Words On Wednesday

2015-06-10 Pizza, Racism, and Doing Things

With all of my freelance work caught up for this week and some spare time on my hands, maybe this week will yield a normal sized and well thought out post.

The Pizza of Destiny

I’m a big fan of Papa John’s pizza, probably my favorite of all franchise pizza restaurants. My roommate got me hooked on it back in college, and the affinity stuck around. It’s a little more expensive than say Little Caesars, but I genuinely think it’s worth the cost. Besides, they frequently run specials that drop the price quite a bit. In any case, we order “Papa Juan’s” quite a bit.

Most of the time when I order pizza, we’ll get a pepperoni and banana pepper pizza, plus some sort of specialty pizza. Often times, I won’t like one particular topping on a specialty pizza, so I’ll just customize it to take that ingredient off. I always pondered what the limitations were on customized pizzas, but I was never curious enough to push the limits.

A recent Papa Juan’s order consisted of the Chicken Cordon Bleu specialty, in addition to my wife’s standard pepperoni and banana pepper. I placed the order online, toying with the customization page for a bit. I clicked a few different toppings, but never saw any warning about a maximum topping limit or any sort of counter. Not wanting to ruffle any feathers, I scaled it back to the original order.

When I arrived at Papa John’s to pick up the order, curiosity got the better of me. “Excuse me,” I asked the cashier, “what’s the upper limit on toppings for the specialty pizzas? I didn’t see any limit online, didn’t know if maybe there was an unstated maximum.” The lady looked at me funny for a moment. After a few seconds, she responded, “Umm… I don’t believe there is a limit.” What? No limit? That’s impossible.

I got home and brought up the website again, just to check. Starting with the standard base of a pizza, I began clicking every topping offered. At the eleventh topping, I was alerted that the maximum toppings for a single pizza was ten. Ten toppings on a single pizza. It’s not quite unlimited like the cashier said, but that’s a ton of ingredients on a pizza.

For future study, I constructed what I determined would be my ideal pizza:

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Spicy Italian Sausage
  • Beef
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Bacon
  • Canadian Bacon
  • Three Cheese Blend
  • Mushrooms
  • Pineapple

Fast forward a couple of weeks (or maybe just a few days, don’t judge me) and it came time to order pizza again. This was it, I was going to order that monstrosity of a pizza. I put in an order for the deal of 2 specialty pizzas for $19.95 and began the deed. The first pizza was a standard original crust, normal cut, normal cheese, normal sauce pie with my piles and piles of toppings. Going all out, we decided to augment my wife’s typical order to have double pepperoni, double banana pepper, and beef.

When I placed the order, I half expected to receive some sort of phone call or email, informing me that the order would be impossible. I was filled with disbelief, doubting the possibility that they might really put ten toppings on a single pizza. Surely nobody can order such a complex arrangement of edible goodness.

Arriving at Papa John’s, I still hadn’t received any sort of error message. Maybe they really made that hulk of a pizza. I pulled through the drive through, signed the receipt (I’d already paid online), and they handed me 2 boxes. Because I still didn’t believe they’d given me a pizza with all those toppings, I pulled into a parking spot and opened the box on top. Sure enough, they had.

This pizza was absolutely covered with stuff, thicker than I’ve ever seen a pizza loaded. My drive home was absolutely steeped in anticipation. Such a piece edible art has never before been created.

Once home, I brought in the pizzas and opened my box like an ancient chest containing some priceless treasure. Under the florescent lighting of my kitchen, the pizza seemed to glow with a golden light. I gently pulled a slice away from the rest of the pie. With toppings falling off everywhere, I took a bite of it. So much meat, with the sweetness of the pineapple and the earthiness of the mushrooms… it was like a dream.


A couple of slices in, I was adamant this was definitely one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. By far the best franchise pizza I’ve had. And the whole thing was only $10. This is the benefit of utilizing online deals for carryout pizza. I highly recommend that any pizza lover hit up Papa John’s and try to take advantage of any comparable deals. Load it up with whatever you like and dig in. It’s awesome.

Almost Getting Shot at Wells Fargo

The section below is transcribed directly from text messages with my wife. Please excuse the formatting.

I walk into wells Fargo. There are 2 tellers, one of which has a manager helping him. Clearly, the manager combo is doing something that will take a while.

Other teller, Ja’Lisa is helping a lady. She finishes up and the next guy in line goes up to her desk. I am now the only person in line.

The guy starts on a transaction. An older gent walks up behind me.

Guy starts another transaction. Somebody else comes up to the line.

Manager combo is still helping the first customer out. Old man behind me tells me, “I’m glad the building isn’t on fire.” I chuckle and agree. The guy with Ja’Lisa starts ANOTHER transaction.

A few moments later, the old man says very audibly, “they ought to get some white people back there.” I’ll clarify now, Ja’Lisa is obviously black, the other teller is black, and the manager looks maybe Hispanic.

I get a look of obvious awkwardness on my face, look down at the ground in front of me, and hope to goodness this dude with 50 transactions will hurry up.

He finally says, “alright, one more thing.” and I figure we’re in the home stretch.

I’m half expecting the old man at this point to say something else racist, or otherwise rope me into something I want nothing to do with.

Thankfully, he says nothing more. Ja’Lisa finishes up with the guy at the desk and invites me up.

I try to get through this transaction as quickly as possible, since I want out of that building yesterday.

Most urgent check I’ve ever written.

Thankfully, all goes well and she gives me the receipt for the transaction

I immediately hustle toward the door. As the old man goes up to the counter, I hear him ask something about, “you don’t have any education?”

To which the teller responds, “yes sir, I have an education.”

I book it on out the door, not wanting to get involved with any of the racially charged conversation that was about to go down.

And that’s how I almost got shot.

Every [item] You’ve Ever [action]

What if there were a way to monitor everything you’ve done? An example that comes to mind is how video games will often record counts for how often the player has done something. Grand Theft Auto keeps track of cars stolen, dollars made, and several other metrics. The Elder Scrolls series monitors pockets picked, locations discovered, and quite a few more actions. What if these sort of counts were kept for us in real life?

Every Dollar Spent or Earned

I’ve written about it before, but this is one particular metric that keeps coming back to me. I generally like to consider myself a frugal person. I don’t splurge money on frivolous purchases like entertainment and convenience spending, at least not much. My wife and I tend to buy groceries and cook rather than eat out when we can, both for the cost savings and the quality time spent together. Even still, there are countless purchases that I can’t help but think, “I really shouldn’t have bought that.”

If I could look over the distribution of every dollar I’ve spent, on what and where, I’m sure it would make me hurt to see all the money I’ve wasted. When I first started work as a programmer, I ate out for lunch nearly every day. I don’t mean fast food restaurants, either. Most days, I would pay $10 or more for lunch.
Doing some quick number crunching, that’s $10 per day…
$10 * 5 days = $50 per week
$50 * 52 weeks = $2600 per year
That’s over $2500 just on lunch over the course of a year. What if I had brought my lunch more often and either saved that money or spent it toward something more productive than eating out?

I have quite a library of video games, many of which I paid $50 or more for. Without tallying up all of them, there’s no doubt I’ve spent at least $1000 or more on just games. In recent years, I’ve become more keen to hold off on buying a game until I actually have a reason to play it and I can pick it up used for much cheaper.

The list of categories goes on and on. If I could go back and reverse many of those purchases, I probably would. Instead of wasting the money, put it in a savings account or something. Even donating it to charity would’ve been a better option. Alas, that isn’t possible. In consolation, it is my daily goal to be aware of my spending as much as possible, and to use my money in the best way possible. Saving where I can, getting the best deals and only buying what I really need or really want, and generally spend more wisely. One day, I’d like to retire to a decent chunk of savings, so that I can live comfortably and not worry about taking care of my basic needs.

Every Calorie Eaten or Burned

I’m a big dude, that’s pretty obvious. Therefore, it isn’t hard to deduce that I like to eat. However, do you ever stop to think exactly how many calories you shove down your piehole over time?

I often see comparisons about how much exercise has to be done to burn off one piece of candy, one donut, or some other guilty pleasure. Looking at the bigger picture, this equates to a veritable ton of calories consumed over years or decades. Much like my concern with money, I often doubt if some foods were worth it.

Health nuts really push for proper diet management, sometimes a little overzealously, but they make a good point. Maintaining proper calorie intake is a delicate balance, but stands as the line between a long life of health and a relatively short existence full of preventable medical procedures and bills.

As with purchases, you can’t go back and stop yourself from having eaten anything (and let’s not even acknowledge bulimia as an option). However, we can all do a little better at paying attention to what we eat. Pass on that extra slice of cake, try to opt for the healthier option occasionally, and keep portions small to prevent or at least reduce the tendency to overeat. Each small decision compounds for a greater total effect.

Every Step Walked

I tend to do a lot of walking. Most lunch breaks, I walk 2 to 3 miles around town. For short distances, I’d rather walk than drive. With all this walking, I want to know how many steps I’ve ever taken. Google Fit has me averaging 1.91 miles per day, and roughly 6,600 steps. Over the nearly 24 years I’ve been alive, that’s a lot of steps.

When considering every step I’ve taken, I wonder where I was going. Was it a pleasure walk, or was I on a mission? How fast was I walking? Since I change into tennis shoes for my lunch break, I think about how many miles I’ve put on them. Not as much as marathon runners, for sure, but it’s got to be a huge distance at this point.

Similar to calorie monitoring, a single step is an extremely minor action with minimal results. However, a few steps start to add up. If we all made a pact to walk another 100 or 1,000 steps per day, how much of a dent would that make in the level of obesity today?

Every Mile Driven

I don’t travel much for work, nor do I go on a whole lot of trips, but I will take the family on the occasional jaunt up to Concord Mills mall or down for a day at the beach. It occurred to me recently, I must have driven a ton of miles over my entire life.

How many miles have I commuted to work or school since I started driving? Have I or my wife driven more overall? What about truck drivers and people who frequently travel for work, how do I compare to them?

One interesting thought I’ve had in my vendetta against aggressive drivers is a visible counter over every car with a brief description of the driver’s transportation record. This would rely, of course, on some sort of virtual reality augmentation to see the figures, but that’s another technological advancement for another day. This record could keep up with figures like total number of miles driven, total number of accidents, time and miles since the last accident, and other related information. I’d love to see some sort of aggressive driving flag introduced, that motorists could contribute to. If I see a car acting aggressively or making dangerous maneuvers, I report it and that driver’s tally would go up. The higher a driver’s count climbs, the more aggressive of a driver they are. As a result, they should be forced to pay higher insurance premiums, or be held accountable for their actions in some way.

Every Word Spoken or Typed

I don’t say much vocally. In person, I am a man of few words and tend not to speak unless spoken to. It is my general policy that you learn more by listening than by speaking. Written words, however, are a completely different story. I send text messages and emails regularly, I write blog posts, and frequently compose articles for freelance work. Frequently, I wonder if I’ve written more than I’ve said, all things considered.

Keeping up with words written in a single document is rather easy, there are plenty of tools online for it. How does one keep up with all words written across all media, via all tools, though? Swiftkey keeps up with most of the stuff I type on my phone, but I haven’t always used it and my phone is probably a minority set of all the words I type on a given day.

I don’t care enough to take active steps toward recording any of these metrics, obviously. Some of them are maintained at least partially by nature. My bank account shows my monetary transactions provided I don’t use cash, my phone keeps up with an estimation of my steps taken while on my person, and the odometer of my van monitors how many miles that vehicle in particular has driven. What about cash transactions? What about exact steps, or when I walk without my phone on me? What about miles shared between my wife and I, or if I lend the van out to someone else? What about any of these figures before they were monitored at all?

Keeping up with lifetime values is impossible at this point. There’s no way to go back and record every single instance that I’ve done anything. However, such metrics are interesting to ponder, and often work wonders toward encouraging lifestyle changes.


Words: 2657 | Characters: 14491 | Sentences: 167 | Average Word per Sentence: 16 | Paragraphs: 72 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade


One thought on “2015-06-10 Pizza, Racism, and Doing Things

  1. Good stuff Jake, glad I caused an addiction of the “Papa Juans” haha. Curious to what the next installment will hold, heh


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