Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lunchtime Atrocities

Where I work, most days of the week, there are very limited food choices. Basically, you have the option of eating down in the building cafeteria, walking over to the commisary (that's ½mi. walk from the exit of the building, which, itself is a ⅓ of a mile from my desk) or going off campus.

  • The building cafeteria has several "food" options: Subway, a Chinese food place (it's a chain, too, I just can't remember it), two other sandwich shops, a hot foods concession, a burger stand, a salad bar and a pizza concession.
  • The commisary is a ½-mi. walk from the exit of my building. And, since I work in a large building, the walk from my desk to that exit is ⅓-mi. walk). Down there, there's another subway, a pizza concession, a Starbucks, an icecream shop and a couple other low-grade concessions. If I wanted to walk further still, there's a Burger King
  • The closest off-campus location is a ten-minute drive ...and that's after you've walked out to your car. And, given the parking situation on campus, you could easily have walked a half mile or more to get to you car (and, if you're in one of the "close" spots, you won't want to lose it over lunch, any way). That location is full of higher-end chains, but still chains
I'm not a big fan of chain food, in general. So, if I'm going to eat chain food, I try to minimize the insult by at least restricting myself to cheap chain food. Subway's cheap and it's convenient. Notice, I don't use the term "good".

Usually, what I get is the seafood sub. I order the 6" sandwich made with the Italian herb&cheese bread. I get it with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and a ton of hot peppers. Frankly, the hot peppers are the only thing with any flavor on it. Yes, I could order something with more flavorful ingredients, the problem is, those other "flavorful" ingredients have an awful flavor. So, I go with the filling but flavorless wonder.

Now, under normal circumstances, the combination I choose would at least have some flavor

  • Seafood normally has flavor, but Subway's seafood salad is just chopped up faux-crab with no discernible spices and flavorless mayo (I assume it's mayo, but it's just as likely some kind of semi-edible bonding agent).
  • The bread I choose claims to be "Italian herb and cheese". As near as I can tell, the "Italian herbs and cheese" Subway uses were chosen more to provide texture than flavor.
  • American cheese, while normally mild, typically has flavor. Subway's? Not so much. It's mostly just a textural thing that provides a bit of filling - a very small bit of filling, given that they take one small square of cheese, cut it into two triangles and lay the triangles end-to-end, long-sides on a common axis, so as to give the appearance of covering the whole sandwich. Much as Mario's cake is a lie, so is Subway's cheese.
  • Lettuce can have flavor, it's just that most sandwich places seem to choose to use iceberg or other basically flavorless lettuces. I don't know what token greenery Subway actually uses, but it's flavorless.
  • Tomatoes... I loves me some tomatoes. As a kid, it used to boggle my mind that they were technically fruits. As an adult with a very nice garden in my yard, I almost find it hard to believe that I was ever confused about whether they were a fruit or vegetable. With Subway's tomatoes, the only confusion I have is, "is this actually food?" I mean, today's tomatoes were literally white (granted, it was a pinkish white, so, it had the suggestion that they were distantly related to the bright-red, flavorful tomatoes I've had elsewhere, but it's only enough of a hint to make you buy into them maybe being tomatoes). Their texture and flavor, however, I could replicate by cutting the bottoms off a styrofoam coffee cup, splashing them with ink from a red pen and tossing them on my sandwich.
  • The only saving grace is the hot peppers. I don't know why the sandwich makers always boggle at me when I ask them to pile them on (sometimes saying things like "take what you think is an obscene amount of hot-peppers, then double it" to try to give them a picture of how much I want). Now, you'd think that canned sandwich peppers were canned sandwich peppers. Growing up, it didn't so much matter which brand was on the jar, the crushed hoagie peppers were zesty. I dunno where Subway gets theirs, but it definitely isn't from Talaricos. Yes, they too are gutless versions of the food substances they pretend to be.
Oh well. It saves me the hassle of having to go off campus and it makes my stomach shut up. Though, in truth, I don't know whether my stomach shuts up because it's been sated or because it fears that I'll assault it with another wave of utterly indifferent food.

Monday, July 11, 2011

All Your Eggs

Some good points in this article (http://is.gd/cQQ7e3). And, yes, I have a Plus account, but I won't soon be abandoning my other outlets.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scarcity Improves Art

Improvements in technology are a double-edged sword. The shear, raw "horespower" of new technologies make all sorts of things that were difficult, if not impossible, to do in the past trivial. Unfortunately, it also seems that, as effort is removed, it lowers the bar to entry so much that the art is lost. You see it computer programming and you see it in movie-making. Much as "old school" coders were better because of limited resources, I think the same can be said of film-makers.

If modern coders were as efficient with their coding as the guys of the 50s, 60s and 70s were, we would already have truly immersive virtual reality and computers that put HAL 9000 to shame. Probably the only reason that the SciFi writers got things wrong on the timescale was because they were basing projects of technological growth and assuming the same level of skill and artistry would follow it. Unfortunately, not so much.

When I was a kid and first saw movies like Tron, Last Starfighter ...even up through Jurassic Park, it almost seemed like there'd be no need for physical actors within my lifetime. Unfortunately, what I've seen is that the effects have gone from enhancing the story to being the story. And it's sad.