Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Turkey Club Club: Lyons Pub

When you start out at new job there is always a chance that you could get labeled as "X Guy" for some little life quirk that was never once brought up in your previous place of employment.

I think I may now be "The Turkey Sandwich guy" because I've talked about sandwiches quite a lot in my first two weeks. 
I am OK with that branding. It could always be worse. And hey, I don't mind if people want to talk about sandwiches. I LOVE talking about sandwiches. 

Eight days after I started, my boss took the communications team out for lunch. They were the people I'd probably be working with the most in the office. I'd worked with them all a little bit already, but this was a chance to socialize after week one over lunch. 

We went to Lyons Pub across the street from our office building. Lyons Pub looked like a place I wouldn't mind having a drink. It reminded me of Cornwall's Pub in Boston. A unpretentious British-style pub that was lively, but never too busy and had a good selection of drinks. 

I had my eyes on a buffalo chicken wrap, but at the last second I panicked and got the Turkey Sandwich. I don't know if I thought everyone was expecting me to order that or what. I wasn't feeling great about it. (I also didn't get fries, I've been trying to cut back.)

When the plates came out, I wasn't impressed. My initial observation always is, "Could I make this at home?" And yeah, it looked like I could with this one. The bread looked like standard grocery store wheat bread and there wasn't any special sauce or spread on it.

The bread was toasted, but I'm not always a huge fan of that. If it is toasted, it has to have some melted cheese with it. I don't like just toasting the bread. 

The meat was above average. It tasted like fresh deli meat and looked hearty as well. The lettuce and tomatoes were good, but not overly memorable.

However, I didn't take a picture because I didn't want to be labeled "Guy who takes pictures of his food" in front of people I had only been working with for a week.

Overall, I'd give the sandwich a two out of five, but I could see myself stopping into Lyons for a happy hour. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Turkey Club Club: Potbelly Sandwich Works

I decided to start the Turkey Club Club back up because I needed a place to write. And turkey club sandwiches bring me joy, so why not start reviewing turkey sandwiches again?

I started my new job in downtown Minneapolis last week. The location gives me ample access to different sandwich places via the skyway. I think I'm going to do it on Fridays to give me something to look forward to during the week.

I chose Potbelly for my first venture. I'd eaten there before in Madison during a quiz bowl trip in high school. I remember one of my classmates talking about how great the Potbelly sandwiches were. I don't remember my initial impression, but it wasn't memorable.

There is one in the building over from my work, so I thought it would be a convenient place to start. The first thing I noticed was the long line. If there is one thing I hate as much as I love turkey sandwiches, it's lines. However, the line moved quickly because they had a guy with a tablet taking orders as people got into line. It was a nice surprise.

I ordered the turkey with everything. I got the full sandwich (about 9 inches) with everything on it. It came to $6.65. Not a bad deal for a decently size sandwich. It came with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, peppers and cheese.

The first thing I ask whenever I get a sandwich is, "Could I make this better at home?" Nope, the bread definitely made the meal.

I noticed it had some good heft. It felt like I was getting a good amount of sandwich. I really liked the sub-shaped bread. It was warm and had a nice crunch to it. It was big, but not to fluffy or chewy.

The other thing I noticed was the good spice. I like a little heat on the sandwich and this one definitely delivered. The veggies were crunchy and didn't feel like they were sitting out all day.

However, there was one major thing wrong with this sandwich: the meat. It was slimy and tasted like the cheap stuff you get at the deli counter. The slippery taste really didn't feel right in the middle of the crunch and warmth. It was also a bit messy. My hands were kind of oily near the end of the meal. (Or I could also just be a slob.)

Overall, I'd give this a 2.5 out of five. It was a decent price for a better-than-average sandwich. However, I don't think it will be placed in the regular rotation.

Monday, October 19, 2015

500 Letters: What do you want me to say?

Sorry I haven't updated this in a few months. I've had a few changes in my life. Namely, I have a new job and I'm no longer living in Marshall. I would say that's the reason I haven't updated, but I think
the real reason is... I don't know what to say.

I've gotten into a rut with my letter writing. The letters have gotten shorter (I'm sending out more postcards now.) More and more letters have gone to a fewer number of people (not that I don't enjoy sending those people letters.) I fell behind, but only caught up after a postcard-writing blitz this week.

So, I needed to reflect on why I started this project.

1. The challenge. I've stayed on top of this. I'm on letter 397 and I should be around 400.

2. Stuff. I've been buying more cards and sending them. I really enjoy going into stationary stores now and shopping for cards. It's like a hobby.

3. Legacy? Oof. Too early to tell, but people have told me they like the letters.

4. Grandma. I like to think I'm doing what my grandma would have done.

5. Relationships. This is the crux of this whole endeavor.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a college friend of mine about faith. She's working towards a master's degree in theology and needed someone to discuss their faith. I've tried to relish more opportunities to discuss what my faith means to me because it helps me understand my own values more. So, I happily volunteered to chat with her.

We spoke on the phone for about a half hour. We talked about a lot of things, but one question sticks out in my mind from the conversation.

She asked (I'm paraphrasing here), "What do you think your faith is calling you to do?"
I responded with, "Be present."

I like that idea of knowing and caring about what happens in other people's lives. I like "being there" for people.

So, to reaffirm my mission with this project. If you need a letter, a note, something to look forward to in the mail, just let me know.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Nick's Notes: Nick's Night

October 3, 2015
By Nick Hansen (nhansen@marshallindependent.comMarshall Independent
Just about 15 months ago, life wasn't going great for me. I was living in Somerville, Massachusetts, in a townhouse that smelled like cat urine. I split up with my girlfriend. One of my roommates was skipping out on rent and I was told that I'd need a root canal.
Fast forward to to Thursday night when I walked into the Marshall High School gymnasium to discover that a handful of Marshall High School students had dressed up in khakis, blue button-up shirts, horn-rimmed glasses, and Minnesota Twins baseball caps in an homage to yours truly. They even accessorized with cameras and notebooks. I laughed, but I wanted to make sure everyone else got the joke.
I was dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, so I ran home to change into my "uniform." I returned to a handful of cheering teenagers just before the start of the game. Numerous photos, tweets and laughs later, I felt pretty awesome. Never in my wildest dreams would have I imagined that I'd be the subject for a theme night.
A big thank you to Marshall High School students Mitchell Sueker, Shane Greenslit, Nick Saugstad, Ryan VanMoer and Deacon DeBoer for making me feel really cool.
Some bittersweet news undercut the jovial evening: it was my last Marshall Tigers volleyball game. I'll be moving back to the Twin Cities area next week to start a new job in Minneapolis.
What have I learned in this past year where my fashion sensibilities somehow became worthy of emulating?
My enjoyment from this job didn't stem from just getting to watch a lot of sports. (Although saying you get paid to watch baseball games is pretty cool.) It came from getting to know all of you.
I enjoyed the human moments between the games. Those demonstrated how much all the games, practices and training all really meant.
Whether it was three of the Winkelman brothers talking about what it was like playing basketball together or Jackie Turner telling me how much she'll miss her cross-country team next year.
Seeing Southwest Minnesota State University volleyball coach Terry Culhane give Greta Geist an honorary starting spot at the NCAA championship was a wonderful moment. A few weeks prior to the match, Geist had gotten the news that her cancer had reappeared and she would be undergoing treatment once again. It was inspiring to see her team and the community rally around her.
Sometimes there were losses. Marshall football's loss to Waseca in the section playoffs and Marshall girl's basketball loss in the state finals stung the whole community. While disappointment hung in the air, so did hope in the future.
Most of all, I loved witnessing the joy. I loved the celebrations after volleyball players earned a point and the cheers coming from softball dugouts. I loved the smiles on parents cheering for their kids and the pride that went along with athletes signing their letters of intent.
There are a few people who deserve some thanks. Thank you to Marshall High School activities director Bruce Remme and SMSU athletic communications director Kelly Loft for being extremely professional and helpful in so many ways. They are both valuable assets to the community.
Thank you to David Merrill, Josh VanKlompenburg and Gary Kaczmarek in the sports department and Per Peterson for being along on this fun and crazy journey in the newsroom.
Most of all, thank you to Jim and Mary Tate for introducing me to the community. They took me in and made sure I was set here before I even wrote a story.
I took a chance when I left Boston. Thank you all for confirming it was the right choice.
Thank you all for inviting me in, welcoming me and letting me listen to your stories. It's been an honor and a blessing.