Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sheetz Sandwich Standoff: El Gringo vs Twisted Swiss

My wife left me alone for dinner tonight so I decided to check out the latest GetGo offerings... but to my great chagrin, they have no promotional subs.

My travels led me to the local Sheetz, where I'd be able to keep eating the best gas station sandwiches around.



To keep tradition alive, I picked the two most outrageous "Burgerz" on the menu: El Gringo and Twisted Swiss.

The ingredient list is promising:



Twisted Swiss is the burger with topped with swiss cheese, cole slaw, pickles, bacon, and whatever "Boom Boom Sauce" is on a pretzel bun.  El Gringo is the burger topped with pepper jack cheese, chili, Doritos, and BBQ sauce on a regular old bun.

I unwrapped them both and stood back to admire the majesty before me.



They're not pretty, but they do look a lot better out of the wrapper than many fast food burgers I've eaten.


Twisted Swiss
I expected this sandwich to be an awful mess.  It just seemed like a bunch of stuff thrown together.  I prepared myself for the worst and dived in.



First impression: it's shockingly... good.  The flavors are in balance.  It's a little salty, a little sweet, some sourness, just a touch of umami.   The coleslaw is everywhere, though.  It's a mess.  This is one of those sandwiches that you need to take a shower after eating.

The burger patty is weird.  It reminds me of the ones from the high school cafeteria; kind of thin, not much flavor, and the texture is like they've been sitting in a tray of warm water for an hour.  It's safe to say that the light from a grill has never shined on this burger.  I'm assuming they're made in a microwave, so I appreciate that it doesn't have that chewy, reheated-in-the-microwave texture, but still... it's far from the pinnacle of culinary might.

Regardless, it's a weirdly good combination of flavors.  It's better than anything I've had at McDonald's.


The Gringo
This sandwich has to be designed by the kid in 4th grade that dips his french fries in chocolate milk. If the first time this sandwich was served there was a volcano and earthquake because its presence angered the Gods, I wouldn't be surprised.  I was intimidated, but I picked it up, closed my eyes, and took a bite.



It's not good.  This is not something I want to eat.  There's no flavor balance.  It's just salt.  Salt and Doritos.  It turns out that the Primanti's approach to sandwiches and fries doesn't work with burgers and Doritos.  It's like somebody emptied their lunch into a bowl, mashed it all together, and put it back in a sandwich.  The texture of the burger is so close to the bun that it's just like eating a Dorito sandwich.  With barbecue sauce.

There's chili in there but I don't know why.  You could never tell, there's no trace of it in the flavor.  The chili represents the lies we tell ourselves that we never believe, but for some reason keep repeating.  This burger is nihilism in sandwich form.  It values no relationships, it can only destroy.

I threw the second half away.  Nobody should ever be subjected to this.

I went back to the weird coleslaw pretzel burger.  By this point it had cooled down, and the loss of heat was not kind to this one.  It's not nearly as good lukewarm as it was at first.  Still, a bad Twisted Swiss is better than the best El Gringo.



I'm not happy I did this.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Coding with Chrome's JavaScript API

Coding with Chrome is a new Google application that's built to help people learn how to code.  It supports Blockly, CoffeeScript, Pencil Code, and JavaScript.  It's free to download and works right your the Chrome browser.

I've been working on some educational material for the new application.  One of the things I really like about it is that it provides a really simple drawing API so you can easily code shapes and drawings instead of starting off with the command line.  Since the application gives you an immediate response, you're able to experiment and see how changing your code affects the picture on the screen.


Here's what I've learned about the basic drawing API.  You can download this file and try experimenting with the code yourself.


/*
 * draw.clear() clears the screen.
 */
draw.clear();

/*
 * draw.point(x, y, color, size) draws the specified point on the screen in the
 * specified color.
 *
 * @param {number} The X-coordinate for the point.
 * @param {number} The Y-coordinate for the point.
 * @param {string} The color for the point. Can be specified as a named color
 *                 or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {number} The size of the point (extends downward and to the right).
 */
draw.point(2, 2, 'purple', 10);

/*
 * draw.rectangle(x, y, width, height, fillcolor, strokecolor, stroke) draws a
 * rectangle on the screen.  The (x, y) coordinate specifies the top-left corner
 * of the rectangle.
 *
 * @param {number} The X-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The Y-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The width of the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The height of the rectangle.
 * @param {string} The fill color of the rectangle. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {string} The stroke color of the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The width of the stroke line.
 */
draw.rectangle(20, 200, 200, 300, 'red', 'green', 5);;
draw.rectangle(100, 400, 40, 100, 'gray', 'black', 1);

/*
 * draw.triangle(x1, y1, x2, y2, x3, y3, fillcolor, strokecolor, stroke) draws
 * a triangle connecting the three points specified.
 *
 * @param {number} The first X-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The first Y-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The second X-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The second Y-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The third X-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The third Y-coordinate for the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The width of the triangle.
 * @param {number} The height of the triangle.
 * @param {string} The fill color of the triangle. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {string} The stroke color of the rectangle.
 * @param {number} The width of the stroke line.
 */
draw.triangle(20, 200, 220, 200, 120, 20, 'blue', 'green', 5);

/*
 * draw.ellipse(x, y, width, height, fillcolor, strokecolor, stroke) draws a
 * ellipse on the screen, with the (x, y) coordinate at the top-left corner of a
 * a hypothetical rectangle that encloses the ellipse.
 *
 * @param {number} The X-coordinate for the ellipse.
 * @param {number} The Y-coordinate for the ellipse.
 * @param {number} The width of the ellipse.
 * @param {number} The height of the ellipse.
 * @param {string} The fill color of the ellipse. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {string} The stroke color of the ellipse.
 * @param {number} The width of the stroke line.
 */
draw.ellipse(70, 260, 40, 60, 'cyan', 'white', 2);
draw.ellipse(170, 260, 40, 60, 'cyan', 'white', 2);

/*
 * draw.circle(x, y, radius, fillcolor, strokecolor, stroke) draws a
 * circle on the screen, with the (x, y) coordinate at the center of the circle.
 *
 * @param {number} The X-coordinate for the circle.
 * @param {number} The Y-coordinate for the circle.
 * @param {number} The radius of the circle.
 * @param {string} The fill color of the circle. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {string} The stroke color of the circle.
 * @param {number} The width of the stroke line.
 */
draw.circle(132, 450, 5, 'white', 'black', 1);

/*
 * draw.line(x1, y1, x2, y2, strokecolor, stroke) draws a line connecting the
 * two specified points.
 *
 * @param {number} The first X-coordinate for the line.
 * @param {number} The first Y-coordinate for the line.
 * @param {number} The second X-coordinate for the line.
 * @param {number} The second Y-coordinate for the line.
 * @param {string} The stroke color of the line. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {number} The width of the stroke line.
 */
draw.line(100, 500, 80, 700, 'black', 1);
draw.line(140, 500, 160, 700, 'black', 1);

/*
 * draw.text(text, x, y, color, drawSmall, drawOutline) draws text on the screen
 * at the specified point. The point marks the bottom-left corner of the text 
 * to be drawn.
 *
 * @param {string} The text to be drawn on the screen.
 * @param {number} The X-coordinate for the text.
 * @param {number} The Y-coordinate for the text.
 * @param {string} The color of the text. Can be specified as a named
 *                 color or as a hexadecimal color code.
 * @param {boolean} If true, draw smaller text.
 * @param {boolean} If true, draw only an outline of the text (no fill).
 */
draw.text('HOUSE', 300, 200, 'black', false, true);





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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Final Exam, Question 16: Star Boars

This has become a routine now: I don't give extra credit but on final exams I usually include a gimme question that involves something absurd.  I've done it a few times before (pigs in hats / hippos thinking about tacos / happy rabbits).  For my web development class's final exam, question 16 was: "Illustrate what a warthog would look like if it were piloting a spaceship.  Title your drawing Star Boars."  These are the finest submissions.

I tried to time this one with the release of the new Star Wars movie but I'm not so good at getting this kind of thing done so you get it 5 months late.

Disclaimer: the dark side would have won if they had more porcine TIE Fighter pilots.


As usual, click the small images to see the bigger images.


Even after sustaining significant damage, this pig perseveres.  Star Boars are dedicated.


Not sure if this is a pig or a normal guy with a big mustache.  Also the Pig Box was way better than the Pig Box 360.


This one looks angry and can swing a lightsaber while piloting the spaceship.  I don't think I've seen any other characters do that.


SPACE BOARS C'MON PEOPLE


See, this pig is more sophisticated than 90% of the PHP programmers out there.


I like this pig because it kind of looks like a squirrel.


That's either a rhino or Rocksteady from TMNT.  


BOAR WARS?
COME ON PEOPLE THE INSTRUCTIONS WERE CLEAR


Great point.


This one looks like he'd be the first to stick somebody with a broken bottle in a bar fight.


I'm really surprised there weren't more Lion King references.






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Monday, May 30, 2016

Get Go Sandwich Standoff: "West Coast Chicken Sub" vs "Parma Mia"

Recently I decided that my stomach (and heart) had enough of a break since my last gastrointestinal undertaking at GetGo, so I headed over to the local purveyor of diesel fuel, fine foods, and gasoline to to try their New Yorker sub. Unfortunately it was a limited time offer, and time was up... but they did have this new great looking sandwich, the West Coast Chicken Sub.



According to the GetGo Cafe website:

"Our exclusive West Coast Chicken Sub is stacked with tender, juicy chicken, crisp bacon, melty Swiss, fresh spinach, tomato and guacamole, all on a multigrain sub roll baked fresh in-store!"

I ordered a 3.5" straightaway, and I also picked up a Parma Mia (GetGo's over-the-top take on a Chicken Parmesan sub).

First impressions: what I ended up with looked quite a bit different from the picture in the store. Not quite "stacked with" anything, really. I got a slice of tomato, 4 spinach leaves, about 3 tiny strips of grilled chicken, and one piece of bacon. I could taste a dash of guacamole. There might be cheese? I can't be sure.



Comparing the promotional picture to the one in front of me reminds me of something...

This sandwich is likely to have lifelong self esteem issues due to failing to meet its high visual expectations.


The flavor? Actually not bad, but the filling-to-bread ratio is messed up... there's not enough here. The proportions are all off. The effect is like they made a tiny sub, then put the sub inside another bigger sub.

Is it subception?


Also, it's too toasted. What's with this sandwich toasting? It makes eating the bread like crunching sharp gravel. There might be easier ways to carve up the roof of your mouth but this definitely does the trick. Subway does the same thing, but at least they ask before submitting you to mouth torture.

Every $5 toasted footlong comes with a 1 day supply of oral agony!


Regardless, I did finish it. That's a plus. There weren't many flavors, but the ones that are there are pretty good. You could try ordering the 14" version and just throwing out half of the bread - that might do it.


Next up: the Parma Mia. GetGo has a great picture of it on their website.



This is what mine looked like:

Much like adulthood, the reality falls far short of expectations.


I couldn't find information on their website, but I believe the ingredients are fried chicken strips, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella sticks.  

I started in. First bite, bread. Second bite, bread. The third bite was bread with a little breading. Fourth bite: bread, breading, and a hint of some cheap canned sauce like Prego. Wait... the fifth bite includes chicken (shocking!). Six bites in and I get to the whole experience.

How do they hide the fillings so deeply in the sandwich? I think it's magnets.


It's... edible. Mostly, everything just tastes like breading, but not crispy - it's soggy breading. I'm assuming that the chicken and mozzarella sticks are microwaved. It reminds me of sad vending machine lunches under fluorescent lights in some corporate breakroom. The overwhelming number of fried things makes it all congeal together. The mozzarella sticks are the most disappointing. They don't taste like anything other than salty cheese. Honestly, it could've been just regular old mozzarella cheese instead of fried cheese sticks and it would've tasted about the same, maybe even better.

It's not the worst thing I've eaten, but I've had much better chicken parmesan subs, and it actually reminds me a lot of The General - a few things that are OK on their own but the combination is somehow less than the sum of its parts. I gave the rest of it away, I didn't want to finish it.

The West Coast Chicken Sub gets the win here, even though it's almost like they're fighting in different divisions. The puny bit of healthy stuff on the West Coast Chicken Sub somehow beats out the giant, sturdy mass of microwaved fried frozen bar food on the Parma Mia. Reminds of a Bible story or a boxing game or something.

"I think that everything I do tends to root for the underdog." -Judd Apatow, talking about gas station sandwiches (probably)



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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Few More Probably Totally Normal Things My Son Has Said

My son is 7 now. He used to be 6. Sometimes he says words.

Benny's Christmas List:
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Bumblebee Transformer
  • Pokemon Stuffed Animal Lillipup
  • Puppy Place Series
  • Infinity Star Wars Set
  • iPod
  • Phone
  • A Car*
* I was just kidding about the car


Benny: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
(Benny angrily glares at me, unblinking, for about 30 seconds)


We can hardly do anything an owl can do.


Mama, I am sooooo glad I was born in 2008. I would NOT want to have been born when we were owned by England.


I feel like you need to buy new underwear because I think people can see my butt through these.



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