Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Our house, in the middle of our street…”

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"Our house, in the middle of our street..."

Wednesday – 31 March 2010
SaraRules and I just got in from signing a bunch of paperwork this morning and….

We just bought a house!

That’s right, we’re movin’ on up, just like George and Weezie.  (The house is a little farther east than our apartment…) We’d been talking about taking the plunge for a while and when we decided to dive in, everything fell into place rather nicely.

Shortly after we got married, the original deadline for the new homebuyer’s credit was extended to April 2010. Around Christmas, we decided that we wanted to get in on that action. We started looking at the Utah MLS website for homes that we liked. (Oddly enough, there were a lot of them.) We started narrowing down our searches based on a number of criteria:

  • Location
  • Size
  • Price
  • Age and condition of the property
  • Garage (okay… this was really much more my criterium than SaraRules’)
  • …and I’m sure there were others.

put us in touch with a great real estate agent, Joe, and an equally amazing mortgage broker, Brady.  Our first “encounter” with Joe… wasn’t. He dropped off a sheaf of MLS listings for us to peruse in the middle of the night. Okay. We plowed through the listings and found a number of properties that we liked. We started looking at places on Friday, 05 March. (Yes, you read that correctly: We went from looking to closing in less than four weeks.  BLAOW!) The house we chose was the third one we saw; we both agreed that it had all of the elements we wanted.

We offered…
The owners countered…
We countered again…
They agreed to our counter… and the ball started rolling.

And three-and-a-half weeks later, we’re home owners.

And, as if that wasn’t enough: Today is also Comics and Sushi Wednesday. Win-Win-Win.

Stray Toasters

Did I mention: “We bought a house!” yet?  I did?  Okay, just making sure.


Funny… this doesn’t look like Belgium.

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Funny... this doesn't look like Belgium.

Tuesday – 30 March 2010
That’s really the best way to describe how the morning has gone. There were some… networking issues that took a little longer to sort out than planned. They have been dealt with and all is well with the world once more. At least, for the time being.

::: hangs up cape :::

Last night was relatively quiet. I hung out at home while SaraRules was at a club meeting. Then we met up at the mall and did a little shopping. Back home for some TV and downtime. I also worked on the railroad building for the Dr. Volt’s masterboard.

Stray Toasters


Huh.  I just noticed that I’m actually dressed like my icon, with the exception of the tie color being different.

“He’s got a force field and a flexible plan…”

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"He's got a force field and a flexible plan..."

Monday – 29 March 2010
It’s overcast, but warm. I can live with that, especially since it’s Monday.

Last night was low-key. We had dinner with SaraRules’ parents. As we ate, we watched The Princess and the Frog. I still think that it was a good – and fun – movie. After that, we did grocery shopping and went home. SaraRules did some some quilting, I started laying out the floor plan for the railroad station for Dr. Volt’s. I also took the opportunity to catch up on another episode of 24. Win-Win.

This morning, I had Eve’s Let Me Blow Ya Mind running through my head…

…so we’ll go with that for this morning’s musical kick-off.

Stray Toasters

Wait…what’s that?! It’s actually (nominally) warm!? Nice!

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Wait...what's that?! It's actually (nominally) warm!? Nice!

Sunday – 28 March 2010
To quote the late Mr. Rogers: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” It’s sunny, practically cloudless and the temperature is in the mid-50s. It’s comfortable enough that I’m wearing my first polo shirt of the season. (Yes, I know “the season” is barely a week old, but that’s not the point.)

Yesterday, after breakfast with Chris, we headed up to Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection to hold this weekend’s tournament.  The scenario that I came up with for this week was “Generals,” based somewhat on Wizkids’ new “Minions” game mechanic. The way it shook out was as follows:

  • Team Build: 300 Points
  • Format: Restricted*
  • Your “General” figure must have a higher point value than the rest of your “lieutenants.”
    • Generals can use Mastermind**, if adjacent to a lieutenant.
    • Lieutenants get a +1 to their attack when within six (6) squares of your general.
  • * – “Restricted” means that only certain sets are allowable to be played
    ** – Mastermind is a power that allows a figure to use another figure as a “human shield,” so to speak.

The tournament went over well, there were a few less people than expected – one of the players was moving and drafted a few of the others to help with the move. No worries. The whole thing went over well. Pictures of the event can be seen here.

After the tournament, I headed home and had dinner with SaraRules before she headed off to work. The next part of the evening was spent surfing channels and the Internet… and working out a few more details about the gaming masterboard I am putting together for Dave and the guys at Dr. Volt’s.  One of the things I watched was Diamonds Are Forever. I discovered something that I didn’t know about one of the actors in the movie: The person who played Willard Whyte was Jimmy Dean… yeah, the same guy you used to see hawking Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage. Who knew?!

After SaraRules got home, we watched Jason and the Argonauts. The movie featured a lot of work by famous special effects artist Ray Harryhausen. It was definitely “a bit” dated, but still a decent watch.

Today, we slept in… and it was good. After a light breakfast, we headed to the gym to get in a bit of a workout:

  • Elliptical – 10 minutes, Random
    • 6 minutes at 5.5 MPH
    • 4 minutes @ 7 MPH
  • Bench Press – 3 sets/8 reps, 205 lbs
  • Pulldowns – 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Flys (dumbbell, bench) – 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Bent-over Rows – 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Leg Extensions – 2 sets/10 reps, 70 lbs
  • Leg Curls – 2 sets/10 reps, 70 lbs

Post-workout weight: 180.5 lbs

This evening, we’re heading up to the in-laws’ for dinner and a movie. Should make for a nice and relatively quiet evening.

Stray Toasters

Off to face the rest of the day!


“Mr. Telephone Man, there’s something wrong with my line…”

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"Mr. Telephone Man, there's something wrong with my line..."

Friday – 26 March 2010
It’s snowing.

That’s right: Mother Nature’s silent mocking laughter, in the face of Spring, is descending upon the Land Behind the Zion Curtain. It’s not a blizzard (or “snowmaggedon” or “snowpocalypse”), but it’s snowing, nonetheless. Did I mention that I’m ready for Spring? The Council for Better Driving advises caution when taking to the streets today.

Last night, SaraRules and I visited her folks for a little bit. I had to take something to her father: A fresh new copy of the new TPB of The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability. He was pleasantly surprised by it. Yep, “Favored Son-In-Law” status: Confirmed.

After that, we went to dinner at Thai Orchid. (This came after we discovered that neither of us had taken the steaks we had planned to have for dinner out of the freezer to thaw…) I had forgotten that I’d been there a few months ago, with Josh and Marci. I had the Pad Kee Mao, which was moderately spicy, but very good.

When we got home, SaraRules tuned in Project Runway. They had an interesting challenge: The designers not only had to create a fashion item, but they got to design their own fabric, as well. Most of the choices were creative, some were… not-so-creative (and kind of boring). While watching this, I was going through the files I’d need to complete the gaming board for Dr. Volt’s. I thought that I had a decent handle on how to proceed, but when I started on it, I discovered that some of the pieces were slightly different measurements than I had thought. Not enough to completely stop production, but enough to make me consider a few things differently.

Stray Toasters

I should figure out what I want to do for lunch…



everyday glory, food for thought No Comments »

Recently, I have been on the periphery of some drama that got me thinking about the line: “The friend of my friend is not always my friend.”  This morning, I had a conversation with a coworker which made me think of that line again…

In turn, I was reminded of a poem I wrote a few years ago as part of a challenge in an LJ community called Poetry Tag.  The challenge was:

here is something to try- its this word i read in a book-
i donno if its real, but i liked it

(new guinea for a truth everyone knows but no one speaks of)

I hadn’t gone back to look up the poem in some time, but in light of today’s conversation, it seemed relevant:


The friend of my friend is not always my friend.
The enemy of my friend may mean the world to me.
The enemy of my enemy might not be someone I need to know.
But all of us make the world go round.

Truth is not always spoken.
Lies are not always hurtful.
Words can have many meanings.
Yet, they are ultimately nothing but sound.

A closed fist may be used to help.
An open hand to hurt.
But, the two together can be used to build
A better world on common ground.

Just thought I’d share.


“Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl…”

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"Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl..."

Thursday – 25 March 2010
Another NBN Thursday kicks off in the valley. This morning is a bit overcast, but the forecast isn’t calling for rain… at least not that I’m aware of. Doesn’t really matter, either way, because I kicked off the morning with 112 and that is a good thing:

I left work a little early yesterday; I was tired and my productivity  was flagging. I took that as an indicator that it would be beneficial to go home and take a nap. And that’s exactly what I did. And it was good. After that, SaraRules and I headed to Dask’s for a bite to eat. She later went to see Legally Blonde: The Musical with Melissa, while I stayed home and read yesterday’s four-color haul. After that, it was off to the mall to see if the local Eddie Bauer store to pick up a new pair of jeans – they were out of my size – and to do a little window shopping. I headed home and watched another episode of 24 — I’m slowly catching up on this season.

Stray Toasters

And with that… meeting time!


“Do it now cause ‘tomorrow’ ain’t promised ‘today’… “

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"Do it now cause 'tomorrow' ain't promised 'today'... "

Wednesday – 24 March 2010
The sun is out.
It’s Comics and Sushi Wednesday.
And, the work day morning is starting off with a little Ludacris:

Last night, I headed over to Chris’ to play dolls. We decided to do a 1500-point Avengers vs. Justice Society of America game. We played on the “Fountain of Asgard” map, which I don’t think that I had previously played on. It was a good game; while I won’t say that Chris completely picked my team apart (My Superman did, however, fall at the hands of a angry Hercules…), he did win the game. Decisively. It was fun and we both got to field some pieces that we hadn’t had opportunities to play before.

Stray Toasters

Back to it.


“I am the smiling face on your TV…”

cyberpunk/steampunk, dining and cuisine, everyday glory, family and friends, games, geekery, movies and TV, music, news and info, politics and law, science and technology, style, The Covet List, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
"I am the smiling face on your TV..."

Tuesday – 23 March 2010
This morning there was… well… to call it a “flurry” would be a bit of an overstatement. Yes, there were snow flakes. Yes, they were falling. But, no, they weren’t falling en masse. And, you sort of had to look to see that there really was snow falling and that it wasn’t an illusion or trick of light.

Last night, I needed some “down time.” I got it. It was good. I spent a portion of the time assembling a team of ‘Clix for tonight’s game with Chris.

I am often amused and stymied by the randomness of the music that pops into my head first thing in the morning. Today was no exception. This morning’s “Song Stuck on Repeat” was Only In My Dreams, by Debbie Gibson. Yeah. Really. And, to be honest, it wasn’t even the whole song. It was mostly just a few lines from the first verse. I blame my old dorm-mate, Mark D., for this one — he was a pretty big fan of hers, back in the day.  Thanks, Mark.

Stray Toasters

Back to the grind…


They make IV coffee drips for Monday mornings, don’t they?

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They make IV coffee drips for Monday mornings, don't they?

Monday – 22 March 2010
To quote Mr. Rogers: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” The sun’s getting ready to put in an appearance over the mountains, there are a few clouds in the sky (although the forecast says we’ll get some precipitation later in the day) and the temps are supposed to be in the middle 50s.

Yesterday was a somewhat lazy and quiet day. I slept in a bit and then hung out in the living room, playing on the Interwebs. After SaraRules got up, we headed over to Rich’s Bagels for a bite to eat before she had to head downtown for the last performance of The Italian Girl in Algiers. When she left, I had all kinds of grand designs of how I’d spend the afternoon:

  • Drawing
  • Building a WWG masterboard for Dr. Volt’s
  • Playing LEGO Batman
  • Reading comics

Suffice if to say that the world was my proverbial oyster! So, how did I spend my time?


That’s right… cleaning. It needed to be done, so I can’t really say that it was a waste of time.

When I was done, I headed up to the local Beans & Brews for a frozen mocha (no shots, the espresso machine was on the fritz) and to sketch up a design for the WWG masterboard – I’m going to build a railroad station.


SaraRules fixed a tasty dinner of seasoned shrimp over rice pilaf and I threw together a salad to go with it. We had a white wine – I can’t remember what it was though – to go with it; it was very palatable.

After dinner – and some shopping – we came home and watched Surrogates. It was a good movie and an interesting analogue to Gamer, in the same way that Armageddon and Deep Impact were analogous. I would have to say that Surrogates was a better movie, on the whole, though.

Stray Toasters

I need more coffee.


Sunday Morning Stuff and Things

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Sunday Morning Stuff and Things

Sunday – 21 March 2010
Good morning, Second Day of Spring.
It’s a bright and sunny day outside. I can hear birds chirping in the trees outside the sliding glass door.

Yesterday also turned out to be a very nice day, weather-wise. Low-to-mid 50s, with lots of sun and no clouds. In fact, it was nice enough to ride around with the sunroof open and the windows down a bit.

SaraRules and I went to Cottonwood Cafe for lunch yesterday. One of these days, maybe I’ll remember how messy their Mushroom Bacon Cheeseburger is before I order it. (But, it’s oh so tasty…)  After lunch, we trekked south and west to visit Hobby Lobby. We wandered around the store for a bit; I found a couple of model railroading books that followed me home. Next stop: The Garden of Sweden. Miraculously, I walked out of there empty-handed. I was proud of myself. (Or is it that I was disappointed in them for not having anything that I couldn’t live without…?) After the fun part of the excursion, came the less-fun-but-just-as-important task of running errands.

After errands were run and there was no place else that we needed/wanted to go, we came home. SaraRules took a nap, I hopped on the nerd. After an hour-plus of surfing the Interwebs, I had a minor epiphany: I was hungry. I awakened SaraRules and we decided to get something to eat. We agreed upon Olive Garden, called Galadriel to see if she wanted to join us and we were on our way. We were seated inside of five minutes. Our server, Jaron, was pretty quick on the uptake. I had the calamari appetizer, Pasta e Fagioli soup and the Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara, washed down with a glass of Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay. Everything tasted very good.

Back home to finalize plans for the rest of the evening. We decided to go bowling. We figured that we’d check out Karen Pullman’s Pro Shop and Bowling Center, which is pretty much just around the corner from where we live. Nice place. Fifteen lanes. Not nearly as chaotic as Sandy All-Star Lanes used to be. Jana and Chris also joined us. My games were off — two of them were WAY off: I bowled 102, 106, 165. I couldn’t close a frame in the first two games to save my life. Seriously. And I missed some/most of the spares by inches. However, Galadriel had the hot hand last night: 144, 141, 186. Yeah, she was all over it.

Today, I have absolutely no idea what I want to do, let alone what I’m going to do. SaraRules has the final performance of The Italian Girl in Algiers this afternoon, which means that I’m a bachelor from about 1230 until 1800. We’ll have to see what comes up.

Stray Toasters


“Conjunction Junction, what’s your function…?”

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"Conjunction Junction, what's your function...?"

Saturday – 20 March 2010
It’s the first day of Spring.
It’s sunny outside… hopefully, it will stay that way. Yesterday seemed to suffer from multiple personality disorder, as it was alternately sunny and snowy. Yeah. “Welcome to Utah — If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”

Yesterday was a good day, all around. I had lunch with Galadriel and Paul at California Pizza Kitchen. I hadn’t been there in… years, I don’t even know how many. I had their jamabalaya, which I recalled as being good. (It was, indeed, quite good.) The lunch was a kind of meet-and-greet for Paul and Galadriel — I realized that he could provide a wealth of information to her about finance and accounting and thought that it would be a good opportunity to set up some kind of mentoring relationship. Thankfully, it went very well. Fait accompli.

After lunch, as I was around the corner from where she worked, I stopped in to say “Hello,” to my friend, Danette.  We chatted for a couple of minutes before I was in the wind again.

Next stop: USUO offices.
Objective: Drop in for a quick visit to a certain SaraRules.

From USUO, I headed over to The Train Shoppe. I’ve been threatening to go there for a couple of weeks, but never quite getting around to it. They had an old Lionel 4-4-2 engine and tender with C&O markings that I’d seen the last time I visited the store…

…and I wanted it. Fortunately, it was still there. And it came home with me. It was from Lionel’s 6-1184 Alleghany Steam Freight Ready-to-Run Set, from 1971/1972.  I had originally planned to put it atop the railroad pictures in our dining room – I currently have some HO scale train pieces there now – but reconsidered when I realized just how much the engine weighs.

Next, I headed down to visit Kate and Perry. We shot the bull for a bit, as the kids played. While I was there, Perry showed me the opening credits from – and I wish I was making this up – a Japanese Spider-Man show. Yeah. Complete with a giant robot. O,o Madness. And just in case you think that this was all just some bizarre fever-dream:

There. Told you so. Straight from the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…?!” file.

Next, it was home for a longer-than-planned pre-Clitorati nap… and then, I was off for the evening.

Stray Toasters

Time to go greet the day.


“If I could save time in a bottle…”

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"If I could save time in a bottle..."

Friday – 19 March 2010
It’s my 9/80 Friday off.  Amen.

Last night, SaraRules and I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. In it, former jewel thief John Robie is the prime suspect in a rash of high-dollar thefts. In order to clear his name, Robie has to figure out who the thief is and what his next target will be. This movie was fun… and funny.  “Witty” would be a better word than “funny,” in this case. It was also well-paced and well-acted. It was a definitely well worth watching.

After the movie, I did a little channel-surfing. I found Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee’s last movie. More whoop-ass per square inch than all six Rocky movies. The movie only had about 45 minutes left in it, by the time I turned to it… but that was hardly a reason not to watch it. After all: It had Bruce Lee.  I mentioned that, didn’t I? I did?  Okay, just checking.

To Catch a Thief:
Enter the Dragon:

I also realized that I didn’t give a rating to Alice in Wonderland, yesterday. Big oversight on my part.

Alice in Wonderland:

Stray Toasters

  • Back to using the standard WordPress interface, for this post at least. I’m still liking MacJournal, on the whole, but I need to spend some time getting to learn how to use it more effectively.
  • Jake Theis is back at WizKids. Bully for him! I enjoyed his posts on the old WK site, especially his “behind the scenes” looks at what went into branding and marketing. It will be good to see what he brings to the table now that he’s back on the block.
  • Commodore is back.
  • I was watching Property Virgins (I think) last night and they featured a young teacher from Ottawa, ON who had accepted a job in Dubai and was looking for a home. Every time they said “Abu Dhabi,” I kept wanting to substitute in “La Di Da Di.”  And for those of you who are unfamiliar with it:
  • “Piracy” sounds too sexy, say rightsholders
  • I just saw a commercial for Brawny paper towels that had the lumberjack on the package singing Lean On Me… and while I’m not bothered by the “uncanny valley,” the animation on the character looked… wrong.
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy: Don’t Worry, Your Phone Isn’t Making You Dumb
  • Google Reported Ready to Leave China April 10
  • A few weeks ago, I toyed with the idea of tossing a game-related blog/sub-blog on the site. Mostly, I wanted a centralized way to contact the HeroClix tournament regulars… and to have a way for people to easily contact one another, in case someone wanted to kick off a pick-up game during the week or on non-tournament weekends. I found BuddyPress. It looked like just the thing to fit the bill. I installed it – a few times – to try and get the setup right. And never did. It turned out that BP builds on WordPress MU (“multi-user”), rather than the standard version of WP. Once I got that installed, things seemed to fall more or less into place. There’s still a little tweaking to do on it, but I’m happy with where it is at this point.
  • UCSB Physicists Show Theory of Quantum Mechanics Applies to the Motion of Large Objects
  • From the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…?!” file: TV presenter gets death sentence for ‘sorcery’
  • Old Websites Sure Are Embarrassing

Time to get a wiggle on, I have people to meet for lunch!


“Guitars and sharps and flats…”

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"Guitars and sharps and flats..."

Thursday – 18 March 2010
It’s another NBN Thursday/Technical Friday combo.
I like those.

Last night, I saw Alice in Wonderland (in IMAX 3D) with Jana, Dave, Rebecca and Joe. It was a good movie, nicely adapted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. There were a couple of departures from the original stories, but not so much as to be incredibly distracting.

Correction: The music for the Mad Hatter’s dance, near the end of the film, seemed anachronistic and did pull me out of the movie, so to speak. Sorry, Danny Elfman.

I thought that the casting was good; I particularly enjoyed Mia Wasikowska’s performance as Alice. Johnny Depp’s turn as the Mad Hatter wasn’t as over-the-top/bad as I feared it could have been. Likewise, Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen was good as well. I do, however, have to agree with a comment Galadriel made a few weeks back:

“It would be nice to see a Tim Burton movie that didn’t have his wife and his best friend starring in it…”

All-in-all, it was an enjoyable movie and a nice way to spend an evening with friends.

Stray Toasters

Almost time for today’s round of meetings to begin…


“Everything’s Going Green”

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"Everything's Going Green"

Wednesday – 17 March 2010
Happy Green Lantern Day.
(And for the rest of you: Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.)
Today is also Comics and Sushi Wednesday — that’s right, it’s a three sushi meal week!
Win, Win and Win.

Last night was a low key night. There was no opera last night, so SaraRules had the night off. After work, we had dinner and then went on a trip to check out Tai Pan Trading. It was more… knick-knacks and what have you than we expected; we were thinking that there would be more furniture and larger goods. *shrug* Oh, well… now we know (and knowing is half the battle!). Next up, we hit the local Old Navy and Target and then headed back home.

Once we got in, SaraRules watched Project Runway; I split my time between watching Project Runway and my inner eyelids. I made a (quick-ish) run to Wal-Mart and then came home and watched a couple of shows that I’d recorded: Shatner’s Raw Nerve, with guest Leonard Nimoy, and an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Stray Toasters

And that’s good for now.