Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.”

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"It is better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees."

Monday – 31 May 2010
Today is Memorial Day.

Please remember that today is not about sales or barbecues; take some time to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty to protect the freedoms that we hold dear.

This weekend has been good. I didn’t make it to Dr. Volt’s on Saturday, but I did fire up City of Heroes and spend some time in Paragon City. I should do that more often. We then headed to Sugar House to try a New York Style pizzeria called Este. Holy cow! Good stuff! Highly recommended. The evening’s symphony was quite nice. Before the performance, I attended a short lecture, given by guest conductor Carlo Rizzi. The Mozart was good, but I found that I enjoyed the Mahler piece, Symphony No. 1 in D Major (“Titan”), more.

After the symphony, we came home and watched Surveillance, a movie that I had requested from Netflix. We both disliked the movie. On many levels.

If you have a chance to see this movie or do just about anything else, go with Option B. We took the bullet for you on this one.

Sunday started off with a stroll to Pin-up Girl Espresso. After that, SaraRules and I spent a couple of hours installing a chair rail in the dining room. I must say that it looks pretty good. It will get sanded and painted either today or tomorrow. After that, Chris came over and we played HALO 3: ODST for a few hours. Following the Covenant eradication, I fired up the grill and we cooked chicken and some fresh vegetables. We stopped by to visit the in-laws and wound down the evening with The Road, based on the book of the same name, by Cormac McCarthy. I had literally just finished reading the book before we watched the movie. The adaptation was good, and kept the feel and pacing of the story without feeling like it meandered and/or got lost.

Today, there will be things… and stuff… I’m just not sure exactly “what.” One of the options is to paint my office. I found an off-white (barely off-white, though) color that I like called “Swiss Coffee.” Go figure. Once the painting is done, I finally do things like buy a desk and start unpacking/setting up my office. Amen.

Stray Toasters

Time to find something to do…


Saturday Morning Musings…

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Saturday Morning Musings...

Saturday – 29 May 2010
It’s a grey and overcast morning. It’s also supposed to be a bit cooler today, on the order of 10-15F cooler. (And, naturally, as I type that, the sun decides to put in an appearance…)

iHurt. That is my explanation/definition for how I feel after yesterday’s workout. It’s aftermath of that whole “take a month or two off before going back to the gym” thing. I believe that a pair of ibuprofen caplets are in my future.

Yesterday’s excursion to Hobby Lobby was decent. I bought a couple of things, but nothing major. However, the store was a-flurry with associates adding merchandise to the shelves and reworking items according to new planograms. To be honest, it was nice to see “more stuff” on the shelves, as the store looked a little… threadbare… in some spots when it opened.

After the HL excursion, I also went to The Train Shoppe. It seems as though it is becoming a traditional 9/80 day off stop. I picked up a couple of books, two pieces of track to display the old C&O steam engine and tender I bought a few months back, and I ordered a new toy: Chessie System Merger Special. It should arrive in late-July.  Hopefully, I’ll have figured out a place for it to go by then…

Clitorati was good last night. I got to the bookstore a little early, so I could do a bit of drawing — I had an idea for a new song lyric-to-drawing and wanted to get started on it. Marci (a coworker) joined us for the first time in many moons; and we even had a newcomer, Monica. Hopefully, we didn’t scare either of them away permanently or scar them too deeply.

Today, I’m not sure what’s on the docket. I may head over to Dr. Volt’s and see if anyone’s up for a pick-up game of HeroClix this afternoon. This evening, SaraRules and I are going to the symphony for the final concert of the season; tonight’s program includes Mahler and Mozart.

Stray Toasters

Breakfast is just about ready.  I should clear off the table.


“Everybody wants to pass as cats…”

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"Everybody wants to pass as cats..."

Friday – 28 May 2010
It’s my 9/80 day off. Amen.

Not only that, but the day has been nominally productive so far. I woke up a little before SaraRules headed to work. I thought about having a spot of breakfast, but didn’t… for whatever reason. After she left, I did my best impression of a cat and sprawled on the sitting room floor, in a pool of sunlight. It felt good. Next thing I know, I’d lost an hour. (Oh, well… that’s what days off are for.) I got up, did a load of laundry and then did something that I haven’t done in “far too long.”

I went to the gym.

That’s right, I went to the gym. I’ve discovered over the years that I prefer working out with someone, but I’m not completely averse to going alone. I’ve also discovered that not going to the gym for a month or so means that you have to work back up to where you used to be. But… I went to the gym. I worked out. And it was good. Selah. Not only that, but I ran into former coworker, Josh, there; so I have a witness that I was actually there and doing stuff.

Back home for a shower and shave and a bite to eat. In a little bit, SaraRules’ mother is coming over and we’re heading down to the new Hobby Lobby.  (Yeah, I know: It’s a hard-knock life to have to go to Hobby Lobby on your day off…)

Not sure what the rest of the afternoon holds, but there’s Clitorati tonight.

Yesterday’s step count: 2019 steps.

Today’s workout consisted of:

  • Elliptical: 10 minutes, avg. speed ~5.5 MPH
  • Sit-ups (incline): 3 sets/20 reps
  • Bench Press: 3 sets/10 reps
    • 2 sets @ 185 lbs
    • 1 set @ 135 lbs
  • Compound Row: 3 sets/10 reps, 125 lbs
  • Curls (dumbbell): 3 sets/10 reps, 20 lbs
  • Tricep Press (overhead, dumbbell): 3 sets/10 reps, 40 lbs

The workout was good… and tiring. I think that I might have to back off on some of the weights a bit, until I get back into the swing of things. But, that’s okay. I have nothing but time, air and opportunity.

Stray Toasters

Bonne’s here… and we’re off!


“Artificial flowers, artificial flowers… Flowers for ladies of high fashion to wear…”

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"Artificial flowers, artificial flowers... Flowers for ladies of high fashion to wear..."

Thursday – 27 May 2010
Good NBN Thursday/Technical Friday to all.

Last night, I had the pleasure of accompanying SaraRules, OnlyAly and Jana to Ballet West’s Innovations performance. Before that, we – along with – had dinner at P.F. Chang’s.  I had the Lemon Scallops, which were quite good. bowed out of seeing the performance, so it was just me and the ladies and the arts. SaraRules and I ran into Melia (USUO’s President and CEO) and Thierry Fischer, Utah Symphony’s Music Director as we entered the theatre. We enjoyed each of the pieces, though we enjoyed some more than others. Among my favorites were:

  • Outward – a nice jazz/modern dance inspired piece that I really enjoyed, and
  • Descent – a Danse Macabre, including a well-choreographed waltz – that was very nice.

Added bonus: One of the costume designers for Descent was Christopher Larson, who also designed the glass flowers that SaraRules and I had at our wedding – her bouquet and my boutonniere:

After the performance, the four of us went over to Capo for some post-ballet gelato. I had a combination of Peanut Butter Brownie gelato and Heath Bar gelato; they were very good.  (I can see why SaraRules is such a fan of the place.)

All in all, it was a very nice change of pace and a good way to spend the evening.

Chew on This: Food For Thought

Transience and limits are at the core of our nature, and you can consider that a curse or a blessing. Our lives are less than atomic flickers on the scale of the cosmos, but they would be equally infinitesimal if they lasted 10 million times longer, and they would still be infinitely precious to us. You have the chance to enjoy some morsel of the 1014 years that the sun and stars will last. You should.

John Rennie

Yesterday’s step total: 4,918 steps.

Stray Toasters


“Oh, say can you see…”

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"Oh, say can you see..."

Wednesday – 26 May 2010
From snow to sun to… drab and overcast… in 48 hours.
Welcome to the Land Behind the Zion Curtain!

But at least it’s (Sushi and) Comics Wednesday.
Comics are guaranteed; sushi, not so much… but we shall see what the day brings.

Getting back into the swing of things yesterday was slow. After work, SaraRules and I met at her folks’ place – they were kind enough to check on the house and get our mail while we were out of town. Next, home for dinner and some post-vacation relaxing. We finished watching Disc 1 of Mad Men, which we had started watching on the plane ride from IAH to SLC.  Good show. Other discs will be added to the Netflix queue, I believe.

I woke up with my internal radio set to “Random Play.” A lot of odd things filtered through, but the most unusual – and by far the most random – thing was the theme from Dr. Shrinker, a show I used to watch when I was a kid. As Dr. Rosenblatt would say, “It’s so bizarre…”

Stray Toasters


“We’re only at home when we’re on the wing…”

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"We're only at home when we're on the wing..."

Monday – 24 May 2010
I started writing this as we were on the way back to Houston. For a “long weekend,” this past one flew by far too quickly. That’s not to say that it wasn’t fun, though. It was. And it was great to get home, even if only for a few days.

Saturday, we slept in later than we had planned. It was good on a couple of counts:

  1. We’d been flying for the better part of the day on Friday
  2. It allowed us to acclimate to the time zone change.

We tried hooking up with William and Charlie, but our schedules just didn’t synch up. Next, we did a little shopping. We stopped at Randy’s Quilt Shop, a shop we discovered on our last trip to Greensboro. SaraRules found some quilt squares and we found a few fabric patterns that will be used in the frames in the bathroom… or wherever we wind up putting the frames.

Next stop, Acme Comics. I almost didn’t stop, but SaraRules – in her wisdom – questioned my decision… and I made the turn into their lot. Good thing, too. I did a little ‘Clix shopping. Among the haul, I found:

  • Cyclops (Infinity Challenge LE)
  • Giant-Man (Ultimates)
  • Hawkeye
  • Maximus — getting me one step closer to completing my Inhumans team — and
  • Silver Savage

…and I got a really good deal on the lot, so I’m far from complaining. Next, we headed down the block to Edward McKay’s Used Books. I’ve been a fan of the store for many moons and they have yet to let me down.

After that, we headed over to Four Seasons Town Center. I hadn’t been there in… a long time. Some things had changed, others… not so much. The people-watching was as good as ever, though. Our motives for hitting the mall did include shopping: SaraRules wanted to look for a dress to wear to Mom’s concert on Sunday. She found a very cute black dress with off-white polka dots — it was very flattering on her.

We’d started getting hungry, so our next stop was Smokey Bones. We were joined a little later by Theo and Donalja. The food and the company were both very good. In fact, the only complaints were the temperature – AC on “MEGA-COLD” – and the karaoke. The not-good karaoke. ‘Nuff said. After dinner, we were on our way home again. We were pleasantly surprised to find my parents still awake… and hanging out with my Aunt Janet and Uncle Gerald. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning chatting.

Sunday morning came far too early. I’d planned on sleeping in and making up for lost sleep due to flying and Saturday’s running around and late night chatting.

No go, Flight.

I woke up around 8:30, thanks to a screaming bladder. As I was making my way back to my bedroom, my mother called me and asked if I would go with her to her school, to help in setting up for her concert.

::: twitch :::

But, the bed… it is so close…
Sleep… there is precious sleep to be had…

I told her “Yes” and started to get ready. Why did I have to go? The seniors had done a PowerPoint presentation, to be shown during the concert, and there was no laptop/desktop on which to show it and “someone” had to set up the projector for it. No problem. As my mother put it, “I knew that you would have your laptop with you. It’s not like you go anywhere without it.” She was right – and lucky – that I had it AND had PowerPoint installed.

Back home. NAP! Change. Back to the school.

I don’t think that I have attended one of my mother’s since I moved out west. My uncle, who I’m not sure had ever attended one of her concerts, flew in Sunday afternoon, to be there as well. I am glad that I was able to make it for this one – her last, as she is retiring in three weeks… after nearly forty years of educating. It was good to see Mom in her element, so to speak. It was also nice to be (a small) part of it, helping out with the PowerPoint portion of the program. But, the best part of it was being there when her students offered their thanks and appreciation for the years of hard work and devotion that Mom has put into that program. Not only were her current students there, but alumni – some as far as twenty-plus years back – came back to participate in the concert.

Middle School Chorus

Senior High School Chorus

Senior High and Alumni Combined Choruses

Award from Mayor’s Office and City Council

A final farewell.

After the concert, we went home for the… after-party. Mom had invited people over for a light fare. Once again, we sat around, talking and reminiscing, for hours. I saw people I haven’t seen in a long time, ranging from a year or two to as far as almost thirty years ago.

Yesterday, we got up, got our things together and packed up the cars. We had lunch at Harper’s. After that, we dropped my uncle at the Greensboro airport. Then we headed to Kris’ apartment for a bit, before heading to Raleigh to catch our flight.

My Family (…or at least a part of it)

Our travel was pretty uneventful. Again, the airports offered good people-watching. After we got to the Houston airport, we decided to follow-up on a suggestion that SaraRules had in Raleigh and found an ice cream vendor. It was good.

We got home late last night.
The alarm went off far too early.
The workday grind is off to a good start… but it’s a three-day work week, so I think I can handle it.


“Is it the sky today, the way that the wind’s pushing the clouds?”

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"Is it the sky today, the way that the wind's pushing the clouds?"

Saturday – 22 May 2010
Greetings from the Right Coast.

After spending eight-plus hours in airports and planes, SaraRules and I made it into RDU.  Kris (Sib-2) picked us up and brought us to my parents’ house. Everyone is doing well. Hanging out with the family was quiet and relatively low-key, which was nice.

This morning involved sleeping in, relatively speaking. Granted, there was a two-hour offset, but sleeping in is sleeping in. It’s a little grey/overcast, but that’s okay — there’s a lot of green around. That’s one of the things that I miss out west. (Yes, there are trees, but the “green” part of the (very short) Spring season soon gives way to more brown tones as the heat of Summer sets in.)

I’m not sure what the afternoon and evening hold.  I’m going to try and get hold of a couple of the usual suspects and see about getting together for lunch or dinner… or something.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.
Time to find some trouble to get into…


“Ground Control to Major Tom… commencing countdown, engines on…”

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"Ground Control to Major Tom... commencing countdown, engines on..."

Friday – 21 May 2010
It’s not my 9/80 Friday off…

…but as of the end of work yesterday, I’m on a mini-vacation for the next four days. And later this morning, SaraRules and I will be winging my way east.

Last night was fairly low-key. Dinner.  TV (Fringe – I called the twist at the end before the reveal). And packing. And a little more TV.

I apparently put in a few more steps than I thought yesterday: 5139 steps.

Stray Toasters


“The good guys dress in black, remember that…”

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"The good guys dress in black, remember that..."

Thursday – 20 May 2010
This week’s NBN Thursday has kicked off with a mixture of clouds and sun… although the sun seems to be winning out.

Last night, SaraRules and I opted to take the easy way out for dinner and let someone else do the cooking. We settled on Pawit’s Royale Thai. Good call on our parts. The food was very good and quite satisfying. The later evening was spent relaxing — quilting for SaraRules, reading this week’s rather good four-color haul for me.

Yesterday’s step total: 3189 steps.

Stray Toasters

Just have to get through the workday grind and by this time tomorrow, we’ll be on our way to the Right Coast. Selah.


“Alone, and bored, on a 30th Century night…”

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"Alone, and bored, on a 30th Century night..."

Wednesday – 19 May 2010
It’s Comics and Sushi Wednesday.
This means that…

…hits shelves today. Finally.

Last night, Chris came over and we played more HALO 3: ODST. And it was good… unless you were a Covenant warrior. In that case, life was neither good nor long. We also talked ‘Clix and a few other games, too.

Yesterday was a slow day for walking: 3201 steps.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.


“Hush, hush, keep it down now… Voices carry.”

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"Hush, hush, keep it down now... Voices carry."

Tuesday – 18 May 2010
Not many of the leaves are brown, but the sky is grey.

Today is my cousin, Ryan’s, birthday:

I remember when you weren't so disturbingly old

Last night, SaraRules fixed Sloppy Joes for dinner. Very tasty!  After dinner, we went for a walk around the neighborhood; we covered roughly 1.67 miles in about 40 minutes. While out, we checked out some of our neighbors’ lawns and landscapes for ideas that we might like to employ in our own yard.

Upon returning home, SaraRules put in some time quilting, while I set about wiring a wall plate in the family room for coax and Ethernet. I noticed something just before I started running the wires: The Ethernet cable I was using was the 568a configuration… a variation which I had never made. Once I figured out which of the strands were different, wiring the plate was pretty easy. I apparently did it right, as the 360 found Xbox Live without too much ado. We wrapped up the evening with an episode of Human Target and some ice cream.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
There are many wonderful things to be done, and only you can do them.

Last night’s walk helped keep up the step total: 6,318 steps.

I’m going to try to get back into the gym next week, after we get back from the Right Coast.  We’ll see how that goes.

Stray Toasters


“Monday, Monday…”

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"Monday, Monday..."

Monday – 17 May 2010
It was 60F and sunny when I left home this morning.
The projected high is 80F.
This has to be a dream…

Yesterday, the lawn was mowed and we finished putting primer on the walls in my office. There has to be at least a 40% increase to the room’s overall brightness. I wish I had taken before/after pictures to show just how great a difference it is.

Last night, SaraRules and I went to the in-laws’ for dinner and a movie. The dinner fare was grilled burgers and salad and fixin’s and whatnot. For dessert, we had homemade brownies, with mocha rum sauce and ice cream. Everything was very good.

Our movie fare was Daybreakers. This was not-so-great. In fact, I had to dig find these visual aids:

That’s right: Lawn darts.
It wasn’t entirely painful, but having seen this movie, I don’t need to see it again. This movie was apparently written and directed by the same duo who directed Undead, another film I’d like to forget. SaraRules kept this fact from me until after the movie was over, in the hopes that this would be a better experience and that I’d possibly be willing to give the directors a fair shake, without the mental taint of Undead shading my opinion. (Unfortunately, it didn’t quite pan out that way.)

I’ve been trying to keep track of my walking over the past few days:

  • Friday: 4100-something steps (written down at home, but I forgot to transpose it)
  • Saturday: 8132 steps
  • Sunday : 5140 steps

Stray Toasters


Just another quiet Sunday morning

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Sunday – 16 May 2010
Midway through the weekend and all’s well.

Yesterday, SaraRules and I got up and headed over to Rich’s Bagels for breakfast. I must admit, having a neighborhood bagel shop within walking distance is rather nice. After breakfast, SaraRules went to work in the garden, as I got ready for another HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s.

The tourney was good. There were (orginally) ten players; one had to leave after the second round, so I got to put together a team and play a “bye” in the third round. Since WizKids gave Checkmate a nice boost with The Brave and the Bold (and as I’ve had a fondness for Checkmate since the late 80s), I put together… dun dun dunnnn… a Checkmate team. Oh, come on… like you didn’t see that coming. I played against Pete, who had also assembled a Checkmate team, but we took slightly different tacks with our teams. After forty minutes, we danced around the board, as our teams were fairly evenly matched. I had taken out a couple of  Pete’s figures, but since it was a bye, he got the TKO.

Next, back home for dinner and to get ready for the evening’s entertainment: The opera. We saw a couple of one-act operas by Puccini: Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicci. While both operas were good, both SaraRules and I agreed that Suor Angelica was the superior – and far more moving – of the two. If you’re in the SLC Metro area and looking for a good evening’s entertainment, I’d advise seeing these operas.

After the opera, we stopped at The Point After. We met up with Jenny and Julie and a few other friends who were having an anniversary celebration of Jess’ life. We didn’t stay very long, but it was nice to see everyone.

This morning, it was nice to be able to sleep in and not have to worry about rushing around to get something done.

Stray Toasters

Time for some caffeination and to see what the day holds.


“Signal transmitted, message received…”

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"Signal transmitted, message received..."

Friday – 14 May 2010
I know that this is going to be nigh-impossible to believe, but…

We have cable and Internet at the house. Finally!

Bernie, today’s Tech du Jour, showed up around 1100. He walked through, saw where I wanted the lines run and, just like Big Daddy Kane, he got the job d-0-n-e. (He worked… baby!) There was a slight problem with a couple of channels, but he said that if they didn’t clear up by tomorrow, to call in and get some answers.

Last night, SaraRules was part Junior League of Salt Lake City’s Cookbook Party and Tasting. The event was held at Mountain Land Design, which has a number of kitchen and bath settings for visitors to walk through and examine. The event was good, and the food was also tasty.

Okay, ‘Toasters and more posting later… after waiting for the installation, I’ve lost part of the day for running around.  I’ve got to go make up for lost time.


“The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”

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"The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step."

Thursday – 13 May 2010
An NBN Thursday that starts with… sun?!
I should check to make sure that this isn’t Oz.

Last night, SaraRules and I went out for dinner to Outback Steakhouse. (Mmm. prime rib and cheese fries…) After dinner, we headed downtown to meet up with Josh, Michael and Miranda, who are up from Cedar for an arts conference. We went to Settebello for gelato and coffee. Next, SaraRules and I stopped by the in-laws’ for a few minutes.

This morning, I stopped to pick up loonybin88 – in town to help with a work project – from dropping his car off at the garage. On the way to the office, I drove him by the house, as he hadn’t seen it yet. I went to throw some trash away and noticed about 3 yards of coax cable in the garbage can.

Õ,ô ?!?

I didn’t think too much about it at the time, other than John might have – for whatever reason – tossed some of the extra cable he ran for the neighbor’s job in our can. Okay, no big deal. I gave loonybin88 the nickel tour of the house and backyard. And that’s when I saw it:

A new coil of coax at the end of the line that goes from the service node into the house.

Unless The Cable Fairy paid us an unexpected visit yesterday, I can only assume that John ran the new line Tuesday evening so that we just need to have a new splice done tomorrow. (At least “tomorrow, in theory…”)

While not a “workout,” per se, I joined the zaibatsu’s “Shape Up” fitness challenge a couple of weeks ago. It officially started this past Monday… right in the middle of me being sick. Yay. Yesterday, I remembered to wear the pedometer that accompanied the program’s information packet.

Over the course of the day, I walked 5,132 steps.

Like I said, “not a ‘workout,’ per se,” but it’s a start.

Stray Toasters

On to the grind.