Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Look at me, I can be centerfield…”

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"Look at me, I can be centerfield..."

Thursday – 31 March 2011
It’s a blue sky NBN “Technical Friday.” And I’m good with that.

Last night was supposed to be D&D 4.0 night. So, after dinner, I ran a couple of errands and headed over to Hastur Hobbies to partake in hack-and-slash goodness. I arrived to find no one from my group there.


I went back through my messages to see if I had missed something. I had. had called the game earlier in the afternoon… but, that message was basically attached to another thread of messages, so I didn’t catch it when I skimmed over them.


That just meant that my evening freed up for me to go and hang out with the missus. Which I did. For the most part…

…until I decided that the best thing for me and my newfound head cold was a nice relaxing soak while reading the day’s new comics haul. And I was right – it was good.

A little later, SaraRules! and I finished off the last DVD of Mad Men that we got from Netflix. I now understand what and meant by “the lawnmower episode,” and why they both agreed that I’d “get” it as soon as I saw it.

This morning, I woke up with this song running through my head…

…and I was okay with that.

Stray Toasters


“It’s probably me…”

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"It's probably me..."

Wednesday – 30 March 2011
It’s a grey and drizzly midweek morning. But that’s okay. It’s new comics day. It’s also game night. And… depending on how my day goes, I might try to sneak out for Sushi Wednesday at lunch.

Last night, Perry, , Chris and I went out for guys’ night out/send off get together for Perry, who’s moving in a little over two weeks. I know that Perry needed some “grown-up time,” as he’s been playing Mr. Mom with his kids — early retirement, go figure.  We went to the MacCool’s in Foothill Village. As always the food was good; I had the Shepherd’s Pie and Finn’s Skins, all washed down with Guinness.  We had a good time;  it was nice to just have a night to sit back, knock down a few beers and shoot the bull with the guys. (Kind of like Monday nights… but without football.) I can’t think of a better way to have spent the evening.

Stray Toasters


::: Insert Witty Comment Here :::

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::: Insert Witty Comment Here :::

Tuesday – 29 March 2011
It’s (so far) a bright and sunny day in the valley. I’m good with that.

Last night, SaraRules! and I opted for a quiet evening in. We ordered pizza and caught up on episodes of  NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. After that, I played DC Universe Online ; I ran a couple of missions and felt super-heroic for an hour or so. I finally remembered to take a picture in front of the Bat-Signal, as well:

After that, we watched a bit of Top Gear, before calling it a night.

Tonight, I’m heading out with a few of the guys for a pre-moving send-off for Perry. It should be good.

Stray Toasters


“Earth below us, drifting, falling…”

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"Earth below us, drifting, falling..."

Monday – 28 March 2011
Another work week begins. And this one comes complete with snow! (Well, flurries, but still…)

Yesterday was good. It was a mostly low-key day. I did head over to West Valley Hobbies for a bit, but didn’t buy anything. I also stopped at Dr. Volt’s, to pick up the Apocalypse ‘Clix that they had on display. SaraRules! and I had dinner with her family and, after dinner, we watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which I hadn’t seen in a while. Back at home, we watched last week’s episode of Fringe before calling it a night.

Today, we’re having issues in the office. And there have been many “Why” and “How” and “When” questions asked. We’re handling it as best we can. (Which, surprisingly, doesn’t include punching monkeys.)

Stray Toasters

On to the rest of Monday…


“Easy like Sunday morning…”

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"Easy like Sunday morning..."

Sunday – 27 March 2011
Yesterday was a good day.

I went to visit with Perry and Kate for a bit. They were doing some pre-sale house work, so I didn’t stay terribly long. I next went to MRS Hobbies… from which I exited empty-handed.

Next, I took Defiant (my BlacBook) to Expercom — I’ve been having a bothersome problem with its PRAM battery and figured that I’d get it looked at and/or fixed while I had some free time. Mike, the tech on-duty, had never had to replace that battery in my model of MacBook, so it was something of a learning experience for both of us. While disassembling the laptop, he noticed that my case had cracks in the front of it. He said that he’d order a new top case and replace my old busted one with new Apple hotness. When we determined that there was A LOT more work involved in getting to the battery – and that they didn’t have one in stock – I decided to bring my MacBook back next week and kill two birds with one stone. Thus began the reassembly process. Everything was going hunky-dory, until Mike tried to replace my keyboard. It seemed that something in the pin connector was… off. So, he replaced it.

That’s right, my black MacBook has a white keyboard… at least for the next few days. There are a few not-so-minor differences in key-mappings (volume, built-in calculator keys, screen brightness, Spaces/Expose), but I’m getting used to them. Slowly.

I headed home and met SaraRules!, so we could decide what to do with the afternoon and evening. We decided to go see Sucker Punch.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the movie… but it wasn’t the movie I expected, if that makes sense. The movie’s tagline, “You Will Be Unprepared,” was spot on.  Let me rephrase that a bit: It was a good movie and we both enjoyed it. But it was more than just visually appealing; it told an interesting story… and it wasn’t the story that I expected. There were also a few surprising faces in the movie, as an added bonus. Also, I will be tracking down the soundtrack — it was eclectic and suited the different styles of the movie very well. I have to admit: As this movie gives yet another indication of just what Zach Snyder is capable of, I’m less leery and more curious to see next year’s take on the Man of Steel, under his direction.

After the movie, we stopped at the nearby Hobby Lobby. I picked up two more tank cars for my train. The only “problem” is that all three of my Norfolk Southern tank cars have the same road number. (I’m easily able to overlook this.) With their addition, I am now able to run three types of unit trains:

  • All boxcars,
  • All coal hoppers, and
  • All tank cars.

After we got back home, I headed to the train room, hooked everything up to the N&W Bantam J and ran a 23-car consist. It made me smile.

And, sometime overnight… it snowed.

Stray Toasters


“Can’t you feel a brand new day…?!”

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"Can't you feel a brand new day...?!"

Saturday – 26 March 2011
After the atrocity that was “Friday at work,” today looks to be a much better day. In fact, one of the first things that I thought of, after opening the blinds in the living room was this:

Except, I was hearing the Broadway version in my head… although, this version does feature Diana Ross as Dorothy and Michael Jackson as The Scarecrow. Something that I didn’t know was that the song was written by the late Luther Vandross. (Listen to the Vandross version here.)

Last night, I spent the evening in the company of (along with little Mister Thunder),  and over coffee. It made the end of the day rather pleasant.

I didn’t do the 5k that I was considering this morning. Depending on my schedule, I will either do one next month or in May. That will give me a chance to work some cardio back into routine.

Stray Toasters

Time to go out and enjoy the day!


MDK Friday.

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MDK Friday.

Friday – 25 March 2011
It’s Friday.  The end of the week. And for this, I am grateful. It’s my 9/80 “on” Friday, which is typically a quiet and low-key kind of day.

So, why is my blood pressure – and my annoyance level – through the roof?

Maybe it could be due – in some small, almost insignificant part – to the fact that I spent part of my morning elbow up in trash looking for a piece of equipment. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The day started nicely enough. Got up, got ready for work, stopped at Pin-up Girl for a cup of morning go-juice. So far, so good. Got to work, ready to tackle the items on my day’s agenda. And shortly after that is when I discovered that all was not well in Mudville:

We had scheduled technicians to come in and deal with a problem with one of our cooling units. This service has been on the docket for three weeks now, as the part needed had to be special ordered and fabricated. Okay, fine. That’s the cost of doing business. Because of the nature of the work, we had to schedule a time for a tech from our fire control system vendor to turn off our fire suppression system. So, three weeks… all leading up to this morning. Call it “confluence.” Call it “convergence.” Call it what you will.

The fire control tech showed up and did his thing. No problem. The HVAC guys showed up to do their thing… and that’s when we noticed that something was wrong: The part that we had ordered – and that had been sitting on a table, awaiting installation – was nowhere to be found.

* braincramp *

So, the hunt began. In the server room. In the storage rooms. In the labs. Nothing. That’s when I started making calls. No one knew where it was.

* severe braincramp *

I put a call in to our cleaning crew, to see if they possibly tossed out the box last night, not seeing the part inside. They didn’t think so, but the boxes they did throw away went into a recycling dumpster. *sigh* Great. Next stop: The dumpster. Brian, one of the HVAC techs jumped in. No luck finding the box or the part.


Just after I got back to my desk, the cleaning company called back: One of the cleaners remembered throwing away a few boxes… in the trash dumpster.

So… back downstairs we went. Brian and I hopped into the front of the dumpster, but didn’t go too far in for a couple of reasons, the BIGGEST one being: It was a trash compactor. I’ve seen Star Wars: A New Hope. More than once. I know what happens to people in trash compactors. I also don’t happen to own either a protocol droid or an Astromech droid, so there was NO way I was wading in. (Besides, I didn’t know if there was a monster lurking below the surface, just waiting to drag me under.)

NOTE: At this point, I almost defy anyone to claim to have had a worse morning than I had, based solely on the fact that I was in a dumpster, looking for a part that obviously didn’t want to be found.

We didn’t find the part. Which means that we have to order another one. And schedule a time for the fire control and HVAC guys to come back in. Which means that we’re looking at – bare minimum – two to three weeks from now before this problem is fixed.

The odds against this confluence of nearly impossible events coming together, in just this way, to bring us to this improbable outcome is mind-boggling.

And, it’s snowing.

How’s your Friday?

Stray Toasters

  • Today, I would definitely be more of a Red Lantern than a Green Lantern: I’m ready to punch monkeys in the throat right now. Repeatedly. And hard.



“Join the Dark Side; we have cookies!”

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"Join the Dark Side; we have cookies!"

Thursday – 24 March 2011
It’s a grey, rainy No Bad News Thursday in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain. WHEEE!

Last night was the first D&D 4.0 game that I’ve been able to attend in the past… three, I think… weeks. And when I arrived, it was without my character. This was a fact that I didn’t recognize until I’d walked in the door and thought “Shouldn’t I have something else?


Yep. Genius move on my part. So, I got to play the part of one of the NPCs. An evil NPC, at that. I believe that it was the first time in all the years I’ve played D&D that I’ve actually played a character with an evil alignment. And, it was fun. I think that I caught a couple of my party member when I… kind of… started a fight with a bunch of guys because my character didn’t like his attitude. (We won the fight, though.) Partway through the game, I had an apostrophe epiphany: My character might actually be in my car, not at home… so I went and checked. Lo and behold, there it was.

::: facepalm :::

So, I went and got it. I played both characters for a few turns, until the NPC left the game. (His story arc was done, I didn’t get him killed.) It was a good game session.

Stray Toasters


Halfway there…

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Halfway there...

Wednesday – 23 March 2011
New comics day + D&D (4.0) game night = A good combination.

Last night, Chris came over and – after a lot of shooting the bull – we played dolls. We did a Teen Titans (Chris) vs. the X-Men game. And he cleaned my clock. Six ways from Sunday. It started off as a good game, but my dice decided to play jokes early on. That wasn’t insurmountable. The problems began when Chris moved a couple of his pieces into positions I wasn’t expecting and then made like LL Cool J and knocked a couple of my key pieces out… and then picked apart the rest of my team. One bright spot in the game: Having my Wolverine eviscerate Robin. All-in-all, it was a good game. But, I need to plan some revenge for the game where I run the Titans.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Something that I enjoy (and look forward to) is the occasional instant message from my brother-in-law, recounting something – usually highly entertaining – that either my niece or my sister has said or done. This morning, I found this gem, which he sent last night:

your niece.
today two verbal gaffes that made Rana inform me i’m doing harm to my children
playing Mario Kart
she [Bit] first asks to play the character “honky kong”
then when we unlock a new character, “funky kong”
of course…now she’s informing Rana she wants to play “fucky kong”
i give up.

That made me laugh. A lot.



Things from a Tuesday morning

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Things from a Tuesday morning

Tuesday – 22 March 2011
March winds
And April showers
Bring forth May flowers.

That’s the way I was taught.

I’m good with the “March winds.”
“April showers” are good too.
And, “May flowers?” Yep, I’m fine with them, as well.
It’s the whole “March intermittent rain and snow showers” thing that I’m taking issue with today.

On the other hand, today is William Shatner‘s 80th birthday, so it can’t be all bad.

Last night was quiet and uneventful. I think that the highlights were sorting ‘Clix, making hamantaschen and watching Top Gear with SaraRules! and having a bowl of ice cream for an evening snack… not necessarily in that order.

Tonight, Chris is supposed to come over to play dolls. We’re doing an updated match of the X-Men vs. the Teen Titans. I should probably start considering who I’m going to use…

Stray Toasters


“Commencing countdown, engines on…”

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"Commencing countdown, engines on..."

Monday – 21 March 2011
It’s the second day of Spring. Here behind the Zion Curtain, it’s grey and drab… although the sun appears to be making some efforts at breaking through the clouds.

This past weekend was rather low-key, which wasn’t a bad thing. Saturday, I had breakfast with Chris before heading over to Dr. Volt’s, where I judged a HeroClix tournament. There was a good turnout, with nine players. As there was overlap between the last DC 75th event and the new Giant-Size X-Men release, I just combined the prize support for the winners. That seemed to go over fairly well. Saturday evening, SaraRules!’ parents and grandmother came over to visit for a bit. We capped off the evening watching Demolition Man; it had been many years since I had last seen it.

Sunday was another quiet day… or, at least, it started that way. Perry called in the late morning to elicit my help in moving some of his martial arts practice equipment. We headed over and chatted with Kate and him for a bit; then he and I set about the heavy lifting. After that, SaraRules! and I caught a matinee of Battle: Los Angeles. This movie’s been getting knocked around in the reviews, but it wasn’t all bad. In fact, it was decent.  About halfway through the movie, I realized what it reminded me of: Independence Day. The only things missing were The Fresh Prince, The Fly and a virus-uploading MacBook. It was still a decent popcorn flick.

After the movie, we headed over to the in-laws’ for a belated St. Patrick’s Day dinner of corned beef and cabbage. SaraRules’ grandmother was in town, so we hung out with the family for a bit after dinner. Then it was back home for relaxing with DC Universe Online and a couple of episodes of Mad Men.

Stray Toasters

And that, I think, is a wrap.

Friday Fastball Special

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Friday Fastball Special

Friday – 18 March 2011
It’s my 9/80 “off” Friday. So far, I’ve celebrated by sleeping in, having coffee with Perry and saying “Hi” to and . That’s not a bad way to start a day off.

I’ve also painted the last “new” piece of foamboard that I have for my railroad; I might just extend the city section a little this afternoon/evening.  Also, the newest addition to my fleet o’ vans showed up today… so I might have to look at reworking the roadways through my layout.  Just saying.

Stray Toasters

  • For those of you who (still, for whatever reason) don’t know what a “Fastball Special” is, here’s a graphic representation:

  • sent me this link: Satellite Photos of Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami
    Use the slider to see an amazing “before and after” view of the Fukushimi Daiichi reactor destruction.
  • What it’s like to be a black comics writer, a video interview with the late Dwayne McDuffie
  • DC Comics’ “The Source” blog has posted the first picture of Adrianne Palicki in her costume for the upcoming Wonder Woman television series:

    It appears to be a melding of the traditional costume with the new comics version, as designed by Jim Lee. On the whole, I’m okay with it. I will agree with some commenters that the color palette for the pants may be a little “bright.”  But, it’s also a studio shot; it could look entirely different by the time the show hits the air.

  • Thanks to MarknTyme for sending me the link to Marble Machine Chronicle.  Check it out.
  • Trunk Club Men’s Outfitters: Hand-Selected Outfits Shipped to Your Door
  • Thanks to , for remembering my affinity for Rush when he posted this picture:

Time to find some more trouble to get into.
Or maybe even find some late lunch.



“It’s not easy being green…”

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"It's not easy being green..."

Thursday – 17 March 2011
It’s my “Friday.”
Happy Green Lantern Day.
Or, for some of you: “Happy St. Patrick’s Day.”

Could the day possibly get better? Somehow, I doubt it.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I left work a little early and made a trip down to The Train Shoppe. I managed to not buy a ton of stuff, just a few sections of track. Of course, I was exhibiting some restraint because I was picking up a case of ‘Clix, as the new Giant-Size X-Men set was released yesterday. And, with release day comes… Release Day Tournament. On the plus side: This was an event that Jeremiah ran for the store, meaning that I got to play in the event, rather than having to judge it. Win-Win.

Stray Toasters


“The future is coming on…”

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"The future is coming on..."

Wednesday – 16 March 2011
Apparently, it’s going to be a grey and rainy day. So be it. It’s midweek, it’s new comics day, and the new HeroClix set – Giant-Size X-Men – releases today. So there’s my ray of sunshine. In a bag.

Yesterday was The Ides of March… and it felt like it. I had an 11.5 hour day at work, thanks to a network traffic issue. I got so fed up at one point, that I went out for lunch and wound up going home, heading to the basement and running my train for a little bit of mid-day serenity. It helped. Fortunately, loonybin88 was still in town and helped sort through most of the issue. I still need to track down another (hopefully small) part of the puzzle.

When I got home, and after a late dinner and a little TV, I settled in for a hot soak and some light reading, Fables Vol. 14: Witches. That made for a perfect end to the day.

Stray Toasters



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Monday – 14 March 2011
It’s Pi Day.

It’s also ‘s birthday.

This weekend was good… even with losing an hour on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Saturday, SaraRules! and I had brunch with Logan and Swiz, before the four of us went off to see Utah Symphony’s performance of Peter and the Wolf, accompanied by Ballet West II. In the afternoon, I headed up to Clearfield and Ogden to check out a couple of train shops. Saturday night, SaraRules! and I attended Utah Opera’s opening night performance of Mark Adamo’s Little Women. I’m not typically a fan of modern classical music, but this is the second of Mr. Adamo’s works that I’ve heard this season… and I’ve enjoyed both of them.

Sunday, we took my car in to get the brakes worked on and then drove down to The Garden of Sweden. Amen. Next, I headed to West Valley Hobbies for a quick fix before we, along with the in-laws, headed to the Maverik Center for a Utah Grizzlies game. The team tried – hard – to give the game away, but managed to pull victory from the jaws of defeat mediocrity and send the Stockton Thunder home with a loss. The rest of the evening was pretty quiet and low-key.

Today, it’s more grey than I’d have expected after yesterday’s stunningly beautiful day. Oh, well.

Stray Toasters