I love going to the movies. I love getting some popcorn and a soda. I do not love trying to grab a single lid off of the ubiquitous stack of lids found in every movie theater and gas station near the soda fountain.

Some theaters hand you a cup and a lid – then you go off to get your drink. The latest theater near my house had a stroke of genius with their dispense-a-lid.

I don’t know if it’s really called that, but that’s the name I’ve given it.

GENIUS!! Pure and unadulterated GENIUS!

They still give you the cup at the concession stand, for security purposes. Then all you do is toddle up to the dispense-a-lid, and follow the instructions. Pull down on the handle and there it is! Only one lid. Pick it up, and put it on your cup. GENIUS!

I can’t wait to see this take over the world.

Maybe it’s just me…


Originally uploaded by mirthmobile.

If you have to go to an early morning meeting, and I often do, it’s really nice when you get breakfast.

The Bacado at The Morning Star combines a number of great tastes that I would never have thought of on my own. Bcp told me it was his favorite. My waiter also said it was his favorite. How could I say no?

I’m not that crazy about Avocado on it’s own. The saltiness of the bacon and the spice of the cilantro and onion creates a fantastic balance.

On a side note, later in the day I had a cheeseburger with bacon. Bacon, twice in one day? Oh sweet monkey!

… maybe it’s just me

Gulp Gulp

A very large soda

Originally uploaded by mirthmobile.

I’m on a team, producing an entry for the Compass Academy 24 Hour Film Festival. We’ve been given a few items that must be in the film, and the rest is up to us.

Theme: Black is the New White
Location: Phone Booth
Prop: Putty
Line: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” (Princess Bride)

We got those at 8:00 PM and have to turn in the finished 5 minute film the next evening.

How do you get through that?
An 8:00 AM trip to 7-11, that’s how.

Why does the Double Gulp even exist? It’s 64 ounces! I finished it in about 2 hours and my new hobby suddenly became going to the bathroom.

maybe it’s just me…

Shout-Out To My Peeps

The Easter Bunny has come and gone, the frilly grass – in a variety of different colors has been scattered to the four winds, and the chocolate eggs are nothing but foil wrappers. What is left behind are the Peeps.

Peeps are the colored sugar covered marshmallow treats in the shapes of bunnies and chicks. They taste exactly how you imagine they do.

Not everyone views them as just a seasonal cavity inducing lump of marshmallowey goodness. There are those who have performed, shall we say, “unorthodox” experiments on the little fellas.

  • reaction to cold
  • reaction to heat
  • solubility testing
  • low-pressure environments

Not to mention the risk analysis.

I just like eating ’em.
maybe it’s just me…

actually, I’m pretty sure it’s just me.

I’m hilarious, and it’s not just me

Every now and then at work I chat with Max about the Reverend Fun cartoon. Today, he published one of my ideas.
I’m honored that he did that and gave me a little mention. I feel so special. Does this give validation to my often claim “I’m hilarious”? In and of itself, no, but if you combine it with all the other ways I’m hilarious, you’ll see what I mean. At the risk of jeopardizing my natural humility, I submit –

Other ways in which I’m hilarious:

Choice of greeting cards (if you’ve received a birthday card from me, you know what I mean)
Incontinence (I don’t have this problem, it’s just a funny word)
Dog named “Walter
There are probably more ways that I can’t think of right now.

This blog is about food though.

Tonight, I’m going to a wedding. There’s a reception and everything. My question today is, does anyone really like wedding cake? I’ve seen many couples spend so much time on a wedding cake; white cake with butter cream frosting, chocolate with raspberry filling, yellow cake soaked in espresso and covered in powdered sugar.
Why not wedding pie? Everybody likes pie right?
I prefer a “make your own sundae”. It’s a big hit, and you would be much happier.

Ok, maybe it’s just me…

The Bitter Taste of Vacation

Last week, I went on my first vacation since a trip to the Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam/Las Vegas in 1998. Sure I’ve been plenty of places to visit family and friends, but a vacation from everything is pretty rare and a treasure.

On the positive side:
It was great to spend time away. I ate some great food, and saw some cool stuff. That’s the really important part of a vacation.

On the negative side:
just about everything else.

I waffled between going to San Antonio, Texas and San Diego, California as I thought about where I could find the best weather. This was not just a vacation from work, but a vacation from the gray and cold West Michigan weather. San Diego won, I exchanged airline miles for tickets, made the hotel reservations and took off!

Take a look at the vacation photos.

You’ll see “The Big Bri” – a breakfast sandwich offered by Brian’s American Eatery, and a few pretty good Mexican restaurants in Old Town.

The weather in San Diego was really disappointing. The local weather casters used the phrase “storm of the century” to describe this cold-damp weekend. On the news they showed people stockpiling sandbags as this monsoon dropped 0.6″ on the city during a 4 day period.

The weather was uncharacteristically just like West Michigan as the temperatures stayed around 50, with strong winds, and predominant cloud-cover. However, it produced this view. My friend Mike sent that to me – taken on March 13 (the day I left) – The mountains are about 50 miles east of downtown. I couldn’t see them at all while I was there.

West Michigan on the other-hand had temperatures near 70 and gorgeous sunshine while I was gone. It snowed the day I got back. San Antonio had record heat and full sun.

Adding insult to injury, my car had unscheduled and expensive trips to the mechanic. the day before the trip, the day after. Please use the ads to the right of this post and other posts. I gotta pay for the trip and repairs somehow.

Can I get a vacation from my vacation?

maybe it’s just me…

Peanuts and Cracker Jack!

I want a Hot Dog!
I want a hot dog so bad, I can almost taste it. I do not however want just some frankfurter from the grocery store. I want a baseball dog.

While telecommuting, I often have the TV on to provide background noise. My borderline ADD make this almost a necessity. Recently though, I got a new TV.
It’s ridiculous. It’s huge. It’s fun. I added the “HD Tier” to my cable for about $7 a month and one of the channels I get is ESPN-HD (check the schedule). While flipping through the few HD channels, I landed there and found Spring Training Baseball! It’s Los Angeles vs the Braves – who cares! I want a hot dog. It’s the 2nd inning, and LA is up 4-0 – who cares! Someone just caught a foul ball on the 1st base side!

Spring is coming!
I can hardly contain myself.
Until it’s warm enough to go to a game yourself, check the schedule and invite yourself over for a game. Love to have ya.

…maybe it’s just me

Optimistic Water

At my office, we have bottled water. We’re thankful to have it. It tastes pretty much like water (much better than the tap water in Muskegon) and does all the things that water is supposed to do. Lately lots of major softdrink manufacturers have started pushing their particular take on water. They’ve come up with cool slogans like:
Dasani (coke) Make your mouth water
Aquafina (pepsi) Make your body happy, drink more water.

The bottled water at our office is incredibly optimistic about it’s hydrating properties.
“(H2O) molecules form complex patterns by grouping and clumping together into “clusters”. By controlling the size of these clusters, H2 Ultra Fitness Water improves the absorption of water into the body. Resulting in Ultra Hydration for Metabolic Efficiency. You no longer have to drink gallons upon gallons to get your daily allowance. Two bottles a day will make you more hydrated than you’ve felt in a long time. And there is a great taste too!”

It’s really good – I like it very much. I can’t say that I feel differently by drinkiing two .5 liter bottles than I do when I drink 3 12oz bottles, but man it’s a lot easier to drink two than it is three.
(36 US fluid ounces = 1.06464707 liter)

What cracks me up is this note on the box. It’s not “best if used by” or “freshness date”, it says “enjoy by”. That’s really nice don’t you think?

…maybe it’s just me.

Katrina Christmas

This year, I spent Christmas with my family. Two years ago I went to Gulfport for Thanksgiving and celebrated Christmas at the same time. That was also the first time I got to meet my brother Chris, and his wife Michelle. All of us were there this year, and we gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents, ate roast turkey and a deep-fried caijun turkey. You can check out my flickr pictures for more of that.

The caijun turkey was certainly a highlight, as well as some fresh gulf shrimp at a local joint earlier in the week. There! Now that I’ve mentioned food, I can go on to the truly important part of this post.

On Christmas eve, we toured the communities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and later attended a candlelight service at church in Gulfport, close to the beach, but was miraculously spared. It’s been a while since I have been in a church as traditional as this with pews and stained glass, a very different experience from CentrePointe. The pastor was as casual as could be despite the long robe and sash of his office. He reminded me of the Menards guy with a deep drawl. He talked about angels. He of course mentioned the famous ones who appeared at the first Christmas, but he also talked about some other that had effected the people in this church directly.

The CEO of the Weaver popcorn company had contacted the pastor about making a donation to the church to help with hurricane relief in the local community, and that it would probably be about $4,000. During their correspondence, the pastor mentioned that someone had once donated an old popcorn machine to the church. He told the CEO that after people in the church had treated it like their own, cleaning it, and as the pastor said, “loving on it,” it made some great popcorn. Well the CEO wrote back and after finding out more about the machine, sent along a gift of 75 lbs of popcorn and oil for the popper in easy to use envelopes. This was nice, since the church hadn’t been able to make any popcorn lately and it would be much appreciated. Some time passed and the CEO wrote back with a bad-news/good-news story. The workers had taken up their Christmas charity collection and it had not come to the $4,000 the CEO mentioned. Instead it was going to be more like $10,000. The workers at the Weaver popcorn company had taken in this little church as their own. Rather than give to a faceless charity like the red cross, the CEO and the workers connected with the people who needed their help and they stepped up. The money arrived with personal cards and letters from the workers to the church. They are building a relationship with the people there, and taking them in as if they were their own family.

That’s what God did for us. He took us in as if we were His own family and when the time came, he made a supreme sacrifice for us. It wasn’t money or popcorn, but his own life. And we should take him in as our own as well. That little baby needed a family to take him in and take care of him. He needed someone to hold him and love him. So, God relied on us to take him in as our own. That means we get all the benefits of having the Christ child in our lives, and all the pain that goes with taking responsibility for that child. We have to be willing to do whatever it takes.

As it turns out the people in the Gulfport church took in a popcorn machine, and the Weaver popcorn company took in the people at the church. During the communion portion of the Christmas eve service, one of the deacons told the pastor that the family who donated the popcorn machine all those years ago had lost everything in the hurricane. The pastor let us know, and said, “I think we can take that family in as our very own, don’t you?”

This visit with my birth-family was better than I had hoped. At Thanksgiving, I wrote about how I hoped for a better relationship “with Chris and David, my brothers, Chris’ wife Michelle, and Bruce – my stepfather.” It’s grown so much since the last time we were all together. I felt more like a brother and a son than I ever have before. I still can’t believe how they took me in.

…maybe it’s just me?

Caramel… everything and a Hot Dog

Saturday night I went to an unofficial Christmas party with a few friends. Everyone brought something to share, I brought vegetables. (I know… what was I thinking? – seriously, I really try to bring healthy snacks whenever I can.)

The hosts provided some spicy Hawiian meatballs, candy, and other people brought taco dip and other salty-snacks. New to me was what I have since learned is called “Caramel Delight”, but at the time I called “Caramel Everything”. It was caramel popcorn with pretzels, chex cereal, and pecans. Oh sweet crunchy goodness! So much for my attempt at weight loss.

Meet Walter
In case you’re not in the loop, I have been looking for a dog to adopt. Sorry Mom, you’ll have to settle for being a grandmother to another pet.
I’m headed to Gulfport to visit my family for Christmas, and then picking up Walter on the way back from the Lansing airport. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing. I’ve purchased the requisite dog bowls, a couple of toys, a bed and the breeder is providing a kennel and a bunch of other doggy things. The only thing I have yet to purchase is food. I grew up with a couple of dogs raised on Purina Dog Chow. I never knew that dog food had come so far until the breeder mentioned that she’s raised the puppy on a Raw Food diet. The web site is worth mentioning, www.barfworld.com, maybe even reading, but don’t worry BARF is an acronym. This kind of BARF is not nearly as much fun as “Barf” (Barfolemew) from Spaceballs.

maybe it’s just me…

feeling sneaky

Is it wrong to bring one’s own food into a movie theater?
I’ve been going to movies most of my life and I’ve never seen a sign or anything. There really should be some big-ole “No outside food or drink” sign on the door if they want to enforce that. Often, when I go to the movies I bring my popcorn bucket and I smuggle drinks in. Sometimes I also have beef jerky or candy stuffed into my pockets. I’ve even gone as far as bringing in cheeseburgers. I’ve got a coat with big pockets to enable this surreptitious gastronomy. It makes me feel like Harpo Marx.

I’ve always believed it was somehow wrong to do this, but I did it anyway. On Wednesday, while enjoying the roller coaster ride that is King Kong (special effects suck early on, but get a lot better!), it occurred to me that there’s no sign or anything. How do I know you can’t bring in outside food? I decided that I’m going to keep doing it, but I’ll look more carefully for the sign, and enjoy the espionage.

maybe it’s just me…

Snow Day

The Grand Rapids area got anywhere between 4 and 10 inches of snow overnight and most every school is closed today. When you are an adult, you don’t really get those snow days, and I think that’s one of the biggest rip-offs about growing up. A snow day is like a surprise vacation day. The neighbor kids are sledding down the hill next to our driveway (I kinda wish they would stop by, say hello, and ask first…) and soon they’ll head back inside for Hot Chocolate!

Hot Cocoa is possibly one of the greatest inventions for a warm beverage ever, and one of the few things that doesn’t suffer from microwave preparation. What I mean by that is – you can warm up the milk in the microwave. Here’s a way to make a nice batch of it – about 4-6 cups worth. There are some people who would add powdered milk to this, but they can get their own blogs and talk about the food they like. Here, they are just plain wrong. And it turns out that Hot Cocoa is really very good for you!

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch (mmm… thicker…)
1 pinch cayenne pepper (adjust for your taste)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.
Whatever you don’t use right away, seal in an airtight container, keeps indefinitely in the pantry.

The trick to making it is to add 3-4 tablespoons of the mix to a mug, add just a little cold milk (less that 1/4 cup) and mix that into kind of a syrup. Then add hot milk to fill your mug. That makes sure the cocoa mixes evenly and doesn’t leave any lumps – it also stays mixed longer after the cocoa stands.

If you don’t like chocolate or cocoa, but like the hot milk – try adding a few drops of vanilla or another flavoring to some powdered sugar or artificial sweetener, and mix with hot milk just like the above.

Something wacky for you!
Those goofy Canadians have come up with a new ad campaign for drinking milk. The intro is worth seeing the first time so you get the caveman premise, but after that, you can skip the intro to get to the short commercials. Brilliant! Thanks to my friend Rachel for that Wacky submission.

Meanwhile, if you do decide to make the cocoa on the stove top, and that skin forms on top of it… save some for me, I love that.

…maybe it’s just me.

something in my food

I find stuff in my food all the time.

I used to think I was cursed in some way, but then I realized that I am the god of foreign-matter-in-food. Material that should not appear in a served meal follows me everywhere in order to laud, praise, worship, and generally find a way to become one with me by attempting to find its way into my mouth. Fortunately one of my god-powers is that I can detect things that don’t belong in my mouth with the efficiency of an assembly line owned by a company that wants to move their operations to Mexico. The smallest hint of any accidental content sets off an alarm I can’t ignore. I’m working on spotting things before I ingest them and I occasionally succeed. If you’ve been to more than a few meals with me, you’ve seen it happen. Others of you will have to wait for your opportunity.

If there is a cherry-pit in the cherry pie, it will show up in my piece. I once found an egg-shell the size of a half-dollar sitting on top of an omelet. It wasn’t cooked-in or anything, just sitting there on top when it arrived from the kitchen.

Salad poses a particular problem, because it’s often filled with a variety of things and textures. Several years ago at an Applebe’s I found most of a ladybug in my salad. Not a whole ladybug mind you, but most of one. I had a nice healthy bite of lettuce perched on the end of my fork as I talked with my friends around the table. I tend to talk with my hands, and the fork looked like an orchestra conductor’s baton, keeping the conversation’s tempo. Finally, I moved the bite toward my mouth. There it was. I sent the salad back and had a burger instead.

Once, on a date, in fact I think it was a first-date, I bit into a piece of glass concealed in the fried rice at a Chinese restaurant. I’m pretty sure it was a bead from a necklace or something, but I bit it right in half between two molars. Getting it out required an oral lavage courtesy of the tall glass of water that came with dinner. I managed to extricate it without injury.

Friday night I had a cup of white chicken chili at a barbecue joint in Muskegon – Brutus’ Barbecue. Part-way through it, I saw something odd. It was kind of grayish-greenish-bluish. It was lumpy. There were multiple incidents of it. I asked my server to see if she could figure it out. My friend Steve thought it looked like a few puddles of pneumonia-induced lung-butter. It turned out to be a few dollops of bleu cheese dressing. Well, that’s what the restaurant said it was. I think I won’t go back there again.

Et tu Brute?

maybe it’s just me…


I recently moved my blog from blogspot to my own site, but the RSS hasn’t followed. If you have been reading my blog previously, please visit the new location: http://www.mirthmobile.com/brian-food/
And update your RSS Reader.

oh… and I think that the whole Thanksgiving feast is over-rated.

…maybe it’s just me.

Chipo… ChipOtel… ChipotE…

A chipotle (also chilpoctle and chilpotle, from the Nahuatl chilpoctli meaning smoked chile) is a dried chile pepper, usually jalapeno, that has been smoked. It is usually found whole in adobo sauce. It’s yummy! Spanish is easy to pronounce. For the most part, say all the letters in the order in which they appear: Chi-Pot-le (chi-POTE-lay).
Hint – say it with the gusto of a South American play-by-play soccer announcer and you’ll sound like you really know what you’re doing.

I went to Taco Bell the other day. The stucco building was festooned with deep red window-clings advertising the lastest in gastronomic bombs the PepsiCoo chain passes off as “Mexican Food” – the Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito. I’ve been to Mexico and eaten the local culture. It was nothing like a “Chalupa”. I’ve also been to a slough of wonderful family-owned Mexican eateries here in the Grand Rapids Area: El Arriero, El Sol, and Maggies Kitchen stand out in my mind. I feel blessed, as a lover of the slightly spicy dishes served by the multi-generational or recent immigrants from Mexico who may have ridden the waves of migrant work so plentiful here in “America’s Salad Bowl”. Taco Bell makes something wholely-other-than Mexican food, and as long as I create the intellectual separation between Mexican Food and what they make, I’m happy.

I approache the menu, perched high above the heads of the cashiers, and read carefully, fully intending to make my selection from the 99-cent menu. Marketing got the better of me as the suggestive banners had already worked their magic. Flanking each side of the fluorescentt-back-lit menu were two panels each extolling the virtues of the Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito. To the left, the Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito $2.19 – chicken or steak. To the right, add an enormous Mt. Dew and some stale tortilla chips with a plastic tub of nacho-cheese (a combo-meal) for a bit more. It beckoned.

Sam is a retiree working the cash register at the Taco Bell on Apple Ave. in Muskegon near my office. I don’t actually know his name, as whatever appears on his name tag is quickly replaced in my brain by “Sam”. I don’t know for sure that he’s a retiree either, but that’s the story I’ve made up for him and I’m sticking to it.

Sam wore a cookie-duster mustache that made him look like Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton (right) and the same glasses he’d purchased in 1951 after the war. Those frames had gone out of style and now come back into style as Sam held a job that provided free food to polish off his golden years. Sam had worked 44 years as an accountant for Worldwide Fishladder and Sons, before he was rewarded with a pink-slip. Mild-mannered Sam was a skilled accountant, a little too-skilled if you know what I mean. The court had not been kind to him in light of the recent Enron and Arthur Anderson scandals, but he was just a pawn and was given fines and community service instead of prison time.

My turn at the counter came and I returned Sam’s gravely “Welcome to Taco Bell, may I take your order?” with a calm steady voice.
“May I please have a Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito – Steak.”
I never got that far actually.
Partway through the words Chipotle Grilled…, Sam jumped in with an impatient, “You want a Chalupa?”
No thank you, said I, “I would like a Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito”. This time my own tongue turned traitor during the “Chipotle” and I had to repeat it again.
“A Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito if you please.”
Sam looked dubious.

Then a light, from some far-away training video clicked on as Sam saw me looking forlornly at the sign above his left shoulder.
“You want that?” He asked in his cantakerous manner.
He gestured with his thumb at the combo meal version of the Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito sign nearest.

Thunderstruck, and already amused, I shifted my gaze to the far end of the menu, where the non-combo meal version hung with it’s unadulterated price.
“No, actually, I want that one,” and I pointed with my left thumb to the other sign.

“Gotcha.” Sam said, and rang up the order with a sly wink.

“Order number 158.” Sam continued and handed me the receipt and my change.

When the time came, I collected my Chipotle Grilled Stuffed Burrito and returned to the office. The soda cooler held a bottle of cran-grape, and a bottle of water with my name on them.

I really did enjoy that burrito.

…maybe it’s just me.

a few fries short of a happy meal

Ahhh the employee lunchroom. Over the past 20 years or so of my “adult” (working) life, I’ve sat in a few of them. The Calvin College Faculty/Staff cafeteria is one that stands out because it seemed to me you could pile all kinds of things on your plate or only a few celery sticks, and the cash register only fluctuated between $1 and $1.75. Another lunchroom at a nameless company played propaganda videos on a TV that did not have an “off” button. Being the extrovert that I am, I’ve always found the people more interesting than the cuisine.

Once upon a time I worked in a factory environment. If you’ve never worked in a factory, I recommend it. The people there are relatively happy, and have the same passion or lack thereof for their work that people in offices do. There are some people who stand out as rather clever, and others are not the sharpest knife in the drawer. It’s the same everywhere. One day I told a joke in the lunchroom, and it went like this:

Two guys went to truck driving school, they graduated and got their first job together driving a big-rig. On their first trip out, they had to take a detour and along the way passed a sign that read:
Danger Low Bridge Ahead – 10′ 11″
They continued driving until they came to another sign.
Danger Low Bridge Ahead – 10′ 11″
They drove on until they came to the bridge itself, it had a sign too, it read:
Danger Low Bridge – 10′ 11″
They got out of the truck and measured the height of the trailer at 11′ 3″.
“What do we do?” one said to the other.
The second young trucker looked around a bit and finally said, “Not a cop in sight, let’s go for it!”

This is not the funniest joke in the world. The delivery, was pretty good, but not hilarious. A ripple of laughter passed through the people eating their sandwiches and fast food.

However, one of my coworkers looked puzzled.

After a few moments passed, he looked up at me and said, “There’s no way that truck is getting under that bridge!”

That was much funnier than my joke.

maybe it’s just me…

Big Fun!

Halloween has come and gone, but the candy leftovers remain.

About 8 kids came around for trick-or-treating, which were fewer than I expected. I talked with some friends who had 50, 100, 150 kids of various ages stopping in to collect their goodies. The big question I heard from people I know was, “what happened to ‘Thank you’?”

I think every generation is confused by the one that follows it, and I’m of the age where I’m noticing that more and more. I’m glad to say that the parents, escorting their children where I live, were visibly training their tykes to be polite and say the appropriate things.

I’ll tell you what grinds my gears though.
When did this ————>
become how big “fun” is?

The package is clearly labeled “FunSize”, but it’s only about 1/2″ square by 1″ long. How much fun could that actually be?

Not only is “fun” fairly small, according to the candy manufacturers, but I clearly remember the “FunSize” being 3/4″ wide by 1/2″ high by 2″ long only a couple of years ago. Is “fun” shrinking?

I’ll tell you what “fun” would be; a four-foot long two-foot wide candy bar.

To be fair, we really don’t need bigger candy here in the USA, and Michigan is one of the “largest” states.

You know who’s got their packaging right? It’s the Chicklets people. They at least are honest and call them “Tiny Size”. That’s much more accurate! Do I expect the Snickers people to start calling their candy “not much fun size”? No, I won’t go that far, but I would like to see a better subjective tag like “pretty small size”. I’d really prefer a more objective description like “1-inch size”. If they can’t be objective, then at least they could be comparative. Perhaps something like: “more fun than a punch in the nose size.”

maybe it’s just me…

All Coked Up

The pause that refreshes
… and a smile

I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony.
I’d like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company.

First of all, I can’t believe that they actually used that song in a commercial for Coke when I was a kid. Second, I really like an icy-cold Coke. Coke has a hierarchy, a holy declension of brisk, sweet, caramel-colored cola goodness.

I am not talking about Pepsi, RC, or any store-brand cola-beverage, I’m talking about Coke. The imitations simply can’t compare.

1) Coke in a glass bottle.
Something happened when Coke moved from glass to plastic. Sure, there were far fewer incidents of foaming shards in the grocery store parking lot, and the shelves in the soda aisle stopped making that sticky-gritty sound whenever you moved anything, but was that safety and convenience worth the price? There is no finer imbibment that a 16 oz or 1/2 L glass bottle of “The Real Thing”. Now, it’s only available in the crummy 10 oz variety or from Mexico.

2) McDonald’s Coke
I can’t explain this one, except to say that our favorite Scottish joint gets points for consistency and formula. They have perfected the fountain coke.

3) Coke from a plastic bottle, poured over ice, served in a glass.
This is as close to the #1 as possible, but it’s not the same.

4) Coke from a 20 oz plastic bottle.
Recently I also had a 24 oz bottle that stood up nicely without going to the full 1 L, which, in my opinion, is a waste.

5) Coke in a can.
The aluminum seems to taint the flavor more than the plastic. There are those that disagree with me strongly, they can get their own blog and make their own list.

6) Any fountain Coke in any container.
From the Styrofoam at a gas station to the wax-covered super-big-gulp carton to the “bottomless softdrinks” at any eatery, Coke from a fountain (with the exception of #2 above) is disappointing. It’s still better than #7.

7) Coke at a bar.
I don’t know what they do to it, but it’s wrong.
It’s like kissing your sister, going up the down escalator, plundering the rainforest, pulling the wings off of flies, or Pepsi. It tastes like someone used the nozzle that mixes the syrup and carbonated water to siphon leaded gas from the neighbor’s car in the ’70s and hasn’t bothered to clean it since.

…maybe it’s just me.

Sandwich Construction

I hit the Wendy’s “drive thru” today for lunch.
A Spicy Chicken Sandwich with pickles and cheese, no mayo. It’s really pretty good. However, I feel that I need to instruct sandwich makers the world over on the proper placement of condiments, fruits and vegetables.

It is my considered opinion that the cheese should always go between the meat and the bread with nothing else in-between. Pickles and tomato – if available should top the meat directly and lettuce should not. All other condiments should go directly onto the top of the bun or bread and not directly on the meat.

So, the sandwich looks like this:
burger or chicken thing

Why? I thought you’d never ask.
The cheese, as it gets melty, keeps the meat firmly attached to the bottom bun (bread) which invariably slides off when not cemented with the fermented curd. The pickles add a touch of marinade to the meat and the acid from the tomato does that as well. The lettuce forms a barrier between those items and the condiments. This is critical. The sauces should be allowed to soak directly into the bun. You may have your own ideas about sandwich construction, which I am sure are well-reasoned. These are mine.

I think we can all agree that the tomato, although one of my favorite fruits, should never touch cheese. Don’t believe me? Put a piece of cheese on a slice of tomato and see what happens to the cheese after a minute. It gets pretty slimy. I prefer to avoid that.

…maybe it’s just me?

Leaving Bob Evans

No more Bob Evans in Muskegon for me.
I had lunch there today (please make it stop) for only the second time since going to work (oh the pain) for gospelcom last September. Without getting graphic (really really graphic), that’s it, I’m done (please stop). Not going there any more.

Also – they were handing out printed copies of the business card hoax email and trying to collect business cards. They didn’t want to hear my opinion of that. I think that alone qualifies the Muskegon Bob Evans for a special “finger”.

Family Update – thanks everyone for your prayers
My mom is back at her home in Gulfport again. Her house has just a few shingles missing. The power is on and the water works, but they can’t use anything from the faucet without a ton of chlorine. She’s working at the hospital in 24 hour shifts and has invited some people to stay with her. Not all members of Coast Cardiology staff are accounted for yet.

Dave is off to school farther north in Mississippi, so he’s in the clear. Bruce is still picking up the pieces of his school system.

Mom’s number-one comment is that the news photographs and video just don’t do the carnage justice. I imagine that you miss the 3D effect.

maybe it’s just me…

Katrina and the Beignets

Some of you who know me well, know that my mom (birth mother), Stepfather Bruce, and youngest brother David live in Gulfport, Mississippi, close to ground zero for hurricane Katrina.bandw

On Monday, August 29 she and Dave bugged out and hit I-10 Eastbound for Auburn, Alabama to get out of the way. I talked to her a bit while she was on the highway moving at 3 miles an hour – the same speed as Katrina.

Tuesday morning she, Dave, and the cats were safely ensconsed in their motel, while Bruce held the roof down at his school in Richton, near Hattiesburg. Later that day I couldn’t get her on her phone as the winds and rain subsided and the water from Lake Pontchartrain started to seep and then rush into New Orleans. The cell towers are not functioning and it made me worried.

Wednesday, I got a call from my brother Chris, in Pendleton, South Carolina, and then a text message from Mom letting me know that she’d been home, and found only minor damage to their house. There was no water or power or any point in staying around there so she continued on.

Thursday I heard from Chris again that she was North of Baton Rouge and headed to Chris’ wife’s parents’ place in St. Francisville, Louisianna to wait.

That’s about everything I know for now.

I can’t help thinking, in the midst of the tragedy that I will miss some of the things that I’ve previously enjoyed when I visit next. I will of course be happy to see my family and know that they are OK. I’ll miss the beignets (pronounced ben-yays) and chickory coffee at Cafe du Monde. I’m not making light of the suffering people have there in the Gulfport, Biloxi and New Orleans areas. I can’t help feeling guilty that I’m sitting safe at home, drinking filtered water and Dr. Pepper, and eating restaraunt leftovers while the people there are struggling to stay alive.

Want to help? Check out International Aid.

maybe it’s just me…

Not too long after this post, I got email from my mom. I’ve added it [edited a bit] here. Mom is a Nurse Practioner for Dr. Libbys of Coast Cardiology, a very busy cardiology group covering a large area in and around Gulfport and Biloxi. It’s a division of Encore Enterprises.

Our house survived with minimal cosmetic damage. Lots of damage to roofs & homes in our subdivision, but houses on our street were essentially spared. You may have seen the videos and photos of the Gulfport Grand Casino, dumped in the middle of US 90. To the east of the Oasis Hotel, across the street from that casino, is the Mississippi Power building, which is still standing, but severely damaged. Imediately east of the MP building was the Legg Mason building, where all of the tech, billing and other support for Coast Cardiology and Encore Enterprises was located. It is gone.

The Gulfport office of Coast Cardiology sustained heavy damage. Our Bay St Louis office is gone. Dr Libys’ house in Long Beach is gone. Dr. Baker’s house in Ocean Springs is gone. I haven’t heard from the rest of the Docs, am still trying to reach the rest of our office staff.

I am currently at Jean & Mike Clark’s home (Chris’ in-laws) in St. Francisville, Louisianna, about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge. They have power, water, and gas. There is some rationing of the later, with shortages. Stores are running low on fresh produce. But we are safe, and were able to fill the tank of one car, and fill a couple of 5-gallon gas cans.

Water was restored to our home (in Gulfport) neighborhood yesterday, but we are under a boil water notice there. Power may be quite a bit longer due to downed lines & trees. The street light in front of our house is broken in half & hanging precariously.

Richton (where Bruce works) is in terrible shape with downed power lines and blocked streets. It may be several weeks before Bruce can reopen the schools. The High School lost it’s roof. But we are safe and comfortable, thanks to the generosity of the Clarks.

Love to all

Robin Weigle

My Hero – Zero

As someone who absolutely detests most diet soda (pop) I am pleased to announce an actually palatable carbonated diet cola.

Coke Zero

It’s so much like the older version of Coke (before Coke-Classic, and the “New Coke” of the mid-1980’s, I had to do a double-take.

My local Meijer grocery store handed out dixie-cup size samples of the newest “pause that refreshes” and I was stunned. Diet you say? HA! I had to go read the ingredients:

Coke Zero:
Carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, Aspartame, potassium benzoate…

Diet Coke:
Carbonated water, caramel color, Aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate…

Is the jockeying of one ingredient the difference? Who knows, but I can tell you that the one think I really miss about the original coke is that it was not as sweet at the newer versions. This diet-treat seems to capture that crispness.

So – once again Coke – +1

Way to go!

maybe it’s just me…

Freaks, Geeks, and Taco Bell

Now and then we watch videos at work during lunch. We’re in the Freaks and Geeks series right now. Also, some of us went to Taco Bell today.

I got about $3 worth of stuff off of the value menu. It’s pretty good – considering. I think that the bell should be more honest and simply list their entres by the order of their ingredients, bottom to top:
1) tortilla, beans, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato
2) tortilla, meat, beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato
3) tortilla, beans, cheese, meat, tomato, lettuce
and so-on

Seriously, I’m expecting a new commercial and mascott to do something like this:

Hey, hey, hey!
There’s something totally new from Taco Bell!
Now we’ve put the lettuce and tomato under the beans and meat, but on top of the cheese to create a completely new taste sensation! It’s seriously so much better than the tomato under the cheese thing we tried last month or last year’s disasterous beans, beans, beans, lettuce and cheese! Don’t miss it! Get down to your local Taco Bell today and get your cheese, tomato, lettuce, beans and meat, all on a tortilla! And don’t forget a side order of tortillas and cheese!

It’s no “On the Road” by Kerouac mind you, but it would be so much more honest.

maybe it’s just me.

to the winners go the pizza

After winning a softball game the team decided to go to Pietro’s Back-door Pizzaria (yes, we make all the required off-color jokes about the name). They do this “pizza party” deal for large groups.
-Salad (simple itallian salad)
-Breadsticks (very hearty)
-Pizza (keep ’em coming)
-Soda-pop (Pepsi products… beware)

All that for $6.95/person.
When it’s a party of 20-something, it works pretty well.

Now here’s where I fell.
After all of that, I stopped at McDonalds on the way home for a small Vanilla Shake for $2… WHAT WAS I THINKING? Like I needed that?
And the price? I could have bought a 1/2 gallon of ice-cream for that. Is that stupid or what?

maybe it’s just me…

Breakfast Cereal

Sometimes I’m completely overwhelmed by the craving for a good (bad) sugar-cereal.

Boo-berry (a cousin to Count Chocula)
Quisp (haven’t seen this one in years)
Frosted Flakes
Cocoa Crispies
Cap’n Crunch – Crunch Berries
and the High Exaulted Poo-bah of them all…
Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch

Saturday morning cartoons, a big bowl, a gallon of milk and a coke-slurpee if you can get one. Add to that some Wonder Bread and I’m set for the day.

maybe it’s just me…