Archive for the 'books' Category

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.

“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.

“He’s not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay…”

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
"He's not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay..."

Thursday – 25 February 2016
Another fine day in the valley…

Long story, short version: Stuff. Things. Adventure.

The slightly less-abridged version is: I woke up a little early and did a short workout with dumbbells and a Swiss ball this morning. I went to work , dealt with the usual things, dealt with one not-so-usual-anymore thing, and even wound up having a coworker decide to have “Neal Day” and wear a suit in my honor.

Suited

Changing the work dress code, one coworker at a time…

Sara pinged me in the late afternoon to ask if I’d mind picking up Team DiVa, as she had to work late. That also put me in (nominal) charge of figuring out what to do for dinner. I delegated that responsibility to the little ladies. We wound up going to McDonald’s. It wasn’t a total loss, though, as they asked if we could eat there, so they could play in the PlaySpace. (An easy way to make my kids happy? Bet.)

After dinner, we arrived at home a couple minutes before Sara. Sometime between her getting a bite to eat and giving the girls a bath, I fell asleep. Quickly and rather deeply asleep. I missed bath time, but I was up for pre-bedtime prep.

The little ones are now asleep. I have read comics. And, I do believe that there is a nominal amount of gaming in the evening’s future. Selah.

Stray Toasters

And, with that, it’s time to figure out what game to play…

Namaste.

We’ve got a pulse!

Friday, July 31st, 2015
We've got a pulse!

Friday – 31 July 2015
It’s been a few NBN Thursdays – and Fridays – since my last post. Figured I should get back to it.

At the beginning of the month, we went on vacation. It was a greatly needed break from the norm, for the most part. The parts where the girls got sick, we could have probably done without, though. But, seeing new family, old friends, and other relations was good. Highlights of the trip included (but were not limited to):

  • A family reunion

    Family Tree

    Family Tree

  • Seeing my parents
  • Team DiVa’s first fireworks display
  • Team DiVa playing with cousins they don’t get to see very often, other than on Skype or FaceTime
  • Setting off the alarm at my mother’s house – twice – prompting a visit from the sheriff’s department
  • Taking Team DiVa to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the Greensboro Science Center
  • Seeing another high school classmate for the first time since graduation

    Rachel

    Rachel

  • Surprising my aunt – on her 60th wedding anniversary, no less – with an impromptu reunion of some of the kids she used to babysit and our kids
  • Catching up with friends
  • The very serendipitous meeting up with another friend, while stopped at a traffic light

Yes, there were a few so lowlights – what trip doesn’t have something go not-as-right as it could – but why dwell on the negatives?

All-in-all it was a decent trip and we all survived. I’d call that a “win.”

Workout
This will be coming under a separate post. I’ve got a plethora of backfill to cover.

For now, though, let me just say that I am still not a fan of lunges, which I did yesterday. And my glutes are “thanking” me for today.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Carve Away The Stone

Monday, June 1st, 2015
Carve Away The Stone

Monday – 01 June 2015
It’s Monday. It’s the first of June. And… something something something-or-other.

There’s far too much blood in my caffeinestream for me to be writing a post this early. And it’s already been far too long of a day – I received a lovely wake up call from room service our after-hours monitoring company at 4:15. One issue was a non-issue, according to my manager, the other was… relatively minor in my book, but still needed some attention.

An hour and change later, after getting confirmation that the alerts had cleared, I headed back to bed. In the back of my head was a notion to go to the gym. I pushed it way back. As I laid in bed, I realized a couple of distinct possibilities:

  1. I could fall asleep, just in time for my alarm to go off, or
  2. I might not fall asleep and just get steadily more irritable at not being able to sleep.

I got up and went to the gym. I have to say that it was more crowded at 6 AM than I expected – the ellipticals were almost all in use and the treadmills appeared to be equally employed. So, I skipped cardio today.

But, I didn’t skip doing my leg workout. One of these days, when I’m a bit more coherent – or, Heaven forbid, I actually plan it out the night before – I’ll add a couple of things to my leg routine. Since I was early (and also because I missed a few days last week with st00pid work issues and/or a sick kid), I went ahead and did my chest and biceps routine.

Back home, started waking up Team DiVa – Vanessa requested We Will Rock You (so she could sing to it) and Diana, much to my surprise, requested Because the Night, by Patti Smith… and to my greater surprise: started singing it! Yep, that’s my kid. After that, it was shower time and I just want to go back to bed getting dressed and ready for the day time.

Let’s see what the day brings.

Workout
Today was a double-workout day:

  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs (because I didn’t think to go do squats on the Smith rack)
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 65 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 115 lbs
  • Decline Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
  • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Barbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (fwd): 3 x 8 x 40
  • Wrist Curls (rev): 3 x 8 x 40

And it was good.

Stray Toasters

I should probably figure out what I want to do for lunch…

Namaste.

“Don’t Panic”

Monday, May 25th, 2015
"Don't Panic"

I forgot about this until friend posted something elsewhere: It’s Towel Day.

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish!

Monday, Monday…

Monday, May 18th, 2015
Monday, Monday...

Monday – 18 May 2015
Happy Miracle Monday (1, 2).

superman_shield

Today finds me back in the office. I enjoyed last week’s class, but it was a LOT of information crammed into five days. I appreciated the time away from “work,” but there’s something to be said for being back in the swing of things.

Of course, I would have preferred to have gotten back to it this morning, rather than last night…

I got a call, just as Team DiVa was going to bed, that a server was down. By the time I was able to log in and start looking, I got another call, from a different user, saying that another server was down.

::: braincramp :::

Once I started looking, I noted that it wasn’t so much a “server” issue as it was a “virtual host” issue. And it was one that didn’t want to let me fix it remotely. So, into work I went. At 9:30 at night.

*grblsnrkx*

After banging on things for a while, I resorted to the time-honored IT tradition of: “Turn it off and then turn it back on.” That worked, for the most part. There was still one issue that didn’t resolve. I tinkered with a few settings and got that issue fixed… at least for the time being. There’s a long-term solution in the works, it’s just a matter of timing.

Workout
This morning, I also woke up a little before 6:30, chock full of the good intention of going to the gym. I actually got up and out of bed and – albeit a little more slowly than I should have – got ready to go. I had to abbreviate this morning’s routine due to time constraints, but the bottom line is: I got in a workout.

  • Elliptical: 7 min, 0.75 mile
  • Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Short Grip Pulldowns: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Standing Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
  • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs

Stray Toasters

  • Saturday night, Sara! and I watched Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. It’s been a while since I’d seen it. I celebrated the occasion by live-tweeting it… which entertained me nearly as much as the movie itself. I think we’re going to watch Return of the Jedi tonight. I may live-tweet that, too. Because… I can.
  • Kronkiwongi
  • Who were the Forty Elephants?
  • I hope to be as understanding and willing/able to let the girls explore their choices as this mom was: Mom’s dilemma: Should I let my 6-year-old daughter shave her head?
  • As I mentioned above, today is “Miracle Monday.” The story was written by Eliot S. Maggin, who also wrote Luthor’s Gift, a short story I just discovered today. Enjoy.

Okay, back to the grind.

Namaste.

Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen…

Sunday, January 18th, 2015
Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen...

Saturday – 17 January 2015
Okay, three-for-one time…

Day 15: Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

I wasn’t sure how literally to take the “take in the advice of men of yore” when I first read this. I decided to take a more “interpretive” stand with it, and thus my list will include men and women.

My list would include:

  • My grandfathers – One died before I was born, the other before I was really old enough to go to him for advice.
  • Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart – It would be fascinating to talk with them about being pioneers, despite the cultural and societal changes they faced.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X – I would like to discuss the more mundane/day-to-day struggles they faced that we never hear about.
  • Sun-TzuThe Art of War is one of my favorite books. I would want to talk with him about how he devised the strategies in the book and whether he ever considered them as having viable applications beyond the battlefield.
  • Neil Armstrong – C’mon, who doesn’t want to know not only what was it like to walk on the moon!? And he’s the second Boilermaker (Ms. Earhart was the other) list. Win-Win. Also, the challenges of shooting a tin can into space, get it to orbit another astronomical body, LAND on said body, take off from said AND return to Earth have to be many and varied. That’s knowledge and background to which I’d love to have access.

Day 16: Imagine that someone has decided to write a book about your life, just up to this point. What would the cover blurb say? Be honest here. Is it kind of boring? Are you happy with it? Now imagine what you’d like that blurb to say at the end of your life. What changes need to made for that to happen?

Yeah. I’ve been pondering this one and I’m just not sure. I don’t think that it would necessarily be anything out of the ordinary. Would it be boring? Dunno. I think that I live a kind of mundane life, but to someone else, it might be kind of out there. Am I happy with my life? Yep. No matter what I’ve been through, it’s helped to get me where I am.

Day 17: Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born. Infoplease is a great resource for this. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today. For example, the year I was born, it was discovered that 98% of American households had at least one television set. I could write about how television influenced my generation, and continues to do so today, either positively or negatively.

  • Prime time football ABC begins it’s long running Monday Night Football
    I came into watching football kind of late: In my early 20s. A friend of mine introduced me to John Madden on the Sega Genesis and fan of the Miami Dolphins. I kind of latched on to the Dolphins as my first football team, despite the fact that I had grown up in and around Baltimore. (This was after the Indianapolis Professional Football Club left Maryland…) It was around this point that I started watching Monday Night Football and started paying attention to games on Sunday.Fast forward twenty years, I’m a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers)… and the Dolphins still hold a special place in my heart. I watch Sunday games – and Monday Night Football – when I can (and when the Ravens’ games are on).
  • World Trade Center is completed

    This picture was taken in 1999. And two years later, the towers were gone. This is what I had to say on that day. I haven’t been to New York for more than a layover since then, but I would love to visit the site on my next visit.

  • First F-14 Tomcat Tested – Dec. 21, 1970: The first ever F-14 Tomcat was tested; This led to use by the NAVY for about 30 years.This was one of my favorite aircraft in my early model-building years. Top Gun didn’t hurt my love for it either. While my favorite planes today are the SR-71 and the P-51 Mustang, I still appreciate the Tomcat.

Namaste.

Day Fourteen

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015
Day Fourteen

Wednesday – 14 January 2015
Day 14: Write a review of some form of entertainment you recently took in. Whether book or movie or TV show or Broadway play, write out what you liked and didn’t like about it. Was the acting/writing good? Could you follow the story? Is there anything you can take from it about life, or was it purely entertainment? This is often one of the most enjoyable entries to write, as it’s especially fun (and quite nostalgic) to go back and read these in the future. I can imagine that 10 years from now I will thoroughly appreciate my thoughts from this week on Roy Baumeister’s Is There Anything Good About Men?.

I’m going to try this again, since I just. wrote. this. post. and WordPress apparently decided to eat it… and not save a draft. (I may have accidentally moved it to the trash – which is more like “the incinerator.”) Either way: Take Two…

Lullaby by Ace Atkins

Spenser is back. This time he’s been hired by fourteen-year-old Mattie Sullivan to solve her mother’s murder. The only problems are: The case has already been solved and it happened four years ago.

The story returns readers to Spenser’s Boston and reintroduces a few familiar faces. It also introduces new characters, like Mattie, who at first seems as though she will fulfill the same role as Paul Giacommin in Early Autumn. Readers soon discover that Mattie is more self-aware and self-sufficient than Paul at that age.

This book is the first Spenser novel not written by Robert B. Parker. I was initially a bit leery about reading it, concerned with how much the tone of the Spenser series might change under someone else’s pen. I was pleasantly surprised. As I’ve described it:

It was a little fuzzy around the edges, but not totally out-of-focus.

Meaning: Ace Atkins’ writing style emulated Parker’s well, but there were a few places where it felt a little “off.” This didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the story. (For refernce: I am currently reading Wonderland, the next book in the series, and it feels a little closer to what I’ve come to expect in a Spenser book.)

As a fan of the Spenser character and series, I would happily recommend this book.

Namaste.

And, like that, December was halfway gone…

Monday, December 15th, 2014
And, like that, December was halfway gone...

Monday – 15 December 2014
It’s been longer than I’d planned since my last post. So, let’s get down to business.

The last few weeks have been good. Thanksgiving went well. We managed to host and feed ten people to no ill effect. The girls have been sick. Gotten over it. I’ve been sick. Gotten over it. Sara’s worked a lot – apparently, the end of the year is a busy time for the ballet. The Nutcracker and whatnot. Go figure.

This past weekend, I also got around to installing the trim in the train room. I’ve got three walls done; now it’s just a matter of timing to do the rest. Well, timing and moving a few things. It’s not perfect, but I am proud of  the job. If nothing else, I’ll have a much better idea of what to do – and not do – the next time I have a reason to install baseboards.

Ahead, Christmas. I’m looking forward to it. Not just because “It’s Christmas,” but also because the girls are so excited about it. We started putting up our trees and other decorations a couple of weekends ago. The girls have been going on about “Santa’s going to love our pretty decorations!”

Stray Toasters

  • As of this weekend, we have seen Frozen… or, at least, Sara! and I have seen it. We’re not sure if the girls had seen it before. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but it did surprise me in a couple of places.That said, I do understand Sara!’s irritation with Disney’s current marketing of the movie/DVD: All of the marketing seems to be geared towards Olaf (the snowman) and the Sven (the reindeer), rather than making note that the movie has not one, but TWO, strong female leads. Instead, the current wave points to “Hey, look at these funny characters!”
  • Speaking of which: When is the last time that Disney – not Pixar or Marvel – made a movie for kids that didn’t have a wacky animal or magically animated object as a sidekick/comic relief?
  • Titanfall is still fun… even when you haven’t played it in three months.
  • Pinstripes and Polos – because… self-promotion!
  • I can’t play “The Little Drummer Boy Game,” considering that one of my favorite Christmas songs is Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth, by Bing Crosby and David Bowie.
  • Two of my least favorite Christmas songs are: Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
  • [REDACTED]
  • I’m about 2/3 of the way through Ace Atkin’s Lullaby, the first post-Robert B. Parker Spenser novel.

    It reads very similarly to Parker’s style; there are a few things that seem slightly off – more “slightly out of focus” than “this isn’t even remotely right” – but pretty much reads like I expect a Spenser novel to read.

And that’s it for now; time to finish getting ready for Guys’ Night Out!

Namaste.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Monday, September 8th, 2014
Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

Monday – 08 September 2014
Before I forget to post this… again…

This past weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con happened in… um… Salt Lake City, appropriately enough. I went as part of the Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection cavalcade.

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

Team DiVa (as Wonder Woman and Batgirl) at Salt Lake Comic Con

I even managed to take a few pictures (click here).

Namaste.

It’s the post that never ends…

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
It's the post that never ends...

Tuesday – 15 July 2014 Thursday – 24 July 2014
A new week is upon us now two days old.
An even newer week is upon us… and is almost over.

That’s right, this is a post that’s been so delayed and off-put that it’s taken over a week to complete. I’m just going to leave the core of the original post in place and just append the newest additions to the end of it. Because I can.

Tw0 weekends past This was a good weekend. We kicked it off Friday evening with the Deer Valley Music Festival – Utah Symphony performed the music of John Williams. And, as if they knew that I was in the audience, they opened the concert with Superman March. The concert wasn’t solely Williams’ music;  Team DiVa even heard a song that they recognized: On the Beautiful Blue Danube, which they know from their Classical Baby DVDs. After the concert and after the girls were in bed, I played ‘Clix with coworker Adam… until the wee hours of the morning.

Which made for a short sleep cycle on Saturday, as little girls bounded into our room before 8 AM. I spent the better part of the day with them, as it was Sara!’s Saturday to play. This included letting them watch The Lion King... which lead to Vanessa singing I Just Can’t Wait To Be King Begin.

All. Night. Long.

It was more funny than annoying.

That Sunday, we got up and went to breakfast at Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks. Then it was off to run a few errands and then back home to get ready for our annual ice cream social. This year, we had more kids than we have in the past. We also prepared for this with: Ice cream cones! I am happy to report that the cones were not only a hit, but were utilized with minimal spillage!

Ten days ago Yesterday was Monday. ‘Nuff said.

This past weekend, we headed up to Idaho to celebrate Sara!’s grandmother’s 90th birthday, which was actually last November. But, as it fell right before the holidays, the family decided to hold off until (nearly) everyone would be available to convene and celebrate it. So, this summer was chosen as the “when” and central Idaho was chosen as the “where.”

I like traveling. Granted, I haven’t done a lot of it in the past few years, but I do enjoy it. With toddlers being added to the mix, there are things that you learn and accommodations that must be made in travel arrangements. Things like: Potty breaks. Before children, pit stops and bathroom breaks only occurred once every couple of hours, if that often. With kids who are on the tail-end of potty training, these breaks become more of an “ad-hoc” thing. And the ad-hoc can be pretty damned often. Case in point:

  • Sara and I have made the same trip, before kids, in a little over five hours.
  • This trip (to Idaho, at least) took roughly 7.5 hours, including six (6) bathroom stops – a couple of which I don’t even want to talk about – and a stop for dinner.
  • The trip back was about six hours – with only one stop for a potty emergency.

The trip itself was fun, though brief. We got in late Friday evening; Sara! scored us wonderful accommodations, via AirBnB. We stayed in what was effectively a mother-in-law apartment of a home overlooking the Salmon River — the river was about 50′ from our bedroom patio door:

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This also offered Team DiVa the opportunity to throw rocks into the river, which they did with great aplomb.

Saturday, we spent the day with the family – aunts, uncles, cousins, kith an kin. And Sara’s  grandmother, of course.

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Sara made a quilt for the occasion, with hand-signed/stamped/imprinted pieces from everyone  – except the newest addition (within the past few months) – in the family:

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It was nice to have a chance to visit with everyone. That evening, we headed back to the apartment to put the girls to bed (well past their usual bedtime). Sunday morning, we woke up, got dressed, packed and hit the road… back into town, for breakfast. We ate at the Tea Cup Cafe & Bakery. It was an unexpectedly refreshing place. And, I would have to agree with the high ratings on Yelp.

On the way back to SLC, we stopped in Arco, ID. Why? Because there’s a submarine sail there. Why? Okay, that one, I can’t really answer.

USS Hawkbill (SSN-666)

After that, we stopped at EBR-1 for the Team DiVa’s first nuclear power plant field trip.

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No, it didn’t trigger any latent X-genes or metagenes. Unfortunately. They had a ball. We made it back home without too much incident.

Stray Toasters

  • Today is Pioneer Day in Utah.
  • Today is also National Tequila Day.
  • I find it highly amusing that the two fall on the same day.
  • On a recent trip to the party supply store, we bought superhero masks for the girls, in four different colors. Why? To keep them from stealing mine. Because they liked them. Earlier this week, they decided to wear them in the car on their way to day care.
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    Sara! asked who they were.
    Diana (green mask) said, “Green Lantern!”  (Yeah, definitely my kid.)
    Vanessa (blue mask): “Somersault!”
    (Backstory: A couple days ago, their Aunt Jen was teaching them to do somersaults in the back yard. I guess it made something of an impression.)
  • I finished listening to Stranger in a Strange Land last week; it was the first time I’ve read/listened to the book in at least ten years. I read something recently that posited that Jubal Harshaw, not Valentine Michael Smith, was actually the protagonist of the book. Looking back, I can see some validity to that argument.
  • Plum Stitch. If you haven’t been there, go now. I’ll wait right here until you get back.
  • I introduced the girls to Smashmouth’s Walking on the Sun this morning last week. It went over well.
  • Coworker Brad and I have been recasting movies and TV shows today. It’s helped to make the day pass rather quickly.
  • I’ve found that watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic with the girls isn’t so bad.
    What is bad: When the vershluggen theme song pops into your head as an earworm.
  • One week ’til Guardians of the Galaxy. Tickets have been acquired.

That’s all. For now.

Namaste.

So many things…

Monday, May 20th, 2013
So many things...

Monday – 20 May 2013
So, it’s been slightly longer than I’d intended since the last non-Team DiVa post. Time somehow manages to just slip away.

It’s been a good couple of weeks, for the most part. Home life has been good and, aside from spending far too many Saturdays in the office – it’s the best opportunity for server maintenance in a couple of cases – work’s been good. This past weekend was something of an exception since the maintenance that I requested and called back to verify on fell through. The service company shipped the wrong part AND didn’t review the error report I sent. Monkeys.

After the failed maintenance window, I headed back home. Sara! and I, thanks to the help of our friends, Dave and Angy, managed to put another nail in the coffin of a landscaping project that’s been long talked about and a tad slow to come to fruition: We got rid of the shrubs in the front yard. Dave and Angy brought over a stump grinder and, after about 75 minutes, the stumps of the shrubs were turned into mulch.

The girls have been doing well, for the most part; Diana had a brief bout of some food not agreeing with her over the weekend, but seems to back to her usual form again.

Reeling by on Celluloid
Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen four movies:

Four very different, but very entertaining movies. So let’s dive in:

  • The Cabin in the Woods
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    This movie was made between the time that Chris Hemsworth got on Hollywood’s radar as George Kirk in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and was bulking up to play the God of Thunder in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.I was recommended to watch this by a coworker. The only thing that he told me about it was that it was a horror movie. Okay, fair enough. Or so I thought.

    Yes, this was a horror movie, but it’s also something… else. Something different. The first few scenes of the movie don’t, at first, give you a sense of what’s to come. I was quite confused when the movie started — to the point of wondering if I had the right disc in the player. Just as the confusion was peaking, the opening credits came on-screen. But it still left a little bit of a disjointed feeling.

    The rest of the movie was entertaining. And strange. Very strange. But, I have to say that the strangeness only added to the movie’s appeal.
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  • Star Trek Into Darkness
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    As just about anyone who knows me is aware: I’m a Star Trek fan and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of my all-time favorite movies. I think that it’s not just a great Star Trek movie, but a great movie in general. In fact, I usually refer to it as “…a great movie, with Star Trek trappings,” because it’s so well-done. When  rumors first started appearing that Into Darkness was possibly going to feature a variation on that story, I was pretty much ready to line up and tell the ticket seller, “Take my money!”Then, word broke that it wasn’t going to be a take on the original ST II. Okay. Fine. I can live with that. When I started watching the trailers, I caught hints of something else. Something familiar. But I was a little hesitant to think that Mr. Abrams and company would pull that particular trigger. Why? A couple of reasons:

    1) As much as I’m a fan of Star Trek: TOS, I’m an even bigger fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And the inkling that I was getting was something that was first seen on DS9.

    2) Abrams’ movies have reset the timeline, effectively, meaning that everything I knew about [REDACTED] never happened… or at least never existed in the way I knew.

    So, I went into the movie with as open a mind as my Trek-loving self could allow. Turns out, I could allow a lot. Abrams did a good job of expanding upon the story he started in the first movie. This movie was very upfront about showing young Captain Kirk’s penchant for flouting – or just outright ignoring – regulations. And, it was no less upfront about showing the consequences of those actions.

    We were then introduced to the movie’s antagonist, John Harrison. A man who is not what he originally appears to be; there’s something about him that just rang a little “off.”

    And, with that, the chase was on. Abrams took viewers on an action-packed, explosion-filled ride.

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  • Crazy, Stupid, Love
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    This was another coworker recommendation. To be honest, I didn’t have an interest in this movie when it was out and wouldn’t have given it a second thought had he not suggested it. Having watched it, I must admit: It was a lot of fun. More so than I would have expected.Steve Carell portrays a Cal Weaver, a man who finds that his wife wants a divorce. He accepts it, as best he can, and tries to get on with his life.

    Enter Jacob, a young man who seems to have it all and seems to have no problem meeting attractive young ladies. Jacob then becomes Cal’s mentor and the two begin a journey to get Cal back in the proverbial game.

    Bittersweet hilarity ensues.
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  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
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    I never read The Hobbit nor the Lord of the Rings Trilogy growing up. I own the Trilogy; it was given to me as a gift a few years ago, but I haven’t made the time to read them. So, when this movie was announced, I was interested in seeing it, but had no idea what to expect.It was a beautifully rendered film. Peter Jackson once again brought the world of Middle Earth to lush life. Again, having not read the books, I was surprised to see some familiar faces in the film.
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And there you have it.

Stray Toasters

  • I’ve been reading and listening to The Sword of Truth series. One of the recent books focused not on the usual characters, but on a couple of supporting characters. It was set basically between a couple of books that I’d already read; it was a little disconcerting to try and figure out the sequence/time frame. It also took me until about two-thirds of the way through the book to really warm to the new characters. But it wasn’t a necessarily “bad” book. I’m just glad to be back with characters I’ve been reading about for the prior six books.
  • By way of Sara!: 100 Films | 100 Behind the Scenes Photos
  • Looks like we’ll be getting a new Blink ‘Clix. Finally.
  • Pixel art from obscure video games
  • Bans on Same-Sex Marriages Can Take a Psychological Toll
  • One of my coworkers’ sons did a report on The Battle of Antietam for school. He not only did a report, but he made a stop-motion LEGO video to go along with it. I just saw this video and was duly impressed by it. I asked how old he was, just for reference. He’s 14.

Namaste.