Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Rule #15: Always work as a team

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Rule #15: Always work as a team

Thursday – 30 June 2011
This NBN Thursday comes to us with some high clouds over the mountains. But, it’s still a Thursday… which means only one more day in the work week. And, then my schedule does something lovely:

  • Three-day weekend, followed by…
  • Three-day work week, followed by…
  • Another three-day weekend.

That comes under the heading of:

Last night was D&D 4.0 night with m3lodywise and company. It was also the last encounter of our current campaign, which – in video game terms – meant: End Boss Fight! We fought a mage and some of his minions. Things didn’t start out auspiciously for us. We didn’t take it as an ill omen, fortunately. A couple of rounds later, things started to turn our way.

And that’s when the lich showed up.


So, we changed tactics: Melee fighters went to tackle the mage and his cohorts, while the ranged attackers and our handy-dandy NPCs took on the lich. A couple of NPCs took one for the team, while fighting the lich. (The greater good…) We managed to take down the mage and the lich, as well as destroy the lich’ phylactery (think: “horcrux”).

Good guys: Eleventy billion
Bad guys: Two.

The game ran a little later than planned, but it was fun. And, all the players’ characters lived. Both of those – separately or together – are good things.

Stray Toasters

And that’s that.


Rule #8: Never take anything for granted.

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Rule #8: Never take anything for granted.

Wednesday – 29 June 2011
It’s midweek, and I don’t think that I’ve been so happy to see a Wednesday roll around in a long time. It’s not that this has been a bad one. It just feels like it’s been exceptionally long. On the “plus” side, it’s new comics day and game night, so there are a couple of things to which I can look forward.

Last night was Guys’ Night Out. , , Corey, Steve (the father-in-law) and I headed up to MacCool’s Public House for beer, food and shooting the bull. It was a very good way to spend the evening.

After I got home, I watched The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson for the first time in… longer than I care to admit. One of his guests was Neil Gaiman. The interview was fun, as the two went on and on about Doctor Who — Gaiman wrote an episode for the show this season; Ferguson was a big fan of the show in his youth. Later in the interview, Gaiman also made an amusing comment in which he posited that Mythbusters‘ Jamie Hyneman might be Cthulhu.

This morning, not long before the alarm went off, I had a dream in which Neil Gaiman appeared: He was in town for a book signing and we hung out. I met him once, very briefly, at a signing nearly ten years ago…

…he was quite pleasant. And, I would most definitely hang out and have a pint or two with him, but I don’t think that we necessarily run in the same circles.

Stray Toasters


Umm… what was I saying?

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Umm... what was I saying?

Tuesday – 28 June 2011
It’s a sunny and clear day in the valley and it seems rather inversion-free. A person could get used to this.

Last night, our evening errand-running included a trip to Costco. I hadn’t been to a Costco in… probably more than a year. I saw a few interesting things, but still managed to walk out empty-handed.

The evening was capped off with a Monday night episode of Top Gear, in which the hosts attempted to recreate the Wise Men’s journey to Bethlehem. (Somehow, I doubt that the journey was quite as comical as what we saw last night…)

Stray Toasters

And that’s all I have to say about that.


“There’ll be blue skies over Dundalk when I break your heart…”

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"There'll be blue skies over Dundalk when I break your heart..."

Monday – 27 June 2011
Another work week begins… as June draws to a close. Where does the time go? It seems as though June just started.

This was a good and rather busy weekend. And, it was productive, to boot: The yard has been mowed and edged. Another of the great wild shrubberies in the front yard has been introduced to the Sawzall. I have become a fan of the pruning blades for the Sawzall, might I add. And, the consolidation of SaraRules!’ and my offices has begun.

We also managed to hit the Utah Arts Festival; we went on Saturday, with our friend, Jana. The weather was quite nice and perfect for an afternoon in the sun. I picked up a few railroad-related prints while there. Imagine that. And, I also managed to come home with a half-pound of cinnamon-roasted almonds.

Yesterday was a somewhat l0w-key day. We went to the Wasatch Front Farmers Market in the morning. We ran into my friend, Peggy, and her family, which was a rather unexpected but pleasant surprise. We also made a pilgrimage to the Garden of Sweden. And had dinner with the in-laws.

Friday, I made it to the gym.  I think that I remember what I did…

  • Elliptical: 20 minutes, 1.9 miles (I averaged somewhere between 5.5 and 6.0 MPH)
  • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 155 lbs
  • Curls (dumbbell, seated): 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Lat Pull-downs: 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs

My left calf is still a bit sore. It’s made going up and down steps… fun… over the weekend.

Stray Toasters


“I’ll take the long night, impossible odds…”

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"I'll take the long night, impossible odds..."

Thursday – 23 June 2011
It’s another bright and sunny No Bad News “Technical Friday.” Amen.

Yesterday, SaraRules! and I had another prenatal appointment — another ultrasound. Baby A was in photogenic mode, while Baby B was a bit camera shy. Both babies are doing well and are growing nicely.

Last night was game night with and the usual suspects. We had a HUGE fight on our hands: Five of us (plus five NPCs) versus a small horde of villagers. And we couldn’t kill them. Not that we weren’t capable of killing ’em – morality aside – but they were possessed, and killing the hosts would have caused us to face the entities possessing them. And they, combined, would have kicked our collective recta eight ways from Sunday. So, it was a long fight:

Knock out villager.
Exorcise villager.
Trap exorcised spirit in vessel.

But, we managed to pull it off. And… we did it without anyone dying. (Well, no one in our group died; a couple of the villagers wound up as ‘collateral damage.’ Oops.)

Stray Toasters


Comics, candles, movies and zombies

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Comics, candles, movies and zombies

Wednesday – 21 June 2011
Midweek is upon us once more.

It has been brought to my attention that I have neglected to mention something. Again. Something that’s kind of a big deal and bears mentioning. The omission wasn’t due to lack of care and/or consideration. In fact, it was more of a “I had other, more immediate things on my mind.” And, to be honest… it’s not just ONE thing that I haven’t mentioned, but TWO.

So, I’m going to give them their due. Even better: I’m going to tie them together. Because I can.

What are they?  Glad you asked.  The two items are:

  1. My sister-in-law, Melissa’s, birthday was this past Saturday. (Like I said I didn’t forget it — cards were sent and “Happy birthday” calls were made.) But… I didn’t mention it here.
  2. I saw Green Lantern on Thursday night/Friday morning… but haven’t given it a review yet.

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s great that you’re acknowledging these things, but… um… how are you planning on tying them together?”  Good question.

My answer:

BLAOW! That’s right… my sister-in-law as a Green Lantern.  How ’bout them apples?!

Here she is, post-training, when she was allowed to personalize her uniform.


Seen here with Lantern recruit G’nort (1, 2), before he was issued a power ring

And, with not-quite-entirely-belated birthday greetings out of the way, on to Item #2: The Review…

As I mentioned above, I saw the midnight showing of Green Lantern Thursday night. I’d heard rumblings – but managed to avoid reading/listening to full-on reviews – about the movie over the course of the day. The things I heard were that it wasn’t a great movie… it was a BAD movie… blah blah blah. I tried not to let this jade my opinion; after all, Martin Campbell had brought us the new-and-improved James Bond in Casino Royale, along with a couple of rousing takes on Zorro (1, 2). With that in mind, I was good to go.

The overall atmosphere of the theatre was upbeat and anxious. This is of little surprise, as the event was  hosted by Big Movie Mouth-Off, Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection and Play ‘n’ Trade. When I arrived, about an hour before the movie started, the folks from Play ‘n’ Trade had set up an Xbox 360 with Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters on the movie screen. I milled around with Dave and Jeremiah from Dr. Volt’s for a bit before finding my seat. About fifteen minutes before the movie started, they opened up the floor for trivia and a costume contest.  Then, it was showtime.

After sitting through two hours of emerald ring-slinging moviedom, I can say this: It wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed the film. My rating scale for comic book-related properties runs from:

Batman and Robin (1) up to Superman: the Movie (10)

I’d put Batman Begins and The Dark Knight in the high 9’s. Likewise, I’d put the Fantastic Four movies around… a 6 or 7, give or take a bit.

I’d give Green Lantern somewhere between seven and eight LEGO bricks. We’ll call it 7.5, for the sake of argument.

It didn’t knock it out of the park, as I’d hoped, but it was good. And entertaining. And fun. I think that there are a number of factors that are causing people to knock it, not the least of which is: Given the “realistic” feel of movies like Batman Begins and TDK – and even the X-Men franchise – audiences and critics were hoping for a more… serious or realistic… take on GL. Really?! Let’s look at the premise:

A man gets a ring… that can create anything he thinks of… from a dying alien… who’s part of an intergalactic police force.

Yeah, let’s see the “grim and gritty”  take on that. No, thanks.  I’m sorry that die-hard fanboys felt that it was missing this obscure reference or that character or this storyline and that critics are giving Mr. Campbell the business because there was “too much of this” or “too little of that.” I think that he did a good job. Not only that: I think that he made a movie that parents can take their kids to see.  (I credit Kenneth Branagh with doing the same thing with this season’s earlier release, Thor.)

Was I disappointed that I didn’t get to see John Stewart, my favorite Lantern (other than my sister-in-law, of course)? A little.  Would it have been fun to see more of Hal’s training on Oa? Sure.  What about more in-jet flight time? Yeah, that could have been fun, too.  But, as The Rolling Stones sang: “You can’t always get what you want…”  Besides, if DC/Warner Brothers decide to make a sequel, there’s a chance I can see him there. And if not, I still have my collection of Justice League DVDs…

Stray Toasters


“Summer… turns me upside down…”

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"Summer... turns me upside down..."

Tuesday – 21 June 2011
Today is the Summer Solstice, marking both the longest day of the year and the first day of Summer.

Last night, SaraRules and I went for a post-dinner walk. We headed to the neighborhood 7-11 for Slurpees. Rather than double back, we took the long way home, making a rather large (1.5 mile) loop home. It was a good walk and the weather was perfect for an evening stroll. Back at home, we rounded out the evening with Top Gear… and a bedtime story for the proto-twins. Last night’s story: Seven Little Postmen

… which actually does a fair job of explaining how mail gets through the USPS mailstream.  (Of course, the book was written decades before REC sites came online, so there are a couple of differences, especially with reference to sorting technology.)

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.


Hello, Monday…

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Hello, Monday...

Monday – 20 June 2011
And so, back to the grind.

The weekend was good. The trip to Denver was successful; then again, it’s kind of hard to screw up “Go to a wedding reception and hang out with family.” We left at o’dark-thirty on Friday morning and got back last night. I slept for the first three hours of the outbound leg of the trip. That’s fine, as I woke up in Rock Springs, WY… which was the farthest west I’d been on I-80. The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. We found our hotel and a place to eat, Johnny’s Asian Bistro, and visited with the family for a bit before heading back to the hotel to call it a day. A very long day.

Saturday, we got up, had a bite to eat and then went gallivanting. Our first stop was the Denver Botanic Gardens. It was a very nice walking garden, with many varied sections in the middle of the city. We walked around. I took pictures. It was good. Next, we headed to the Five Points part of town to check out their Juneteenth festivities. We also ate at the Welton Street Cafe. That’s right: Soul food in the city. And it was VERY tasty and satisfying. Next… well… we were going to visit the Black American West Museum, but it closed earlier than we realized. We then went to tried to get to Caboose Hobbies, a train shop whose ads I’ve seen in various magazines. After a lot of detouring – thanks to construction and roads being closed for events downtown – we made it. It was a good-sized shop, with something for modelers of all scales. I didn’t buy anything to add to my railroad, but I didn’t come away empty-handed, either. Back to the hotel for a little rest and to change… and then on to Hannah and Parker’s wedding reception, the true reason for the visit — Hannah and Parker make a lovely couple, might I add. The fete had gotten under way before we got there, but we only really missed the “feeding each other cake/smashing cake in each other’s faces” part of the evening.  It was nice to see and spend time with people, including members of the family we didn’t see on Friday evening. Back to the hotel for the night… after a stop at the local Baskin-Robbins.

Sunday, we slept in (a little) and then got back on the road for Salt Lake City. The ride was fairly uneventful, although it felt much longer than heading out to Denver. SaraRules and I ran a couple of errands – including finding dinner – before holing up in the house for the night and watching Ghost Rider… which I didn’t have to coerce her to watch, I want to add!

This morning, the “return to the usual” was hard, as I didn’t seem to want to get out of bed and face the day.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for the first day back.


“Rocky Mountain High…”

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"Rocky Mountain High..."

Saturday – 18 June 2011
I’m in Denver, Colorado.  More or less. Actually, I’m in Parker. But, it’s part of the Denver Metro Area… so, like I said: “I’m in Denver.”

We’re here for the wedding of one of SaraRules!’ cousins. We drove in yesterday, with her folks. After we got to town and settled into the hotel, we found a place to eat – Johnny’s Asian Bistro – which wasn’t half bad. Then, we headed up to the Hannah’s (the bride-to-be) and hung out with the family for a while. I got in some kid-time, as a couple of the hatchlings decided to hang out and play with me.

We got made it back to the hotel and pretty much crashed. Nine-plus hours in a car makes for a LONG day.

Today, we’re off to gallivant a bit before the reception; it’s a temple wedding (1, 2, 3) , so we’re just going to the ‘after-party,’ so to speak. I think that today’s excursion will include a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Black American West Museum, and maybe (HOPEFULLY) a trip to Caboose Hobbies, if time permits.

Stray Toasters

  • My review of Green Lantern will most likely have to wait until I get back home. As a tide-me-over, here’s this from my very early Friday morning Facebook post:

    Just got home from seeing Green Lantern and REALLY should be putting more effort into getting to bed.

    I enjoyed the movie, not just as a GL fan, but as a comics-based movie fan. I would say that it leaned more towards “Fantastic Four” than “Superman: the Movie” or “Batman Begins/The Dark Knight,” but it was still fun.

    Would I pay to see it in a theatre again? Sure.
    Will I buy the DVD when it comes out? Yep.

  • Chalk Art Festival brings artists together for a good cause
    If you’re in the Salt Lake City area and looking for a fun family event, go check it out!
  • American Star Shines in House of Mirrors

Short and sweet… but we’re about to go attack the day.


Thursday musings…

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Thursday musings...

Thursday – 16 June 2011
Another NBN Thursday is upon us.
Today is also an unofficial “Technical Friday,” as I’m taking tomorrow off.

I didn’t get to see yesterday’s Green Lantern screening. (By the same token, neither did about a hundred other people who were also in line.) That’s cool on a couple of counts:

  1. I got to play D&D (4.0) with and company, which was a rather fun time. It turns out that we hadn’t played in nearly a month!
  2. I’m going to the screening that Dr. Volt’s is co-hosting — tonight at The Gateway.


Stray Toasters


“Who needs sleep? Well, you’re never gonna get it…”

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"Who needs sleep? Well, you're never gonna get it..."

Wednesday – 15 June 2011
Midweek. Thank Heaven…

And, thank Heaven for the local Beans & Brews; I’ve returned to my old coffee shop while Pinup Girl Espresso is “on hiatus.”  Did you hear that, IHC?  “On. Hiatus.”  The ball’s in your court now. Let’s see some machinery and equipment on that lot, so that I can get my neighborhood coffee shop back.

*stares menacingly at IHC*

Last night was low-key. SaraRules! and I started some of the moves that will eventually allow the current guest room to become the nursery. There’s still a good bit of work and moving to be done, but we’ve at least made a start.

Today is new comics day.  (Good.)  And, it’s also  game night… although, I may have to skip it: I have passes to see Green Lantern.  Whether or not I am one of the lucky ones who makes it into the theatre has yet to be seen.

Stray Toasters


Better la… you get the idea.

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Better la... you get the idea.

Tuesday – 14 June 2011
Today is Flag Day.

And, even though it’s Tuesday, it’s another day chock full o’ meetings. Whoop-de-damn-doo!

Last night, I attempted to conquer the front lawn… as a thunderstorm loomed in the not-to-distant sky. (I managed to finish before it became a torrential downpour.) After that, I deemed that it was going to be a lazy night in. SaraRules! and I spent the evening watching Top Gear (UK) and the various versions of House Hunters.

Sidenote: Apparently House Hunters, like Law & Order before it, has enough spin-offs for me to start tagging them like Star Trek series:

  • House Hunters: TOS
  • House Hunters International: TNG
  • House Hunters on Vacation: DS9

Just saying…

And, I read a bit more of Sixkill, which has been quite good.

Stray Toasters

Sunday, quiet and relaxed…

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Sunday, quiet and relaxed...

Sunday – 12 June 2011
It’s been a great day, so far… and it’s barely half done.

Last night, SaraRules! and I saw Super 8.

It’s definitely a classic J.J. Abrams production, in the vein of Cloverfield.  That said, I’ve seen enough variations in Mr. Abrams’ style to feel comfortable saying that I don’t think that he will become the same kind of one-trick pony that M. Night Shayamalan appears to have become.

This morning, I managed to sleep in (until 0830) and then decided to take a nice hot soak, while SaraRules! slept. After that, we got ready to meet Swiz and Logan at Wheeler Historic Farm for a visit to the opening of the Wasatch Front Farmers Market. It was a small affair – about 1/4 to 1/3 the size of the Downtown Farmers Market – but it was nice. We think that it’s still a little early in the season for vegetables, so there should be some growth as Spring moves into Summer. After wandering around the Market, we strolled around the animal areas for a bit. (It wasn’t the longest or most strenuous walk ever, but I’m counting it as today’s exercise.)

After we left Wheeler Farm, SaraRules! and I headed to Old Mill Park to take a look at the Spring run-off. I made a short video of it.

I’m not sure what the rest of the day holds in store… aside from a trip to The Garden of Sweden.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.  Time to get out and enjoy the rest of the day…


Saturday and whatnot…

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Saturday and whatnot...

Saturday – 11 June 2011
Yesterday was my youngest sister’s birthday:

Yesterday was also my 9/80 day off. And it was a good day. I started with a short trip to the gym. (This is almost getting to be a habit…)

  • Elliptical: 15 minutes, ~5.75 MPH pace
  • Bench press: 3 sets/8 reps — 2 sets @ 135, 1 set @ 155
  • Curls (dumbbells, seated): 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Shoulder Press (dumbbells, seated): 3 sets/10 reps, 35 lbs
  • Compound Row: 3 sets/10 reps, 125 lbs.

Back home to get cleaned up and then I was off to Porcupine Pub and Grille for lunch with my friend, Emily. We’d not seen each other in a couple of years, so there was a fair bit of catching up to do. Next I popped in to say “Hi” to and .

Then… it was off to meet SaraRules! for another appointment with her doctor. Only, the doctor was “out,” as she got called to the hospital to deliver a baby. So, we met with a nurse instead. She checked on the babies and gave us a thumbs-up on their progress.

I made it back home (by way of The Train Shoppe) and played a bit of Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters before we went out to meet the usual suspects for Clitorati.

This morning, following a series of disturbing dreams and fitful sleep, I found myself awake at 0630. Rather than toss and turn in bed, I made my way to the couch and watched TV. I actually got to see The Rifleman (1, 2) for the first time in ages. Then, the TV started watching me, as I nodded in and out of sleep for the next hour-and-a-half.

Stray Toasters


“…while my guitar gently weeps.”

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"...while my guitar gently weeps."

Thursday – 09 June 2011
Another NBN Technical Friday is upon us. Amen. It looks like it’s going to be a clear, sunny day. That doesn’t exactly hurt my feelings.

Last night, SaraRules! and I had dinner with Ron and a couple of his coworkers, Linda and Kathy. We ate at The Pie Pizzeria. I’ve long been of the opinion that pizza from The Pie is “good,” but I’m not as head-over-heels about it as some of my friends. I think that I know at least part of “why” I’ve had a problem in the past: I have most often had their “Mountain of Meat” pizza, which tends to be a bit… messy… and greasy. And, while filling, it sits heavily in your stomach. Last night’s pizza (or, rather, my half of it) had pepperoni, sausage and green peppers. It went down easily and was filling, without being “too heavy.” I’m fairly confident in saying that it was probably my most pleasurable experience eating a pizza there. After dinner, Ron came over and hung out with us for a while. SaraRules!, he and I sat around trading stories until late in the evening. It was a good end to a good day.

Stray Toasters