Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Will the real El Guapo please stand up and take your pinata's home!

I believe it was "Lucky Day" who said "In a way, each of us has an El Guapo to face. For some, shyness might be their El Guapo. For others, a lack of education might be their El Guapo. For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. But as sure as my name is Lucky Day, the people of Santa Poco can conquer their own personal El Guapo, who also happens to be *the actual* El Guapo!"

While I may not be facing the actual El Guapo I can't help but come back to using him symbolicly. If stress was a pinata then I would say that I have been dealing with a plethera and I'm not handling it as best as I could.

Exercise would most likely be a good thing but for two weeks (gasp) I have done nothing. This quite frankly sucks and I need to man up and do something about that.

Can't fully decompress after work because we have other things going on. Such as selling our house. We are moving in April to a new home three miles away. This process began last September and I really thought once our house sold the stress would go down. That has not been the case it seems like we are more busy now with plans, specs and getting organized.

Work OMG work! If my supervisor tells the New York office yes to one more project!!! We are severly understaffed and the guy can't tell the home office no. Yes business has to go forward, but if he would just listen to the four guys working for him it could be so much smoother. I'll say no more as I get quite mad over it.

One other thing I have caught myself doing is having one or two drinks in the evening. Outside of the occasional bottle of premade Margaritas, alcohol is not something I generally do keep in the house. Don't worry I'm not turning into drunkard. But I do think stress is why I have been having those drinks. I came to that realization a couple nights ago and that ends now.

The winter blues have set in bad for me too.

Finally in a bit of did you know triva. Which of the men pictured above is unlikely to show you his badge?

In a film carrer that spanned 30 years, Alfonso Bedoya(D)in the role of "Gold Hat" first spoke the now famous and often repeated line "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges." in the 1948 film "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"

Friday, February 12, 2010


A trip to one of the local antique shops this afternoon was quite interesting. There was plenty of Mickey Mouse stuff to be found...

...but there were also quite a few Donald Duck items too. This lamp would be a bargin at $4.50 except two of the feet have been replaced with corks that were attached with hot glue. Otherwise the rest of it is very clean.

Here and there I spotted a few small random Doanlds.

This Magic Kingdom lunch box was a neat find. It even has the thermos.

Paper dolls. I never really understood paper dolls.

Hey look its an original Big Fig!

These last two items really caught my eye. This Donald puppet is in excellent shape and I very well may return on Saturday to pick him up. I like it because its such a different piece. Something you don't see much of.

Now this TV Tray is from 1961 and it is in very clean shape compared to others I have seen. I actually noticed this piece a couple months ago. It's really been calling to me. After work today I went on Ebay and found many of these items. The prices at the store fall right in line with what Ebay sellers are asking.

One thing you must always remember when visiting an antique store is...

So what would you pay for these Disney items? For the bear?

Has been non existent this week. My drive to get to the gym has been running low while I have been working the late shift. Rather than getting to the gym I have found myself sleeping in. Sure I need the sleep but c'mon already. Guess part of my problem is I am feeling the winter blues. I long for dry sidewalks. I was considering a daytime jog along neighborhood streets this week but scratched that idea when a co-worker slipped outside the office and broke his ankle.

My weight not coming off is bothering me too. With 90 miles post Disney I expected to see some results by now. It also does not help when vendors are in town buying lunch for the office everyday. I have made good and bad choices this week.

My immediate goal is to get back to 27 miles of exercise per week and then once warmer weather melts the frozen tundra, transistion my biking miles into jogging miles.

The October half in Disney is not looking likely at this point but... Our friend Deb who is joining us in January may be doing the Des Moines full again. Although parts of it are quite hilly I am giving it some honest thought. One thing I notice when I consider this though is fear. Fear because back in 08 when I did the Des Moines half I developed my first case of arch problems. This really messed me up prior to Disney 09. So even though I have good arch supports, injuries do haunt my thoughts. Just train, listen to my body and get through it right? Right, I know.

I'm not getting down on myself and I am certainly not beaten. Just being honest about my feelings and concerns.

Besides, like Sting says "Tomorrow is a Brand New Day."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trip Dining Reviews

Rather than providing a complete play by play of rest of this past January’s trip I am just going to write up a few highlights and reviews. Today I will focus on restaurants including one dining experience that had me frustrated but evening itself ended with a magical moment.

Yak & Yeti: 1st Visit

Dim Sum Basket - Pork pot stickers, shrimp siu mai, cha su bao, and pork sie mai steamed on a banana leaf, soy lime dipping sauce
Tempura Shrimp - chili plum sauce, coconut-ginger rice, stir fried vegetables.

Food: Excellent.

Service: Excellent.

Value: Compared to other Disney restaurants I would have to say this dining choice (which is owed by Rain Forest Café) is a bit over priced. Did not accept Tables in Wonderland but did give a 10% Annual Pass holder Discount.

Would return? Yes

Mama Melrose: 1st Visit

Oven Baked Chicken alla Parmesan over spaghetti

Food: Average

Service: Fair. Waitress gave the impression she was slightly hassled. Unwilling to divide bill into separate tickets on the Tables in Wonderland card. She simply said have others pay you back cash for their portion of the bill. This approach to billing flew in the face of last year’s experience when Rae used her Tables card at Chrystal Palace. At that dinner the waitress rang up our separate bills and then applied Rae’s Tables discount to each ticket. The impression I had at Mama’s was the waitress could have done the same but she did not want to mess with it.

Value: Good serving portion for the money paid.

Would return? Would try other studio offerings such as Brown Derby before a return visit.

LeCellier: 2nd Visit

Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup
Le Cellier Mushroom Filet Mignon - with wild mushroom risotto, white truffle and herb butter sauce

Food: Excellent

Service: Excellent

Value: A bit pricey at dinner but the simply put the steak and cheese soup cannot be beat. The same entrée at lunch runs $10 dollars cheaper.

Would Return? Yes, Yes and Yes.

Ohana’s: 2nd Visit

All you can eat dinner.

Food: Good

Service: We were seated at 8:00pm for a 6:40pm reservation. The restaurant staff was clearly overwhelmed on the night of our visit. Many patrons were delayed in being seated. The problem (which I did not yet realize) was that water damage from the roof had collapsed the ceiling over a good sized portion of the dining room.

How could Ohana’s have handled the delays better? Well for one thing they could have told guests of the damaged dining room when they checked in. This might have cooled some tempers. Another thing that Disney could have done (and this depends upon when the damage occurred) is to call the guests who had ADRS. I know that Disney had my cell number on file and it would not be much of a leap to believe that Disney could have done some type of automatic call to notify guests.

Around 7:40 we were paged to be seated but our party of ten was led to a table for five. Once again we had to wait. By now I had learned about the ceiling issues and we now had a hostess working to get us seated before “Wishes” started at 8:00. Seeing “Wishes” as an end of the marathon events had been a big deal to me. “Wishes” started right as we sat down. Ohana’s was slow to bring up the music and they did not dim the lights as I had expected them to do. But I have to admit that after all my concerns about being seated in time it really did not matter. Sitting down to dinner with friends and enjoying each other’s company was the true highlight of the evening.

The service itself was excellent. The head chef came out to visit with Rae to discuss her food allergies and they even prepared her a special dessert. This was very impressive.

We used the Tables card here but they handled it different. This time they presented us with two bills and applied our separate payments. The second billed was covered under Justin’s Tables card.

Value: The food never stops coming. My wife and I dined here in 2007 and for two people the food was far too much. This dining experience is better suited to a large group. We had 10 at our table and this worked out very well.

A Silver Lining to the evening:

I would be remiss if I did not give a special mention to Deb. Deb provided the calm voice of reason during the pre dinner mess. She has a wonderful positive attitude and I greatly appreciated it.

After dinner Justin and Krystal stayed back at Poly while the rest of us went to the Magic Kingdom for the remainder of that evening’s Extra Magic hours. About 40 minutes into the park Rae, Eric, and Aaron were ready to call an end to their very long day. We said our goodbyes, unsure if we would see Rae’s family the next day or not. Next Deb, Mike, Amanda, Mom and I walked over and rode Peter Pan and then we headed over to the Haunted Mansion.

Rae, if you have not heard about this yet I’m sorry to tell you that you missed a magical moment. As our group left the stretching room, the “Chamber Maid” called the five of us back for a private tour of the mansion. She quickly lead us out the side door and back in through the “servants’ quarters.” Once in the “servants’ quarters” she began to tells us various facts and showed us the mansion keys and the various bells used to summon the Maids and Butlers. Next she led us back into the fire place room to the portrait of Master Gracey. She explained that following the Haunted Mansion movie the portrait was no longer to be referred to as Master Gracey. The idea is they do not want to tie this mansion in with the film.

Next she took our group into the stretching room and she supplied some more trivia and even quizzed us. Did you know that there are several hidden references to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” We were told that you would have to have a flashlight to find them. Also there is only 1 official hidden Mickey. It’s in the grave yard just before you turn to see the hitch hiking ghosts. There is a ghost staring out from a crypt. In his lantern is the official hidden Mickey.

After the trivia we were asked to be very quiet in order to hear everything that the gargoyles said. This was really cool because you did not have a noisy group shuffling out the door. We were shown a hidden panel in the wall that the cast members access to control the door. Before we set of for our doom buggies there was one more surprise. We got to stay in the stretching room and watch the portraits shrink as the room reset. This was a nice magical moment and as we left the Mansion and were walking by the Castle Deb said “See if dinner had not been delayed we would have missed that. There’s always a silver lining” She was absolutely right.

We all stopped in City Hall in order for Mike to leave a compliment for our “Chamber Maid” on a job well done. I knew that sometimes people wrote in with compliments but I had never thought about going to guest services and leaving a compliment in person. The next day we were back in MK and I left a compliment for “James” over at The Hall of Presidents” James was a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He engaged each guest and asked where they were from and then he would speak at length about interesting and relevant facts.

Kona: 1st Visit

Tonga Toast

Food: Good

Service: Excellent. Our server handled the Tables card as expected and presented each of us with our own discounted bill.

Value: Good

Would return? Yes, but would probably order something other than Tonga Toast.

Coral Reef: 1st Visit

Creamy Lobster Soup.
Grilled Mahi Mahi - topped with a spicy pineapple chutney over cashew-jasmine rice finished with a coconut rum beurre blanc

Food: Excellent

Service: Excellent

Value: Very good.

Would return? Yes. A new food favorite right after LeCellier.

Bay Lake Tower, Top of the World Lounge: 1st Visit

Beef Tenderloin Flatbread - with goat cheese, aged balsamic, and onion jam
Habanero Margarita.

Food: Very good

Service: Excellent

Value: Good

Would return? Yes

La Cava: Visited Twice during this trip.

LaCava & Classic Margarita. Nachos with Salsa
Margarita Flight (five salted rimmed shot glass samples of Margaritas)

Food: The house salsa was both tasty and spicy. Only $3.50

Service: Very good

Value: Good

Would return? Absolutely, but would not order the flight again or any of the margs on it.(Cucumber, Jalapeño, Guacamole, A fruity one and one I can’t describe)LaCava is quite small. During our first evening visit we could not find a seat. Our second visit was in the mid afternoon and we had no trouble getting table.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Have fun on your run. Get Mashed.

For the longest time I have been looking for a way to add music to this blog and today I finally discovered how through the use of the Yahoo Media Player. Yay!

I have never been a fan of "sampling" which seems somewhat ironic when you consider that I do enjoy listening to Mash-Ups. There are a number of sites that you can find music at. One such site is the "Bootie Blog" Every month Adrian & the Mysterious D post a top ten list of their favorite mash-ups from a variety of DJs and they even posts their own work as well.

The reason I like mash-ups is that they can make for a fun distraction when exercising. Often the beat of many songs really helps to push me along.
Not every mash-up is fast paced there are a number of great slow mixes to be found as well. I have posted a few of my recent favorites at the top of this blog.

BTW: Booked BLT for 1/5/11 thru 1/11/11. We will be traveling with our friends Deb and Stacy. Deb is interested in doing one of the Disney races. She has completed the Des Moines marathon twice as a fast walker under the 16:00 pace required by Disney. Now I face a choice of which run to pick. I enjoy Donald but having that extra drive to grab a Mickey might be to quote Mickey "Just Swell!"

Goofy? I can not get my head around that idea at the moment. For now I am going to stay on track with my existing goals while keeping an eye on how fast the 2011 registrations fill up.

See you in January for sure. Still considering October.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

John Pinette on diet and exercise.

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brief Post

Promise another trip report is coming. Need to get to work so this will be short. Consistancy in exercise is still good (60 plus miles post Disney) but I continue to make poor food choices out of boredom and stress. I have decided to place a "Sabotage" list in the right hand column of this blog. Perhaps facing this and staying honest will help me stay on track.