The Pittsburgh Tunnel Monster gets national attention?


Well, sort of.  The buzz around town on the news & radio lately has been about a survey by a GPS data company called INRIX that calls the sweet spot from Greentree to the Fort Pitt tunnels on the Parkway West here in the ‘Burgh the worst traffic outside of New York or Los Angeles.  Read the Post-Gazette article for all the juicy details.  Here’s an excerpt…

According to INRIX, it takes an average of 13 minutes — nine more than it should — to traverse that stretch. That doesn’t count the time it takes to get there, as morning backups now routinely spill well down the back side of Green Tree Hill and sometimes past Carnegie.

At a delay of nine minutes a day, for a regular commuter that works out to about 36 hours a year down the rat hole, just for the morning rush. According to INRIX, drivers on the 10 worst U.S. corridors may squander up to 60 hours a year stuck in traffic.

Those who while away their mornings in the daily tangle might be inclined to dream of a wider Parkway West or new tunnels drilled through Mount Washington, but financial and topographic realities make that a bit like yearning for world peace.

105.9 WXDX-FM

105.9 WXDX-FM

The guys on the X were talking about it yesterday morning, so I sent Bob a link to my Tunnel Monster blog.  Bob posted it on their morning show blog & I’ve been getting mad hits today because if it.  Ha ha.  Thanks guys!

I do have to say though that the Steely McBeam tunnel monster image isn’t mine.  Someone named Angry Mongo posted it first.

I have one more “artist rendering” from Eric Yano (I’d still like to see more!):

Flying Tunnel Monster

Flying Tunnel Monster (by Eric Yano / Valley of Steel)

And here was the letter to MythBusters & Dirty Jobs, that didn’t get a reply from anyone…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 27, 2012
Subject: The Pittsburgh Tunnel Monster (Mythbusters & Dirty Jobs team-up?)
To: jamie@m5industries.com, mythbusters@m5industries.com, adam@adamsavage.com, info@mikeroweworks.com, torybelleci@gmail.com, swift@buchwald.com
Cc: info@beyondaction.com.au

Dear Duke of Dirt and Sultans of Science (or Emperors of Explosions?),

I’m a big fan of both of your shows, I believe that I have been watching since the first season of each, and have seen almost all (if not all) of the collective episodes.  My wife & I enjoy the Saturday morning/afternoon marathon runs of each, sometimes they prevent us for doing anything productive (except learning while being entertained of course) for most of the day.  My favorite Dirty Jobs moment has to be an early one… where Mike was at the charcoal factory & asking the guy how you can burn it after it has already been burned and the guy either didn’t know the answer or comprehend the question and started to get irate.  It set the tone for the rest of the series!  Of course I love all the dirty gross stuff like expressing the anal glands during pet grooming… who knew?  Having worked an assembly line myself, I really appreciate that you manage to shed light on jobs that most people never even think about (or know existed).  With Mythbusters, I don’t know how to pick a favorite… I loved the ninja & pirate myths, the ancient mirror laser thing, all of the movie scene recreations (or attempted recreations), the many abuses of Buster, and for some odd reason… the car filled entirely with A/B foam.

If I’m not watching the Discovery Network, I’m over on the History Channel.  My wife likes to remind me that we have about 200 other channels.  I don’t need them, really.

I first attempted this (intentionally humorous) pitch to the people over at history with MonsterQuest or MysteryQuest in my sights.  I had assumed I’d receive some sort of “Yeah, whatever goofball” type of reply.  Sadly I have not received any reply at all.

The more I thought about it, I feel that this is a serious subject.  It would work for Mythbusters… not sure how you could word the myth… but basically your task would be to get to the bottom of seemingly inexplicable tunnel traffic/congestion.  You could look at how people slow down when approaching, how throwing a roadside distraction (like a car accident) in there would effect things?

As for Mr. Rowe, I’m sure that working in a tunnel is a dirty job.  There are nightly cleanings/work in the Liberty tubes some times… and someone sets out traffic cones every day for the changing of a lane’s direction when going into/coming out of the tunnel.  I’m also guessing that being a Mythbuster (or one of their crew) is a dirty job.  Pittsburgh is a little Hollywood lately, why not capitalize on it by coming to check out our little town?  I know Grant & Tori were at the Zabmelli firework factory in New Castle once!

Did you see the incredibly forced Pawn Stars/American Pickers/American Restoration crossover?  You guys could do way better than that, and it would be unscripted.

Here’s the meat of my original email…

I believe that we have a monster in the Pittsburgh area that you may want to check out.  It’s affectionately referred to as the Tunnel Monster.  People in the southwestern Pennsylvania area live in a great fear of the Tunnel Monster.  Many yinzer drivers slow down as they approach any area tunnel… but most especially the Fort Pitt Tunnels, Liberty “Tubes”, and the Squirrel Hill Tunnels.  I’ve heard theories that the tunnel monster also perhaps takes shelter in one or all of the three rivers when not lurking in the tunnel.

Fear seems to increase in times of rain, snow, and (perhaps strangely) before sporting events, holiday festivities, and large concerts.  I believe we have weekday tunnel anxiety between 7:00am & 9:00am, and again from 2:00pm to 7:00pm at all tunnels.  I’ve never heard a first-hand account of an actual sighting, but it’s clear that there is something strange happening at these locations.  There are also spikes of Tunnel Monster fear when traffic accidents happen nearby.  Perhaps the tunnel monster feeds on broken down cars, flat tires, or the corpses left in the wake of fatal accidents?  Rubberneckers seem to be ripe for the picking also.

I have personally seen 18-wheelers get to the entrance of a tunnel and turn completely around, most likely out of fear of the tunnel monster perhaps lurking within the yellow-hued florescent-lit man made caverns.  Some people go through the entire length of a tunnel holding their breath so the tunnel monster doesn’t steal it, or honking their horn the entire way to scare it off.  I’ve seen motorcycles and ambulances go right down the center line at accelerated speeds, no doubt trying to avoid a tragic end.  I’ve even heard of people tapping the roof of their car when spotting a Padiddle to ward off the evil tunnel monster.  The theory perhaps being that the tunnel monster is on the hood of the other car, and its webbed fin (a paddle or “padiddle”) is blocking one headlight.

I have seen strange markings on the inside of they Liberty Tunnels, but they have since been covered-over.  They were strange numbers and hieroglyphic-like symbols that appeared right before a construction project.  Do you think the crews working in the tunnel are in any danger?  Perhaps it’s a conspiracy?  Are they in there hunting for the tunnel monster under the guise of construction efforts while they cover up the monster’s cave paintings?  Could the monster be some sort of Neanderthal, or perhaps a supernatural being, or some sort of demon?

There are countless videos on YouTube documenting fearless drives through the Fort Pitt Tunnels, but I don’t believe that any concrete video evidence has been recorded.  I have attached some artist renderings of the Tunnel Monster that I have found on the internet.  Perhaps you would like your experts to interview the area residents and come up with your own?

I really would like someone to get to the bottom of this Tunnel Monster thing, and I believe that Monster Quest is perfectly suited for the job!  Thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon!

So, now you know where my thought process has gone, & how it has developed.  I’d love your consideration for this idea.  Please don’t make me turn to TV shows that I don’t watch like Billy the Exterminator or Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you!

Not afraid of the Tunnel Monster,
-Waldo Lunar

I tried message boards, email addresses, all kinds of outlets… all to no avail.  Party poopers.

Maybe this will get a reply:

Should I try PennDOT or the city of Pittburgh next?

Fort Pitt Tunnel

The Monster’s Lair | Fort Pitt Tunnel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dormont-Brookline Patch


Dormont-Brookline Patch LogoSo, I’ve been a reader of the Dormont-Brookline Patch for a while now.  It’s sort of like an online local paper.  I’ve even commented on quite a few things.  There’s all kinds of stuff going on in these two neighborhoods, as well as the surrounding areas.  It’s a great way to stay informed, and it’s one of the first things I added to Google Reader.

AiXeLsyD13I recently became a blogger on the patch, and you’ll be able to follow my rantings & misadventures here: AiXeLsyD13 on Patch

It will most likely be short blurbs pointing to the general chaos here, but every once in a while I may be inspired to give it some exclusive content.  Maybe I’ll blog about local events, places, etc., or maybe even some personal stuff like food allergies.

Check out my introductory post:

I’m new here.

Have any thoughts/advice?  Think it’s a good introduction?  What should I blog about there?  Should it focus on the area?

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 3)


CHAINS.  I wanted to tackle the prominent area pizza chains for part 3.  (You read parts 1 & 2, right?) I’m really not supposed to eat pizza right now thanks to recently diagnosed GERD/Acid Reflux/Barret’s Esophagus, but I have eaten many pizzas from these many chains over the years.  I’m going to be extra picky about my pizza from now on.  I’ll probably stick with Slice on Broadway and Aiello’s.  But the event may come up where I need to pick a chain place again, and here’s where they fall…

Fox's Pizza Den on UrbanspoonFox’s (or Fox’s Pizza Den) is pretty good.  The different locations aren’t always consistent, but when you find a good one… stick with it!  I really dig the one in Bridgeville as of late, but the one closest to home is the one in Brookline.  I grew up on Fox’s in Murrysville, as it was the only place who would deliver to my house out in the boonies.  I don’t know if Fox’s recently revamped their UrbanSpoon profiles or what, but I know I’ve reviewed the one in Brookline, but it’s not there.  Their pages all seem to have little to no reviews or votes.  I remember going on & on about the wedgies.  In fact, I found it at another source

WedgieGimme a Wedgie!
It’s not the sick twisted fantasies of a nerd that likes being dominated by bullies…  It’s a call to order the best #%@$ing sandwich you’ve ever had.  It’s served up on a pizza crust instead of a bun.  How awesome is that?  The steak one is my favorite, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t look appetizing.  Just make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins on hand.

Their pizza is pretty damn good too.  There was a Fox’s near where I grew up in the suburbs, but they never had a menu this vast.  I sometimes end up getting the fried zucchini or the potato wedges… but really can’t ever eat anything after finishing a whole wedgie.  In fact, my wife & I even sometimes just split one to avoid over-stuffing.  Ordering for delivery is usually the standard half hour to 45 min., and they’re usually there before they said they were going to be… so that’s a plus.  You can’t go wrong with Fox’s.

Vocelli Pizza (Dormont) on Urbanspoon

Vocelli Pizza is another one that must have purged old UrbanSpoon reviews.  There’s virtually nothing there.  I used to love Vocelli’s, even if they’re just named after a made up Italian sounding word.  The service at the local one went down hill, and this is what it used to say on UrbanSpoon:

I used to love this place, & would order quite frequently.  But, the last time we got a Buffalo chicken pizza, there was hair on it.  My wife called & told them, they said they’d send a coupon for a free one next time.  We never got any coupons, and were hungry for their food again… so I got a stromboli and the wife got a buffalo chicken pizza… and the pizza had hair on it again.  She found it (luckily) on the first bite.  So, she called the call center. She of course, didn’t eat any more, so we could show them.  The delivery boy showed up… was incredibly rude, didn’t look at the old pizza, and practically threw the new one at my wife.

I don’t know why he took it personally… I was gonna tip him for coming out the 2nd time because he didn’t put hair on the pizza… but with actions/service like that, they can shove it.  I always tried to tip well too, as we (used to) get pizza form there all the time.  This was enough to end it.  There’s plenty of other pizza shops around, apparently they don’t need our business, anyway.  Hair in a pizza once?  I can see it happening.  Twice within the span of a month or two?  That’s just absolutely ridiculous.

So… in closing, I’d say what used to be a great place has now sunken to a.) being filthy, and b.) having terrible customer service.

…but in all fairness, after a while we did go back & they seemed to have weeded out the bad employees.  I’ve also tried their artery-clogging Alfredo sauce on a pizza, and loved it.  My triglycerides did not.  I do like Vocelli’s normal sauce, and they generally make a consistent pie & decent subs.  If you’re ordering for a crowd, I’d say Vocelli Pizza is an across-the-board crowd-pleaser.

Vocelli Pizza

''Vocelli?'' Sure, that sounds Italian enough!

Papa John's Pizza on UrbanspoonPapa John’s rules with their online ordering.  The sauce isn’t quite as good as Vocelli’s, but they do always give you the tasty garlic dipping sauce and a Peperoncini.  They do rock as far as consistency.  You know what you’re getting every time.  I wish they had subs, I always like to get subs… especially turkey, or sometimes you’re in the mood for a pizza-shop Italian sub.  But then again, maybe they just want to focus on pizza & doing it well.  Check out these amusing blog posts about Papa John’s:

Little Caesars Pizza on UrbanspoonLittle Caesar’s, what the hell happened?  When I was a young lad, we would pickup a pizza after we left Network Video (a place where you rented VHS tapes for the kids out there), we’d pop into Little Caesar’s for what I think was called a Bigfoot… two big-ass square pizzas side by side?  I’d always want breadsticks, because I have an unnatural love for carbs.  I was sad when Little Caesar’s all but disappeared and was relegated to Kmart stores for some strange reason.  When there was a recent resurgence, and a subsequent person paid to stand on West Liberty Ave. and sling a Little Caesar’s sign… I was excited.  We tried the new incredibly cheap pies one night… and they were terrible.  The sauce is definitely much more bitter than I remember, and perhaps in my old age I forgot about all the grease that adorns (soaks) their crust.  I still like the breadsticks, and $5 is pretty good for the amount that they give you, but $5 of crap is still crap.  If I’m in the mood for punishment, need an immediate meal, and it’s a week where I need to pay for dinner with couch change, I may go back.

Cici's Pizza - Bridgeville on UrbanspoonCiCi’s ought to change the name to CaCa’s.  I’ve only ever been there once, but that’s all I need.  Wow.  It was like eating wax & tomato soup spread out over crackers.  Who cares if it’s cheap and all-you-can-eat when it’s absolutely terrible nutrition?  My high school cafeteria served better pizza, and even better pizza imitation food.  I think there was a salad bar, and an unholy “mac n’ cheese” pizza.  I don’t remember much other than the dried crusty partial pies getting tanned under the hot lights and maybe even someone shouting a welcome when we walked in.  I just wanted to leave but had paid and tried to just stay & eat my few dollars worth.  CiCi’s won that day.  There’s no way I had eaten more of that crap than hat I paid for.

Pizza Hut on UrbanspoonPizza Hut causes me great gastrointestinal distress.  Every few years, I forget and enter a Pizza Hut thinking “ah, it wasn’t that bad”.  Yes, yes it is.  Perhaps I hit an age long ago where Pizza Hut was no longer compatible with my intestines.  Perhaps I was really slow to learn the pattern.  We didn’t do Pizza Hut too much when I was growing up.  Maybe I never built up a tolerance/immunity.  The pizza itself isn’t bad, I’ve had the personal pan, the normal pies, a few lunch buffets… they generally have a good crust & good flavor… albeit greasy.  It’s just that their pie unleashes itself like an assault team on my digestive system.  The one in Greentree is the last one that I visited.  The service was slow, and I didn’t feel welcomed at all.  Hopefully it steels my resolve to skip Pizza Hut in the future.

Pizza Hut Maze

A letter within a maze, for my pals at Pizza Hut. (They never did write back!)

I’ve dealt with Pizza Hut many times in the past…

Ridiculous.

Avoid the Noid

Avoid the Noid!

I know I missed Domino’s, but I was never impressed with their pies… and there’s never one around where I’m ordering.  I did like the Noid commercials back in the day though.  I haven’t tried their revamped pies.  I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

Did I miss your favorite chain pizza?  Did I miss your most reviled?

Take the poll, it’s only open for a week!

Boston Market ups the pressure… (a.k.a. What now, Panera Bread?)


Insanity.

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/136910586947715072

That’s right.  Boston Market not only reached out via my contact form thanks to Facebook, but also had the cojones to do this…

Boston Market RT!

Boston Market RT!

I still haven’t received a reply to my email to Mr. Wakabayashi, but what now Panera Bread? What now?  Clearly, this will pan out to be a bigger rivalry than Neil Young vs. Skynrd, or East Coast Rap vs. West Coast Rap.  Maybe even bigger than me vs. the people that think I’m McDonald’s (At Least Mr. Wakabayashi used my contact form correctly!)

http://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/137169033266077696

http://twitter.com/#!/bostonmarket/status/137212008138424321

If you have no idea what’s going on, or if you work for Panera Bread.  You can catch up here…

In other news, did you know that they both cater?  I wish someone would have told me.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on UrbanspoonI actually stopped at the local Panera the other night because the wife was sick and wanted some of that cheese-broccoli soup.  I went in to get some to go, and got myself a half of a turkey sandwich and a cup of the chicken noodle.

The employee (a young girl, of course) at the counter was quite friendly, asked if I wanted lettuce tomato or onion on the sandwich, and even asked if I wanted mustard and/or mayo.  Clearly, someone went over new procedures.  Sadly, I asked for lettuce & tomato… and got neither, but I did get mustard and mayo.  I applaud the effort, and shame on me for not checking before I left the store.

I have to say, after my initial complaint, they have totally stepped it up service-wise.  I still call shenanigans on the new soup.  They ought to let sales do the talking… OFFER BOTH.  It’s certainly a popular item.  Let the consumers decide if they want a great-tasting soup… or the crappy flat-noodled healthy soup.  Clearly, as a leader in the Fast Casual industry, you can afford to test the proverbial waters?  I think more changes have been made, but it’s still not the old soup.  Shenanigans.

Also, I counted 3 signs within  a span of about 8 feet on the counter where you wait for your order advertising the catering… and the pop machine still does it too.  I think the receipt may have even said something about it.

I spend far too much time contemplating fast food & fast casual dining.  If only I could save time buy purchasing already prepared meals.  Does anyone out there do that?

New Catering Advertisement Opportunities! (for Boston Market & Panera Bread)


I’m just sayin’.

Panera Bread  - vs. -  Boston Market

Panera Bread - vs. - Boston Market

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 4, 2011
Subject: New Catering Advertisement Opportunities!
To: & Cc:  A bunch of Panera & Boston Market Employees

Hello friends at Boston Market & Panera Bread,

I assume that the lack of response to my last email about an all-out catering battle at my house was ill-received.  I didn’t get any interest from either camp, or even any kind of acknowledgement of my email.  Not even a coupon.  Isn’t that the typical response?  “Throw ’em a coupon!”  Color me disappointed.

No reply is rather rude, don’t you think?  Batman movie night has come & gone.  We dutifully provided a favorable dining experience to our guests thanks to an incredible local pizza shop.  Roasted red peppers as a pizza topping?  A hit all around, I tell you!  Subs with a homemade feel cut in to bite-size appetizers were also quite delicious.

I’m not sure why neither Panera Bread or Boston Market was willing to enter my catering battle royale.  It would have been an exciting opportunity for both of you.  I realize now… that you need help with forward thinking.  You missed this opportunity to advertise your catering and fight for my dollar.

I believe that I may have come around to your way of thinking.  Perhaps I need to fight for your dollar.  I previously saw advertisements on the pop machine and all over the windows as borderline obscene… but why stop at the border, friends?  Let’s trample the border, deface it on our way through, and not look back!  I have some ideas that you may find attractive.  I really look forward to your feedback.  (Don’t give me any shenanigans about unsolicited ideas and what-not, we’re all friends here.)

  • Advertising on the napkins.  You already do it on the receipts, walls, & windows.  Subway uses their napkins for nutrition information.  Show them up, advertise!  Think of all that clean wasted ad space ripe for the slinging of your delicious wares.  Were one ambitious, this could extend to the “to go” sandwich wrappings, the fancy new plates that you’re both using, and even the trays.  Hell, why not the drink cups?
  • Guerrilla advertising. You could have employees go into your parking lot at regular intervals, and put flyers under the windshield wipers of cars.  If you really wanna get crazy, try bumper stickers!  People would love decorations on their autos.
  • Me.  Send me a T-shirt that advertises your catering services.  I play in a band.  I’ll wear it to shows.  The throngs of bar patrons who rock out with me on a regular basis will be sure to flock to the nearest Panera Bread or Boston Market location.  I might be able to convince my band-mates to do the same.  If we’d like to get really crazy, may I offer to sell my forehead as a billboard?
  • Paystubs.  Your employees get paid right?  Get that money back!  Advertise your catering services on their pay-stubs, and any communications that you need to send.  There’s room on that W2 envelope for a 10% off catering coupon.
  • Right on the food itself.  This is the one that excites me the most!  You’ve seen the toasters that produce an image of Darth Vader, and the irons that brand your initials on to a steak, right?  There are also printers that print right on things like rice paper & cakes.  Why not take advantage of this technology?  Think about it.  Full color printing on wraps?  Toasty images on buns, bread, & bagels?  Delicious meat branded with confidence, demanding that you pick up a catering menu.  It’s never been done.  It’s opulent.  It’s genius.  (If I do say so myself.)

So, what do you think?  Can I help in this new advertising adventure?  These are the next steps in the evolution of promulgation.  Let’s move onward and upward, into uncharted catering promotional territory.  It will be an onslaught to the senses, and an influx in revenue for all involved.  I’m excited for this venture, and especially excited to get some feedback from everyone involved.

Excelsoir!
-Waldo Lunar
[ -YOUR AD COULD BE HERE- ]

incessant emails / incessant advertising

incessant emails / incessant advertising

Further Reading:

Stay Classy, Panera Bread.


Sure, it’s probably nothing more than a public pissing contest and a case of “hey, look over here!”, but it sure is amusing:

Panera Bread

Just stand behind this sign, please.

There’s more to the story, but the headline is all that people will remember.  They say it happened in Mt. Lebanon, so not sure if it was the Galleria location, or the Greentree one (sometimes surrounding communities pretend to be Mt. Lebanon).

If you stick with the article to the end, it looks like the guy was stretching his time out on disability & got fired for it… then he pulled the “they made me hide the black guy” thing.  It sure as hell worked.  It may even be true.  Doesn’t matter though, because it’s now the main issue.

I do have to say, I’ve never seen a dude working the cash register at any Panera Bread.  I don’t think it has as much to do with race as age & gender.  The worst (best?) offender of this is Dairy Queen.  Not too many dudes work at dairy queen.  Then again, probably not many dudes put in an application at DQ.

You already know what I think of Panera Bread.

Panera responds to my insanity, so I write back…


So after my last Panera-related post, I went a little goofy. I put a post on their Facebook wall

http://www.facebook.com/panerabread/posts/124723480954835

Found this part of that amusing:

…the corporate office (or in your case the corporate office for our franchise partner who operates bakery-cafes in the Pittsburgh area) reviews your email before contacting and working closely with the general manager to try to resolve the issue.

I also tweeted a few times…

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96920982714990592

http://twitter.com/#!/AiXeLsyD13/status/96949713940643841

…and got this DM from them:

Panera Breadpanerabread Hey, thx for sharing feedback through website. Sorry about your disappointing experience, our CS team is looking into & will be in touch.

Heh.

I got this email from the local general manager…

From: 3497 <panera3497@covelli.com>
To: [me]
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 10:50 AM
Subject: Contact Us

Dear Mr. Carroll,

I would like to introduce myself as Carrie Janota, the General Manager at the Greentree Panera Bread. I appreciate all your feedback and coaching. Your response will definitely help us with current and future training to associates, especially this time of year. The company has made several changes with menu items that you expressed in your comments. First, our turkey is now presliced so the consistency is different than when we sliced it in house. We also changed the recipe of our chicken noodle soup, which makes it all natural. Another healthy initiative we have taken is the removal of sauces on all cafe sandwiches. We offer packets of mayo and mustard at the condiment bar or you are welcomed to inform the cashier that you would like the condiments on the sandwich and we will gladly put them on for you. The “no onions” is our mistake and I would like to compensate you for a free meal next time you visit a Panera Bread. If you could please send me your address, I will gladly put the coupon in the mail for you. Again, thank you for your input, I use all issues as a learning tools for our associates.

Carrie Janota
General Manager

So, this is what I wrote back to them…

-餧馕馒-

Thank you Ms. Janota,

You certainly can address me as “Eric”, not “Mr. Carroll”. I appreciate your incredibly rapid and well-stated response to my experience yesterday. I was going out of my mind in disbelief. I would suggest that Panera spend more time asking/telling customers about changes, and less time advertising your catering services. I mean, really… on the pop machine, you’re advertising the catering service? What about a nice big poster that says… “WARNING: WE CHANGED THE TASTY NOODLES IN THAT SOUP THAT YOU LIKE, THE MEAT ON OUR SANDWICHES, AND HAVE DECIDED TO FORGO MUSTARD.” (Or even a nice traditional Coke or Pepsi logo?)

Boston Market is annoying/obnoxious with advertising their catering too. I get it. You guys cater. I know this. I’m here for dinner. You don’t need to advertise for a place that I’m already in. Imagine going into Walmart & seeing a sign in every aisle that advertises the stuff in the next aisle. This could get quote old quite quickly.

  • Attn: Panera – I don’t host any lunch parties or have a need for sandwich rings.
  • Attn: Boston Market – I can cook my own Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.
  • Attn: Bob Evans – I can handle making my own lasagna or meatloaf.
  • Attn: Chick-fil-A – The only thing I’d do with a tray full of nuggets is eat them all myself.
Since you took the time to write, and you’re obviously concerned and well-written, I’d like to address my concerns & the new issues raised more specifically.

The Onion
– This is not a big deal. I generally don’t even say anything & just take the onion off myself. This is the first time I was ever asked “Lettuce, tomato, & onion?” in a Panera. So, I said “Lettuce & tomato, no onion please.” This is the only reason I took note. It also said on my receipt “NO ONION” – so the cashier took the effort to note it, and the sandwich-maker had to read & ignore it. Just odd. Again, this is nothing that should ruin one’s day.

The Turkey – I call shenanigans. Any foodie will tell you there’s a world of difference between lunch-meat turkey and the freshly-sliced real thing. Why would Panera decide to sacrifice quality like this? Does it save time? Does it save money? Certainly it can’t be healthier… isn’t pre-packaged lunch-meat loaded with salt & preservatives? Imagine my surprise upon looking at my $6 half-sandwich full of lunch-meat where I had expected (and previously received) actual turkey. Where was my warning of this upon ordering? I certainly didn’t get the proverbial memo here. At least there’s no confirmation of turkeys with gold nuggets in their gizzards and fine wine in their gullets. Although, I didn’t get a staunch denial.

The Lettuce & Tomato – Are Panera employees encouraged to look at the ingredients before placing them on sandwiches? Really, that’s all that would be needed to prevent the placement of brown lettuce & green tomatoes. A general rule of thumb could be “If you were going to make yourself a sandwich, would you use this?”

The lack of any condiments – Again, list this in the “things that would be nice to know before I placed my order, or at the very least as I was placing my order” category. I liked the previous dressing/sauce whatever you want to call it, and it was certainly different from the straight mayo or spicy brown mustard available by the drinks (& catering advertisement). Is this really a “healthy” option or a money-saving option? I’m reminded of the “removing one olive from every salad” story with American Airlines. It saved them a rumored $40,000. I imagine all of this no-more-condiments stuff adding up to a HUGE savings for Panera… but my sandwich didn’t get cheaper, did it? No passing along the savings? (I think Steak ‘n’ Shake has done this too… their salads used to be nice-sized with cherry tomatoes… now they’re small & have tomato slices.)

The mysterious thumbprint – The noted lack of condiments has me even more concerned about the yellow thumbprint that was on the top of my sandwich. I had just assumed it was some of the condiment that was supposed to go on the inside. I ripped this portion out of the top of my sandwich before eating, to the bewilderment of my eye-rolling yet tolerant-to-my-neuroses wife. This leads me to wonder what the yellow stuff on my sandwich was… if not mustard, was it some of her broccoli cheddar soup? If so, this is incredibly alarming because it could have easily been clam chowder… and I’m highly allergic to shellfish. How is soup on the sandwich board or my sandwich when it wasn’t even my soup? I suggest you educate your employees on allergens & cross-contamination. Barring all that… it’s just a little gross. That could have been a big yellow booger for all I know.

The healthy soup – Pardon me if I laugh at the “all natural” expression. While I understand the meaning, visions of a supernatural soup come to mind. Was the prior soup possessed by demons? The noodles certainly were homemade-looking and delicious. Were they the result of a tasty pact with the devil or an ancient spell? Did the ingredients float into the bowl themselves? I don’t know what the tiny paper-thin pasta squares in the new soup are, but they are a Ford Focus to the previous soup’s BMW 7 Series. They’re not whole-grain pasta, are they? I hate whole-grain pasta. If this soup was a state, the broth were the land-mass and the chicken bits & noodle-like squares were people… it would be Alaska or Wyoming. Do you see what I’m saying? (Actually, the noodles might be the people, and the chicken may be an endangered species living within that state… but I’ve already pushed that metaphor too far.) I’m not entirely sure if this is the fault of the soup-ladeler or the soup recipe. As far as healthy vs. tasty in soup, I suggest you look up news articles related to Campbell’s. They’re putting salt back into soup to boost sales. I see from your corporate Facebook page that this is apparently an issue that has ruffled some feathers. Perhaps a shift back is in order?

The rusty knife – Poop happens. Have the dishwasher look over some stuff. I’d throw out the rusty ones. This rust was quite prominent on the handle of the butter knife, in the details of the design.


Thank you for your time, I hope you can use my input to your advantage… for your team, and perhaps passed on to a corporate level. I’d like to respectfully decline a free meal. I don’t write these sort of emails in order to get free food… and I’m skeptical of any coupons/certificates flagging me as “oh, here’s that guy”. I may even be done with Panera bread for a while. Bedsides the potentially scary cross-contamination and general utensil-cleanliness issues, our philosophies don’t seem to mesh well. I don’t need you to make health decisions for me, I need you to give me quality meals at the prices you demand. Your new more healthy less tasty soup and lack of condiments disturbs me, and apparently your quality standards aren’t the same as mine at your current menu prices.

I’d suggest taking some of the money saved from condiment rationing, smaller noodles, & catering advertising… and funneling it into a survey system to find out what your consumers want, or at the very least making signs or T-shirts that say “We’re holding the mustard unless you tell us not to!” or “New soup! Less noodles & chicken, but no ghosts!” It would also be money well spent on allergy training or buying new non-rusty silverware. Do you have any corporate contacts whom with I could perhaps take up this discussion?


Supernatural soup supporter,
-Eric

?sretac arenaP taht wonk uoy diD .seitilibasid gninrael fo nuf ekam ot ynnuf ton yllaer s’tI

-餧馕馒-

I for one can’t wait for a reply.

Panera Bread (Scott Twp. Greentree Road) on Urbanspoon

Time for a game: What does this say? + Storm Damage Photos…


So, the other night a ridiculous storm that lasted only a few minutes wreaked havoc all over Pittsburgh’s south hills.  With the electric out and not much else to do, the fun thing for us to do when  it’s light out & no longer raining is to go to the park with a camera.  I got some interesting shots of the storm damage as darkness fell, and we ran into a bunch of people in the park from the surrounding area, and we were all quite talkative.

(Is it odd that we have a regular “routine” for when the power goes out?)

One young man was walking his dog, and I got a few pics of the dog that he said he’d like to see.  No problem, right?  I asked him to write down his email address.

In hindsight, I have no idea why I don’t think like it’s the 2010s and just put information like this in my phone that’s always in my pocket.

Why is that an issue?  Well, this is what I got…

wmailwtf

abfdbzklxfdklgbzbkx7832sjjb34t

I’d certainly like to email the kid the photos… hopefully they have power by now too.  I just really have no idea what that says… other than “@msn.com”.  I think.

I’d appreciate any help/suggestions that you may have!

If you’re interested in taking a look at my photos, you can check them out on Photobucket:

Here’s a weird bug, a tree that just needed to sit for a minute, the dog, and a shot that isn’t storm damage, but I like it anyway:


I told you that Kuhn’s was disgusting.


I’ve written before (although indirectly) about the foul assemblage of half-rotting food that is Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Road.  You may recall my description of Kunh’s as relayed to Giant Eagle while requesting that they carry some La Choy Teriyaki Sauce.  If not, here it is again..

I actually make special trips to the Shop ‘N Save by WAL★MART in Heidelberg or I actually set foot in Kunh’s Market on Banksville Road to get the La Choy Teriyaki Sauce. Have you BEEN to the Kunh’s on Banksville Road? I’ve gotten moldy peppers from that place, as well as ‘turned’ sour cream, …and melted ice cream. I don’t want to go in there. But, I do. Why? To get the La Choy Teriyaki sauce, my friends. It’s THAT GOOD.

I know I’ve told countless others.  I know my mother-in-law looks at me in disbelief because apparently the Kuhn’s on McKnight Road is just awesome.

But, I finally have some validation…

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVmyF8xjtSQ

See?  You can read the full story on KDKA’s website.  Yes, I get that the point of the article is the union trying to organize there… but they wouldn’t be trying to organize if conditions were good.  If I had to guess, I’d say that store owners keep the coolers and freezers on lower settings to save a buck or two… but at what cost?  I really haven’t ever heard anyone say anything nice about the place.  We’ll buy canned or boxed stuff there occasionally in a pinch, but we’re always looking closely at the expiration dates.  As far as the meat & produce & even the dairy products…  I’ll go out of my way to another store, or just go without.


Edited – Discussion was happening in other forums, decided to re-post some of that here…

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=276026441617

Eric Carroll
Nice: http://bit.ly/9MqDcy I KNEW they weren’t keeping stuff cold enough at Kuhn’s. That place is filthy too.
January 28 at 7:20pm via Selective Tweets

Dave Warren
I almost never buy anything remotely perishable there.
January 28 at 7:40pm ·

Nunzio Martin
Dude that place smells I never go there
January 28 at 8:00pm ·

Dave Warren
I will go out of my way to find a Giant Eagle just to avoid Kuhn’s.
January 28 at 8:06pm ·

Andrew Welsh
walmart* is cheaper
January 28 at 8:20pm ·

Dave Warren
Wal*Mart is cheaper, when they have the items that I require. They usually do not.
January 28 at 8:22pm ·

Andrew Welsh
dave i have to correct you, it is no longer “wal*mart” it is now “walmart*” the corporate logo moved the star to the end.

yeah luckily for me walmart* carries all that i need, and is always cheaper. but that’s just me.

Kuhns is great for running to the store quick since it’s 3 minutes from my house.
January 29 at 1:11pm ·

Eric Carroll
Didn’t it used to be a ★?

Wonder how much time and money they wasted coming to that decision?
Sun at 12:40pm ·

Eric Carroll
Ah: http://walmartstores.com/AboutUs/8412.aspx
Sun at 12:41pm ·

Eric Carroll
And… http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b
Sun at 12:45pm ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=274668168996

Eric Carroll
Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Rd.
Favorited on http://www.youtube.com
I keep telling people that this place is filthy. No one believed me. Ha ha. I know they don’t keep the coolers cold enough… ever. I have brought home melted ice cream. From KDKA, full news story & video here: http://kdka.com/local/Banksv…
January 29 at 12:20am via YouTube ·

T.J. Freeman
BWahahahaha fuckin bird! …. alright well if thats a violation then you need to close the foodcourt starbucks and everything else dealing with open food in robinson mall cos i’ve seen many o bird flyin around that bitch. All that aside … that Kuhn’s is about the only place around there to get food unless you wanna travel to bridgeville or parkway center or south hills…. fuck the union … if yer worried about it then just dont buy produce or deli foods there.
January 29 at 12:28am ·

Cody Starr
man i don’t care how dirty kuhn’s is ……i would eat those deli pizzas they make with dust bunnies for toppings….they are the bomb
January 29 at 5:01am ·

Jeffrey Guerriero
eric, my aunts family owns those stores, I used to shop there when we lived in Dormont.
January 29 at 12:51pm ·

Bethany Pastorius Carroll
Kuhns on Mcknight Road is wonderful however this one on Dormont is a shithole. We will only buy canned goods or boxed stuff and that’s only if its an emergency. We have bought sour cream- molded. A green pepper- mold in the inside. Ice cream- melted by the time we got home. We will go completely out of our way than go there. Disgusting place.
Sun at 12:17am ·

Eric Carroll
Yeah, they put the “ew” in Kuhn’s down here on Banksville. http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b – There are two Giant Eagles very close by too… one in Parkway Center and one on Cochran Road.
Sun at 12:37pm ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=296660212120

Eric Carroll
I’ve had a lot of people weigh-in on Kuhn’s on various forums. I urge you all to reiterate or expand here: http://bit.ly/cb9WJX Thanks!
Yesterday at 3:56pm via Selective Tweets ·

Andrew Welsh
i still fail to see the big deal, the health department said these “aren’t earth shattering and were corrected quickly”
Yesterday at 6:42pm ·

Michael Perdue
I’ve always remembered Ferris’ in M-ville to be particularly bad.
Yesterday at 7:15pm ·

Eric Carroll
Andy… The big deal is that I was right about them not keeping stuff at the right temperature. I like to be right. Ha ha ha.

Mike – you’re right… both old Ferris weren’t quite right.
4 hours ago ·

Eric Carroll
See: http://wp.me/pwqzc-5b
4 hours ago ·

From: http://www.facebook.com/AiXeLsyD13?v=feed&story_fbid=282997407055

Eric Carroll
“KDKA-TV’s Paul Martino did an independent review of Allegheny County’s inspection of seven Kuhn’s stores last year. There were some violations, including salad stored at unsafe temperatures, contamination from raw meat, and more temperature problems.”

I told you that Kuhn’s was disgusting. « World (and Lunar) Domination
aixelsyd13.wordpress.com
I’ve written before (although indirectly) about the foul assemblage of half-rotting food that is Kuhn’s Market on Banksville Road. You may recall my description of Kunh’s as relayed …
Sun at 12:43pm ·

Adam Rahuba
Foodland, Shop & Save, Kroger, IGA, Sparkle, Kuhns are all dirty. Can’t stand em.
Sun at 2:12pm ·

From: http://www.pittsburghbeat.com/mb/viewtopic.php?topic=17308&forum=21

AiXeLsyD13
I got a lot of comments on this on facebook… both in my status, and when I “favorited” the YouTube video… None when I posted the link to the blog though.
Post Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:22 am

Mike_Hype
I have to disagree with you entirely on this one. I love that Kuhn’s and I stop there almost every Sunday night on my way home from hockey to pick up produce alone. Their apples are awesome, their bananas are always the exact amount of ripe to take home and store for the week. I have not yet found a Giant Eagle that even comes close to the quality of produce that I get from Kuhn’s. I was just there last night as a matter of fact. Rotten apples from Kuhn’s: 0, from Giant Eagle: 5. What’s worse than finding a rotten apple? Finding half a rotten apple.
Post Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:44 pm

Dave NT
The Giant Eagle Market District pwns n00bs.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:04 am

Mike_Hype
Sitting here eating one of the best apples that I have ever eaten, it happens to be from Kuhn’s.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:55 pm

AiXeLsyD13
While finding half a rotten apple is indeed disgusting, I try too look at stuff before I bite into it… although I’m admittedly overly paranoid about food in general.

I’d have to say, I’m fairly confident that if we set up an independent study of the produce at several grocery stores surrounding the Dormont/Banksville area… Giant Eagle would come out on top.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:28 pm

AiXeLsyD13
I need to figure out how to get paid for random useless shit.
Post Posted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:37 pm

McReadverspamtismentply


You may remember, a while ago I wrote to McDonald’s about the sandwich-which-can-not-be-named.  I got an envelope in the mail the other day from my McFriends, and I thought “Sweet! A reply about the McGang-Bang!  A real letter!”

Well, I was wrong.  It was some sort of reply/advertisement/spam all rolled into one.  I was very disappointed.  Then, I noticed that the letter wasn’t to Mr. AiXeLsyD, it was to Mr. Carroll… it must have been about the McDonald’s on West Liberty Avenue’s disgusting restroom?  They never did follow up on a local level like they said they would.  Instead, I get this advertisement for the Mac Snack Wrap and the breakfast dollar menu?  Seriously?

At least now I have a contact name.  I’m going to have to resort to snail mail to get a response for a real live person, I believe… anything other than the stupid “we can’t take unsolicited ideas” form letter would be awesome.

Oh well, the advertisement letter & a scan of the two coupons is below… I popped a “void” on them in hopes that Photobucket doesn’t delete the damn things.  They’ve removed old coupons on me before… I usually always blur out any numbers or barcodes that might make them usable.

McDonald's Letter from Salena M. Scardina

McDonald's - Mac Snack Wrap Coupons

Wow, I’m so honored to be contacted with such an auspicious reply!  I’m glad that my contact in 2009 gave them an opportunity to better understand my needs and expectations!  …that were never properly addressed.  I’ve already seen the Mac Snack Wrap commercials and billboards, so I’m now sure how this letter makes me among the first to know… perhaps there are some people in Appalachia and in Alaska that aren’t familiar with the concept of snacking on “a whole new level”.  I’d like to see some sort of chart on the levels of snacking.  Are they the opposite of Dante’s levels of hell?  Or, perhaps… one in the same?  [Insert your own joke about gluttony here.]  I”ll perhaps have to address this in future missives.

In the mean time, I’m making a call to all of my readers… if you can make me a chart of the levels of snacking, it would be greatly appreciated! I’d love to share it with everyone.

Maybe next time, I’ll go with the angle that I find the proliferation of “Mc” to be disturbing to those of us with Celtic heritage…