Thursday, September 22, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – Offbeat Eatz

This week’s food truck was on time and already taking orders when Coworker R and I arrived, so no disappointments like last week.  The truck was as purple as her hair, which I and the guys in the food truck commented on.  Game on!

Food Truck: Offbeat Eatz

Price Points: $10-$16 per person (chicken sandwiches on the lower end, burgers on the higher end)

Cuisine: grilled chicken sandwiches and burgers, fries optional (but recommended)

The Review:
My original plan was to get a burger and Coworker R was “just going to look”.  Both of those plans failed once we were in front of the truck.  The chalkboard beside the order window announced today’s special: cheese steak sandwich with fries.  Immediately my order was the cheese steak – burgers can wait.  (I’m a sucker for a good cheese steak sandwich.)  Coworker R looked at the pictures of the chicken sandwiches and suddenly she was in line right behind me.

The cheese steak sandwich was both tasty and of good size.  The meat had caramelized onions in it, along with some jalapenos, and sweet pink onions on top.  I removed the onions from on top as onions and I disagreed, but the onions inside were necessary to the proper flavoring of the meat, so they stayed.

This was a good cheese steak sandwich.  The jalapenos gave a good pop of heat when I got to them.  I would have liked more jalapenos as I didn’t notice them until I was half way through the sandwich.  Your mileage may vary.  The fries were good, with an even coating of just the right amount of salt – enough so you notice but not so much it dominates.  My only complaint was that I wanted more fries when I was done.  Coworker R had the same complaint.

Some of the specialty chicken sandwiches looked like they may have had too many toppings, so Coworker R got the standard chicken sandwich.  She liked it but has gotten the same grilled chicken sandwich, at the same price, elsewhere and been equally happy.  Also, the pickles were sweet pickles, which she does not care for.  Your mileage may vary.  We speculated that the specialty grilled chicken sandwiches may have been more wow than the basic one.

Definitely do again and worth the money for the beef options – the basic chicken option was more neutral.  Next time I’ll get one of the burgers for a more consistent baseline of comparison with the other food trucks I’ve eaten at, but man, I’m a sucker for a good cheese steak sandwich.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – Cuban Spot

This week’s food truck was supposed to show up at 11:00 AM, so I and several co-workers went down at 11:00 to beat the lines. 

There was no food truck.

We waited 15 minutes and then Coworker R and I decided to bail as we were hungry.  I picked up the vindaloo at the local sandwich shop (they have an Indian restaurant deliver meals for re-sale each day) and ate my lunch.  It was filling and just the right amount of spicy.  Once back to my desk, I saw an email that the food truck was not going to show until Noon, with no explanation.  Too late to do me any good.

Food Truck: Cuban Spot (their menu)

Price Points: $10-$12 per person

Cuisine: sandwiches and burgers with Cuban spices and toppings

The Review:
Co-worker C got the Cuban Burger and went on and on about how good it was, rubbing it in.  Folks from other departments who share the area with us also got ½ burgers and said they were very tasty and way filling.  The burgers all smelled incredible.  I regretted spending my budget on the vindaloo.


Assuming they show up on time, I am still willing to eat at this truck based purely on how good the food smelled.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – D’Lish Curbside

[My new employers (more on that in a later post) just initiated Food Truck Thursdays here at the office.  They’ve arranged for a different food truck to be here at the office each Thursday for at least the month of September.  I’m going to review them as a way to get back into regular posting here on the blog.]

Food trucks are still growing as a thing here in Houston, which has the largest non-judgemental food market in the country.  We don’t care whether or not your last restaurant succeeded or failed, we just want to know if what you’re doing right now is any good.  Today’s food truck does very well.

Food Truck: D’Lish Curbside
Price Point: $10+ per person, $3.00 more if you want fries with that

Cuisine (from their website):
"We're the Creators of the TEX-ified Southern Comfort & Gulf Coast Seafood Poutine Style Fries. We also Specialize in Specialty Burgers & Sandwiches, D'Lishified Bowls & Tacos with a Special Twist."
The Review:
I had the Fried Chicken and Bacon Sandwich (burger) with a side order of fries.  The sandwich (burger) had a dollop of white gravy on it, meaning once you start eating on it, you cannot set it back down.  This is not a problem as once I started eating on it, I didn’t want to stop.  The sandwich (burger) had just the right amount of crunch, from both the chicken and the bacon.  The chicken had a low batter-to-chicken ratio, meaning there was plenty of chicken to eat.  The bacon was crispy without going overboard and there was a noticeable amount of it.  This was a very tasty sandwich (burger).

[I keep calling this a sandwich (burger) because, while called a sandwich, it was served on a burger roll.]

Coworker R had the Krazy Korean Ribeye Steak Sandwich.  She was actually craving Banh mih, but she found this to be a good alternate.  (She’s still craving Banh mih, so it wasn’t a complete substitute for that.)  She found the thinly sliced steak was marinated in a very tasty Korean sauce of some sort which the sriracha aioli complemented very well.

We both had the fries, which were thick cut and tossed with a spice mix of some sort.  It had a taste of heat to it, but we both agreed the fries needed more seasoning.  That said, they were good fries, freshly cooked – they were still hot after walking back to my desk and after eating my sandwich (burger).

We went just as the food truck was opening and the line was only 5-6 people.  Other co-workers went after we returned and reported the line was 20+ people deep.  They went back 30 minutes later and the line was still 20+ people deep (a different 20 people of course).  They aren’t back after a third try and my lunch hour is over, so no report from them.  Maybe I’ll do a supplemental later.


Very satisfying and filling with a reasonable price (for food trucks).
I will eat at this truck again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Job Hunting Blues

My apologies for the long drought of material - job hunting and spousal dental surgery has kept me in a place where writing has been impossible.  I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so writing will happen again in the near future, but probably not until August.

In the meantime, the weekly Shadowrun game has continued and I have plenty of notes from that to convert in to proper summaries and the Champions game is stuttering, but the current Issue should complete this month.  I'm also distracted by the New Shiney of a D&D 5E campaign set in the Holy Roman Empire, circa 1648.  I like the idea of running a game in a semi-historical setting and the Holy Roman Empire is a wonderfully fragmented mess of states, each vying for power while scrupulously avoiding being gobbled up by the larger powers.  In 1648 the Thirty-Years War has just concluded and the Germanic states are decimated, providing a post-apocalyptic setting with a thin veneer of civilization on top.  Should be fun.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 8: Dinner with a Show

[This session happened March 7th.  Bookie’s player missed this session.  Job search stuff has started interfering with my writing time, hence the erratic updates.  I’m working to smooth that out.  Who knew having too much free time was as detrimental to writing as not having enough?]

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

Wednesday, March 25, 2076
Six days after leaving a message in a drop box, the client finally contacted The Fin and arranged a meet at 4:00 PM at The Aurora in Renton.  [The Aurora is a shadowrunner-friendly bar near the border between the Renton and Auburn districts.]  The team placed several RFID markers on the prototype package and covered them with promotional stickers from the band Frog Overkill [Murdoc supplied the stickers].  This somewhat obscured the fact that the package was a compact gun case.

The team arrived at the bar early to scope the place out and prepare for the meeting.  Murdoc used Physical Mask to assume his Damaris disguise [attractive human woman of Iranian descent] and Clairvoyance to observe the entire bar.  Void sat in a different part of the bar to keep an eye on the staff and Murdoc [clairvoyance allows Murdoc to view the bar from a movable point remote from his body, but keeps him from seeing with his own eyes].  Prometheus took up a point on top of the building across the street with his sniper rifle at the ready.  The Fin arrived carrying the package just before 4:00 PM with Killroy as a bodyguard.  The Fin took a seat with Void and the team waited.

At 4:00 PM, a Porsche Aguilar arrived and a human in his 30’s, dressed down for the bar, got out of the passenger side and entered the bar.  After a quick look around, he sat at the bar.  Shortly after that, The Fin was brought a drink “with the compliments of the gentleman at the bar”.  The Fin considered declining the drink, but Void pointed out it was likely Mr. Johnson providing a reason for them to sit and talk.  Conceding the point, The Fin accepted the drink and then walked over to the bar with the drink and the case.

After discretely confirming each other’s reason for meeting, Mr. Johnson and The Fin made small talk over a dinner of chicken-fried steak at the bar.  Mr. Johnson suggested that The Fin provide a credstick with some room to “pay” for the meal.  Slightly peeved at this, The Fin none-the-less slid an empty platinum credstick across the bar to the bartender.  When the credstick returned, The Fin checked the balance on it: 190,000¥.  Nice.

Satisfied that The Fin was satisfied with the amount on the credstick, Mr. Johnson stood up, picking up the case by its handle.  He thanked her for delivering the package and complimented the professionalism of the Pleiades Group in taking the effort to do so.  He then left.

End of Session

[This was a short but necessary session, wrapping up the run.  Looking ahead, several significant events on the 4th Corporate War timeline are happening, so I scrolled back time to introduce them in the next session.  The events would only minorly interest the player characters, but the players will know that things are heating up in the background.]

[The next “run” is named Woodchipper, which I am running.  It will be busy and hectic for the characters, especially The Fin, who is stretching her wings as a Fixer.]

Session 1
Session 7

Monday, April 18, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 7: Surf’s Up!

[This session happened February 29th.  Sin’s player started taking evening classes and temporarily dropped from the group, so he is an NPC for the rest of the run.]

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

Thursday, March 19, 2076
Early the morning of the run, Bookie accessed the Ares Macrotechnology Motor Pool systems to verify the previously targeted vehicles were still assigned to the vehicle requests matching the times Mr. Johnson supplied.  They were, so the job was “Go”.  The team split into three groups: Void and Murdoc in the “Team A” vehicle (a recently “borrowed” GMC Commodore with tinted windows) jumped into by Sin.  Prometheus and Killroy, as Team B, took a non-descript Nissan-Chrysler Jackrabbit to a point in Issaquah that would allow them to intercept the target easily if Plan A failed and Plan B was needed.  Sin was in his GMC Bulldog at a mid-point to reduce distance noise, with The Fin there to protect his body while he was jumped into the other vehicles.  Bookie and coldpulse were in the Matrix, waiting to do their part.

The primary target, with an “O” spray-painted on its roof in UV-only paint was given the code name “Hugs”, with the secondary target vehicle (having an “X” on it) designated “Kisses”.

8:40 AM
Sin flew one of his Lockheed Optic-X2s modified to pick up the RFID tags Void placed on the target vehicles earlier in the week.  He found nothing, meaning the tags had been located and removed.  This was not unexpected and had been planned for.  The team hoped it would boost the overconfidence of Ares personnel.  As a result, Sin sent out his other Optic X2 and put both on “racetrack” orbits between the parking garage in Bellevue and the R&D lab in Everett, looking for the target vehicles.

10:04 AM
Both target vehicles were detected in route to the R&D Lab, the invisible UV markings still on them.  After being loaded, both convoys headed south towards the testing range in Renton, “Hugs” taking an easterly route, “Kisses” a westerly one.  Team A moved east on 522 to intercept “Hugs” just north of the Snohomish border with Redmond.

Once Team A was in position, Murdoc cast invisibility on Void.  She then climbed onto the top of their car and Sin was given the go to move alongside “Hugs”.  Once Team A was adjacent to “Hugs”, Bookie hacked its rigging system and forced a reboot, dumping the Ares rigger hard.  Sin then took control of “Hugs”, using the access codes Bookie had collected earlier in the week.  The NeuroStun X device hidden in the AC unit was triggered as Void gracefully made the jump between the two vehicles.  Due to the light rain, the gecko-tape gear she was wearing wasn’t much help, but Void ended up not needing it.

After a minute [to let the NeuroStun X dissipate], Sin rolled down one of the windows on “Hugs”.  Void peeked in to verify the driver and security guards were all knocked out and found an Ares Duelist drone embedded into the car as a back-up driver!  This was unexpected.  Void contacted Bookie and coldpulse and asked them to brick the drone pilot, which they quickly did.  Bookie had Void wait while he checked the card for any hidden cameras inside “Hugs”.  He found the AR signal of one camera and bricked it before signaling “all clear”.

Void then climbed into “Hugs” and located the gun case that was the target of the run.  She slipped it into the canvas carrying bag she had with her – Murdoc’s invisibility spell now covered the gun case.  She then shouldered the bag and climbed back onto the roof.  Once on top, she signaled Sin to bring over the team car so she could leave “Hugs”.  Sin set the auto-pilot on “Hugs” to continue to the testing range in Renton and jumped back into the GMC Commodore.  He brought it up alongside “Hugs” and Void leapt back to the Commodore.  Sin then took the next right and calmly drove the Commodore away from the target and to where his GMC Bulldog was parked.  Void opened the gun case [after disabling a NeuroStun gas trap attached to the latch] to verify a prototype was actually in the case and it wasn’t a decoy.  There was a disassembled assault rifle of a kind she did not recognize inside, which was good enough.  Team B was told to stand down as the job was a success.  Void re-armed the NeuroStun trap before re-closing the case.  The client was paying for the case, not a safed case.

Prometheus and Killroy drove to the drop-off point to set up to cover The Fin’s the meeting with Mr. Johnson.  The meeting was to take place in a small greenspace between a small shopping center in Bellevue and the adjacent parking garage.  Killroy took a position on the top floor of the parking garage; Prometheus took one down the alley behind the shopping center, remaining in the Jackrabbit.

3:00 PM
The Fin, with the package (still in the canvas bag) sat down next to a suited exec on the only bench in the greenspace.  After a perfunctory greeting, the exec passed The Fin a platinum credstick and The Fin nudged the canvas bag to the exec.  The Fin then got up and walked away, checking the value on the credstick.  The pay was correct, but an AR message was also attached.  The Fin opened it and it was a short note that said:
“Good work.  I’m not who you were expecting, but I recognize good talent when I see it.  Expect to hear from me in the near future with some work.”
The exec wasn’t the client, but an Ares man!  The first words out of The Fin’s mouth were said over the Pleiades Group comm network: “Shoot him.”

Prometheus immediately obeyed and clipped the exec (who was walking towards the parking garage with the case) with an APDS round from his Remington 950 sniper rifle.  This dropped the exec without killing him [below average roll on damage], but also triggered a return shot from a hidden Ares sniper on the second floor of the parking garage!  [Prometheus has a terrible Perception skill and really needs a spotter to work with him.]  The Ares sniper hit Prometheus in a weak part of his armored clothing, doing significant damage [my defensive and armor rolls were very poor and Prometheus took 5 points of Physical Damage out of the 10 he has].

Prometheus, being the mostly cyber-machine he was, ignored the Ares sniper and shot at the exec again, specifically the trapped case release.  This triggered the NeuroStun trap in the gas, knocking out the exec and keeping him from leaving under his own power.  A second shot from the Ares sniper was absorbed by Prometheus’ armored clothing [I rolled much, much better], but aggravated Prometheus.  Prometheus dropped his Remington into his lap in the Jackrabbit and pulled the Aztechnology Striker out of the backseat.  Prometheus then put the loaded anti-vehicular missile into the concrete pillar right behind the Ares sniper.  It was hard to tell which killed the sniper first: the explosion or the spray of concrete shrapnel.  With all known hostiles stopped, Prometheus pulled out his CelGene Medkit [Rating 4] and then attached and activated it. He started quickly and carefully following the medkit’s expert systems instructions to deal with his gunshot wound.  [I rolled well enough to reduce the 5 points of Physical damage by 2 points.]

Meanwhile, Killroy was rapidly running down the stairs from the roof of the parking garage.  With the sniper dealt with, Killroy instead retrieved the gun case from the exec [Killroy’s body armor is chemically sealed, so he was not affected by the NeuroStun gas].  The Fin left an AR note with the Ares exec explaining the team were professionals and were hired to deliver the case to the client, not him, but in the future the team would have no problem providing the same level of professional service for him.  She then had Killroy trigger the exec’s DocWagon bracelet before the group left the area.

4:00 PM
The Fin dropped a careful message into a drop-box for Mr. Johnson, explaining the group had the package and still wished to deliver it to complete the contract.  [It would be several days (and another game session) before a reply was received.]

6:00 PM
All the local news channels had an article about the unusual explosion at a Bellevue shopping center.  Knight Errant was reporting it to be an unusually energetic stress fracture in one of the load bearing pillars of the parking garage.  City inspectors were checking the rest of the parking garage to verify it was completely safe.  The only reported injuries were a local business man and his bodyguard who appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

End of Session

[And this is why we did all that planning and prep-work before the actual run – it made the run quick and as safe as possible for the PCs.  We were happy to have the quiet Plan A succeed and to not need the extremely noisy and violent Plan B.  Still, having the necessary equipment turned out to be handy for dealing with the Ares sniper.]

[We’re not certain how the Ares exec is going to handle us taking his money but not handing over the goods.  We were not expecting the client to be taken out before the hand-over of the package.  On the plus side, we are getting paid twice for the job.]

Session 1
Session 6

Session 8: The Conclusion

Friday, April 15, 2016

Status Update

So I'm finally over my last cold and my Spring allergies are finally settling down, so I'm able to get some writing done again.

Session 7 of Urban Surfin' will post Monday morning on the 18th.  I plan to have Session 8, the final one for that run, post later in the week.  The exact date will vary depending on too many things for me to make a strong guess beyond "after Tuesday".  

The following Monday (the 25th) will be SABRE Issue #3, Act 1.  This will catch me up with the session reports for the monthly Champions game.  The next game for that is in late May, so there will be a delay before Act 2 of Issue #3 happens and gets posted.

After THAT, I have session notes for the first session of Woodchipper, the next Shadowrun game.  The Fin has been putting her contact information out there as a fixer and that is starting to bring some work, maybe more than the Pleiades Group can handle at one time.  We'll see how that plays out.  Session 1 happened March 21st and for several reasons dealing with me we haven't actually played since then.  Session 2 should happen April 18th and we'll get back on our regular gaming schedule after that.

Finally, if anyone knows of a company in the Houston area looking to hire a Tech Writer with 15+ years experience, please let me know as I'm in the market for a new job.  Thanks!