Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Enter: October

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Enter: October

Sunday – 01 October 2017
And, so, we come to Birthday Month…

So far, it’s been pretty good. Chilly, but good. Of course, any month that starts off with sleeping in can’t be all bad.

Today was a low-key, mostly spent-at-home kind of day. After the hullaballoo of last week, it wasn’t a terrible change of pace. Of course, being at home meant that (some) chores had to be tackled. Some were. The world didn’t stop spinning. This afternoon, Team DiVa and I jetted off to the mall for an errand (for me) and some walking around looking at things time (for the three of us) and a little play time at The LEGO Store (for them… mostly). All missions were accomplished nicely. The evening has been pretty quiet. I consider that a good way to end the day and start the week.

Stray Toasters

  • Earlier, I posted my first-ever submission for Inktober. I haven’t really drawn anything in months and haven’t seriously drawn anything in years. This should be fun.
  • Last night, we had our final session of the Shadowrun adventure my group’s been playing. The whole team survived; that’s a good thing. (For them.) I’d been co-GMing our group with my friend, Josh. He’s bowing out of running things and it seems that I’m going to be GMing the whole shebang from here on out. May the deity of my players’ choices have mercy on their souls…
  • I completely spaced off a few things in my recap of Salt Lake Comic Con ’17:
    • I got to meet Michael Stackpole and have him autograph a book I’ve had for many years.
    • I also met Yale Stewart, writer and author of JL8, a webcomic based on the Justice League… as grade-schoolers.
  • I know it’s probably going to get nerfed, but I love what the latest Overwatch update has done for Mercy (my main).
  • Two or so months ago, I discovered a new-to-me webcomic: Star Power. I’ve quite enjoyed it.
  • I’m still rather amused by how Team DiVa has taken to DuckTales – both the old and new series.
    • I think that we’re only a few episodes away from seeing my favorite Duckberg denizen: GizmoDuck!

Okay, time for  a snack and a little gaming before bed.

Namaste.

“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid…”

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"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid..."

Monday – 18 September 2017
In alignment with my rationale for #NBNThursday, today has most definitely been “a Monday.” That’s okay, this too shall pass. OK Go said so.

See? Told ya so.

Today started far too early. 5:15 AM early. I was in the office at 6:15. Much respect to those of you who are up, out, and making the doughnuts that early every day. The reason for such an early start was to handle last-minute prep for a week of meetings. In itself, that’s not so bad. It became “not-so-great” on Friday evening when – long after the day had been “done” – I was notified that said meetings were going to start at 10 AM, rather than the 2 PM we had originally been told. In short, our timeline for handling things just had four hours lopped off the top. As there was nothing to be done about it, I simply replied with “We can only do what we can do.” And then, I proceeded to enjoy my weekend.

“Enjoying my weekend” included, but was not limited to:

  • Judging a game tournament.
  • Watching the new DuckTales cartoon (and Star Wars: Rebels and Care Bears) with Team DiVa.
  • Going to the State Fair
  • Playing too few video games.

Fast forward (or would it be “rewind,” in this case) to this morning. We got the prep work out of the way for the influx of meeting participants with time to spare. Yes, there were a couple of glitches, but on the whole, we were done and life was good.

A few minutes after the presenters got started setting up for the day, we were informed that they were changing the configuration of one of the meeting rooms. Okay, fine. Whatever. Then we were informed “why” they were doing it: In the original configuration, only one of the projectors in that room was activated. That was news to me, but it didn’t preclude them from making the room work. As this news was being relayed, a coworker started laughing to himself. Naturally, I asked why. He proceeded to tell us that he knew of this idiosyncrasy.

I’ll pause here to note that he was here last week when we were setting up the room, but said nothing about it.

::: braincramp :::

Mischief managed. And external ire restrained.

The morning wore in afternoon with out much further ado. Thankfully.

And then, I saw this article: Toys ‘R’ Us could file for bankruptcy this week.

I was struck with a sense of nostalgic sadness. One of the first things that went through my mind upon reading the article was the childhood glee of trips to the TRU in Catonsville with either my mother or father. We may not have gone weekly , but there were definitely a lot of trips there. For me, those were the days of The Adventure People, Micronauts, and electric trains (mostly Tyco, when you could buy a decent train set – or just pieces – at your local toy purveyor). I remember asking my father to drive down “the roller coaster road,” a hilly back road ending at the Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot, which – if you went just fast enough – would send rollercoaster-like butterflies into the pit of your stomach. I remember wandering the aisles of the store, while my mother shopped at a clothing store next door. Hell, I still remember the 1970s commercial jingle – the long version.

Roughly a year ago, there were three (3) TRU locations in the Salt Lake Valley. One closed last November, the other closed a few months ago. The lone remaining store is down the street from my house. Yes, I still go there, but it’s not just for me, these days. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed the quantity of some toy lines diminishing, while others have… not-exactly “flourished,” but at least survived. But it hasn’t felt like the same store that I used to visit as a kid for a long time. I’m sure that a fair portion of that is attributable to having gotten older.

There was no mention plans for the chain to close in the article, but like so many things, perhaps its time is nearing an end.

My inner kid still hopes that’s a long way off, though.

G+ Test 3

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G+ Test 2

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G+ Test 2

Still nothing to see here…

G+ Test

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Nothing to see here…

Vent II: The Wrath of Rob

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Saturday – 02 September 2017
Today started off with sleeping in. Until after 9:00 AM. (Those of you with kids understand what this means. Those without, just nod, smile and move on.)

Team DiVa’s fall session of ballet classes started today; they have advanced to “Elementary” from “Beginner.” They were also excited about their new uniforms. (BONUS!) Their teachers is one of the BW dancers, who recognized Sara immediately, when we dropped the ladies off at class this morning.

After their class was done, Sara and the ladies dropped me off at the comic shop, so that I could judge today’s HeroClix tournament. We had a great turnout and there were some good matches. Sealed events – buy boxes of figures and make a team out of what you get – can be kind of a crap shoot, so I was pleased that there were good matches in each round.

Next, a trip to the nearby pet store. Team DiVa has declared their wish for fish for their birthday. This was a part expeditionary run/part “We want to show Daddy pets in a/the store, since he didn’t see them the other day when we went” trip. We were successful on both counts. WIN!

A little while ago, we went to Home-Away-From-Home Depot to purchase a new dishwasher. Yay, home ownership! The one we have is on its last legs and has probably been one foot in the grave, one foot on a banana peel for the past year or two. Mission accomplished.

Okay, hold up a minute. Wasn’t the title of this post something about “Vent” and “Wrath?” So far, this seems to be… rather… well, mild. And nothing really worth getting upset over.

Which brings us to…

On the way home from Home Depot, there is an alternate route we occasionally take, which cuts through another neighborhood near us. We took that route today. Driving down the street, we saw a little kid – three-ish, MAYBE – on a balance bike. Standing at the studded corner of an intersection. Alone.

Kid.
Corner.
Bike.
Intersection
Alone.

I’m going to give those a moment sink in.

Back?  Okay, buckle up. This is not going to be pretty nor easy to read. Sorry.

We pulled over and I got out to talk with the little boy. He pointed across the intersection – across the busier, non-residential street – to the dog (not on a leash) that had run across it. I asked if it was his dog. He just pointed and said “Dog!” I looked back down the residential street and saw a man and another small kid on a bike, two or three houses away. I yelled down and asked if this was his kid on the bike, he acknowledged that it was and started walking in our direction. About the same time, a gentleman came out of the house on the corner and started walking towards me, mostly just assessing the situation unfolding outside his house, which is totally understandable.

The man and Kid 2 got a little closer. I knelt down and pointed towards them, telling Kid 1 (at the corner, but a little farther from it now), ” There’s your dad,” hoping that he would telepathically pick up on the “Don’t play near the street, go back to your dad” vibe I was projecting.

There was a gentleman in a car, approaching the intersection from the residential street, who looked out his window and said, “Thank you” to me. I just nodded and continued to point the little boy to his father.

At the same time, the dog decided to run across the road.

I missed the initial hit, but turned when I heard it, in time to see the back wheels… you know.

Not going to lie: I recoiled.

I looked at the dog, lying in the street. Then, my initial thought was to keep the kid from looking into the street, as I was beginning to suspect that it was the family pet.

The father and Kid 2 drew nearer and I asked if it was their dog. He asked “Black and white,” and there was no further doubt about it: Family dog.  He looked past me and just repeated, “Oh, no…” He walked out into the street and picked up the dog’s body… as Kid 2 started back to the corner to follow him. I shouted at the kid to “…come back this way.” The father, returning to the corner, started yelling at the kids about how he told them to stay in the driveway and not go down the street.

Issue #1: These kids were three-ish/four-ish. Who the Hell lets a kid that young just wander off – let alone on a bike – to the busy intersection?!

As if that wasn’t enough, he started blaming the kids for the dog not only getting hit, but dying. There was really no way to misinterpret his words on that one, especially when the phrase “…is why the dog is dead” was used.

Issue 2: Are you kidding me?!  Blaming the kid for the dog getting hit?! A kid whose sense of self-preservation is undeveloped. A kid who doesn’t know that his dog is going to follow him, wander around – even across a street – then realize, “Oh, hey! My human is over there! I should go there!” How about you keep track of your kid and make sure that he’s safe. While you’re at it, you might want to keep an eye on your dog, too. Just saying.

Once the father and two boys walked down the sidewalk a little way, the owner of the house on the corner approached me and noted that the kids were often up near this end of the street/intersection and just walked away, shaking his head.

::: DEEP BREATH :::

Sometimes, I feel that I might be a little overprotective of Team DiVa. Years ago, we made sure that they knew just how far down our driveway they are allowed to go. (This rule has changed slightly in the past two years, but when we ask the girls, they know what their limit is.) We have emphasized the importance of staying with or near an adult with approaching a crosswalk. We have set and maintained rules about walking in parking lots, whether busy or not.

After seeing this situation unfold, I think that Sara and I are doing just fine.

I don’t like playing “The Balance Game,” but while I’m sad that the dog (needlessly) lost its life, I’m ecstatic that it wasn’t the little boy on the bike.

tl;dr – I saw a dog get hit by a car this afternoon.

Vent

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Wednesday – 30 August 2017
Of all the things I had considered posting as a return to this blog, this wasn’t one of them. But, it also wouldn’t fit within Twitter’s constraints… so here we are.

I was notified of a possible system problem this morning. Oh, hey, #LifeInIT. Got it. I contacted people to get more information and feedback, got to the office, dealt with it, had a couple of follow-up meetings and emails. And life was good again.

About 30 minutes after we’d resolved the issue, I got an email from a user. They noted that they were having issues connecting to one of the affected servers. I contacted the user directly and explained what had happened and that their should also have been resolved. User checks… confirms…. and moves on. And life was good yet again.

>> Fast forward TWO HOURS >>

An email arrives from users manager. Um, okay. In rather terse terms, I – along with my not-completely-former boss and HIS boss – and a few other IT staff were informed just how crucial it was that we resolve the problem quickly – did I mention that this was TWO HOURS LATER – because it was affecting important work.  Uh… pretty much all of the work here is important as, if it’s not done, we don’t make product. And if we don’t make product, we don’t get paid. Funny how that all goes together, isn’t it?! And, as if that email wasn’t enough, said manager sent a separate copy to me.

::: braincramp :::

 

It took three or four drafts for me to compose a reply that would not be considered “career-limiting.” But, I did. I made a point of noting that the original issue had been resolved before I got the user’s email and that we had already discussed it. I even added that if anyone was still experiencing similar problems, that they should contact me directly. And replied to all. I even copied my not-completely-new boss, just for good measure. Because I’m that guy.

Less than one minute later, I get a reply from user’s manager, thanking me for the prompt response.

*grblsnrkx*

It’s a bloody good thing that today isn’t Thursday.

tl;dr – I am Jack’s raging bile duct.

Independence Day 2017

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Independence Day 2017

Tuesday – 04 July 2016
Today is Independence Day.

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable holiday.

Once again, Sara and I decided to go the “find a hotel overlooking a fireworks display” route. She tracked down a few potential locations last week and came up with a winner in North Salt Lake – which, for those of you not in Salt Lake City isn’t simply “the northern part of Salt Lake City;” it’s its own independent city. Go figure.

We picked up the ladies from summer daycare yesterday and we were off…

We went to Bountiful Greek Cafe for dinner (site of an EPIC meltdown on the part of one of the ladies) and then to Bahama Buck’s for sno cone desserts.

 

Then it was off to the hotel… which was just down the street. We got to the room and Sara surprised the girls by announcing that we were going swimming. (There were a couple of stunned little faces who thought the idea of swimming was good… but didn’t know what they would swim in, as they didn’t know that Sara had packed their swimsuits.) Off to the pool!

I’m sorry. That should have read “pool… and James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub.” From there, it was back to the room to get the girls cleaned up and mostly ready for bed. An hour or so later, the fireworks display started; this year’s fireworks were over a golf course in North Salt Lake and we had a great view. The show lasted about 30 minutes and was better than Sara and I had anticipated.

This morning, we got up – “a bit” earlier than Sara and I had hoped – got ready, checked out, and went breakfast at a nearby IHoP. After breakfast, we dropped in on Sara’s parents for a few, to say “Goodbye” to Sara’s sister, Melissa, who was in town for the weekend. We followed that up with a trip to a park near our house, so the girls could teach us how to play “Double Dots,” a game they’ve been raving about for the past week or so. They did. (Sara and I won. Surprise!) The girls played a bit more before it was time to come home and have lunch and some quiet time. We also celebrated our freedom to make a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden in the late afternoon. We wrapped up the day with some grilling, a DC Superhero Girls movie, and sparklers.

All told, it was a great way to spend a family holiday.

Father’s Day: Coda

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Sunday – 18 June 2017
Today has been a great day.

Sara and Team DiVa let me sleep in this morning. Since I was gone – and on the go – all last week, this was a boon. DiVa wanted to give me breakfast in bed, but Sara prepared French Toast and I’m not so sure that would have been such a great idea. So, we all ate at the table. The ladies presented me with cards and a gift bag. In the bag:

Superhero-themed Father’s Day swag: Superman t-shirt, Guardians of the Galaxy boxer-briefs, DC Super Hero LEGO, Reese’s Minis, and a hand-painted picture from Team DiVa

They know me so well.  🙂

After breakfast, Team DiVa came up with all sorts of suggestions… of things they wanted to do today. Sara reminded them that today was Father’s Day and that I got to choose what our adventure would be. To be honest, I didn’t really have an agenda for the day, so I was happy to do something they wanted. Thus, we wound up at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. On the way, we stopped off to wish Sara’s father a Happy Father’s Day and give him his gift and card. Then we were off.

The zoo has a new exhibit called “Bugzilla,” comprised of large – giant, really – animated insect statues.

There be bugs here…

 

 

Team DiVa and me… and an elephant statue.

 

On the Hogle Zoo Train… because TRAIN! 😀

 

Selfie with Sara!

 

After we returned home, the little ladies played Disney Infinity while I read last week’s comics. Then it was time for dinner – Butter Chicken Curry! – and baths for the little ones. They followed that up with an episode of Super Hero Squad and then they were off to bed. Sara asked what I was planning for the rest of the evening, before noting that I could wind up my day with a cigar and a cocktail… and that’s exactly what I did.

It was the perfect way to end an excellent day.

Selah.

Happy birthday, Kristen!

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Saturday – 10 June 2017
Today is my youngest sister’s birthday. She’s kind of a big deal, too.

 

I’m very proud of the woman she’s grown to be. A great daughter, wife, and mother and an amazing sister. I hope that she has the most fantastic of birthdays and that her day is full of the people and things that make her smile.

 

Happy birthday, Mom!

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Wednesday – 07 June 2017
It’s my mother’s birthday.  She’s kind of a big deal.  🙂

I spoke with her this morning, but would like to wish her the best of all possible birthdays (again!) and hope that she takes advantage of the opportunity to do – or not do – whatever she wishes today!

Love you!

Love you!

Coffee! STAT!

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Wednesday – 31 May 2017
I’ve gone on the record – many times over – saying, “I love my kids.” And, it’s true. Parenthood has been… an interesting experience, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What I would like to trade, however, is the lack-of-sleep that Team DiVa occasionally affords me.

Case in point: Last night…

I got into bed about midnight (early night for me…).  I read and chatted for a little bit before I realized that I’d been doing a lot of extended inner-eyelid studies. So, I decided that it was time to call it a night and go explore The Dreaming.

And that’s just what I did.

Less than an hour into sleep, I woke up because I felt a weight on the bed, by my legs. I turned to find a kinder-form sitting on the bed. Staring at me. Too groggy to do much more than grunt, I motioned for her to come up and get under the covers. She did. A few minutes later, she was ready to head back to her room. She asked if I would carry her back to her bed; I told her that she could walk. (C’mon… I was all snug and comfy in bed.) She climbed down and ambled back to her room. I fell back asleep.

Some indeterminate amount of time later, weight on the bed. Again.

This time, there was a bad dream involved:

“Can your body parts fall off?  Like your crotch and your bum… can they fall off?”

“No.”

“Oh.” *crawls under the covers and falls asleep*

At this point, I was relegated from the comfort of half a queen bed… to approximately one-sixth. For the rest of the morning.

Let me clarify a few things: I love getting cuddles from my kids and welcome them whenever they are given… especially since I know that in a few years, there is a better than average chance that they won’t be nearly as freely given. On the flip side, I like my sleep. I don’t usually need a lot of it, but I do like it.

But, there I was: Doing the delicate balancing act of not falling off the bed and not squishing my kid.

Oh, and not sleeping well.

Thus, I’m here at my desk… mainlining my coffee, wishing that I could just configure it into an IV drip.

But, it was totally worth it for a kid who slept soundly and at peace.

Namaste.

Midweek: Mother’s Day and Other Things

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Midweek: Mother's Day and Other Things

Wednesday – 17 May 2017
Stuff and Things.

This past weekend was… busy. But also awesome. Saturday saw the usual ballet and swim morning routine. I missed the swim portion, as I was judging a game tournament. Then there was a little break – filled by running a couple of errands. Next, early dinner and dropping Team DiVa off at their grandparents’ house, so that Sara and I could see Utah Opera’s Don Giovanni. Again. (We saw the final dress rehearsal, with the little ladies, but went back Saturday for opening night.) I enjoyed the production. They updated the sets and costumes to place it in a noir setting. This changed a couple of scenes, but worked for me on the whole.

Sunday, was Mother’s Day.  Sara had been wanting to go to Spiral Jetty for a while and Golden Spike National Historic Site is just a (long) hop, skip, and a jump from there. Thus, we were up early to pick up DiVa and meet friends at Golden Spike and Spiral Jetty. The first time we went to Golden Spike, the locomotives were in the Engine House for the season; that was not the case this time. We arrived just before the Jupiter made its appearance.

About half an hour later, No. 119 rolled up.

The presentation that the rangers provided also informed us that the engines were fired differently: Jupiter is wood-fired, while No. 119 is coal-fired. You could also tell this from the way they smelled as they approached – Jupiter smelled like a camp fire, No. 119 smelled like a coal-burning oven.

 

After a while, we made the drive to Spiral Jetty. Fifteen miles. Forty minutes. Over bumpy dirt road. The water level was a little higher this time – still not up to the jetty, but only 20 or so yards away to splash pools and just past that to deeper water.

 

 

 

All in all, it was good weekend.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

End-of-the-week musings

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End-of-the-week musings

Friday – 21 April 2017
Another week comes to an end.
And, apparently, it’s been a month since I dusted off the trusty blog. I really need to get better about this…

In short: It’s been a good – and eventful – month. The highlights of the month include, but are not limited to:

  • Going on a business trip.
  • Surprising my parents by showing up on their doorstep on the first leg of the trip.
  • Meeting some new coworkers on the trip.
  • Getting to visit with my uncle towards the end of the trip.
  • Coming down with some travel-related bug that had me down for almost a week.
  • The start of baseball season and the O’s getting off to a great start. Hopefully, they’ll keep some of this momentum through the season.
  • Meeting a Twitter and Facebook friend.
  • TRAINS!  Well, getting to head up to the train.. museum(?)… and one of my favorite train shops.
  • Traveling to Boise to visit family and friends over Easter.

    Sara, Team DiVa, and Grandmother – Easter 2017

  • Watching Team DiVa hunt for Easter eggs while we were gone and seeing their surprise at discovering that the Easter Bunny had apparently left Easter baskets for them at our home while we were out of town.

I’m sure that I’m leaving more than “a couple” things out, but all-in-all, it really has been a good month.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye.
(Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, not “The Sound of Music”)

Test: 2017-03-22

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Testing…