Monday, March 27, 2017

Murder, He Wrote

My guilty pleasure is reality television. Lately, I’ve gravitated toward murder mysteries, such as Dateline, Snapped or the Investigation Discovery network. An unanticipated side effect of this is that I’ve effectively insulated myself against ever being the victim of foul play from a loved one. In the interest of public safety. I’ll now pass along tips gleaned from hours of viewing to keep you above ground when love goes south.

If something tastes odd, spit it out … immediately. I can’t tell you how many times in these shows I’ve seen someone poison their victim’s food and drink. The doctors always figure it out, but not until it’s too late. So here’s a pro tip: If you’re not getting along with your spouse, you should probably make your own ice tea.

If your loved one is spending hours alone on the Internet, you might want to check their search history. Oh sure, it could be innocent enough. Or it could be that he or she is searching “how to get rid of a body” or “deadly poison.”

Under no circumstances whatsoever should you ever invite a down-on-their-luck third party into your home. If reality TV is any indication, it’s just a matter of time before this person has an affair with your spouse and they conspire to kill you. As an aside, no one ever seems to pursue the far less deadly divorce option.

If you are asked to increase the value your life insurance policy to a ridiculous amount, don’t do it.  The beneficiary will likely wait two months, but certainly no longer, before killing you. As it turns out, patience isn’t a virtue when your spouse is determined to kill you and move to a beach house with your insurance proceeds.

If a friend or spouse seems overly eager to take you to some secluded location, such as hiking trail or a mountain top, take a pass. Secluded places are peaceful and beautiful. They also are great places to ditch a body.

Finally, if you hear that your spouse is telling others that he or she would “be better off without you,” then take their word for it. As it turns out, the murdering types aren’t particularly good at keeping secrets.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Go West for Nation's Best Fast Food Burger

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling over the years in my various jobs. And during that time, I’ve eaten a fair number of hamburgers. I haven’t done this for my own pleasure, mind you, but simply for scientific purposes. I did it for you. Because of my work, you won’t ever have to waste precious calories on a subpar burger.

You’re welcome.

So now, without further ado, I am releasing the results of my extensive studies. Following are the top five burgers from coast to coast, starting straight from the top.

1). In and Out Burger. This is the easiest choice by far. This west coast institution is unparalleled. It offers the freshest, best-tasting, lowest-cost burger available. When I first went to In and Out, I was jarred by its simplicity. This is not a place for chicken or fish sandwiches. They only do burgers. But when you do burgers this well, you don’t have to do anything else. When traveling to Los Angeles, I’ve been known to make In and Out my first stop when leaving the airport or my last stop when returning. I take pictures to savor the experience. If I were a poet, I would write an ode to In and Out.

2). Culver’s Restaurant. It gets a little crowded after number one, in my opinion, but I’m giving Culver’s and its butterburger (so called because the bun is dipped in butter and lightly grilled) the nod here. Freshness is again the differentiator with each burger made to order.  Plus, as a bow to Culvers’ Wisconsin roots, you can order cheese curds as a side instead of French fries. What’s not to like about fried cheese?

3). Steak ’n Shake. Although it might not seem like it if you order a milkshake, I’m assuming Steak ’n Shake qualifies as fast food. After all, it has a drive-thru window. Steak ’n Shake’s original steakburger is smashed thin, which makes the edges nice and crispy. Add cheese, onions, mustard and some shoestring fries and you’re in business. Steak ’n Shake’s burgers also score very high on the value scale.

4). Five Guys. I include Five Guys mostly from a sense of obligation. Everyone seems to love Five Guys. Sure, the burgers are good. That’s a given. For me though, I find the double burger and sack overflowing with fries all to be just a bit much. After I eat at Five Guys, I don’t want another hamburger for a month. Five Guys is the artery clogger among artery cloggers. It’s also the most expensive or this group.

5). Sonic. Perhaps it’s human nature to yearn most for that which we cannot have, which explains my odd affinity for Sonic. Most Sonic restaurants near me have closed over time. As a result, whenever I see one on the road, I’m drawn to pull over.  Sonic does a good, honest burger at a fair price. I particularly like the freshness of the bun. Plus, you can order tater tots as a side, which is a nice change of pace and a pleasant reminder of childhood.

That’s my list of the nation’s best fast food burgers with a couple of caveats. First, even though I have been to New York repeatedly, I somehow never sampled Shake Shack so I can’t speak to its quality, although I know it has many devotees. Second, if I were forced to pick from only the large national chains, Wendy’s wins hands down. Finally, if we include dives as well as chains, then Reno’s Little Nugget Diner tops the list. It is home of the “awful awful” burger, so-called because it is both awful big and awful good.

How about you? Do you agree with my list? Would you choose a different order? Do you prefer others?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Tales from a Colonoscopy Rookie

The prep is the worst part.

That’s what smug colonoscopy veterans tell you. They say it with assurance, like a chef cooking something exotic tells diners “it tastes just like chicken.”

I’m no fan of frog legs and I’m thinking I’ll like a colonoscopy even less.  Still, I’m 51 with a family history of colon cancer. I’m technically past due. So I reluctantly schedule the procedure. It’s now the night before and I keep repeating, “the prep is the worst part.”

I was surprised I could buy everything I needed for the prep over the counter, including beef broth, Jell-O, Dulcolax, Miralax, Gatorade (other than purple or red) and baby wipes. As I check out, the clerk looks at me like I must be planning some party.

On prep day, I eat nothing more than beef broth and Jell-O. That’s just as delicious as it sounds. But, as we know by now, the worst is yet to come. As evening sets in, I take two Dulcolax tablets. Then I mix a whole bottle of Miralax into two giant bottles of Gatorade, which I spend the next several hours drinking. I cap it all off with a couple more Dulcolax tablets. For the rest of the night, I wear out a path in the carpet between the couch and the bathroom. My family knows to steer clear. My wife shares her sympathy … and some baby wipes.

It isn’t pleasant. It isn’t supposed to be. This is the alleged worst part.

Sometime after midnight my stomach finally starts to settle down.  I fall asleep and doze peacefully, except for a dream where I soil myself. I wake up and double check. Thankfully, it was only a dream brought on by the evening’s stressors.

The next morning I’m still nervous. I’m second guessing things. I’m starting to think that I’ve been sold a bill of goods about this colonoscopy thing. The prep isn’t the worst part. The camera up the backside has to be the worst part. The nurse at Medical Center East senses my anxiety. She reassures me. The prep is over. The IV is in. The rest is easy, she says.

Of course, she’d say this. She’s in on it like the rest of them.

But there’s no turning around now. I’ve already told the anesthesiologist about my allergies and I’m being rolled away to the room where the procedure will take place. I keep my doubts to myself and turn onto my side as directed like a good soldier. I’m eased off to sleep. Less than 30 minutes later, I wake up back where I started. The doctor has shared good news with my wife. Everything went well. No polyps. No cancer. I won’t have to do this again for 10 years.

I am relieved, of course. But more importantly, the experience gives me a strange sense of purpose. It endows me with an important message I must share with those who follow. I feel compelled to sit down at my keyboard as soon as possible and pass my wisdom along to the public. To wait even a day more, would be nothing short of dereliction of my duty to humanity. So here goes dear people: The prep is the worst part.