Pittsburgh to me; “Slow down.”


So this morning when trying to get to church, we had an adventure.  We cross the city to go there, because it feels like home when we do make it, and it is where I grew up going.  Generally, it’s not a bad drive on a Sunday morning.

This morning, we left a little later than we like to because… we have two small children.

I knew that there was some sort of work in the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend, so I decided to take the Liberty Tubes instead.  Why?  No respectful yinzer takes the posted detour, and it was going west when I wanted to go east.

No work in the tubes, or even on the Liberty Bridge… except when we got to the ramp for the Blvd. of the Allies and we couldn’t go towards Monroeville.

Up Bigelow Blvd. to Craig St. through Oakland to try to get to Forbes Ave. and get on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill, and we ran into this along the way:

Lady Pittsburgh

Lady Pittsburgh

I have no idea what this was.  She was oblivious to the world around her, happily rolling down the middle of the street on her scooter with absolutely no regard for safety or traffic laws.  She eventually got on to the sidewalk, but she was rolling along at about a ½ mile per hour when I pulled up behind her.  All I could do was start a “What the…” phrase that I couldn’t finish with children in the car and laugh.  We laughed for the rest of the ride to church, and we weren’t done with the obstacles.

Apparently, Forbes was closed off right after the CMU campus for a race today.  Out & around to the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway it was.

Seriously though, I know I’m not a resident of Pittsburgh proper, but I am a resident of Allegheny County.  Can we pass some sort of local ordinance that you can’t work on or around two major through-ways to the city at the same damn time?

We got there, and were only a little bit late.  The universe was testing my patience today.  I hope I passed.

 

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: Doing It Right


So, the other day I posted a Facebook status about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and I thought I’d share it here and maybe even add some more thoughts.  It seemed to get a lot of comments pretty quickly.

Here it is:

I’ll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about… one place stands out as incredible. Every time I’m at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed… everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I’m sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I'll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about... one place stands out as incredible. Every time I'm at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed... everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I'm sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I’ll tell you what…

I should take a video of 10 minutes in a Five Guys and 10 minutes in this damn McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. and compare how they’re run.  McDonald’s employees are slow, confused, careless, and sometimes even slovenly.  Five Guys employees seem to be the exact opposite on every front.

I’ve been to several locations, the Waterworks, Murrysville, Robinson, and Greensburg… and they’ve all been run with the same efficiency, pleasantness, and extreme cleanliness.  I just think it ought to be said that it’s noticed by the customers, and they need to keep doing what they’re doing.

Of course, I’m very aware of food allergies, and peanuts are a big thing at Five Guys.  This seems to get a bunch of flack, but they do take allergies seriously.  The peanut-allergic have to accept it just like I accept that being allergic to shellfish, I’m not going to get a safe meal at Red Lobster.  It’s OK.  There are many many places to dine & choices to make.  I’m glad that I have Five Guys as a choice.  I’ve heard that they are excellent in handling a dairy allergy.  Just check out the comments in the image above to the right.  I see the allergy warnings on the door as a very responsible thing to do.

Even after all that… the burgers are just absolutely delicious.  I tend to get a bacon cheeseburger with A1 and green peppers… sometimes even mushrooms.  The french fries are almost as awesome as Kennywood’s Potato Patch fries, and that’s hard to do.  The ingredients are always fresh, the burgers always cooked perfectly.  One of these days I want to try a hot dog… but I can never get past the burgers.  Maybe a little burger & a hot dog will have to do some day?  I don’t even know if I can handle that.  I’m glad I don’t live too close to one of these places, I’d be there way too often.

I hope to send a link to this to Five Guys, just to tell them that I appreciate what they’re doing, and to keep on doing it.  Customers can see and appreciate that the employees are enjoying what they do, and doing it well.  It does make a difference.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Related Articles

Really, I haven’t forgotten.


Haven’t been blogging much lately, but I have a new job, am trying to get mazes done when I can, and I’ve been researching several potential purchases to help with said job online.  I will no doubt get back to blogging once things level out.

Any advice on which Epipen leg pouch I should get?  The OmaxCare™ LegBuddy™, the Allergy Essentials Epissentials™ Epipen Holder, or something else?

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Medipouch Leg Wrap

Medipouch Leg Wrap

I finally got my prescription renewed, & got a double-pack. Thankfully I’ve never had to jab myself with one.  I did try the practice one a few times.  So, what do you do with your expired ones?  Does anyone take donations or recycle them?

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Don’t forget, I’ll be doing the FAAN Walk For Food Allergy on Sept. 16th in Pittsburgh, and I could certainly always use more donations!  I’m only about a third of the way to my goal this year, so I can certainly use some help.

I’m also always trying to figure out how to come up with cash to buy more goofy guitars, and Ernie and the Berts is writing more stuff & hoping to record ASAP.  I try to catch other local & national shows when I can.

Of course, I’m also spending time with the wife, as we have some fun stuff coming up… like weddings, hopefully the Renaissance Fair soon, the Food Allergy Walk, a camp service for church, and more.

I’m still not Kmart or McDonald’s, but I do have some blog feedback that I need to address.

I might have some more stuff asking opinions in the next few days.

Nostalgia…


So, I upped a bunch of old songs to SoundCloud.  Some aren’t bad.  Some are terrible.  (There’s some AiXeLsyD, some Gasoline Dion, & even some Ernie and the Berts for good measure.)  Feel free to enjoy and/or ignore.

AiXeLsyDI have had many many fun times writing songs & jamming with all of these cats over the years. We have recorded some good stuff, met interesting people, and played some absolutely wild parties & shows.  It’s awesome to have played at parks, in basements, on small stages, in garages, in countless dive bars, on big stages, in back yards, a sports bar, band battles, in cool rock bars, an Elks lodge, a dorm room, American Legions, skate parks, VFW’s, theaters, Fire Halls, and even live on the radio.  (Places I haven’t played yet… on a boat, under-water, on a moving flatbed, outside of the U.S., on TV – Ernie, can you get on booking that?)  Some people even dug our stuff.

Gasoline DionI’m glad to be able to continue to rock out with some old faces & some new faces.  I enjoy that I’m still playing shows, going to shows, rocking out with talented dudes, & continually meeting & being influenced by local musicians & those that are just passing through.  We get together to rock out & have a great time doing so …all while trying to be as goofy as possible.  I’m glad I fell into punk rock as there’s a sense of humor about it all.

Ernie and the BertsI enjoy the exchange of knowledge, whether it’s music trivia geekery, guitars & amps & how they work & how to play them, or just general rock n’ roll legends.  I enjoy being obsessed with goofy guitars yet able to appreciate a nice normal axe.  I enjoy making fun of bands that are doing absolutely terrible things, taking too long to set up, playing too long, or have terrible names.  I enjoy being the target of the same kinds of jeers.

In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day coming soon, I’d like to toast my fellow musicians whether I’ve been in a band with you, shared a stage with you, or just been to one of your shows and told you how much it rocked.

☘  Here’s to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking! ☘

If you cheat, may you cheat death.
If you steal, may you steal a woman’s heart.
If you fight, may you fight for a brother.
And if you drink, may you drink with me.

Please, share with me some memories of the crazy paces you’ve played, the fun (or terrible) times you’ve had with your bands… whether you were in one with me or not.  Share some of the music too!

This is one of many reasons why Turner’s is awesome…


Turner Dairy Farms rules.  Turner’s Iced Tea slays Galliker’s, Coteryahn’s, United, Schneider’s, or any other crappy brands you may try to throw into the mix.  Turner’s is also an incredible company.  Need proof?

There's only one tea in Pittsburgh.

...Dig?

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169160575132241920

https://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/169447359351242752

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169450238686400513

https://twitter.com/#!/TurnersPremiumT/status/169453280408248321

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169473361628504064

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169473643062104064

This is what I got in my email:

From: Nicholas Yon <Nicholas@turnerdairy.net>
Date: Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Subject: Turner Dairy Farms
To: Eric <me@my.email.address>, world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Eric,

Thank you for the reaching out via twitter regarding your recent diagnosis with GERD.  Thank you also for tweeting us (and about us) often and your continued support of Turner’s products.  I hope you’re still enjoying our Charlie’s Old Time Buttermilk when you can make it to the Brentwood GE and have had a chance to try our Blue Bug Juice.

 Listed below are the caffeine contents of our premium iced tea products.  It doesn’t look like there’s any that have no lemon/citrus and/or no caffeine.  Depending on your threshold for the amount of caffeine you’re allowed our Green Tea might work because it’s sans lemon and has “low” caffeine.  It does however contain citric acid.  Our Southern Style Sweet Tea and premium flavored teas, while having no lemon, have a higher amount of caffeine per serving.  They also contain citric acid.

 Thanks again for the “tweet.”  Have a great afternoon!

 Premium Iced Tea – 26mg-39mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving.

Diet Iced Tea – 25mg-38mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Decaffeinated Iced Tea – < 5mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Peach Iced Tea – 24mg-35mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Peach Iced Tea – 13mg-17mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

 Raspberry Iced Tea – 15mg-19mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Lime Iced Tea 14mg-18mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Orange Iced Tea – 13mg-20mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Green Tea – 6mg-12mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Diet Green Tea – 6mg-12mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Southern Style Sweet Tea – 28mg-41mg of caffeine per 8 ounce serving

Nicholas Yon

Marketing Director

Turner Dairy Farms

www.turnerdairy.net

From Local Farms to Local Families

Follow on Twitter www.twitter.com/TurnersPremiumT

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TurnerDairyFarms

Nicholas is the man.  Armed with this, I can go to the Gastroenterologist and figure out exactly what I can drink & how much.  Now, if only all Giant Eagle locations would carry Turner’s & not just the rebels in Brentwood & Murrysville, and Rite Aid would carry more than the regular tea & the chip dip… we’d be rockin’ hard.

G.E.R.D. is fun.  If by fun, I mean “an incredible pain in the dietary ass.”

Again, this is why I want Giant Eagle & Market District to carry Turner’s, why I dig the Tea-Bird, why I want a Turner’s guitar, and why I dig bug juice.

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!

AiXeLsyD and Gasoline Dion Mazes


I’ve obviously been in a maze mood lately.  I found some old AiXeLsyD & Gasoline Dion themed mazes.  At the request of a friend, I also made some AiXeLsyD & Gasoline Dion music available for download.

Help AiXeLsyD get to the American Music Café!

Help AiXeLsyD get to the American Music Café!

Download AiXeLsyD Vol. 1-3!

Help Gasoline Dion get to the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern!

Help Gasoline Dion get to the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern!

Download Gasoline Dion’s Loading Noise!

I’m going to have to make up an Ernie and the Berts maze!  At any rate, print these out, and try to solve them while jamming to my extinct musical projects, and send me a photo or scan of the completed maze!

The downloads are zip files.  If you don’t know how to unzip files, learn.  Also, check out my other mazes if you liked these ones.

Earthquake Relief Hygiene Kits


So, in the wake of everything that’s just happened in Japan, and still in support of the recent events in Haiti, a local UCC cluster (and more specifically, my church: ERUCC) is collecting the contents of hygiene kits to be sent to those in need.

Here’s what’s needed:

Hygiene Kit Instructions

This year at our Wednesday Evening UCC Cluster Lenten Service we will be receiving a precious offering. In the face of natural disasters, violence, or grinding poverty, Hygiene Kits can mean the difference between sickness and health for struggling families.

To assemble a Hygiene Kit you will need:

  • One hand towel measuring approximately 16″ x 28″ (no fingertip or bath towels and new towels only)
  • One new washcloth
  • One wide-tooth comb (Must be wide-tooth and one comb per package-available at Target, Wal-mart and other discount stores)
  • One new nail clipper
  • One bar of soap (bath size in wrapper)
  • One toothbrush (in original packaging-only one per package)
  • Six standard size Band-Aids®

Place all items in a one-gallon plastic bag with a zipper closure, remove excess air from bag, and seal. Please do not add toothpaste to the Hygiene Kit. Cartons of toothpaste that have an extended expiration date will be added to Hygiene Kit shipments just prior to shipment.

I personally like the fact that we can donate concrete items knowing that it will have a direct impact, and even if you can only afford to put together one kit or even part of a kit… you know that it will go directly to someone in need.

If you can get the kits to me, I’ll see that they get to the church, or you can drop them off/send them directly to:

Emmanuel Reformed United Church of Christ
3618 Hills Church Road
Export, PA  15632-9371

Thanks & please spread the word!

The Square Guitar | My Galveston B.B. Stone


The square guitar.  People have gone out of their way to tell me how ugly it is at shows.  People have exclaimed their approval and asked where I got such a crazy instrument.  People have just shaken their heads in wonderment or disapproval, sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

Galveston B.B. Stone

ERiC AiXeLsyD's Galveston B.B. Stone

Many years ago now (2000 if the date on the photo below from the day I bought it is accurate), I saw it hanging on the wall in a venue where my old band used to play that also doubled as a music store.  I had to have it.  I don’t know why.  It was just absolutely goofy.  I had certainly never seen another one.  Would I again?  Probably not.  It had to be mine.  I ended up trading in a nice “Cimar by Ibanez” Fat-Strat style guitar that I had recently purchased from Music Go Round in Monroeville just to buy the thing.  I paid $75 for the Fat-Strat, and somehow got $125 off of the price of the square guitar in dealing for it.

Galveston - The day I bought it...

Girl? No, guitar! - 12/23/2000 - The Day I bought the Square guitar.

At first, I didn’t know anything about it other than it was a Galveston and it had a “Made in Korea” sticker on the back.  It took me a while to track down that it was a B.B. Stone model, and that there are only about 8 or 12 of the Galveston brand in the US.  B.B. Stone is apparently a Korean blues artist and guitar-builder, and he designed the guitar with Jerker Antoni of Sweden’s Eagle Instruments.  There are 24 pieces worldwide, the ones around the world are branded with the  groovy Eagle headstock.

I did have to replace the original pickups, as it didn’t quite have enough punch.  My friend and musical gear advisor (most likely to his dismay) Dave suggested & helped install some killer GFS pickups.  Now the sound is a little better, and it gives an aural kick in the ears to match the obvious kick in the eyes.

Dancing E.Sure, there are other square guitars… like Bo Diddley’s iconic square guitar, or the George Barris-designed Dragula by Hallmark.  This one is pretty simple though, and for better or worse, it’s become part of my rock n’ roll identity.

I have come across other owners, almost bought a black one a few years back, but didn’t have any extra cash at the time.  There are a few reviews up at Harmony Central.  I’d love to get a hold of the 23 or so other owners out there and get their thoughts on them.