Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Enter: October

art, books, comics and animation, event, everyday glory, games, geekery, kids, LEGO and Rokenbok No Comments »
Enter: October

Sunday – 01 October 2017
And, so, we come to Birthday Month…

So far, it’s been pretty good. Chilly, but good. Of course, any month that starts off with sleeping in can’t be all bad.

Today was a low-key, mostly spent-at-home kind of day. After the hullaballoo of last week, it wasn’t a terrible change of pace. Of course, being at home meant that (some) chores had to be tackled. Some were. The world didn’t stop spinning. This afternoon, Team DiVa and I jetted off to the mall for an errand (for me) and some walking around looking at things time (for the three of us) and a little play time at The LEGO Store (for them… mostly). All missions were accomplished nicely. The evening has been pretty quiet. I consider that a good way to end the day and start the week.

Stray Toasters

  • Earlier, I posted my first-ever submission for Inktober. I haven’t really drawn anything in months and haven’t seriously drawn anything in years. This should be fun.
  • Last night, we had our final session of the Shadowrun adventure my group’s been playing. The whole team survived; that’s a good thing. (For them.) I’d been co-GMing our group with my friend, Josh. He’s bowing out of running things and it seems that I’m going to be GMing the whole shebang from here on out. May the deity of my players’ choices have mercy on their souls…
  • I completely spaced off a few things in my recap of Salt Lake Comic Con ’17:
    • I got to meet Michael Stackpole and have him autograph a book I’ve had for many years.
    • I also met Yale Stewart, writer and author of JL8, a webcomic based on the Justice League… as grade-schoolers.
  • I know it’s probably going to get nerfed, but I love what the latest Overwatch update has done for Mercy (my main).
  • Two or so months ago, I discovered a new-to-me webcomic: Star Power. I’ve quite enjoyed it.
  • I’m still rather amused by how Team DiVa has taken to DuckTales – both the old and new series.
    • I think that we’re only a few episodes away from seeing my favorite Duckberg denizen: GizmoDuck!

Okay, time for  a snack and a little gaming before bed.

Namaste.

Independence Day 2017

dining and cuisine, event, everyday glory, family and friends, kids No Comments »
Independence Day 2017

Tuesday – 04 July 2016
Today is Independence Day.

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable holiday.

Once again, Sara and I decided to go the “find a hotel overlooking a fireworks display” route. She tracked down a few potential locations last week and came up with a winner in North Salt Lake – which, for those of you not in Salt Lake City isn’t simply “the northern part of Salt Lake City;” it’s its own independent city. Go figure.

We picked up the ladies from summer daycare yesterday and we were off…

We went to Bountiful Greek Cafe for dinner (site of an EPIC meltdown on the part of one of the ladies) and then to Bahama Buck’s for sno cone desserts.

 

Then it was off to the hotel… which was just down the street. We got to the room and Sara surprised the girls by announcing that we were going swimming. (There were a couple of stunned little faces who thought the idea of swimming was good… but didn’t know what they would swim in, as they didn’t know that Sara had packed their swimsuits.) Off to the pool!

I’m sorry. That should have read “pool… and James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub.” From there, it was back to the room to get the girls cleaned up and mostly ready for bed. An hour or so later, the fireworks display started; this year’s fireworks were over a golf course in North Salt Lake and we had a great view. The show lasted about 30 minutes and was better than Sara and I had anticipated.

This morning, we got up – “a bit” earlier than Sara and I had hoped – got ready, checked out, and went breakfast at a nearby IHoP. After breakfast, we dropped in on Sara’s parents for a few, to say “Goodbye” to Sara’s sister, Melissa, who was in town for the weekend. We followed that up with a trip to a park near our house, so the girls could teach us how to play “Double Dots,” a game they’ve been raving about for the past week or so. They did. (Sara and I won. Surprise!) The girls played a bit more before it was time to come home and have lunch and some quiet time. We also celebrated our freedom to make a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden in the late afternoon. We wrapped up the day with some grilling, a DC Superhero Girls movie, and sparklers.

All told, it was a great way to spend a family holiday.

Father’s Day: Coda

comics and animation, event, everyday glory, family and friends No Comments »

Sunday – 18 June 2017
Today has been a great day.

Sara and Team DiVa let me sleep in this morning. Since I was gone – and on the go – all last week, this was a boon. DiVa wanted to give me breakfast in bed, but Sara prepared French Toast and I’m not so sure that would have been such a great idea. So, we all ate at the table. The ladies presented me with cards and a gift bag. In the bag:

Superhero-themed Father’s Day swag: Superman t-shirt, Guardians of the Galaxy boxer-briefs, DC Super Hero LEGO, Reese’s Minis, and a hand-painted picture from Team DiVa

They know me so well.  🙂

After breakfast, Team DiVa came up with all sorts of suggestions… of things they wanted to do today. Sara reminded them that today was Father’s Day and that I got to choose what our adventure would be. To be honest, I didn’t really have an agenda for the day, so I was happy to do something they wanted. Thus, we wound up at Utah’s Hogle Zoo. On the way, we stopped off to wish Sara’s father a Happy Father’s Day and give him his gift and card. Then we were off.

The zoo has a new exhibit called “Bugzilla,” comprised of large – giant, really – animated insect statues.

There be bugs here…

 

 

Team DiVa and me… and an elephant statue.

 

On the Hogle Zoo Train… because TRAIN! 😀

 

Selfie with Sara!

 

After we returned home, the little ladies played Disney Infinity while I read last week’s comics. Then it was time for dinner – Butter Chicken Curry! – and baths for the little ones. They followed that up with an episode of Super Hero Squad and then they were off to bed. Sara asked what I was planning for the rest of the evening, before noting that I could wind up my day with a cigar and a cocktail… and that’s exactly what I did.

It was the perfect way to end an excellent day.

Selah.

Happy birthday, Mom!

event, everyday glory, family and friends No Comments »

Wednesday – 07 June 2017
It’s my mother’s birthday.  She’s kind of a big deal.  🙂

I spoke with her this morning, but would like to wish her the best of all possible birthdays (again!) and hope that she takes advantage of the opportunity to do – or not do – whatever she wishes today!

Love you!

Love you!

Happy Green Lantern Day (or, that day about that one guy…)

comics and animation, event, everyday glory, geekery, toys No Comments »
Happy Green Lantern Day (or, that day about that one guy...)

Friday – 17 March 2017
There are a lot of good things about today:

  • It’s Friday. That, in and of itself, is a great thing.
  • Salt Lake Comic Con FanX kicks off today.
  • The sun is out (at least it is in SLC).

But, far more importantly, it’s the second most important day in March (third, depending on when Easter falls): Green Lantern Day!

On Greenest Day…

Of course, there are those (uncreative types, I’d say) who would say that it’s simply “St. Patrick’s Day.” And that’s fine; I’m alright with sharing the day.

Whatever you’re celebrating, I hope that your day is fantastic!

Namaste.

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

books, event, everyday glory, food for thought, history, kids No Comments »
“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…”

basketball, books, comics and animation, event, everyday glory, food for thought, geekery, kids, LEGO and Rokenbok, music, trains/model railroads, travel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
"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

Merry Christmas!

event, everyday glory, family and friends No Comments »
Merry Christmas!

Sunday – 25 December 2016

Christmas 2016

 

Wishing you all the best this holiday season!

May your Christmas be merry, your Kwanzaa be joyous, and your Hannukah and New Year be happy!

 

Veteran’s Day 2016

event, everyday glory, food for thought, history No Comments »
Veteran's Day 2016

Friday – 11 November 2016
Today is Veteran’s Day.

veterans_day_poster

 

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. 

On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [November 11, 1918] should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations” and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of Armistice Day. By that time, 27 state legislatures had made November 11 a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made November 11 a legal Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’”

American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In the United States, an official wreath-laying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American servicemembers who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

excerpted from History.com

I would like to take a moment to thank all of those – and especially my family, friends, and extended family – who served our country, both in peace and in wartime. I appreciate your sacrifices so that I can live in a country where I can reap the benefits of the freedom for which you fought.

I would also like to leave you with this article, first printed in Esquire in 2010: The Things That Carried Him.

 

Namaste.

Life, in a Nutshell

art, baseball, business and economy, education, event, everyday glory, family and friends, games, geekery, movies and TV, music, notable, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
Life, in a Nutshell

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

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

Breakfast with the Leventhals

Breakfast with the Leventhals

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

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

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

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

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

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Memory Dump

comics and animation, computers, engagement/wedding/marriage, event, everyday glory, family and friends, geekery, LEGO and Rokenbok, movies and TV, music, toys, travel No Comments »
Memory Dump

Wednesday – 12 October 2016
Stuff and things and whatnot.

Namaste.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

Team DiVa continues to astound and entertain me.

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

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

September 11th: Fifteen Years

event, everyday glory, food for thought, history No Comments »
September 11th: Fifteen Years

Sunday – 11 September 2016
Today marks the fifteen years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as the downing of a plane in Shanksville, PA. (Last year’s post)

Please remember those who died, both in the attack and those who gave their lives trying to rescue/save those in the affected areas.

911IntroGraphic
September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance

Namaste.

Hell: The Musical

art, event, everyday glory, faith and religion, geekery, travel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
Hell: The Musical

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

Okay, that’s not entirely true.

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

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

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

Guan Yu - photo (c) CCTV News China

Guan Yu – photo (c) CCTV News China

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

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

 

It proceeded to go downhill from there. Rapidly.

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

Big Butter Jesus - photo (c) The Huffington Post

Big Butter Jesus – photo (c) The Huffington Post

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

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

Namaste.

Independence Day 2016

event, everyday glory, family and friends, geekery, history No Comments »
Independence Day 2016

Monday – 04 July 2016
Today is Independence Day. I hope that everyone has a safe and fun holiday.

Greetings from Paragon City…

A couple weeks ago, I suggested to Sara! that we find a hotel overlooking a site with a fireworks display. That way, we could let the ladies stay up late and watch fireworks, but also not have to fight crowds trying to exit the venue. Win-Win. After doing some searching, I noted that most places around here are doing fireworks tonight… but we wanted to be able to find something that would allow Team DiVa to see them without creating tiny monsters who refuse to wake up tomorrow for school.

Saturday morning, Sara learned that Rocky Mountain Raceway was having a post-race fireworks show. She also found a hotel about a mile (as the crow flies) from the racetrack. We called, learned that they had vacancies, and booked a room. What we did not do was tell the girls about it. Instead, we went about our previously-scheduled plans, which included spending the afternoon with friends and their kids. As we were leaving, we told the girls about a “special adventure” that we were going to take that evening. This piqued their curiosity. They were quite pleased to find out that we were going out – and that they could stay up late – to watch fireworks. We threw essentials into a bag and headed out.

The hotel is not terribly far from where I work (and even closer to some places I go for lunch). We got there, got checked in, and headed to our room. The view couldn’t have been better: We were on the top floor, facing the direction of the racetrack. As an added surprise, I went out and picked up some popcorn from the nearby movie theatre, as a fireworks-watching snack. Another win. The girls impatiently watched cartoons while waiting for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to begin. I was a little worried that they might not make it, as they’d had a rather long day. My concerns were totally unfounded; they were amped. The display started a couple minutes past 10 PM and lasted for nearly half an hour. The girls “oohed” and “aahed” and commented on how pretty the various explosions were. And, to their credit, after it was all said and done, went to sleep rather quickly. Hallelujah.

The next morning, I asked the girl if it was a fun surprise. They enthusiastically agreed that it was.

Family adventure win.

 

 

Father’s Day 2016

event, everyday glory, family and friends No Comments »
Father's Day 2016

Sunday – 19 June 2016
Today is Father’s Day.

I hope that all of the fathers – whether by biology, marriage, or just inspiration – or the mothers who are filling the void for fathers who are absent (for any reason) have a fantastic day with those you love and who love you in return.

While I’m looking forward to spending the day with these little ladies…

Team DiVa at Cascade Springs

Team DiVa at Cascade Springs

…I’m also looking forward to talking with my father…

Just a couple of Roberts...

Just a couple of Roberts

…and with my stepfather…

Jay and Rob

Jay and Rob

…and my father-in-law.

Steve and Sara

Steve and Sara

Parenthood isn’t easy, but the kids who look up to and love us make it worth it… despite all of the times we might think otherwise.

Namaste.