Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

“Froggie jumped all over the stage that day…”

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"Froggie jumped all over the stage that day..."

Monday – 20 February 2012
It’s a new work week. Yay (or something to that effect).

I am, however, rather excited as the girls – for the second time in three days – slept through the night!

Vanessa (l), Sara, and Diana

That’s right, seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. (If only I didn’t have such disconcerting dreams last night…)

The rest of the weekend was good, as well. Saturday afternoon, I judged a tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. Saturday evening, I attended Utah Symphony‘s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto N0. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 with Melissa Sanders. It was a fantastic concert.

Sunday was a relaxing day, spent mostly at home. We did venture out for a bit to Black Water Coffee Company and Fashion Place Mall… where the girls went on a shopping spree. Seriously. They cleaned up. (Okay, okay… it helped that Carter’s was having a pretty big sale. Still…) Later in the day, we headed up to SaraRules!’ parents for dinner before heading home for little girls’ bedtime. And, we wound up the evening with The Walking Dead and with me playing a little Modern Warfare 3.

And today is Presidents Day.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
After taking the weekend off from blogging, let’s get back into the swing of things with an all-music selection of notables:

  • Questlove (also known as ?uestlove), is an American drummer, DJ, music journalist and record producer.

    Ahmir Khalib Thompson (January 20, 1971) Thompson was born in Philadelphia. His father was Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the Hearts, one of the great 50s doo-wop groups. Ahmir, who started drumming at the age of 2, often accompanied his parents on tour. By the age of 8, he was well-versed in life on the road, learning how to “cut gels, place mics, place lights. Then I became the sound guy and tech guy. One night the drummer didn’t make it, and then I was [my father’s] drummer.”

    Thompson’s first gig came at the age of 13, during a performance at Radio City Music Hall. “My parents didn’t trust babysitters back in the early 70s,” Thompson told Mother Jones magazine in 2011. “So I had to play bongos on stage with them ’cause ‘No stranger’s gonna watch my son in Muncie, Indiana!’” That same year, Thompson was named the musical director for his father’s group, and he became determined to establish his own career in music.

    Questlove’s parents then enrolled him at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. By the time he graduated, he had founded a band called The Square Roots (later dropping the word “square”) with his friend Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). After high school, Thompson was offered a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, but the young musician couldn’t afford the tuition. Instead, Thompson devoted himself to making his unique style of music. The Roots’ roster was soon completed, with Questlove on percussion, Tariq Trotter and Malik B on vocals, Josh Abrams (Rubber Band) on bass (who was replaced by Leonard Hubbard in 1994), and Scott Storch on keyboards.

    Questlove currently performs with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, occasionally performing solos titled ‘re-mixing the clips’ where he draws on his production and DJ abilities to dub video clips, cue audio samples in rhythm, and play drum breaks simultaneously.

    Thompson, not one to rest on the heels of his success, has also been involved in a dizzying array of side projects. He appeared as a drummer for the instrumental jazz album, The Philadelphia Experiment in 2001, and in 2002 he released the compilation ?uestlove Presents: Babies Making Babies. He has also served as an executive producer for artists such as D’Angelo and Common; has written film scores; and drummed for artists like Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple and Joss Stone.

  • Otis Redding (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout.

    Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia to gospel singer Otis Redding, Sr., and housekeeper Fannie Redding. At an early age, he sang in the Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar and piano. From the age of 10, he took drum and singing lessons. Later, at Ballard-Hudson High School, he sang in a school band. Every Sunday he earned $6 (USD) by performing songs for Macon radio station WIBB. His passion was singing and often cited Little Richard and Sam Cooke as major influences.

    At age fifteen, he abandoned school to help his family financially. His father had contracted tuberculosis and was often hospitalized, leaving his mother as the primary financial provider for the family, while Redding worked as a well digger, gas station attendant and guest musician in the following years. His breakthrough came when he played Little Richard’s “Heebie Jeebies”, winning a $5 contest fifteen weeks in a row, until being banned.Redding was soon hired by Little Richard’s band The Upsetters.

    Redding joined Johnny Jenkins’s Pinetoppers, a local Georgia band, and also served as the group’s driver. When the group traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to record at the famed Stax studios, Redding sang two songs of his own at the end of the session. One of the two, “These Arms of Mine” (1962), launched his career, attracting both a record label executive (Jim Stewart) and a manager (Phil Walden) who passionately believed in his talent.Redding’s open-throated singing became the measure of the decade’s great soul artists. Unabashedly emotional, he sang with overwhelming power and irresistible sincerity. “Otis wore his heart on his sleeve,” said Jerry Wexler, whose Atlantic label handled Stax’s distribution, thus bringing Redding to a national market. Redding’s influence extended beyond his gritty vocals. As a composer, especially with his frequent partner Steve Cropper, he introduced a new sort of rhythm-and-blues line—lean, clean, and steely strong. He arranged his songs as he wrote them, singing horn and rhythm parts to the musicians and, in general, sculpting his total sound. That sound, the Stax signature, would resonate for decades to come.

    Redding developed polyps on his larynx, which he tried to treat with tea and lemon or honey. He was hospitalized in September 1967 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to undergo surgery. In the winter of 1967, he again recorded at Stax. One new song was (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, written by Cropper and Redding. Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and tried to create a similar sound, against the label’s wishes, and his wife was dissatisfied with its atypical melody. Redding wanted to change his musical style to avoid boring his audience. The Stax crew were similarly dissatisfied; Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn thought its sound would damage Stax’s reputation. However, Redding thought it was the best song he ever wrote and would top the charts. Redding died just three days later, when his chartered plane crashed into Lake Monona, Wisconsin. Redding was entombed at his ranch in Round Oak, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Macon. Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy. Redding was survived by his wife and three children.

  • Tupac Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), was an American rapper and actor.

    Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed. His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s; he was born just one month after his mother’s acquittal on more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the New York Panther 21 court case.

    At the age of twelve, Shakur enrolled in Harlem’s 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, which was performed at the Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. As a teenager, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he took acting and dance classes, including ballet. While living in Baltimore, he discovered rap and began performing as MC New York.

    In June 1988, Shakur and his family moved to Marin City, California. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur’s, Strictly Dope; the concert led to him being signed with Atron Gregory who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital Underground in 1990.

    In 1991, Shakur emerged as a solo artist – using the name 2Pac – with his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. The track “Brenda’s Got a Baby” reached as high as number three on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. His second album Strictly 4 My N. I. G. G. A. Z. crossed over to the pop charts, with singles “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up.” The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies. Around this time, Shakur also appeared in several films, including Poetic Justice (1993) opposite Janet Jackson.

    Tupac became quite a sensation, earning praise for his musical and acting talent as well as condemnation for his explicit, violent lyrics. Many of his songs told of fights, gangs, and sex. He appeared to be living up to his aggressive gangster rap persona with several arrests for violent offenses in the 1990s. In 1994, he spent several days in jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes and was later convicted of sexual assault in another case.

    Shakur himself fell victim to violence, getting shot five times in the lobby of a recording studio during a mugging. On the night of November 30, 1994, the day before the verdict in his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan by two armed men in army fatigues. He would later accuse Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw after the shooting—of setting him up. According to the doctors at Bellevue Hospital, where he was admitted immediately following the incident, Shakur had received five bullet wounds; twice in the head, twice in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. He checked out of the hospital, against doctor’s orders, three hours after surgery. In the day that followed, Shakur entered the courthouse in a wheelchair and was found guilty of three counts of molestation, but innocent of six others, including sodomy. On February 6, 1995, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison on a sexual assault charge.

    After serving eight months in prison, Shakur returned to music with the album All Eyez on Me. He was reportedly released after Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight paid a bond of more than $1 million as part of Shakur’s parole. In his latest project, Shakur as the defiant street thug was back in full force on this recording. The song “California Love” featured a guest appearance by famed rapper-producer Dr. Dre and made a strong showing on the pop charts. Besides his hit album, he tackled several film roles.

    On a trip to Las Vegas to attend a boxing match, Shakur was shot while riding in a car driven by Knight on September 7, 1996. He died six days later on September 13 from his injuries. His killer has never been caught. Since his death, numerous albums of his work have been released, selling millions of copies.

  • Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years

    Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock; November 26, 1939) was born in Nutbush, Tennessee, the daughter of Zelma Bullock, a factory worker, and Floyd Richard Bullock, a Baptist deacon, farm overseer, and factory worker. Zelma Bullock later relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. Floyd Bullock moved to Detroit and later settled in California. Anna Mae and her sister relocated to Brownsville where they were raised by their grandmother.  She performed on several talent shows as a child and sang at her church choir. She later moved to St. Louis and, following her graduation from high school in 1958, took work as a nurse aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

    In between the time Anna Bullock had moved to St. Louis, she was enthralled by the city’s thriving nightclub scene and her sister often took her to several of the clubs, much to their mother’s chagrin. Anna was introduced to Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band after her sister took her to Club Manhattan where Alline served as a barmaid. Anna pursued Ike Turner for months asking him to let her sing with his band. When she was seventeen, she sang during a band intermission to a B. B. King song which impressed Turner. Eventually Turner allowed her to join the band as a background vocalist. Turner gave Bullock her first stage name, “Little Ann,” during this time and included her in his record, “Box Top”, which was a local hit in St. Louis.

    In November 1959, when a male vocalist failed to show up for a recording session, Anna was told to give a guide vocal to the song. Ike Turner then sent the song to New York where he met with Sue Records president Juggy Murray and played the song to him. Upon hearing it, Murray insisted Turner keep Anna’s vocals on the song, giving Turner a $25,000 advance, convinced the song would be a hit single. In response to this, Turner decided to form a duo around him and Bullock. In the process, he changed her stage name to “Tina Turner.” The two achieved considerable success as a rhythm-and-blues vocal duo and became known for their electrifying stage and television performances. However, after years of abuse, the marriage and professional partnership was officially dissolved in 1976.

    After a slow start, Turner’s solo career took off with a remake of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together in 1983. Her much anticipated solo album, Private Dancer, won four Grammy Awards and sold well over 20 million copies worldwide. Subsequent albums include Break Every Rule (1986), Tina Live in Europe (1988, Grammy for Female Rock Vocal Performance) and Foreign Affair, which included the hit single “(Simply) The Best.” In the 1990s, she released Wildest Dreams and Twenty Four Seven.Turner also launched an acting career, appearing in the films Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome starring Mel Gibson and The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has also made several recordings for soundtracks, including “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” “Goldeneye,” and “He Lives In You” for The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.

    In 1993, Turner’s best-selling 1986 autobiography I, Tina was made into the motion picture What’s Love Got to Do with It? starring Angela Bassett. Her soundtrack for the movie went double platinum in the U.S.

    Though she is now semi-retired, Turner does make rare appearances and recordings. She returned to the stage in 2008 to embark on her “Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour.” It became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008 and 2009.

Stray Toasters


“Mere reason alone can never explain how the heart behaves…”

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"Mere reason alone can never explain how the heart behaves..."

Tuesday – 14 February 2012
Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

And here’s a little Valentine’s Day cuteness for you:

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Last night, my mother-in-law came over to help get the girls situated for bed while SaraRules! was at a Justice League meeting. Diana has recently started skipping her late-afternoon nap… so she was “a little” tired and cranky before bed. Nothing insurmountable, though.

After the girls were down, I started getting things ready for SaraRules!’ Valentine’s Day:

  • I made chocolate and vanilla candy hearts.
  • I made a CD for her morning commute.  (That’s right. CD. Old school.)
  • And, I hid her gifts and cards, so that I could wrap them after she went to bed.

I managed to get everything but the wrapping taken care of before she got back home. Barely. But, I did. Making the candy became something of a race against time, as the meeting – which I expected to last until at least 9 PM – was over at 8:00. I was more than slightly anxious when SaraRules! called to say that she was on her way home. Fortunately, the Lords of Confection smiled upon me and allowed me to finish (and hide) the candy before she made it home.


Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Jessye Norman, an American opera singer.

Jessye Mae Norman was born on September 15, 1945 in Augusta, Georgia to Silas Norman, an insurance salesman, and Janie King-Norman, a school teacher. She was one of five children in a family of amateur musicians; her mother and grandmother were both pianists, her father a singer in a local choir. Norman’s mother insisted that she start piano lessons at an early age.

At the age of nine, Norman heard opera for the first time on the radio and was immediately an opera fan. She started listening to recordings of Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price whom Norman credits as being inspiring figures in her career. At the age of 16, Norman entered the Marian Anderson Vocal Competition in Philadelphia which, although she did not win, led to an offer of a full scholarship at Howard University, in Washington, D.C. In 1966, she won the National Society of Arts and Letters singing competition. After graduating in 1967 with a degree in music, she began graduate-level studies at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and later at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, from which she earned a Masters Degree in 1968.

After winning the Bavarian Radio Corp. International Music Competition in 1968, Norman made her operatic debut as Elisabeth in Richard Wagner’s Tannhuser in 1969 in Berlin. Norman also enjoyed success as a recitalist with her thorough scholarship and her ability to project drama through her voice. She toured throughout the 1970s, giving recitals of works by Franz Schubert, Gustav Mahler, Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Erik Satie, Olivier Messiaen, and several contemporary American composers. She made her American debut in 1982 as Jocasta in Oedipus Rex and her Metropolitan Opera debut the following year as Cassandra in Les Troyens. By the mid-1980s she was one of the most popular and highly regarded dramatic soprano singers in the world.

In 1990, Norman performed at Tchaikovsky’s 150th Birthday Gala in Leningrad and she made her Lyric Opera of Chicago début in the title role of Gluck’s Alceste. In 1994, Norman sang at the funeral of former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. In September 1995, she was again the featured soloist with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, this time under Kurt Masur’s direction, in a gala concert telecast live to the nation by PBS making the opening of the orchestra’s 153rd season.

On March 11, 2002, Norman performed “America the Beautiful” at a memorial service unveiling two monumental columns of light at the site of the former World Trade Center, as a memorial for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.

After more than thirty years on stage, Norman no longer performs ensemble opera, concentrating instead on recitals and concerts. In addition to her busy performance schedule, Jessye Norman serves on the Boards of Directors for Carnegie Hall, the New York Public Library, the New York Botanical Garden, City-Meals-on-Wheels in New York City, Dance Theatre of Harlem, National Music Foundation, and Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Stray Toasters



“Here am I, sitting in a tin can…”

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"Here am I, sitting in a tin can..."

Friday – 13 January 2012
It’s Friday. Hallelujah! And the fact that it’s Friday the 13th? Meh. It’s my “on” Friday, but it’s quiet around the office, so I should be able to get a few things accomplished with minimal interruption. That would be a “good” thing.

It’s also Playoff Purple Friday:

Last night was a fairly quiet night around the homestead. It was bath night for little girls, both of whom took their baths without much ado. And, they even went to sleep fairly easily. Although, Diana did wake up about 12:45… which is almost an hour earlier than her norm. I am chalking it up to the fact that she – and Vanessa – seem to be a bit congested, of late and that’s making sleep a little more difficult.

After the girls went to sleep – and after dinner and an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles – I played CoD: MW3. I was able to team up with a few friends, which made it all the more fun.

Stray Toasters


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

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

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

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

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


So… close… to… vacation-time…

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

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

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

Vanessa (left) and Gene Simmons Diana

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

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

Stray Toasters

“that southern smile hides a frightened frown…”

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"that southern smile hides a frightened frown..."

Wednesday – 02 November 2011
Midweek. New comics. Fire drill. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Last night, the girls were… agitated… for some reason. They were fussy and restless through bedtime, including during bath time, which they had – until last night – been getting better about dealing with. They were so cranky that we skipped post-bath story time and went straight to “Here’s your bottle. Go to town!” Wait. That’s not entirely true. Nose drops came before feeding… and they’re not fans of nose drops under the best of conditions, so last night’s dose was far from welcome. But, the bottles seemed to make everything better.

After the girls were abed, SaraRules! and I sat down to watch a little TopGear (UK). It was a good way to wind down the evening.

Stray Toasters


Thursday’s Child…

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Thursday's Child...

Thursday – 13 October 2011
It’s a sunny No Bad News Technical Friday. The morning started with a frozen mocha and doughnuts. Personally, I think that’s a great way to kick off the last day of the work week.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that I appreciate good customer service. A few months ago, I signed up for a digital subscription to a model railroading magazine. One of the features that swayed my decision was the ability to download issues of the magazine. Win. Win.

Or so I thought until I actually tried to download an issue.

It turns out that the third-party company who distributes the digital copy uses Google Gears as their medium. Gears is being deprecated next year. So, I emailed the third-party and received the following a week later:

[THIRD PARTY] is aware that Google Gears is no longer supported by Google.  The publisher, however, at this time  has not yet opted to include the optional pdf downloadable version.

Well, okay then. And then I promptly forgot about it…

…until I got a notification that the new issue of the magazine was available. This time, I emailed the magazine directly — the subscription manager… and the editor-in-chief… and the publisher — with my question. Barely 24 hours later, I got a response from the magazine’s publisher:

The Firefox/Google Gears issue is relatively new. We have been waiting to see if [THIRD PARTY] develops an alternative solution. If they do not, we may have to offer a PDF download.

Okay. That’s all well and good, but doesn’t really give me much to go on. Still, I replied. I noted that I appreciated that the publisher took time to personally respond and that I hoped that they found a reasonable substitute for their current digital model. A few hours later, I received another response:


A couple of things…

First off, “Mr. Melvin” was my father. No need to be that formal with me.

Secondly, thanks for the kind words about the magazine. I’m glad you are enjoying our work.

We’ll make an announcement about the download problem soon.

And it was sent, as best I can figure, from his home – not his office. Nice. And it seemed to indicate that the digital download issue would be addressed with a little more urgency than “…we’re just waiting to see what happens.” I can live with that.

Stray Toasters


Tuesday (or something quite like it)

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Tuesday (or something quite like it)

Tuesday – 11 October 2011 (or: 11-10-11)
It’s been an intermittently sunny and rainy day today. But, it’s been a good day, nevertheless.

I woke up this morning, for some reason, thinking about Charlie Chan. It may have had something to do with thinking about the twins and mentally referring to them as “Number One Daughter” and “Number Two Daughter.” Who knows. Regardless, I wound up at Charlie Chan. And from there, it was only a small jump to The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan. And with that, the theme started running through my head while I was shaving:

Last night, SaraRules! had a Mom’s Night Out and attended Utah Opera’s performance of Fidelio, which opened last week to many positive reviews. Angy and were kind enough to come over and watch the girls – and Monday Night Football – with me, while SaraRules! was away. The girls were well-behaved… after all, they had no lack of attention… but, did their damnedest to avoid entering The Dreaming. Little Miss Diana was still fighting sleep – hard – by the time that SaraRules! got home; but there also seemed to be a look of “See, Mommy… I stayed awake until you got home!” on her face, too. And it still took her a while to nod off.

So far, the work day has been decent. I finally had a chat with someone from building management – which I’ve been waiting for since about 10 AM this morning – about a cooling issue in our space. We want to try changing a couple of things; they’re amenable to the idea. We’ll see how things shake out.

Stray Toasters


“Neat, sweet, a groovy song… You’re invited, come along! Hurry, hurry!”

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Friday – 07 October 2011
It’s a chilly 9/80 “on” Friday. It’s also Ms. ‘s birthday.

It is also our Little Miss Wonder Girl’s one-month-day.


Last night, Diana, Vanessa and I undertook a new nighttime ritual last night — Bath time! The girls received baby bathtubs as shower gifts and since the last remnants of their umbilicals have fallen off, they are now able to use them. They were a little fussy – which was quite understandable – but on the whole did just fine.

After their baths, SaraRules! read them Goodnight, Moon before feeding them and putting them to bed.

Stray Toasters


“I don’t need no one to tell me about Heaven…”

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Sunday – 25 September 2011
On Friday night, SaraRules! and I did something that we haven’t been able to do in almost three weeks: Sit down, have dinner and watch a full hour of a TV program. It was a very nice slice of “Life will be like this again, someday.” That said, I wouldn’t give up parenthood – sleepless nights and all – for anything.

I slept in yesterday morning. It was both lovely and necessary, as I didn’t get a lot of sleep Thursday night and Friday night’s sleep was somewhat disrupted by making sure that a stuffed-up little girl could get comfortable and get some sleep herself. So, sleeping until 10:00 was a lovely thing. In the afternoon, we took the girls on their first trips to The Garden of Sweden and In-N-Out Burger. They handled it with their usual aplomb.

Two-and-a-half weeks. Wow.  And, how would I sum up my feelings about the twins? Probably a little like this:

Yeah, like that.

Stray Toasters


While I have a quiet moment or two…

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While I have a quiet moment or two...

Monday – 12 September 2011
The last five days have been something of a rollercoaster… but it’s been a great ride. “Schedule” is not a word in the girls’ vocabulary. (Okay, I’ll be honest: They don’t really have a vocabulary yet, but you get the gist.) We came home on Friday… which was funny because for a while I wasn’t sure what day it was. Time took on its own shape and form. Saturday and Sunday were a bit blurry/hazy, in getting adjusted to having the girls around. Between naps and diaper changes and feedings (we’re supplementing with formula for a bit), I was able to catch a little bit of the Steelers-Ravens game yesterday.

I’d like to give a hearty “Thank you” to everyone who has sent well-wishes and congratulations to the new additions to the family. Your support has been great and very welcome — we are very blessed and fortunate to have such good family and friends.

And, an extra special tip of the hat and wave of the cane to SaraRules!’ parents for coming over a couple of times this weekend to give us a little boost.

Twins. Wow.

Stray Toasters
Just a couple of amusing things I’ve seen in the past few days, when I’ve had a moment to peruse the interwebs…

Okay, that’s it for now.


“Movin’ to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches…”

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"Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches..."

Thursday – 28 July 2011
Another NBN Thursday dawns. So far, it’s sunny and clear; it would be nice if it would stay that way, but we apparently have a chance of seeing showers again this afternoon. (This is the high desert, right…?)

This morning was definitely a “Waking up and getting up has never been easy…” kind of morning. Despite that, I still managed to get into the office by 7:45. I also decided that today was a suit day: Black suit, white shirt (with Green Lantern cuff links), black loafers, green/grey/white tie and white pocket square.

It’s also going to be a rather long day, as there are both a doctor’s appointment and (the last) childbirth class on the agenda before I go home.

Last night, SaraRules! and I went out for dinner at Pawit’s Royale Thai Cuisine. (If she’s been “craving” anything during her pregnancy, it’s been a once-a-week helping of Thai food. I’m quite alright with that.) The food was good and the restaurant was surprisingly busy for a Wednesday night. After dinner, I decided to mow the lawn. It seems as though the new sprinkler heads are bringing some of the dry/dead spots back to life. I consider this a “good” thing. After a little post-mowing cool down time, we assembled one of the cribs. It went together fairly well and easily. The allen wrench that was included wasn’t of the best design; so I switched over to using my drill towards the end of things. Mmm, power tools.

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“When Captain America throws his mighty shield…”

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"When Captain America throws his mighty shield..."

Thursday – 21 July 2011
This NBN Technical Friday is a bright, sunny day with blue skies and no clouds.

Last night, SaraRules! and I went to a screening of Captain America: The First Avenger, thanks to Jeff and Jimmy at Big Movie Mouth-Off and about 20 of my friends, who helped me win tickets.

Where some directors might have a problem making a solid comic book adaptation or a period piece, Joe Johnston has successfully crafted a movie that works not only as a big-screen comic book movie AND a period piece, but also as a lighter World War II fare. The only thing that our screening didn’t have was the post-movie teaser clip for The Avengers. (Thank God for YouTube…)

Sidenote: I just noted that Mr. Johnston also directed a few other movies of which I am fond:

I also find it somewhat amusing that it’s been 20 years between his forays into comics-related fare.

Chris Evans did a fine job as Steve Rogers, a young man looking for a chance to serve his country, but unable to do so because of his frail constitution. When given a chance to join the military, he finds that it’s not the role he wanted or expected… but that doesn’t stop him. Nor does it keep him from becoming the soldier — not just “super-soldier” — that he hoped to be.  Stanley Tucci‘s turn as Dr. Erskine – who developed the super-soldier formula – was also quite good. He came across as a man who, like Steve Rogers, understood the difference between doing something because you can and doing something because it’s right. Hayley Atwell was a good choice for Agent Peggy Carter, the romantic interest. Most importantly, she wasn’t relegated to a “damsel in distress” role; Agent Carter was as much in the thick of things as any of her male counterparts. In a bit of a surprise to me, Tommy Lee Jones‘ Colonel Phillips was in more of the film than I expected. And I enjoyed every bit of screen time that he had. And Hugo Weaving was an excellent choice as Johann Schmidt/The Red Skull. He made a believable adversary, mixing the right amounts of ego and megalomania.

This is a fun bit of summer cinema, with a little something for everyone. The movie apparently earned its PG-13 rating for one scene —  an action/violence issue, rather than a language or nudity issue. With this movie, Marvel Entertainment – and Disney, by extension – has hit the proverbial trifecta, with respect to comic book movies this summer, in the releases of Thor, X-Men: First Class and Captain America.

(Yeah, I could have used LEGO bricks for this, but… I liked this better.)

See Also: Captain America’s cinematic comeback, from USA Today and Comics, Everybody: The History of Captain America Explained, from Comics Alliance.

Groove. Boogie. Sway.
Today’s musical oleo has included:

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“Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done…”

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"Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done..."

Friday – 15 July 2011
Another 9/80 “on” Friday in the valley. I’m in the office, with a frozen mocha, a couple of doughnuts and Weapon of Choice on iTunes. I’m at work, but it doesn’t totally suck… and I’m okay with that.

Last night, SaraRules! and I had another childbirth class. One of the things we learned about was breathing techniques. I was (somewhat) able to control my laughter when this came up, because I couldn’t get Bill Cosby’s routine about childbirth out of my head:

There was another part of the class where our instructor talked about methods to help induce labor. At one point she said “Jumping on a tramp.”  Logically, I know that she meant “jumping on a trampoline,” but in my head I got a F*ck Yeah Headlines-like image of a pregnant woman jumping up and down on the back of a vagrant. Again, I managed to stifle (most of) my laughter.

After we got home, SaraRules! and I also started filling out some sections of the babies’… er… baby books. We went with the Guess How Much I Love You: My Baby Book for both kids. We are jointly filling in pages, so there’s uniformity between the books.

Groove. Boogie. Sway.
This morning’s musical selections have been good:

Well done, iTunes. Well done indeed.

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“There’ll be blue skies over Dundalk when I break your heart…”

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"There'll be blue skies over Dundalk when I break your heart..."

Monday – 27 June 2011
Another work week begins… as June draws to a close. Where does the time go? It seems as though June just started.

This was a good and rather busy weekend. And, it was productive, to boot: The yard has been mowed and edged. Another of the great wild shrubberies in the front yard has been introduced to the Sawzall. I have become a fan of the pruning blades for the Sawzall, might I add. And, the consolidation of SaraRules!’ and my offices has begun.

We also managed to hit the Utah Arts Festival; we went on Saturday, with our friend, Jana. The weather was quite nice and perfect for an afternoon in the sun. I picked up a few railroad-related prints while there. Imagine that. And, I also managed to come home with a half-pound of cinnamon-roasted almonds.

Yesterday was a somewhat l0w-key day. We went to the Wasatch Front Farmers Market in the morning. We ran into my friend, Peggy, and her family, which was a rather unexpected but pleasant surprise. We also made a pilgrimage to the Garden of Sweden. And had dinner with the in-laws.

Friday, I made it to the gym.  I think that I remember what I did…

  • Elliptical: 20 minutes, 1.9 miles (I averaged somewhere between 5.5 and 6.0 MPH)
  • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 155 lbs
  • Curls (dumbbell, seated): 3 sets/10 reps, 25 lbs
  • Lat Pull-downs: 3 sets/10 reps, 100 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
  • Calf Raises: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs

My left calf is still a bit sore. It’s made going up and down steps… fun… over the weekend.

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