Thursday, January 30, 2014

Long Weekend, Part Two: Margherita Pizza and Hats

Last Friday, I made the mistake of not eating anything before we left to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum. It was about eleven a.m. and with several cups of coffee coursing through my system, it didn't seem to be an issue, and for most of the museum trip, it wasn't. Seeing as I figured that visit would only take two or three hours, I assumed we'd have the chance to stop for a snack.


Four or so hours in to touring the exhibits, I was well on my way to full-on hangry (you know, angry & hungry), which meant I had little patience for stupidity or City driving. Lucky me, City driving was what lay in my future. Now, Dave has this unnatural ability to go all day without eating, and, as such, doesn't really understand the all-consuming loathing I develop for humanity when hangry. At the same time, he *has* developed a sensitivity to it, and learned to adjust accordingly. Smart man.

Anyhow, we were meeting our friend for dinner at 5:30 p.m. and I had to maneuver my way through lots (of people with death wishes) of city streets and up and over the INSANE San Francisco hills. She lives in Chinatown, and is one of those lucky individuals that has a garage in San Francisco. To my continual dismay, it's a tandem garage in this tiny alley where I let her park my car and pretend to not see her come within inches of poles and door frames. Not that you'd notice a couple of dings on my otherwise unwashed car. She wanted to take us to dinner in North Beach.

Now, North Beach is actually code for hipster central. In San Francisco, however, I will refrain from my normal deck shoes and hipster rant and how they BELONG ON DECKS because some of these people might have actually been on boats or were heading to them. Still, my sensibilities are always pushed to the breaking point when confronted with hipsters and I must suppress my natural desire to groan whenever I see one. Else North Beach would have been one continual groan for hours.

We went to dinner at this pizza place called Tony's Pizza Napoletana ( on account of them having the "best Margherita Pizzas" ever. Okay, I might be exaggerating, but it is award winning. According to the menu, they only make 73 of these pizzas a day, and the waitress said they usually run out by 6:30 p.m. Lucky for us it wasn't 6:30 yet, eh? Apparently, they have a line out the door at noon when they open. In addition, they have a pizza by the slice place next door, and run a pizza making school upstairs. With seven (or some obscene number like that) different types of pizza ovens, they make almost every kind of pizza imaginable.

We got there right around 5:30 p.m. and were offered a thirty minute wait for inside or immediate seating outside. Hangry Zan was all up on that outside seating thing, and after our friend confirmed the presence of heaters, off we went. And sat on a hill. I was a little leary of my water glass sitting there, the water tilted to one side. It really wasn't a huge hill, but until I had a beer in me (on an empty stomach - not the brightest idea), I kept giving it the side eye daring the glass to tip over.

Taken from since
I forgot to take a picture of the tastiness
Since we were there because of this awesome Margherita Pizza, that was our order. Although three hungry people (two who hadn't eaten a bite that day) can demolish a twelve inch round pizza in no time. We wound up ordering a Diavolo as well on the waitress' recommendation (me and the waitress bonded over that pizza - Spicy for the win!), and polishing it off with a couple of beers, a Caprese salad, and meatballs. Oh man, that was some tasty pizza, but I'm a Neapolitan pizza fan.

Finally, after all that food, we made our way towards the hat shop. I mean, the whole point of this trip really was hats. Specifically, buying me a hat from Goorin Bros. with the gift certificate Dave gave me for Christmas. His intention was for me to spend the gift certificate on a hat and customize it to exactly my specifications. I'm not entirely sure how one goes about buying a custom hat, but that's what he wanted me to do. Hmmm.

You know there are two kinds of people who wear hats: the ones who do it because they think it makes them cool, and the ones who actually are cool. Two of the workers in the store were of the first type (their clothes and attitude just didn't match the attitude of the hats), and the third exuded cool with a waxed mustache and the kind of attitude that says come have a beer with me. Or whisky. Because whisky is manly.

Apparently, the store was running low on hats after the Christmas season. Still, I'm sort of glad they were because I tried on a bunch of hats which I wouldn't have otherwise. I guess I went in with the intention of buying a black hat and putting some kind of custom color band or ribbon or something. Dave, however, has been moving away from wearing black all the time, and convinced me I ought to try on hats in - gasp - actual color!

Now, I've always been a hat person, and (not tooting my own horn, but actually doing so) I've rarely found a style that didn't work for me. I actually found several styles that looked terrible! Huh.

After much looking back and forth and finally convincing myself to NOT buy a black hat, we settled on a teal cloche. The band and feathers were already pretty awesome so there was need to customize (especially since it would have de
stroyed the awesome feather decoration!), and I was left with slightly more than half of my gift certificate to spend. Finally, after a little more browsing I picked up several berets (also not in black), paid, and we went on our way.

To end the night, we headed to this overpriced beer bar that had the same beer I'd been drinking at Tony's for twice the price. Um no. Instead, I had an uninspired IPA that left me feeling like I'd walked in to some kind of joke about hipster bars, spending too much, and getting a PBR for twenty bucks.

We wound up heading back to our friend's condo, watching tv for a few hours, and then heading home.

The moral of the story: Overpriced beer bars are overpriced beer bars. It will probably be an overpriced beer bar if it looks so cool hipsters are there. ;)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Long Weekend, Part One: The Walt Disney Family Museum

Both Dave and I had the day off Monday and we decided to take Friday as well to make an extra long weekend of it. For Christmas, he gave me a gift certificate to a hat store in San Francisco so we decided to spend the first day of our long weekend in the City.

Until a few hours before we headed up to the City on Friday, the idea of going to the Exploratorium was batted around, but got shelved when someone I follow on social media posted about the Walt Disney Family Museum. As both of us are Disneyphiles, Dave and I had talked about going since it opened, but had never had the chance. It seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We couldn't have picked a better day either. It was a little bit cool in the shade, but otherwise the California sunshine held out and we were treated to 70 some odd degree temperatures for the better part of the day.

Now, if you don't know anything about the Walt Disney Family museum, it is - at it's most basic - the history of Walt's life. You find out where he started, how he got where he was, and a whole lot of cool stuff in between.

I won't bore you with picture after picture of the museum or a step by step walk through. You really need to see it yourself to understand and enjoy. But I'll highlight a few of my favorite things.

Terrible collage from my phone
First, hooray for complimentary coat check. It is San Francisco after all, and if you go without a jacket you have no one to blame but yourself, and not having to carry a coat around the whole museum was awesome. The coat check was down in this little lobby in the basement that had a bunch of the Vintage Mary Blair Disneyland attraction posters (of which I WANT THEM ALL), a small exhibit about Mary Blair including details of the upcoming Special Exhibit on her and her works, a theatre showing a movie of the month (which we missed by getting there too late), and the restrooms. 

The Lobby

This display of furniture from his Disneyland apartment. LOVE IT!

The lobby held displays of all Walt's honors, awards, and 
recognitions, and holy cow, there's a lot! 

The Museum

Disney Pin-Ups for Service Men
Going through the museum, you follow in Walt's footsteps from birth to death, learning all sorts of interesting tidbits. Like how he lied about his age to serve as an ambulance driver in World War I.

One of my favorite parts of the museum dealt with Disney in the 1940's, which are - arguably - some of his uglier times. I'm happy to say it wasn't white-washed. They cover the Union Strikes of the early 40's, Disney WW II Propaganda, and even Disney's testimony on the "Red Threat". Interestingly enough, there are a lot of people that think Disney actually was targeted by Communists taking over the Screen Cartoonists Guild and it wasn't just paranoia prompting his testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Now tell me that isn't an incredible view from the museum walkway.

Of all the exhibits, this was my favorite (surprise!):

As you spiral down the pathway towards the giant model of Disneyland, you pass the Lilly Belle, Walt's model train, and you learn about this crazy idea to build a theme park.

Both of us in front of the huge Disneyland Model
There aren't very many pictures from the end of the museum because, honestly, I got a bit teary eyed. Yes, I got emo over a guy that died before I was born.

Sadly, we didn't plan for enough time at the museum as we had dinner plans in the City, and missed seeing the Art of Tyrus Wong special exhibit. It closes February 3rd and most likely won't be able to get back in time to see it.

Here are a few hints for visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum:
  1. If you plan on going during the week, pay for the WHOLE DAY of parking. 
  2. Three hours is the minimum amount of time it will take you to make it through the whole thing. Plan for five hours. 
  3. The Presidio grounds are gorgeous. Give yourself enough time to walk around and enjoy the insane view of the Golden Gate Bridge. 
  4. Bring a jacket. You're going to San Francisco. It will get cold. 
  5. Do yourself a favor and wait to try some of the interactive exhibits, specifically the exhibit for syncing sound with cartoons. It was so difficult, but a lot of fun. It's no surprise people thought adding sound to cartoons was something that just couldn't/shouldn't be done. 
  6. Not really the most child friendly place. Don't get me wrong, they'll enjoy it, but will probably wind up bored. 
  7. Enjoy! 
I'll end with this personal observation: The lesson to learn from Walt Disney's life is that it's important to take chances. To dream big dreams. People told him over and again that the things he wanted to do wouldn't work, that they were crazy, but he kept going, and because of that he blazed trails no one thought to blaze, and built a legacy that's impossible to forget.

Coming Soon: The Long Weekend, Part Two: Maybe the Best Margherita Pizza ever and Hats!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Really Monday?

Yeah, yeah, I know it isn't Monday. And that's for the best.

My Monday started out innocently enough. Alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I stayed in bed too long, took a last minute shower, and got ready to head out the door at 7 a.m. Pretty simple morning routine, right?

Now, we've had a minor problem with our water heater for a while, and it's had a pretty steady drip for a while. It was never an issue until yesterday when that single occasional drip turned into three drips in quick succession. That got my attention!

Since I was the only person home, and hot water is kind of a necessity, I called the water heater service listed on the heater. They were out of business, but the number directed to a new service who said they could be out around noon. They advised I turn it off and drain the water heater so it could be serviced.

And that's where the real adventure begins and a lesson in the joys of home ownership.

Some time back when the regular drip began, we bought a cap to cover the drain valve to stop/slow the drip, and that seemed to solve the problem. Until yesterday. I turned the pilot light off, closed the water valve, and tried to remove that very cap from the drain valve. Wouldn't come off by hand. So I went looking for tools to use as a solution. Instead of pulling the cap off, it pulled the ENTIRE drain valve off. And what was just a series of drips turned into a rivulet of water. It was now 7:15 a.m.


After a moment's hysteria, I flew to the linen closet, grabbed as many towels as I could carry and placed them under that steady stream of water. Still panicking, I called my in laws, got the number for the nearby plumber, and called them barely containing the distress in my voice.

God bless the lady that answered my call. She was efficient, calming, and assured me that she'd get the problem taken care of.

By 8 a.m., the plumbers were there, and I was piling more towels around the water-y mess happening in my laundry room. They tried to fix the water heater, but it was a lost cause. Turns out there was so much sediment built up in the bottom and around where the drain valve hooked into the water heater, that they couldn't install a new valve. All they could do was let the water stream out. The plumbers wound up moving our new washer and dryer out of the way, and as more water poured out, we started sweeping it out the door and vacuuming it up as best we could with the Shop Vac.

Around 9:45 a.m., my in-laws showed up to assist with any clean-up, and I'm so incredibly grateful to them. They managed to keep me from having a full on panic attack, and - funnily enough - we had a pretty good time together, cleaning and making sure everything was in working condition. Yeah, I know it's a little crazy, but I get some kind of zen enjoyment from cleaning. On the plus side, I was able to really clean under where the washer and dryer normally sit as the appliance installation guys wouldn't give me a few minutes when they were installed last month.

Long story short, five hours and a whole lot of money later, we had a new water heater, and I had a water logged mess of towels to clean up. And a shop vac full of water.

On a more positive note, we now know why that water heater made so many annoying noises all the time including in the middle of the night waking me up for no good reason. Yeah, apparently all the sediment that built in the bottom was responsible for that. And the moral of the story? Make sure to drain your water heater once a year so that doesn't happen. And new water heaters don't have annoying plastic drain valves like our old one did.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year, New Plans

Every year around this time, I find myself making all kinds of promises to blog more often. Then as the year passes by, I discover I have nothing to say. Writing about one subject over and over again bothers me to no end, and I find myself saying, "Hey, how can I approach this same topic I covered a month ago, the month before that, and the month before that from YET another point of view?"

Blogging only about weight loss always felt very confining. For years, that was the only topic I focused on, but after a while realized there's a whole lot more to life than weight loss. I've heard horror stories of people who focused so exclusively on getting the weight off and made it the center of their world, but, once they were done, had no coping mechanisms for dealing with real life.

See, that's the problem I ran into this past year. I've felt like I had nothing of interest to say because, frankly, I've been incredibly boring. My energy has been so focused on this one goal that life has been passing me by. Sure, weight loss is important and will continue to be important even after I reach my goal, but I need a life now. Well, life was also sucked away by internet gaming; if there's one thing that will eat hours of your time before you realize it, it's gaming. Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Neverwinter, Guild Wars 2. I've devoted far more of my time to those games than I care to admit.

Maybe that's what happens as we get older - we get stuck in the rut of adulthood. Life becomes a continuous cycle of doing the same things that we've always done over and over again. And when something new happens, just because of the novelty, we devote our focus to it to the exclusion of everything else.

My goal this year is to get my life back, to feel like I have something interesting to say again, to feel like I'm not stuck in the rut of adulthood, and to limit my time online gaming. As the New Year passed, I started putting together a list of the things I'd like to do this year that I've been putting to the wayside:
  1. Blog an average of once a week.
  2. One crafting project a month.
  3. 365 days of tracking food.
  4. Average 70,000 steps/week.
  5. Get out for a bike ride every month.
  6. Try out one new recipe a month.
  7. Complete one Home Improvement / Organization Project each month (or average 12 over the year).
  8. Audition for at least five shows this year.
  9. Read one new book a month.
  10. Find reasons to see people, hang out, have parties, get togethers, what not.
  11. Enjoy time gaming each week, but don't let it get in the way of life.
Here's to a new year and new plans!

Image from