Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Saturday.. Saturday.. Saturday Night’s Alright!”

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Saturday – 30 December 2006
Thus far, it’s been a quiet day.  Well, relatively quiet.  I’ve been playing Battlefield 2142.  So, there’s been some obligatory swearing mixed in with the game sounds.  But, it was fun.  I had been playing for a little while when I got an in-game message from , so I hopped servers to join him.

Bird’s-eye View from The Aerie
I made a side trip to Paragon City last night.  Indigo Bolt, after a week’s vacation, had to make an appearance.  I joined a Hamidon (1, 2) raid team; I think that were roughly 90 people involved.  And there was a lot of dying involved too, unfortunately.  But, the raid was successful.

Post-Clitorati, Corvus Nox winged ran his way through the crime-ridden streets of the city and left his mark.  I need to get him to Security Level 14 so he can actually fly; this running everywhere crap is for the… um… birds.  (There.  I said it.)
Stray Toasters

  • First things first: I saw the new Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer trailer Friday afternoon.  Wow.  It did what a teaser trailer is supposed to do: It piqued my curiosity and left me wanting to see the movie.  It’s only one scene (a very long look at the scene…), but as a comic book fan, it was well-executed and it was done “right.”  It’s going to be a long seven-month wait.
  • Top Ten Apple Rumours of All Time
  • One of our test engineers found this video on YouTube: The Evolution of Dance.  Comedy.  Pure comedy.
  • Okay, this is a little surreal: I am looking at a preview of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #27 (which was delayed because of the holiday and the storm in Denver *GAH*)… and the theme from Superman: the Movie starts playing on my iPod.

    , you will want to check this out… assuming that you haven’t already.  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)  Good stuff.

  • Casting call?  For a Green Lantern series…?  Starring John Stewart?  Color me curious.  I mean “green.”  Color me green.
  • Former Denver Bronco and Baltimore Raven Shannon Sharpe and the Press Conference Meltdown of the Year.  Shannon has always been an entertaining figure – on and off the field – even going so far as to parody Eminem’s Without Me during a Ravens-Broncos Monday Night Football meeting in 2002.   This had me cracking up.
  • Watch his every move
    Orchestrate illusions

Okay… time to find some trouble to get into, namely: Lunch, coffee and a trip to Target and Best Buy.


“One down, one to go…”

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Friday – 29 December 2006
“…another town, one more show.”
Yesterday was far from “bad,” as first days after vacation go. I think that knowing that it was a very short work week helped, though. But, there weren’t any speed bumps, nor were there any monkey issues.

I should get out of here and polish off the last work day of 2006.

And coffee. I should get coffee, too.


Afternoon Groove Break

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I have had The Crüxshadows’ Carnival running through my head for a while now.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I attribute it to the influence of .

“And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time till touchdown brings me ’round again to find…”

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Wednesday – 27 Decemeber 2006 (…as it bleeds into Thursday morning)
I am back in Utah.

I had a wonderful time with my family and friends.  I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with my family today – again, the “real world” reared it’s ugly head – but I did get to spend some time with them.  I was a bit irritable – I had to drive myself to Charlotte and my goodbyes to them were almost three hours before I left – but, as they say: All good things must come to an end.
I wish that I could say that the drive to the airport was uneventful.  It wasn’t.  About thirty-five to forty miles north of Charlotte, I got caught in construction traffic.  Between exits.  I lost about fifteen minutes trying to get to the next exit.  Then, I got off the highway and drove through Spencer and Salisbury in an attempt to bypass the traffic jam.  It worked.  I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

A few things struck me on the flights back.  I guess that they could technically be ‘Toasters, but I won’t tag them as such.  This time.

  1. I flew on Northwest Airlines.  Their logo just says “nwa” and is plastered over everything.  That’s all well and good… but I am Ivory Soap sure that 15 – 20 years ago, that would have never happened.  Call it a hunch, but I doubt that they’d want to be associated with “the other NWA.”  But, the thought amused me quite a bit.
  2. Don: I discovered a variant of the “Go – No Go” game  while waiting for my flight out of Minneapolis into SLC: The Mo-No Mo game.
  3. Until the past few years, I never really “got” what my uncle meant when he used to talk about being so far from home (when he lived in Anchorage).  I always thought “It’s not that bad.  You can just hop on a plane and be there.”  Which is true… but it’s not the same.  I may be slow on the uptake, but I get there eventually.
  4. Learning to Fly, the Pink Floyd version, played on the iPod on the way back from Minneapolis.  It sparked a line of thought about flying, literal and metaphorical.
  5. As we got nearer to SLC, the cloud cover got more dense, until there was a blanket of clouds below us.  It reminded me of the Can You Read My Mind portion of Superman: the Movie.
  6. I had a window seat, over the wing, from Minneapolis to Salt Lake.  When I looked out the window at the engine and the wing, I thought about The Twilight Zone episode (and the Twilight Zone: The Movie movie vignette) “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”  And the 3rd Rock from the Sun parody of it, too.  There were no gremlins on the wing, though.  Nor were William Shatner or John Lithgow on my flight.

Okay.  To bed.


“Get up offa that thing…!”

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Tuesday – 26 December 2006
The hours tick away and will soon bring an end to my winter excursion. It’s been a good vacation – good (and needed) time out of Utah. It has been great to see family and friends again, but “the real world” beckons. Tomorrow afternoon, I board a plane to chase the sun; tomorrow night, I will step off of a plane in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain. (Maybe matchbox twenty was on to something when they said “I wish the real world would just stop hassling me…”)

Christmas was good. My folks and I slept in a little and then opened presents. Correction: Most of our presents – we decided to wait until my uncle got in to open our gifts from him, so that he could open our gifts at the same time. Kris and I went to PTIA to pick him up and brought him home. By the time we got back, company had arrived for dinner – we had nine people join us for dinner. The meal was, as usual, very good.

We – the fam-unit, a couple of friends of the family and one of Mom’s former students – went to see The Pursuit of Happyness. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I first saw the trailer for it. It was worth the wait. I’d be highly surprised – and very disappointed – if Will Smith doesn’t get an Oscar nod to go along with his Golden Globe nomination.

Today was pre-travel prep day. Translation: “I washed my dirty clothes and started packing things for tomorrow.” It didn’t take too long. Aside from waiting for the laundry to finish. That took a while. But, it was anticipated. (Anticipa-a-tion… It’s making me wait…) I ran a couple of errands around town with my uncle and then spent a portion of the afternoon hanging out around the house.

Tonight, I went to dinner at Smokey Bones with Christine, Thomas and Don. Good food… and I got to cross it off of my “places to eat while at home” list. So, I batted 1.000 in that respect. It was good to see and spend time with Don & Co…. and Thomas is getting big FAST. And precocious…? Yeah. In spades. And he’s definitely Christine and Don’s kid. After dinner, we headed to Borders (yeah, 2000 miles away and I can’t stay out of that place…) for coffee and books.

After that, I paid a visit to William, Charlie and their kids. The kids are getting big, too – Britney and Josh can almost look me in the eye and Connor’s grown so much in the past six months that I almost didn’t recognize him. (Okay, that’s not entirely true, but he has put on a few inches.) Hanging out here was good, too.

I didn’t quite bat the cycle, as far as seeing people goes, but it’s the holiday season and that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m glad for being able to spend time around those with whom I was able to catch up, though.

Stray Toasters


“Me, I want a hula hoooop!”

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Monday – 25 December 2006
Merry Christmas.

I hope that everyone’s holiday is safe and happy.

“Brown paper packages tied up with strings…”

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Sunday – 24 December 2006
One more day until Christmas.

*bides my time*

Today was good. Got up this morning and went to church with the ‘rents. Then, it was game time. And I don’t mean Ravens-Steelers, either. I mean “Go finish the last of the shopping” time. Hoo-boy. I only had 2 stops that I needed to make. Quick hits. In. Out. Done. Mom, on the other hand… she had “a few” more to make. So we did. It wasn’t as hellish as I had feared that it might be. But, the shopping monkeys were out in force. Fortunately, I was able to find some monkeybane (although it was Starbuck’s… but beggars cannot choosers be). I also managed to hit the local Krispy Kreme for a couple dozen baked confections. Selah.

On the way back from Greensboro, we stopped to place flowers on my great-grandmother’s grave. Someone, or the wind, had knocked over an arrangement on an adjacent grave, so I took a few moments to set them back up. After we made it back from Greensboro, we delivered some presents to one of Mom’s students who might not – although I think it was more like would not – have had a Christmas, to speak of. That was a nice way to cap off the day.

Back home. Kris wasn’t here when we got in; she’d gone foraging in town, but was back shortly after we arrived. Next: we wrapped the last of the gifts. Wahoo. A few people have shown up and the spirits have been flowing. I don’t think that Kris and I will go to Midnight Mass, since my uncle won’t get in until tomorning… but this is a nice way to spend the evening.

Football Update (abridged)
The Ravens beat the Steelers , in Pittsburgh, 31-7. This not only gives us another conference and division win, but it just makes me happy in general.

To those who celebrate/recognize it: Merry Christmas.

To those of you who don’t: Best wishes and good cheer for the holiday season to you.

To all: May you have a safe and happy holiday season.


“What you thought I wouldn’t come again? Leave you hanging without bringing you the fun again?”

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Saturday – 23 December 2006
It’s been a quiet, slow (and fairly boring) day around the homestead.  I hung out with the Matriarch.  We broke out for a while and did some shopping and then went to visit some friends of the family.  We got home relatively early and I contemplated going back out… but found that I had come down with a case of the Lazies.  So, I hunkered down and finished off The Last Command.  And watched Law & Order… and some other shows (including the Met-RX World’s Strongest Man competition).  And surfed the Interweb.
My stepfather, on the other hand, had an interesting day.  Or at least an interesting end of the day:  He was at one of the local malls when shooting broke out.  He was leaving the mall when people started pouring out around him.  He’s fine, but it was a little odd to hear him talk about it when he got home… and then to hear about it on the news a few minutes later.

Stray Toasters

  • There were blue skies (“over Dundalk when I break your heart…”) and honest-to-goodness sunshine in the Triad today.  The temp was in the upper 60s.  It ain’t Tampa, but that’s not a bad Winter day to me.
  • Hardcastle?
  • While looking up some character information on Wikipedia, I decided to check out smooth-talking, malt liquor drinking Cloud City Baron Administrator Lando Calrissian.  Part of the entry included Trivia and Pop Culture References.  The last entry in that section mentioned Pope Lando, “the last Pope to adopt an original name until the election of John Paul I in 1978.”

    Armed with this knowledge, I have decided that when I take over the world and become Pope, I shall be known as Pope Lando Groovalicious.  But I won’t be “Lando Groovalicious I.” Instead, I will be “Lando Groovalicious the Chocolate.”  And all will be right with the world.

  • : I think that this is going to be up your alley: Evil Christmas Carols (Volume 1) – Christmas Carols played in minor keys.
  • :  I’ve got a little somethin’ for you, too: 9 Days of Judgment
  • It has not quite hit the “withdrawals” level, but I am missing Paragon City and the Rogue Isles…. and 2142.  Of course, the system here couldn’t handle either/any of them, so it’s kind of a moot point.  *sigh*
  • McCormick?
  • Evil Christmas Carols (Volume 2)
  • One of the young ladies doing gift wrap in one of the stores we stopped in today was wearing a pink-and-white striped shirt.  She was talking with one of the other store associates and said that she “…looked like a big pink candy cane.”  I laughed at that; she saw me and said, “Well, I do…!”
  • Thrawn caught his eye; and to Pellaeon’s astonishment, the Grand Admiral smiled. “But,” he whispered, “it was so artisically done.”
  • For Nox, and the consort of : Broken Frontier’s look at Warhammer 40,000 #1
  • Chief?


“…to pass the evening with a drink and a friend.”

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Friday – 22 December 2006
Today has been an extremely lazy day. I slept in. I sat around the house (mostly because I didn’t know when my suitcase would arrive). I hung out with the ‘rents for a bit when they got in from work.

This evening, however, I was gone baby, gone. I headed into Greensboro to pay some people a visit. First stop was to visit Theo. Next, a late-night trip to one of the local Steak ‘n’ Shake restaurant for burgers and shakes with Robin and Chad. Both visits were good. Hopefully, I’ll get to catch up with the three of them again before I head west.

Bojangles: Check.
Steak n Shake: Check.
I still want to hit Houlihan’s and O’Brian’s (or the other rib place) before I leave.


“Hey, he said, grab your things I’ve come to take you home…”

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I have luggage once again.

The USAirways courier just dropped it off.


“Get me a ticket for an aeroplane…”

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Thursday – 21 December 2006
Mary, sweet mother of God, have mercy. This day has been long and has include some things that approximate comedies of errors:

  • I did not make it onto my flight this morning.
  • The counter agent rebooked me on a Delta flight – First Class, no less. w00t!
  • I went to stand in a VERY long line to be issued a Delta ticket.
  • I stood in another long line (for security screening).
  • I flew, rather comfortably, to Philadelphia… while watching the pilot to Blade: the Series on my iPod.
  • Discovered that I am not a fan of the Philadelphia International Airport
    1. I arrived at one terminal and had to walk across four other terminals to make my connection.
    2. I had to exit the secure area at my arrival gate to go to the departing terminal… where I got to go through security again.
  • I had my own row on a 767 from Philly to Charlotte.
  • I arrived in Charlotte to discover that my luggage had decided to go sightseeing… without me. This would have been far more irritating if quite a few other passengers hadn’t had the same problem. We were all staring at each other around the baggage carousel – and in the USAirways Baggage Claim Office line – with “What the fuck, mate?!” looks in our eyes.

Despite all of the above, the following stands out: I’m home and things could have been a lot worse.

I’m beat, so that’s all for now.


“I’m going on a big vacation, cause I deserve some fun…”

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Wednesday (coda)
The day proceeded without any major incidents. Today’s lunch restaurant of choice was Yamato. Teriyaki chicken and shrimp tempura. I rounded out the day by cleaning off – and cleaning up – my desk and hutch. Now, I can come back to what I hope will be a still-clean work area.

After work, I dropped off my laundry to the one place that hasn’t let me down in… years. Years, I say! I ran a few errands and came home for some dinner and downtime. Downtime in Paragon City, that is. Corvus Nox added another level to his… whatever it is that heroes add levels to. After that, I headed back out to spread a little holiday cheer and to pick up my newly-cleaned clothes.

Back home to shower, pack and otherwise waste time before bed. So far, I’m batting 1.000 (that’s “batting a thousand,” for the sports jargon impaired).

Tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to the Right Coast for a week. Selah. This is the kind of weather that I will be dealing with. Mm-hmm, that’s right.

Stray Toasters

Time to catch some shut-eye.


Middle-of-the-week Friday Morning

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Wednesday – 20 December 2006
This morning has started off less than stellarly. This isn’t to say that it’s been total ass, but there have been a couple of “glitches” that made me glad that it’s not NBN Thursday:

  1. Taking my laundry to one of the local cleaners only to have the attendant ask “…would you like these back Friday?” *sigh* Um, no… I’m flying out tomorrow. Not an insurmountable problem, just slightly inconvenient.
  2. Spilling part of a frozen mocha. Not a life-threatening problem (depending on point of view), but not “great,” either.

Aside from that, the morning is proceeding apace. The inbound commute was relatively painless. The road monkeys were out in force… and so were the zookeepers: In a one-mile stretch of I-15 Northbound, I saw three vehicles that had been pulled over by Highway Patrol. One mile. I saw the fourth and fifth troopers further down the road.

So far, the workday has been quiet. So far. Let’s hope that it continues in that vein…

Yesterday, was good. We played basketball for our lunchtime workout. Six keyboard jockeys playing half-court basketball. It was fun, but we were all sucking wind about ten minutes into the game. Some of us are pretty fit… when it comes to upper body strength and fitness; lower body and endurance, however, left a bit to be desired. Last night, after sitting around at Chris’ game, I started feeling the effects of the basketball game. This morning… yeah. Ow. I talked with Wes and Vince – both of whom also played- this morning; they’re both sore, too.

I also talked with my uncle last night. His birthday was yesterday. I asked him how his day was and he said something that struck me as rather profound:

Every day is my birthday. Every day that God gives me is a wonderful gift.”

How cool a philosophy is that? We talked for a bit and he told me while that he would be home (at my mother’s, that is) for Christmas, he would not be there for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. Then he told me why: He was asked to be the Lectern fot the mass in his parish. So, he’ll be there for that and catch an early flight on Christmas morning.

And that’s all the news for now. I should probably get back to work… or something that roughly approximates it.


“They say there is strangeness, too dangerous…”

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Tuesday – 19 December 2006
Another work day begins…

Yesterday was a slow day at work.  We had our office-sponsored Christmas dinner… which was followed by an end-of-year speech by our CEO, President and a few other luminaries in the company.  It made me wonder: Why would you feed an office full of workers a meal, featuring turkey (chock full of tryptophan!), and then sit them down for an hour to talk to them?  Oh… and not expect some of them to want to nod off.  That’s the key.  I don’t think that anyone actually nodded off, but I know that I was tempted a couple of times.

Last night was the last D&D night of the year.  We made it to a location to acquire an item and managed to pick up a new NPC party member in the process.  Don’t know how long he’ll stay with us, but he’s damned handy in a fight.  None of our PCs died, which is always a good thing.

Stray Toasters

Time to make like Big Daddy Kane and get the job done.


“Quoth the Raven…”

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Sunday – 17 December 2006
After dealing with the roads last night, I figured that Fuckin’ UDoTâ„¢ would have performed a rectal craniotomy and seen to it that the streets and thoroughfares were sufficiently plowed for Sunday’s faithful to make it to their places of worship in peace (and not in pieces).

I was mistaken, to a degree.

I know this because and I headed down to Utah County to watch the Browns-Ravens game with and . It was slow-going. A trip that would normally take roughly thirty minutes took just shy of an hour. At one point, nearing Point of the Mountain, I was nearly perpendicular in my lane. In traffic. It was lovely.

We made the rest of the trip without (further) incident. We watched the game and hung out with and , who were gracious hosts. makes a delicious German Pancake, by the way.  Thank you, again, to both of them for their kind hospitality.
The trip home was much better: The roads had been nicely plowed and no one attempted to break any land speed records around – or through – us.  We did see a couple of accidents on I-15, both of them between 90th South and 72nd South, but those were the only apparent signs of problems.  We stopped at Hoppers Grill for dinner.  Steak Sandwich and Madame X Stout, with a Colossal O-Ring appetizer.  Can’t go wrong with that combination.

I had considered going out again, but Mother Nature put the kibosh on that as she blanketed the valley once again with her frozen, mocking laughter.  Instead, I grinded through a few more bubbles of Level 47 with Indi.  I need to do the same with Corvus Nox, but I am not sure when I’ll get a chance to do so in the near future.
Football Update

Cleveland at Baltimore
17 – 27
The Dawg Pound came to the Ravens’ roost for another round of a great rivalry match.

The Ravens took them on and sent them back to Cleveland with their tails between their legs.

It was a good game: Solid performances on both sides of the ball by both teams. Good hits. Good tactical decisions by both QBs. Both squads were on their game today. It was fun to watch this game… and not just because Nox and I got to rub it in to about the win, either.

I have to give a lot of credit to Baltimore QB Kyle Boller. He was demoted to backup QB when Steve McNair joined the team this season. My biggest complaint about Kyle in the past was that he, in his first season, didn’t seem “ready” for the step from college into starting QB. For the past couple of seasons, that’s changed… somewhat. He still seemed a little shaky in the first half, but would come out and play well in the second half. Unfortunately, in most cases, it was too late for him to engineer a come-from-behind win. Today, Kyle was on his game from the get-go. Yes, he made a couple of mistakes, but nothing insurmountable. He exhibited all of the qualities that one would expect from an NFL QB.

And with this win, the Ravens not only go to 11-3 on the season…  they clinched a playoff berth.

Stray Toasters