Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Here comes the sun…”

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"Here comes the sun..."

Tuesday – 30 November 2010
Day Two of the work week and the day started with the sun beaming over the mountains.
No new snow.
No heavy clouds.
Just bright sun.

It’s nice.
Now, if we can only get above freezing…

Last night, came over and we watched the Niners-Cardinals game. I don’t know what happened to the Cards, but they looked far from the Super Bowl contenders from last season. The Niners, on the other hand, looked pretty solid.  I was happy to see QB Troy Smith have a decent game.

Stray Toasters

And, now… back to the grind.


Hello, Monday. We meet again…

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Hello, Monday.  We meet again...

Monday – 29 November 2010
It’s Monday.

For some reason, it’s hard to work up excitement about being back at work after five days off. Go figure. Fortunately, there’s only three (maybe only two-and-a-half) weeks of work before I go on vacation for Christmas.

Yesterday was snowy. Big surprise. On the “plus” side, Chris came over and hung out for a bit. As he hadn’t seen it, I showed him the Young Justice premiere. He liked it. (I was fairly sure that he would.) After that, we played HALO: Reach and then watched the second half of the Dolphins-Raiders game. Later in the evening, we headed over to SaraRules!’ parents’ place for dinner and football. We left at halftime, at Mother Nature’s insistence. Back at home, we shoveled more snow. Yay. We wound up the evening with the new episode of The Walking Dead.

Instant Replay: Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Baltimore Ravens
10 – 17
The Ravens hosted the Bucs… and came away with a win.Sorry, Minion #2.


Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders
33 – 17
The Dolphins headed west to take on the Raiders in Oakland.

I missed the first half of the game, but it looked as though the Raiders decided to sleep through the second half.

Sorry, SaraRules! and [info]1silver_seraph.


Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets
10 – 26
The Bengals dropped this one to the Jets.

Sorry, [info]carefreespirit and [info]janietrain.

Stray Toasters

It would be a nice change of pace to have temperatures above freezing.


Weekend Whirlwind Update

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Weekend Whirlwind Update

Sunday – 28 November 2010
It’s been a good weekend. After five days off, I’ll be sad to see it end tomorrow.

Thanksgiving was good and it was a lot of fun. We had lots of good food and the wonderful company of family and friends. And, there was football, to boot.

Friday was pretty low-key. We slept in – and stayed in – to avoid the early bird shoppers. It worked pretty well. We ventured out in the afternoon and found some crowds, but nothing insurmountable. We also took in a movie: Faster. It was a pretty good revenge film. The action started about five to ten minutes into the movie. A little while after the movie, we hit the gym:

  • Bench Press: 3 sets/10 reps, 135 lbs
  • Lat pulldowns: 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets/10 reps, 35 lbs
  • Lunges (10 lbs/hand): 2 sets, 12 reps/leg
  • Crunches: 2 sets/15 reps

There may have been something else, but I don’t recall at the moment. Either way, I’ve been enjoying being back in the gym.

After the gym (and a shower), it was off to meet the usual suspects for Clitorati.

Saturday, we did a little more shopping. This time, we went in search of this year’s Christmas ornament… and we came home with two: We found a nice snowflake-shaped one for our family ornament and I found a B&O Railroad locomotive ornament. (Oh, come on… it’s train-related AND it’s B&O. Did you really expect me to pass it up?!)

Post-shopping, and I headed up to Ogden. We had a plan to head up to The Wonderful World of Trains. On the way, I remembered that I’d heard of another shop a little north of WWoT and figured that we should kill two birds with one stone. Unfortunately, the second shop was out of business. At Wonderful World, we both found “a few” things that we liked. I wound up picking up a few more track sections and two sets of #65 Yard Lights. and a couple of unlighted Grade Crossings. (By the way: The lights in the rail yard look good.)

Stray Toasters

  • I watched the premieres of Cartoon Network’s Firebreather and Young Justice over the weekend. Both were good, with YJ edging out Firebreather, in my book.  I’ll cover them (hopefully) this week in Four-Color Coverage.
  • Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen look so… young… in The Terminator.
  • Songs We Love: Going Postal
  • Rachel sent me a link to this, which made me laugh (click for larger image):
  • 8 superpowers that would make everyday life awesome
  • From the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…?!” file: Carstache
  • The Lionel.com website has a ColdFusion back end.  Huh.
    • In a related note, I had an issue and needed help from Lionel’s customer service last week. It required a couple of exchanges of email, but they handled the problem quickly and courteously.
  • Flacco, Mason Go At It Wednesday
    I like Byrne’s ideas of how their “conversation” went , but I really like the exchange between former coach Brian Billick and his offensive line coach, Jim Colletto.
  • The Train Lady

I should get ready; Chris is coming over shortly.  We’re either playing ‘Clix or HALO:Reach.


“Six-thirty-two in the morning on Thanksgiving Day…”

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"Six-thirty-two in the morning on Thanksgiving Day..."

Thursday – 25 November 2010
It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the States.

Yesterday wound up being relatively low-key. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In the afternoon, I made stops at Dr. Volt’s and The Train Shoppe. On the trip between the two stores, I saw an accident happen, about 25 yards ahead of me: I was heading north along 7th East when a southbound car decided to turn left… in front of the car that I was behind. I don’t know exactly “how” it happened, but the result was that the south-to-eastbound car t-boned the northbound car. The northbound car spun 180 degrees and wound up sitting at the northeast corner; the south-to-eastbound car just kind of… stopped in the middle of the intersection. (Thirty minutes later, as I was heading home, both cars and drivers were still sitting at the intersection, waiting on the police, though the offender had moved her car to the southeast corner.)

After I got home, SaraRules! and I headed to The Garden of Sweden. We needed some additional chairs, as we’re having the SaraRules!’ family over for dinner today. We opted to have dinner out, stopping at Outback Steakhouse. Hello, Prime Rib… When we returned to the house, I started making a sweet potato pie for (one of) tonight’s desserts.

I woke up early this morning and discovered something that no home owner ever wants to find: Our pipes had frozen. It’s been about… 20 years… since I’ve dealt with that – and the last time, the pipes just burst – so my first reaction was more “inaction,” while trying to suss out what to do. (Hey, it was 6:15 AM. My brain was still on “Standby.”)  Fortunately, I married someone who not only has a high INT, but a pretty high WIS, too. She called the water department, to make sure that there wasn’t a problem with the main. (There wasn’t.) Next step: Heating the pipes. Carefully. SaraRules! started with a hair dryer at the main. A little while later, I remembered that we have a pipe in the ceiling of the family room that could have been part of the problem. Sure enough, that seemed like it might have been the culprit (or at least a co-conspirator).  After a little heat application, we had running water again. Amen. This gave us yet another thing for we could not only be thankful, but also it also offers us a great “Remember that first Thanksgiving in the house…?” story.)

Stray Toasters

And with that… it’s about time to start on the Cornish Hens.


“Twas the snowy day before Thanksgiving…”

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"Twas the snowy day before Thanksgiving..."

Wednesday – 24 November 2010
Today begins my 5-day weekend.
I celebrated by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.

Yesterday, we were forecast to have a huge blizzard. We got a few inches of snow. That’s not too bad. The main concern, however, was that the today’s temperature is not supposed to get above freezing. With that in mind, The Council for Better Driving: Utah reminds all drivers to take care when venturing out on the roads today.

Last night, SaraRules! and I did something we haven’t done in a while: We watched NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. It’s kind of funny, considering that we have the shows set to record on the DVR. SaraRules! had also baked cookies and fixed hot chocolate.  Win-Win!

After watching TV, I went to work on the model railroad. More specifically, I reconfigured the layout. Again. This time, I’ve gone with a U-shaped layout, with a 4’x8′ table on either side of the room with two tracks running between them, along the base of the U:

This allows me to have a residential/commercial setting on the right table and a rail yard on the left table. (As you can see, the rail yard could use a little more track… but all things in good time.) I also have about three feet of clear space at the end of the right table that I could use to expand that side of the layout, If I’m feeling adventurous. Another thing that I like about this setup is that I’m literally in the middle of the action; yeah, it’s kind of geeky, but it makes me smile.

Something that I’d love to do – time, money, and space allowing for it – is to put a bridge (or two) over the span in the middle. I think that would just look neat. With that, I’m also trying to see if I could do a short run – or maybe just a passing line – under the bridge.  But, that will mostly depend on how much clearance the track has from the top of the board.

Stray Toasters


“All across the world, people going mad…”

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"All across the world, people going mad..."

Tuesday – 23 November 2010
Today is my “Technical Friday,” so it’s “One down, one to go,” as far as this week is concerned.

There is a blizzard warning in effect through 3:00 PM tomorrow. How bad is it predicted to be? Here’s what NOAA has to say about it:








This is just another sign that SaraRules! and I made the right call in deciding to have Thanksgiving at home this year.

Last night, we watched the Broncos-Chargers game. It looked as though it was going to be interesting… until Denver forgot how to play football. Sure, they had a few moments where it looked like they had glimmers of hope, but they were far and few between.

After the game, we headed to the gym.  That’s right: I got in another workout! Once again, we followed SaraRules!’ routine… with added bench press for me:

  • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 135 lbs
  • Squats: 2 set/12 reps, 65 lbs
  • Push-ups: 2 sets/12 reps
  • Row: 2 sets/12 reps, 110 lbs
  • Step-ups: 2 sets/12 reps per leg, 15 lbs dumbbells in each hand
  • “Jackknife”: 2 sets/12 reps

All-in-all, it was a good workout.

Stray Toasters

And with that…


An excellent experience with Canyon Heating and Air Conditioning

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An excellent experience with Canyon Heating and Air Conditioning

My wife and I recently decided to replace our old furnace.  Our home is about thirty years old and we believe that the old furnace was the one that was installed when the house was built. With a fine Utah winter about to set it, we figured that it would be prudent to do it “sooner” rather than “later.”

Having known Rich Sheya for a number of years, his was the first name that came to mind when we were ready to move forward. Rich came out, did a brief inspection of the house, examined the old furnace and gave us a rough idea of what we would need to adequately heat our living space. As our house did not come equipped with central air, he also talked with us about our options for adding that when we installed the new furnace. Before he left, he said that he would be in touch with us soon and provide an estimate of what it would cost to replace our the old furnace.

A short while later, we received a quote via email with a very reasonable price for a new furnace – an energy efficient, two-stage model – that also qualified for some of the recent tax credits and rebates. We called Rich, said that we would like to proceed and made an appointment for the installation.

On the day of the installation, Rich arrived in the morning with the brand-new furnace and immediately set about the task of removing and replacing the old furnace. By the end of the afternoon, the new furnace was installed and warming our house.

The new unit has been in place for about a week and it works wonderfully.

Rich was a professional throughout the entire process. He was very receptive and candid in providing answers to our questions about the installation. The job was done quickly and efficiently. Rich even discovered and alerted us to a minor gas leak at our meter.

We would wholeheartedly and very happily recommend Rich Sheya and Canyon Heating and Air Conditioning to anyone who is considering upgrading their furnace and/or air conditioning system.

“Got a rock ‘n’roll problem? Well we got the solution!”

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"Got a rock 'n'roll problem?  Well we got the solution!"

Monday – 22 November 2010
It’s Monday.
At least it’s a short work week.

It isn’t raining (or snowing… yet), although there are some not-quite-ominous-looking clouds coming over the Oquirrh Mountains.  We’ll have to see what they bring.

Yesterday was a good end to a good weekend:

  • SaraRules! and I made a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden.
  • The Ravens won.
  • I beat SaraRules! at Trivial Pursuit… twice!
  • And, we watched The Walking Dead and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Like I said: Sunday full of good things.

Instant Replay: Football

Baltimore Ravens at Carolina Panthers
37 – 13
The Ravens – who had never beaten the Panthers in regular season play – travled to Bank of America Stadium to take on the ‘Cats…

…and won!

The game wasn’t televised locally, so I had to rely on NFL.com’s Game Center and Sprint’s NFL Live app, both of which did a great job of keeping me apprised of the Ravens’ status.

Not only did the Ravens win, but they also achieved a number of milestones along the way:

  • Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh recorded his 600th career reception on his 56-yard touchdown reception.
  • WR Derrick Mason made his 900th career reception with a 10-yard reception in the third quarter. He ranks 13th on the NFL’s all-time list.
  • Safety Ed Reed notched his 50th career interception in the fourth quarter.
  • With his fourth-quarter interception, LB Ray Lewis now has 30 in his career. He’s just the eighth linebacker to reach that mark. It was Lewis’ first touchdown since 2003.
  • With his first-quarter touchdown pass, quarterback Joe Flacco is tied with Vinny Testaverde for most touchdown passes in Ravens franchise history (51).

Yeah. Good game. Hopefully, NFL Network will rebroadcast it this week, so I can catch the action.

Coach Fox, the Ravens just handed your team a loss for the first time ever in regular season play… in your own house!  How do you feel about that?

Yeah… I understand.


Oakland Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers
3 – 35
After three impressive wins, the Raiders rolled into Heinz Field to take on the boys from Steeltown.

The Steelers steamrolled the Raiders in this matchup; but, in true Raiders smash-mouth football style, not with out a fight… or, in this case, a punch: Raiders DE Richard Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger.  The punch got Seymour ejected, but it also put Roethlisberger on the ground.

Sorry, SaraRules! and .

Ref: Coach Tomlin, someone just clocked your QB and dropped him.

Coach Tomlin: Oh, no he didn’t…!
Ref: Yes, Coach.  Yes, he did.


Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
49 – 31
The Bengals dropped this one to the Bills.

Sorry, and .

Stray Toasters

And, I think that’s a wrap.


Weekend Update

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Weekend Update

Sunday – 21 November 2010
I like nice, quiet Sunday mornings.

Today was one of those.

I think that a large part of “why” it was so quiet was the sound-dampening effects of the EIGHT INCHES OF SNOW that we received overnight. That’s right… eight inches of snow. I went out and shoveled the driveway… and the sidewalk… and part of the neighbors’ driveway (one of our neighbors is wheelchair-bound, so I figured I could at least make it easy/easier to get him into/out of the car and for that car to get into/out of the driveway).  I also discovered the “joy” of owning a home on a corner lot: You get to shovel two lengths of sidewalk! YAY!!! The whole thing took about forty-five minutes. That’s not so bad, in itself; I’m just thinking about what it will be like on those mornings when I get to wake up early to shovel before going to work… ugh.

Yesterday was a good day. It started off with me judging a HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. As there were nine players, I got to play the bye rounds. I put together a rather fun team:

After the game, I stopped in at Hammond Toys to see if they had anything that I couldn’t live without for my model railroad.  They didn’t. Then it was back home.  After dinner (and a nap for me), SaraRules! and I headed to the gym. She had a workout plan, so I just shadowed her. The routine consisted of:

  • Deadlifts (barbell): 2 sets/15 reps, 50 lbs
  • Lat pulldowns: 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets/10 reps, 35 lbs
  • Lunges (10 lbs/hand): 2 sets, 15 reps/leg
  • Crunches: 2 sets/15 reps

It was nice to (finally) get back into the gym.  I really need to go more often.

When we got back home, we played a game of Trivial Pursuit: Best of Genus Edition. We started off fairly well matched, but then SaraRules! pulled ahead, because I got a string of History questions that kicked my ass. (Apparently, I didn’t pay quite enough attention in Paul Ganzenmuller’s class in 10th Grade.)

There’s football on TV — I’m watching the Raiders-Steelers game, while tracking the Ravens-Panthers game on NFL.com.

Next up: A trip to The Garden of Sweden.  Amen.


“Look in my eyes, what do you see..?”

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"Look in my eyes, what do you see..?"

Friday – 19 November 2010
It’s almost the weekend.
Just a few more hours and it shall be upon us.

Last night, SaraRules! and I had a date night – we had dinner at Cafe Zupas and went to see Unstoppable. It’s been “a while” since I’ve seen a good disaster movie involving a train (I don’t agree with all of the movies on this list, but it’s a good starting point). It was a fun and entertaining movie – you have Malcolm X and Captain Kirk saving the day, after all! How can that be a “bad” thing?! Sure, you have to suspend a bit of disbelief in some places, but it’s worth it. I give it a big, old thumbs-up with an okay.

::: Interlude :::
Today’s iTunes shuffle has been good with music to get the day moving:

…and bonus song (because it reminds me of Good Lovin’)…

Stray Toasters


“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey…”

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"All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey..."

Thursday – 18 November 2010
Another NBN Thursday is upon us…

…and nearly half-gone.

So far, it’s been a good day.

Last night, I played D&D (4th ed.) with Melody, Jack and the Wednesday night usual suspects. It would have been nice if, as the party’s tank/bruiser, I could have actually hit something. It was sad: My character ran up to an opponent and completely missed him. Twice. Unfortunately, he had no compunction about trying to hit me. He did, however, miss.  His quite large friend, on the other hand, tried to knock me into next week. Not fun. We almost lost a couple of members of our group in the melee, but we rallied and won before anyone died.

When I got back home, SaraRules! and I watched The Big Heat. When I put it in my Netflix queue, I just picked it because it was a noir-ish mystery; I noted that Glenn Ford was in it, but it didn’t register to me as to “why” the name sounded familiar. It dawned on me when he appeared on-screen: He played Jonathan Kent – Clark Kent’s father – in 1978’s Superman. In this movie, Ford played Sgt. Dave Bannion, a homicide cop. He spent the movie trying to investigate the suicide of another officer, only to run into roadblocks at nearly every turn. The movie had a couple of interesting twists, which added to its appeal.

Stray Toasters


“This is the noise that keeps me awake, my head explodes and my body aches…”

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"This is the noise that keeps me awake, my head explodes and my body aches..."

Wednesday – 17 November 2010
Midweek… which means that it’s Comics (and Sushi) Wednesday!
I’m not sure if I’m partaking of sushi today.  We’ll see how the morning progresses.

Last night was D&D night with and company. We met a new NPC. We’re not sure about him yet. There are a few signs that he may not be “a good fit” for the rest of the party. We’re keeping an eye on him. On the other hand, he does provide another pair of hands and weapons in a fight. That’s good, because our current quest has us in the ruins of what appears to be an old temple… complete with its very own horde of zombies. Yay.

Today, we’re having our furnace replaced!
Out with the old and busted.
In with the new hotness… literally.

Stray Toasters

And that’s that…


“Doesn’t matter if you’re black or white…”

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"Doesn't matter if you're black or white..."

Tuesday – 16 November 2010
The second half of November is upon us.

Last night, and Nathan came over to watch the Eagles-Redskins game. More on that later.

After the game, I went to work on my model railroad. I was trying to incorporate the 90º crossover and two more switches… but couldn’t get a the pieces to line up. Rather than fight it (too much), I decided to call it a night and ponder the issue today. If nothing else, I’ll probably just do another reversing loop and find a way to throw a spur or two off the main line.

Chew on This: Food For Thought/Quote of the Day
Today’s “Magnetic Poetry Self Affirmation Quote of the Day” comes in response to the feeling of being overwhelmed that a coworker is experiencing:

FYI: I refuse to let the small stuff and stupid people be a problem anymore.

I think that can be applied in many situations…

Instant Replay: Football

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
59 – 28

Seriously… that’s just about the most accurate way to describe last night’s match-up between the Eagles and the ‘Skins.

Last night’s broadcast of Monday Night Football should have been renamed “The Michael Vick Show.” He did it all:

  • Threw four (4) touchdowns;
  • Ran for two (2) touchdowns;
  • Rushed for eighty (80) yards;
  • Threw for 333 yards;
  • No interceptions
  • No fumbles

He also became the first QB in NFL history with:

  • …at least 300 yards passing,
  • …50 yards rushing,
  • …four passing touchdowns and
  • …two rushing touchdowns

in a game. One game. The man was money. All night long.

Speaking of money, the Redskins’ new $78 million man, QB Donovan McNabb would have had a much better outing… if his receivers had bothered to show up. McNabb’s passes were pretty much on the money all night, but the receiving corps didn’t seem to put up a lot of effort to catch and/or hold onto the ball.

Stray Toasters

And with that…


“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind…”

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"You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind..."

Monday – 15 November 2010
Another work week begins…

This weekend was a good one. Saturday, I went back to the train show and made up for the deal I lost out on Friday by picking up some switches, a crossing grade and some assorted track pieces for a really good deal. There was some damage to a few of the pieces, but nothing insurmountable.

Saturday night, SaraRules! and I went to Oz with Orchestra, as performed by Utah Symphony. As SaraRules had to “…play P.R. Girl,” as she put it (read: “sit with Jeff, a photographer from Riester“), we got to sit in Maurice Abravanel’s box seats… which put us directly above and behind the First Violin section. From this vantage point, we not only had a good view of the movie screen, but we could also read the sheet music of the vilolinists (and some of the bass players), as well.  While the orchestral accompaniment did lose the tempo a couple of times, Associate Conductor David Cho did an excellent job of leading the symphony and getting them back on track. The overall experience was a lot of fun. And, as an added bonus: David Cho proposed to his then-girlfriend during intermission – she said, “Yes” – so, congratulations to him!

Sunday was pretty relaxed. We started the morning with breakfast at Ruth’s Diner. We also ran into Sanaz’ parents while there. Next, I headed back to Chris’ to (FINALLY!) finish his PS3 hard drive upgrade. Fait accompli. Back home for a little time with the trains and then on to the in-laws’ for a belated birthday dinner for SaraRules! and football.

Instant Replay: Football

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
17 – 23
Sorry, and .


Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins
17 – 29
The Dolphins notched another home win.


Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
16 – 31
The Panthers dropped this one to the Bucs.


New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
39 – 26
I don’t know whether or not it was because of the beat-down they took from the Browns last week, but Tom Brady and the Pats manhandled the Steelers last night. BIG time, shutting them down on both sides of the ball.

And it doesn’t hurt that the Steelers’ loss helps keep the Ravens atop the AFC North, either.

Stray Toasters

Lunch: Eaten.
The Grind: Getting back to it.


Saturday Afternoon Quick Hit

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Saturday Afternoon Quick Hit

Saturday – 13 November 2010
So far, it’s been a good day… and it’s only half over.  I’d call that a “win,” quite frankly.

<< Rewind <<
and I went to the Wasatch Rails Train Show yesterday afternoon. It is at the Utah State Fairpark and runs through tomorrow afternoon; it’s being held in the Grand and Promontory Buildings.  There is a lot of model railroading goodness there. A. Lot. I missed out on an amazing deal on some Fastrack, but I did come home with a book that I used to own when I was much, much younger.

After the train show, I came home and painted one of my train tables green. Doing so gives me a (more or less) “grass-colored” board AND it saved me from having to buy a grass mat. And, if I want a more grass-like surface, I can use some Spray Mount© and sprinkle flocking on the boards. Next, it was off to coffee and dinner…

This morning, ‘s father came over to look at our furnace and give us an estimate on installing a new and more energy-efficient unit. Turns out that if we hurry, we should be able to get in on some good incentives and rebates.

And, tonight: Oz with Orchestra

Stray Toasters

Off to find some trouble to get into…