Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Knock, knock…”

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"Knock, knock..."

Saturday – 30 October 2010
It’s Hallowe’en weekend.

There’s been a lot of debate going around as to whether or not kids should be out Trick or Treating tonight or tomorrow night. *shrug* I’m not sure that I care either way. I know that we’re giving out candy tonight and, assuming that we’re home tomorrow night, we’ll probably give some out then as well.

Yesterday, and I headed up to Ogden to pay a long overdue visit to The Wonderful World of Trains. We both found things that we liked, but I was the only one who wound up walking out with a few things:

After we got back to SLC, I stopped in at The Train Shoppe and picked up some more track; I needed it to try out a layout I had in mind…

After SaraRules! got home from work, we headed to The Blue Iguana to have dinner with Bill Byrnes, one of her former professors. I’d been to The Red Iguana before, but never to The Blue Iguana. I had the beef enchiladas and they were quite tasty. Post-dinner, we met up with a few of the usual suspects for coffee and dinner… or, rather just drinks and a snack for us.

Back at home, I headed to the basement to work on my model railroad. The layout worked pretty much the way I had hoped: I did a single L-shaped dogbone loop…

Dog-bone arrangement of a continuous loop; the sides of an oval are squeezed together so it looks like a double-track section with a loop at each end where the trains turn around.

…with a couple of spurs off the inside line.

Today started lazily. (That’s far from a “bad” thing.) After breakfast, we got to the business of painting the guest bedroom. We used a different brand of paint than we used in the other rooms; it was thicker and took a little more effort to apply, but I think that we may only need one coat of it. As to the rest of the day, we’ll do a little errand-running this afternoon, but I think that this evening will mostly involve watching horror movies and handing out candy to the intrepid ghosts, ghouls and other assorted creatures who wander the streets tonight.

Stray Toasters

And with that, I think we’re off to seek out what the day has to offer.


“Look! Up in the sky…!”

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"Look!  Up in the sky...!"

Friday – 29 October 2010
It’s my 9/80 “off” Friday and the start of my weekend. Amen.

Last night, SaraRules and I went to Market Street Grill for the retirement party of my company’s President/COO.  It was done as a cocktail hour… without cocktails, but was still a nice affair.

After that, we came home and got ready for the evening’s entertainment: We had SaraRules!’s parents, brother and his fiancee over for Hallowe’en cookie decorating and then watched the classic Disney The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, featuring the voice of Bing Crosby.  It was a fun way to spend the evening.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now. I need to get ready to get out of here — and I are grabbing lunch and then heading up to Ogden to visit The Wonderful World of Trains.


“Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control…”

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"Attention all planets of the Solar Federation: We have assumed control..."

Thursday – 28 October 2010
Another NBN Technical Friday is upon us.

Last night was D&D game night with Melody, Jack and company. My character nearly died. Twice. Not good. Fortunately, though, he didn’t and lives to adventure another day.

After the game, I headed home to read yesterday’s four-color haul. There were some good reads… and a few mediocre ones.  And, I’m still not a fan of John Romita, Jr.’s artwork. (That’s right, I said it. Again.) After a few books, I decided to combine a couple of relaxation methods: Reading comics while soaking in a hot bath. It was a good mix.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

…right on to the friction of the day.


The day after…

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The day after...

Wednesday – 27 October 2010
First day back in the office.
First day of snow in the valley.

But, it’s Comics and Sushi Wednesday… so that helps to make it considerably better.

Yesterday was an amazing day. That’s really the only way to sum it up. Although I’ve known for a few weeks that I had a “birthday surprise” on tap from SaraRules!, I had no idea what it was until 0830 yesterday morning:

Yep… she got me the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School Mustang Experience package at the Miller Motorsports Park. And it was fantastic!

Granted, first thing in the morning, I wasn’t quite as gung-ho about it. In fact, I would describe it more as “ho-hum.” But, when I got out there and discovered exactly what I was in for, my attitude changed. A lot. Over the course of the day we:

  • …took a tour of The Larry H. Miller Total Performance Auto Museum, which houses part of the LHM auto collection,
  • …got 30 minutes of class instruction on high performance driving,
  • …went out on the track and got to drive race-tuned Mustang GTs for ten (10) laps, in a lead-follow behind a professional driver,
  • …rode for two (2) laps with a pro driver — we got to see how the course is supposed to be run,
  • …toured the entire MMP facility, and
  • …got to ride on the go-kart track.

After the whole thing was over, I went back to the museum and took pictures of the car collection. A lot of pictures. Jason, who did our earlier tour of the museum and grounds, was around to talk about each car and the stories behind them; he was very informative. I was expecting to be gone for two (maybe three) hours; all told, it was there for nearly five-and-a-half hours! And it was chock full of awesome!

On the way back home, I stopped at SaraRules! office to thank her (profusely) for such a fun birthday present. From there, I went to The Train Shoppe — I needed some rails to make a couple of siding spurs. Then… home.

We went out for dinner to Rodizio Grill.  Can you say “Meat o’clock,” boys and girls?  I knew you could! Yeah, it was totally “game on” with meats on a stick. And grilled pineapple. And caiphirinas. And their Chocolate Cake Sundae. Want to talk about a couple of VERY full people…?  We were stuffed to the proverbial gills.

We ended the evening with Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension.  Somehow, I had never seen this movie before, although it was apparently a staple of SaraRules! and her sibs’ childhood. It was silly. And campy. And terribly fun.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful day to turn 40.

Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s good for now.


Forty. 0x28. 0b101000.

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Forty. 0x28. 0b101000.

Tuesday – 26 October 2010
It’s my birthday – I turned 40 today.

It’s taken me THIS long to post because I just got back from the birthday surprise that SaraRules! set up for me…

…and I’m on the way back out the door again!

But, before I go, I would like to add a heart-felt “Thank you” to everyone who’s sent well-wishes for the day.  They’ve been wonderful reminders of the amazing people that I’ve been blessed and fortunate enough to know.

More details on the day later… possibly/most likely tomorning.

It’s been a great day.
And it’s not over yet.


“A Pirate Looks at Forty”

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"A Pirate Looks at Forty"

Monday – 25 October 2010
Okay, I’m not really a pirate, but thanks (and apologies) to Jimmy Buffett for the title of today’s post. (You can listen to the song here.)

I turn 40 tomorrow.

I don’t look at it with trepidation or lots of introspection or trying to figure out what I want/need to get past a mid-life crisis. To be honest, I’m looking forward to it. (Besides, given the fact that I have been known act somewhere in the 8-14 year-old range, I’d say that I have a good ten to fifteen years before I start looking for a fast car or plastic surgery or fake hair.) And the biggest “plus” of all: Another birthday means that I will have successfully avoided the embrace of the Dark Lady for another year. And I have a lot of things that I still want to do. So, bring on forty… and beyond!

Saturday was an eventful day. I started off the day, having breakfast with Chris. From there, we headed up to Dr. Volt’s, where I judged another HeroClix tournament. There were fourteen (14) players in the event – the largest turnout we’ve had in a while. As this was the closest event to Hallowe’en, I decided to make the tournament’s theme “Monster Mash,” in which each team had to have at least one figure with the “Monster” keyword. It went pretty well. After that, six of us played a three-on-three match. That was fun, as I haven’t played in a while. I also established the theme for the next tournament, on 06 November.  I’m calling it “Rock the Vote” and all figures on players’ teams must have either the “Politician,” “Ruler,” or “Reporter” keywords.  That should make for some interesting teams.

After the tourney, SaraRules!, her mother and I went to a birthday celebration fora friend of the family. SaraRules! and I wound up the evening with a couple of movies: Let the Right One In and Eight-Legged Freaks. It’s near Hallowe’en — thus horror movies were in order. We wanted to catch Right One, before seeing its new American remake. It was good… and rather different than I expected. I looked up trivia about the movie and discovered what the movie left out. It also made me interested in reading the book on which it was based. And, Eight-Legged Freaks was just just turn-your-brain-off fun.

Yesterday was a good day. I slept in. I worked at getting my comics collection reorganized.  I moved my train equipment and assembled the second table. I ran errands. I watched football.  And, SaraRules! even watched a couple of movies: The Karate Kid (2009) and Repo Men. We enjoyed both movies.

Instant Replay: Football
Yesterday had a lot of good – and surprising – games:

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
34 – 37
The Ravens hosted the 0-5 Bills…

…and nearly gave them their first win.  Fortunately, the timely return of Ed Reed – along with an overtime interception by Ray Lewis – helped propel the Ravens over the Bills.


Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
59 – 14
The Raiders went to Invesco Field and wrecked shop. Seriously. It was a “Take no prisoners” kind of game. How bad was it? Well, let’s just say that the score was 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. Quarter, not half.  Yeah. It was like that.

Congratulations, SaraRules! and .


San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
20 – 23
The ‘Cats hosted the Niners… and came away with a win.


Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons
32 – 39
The Bengals dropped this one to Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Sorry, and .


Cleveland Browns at New Orleans Saints
30 – 17
The Browns went marching into the Superdome beat up Super Bowl champion Saints, who seem to have lost their mojo.

Stray Toasters

It’s Day 3 of my four-day weekend.  Time to find some trouble to get into!


And the weekend begins…

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And the weekend begins...

Saturday – 23 October 2010
In the words of Bjork: “It’s oh so quiet.”
The only sounds, aside from my typing, are from birds chirping outside the window.

Last night, I had a great time: SaraRules! organized a birthday dinner for me at MacCool’s; my birthday isn’t until Tuesday, but she correctly figured that it might be “a little difficult” to get people together on a school night. There was good food (Prime Rib!), good beer (Black and Pumpkin, made with Guinness) and the delightful company of family and friends. We followed dinner with cake and ice cream back at home. It was a great evening and truly an excellent way to wind up the week.

Today, I’m judging another ‘Clix tournament this afternoon at Dr. Volt’s. As there’s no tourney next week, this is our Hallowe’en-themed event, which I’ve been referring to as “Monster Mash.” For this match, all teams have to have at least one figure with the “Monster” keyword.  I’m looking forward to some interesting combinations.

Stray Toasters

I should probably get ready to hit the road.


In the words of Pep Streebeck: “Thank God, it’s Friday!”

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In the words of Pep Streebeck: "Thank God, it's Friday!"

Friday – 22 October 2010
Bonus points to those of you who get the subject line without having to look it up.

It’s my 9/80 “on” Friday.
It started off somewhat quietly… but it picked up a little, around 9:45. No big deal. Nothing insurmountable.

Last night, after a couple of rounds of “Let’s Clean the House,” I managed to sneak off to Nova Praetoria for a while. I hadn’t played City for a week or two, so it was a nice change of pace. I ran a few missions. I leveled up once. I remembered how slow running through a city can be… although it’s still faster than Hover.

I also got in a bit more reading in Starship Troopers.

Stray Toasters


“It’s not how fast you can go, the force goes into the flow…”

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"It's not how fast you can go, the force goes into the flow..."

Thursday – 21 October 2010
Another NBN begins here in the valley.
And it’s a slightly chilly one.  (At least it is to me.)

Last night was D&D (4.0) night, with m3l and Jack. We had a good encounter (read: “No one in our group died.”) I also managed to more-or-less finish my repaint of the latest Wolverine HeroClix. I did him up in his current, non-X-Force costume… but haven’t decided if I’m going to do the striping on the side. We’ll see. And maybe I’ll try to get some pictures of it, as well.

After gaming, SaraRules! and I hit the gym. Last night was a cardio night. Rather than get on the elliptical, I got on the treadmill. We walked for a half-hour; I covered 1.70 miles. Hopefully, my schedule will allow me to get back in there with some regularity in the next week or so.

Stray Toasters

…right on to the friction of the day.


“We control the horizontal and the vertical…”

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"We control the horizontal and the vertical..."

Wednesday – 20 October 2010
This is just a test to verify that The Great Webhost Migration of 2010 is nearly at an end…

…and whether or not WordPress is playing nicely with other sites.


“Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a living…”

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"Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a living..."

Monday – 18 October 2010
A new work week begins.

This past weekend was, quite possibly, one of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in a while.  That is FAR from a “bad” thing.  I think that it was also quite beneficial, given how crappy I felt Wednesday through Friday.

Saturday afternoon, SaraRules! and I went on a mid-afternoon date to the movies. We saw Red. It was fun. Kind of like The Losers: Senior Class, but with a bit more wit.

Later in the evening, we got gussied-up and had an evening on the town: Dinner out and the opening night of

It was a great performance.  There were four set changes – one set was used in Acts I and IV – and each of them truly transformed the look of the stage into a different place.  The casting was also something that I’ve not seen in a Utah Opera production before: 1/3 of the main cast was African-American. That was a refreshing change of pace (or, as I told SaraRules! after the show: “That’s the Blackest opera cast I’ve seen here yet!”).  I do not know if Utah Opera is trying to expand its productions to include more multicultural casts, but if so, I commend them on their effort. It’s refreshing to see more people of color in the arts… and especially in opera.

Today, we slept in; it was a treat in which I indulge far too infrequently. After we got up, we went out for breakfast and ran a couple of errands. We came back home where I did some cleaning… while watching the NFL.com Game Center of the Ravens giving away the game to the Patriots. *ARGH* A little later, we went for a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon, to see the fall colors. (Pictures can be seen here.) I still want to see more fiery reds, but the foliage was very nice despite its absence.

After our excursion, we came home, changed and then met SaraRules!’ family and Swiz’ family for a lovely dinner, in honor of Swiz and Logan’s engagement. The food was simply exquisite and was matched by the company.  It was the perfect way to wrap up the weekend.

Stray Toasters

Hi-ho, hi-ho…


“Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly…”

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"Like a butterfly, a wild butterfly..."

Saturday – 16 October 2010
Yesterday, and I headed up to Clearfield to check out a new (to us) train shop: Almosta Junction.  They have the largest O-scale selection that I’ve encountered in Utah. And, they had an amazing layout, including one train that had at least 40 cars on it. pointed out that it “…isn’t just a toy train set, that is definitely a model.” We didn’t get to see the trains in action, but just seeing the layout was great. The shop was pretty cool and I am Ivory Soap sure that I’ll be heading back there again in the not-too-distant future.

After the model railroad outing, I came home and hung out until it was time for Clitorati. Last night’s gathering was small, but nevertheless good. And, I had recovered enough of my appetite to have a little something to eat when dinnertime rolled around.

This morning, we got up and took SaraRules!’ car to the shop to have tire and brake work done. After that, we made a quick stop at the store to pick up breakfast-typed food stuffs. While there, we ran into my former coworker, Brooke, whom we haven’t seen in a few months. Then it was back home for breakfast (French Toast and eggs).

Stray Toasters

Now: Yard and garden work (ostensibly the last of the season)
Next: Red
Later: La Boheme


Things and stuff for a Friday afternoon…

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Things and stuff for a Friday afternoon...

Friday – 15 October 2010
Today is the birthday of a few people I know: Carey, Katt, and Jake Theis (from WizKids Games):

someecards.com - No alcohol-monitoring bracelet could stop me from celebrating your birthday

It’s also my 9/80 “off” Friday.  Amen.
Of course, I got called into the office… because I had a key that someone needed. *sigh*  But, I don’t count that as really getting called into work.

While out, I ran down to say “Hi” to Perry and the kids.
And, I even managed to swing past the Home Depot.

For added “win,” the swamp cooler service tech just came and winterized the cooler… which means that we can turn on the heat!  (Suffice if to say that it’s been “brisk” around here in the mornings.)

Stray Toasters

And with that, and I are off to look at model railroad stuff.


“Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge…”

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"Don't push me, 'cause I'm close to the edge..."

Wednesday – 13 October 2010
Technically, I wrote this last night, before going to bed. But, thanks to the miracle of WordPress’ scheduler, I can have it post after the sun is up.  (Or, at least after it’s up on the east coast.)

It’s Comics and Sushi Wednesday. Amen. After a couple of days of getting into the office between 0600 and 0615, I shall gladly take some time in the middle of the day to retrieve my four-color crack and indulge to in a bit of raw fish goodness.

To recap the past couple of days…

I went to work for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon.  Some progress was made, but there were still a couple of issues to be dealt with on Monday.  After that, I went with the lovely SaraRules! (I keep forgetting to add the exclamation point on that) to enjoy a lovely German-themed dinner with the in-laws. It was quite good.  After we got home, I was a bit brain-dead and all I wanted to do was flop down on the couch and watch some TV. The ever-understanding SaraRules! was kind enough to keep me company until it was time to hit the rack.

Monday was… “a day.” I was in the office early — I expected it to be a “less than pleasant” day of work and I wanted to just get it over with.  And, I was right: It wasn’t pleasant.  As I noted in a brief foray to Facebook, I felt like the mythical Sisyphus. (Unfortunately, no matter how many times Carve Away the Stone ran through my head, it did nothing to alleviate my mood.) The day got better after I left work… despite dropping a full cup of frozen mocha goodness on the garage steps – and myself – while getting ready for Monday Night Football. *sigh*

Tuesday was a remarkably better day. While it wasn’t a necessarily “perfect” day, things fell into their proper places and my urge to punch people in the throat was notably absent. After work, I strolled up to Pin-up Girl Espresso for a white tea with peach. I chatted with Jim and Natalie (and Deja, from the neighboring floral/garden center) for a bit before walking back home. After dinner, SaraRules! went gallivanting, while I waited for Chris to come over.  On tonight’s agenda: Halo: Reach.  There was a wonderful bit of (much needed) catharsis in wantonly shooting things. It was a good way to spend the evening.

Stray Toasters

I should get to bed: It’s early and I have to get up later.


“It’s just another manic Sunday…”

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"It's just another manic Sunday..."

Sunday – 10 October 2010
That’s right… it’s 10/10/10.
So far, it’s been a good weekend.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with Chris before heading off to judge a HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s. It was another 500/1000 event: Players could field either a 500-point team with no restrictions or field a 1000-point team, with at least one colossal figure. Two 500-point teams would be paired to take on the 1000-point team.

Only one player brought a 1000-point team… with the newest colossal figure: Dr. Manhattan.

However, as there were six (6) other 500-point teams, that meant that all six teams faced off against the good doctor. Needless to say, “The Doctor was in.” All the way in. There wasn’t anyone who could really do enough to him to effectively take him out of the game.

After the game, SaraRules and I met up with the in-laws and ventured to the home of some friends of the family for a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner. We had a wonderful dinner and the company was excellent, as well.  It was a good way to spend the evening.

When we got home, SaraRules turned on The Fly (1986) – which I had somehow never seen – and I fired up LEGO Universe. I had to start a new character, now that the game is out of beta. Most of what I did was “review” from gameplay in the beta, so while I did a little more looking around and lollygagging, there wasn’t a lot “new” that I did.  That does not, however, mean that I didn’t have a lot of fun doing it.

Today, I slept in a bit. That was nice. SaraRules also fixed a tasty breakfast and then came over to help me turn off the sprinklers for the year. And, after that…

…it was time to watch some football: The Broncos at the Ravens.  Boo-yah!

Instant Replay: Football

Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens
17 – 31
The Ravens hosted the Broncos at home this week……and the game was televised locally. Hoo-AH!

The Boys from Baltimore looked solid.  They opened the game with a drive down to the goal line, but couldn’t convert it into a touchdown… and turned it over on downs.  But that’s okay. They held the Broncos on their drive.

The Ravens’ offense and defense looked good, despite a series where QB Joe Flacco couldn’t buy a reception.

On the other side of the field, Broncos (and former Purdue) QB Kyle Orton passed for a 300+ yard game… his second in a row.

But, all in all, it comes down to this: Baltimore is now 4-1, putting them atop the AFC North.

Ray Rice, you rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns today, how does that make you feel?

Yeah… I’d feel like breakin’ it down a little, too.

Stray Toasters

Okay… might as well stop procrastinating and head to the office.