, yet decided to press on because I figure my adrenaline level is up from the time I spent in the wind filling the tank.  Oh, and the receipt printer didn't print.  Lovely.

Rock Springs - I wonder if one of the Taco Times are open on Thanksgiving.  Nope, not that one.  What about Dewar Drive?  YES!!!  I embrace you, crispy burritos.

Between Rock Springs and roughly Fort Bridger - Cranked The Birthday Massacre's "Walking with Strangers" CD to, 19.  BA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA!  That part of the route just FLEW by.

Somewhere East of Evanston - It's been hard enough to keep the car going in a straight line with the heavy winds, but now there's snow and ice on the road.  Truck in front of me sent a muddy mixture of ice and snow at my windshield.  I hit the washers and nothing came out...they're frozen.  Wiper blades streaked the mud on to the point where I couldn't really see anymore.  I squinted through some cracks in the mud into Evanston.

Evanston - Pulled into Maverik (yes, that's how it's spelled), topped off the tank AGAIN, and cleaned the windshield.  The parking lot had measurable snow.  I was quickly reminded why I love all wheel drive.  Got a 32oz Pepsi too.  Smiling Counter Girl..."And how are you today?"  Me..."JEEPERS!  What a day!"  Smiling Counter Girl laughs and agrees.

Utah border - YAAAY! I can't believe I'm actually here!  Okay, I've still got an hour of driving, but...

Salt Lake City - The drive down was beautiful.  Roads were generally clear, but everything else was snow covered. The sun was starting to set, which on some turns was blinding, but I made it.  Not a lot of wind, either.  Gas mileage averaged up to the mid 20's.

Residence Inn - "Well, it appears both your reservations were canceled."  Okay, first off...BOTH reservations?  Why would I have multiple reservations?  Desk Clerk fixed this quickly and checked me in so she could go back to making out with her boyfriend, who was peering from around the corner.  That's one of the reasons I decided to wait until morning to see about getting the heat fixed in the room (it's cold...even by my standards).  Smiling Desk Clerk said "It's computer controlled and it might be faulty.  The guy (who apparently fixes such things) will be in later this morning.  I'll have him take a look and let you know what he says."

I didn't really believe her because I didn't give her my name OR my room number...but within the hour, I got a call that they found a faulty part (apparently not within the room because nobody stopped by).  Replacement couldn't be had until Monday.  Would I like another room?  Yes, please.  I went from a studio suite to a one-bedroom suite.  Apparently, the difference between a studio suite and a one-bedroom suite is they put a wall between the living and bedroom areas and add a second TV (the single TV in the studio suites rotates, so you can watch it from either area).  It's otherwise the exact same size.  It just feels smaller.  And warmer.  Ahhh.

And I'm still tired. I hardly slept at all last night.  Was laying in bed at like 3am watching "Law and Order" reruns.

But I suppose I can sleep all day if I want.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Food Court Follies

Place: Taco Bell (in a mall food court)
Lunch: Grilled chicken enchilada burrito, 1/2 lb combo burrito, nachos supreme (no tomato), Dr Pepper

The chicken enchilada burrito is an LTO that I remember from a couple of years back.  I saw the ad, I had one, I loved it, I went back, it was already gone.  I swear it couldn't have been on the menu more than a week.  Now it's back, and it's fine. Not as wonderful as I remember it for some reason...but good enough.

When I'm in the mall food court, I like to sit in front of Ocean Beach Fries and watch the nothingness that always happens there.  I've never seen a single customer eat there. The guy just stares into the oblivion of the food court dining area, watching the world go by with a glazed-over look on his face.

Until today.

Today, Oblivion Guy was with another guy I hadn't seen before.  They were going over about ten feet of register tape. 

Then some guy and (presumably) his son sat nearby.  They were eventually joined by a woman in a black beret and three additional children (one boy, two girls).  And from a distance, they stared at the Ocean Beach Fries menu.  Like they were being cautious or something.

Then she pulled out a thick envelope that appeared to be full of coupons.  A coupon envelope.  My grandmother would be proud.

(Ever get used by your grandmother to buy something with a coupon that she had multiples of but which were limited to "1 per customer"? Yeah, me too.)

They spent a significant amount of time reviewing the menu board.  Then they went to the counter.  The counter guy looked as if he were confused why somebody would be approaching him.

Then one of the kids started ordering.  Then the kid walked off.

Then Dad started ordering.  Then Mom and one of the girls went off to the bathroom.

When they returned, Dad was still talking to the guy.  A third employee came out from the back and got in on the conversation.  WHY DO THEY EVEN HAVE THREE EMPLOYEES?

Then they all wandered off and sat down.  Counter Guy went in back and stared at the order receipt, like he had no idea what to do with it.

Then the most amazing thing happened....Three girls walked up to the counter to order too!

Of course, now that people are actually eating there, this has totally ruined the experience for me.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Trader Joe's

Place: Fazoli's
Lunch: Sausage Italia lasagna, side of meatballs, breadstick, Pibb XTRA

Smiling Counter Girl gave me the wrong 'your food is ready' pager.  Frowning Counter Guy was apologetic and brought me my food personally when it was actually ready.  Confused Old Ladies who should've gotten the pager I got wondered aloud why their pager never went off, even when both counter people had explained it to them.

Hmmm.  Didn't expect the red and green peppers in the lasagna.  It's a winner anyway.

Trader Joe's made their metro debut last week.  Everybody had a cow about it and have packed the place since. 

Trader Joe's is the Aldi of gourmet grocery stores...literally.  Founded in 1967 by Joe Coulombe, he sold the California-based chain to Theo Albrecht's Aldi Nord (North) in 1979.  But they're not under the same ownership as the US Aldi stores, which are owned by Karl Albrecht's Aldi Süd (South).  (Long story about brothers operating separately but friendly in defined territories.)  Anyway, all the money is going to the Germans.

Trader Joe's and Aldi do business pretty much the same way aside from Trader Joe's product being premium or organic or gourmet or some such nonsense.  Most of the store inventory is products under Trader Joe's house brands and is cheaper than similar stuff found at, say, Whole Foods.  The stores cover a smaller footprint than your typical supermarket...about the same or a little bigger than an Aldi.  Trader Joe's stocks around 4,000 items vs large supermarkets who can carry as many as 50,000 different items. 

One of the key reasons people seem to love Trader Joe's is their selection of cheap wines.  Supposedly good wines, but I don't drink so what do I know.  The store has a limited selection of everything, including canned goods, fruit juices, some produce, and a limited selection of meats, but most of this stuff seems to be targeted at single women living off a steady diet of wine, wine-related snacks, appetizers, and microwaveable entrees. (Guess who the largest wine retailer in Germany is?  Yep...Aldi.)  Oh, and they have what appears to be an extensive selection of coffees and teas as well.  I don't drink them either.

In the interest of science, I decided to try some Trader Joe's branded stuff and see if it's any good.  The first trick, however, was getting into the store.  I stopped by on opening day and immediately gave up.  The Trader Joe's faithful were there en masse.  It was insane.

So I checked the store hours and decided to drop by Sunday morning at 8.  NOBODY'S going to be there at 8 on a Sunday morning, right? was shoppable.  Still more people there than any other time I've been in one out west.  Based on overheard customer conversation, several of the patrons had traveled from the eastern end of the state just to shop here.  The Trader Joe's faithful are indeed...faithful.

Smiling Cashier Savannah rang up my order.  "Is this your first time to Trader Joe's?" she asked.

"No," I repled.

"Have you been to another store out of state?"

"Yeah, Oregon and Las Vegas."

She smiled. "Yeah."

She made lots of conversation with me about what I've bought before and what I'm trying for the first time as she rang up my total ($65? Yikes!) and filled four paper bags.  She talked about the amount of wine they've been selling...they've run out of some varieties.  Given the traffic I've seen here, I'm surprised ANYTHING is left to sell.

I kind of surprised myself with just how much stuff I bought.  I picked up a few things I was already familiar with, and lots of frozen stuff.  Chester Cat, who is all about paper grocery bags, acted as if I'd built him his own personal amusement park when I unpacked the groceries and stood the bags up on the floor for him.  Then I spent the week trying things out. 

Will I join the Trader Joe's faithful?  Let's see.

Trader Joe's Scallops Wrapped in Uncured Bacon with Brown Sugar Glaze - Target sells a version of these under their Archer Farms label, and of course they're a part of Red Lobster's awesome New England Sampler appetizer.  The Trader Joe's ones apparently use less heat resistant toothpicks as I learned when the Townhouse of Solitude filled with smoke.  I managed to open the windows and turned on the stove exhaust before the smoke alarms went off.  Problem solved.  The scallops were WAY better than Target's, thanks to the sweet bacon.  Maggie Cat agreed as she demanded I share the bacon.

Trader Joe's New York Deli-Style Baked Cheesecake - About as good as any store-bought cheesecake I've ever tried.  Very nice.  I need some strawberries in syrup to drizzle on this.

Trader Joe's Certified Organic Pasturized Strawberry Lemonade - It's lacking in flavor to the point where if I gave you some and asked you to guess what it was, you probably couldn't.  Yet I have a suspicion I'll be buying more.

Trader Giotto's Pepperoni Pizza (with uncured pepperoni, and mozzarella and asiago cheeses) - One of those pre-made in the refrigerator case...not frozen...pizzas.  The cheese was the strongest taste.  The pepperoni almost may as well have not been there.  The sauce was kind of flavorless too.

Trader Joe's Sharp Cheddar Cheese Cracker Cuts - This is genius. A resealable container of sharp cheddar sized and pre-sliced perfectly for sticking on a Ritz cracker.  The very definition of a wine-related snack, ladies.

Trader Joe's 'Just Cherry' Cherry Juice (from concentrate) - It's not sweet, but it's strong.  Hard to explain, but it's definitely like real cherries and I definitely like it.  It isn't exactly cheap, but neither are cherries.

Trader Joe's All Natural Pasteurized Unfiltered Concord Grape Juice - Ingredients: "100 percent Concord grapes grown in Yakima, Washington".  In a juice form.  Of course.  It tastes like grape juice.  Who knew.

Trader Joe's Mushroom Rice Noodle Soup Bowl - It's like one of those plastic Ramen bowl kits, except with pad Thai rice noodles.  There's a plastic bowl with noodles and a plastic packet inside.  Inside the plastic packet are three other with mushroom bits, one with seasoning, and one with oil.  Adding the oil is optional.  Fill to the lower rim with water and microwave, or do it the Cup-o-Noodles way and add boiling water, cover, and let sit for 3 minutes.  The result is a perfectly decent soup, not too sodium heavy (like Ramen tends to be) but still flavorful.  Too heavy on the noodles if you ask me.  It's also apparently vegan friendly, according to the packaging.  HA HA HA HA! Vegans.

Trader Joe's Vintage Root Beer - Made with cane sugar and packaged in glass bottles.  I have some real sugar A&W in my fridge.  This compares favorably.  But it comes in a clear bottle, unlike my dark brown A&W bottles, so the A&W has a higher cool factor.  Still, it's a perfectly good mellow root beer.  Nothing fancy like some of those horrible gourmet root beers (I'm looking at YOU, Thomas Kemper).

Trader Joe's Taco Seasoning Mix - Most taco seasoning packets have you brown the meat, drain the grease, add water and seasoning and simmer.  Trader Joe's wants you to heat a tablespoon of canola oil, sautee a medium chopped onion in it, add the beef and seasoning, then a can of tomato sauce.  Since I didn't actually read the instructions when I bought it, I didn't know to pick up an onion or tomato sauce.  So I made it the same way I always make my taco meat...Crumble meat in pan, sprinkle seasoning on top, simmer to brown and congealed.  I also added a quarter cup of water here because there's far more seasoning than in the Ortega packets.  I'll note that the ground beef (85 percent lean), shells (Ortega yellow), and taco fixings did NOT come from Trader Joe's.  In spite of this, the result was pretty decent, if not overly spicy for my taste.  I may try this again down the road using the correct Trader Joe's recipe.

Trader Joe's Mini Eclairs - Well, they're yummy...not really any more yummy than elsewhere, but yummy.  The negative is that the wonderful drizzly chocolate tends to stick to the plastic wrap, so unwrap them frozen...not after thawing.

Trader Joe's Parmesan Pastry Pups - Slightly fancy mini wiener wraps garnished in parmesan.  You get about 14 per box.  Bake and serve.  They come out of the oven a beautiful golden brown.  They dip well in mustard, or taste just fine with nothing.  I don't think most will eat more than 3 or 4 before tiring of them.

Trader Joe's Hand Crafted Cheese Enchiladas - They come in a plastic package in a shape that sort of makes you think of frozen burritos.  But what's inside is a microwavable tray with two enchiladas in sauce, kind of like Amy's cheese enchiladas, but a slightly larger portion.  They're okay, but they aren't as good as Amy's.  Or mine.  Mine are awesome.

Pilgrim Joe's Clam Chowder - It's a condensed soup in a can that you reconstitute with a can of milk.  It's "Made with Fresh Clams". It has no preservatives or artificial colors or flavors.  And it's in a can.  Who knew.  It was initially kind of flavorless, so I added some sea salt.  Then I added some more.  The end result was what looked like a bowl of hot milk with the texture of tomato soup.  Not much flavor.  The instructions advise you to use less milk for a thicker chowder.  If I try this again, I'm using HALF a can.

Trader Joe's 100% Pure Florida Orange Juice (NOT from concentrate) with Calcium and Vitamin D, Pasteurized - It tastes like the equivalent at Aldi.  I think it's also the same price as Aldi.  Which would explain a great deal.

Trader Joe's Smoke House Pulled Pork In Smoky BBQ Sauce - A pound of pulled pork.  "Serves 3" according to the box.  "It's made just for us in Texas, with a sweet & smoky sauce that screams Kansas City", says the box.  Microwaves in 2.5 minutes.  Kind of plain for my taste.  Not smoky at all.

Cannelloni Tre Formaggio alla Trader Giotto (Cannelloni with Three Cheeses) - Frozen in a microwave tray.  Wrapped in plastic.  Like Laura Palmer.  HA HA HA HA HA HA!  I ignorantly followed the cooking instructions exactly, which is stupid because I have the most powerful microwave on Earth.  It looked great after eight minutes of cooking on defrost mode.  Then you're supposed to cook it for three minutes on high.  After that, it looked like bacon.  It was still pretty good.  I bet it's awesome when cooked properly.

Trader Giotto's Spizzico Pizza - Little bite size mini cheese pizzas.  A dozen in a (frozen) box, divided by two plastic packages, which seems about right...I could eat six at a time.  The instructions included both conventional oven and microwave, so I nuked three and baked three.  The nuked ones were soft and delicious.  The baked ones came out with a very impressive pizza crust-like texture.  (I personally preferred them microwaved.)  Either way, these now top my quick-fix pizza craving appetizer list.  If you're still eating pizza rolls or bagel bites, these would be a lovely upgrade.

So...Am I a new Trader Joe's regular?  Are you KIDDING me?  They had me at the bacon-wrapped scallops.  Those pizza bites and some of their juice will be on my perpetual shopping list.

Oh...if you haven't done your Thanksgiving shopping yet, Trader Joe's apparently does turkeys for the season as well as the usual accompaniments.  All free of antibiotics and whatever other buzz words people think means 'healthy' these days.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm out of scallops.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Fly Wichita

Place: Pizza Ranch
Lunch: Buffet, Pibb XTRA

Mmmm.  Pizza.  Mmmm.  BBQ chicken.  Mmmm.  Potato Salad.  Mmmm.  Bacon cheddar mashed potatoes.  Mmmm.  Peaches.  Mmmm...oh forget it.

It's election day, which means we can go back to normal TV commercials tomorrow.  Thank GOD. 

I voted on the way to lunch.  I've found that if I go in the morning, there's long lines.  But arrive just before eleven, and practically nobody's there.  This held true this morning.  One guy was voting, and nobody was waiting.  Went in, filled out everything, got my ballot, voted, headed across the road for lunch.  Ten minutes, tops.

Spent the weekend hanging around Wichita with my brother, who flew in to see what all the fuss was about.  I corrupted his healthy lifestyle by introducing him to Freddy's.  We also found a local coffee and doughnut shop that is so cool they have a really old Gottlieb pinball machine.  And I took him down to Pops in Oklahoma. 

Wichita really needs that new airport terminal they're claiming is on the way.  For a city steeped in the history of flight, they have one of the most rinky-dink airports of any city their size I've been in.  Better buildings in lesser cities have been condemned just because they're eyesores. 

The current facility opened in the mid-1950's.  I've seen old pictures of it and it looked pretty cool back then.  It's been remodeled a time or two since, of course, and none of that charm can be seen today.  The current facility is a small cramped 80's looking box that you almost laugh at as you pull up to it.  It looks like an outdated shopping mall.  It's just dreadful.  The wiring is outdated, it's full of asbestos, some of the gates don't even have jetways.  Everything about it, from technology to ADA standards, is out of date and in many cases unadaptable.  It's an embarrassment to a city that calls itself the 'air capital of the world'.

The money to build the new terminal (which on paper looks like they took Austin-Bergstrom's new terminal and stuck a "WICHITA" sign on it) is pretty much in place.  The feds kicked in a bunch due to the existing facility's lack of ability to meet TSA standards.  There's projected usage fees that get thrown in the mix.  All of that is good to go.

But the city is dragging their feet because they're paranoid about ending up actually having to pay some of the costs if a worst-case scenario plays out.   The negative seems to be concerns about projected new usage fees not ultimately covering costs. 

Just build the stupid thing already.  This is the first impression people get when they come to Wichita.  And it's not a very good one.  Imagine if the city's worst fears are realized and they're in a position of having to campaign businesses to relocate there.

Do they REALLY think the existing airport isn't going to worsen their cause?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Denny's Rumor

Place: Retro Diner
Lunch: Some sort of Philly cheeseteak (no peppers), fries, Coke

Retro Diner is some locally owned place in a slot at one of those uppity outdoor lifestyle centers, the kind with odd shops, lawyer offices, and apartments.  And a Super Target.  Of course.

They have awesome counter seating.  And no customers.  I was the only customer there during my entire lunch.

The cheesesteak came with liquid cheddar (you have the option of that or regular Swiss) on a lovely buttered and toasted hoagie roll.  The fries were perfectly cooked crinkle cuts.  If I had a bottle of Arctic Circle fry sauce on me, it would have been perfect.

Five weeks to Utah.


Rumor has it we're getting a Denny's again.  The rumor has been spawned by the new Denny's signs at the Love's truck stop.  It's still 'rumor' because their big highway LED readerboard said "DENNY'S OPENING TUESDAY OCTOBER 19" on Monday and Tuesday.

Didn't happen.

Then it said "DENNY'S OPENING WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 20" on Wednesday.

Didn't happen.

Then it said "DENNY'S COMING SOON" Wednesday afternoon and this morning.

I'll believe it when I see it.

We haven't had a Denny's in this market for probably a decade.  The route that got us this one isn't very simple.  Flying J went bankrupt.  Pilot acquired the Flying J chain out of bankruptcy.  Pilot already had a truck stop near our old Flying J.  The FTC made Pilot sell some of the conflicting truck stops.  They sold them to Love's.  Loves took the full-service restaurant chunk of the property and turned it into a Denny's.  Actually, Pilot has an agreement with Denny's to convert their restaurants to the Denny's brand, so this may have already been in the works when Loves bought it.

The long empty fast food chunk of the property, once a Hardee's, is still empty.  I wouldn't mind them putting a Hardee's in again, but it's probably not feasible because Flying J eliminated the drive-thru lane when they reworked the building and landscaping after Hardee's closed.

We had three Denny's when I moved here.  They were all old and poorly maintained.  One of them was kind of cool because it had never been remodeled and still had orange vinyl seats right up to the day they demolished it.  One of them closed after being the scene of a brutal murder.  That building is now a pricey Italian restaurant.  The weirdest Denny's conversion I've ever seen was in Illinois or Ohio, I think.  They turned it into a Wendy's.  One very odd looking Wendy's.

It's been at least three years since I set foot in a Denny's.  I recall that I wasn't impressed the last time.  Denny's, like most of the family restaurant segment chains, sometimes have a good after breakfast menu, and sometimes don't.  On that occasion, they didn't.

But it's right on my work commute route, so I'll probably have breakfast there once in awhile.

Assuming it ever actually opens.

Friday, October 15, 2010

86th Street

Place: Quizno's
Lunch: Mesquite chicken with bacon (no tomato), Lays potato chips, Dr. Pepper

There's a story about how I ended up here. 

Yes.  Really.

I started off the lunch hour at the McDonald's at the top of 86th Street.  I was in a Filet-o-Fish mood.  So I go in and get in line behind a cop, one of many cops who have converged on this particular McDonald's.  But the rest of them are already eating.  It's just us up front.

We stand there.

And stand there.

And stand there some more.

Nobody's working the counter.

There's employees, and they know we're there, but nobody cares.

So after about five minutes, I give up and walk out.

I open the sunroof and head south on 86th Street. 

Pass by Planet Sub.


Burger King?


Village Inn?



No.  The cats would never forgive me if they found out I didn't bring them some.


I don't eat at Culver's. They have awesome food and friendly service and cook everything to order and I don't eat there.  Unless the Northwoods Walleye sandwich is available (seasonally for Lent).  But never otherwise.  Makes perfect sense, doesn't it.


That's a good idea. I could have lunch in the car while listening to the NHL channel.  Oops...just passed it by.

Incredible Pizza?

I don't eat there anymore.  The manager (or somebody) tried to get me to put my e-mail address in their fish globe.  I didn't want to.  He was really pushy about it.  So I quit going there.

There's another McDonald's.

I'm no longer in the mood for McDonald's.

Chinese buffet?



Maybe...No, wait...That Wendy's closed like five years ago.

There's that lot that another McDonald's used to be on.  The franchisee needed to rebuild the old Mansard structure to renew his franchise agreement, but he and the city couldn't agree on building positioning and landscaping, so he told them to take a flying leap and boarded it up.  It sat there, a boarded-up eyesore, for like five years before Kum & Go bought it.  Kum & Go was already operating on the neighboring property, but they've demolished both structures and are using both lots to build one great big Kum & Go.

(Kum & Go is a convenience store chain that was started in a rural community by a couple of families who were apparently very ignorant to sexual innuendos.  The idea was a take on the dinner call 'Come and Get It', and they changed the first letter of 'Come' to 'K' because the founding familes' last names were Krause and Gentile, and that was a way of incorporating their initials.  Then they changed "Kome" to "Kum" so people would understand how to pronounce it.  This is far more than you ever wanted to know about the subject.  And I'm still driving down 86th Street, jaded as ever about lunch.)


I ate there yesterday.


Not THIS Hardee's, no.  Besides...I'm mad at them for not bringing back the chili cheese Thickburger for fall.

I wish we had a Freddy's.  I would have just gone there in the first place.  They're heavily promoting chili right now.  And they have a pretty good chili currently (they used to have a different chili that I didn't like).

At this point, we've come to the end of 86th Street.  The street continues, but becomes 22nd Street from here forward.  I'm not going up there...there's just another Culver's and another Arby's.  Oh...and Taco Bell.  The problem with Taco Bell is that I order too much food.  It's like I order three things and it's only like four dollars.  Only four dollars???  I can't JUST spend four dollars for lunch!  So I end up ordering and eating way too much and I'm miserable the rest of the day.

So I turn right on Univeristy and end up at Quizno's.

I think they've made their bread smaller again.  And they have a new decor with green, purple, and orange walls.  The only thing on the walls is great big cartoonish words.  "Savory Soups".  "Fresh Salads."  "Stupid Subs".  Or something like that. It's really awful.  Like a cave with graffiti.

I could have gone home, I suppose.  I made the most incredible grilled cheese sandwich earlier in the week.  It had four slices of Tillamook medium cheddar.  It was awesome.

It's too nice a day to be stuck in the office.

But that's where I'll be anyway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dora the Absurdity

Place: Cici's Pizza
Lunch: Pizza, soup, breadsticks, Dr. Pepper

I'm in a numbers coma.  I spent the morning comparing numbers.  It's not the numbers so much as trying to figure out why they don't sync up.  Stupid numbers.  So it only made sense that I'd pile on a pizza coma for the afternoon, right?

On the television at Cici's is the same thing that's always on when I eat lunch here...Dora the Explorer.  Dora the Explorer is the most implausible show in the history of television.  A little girl and her weird animal pal (who appears to have been cross-bred between a monkey and a hen) and occasionally her hottie non-boyfriend Diego (who's also her wonder their keeping it under wraps) go on adventures and interact with their viewers to teach them stuff like how to wander out of your neighborhood and chase the ice cream truck you couldn't be bothered to visit in a timely fashion.  (That was actually the first episode I ever saw, and I can assure you that, in real life, it would have ended three minutes in with the children in question collapsing into a bawling fit.)

Today's adventure involves a train.  Actually, three trains.  Dora and Monkey Hen are standing at the train station making their viewers make "Choo Choo" noises to entice the trains...all living blow their whistles as they come into the station.  The green train buys into this.  The red train buys into this.  The blue train doesn't buy into this.  Why?  The blue train doesn't have a whistle.  OH NO!

Of course, by complete coincidence, a contest is announced...a race to the Big Yellow Station!  The winner gets a free whistle!  Hooray!  Because whistles must be FAR more expensive than the diesel it will cost to get to the other station, right?

The other trains think this is funny because there's no way the little blue train (who's name is Azul...get it? Spanish for 'blue'?) is going to beat them.  He's way too small and has the self-esteem of Eeyore.  But Dora and Monkey Hen are here to help.  By sitting in one of his cars and weighing him down even more, apparently.  Oh, and cheering.  Of course.

We see a map of the race course.  There's a mountain to climb over (you know...the grade of mountain the train company would have just blasted a tunnel through), a tunnel (huh? Why didn't they...oh forget it), and the Big Yellow Station, which is out in the middle of nowhere with no sustainable community to support in site. 

(BTW...Isn't the word 'sustainable' getting really overused these days?)

Aaand we're OFF!  Azul starts up the mountain, exerting lots of pressure, and not making it to the top.  Dora gets your kids to scream obnoxiously and encourage Azul to make it over.  He does.  Shocking.

Then there's the tunnel. "Oh no!  It's dark!  How will we see where we're going?"'re planning to ride off the rails?  No worries, Dora has a flashlight in her back pack.  Off they go into the tunnel, which is WAY longer inside than it looks outside. 

Inside the tunnel, the gang is having an extended discussion about the ending of the Cowboys-Redskins game last Sunday, when one of them poses the question "What if there's another train coming right at us on Azul's blue track?"  Because even though all three trains thus far have had their own personal tracks all to themselves that matched their engine color, maybe Azul's not that special.  Well, you'd think Dora's flashlight would be visible, wouldn't you?  But noooo.  The kids at home have to help.  Sure enough, some old grey train almost collides with them until he's warned by children across the country watching via tape delay.  The old grey train backs out and lets them pass.

So we're out of obstacles and the other two trains are neck-and-neck with Azul.  (Really?  What the hell were THEY doing all this time?)  But an unexpected obstacle is approaching., as Gilseppie later told me, is a fox who regularly targets Dora for random theft.  He has all the resources of Wile E. Coyote, is far more successful, and never falls off cliffs or otherwise maims himself.  Failing to get aboard the train, he somehow obtains a manual track car, pumps coincidentally by a side track at the perfect moment to pass them...MANUALLY PUMPING PAST A WORKING LOCOMOTIVE THAT IS ATTEMPTING TO WIN A RACE, gets ahead, and removes several pieces of track to stop them, throwing them randomly into the woods.  Then he takes off.  Spiteful little prick.

Dora gets the viewers to help find the track pieces and put them back in.  You'd think union reps would be protesting the shoddy non-union labor, but noooo.

And we're back in the race, once again neck-and-neck with the red and green trains.  WHAT are the red and green trains doing to not have won this race a half hour ago???

Azul wins.  Whatever.

SO glad I don't have kids.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


Place: Whataburger
Lunch: Bar-B-Que Cheddar Burger, onion rings, Dr. Pepper

Whataburger's LTO Bar-B-Que Cheddar Burger is easily the best barbecue-themed burger ever.  Two quarter-pound patties with a layer of cheddar in between, heartily topped with barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions on a toasted five-inch bun the way God intended.  FAR FAR FAR better than BK's Bacon Cheddar Steakhouse XT, which for some bizarre reason doesn't have pickles.  Whataburger's doesn't have bacon, though.  You could surely add that.  You could probably add pickles at BK too, but come on.  Pickles should be a given on any sandwich with barbecue sauce.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, Whataburger NEEDS to make this a permanent menu item.  Instead, it's gone September 20.  Get one if you can before then.

At some point last week while I wasn't looking (and as busy as work has been, that's not hard), September arrived.  College football is officially in gear.  The NFL will be next weekend.  Steak n Shake has busted out the caramel apple milkshake.  We've even had a few breezy days in the 60's and "open window" nights with temps in the 50's and 40's.  That pleased the cats terribly.

I really should be working this weekend.

(I'm not working this weekend.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Flood Watch

Place: ...and the wiener is...
Lunch: Coney dog, Italian Stallion dog, grape Crush

There is no shortage of hot dog joints in Wichita.  This place is a hole in the wall that sells pop in cans which you retrieve from the fridge yourself.  They have 45 specialty dogs.  This includes a $10 dog called "The Widowmaker", which is topped with chili, mac and cheese (instant box mac and cheese, no less), steak meat, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, little Smokies, a fried egg, barbecue sauce, cheddar, and provolone.  Rumor has it there's a hot dog in there somewhere too.  They have a Reuben dog, a Thai dog, a S'Mores dog, a PB&J get the idea.

The Coney is perfectly dressed in chili, mustard, and onion.  The Italian Stallion has pizza sauce, mushrooms, onions, and either mozzarella or provolone.  The dogs themselves appear to be the same ones QuikTrip uses.  I guess it's not the wiener, but what you do with it.

Begging Snoopy's was a dark and stormy night.  Monday and Tuesday nights were full of pounding thunder, lightning, and rain rain rain.  It was hard to sleep through, especially when the cat who tends to curl up against me kept jumping at every good thunder clap.  Rain totals have been insane...three to five inches of rain fell across the metro per night.  Glad I don't have a basement.

With no room to give, areas around manhole covers and sewer grates had standing water through the following days.  Even with the heat index above 100, none of the water could evaporate because the air is so humid to begin with.  Flooding was a big issue in some areas, particularly in Ames.  Hilton Coliseum, home of the Iowa State Cyclones basketball teams and many concerts I've been to, had several feet of water inside.

A really snowy winter, a really wet'd think a break in this pattern would be coming eventually, right?

Ironically, they're complaining of the LACK of rain down here.

I can't believe August is half over.  I guess time flies when your work projects are many. 

Come to think of it, I was supposed to go home this week.

Not so much.

Oh well. Maybe next year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Romance of Flight

Place: Linkhaus
Lunch: Chili cheddar dog, tater tots, Dr. Pepper

Linkhaus appears to be wanting to do with hot dogs and brats what Chipotle did with burritos.  This is a premium upscale place with premium dogs, brats, and a full bar in a very modern interior with cement tabletops (with the Linkhaus logo engraved in), all-glass walls on the north and south sides of the dining area, and a hodgepodge of light fixtures including some LED bulbs.  The dog is in a great big bun that resembles a sourdough hoagie roll and covered in chili, shredded cheddar, red onion, and jalapenos.  I got through like three bites of it.  The tater tots, which may be the most perfect tater tots ever, were awesome.  But there must have been a pound of them. 

I can't say a bad thing about Linkhaus. The staff is courteous, the price seems reasonable for the quality, and I wish them all the best, but I think I'm more of a Dog-n-Shake guy.

The Wall Street Journal, in sort of an opposition point of view to proposed airline regulations, did an article on the "golden age of flying" last week that basically argued there WAS no such age, comparing ticket prices, aircraft quality, frequency of flights, and more, basically coming to the conclusion that Hollywood is responsible for the romantic glamorous image flight has.  That people who remember flying that way actually never could afford to fly.

It's probably true that people who fly less think of it more fondly because it's a special moment in time for them.  People who fly more are jaded from the common downsides.  Actual flying kind of sucks.  You have to go through security checks and sometimes be physically searched (because as an American, I am guilty until proven innocent).  There's all sorts of sitting around and waiting.  And there's the flight itself in cramped quarters with limited service unless you can afford first class (and someday, I'm going to spend the money just for the experience).  But even THAT isn't what proposed regulations are wanting to stop.  Comparing a bumpy, noisy old DC-7 and inflation-adjusted ticket prices does NOT compare to regulations against overbooking, artificially optimistic schedules, and baggage fees.

Flight still holds a certain fascination with me.  In my youth, I had a scanner programmed to the airport frequencies to listen to arrivals and departures.  I still view pictures of aircraft in various company livery just for fun.  I'd probably watch takeoffs and landings from runway viewing areas if they hadn't been taken away from us (again, back to the 'guilty until proven innocent' thing).  I wouldn't rule out working in the industry if I could find the right fit one day.

There ARE ways to remember flight fondly out there.  Boeing Commercial's VP of marketing Randy Tinseth has been writing some great material on the upcoming 787.  Randy does a great job describing where the status of testing is and telling stories about air shows and other events he handles.  He throws in some great pictures as well.

Southwest's blog has a feature called "Flashback Fridays" that looks at not only the company's history, but the history of various airports it serves. Some fascinating images and stories there.

There there's Wichita.  As the "Air Capital of the World", Wichita is a city rich in flying heritage.  The first commercially available planes were built here.  Cessna and Hawker-Beechcraft were founded here and are still based here.  Most major players in the US aircraft industry have some sort of operations here.  Not to mention McConnell Air Force Base.  (Local commercial air service, oddly enough, could use some improvement.  I suppose they don't really have that much business since the flight industry muckety-mucks probably come in on their own aircraft at their own airports...they all have their own runways at their campuses.)

I recently toured the Kansas Aviation Museum.  This building was the Wichita Municipal Airport between 1935 and 1954, a beautiful art deco building that served as a popular hub for the final leg of flights to/from Denver or Los Angeles.  Lots of celebrities from the golden age of film came though here.  Sort of the air industry equivalent to Ogden's Union Station, I suppose.

The building was taken over by the Air Force, who abandoned it in the 1980's.  The foundation to restore the building and create a museum began in 1990.  They have a long way to go (particularly when it comes to air conditioning), but it's still an interesting place with lots of props, motors, and planes on display.  You can go up to the tower the Air Force added on later for the highest view of the Wichita area available without actually flying over the city.

The displays fill the airport building but don't stop there. Several unique and interesting planes sit outside, including a Boeing 727 and 737, some bombers, and smaller military and commercial aircraft.  These include the unique and much loved Beechcraft Starship.

You don't get to enter the planes unless you're apparently a super important elitist (the 727, an old FedEx cargo configuration, was opened up by a staffer for some people...when I followed them in I was kicked out), but how often do you get to walk this close to them...around them, under them?  Still pretty cool.  It had been years since I'd even seen a 727, my favorite airline of all time, and I'd never before climbed the rear stairs of one.

So if actual flying and the headaches involved has you jaded on a once proud method of travel, look to these guys to feel the magic again.

Or just drive.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Flavor

Place: Dog-n-Shake
Lunch: Chili dog, chili cheeseburger, Dr. Pepper

I'm having the strangest feeling of deja-vu.  Like I've been here before.  Recently.

At 5:30am, I woke up, never to get back to sleep.  I had NO reason to be up this early.  It just happened. Got bored quickly.  Decided to make a grocery run. 

So by 6, I was at the East Kellogg Walmart.  This is one of those Walmarts that makes you think of the "People of Walmart" web page.  (Actually, ALL Wichita Walmarts make you think of the "People of Walmart" web page.)  Grabbed some Simply Limeade.  Grabbed some Simply Apple.  Grabbed some Gatorade.  While wandering towards the front, I saw a Dorito's display with two new flavors..."Stadium Nacho" and "Tailgater BBQ".  According to the packaging, these are some sort of co-promotion with the next Madden football video game.  You KNOW you're big when Frito Lay will brand food around you.

I picked up the Stadium Nacho Doritos, because we humans simply cannot resist trying every new flavor Doritos can come up with.  Even when I never buy Doritos otherwise.  Doesn't matter.  Gotta try 'em. 

Closer to the checkstands, I saw a Dr. Pepper display in retro styling.  In celebration of their 125th birthday, Dr. Pepper is putting out a series of retro-looking cans holding Dr. Pepper made with "real sugar".  It doesn't specify WHICH sugar.  Could be cane sugar, could be beet sugar, could be invert sugar (which isn't a real sugar on its's a syrup bastardized from real sugars.  It's apparently sweeter.  The baking industry worships the stuff for its stability and shelf life.)  Anyway, there's four or five different collectible cans.

At checkstand row, exactly one line was open.  It's checkstand 21, at the other end of the store.  This is stupid for at least two reasons.  First, the entry doors at that end of the store aren't open anyway.  Why would you post your only checker at the opposite end of the store from where anybody can enter or exit?  Second, it's a "10 items or less" lane.  What if I want to buy more than that?  (I'm sure they'd accommodate that, but it's still dumb.)

Naturally, every shopper in the store suddenly converged on this line the second they saw me heading in that direction.  The guy being checked out had NO clue how to use the credit/ATM pad.  The cashier was patiently trying to tell him how to use it.  It did not go well.

After I got back, I fell asleep until 10.  Oops.  I then toured the Kansas Aviation Museum, a story which I will save for later. 

How were the Doritos?  Sort of plain.  If you tried them blind and were asked to guess what flavor they were, you probably wouldn't have any idea what they were going for.

And the anniversary Dr. Pepper?  More tolerable than fructose Dr. Pepper, but not quite Dublin Dr. Pepper. 

Must be using invert sugar.

Then again, this hotel fridge doesn't get very cold, either.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Old School

Place: Dog-n-Shake
Lunch: Chili dog, onion rings, chocolate shake

Dog-n-Shake is an old Wichita chain that's been around in one form for another since 1948.  Their specialty is a hot dog in a toasted bun.  Toasted and squished, really.  Good, though.  I toast and butter all my hot dog buns at home anymore.  The dog itself is perfectly decent, if unremarkable.  The shake's pretty good.  The "homemade" onion rings actually come off as if they really are.  The one time I tried making onion rings at home, they looked disastrous.  These look just like them.

Online reviews of Dog-n-Shake are pretty bad.  I think they're unfair.  It's decent cheap eats in an old-school fast food setting and the crew at the one I go to couldn't be nicer.  It makes me think of Pup-n-Taco, a California chain Taco Bell acquired and folded in years ago.  I will always be bitter that I never got to experience Pup-n-Taco.  More so than any abandoned chain.  Sure there's a couple of survivors in Albuquerque working under the name "Pop-n-Taco", but I'm sure it's not the same as Pup-n-Taco in its prime.

Saw "Inception" this morning.  Pretty decent.  A bit of a thinker, though.  And you're left wondering if you just witnessed a happy ending or not.

I may not be blogging much over the next ten weeks, as a major work project will be consuming my time.  But that's's making the summer fly by.

I'm more of an October person anyway.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Paper Waste

Place: Subway
Lunch: Foot-long Cuban pulled pork sandwich, Lays potato chips, Dr. Pepper

I'm a sucker for LTO's ('LTO' is restaurant jargon for 'limited time offering') so I had to give this a try.

Subway Sandwich Artist: "They recommend yellow mustard and pickles for this," making a face when she says "pickles". 

Me: "I agree."

Subway Sandwich Artist: "I don't like pickles, but I tried this with them anyway.  I didn't like the pickles.  Now I put peppers and banana peppers on mine."

Then she giggles.

It's pretty good, but pulled pork is always better with barbecue sauce, in my opinion.  They also put Black Forest ham on these.

Remember when Subway sandwiches were cut by putting a V-shaped wedge into the bread?  The sandwiches were FAR more impressive looking then. Now they cut them in half and they look like they were stepped on somewhere in the assembly line.  Who is the idiot who came up with that idea?

My friend @michaelkreagan did a blog today about the increasing irrelevancy of the Yellow Pages.  I have to agree.  I must get four or five different versions dumped on my door step or in my mail box a year.  I keep case I need a quick reference to a local plumber or something...but the rest go straight into the recycle bin.  There are several easy ways to find this info online from your computer or even your phone.  The only time I ever use them is if I'm in a strange town and I want a quick and easy alphabetical list of local restaurants.

I find myself thinking the same thing about newspapers anymore.  We keep hearing people complaining about wasting our natural resources, and yet here's all this paper and ink that can be delivered electronically FAR easier, cheaper, and with fewer tree sacrifices.  The hotel I stayed at in New York last week left print editions of USA Today in front of everybody's door each morning, which for some reason really annoyed me.  (I took each edition and left it in front of a door that didn't have one, hoping the guest already picked theirs up and would open the door to another one, thinking "Huh?"  That's me...Mr. Obscure Humorist.)

The reason these ancient technologies continue this way is because the print industry hasn't figured out how to make their electronic editions the cash cows their print counterparts are...or used to be.  Several perfectly good magazines and newspapers have folded because they couldn't figure out how to survive with (or against) the internet.  And their business models aren't changing...A lot of big-city newspapers spent millions modernizing their presses over the past ten years.  Reminds me of the movie multiplex building boom that happened just before stadium seating came along.  Hundreds of complexes nationwide suddenly became irrelevant and closed just a few years after opening.

With devices like the iPad and Kindle now, I can see the death of print editions coming.  If publishers can convince people to pay subscription fees for complete editions delivered electronically that can be read on their iPads or desktops, why deal with big, bulky newspapers.

Books, whole 'nother story.  I realize Kindle and the iPad have changed the perception of print books, but a lot of avid readers just want the comfort of that binded edition in their hands.  Electronic copies will absolutely hurt print, but I don't think it'll kill the industry outright.

But newspapers and phone books?  Not so much.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pay Toll Here

Place: Burger King
Lunch: Texas Whopper (no tomato), onion rings, Dr. Pepper

Oh no!  Who do I choose...Edward or Jacob???  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!  Actually, I have no idea which crest represents who, so I choose the one that has totem pole-like images.  I win a Crossanwich.  How very Native American.  I rub off the other crest to find it would have won me NOTHING.  You SUCK Team Other Crest!

BK is having a Twilight contest.  You have to collect groups of game pieces, much like McDonald's Monopoly game. The game pieces are represented by the goth characters from the movies.  I wouldn't mind winning that Volvo XC60, but there's no WAY I'm eating enough BK to bother.  Actually, it looks like you can also win the Volvo instantly.  Or you could win $100,000, buy the Volvo, and pay the taxes on it.  That would appear to be the correct plan of action.

The promotional tray liner is covered in angry goth kids.  Why isn't anybody in Twilightville ugly? Oh wait...Leah's ugly.  Carlisle's pretty ugly.  Edward and Riley are ugly.  Actually, Edward and Riley appear to be the same person.

PREVIOUSLY ON THE WAY HOME FROM NEW YORK...I stopped at the toll plaza on the west edge of Ohio, handed the toll taker my money, and she said "We can't accept Canadian coins.  Do you have an American penny?"

Seriously.  A PENNY.

Without saying a word, I fished out an American penny and swapped her.  As I started to drive off, she muttered "It's not my fault".

(I later used the Canadian penny at a bp station.  Consider that my protest against the oil spill...I stuck bp with an apparently inferior Canadian penny.)

The irony here is that the New York Thruway toll booths actually ENCOURAGED Canadian money with a ten percent discount if paid in Canadian funds.

Toll roads are highways local tax payers were too cheap to pay for, so politicians force poor unsuspecting travelers to pay for on the fly.  Very popular out east...I paid a total of $22.15 in tolls between Victor, NY and Chicago coming home.  Greed-hungry politicians nationwide are always wanting to turn existing highways into toll roads, so I can only assume massive corruption and kickbacks are involved.  All of that crap is supposed to be paid for through gas taxes, so just raise those.  Or stop using gas taxes to pay for non-related crap, as some groups have accused.  Jeepers.

What I really hate about toll roads are the unmanned exits that demand exact change, making it impossible to pay if you don't happen to have enough coins (they're always like 50 cents and they don't take bills).  Chicago is notorious for this.  Their 'alternate' solution is you can go to their toll website, note your license plate and the date and time of the offense, and pay the toll with a credit card.  Yes, I once paid like 65 cents on my credit card via their website.  Stupid.  Just stupid.  If you can't be bothered to staff the things, you shouldn't be charging tolls.  Then there's Denver, where they have toll plazas every few miles instead of at the exits, so you're constantly having to stop and pay for another leg of your trip.  Freaking ridiculous.  (Thankfully, there's almost no reason to ever use Denver's stupid toll roads.)

Anyway, when traveling around Chicago, make sure you keep a roll of quarters in your vehicle, unless you're going to do this enough to bother with an E-ZPass.

Toll roads often have an electronic pre-pass you can put in your car, avoiding toll takers completely.  You drive through the reader lanes, and they either bill you or you maintain a prepaid balance.  Most states from Illinois eastward use a common one called E-ZPass, which will work in every state that accepts it.  I don't travel those states enough to bother.  I DO travel the Kansas Turnpike enough that I have their K-TAG.  It's a small adhesive thing that sits behind the rear view mirror and is completely invisible to the driver.  The days of big, bulky metal contraptions are gone, baby.

There are advantages to traveling turnpikes, the big one being 'service centers'.  These are super rest areas with gas stations, restaurants, and convenience stores.  No exiting off to some town, just jump off and jump on.  And they're typically staffed 24 hours, so they feel a lot safer in the middle of the night.  The negative is that they often...not always...tend to do a little price gouging.

Turnpikes also tend to be in better shape than the interstate system...or at least they SHOULD be, being maintained out of the perpetual fund generated by tolls.

The Kansas Turnpike also has an advantage of its own...aside from the I-70 stretch, it has lighter traffic. Since I-35 runs south of Kansas City to Emporia, few people (aside from those seeking Topeka specifically) travel the stretch between Topeka and Emporia, so it tends to be a quiet, less stressful drive.  Even the stretch between Emporia and the Oklahoma border feels less traveled, though I don't know how that traffic is bypassing it.

You know what would be awesome?  If a state without tolls started charging tolls JUST to cars with license plates from states that charge tolls on THEIR highways.

"But my car's a rental! I'm not really from there.  The plate just happens to say I'm from there!"

Look, punk. In any war, there's an acceptable loss ratio.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Long Summer Drive

Place: Sheetz
Lunch: Meatball sub, garlic Fryz, Pepsi

I have no idea how they make these garlic Fryz taste so good...but they do.

What a perfect day for a patio lunch, and a little blog writing.  It's just gorgeous.   I'm on the road heading home after what will have been a week-and-a-half long combination work/personal trip.  Should be back tomorrow.  The loop trip has taken me through Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.   Weather has largely been favorable, save for a torrential downpour between Galesburg and Peoria...the kind where people park under the overpasses and even SUV's hydroplane.  Nasty.  The drive last Sunday from Florence (y'all!) to Webster was crazy hot and miserable.

Western New York is just beautiful.  Our vendor is in the village of Victor, whose business district is right out of a small-town romantic comedy.  Cute buildings, cute homes, cute businesses being run out of cute homes.  All surrounded by lush greens and big shady trees.  Very quaint.  Sort of Pacific Northwest without the rain.  Two convenience stores, both crappy.  Tim Horton's became my breakfast routine.  The Holiday Inn Express we were booked at was ridiculous. While waiting for the others (who flew in), I sat in the lobby and listened to the desk clerks quote $130-$140/night over the phone in between conversations about how much they hate their jobs.  Oh, and the maid had left me a present...half-used soaps in the shower from previous guests.  What I would give for Marriott to put a Spring Hill Suites in here.

Tonight is South Bend, where rumor has it they have a real functional Del Taco.

Then home to the cats.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Place: Frisch's Mainliner
Lunch: Big Boy (with extra tarter sauce), chili, Coke

Frisch's Mainliner is a modern Frisch's Big Boy that sits on the lot of the old Mainliner drive-in, the first restaurant Frisch's sold the Big Boy sandwich at when they became a franchisee to the Big Boy system back in 1946.  The signage dates back to the 1950's, but the Mainliner originally opened in 1939.  The current building, recently remodeled, went up in 1988. To avoid further confusion, I'll just send you to my Big Boy page for more information here.  You will be unexpectedly fascinated.

I'm in Cincinnati for a special one-off Over the Rhine show tonight.  I won't go into why Over the Rhine is my favorite band again because you don't care.  Anyway, I've been here a couple of days relaxing and getting my fill of my Cincinnati favorites (LaRosa's and Skyline Chili mostly) and last night did something I almost never do...I allowed my childhood to emerge and fulfill a fantasy.  I went to a Reds home game.

For those not familiar with baseball (and God bless you), it's a horribly boring sport that acts as background fodder while people drink beer and socialize.  But it was kind of a big deal the one summer I collected baseball cards, which may have also been the one summer I played in the triple-A version of Little League.  If A-D-D was a recognized disorder back then, I would have been the textbook case from that experience.  Anyway, the Reds were my team (this was in the days of Pete Rose and Johnny Bench so they were a LOT of people's favorite team) and seeing a game at Riverfront Stadium would have been the ultimate fantasy that summer.

This actually ISN'T my first major league game.  I attended a Mariner's-A's double-header in the Kingdome on a youth group trip.  Billy Martin was the A's manager at the time, and there was a bench-clearing brawl.  Can't ask for much more than that at a Billy Martin game.  I've also been to a few triple-A games for work-related functions because Huey Lewis and the News were playing after the game.  I couldn't tell you a single thing about those games, let alone who won.

The experience was surprisingly reasonable...I spent a total of about $70 on the whole outing, including the ticket, fees, parking ($5 downtown a few blocks away), the prerequisite ball park hot dog, and a large soda.  And I had an awesome seat along the first base line practically parallel to home plate in the lower section.  Attendance was around 32,000.  It was "Irish Heritage Night" and they had all sorts of pre-show festivities.  And the Reds wore green caps.  Yes, out of the roughly 80 home games I could have happened upon this year or any of the last several, I choose to attend the ONE game the Reds are wearing GREEN FREAKING CAPS.

Modern sports stadiums tend to have a lot more specialty food available than they used to, and while there were more choices than the usual peanuts and Cracker Jack (which WERE here), there wasn't anything particularly goofy.  The hot dog stand here was a monster of a facility with a variety of dogs and brats.  LaRosa's and Skyline were present making pizzas and chili 3-ways.  SuperPretzel had a kiosk.  And somebody was making big hamburgers that I didn't see, but some people in my row had them.  The whole stadium smelled of ketchup.

The Reds defeated the Indians 10-3.  I got to see a couple of home runs.  Neato.

I don't think I'll do it again anytime soon.  The heat...and last night was actually pretty nice with a breeze and lower than normal humidity...bothered me a lot.  The walk back to the parking garage was all uphill.  I felt sick by the time I got there.  And let's face it...I pretty well lost interest by the bottom of the 2nd.  I DID stay the whole game, but not the after-show fireworks.

Tonight's festivities are slightly more intimate (seating is limited to 200) and indoors, so that should be OK.

In the meantime, I'll be relaxing in my room for the afternoon and probably ordering in another LaRosa's pie before the show.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Best Can

Place: Taco Time
Lunch: 2 crispy tacos (no tomato), crispy chicken burrito, Coke

Taco Time posted on their Facebook page the other day that today is National Cheese Day.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but it got me thinking of making cheese enchiladas for dinner tonight.  If I go through with it, that will be three nights in a row of cooking.

(By 'cooking', I mean 'actually taking out pots and pans and making something...not microwaving'...which has become the norm.)

Woke up to the phone at 4am.  It's moments like that when I hate my job.

Didn't get back to sleep.  Tried until about 5am.  Gave up.

Thought about a bowl of chili.

Did other things.

Thought about a bowl of chili.

Did even more other things.

Finally, at 7, I opened a can of chili.  Wolf mild chili with beans.

Wolf manufactures thousands of cans of this stuff.  Millions, probably.  In several varieties.  Mild, regular, and hot.  With beans or without.  I've had many.  Many.  Lots.  There was no reason to believe this can would be different than any other.

But this was the best can ever.

No idea why.

But it was a very special can.

Why is that?  Is it something unusual in the can?  Is it something about me?  Did my body chemistry align just right to make it the perfect moment to have that bowl of chili?

Ever go to a restaurant, have something happen that really annoyed you, and the meal was horrible as a direct result?  There was nothing different about the meal than any other time you went'd just been so put off that the very food that had brought you comfort so many times before was suddenly your worst enemy?

This was kinda like that.  But opposite.  And without something that triggered total happiness.

I think my cats are confused with me staying home this weekend.  Maybe I should have gone somewhere.

But then I would have missed that magical can of chili.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Oh...That's Why

Place: Pizza Hut
Lunch: Lunch buffet, Pepsi

I made my semi-annual Dublin Dr. Pepper run over the weekend.  I was down to something like a half case of the stuff.  Now I have thirteen cases of cans and four cases of bottles.  That should be good to the end of the year.  Maybe.

(Dublin Dr. Pepper is made with cane sugar and has a whole different flavor profile.  I've explained this before.  It's not my fault you don't know this.)

I've had to explain the whole Texas run to two co-workers thus far.  "HOW long did it take to drive down there?"  "And you just drove down and BACK?" 

(P.S. - No, there was more to it than that.  But whatever drama works for you...)

While in Texas, I tried Taco Cabana's new Brisket Tacos.  If you live near a Taco Cabana, you MUST try one.  It's nothing more than beef brisket in a flour tortilla with a side of barbecue sauce.  You don't need the barbecue sauce.  The meat is THAT good.

Oh...And to whoever at Krystal came up with the bright idea of the "Butter Chik" deserve sainthood.

Today's lunch hour was a late start.  And I had no idea what to have.  But Pizza Hut staged a guy with a sign in front of Incredible Pizza (that THAT, Incredible Pizza!) promoting a special $5 price on Pizza Hut's buffet for today only.  So I figured, why not.  I haven't been there in about a year.  Can't remember why.

Now that I'm here, I'm thinking "Oh...That's why."

Smiling Server Megan is super nice, though.  She seems to be in a much better mood than Hope down at the QuikTrip today.  When Hope's grumpy, Hope's grumpy.

They're probably both in a better mood than that guy driving the "Two Men and a Truck" truck who obliterated the Laserwash street sign though.

Why'd I leave the office again?

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Place: Arby's
Lunch: Steakhouse sub, potato cakes, Dr. Pepper

The steakhouse sub isn't all that great.  It's on a ciabatta roll (that bread that reminds you of an English muffin).  It doesn't have all that much roast beef, and the sauce is a little weird.  Give me a large beef n' cheddar any day.  If Chester could talk, he would agree.  He loves the beef n' cheddar.  Of course, the large beef n' cheddar sandwich costs more than this whole combo meal.

Another new thing they have is "prime-cut chicken tenders".  Huh?  They supposedly come from the "prime cut of the chicken breast".  Okay.

I'll say this about Arby's...They throw a lot of LTO's against the wall in hopes something will stick.  They always have.

Another hot day, but not so bad on the humidity side so it's actually nice.  When I arrived here, I noticed they had outside patio seating.  I thought to myself, "I'm going to sit outside".  I thought that while I ordered, I thought that while I waited for my food.  You know what?  I didn't sit outside.

The last of my shows ended their seasons last night, and there's four-to-seven hockey games left.

Guess it's movies and video games going forward.  Or getting out more.