Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

This is only a test

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Wednesday – 22 March 2017
Testing out connectivity between WordPress, JetPack, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

Nothing to see here, Citizen. Move along.

This is me, (more than) slightly annoyed.

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This is me, (more than) slightly annoyed.

Tuesday – 21 March 2017
This entry can be filed under “Some People’s Children…”

While doing renovations last year, our company added a cafeteria to our facility. The company that ran it couldn’t always keep up with the demand, so they are no longer here. Yes, this means that we have a largely unused space, but that’s another story.

Our Facilities Manager has done an outstanding job of coordinating with a number of local food trucks to have them fill the void. Today, we had a new-to-our-location truck, Bandera Brisket. They had walk-ups not only from our company, but from some of the other firms in the building, as well.  They didn’t know what the turnout would be, so they didn’t come loaded for bear. And they got SLAMMED. They showed up a little before 11:00 AM and, by the time I went out (12:20 PM-ish), they were out of many meats and some sides; I was the 5th or 6th person in line when they announced this.

The guy in front of me turned to me started complaining about “I came out here for brisket, but if it’s all gone before I get there, I’m going to be upset.”

SIDEBAR:
I understand having your heart, mind and taste buds all set for “Food X.” Been there, done that. I also understand that if you wait too long to go and get something, you might find that it’s already gone.

After the people in front of us were gone, he went up to the window and asked whether there was brisket. There was about 1/3 lb, which he got…
AND THEN proceeded to go on a diatribe about “If there hadn’t been any left, and he’d wasted his lunch time waiting for nothing, that he’d be mad…” Blah. Blah. Blah.

Let’s set the record straight on a few things:

  1. There is no requirement for us to have food trucks here.
  2. There is no requirement stating that you have to eat at the food truck, if one is here.
  3. The vendors didn’t know what to expect and it would have been foolish for them to come out here – for their first time – with a truck full of meat that didn’t sell.
  4. Put on your big boy pants and be happy that you have SOMETHING/ANYTHING to eat. Find a meat, ask them to cook it, pay for it, move on.

To me, these things all seem like easy concepts to grasp.
Maybe it’s me.
Maybe it’s Maybelline.

Either way, this comes under #firstworldproblems and it annoyed annoys me.

 

And, in the interest of full disclosure: I wanted brisket. I wound up getting their ribs – with a savory dry rub – and they were delicious.

Okay, rant over. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Tuesday.

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

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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.

Politically incorrect… or terminally awesome?

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Politically incorrect... or terminally awesome?

Thursday – 16 March 2017
Another Thursday begins here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Don’t nobody bring me…

Let the word go forth.

A month or so ago, I was introduced to a lovely/horrible game (read: “time sink”) called GeoGuessr by my friend, Denise. (Not sure whether to give her credit or blame for this…) Do you like pictures? Do you like maps? Do you like figuring out where on a map a picture is from? This is the game for you.

Thanks to this game, I have now discovered a place, in The Phillipines, where I either want to be buried or have my ashes spread:

C’mon, with a name like this, who wouldn’t want to be buried/have their ashes spread here!? No one. Well, maybe not “alt-right” supremecists, but that’s a discussion for another time and forum.

I think that the only thing that could possibly be better would be to either be buried with these or figure out a way to make them work with cremation/ash spreading:

I found them in a grocery store in southern Utah many years ago. Apparently, they still make me laugh.

Namaste.

New Friday Thing

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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.

I don’t have enough expletives for this day…

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I don't have enough expletives for this day...

Friday – 03 March 2017
I will preface this with a deep cleansing breath and by repeating “I love my job…”

Current mood:

I’m going slightly mad…

I received an email from a co-worker this morning that the thermostat in our server room was beeping. That’s our warning that there’s something “not so right” with the cooling in there. Oddly, we didn’t hear anything from our monitoring company – granted, we might not have hit the temperature threshold for them to start freaking out and calling us.

I called our HVAC maintenance company, informed them what was going on and asked to have someone dispatched. The two usual technicians were already out on calls, but there was another tech who was available and would head out. He got to the office before I arrived. He has (theoretically) been working on the system for the better part of the day.

I went looking for him about 30 minutes ago, to get an idea of an ETA for completion.  He was coming down the hall, another tech with him. His response:

“Four to five hours. I haven’t even [taken] that part out yet.”

My jaw almost hit the floor. Four to five HOURS.

I know that he needed to flush some gases from the system before he could get that part out and possibly even get the replacement part(s), but I don’t know that it takes almost EIGHT HOURS to do that.

So, I guess I’ll just… be here… on a Friday night… working… while he gets this completed.

Yay.

Catching up.

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Catching up.

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

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

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

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

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

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

*grblsnrkx*

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

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

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

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

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

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

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

Namaste.

Stuck On Stupid

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Stuck On Stupid

Thursday – 09 February 2017
I work in IT.

Granted it might not as grand an opening statement as ReBoot‘s “I come from the Net…,” but it  gets the point across.

I’ve been working on a server chassis and its resident blade servers for a while, getting it ready to move into production. I’ve been using wired keyboards and mice as the user interface. A week ago, I decided to bring one of my wireless keyboards from home – the keyboard has a built-in mouse and the space where I’m working on the chassis doesn’t have a lot of real estate that’s conducive to rolling a mouse around.

I brought the keyboard in last week and showed it to a coworker. It was at that point that I noticed the wireless dongle wasn’t in its storage slot in the battery compartment.

See that empty spot, just to the left of the left battery…?

I’ve spent the past week looking for it  – at the office, at our manufacturing facility, at home. No dice. This morning, I emptied out my work laptop case to make sure that it hadn’t somehow fallen into one of the pockets. I didn’t find the dongle, but I did find my library card, my membership card to Red Butte Garden, and a few other things. (Not really sure why I put them in my work bag…)

On a lark, I looked in the battery compartment again. You know, in case it had magically reappeared. Because that happens so often…

Still no dongle.

HOWEVER…

When I looked at the cover to the battery compartment

Oh, look.

Dongle. Clipped safely into the slot that holds it in place.

*braincramp*

That’s right, it’s been right there…for the past week. This includes the, at least, five times that I’ve had the keyboard in my hands and the at least three times that I’ve opened the battery compartment. Yet, I never thought to look at the cover. Despite the fact that at some level I knew that’s where it was supposed to be.

Super. Genius.

Saturday Night Musings

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Saturday Night Musings

Saturday – 28 January 2017
Happy Chinese New Year!

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

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

Stray Toasters

And that’s all for now.

Namaste.

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

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“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…”

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"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

Excerpt: Life with Team DiVa

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Excerpt: Life with Team DiVa

Friday – 06 January 2017
Not that this really comes as a surprise to anyone, but I love my kids.

Taking over one of my coworker’s desk…

Last night, after nearly freezing to death in the arctic tundra snowblowing the driveway and sidewalks, I talked with Team DiVa about their day and school and if they had any homework. “Fine.” “Good.” “This friend…” “We read…” You get the idea.

As they were getting ready to do their reading – and it still kind of blows my mind at how well both of them are reading – Vanessa commented that she couldn’t find one of her homework sheets. Being kids and not always the most keen detectives, I asked her had she looked in a couple of places: her backpack, the living room, the dining room. She said that she had and still couldn’t find it.

::: face begins contorting into a mask of despair :::

I told her that I’d help her look, and I did. And, she was right: Nowhere to be found. For the sake of clarity on my part, I juxtaposed Vanessa’s homework sheets with Diana’s. Lo and behold, Vanessa was missing one. Well, damn.

* cue: “MY WORLD IS ENDING” crying jag *

I looked at the sheet in question and had a minor epiphany. I told Vanessa not to worry, we’d make sure that she had her homework. I took a couple pictures of Diana’s homework, then I headed downstairs. I fired up PhotoShop and imported the pictures, did some (rough and crude) edits to remove Diana’s answers, and printed the pages. Triumphant, I returned upstairs!

Vanessa looked at the sheets, looked up, and said – as only a kid could or would: “The sheets aren’t supposed to be purple!” (Because I didn’t worry about color-correcting the pictures, there was a bit of purple tint to one of the pages.) This, too, almost led to tears. Sara and I assured her that her teacher would still accept i – even if it was the “wrong” color – she just needed to do the work.

Begrudgingly, she accepted this answer and did her homework… but she still had doubts that we actually knew what we were talking about.

Kids. Go figure.

 

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

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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.

Merry Christmas!

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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!

 

“In brightest day, in blackest night…”

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"In brightest day, in blackest night..."

Friday – 23 December 2016
There are many things that make for a “good day.” The fact that today is Christmas Eve Eve is one. The fact that our office is closed – meaning a long weekend – is another. Other things include, but are not limited to:

  • Coffee. (If I have to explain this one, we may need to reevaluate our friendship…)
    • Making a new #morningcoffee post with The Incredibles.
  • Sleeping in – technically “going back to bed after Sara and Team DiVa headed out for the day,” but you get the gist.
  • Chatting with friends and family.
  • Reading comics.

I’ll even throw “going to the gym” (happening shortly) in there, too.

But, one of the other things that made to day really stand out was receiving an email. More specifically, receiving an email saying that I was having a package delivered. After all, who doesn’t like getting packages? And, especially at Christmastime? Turns out the package was from Sideshow Collectibles. Let me backtrack a bit…

::: Scooby Doo flashback wavy lines :::

Last month, Sideshow tweeted about a contest they were having:

Seemed simple and reasonable enough: Make a board, throw pins on it, hope to win something. And that’s exactly what I did – I selected nineteen figures and statues and cast my lot to the wind. Granted, they have “a few thousand” followers on Pinterest, so I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it. Fast forward last Friday, I received this message

Hi Rob! We’d like to fulfill your wish for a Green Lantern Sixth Scale figure. Email [redacted] to claim your wish. Happy holidays!

Anyone who has known me for more than about six minutes knows that I’m “a bit” of a Green Lantern fan. Sure, I’m more John Stewart than Hal Jordan these days, but Hal is the GL I grew up with and I have absolutely nothing against him. And there’s that whole “gift horses” thing, too.

I replied to the message and waited. There was a snafu with email, checking to find out what information they needed to ship it, which wasn’t resolved until earlier this week. Given that and knowing what I do about shipping packages around the holidays, I wasn’t sure when it would show up.

::: end flashback :::

A little after 11:30, the doorbell rang. It was my friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man UPS driver. Lo and behold, he had the box from Sideshow. I grinned like a fiend, signed, and thanked him. (I do not recall if there was a “My precious….” in there or not. I hope not, as that would be more-than-slightly embarrassing…) I brought the box downstairs, opened it, and this is what was inside:

Let’s just say that my day and Christmas weekend has gotten off to a great start and many thanks to Sideshow Collectibles.

Okay, enough lollygagging. Time to get right on to the friction of the day…

Namaste.