Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Afternoon randomness…

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Afternoon randomness...

After lunch, I went on field trip to try and find a less-dry (and slightly more up-to-date) book to cover one of the things I studying. I went to the Barnes & Noble in Sugar House. It was nearby. It was a good-sized location. What could be better? How about the fact that I probably have a larger selection of technical books in my personal library than this store did? Okay, that’s a gross overstatement, but I was horribly disappointed at the store’s selection. I considered trying another location, but changed my mind and just decided to head back to the office.

As I’m in line, waiting to get out of the parking lot, a white Ford Expedition rolls past me, trying to cut me off. So, I moved up – cutting it off – and looked at the driver with a “What in the Nine Hells do you think you’re doing?!” look on my face. The driver rolled down the passenger window.

Have you ever had one of those moments where, after the fact, you wished that you had just let the stupid things that people do just… go… and move on with your life? This was one of mine.

The driver and passenger looked like they had been working on getting three or more sheets into the wind. She gave me a story about how she was “…so out of gas, so I was just going to cut you off so I can get to a gas station.” I waved her on ahead. I didn’t want any of the backwash of stupidity to splash over on me. *gah* With monkeys like these, who needs pets? And, might I add: The nearest gas station was about 300 yards up the hill. Yeah, waiting that extra seven seconds was going to make her run out of gas. *sigh*

Stray Toasters


“Night creatures call and the dead start to walk in their masquerade…”

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"Night creatures call and the dead start to walk in their masquerade..."

Wednesday – 31 October 2007
Happy Hallowe’en.

I don’t remember the alarm going off this morning… and I left the iPod in the car, so I didn’t have my usual backup. Oh, well. At least it’s the short commute today. The day started nicely, though: a quick message from SaraRules followed, almost immediately, by a brief chat with Mom on AIM. The two conversations called to mind a lyric from Barenaked Ladies’ Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank:

Mother Nature & Mother Earth
Are two of three women who dictate what I’m worth

Weird, but that’s the way I’m wired. Go figure.

Now it’s time to Get Down on It and Ease On Down the Road.


“Who needs sleep? Well, you’re never gonna get it!”

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"Who needs sleep?  Well, you're never gonna get it!"

Tuesday – 30 October 2007
After finally going to bed last night, I figured that sleep would come easy and I would almost immediately be welcomed into the gates of The Dreaming.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I think that I spent more time tossing and turning that I did sleeping. Therefore, when the alarm went off this morning, I turned it off and resolved to ignore the fact that it had ever sounded. When I finally felt rested enough to get up, I did and started the day.

Fortunately, the day has been pretty good… and pretty much monkey-free. Eric suggested a change to the workout:

  • Dips, leg raises and pull-ups, alternating.
    • Dips: 3 sets / 20 reps
    • Leg Raises: 3 sets / 20 reps
    • Pull-ups: 2 sets, unassisted; one set – 6 (unassisted) and 5 (assisted, 90 pounds)
  • Bench press: 155 lbs / 2 sets, 12 reps; 155 lbs, 9 reps; 135 pounds, 4 reps
  • Rows: 120 pounds, 3 sets / 12 reps
  • Lower back raises: 2 sets, 10 reps – reverse fly at the top, 5 pound weights in each hand

By starting the dips and pull-ups, our arms got a good pre-bench press workout… which is why our bench weight was so low. And, by the time we got to the third set, getting through half of the set felt like a major accomplishment.
Stray Toasters

Where does the time go when you’re reading a tech book?


“Who can it be knocking at my door? Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor…”

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"Who can it be knocking at my door?  Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor..."

Monday: Coda
It’s been a relatively quiet post-work day. And that isn’t a bad thing. At all.

After work, I came home and decided to spend a little time in Paragon City. I caught one of my Super Group-mates online, so I asked her about the Hallowe’en event – specifically, where were places that I could Trick or Treat. She (and one of our coalition members) hooked me up with the zones where I could knock on doors and hopefully not die.

So, I headed to one of the zones…

…knocked on a door…

…and received a Trick: A Fir Bolg, a Witch and a Zombie walked into a bar attacked me. Yay. I fought them and won. So, I tried again. Another Trick: A Witch and a Sorceress. Whoop-de-damn-doo. I beat them… but not before they landed a few solid hits on me.

About this time, I remembered a couple of real world things that I needed to take care of, so I logged out and handled them. When I came back home, I decided that “food” came under the heading of “good thing,” so I fixed something to eat.

And then I headed back to Paragon City. C’mon… it’s the Hallowe’en Event! And I haven’t really played much in the past few weeks. No sooner than I logged in and said “Aloha” to my coalition, I was invited to join a team. I did. We kicked some Council and Devouring Earth… um… well… robots don’t really have butts – with the possible exception of Bender – and I don’t want to think about the DevEarth having recta, either. So, suffice if to say: We whooped ’em. Soundly. After the team broke up, I did a little more Trick or Treating. This time, for my efforts, I scored a couple of temporary powers: Hallowe’en costumes. I’ll get a couple of pics up in the next few days.

Stray Toasters

  • I almost mistyped that as “Stray Tiasters,” which (for some reason) made me think “Stray Tiamats.” And absolutely no good would come from that.
  • Speaking of Stray Tiamats (but hoping not to see one), morrownight is Game Night: D&D.
  • And, Wednesday night is Hallowe’en… which means that will be running his annual Hallowe’en Horror Game. This year, it’s Call of Cthulhu. And I get to dust off a character who hasn’t seen the light of day in some time… a character that I had a lot of fun playing.
  • This one’s for SaraRules, Tyranist and Nox: From Wizard – The 21 Greatest Horror Movies of the 21st Century. Examine and discuss.
  • “Thanks!” to and for their helpful hints in getting acclimated to the Mac way of thinking.
  • This post is being written on Defiant, now that I seem to have it properly trained on the network.
  • I need to remember that there is NO mouse attached to Defiant. Just the touchpad. *sigh* I keep reaching for ‘Nine‘s mouse when I try to move the cursor across the screen.
  • I just described Defiant to Code Monkey BB as “Black as midnight, sweet as sin.” He got a chuckle out of it… as did I.
  • Style is like a second cousin to Class…
  • UK Minister detained at Dulles Airport
  • While trying to see if someone had posted a copy of Joe Cocker’s performance of Come Together, from Across the Universe, I found this video of the cast singing Hey Jude in Central Park. It’s a little rough, but pretty cool… and you can see that they – and the crowd – were having fun.
  • Steampunk Time Machine
  • One of the Coworker Daves – I swear, I’m going to have to number them to keep “who’s who” straight – emailed a link to today’s post from The Best Page in the Universe to a few of us in the office. I was chatting with both of them at the time and mentioned to Maddox that the link was going around the office… and to Dave that Maddox is a friend of mine; Dave seemed surprised by that, even though he knows about my superpower of knowing just about everyone. On the plus side, this encounter reminded me that I hadn’t added Maddox’ page to Random Access’ blogroll – an oversight that was quickly corrected.
  • “party representative submission position”
  • Celebrate Halloween with Halo, Lord of the Rings Online
  • From Wired.com’s How To Wiki: Shred Like a God in Guitar Hero 3


“Boom! Shake, shake, shake the room!”

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"Boom! Shake, shake, shake the room!"

Monday – 29 October 2007
A new week begins.

Getting up and on the way wasn’t so bad this morning. I chatted with for a few minutes before hitting the street. It seems as though there was a 5.0 earthquake in Kathmandu this morning. Oddness. And here are some interesting stats about Nepal.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Land called Saturday to share this gem, from a consultant (obviously not from Utah) with whom he was working. She had apparently asked about getting some coffee and, when met with odd/curious looks, spouted off this beauty:

Oh, that’s right… you don’t drink coffee. Something to do with the purity of your temple or some shit like that.

Yay for ignorant and insensitive monkeys!


“Moments caught in flight…”

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"Moments caught in flight..."

Sunday – 28 October 2007
Last night and today were both quite good.

After Friday night’s festivities, we slept in Saturday morning. Ms. SaraRules fixed a… sauted (I think) pasta dish for breakfast; it was pretty damned good. We ate and had coffee while watching ‘toons and Jim Croce videos.

Next, it was off in search of costume goodness. I had toyed around with the idea of doing a Hand of Nefer-Tem costume and even taking a suggestion from and going as Bill Cosby – Heaven knows that I have more than enough sweaters to pull it off. Sara was going to go as Little Red Riding Hood, but wasn’t able to find a red cloak… so, a trip to Target later, she went as Red Riding Hood… in the ‘hood. That made me rethink my idea. Instead of America’s favorite Jell-O Pudding-eating dad, I opted to redo my White Trash Party outfit and go as Tha’ Wolf. Complete with 40 of Miller Genuine Draft (which I think will be used to cook brats or shrimp). Home to change and then we were off…

First we stopped at Chris and Mary’s. Horror movie party. We sat around and shot the bull for an hour or so before starting the first movie: Eight-Legged Freaks. Unfortunately, the movie decided to be… uncooperative, so we only made it about 30 minutes into the movie. That’s when we noticed the time; we needed to roll out. We headed across town to and onlyaly’s place… unfortunately, we missed out on ‘s gathering. For pics of some of the Hallowe’en costumes, click here.

Sunday morning started with breakfast at Sara’s parents’ house. Waffles. Homemade, none of that Eggo stuff. Then… football. The Ravens had a bye this week. We watched the Pitt-Cincy game. As much as it hurt to do, I was rooting for Cincinnati to win. They didn’t. We left to meet up with and to take some pictures in Memory Grove. After that, we all stopped at Redrock for drinks. Back to Sara’s parents’ place for dinner… and MORE football.

Back home.

Stray Toasters

And there you have it.


The day after.

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The day after.

Saturday – 27 October 2007
Yesterday was fantastic! Thank you to everyone who sent well-wishes for a good and happy birthday. Thanks also to those of you who came out for dinner and then came over for cake. I had a wonderful time; I hope that you did as well.

After indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, sleeping in, I puttered around the apartment, doing some cleaning (…and getting distracted by random bright, shiny objects). I got calls from everyone in the family and a few friends, as well as a few emails, text messages (*shakes fist at ) and other electronic notes.

SaraRules arrived a little before 6:00; she brought a delicious yellow cake with chocolate/chocolate chip frosting that she baked. We ran out to pick pick up a few party-related items, brought them back and then headed off to dinner at Outback. We took over a good bit of their real estate, both in the (TINY) waiting area and in the dining area. Cheese fries. Food that food eats (a.k.a. “salad”). Prime rib. And Foster’s (“Australian for beer!”). Tasty.

Back home for cake, ice cream and assorted beverages. And chat. And just a good time hanging out. It was just like going to the bookstore for Clitorati… without the annoying “they’re having a good time, tell them to stop” people. Or the volumes of books. (I have books here, but they have me beat, ever so slightly.)

Great way to kick off thirty-seven.

Now, it’s time to go tune in Legion of Super-Heroes (new episode!) and play with the new black hotness.


“You won’t be young forever, there’s only a fraction to the sum…”

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"You won't be young forever, there's only a fraction to the sum..."

Friday – 26 October 2007
Thirty-seven times I’ve avoided the cold embrace of the Dark Lady.

So far, I’ve had calls from: Mom, Dad, Kris, SaraRules, and Perry. I call that a great way to kick off my Hatching Day. Dad made me laugh when he called: He actually referred to today as “International Rob Day.”

I need to kick it into gear and finish cleaning up around here so I can go run some errands… and make a possible pilgrimage to the Garden of Sweden. Or We ‘B’ Toys. Or… or… *head go splodey* Of course, as I don’t really have anything on the agenda for the day, I can do all of those. Or none. Or whatever combination of them I choose.

I may be getting “older,” but I’m still going to fight that “growing up” thing as long as I can.


“Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly…”

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"Here come old flattop he come grooving up slowly..."

Thursday: Coda
And so, the work week comes to a close. Friday is International Annual Rob Day, known in some regions as “Pope Groovalicious Day.” In honor of that I am hereby declaring it a personal holiday:

After work, I met for dinner at Tepanyaki. Sushi and a Teriyaki Steak and Chicken combination dinner. Nice. The couple sitting to our right was nice, even somewhat conversational. The family on our left… not so much. Oh, well. After dinner, I headed around the corner to CompUSAirways to pick up some memory for ‘Nine. Yes, I know I’m getting Defiant (Mark II) tomorrow, but I’m not abandoning ‘Nine… and Intrepid has been wheezing along since I lobotomized it to up ‘Nine‘s memory a few months ago. And, added bonus: The memory was on sale. Win-win.

On the way home, I stopped to see and onlyaly. No sooner than I had entered was I also greeted by Daisy and Sadie. I think that I got a decent workout from playing with Daisy – almost enough to make up for not going to the gym this afternoon.

Since getting home, I haven’t done much. So far, the highlights have been:

  • Getting an early birthday call from Mom; she’ll call back tomorrow, but didn’t want to call me at O’dark-thirty… especially when I told her that I was taking the day off and sleeping in. God bless her.
  • Ordering a couple of pieces of plastic crack on eBay: Green Lantern (John Stewart) from the out-of-“print” Cosmic Justice series. The price was right and I’ve been on the fence for a while too long in deciding whether or not I was going to get them.

Stray Toasters

Yep. That’ll do it.


“Affirmative! Echo 419 inbound! Somebody order a Warthog?”

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"Affirmative! Echo 419 inbound! Somebody order a Warthog?"

Apparently, local entertainment mogul Larry H. Miller doesn’t have quite enough money…

(clickable image)

Okay, let’s look at this:

The man, literally, has more money than God.  (After all, God doesn’t really need money; but that’s another conversation altogether.)  His various entertainment complexes bring in the money hand-over-fist (Paper around the stone…) and here’s another scheme to rake in more dough.  $25 a head to play…?  $3 a head just to watch?!?  The thing that I would be interested in finding out is:

The email notification was apparently sent roughly 24 hours before the event – how large will the turn-out be, both for players and for spectators?  And, by association, how much moolah will LHM rake in from it?

Apone: All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the corps! All right, sweethearts, you’re a team and there’s nothin’ to worry about. We come here, and we gonna conquer, and we gonna kick some, is that understood? That’s what we gonna do, sweethearts, we are going to go and get some. All right, people, on the ready line! Are ya lean?
Marines: Yea!
Apone: Are ya mean?
Marines: Yea!
Marines: Lean and mean!
Apone: WHAT ARE YOU? HUDSON! Get on the ready line, Marines, get some today! Get on the ready line! Move it out! Move it out, goddammit! Get hot! One, two, three, four! Get out, get out, get out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven! Aaarrrrr, absolutely badasses! Let’s pack ’em in! Get in there!

“Dream yourself awake and never look down.”

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"Dream yourself awake and never look down."

Thursday – 25 October 2007
Dreams are weird.

Sometime this morning, I dreamed that lj user=”asdf_cat”, Jason and I had gone… somewhere.  I’m going to guess that it was a business trip, because we were staying in a hotel.  We were talking about something when there was a knock the door.  I went to the door and there was someone my brain almost immediately identified as Brian Tochi (1, 2).  Odd, in itself.  The weirdness hit Shade, the Changing Man levels when a second person entered the room: The man who had been the Manager at the REC when I first moved to Outpost Planet: Utah.  That was bizarre.

Willpower is a good thing:

  • I still have three unopened boxes of Butterscotch Krimpets
  • I haven’t thrown this [expletives deleted] server that I’ve been working on out the window.

After I got home last night, I learned something about “The Leash” – it was locked and I had no clue what the code to unlock it was.  *d’oh!*  Fortunately, there were no alerts last night… so I didn’t have to wind up calling someone else at odd hours of the night.

And now, we dance!

“For it’s 1… 2… 3 strikes, you’re out… at the old ballgame!”

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"For it's 1... 2... 3 strikes, you're out... at the old ballgame!"

Wednesday: Coda
Today, I was given “The Leash,” as would put it. I’m now in the on-call rotation for servers, one week out of every… six, I think. and I had talked a few months ago about adding me to the rotation at some point, now that I’m working out of the Salt Lake office a few days a week. In the words of Lita Ford, Reel Big Fish and (according to ) Generation X: “It ain’t no big thing.”

After work, I remembered something that Dwim said earlier in the day: “It’s Wednesday…” Now, I knew that it was Wednesday, but I wasn’t following his drift. I made some comment about it being another day closer to Friday. And, as Friday is International Annual Rob Day – not to mention New Black Hotness Day – I was kind of in a one-track mind. Dwim, however, was referring to the fact that:

Wednesday == New Comics Day.

In light of this fact, I headed to Dr. Volt’s to feed the need. I also treated myself to twelve pieces of plastic crack, two singles and two boosters. The singles I picked up were Batman and Dr. Light; in the boosters I got:

After a stop at the local SuperTarget, I came home to deal with the fact that I was hungry. I decided to make spaghetti; I even made sauce. In an even more rare twist, I made garlic bread from a couple of hot dog buns. It was good, despite burning the little finger on my left hand by being a bit upid-stay.

While eating dinner I watched the last few innings of the World Series – The BoSox opened a six-pack on the Rockies. They set a new World Series Game 1 record also: Largest win margin – 12 runs.

Stray Toasters

  • I picked up a box of Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches tonight. I like ice cream sandwiches.
  • Zaibatsu
  • “Creative counting”
  • I am still digging the Across the Universe soundtrack.
  • asked what I plan to name the new laptop. I told him that I would probably christen it “Defiant,” like the old laptop, in the same way that the Sao Paulo was renamed/renumbered (fourth paragraph from the bottom) to become the new Defiant.

I should hit the rack.


“It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive…”

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"It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive..."

Wednesday – 24 October 2007
Two down, one in the chamber and one to go.

Last night, I met , , and Pat for dinner at Jitterbug before heading to non-Game Night. I think that I am getting addicted to the Tropical Smoothies there – I had two last night… and could have easily gone for another.

Chris wasn’t running on all cylinders last night, so there was no zombie killin’. *sigh* Oh, well… there’s always next time. Instead, we spent a couple of hours talking comics and related geekery and then played a bit of Justice League Heroes. It was a good way to spend the evening.

I got home and decided to chill on the couch with the October issue of GQ. “The best-laid plans of mice and men,” as the saying goes. I wound up falling asleep while reading the Colin Powell interview. Next stop: 3:30 AM. Right. Bed. Bed good. I slept pretty well. I slept so well that, at one point, I managed to wake up to move (i.e.: “toss off the bed”) a pillow and wound up taking out a cup of water on the nightstand. *grblsnrkx* Way to go, Robzilla.

The day, so far, has been good. We’re having a meeting today, for which we’re being required to dress “business casual” (no jeans). No problem. I even broke out one of my favorite sweaters – It’s similar to this one, but with buttons rather than a zipper.

Stray Toasters

  • I had Linus and Lucy, the theme from Peanuts, running through my head a little while ago. I mentioned it to SaraRules. She countered with this article. I volleyed back with this one.
  • From KUER’s RadioWest: Mothers Who Know

    SALT LAKE CITY, UT (2007-10-22) Earlier this month at the LDS Church’s General Conference, the head of the Relief Society Julie B. Beck praised the power in motherhood. She encouraged women not to postpone having children, and equated nurturing with homemaking. Her words re-ignited a controversy about the role of Mormon women, and within hours, LDS blogs were inundated with responses. Tuesday on RadioWest, Doug talks to LDS women about Beck’s remarks and what those say about women’s position in the LDS Church and culture.

  • By way of Wired: When Geeky Goes Bad – Tackiest PC Mods
  • Alienware announces Alien Exchange program
  • Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime,
    where we’re working in a mine for our robot overlords.
    Did I say overlords? I meant protectors.
  • Free Cake.
  • The Brothers Brick – LEGO Blog


“Take Five”

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"Take Five"

To borrow a line from Dave Brubeck and/or Al Jarreau, I’m taking five; I’ve had it up to about “here” with TCP/IP for a bit.

Eric wasn’t in the office today and Karl punked out on us, but Jake and I went to pick up and put down heavy things:

  • Bench press: 225 pounds / 3 sets, 8 reps each
  • Pull-ups: 2 sets of 10 (unassisted); 1 set of five (unassisted) and 6 assisted (90 lbs)
  • Rows: 120 lbs /3 sets of 12 reps/rows
  • Cable fly: 110 pounds / 1 set, 10 reps; 95 pounds / 2 sets, 10 reps – all sets with a 10-second hold on the tenth rep.
  • Curls: 30 lbs (dumbbells) / 3 sets, 10 reps
  • Decline dumbbell press: 40 pounds / 3 sets, 15 reps

It was a good – and somewhat tiring – workout.

Stray Toasters

Okay. That was a good breather. Back to it.

“Well the Illinois Central and the Southern Central Freight gotta keep on pushin’ Mama, ’cause you know they’re running late…”

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"Well the Illinois Central and the Southern Central Freight gotta keep on pushin' Mama, 'cause you know they're running late..."

Tuesday – 23 October 2007
Post work, I had dinner with SaraRules before she made her southward trek. After tossing a few names out for possible eating establishments, we decided on Macaroni Grill. Good choice. We started with Calamari Fritti. For entrees, I went for the Chicken Marsala; she had a “Create Your Own Pasta” dish. Dessert was an incredibly rich – and incredibly tasty – piece of cheesecake with chocolate and caramel fudge sauces.

After Sara left, I puttered around the apartment a bit before deciding to take a stab at hanging two more railroad pictures. I had originally wanted to put them on the north wall of the dining room, but that would have left the west wall rather bare. Instead, I put the new pictures on the west wall, mirroring the orientation of the other pictures. The overall effect looks pretty good. To accent/offset the starkness of black-and-white pictures in a black frame with (barely) off-white mattes, I put one car of my HO-Scale train “collection” (yeah, I’d hardly call four pieces a “collection,” but it fits…) on each frame.

I logged into CoH to see if anyone was on. No luck. I did note, however, that the 2007 Hallowe’en Event has started. So, I did a few transactions at the auction house and logged out.

Not terribly long after that, I decided to call it a night.

This morning, the alarm went off. I reached over… and decided that I wasn’t quite ready to be awake. The “Snooze” button, which I rarely use, was a good friend.

Nine minutes later, the alarm sounded again. This time, I took more definitive action: I turned the damned thing off. I laid in bed, debating the pros and cons of getting up. The cons won.

When I awoke again, a decent amount of time later, I was ready to take on the day.

I think today’s outfit is going to be a little business casual upscale…

  • Jeans
  • Turtleneck (white)
  • Black sportsjacket
  • Black shoes

…just because I can.
Next move: Attack the day, like birds of prey…