Monday, July 27, 2009

The Food Vortex

Ahh, a fine Monday morning to chase down a great weekend.

I had a pretty great weekend full of quality time with good friends, some nice quiet time for myself, time to sleep when I was tired, etc. Let me tell you about the high point, though...

Yesterday, we did a pretty hilly 12-mile run in some pretty stout humidity. Fortunately the sun was hidden behind the clouds and we were all in good company.

I noticed around mile 10 that I was starting to get pretty hungry. Those of you who know me know that I tend to eat a lot, and that I also LOVE food. I make the distinction between those two because they're NOT synonymous and don't always go hand-in-hand. I've got a pretty good metabolism and burn a lot of calories in my day to day activities, not to mention all the running I do on top of that.

Every once in a while, however, The Good Lord smiles on me, and somewhere in my stomach, a gateway opens to a parallel universe I like to call "The Food Vortex." In the presence of The Food Vortex, I can eat all the food I can get my hands on and never seem to get full.

Some of the guys decided to go to the Noshville Deli after our run yesterday. As much as I like hanging with the guys after these runs, I wasn't stoked about having to drive 20 minutes, then have to wait longer for my food to come out. I mean, what if the gateway to the food vortex closed?!? Plus, I was craving Burger King something FIERCE!

Fortunately, the guys got to Noshville well before I did only to find the line too long and I talked my buddy Hunter into meeting me at Burger King. Victory!

When we got there, I asked the cashier if they still had "that big breakfast sandwich," and she eventually found it...apparently not a popular item (I ordered it once before and couldn't finish it). I ordered that in the large combo meal and could barely stand still as anticipation mounted. I winced as she spilled a few of the hash browns and had to throw them out. I think she noticed, and seeing as they were done serving breakfast, she gave me a small box of french toast sticks as well. I had to choke back tears of joy.

About 15-20 minutes later, I'd finished the sandwich, the king-sized hash browns and also the french toast sticks. I did my normal post-meal sigh of satisfaction, but spliced in with the peaceful exhalation was yet another cry of hunger from the insatiable food vortex. I looked at my empty tray, then at Hunter, then at the (now lunch) menu, then back at Hunter who gave me the "Why Not?!?" look.

I returned to the counter to order a Whopper Jr. and some french fries from another cashier. My original cashier returned to the counter a moment later, saw me standing there, and asked me if I needed something. I thanked her and explained that I'd simply placed another order for more food. She gave me a brief glance of incredulity, then turned, chuckled and went about her business.

Finally the vortex echoed my sigh of satisfaction. I can think of few things that please me more than being able to enjoy that much food in one sitting. According to the BK website, my total calorie intake for that meal came out to about 2110 calories - breakfast accounted for about 1400 of that.

Like I said, I do normally eat a lot, but that's a pretty good amount of food even for me. Anyway, I guess its back to the normal eating habits, until the next time the food vortex graces me with its presence or lack thereof.

Simply beautiful, Simply beautiful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh Starbucks...

Today is free pastry day at Starbucks.

I've been doing track workouts with a group on Tuesday mornings to improve my speed for my newly-found love of running. Last week we had our second, one-mile time trial. Because I improved since the last one, my training paces have quickened, making my workouts feel a lot tougher than they did a couple of weeks ago. That being said, I opted to treat myself to a post-run trip to Starbucks for "free pastry day" after a new running acquaintance named Christine (sp?) kindly shared an extra coupon with me.

Truth be told, I'm not really a Starbucks fan. I'd rather spend three hours in Wal-Mart any day over ten minutes in Starbucks.

Why don't I like Starbucks? (forgive me, some of these answers are singularly cliche).
  • I hate having to feel cool or successful just to buy a dang cup of coffee. Now that I'm not in the music business anymore, I feel like an outsider if for some reason I go to Starbucks.
  • The hype is ridiculous. Good coffee and coffee drinks are an art, not a science or chemical equation.
  • Now, I'm no connoisseur...I'm just a handyman, but their coffee just doesn't taste very good...isn't it kind of bitter?
My main reason, however can be summed up in three words:

Tall, Grande & Venti. (of course, you knew I couldn't just LEAVE it at three words)

Let's ponder this for a moment. I'm going to look at it from a perspective of a person like myself and others who aren't particularly "Coffee Shop Savvy," as it were. I'll come back around with the original intent of the Starbucks sizing structure.
  • Tall: This is not really a size adjective. It's more of an appearance description, but for benefit-of-the-doubt's sake, let's treat it as a size adjective. Generally speaking, is a tall person not usually considered bigger than a short person? So, it may be safe to assume that "Tall" would be the Large, but in Starbucks vernacular, it actually means Small. If I order something Tall, I sort of expect to be drinking out of a test tube or chemical vial.
  • Grande: "Grande" is Italian for Large. Plain and simple but for the fact that this is actually the Medium size at Starbucks.
  • Venti: This is the most creative one of all. "Venti" is Italian for...dun dun dun...Twenty. Why? Because because it comes in a 20 oz. cup. It's actually 20.5 according to the bottom of the cup, but perhaps "Venti E Mezzo" was less catchy. I guess, however, seeing as Italy uses the metric system, perhaps it should be "Seicento E Sei" (Six Hundred and Six Milliliters).
These sizes aren't even all in the same language. So, for the sake of juxtaposition, let's put them all in English and get this straight (I'm leaving out the "short" size because you have to specifically ask for it to get it):
  • "Tall" = small
  • "Large" = medium
  • "Twenty" = Large
A height description meaning the opposite of it's definition, an actual size description meaning something other than its definition, and a number. So, not only do these all mean either the same thing or nothing at all, but they're relatively irrelevant to each other.

They could have gone with: Short, Medium and Tall, or Short, Tall and Shaquille O'neal (NBA Sponsorship, yes?)
The could have gone with: Small, Medium and Large
The could have gone with: Otto (8) Dodici (12), Sedici (16) and Venti (20)

My understanding is that Starbucks originally had two sizes that were "Short" and "Tall." Because we Americans like such mass quantities (I'm a huge fan of Sonic's Route 44 drinks), they had to adapt. I know I appreciate the adaptation, but could you guys not have made it a bit more user-friendly to first-timers, or at least more cohesive by using one type of measuring system?

I'm sorry Starbucks...I'm being kind of hard on you. Surely, I'll be buying your coffee again, but I'll do as I always do: Order a "Big Ol' Coffee" with the fullest southern drawl that I'm capable of, and wait to be corrected by some annoyed hipster behind the counter when he/she rolls his/her eyes and says, "Oh, you mean a 'Venti,'" like I was speaking some language other than English.

In the meantime, if I can help it, I'll spend my coffee budget at Créma, where Rachel, Lacey, Libby, Logan and Mark let me order a "Large Coffee," without batting an eye.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Moaning Myrtle

It's been a rough couple of months as far as death is concerned...the world has lost a quite a few heavily, visually influential people. Today for some reason, I've really been thinking about it a lot.
"I was just sitting in the U-bend, thinking about death..."
-Moaning Myrtle
I was at a restaurant for my friend Maggie's birthday last night and for some reason, "The Dark Knight" was on the TV. I say, "for some reason," because it seems an odd choice for over-dinner viewing. I stole many glances at the TV during dinner to admire what a find job Heath Ledger did portraying The Joker. It got me to thinking that there were so many blank pages in his book yet to be filled that are now destined to remain blank.

I think about Bernie Mac and that he'll never again be a part of Danny Ocean's team.

I think of Richard Harris and how much more I preferred him as Professor Dumbledore rather than Michael Gambon.

Being a guitar player and an appreciator of those who play it well, I sometimes wonder about Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and what they would have become had it not been for their youthful deaths.

In the last couple of months, we've lost Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon, Steve McNair, and just recently, Walter Cronkite. All of these people had very visible impacts on America/The World.

People die everyday and have been doing so since the advent of man, but we never really get used to it, do we? Even those of us who are confident of an afterlife struggle with death. It's so hard when we miss a person, or we can see what a strong impact their life made on others. We want to mourn them, but we are torn between mourning and continuing to make the most of our short time here on Earth.
"Follow me and let the dead bury their own dead."
-Jesus Christ
How precious is life? Considering the human reproductive process, the probability of any one of us being born is MILLIONS to one. Somehow, when we were born, we won the race to the egg. Let alone the probability of a single planet in a vast galaxy that has the capacity to sustain life. And yet humanity can be so cavalier in creating new life. So many unadopted children, so many single parents, so many irresponsible parents, so many abandoned children left to ponder their existence on their own.

How fragile is life? One squeezed-trigger/One bullet, one careless second behind the wheel, one blood clot, one moment of giving-up, In the same cavalier manner that humanity now creates life, it also destroys it. Gangs kill people to sustain their own egos according to their meaningless/arbitrary systems of pride, people knowingly drive drunk, people abuse drugs and miss out on precious seconds/minutes/hours/days/weeks/years that we don't get back.

How precious is our time? Can we really afford to waste precious minutes dwelling on unchangeable details, festering in drug-induced stupors, taking for granted the extreme improbability of our mere existence, harboring anger, holding grudges. Isn't life difficult enough w/out these complications?

Friends - Today, if we enjoy a beverage in company, let us offer a toast to life, and mean it.