San Diego, City of Dreams

Well, actually, perhaps not, since I have no memory of any dreams last night, except the one where I consumed a series of delicious, savory In-N-Out Double Doubles. But since I actually did consume a delicious, savory In-N-Out Double Double last night, not more than a few minutes after departing the airport parking lot, it wasn’t so much a dream as a joyful reality. All hail the Double Double! Except, I suppose, the vegetarians. I applaud their lifestyle choice, yet secrety pity them.

San Diego is lovely so far, although what I’ve seen of it since I’ve gotten here is largely limited to the In-N-Out drive through line and the inside of my friend’s townhouse, where I’m staying while I’m here. My understanding is that I’ll see more of the city today and tomorrow. It is to be hoped.

Anyway. Hi, I’m alive. How are you?

34 Comments on “San Diego, City of Dreams”

  1. Ahhhh. The much coveted first comment.


    Now if I only had something worth commenting on.


  2. The almost as much coveted second comment! John, I’m starting to worry about you. You have an unhealthy obsession with greasy wads of dead cow.

  3. Sure, as the cold snap hits the midwest, you head out to sunny California, and we’re not supposed to think there’s any linkage there. Right. :)

    Say “hi” to the ocean for me.

    (two old ladies looking out from the beach and talking about the Pacific Ocean) “You know, I thought it would be bigger.”

  4. Will Shetterly – I'm a typing fool. My main blog's at My best books are probably Dogland or Elsewhere. I don't like to think that I have a contrarian streak—I like to think that I can see both sides of most arguments—but I'm prob'ly just contrary. Fortunately, I don't have to agree with people to like them.
    will shetterly

    Our favorite Irish pub in the US is in San Diego’s Gaslight District. It’s the Field. Their boxties are great, and they pour a better Guinness than anyone. (No, I do not understand the science behind the Art of the Pour, but either I can taste the difference, or the ambiance just makes me think I can, but either way, I am happy when I’m in the Field.)

  5. Hmm… having never been to an In-N-Out, I was going to ask what a Double Double was, since an ordinary double cheeseburger should already contain two meats two cheese, but since Mein Host is busy, I thought I’d hit teh Internets and do research.

    Wikipedia’s entry on In-N-Out Burgers is written in excruciating detail by a zealot (grin) and then there’s the no-so-secret secret menu.

    A Double Double is therefore a 2 by 2, though there is some documented evidence of a 100 by 100:

    Mmm… can you say coronary bypass on the hoof?

    Dr. Phil

  6. I have also never had an In-N-Out burger, being only an East Coaster. Some day I will right this wrong.

  7. Well, since you asked…

    It’s been a little rough. I work in a lab that has lost its grants, so my job is being eliminated. This happens pretty frequently, but the elegant twist is that my boss made an accounting error so instead of being funded until the end of June, I am funded through April. Although there are many lab technician jobs at my university, most of them want knowledge of transgenic mouse colony work (ewwwwww….) which I don’t have. In addition, since I thought I was funded through June, I decided to continue taking graduate courses this semester (you know, to better myself and stuff). So in addition to applying for jobs (retooling the CV) I have to write papers, read assignments, and complete other assigned tasks.

    This may lead one to wonder how I make time to be a good, attentive father who spends lots of quality time with his 3 year old. If you were wondering this (which would be shocking as you do not know me), the answer is I don’t spend enough time with him. And “Daddy’s very busy with school and work.” really doesn’t fly with a 3 year old.

    Sorry if this post is something of a buzzkill. I will get a job, but at this exact moment things are in flux and it’s a little tough. In the big picture, I’m not enslaved to produce your chocolate in the Cote d’Ivoire, or sleeping in alleys wishing for more crack. In aggregate, my problems are small beer, but I don’t live in the aggregate.

  8. Mmmm, In-N-Out. If I ever fall off the vegetarian wagon that’s my first stop. Although they make a pretty mean grilled cheese there, too (it isn’t on the menu).

    Try to get someone to take you to Gelato Vero for gelato and The Mission downtown for breakfast.

  9. You know, I used to mock the seemingly weak-willed and unimaginative fools who evangelized In-N-Out as if it were some religious experience. I had tried one once, when I was passing through Arizona, and though it was a good-enough burger, I wasn’t exactly blown away by it. I’ve had much better burgers in other places (notably, not burger joints, but that’s the way of the universe).

    The past tense is because last weekend I was visiting friends in California, and their In-N-Out proclivities meant that I found myself eating In-N-Out burgers repeatedly. Turns out: they’re addictive. Not just gastronomically, but also aesthetically. You really can appreciate the all-fresh ingredients, and the perfectly-toasted buns (unless you get them protein style, like one of my friends, which gets you your burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf).

    So, I have been converted. I pledge my soul and digestive juices to In-N-Out, the one true burger.

  10. We love In-N-Out here in San Diego including my wife, a vegetarian, who orders the grilled cheese. You are not a real In-N-Out fan unless you can order off menu items!

  11. John, PLEASE take your camera and have your friends take you to the old lighthouse across the bay on top of the mountain. The view is worth the drive and the memories would last a lifetime.

  12. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, for rizzle.

    13th comment and nothing to say!

    I am okay, thanks for asking. Been better some days. I am eating gelato and thinking about beginning the days writing. I may also eat some cookies. Last night I ate buffalo steak. Twas the awesome.

  13. John, you can’t go wrong at Point Loma Seafood or at Spyro’s Gyros (on Coronado). Enjoy San Diego! My parents retired out there – an excellent choice on their part.

  14. I had an In-N-Out burger on a recent trip to Vegas. It was so popular, I dubbed it ‘stand around burger.’ But some nice Las Vegasians helped us order ‘animal’ style, which turned out to be so very very delectable.

    Mmmmm. Good stuff.

  15. Greg van Eekhout – Greg van Eekhout is the author of <a href="">Norse Code</a>, a novel about Norse gods and Valkyries and the end of the world starting in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego.
    Greg van Eekhout

    John, you probably already know this, but just in case, you’ll be able to get In-N-Out when you do your Arizona swing.

  16. I am going to greatly miss In-N-Out when I leave Southern California. Needless to say I’ve been eating there too frequently as of late.

  17. I always thought the In-N-Out Burger was best known for its bumper sticker which could be defaced to read “In-N-out -urge-” on your local teenager’s car.

    However for the truly decadent, the double chili cheeseburger at Tommy’s near USC (the Los Angeles one) takes the cake. Grease dripping onto your hands, your arteries sending up red star clusters and broadcasting “Mayday!”, your life span decreasing measurably with each bite – but each bite is indescribably delicious.

  18. “Is a Double Double a quadruple burger?”

    That would be the 4×4, I think.

    The Double Double is double meat, double cheese.

  19. Hmmm… it’s been one of those weeks where everyone seems to want to spontaneously combust at the same time. One of my players in the online roleplaying game I run flaked out and quit, then got upset when I tried to replace him. My co-GM was coincidentally having an “off” week (according to his wife) and had to be beaten into helping with the situation, and then only minimally. Two online acquaintances were suicidally depressed. No, make that three – except the third didn’t tell anyone until after it was over.

    Then today, someone tried to kill himself right in front of me (in an online sort of “in front of”). I got to see the first half of the play-by-play as he figured out whether he had enough pills and wrote his suicide note. Then he left the chat, and another friend (who had an IM so she could chase after him) got to watch him do a countdown as he took each pill. I’m not sure what happened after that, but he’s in the hospital now with doctors being cautiously optimistic.

    So… yeah, it’s been a fun-filled week all around in my little corner of the world.

  20. I wore an In-N-Out burger polo shirt to the local mall (Tyson’s Corner, VA) the other weekend, and literally DOZENS of people came up and excitedly asked me whether In-N-Out was going to open a store there. Alas, no.

    On the other hand, there is an East Coast chain – Five Guys – that is pretty damn good.

  21. Ah, but you get so MANY shades of brown… Sunset Cliff Sandstone, Clairmont Mesa Mud, La Jolla tan, etc. And it’s nicely offset by the perpetual blue sky, sunshine and grean ocean. Best place on earth, really.

  22. For White Castle fans and those geographically challenged (with respect to Southern California as the capital of the Pacfic Rim):

    …In-N-Out Burger, a California Corporation, is a leading fast-food retail chain with more than 120 locations in California and Nevada. Known for its made-to-order hamburgers, fresh ingredients, and efficient service, it has maintained the same basic menu and a simple, customer-friendly philosophy since its founding in 1948. In-N-Out Burger is a private, family-run, nonfranchised company.

    Dawn of the Drive-Thru: The Early Years

    In-N-Out Burger started in the Los Angeles suburb of Baldwin Park, California, in 1948. Harry Snyder developed the idea of a drive-thru hamburger restaurant where customers would be able to order their food via a two-way speaker unit. This was a rather novel idea, as most hamburger stands of the post-World War II era employed carhops to serve food to customers seated in their cars. And so Harry Snyder and his wife, Esther, opened what is said to be California’s first drive-thru restaurant. The menu was limited to burgers, french fries, soft drinks, and milk shakes. The Snyders’ priorities were simple: serve customers high-quality, fresh food with efficient, friendly service in a clean and tidy environment. This business philosophy and the original menu have remained largely unchanged throughout the years….

  23. Well while you are in CA try El Pollo Loco too. Love that chicken.

    I get a 3 piece meal. Flour Tortillas and double rice. Then rip the chicken up, stick in the tortilla with the rice and always add their spicy guacamole sauce & their house salsa..

    Ranks up there with In-N-Out in my opinion.

    Nearest In-N-Out to me is Las Vegas… @#@#$@# Been over a year. @#$@#$@#$@

  24. Dang! Scalzi’s in town and he will not be able to meet people until he comes back next month. I live here in San Diego and I’ve had enough of lawyers for the last two weeks so I will not even try to find out what he is doing in a law school.

    John, do not miss the fish tacos and beer while watching the sunset by the bay. If you are daring enough look for the Tijuana style tacos from El Taco Gordo where you can choose some exotic fillings like “cabeza” and “lengua”.

    Just in time for your arrival is a welcome car chase that lasted for a good hour or so with at least three helicopters and more than a dozen police cars. If you encounter a lot of drivers with road rage for having major freeways blocked, don’t take it personally.

  25. Look, I’m terribly sorry, but do you mind not waving In-N-Out burgers in your blog? I’m good-burger deprived. I have to make do with Culver’s. It is my secret sorrow.

    *sniffs sensitively*

  26. Culver’s is not deprived. Deprived is neither In-N-Out nor Culver’s. My favorite fast food burger in Wichita is Wendy’s. Yes, I said Wendy’s. No, I’m not happy about it either.

  27. In-N-Out makes some fine fastfood burgers, as does Culver’s (and we actually have one of those in McKinney, TX – a town just north of us ;)

    But my favorite is still the Blake’s Lotaburger chain in New Mexico. Mmmmm….a cheeseburger with red or green chile :)

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