in-n-out burger

Exit 157. Mystery blogger award.

Hi, friends.  Alli over at Hey Worms tagged me in something called the “Mystery Blogger Award.”  I’m not sure what’s so mysterious about it, but it gives me a topic for this week’s post, and this was a busy week, away from my usual routine, so an award like this with the topic all spelled out for me is just what I need.  By the way, go check out Alli’s page; you’ll be glad you did.

So I have to do all of this stuff:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and leave a link to their blog.
    (Done, see first paragraph)
  • Mention the creator of the award
    (The creator is someone called Okoto.  I don’t follow Okoto’s site; maybe I should go check it out one of these days.)
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 people
  • Ask nominees any 5 questions of your choice
  • Share the link to your best/favorite post of yours.

I guess I’m on the step where I have to tell three things about myself. I did another one of these blog award things a few months ago where I had to tell things about myself, so I’m not going to repeat any of those things.

  1. I’ve been to 112 different In-N-Out Burgers.  In-N-Out Burger is a drive-thru burger place that started in the 1940s near Los Angeles.  Their menu has stayed pretty simple over the years: burgers, fries, shakes, drinks, that’s it.  No chicken nuggets or salads or kale and broccoli wraps with pine nuts or anything.  They were exclusively located in southern California until the early 1990s; since then, they have expanded to over 300 locations in six states in the western and southwestern US.  I had my first In-N-Out Burger in late 1997 and was instantly hooked.  Two friends from college (one of whom was Jeff from 80isenough, a frequent commenter on this site) were talking about taking a road trip in the summer of 1998 to go to every single In-N-Out Burger in existence (there were 130 of them at the time).  They never did it, but that inspired me to go to as many different ones as I could, just for fun.  So if I’m on a road trip through a part of the country with In-N-Out Burger restaurants, I’ll take a little side trip to check one off my list, or sometimes I’ll go to two or three of them and only get one item at each one so I can check off more than one.
  2. I’ve never had kale, as far as I know.  I make fun of kale all the time, but I don’t really have an opinion on it; it’s just easy to make fun of.  Kale is basically the Nickelback of vegetables.
  3. Let’s see, how about one that isn’t about food… My first gray hair and my first kiss on the lips came in the same year, in that order.  That could mean that I started getting gray hair unusually young, or that could mean I didn’t kiss anyone until I was older than most.  I’ll let you decide which one you think is true.

I’m also supposed to answer questions that Alli asked to the people she nominated.  For some reason, that isn’t on the list of things to do that I got.  Hmm.

  1. What is one big decision you made in your life that could have changed everything?  I’m not entirely sure about the wording of this question, but I’ll say that I quit my job in 2005, spent four months traveling trying to find myself, and eventually moved to where I am now.  Had I not done that, I probably would have stayed in the same job where I was, as I gradually became more and more cynical and felt more and more out of place, and more and more disillusioned with Christianity since one of the major reasons I moved was because I couldn’t find a church.  I probably would have reached my breaking point of being tired of life a few years later, when California was in a budget crisis and not hiring teachers.  Maybe I would have moved out of state.  Would that have been better or worse than the life I have now in the long run?  I don’t know.
  2. Would you rather be poor and in love or rich without a partner?  I can’t decide, because either one is an improvement over being poor without a partner.  I should point out, though, that I’m really not poor from the perspective of how most people on planet Earth live.  This is also a tough question because I don’t really don’t know what it feels like to be in love in a healthy way.  I’ve experienced all of the pain of relationships with little to none of the good times.  Even my five months in my late 20s with Vega the Nice Ex weren’t really representative of what it’s like to be in love, because that was a medium-distance relationship and we only saw each other in person a couple times a month.  My gut instinct is to say I’d rather be poor and in love, but sometimes I wonder if maybe being in love isn’t right for me.  I’d have someone around all the time.  Would that be difficult for me as an introvert?  I still tend to think that if I were really with the right person, we’d find a way to work it out.  So I’ll go with poor and in love.
  3. What’s a fun fact you know that most might not?  Are you kidding?  Just one?  I’m full of fun facts that most people might not know.  I’ll go with this one that most of my real life friends have heard me say: “Business Route 80” in Sacramento (an old routing of Interstate 80 that has since been bypassed) is actually state highway 51 on paper.  Caltrans doesn’t want to put 51 on signs, because apparently they think that this would be too confusing having highways 50 and 51 in the same city.  Apparently having two different highway 80s in the same city is less confusing, but this kind of nonsense is typical of California’s state government.
  4. What is one of your favorite lyrics?  My screen name on this and several other sites is literally one of my favorite lyrics, so I should probably go with that one.
    Live a life less ordinary
    Live a life extraordinary with me
    — Carbon Leaf, “Life Less Ordinary” (2004)
  5. Why did the chicken cross the road?  Because the chicken was moving with a velocity vector that intersected the line of the road, for enough time that the absolute value of the coordinate of this intersection point minus the coordinate of the chicken continued to decrease until it became negative.

Next, I have to nominate 10-20 people.  I don’t like this step, because some people like doing these and some don’t.  So I’ll nominate anyone reading this.  If you want to do this post in your blog, or other social media site, go for it.  And if you are, these are your five questions:

  1. What is one of your favorite bands that most people have not heard of?
  2. What was a time when something that happened in a way that you didn’t want ended up being better in the long run?
  3. If someone made a movie about your life, who should play you?
  4. Have you ever met someone in a really unusual, noteworthy, or humorous way, and ended up becoming really close with the other person?  Tell me about it.
  5. Are we there yet?

And finally, I have to link to my favorite of my own posts.  This is a hard one… but I’m probably going to go with #86, in which I discussed the correct pronunciation of the term “.gif.”  People get so worked up over this, and it says some interesting things about us and language.

 

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Exit 131. Eating one for the first time.

A while back, I clicked on one of those clickbait articles meant to make Gen-Xers and baby boomers feel old.  This one was a video of so-called millennials who had never eaten a Big Mac before, and their reactions upon eating one for the first time.

I realized something after watching this video: despite being older than anyone in the video, I had never eaten a Big Mac either.

I’ve eaten at McDonald’s before.  As a kid, I ate quite often at McDonald’s.  But rarely hamburgers.  I was a Chicken McNugget fan as a kid.  I didn’t like pickles, or most vegetables, on my burgers as a kid, so I just assumed that I liked my burgers with just ketchup and mayonnaise.  In fact, it wasn’t until early adulthood that I discovered that I liked mustard and onions on cheeseburgers, and this was only because I forgot to ask for no mustard and no onions one day.  In my early adulthood, the southern California-based chain In-N-Out Burger expanded into northern California, and that became my go-to fast food burger for a long time.  It is still one of my favorites, although I have other go-tos these days too.

On Fridays, I’m usually so tired from the work week that when I get home, I don’t do much the rest of the evening.  I usually treat myself to food somewhere cheap, or somewhere that I have a coupon.  I was thinking about this video during the week, and in the spirit of trying new things, or things that are new to me at least, I decided that this week’s Friday fast food treat for me would be a Big Mac.

It wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t Earth-shatteringly impressive, but it wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t as big as I was expecting for a double cheeseburger.  For one thing, a double cheeseburger is supposed to have more than one piece of cheese.  And the patties aren’t really all that big.  I suppose it would have been a much bigger deal when this was a new product in the 60s, but I suppose I’m used to a new generation of fat-asses that want bigger burgers.  But it wasn’t bad, and it’s an option in the future.  And now I can say I’ve tried it.

I still don’t know what the third bun is for, though.

Exit 105. A little recognition and encouragement would have helped.

On Friday, one of my students was carrying two Mylar balloons filled with helium around school with her.  Both of them had congratulatory messages on them, and I overheard her telling several of her friends who apparently did not read the balloons that it was not her birthday.  I asked her what the balloons were for.  There was a special barbecue lunch that day for students who had made honor roll the previous quarter, and she said that her aunt and uncle (whom she lives with) had gotten them for her because it was the first time she had ever made honor roll.  I said good job, and gave her a fist bump.

Then I started thinking.  This student really has made a turnaround since the beginning of the year.  Some of it certainly seems to be related to changes at home.  She started the year living with her mother and doing just enough work in my class to get a D.  She moved in with her aunt in December, and she has been doing pretty solid B work ever since.  I reserve Thursday afternoon for students who want to come to the classroom to work or to get extra help, and while she is often chatty when she comes in Thursday afternoon, she has been the most regular of any student all year, and she usually at least gets work done while she’s chatting and being silly.  Some of you who know me in real life, or from Facebook, remember her from a story I told about a Thursday afternoon a couple months ago.  She showed me a worksheet where she had to label diagrams of a penis, testicles, vagina, and ovaries, and she said, “Look what we’re learning in science class!  It’s disgusting!”  Later that day, she said something about her history class, where the regular teacher is out on maternity leave.  She then holds up her science homework and proclaims, “When she comes back next year, I’m going to show her this, and I’m going to say, ‘I KNOW how you got pregnant!'”

Anyway, the first thought I had was that it was nice of her aunt and uncle to encourage her for making honor roll.  She really has started working harder, and she deserves some kind of recognition for it.  But then I thought of the hundreds of students who made honor roll and did not receive any balloons from their parents.  Of course, they are recognized by the school with certificates, and this barbecue, and students with straight As additionally received a coupon for In-N-Out Burger.  (As I was passing them out, I told the students that if they didn’t like In-N-Out Burger, they could feel free to give me their coupon, and I’d put it to good use.  No one did, unfortunately.)  But I know that it often means more to a child, or even to an adult, to be recognized by those closest to him or her.

My past is full of times when I felt that my talents went unrecognized.  Mediocre students would often talk about their parents giving them money or rewards for good grades, and nothing like that ever came up for me, because I always got good grades.  I’m not saying that I necessarily agree in all circumstances with the concept of material rewards for good grades.  But a little recognition and encouragement would have helped.

Friends, if you have children, encourage them at things that they are good at, even if they are already consistently performing well.  If you have adult friends who are overcoming challenges of any sort, encourage them.  Tell them that it is inspiring to see their hard work.  Maybe they need to hear it, even if you never doubted their ability to complete these challenges.  And those of you who are running marathons, practicing healthier lifestyles, pursuing advanced education, or doing volunteer or missionary work in disadvantaged environments, good for you.  Thank you for sharing.  I enjoy seeing the fruits of your labor and your hardworking spirit.