Tag Archives: pizza

European Vacation – Italy

Italy was the next stop on our vacation. We visited Roma, Pompeii, and Napoli seeing all sorts of fantastic sights, including Colosseo (the Roman Coliseum) shown above.

Our first stop in Italy was to play with this dog in an apartment building that we eventually discovered was not the location of our AirBNB. It might have been the wrong building, but it was a happy mistake that led us to this dog!

Our AirBNB was a large, lovely apartment with stone floors and great kitchen and bathroom. It was near the Piramide stop, and the Piramide Cestia gave a nice visual landmark.

Italy was the first country we visited that was actually warm. We were thrilled to be able to put on some shorts and leave our jackets at home, although I admit it got a bit too hot! We stopped for a photo in front of the Colosseo on the way to find dinner.

This delicious potato, sausage, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil pizza was one of the best I had on the trip. We ordered it at Sapori e Delizie along with a ham, mushrooms, olives, and anchovies pizza as well as tiramisu and a cannoli for dessert. The second pizza was odd in that each quarter of the pizza had a different topping. How are we supposed to split that?!

We took our time walking home so we could explore, stumbling into Roma Pride. We caught it before it was at its peak, but it was fun.

For second dessert, we stopped at Il Gelato for salty peanuts, chocolate mad orange, and natural rice flavored gelato. This wouldn’t be our last gelato stop.

The next morning we started with the “Last Minute Roma” tour of the Colosseo with our tour guide, Isabella. Cameras weren’t allowed inside, but camera phones were. They could be brought inside in bags only. This proved a problem because we didn’t bring bags, but eventually they let me go inside with my DSLR on a shoulder strap. Once inside, there were tons of people taking photos. I don’t understand.

Naturally, I used it to take photos. Here’s a good shot of the upper areas as well as the lower areas. The ground floor of the Colosseum would have covered the area in the lower-left of the photo. Those were tunnels that ran underneath the floor.

Here’s a closer look right at ground level showing the tunnels. It was so cool to be walking through such an amazing structure that’s been standing for thousands of years. It’s crazy to think that I likely had ancestors who saw events here.

Some kind stranger was nice enough to take a photo of the four of us.

gem looked nice taking a short rest, although she also looks like she was questioning why I was taking a photo.

Anela and gem made friends with a horse outside the Colosseo too!

There was a small convenience store that sold this ice cream that Anela remembered liking from her childhood, so we bought some.

It didn’t look like much, but it was a nice treat.

Next we were off to the Vatican. What an amazing collection of art! Yes, I admit it wasn’t all obtained in the best ways, but I thoroughly enjoyed the museum.

I actually hadn’t realized they had such a large collection of pre-Christian art, which made for a pleasant surprise.

It must have taken so much skill and sophistication to properly capture the muscles and curves of the human body.

Look at the detail in the beard!

This was my favorite part of the museum. It seemed like the roof was glowing. Photographs don’t capture the beauty.

That didn’t stop me from trying though. Here’s a shot without us in the way.

The Vatican had a nice garden outside as well.

Even the spiral walkway was beautiful.

Not being a fan of heights, Anela didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as me, but she made it unscathed!

On our way out, we stopped by the Vatican’s post office. I purchased and sent some postcards while I was there.

We took a break from the Vatican to get some lunch at a oh-so-traditional Italian restaurant – McDonald’s! This bucket had three kinds of chicken. I think there were at least one type of chicken wing, but maybe there were two.

McDonald’s dessert game seems stronger in Italy.

After lunch we saw St. Peter’s Basilica, which was quite beautiful.

I liked the way you could see the rays of sunlight shining down.

Don’t they look lovely?

This looked really beautiful as well.

Back outside, we watched the changing of the guards.

And then we took a final selfie before leaving the Vatican.

For dinner, we bought an assortment of pizza from two fast pizzerias near our apartment. We ate a lot of pizza in Italy.

We started the next morning with a tour of Palotino and the Foro Romano (the Roman Forum). We walked through the Museo Palatino, which was short but had an interesting collection of marble samples from various regions. I jotted down “something square, Musea capitali” in my notes. Did we go there? What was that? I don’t remember.

Something tells me “LOSER” wasn’t there originally.

I don’t remember the significance of any individual building during the tour to be honest, but I liked some of these shots.

That’s a beautiful view.

This building looked really cool. I don’t know if I knew what it was at the time, but I don’t now.

Edit: gem identified it! This is the Altare ella Patria at Piazza Venezia. Thanks, gem!

Here’s a closer look at the flag and some detail of the building.

We walked to the Pantheon in Rome, a beautiful church built at the site of a former Roman temple.

There was a fountain in front that we used to cool off. We were really feeling the heat, so it was nice to dip our arms in the cool water. I sweat it was like a magic potion. You could practically see it rejuvenate Anela!

We took a nice photo in front before exploring inside the Pantheon.

We stopped by Federico Polidori’s leather shop. He’s known for hand-crafting leather goods. I actually bought one of the few pieces he didn’t make himself – an Italian army bag from 1955.

I had to haggle a bit, but I’m happy with it. It mostly got used to hold resumes and blank paper for interviews.

We stopped for pizza and pasta for lunch. I had cacio e pepe at the recommendation a friend. He was right. It sounds simple but was super delicious. Afterwards, we stopped at Very Buono Ice Cream for dessert and got another cannoli as well.

We wanted to visit a beach while we were here, so we took a train to Ostia Beach.

We got to play in the Tyrrhenian Sea, part of the Mediterranean Sea. I never thought I’d do that.

After splashing around, digging our feet into the sand, and collecting shells, we headed back toward our apartment. We had dinner at Novecentro Cucina & Pizza, across the street from our apartment if I remember correctly, and then headed to bed.

We started our last full day in Italy with Pompeii. Honestly, I thought it was underwhelming.

There were a few bodies in glass cases, but the bodies were removed from the ruins themselves, which I didn’t realize.

We still spent a lot of time exploring anyways. gem had to wait there so I could get a shot without other people being in the way.

Here Anela explores more ruins.

What are you pointing at, gem? I bet it’s the fact that the doorway was perfectly gem-sized.

After Pompeii, we headed to Napoli where we ate a ton more pizza. Our first stop was Donna Sofia.

We ordered two pies for the four of us, and they were both amazing. Dang, I’m hungry thinking about them.

After Donna Sofia, we went right next door to Di Matteo for more pizza. Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly as good as Donna Sofia!

We split up to do some shopping after Di Matteo. It started raining soon after, which was bad news for gem and Antonio since Anela and I were the only ones with umbrellas. While we shopped. a man who claimed to be the best salesman in Napoli tried to sell us some socks. I guess he wasn’t that good, because I didn’t buy any.

When we all came together again, gem brought us another pizza – this one from L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele. She had read about it, and it was apparently quite well-known for its amazing pizzas.

It was certainly delicious!

We picked up some desserts which we ended up sharing with some other tourists from the US.

After getting back to Roma, I wanted to go back to Il Gelato. I convinced the group by saying I’d buy for everybody.

There was fun art on the mirrors too! Here’s Joy from Inside Out.

And here’s Elsa from Frozen.

And lastly, here’s Olaf!

The next morning we signed our AirBNB host’s guestbook and took a train to the airport. Unfortunately, this is where Anela parted ways with the rest of us. The only thing that could cheer me up was more pizza!

Europe Vacation 2016 – Denmark

Back in May, I traveled to Europe with gem, Anela, and Antonio for a vacation starting with Denmark. Clearly I took my sweet time organizing photos and writing blog entries. The catalyst was wanting to visit our friends in Paris. When gem found a cheap flight to Copenhagen, we began to plan in earnest. Most of the tickets were purchased by the time I was laid off from Toshiba. Weird timing, but the vacation was great anyways.

We left LAX on May 20 and arrived in Copenhagen on the 21st. Using Uber was interesting since Antonio had data but none of us had voice calling, but we made it okay. The most noticeable aspect of Copenhagen was that it was incredibly bicycle-friendly.

We explored the city a bit, including this greenhouse with cool stairs and two levels.

We decided to try McDonald’s everywhere we went. I don’t remember specifics about McDonald’s in Denmark, but the quality certainly seemed higher.

We took a canal tour that was excellent. It was a great way to quickly get a feel for the city.

I don’t have much to say about this photo besides the fact that I like it.

Tortus Copenhagen is a pottery studio that Anela knew from Instagram. Unfortunately, they closed by the time we got there and wouldn’t be open again until after we left the country. Anela left a note for them, and they later followed her on Instagram!

After a lot more walking, we walked through a very beautiful park.

gem had fun impersonating statues and admiring the hedges. She has a thing for hedges.

Perhaps Anela was waiting for people to get out of the way so she could do a jumping photo. I can’t say for sure, but we did take jumping photos here.

That night we discovered something strange about Copenhagen. It stayed light pretty much all day. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it would get dark around midnight and get light again around 3 or 4. In fact, that was a problem most of our vacation. We’d lose track of time based on the sunlight!

The next day was actually day of a big race. We saw some of the runners and stopped here for some coffee. I wasn’t a big coffee drinker at home, but I learned to appreciate it much more while in Europe. Unfortunately, coffee is a lot worse in the US.

It was half race, half street entertainment, and all excitement.

Here’s a view from a bridge over one of the canals in the city.

Next we visited the Church of Our Savior, which has a tall spire with a spiral staircase that narrows as it climbs. Anela, not liking heights, did not join us. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was actually mentioned in Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I had previously read.

gem looks really happy here!

At the highest point were many stickers and writing that people left. Antonio signed one of the stickers here.

Anela waited down below, but I still got a photo of her.

The inside of the church was also pretty with a number of cool statues.

Next we visited Christiania, also known as Freetown Christiania. It’s an autonomous or anarchist community in Copenhagen. It seemed pretty interesting, and you can read more about it on Wikipedia.

It had a lot of beautiful art inside and near it such as this on the side of a cargo container.

This blacksmith in Christiania holds a metal sign she made that I purchased as a gift for some friends of mine. I’ve seen them a few times since returning to the States, and every time I’ve failed to give it to them. I’m going to their house on New Year’s Eve, so I better look for it.

Funny story. At an airport later in my trip, there seemed to be a problem with one of our pieces of luggage. Eventually the security person pointed to my bag and asked whose it was. I said it was mine. He points to his monitor showing the x-ray’ed contents of my bag.

“This is yours?” he asked. There on the screen, 100% legible, are the words “NAKED DANCE.”

“Yeah.”

“Naked dance. You.” It was a question, but he said it more as an indignant statement.

“Yeah.” Not that I commonly partake in naked dancing (although when I’m alone in my room, who’s to say), but yes, it was mine.

He then starts laughing before saying “okay” and allowing my bag to continue.

We visited Tivoli Gardens, an amusement park and pleasure garden in Copenhagen. Do you know what a pleasure garden is? I didn’t until I looked up Tivoli Gardens on Wikipedia. It’s a garden open to the public for entertainment. Anyways, Tivoli is the oldest operating amusement park in the world. Sorry Tivoli, but you don’t hold a candle to Disneyland. Still a fun day though!

Here’s one of the streets through Tivoli lined with shops.

gem even got to play the xylophone!

After Tivoli, we did more exploring. gem wanted to join this sculpture.

I liked the Gefion Fountain featuring the Norse goddess, Gefion.

gem and Anela posed after we got done looking at the fountain.

gem thought that “cafe emma” could use a ‘g’ to make it “cafe gemma.”

One of the last things we did before dinner that night was visit The Little Mermaid, a famous sculpture that’s known to represent Copenhagen. It’s been vandalized multiple times and even beheaded. Some people are so disrespectful.

We went to Brasserie Degas for dinner because of their amazing desserts. However, when we got there we found that it was a nicer (and more expensive) restaurant than we were expecting. We got a number of desserts and shared them but decided to eat dinner somewhere else. The waiter seemed less than thrilled.

We ended up getting pizza and pasta next door. This was the first time on the trip that we noticed people getting really quiet when they heard us discuss Trump. You could feel the tension disappear when they realized we were not in support of him.

We ended our last night in Copenhagen by embarrassing ourselves a little. We joked that we should avoid walking past Brasserie Degas when we finished eating so that the waiter wouldn’t see that we simply went next door for dinner. When we walked out of the restaurant, we immediately turned the opposite way of Brasserie Degas to begin walking back to our AirBNB. Fool proof plan except for the fact that the waiter had just left and was walking to his car. He definitely saw us! Not that it matters of course. It’s our vacation, and we’ll eat where we want!

Thus ended the first country on our vacation! Copenhagen was beautiful and a bustling urban center. It was a great start to our vacation.

Ending 2015 with the Ska Luau VI and a NYE party

Following tradition, I ended 2015 by attending the Ska Luau on the 30th and going to a New Year’s Eve party at the Carters’ on the 31st. It was a lot of fun!

Ska  Luau VI

gem and I were looking good at the Ska Luau. I need to work on evening my tan.

Ska  Luau VI

The two of us were rocking our Suburban Legends shirts! The Luau featured the Magnolia Polynesian Dance Troupe, Karate in the Garage, Hooray for Our Side, Suburban Legends, and Starpool. What a sweet line up!

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We ran into our friend Bryan who’s the trumpet player for Skapeche Mode and Failed to Victory. All the bands performed amazing sets. I’d never heard Karate in the Garage, so that was a treat. I’d only seen Hooray for Our Side once, and they gave a great performance. Suburban Legends and Starpool are two of my favorite bands, and they somehow always exceed expectations. I didn’t take many photos of Suburban Legends. There choreography is so awesome that still photos wouldn’t do them justice. However, I have some videos of them playing and dancing in the playlist at the top of this post.

Ska  Luau VI

Starpool came out in a bang of confetti!

Ska  Luau VI

Throw my hands up and shout! I love when they perform this. You can see T-bone Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa on stage too. My ears were ringing all day the next day.

New Year's Eve Party

I brought a lot of food to the New Year’s Eve party – brownies, lemon bars, and biscuit pizzas.

New Year's Eve PartyI told Henley that I had a gift for him in the car, and he was pretty excited. He was so adorable asking if it was time to open it yet. He needed some help getting it unwrapped! New Year's Eve Party

He seemed pretty happy with his new Buzz Lightyear! As it turns out, he had really wanted one too. While I was undoing the ties to get Buzz out of the package, Henley repeatedly gave me hugs. He’s so cute.

We suggested he open gem’s gift while I got Buzz out of the box. gem gave him a jacket that looks like a polar bear, complete with bear ears of course. He’s wearing it in that photo, although he didn’t want the hood.

New Year's Eve Party

Dev’s dog, Happy, is totally a lap dog.

New Year's Eve Party

Here’s me and Dev! He’s one of my oldet friends. We met in 8th grade.

New Year's Eve Party

I guess Mike likes my brownies! Actually, he was wondering why Dev scooped them out of the pan with a spoon.

New Year's Eve Party

gem made cheesecake ice cream as gifts and left them in a freezer. I realized that Gracie and Jon forgot to take one, so we began discussing the ice cream. Somehow we realized we could heat up my homemade brownies and serve them with gem’s homemade cheesecake ice cream.

New Year's Eve Party

Super success! A picture doesn’t really do it justice, but trust me that it was delicious.

And that was my New Year’s Eve! Thanks to Alex, Darnell, Henley, gem, Devin, Lorena, Gracie, Jon, Mike, Dev, and a couple people who I didn’t really know (sorry, I forgot names after a day already) for a fantastic end to 2015!

Recent cooking adventures: Mango-jalapeño salsa, Greek potato, fried pork, and biscuit pizza

Mango-jalapeño salsa and tilapia

I haven’t posted much about my recent cooking, so this’ll be as quick look at a few things. First up, mango-jalapeño salsa! This was pretty simple with mango, jalapeño, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, and some seasoning. Here it’s served on tilapia on a bed of mixed greens, but it goes great with chicken too as well as chips!

Greek potato

For lack of a better term, I was just calling this a Greek potato. Not much to this really – just a Hasselback potato with feta and honey, but it’s totally delicious.

Marinated pork collar butt

Farm Direct had some cheap, delicious marinated pork collar butt, so I bought it a few times because it was easy to use with other things.

Marinated pork collar butt

With onions, bell pepper, and some eggs, it was perfect.

Marinated pork collar butt

I should go buy more actually.

Biscuit pizza

I’m probably too old to share something so dumb, but I liked these anyways. These pizzas were made with Pillsbury Grands! biscuits. At first I used a whole biscuit per pizza, but I revised them to use half a biscuit per pizza. Less calories, less carbs, more tastiness.

Biscuit pizza

I’m glad Anela shared the video with me from BuzzFeed Food!

Assorted veggies

Bonus veggies!

Stand up paddle boarding and the OC Night Market

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This weekend held a few fun things – like stand up paddle boarding! First, I had the wrong address number, and we drove 10 minutes out of the way. Next, we used East instead of West in the address and drove 10 minutes incorrectly again. Finally, we got to the board rental place and locked the keys in the car. We decided to worry about that later because it was time for Kaylin, gem, and I to have fun!18634341171_610cf22c36

gem wanted to do yoga, and then I wanted to do yoga too.18445942169_6eb740d03c

Due to wrist pain, I’ve been avoiding anything that puts pressure on my wrist, but you put a paddle board under me, and I decide I don’t care.18634341031_02bbae9314

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I tried for a while to balance on one foot, but I just couldn’t do it. I guess that’s no big surprise.

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We got to see lots of cool animals while on the water such as this SUP dog! It fell off the board once while we watched and just swam back up to the board. It had a handle on its harness, so its owner just picked it up and put it back on the board. Adorable! We also some saw some birds of course as well as seals or sea lions. I can never tell the difference, but they were cute and liked to aarf. One kept trying to jump onto a boat; we watched him a fail a few times while we cheered him on, but he gave up. Another was just napping and started aarfing at us when we got too close.

It was a ton of fun! The wind picked up near the end, making us take forever to get back. We were on the water for a bit under three hours, and I guess it was a pretty good work out. Unfortunately, I did get sunburned, but gem gave me aloe from her aloe plant! When we got back to the beach, Kaylin stayed with us while figured out the keys. Hooray for AAA.

Akropolis in Newport Beach

After paddle boarding, gem and I grabbed lunch at Akropolis. The Greek food was amazing! We started with this huge appetizer platter. I was really craving dolma, and this platter delivered it and more. Everything was amazing.

Akropolis in Newport Beach

We also had a Greek pizza, which I considered the best pizza I’d ever eaten. gem said it was just because I’m hungry, but I think that’s a valid factor. Experience counts.

It had sauce, cheese, gyro meat, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki. Oh, wow. It was really amazing.

I also talked with the guy working there a bit. He confirmed that it was Greek owned. He’s actually half Greek and half Persian, and he asked if I was Greek because he noticed my name on my card. Neither of us were taught Greek, although he knows Farsi, which is cool! I’d love to come back here.

oc night market

That night I went to the OC Night Market with these awesome people, gem, Anela, and Jonathan.

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We ate a bunch of tasty things like this donut with ice cream in the middle topped with chocolate chips and mini Oreos. Actually, it was just kind of meh. I don’t think the donut added anything except unneeded carbs, and I’ve had much better mint chocolate chip ice cream. But it was fun to eat it anyways haha. We also went back to the same booth that took an hour with our order last time; this time it only took a couple minutes, and the servings were much larger! Anela craved fries, so we ended up getting curry fries, garlic crab fries, and Spam fries. We all expected the Spam fries to be fries topped with Spam, but they were more literal. It was Spam cut likes fries and fried. Yummy but salty!

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My biggest goal for the night was to find Orion’s Cookery and get their new Hot Cheetos Brick, essentially a Rice Krispies Treat made with Hot Cheetos instead of Rice Krispies. They only had two left when I bought mine. Huzzah! After my first, small bite, I thought it was a little odd – not bad but not amazing – and maybe slightly stale tasting. Then I ate more, and as I took a bigger bite, I was pretty impressed. Win!

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Anela wanted the Turkish ice cream, with which she was familiar. I’d never heard of it. According to Wikipedia, it’s called dondurma and is also popular in Greece as dudurmas or kaimaki. It’s thicker than normal ice cream and more resistant to melting. The vendor let me take his picture before he got our ice cream. I liked his clothes! He makes a bit of a show of serving it, which also shows off how it’s different than our typical ice cream. He’d put it in a cone, swing it around such that typical ice cream would fall from the cone, hand it to Anela, twist and grab it back, etc. It was fun!

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And how was it?

Tasty, tasty! I’d definitely get it again, especially given the show of it. Wikipedia also mentions that that showmanship is typical of dondurma vendors. Buy some if you get the chance!

Okay, that’s it. You can stop reading. Thanks! 🙂

Bay Area vacation and the Lithium Network Conference 2015

Bay Area friendsLast week I was attending a conference in the Bay Area, so I went a few days early to visit friends! I stayed with Katie and Matt, hung out with Marc as well, coincidentally saw some Southern California friends, and attended the Lithium Network Conference. I had a great time!

Lithium is all about social: they’re the providers of Toshiba’s forum as well as Lithium Social Web, the web application that I use that pulls the forum, Facebook, and Twitter into one screen.

Friday

I flew in Friday night after some delays. Matt and Katie picked me up from San Francisco International, and we headed back to their place in Fremont after a quick stop for some tasty In-N-Out. It was late, so we mostly talked, and Matt and I played games.

Saturday

Saturday was the action-packed day! Marc came over, and then we visited Matt’s university, San Jose State University, where we failed to return library books and failed to see a flight simulator. We tried at least. Luckily, San Jose is also filled with delicious foods.

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At SmokeEaters I ate some delicious wings, onion rings, fries, and a beer. This was the start of a bad day for my stomach.

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I was kind of excited to see a banner for Fanime. I don’t know. I’m sorry.

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After our unhealthy lunch, we stopped at Psycho Donuts. Just look how good they look! Yes, yes, yes!

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We walked past a place called Iguanas just because I wanted to take a picture of their sign. Burritozilla! I want to eat Burritozilla!

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When we got back to Katie and Matt’s, we tried some of the donuts. Another bad stomach decision, but a great decision for my taste buds. The top-left one was the Cookie Monster donut. Reminds me of Afters Ice Cream! 🙂

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We made some White Russians, watched some YouTube videos, listened to Spotify, and talked. The White Russians were the final bad decision for my stomach, haha.

Matt found this playlist on Spotify – 2000’s Rock by Scott Sweatman. It’s… kind of great. It caused a lot of nostalgia, but at the same time, I can tell why I don’t listen to this music anymore. It was pretty perfect.

This might sound uneventful, but it was a pretty important evening. I had a lot of fun with them. Marc’s friend even came over as well.

Sunday

gem was in te Bay Area to go rafting with a group of friends, which included one other person I knew – Vivian. Marc came over again, and then he drove us to Berkeley to meet with them.

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We decided to meet at Sather Tower, a bell and clock tower, commonly called The Campanile.

You could hear the music from a pretty good distance.

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I liked the bears at the base.

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After realizing you could go up the tower for a nominal fee, we had to check it out.

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I wish this photo offered a better sense of scale. The bells could totally crush a person.

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gem, Katie, and Matt!

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Here’s where the musician sits to play the carillon, which is the bell system.

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Here’s the view.

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And here’s a group of photos of a lot of us.

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Here’s gem, Marc, Katie, Matt, and myself. I was trying to spread the Half Past Two, So Cal ska love to the Bay Area.

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We stopped at Sheng Kee Bakery, where I tried some of Vivian’s tea eggs – basically eggs boiled in tea rather than water. Delicious! Then it was off to Sliver Pizzeria. Each day of the week they feature a different pizza, but that’s it. That means that each day they only have a single kind of pizza. On Sunday, it was roasted potatoes, roasted onions, mozzarella, jalapeño jack cheese, Italian parsley, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. It was great! I’m going to need to try to make something like this some time.

Over lunch, someone I had just met that day asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I work for Toshiba…”

He replied with “hey, that’s my line!”

I’m paraphrasing, but he works for Toshiba as well, although he works for a different Toshiba company. Small world! And speaking of small worlds, another person was going to take the BART back to Fremont, so Marc just gave him a ride too.

It was cool seeing the university as well as the city. The city was pretty interesting. I can understand how it gets the reputation it has, because the people clearly cared a lot more about the environment and helping each other than I’m used to seeing in Orange County.

Once we got home, we had a quiet evening mostly of watching TV and chatting. I got some work done as well, and we watched American Ninja Warrior. It’s a cool show pitting athletes against insane obstacle courses that require a great deal of strength, agility, and balance.

Katie made an amazing fish dinner that made my stomach feel much better. It was super good!

Monday

I started Monday morning by working before Matt drove me to the BART station.

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When I got into San Francisco, I took a picture of the building outside the Powell Street station like I always do.

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This was the view from my hotel room. Not amazing, but I like that Scalzi always posts photos of his view, so I like doing it too. I stayed at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, which was right next to Saint Patrick’s Chuch, where Patrick and Caroline got married. Pretty cool!

Anela gave me some recommendations of things to do. Some of them I’d done previously, and some, like hike recommendations, just didn’t fit with my schedule. But some things had to be done!

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Did you know that at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory you can watch people make fortune cookies? Well, she did, and now I do, and now you do.

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They start out round, while they’re still hot, she shapes them into fortune cookies. I got to try some nice hot ones that were still round, and I bought a bag of normal and chocolate fortune cookies.

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I tried one chocolate one from the bag, and my fortune was “Your luck will soon be at a high point.” That seems good, but what if it just means my luck is going to be terrible for a long time after that? Uh oh.

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I took some other random photos too.

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Building art.

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Yummy not-quite-a-fortune-cookie!

I had to stop at a bakery too, so I got a pineapple BBQ pork bun from The AA Bakery & Cafe. I love pork buns!

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Anela also recommended I get pastries in Little Italy, so off I went. I often say I don’t really like looking up recommendations because it’s more fun to find stuff on your own, but I wasn’t sure about Italian pastries, so I turned to reviews and found Stella Pasty and Cafe. Everyone seemed to recommend their Sacripantina.

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According to their site, it contains “vanilla sponge cake, zabaione (a delicate custard made with egg yolks, sweet butter, marsala and sherry wine) cream, and rum.” It was light yet rich. I could only eat about half of the piece actually.

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I knew I wanted pizza while I was there too, and I felt like looking around to see what caught my eye. Spoiler alert – it wa Golden Boy Pizza. I just liked the feeling and look of the place. Foursquare recommended the garlic clam pizza, so I went with that.

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It was a thick slice, and I put red pepper on it. It was good, although I didn’t find it amazing. Still, I liked the place enough that I might try to go back and get a different kind if I can. It was small on the inside but was covered with stickers and similar art.

I also want to mention Victoria Pastry Company. I didn’t eat there, but I got detoured as I followed the amazing smell. I just wasn’t hungry enough.

My final goal was Ghirardelli Square. Anela recommended this as well, although I’d actually been there already. However, I just love chocolate. On the way, I stopped at Dennis Rae Fine Art. They had an exhibit on the art of Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss. It was neat.

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I bought a few things to take home at Ghirardelli before purchasing a hot fudge sundae to eat! The fudge was just so awesome. I kinda sorta maybe love hot fudge.

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Even so, I couldn’t do it. There were just too many things to eat that day and not enough room in my stomach.

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Here’s a nice view from the Fisherman’s Wharf area near the San Francisco National Historic Park (or maybe it’s part of it).

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Look, a ship.

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This was a really heroic ship, but I heard it killed its family once.

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I liked the view from the end of the pier.

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Hey, it’s me!

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On my way back to the hotel, I happened to walk past Lombard Street at it’s famously twisted block. This was actually another recommendation from Anela, although I wasn’t aiming to see it this time since I’d already seen it. I just happened to walk past it, so I took a picture because of how beautiful it looked.

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I just thought this door was cool.

The welcome event for the Lithium Network Conference was held at Jillian’s. There was a variety of food and an open bar. I know what you’re thinking, but actually I only had a small glass of wine. Too exhausted, so I didn’t stay long. After a detour at Target to buy water, I went back to my room for the night.

Tuesday

Tuesday was the first actual day of the conference. After a quick breakfast, I was off to the weird introduction!

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That woman was a bunch of bananas.

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And that woman was the whole city!

The opening was about three and half hours, and it mostly talked about what customers expect from social engagement. Blah, blah, blah. You don’t care about that.

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But then there was lunch and time to socialize! Yes, some of that was through texts to home, but I also talked with some cool people at the conference.

After lunch, I went to a session on “Self service content publishing” and another on “How to get content in the right place at the right time” that were both interesting. They were more about developing applications and custom modifications to the Lithium platform, which isn’t something I have the power to go implement, but I like seeing new ways to think about the process.

The conference ended for the day with two pretty great speakers. The first was Sal Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. The Khan Academy is a free online tool for education. It originally sprang from him tutoring his cousin on the phone, then tutoring many of his cousins, then making custom tutoring software to help him tutor them, and then creating videos to help as well. I can’t really do it justice. He discussed how school goes at a certain pace for the whole class and then judges them rather than helping them master something before continuing. He wants to bring this free education to everyone in the world. It’s a beautiful idea, and a couple parts of his talk made me tear up. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

The second speaker was Orny Adams, a comedian. “Let’s talk about what we really wanna talk about. We hate our customers. Because they’re stupid.” He was joking, I swear. Yeah, he didn’t really care about crossing any lines as he also made fun of people who avoid gluten or are scared of germs (uh oh) and even had to end with some differences between men and women. He was pretty hilarious.

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That night’s party was held at City View on the fourth floor of The Metreon.

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There were a lot of people inside and out. I talked to some cool people, including a long conversation with a Greek woman who compared Greek family members with me! She’s actually a contact at Lithium I hadn’t met, so that was very cool. I also had a great conversation with a man from Zürich.

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The view was nice!

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There were oh so many desserts. Combined with all the normal food I had that night, it added up to another terrible health night.

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Oh, and then after all that I discovered more food.

Wednesday

I didn’t really take many photos this day, but I did attend sessions on “Master social lead generation” and “15 tips for new community managers.” I don’t really need sales leads, and I’m not a new community manager, but I like looking at new ways of thinking.

Later I had a meeting with my coworker, the VP of Global Strategic Accounts & Value Engineering at Lithium, the Chief Revenue Officer of Lithium, and a woman in charge of Customer Success at Lithium.

Dr. Michael Wu, Chief Scientist at Lithium, did a talk about how customers perceive brands, customer expectations, and a lot more. He wears a distinctive hat and glasses, so the conference gave a hat and glasses to everyone in attendance!

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I didn’t take the glasses since I already wear glasses, but a free hat? Sure.

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I also took an accidental selfie on the way to the BART.

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And the last photo I took in the city was this. It reminded me of the RISK! podcast.

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It was a great trip, but by the end I was exhausted and happy to get home. If only I didn’t have two work days left in the week.

Thanks for the wonderful time, Bay Area.

And the best part? I didn’t really gain much weight!

There are more photos in my Flickr album.

Teenage Mutant Pizza Party

Last weekend I went to the best kind of pizza party there is – a Teenage Mutant Pizza Party! (As you may know, Friday was pizza day / The best day of the week.) This was another event from CinemAttack!, the awesome group reinvigorating movie-watching. I would much rather go to an event like this to watch an old movie than pay an insane amount of money just to sit in a theater and watch a movie without any bonus fun added!

Turtle Van!

First I got a picture of gem with the Turtle Van. Look how excited she looks!Teenage Mutant Pizza Party

I was pretty excited to get my photo with it as well. Man, I’m such a child. Foot stinks!Teenage Mutant Pizza Party

There were fliers up outside promoting the turtles and pizza while dissing the Foot Clan! While we were getting in line, we ran into our friends Ratana and Joe. We joined them for the evening, which definitely made everything even more fun!

Uncle Krang's Pizza

The first 100 pre-sale ticket-holders in line got an Uncle Krang’s Pizza box. I’m totally keeping this sweet pizza box too.

TMNT food

There was a surprising amount of food in there too! They gave everyone three slices of pizza. As they were handing them out, I had a chance to tell the creators of the event and CinemAttack! how much I appreciate what they were doing. They’re super nice people!

You can also see my turtle pie in there – basically a chocolate pudding pie with green food coloring. I purchased that separately but put it in the box. As we got settled in the theater for the festivities, they brought more pizza to the front. I guess there was extra. Joe grabbed some more pizza, and I ate all the pizza I wanted. Pretty sweet!

Of course, there was the movie too! It was fun 🙂

Biking

And then gem rode off into the night on her bike! Well, actually, we just drove home. There are a few more pictures in my Flickr album as well.

The Scott Pilgrim Picture Show

The 2nd Scott Pilgrim Picture Show!

Friday night was the 2nd Scott Pilgrim Picture Show, an amazing interactive film screening by CinemAttack at the Frida Cinema in Santa Ana. The idea is similar to screenings of the Rocky Horror – a movie with lots of audience participation. I bought this poster along with a poster representing the original Scott Pilgrim Picture Show from last year too. I didn’t even notice until later that the one for last year was signed by Tyler Jacobs, the creator, and numbered.

Audience participation, a costume contest, garlic bread, a light show, and more. What’s not to love?

Scott Pilgrim Picture Show Marquee

gem and I got there about 45 minutes before the doors opened so we could hang out. I had to get a picture of the marquee!

Bread makes you fat?!

Even though bread makes you fat, they handed out garlic bread to the people waiting in line. Sweet!

Flyers!

The walls were plastered with flyers for the Toronto International Battle of the Bands, the Katayanagi Twins, Sex Bob-omb, the Clash at Demonhead, and more. It was a pretty nice touch.

Scott Pilgrim photo op

There was a photo op with Scott Pilgrim and a photographer. They said they would post all the photos on Facebook and then you could go find and tag yourself and save the photo. However, I’ve yet to see them posted. In addition, only a handful of people got to take pictures with this before everyone filed into the theater. After the screening, it was already gone. They said people could take the flyers, so I suspect someone might have grabbed this early. Oh well.The Scott Pilgrim Picture Show

Edit: They posted them! Here I am chilling with Scott! The photo was taken at the CinemAttack photo booth, so credit goes to their photographer whose name wasn’t mentioned. They encouraged sharing the photos, so I think it’s cool that I’m posting it here.

The Chaos Theater

Overhead, a CinemAttack! banner was hanging. CinemAttack is the events company hosting the Scott Pilgrim Picture Show. It was created by a man named Tyler Jacobs. While I’d been looking forward to the event for some time, I hadn’t realized until the night before the show that Tyler Jacobs is Christian Jacobs’ (the MC Bat Commander, lead singer of the Aquabats) and Parker Jacobs’ (lead singer of GOGO13) brother. The a pretty rad family. I’m also glad I found Tyler Jacobs’ independently of his brothers. I had a moment to stop and say hello to Tyler as well, and he was quite friendly. I’m glad I did.

You’ll also notice the movie was being shown in the Chaos Theater!

Coins for throwing!

With the posters I purchased, I received two bags of “coins for throwing!” When an evil ex is defeated, you’re supposed to toss coins in the air. It was fun and definitely added to the experience.

Scott Pilgrim Cosplay Contest

Yes, yes, this photo is horrible. Anyways, there was a costume contest as well. There were a number of Scotts and Ramonas as expected but also a Gideon and even a Vegan Police! The guy who came as the Vegan Police even had a green laser.

The movie was a lot more fun to watch in this setting. Words on the screen would direct you to yell lines aloud, and during songs, they would progress karaoke-style. There were also instructions sometimes, including high-fiving a neighbor or jumping up to pretend to play DDR along with Scott and Knives. When an evil ex was defeated, they’d remind you to throw your coins in the air. There were also light shows during the scenes with the bands playing, which really added to the awesomeness. When the Vegan Police came to depower Todd, green lasers shot out everywhere. It wasn’t enough for the fans as they began to cry out for our Vegan Police. Luckily our cosplayer saved the day; when we saw his green laser hit the screen and track Todd, everyone cheered!

Scott Pilgrim or gem?

After the movie, gem stopped to pose with her ukulele like Scott does with his guitar. I wasn’t sure it was going to come out, because the lighting wasn’t great, but I’m pretty happy with the photo. gem actually hasn’t seen it yet. Hopefully she likes it too.

There are some more photos in this album.

And now I get to look forward to their next presentation: The Teenage Mutant Pizza Party!

Chocolate loaf cake, calzone, and pizza

Chocolate loaf cake

I spent most of the last two nights baking. I had Amish Friendship Bread, so I decided to make a couple things. Tuesday night I made a chocolate loaf cake. When I had a piece that night, it wasn’t as chocolaty as I expected. However, my piece Wednesday morning had a much richer taste. I think the first piece wasn’t as rich because it was the end piece and had cooked more. I’m pretty happy with it. I also made dough that I left rising for a day.

Making the calzone

Wednesday night my dough was ready. I started with a calzone packed with sauce, cheese, turkey sausage, turkey pepperoni, mushroom, red onion, and red bell pepper.

Calzone

It was kind of huge.

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While the crust tasted fantastic, I probably should have made it a bit thinner. Also, I might have filled it a bit too much.

Pizza

I also made two pizzas with the same ingredients except I also added jalapeño and pineapple. I didn’t actually try the pizzas yet; the purpose was to have food in the fridge so I wouldn’t have to cook nightly.

When I was all done, I was exhausted and sleepy. I suspect a lot of that had to do with eating most of that calzone. It was so tasty!

The OC Fair and other weekend fun

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On Sunday I went to the OC Fair and saw lots of cool stuff. Of course, first thing’s first. I had to eat. I had some tasty bacon-wrapped mushrooms with Gouda to start my day and then wandered into the butterfly enclosure.

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I had a butterfly mustache!

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After putting some nectar on my nose, I got the butterfly to land there. Honestly, something about it freaked me out and I just wanted it get off.

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I didn’t mind one being on my head though.

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I also checked out the farming area. The Brussels sprouts looked and smelled to tasty! I love them.

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This sign taught me how to wash my hands. Good thing it was there. I always thought I was supposed to rinse with soap, not water.

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gem’s family called me White Leghorn (not to me though). I had to get a picture with the sign.

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Then I rode my trusty steed away!

I checked out the visual arts next, which is usually one of my favorite parts. It must be pretty cool to have something shown there I’d think. I looked at the photographs, paintings, crafts, woodworking, and place settings. I’m not surprised that I like most of those, but it does seem a little strange that the place settings are interesting to me.

In the middle of looking at these competitions, I stopped for more food! I had fried zucchini topped with nacho cheese, jalapeños, and bacon! It was okay, but I wish the portions were much smaller. I also tried fried avocado dipped in ranch. That was pretty tasty actually!

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The rabbits were adorable of course. This little guy was munching with his paws in his bowl, so I mimicked him.

After the animals, it was time to look at the collections. I looked at everything and read the descriptions as well. On my way out, the man who worked there stopped me to comment on how I looked at everything and suggested that I enter next year. We talked about collections for a few minutes. He collects martini glasses!

On my way out of the fair, I saw more animals. Lots of animals. I couldn’t leave without going in the petting zoo. One pig looked pregnant – but no, just fat.

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Unrelated to the fair, my odometer hit 33,333. That was kind of interesting.

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And then I had pizza for dinner! (Don’t say it, Anela.)

My 27th birthday

Yesterday was my 27th birthday, and it was a fine one at that. It had been cold lately, but the 27th was nice and warm. It was nice to really feel the sun’s warmth sink into my skin when I went for a walk. It was the first time in a while that I didn’t need a jacket.

My birth-minute is 1:27 on 2/27, so I spoke to gem on the phone at that time. After work we went to Polly’s Pies. Because we’ve been watching Pushing Daisies, which often takes place at a pie restaurant called the Pie Hole, I had been craving pie. We split a slice of apple pie with ice cream and cherry pie. Both were delicious! We brought a slice of peach pie home too for another night.

At home I took a shower, and that’s when festivities took a slight detour. The shower was clogged. Once that was settled, it was time for part two of the amazing pie night – pizza pie! We headed to Gina’s Pizza, my favorite pizza joint, for a chicken, meatball, roasted pepper, jalepeño, and pineapple pizza! It was delicious.

gem got me a gift too. She bought me a box of peanut butter chocolate protein bars and a box of assorted protein bars! It’s kind of sad that this excited me, but it did. There are even a couple flavors in there that I haven’t tried yet, chocolate chip and peanut butter crunch.

It was a very nice birthday.