Turnpike Toll Becomes An Inside Joke

December 26, 2009 at 2:32 PM | Random, Wichita | No Comments

As I took the exit for Kellogg on my way back to Wichita from Kansas City, I was pleasantly surprised to see the price appear on the 7 segment displays: $4.00. And then the lady in the booth says it aloud, “Four dollars,” in little to no inflection in her voice. “Ya dig…”, I whispered under my breath with a wide grin and hand her my credit card.

Side note: I love paying tolls with a credit card. I only found out that you could do this maybe 7 or 8 years ago when I was caught without change on the turnpike. The credit card was my plea of desperation–turns out it was universally accepted on the KTA. You don’t get to do that everywhere, though.

Thank You, Pink Panther

November 27, 2007 at 12:05 AM | Nostalgia, Site/Personal, Wichita | No Comments

When I was home for the weekend, I had an opportunity to play around a little on the drums. It’d been way too long since I’ve been back home… since last Christmas, actually. In the room where I keep my drums, I have a large stuffed Pink Panther sitting in a leather swivel chair. For so many years, he’s hung out in there with Matt’s Pookie, the X-eyed green giraffe–the both of them being the constant company when I’m hanging out in there. I don’t exactly remember when this happened, I dunno probably middle school or early high school… but I put my black zip-up hoodie (from my “Stealth” years) on Pink Panther and he’s been wearing it ever since.

Until I came home this Thanksgiving.

I decided it was time to get my hoodie back from Pink Panther. I felt kind of bad at first, because he’d worn it for so long, he’d probably gotten himself quite attached to it. Or at the very least, he’d be cold when I took it off. But to my surprise, when I unzipped it, I discovered that he had on a sweater underneath! That sneaky guy had been layering the entire time and I didn’t even know it (or I’d forgotten). Anyways, the hoodie was a throwback to my youth and it felt/looked pretty good. Thank you, Pink Panther, for holding onto that gem for me.

Thanksgiving 2006

December 6, 2006 at 1:09 AM | Food, Site/Personal, Wichita | 2 Comments

So this past Thanksgiving was a little strange for me. No Thanksgiving Pt. II. No Black Friday. And the weather… it was so warm! What’s the world coming to?

The big thing was the lack of the Black Friday madness that has now totally gotten out of control. People were lining up at Best Buy on Thanksgiving around (maybe before?) 3PM. By 6, rumor has it, that it’d reached the end of the building. I swear to god, people are so hardcore now… and they must be obsessed with waiting in lines for things. Like when the first Krispy Kreme came to town. Like when the first Matrix sequel (gag) came out. Like when the PS3′s first came out… And yet, the Black Friday sales get worse and worse every year. Maybe I think the deals just aren’t worth it anymore. Maybe I’m just too old for that shit. Maybe it’s all of the above.

Well, actually, you know what… the PS3 might have been worth it, for the resale value.

I am happy, however, to report that at least one Thanksgiving tradition has not died. And that is the tradition of a hot bowl of pho at Pho Hien. OK, maybe that’s not so much of a Thanksgiving tradition as it is a Wichita tradition, but who’s keeping track?

The Parking Ticket

August 5, 2006 at 10:53 PM | Site/Personal, Wichita | No Comments

My mom calls me up yesterday, told me that she just got some notice in the mail from the city of Wichita’s municipal court, which said that I had an outstanding parking ticket. I was like “… but I haven’t been in Wichita for… months.” The date that the supposed incident occured was 7/13. I was most definitely not in Wichita on that day. Unless somebody came and got my car while I was at work (it was a Thursday), drove down to Wichita, got a parking ticket, and then promptly returned my car before I noticed that it was even gone.

The more logical explanation for it could be the fact that those fools got the blasted tag number mixed up–my tag number has an “L” in it… the one on the ticket is an “I.” Yes, somebody done messed up.

So now I gotta call them up on Monday and try and get the whole thing sorted out. It’s only a $20 ticket, but it’s the fucking principal of the matter and I’ll be damned if I pay anything. And it’s a pretty hardcore notice too… it’s all like “failure to pay this citation could result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.” Yeah… I can’t be having that right now. Or ever, really.

Update: I called them up and got the ticket voided, without much hassle.  Hooray.

Black Thursday

November 25, 2005 at 5:42 AM | Nerd, Site/Personal, Wichita | 1 Comment

So… Black Friday started a little earlier this year.

I was over at Martin’s house for dinner and afterwards, we were looking over the ads in preparation for Black Friday, the craziest shopping day of the year. I’m not sure how the tradition began, but I guess the day after Thanksgiving, a lot of stores decided to simultaneously have ridiculous sales on items of a grotesquely limited quantity. If you want to be successful in acquring some of these items, you need to:

  • Have a game plan (figure out what you want and hopefully coordinate your efforts with others)
  • Pick a store (you usually only have time to hit up one store, so you must choose the store with the most desirable goods)
  • Get there hours and hours before they open and camp outside in the blisteringly cold darkness of night

I’ve done the whole Black Friday thing for the past couple of years now and each year, I find myself doing it in Wichita since I usually come home for Thanksgiving. I usually hit up Best Buy because they usually have some pretty good deals on computer peripherals, accessories, etc. One thing that I’ve noticed is that people are getting there earlier and earlier… and they show up a lot better prepared. I mean, it used to just be a bunch of fools standing around in the cold for about 3 hours. Now they’re coming with their furniture, music players, portable gaming systems, and thermoses.

But anyways, I was looking over CompUSA’s ad and noticed that it said that they were opening at 11:59PM. I leaned over and I was like “oh my godddd… they’re opening at noon–what are they thinking??” But I really hadn’t processed the information that I had seen on the ad. In reality, they were opening at midnight Thursday. This had never been done before. They were technically opening up shop for Black Friday on Thursday. Nobody ever does that. The notion of things happening on Thursday didn’t even cross my mind. Everybody always opens up around 7AM on Friday. I know that they purposely put down 11:59PM because sometimes times involving 12AM/PM can be a little tricky. And yet… I still messed it up. As soon as I realized what was going on, I checked the time: 8:45PM. I was like “If you want to hit up CompUSA, we needs to leave like righ now.” And so we drove out to CompUSA, fully expecting a small crowd waiting.

Instead, there were only like 6 or 7 guys standing around so I guess we were going to be pretty much at the front of the line if one were to form. Some of them were seated at a table (which I assume that one of them brought), setting up a game of Risk: Star Wars – Clone Wars edition to pass the time. And there was this really fat dude there that was wearing shorts. And also, another fat dude, of no apparent relation to the first fat dude, wearing shorts. What is up with fat people and wearing shorts in the cold weather? I’ve seen this before on numerous occasions and I just can’t seem to figure it out. I refuse to believe that their particular physiology provides them with enough body heat in the lower body to warrant the wearing of shorts when its 25°F out. I was out there with my winter coat, scarf, and stocking cap… freezing my ass off and I see these guys standing around having a grand ol’ time in their shorts. I dunno, I guess I’ll never truly understand.

Anyways, just seeing this little group of people made me feel like I was as big a nerd as the rest of them for being out there. And I don’t know, I probably am, I won’t deny it. But I mean, come on… the Risk game was a little much. I’m not dogging on the game or anything. I like Star Wars as much as the next guy and I’m sure that it is probably a very entertaining game.

And then something happened that I have never seen happen in the entire history of my participation in the Black Friday tradition… they let a group of us wait inside the first set of doors. It was actually quite warm in there and I had to return my winter gear back out to the car. Not only were we near the front, we were going to be waiting indoors. Utter blasphemy! But you can bet that you didn’t see me complaining about it…

Eventually, the whole place started to fill up and people that got there later were back to the classic waiting outside. I couldn’t see how many people were out there, but word had it that it was not a small number. Time passes excruciatingly slow when you are waiting for something. This was most certainly the case here, when you pretty check the time on your phone every 10-15 minutes, disappointed that not more time had passed. And being on your feet for so long is no easy task either. With every passing moment, people moved in closer, inching their way towards the door, even though nobody was going anywhere.

Until finally… it was go time.

The floodgates burst open with a roar of people pushing and shoving their way into the store and towards the goods that had taunted us for the past three long hours. Martin and I had devised a plan: I would go for the items in the front island, grab a cart and meet up with him after he had gone to pick up other items in a different part of the store. As soon as they let us loose, I knew that the job would not be as easy as planned. People are fucking craaazy when it comes to this sort of thing. People were all pushing and scurrying around, grabbing shit off of the shelves, all yelling n shit. I was pushed around back to the rear of the island where I was able to grapple a set of stuff for the both of us. I dropped the stuff into the cart and began inching my way towards the designated meeting area, all the while paranoid that someone would just come by and snatch the goods from the cart in the chaos. Luckily, no such thing happened and I saw Martin in the distance, successful in his part of the mission. By the time we were checking out at the registers, people that were waiting in line were still coming in. I guess there must’ve been a shitload of people in line outside.

We got up on out of there feeling pretty good and it was only like 12:15. This was by far the easiest, fastest, smoothest Black Friday operation ever. We were out of there in a hurry and we each got what we came for. All in all, I would say that it was a raging success.

This year, Best Buy decided to also change up their opening time. They were going to open at 5AM. Now, usually 3 hours before opening is plenty of time to get a decent spot in line. So I was thinking that we would just roll by there, check out the line, and if it wasn’t too out of control, hit up the nearby IHOP for a bit. However, by 12:30, the line coming from the entrance of Best Buy already stretched back out to the Burlington Coat Factory. People were all lined up in their blankets and lawn chairs… it was like four and a half hours til go time and the line was already out of control. I was like “my god… I can’t compete with these people–they’re craaazy.” We decided to give up on that venture… there really weren’t that many deals going on, we’d been spoiled with the waiting indoors bit, and mostly, we’d already done a fair amount of waiting. Shit just wasn’t worth it. We hit up IHOP and called it a night.

Pho Hien III

October 5, 2005 at 12:09 AM | Food, Good Times, Site/Personal, Wichita | No Comments

Pho HienWhen I first heard that my favorite eating establishment of all time, the Pho Hien II, was moving, I had mixed feelings about the news. It had been in the same location for so long that I really couldn’t picture myself driving to a different part of town to get my fix. Half of the experience of the place is driving down to that part of Wichita along the stretch of north Broadway that the Vietnamese community have somewhat adopted. It’s not the best part of town by any means, and I have rarely dared to venture out there to eat by myself. Or past 6PM.

But what keeps me coming back time and time again is their amazing pho. Because it’s not the atmosphere. And it’s most certainly not the service. But none of those other things really matter… I know this because I’ve been to some sparkling clean pho joints with excellent service before. But the food sucked. Or their cafe sua da sucked. Or both. And so I think my brother and I came up with a general rule of thumb: the more down to earth a pho joint is, the better the pho. Why is this? Because those places are more real.

But then I got word of where the Pho Hien II was moving to. Yes, they were moving all the way to a new Vietnamese strip mall… across the street. What a relief!

The other weekend, I was down in Wichita for Amanda’s wedding. That was a good one. It also happened to be the weekend of the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, so I hung out with the family for a bit and ate a fair number of mooncakes.

Of course, every time that I am back in Wichita for any amount of time, you can be sure that I will fit in a lunch at the Pho Hien II, usually with Ryan, sometimes with Martin. This particular weekend, it was just Ryan and I. Going to the Pho Hien II is a treat in itself, but I was especially excited to be able to check out what all had changed at their new location.

Once we got there, I could already tell that some things were never going to be the same. First of all, the place was not called “Pho Hien III”, but just “Pho Hien.” I didn’t know why the other one had the “II” to begin with, but it seemed kind of illogical to discontinue the numbering scheme. Also, gone are the craters in the parking lot and the guerrilla-style parking that patrons frequently encountered back across the street. Still, signs of the old familiar were present inside… the twin pair of plastic bottles of hoisin sauce and Sriracha, the fish sauce in the re-used Kikkoman’s soy sauce bottle, all of the same people working, Vietnamese pop music in the background, the life-sized plastic eagle statue near the cash register… I never did figure out what was up with that eagle.

The new: fancier menus in place of the 1-sheet laminated paper menus, new (higher) prices, some kind of faux bamboo plant decoration sitting next to the condiments, two TVs mounted up high on either end of the place, and perhaps most shocking of all… a small disco ball hanging from the center of the restaurant. I was like “what… the…” because I mean, my god it’s a disco ball! Ryan suggested that the place gave off a vibe that it could be easily cleared out and rented out for other functions, like I dunno, parties n shit. And no party is complete without a disco ball. It seemed like the most plausible explanation and the tables and chairs certainly looked mobile enough for easy clearing out.

I ordered the #1 with extra noodles. I don’t know why… the #1 is pretty large as it is, but it seems to be the thing to do at the Vietnam Cafe up in KC. Call it habit. Or maybe I did it because I was just so excited to see the new Pho Hien that I had to celebrate by gorging myself with so much pho that I probably should have died that very day, right then and there. Yes, I never thought that I would say this… but I was maxed out on Pho. I’d never had so much of it before! So I refrained from pho for about a week and a half before getting some at the Vietnam Cafe.

But this is not to say that it wasn’t delicious. The joint has received a facelift, but it’s essentially the same ol’ place that it used to be. Good eating. Good times. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Fourth of July Weekend

July 24, 2005 at 10:32 PM | Food, Site/Personal, Wichita | No Comments

I was back in Wichita for the long weekend. I’ve done the drive from KC to Wichita and back, but for some reason the drive was extremely difficult. There really isn’t a whole lot to see along the road and the long stretches of construction-induced two-lane highway didn’t help either.

And actually, the drive down started off kind of slow because I guess there was some accident on 169, crossing the river. There were cops blocking off one of the lanes and traffic had slowed to a crawl. It took me a good 30, maybe 45 minutes just to get across the bridge.

So then after that, it was just driving, driving, driving with nothing really exciting to see. Except when I made to down to a stretch of road down by El Dorado Lake. That’s when I started hitting an unusual amount of bugs. The bug impacts were so frequent, I kept thinking that it was raining. I must’ve hit every bug living in the area that night. I got a good look at the damage the next morning. I’ve never seen so many bug gut splatters in my life. I asked a couple of people if they’ve had similar experiences of driving by lakes at night in the summertime, but nobody seemed to be able to recall finding themselves in a similar situation.

So what’s new in town? Not the new location of Pho Hien II, that’s for sure. I was all excited to see how Pho Hien II would fare at their brand new location, across the street. Would it be super clean? Would that affect the quality of the food? Unfortunately, they had not yet made the move yet and were still at the same old location. I met up with Martin, Ryan, Chris, and Tiffany at the old Pho Hien II and had myself a large bowl of pho. God, I love that place.

I guess I haven’t been to the Target on the west side of town in a while. I swung by there on Sunday afternoon to check something out, only to find the lot empty, the entrances sealed, and all Target logos removed, leaving behind a lonely tan building with the telltale red stripes. I called my mom up, who being a full-time resident of Wichita, would probably know best about the whereabouts of Target. She explained to me that Target had relocated a long time ago and was surprised that I didn’t know. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t shop at Target a whole lot. Somehow, I had managed to block Target out of my mind. I probably drove by there on several occasions, but didn’t notice/care that the lots were empty and that the building was stripped down. I only recently started shopping at Target because there’s one right across the street from where I live in KC.

The Fourth of July was a bust. We were going to have our annual Fourth of July get-together on Sunday but there was some killer storm that night with hail, tornadoes n shit. So we had to reschedule to Monday (which was actually July 4) but I left Monday morning after getting some dim sum at Tom’s. The return trip was just as boring as the drive down, minus the excitement of hitting thousands upon thousands of bugs because it was daytime. Or because the surviving bugs didn’t have enough time to regenerate their population after I came through and almost wiped them all out.

Street Talk

July 8, 2005 at 12:30 AM | Random, Wichita | No Comments

Let’s talk potholes. The biggest, scariest pothole that I have ever seen is in Wichita. It’s the one that is in the parking lot coming into the west side Best Buy. The last time I was back there, I saw that they had it patched up but I’ve seen them try to patch this thing up before. Next time I’m down there, I’m pretty sure that I’ll see it again, even bigger than before, with a small lake forming in the bottom. This is the cycle that I’ve seen this particular pothole go through over the years. Somebody realizes that it’s a hazard, decides to patch it up, the patch is withered away because of slight imperfections, and bam its bigger than ever. You can’t fight this thing… it’s a living organism, a monster. It won’t be silenced!

It’s surprising that the worst pothole that I have ever seen is in Wichita, considering the fact that Kansas generally has better roads than surrounding states… at least that is what I have come to believe.

Oklahoma roads: crap. Texas roads: crap. Missouri roads: crap crap crap. Of course, people in Kansas also pay the price for having these good roads?there’s construction on Kansas roads 24/7 and nobody likes going through construction. Traffic’s half the speed, the fines are double, and you get to drive single file down a 2 lane highway, jimmy-rigged from what used to be a 4 lane luxury cruise. Nothing to like about it. And if you’re lucky, you might even run into those portions of construction where opposing traffic shares the same lane, by taking turns–those are always a treat.

A Wonderful Wichita Weekend

September 7, 2004 at 1:17 AM | Food, Good Times, Wichita | No Comments

I'll get to play this bitch for a good solid week or soThe rest of the long weekend treated me pretty good. Saturday night, I left town a little after the game started (we won btw) and got into Ta Town about 9:30PM or so… just in time to get some of that excellent Lee’s Chinese food. So I was eating, when Amanda calls me up and she’s like “hey I just got off work, let’s go out.” So I’m like “aight.” I was a little hesitant at first because I really didn’t get too much sleep from the night before and I’d just barely gotten into town from Manhattan. But you know, I wasn’t in town on her birthday and she was in Europe on my birthday, so going out was a must. Whatever, right? I dropped by her place, picked her up and we went over to Stephanie’s in preparation for a faux double-birthday celebration. Sara and Amanda (different Amanda) were chilling at Steph’s. We had some Heinekens and then hit up this club in downtown called “Budd Ugly’s.” The place is a pretty happening time… drinks were fairly cheap and there were dancers there, dancing up on these little mini-stages Coyote Ugly style. I was like “worrd?” because you don’t see that shit everyday. Yeah so we all got fucked up, dancing and drinking the night away until they kicked us out.

Sunday, my brother and I hit up the Pho Hien II (as if there was any doubt that we would) and man, that’s still the best pho joint I’ve been to. I bought some shit at Best Buy and my brother picked up a PS2. I played it only briefly before I fucking crashed out and took a long ass nap until it was go-time for the big Labor Day barbecue my family was throwing together.

Monday, I had lunch with Mandy at Cinnamon’s Deli (the only other restaurant in Wichita besides the Pho Hien II that deserves visiting, when you can’t stay long).

So all in all, a lot of eating, drinking, sleeping… yeah, a top notch weekend. Again, like a fool, I brought my backpack home for the weekend, thinking “yeah, it’s a new school year… things are gonna be different. I’m gonna get so much homework done.” Hahaha. Yeah, I cracked my backpack open just once over the weekend, and that was to get my iPod out. When the fuck will I ever learn?

Fox Force Five

July 4, 2004 at 2:42 AM | Good Times, Movies, Wichita | No Comments

Well I’m down in Wichita for the weekend. We usually have a big 4th of July barbecue every year so I’m looking forward to that. Food + family + friends + fun + fireworks. That’s how they go. Also, I’m going out to Lake Afton to shoot my brother’s guns. So uh… add “firearms” to that list. Oh yeah, and then today I saw Spider-Man 2. Not sure how I can add that to the list… except maybe “fucking awesome movie.” Yeah, that’s how I’ll do it, cuz it was hot ya heard.

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