Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Give me steam… And how you feel can make it real…”

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"Give me steam... And how you feel can make it real..."

Wednesday – 30 November 2011
Not only is it the middle of the week… or new comics day… or the date that Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was released… it’s also the last day of the month. A month that seemed like it just started a few days ago. How the time flies.

Last night, SaraRules! and I attended the opening night auction for the 2011 Festival of Trees. We were looking for something – not a tree – to add to our holiday decorations; we settled on looking for a centerpiece for the living room table. We found – and bid on and won – one that will go nicely with the tree we got last year:

We also saw a number of really nice trees and gingerbread houses. More pictures can be seen here. If you have a chance to visit the Festival of Trees, do so. It runs through Saturday, 03 December 2011; admission is:

  • $5.00/adults
  • $3.00/children age 2 to 11
  • $4.00/senior citizens.
  • Children under age 2 are free

All proceeds benefit Primary Children’s Medical Center, so it’s a very worthwhile cause.

After the Festival, we picked up the girls, took them home and put them to bed. Then SaraRules! kicked me out of the house… to go to Guys’ Night Out.  (Have I mentioned: “Coolest wife ever” recently? She is.) It was nice to hang out with the guys over beer (Black and Pumpkin!) and food. It was a good way to wrap up a rather good day.

Stray Toasters

And, that should be good for now.



“Chase the dreams of merchandise…”

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"Chase the dreams of merchandise..."

Tuesday – 29 November 2011
Day Two of the work week and all’s well. So far. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

Tonight, SaraRules! and I are attending the Opening Night Auction of The Festival of Trees:

Since we got our tree from there last year, we’re going to look for some other decoration. And, it’s for a good cause: Proceeds benefit Primary Children’s Medical Center.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.


Time to make the doughnuts…

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Time to make the doughnuts...

Monday – 28 November 2011
Waking up and getting up has never been easy…

…especially after a five-day break. But, we do what we must. The alarm went off and up I got. On the plus side: I have fourteen (14) working days until Christmas break. I’m Ivory Soap sure that I can make it.

The weekend was a good one. There was some productivity. A good bit of laziness. And the upstairs Christmas tree (and some lights) are up. I might work on the downstairs tree tonight during Monday Night Football.

And, I neglected to post a picture of the girls in their Thanksgiving dresses. That shall be rectified now:

Stray Toasters


“See the little pufferbillies, all in a row…”

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"See the little pufferbillies, all in a row..."

Saturday – 26 November 2011
This morning, SaraRules!, the girls and I went on an early-morning family adventure. We went to the UTA Intermodal Hub to see Union Pacific #844, part of the UP: Steam exhibition.

We met Dave, Angy and Angy’s niece, Sierra, there. Pictures were taken. It was a good start to the morning.  And this, after last night, when Monica (SaraRules!’ coworker) and Alessandro came over… and brought me an old Marklin HO train set. All I can say is that the weekend (so far) has been chock full of train goodness.

After that, there was some errand-running and lunch (Pawit’s!) and now we’re home again, home again. Jiggety-jig.


Thanksgiving 2011

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Thanksgiving 2011

Thursday – 24 November 2011
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates it!

I think that I’m most thankful for my family and friends. After that comes the usual things like: Health. Happiness. Having a job (especially in this economy!).  Home.  (And the fact that the pipes didn’t freeze this year!)

This morning, SaraRules!, the girls and I did the Cottonwood Heights Thanksgiving 5K. We were a little late getting to the start (Kids + Concept of Planning = Yeah, right…), so I’m not sure that our chips made the official timekeeping start. So, I used my phone’s stopwatch to track our time. We came in at roughly 55:30. Not bad for not running AND for pushing a stroller up and down hills.

And, speaking of the girls (and to paraphrase A Few Good Men):

Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to.
Col. Jessep: *You want answers?*
Kaffee: I want the cuteness!
Col. Jessep: You can’t handle the cute!

Diana (left) and Vanessa

So much sugary-sweet cuteness. I tried to warn you.
(Bear suits courtesy of Jessica and Corey Shuman)

Today, there shall be family, food, and football. All of these are good things.

Before I neglect to post it (yet again): I actually made it to the gym on Tuesday night:

  • Elliptical: 10 minutes, 0.9 miles
  • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 155 lbs — I think I’m going to have to drop back to 135 lbs, until I get back in shape…
  • Curls (dumbbell, seated): 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Flys: 3 sets/10 reps, 80 lbs
  • Compound Row: 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets/10 reps, 80 lbs

Stray Toasters
Closed for the Holiday.  Please check back tomorrow.


So… close… to… vacation-time…

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So... close... to... vacation-time...

Tuesday – 22 November 2011
It’s Technical Friday. And I’m ready for it to be Quit o’Clock. (Just being honest.)

Last night, Dave and Angy came over to watch football and to visit the girls.

Vanessa (left) and Gene Simmons Diana

The game wasn’t all that compelling, but it was football. And we watched. Somewhere in the second half, Dave and I started talking model railroad ideas. Yeah, I know… real stretch there. I think that I have a rudimentary plan for at least half of my layout-to-be, incorprating the new turntable. Now, I just need to determine how best to add a small rail yard… and what I want to do for the city portion of the layout.  I’d still like to be able to use the SuperStreets, as well.

And, of course, I just came up with yet another idea.  *sigh*

Stray Toasters


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I caught this shot of the girls before the went to bed tonight:

Vanessa (left) and Diana (doing her best Gene Simmons impression)

Just thought I’d share.

Happy Mon-Thurs-day!

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Happy Mon-Thurs-day!

Monday – 21 November 2011
A new (and greatly abbreviated) work week is upon us. Today is my “Technical Thursday.” Which, I do believe, technically makes it a No Bad News Technical Thursday. So, it is written; so shall it be!

This was a good weekend, all around. Saturday, the girls and I had a few hours’ of Daddy-Daughter time, while SaraRules! went to lunch with a friend. While we didn’t get to as many places as we (okay, okay… as “I”) would have liked, we did manage to put in an appearance at RubySnap. (Natch!)

Yesterday, I was on the fence about sleeping in. At first, I decided to stay up (around 7 AM), about an hour later, I decided that it wasn’t worth it an crawled back into bed. And the girls woke up 20 minutes later. Thus, did the day begin. We had a good day. There was some errand-running. And football-watching. And, after the girls were asleep, TV-watching.

Speaking of the little ladies, here’s a dose of cuteness:

Vanessa (left) and Diana

Added bonus: The girls slept through the night. ALL THE WAY through the night. After we got them up and fed them, I decided to head into the office a little early, so that I can work a little extra time and not have to burn any leave for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Instant Replay: Football
Not only did the Ravens play yesterday, but it was televised here! So, Vanessa and I watched most of the game; SaraRules! and Diana came down to watch the second half with us.

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
24 – 31
The Ravens hosted the 0-5 Bengals……and, without Ray Lewis, came away with a win. It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it still goes in the “W” column.Former Ravens K Matt Stover was inducted into the Ring of Honor.

And, with this win, the Ravens are (once again) #1 in the AFC North.

Sorry, and .


Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings
27 – 21
The Raiders traveled to Minnesota and beat up on the (already downtrodden) Vikes.Congratulations, SaraRules! and .


Stray Toasters


“Naked is a state of mind…”

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"Naked is a state of mind..."

Friday – 18 November 2011
It’s my working Friday. At least it’s the “quiet” Friday in the office.

Last night was “Baby Bath Night” and it went pretty well. Vanessa went first. She was a little dodgy when I put her into the tub, but she settled in nicely once I started talking to her and splashing her a bit. She actually held up rather well, until it was time to towel her off. Then the sad face – and a little crying – made an appearance. All in all, though: Success. Diana was pretty much smiles throughout the process… although, I did get a couple of quizzical looks from her. Both girls went to sleep (fairly) easily, too.

After the girls were abed, SaraRules! and I decided to watch some television. As I was about to head downstairs, I had a revelation:

I wanted a snack.

Ice cream…? No.
A RubySnap cookie…? No.
Triscuits and string cheese…? No.

Then it dawned on me. I wanted popcorn. But… the girls were asleep. And the popcorn popping on the apricot tree would possibly wake them up. I found a suitable workaround to abate the noise and tasty popped corns were mine!

Stray Toasters


Got to concentrate, don’t be distractive, turn me on tonight, ’cause I’m radioactive…”

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Got to concentrate, don't be distractive, turn me on tonight, 'cause I'm radioactive..."

Thursday – 17 November 2011
Three down, one in the chamber and one to go. Hallelujah. While this hasn’t been a “bad” week, I was irritable/edgy from Sunday through yesterday. The best part: There was no reason to which I could attribute it. Just… bad mood. Period. *shrug* So far, today’s been good and I don’t feel as angst-ridden as the past few days. I consider that a good thing, especially as it’s No Bad News Thursday.

And, there’s football tonight!

Last night, and came by to visit. They caught us up on the latest goings-on. It was a nice way to spend the pre-putting-the-girls-to-bed part of the evening. After the girls were down for the night, I read most of last night’s four-color haul and then joined SaraRules! for an episode of TopGear.

Stray Toasters

I believe that’s a wrap.


“Welcome to my secret lair on Skullcrusher Mountain…”

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"Welcome to my secret lair on Skullcrusher Mountain..."

Wednesday – 16 November 2011
I realized this morning just how glad I am that it’s midweek and that only two more days separate me from the weekend. Not that it’s been a bad or particularly long week; I’m just ready for the weekend.  (Cue: Loverboy)

Last night, while Wonder Woman SaraRules! was off saving the world with the Justice League at a Junior League meeting, Sanaz came over to help me watch the girls and get them ready for bed. The “care and feeding” part isn’t so bad when solo, but trying to get both girls to bed by oneself would be “a bit” much. And the help was greatly appreciated. Diana knocked out fairly easily; Vanessa, however, got a bit of a second wind after her bedtime feeding and fought sleep for a solid 20 minutes before finally following Morpheus into The Dreaming.

On the plus side of SaraRules! not being home for dinner: It was a veritable “Feed Yourself Free-for-All” night for rounding up victuals. Thus, I had Beef Lo Mein. Selah.

Stray Toasters

And it’s new comics day!


“Don’t blame me for your lack of vision, peasant.”

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"Don't blame me for your lack of vision, peasant."

Tuesday – 15 November 2011
Pretty much hit the ground running today.  The girls were up at 5:30 to eat; by the time they were done, it was just about 6:00. Rather than: A) try to get a 25-minute nap or B) sleep through the alarm until (at least) 7:00, I decided to stay up and get ready for work. I was in the office a hair before 7:00. Less than a half-hour later, I was helping to prep a half-full server rack for shipping.

Bonus: The rack had no wheels.

Added bonus: We had to move it out of our office space, into our lobby, downstairs, across sheets of masonite — which we had to leap-frog — from our building through the building lobby to the attached building.. out the door and onto the truck.

Yeah. Today was most definitely one of those “We do more before 9 AM than most people do all day” kind of mornings.

Fortunately, there was coffee involved, as well.

Tonight, SaraRules! has another Justice League meeting. Thus, I’ll be getting a helping had in putting the hatchlings to bed from my sister-in-law.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Today’s quote comes from a Newsarama interview with John Hodgman:

Hodgman: One of the things I love in comics is serialized storytelling, but that can be a pitfall if you rely too much on what happened last week.

I’m not trying to start feuds. I’m really just expressing feelings of existential anxiety about where all superhero comics are.

And now I really do have to go…

Nrama: Okay, any last thoughts before you go?

Hodgman: I still love everything that Paul Levitz writes. Long Live the Legion!

And that’s that.


Monday? Yep. It sure is.

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Monday?  Yep. It sure is.

Monday – 14 November 2011
Today is definitely trying to be what most people would define as a “typical Monday.” Fortunately, I started the day feeding the girls, so I’d already chalked the day up to being a good one. And, speaking of the little ladies, I snapped this picture yesterday:

Vanessa (top) and Diana

When I got to work, I was asked to generate a document for a project… and base it on one that another coworker had created for a similar project. That’s fine. Except for one (not-so-minor) detail: There are part and serial numbers involved. And, it’s “a little” difficult, based on the information provided, to tell which numbers are specifically required in what places.


So, I grabbed the proverbial “low-hanging fruit” first and input the items whose information was easiest to get. From there, I just mirrored what my coworker did in his documentation. (So if mine is wrong, his is as well.) And then, it was done. Amen.

This past weekend was good. Quite good, in fact. Friday was my day off and it was my first full day alone with the girls. And, I think it went pretty well. We met Nyx, Carrie, Tim and Leo for coffee at Jitterbug. From there, we stopped off to say “Hi” to SaraRules! for a few minutes. And, I was compelled to stop at RubySnap. Compelled, I tell you. Then we headed home to wait for SaraRules! to get off work.

Saturday, after the girls had breakfast, SaraRules! and I took them to their first train show. I wasn’t as enamored with this year’s show as with last year’s, but there were still some neat things to see. I also didn’t come home empty-handed: I found a seller who had an Atlas O turntable – an item that I’ve been coveting for the past year – for a price that I couldn’t ignore. I also picked up a print from an artist that I first saw at a train show in Ogden last year. From there, I headed up to Dr. Volt’s to judge a ‘Clix tournament. (There were an even number of players, so I didn’t get a chance to play. Oh, well.)  Then, back home to help SaraRules! take care of the girls. Once they were asleep, SaraRules! and I resumed watching 13 Assassins… but didn’t quite make it to the end of the movie, as she had a raging headache. So, I finished up the night with a bit of Gears of War 3.

Yesterday, we decided to venture forth for breakfast. This time, we went to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks. Unfortunately, they were out of coffee cake.


The rest of breakfast was good, though. And the girls, as usual, got a lot of attention. After breakfast, we took the long way home, by way of Parley’s and Emigration Canyons. The rest of the day was pretty lax, though some chores were done along the way.

Instant Replay: Football
The Ravens gave up a win to the Seahawks. That is all that shall be said about that.

Stray Toasters


DVD Friday!

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DVD Friday!

Friday – 11 November 2011
Today is Veteran’s Day:

It is also my 9/80 day off… which means that it’s “DVD Day”: Diana-Vanessa-Daddy Day. I’m not sure what adventures we’ll have, but they just might include a trip to the NMRA Train Show at the Utah State Fairpark.

Guess we should get moving and see what the day holds in store…


“Is there life on Mars…?”

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"Is there life on Mars...?"

Thursday – 10 November 2011
Hello, NBN Technical Friday!

Last night, while SaraRules! was at her Justice Junior League meeting, ‘s mom, Lori,  came over to help me watch the kids and get them ready for bed…

…as did Josh.

…and Jessica and Corey.

The girls soaked up the attention. It was great. And it truly proved the adage: “Many hands make light work.” Thus, not only were the girls well taken care of, but I got to spend the evening in good company. As an added bonus: Jessica prepared a delicious pot roast, with carrots and potatoes.

This morning, the girls woke up around 5:00. By the time they were back in their bassinets, I had a decision: Catch about 45 minutes of sleep or go to work early. I chose sleep. And that turned into nearly an hour-and-a-half of sleep. Which was good, to be honest.

Not too long after I got to the office, I got a call from my mother-in-law about something beeping in the kitchen. And it was startling the girls a bit. I suspected that it was the fire alarm, whose battery SaraRules! and I hadn’t gotten around to changing. So, back home to avert the girls having meltdowns and help get them ready for breakfast. (Fringe benefit: Mid-day cuddles from the girls!) And then, back to the office.

Tonight, Chris is coming over to play dolls ‘Clix.

Stray Toasters