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Good day, Monday…

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Good day, Monday...

Monday – 11 January 2013
A new week is upon us. ‘Nuff said.

This past weekend has been a bit of a whirlwind, but it’s also been quite fantastic. Friday night, I had a classmate from high school spend the evening with Sara!, Team DiVa and me:


James (above) came  to town a couple of months ago for a conference. Of course, his schedule was ever-so-slightly full, but he was due to come back to town this past week. We determined that we’d try to arrange our schedules so that we could see each other for a while. And we did. And, it was absolutely fantastic to see him.

I did some mental gymnastics and realized that before Friday, I hadn’t seen an of my classmates since graduation. Many. Many. Seasons. Past.

Saturday, Sara! had brunch with a friend, so Team DiVa and I spent the morning hanging out. It was a pretty quiet day around the homestead. After the little ladies went to bed, Sara! and I watched Juan of the Dead for Action Movie Saturday:


Sara! had mentioned wanting to see this movie a few months ago, as this was apparently the first Cuban zombie film, , but it had fallen off my radar. It showed up in a Netflix envelope a few nights ago and we watched it. And it was worth it.

I’ll be honest, I drew more than one comparison to Shaun of the Dead while watching it. There were a number of things that were, indeed, similar. But, there was something that really set the movie apart: The Cuban point of view. That was something that I hadn’t expected, for some reason. And that’s a shame. Because it framed many/most of the sensibilities of the movie. As Sara! put it:

If you were going to get some of your friends together and make a movie, this is totally the movie that you would make.

And, she’s right. And with that recommendation, I recommend it, as well.

Sunday, I had a early morning: I had to be at work at 7:30 for a scheduled server maintenance window. 7:30. AM. On a Sunday. Yeah. And, what made it even better: It snowed Saturday. For the most part, UDoT did a decent job of plowing I-215; I just wish that they had done as solid a job on I-15. But, I made it to work. And the maintenance project went rather hitch-free. And I made it back home without incident. And, on the plus side: My work week is already 5 hours old. That’s going to be nice come Friday.

We spent the afternoon in, but had dinner with Sara!’s parents and Uncle Mike, who was in town for the day. Back home to put Team DiVa to bed and then it was time for the new episode of The Walking Dead. And, we even caught some of the Grammy Awards.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Here are three more people of note:

  • Judith Jamison – Dancer, choreographer, artistic director.
    Born Judith Ann Jamison on May 10, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She trained early in dance and music and attended the Philadelphia Dance Academy before performing with American Ballet Theatre in 1964. A year later, she moved to New York City to join the Alvin Ailey company and quickly became a principal dancer. Jamison stayed with Alvin Ailey until 1980 and during that time gave several notable performances, including 1967’s The Prodigal Prince, 1969’s Masekela Language and 1971’s Cry, which was a 15-minute solo piece. Audiences also remember 1976’s Pas de Duke, a duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov set to the music of Duke Ellington.

    After leaving the company to appear in the Broadway musical Sophisticated Ladies, Jamison began choreographing her own works and started the Jamison Project in 1988. A year later, shortly after Ailey’s death, Jamison became artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

    Jamison has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kennedy Center Honors in 1999 and the National Medal of Arts in 2001. Her autobiography, Dancing Spirit, was published in 1993.

  • Simmie Knox – Artist
    Born on August 18, 1935, in Aliceville, Alabama, leading African American portrait artist Simmie Knox has created vivid, lifelike renderings of such luminaries as President Bill Clinton and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Knox is the son of a carpenter and mechanic. But he spent many of his childhood years in the care of other family members after his parents divorced. Knox grew up poor with most of his family working as sharecroppers, and he himself took to the fields when he was old enough. Later Knox went to live with his father and stepmother in Mobile, Alabama. There he loved to make little sketches and to play baseball. One of his childhood friends was baseball legend Hank Aaron. At the age of 13, Knox was struck in the eye with a baseball. With encouragement from his teachers at his Catholic school, he started drawing as a way to help his eye recover from the injury. The nuns who educated him recognized his talent and arranged for him to have lessons from a local postal worker. No formal art education was available at his segregated school.

    After graduating from Central High School in Mobile, Alabama, in 1956, Knox spent several years serving in the military. He then attended Delaware State College as a biology major. While he didn’t excel at science, Knox did some wonderful sketches of microorganisms. One of his professors recommended that he take some art classes. While at Delaware State, Knox completed a full-sized self-portrait, one of his notable early art works. After completing his studies at the University of Delaware in 1967, Knox enrolled at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. There, he earned a bachelor degree in fine arts in 1970 and a master’s degree in fine arts two years later. At the time, abstract art was all the rage. Knox painted in this style for a time and even got the chance to display his works at a prominent Washington, D.C. gallery. His paintings hung alongside Roy Lichtenstein and other leading artists in this show.

    Still Knox wasn’t completely satisfied with his abstract work. He painted a portrait of freed slave and prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass in 1976, which now part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution. In addition to painting, Knox worked extensively in art education. He held many teaching positions, including being an instructor at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts from 1975 to 1980.

    By the early 1980s, Knox had devoted himself to realistic portrait work. He explained to The New York Times, “With abstract painting, I didn’t feel the challenge. The face is the most complicated thing there is. The challenge is finding that thing, that makes it different from another face.” Knox found a famous patron in 1986 when he met comedian Bill Cosby. Cosby became an ardent supporter of Knox’s work, hiring for portraits of himself and his family. He also encouraged friends to commission Knox for paintings as well.

    Knox soon landed an important assignment: to capture the image of legendary U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Marshall “could tell I was nervous,” Knox told American Artist magazine, adding, “But he told jokes; he told stories about his life. I came away feeling so good about the man.” He completed Marshall’s portrait in 1989 and continued to receive new commissions. Over the years, Knox painted the likeness of baseball great Hank Aaron, former New York City mayor David Dinkins, historian John Hope Franklin and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg among other famous names.

    In 2000, Knox received his most famous assignment to date. He was selected to paint the official White House portraits of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. With this commission, Knox made history. “I realize there has never been an African American to paint a portrait of a president and, being the first, that’s quite an honor and quite a challenge,” he told ABC News. Knox and Bill Clinton bonded over a shared love of jazz.

    Knox’s paintings of the Clintons were revealed to the public in a special ceremony at the White House in 2004.Knox works out of his studio—a former garage—at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland. He and his wife Roberta have two children together, Amelia and Zachary. Knox also has a daughter, Sheri, from his first marriage.

  • Alain Locke Writer, philosopher, educator


    Alain Locke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 13, 1885 to Pliny Ishmael Locke (1850–1892) and Mary Hawkins Locke (1853–1922). In 1902, he graduated from Central High School in Philadelphia, second in his class. 

    In 1907, Locke graduated from Harvard University with degrees in English and philosophy. He was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar. He formed part of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Locke was denied admission to several Oxford colleges because of his race before finally being admitted to Hertford College, where he studied literature, philosophy, Greek, and Latin, from 1907–1910. In 1910, he attended the University of Berlin, where he studied philosophy.

    Locke received an assistant professorship in English at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. While at Howard University, he became a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.

    Locke returned to Harvard in 1916 to work on his doctoral dissertation, The Problem of Classification in the Theory of Value. In his thesis, he discusses the causes of opinions and social biases, and that these are not objectively true or false, and therefore not universal. Locke received his PhD in philosophy in 1918. Locke returned to Howard University as the chair of the department of philosophy, a position he held until his retirement in 1953.

    Locke promoted African-American artists, writers, and musicians, encouraging them to look to Africa as an inspiration for their works. He encouraged them to depict African and African-American subjects, and to draw on their history for subject material. Locke edited the March 1925 issue of the periodical Survey Graphic, a special on Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance, which helped educate white readers about its flourishing culture. Later that year, he expanded the issue into The New Negro, a collection of writings by African Americans, which would become one of his best known works. His philosophy of the New Negro was grounded in the concept of race-building. Its most important component is overall awareness of the potential black equality; no longer would blacks allow themselves to adjust themselves or comply with unreasonable white requests. This idea was based on self-confidence and political awareness. Although in the past the laws regarding equality had been ignored without consequence, Locke’s philosophical idea of The New Negro allowed for fair treatment. Because this was an idea and not alaw, its power was held in the people. If they wanted this idea to flourish, they were the ones who would need to “enforce” it through their actions and overall points of view. Locke has been said to have greatly influenced and encouraged Zora Neale Hurston.

Stray Toasters

I should probably post this before I forget. Again. For another two hours.


Thursday in the valley

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Thursday in the valley

Thursday – 07 February 2013
It’s No Bad News Thursday.  ‘Nuff said.

There was fog in the valley, at least in the central/north part. The trees around here are coated with ice crystals, but not as much sheen as after an ice storm.

Last night, Sara! and I watched The Rescuers.


It’s her favorite Disney movie. For her, the movie holds fun childhood memories in much the same way that Superman: the Movie does for me and is my favorite movie. Somehow, I’d never seen this movie before. It was a little darker than I would have expected… especially from Disney. I was also pleasantly surprised to see hear Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor in the starring roles. And I can’t imagine anyone else in those roles. All told, it was a fun movie and I enjoyed it.

After the movie, and after flipping channels for a bit, I landed on The Science Channel. We watched Dark Matters: Twisted But True. Interesting show, but it’s made better by being hosted by John Noble (Walter Bishop on Fringe).

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Marvin Gaye


Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. (he added the “e” to his last name alter in life) was born in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 1939. Gaye was raised under the strict control of his father, Rev. Marvin Gay Sr., the minister at a local church, against a bleak backdrop of widespread violence in his neighborhood.

Throughout his childhood, Marvin Gaye often found peace in music, mastering the piano and drums at a young age. Until high school, his singing experience was limited to church revivals, but soon he developed a love for R&B and doo-wop that would set the foundation for his career. In the late 1950s, Gaye joined a vocal group called The New Moonglows. The talented singer had a phenomenal range that spanned three vocal styles and he soon impressed the group’s founder, Harvey Fuqua. It wasn’t long before Gaye and Fuqua both came to the attention of Detroit music impresario Berry Gordy and were signed to Gordy’s legendary Motown Records.

Gaye’s first certified hit under his own name wouldn’t come until 1962, but his early years at Motown were full of behind-the-scenes successes. He was a session drummer for Motown legends such as Little Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, and Martha and the Vandellas. Showing his stripes as Motown’s renaissance man, Gaye went on to break into the Top 40 for the first time on his own in 1962 with his solo single “Hitch Hike.” Throughout the 1960s, Gaye would show his immense range, churning out solo dance hits and romantic duets with hit-makers like Diana Ross and Mary Wells. “Can I Get a Witness” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (vide0) were some of Gaye’s biggest hits of the period, the latter achieving its place as Motown’s bestselling single of the 1960s. For three high-flying years, Gaye and Tammi Terrell wowed the country with their soaring duet performances of songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (video) and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You”. Unfortunately, their reign as the Royal Couple of R&B ended when Terrell succumbed to a brain tumor in 1970. His beloved partner’s death ushered in a dark period for the singer, who swore never to partner with another female vocalist and threatened to abandon the stage for good.

In 1970, inspired by escalating violence and political unrest over the Vietnam War, Gaye wrote the landmark song “What’s Going On.” (video) Despite clashes with Motown over the song’s creative direction, the single was released in 1971 and became an instant smash. Its success prompted Gaye to take even more risks, both musically and politically. When it was released in the spring of 1971, the What’s Going On album served to open Gaye up to new audiences while maintaining his Motown following.

Departing from the tried and true Motown formula, Gaye went out on his own artistically, paving the way for other Motown artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to branch out in later years. Beyond influencing his peers, the album garnered widespread critical acclaim, winning the Rolling Stone Album of the Year award.

In 1972, Gaye moved to Los Angeles and soon met Janis Hunter,who would later become his second wife. Inspired in part by his newfound independence, Gaye recorded one of the most revered love anthems of all time, “Let’s Get It On.” (video) The song became his second number one Billboard hit, cementing his crossover appeal once and for all. Shortly afterwards, Motown pushed Gaye into touring to capitalize on his most recent success; reluctantly the singer-songwriter returned to the stage.

In 1975, Gaye’s wife Anna Gordy — Barry Gordy’s daughter — filed for divorce, and two years later Gaye married Hunter, who had by then given birth to their daughter, Nona (born September 4, 1974) and their son Frankie (born November 16, 1975). Gaye also had an adopted son (Marvin Pentz Gaye III) from his previous marriage. The singer’s marriage to Hunter proved short lived and tumultuous, ending in divorce in 1981.

Through most of the mid-1970s, Gaye was touring, collaborating or producing. Working with Diana Ross and The Miracles, he would put off releasing another solo album until 1976. He continued touring after the release of I Want You (1976) and released his last album for Motown Records (Here, My Dear) in 1978. After two decades at Motown, Gaye signed with CBS’s Columbia Records in 1982 and began to work on his last album, Midnight Love. The lead single from that album, “Sexual Healing,” (video) became a huge comeback hit for the R&B star and earned him his first two Grammy Awards and an American Music Award for Favorite Soul Single.

Despite his successful comeback in the early 1980s, Gaye struggled badly with the substance abuse and bouts of depression that had plagued him for most of his life. After his last tour, he moved into his parents’ house. There he and his father fell into a pattern of violent fights and quarrels that recalled conflicts that had haunted the family for decades. On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son after a physical altercation; the father claimed he acted in self-defense but would later be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Three years after his death, Marvin Gaye Jr. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Creating beautiful art from a troubled life, Gaye again and again brought his vision, range, and artistry to the world stage. At the end of his career, he admitted he no longer made music for pleasure; instead, he said, “I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.”

Stray Toasters


Enter: February

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Enter: February

Friday – 01 February 2013
Not only is the weekend nearly upon us…


What…?! Like I’d pass up this (golden) opportunity to give it up for my team on their way to the Super Bowl? Really? Not likely.

…but it’s also the start of a new month.

And with the start of February comes the start of Black History Month.


Once again, I’m going to go through more “ABC’s of Black History.” So sit back and learn a little somethin’.

Chew on This: Food For Thought – Black History Month
Today, we start with “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.


Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist. Considered a cultural icon, Ali has both been idolized and vilified.

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., was born in Louisville, Kentucky. The older of two boys, he was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. His father painted billboards and signs, and his mother, Odessa O’Grady Clay, was a household domestic. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius and his younger brother Rudolph “Rudy” Clay (later renamed Rahman Ali) as Baptists.

Clay was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief taking his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to “whup” the thief. The officer told him he better learn how to box first. Clay won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay’s amateur record was 100 wins with five losses.

Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19-0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper.

Ali had amassed a record of 19–0, with 15 knockouts and became the top contender for Sonny Liston’s title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964 in Miami. Despite his record, the Ali was a 7-1 underdog. During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, the ever-boastful Clay, who frequently taunted Liston during the buildup by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” (among other things), declared that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” and, summarizing his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults, said, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” Clay and Liston fought for six rounds in their first title fight, with Clay dominating most of the rounds, except in round four when it was alleged Clay had trouble seeing due to a substance in his eyes. Despite Liston’s attempts to knock Clay out in the fifth, Clay was able to escape Liston’s offense until sweat and tears rinsed the substance from his eyes, leading to Clay to respond back with a flurry of combinations near the end of the fifth round. During the sixth round, Clay dominated Liston throughout. When Liston refused to answer the bell for the seventh round, Clay was declared the winner. Liston would later claim he had injured his shoulder. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the press stands, pointing to them and screaming “I fooled you!” During the now-infamous in-ring interview following the match, Clay shouted “I shook up the world!” and “I must be ‘The Greatest’!” When Clay won, he became the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion at just 22.

Clay, now having changed his name to Muhammad Ali following his conversion to Islam, and Liston met up for their rematch in May the following year. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by one of Ali’s punches, later dubbed by the press as the “phantom punch”. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott stopped the match shortly afterwards and Ali was declared the winner around 1:52 of the first round.

In 1967, three years after Ali had won the heavyweight championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges; he was stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was eventually successful.

Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.

Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles seven years later. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, epitomized by his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, and employing techniques such as the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope. Ali brought beauty and grace to the most uncompromising of sports and through the wonderful excesses of skill and character, he became the most famous athlete in the world. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents, often with rhymes.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, a disease that is common to head trauma from activities such as boxing. Ali still remained active during this time, however, later participating as a guest referee in the inaugural WrestleMania event. Ali’s other high profile events during this time included being selected by the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights around 1987. Ali rode on a float at the following year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th birthday commemoration. He published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991. That same year Ali traveled to Iraq during the Gulf War and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. In 1996, he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

Ali’s bout with Parkinson’s led to a gradual decline in Ali’s health though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, even promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. On November 17, 2002, Muhammad Ali went to Afghanistan as “U.N. Messenger of Peace”. He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.

In 2009, Ali visited Ennis, the ancestral site of his great-grandfather before he emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, before eventually settling in Kentucky. Ali later received the honour of freedom at a civic reception in Ennis. He also became a freeman at Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland. On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson’s rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium.

reference: Wikipedia

Stray Toasters

So get out there and rock,
And roll the bones.
Get busy!


“This mornin’, I shot six holes in my freezer…”

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"This mornin', I shot six holes in my freezer..."

Monday – 14 January 2013
It’s cold here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

How cold? Well, this is what greeted me when I checked the weather before getting out of bed:

What?! I was reading on my iPad before going to sleep; it was right there. Don’t judge.

This was the difference between my car and outside as I got ready to head into the office:

Yes, that is a nearly 70°F difference. So, like I said: It’s cold.

Reeling By On Celluloid: Tomb Raider
As of last Saturday, Sara! and I finished our run of Bond’s movies… since Amazon wanted me to buy Die Another Day. Yeah, that was not going to happen. We decided to start a new run of movies; we just had to decide on a theme. We wound up going with “Action Movies with Strong Female Leads.” That, in turn, lead us to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.


We’d both seen the movie before and knew that it was light on brainpower and fairly full of action. Win. Win. And something that we’d forgotten: Daniel Craig was in the movie. That’s right. James “Double Oh Seven” Bond. Well, five years before he was Bond. And who could forget that Ms. Jolie’s father, Jim Phelps, I mean Jon Voight was in the movie, as well.

And, in the final analysis: It was fun.

Instant Replay: Football
Saturday afternoon, the Ravens took on the Denver Broncos:

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
38 – 35
The Ravens traveled to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Number 1 in the AFC Denver Broncos for the AFC Divisonal Game. Going into the game, the odds were stacked against the Ravens:

  1. The Broncos gave the Ravens a thorough trouncing in Week 15, just four weeks prior.
  2. The Ravens were playing on a short week – having played in an AFC Wild Card game on Sunday.
  3. Peyton Manning was 8-2, all-time, against the Ravens.
  4. The Broncos were 9-point favorites.
  5. Playing in Denver meant that the Ravens would not only have to travel across the country, but they would also have to acclimatize (quickly) to the thinner air at the higher altitude.

And, there was also this gem, as tweeted by the Ravens’ own Terrell Suggs:


But, as Han Solo once told C-3P0: “Never tell me the odds.”

Because the Ravens went to Denver to make like Big Daddy Kane and Get the Job Done.

The game was close all the way through; the score wound up being tied a total of five (5) times! There were amazing plays on both sides

At the end of regulation, the score was tied 35-35.

Then came overtime.
Then came the second overtime.

Then, Peyton Manning threw a pass… that was picked off by Corey Graham.  That set up a game-winning Justin Tucker 49-yard field goal, sending the Ravens to the AFC Championship game.

After the game, two future Hall of Famers met at mid-field for the last time as competitors.

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 10.10.16 PM

Congratulations to the Ravens on a great game.

Hey, Joe…?! How does it feel to go into Denver and handle business like you did on Saturday?


Next stop: New England.

Stray Toasters


And then there was Friday.

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Friday – 11 January 2013
Today has been a good day. Even with all the snow.

The morning commute was about a half-hour long, give or take. The drive was made a little better with the addition of two fifty-pound bags of salt to the trunk. (I have a rear-wheel drive car that apparently puts out A LOT of torque at low speed.) But, on the whole, it was uneventful.

The evening commute was slower than expected, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as last night’s two-hour journey. I made it home in about 45 minutes.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.



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Thursday – 10 January 2013
Another NBN Thursday in the valley draws to a close.

When I woke up this morning, it was in the low 40s. That means that today started off warmer than it’s been during the day for the past week.

And then a snowstorm blew in.

Temperatures fell.
Traffic got stupid.
Yada. Yada. Yada.

And, I’m not kidding about the traffic. My commute home  – depending on the route I take and time of day – is usually about 20 minutes. Today, it was just shy of 2 hours. But, Sara! kept Team DiVa up until I got home, so I was able to end the evening with a smile. And a late dinner. Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Tonight was a perfect night for it, too.

Stray Toasters


And that was how I spent my summer vacation… I mean “weekend.”

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And that was how I spent my summer vacation... I mean "weekend."

Sunday – 06 January 2013
I have had a great weekend.

No, seriously.

Saturday, I judged a HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. We had a good turn-out; we had ten players. While there, I received a message from my friend, Jonni. He had a show Saturday night and wondered if I would be able to make it. After consulting the Lady Sara!, I learned that I’d be able to make the show. Win.

I came back home and finally got around to making a fix to the railing and got some help from an unexpected quarter.

>> Fast Forward >>
After Team DiVa was in bed, I got ready and headed to the show. Doing some mental gymnastics, I realized that I hadn’t seen Jonni play – Hell, hadn’t even seen him (other than online) – in over ten years. Yeah. That long.

This was taken 10 January 2002 at the release party for his second CD:

This was taken Saturday (05 Jan 13) night:

And, it was a lot of fun. We’re trying to figure out a time when we can get together for lunch or dinner or something.

Instant Replay: Football

Today, I got to watch the Ravens-Indy game. Brad and Dave came over to watch the game, as well.

Indianapolis Professional Football Club at Baltimore Ravens
9 – 24
The Ravens played their first playoff game of the 2012-2013 season today…

…the same day that Ray Lewis played his last game as a Raven at home.

The first half was mostly a defensive struggle, but the Ravens went into halftime with a 10-6 lead.

In the second half, the offense went to work, racking up 14 more points and holding Indy to just another field goal.

Baltimore wound up with the ball as time wound down and for the final play, Ray Lewis came in at running back…

…and after the clock ran down, he treated Baltimore to a final dance.

After the game, Ray took one last celebratory/congratulatory lap around M&T Bank Stadium.

Congratulations to the Ravens on a job well done and “Thank you” to Ray Lewis for an amazing career and legacy.

Next stop: Denver.

And, to wrap up the weekend, Sara! and I are watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Stray Toasters


“And the meek shall inherit the earth…”

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"And the meek shall inherit the earth..."

Friday – 21 December 2012
…or as I would write it in short form: 21 Dec 12.
…more to the point: 21 – 12. (With an extra “12” for good measure.)

And this is the last 21-12 of the century.

And with that in mind, I give you: 2112

“Overture” and “Temples of Syrinx”


The whole “A” side of 2112:

  • I. Overture
  • II. Temples of Syrinx
  • III. Discovery
  • IV. Presentation
  • V. Oracle (The Dream)
  • VI. Soliloquy
  • VII. The Grand Finale

According to the Mayan Calendar, the Fourth World ends today and the Fifth World begins. (Sorry, Jack Kirby.)

Last night, Sara! and I watched Men In Black 3 for Movie Date Night.


I thought that it was a fun romp and a nice way to wrap up the series; I think that Sara! thought that it was alright. (It was better than MIB2.) And, Josh Brolin does a very good Tommy Lee Jones.

Stray Toasters


Twelves. And more.

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Twelves.  And more.

Wednesday – 12 December 2012 Sunday – 16 December 2012
Midweek. Check.
New comics day. Check.
Movie Date Night. Check.

Everyone seems to be going ape over the 12/12/12 thing. Personally, I’m waiting  for the 21st. (Rush fans will understand.)

Yeah. This post started on Wednesday. Then I figured that I’d just finish it on Thursday, which didn’t happen because things went eight kinds of sideways at work. How bad? Think: “Sixteen-hour-day.” Yeah, it was like that.

And Friday? Yeah there was some busy-ness there, too. Not as bad, but still some running around.

Yesterday, I had a tournament and by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was veg. I was so tired that I barely made it through last night’s Action Movie Saturday fare: The Living Daylights.” It was, I think, the last Bond movie – other than Skyfall – that I haven’t seen. It wasn’t a great movie. In fact, I thought that it was at least as cheesy as – if not more cheesy than –  the later Roger Moore Bond films.

Things have been good on the home front. Team DiVa has been full of surprises lately. They’re learning to climb on more things. Their vocabularies are growing, too. They both surprised me the other day when they looked at my cup of coffee and said, “Cocoa?” (They’ve had – and liked – hot chocolate, so it wasn’t a stretch for them t0 assume that I was drinking cocoa.) Clever girls.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Today’s Wednesday’s quote actually comes from a few days ago. What?! I’ve been busy.

After the new trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, there was a lot of buzz about who the villain would be. Khan? Trelaine? Someone new?

I was chatting with John, my brother-in-law, and we had this exchange:

(12/8/2012 5:55:32 PM) John: http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/06/15736805-khaaan-maybe-star-trek-2-movie-teaser-wont-say-or-will-it?lite
(5:55:36 PM) John: what say you?
(12:02:46 PM) Rob: And I say, “Gary Mitchell.”
(12:02:54 PM) Rob: Seems to be the prevailing thought at this point.
(12:03:01 PM) John: No Khan, eh
(12:03:33 PM) Rob: Don’t think so.
(12:03:43 PM) Rob: We had a alot of discussion about it Thursday/Friday
(12:03:53 PM) John: At first I was kind of excited by the possibility…then I got kind of annoyed b/c I think they’d probably screw it up after all this time
(12:04:03 PM) John: Sometimes you have to leave the classics alone
(12:04:04 PM) Rob: And it seems as though Karl Urban let it slip in an interview a couple of weeks ago.
(12:04:30 PM) Rob: I’d be okay if Khan was in the movie… as long as they spun the story in a different direction.
(12:04:53 PM) John: Bingo. I don’t want a damn remake
(12:05:12 PM) John: I’m kind of biased…ST2 is in my top 10 movies
(12:05:25 PM) Rob: In my Top 5, I think.
(12:05:42 PM) John: Also has one of my top 10 movie lines ever too
(12:05:46 PM) Rob: It’s a solid piece of movie-making, with a sci-fi candy-coated shell.
(12:05:58 PM) John: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN goes well with “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!” and “Time…to die”
(12:06:11 PM) Rob: heh
(12:06:14 PM) Rob: True enough.
(12:06:18 PM) John: (the latter STILL my favorite movie scene ever)
(12:06:43 PM) Rob: For me it’s: “You… you, I do not know. But you… I never forget a face. Mr…. Chekov!”
(12:06:52 PM) shadorunr: (even though they never met on the original show.
(12:06:57 PM) John: Details.
(12:07:02 PM) shadorunr: Exactly.
(12:07:13 PM) Rob: It happened during a commercial, as far as I’m concerned.
(12:07:17 PM) John: lol
(12:07:31 PM) John: Maybe they ran into each other at the bridge’s urinal line. Who knows.
(12:08:25 PM) Rob: to the Bat-IMDb!
(12:08:28 PM) Rob: Khan says to Chekov, “And you – I never forget a face. Chekov, isn’t it?”. Although Chekov was not a bridge officer in the TV show that first featured Khan, it should be remembered that when Khan first took over Enterprise, he started with the engineering deck. Chekov was engineering ensign at the time, according to the movie’s novelization.
(12:08:34 PM) Rob: Tada!
(12:08:50 PM) John: Eh…I like the urinal explanation better.
(12:08:54 PM) Rob: Ditto.
(12:09:08 PM) John: “Oh yeah…well…he was in…engineering. Yes, engineering.”
(12:10:21 PM) Rob:  From Wikipedia:

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is a young and naïve ensign who first appeared on-screen in The Original Series’ second season as the Enterprise’s navigator. However, The Wrath of Khan established that he had been assigned to the ship sometime before the first season episode “Space Seed”, since Khan remembers him in the movie. Koenig joked that Khan remembered Chekov from the episode after he took too long in a restroom Khan wanted to use

(12:10:46 PM) John: hahahaha!!!
(12:10:50 PM) John: See?
(12:11:01 PM) Rob: So it is written, so must it be.

And for the day’s final miracle: As of 10:03 PM MDT, the painting of the train room is complete!


December 7th

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December 7th

Friday – 07 December 2012
Today is the  71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

“…a day that will live in infamy.”

Today is also the day that Diana turns 15-months-old:


Stray Toasters

  • Soup. That’s what’s for lunch, late though it is. I’m having the Campbell’s Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It has a little more “bite” than the Progresso Chicken Gumbo. Not to say that one is necessarily better than the other; both have their good qualities.
  • Best Art Ever (This Week)
  • I kind of covet this Dark Phoenix.
  • WWII War Paint: How Bomber-Jacket Art Emboldened Our Boys
  • Last Resort. I just learned today that it will be ending after its 13th episode. That’s a pity, it’s been a great show. But, according to one of the show’s creators, they will be able to wrap up the story before it ends.


Nope, *still* not Belgium.

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Nope, *still* not Belgium.

Tuesday – 26 June 2012
I want to go on the record as saying that having twins who are crawling and cruising is:

  • Fun,
  • Entertaining, and
  •  A little tiring

Often, they both head in the same vector. However, those times when they don’t…? Let’s just say that I’m getting an inkling of what it’s like to be an NHL goaltender.

Over the weekend, we made a day trip to Cedar City to see my brother-in-law, John, who spent a week in Las Vegas. Being so relatively close, we decided to meet for lunch before he headed back to Baltimore and give him a chance to meet his nieces:

Diana, hanging out with Uncle John

Vanessa and Uncle John

Diana and John hit it off almost immediately; Vanessa decided to scope him out a bit before deciding that he was alright.

Stray Toasters


Two things

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Two things

Monday – 18 June 2012
This will be a brief post, but there are two important things that bear noting:

  1. Today is my sister-in-law, Melissa’s, birthday.

    (c) 2011 – Amanda Nelson Photography

    This is particularly important because for the past two years, I neglected to mention it… leading to two instances of “Melissa Kelly Week.”

  2. The debris from the gazebo tear-down has been removed, courtesy of the SL County dumpster that was placed just across the street from the house… and some very welcome help from my father-in-law. I’m qualifying it as today’s workout.

Stray Toasters
Okay, okay… we’ll throw a couple of these in, too:

And done.


Father’s Day 2012

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Sunday – 17 June 2012
It’s my first Father’s Day. And, so far, it’s been quite good.

I’d like to wish a “Happy Father’s Day” to the fathers out there, as well.

The day started with Team DiVa waking up at 7:00. It was slightly earlier than I had wanted to get up, but that’s the way it goes with twin-fants. That was followed by breakfast and play time, which translates (roughly) as: “Climb all over Mommy and Daddy Time.” But, they are cute. And learning to walk:

…so that helps make it a lot more bearable. (And, despite the workout, it’s fun.)

I’m not sure what the middle of the day holds, but I’m hoping for a trip to the Garden of Sweden.  This evening, we’re having Sara!’s parents over for dinner. And tonight, there may be some gaming: I’ve had an itch to play/finish LEGO: Batman.

Stray Toasters

Team DiVa will be up from their nap soon, so I should probably wrap this up.

Nope, still not Belgium. (But, at least the weather’s nice.)

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Nope, still not Belgium.  (But, at least the weather's nice.)

Tuesday – 12 June 2012
According to a trusted source, today is apparently National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

I’m feeling a little remiss as a Rush fan: Clockwork Angels was released today… and I completely forgot about it until I saw something on Facebook.

On the “plus” side of today’s tally sheet:

  1. The lawn is mowed.
  2. A couple of trees have been trimmed, getting rid of branches over the sidewalk.
  3. I figured out what was going on with Sprinkler Zone #5 (Translation: “The back yard will actually get watered!”)
  4. Steve and I determined how to get drywall into the basement, without having to cut the sheets or trying to finagle them down the stairs.

Stray Toasters

And… done.


Friday free-for-all…

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Friday free-for-all...

Friday – 01 June 2012
A new month is upon us. Among other things, this means that I need to get to the Hallmark store and pick up a couple of important birthday cards.

We haven’t done anything new/else with the decking of the gazebo. Yet. But, maybe I’ll be able to get to it sometime in the next few days.

Team DiVa, on the other hand, continue to be adorable and entertaining.

Diana (l) and Vanessa

I’m hoping to get a new video of them doing what they do posted soon.

SaraRules! and I watched Blade Runner: The Final Cut the other night. After catching the tail end of the movie on cable a couple of weeks ago, we both realized that neither of us had seen the full movie in years. So… watched it. And it was good.

Stray Toasters

And with that, I’m off to save the world.
Or destroy it.
Or something in between…