Wednesday, November 28, 2012   Have you ever thought of something really clever and wished you could get it printed on a t-shirt?

Well has you covered.

But wait you say, I also wanted to get it on my iPhone case, a poster, a mug, a speaker cover and about forty other things. [1]

Well has you covered.

But wait you say, I don't have a witty saying, I want a cool picture or graphic on my shirt.

Well has you covered.

Basically these guys have made a very successful business out of printing whatever you want on whatever you want.  And if they don't actually have the thing you want, they are always accepting new ideas for new things to print stuff on.

But wait you say, I'm not that creative.  I need somebody else to come up with the clever sayings and cool graphics.

Well has you covered.

Because once somebody creates something, they can post it online for the world to see.
And buy.

For instance:

make custom gifts at Zazzle

Anyway, I like A

[1] - Here is a nearly complete list: iPad cases, laptop bags, pacifiers, playing cards, shirts of all types and sizes including hoodies, sweat shirts and baby clothes, bags, messenger bags, buttons, hats, keychains, necklaces, ties, belt buckles, invitations, cards, stamps, labels, envelopes, mugs, stickers, magnets, calendars, aprons, coasters, stationary, pet bowls, pet clothing, photo sculptures, ornaments, 3 ring binders, water bottles, pillows, napkins, placemats, kitchen towels, pitchers, candy jars, plates, teapots, tiles, gift boxes, plaques, puzzles, notebooks, notepads, pet tags, cake toppers, luggage tages, clocks, dry-erase boards, dart boards, yard signs, awards, business cards, mousepads, planners, posters, wrapped canvas, wall decals, iPhone cases, kindle cases, galaxy cases, Droid RAZR cases, MacBook sleeves, speakers, bumper stickers and skateboards.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I'm Thankful For

What I'm Thankful For: This was going to be about how Thanksgiving is the only truly American holiday.[1]  But now it isn't.  In part because I just wasn't feeling it, but also because I wanted to talk about other things.

So instead I thought I would take the more traditional route and talk about what I'm most thankful for.  Don't worry, this isn't going to be a smarmy list of sappy sentimentalism.  Instead this is a slightly different take.  This is how I am so very thankful that the Pook puts up with me.[2]

To illuminate why this is maybe not such an easy thing, I present the following three bits of evidence.

1) I'm seriously grumpy in the morning and she doesn't really mind.  I'm not talking about normal levels of grumpy.  I mean super-mega-seriously-don't expect more than a grunt from me-levels of grumpiness.

The Pook on the other hand generally springs out of bed in the morning ready-to-go and full of pep.

She later told me that the first month or so that she got to experience this, she thought I was mad at her for something.  Every morning.

Typical morning conversation.  Me in shower.  Pook cheerfully doing whatever it is that Pooks do in the mornings cheerfully.

Pook: I thought tonight we could go out to eat and then to Target.
Me: . . .
Pook: We don't have to go to Target if you don't want to.
Me: . . .
Pook: We could stay home too.
Me: . . .

I'm quite the witty conversationalist.

2) I never notice anything.  Seriously, the world could end and I would miss it.  Last night I spent ten minutes searching everywhere in the bathroom for some medicine of mine and finally gave up in frustration.  She walked in and found it in half a second sitting in plain sight. [3]

A better example is given by this actual conversation:

Pook: Did you see that sign about [something I would be interested in] on the way to work?
Me: No?  Where did you see that?
Pook: It was in front of that house that is shaped like an igloo.
Me: There's a house shaped like an igloo?  Where?
Pook: Seriously? It's just around the corner from our subdivision.  We pass it every morning on the way to work.
Me: There's a house that's shaped like an igloo just around the corner?  Where?
Pook: It's just after that big swampy area.
Me: What big swampy area?

In my defense, we usually pass this way in the morning and I'm not exactly alive at that point. [4]

3) My dreams sometimes get the better of me and by way of collateral damage her too.

For instance, one time I dreamed there were giant spiders on the floor of the bedroom. [5]  When they started to come up onto the bed I started actually screaming out loud: GET OUT OF THE BED! GO! GO! GO!

The Pook jumped out of bed in what I assume is a state of pure panic and confusion.  Of course, at that point I had woken myself up as well and I said, "Oh. Never mind."

Another time, I was having this dream that I was hiding behind a slim post.  There was a "bad guy" coming up from the other side with a gun and for whatever reason he had yet to see me and I knew that as long as I stayed still he wouldn't see me.  However he was also getting closer and would eventually discover me no matter what I did.

There was a three foot section of 2x4 [6] leaning against the same post.  I knew that if I waited for the right moment he would get close enough.  Then if I was quick enough, I could grab the piece of wood and slam the bad guy with it.  Of course if I was too slow, he would shoot me.

I waited as he got ever nearer.  Then at the last second I sprung into action.  WHAM!!!  I got him!

The next morning as I was washing my hair in the shower, I suddenly thought to myself.  Did I slam my pillow into the Pook while she was sleeping?

It was all very fuzzy and vague.  Also, I'm not the most alive person in the mornings. [7]  I decided the best course of action would be to say nothing unless she did.

Almost immediately after I had finished the thought, the Pook suddenly stopped doing whatever it is that Pooks cheerfully do in the mornings cheerfully and said, "Did you slam me in the head with your pillow last night?"

Evidently, I had sprung up onto my knees.  Grabbed me pillow.[8]  And slammed it down onto her head.[9]  I then laid down and went back to sleep.

All I can say is thank goodness she's a world class sleeper.

Anyway, this is just a short list of the many ways that living with me ain't easy.

Thanks Pook.

The Pook Putting Up With Me: A+

[1] -  Yes, July 4th is our independence day, but lots of countries have independence days.  Only Thanksgiving is about eating too much and watching TV.
[2] - Betcha didn't see that one coming.
[3] - Or at least that's what she claims.
[4] - Refer to item 1 above.
[5] - Two to three foot across big hairy ones.
[6] - Big piece of lumber that would make a big club.
[7] - Refer to item 1 above.
[8] - Or 2x4 if you prefer.
[9] - Or onto the bad guy's if you prefer.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

There was a time in my life, about ten years ago, when my craving for a great spicy chicken sandwich suddenly became too big to ignore.  Thus, assuming my body knew what it was talking about, I set out to find the best spicy chicken sandwich I could.

As fate would have it, at that time just about every fast food restaurant had a spicy chicken sandwich to offer. [1] At the time I was working at a place that was in Atlanta and generally near several big business areas, so I had no problem getting to most of my options.  To fulfill my quest I then set out to methodically visit every restaurant that was offering what could potentially be my culinary holy grail.

Here then are the results of that endeavor.  Granted it has been quite a few years and I may have forgotten some of the finer details, but the final results are, I assure you, accurate. [2]

Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: I started with Wendy's because I thought this could possibly be the beginning and the ending of my quest.  After all, the commercials at the time showed people eating the sandwich and melting hockey rinks!  I made my first pilgrimage to the house of Dave. [3]

The chicken itself was of good thickness and looked nearly as good as the advertisements.  Much to my surprise Wendy's offering was anything but acceptable.  The sandwich had some spice to it, so you could taste a flavor difference, but it had little to no actual heat to it.  It was a fine piece of chicken, but it was about as spicy as my grandmother. I was completely let down.

Checkers Spicy Chicken Sandwich: There wasn't a Checkers near my job, so one day I traveled to a suitable Checkers that was about halfway between work and home.  Like most of Checkers food the sandwich was cheap, so I bought two.

It comes on a standard Checkers' bun which was fine.  There was the smallest dab of mayo on both sandwiches.  Just enough that when you bit the bite that would contain the exact center of the sandwich you might notice it. [4]  And there were a couple shreds of lettuce put there almost as an afterthought.  The chicken itself was a cheap thin patty with sad breading on the outside.

Unfortunately, there was again no spicy.  In fact, both of the sandwiches were so not spicy I came to the conclusion that they must have gotten my order wrong and given me plain chicken sandwiches.  For those of you unaware of how Checkers works, it is essentially a drive through only, so by the time all of this was discovered, I was miles away.

I was in fact so convinced that this must be the case, that I went back a few days later and ordered two more spicy chicken sandwiches.  This time being sure to carefully enunciate and confirm my order.  Sadly, the comestibles I got were just as completely unspicy as the last pair. Complete failure.

KFC's Zinger Chicken Strip Sandwich: KFC had recently come out with a range of chicken sandwiches.  They were not actually chicken patties, but instead they would put three of their chicken strips on the bun and dress them up in different ways.  Included in this series was a sandwich with spicy zinger sauce on it.

The sandwich itself was actually one of the better chicken sandwiches you could get at the time.  It had a good bun, lots of lettuce and nice piece of tomato.  And because it had three chicken strips instead of just one patty, it meant you got more crunchy coating in the middle bites than you typically would have.

The zinger sauce was also quite tasty.  It also had good spice to it.  Unfortunately, because the spiciness wasn't actually part of the chicken itself, but instead a sauce applied on top of the lettuce by whoever made the sandwich, the amount of spiciness you got was very random.  Even if you asked for extra zinger sauce [5] it still meant it was very easy to have many bites without spice.

Burger King's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: My memory is failing me on this one.  Either Burger King had a spicy chicken sandwich for a limited time and I failed to purchase one in the appropriate time window or they never actually had one at all.  Either way, it means the King let me down.

McDonald's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: Fortunately, McDonald's also had a spicy chicken sandwich that they were offering for a limited time.  They had them on their dollar menu and they sometimes had them on sale for two for $1.  As I was on a pretty tight budget back then, thus this was already very appealing.  However, McD's isn't really known for their culinary prowess, so I didn't get them expecting very much.

The bun was no surprise and the typical McDonald's offering.  It too had the amazingly small dollop of mayo and the sad lettuce just as the Checker's sandwich.  Also like the Checker's sandwich the chicken itself was a thin and covered in breading.  It was there the similarities ended though.  Because the McDonald's sandwich was amazingly spicy.  Not so spicy you couldn't eat it, but way more spicy than you had any reason to expect from a restaurant that typically caters to small children who's biggest adventure in eating is mustard.

I was right and properly gobsmacked.  I consumed my two sandwiches in happy bliss and when finished I reveled in the slight after burn.  They didn't look like much, but the McDonald's sandwiches were by far and away the clear winners.  My quest ended in an unlikely spot with well known gold[6] and I returned there many times in the following weeks.  I must admit I was truly sad when the promotion ended and the spicy goodness could no longer be had.

In truth, the reason for my writing this post is that I happened to be at McDonald's the other day and the spicy chicken sandwiches are back.  They are again a dollar each, but I don't believe that they had lettuce on them this time.  In fact, it's making me doubt that there was lettuce last time either, but it doesn't matter.  I wasn't eating them for the green stuff.  However, they also were not quite as good as my memory tells me they were in the past, but that could in a large part be because of a later entry to the field.

Chik-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich: At the time of my original quest, Chik-Fil-A didn't have a spicy sandwich and thus was a non-contender.  However since that time they have joined the fray and they brought a heavy-weight.  Their spicy chicken sandwich is amazingly good.  It has all the plump chickeny goodness of the regular Chik-Fil-A sandwich, but it is coated in mouth burning awesomeness.  This is now my go-to sandwich for when I have a hankering and in truth I no longer even order their regular sandwich at all.

I do have to say that when they first came out I think that they were actually spicier than they are now, because the first several times I had them I could hardly eat them.  I was truly amazed by how strong the spiciness was.  In fact, the first day they were offered the Pook and I both got one. [7]  She couldn't even finish hers and has never ordered another. Now-a-days they are still plenty spicy, but I don't find them nearly so powerful.  Of course, that might just be my getting used to them, but I really don't think so.

You can also get them with pepper-jack cheese on them, but I've never been a big fan of that cheese.  I always find it to be a lot of spicy and no real flavor.  So, I've never actually gotten one.  I prefer mine with a packet of their honey roasted bar-b-cue sauce on it.  It's glorious.

Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: D+
Checkers Spicy Chicken Sandwich: F-
KFC's Zinger Chicken Strip Sandwich: B-
Burger King's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: n/a
McDonald's Spicy Chicken Sandwich: A-
Chik-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich: A+

ENDNOTE: If anyone should know of any other contenders, I'm always looking for something new.  Assuming it's a restaurant I can get to without too much hassle, I'll be glad to give it a shot.

[1] - I'm not sure if this is pure coincidence or if all of these restaurants knew of my upcoming yearnings and thus all provided me with their offerings.  Of course the more cynical minded of you might think that it was I who had either knowingly or unknowingly succumbed to the power of advertising.  But that's just silly.
[2] - To within an acceptable deviation at any rate.
[3] - Thomas that is.
[4] - But probably not.
[5] - A request that was not always allowed.
[6] - en arches.
[7] - There was a promotion and if you made a "reservation" online you could get a sandwich for free.