Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Little Red Corvette, baby you’re much too fast…”

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"Little Red Corvette, baby you're much too fast..."

Tuesday – 30 June 2009
It’s the last day of June. I’m sure that this is important – or at least “notable” – for many reasons, but prime among them is the fact that the new IKEA bible catalog will be out soon.

Last night, we had a tasty dinner with SaraRules’ family. After dinner, and some errand-running, we headed home for some downtime. I started putting together walls for my new ‘Clix building. Of the eight main walls, I have five complete; the last three should go much faster. Then I can start in on the “lobby” section, which should go quite quickly. I’m looking forward to getting it completed.

This morning, I was at work at 0700. One of our teams has a couple of days’ worth of meetings and we had to get some networking ready for it. So, loonybin88 and I were in here – neither bright-eyed nor bushy-tailed – to get it taken care of.  Naturally, while we were wrapping up the setup, there was a pushy monkey who wanted to have something done his way; little did he know that he was mere moments away from having the closest live power cord plugged into a place neither God, Mother Nature nor Darwin ever intended for it to go. *sigh* Monkeys, go figure.

Stray Tourists Toasters

Right on to the friction of the day…


“Cool calls time out for the flame…”

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"Cool calls time out for the flame..."

Monday – 29 June 2009
We opted not to go back to the Utah Arts Festival yesterday and enjoyed a lazy day at home.  It was rather nice. When SaraRules asked me what I wanted for dinner, I had an idea: Grilling some steak and/or chicken. The more I thought about it, the better it sounded. And that’s what I did: Steak, chicken, corn on the cob, zucchini, mushrooms and red peppers. They turned out well.

Logan came over and joined us for dinner; we watched Aliens while we ate. After that, the three of us played Trivial Pursuit. (I really need to get some updated cards for the game…) When we played, we kept our wedges in our respective corners and used HeroClix figures as our playing pieces:

  • SaraRules used Wonder Woman,
  • Logan used The Riddler and
  • I used the custom GL John Stewart figure that Perry made for me a while back.

The “Literature” category of the Genus Edition often kicks my trash; last night, the universe threw me a bone, almost literally, when I was going for the brown wedge:

What is the name of Superman’s dog?

I couldn’t believe it when Logan asked the question; I thought he was kidding. Then he reread the question. It gave me a good laugh when I answered: “Krypto.” I was so amused by the question that I switched my game piece to my Krypto ‘Clix, because I could… and because it amused me to do so.

After the game, Logan and I played through a board of HALO3. After seeing the amount of crap that we had to wade through, I was happy to have the help.

After Logan left, I started working on a new building for HeroClix City, based on a design that I came up with on Friday. I knew that I was going to have to adapt the building faces to fit the design, but I thought that three of them would be the same. Nope. Two of them are, the third one was much easier to work with. I’m also going to have to work out the details of five other faces. We’ll see how it shapes up.

So far, today’s been a good – and relatively quiet – day. There haven’t been any major fires to put out. There haven’t been any monkeys to beat down. Not a bad way to kick off a Monday and a holiday week.

Stray Toasters

  • Yesterday was the first time I’ve fired up my grill in two years, I think. The igniter on the grill wasn’t working, so I had to use a camp stove lighter to kick things off. Great theory and nominally good application… aside from the fact that I had turned up the gas “a bit” too high and wound up creating a small fireball that singed the hair off the back of two of my fingers.
  • In a related note: I went online to look for the manual for the grill – I need to know how to repair or replace the igniter. Sears has 119 of them posted. I looked at all of them, but only found two (2) that look close to my grill. I’ll have to compare and contrast them when I get home.
  • 13 year old kid reviews 30 year old Walkman
  • showed us the trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG.
  • Google Mistook Jackson Searches for Net Attack

That’s good for now.


Lazy Sunday

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Lazy Sunday

Sunday – 28 June 2009
Last night, I came home from poker night at OnlyAly and ‘s to find that I was far more tired than I had realized – I was starting to nod off a little after midnight. I called it a relatively early night.

I woke up a little after 0900. So far, I haven’t done much other than surf and watch Boneyard on The History Channel. This episode is entitled “Railroads,” so it’s pretty much held my attention for the past forty-five minutes.

Today, we don’t have much on tap. We’re considering heading back to the Utah Arts Festival later this afternoon. Before that, I may try to assemble a new building that I designed for my ‘Clix city… and/or play some HALO3. I realized something last night – I never finished HALO2, so I have that to look forward to when I’m done with H3.


Transformers: Revenge of the Suckage

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Transformers: Revenge of the Suckage

We just got back from seeing Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

This is going to be a two-part review:

  1. The first part will be more of a synopsis and spoiler-free.
  2. The second part will be more in-depth and chock full of spoilers.

Consider yourselves duly warned.

Part One: Synopsis
We took a HUGE hit for the team on this one. The movie was bad. Really bad. Not as bad as… The Spirit, but it’s still on the lower end of the Cool-World/Long Kiss Goodnight Scale.

Save a little piece of your childhood.
Save your money.
Save your time.

If you find that you absolutely must see this movie, wait for it to come out on Netflix or Redbox.


Part Two: In-Depth Observations
I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going to give up the scoop on this movie. I’m not really going to hold anything back, so if you’re still inclined to see this movie – despite my previous and continued warnings against doing so – you will want to stop reading now.

Find another blog or webcomic to read.
Right now.

Okay, if you’re still here, I’m going to take that to mean one of a few things:

  1. You really want to see why I think the movie fell apart.
  2. You have seen the movie and want to see which parts we agree/disagree on.
  3. You haven’t seen the movie, but are curious as to “just how bad” it could be.
  4. Monkeys. (Not really a “reason,” per se, but monkeys can be blamed for a lot. They fling poo, after all.)

As I’ve been saying for the past few weeks, I’ve been looking forward to this movie because I wanted to see “Giant robots blowing shit up.” I don’t think that’s too much to ask for, honestly. Why not? Let’s see… oh, wait… how about: That’s what they did – and did rather well – in the first movie. In fact, let’s see what Michael Bay and company got right in this movie before we get to the longer list of what went wrong. Oh, so horribly wrong.

  1. Giant Robots. Check.
  2. Shit blowing up. Check.
  3. Megan Fox. Check.
  4. Optimus Prime being the heroic leader, even in the face of oppressive/overwhelming odds. Check.
  5. SaraRules adds: “Some of the military guys were kind of cute.” Check

What did they do wrong…?

  1. Balls.  (If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. If not, consider yourself lucky.)
  2. Leg-humping robots. (see above)
  3. Mudlfap and Skids – the Transformers equivalents of a Jar-Jar Binks character.
  4. Pot-laced-brownie-eating Judy Witwicky.
  5. Alice, the Fem-cepticon. Sorry, I mean “Pretender.”  (Really?  REALLY?!?)
  6. Why is it that the All-Spark can only create evil robots?
  7. Why does a robot (Jetfire) need a crutch?
  8. Why was Megatron revived?
  9. Why do we need to see Agent Simmons in a jock strap?
  10. Sam’s college roommate, Leo.
  11. Did the Air Force Chief of Staff have to be such a pinhead?
  12. Why does The Fallen look like a giant metal baboon?
  13. Why, all of a sudden, do we need to say that Transformers had been on Earth for over 15,000 years… and that they have influenced almost every culture in the world?
  14. Why did Sam go to the Autobot afterlife… of all possible places?!

We find out, eventually, that the Decpticons are following Starscream – at the behest of an even older Transformer – known only as “The Fallen,” who is after the location of a weapon that will turn Sol into Energon. And, as an added benefit/side effect, kill all life on Earth. The location of this weapon has been lost. Fortunately, the information has been coded into the All-Spark… a fragment of which Sam still has. After touching the fragment, Sam starts seeing ancient Cybertronian runes. Sam, not sure what to do with it, gives the fragment to Mikaela and goes off to college.

Optimus Prime, who has been keeping secret of the Matrix and the weapon from Sam, comes to him asking for his aid in finding the weapon.  Of course, Sam just wants to be a “normal kid” and go to college. And parties. And date Megan Fox.

Megatron gets revived. Prime and Megatron fight. Prime dies/deactivates. Sam finds a sense of loyalty. And the race is on to find someone or something that can translate the runes, find the Matrix and the weapon and save the day.

At two hours and forty-three minutes, they could have easily lopped off HALF of this movie and had a much more cohesive and entertaining film. I think that Dave summed it up best:

It’s like [Michael Bay] had a bunch of writers who all went in different directions with the hope of “If I can come up with a script that makes Michael Bay orgasm, then he’s sure to pick my script!” So, that’s what they all did. After submitting the scripts and having Bay orgasm 29 times, Bay just decided: “Shoot everything!” And that’s what they did. Then he threw all of the footage into the editing room with a bunch of monkeys and this is what came out.

Having seen the movie, I really can’t argue with that theory.

I need to come up with some kind of equivalent to the LEGO bricks for the Cool World/Long Kiss Goodnight Scale, because I refuse to sully the bricks by using them for this movie. Suffice it to say: It was bad.

Bottom line: Save yourself $6.00 or more and go see something else. Almost anything would be better than this.

Saturday Things

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Saturday Things

Saturday – 27 June 2009
This morning, SaraRules and I got up and headed to the Downtown Farmer’s Market. We’ve wanted to go for the past couple of weeks, but hadn’t managed to do so. Today, we made it. It was interesting to juxtapose the number of exhibitors there today with the number there when we went in October – far more now than then.

On the way home, we stopped in to say “Hi” to SaraRules’ parents. Back at home, I took a little time to play HALO3… and to remember to “Save and Quit.”  Although, when I went to verify that it saved at the proper point, I found that it was putting me back at the beginning of this mission, rather than three segments into it. *sigh* Fine. Whatever. I remember a few things that should serve me well in getting through these sections – again – and on to where I need to be.

Next on the docket: Heading out to watch Transformers Giant Robots Blowing Shit Up with some of the usual suspects.


“I got sunshine in a bag…”

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"I got sunshine in a bag..."

Friday – 26 June 2009
Hello, weekend.

I slept in this morning… more or less. I woke up at some very early point of the morning because of a rather odd and disturbing dream. Pre-dawn early. I wound up getting back to bed a short time later… only to have another bizarre dream awaken me. Not quite as disturbing, as I recall. I finally woke up around 0915. So far, this morning has consisted of breakfast and coffee, The West Wing… and a little bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender. All-in-all, it’s been a nice, relaxing day.

Stray Toasters

Time to run some errands and hit the Utah Arts Festival.


“To every thing there is a season…”

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"To every thing there is a season..."

Thursday: Coda
After work, I came home. That’s usually the way that things go. It’s not a bad tradition, all things being equal.

I had a bite to eat – SaraRules made an awesome homemade Macaroni and Cheese dish – and then fired up the 360. Before getting into Covenant beatdown mode, I took a look at some things on the 360’s dashboard. Among them was Netflix Instant Queue, which allows me to watch movies on the 360… on demand. Pretty nice option, if I do say so. I added a few movies to my queue.

Then, it fired up HALO3. Last night, I saved the game (I remembered this time!!!) on the way to Voi. There were a couple of Wraiths and Choppers at the bridge as a “Welcome Wagon.” Yay, lucky me. After getting my – and the Marines with me – butt blown off and handed to me, repeatedly, I beat the defenders and got ready to Ease on Down the Road. I didn’t get far at all before I found the flying monkeys Brutes with jet packs had set up a roadblock. No problem. I backed down the road a bit and hopped into one of the Wraiths. A few well-place plasma bursts later, the Brutes (and the roadblock) were no more. I, and the lone Marine who stuck by me, headed down the hill… only to find more Marines – and more jump pack-wearing Brutes – in a firefight. Yay. That’s where I stopped. For now.

SaraRules and I headed to the gym for a workout:

  • Bench Press: 3 sets/10 reps, 205 lbs
  • Incline Press (Icarian): 3 sets/10 reps, 140 lbs
  • Flys: 3 sets/10 reps, 110 lbs
  • Lower Back Extensions: 3 sets/15 reps, 160 lbs
  • Curls (barbell): 3 sets/10 reps, 50 lbs
  • Side Bends: 3 sets/10 reps, 30 lbs
  • Push-ups: 3 sets/10 reps

Post-workout weight: 184.7 lbs

Stray Toasters

And now, it’s time for Burn Notice.


But, how do you know that the whales didn’t want beer, too?

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But, how do you know that the whales didn't want beer, too?

Stray Toasters:

  • SaraRules and I actually encountered a mythical “good Samaritan” doing a random act of kindness yesterday. It was a refreshing change from all of the “People are no damn good…” stories you hear. He’s today’s “Human of the Day.”
  • Tickets for Transformers Giant Robots Blowing Shit Up have been acquired.
  • Brownies! (Unfortunately, I have no ice cream here at work with which to eat them.)
  • I just had a conversation with some folks at work… that included Star Trek, Superman and the Legion. During that conversation, I had an epiphany:

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was really just an update of Smokey and the Bandit. Seriously. You have to make the following substitutions, but they all track… more or less:

    • Substitute going back in time for going to Texarkana,
    • Substitute picking up a couple of whales for picking up a truckload of beer,
    • Substitute the Klingon Bird of Prey for either the Trans-Am or the semi (or both!) and
    • Substitute William Shatner for Burt Reynolds.

    challenged me on a few of the more esoteric points:

    • What about Paul Williams?
      Answer: The Space Probe.
      Why? Because Paul Williams (along with Pat McCormick) was the reason Bandit and Snowman went to get the beer… just as the probes were the reason Kirk and crew went to get the whales.
    • What about the sidekick?
      Answer: Jerry Reed was Bandit’s partner-in-crime, Cletus (The Snowman).   In ST:IV, Spock provided that role… and comic relief.
    • What about Sally Field?
      Answer: Dr. Gillian Taylor, the whale biologist that Kirk “picked up” and took back to the 23rd Century… just like Bandit picked up Carrie (Field) on the side of the road.
    • What about Jackie Gleason?
      Answer: Gleason, along with every other cop in the movie would be embodied by the Federation.
      Why? Because The Federation represents “The Man,” especially when they bust Kirk – the man who just saved the planet – back down to Captain from Admiral.  DAMN THE MAN!!!

    Quod Erat Demonstratum.

  • This is my 9/80 week.  And I get next Friday off for 04 July.  AND… the following Friday is a 9/80 day, too.  Three Fridays off in a row. SCORE!
  • We had a shipment arrive a little while ago. The driver, who recently won a truck driving competition, and a coworker of his are going to Pittsburgh to compete in the national competition. How often does one get to say “I met someone who won a truck driving competition?”  I think that this is the first time I’ve ever been able to do that.


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Thursday – 25 June 2009
This morning started at 0630… and restarted at 0800. How/why? Because, after showering and having a bite to eat, I decided that I wasn’t quite ready to kick off the day. Instead, I crawled back into bed and caught a little more shut-eye. And it was nice.

Last night, SaraRules and I went to Liberty Park and walked the inner loop. It was nice… except for the clouds of gnats hovering around the south end of the park. Clouds of them. Literally. Bah! After we got back home, I fired up the 360 and played more HALO3. I also discovered something annoying: Apparently, I neglected to use the “Save and Quit” option on Tuesday and wound up having to repeat the last mission that I completed Tuesday night. *grblsnrkx* On the “plus” side, I remembered where I needed to go to exit that mission, rather than wandering aimlessly through the complex, so my retreat “strategic advance to the rear” was expedicious. I also added another weapon to my “favorites” list: the Plasma Cannon, the Covenant’s answer to the Machine Gun Turret.

Stray Toasters


“Charlie says…”

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"Charlie says..."

Wednesday – 24 June 2009
Middle of the week and all’s well.
It’s also “Sushi and Comics Wednesday,” which is always a good thing.

Last night, SaraRules and I headed over to Gardner Village for an evening stroll. For as much of a madhouse as that place is on Saturdays, it was practically deserted last night. We only saw a handful of people the entire time we were there. One of the places we checked out was “Country Furniture and Gifts,” in the building that has the waterwheel. It was like entering “The House That Never Ends” in that it had stairwells hither and yon and new rooms just seemed to fold into and out of 3D space; Escher would have been proud. (I deduced that the pioneers must have figured out how to create a tesseract using the energy harnessed from the waterwheel – it’s the only logical conclusion of how “that much” house wound up in “that little” space.)

Once we got back home, I fired up the 360 and played HALO3, a pleasure I have recently rediscovered. I have been stuck on a board for the past few weeks – which has been a bit discouraging – so I took a sabbatical from playing it. Last night, I got past that scenario and discovered my new favorite weapons: The Machine Gun Turret and the Battle Rifle. Nothing says “Love” like tearing a 50-caliber gun off its tripod and walking down a hallway with it, lighting up any and all Covenant forces like a Christmas tree. (Yes, a very bloody Christmas tree, but that’s not the point here.) And the Battle Rifle..? It lets me take head-shots – like my former HALO and HALO2 favorite weapon: The Sniper Rifle – and it has a burst fire mode, too.

Stray Toasters

Feelings, sensations that you thought was dead (yup)
No squealing, remember that it’s all in your head


“Hitch up your drawers!”

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"Hitch up your drawers!"

Tuesday – 23 June 2009
This morning’s title comes from The Omega Man, the second movie of our Bad Movie Night double-feature, which I’ll get back to momentarily.

Chris and Mary came over for dinner and Bad Movie Night. We watched Balls of Fury, which neither SaraRules nor I had seen and the aforementioned The Omega Man. Balls of Fury is a movie follows former ping pong child prodigy, Randy Daytona, as he seeks entry into an exclusive tournament being held by Feng, the man who had Randy’s father killed years before. After the movie, Chris told us something about the film that was revealed in the special features: The movie was made as a kung-fu movie… without any kung-fu. After thinking about it for a few moments, we realized that was exactly what we’d seen.

The Omega Man is the 1971 adaptation of I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson. I have now seen all three adaptaions: The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price; The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston; and I Am Legend, starring Will Smith. This was a good version and a decent adaptation of the original story. The basic premise was the same: An epidemic sweeps the world, killing off most of the population and transforming the remainder into a new offshoot species, leaving Colonel Robert Neville alone and outside. I realized something about this and the other I Am Legend-based movies: Each movie, while telling a variation of the same story, was a reflection of its time. In this case, there were many comments and themes that related to “The Man” draggin down civilization through war (being in the midst of the Vietnam War and Cold War eras) and technology. All-in-all, though dated, it was an enjoyable film.

Stray Toasters

Right on to the friction of the day…


“Forgive us our cynical thoughts…”

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"Forgive us our cynical thoughts..."

Monday – 22 June 2009
As it’s the beginning of a new work week, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders might say:

Oh, back on the chain gang…

But, as Mr. Rogers would say:

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

So, it’s something of a wash.

I’m not sure what is on tap for this morning – or this week – yet, but hopefully there’s nothing too maddening coming down the pike. Tonight, however, is Bad Movie Night with Chris and Mary. We haven’t done one of those in a while, so it should be fun.

Stray Toasters

Paul came over and saw my new upgrade. After asking if I was trying to cause problems, I informed him that all of this was actually HIS fault: When I asked him about doing this back in April, he just laughed… but he never said “No.” And then, he actually asked to look at one of the items being displayed on the task list. I think that means that I’ve justified one point and proven another. We’ll see how long this lasts.


“The land where the furniture folds to a much smaller size…”

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"The land where the furniture folds to a much smaller size..."

Sunday – 21 June 2009
Happy Father’s Day… and Summer Solstice/First Day of Summer!

Dad, just want you to know I'm still not above competing for your love

Yesterday, SaraRules and I went to the Utah Foster Care Chalk Art Festival. We saw , Jack and Turtle… and their art piece. We also saw ‘s parents, as well as and while we were there. There were a lot of good pieces, but it was also raining, so many of them were under plastic and/or tents?

We headed up to SaraRules’ parents’, met Logan and formulated our gameplan for the afternoon. Between the three of us, we came up with going to a movie. We decided on The Taking of Pelham 123. It was a good movie and had definitely been updated to take advantage of the changes in technology in the past 35 years. Some of the specifics of the movie also changed, but not in ways that detracted from the overall story. One noticeable difference: Where the original movie was more of a “heist” movie, with a lot of chess-like, cat-and-mouse moves and feints, this movie was more… direct with its interaction between the characters of Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

After the movie, we headed back home for a while before we decided to make a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden. They are having their Summer Sale and one of the items listed was an office chair. After getting to the store, however, we opted on a different chair than we had originally gone to pick up. Since we were already in the south part of the valley, we met up with , and (new)Chris for dinner at V.I.

Today, Chris came over and played HeroClix. We did a “Soldiers vs. Soldiers” match. Chris took an early lead, then I evened things up. From there, we traded punches and shots until he wound up wearing down my team.

Next, I headed over to SaraRules’ parents’ for dinner and a movie. Tonight’s fare: The Devil’s Backbone.

Tomorrow, a new work week begins. Yay.

“Here comes the rain again…”

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"Here comes the rain again..."

Saturday – 20 June 2009
I was awake at 0632 this morning. Hooray for internal clocks!  I laid in bed for another 45 minutes waiting for sleep to reclaim me… which it finally did. But, I was up again about 8:30. At that point, I decided to just call it a morning.

Today, we’re heading down to the Chalk Art Festival at The Gateway. Then, we’re… we’re… you know, we don’t really have anything on tap.  That’s not a bad thing, though.

Stray Toasters

Time to go play in the… well, it looks like it’s raining. Again.  Where’d I put those ark plans…?


“My head explodes and my body aches…”

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"My head explodes and my body aches..."

Friday – 19 June 2009
Good Juneteenth to all.

…and a belated Happy Birthday to sister-in-law-to-be Meliko:

Since it's your birthday, I'm going to grant your ridiculous request to barbecue you a veggie burger

I ate something – I have a pretty good idea of what it was at this point – on Wednesday that seriously did not agree with me. I’m Ivory Soap sure that I’ve spent more time looking at the walls (and shower curtain and pictures and towels and… and… and…) in the bathroom in the past two days than I have in the past two weeks. This has definitely come under the heading of “not fun.” On the flip side, when I weighed myself this morning, I was down to 180.5 lbs; so apparently there was a nominally “positive” side effect.

Yesterday, our company held a little shindig for our most-recent software release. There was a cook-out in a park down in Utah County and a “team-building” exercise – the new Star Trek movie. It was as much time the third time as it was the first two times I saw it. And I managed to catch two Easter eggs that I had previously missed: Scotty’s tribble and the reference to “Cadet Vader.” I did not, however, see the R2-D2 in the debris field over Vulcan. Oh, well, just something to look forward to when the DVD comes out.

Stray Toasters