Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Wednesday something or other…

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Wednesday something or other...

Wednesday – 31 August 2011
Back in the north office again. Yesterday’s excursion to the south office wasn’t too bad. Yes, there were a couple of “Things that make you go ‘Hmm,'” but on the whole, it was fairly painless.

Last night was Guys’ Night Out. And, it will most likely be the last one I get to attend for a while. That’s okay, because the company and the food and the beer were good.

This morning started slowly, by choice. I woke up and decided that I wasn’t going to necessarily rush to get into the office. It made for a nice, leisurely start to the morning. On the flip side, this morning’s cup of coffee wasn’t  enough to stave off my attempts at conducting an inner eyelid study. So, I was on Coffee: Round 2 a little early.

And today was also New Comics & Sushi Wednesday! Sushi was good; the comics haul was VERY light: Two books. I wound up with three books, as I bought two copies of one title.

Stray Toasters


This must be… wait, this isn’t even close to Belgium!

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This must be... wait, this isn't even close to Belgium!

Tuesday – 30 August 2011
Day Two of the work week finds me, once again, in Utah County. I actually volunteered to come down here a week early — it works better with the timing of kids on the way. And, so far, it hasn’t been bad.

Last night, there was football. The Jets vs. the Giants. (Even though both teams are based out of the New Meadowlands, the Giants were the home team.) There was A LOT of bickering between the teams – so much so that two players had themselves disqualified from play.  It was also a fast game; I think that it was only a little more than two hours, in all.  After the game, SaraRules! and I took care of more of the last stages of baby prep: I assembled Bassinet #2, while she figured out how to install the kids’ car seats in her car. (I took a cursory look at how they’d install in my car, as well, but I’ll put more effort into that tonight.) And then, there was new Top Gear to watch, as well as ice cream sandwiches to eat. It was a good Monday night.

Stray Toasters

Okay… back to the post-lunch grind.

And tonight: Guys’ Night Out.


T-minus 8…

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T-minus 8...

Monday – 29 August 2011
It’s Monday. So far, it hasn’t been bad,  although my morning commute was somewhat eventful. I had just left home, made it to the first traffic light – which was green when I got to it – and proceeded across the intersection. I was about 2/3 of the way across the intersection when I happened to look to my right. And then I saw it: A sedan, barreling down the street. Coming right at me.

Well, damn…

Fortunately, I was far enough across the intersection – and just far enough ahead of that car – that it wasn’t a problem. (Well, aside from the obligatory Intestinal Fortitude Test.) I don’t know what they were/weren’t thinking, but it made for an interesting start to the day. The rest of the commute was pretty mundane, by comparison.

Yesterday, SaraRules!, and I went to breakfast at Ruth’s Diner. After breakfast, the three of us went to Utah’s Hogle Zoo to experience “Zoorassic Park.” (Pictures here) I wasn’t expecting SaraRules! to make the trip through the entire zoo — 9 months pregnant and late-August heat — but she did.

Yesterday was also Read Comics in Public Day. I went to Wheeler Farms and (briefly) read comics. I even have pictures to prove it. Thanks to SaraRules! for indulging me.

Stray Toasters


“You can get with this or you can get with that…”

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"You can get with this or you can get with that..."

Friday – 26 August 2011
It’s my “on” 9/80 pre-season “Purple Friday.”

Last night, and his kids came over to watch the “Battle of the Beltway.” (More on the game, below). The kids played with LEGO and stuffed animals and action figures – and occasionally watched the game – so, I’m taking that to mean that they were sufficiently entertained.

This morning, I got into the office a little early. The fringe benefit of that: Being able to play this – fairly loudly – before anyone else showed up.

It was a good way to kick off the morning.

I left for a while to head to the hospital: SaraRules! had what should be the next-to-last NST of the pregnancy. And, once again, the kids were showing off. In a BIG way. So much so that Cathy, today’s nurse, said that she was done about ten minutes in… but was required to take at least 20 minutes of readings. (Not only were they showing off, but they are doing fine.)

And, on the way back to the office, I managed to get this picture:

So, all-in-all, not a bad Friday, so far.

Instant Replay: Football

Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens
31 – 34

The Battle of the Beltway 2011

For a game that started off slowly, this one gained steam and just kept right on rolling.

Both teams’ first strings looked pretty good. The Skins’ defense was fast and moved with purpose. Fortunately, the Ravens seemed to have learned a few things in the past two weeks and patched a lot of the holes in the offensive line.
QB Joe Flacco’s first “reception” was an interception. Fortunately, his aim and timing got better. Tyrod Taylor got into the game in the 3rd Quarter and looked good – he showed some serious poise in the pocket, even under pressure, but he also showed that he wasn’t afraid of running the ball himself. I think that he’d make a fine backup to Flacco.

And, WR Brandon Jones…?!

(click for larger image)

Welcome to Baltimore! Way to make your presence known!

Next, the Ravens hit the road to take on the Falcons – who handed them an ugly loss last year – for the last preseason game of 2011.

Stray Toasters


“Think Different.”

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"Think Different."

Thursday – 25 August 2011
It’s another fine NBN Thursday in the valley.

It’s been busy… in a good way. Hectic, but good. Meetings. Stuff. Things. And whatnot.

For those who may have missed it elsewhere: We have a date for the arrival of the twins: Assuming that she doesn’t deliver before, SaraRules! will be induced on the 06 September. Which means that in twelve (possibly thirteen) days, we’ll be parents. Holy cow.

Stray Toasters

And tonight: The Ravens take on the Redskins on Thursday Night Football.


“But, oh it’s songs like these, played in minor keys, keep those memories holding on…”

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"But, oh it's songs like these, played in minor keys, keep those memories holding on..."

Wednesday – 24 August 2011
Two down, one in the chamber and two to go.  Must be Wednesday. I’m not sure if I’ll partake in “Sushi Wednesday,” but I do have a doctor’s appointment – check up for SaraRules! and the kids – and new comics to look forward to.

Today is the birthday of Utah Symphony‘s Principal Pops Conductor, Jerry Steichen.

Last night, after far too long, I mowed and edged the lawn. I’m not saying that it was a jungle, but I’m pretty sure that I saw a guy in a loincloth riding an elephant through the middle section of the yard. I had considered hitting the gym afterwards, but it was a good enough workout for the day.

Stray Toasters

UPDATE: Just got back from SaraRules!’ appointment a little while ago. Looks as though two weeks from today, we will have kids.

Two weeks.  Wow.


“All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming…”

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"All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming..."

Tuesday – 23 August 2011
Day Two. I apparently have far too much blood in my caffeinestream. This may require a supplemental infusion of bean squeezin’s.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, even for a Monday. The zoo office wasn’t chock full of monkeydom, which makes for a good day. I made dinner last night. Despite the appeal of this…

…I cooked Spaghetti (with my sauce recipe), salad and garlic bread. We ate while we watched Monday Night Football. At halftime, we got to talk with Grace and Sophia (as well as Rana, John and my father) on Skype. And after the game, there was the season premiere of Top Gear. Win-Win-Win.

We’re roughly two weeks (plus or minus) from the advent of The Next Generation. Is it a bad sign that I can envision something like this conversation taking place:

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Near the end of our video chat with Grace and Sophia, Leila (the newborn) started crying, to which John said:

“Sound of angels, Rob… Sound of angels. Just remember: Lucifer was an angel, too.”

The best part was the total deadpan delivery. It made SaraRules! and me laugh.


“Now is the little boy a bridegroom, now is the little girl a bride…”

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"Now is the little boy a bridegroom, now is the little girl a bride..."

Monday – 22 August 2011
It’s an odd kind of feeling to be “glad” that it’s Monday, but that’s about where I am right now. It was a long weekend. This is not to say that it was a “bad” weekend. Far from it. It was a great weekend, but it was also a very busy weekend. It was the kind of weekend from which I need downtime to recover.

Long story, short version: My brother-in-law (well, one of them) got married this past Saturday:

It was a very nice ceremony, held at Millcreek Inn. The weather was lovely… at least for the ceremony. Just after it finished, we were treated to a rain shower.  (Ah, Thor looked down upon us and showered his blessings on us…) Fortunately, it was relatively brief and cleared the air for the reception — complete with a rainbow!

Good luck and best wishes for a happy and prosperous marriage to the happy couple!

The weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, as lots of family – on both sides of the wedding party – came to town. There was a lot of catching up to do. And much eating. And storytelling. And… and…. *whew* Yeah, it was like that.

Sunday, SaraRules!, Melissa, Jesse and I went to see Rage Monkeys of Doom… um, I mean Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Andy Serkis, once again, did an amazing motion-capture job as Caesar. I had a hard time buying James Franco as the Dorian Grey-like  (he never aged over the course of ten years, even/especially while dealing with a father with Alzheimer’s Disease!) research scientist… much in the same way that had a hard time buying Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough. That’s not to say that he wasn’t likeable it was just a little far to stretch. John Lithgow, on the other hand, portrayed his role as a man with (and without) Alzheimer’s incredibly well. All-in-all, it was a nice afternoon escape.

Before taking Melissa and Jesse back to the airport, we had dinner at MacCool’s. That’s right, Finn Skins and Guinness! And it wasn’t even my idea! That just proves, once again, that I chose well in asking SaraRules! to marry me.

And, so, here we are: Monday. At least it hasn’t been a bad day. Let’s see if it can keep up the good work.


…at the end of the day.

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...at the end of the day.

Saturday – 20 August 2011
I thought about listing this as “Friday – 19 August 2011,” since it’s still Friday in the Pacific time zone, but decided, “Eh… what the Hell.” So, maybe this will be the first of two (or more) posts today.  We’ll see.

Friday was a good day. I slept in a bit. Which was a good thing, considering that I started nodding off on the sofa Thursday night. I remember watching Yard Crashers… then Yard Crashers was watching me… I woke up to find the a different episode of Yard Crashers was on… nodded off again… and woke up to eventually drag my sorry butt to bed. I saw SaraRules! off to work and did a little straightening up around the house.

Next, I met SaraRules! at the hospital, as we were scheduled for another ultrasound and non-stress test (NST). Thanks to a comedy of timing errors on my part, I missed about 98% (all of the good stuff, really) of the ultrasound. I did get there in time to get the recap, though. Next, on to the NST. The nurse had barely wired SaraRules! for sound when the kids decided, “Hey! People are watching… Let’s put on a show!” And they did. There were plenty – at least three or four – accelerations in twenty minutes. The nurse was pleased and thus were we pleased, too. So the overall results:

  • The kids are fine.
  • They’re both roughly six (6) pounds each and within an ounce or two of each other, which means that Baby A has caught up to Baby B.
  • We are about 2.5 weeks from delivery.
  • (And, no, we still don’t know what gender/s the babies are.)

I came back home to do a little more prep work before heading to pick up Meliko and Jesse from the airport. One thing that I didn’t think to do beforehand was work out “where” to pick them up. Some people meet their party at the curb, while others meet them in the upstairs portion of the terminal, just outside the secure area before the gates. My usual M.O. is to go to baggage claim. And that’s where I went. I waited for about ten minutes, before wondering if I had passed them or should check outside (again). And then, I saw Meliko coming down the stairway. After meeting Jesse, we headed to SaraRules’ office for a quick visit. SaraRules! sent us on our way to lunch; we ate at Cafe Med (or “The Med” or whatever they are calling themselves this week). Good food, as always… but I completely neglected to get Akbar Mashti.


From there, we headed up to the in-laws’, so Meliko could visit with her folks – including a few members of the family who had just gotten to town – and everyone could meet Jesse. We sat around and gabbed for an hour or so before heading home. SaraRules! came home – with RubySnap cookies! – and we hung out for a bit before heading back to the in-laws’ for dinner. By this time, more of SaraRules! and Meliko’s cousins had arrived. Dinner was good. After dinner, we had a birthday party for one of the little cousins – she turned five today. (We also managed to make RubySnap converts out of a few members of the family, to boot!)

After everyone was dinnered and partied and peopled out, SaraRules!, Meliko, Jesse and I came back home. SaraRules! and Meliko quilted, while Jesse and I (and the ladies, intermittently) watched Batman: Under the Red Hood.

And now, everyone but me is asleep. In the words of Bjork: It’s Oh So Quiet… well, it is if you discount the sound of the swamp cooler.

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

And tomorrow will be even better, as Logan and Sanaz are jumping the broom!

And with that, good night.


“You can be the president, I’d rather be the Pope…”

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"You can be the president, I'd rather be the Pope..."

Thursday – 18 August 2011
It’s another NBN Technical Friday here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Last night, SaraRules! and I went to the “non-rehearsal” dinner for Logan and Sanaz. As there wasn’t a pre-wedding rehearsal involved, it was more of a “get both sides of the family-to-be together” dinner. Either way, it was still good. I got to chat with Marie and Stan – SaraRules!’ aunt and uncle from California – whom I haven’t seen since our wedding (aside from a brief video chat at Easter). We also got to meet Sanaz’ grandmother, who’s in from London. Good company, good food, and good conversation made for a rather pleasant way to pass the evening.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
This was an interesting and thought-provoking article, by way of my friend, Crystal: How to Talk to Little Girls

Stray Toasters

Back to it…


“The trick is to keep breathing…”

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"The trick is to keep breathing..."

Wednesday – 17 August 2011
Midweek and all’s pretty well…

…unless you’re this guy:

I’m talking about the car in the middle of the picture. It appears to have broken down in the median. It’s also been there for a few minutes. I watched as (at least) two patrol cars drove past it — in the left lane — without stopping. *shrug*

After about 40 minutes, another car pulled up behind it. People got out. They stood near the first car. A couple of minutes later, they both pulled off. I’m not sure, but it may have just been a case of running out of gas.  But, I’m still a little… concerned/bothered… that the two police officers just drove past it like nothing was wrong.

Yesterday, I was in the south office. One of my tasks for the day was to join peoples’ computers to the corporate network. In and of itself, not a terribly difficult assignment. Or so you’d think. After all, the computers spoke the same language – Windows – albeit different dialects (XP/Vista/7).

Theoretical Concept: Easy.
Practical Application: *grblsnrkx*

Let’s say that there was a lot of “hurry up and wait” along with the obligatory questions from the engineers of: “Which login do I use?” and “Should I try this?” and “Huh…?!” But, I got a few of the guys taken care of… without bloodshed.

Last night was game night with and crew. It was a good time. Especially as none of us died in the course of adventuring.

Groove. Boogie. Sway.
A couple of songs that helped to get this morning started were:

There were others, but these two were the prime movers of the day.  Oh, yeah, and this one:

It has gotten back into the public eye ear(?) as the background music for the Blackberry PlayBook commercial.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
It’s been a while since I’ve had a good story about my nieces. Fortunately, my brother-in-law posted one yesterday:

Lady, looking at Sophia, dressed in pink with a pink headband: “Oh how cute, is it a little girl?”
Me: No lady, “it” is a duck.
Lady: Well you’re rude.
Me: Well you’re not very bright.
Sophia: QUACK, Daddy! QUACK!

Sophia is just shy of her second birthday.


Monday Morning Musings

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Monday Morning Musings

Monday – 15 August 2011
A new week greets us with sun and scattered clouds. This comes after a night of thunder, lightning and rain — I’m not really sure “who” did “what” to Thor, but he was really on one last night.

The weekend was good. And, as is often the case with weekends “too short.” This isn’t to say that we didn’t get a lot accomplished – we did – but I wouldn’t have argued with a little more downtime. Highlights of the weekend include:

  • Hearing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – complete with cannon – at the Deer Valley Music Festival
  • Judging a ‘Clix tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection
  • Seeing Cowboys and Aliens with SaraRules! and
  • Setting up/putting away more baby items
  • Putting together a gallery of invitations from our baby showers
  • FINALLY cleaning out the detritus left under our deck by our home’s previous owners!
  • Dinner with the in-laws, including my first Charlie Chan movie

Cowboys and Aliens was fun. It was a decent western. It was also a decent alien movie. And, even better: It combined the two fairly well. Daniel Craig is almost always a pleasure to watch act. It was also fun to see Harrison Ford in a role as a… less-than-savory character again. (It’s been a long time since Han Solo was a true scoundrel…) And, the movie also had Thirteen Quorra Olivia Wilde, which is a “Win” in my book. Well done, Mr. Favreau.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
Stop Coddling the Super-Rich, from Warren Buffett (Yes… “THAT Warren Buffett“).

Stray Toasters

Right on to the friction of the day…


Fastball Special

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Fastball Special

Friday – 12 August 2011
Four down, one in the chamber. It’s the end of the week and all’s well.

This morning, we had another doctor’s appointment. This time, it was a “non-stress test.” The kids, though wriggly, were pretty cooperative. The nurse said that they were doing fine, based on the readings.

Last night was the first night of football in the 2011 preseason. *genuflect* ESPN had the Seattle vs. Sandy Eggo game. (Not my first choice, but it was football.) I found out, a little while later that NFL Network was rebroadcasting other games, including…

Baltimore Ravens at Philadephia Eagles
6 – 13
The Ravens, after a number of changes in the offseason, headed north to take on the Eagles.

It was not a pretty game. In fact, it looked like something from a few seasons back. Fortunately, it was a preseason game, which means that “it doesn’t really count” in the long run. And, most importantly, the Ravens went home without any major injuries to players.

What was wrong? QB Tyrod Taylor threw a couple INTs. One I’ll say was a bad call on his part; the other looked like the receiver should have caught it. And, generally speaking, the defense left far too many gaps and open spots in the field for Eagles’ players to pass/catch/run through. T Oneil Cousins got seriously owned on the left side of the line. They were breaking him down like fractions. Yeah… it was that bad. And, generally speaking, the O-line didn’t provide the QBs any protection. There were as many – if not more – white jerseys in the backfield as purple ones.

Was there anything “good” about the game?  Yes. TE Dennis Pitta showed some great ball-tracking and handling skills, especially as seen in his opening drive catch over FS Kurt Coleman. LB Paul Kruger also showed off some speed and tackling skill. Tyrod Taylor, INTs aside, put on a decent performance.

Next, the Ravens take on the Houston Texans. Let’s hope that they take the lessons learned from this game and apply them…

Stray Toasters

And tonight: Cannons in the canyon and the Perseid Meteor Shower!


“It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive…”

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"It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive..."

Thursday – 11 August 2011
Day Four.  Fantastic.

Another NBN Thursday in the valley. The morning has started somewhat inauspiciously: I woke up with a headache at 0500. Two ibuprofen and a glass of water later, I was back in bed. But, by then, it seems the tone for the day had been set…

  • First alarm went off.  I turned it off and rolled over to spend more time in The Dreaming.
  • Second alarm went off. It took a few moments to realize what it was and why it was making noise. Feh.
  • I got to work… only to realize that I had left my ID badge and phone at home.
  • Susan beat me – for the second week in a row – to our ritual Thursday morning NBN greeting.

Oh, well.

Yesterday, during my lunch excursion, I stopped at The Train Shoppe. I am/was in the market for two things:

  1. MTH 50-1033: DCS Remote Commander Set
  2. MTH 30-4205-1: SD70ACe Diesel R-T-R Deluxe Freight Train Set (Norfolk-Southern)

They had Item 1, and would have to order Item 2… if they could find it. The RTR set was originally released last year (as 30-4205-1) and has been discontinued. That’s a pity as it’s hard to find eastern railroad names when you live in the west. “Hard,” but not “impossible.” It usually boils down to having to order what you’re looking for. There was an item in the most recent issue of Classic Toy Trains that noted the (re-)release of the set as 30-4205-1E. While there, I asked if they could order it.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with Brad, from The Train Shoppe. It appears as though the item in CTT was a misprint. They are not putting out a new NS set, after all.  So, back to the drawing board…

Stray Toasters

Back to the grind.


“Better… Stronger… Faster…”

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"Better... Stronger... Faster..."

Wednesday – 10 August 2011
Two down, one in the chamber and two to go. It’s midweek and all’s well. It’s not a game night – and most likely, a non-sushi day – but there will be new things to read at Dr. Volt’s; that’s good enough for me.

This morning, I woke up with Europe’s The Final Countdown playing in my head. Why? No idea.

Last night was a fairly quiet and low-key night around the homestead. Highlights included a phone call with my mother, a very tasty dinner (chicken, couscous and corn — The ‘C’ Trifecta of Dinner!) that SaraRules! fixed, and SportsCenter. Speaking of SportsCenter, I heard this… odd… item on there. Although, it’s not so odd when you consider the source, actually:

Patriots receiver Chad Ochocinco is still settling into his new surroundings in New England, and he’s taking an unusual approach to his living situation.
“I’m going to do something different, I’m actually going to stay with a fan for the first two, three weeks of the season,” he said Tuesday. “That should be fun, until I get myself acclimated and learn my way around.”

Ochocinco hasn’t yet picked the fan.

“I’m not sure how it’s going to work, but they have to have internet and have to have Xbox,” he said. “That’s about it.”

Asked if he was serious, Ochocinco said, “Have I ever lied to you before?”

Told there were some “crazy” fans, Ochocinco said, “I rode a bull.”

Yeah. The man is the walking, talking embodiment of the “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot…?!” file.

Stray Toasters