Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“The End Is the Beginning Is the End”

dining and cuisine, everyday glory, games, news and info, science and technology, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
"The End Is the Beginning Is the End"

Wednesday – 31 December 2008
Welcome to the last day of 2008.

The first part of the day, until 12:30 or so, was quiet and lazy. SaraRules came over after she got off work. We went to lunch at Olive Garden and then ran a couple of errands. She dropped me off and headed home so that she could get ready for this evening’s holiday gatherings. I, on the other hand, am going to play video games.

Stray Toasters

And, as put in this morning’s Sinfest strip:

I hope that everyone has a safe and fun New Year’s Eve.
All the best to you in 2009.


“Beyond the rim of starlight…”

everyday glory, family and friends, games, geekery, movies and TV, science and technology No Comments »
"Beyond the rim of starlight..."

Tuesday: Coda
Today was a very lazy, lie-about day.

Around 4:00, I finally got under way to change my cable box for an HD box. I headed to the Comcast office, figuring that the whole thing should take under ten minutes. What I hadn’t accounted for was the line of people who would also be waiting for service. I was there for forty-five minutes. But, when I left, not only did I have an HD cable box, I had an HD box with a built-in DVR. Welcome to the 21st Century.

This evening, Chris and I played ‘Clix. We’d discussed terms a couple of weeks ago: The Green Lantern Corps versus the Sinestro Corps, 1600 points. I played the GLC, Chris played the fear-mongers. The game wound up running nearly three hours. Chris won, but it was a win by attrition – I took out seven of his characters, while he took out nine or ten of  mine. I conceded the game when I was down to Kyle Rayner versus Superman Prime, Lyssa Drak, Cyborg Superman and Amon Sur. However, considering that most of my force came from older sets – their stats don’t *quite* match up to newer figures’ stats – I’m proud that I was able to hold out as long as I did. We’re going to have a rematch, but we’re flipping sides and will have a slightly different point value. I’m looking forward to it.

After the game, I stopped by to visit SaraRules for a while before heading home. I’d missed seeing her earlier in the day, thanks/no thanks to the line at Comcast… and my inability to get up off my lazy tuckus and get to Comcast.

I came home, turned on the TV and started flipping channels. I found Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Spike. I stopped there, as they were showing one of my all-time favorite episodes: The Visitor. It is one of the few episodes – of any show – that can (and usually does) make me cry. Every time. It is definitely one of the most well-written episodes of the Star Trek franchise.

Tomorrow, 2008 comes to an end. What a year it’s been.


“I come from the land of the ice and snow…”

comics and animation, everyday glory, movies and TV, news and info, politics and law, science and technology, travel 1 Comment »
"I come from the land of the ice and snow..."

Tuesday – 30 December 2008
We’re back. Actually, we’ve been back since 4:00 PM yesterday. The flights were uneventful, as was the layover in Atlanta. It was a little warmer here than I expected. Granted, it’s still colder than in NC, but what can you do about that?

On the flight from ATL to SLC, we watched The Air I Breathe, loaned to me by a coworker. Neither SaraRules nor I had heard of the film, but we decided to give it a go. It was good. It basically deals with stories/lives of four characters and how they intertwine. It was interesting to see Brendan Frasier in another serious turn… and, again, another one in which he does a good job. If you get a chance to check it out, I recommend seeing this movie.

After coming home and unpacking, I headed over to SaraRules’ parents’ for a bit. We recounted a couple of stories of the trip to her mother. I also picked up the new TV and brought it home.

Setting up the TV also meant rearranging things in the entertainent center. I’m mostly done with that, but still have to figure out where to put a couple of things.

Four-Color Coverage
Over the last few trips to Dr. Volt’s, I picked up Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm, Fables Volume 3: Storybook Love and Hellblazer: Original Sins, along with The Sandman: The Doll’s House. Of those titles, I’ve read both Fables books and have started in on Hellblazer, which I haven’t really read in… probably six or seven years, at least.

Animal Farm dealt with the non-human-looking members of the Fables community and their… well…. Orwellian uprising against their human-looking brethren. When Snow White and Rose Red journey to “The Farm,” to discover why communications with between The Farm and Fabletown have broken down, they stumble into a vast right-wing conspiracy, led by none other than [spoiler deleted].

Storybook Love focuses on Snow White and Bigby Wolf, their search for a couple of rogue members of The Farm community and… could that be… a budding romance?

I’ve been enjoying the stories of Fables and recommend the series quite highly.

Hellblazer. How does one really talk about John Constantine? And, I don’t mean the version of the character as portrayed by Keanu Reeves in the (decent) movie that fortunately didn’t carry the Hellblazer name.) Possibly, the best way to do it is to take a few lines from “Hunger,” the first story:

He has been variously described as:

“The Aleister Crowley of his era, but more insidious.” (Guardians of Youth, media-watch group)
“A man of great courage, principle and humanity.” (The Archbishop of York)
“A cheap, flashy little crook.” (his father)
“Dangerous to know” and “A thorough bastard.” (Ted ‘Gold’ Digger, unconvicted acolyte of the Manson Family)
“A good mate of mine.” (John ‘Pearly’ Grey, Eastend autocrat of crime’ reputedly the only man feared by the notoroius Kray Twins)

Got him yet? No? A few more clues then.

Lead singer with the short-lived but brilliantly vitriolic MUCOUS MEMBRANE back in ’78.
Notorious occultist who spent two years in the bin after failing to pull off, in real life, as successfully as William Friedkin did on film.

No? You disappoint me. I thought you were street people.

For as long as this hack has been on the scene, people who know people have been talking about John Constantine.

He’s all of those things. Or none. Or some odd amalgamation of some of them. Hellblazer: Original Sins leads us – first, by the hand… before pushing us face-first – into the world of John Constantine. Sometimes, it’s the world we know. Other times, it’s the world we glimpse out of the corner of our eyes, in the dark. But, you can be assured, that when John Constantine is involved, it is sure to be interesting. And dangerous. But it definitely makes for a good read.

Stray Toasters

Time to find some (more) trouble to get into.


“Chase the sun around the world…”

everyday glory, travel No Comments »
"Chase the sun around the world..."

Monday – 29 December 2008
It’s amazing how early 7:00 AM can seem.
(Hint: VERY early, indeed)

We’re up, packed and having a bite to eat before heading to RDU to catch our flights westward.


“To pass the evening with a drink and a friend…”

dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, travel No Comments »
"To pass the evening with a drink and a friend..."

Sunday: Coda

It’s hard to believe that the trip is almost over. On the other hand, we’ve packed quite a bit into the past 4½ days. The time with family and friends has been wonderful, to say the least. I was commenting to SaraRules earlier that I can remember (as recently as… five or so years ago) when family gatherings would make my teeth itch. My mother and I have very similar personalities and we don’t always see eye-to-eye when one of us gets an idea in our head and the other is not in a mood to reconsider our position. (Hmm… wonder where I get that from?) There haven’t really been any loggerheads of that sort his weekend. It’s not necessarily that either of us was on “best behavior;” I think that it’s closer to the truth to say that we’ve both grown and come to accept (some) of our differences… as well as our similarities.

This evening, my uncle took the family out for dinner to celebrate SaraRules and my engagement. We had dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. Holy. Cow. Well, maybe not “holy,” but it was VERY “tasty.” The food, the wine, the dessert and the service were exemplary. Our waiters, Jacques and Robert, were very attentive and helpful. And, in a often-too-rare find, they were both willing to offer their opinions, with respect to their thoughts about items on the menu, as opposed to just giving the company line. I had:

  • Sweet Chile Calamari
  • Fleming’s Salad
  • Steak Diane
  • Garlic roasted mashed potatoes and their signature Fleming’s potatoes
  • Chocolate Lava Cake
  • and a few glasses of Robert Sinskey Merlot Los Carneros, 2004

As I said above: It was exemplary.

After dinner, SaraRules and I stopped in to see the parents of a friend (whom I haven’t seen/talked with in some time). They had just gotten in from spending the holiday with their family. Literally. As in they had only been home a few minutes before we got there. We stayed and talked with them for a half-hour or so. They are doing well and it was very good to see them.

From there, we headed north to visit , MarknTyme and their sons. Everyone was doing well, although their youngest (a year old), woke up from a nap shortly after we arrived… and was not in the best of moods for a little bit. He soon warmed up and was bounding about the house. (Maybe it had something to do with the cookies…) The older son was also doing well, playing with many of his Christmas gifts. We told stories about things we did years ago and I was also able to catch up on the goings-on of a few mutual friends.

We headed home; our things weren’t going to pack themselves. Unfortunately. I recalled a way home through Eden – the road that we were on used to have a connection to a road that led through Eden to home. Yeah… they’ve apparently changed a few things in the past (more years than I care to admit) since I’ve taken it. We wound up at the Virginia state line. A quick turnaround and an exit onto a different road put us back on the path home. No yellow bricks, however.

We got home and discovered that, with a modicum of judicious packing, we were able to get everything into our suitcases. God help the skycaps/baggage handlers.

All-in-all, this has been both a pleasant and fun trip home. Definitely just what the doctor ordered for a great change of pace from the day-to-day grind of the past few months.


Carolina Weekend

books, comics and animation, dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, football No Comments »
Carolina Weekend

Sunday – 28 December 2008
Yesterday, after a somewhat lazy morning – although, after little sleep – the family got up and rummaged around the house. We exchanged gifts with my uncle.

SaraRules and I headed into GSO in the early afternoon to do a little shopping – we stopped at a quilt shop for her and went to Acme Comics for me. Next, we went to Edwark McKay Used Books… I came out with all three seasons of Superman: The Animated Series, Hellblazer: Original Sins (TPB) and Batman/Superman: World’s Finest (TPB) for a rather reasonable price.

Theo met up with us, and the three of us headed to Harper’s for dinner. I had a blackened salmon entree with garlic mashed potatoes and iced tea (sweet tea!); it was very good. We ate, hung out and talked the next couple of hours away. It was a lot of fun.

I went to see if an old game store I used to go to was still there. It wasn’t. Oh, well. It’s not like I really needed MORE stuff to carry back to SLC.

Around that time, I got a message from Robin – she wanted to get together for a bit, so SaraRules and I headed over to New York Pizza (near UNC-G) to meet Robin and Chad, both of whom I used to work with at the USPS.

Then, back to Mom’s.

This morning, we got up and got ready for church. There’s a new pastor at Mom’s church; he’s very charismatic and dynamic, I rather like him. Back home for a bit – for some rest and football – and we’re heading out to dinner at Fleming’s in a little while. All that, and we’re still trying to get together with MarknTyme and (and their kids) for a bit this evening. *whew*

All that… and then a little more, too!

dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, music, style, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
All that... and then a little more, too!

Friday: Coda
Today turned out to be a rather busy day.

Around 2:00 PM, SaraRules and I headed to Greensboro to return/exchange a suit and a pair of shoes that I got for Christmas. On the way into town, I stopped at William’s place to say “Hi” and (quickly) catch up on the past year or so. I missed seeing Charlie (his wife), Britney and Josh… but I did get to see Connor. We also made tentative plans to get together Saturday for lunch or dinner.

After that, we headed to Friendly Center for Boxing Day-return-a-bration. I called Theo on the way there and asked if he’d be able to meet us. He was and he did. He showed up while we were waiting for a sales associate to put in an appearance. They didn’t have the same style of suit that I was returning – a really nice Ralph Lauren charcoal grey – but, they did have a very nice Jones New York two-button black suit that fit really well (right off the rack!) and it was an even exchange, so I went with that. Next stop: Shoes. They did have the same style and color shoe in the right size, so I exchanged them. We made plans to try and hook up again with Theo, too.

We were about to head back home for a bit, but my mother diverted us to the airport to pick up my uncle. That was easy enough, as we were ten minutes from the airport. What I didn’t count on were some of the changes they made in the way you get into the airport from Bryan Blvd. Nothing too serious, though. There was one… minor… detail that Mom neglected to impart: What airline he was traveling on. *facepalm* She did, however, mention what time the flight arrived; using the power of deduction – and the big LED “Arrivals” sign – we figured it out. We headed to the terminal and found him as he was exiting the gate area.

From the airport, we headed to Winston-Salem, first to Kris’ and then on to my cousins’ house for dinner. We made a quick stop at Hanes Mall before hitting Kris’ place; I hadn’t been there in probably 15 years – it’s huge. Dinner with the family was good. And, it was a lot of fun, too.

SaraRules and I headed back, on our own as we were hoping to hook up with Lish, who was in town to visit some friends from undergrad and to hear Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Greene Street Club. We wound up going to the club and listening to the band’s set. After that, we hit up an old favorite of mine: Steak n Shake. SaraRules and Lish had “Old Home Week,” talking about what they’d been up to since the finished their MFA program in August. They also caught up on the latest news about/from others in the program. I tried to see if Robin could make it, but she wasn’t able to. Hopefully, I’ll get to see her tomorrow, too.

And, then… back home.

I really should try to get some sleep.

‘Twas the day after Christmas…

dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, movies and TV, news and info, science and technology No Comments »
'Twas the day after Christmas...

Friday – 26 December 2008
Happy Boxing Day, Happy (first day of) Kwanzaa, and a belated Happy Hanukkah, but more importantly – Happy International Day:

Yesterday was fun. Post-gift-opening, we hung out for a while before SaraRules and I went to pick up a friend of the family to join us for Christmas dinner. We came back for more pre-dinner hanging out. We had about 20 people, give or take, who came by for dinner… including a cousin (from Mom’s side of the family) that I haven’t seen in probably 20 years. Otherwise, it was a typical Christmas around here – a few of Mom’s students sang, lots of story-telling, and all-around good cheer.

Today, I think that SaraRules and I are heading into Greensboro to meet up with a few friends and to get my suit returned and/or altered. My uncle will fly in from New York this evening and we’re all heading to my cousin’s for dinner. At least, those are the (current) plans, as I understand them.

Stray Toasters

Attack the day…


“Step into Christmas…”

everyday glory, family and friends, LEGO and Rokenbok, style, toys 1 Comment »
"Step into Christmas..."

Thursday – 25 December 2008
Merry Christmas to all…

We got up this morning around 9:00.  We had coffee and a little breakfast… and then it was time for present-opening! The Christmas haul was very good:

  • New suit
  • A couple new shirts and ties
  • An engraved bracelet… which matches one that Mom got for Kristen
  • LEGO salt and pepper shakers
  • A LEGO note pad
  • A new pair of shoes
  • A couple new sweaters
  • A Krispy Kreme gift certificate
  • A classic train calendar and
  • SaraRules got me this:

    (actual TV is back in SLC, as it would have been silly to ship here… and back)

I opened the box with the picture in it and stared at it for a moment or two before it registered that it was a symbolic present. Apparently, the look on my face was… rather quizzical.

…and to all a good night!

Greetings from the Right Coast

everyday glory No Comments »
Greetings from the Right Coast

Wednesday: Coda
We’re here.
The flights were good.
No luggage got lost.
Got home and spent some time with the family…

…and then added a wireless router to their setup, so I wouldn’t go insane over the next few days.  🙂

More after the sun’s up.

Merry Christmas!

“Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning…”

comics and animation, everyday glory, family and friends, geekery, LEGO and Rokenbok, movies and TV, news and info, politics and law, toys, travel No Comments »
"Nothin' could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning..."

Wednesday – 24 December 2008
Christmas Eve.

For those of you who didn’t receive one in the mail, here is this year’s Christmas card:

(click image to see the inside of the card)

Last night, after she got off work, SaraRules came over and we set up the Christmas tree. (Thanks, again, to OnlyAly and !) We even took a few pictures of it.

Later in the evening, SaraRules’ sister, Meliko, flew into town. We went over to the parents’ to hang out with her for a bit, as she will be gone by the time we get back. While SaraRules and her folks went to the airport, , Logan and I hung out at the house and watched Time Warp. It was nice to hang out with the family, if only for a couple hours, before I had to come home and pack.

In a few hours, SaraRules and I will begin our trek eastward for the long holiday weekend. We should arrive on the Right Coast about 8:30 PM, just in time to get home to hang out with the family-unit for some “holiday cheer” before the arrival of St. Nick.

Stray Toasters

That’s about it for now; time to take care of a few last-minute items.

Although I’ll probably touch base again before tomorrow, I’d like to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas,” I hope that it is both safe and fun for you and your families.


A Lazy Tuesday Morning…

comics and animation, dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, geekery, news and info, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »

Tuesday – 23 December 2008
Vacation: Day 2.

I slept in again this morning… until a little after 9:00. told me that I’m “…not fully recognizing the depth of sleeping that [I] can attain…. true sleeping-in enlightenment can only be reached beyond the noon hour” I reminded him that sleeping in until 9:00 IS sleeping in for me and that I only really sleep past noon when I cross timezones.

Last night, SaraRules and I ran a couple of errands, including visiting Kate, Perry and the kids and dropping off their Christmas presents. We came back to the apartment with every intention of trimming the tree and whatnot. Never happened. We sat down on the couch and wound up vegging the rest of the evening away. So, we’ll be doing that this evening.

Four-Color Coverage
I finally read the final chapter of Fables (Volume 1): Legends in Exile last night; I was waiting to finish it so that I could review the whole book.

The story is set “in a fictional land called New York City.” It seems as though a member of the Fabletown community has been murdered. That, in and of itself, is not so unusual; the strangeness lies in the Dramatis Personae:

  • Snow White, Deputy Mayor and Director of Operations of Fabletown
  • Bigby Wolf, former house-blow-in’er and current Sheriff of Fabletown
  • Rose Red, the victim of the aforementioned murder… and sister of Snow White
  • Prince Charming, insouciant gadabout and womanizer (and ex-husband of Ms. White and Cinderella) and
  • King Cole, Mayor of Fabletown

Bill Willingham, using these – and other characters – takes an interesting look at the lives of characters whom we all know from fables and folklore… out of their known realms and in “the real world,” while putting together the pieces of Rose Red’s murder. It’s an excellent re-imagining, if you will, of folklore characters, much in the same vein as Neil Gaiman did with many of his characters in The Sandman. I picked up the Fables Volume 2: Animal Farm TPB last week. I will most likely delve into it over the Christmas holiday.

If you’re looking for a solid read, with a few familiar faces, I recommend Fables.
And, thanks to Dwim for suggesting that I read it.

Stray Toasters

Time to go take on the day.


This is how a Monday should be…

comics and animation, dining and cuisine, everyday glory, games, news and info, quote of the day, science and technology, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
This is how a Monday should be...

Monday – 22 December 2008
Day One of Vacation.  In two days, SaraRules and I will be on a plane headed east.

Last night, we finished wrapping a few gifts. At some point today, I’ll have to brave the snow and head to the post office to get two of them in the mailstream.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
From a conversation with a little while ago…

Me: What’s shakin’ over Companion-way?
: sausage mcmuffin with egg and cheese!
: heeeeeeeoooooooo yeah
Me: Nice.
Me: I’m contemplating a bowl o’ Honeycomb, personally.
: the top of my mouth cries for you.
Me: But, I likeses the Honeycomb.
: it’s a cruel, cruel cereal.
: so delicious, but it hates you.
Me: No, Cap’n Crunch is a cruel cereal.
: that’s the cruelest. honeycomb wishes it were capt. crunch.
: it’s a copycat killer.



everyday glory, family and friends No Comments »

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and well-wishes!

Weekend News

comics and animation, dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, football, movies and TV, music, news and info 1 Comment »
Weekend News

For those who missed this morning’s (brief) post: I proposed to SaraRules…

…and she said “yes.”
(Thank God.)

Since then, there have been many phone calls – and text/Facebook messages – to and from various family members and friends. No date or plans just yet, but we’ll keep people posted as we go.

Yesterday afternoon, SaraRules, Logan and I made a gingerbread train. As promised, here are the pictures.  After the train – and running a few errands – SaraRules, Logan and I went to Fiddler’s Elbow to watch the Ravens take on the Cowboys. (More on that below.) After the game, we went to OnlyAly and ‘s for their second annual “Nightmare Before Christmas” horror movie gathering. We watched The Exorcist: The Version You Haven’t Seen. I haven’t watched this movie (at least the version I have seen) in close to ten years. It was still good.

This morning, we had a lazy morning about the apartment – watching football – before coming over to hang out with her family… to watch more football and have dinner.

Football Update

Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys
33 – 24
The Ravens traveled to Dallas to take on the Cowboys. Joe Flacco had his work cut out for him as no rookie starting QB – other than Ben Roethlisberger – had beaten the Cowboys in Texas Stadium.This was another defensive game, the halftime score was only 9 – 7, in Baltimore’s favor.

FS Ed Reed had two interceptions, but the workhorse of the team was WR Derrick Mason who,  despite a shoulder and leg injury, finished with six catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

The Ravens move to 10-5 and are still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.

Next game: Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium.

Stray Toasters

Yeah… that’s good for now.