Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“… and I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”

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"... and I would do anything for love, but I won't do that."

Friday – 29 April 2011
It’s my 9/80 Friday off.

It’s also 7:30 (well, it was when I started this…) in the morning. So, why am I up so early on my day off, especially if “early morning feedings” don’t start for another four or so months? (Sleep Can Wait. The Birds Are Angry) No… the real reason is: I took Logan and Swiz to the airport this morning; they’re winging their way to the California coast. I figured that I’m used to being up this early and I could easily deal with getting up and getting them to the airport. Ain’t nothin’ but a thang. Besides, I don’t have a whole lot on tap today, so if I need to catch a mid-afternoon nap… I can.

Last night, SaraRules! went to visit a friend whom she hadn’t seen in close to ten years. I got to stay home and be a bachelor for a few hours. This translated to: “Rob sitting on the couch, eating pizza and drinking Guinness, while watching the 2011 NFL Draft.” And it was good. Selah.

Good picks all the way around. And a good way to spend the evening.

Stray Toasters


NBN Technical Friday

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NBN Technical Friday

Thursday – 28 April 2011
It’s “No Bad News Technical Friday.”  Hallelujah!

It’s kind of hard to believe that we’re only two days away from the end of April. It feels like it just started. I wonder how quickly the rest of Spring and Summer are going to fly by – or at least feel like they are flying by – now that we have the twins to look forward to as Summer approaches Autumn.

Twins. Most of the shock has worn off. Now, we’re trying to figure out just how many… adjustments… we’re going to have to make to our baby-prep plans. The grandparents all seem to be rather happy with the news. And, I think that this pretty much cements the idea that we’re staying at home again this Christmas. (I’m good with that.) Time to start looking at 529 Plans

Last night, we celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday. We went up to the in-laws’ for dinner, dessert and general hanging out. For dinner, there was a homemade chicken pot pie. Correction: There were two (2) of them. And they were good. For dessert, we had homemade doughnuts, with an orange frosting. They, too, were good. It was a very nice way to spend the evening.

Back at home, SaraRules! and I watched the second half of Real Salt Lake‘s match against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League Final. They seemed to play better than in last week’s match, but couldn’t get the ball into the net. This isn’t to say that they didn’t have the opportunities, but they couldn’t get the ball past Monterrey’s goalkeeper. And, since the final score was based on the cumulative score from both matches, Monterrey came away with a 3-2 total against RSL. I also believe that this makes Monterrey the first visiting team in… two years, I think… to win at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Stray Toasters


Midweek musings…

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Midweek musings...

Wednesday – 27 April 2011
New comics day.
D&D game night. Father-in-law’s birthday dinner.

And, it’s a bright, sunshiny day.

I’d call that an all-around good day.

Now that (most of) the shock of the whole “You’re having twins” surprise has worn off, we’re looking at the things we’re going to need two of. (I’m also trying NOT to think of things like “two cars… two college funds… two of everything…”) This is going to be something of an adventure.  And, of course, this twins-related story showed up on Big Shiny Robot yesterday.  (Although, it does make me wonder whether the twins will have superpowers and what powers they might wind up with…)

Last night, I had to go to the local Home Depot and Lowe’s. (Yeah, I know… rough life…) A couple of sections of our back fence blew over on Monday night, so they need to get replaced. I don’t know if this fence was the handiwork of the house’s previous owners or the ones before them, but the back fence has always looked kind of sad and we had talked about replacing it. This just advances the time table a bit. It turns out that the replacement fencing we’re looking at doesn’t all that expensive. (Fortunately.)

Other than that, it was a rather uneventful night, as I called it an early evening on account of being completely tuckered out.

Stray Toasters



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Tuesday – 26 April 2011
Day Two of the work week finds me in the south office again. In the words of Lita Ford, “It ain’t no big thing.” So far, it’s been fairly quiet, which has been something of a boon.

Yesterday, I left work early for a doctor’s appointment. More specifically, I left for an appointment that SaraRules! had. For those who don’t know: She’s expecting. (Which I guess really could be said: “We’re expecting.”) A couple of weeks ago, she had a check-up, which included taking blood for a few tests. She got a call from her doctor, this past Thursday, saying that one of tests came back with “abnormal” results and that they wanted her to come in for an ultrasound.

NOTE: The test that came back abnormal was a test that checks the protein levels in the womb. This protein – when registered in elevated levels – is an indicator of a neural tube defect, which can be a sign of spina bifida (1, 2) or other spinal cord diseases/defects. SaraRules!’ protein levels were high enough to merit further study. The ultrasound was needed to check the spine’s development and see if there was, in fact, a problem.

As you can imagine, our weekend had “a few” moments of preoccupation.

Yesterday, we went to the hospital to get the ultrasound. We were met by the ultrasound tech and a genetics specialist. They gave us a brief overview of what they would be looking for and went to work. A few moments later, the genetics doctor looked at the screen and then looked at us and said that her work was done…

…and that the baby was fine:







…and so was the OTHER baby.



That’s right: We’re having twins.

Oh, boy…

The elevated protein levels that were noted in the blood test were due to the fact that the test was looking for a certain range/level – the amount which one baby would produce. Since there are two babies in there, the test was thrown off, because they are both producing the protein. And, when that’s factored in, both babies – and SaraRules! – are fine.

So, I guess this means that I should get ALL the sleep I can in the next four-and-a-half months, because after that, I doubt that I’m going to get a full night’s sleep for a L-O-N-G time… if ever again.

Stray Toasters

Yeah… twins.  Wow.



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Monday – 25 April 2011
A new work week begins. Is it a “bad” thing that I’m happy that it’s my short week?

The weekend was a good one. I talked with most of the family unit yesterday, everyone is doing well.

After Mass yesterday, I went out for a bit and wound up at West Valley Hobbies. (Shocking, I know.) They didn’t really have anything that I couldn’t live without, so I left empty-handed. Since I was on that side of town, I headed up to Black Water Coffee Company (Pin-up Girl Espresso’s shop on the west side of the valley). I chatted with Jim for a few, while getting a mocha to go. Next stop: Toys ‘R’ Us. I saw a few things there that registered as minor blips on The Covet List, but still managed to leave without parting with any money.  I headed back home and hung out before we headed to dinner at the in-laws’.

Dinner was a small affair this week, just SaraRules!’ parents and the two of us. We had lamb, broccoli and rice pilaf. Everything was very good.  Post-dinner, we watched Defiance. It wasn’t quite the movie that I’d expected. It was, however, quite good. From the IMDb synopsis:

Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.

We all enjoyed it.

On the way home, SaraRules! and I noted that despite the fact that neither of us is Jewish that – between A Child of Our Time on Saturday and Defiance tonight – we had a fairly Pass0ver-related weekend.

Stray Toasters

And, with that… on to the day!


Easter Sunday 2011

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Easter Sunday 2011

Sunday – 24 April 2011
Today is Easter. I hope that everyone has a safe and joyous day.

Today is also my sister-in-law-to-be, Sanaz’, birthday:

This morning, SaraRules! and I got up and went to Mass; the priest gave a good homily about living a life that embraced “life” and not one that embraced death and destruction (both physical and spiritual). There were a number of children (from infants to 6 or 7-years old) wh0 also made the Mass interesting and amusing.

Next, we stopped off at SaraRules!’ parents’ house to say “Hi” and “Happy Easter.” And from there, it was on to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast. (They had their coffee cake on the day’s menu!) As always, the food was very good.

Last night, SaraRules! and I attended Utah Symphony and Utah Symphony Chorus‘ performance of A Child of Our Time (1, 2)  an oratorio by Sir Michael Tippett. The symphony and chorus were conducted by Keith Lockhart, in his last appearance as Music Director Emeritus. The featured artists included one of my favorite baritones, Derrick Parker. (And by “one of my favorites,” I mean “my favorite,” although SaraRules! simply refers to him as my man-crush.) The piece…

…was inspired by events in 1938: Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish refugee teenager in Paris, murdered the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath. This was a catalyst for the Nazis’ attacks against Jews in Germany on Kristallnacht.

Tippett used African-American spirituals in the work to tie together the themes of oppression, hope and deliverance between World War II-era Jews and blacks of the Civil War era.  The juxtaposition of the two races’ struggles worked amazing well and engaged the audience with a powerful and passionate theme.

After the performance, we had the pleasure of meeting Glenn, one of the chorus members. He told us of his experience in learning and getting to know the piece. It was interesting to hear a performer’s first-hand account and to see how touching and moving it was to him.

After the performance, we came home and dyed a few eggs before calling it a night. I also spent a little time last night – and this morning – putting together an Easter basket for SaraRules! complete with lighted Easter eggs. That’s right: Eggs that light up. Win!

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Blue Skies Over Dundalk

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Blue Skies Over Dundalk

Saturday – 23 April 2011
I don’t know what happened to the blue skies and mild temps we had yesterday, but it looks grey and drab outside. But, it’s a day that I’m alive to enjoy, so I’m still thankful for it.

After work yesterday, I found myself gallivanting hither and yon. I wandered into Ra-Elco, an electronics shop that I was introduced to about ten years ago. It hasn’t changed much. Next, there was a trip to The Train Shoppe, of course. They are redoing the O scale layout, so that side of the store was a little… chaotic. But, that didn’t stop me from looking around and checking out the wares. I came this close to picking up a couple of sets of trestles. But, I didn’t. Yet.  From there, I put in an appearance at Jitterbug Coffee Hop. I meandered my way southward and eventually wound up at Pin-up Girl, hanging out with Jim. Later in the evening, it was time to meet the usual suspects for Clitorati.

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

Today should be another good day. I’m having breakfast with Chris in a couple of hours. I’m judging a HeroClix tourney for Dr. Volt’s this afternoon. And, SaraRules! and I have Date Night at the symphony this evening.

Stray Toasters
Nope, nothing today… or, at least, not yet. Check back tomorrow.


Good Friday / Earth Day

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Good Friday / Earth Day

Friday – 22 April 2011
It’s my 9/80 “on” Friday. S’okay… it’s the quiet, low-number-of-employees day. That’s a good thing.

Today is also Good Friday

…and it’s Earth Day, too.

But, it’s still a Friday, and that means that the weekend is mere hours away…

Last night, after I got home from work, I went to the basement and ran my train around the layout for a bit. To those who don’t get “how” people can derive enjoyment from “…just watching a train go in a (modified) circle,” I don’t think that I can sufficiently explain it. But I do. And it was good. And fun.

After a failed trip to the Village Christmas Shoppe at Gardner Village (it’s closed… as in permanently) SaraRules! and I picked up dinner from the Papas – John and Murphy – and went home to watch The Godfather: Part III, which I’d never seen before. It was good. (Man, it was LONG, too…) I enjoyed seeing continuation and conclusion of Michael Corleone’s rise to power and how he wielded it.

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Corner kick

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Corner kick

Thursday – 21 April 2011
It’s another NBN Thursday in the valley. It’s partly sunny, but at least it’s not raining. For the time being, anyway…

Last night was Game Night 2, with and the gang. Actually, it was an abbreviated gang, as a couple of our group weren’t able to make it. But, we persevered and adventured on without them. And we lived to tell the tale.

Back at home, I joined SaraRules! in watching Real Salt Lake take on Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League Final match. RSL looked a bit tired by the time I started watching (second half), but they held their own against… and the refs. I – along with a couple of the announcers – thought that the refs yellow carded a couple of plays that shouldn’t have drawn penalties AND they completely missed/ignored a red card offense against Monterrey. *shrug* RSL came out of the game with a 2-2 tie and the second leg of the match will be held at Rio Tinto Stadium next Wednesday.

Stray Toasters


Halfway there…

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Halfway there...

Wednesday – 20 April 2011
It’s the middle of the week, once more. That means new comics and Game Night 2.

Last night, SaraRules! and I had dinner – at one of the local Mimi’s Cafes – with my friends Peggy and Adrian. I haven’t seen Peggy in nearly ten years, I don’t think; Adrian and I last got together about a year or so ago. It was good to see and catch up with them. And, both the food and the company were good.

After dinner, I headed over to ‘ place for a bit of Tuesday night gaming. Our group had to figure out a couple of goings-on in the city… while not getting killed by a bunch of cultists… AND figure out to whom we could talk about said cultists without getting ourselves killed. Precarious. We seemed to find an interested – and quite possibly helpful – group. We’ll see if it comes back to bite us in our collective recta.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
Tina Fey’s Prayer for a Daughter, excerpted from her book, Bossypants

Stray Toasters


“On a Tuesday in Amsterdam, long ago…”

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"On a Tuesday in Amsterdam, long ago..."

Tuesday – 19 April 2011
It’s a kind of grey-ish day. It’s currently not raining; it would be nice if that holds up for the rest of the day.

Last night was a very casual night around the house. SaraRules! and I had dinner in front of the TV. Our viewing choice for the night: Big Trouble in Little China, a movie that I had somehow managed to go twenty-five years without seeing. To her credit, SaraRules! warned me – before the movie started – that it was a “Cool World-Long Kiss Goodnight” Scale kind of film. She was right. (But, it was fun. Silly, but fun.) We also caught an episode of Top Gear.

Stray Toasters


“Rainy Days and Mondays…”

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"Rainy Days and Mondays..."

Monday – 18 April 2011
It’s Tax Day here in the States. Coincidentally (or not so much so), it’s a grey and rainy day. For those of you who are eleventh hour filers: Good luck.

And I’ll go ahead and dedicate today’s Groove Break to the IRS:

  • The O’Jays – For the Love of Money

  • Pink Floyd – Money

  • Tony Toni Tone – If I Had No Loot

Yesterday was an all-around good day. SaraRules! and I attended Palm Sunday Mass, after which we dropped in and said “Hello” to the in-laws. Then we headed home and did a little yard work. I did the first lawn mowing of the season. Unlike ‘s “One and Done” lawnmower start, my mower started on the third pull. (But, it started, and that was the key thing.) Post-lawn care, I plopped down on the sofa and watched some DVR fare: A pre-Christmas episode of Human Target and – along with SaraRules! – an episode of Lopez Tonight from last week, on which Prince performed. We both noted how young and fit he looks at 52. Seriously, the man looks like he’s still in his mid-30s. (Two words: “Dorian. Gray.”) Next we headed back to the in-laws’ for dinner… and we watched Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe, which was a fun tide-me-over until the new season of Burn Notice kicks off in June.

Stray Toasters

Right on to the friction of the day…


“I never needed more than a way to get me through…”

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"I never needed more than a way to get me through..."

Sunday – 16 April 2011
Today is Palm Sunday (1, 2).

And every time I think of that, my mind wanders off to Palm Sunday Downpour, by the band a friend of mine used to be in…

…which, apparently, one of his former bandmates has covered/released on his own. Huh. Go, Power of the Interwebs!

Yesterday was a good day. It was, to be certain, a long day, but it was a good one, all around:

The morning started with SaraRules! and me heading over to say “Goodbye” to Kate, Perry and the kids. They moved out of town this morning. I’ve known Kate for… close to ten years and I’ve known Perry for 8 or 9-ish; they’ve been very good friends. They’re going to be missed.

Next, we headed to Thanksgiving Point to check out:

“Eye-Candy Overload” was a wee bit of an exaggeration… but I think that was only because of how much the weather has flip-flopped from warm-to-cold-to-warmish over the past couple of weeks. Yes, there were tulips in bloom. But, upon our arrival, there weren’t as many as we would have expected. As the morning wore on – and as we neared the end of our excursion – more opened. This isn’t to say that we had a bad time, though. Far from it. We had a good walk and I got a lot of pictures around the gardens.

On the way home, we stopped at In-N-Out Burger for lunch and at the local Kohl’s, so that I could look for a couple of pairs of slacks. Lunch was successful; the clothes shopping, not as successful.

I decided to venture northward. I stopped in at Almosta Junction in Clearfield, where – for the first time in all of my trips there – their layout was in operation! That, of course, meant that I was compelled to shoot video (15 MB, m4v file) of it. I left with a couple of books and an O-Scale BMW 6 Series car. Next, I headed up to The Wonderful World of Trains. There were plenty of things there that could easily wind up on The Covet List, but I managed to leave with just the first FasTrack book that Lionel put out.

Back home. It was almost time to start getting ready for the evening’s outing. Black suit (Nod Ya Head), white shirt, black tie (with grey squares and white dots), black shoes. I had the good fortune to accompany both SaraRules! and to dinner and the symphony. We ate at Settebello; I had the Margherita pizza (with sausage) and a couple of cappucinos. After dinner, we walked to Abravanel Hall to hear Utah Symphony perform

(click image to see the program for the evening)

We missed most of the Mozart – we were a bit late, due to how crowded Settebello was – but the rest of the concert was quite good. Despite having heard Also Sprach Zarasthustra and On the Beautiful Blue Danube numerous times before, it was quite another thing to hear them performed live; I should think that Maestro Fischer would be proud of how the symphony performed under Mr. Schwarz’ direction.

Before heading home, we stopped at Capo for gelato. It was a good way to end the evening.

Stray Toasters

Time to start getting ready for Mass and the rest of the day…



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Friday – 15 April 2011
It’s my “off” Friday. Rather than idling the day away, I’m heading over to Kate and Perry’s in a bit — I’m helping them load up a moving truck. They finally sold their house and are moving this weekend. Getting used to the fact that they won’t be around has been odd, and I expect it to be even more so – at least for a while – once that becomes a reality.

Groove Break

  • Teddy Riley and Guy – Groove Me

  • Eric B and Rakim – Microphone Fiend

  • Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock – Joy & Pain

  • Jay-Z – Izzo (H.O.V.A.)

Yesterday was a decent day. Thanks (or “no thanks,” depending on your perspective) to working on Saturday, I had some extra time banked, so I was able to cut out of work a couple of hours early. Win. After dinner, I called my friend, William, whose birthday I managed to miss on Sunday.  We talked for better than half an hour, catching up on all the latest news from our respective families. After that, SaraRules! and I headed downtown for a night at the opera ballet:

The performance was good; we both especially liked the staging and choreography of the Bolero piece.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
posted a link to this last night; I found it rather intriguing: The Truth about Race, Religion and the Honor Code at BYU

Stray Toasters

Up. Out.


“Haven’t you always wanted a monkey?”

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"Haven't you always wanted a monkey?"

Thursday – 14 April 2011
It’s another glorious NBN Technical Friday. This morning started with clouds and a little snow… but it looks as though the sun is trying to put in an appearance. We’ll see how that goes.

Last night was D&D 4.0 night with and company. We adventured. We got loot. We walked right into the middle of a war between factions in a city… and had to choose sides. Hopefully, we chose well.

After the game, I headed home and occupied a nice and comfy spot on the couch, as my stomach decided that it wanted to try out a new acrobatics routine. I am attributing it to “The Revenge of Lunch!” Fortunately, by the time I got ready to call it a night, it was better. I attribute that to milk and Tums.

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