Archive for the 'arts and leisure' Category

Midweek: Mother’s Day and Other Things

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
Midweek: Mother's Day and Other Things

Wednesday – 17 May 2017
Stuff and Things.

This past weekend was… busy. But also awesome. Saturday saw the usual ballet and swim morning routine. I missed the swim portion, as I was judging a game tournament. Then there was a little break – filled by running a couple of errands. Next, early dinner and dropping Team DiVa off at their grandparents’ house, so that Sara and I could see Utah Opera’s Don Giovanni. Again. (We saw the final dress rehearsal, with the little ladies, but went back Saturday for opening night.) I enjoyed the production. They updated the sets and costumes to place it in a noir setting. This changed a couple of scenes, but worked for me on the whole.

Sunday, was Mother’s Day.  Sara had been wanting to go to Spiral Jetty for a while and Golden Spike National Historic Site is just a (long) hop, skip, and a jump from there. Thus, we were up early to pick up DiVa and meet friends at Golden Spike and Spiral Jetty. The first time we went to Golden Spike, the locomotives were in the Engine House for the season; that was not the case this time. We arrived just before the Jupiter made its appearance.

About half an hour later, No. 119 rolled up.

The presentation that the rangers provided also informed us that the engines were fired differently: Jupiter is wood-fired, while No. 119 is coal-fired. You could also tell this from the way they smelled as they approached – Jupiter smelled like a camp fire, No. 119 smelled like a coal-burning oven.

 

After a while, we made the drive to Spiral Jetty. Fifteen miles. Forty minutes. Over bumpy dirt road. The water level was a little higher this time – still not up to the jetty, but only 20 or so yards away to splash pools and just past that to deeper water.

 

 

 

All in all, it was good weekend.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

End-of-the-week musings

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
End-of-the-week musings

Friday – 21 April 2017
Another week comes to an end.
And, apparently, it’s been a month since I dusted off the trusty blog. I really need to get better about this…

In short: It’s been a good – and eventful – month. The highlights of the month include, but are not limited to:

  • Going on a business trip.
  • Surprising my parents by showing up on their doorstep on the first leg of the trip.
  • Meeting some new coworkers on the trip.
  • Getting to visit with my uncle towards the end of the trip.
  • Coming down with some travel-related bug that had me down for almost a week.
  • The start of baseball season and the O’s getting off to a great start. Hopefully, they’ll keep some of this momentum through the season.
  • Meeting a Twitter and Facebook friend.
  • TRAINS!  Well, getting to head up to the train.. museum(?)… and one of my favorite train shops.
  • Traveling to Boise to visit family and friends over Easter.

    Sara, Team DiVa, and Grandmother – Easter 2017

  • Watching Team DiVa hunt for Easter eggs while we were gone and seeing their surprise at discovering that the Easter Bunny had apparently left Easter baskets for them at our home while we were out of town.

I’m sure that I’m leaving more than “a couple” things out, but all-in-all, it really has been a good month.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye.
(Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, not “The Sound of Music”)

New Friday Thing

Friday, March 10th, 2017
New Friday Thing

Friday – 10 March 2017
Another work week comes to an end.

 

It was a pretty good week, in all. Things happened. Stuff, too.

I neglected to post – or, rather, elaborate on – something from last week: Sara! and I went to dinner at Table X, as a belated Valentine’s Day outing without Team DiVa.

Table X describes itself as:

We’re a restaurant run by three chefs. We’re going to prepare you thoughtful, honest food without the fussiness of fine dining. In fact, we’re going to give you a new casual dining experience, altogether. Again and again.

We had encountered these chefs’ cuisine last year, at a pop-up dinner done in conjunction with Utah Opera’s production of Tosca. That – along with the idea of there being a new casual dining restaurant both outside of downtown Salt Lake City and not too far from our home – informed Sara’s choice on places to try. The restaurant seats about 230 people, has an open design, and has an air that combines a modern look with a touch of industrial design.

For dinner, we selected the Chef’s Tasting Menu, comprised of five (5) courses:

  • Red Beet Curry
  • Cabbage Toast
  • Scallops,
  • Christiansen Farm Berkshire Pork, and
  • Pecan Tart with homemade Pecan Ice Cream

Let me start by saying that I was leery of a couple items on the menu: the Beet Curry and the “Cabbage Toast.” I am not a fan of beets, nor have I been since I was very young. And the idea of a “cabbage toast” was… intriguing, but set me a little on edge. However, as the Prince song said:

…but it was Saturday night,
I guess that makes it alright.
I said, ‘What have I got to lose?’

The curry was served with cauliflower florets. It was flavorful and not at all what I expected. Sara! commented that it as most likely because they were not pickled beets (like from a can), which I abhor. I happily ate the entire course.

Next up: Cabbage Toast. This was a house-made sourdough, topped with a kelp cream/butter and a red cabbage jam. My first thought, upon hearing “jam” was of a pulped, processed spread. I was wrong. This was… simply… cabbage. And it was excellently prepared; I ate almost all of it.

The next course was scallops. I was all-in for this one, as I love scallops, yet never seem to order them when we’re out. (That, and the fact that I have some issues with getting seafood in a landlocked state.) The scallop – singular – was topped with a small portion of ham. Added bonus: Sara! isn’t a huge fan of scallops, so she gave me at least half of hers. (WIN!)

Course Four was the pork loin. Again, I was happy to try this. And I wasn’t disappointed. It was served with celeriac and red cabbage. It was tender and juicy and just seasoned enough to extract and enhance the flavor of the meat. NOTE: At the beginning of dinner, Sara! asked if she could make a couple of substitutions, because she doesn’t eat pork. For this course, they brought her the Winter Vegetable Stew. It was presented with the vegetables in a bowl and the broth in a separate ramekin, poured at the table.

For the final course: Dessert! This was a slice of pecan tart, presented with house-made pecan ice cream. It was the perfect finish to the meal. Sweet. Sticky, yet somehow slightly crumbly. Just right.

In all, I was quite happy with the meal, the atmosphere, and the service. Our waitresses, Rikki and Haleigh (“HAY-lee”), were attentive and responsive to our requests. While not on the “let’s do this every week” I would gladly recommend dining there.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Catching up.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
Catching up.

Monday – 20 February 2017
Today is President’s Day in the U.S.

For my President’s Day #morningcoffee picture, I used Lex Luthor. Because I could.

Today was a slightly busier-than-planned day, but still very good. Team DiVa, after sleeping in until after 9:30 on Sunday morning, were up at 7:30 this morning – Diana decided to play with the Kindle, while Vanessa decided that crawling into our bed was her best option. (To be honest, I still appreciate getting kid cuddles when I can, as I know that they won’t last forever.)

After breakfast (cinnamon rolls!), it was a kind of lazy morning… until 10:30, when I got an email from work.

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

So, I did what any diligent IT guy would do: I made like Kool Moe Dee and I went to work. I got there and looked at the system in question, only to find that there was nothing wrong. At. All.

*grblsnrkx*

Back home in time to surprise Team DiVa with a trip to the theatre to see The LEGO Batman Movie. It was a big hit. (Sara and I enjoyed it, too.) Back home again before heading up to Park City for…

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

We met at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, where Liz and her family are staying this week. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since high school graduation. We had a nice dinner and caught up a little bit on the last three decades. (Man, it really seems like a long time when you put it that way…)

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

After dinner, said our goodbyes and headed back to Salt Lake City. We got little ladies ready for bed, took care of a couple of chores, I caught up on a couple episodes of The Flash, including one that I somehow missed about three weeks ago.

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

Tomorrow comes soon, I should probably start considering hitting the rack.

Namaste.

Saturday Night Musings

Sunday, January 29th, 2017
Saturday Night Musings

Saturday – 28 January 2017
Happy Chinese New Year!

Another week comes to a close. Between being sick earlier in the week, having a vmware host decide to go on break – and take a few servers with it – in the middle of a workday, and the political shenanigans that have been going on here in the U.S., I can honestly say that I’m glad to have it in the rear-view mirror (or back-up camera, for some of you).

This isn’t to say that the week hasn’t been without its bright spots. Thankfully, there have been a few.

Stray Toasters

And that’s all for now.

Namaste.

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Monday, January 16th, 2017
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

Monday – 16 January 2017
It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the United States.

martin-luther-king

On this Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service, we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through a national day of service across the country. Share your story of service throughout the day on social media using #MLKDay and follow the impact on all of our official accounts.

mlk2005_noline

This year, I’m borrowing an idea from a former coworker, that will allow us to not only do something in/for our community, we can do it with Team DiVa: We are baking brownies and delivering them to the officers at the local police station. And, we are again seeing things for donation, as service to our community.

If you’re a parent of a young child and looking for a way to help them learn about Martin Luther King, Jr, I once again recommend Brad Metzler’s I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Can Change the World).

IAmMLK

 

Please take some time to reflect on the day and what it means and how we can work to bridge the gaps between us to build better relationships, a better country, and a better world.

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Burn Down the Mission…”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
"Burn Down the Mission..."

Wednesday – 11 January 2017
Yesterday was a troubled day. I was of ill humor for the better part of the day, thanks to external forces.

I resolved to bend. Not break.

I also had a seemingly all-too-rare John Stewart moment (1, 2):

Some bridges are need to be burned.

Reflecting on that, I even carried the thought further: Some bridges need to be burned – not only to keep you from going backwards – to keep others from dragging you back.

I also realized that in some cases, I don’t just want or even need to burn the bridge, I want to do it so the bridge burns and those on it are purged in the cleansing fire.

I’m not looking back, but I want to look around me now.

Despite being overcast and rainy and this morning’s comedy of errors – I overslept, spilled a LOT of water on the floor while trying to change the water filter in the refrigerator, and spilled a bit of coffee on myself right before leaving home – today has been much better and I’ve solved a work-related problem that contributed to Tuesday’s irritation. These are wins and I’ll gladly take them.

Stray Toasters

  • This weekend, I stumbled across the Wisconsin-Purdue basketball game and decided to watch it. About 1/3 of the way into the first half, Vanessa came in, sat down, asked what I was doing, and who I wanted to win the game. I explained that I wanted the Boilermakers to win and why – I went to school there. She was so surprised/excited by this, for some reason, she raced out of the room to tell Diana. Mission accomplished, she came back and watched most of the game. Enthusiastically cheering when Purdue scored, not-quite-booing when the Badgers scored. Diana came in for a fair portion of the second half. It was great. We might have to attend a local game and see if that holds their interest as much.
  • Sometimes, working with  a view of the mountains and the airport’s take-off/approach path doesn’t totally suck.
    • Last week, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Maryland One landing. Sure, it’s not really a little slice of home, but it was close enough for me. It surprised me, though, as I didn’t know that SWA was still flying unique liveries like that. I’ll have to keep an eye out for others.

      picture (c) Smithsonian Institution

  • Stan Lee – and other guests whom I wouldn’t mind seeing – was just announced as coming to Salt Lake Comic Con FanX in March…
  • #AlwaysForward
  • Everything really is awesome: The Daily LEGO Project finds the whimsy in everyday objects
  • The Jackal
  • I’m almost done with Dragonflight, the first book in the “Dragonriders of Pern” series. I’ve been enjoying it, despite a few questions I’m sure that almost any Pern-related wiki could answer… but I’m hoping that they play out in the story.
  • 5%
  • I can find music by Yoko Kanno and/or “a band called The Seatbelts” on Spotify, but neither of them are Cowboy Bebop-related, unfortunately.
  • I might play with my trains a bit this evening…
  • …there might even be whiskey involved.

.eof

And so it was, later, as the miller told his tale…

Thursday, January 5th, 2017
And so it was, later, as the miller told his tale...

Thursday – 05 January 2017
Welcome to 2017 (five days after the fact…)! So far, my fingers have cooperated in correctly typing/writing “2017,” when writing the date.

Long story, short version: Christmas and New Year were good…

…even though I had to come in to work on the last day of my break to – literally – flip a switch. Twice.

At ridiculous o’clock on 02 Jan, I got a call from our NOC saying that they’d lost the heartbeat for our fax server. (Yes, fax. Yes, 21st Century. *shrug* Don’t ask me.) I said that I’d try to access it remotely… at a reasonable hour. After the sun was up. And the office was closed on the second, anyway.

Sometime later in the morning, I logged in and tried to access the server. No go, Flight. That meant that I had two courses of action:

  1. Go in and reset it,
  2. Let it swing until Tuesday morning.

The problem with Option 2 (which would have been my preference) was that our finance department actually receives invoices via fax. So… Option 1 it was. I somehow managed to convince Sara and Team DiVa to make an excursion out of it. (This turned out to be a “good” thing.)

Went to the office. Went into server room. Flipped switch. Flipped switch again. Left server room. Called the NOC to confirm that the alert had actually cleared. Got ready to leave.

Got the building lobby and realized I’d apparently left my house and car keys upstairs in the office. *sigh*  Fine. I asked Sara to get the girls in the car while I ran upstairs to retrieve them…

…only to find, once I’d gotten to my office’s elevator lobby, that I’d left my badge in the office, as well.

::: braincramp :::

Fortunately, there were a few people from our finance department in the office; one of them let me in. I went to my desk to get my badge and keys, only to find them suspisciously not… there…

*grblsnrkx*

Yep, I’d locked them – badge-locked, of course – in the server room. Resigned, I headed back downstairs. Fortunately, we’d taken Sara’s car and she had her keys – my car and the key to it were still at home.

Ridiculous, but it makes for a good “At least you didn’t…,” laugh-at-yourself kind of story.

Other than that, things have been kind of quiet. I’m good with that.

Oh, and it snowed last night. About four-ish inches in the valley. It made this morning’s commute “fun.” And by “fun,” I mean “slow and annoying.” On the plus side, it did make the air a little less chewy.

Stray Toasters

And, that’s a wrap for now.

Namaste.

Life, in a Nutshell

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
Life, in a Nutshell

Wednesday – 26 October 2016
Today marked my successful completion of another orbit of the sun while, simultaneously, eluding the grasp of The Dark Lady. In accordance with International Robert Neal Days past, I took today off from work. I also took the rest of the week off… because.

The past week was full. I don’t mean that in the sense of “I had so many things going on,” although, that’s not untrue. I mean it in the sense that I got to spend much of the week in the company of some rather fantastic people. The week started with breakfast with my high school classmate, James, and his family…

Breakfast with the Leventhals

Breakfast with the Leventhals

…then there was stuff and things in the middle of the week (mostly work)…

…capped off with a co-birthday celebration on Saturday with Alex and some of our friends. And if I want to extrapolate a bit and add this past Sunday, there was dinner with the in-laws AND Sara’s grandmother.

It was a good week. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if there had been members of my side of the family involved. (There’s a tentative “something” in the works for Thanksgiving along those lines…)

Today was a quiet day; Sara and the girls let me sleep in. And I did. Then, I proceeded to spend a leisurely day full of… well… a lot of nothing. And it was perfect. Later, Sara and the girls came home and took me to dinner at the local Outback Steakhouse. We then came home for cake and presents. The ladies got me a humidor and a box of RubySnap cookies. Win-Win!  I wound up the evening (so far) with a cigar, some whiskey, and an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There may even be some videogaming to close out the day.

Hello, 46. I look forward to getting to know more about you.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Memory Dump

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Memory Dump

Wednesday – 12 October 2016
Stuff and things and whatnot.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Wait. That’s not a proper post. I really should do one of those someday…

I guess that since I’m logged in, I should make like Nike and “just do it.” Now.

*cracks knuckles*
::: deep breath :::

The past few weeks have been good. Work’s been interesting. The company I work for has been (officially) purchased by a larger entity. So far, things are remaining status quo. I also got to spend about 36 hours on the east coast, thanks to a business trip. I was pleasantly surprised at how “green” things still were – I expected to see far more fall colors. Oh, well. That was only a slight disappointment, to be honest.

Team DiVa continues to astound and entertain me.

There was even a seven-year-anniversary in there, too.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Baby Steps

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
Baby Steps

Thursday – 28 July 2016
No Bad News Thursday. ‘Nuff said.

Don't nobody bring me...

Don’t nobody bring me…

Last night, for the first time in [REDACTED], I went to the gym. I didn’t go so much to do a lot of work other than some cardio.  Which is my least favorite thing. Which I, also, need to do more often and in longer spans. I did a little bit of lifting, as well. Not a lot. But, I did lift. It’s a start. Baby steps, undoubtedly, but steps nevertheless.

Stray Toasters

  • This article came out last week: Here’s 48 hours. Now make a movie.
    I was part of a 48 Hour Film Project film last year; I wrote about it here. It was a lot of fun… and a lot of work. I would definitely do it again, if the opportunity arose and my schedule permitted.
  • Microsoft is giving away hundreds of eBooks. Check out what’s available here.
  • I have been playing with Raspberry Pis a bit over the past few months. Since the beginning of the year (I think), I’ve bought four of them – A Pi2, A Pi3, and two Pi Zeros. (It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive…) One of them is a retro arcade box, one is currently pulling duty as an Amazon Echo clone of sorts. The Zeroes have yet to be commissioned, but I have plans for them.
  • Since Disney announced that they were pulling the plug on Disney Infinity, stores have been putting the DI merchandise on sale for crazy – in a good way – prices. I may or may not have picked up about fifteen figures in the past month.
  • We now have our first picture of Supergirl‘s Superman.
  • Reading this article made me nostalgic for Electronic Arts’ PHM Pegasus.

Namaste.

Hell: The Musical

Monday, July 18th, 2016
Hell: The Musical

Monday – 18 July 2016
It’s the day after National Ice Cream Day and, for my sin of gluttony, I think I’m going to Hell.

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

Yes, yesterday was National Ice Cream Day.
Yes, I did eat ice cream.
Yes, I ate “quite a bit” of ice cream.
(And, yes, there’s still a lot of ice cream in our freezer.)

But, those are not the reasons I probably have an eTicket to Hell reserved in my name. Like so many others, my road to Hell was paved with good intentions. And it even started so innocuously. Need proof? Here it is:

Earlier, I received an email with a link to this article: Incredibly Epic Statue of Ancient Chinese Warrior God Unveiled. And they weren’t just whistling Dixie (or any other song, for that matter); this statue is rather epic. Bonus points for truth in advertising. Seriously, check out this statue:

Guan Yu - photo (c) CCTV News China

Guan Yu – photo (c) CCTV News China

So, I’m looking at this statue when, out of the blue, a thought pops into my head:

Battle of the Titans: Guan Yu vs. Big Butter Jesus!

 

It proceeded to go downhill from there. Rapidly.

For the unfamiliar, here’s some information about Big Butter Jesus and here’s a look at His Oleo Holiness:

Big Butter Jesus - photo (c) The Huffington Post

Big Butter Jesus – photo (c) The Huffington Post

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s, quite obviously, a statue of Jesus… and it’s not made of butter.” You’re right. It is and it isn’t, in that order. So, how did it wind up with the sobriquet “Big Butter Jesus?” Because of Heywood Banks and this song:

So, yes, thanks to a couple of giant statues, Heywood Banks, and the way my mind is wired, I’m going to Hell. Handbasket. Gasoline draws. At least I’ll have something to listen to on the way there:

Namaste.

Movie Night

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Movie Night

Wednesday – 08 June 2016
Below is an excerpt of a conversation I had with Sara this morning; this is what conversations about what movies to watch for #MovieDateNight and or #ActionMovieSaturday typically sound like:

Sara:
How’s training this morning?

Rob:
Going alright, so far. 🙂
How’s your Wednesday?

Sara:
So far, so good. I think it’s your turn to pick a movie. Didn’t I pick Gods of Egypt?

Rob:
You might be right… I think it was my night, but you picked/suggested.

Sara:
Fair enough. Deadpool is at redbox. I would like to see that.

I saw Deadpool in the theatre, shortly after its release. I wasn’t sure that it was necessarily something on her radar, but I’m absolutely fine with tonight’s selection.

deadpool

Namaste.

“Don’t Panic.”

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
"Don't Panic."

Wednesday – 25 May 2016
Today is Towel Day.

“…it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very, very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”

 

Stray Toasters

  • I visited my brother and his kids a couple of weeks ago. Despite the fact that we’re (only) 6 hrs apart, by car, and that neither of us really considers that a long drive, it’s only the second time we’ve visited in two years. Still, I had a great time. He and the kids are doing well.
  • DC Rebirth. I have many thoughts about this… soft-boot?
    REBIRTH-splash-small
  • I have my second Raspberry Pi. I’m contemplating setting it up as a media machine for TeamDiva2011…
  • The season finales of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Flash have left me with many questions.
    • I’m still pushing for The CW to call their 4-part crossover “Crisis,” in some manner or other.

Namaste.

“Somebody wake up Hicks.”

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
"Somebody wake up Hicks."

Tuesday – 26 April 2016
Today is apparently #AliensDay.

They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

They mostly come out at night. Mostly.

As such, this post is hereby dedicated to one of the heroes of that movie: Carter J. Burke Master Sergeant Al Apone.

A man and his cigar...

A man and his cigar…

Apone was a member of the United States Colonial Marine Corps, part of 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. He was the senior non-commissioned officer with the combat unit deployed to LV-426 aboard the USS Sulaco in 2179, to investigate the sudden loss of contact with the colony of Hadley’s Hope. He subsequently perished as a result of the Xenomorph infestation at the colony.

He was probably best known for saying:

All right, sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed? Another glorious day in the Corps! A day in the Marine Corps is like a day on the farm. Every meal’s a banquet! Every paycheck a fortune! Every formation a parade! I LOVE the Corps!

Knock it off, Hudson!

Alright sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill. Assholes and elbows! Hudson, come here! Come *here*!

WHAT ARE YOU? HUDSON! Get on the ready line, Marines, get some today! Get on the ready line! Move it out! Move it out, goddammit! Get hot! One, two, three, four! Get out, get out, get out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! One, two, three, four, five, six, seven! Aaarrrrr, absolutely badassess! Let’s pack ’em in! Get in there!

Sgt. Apone was also the (partial) basis for another ass-kicking sergeant: HALO’s Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson.