Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Friday free-for-all…

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Friday free-for-all...

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

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

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

Diana (l) and Vanessa

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

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

Stray Toasters

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


It’s Tuesday, but this still isn’t Belgium.

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It's Tuesday, but this still isn't Belgium.

Tuesday – 15 May 2012
Huh.  It’s been a week since my last post. And there have been goings-on… which is to be somewhat expected, as seven days have gone by.

The biggest happening is: I resigned last week. And it was good. I’m going to miss the people. (And possibly the view from my window, but they are looking at moving fairly soon, so the view was going away anyway.)

The next biggest happening was that Sunday was Mother’s Day. More specifically, it was SaraRules!’ first chance to celebrate Mother’s Day as a mother.

We had a fairly quiet morning at home, and then dropped the girls off at the in-laws’ while SaraRules! and I went to the Utah Opera performance of Of Mice and Men. It was my third American opera; I was cautiously optimistic, as I was one-and-one on American opera to this point. My optimism was rewarded. I enjoyed the performance.

And, just in case you needed more Team DiVa cuteness:

Stray Toasters



Tuesday stuff and things

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Tuesday stuff and things

Tuesday – 08 May 2012
It’s Tuesday.

Yesterday was Diana’s 8-month-birthday; today is Vanessa’s:

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Today is also my stepmother and brother’s birthday:

And, it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week.

This past weekend was a busy one. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t also fun, but it was definitely busy. I could have used another day to recuperate. Or something like that.

Friday, I had hoped to get a chance to nap while the girls were having their post-lunch siesta, but that didn’t come to pass… mostly because they didn’t take naps. So, when I went back to work, I was tired. After returning home from work, I was still tired. The evening was rather low-key, spent mostly Fringe and helping SaraRules! make superhero onesies for the twins:

She had already made the GL one, but has asked my help in getting the emblems for Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash. I thought – briefly – about trying to hand-draw them. Then I had a minor epiphany: I could use my Silhouette to cut the shapes. I downloaded images of each emblem, imported them into Silhouette Studio and did a test cut. They came out better than I had expected. So, we were ready to do the cuts on the masking paper. The picture above shows how they turned out.

Saturday, SaraRules! had brunch with her friend, Sara(NotSaraRules!), so I got to spend a couple of solo hours with Team DiVa. After SaraRules! and Sara(NotSaraRules!) returned, I got ready to head to Dr. Volt’s for Free Comic Book Day. At The Avengers premiere, I made an agreement with Dave (the owner of Dr. Volt’s) that if he came to FCBD as Dr. Who – Matt Smith version, with fez! – that I would come as Green Lantern. So, when I showed up at the store like this:

Dave gave me a bit of flak. Until I turned down the collar of my shirt to reveal the GL costume underneath:

It was the first time that I’d gone to an FCBD event dressed in a costume… let alone two costumes… but it was made even more fun and worth it, because a few kids came up to me and asked if they could have pictures with me.

And remember those superhero onesies I mentioned? Well, the twins wore them to their first Free Comic Book Day:

Sunday, we met up with the Kelly clan for a picnic at Liberty Park.

The reason: Celebrating Logan’s graduation with his Doctorate in Pharmacy.  It was a little brisk if you weren’t in the sun, but it was an otherwise excellent day. And fun.

Monday was… Monday. (As Mondays are wont to be). It included quality time with SaraRules! and Team DiVa, which is never a bad thing. It also included a couple of changes to the status quo which should yield good things.  After the girls were asleep, SaraRules! and I wound down the evening with burgers that I cooked on the grill,  TopGear and Castle.

Stray Toasters


8:45 (Quarter to Nine)

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8:45  (Quarter to Nine)

Wednesday – 02 May 2012
‘Tis midweek once more.

Last night after dinner SaraRules! went to her book club and I hung out at home with the sleeping Team DiVa. By the time that I’d finally finished cleaning baby bottles and putting dishes in the dishwasher – after mostly chatting with friends online – SaraRules! came home. We watched the second part of the Hawaii Five-O/NCIS: Los Angeles crossover and then I played a little MW3 with a coworker.  All-in-all, a low-key evening.

|| PAUSE ||


She didn’t like being kept waiting. Yet, here she was. And here she’d been for ten minutes longer than she’d told herself that she would wait. She glanced at her watch. Again. Typical, she thought. She reached for her glass, turning it slowly on the coaster before bringing it to her lips. Five more minutes

She watched the other people in the r0om. There were a few couples, but mostly small groups. She also noted a few people obviously enjoying dinner at their company’s expense. None of her concern, really. It wasn’t her money, after all.

She glanced at the clock at the far end of the room. That’s it. She started pushing her chair back from the table as someone rushed past her in a flurry of arms, fabric and a hastily-spoken apology/excuse of some sort. She looked behind her, to see if the aisle was clear. Turning to her front, she saw that the chair across from her was no longer empty.

“Hi,” said the new arrival with a nonchalant grin. “Sorry I’m a little late.”

A little..?!  She stared back, impassive. “We agreed on 8:30.”

“True. True. But, you’re still here. And I’m here now.” He turned up the grin a little.

“Yes, you are. But, unfortunately, you are late. And I am leaving. Good night.” She stood and began to turn.

“But… Okay. Fine. I’m late.” He lowered his voice, “But, you still need someone… to get something… from somewhere.” He punctuated his statement with air quotes. A touch archaic – and definitely melodramatic – but he found himself in a playful mood. Sure this was business, but why shouldn’t he have a little fun, too?

She turned to face him. “I do. But you are no longer that someone. Once again, good night.” She walked towards the exit.

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters



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Monday – 30 April 2012
A new work week begins as April ends.

This morning, Diana decided to wake up around 5:30. I thought it somewhat odd, as she took fairly short naps yesterday and fell asleep fairly easily last night. While she’s been “inchworming” herself backwards for the past few weeks, she’s recently started rolling over in her sleep, from her back to her stomach. When she wakes, this distresses her for some reason. Usually, we can turn her back over and she’ll nod off again. But, sometimes – like this morning – the nodding off takes a while. (Fortunately, she’s pretty good about playing somewhat quietly in her crib.) Still… 5:30.

Meanwhile, Vanessa slept. Until a little after 7:00.

Vanessa (l) and Diana

That aside, this was a good – and busy – weekend. SaraRules’ sister, Meliko, came into town Thursday for Steve’s birthday.

Friday, we went to Pat’s Barbecue for lunch. It was quite good. (Typing that, I just realized that I have leftovers that would have been perfect for lunch today…) Then, it was home for the girls’ nap. Later in the day, we headed over to Steve and Bonne’s for dinner.

Friday evening, I swung by SteamHead Cafe for their grand opening. They had a great turnout. Some of the Clitorati group were there, so there were familiar faces, too.

Saturday was another busy day. I was set to judge the April “Infinity Gauntlet” ‘Clix tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. Or most of it, anyway. It turned out that I was double-booked: Red Butte Garden was having a Beginners Bonsai class that coincided with their Bonsai Show and competition (pictures) and I had signed up for the class. It was instructional and informative, but there was not a hands-on component.

By the time I got back to Dr. Volt’s they’d already finished the tournament. So, I headed home… just in time to watch Team DiVa, while SaraRules! fixed dinner.

Sunday, we got up and met the Kelly clan at Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast before Meliko had to leave. After breakfast, SaraRules! and I had planned a pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden, but we forgot that it didn’t open until noon. We got there just after 11 AM.

*shakes fist*

So, we took a leisurely drive around the valley and wound up at Pin-up Girl Espresso. We did make it to IKEA, after the girls’ lunch and all-too-brief naps. And then, up to the in-laws’ for dinner. I wound up the evening with episodes of Firefly, Young Justice and The Legend of Korra.

|| PAUSE ||

He stared at the twin vases on his desk. They were, generally speaking, rather non-descript. Glass. Round. Six inches tall. The only difference between them was that one was filled with glass beads, the other only had one.

“Twenty-nine,” he said to the empty room.

He’d been pondering this idea for a while, almost a month. He leaned forward, grabbing the nearly-empty vase, and turned it upside-down. The lone glass bead dropped to his desk. He watched as it wobbled and finally came to a rest. He reached forward, returning the empty vase to its home. He sat back in his chair, staring at the bead. Not surprisingly, the bead didn’t have much to say.

A lopsided grin crossed his lips. He batted the bead across the desktop a few times before picking it up. He stood and walked around to the front side of the desk. He dropped the bead into the full vase.


He inhaled deeply, turned and walked out the door.

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters


“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called ‘Life.'”

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"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called 'Life.'"

Wednesday – 25 April 2012
It’s the middle of the week… which means that it’s new comics day as well as Movie Date Night.

Last night, Matt, Dave, and I missed our usual Guys’ Night Out activities and, instead, went to see the Utah Jazz take on the Phoenix Suns in a game with major playoff implications: If the Jazz won, they would be in the playoffs. If they lost, Phoenix would have to lose their next game and the Jazz would have to win their next game.

Needless to say, there was a lot of anticipation about this game. What we didn’t know until we got to the Energy Solutions Arena was: Tip-off had been delayed from 7:00 to 8:30, for TNT’s broadcast coverage. On the other hand, this gave us plenty of time to get something to eat. We opted for Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana. And we finished it off with gelato from Capo Gelateria.

Meanwhile, back at the arena, we got to our seats and got ready for the game.

This was my first Jazz game in over 14 years; I haven’t been to one since before I moved out here. Seriously. And it was a great game to attend. The Jazz played well, except for late in the 3rd and early in the 4th quarters. But, they pulled it off with a 100-88 win, clinching a playoff berth.

It was a fun way to spend the evening and a great change of pace for Guys’ Night Out.

Stray Toasters


Almost done…

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Almost done...

Friday – 20 April 2012
It’s my “on” Friday. And, it’s also “4/20.” (Insert your own jokes here.)

Last night was my night to fix dinner. After wracking my brain over what to fix, I decided to head up to the local Whole Foods and see what they had in their meat counter. I returned home with four good-sized Parmesan Chicken breasts. While they were in the oven, I prepared some rice in chicken broth (and a little lemon pepper, for flavor). I added a salad for our vegetables and we called it a meal.

We watched Castle while we ate; it was a fun episode, with Nathan Fillion’s Firefly costar, Adam Baldwin, as a guest star. After dinner, I joined a couple of coworkers online and played a little MW3. And had my virtual ass handed to me. Repeatedly. But, it was still fun… despite the ego-bruising.

Stray Toasters


“It’s all been done before…”

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"It's all been done before..."

Friday – 06 April 2012
It’s not only my “on” Friday, but today is also Good Friday and, as of sunset, the beginning of Passover.

I also awoke to this:

Very funny, Mother Nature.  Ha. Ha.

Last night, I got home and received confirmation on something that I thought I noticed Wednesday night: Vanessa is cutting a tooth. The most unusual part of this: She’s made no overtures of being in pain or irritable. I can only hope that Diana will be as even-tempered about teething.

After the little ladies were down for the night, SaraRules! and I had dinner and finished off Season Three of Mad Men. I was surprised by a lot of the things that happened over the last few episodes, especially when  [REDACTED]. After Mad Men, I played a little Call of Duty with friends. I had a couple of mediocre games and one great game. I should have logged off after the great game, but wound up getting talked into staying for “just one more.” And it was not a good game. Feh.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.



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Monday – 26 March 2012
Kicking off the day by neglecting to get your morning travel mug of coffee could be considered “less than auspicious.” I didn’t realize that I was coffee-free until I pulled into the parking structure at work. Fortunately, I had twin cuddles (and wife cuddles) beforehand, so the morning was far from a complete loss.

I drove through at least three weather patterns on the way to work: Dry, rainy, and snowy. That’s pretty impressive, especially when you consider that my commute is less than three miles.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for today.



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Wednesday – 14 March 2012
Midweek…? Check.
New Comics Day…? Check.
Pasta and Movie Date Night…? Raincheck.  (We’re having company for dinner this evening; PMDN will be tomorrow.)

And, on top of all that, it’s Pi Day. (See also: The Pi-Search Page)

Last night was relatively quiet. Team DiVa didn’t go for a stroll, but there was some pre-bedtime playtime. After the girls were down and dinner was eaten, I got around to herding a bunch of free-range ‘Clix. I’d been negligent about sorting them for longer than I’d care to admit. After that, I made my way onto CoD: MW3 with a coworker. I had some horrible rounds. Seriously bad. I thought about changing my gamertag to “BulletMagnet” at a couple of points.

Stray Toasters


Halfway There (Part II)

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Halfway There (Part II)

Thursday – 08 March 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday.
It’s also International Women’s Day (1, 2). And…

Vanessa turned 6-months old today!

Last night was fairly low-key around the house. The girls tried – and devoured – a new food: Pears. So, it seems that the only unpopular food (at least so far) is peas — Diana will grudgingly eat them, Vanessa flat-out refuses to. The girls woke up again in the middle of the night. No crying this time, but there was a bit of chatter in their room before they knocked out again.

Today, as usual: Meetings!  YAY!

And tonight, I’m picking up some material for Saturday’s basement framing extravaganza. And maybe (just maybe), I’ll be able to sneak in a little MW3 or DCUO.  We shall see what the evening holds.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for today.


Tuesday (or what’s left of it…)

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Tuesday (or what's left of it...)

Tuesday – 06 March 2012
After a less-than-stellar start to the week, let’s see what today has to offer.

I apparently woke up on the wrong side of the bed planet yesterday. Of course, saying “woke up” implies that I really slept Sunday night, which I did… though sporadically. By the time I got to work, I could tell that I was in a poor mood. With that in mind, I tried to avoid too much interaction with coworkers — I didn’t want to inadvertently take off someone’s head for no good reason. It seemed to work.

I left early, as the girls had their six-month check-up yesterday afternoon. The doctor had nothing but good things to say about their progress/development. (That was good to hear.) Then the immunization shots – and the screaming – came. (That was not good to hear.) When we got them home, we put the girls down for naps. They woke up in good moods. Thankfully. After some play time, baths and bottles, the girls went to bed for the evening. SaraRules! and I watched some TV and unwound.

Stray Toasters


“Dragons, the policeman knew, were supposed to breathe fire and occasionally get themselves slaughtered…”

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"Dragons, the policeman knew, were supposed to breathe fire and occasionally get themselves slaughtered..."

Monday – 27 February 2012
It’s a grey day with the threat of a fairly major snow storm on the horizon. At least there’s coffee…

…and, unless my basic math skills are failing me, the girls slept through the night for the FOURTH NIGHT IN A ROW!

This past weekend, while very good, was also very busy. Saturday, I judged Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection’s second “Infinity Gauntlet” HeroClix tournament… which I left in the middle of to attend a surprise birthday lunch for lj user=”nox_aeternus”. It was held at Bohemian Brewery, a place I had not been in many, many rains. Good food, good company, and yes, good beer. Then, I dashed back to Dr. Volt’s to finish up the tourney. (Thanks to SaraRules! for watching the girls and allowing me some “time off for good behavior.”) I returned home to find SaraRules! and lj user=”suzie_lightning” hanging out with the girls.

Sunday, after the girls were fed and dressed, we headed to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast. While there, we saw Christy, one of our former Pin-up Girl Espresso baristas. Back at home, it was time for a little pre-Spring cleaning and housework. This included (but was not limited to) some child-proofing and installing a couple of wine racks in the kitchen. Later in the day, SaraRules!’ parents came over for dinner. Since we’ve been having pretty decent weather, I fired up the grill and did hamburgers, while the girls and their granddad watched Fantasia 2000:

Diana (l), Steve and Vanessa

After dinner, the in-laws helped get the girls prepped for bed. By the end of the evening, though, all SaraRules! and I wanted to do was plop down on the couch and veg. And we did. (And watched Resident Evil, to boot!)

 Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s profile is: Roger Arliner Young (1899 – November 9, 1964) was a scientist of zoology, biology, and marine biology.

Born in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 1899, Young soon moved with her family to Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. The family was poor and much time and resources were expended in the care of her disabled mother.In 1916, Young enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study music. She did not take her first science course until 1921. Though her grades were poor at the beginning of her college career, some of her teachers saw promise in her. One of these was Ernest Everett Just, a prominent black biologist and head of the Zoology department at Howard. He started mentoring her, and Young graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1923. In 1924 Young began studying for her master’s degree at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, she was asked to join Sigma XI, a scientific research society, which was an unusual honor for a master’s student. She also began to publish her research, and in 1924 her first article, “On the excretory apparatus in Paramecium” was published in the journal Science, making her the first African American woman to research and professionally publish in this field. Young received her master’s degree in 1926.

Just invited Young to work with him during the summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, starting in 1927. Young assisted him with research on the fertilization process in marine organisms. She also worked on the processes of hydration and dehydration in living cells. Her expertise grew, and Just called her a “real genius in zoology.”

Early in 1929, Young stood in for Just as head of the Howard zoology department while Just worked on a grant project in Europe. In the fall of that year, Young returned to Chicago to start a Ph.D. under the direction of Frank Lillie, the embryologist who had been Just’s mentor at Woods Hole. But she failed her qualifying exams in January 1930. She had given little indication of stress, but the failure to qualify was devastating. She was broke and still had to care for her mother. She left and told no one her whereabouts. Lillie, deeply concerned, wrote the president of Howard about her mental condition. She eventually returned to Howard to teach and continued working at Woods Hole in the summers.

In June 1937, she went to the University of Pennsylvania, studying with Lewis Victor Heilbrunn(another scientist she met at the Marine Biological Laboratory) and graduated with her doctorate in 1940.After obtaining her doctorate, Young became an assistant professor at the North Carolina College for Negroes (later North Carolina Central University). She later held teaching positions in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Young contributed a great deal of work to science. She studied the effects of direct and indirect radiation on sea urchin eggs, on the structures that control the salt concentration in paramecium, as well as hydration and dehydration of living cells. She published four papers between 1935 and 1938 and also wrote several books.

Young was never married. In the 1950s her mental health began to deteriorate and she was hospitalized. Roger Arliner Young died on November 9, 1964 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Stray Toasters

“Show, Don’t Tell…”

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"Show, Don't Tell..."

Thursday – 23 February 2012
Another No Bad News Thursday is upon us. Something that makes this day just a little bit better: The girls slept through the night again!

Vanessa (l) and Diana, in new headbands… rocking out with their Sophies and some tissue paper

This more than made up for the atrocious nights’ sleep that I had. More unpleasant dreams and great case of heartburn. YAY!

SaraRules! had another Justice League meeting last night, so her father came over to dote over his granddaughters help me get the girls fed and to bed. And, to be honest, dote a bit. He and the girls played a bit. They took pictures. They told stories about the war.  (Okay, that was just to make sure that you were really paying attention.) Then it was dinner (carrots) time and before too long… time for bed and a story.

SaraRules!, on her way home from saving the world, stopped and got me Chinese food take-out. As it was a bit late for Pasta & Movie Date Night, we opted to finish off the first half of this season’s The Walking Dead. Wow. Some things wound up the way I expected, while I didn’t see a couple of things coming. (Yay for avoiding spoilers for the past two months!)

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s profile is: Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana to Owen and Minerva Breedlove. She was one of six children. Her parents and elder siblings were slaves on Madison Parish plantation owned by Robert W. Burney . She was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Orphaned at the age of seven, Madam C. J. Walker moved in with her older sister, and brother-in-law, Willie Powell. At the age of 14, she married Moses McWilliams to escape Powell’s abuse. Three years later her daughter, Lelia McWilliams (A’Lelia Walker) was born. When Sarah was 20, her husband died. Shortly afterward she moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers lived. Her second marriage to John Davis ended in 1903.

Driven by her own struggles with hair loss during 1890s, Madam C. J. Walker began experimenting with different hair care treatments and products. In 1905 she invented a method for straightening African-Americans’ “kinky” hair: her method involved her own formula for a pomade, much brushing, and the use of heated combs. Encouraged by her success, she moved to Denver, Colorado, where she married Charles J. Walker. She promoted her method and products by traveling about the country giving lecture-demonstrations. Soon Sarah, now known as “Madam C. J. Walker,” was selling her products throughout the United States. While her daughter Lelia (later known as A’Lelia Walker) ran a mail order business from Denver, Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train “hair culturists.” In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where she established her headquarters and built a factory.

She began to teach and train other black women in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave other lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. After the East St. Louis Race Riot, she joined leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their efforts to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. In 1918 at the biennial convention of the National Association Of Colored Woman (NACW) she was acknowledged for making the largest contribution to save the Anacostia (Washington, DC) house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She continued to donate money throughout her career to the NAACP, the YMCA, and to black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, and retirement homes.

In 1917, she moved to her Irvington-on-Hudson, New York estate, Villa Lewaro, which had been designed by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed black architect in New York State and a founding member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Madam C.J. Walker died at Villa Lewaro on Sunday, May 25, 1919 from complications of hypertension. She was 51.

At the time of her death, Madam C. J. Walker was sole owner of her business, which was valued at more than $1 million. Her personal fortune was around $600,000 to $700,000. She left one-third of her estate went to her daughter—who herself became well known as a supporter of the Harlem Renaissance—the remainder to various philanthropies.

Stray Toasters


Midweek and all’s well…

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Midweek and all's well...

Wednesday – 22 February 2012
Odin’s Day is upon us once more. This also means that: The work week is half done and new comics are released today. Win-Win.

Today is also Ash Wednesday.

Last night, SaraRules! cousin, Sarah – and her son, Miles – were in town on their way to Denver.

As I recall, we haven’t seen them since last August, when they were here for Logan and Swiz’ wedding. They stopped in for a bit to visit and meet the girls.

After they left, and the girls were down for bed, SaraRules! suggested Five Guys burgers for dinner. Who was I to argue?! She also stopped at The Sweet Tooth Fairy to pick up cupcakes for dessert. We also cleared another episode of The Walking Dead off the DVR over dinner.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is Gustavus Vassa, a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade.

According to his own account, Gustavus Vassa (born Olaudah Equiano) was born in an area called “Igbo” in what is now Nigeria, in 1745. (At the turn of the 21st century, newly discovered documents suggesting that Equiano may have been born in North America raised questions, still unresolved, about whether his accounts of Africa and the Middle Passage are based on memory, reading, or a combination of the two.) He lived with five brothers and a sister; he was the youngest son with one younger sister. At the age of eleven, he and his sister were kidnapped. At this time he endured the Middle Passage to the New World, where he was forced to work as a slave.

When their parents were out, Equiano and his sister were kidnapped by two men and a woman, African kinsmen, and sold to native slaveholders. After changing hands several times, Equiano found himself on the coast, in the hands of European slave traders. He was transported with 244 other enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados in the West Indies, from where he and a few others were soon transferred to the British colony of Virginia. Soon after arrival, he was bought by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He decided to give him a more understandable name, a Latinised form of the name Gustavus Vassa, a Swedish noble who had become Gustav I of Sweden, king in the 16th century.

Pascal sold Equiano to Captain James Doran of the “Charming Sally” at Gravesend, where he was transported to Montserrat, in the Caribbean Leeward Islands. He was sold on to Robert King, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia who traded in the Caribbean. King set Equiano to work on his shipping routes and in his stores. In 1765, King promised that for forty pounds, the price he had paid, Equiano could buy his freedom. King taught him to read and write more fluently, guided him along the path of religion, and allowed Equiano to engage in profitable trading on his own as well as on his master’s behalf. He enabled Equiano to earn his freedom, which he achieved by his early twenties.

King urged Equiano to stay on as a business partner, but Equiano found it dangerous and limiting to remain in the British colonies as a freedman. For instance, while loading a ship in Georgia, he was almost kidnapped back into slavery. He was released after proving his education. Equiano returned to Britain where, after Somersett’s Case of 1772, men believed they were free of the risk of enslavement.

In 1789, he published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, which had a strong abolitionist message. Equiano is often regarded as the originator of the slave narrative because of his firsthand literary testimony against the slave trade. Equiano wrote in his narrative that slaves working inside the slaveholders’ homes in Virginia were treated cruelly. They suffered punishments such as an “iron muzzle” (scold’s bridle), used around the mouths to keep house slaves quiet, leaving them barely able to speak or eat. Equiano conveyed the fear and amazement he experienced in his new environment. In fact, Equiano was so shocked by this culture that he tried washing his face in an attempt to change its color. Despite the controversy regarding his birth, The Interesting Narrative remains an essential work both for its picture of 18th-century Africa as a model of social harmony defiled by Western greed and for its eloquent argument against the barbarous slave trade.

In 1792, Equiano married Susanna Cullen; they had two daughters.

Although Equiano’s death is recorded in London, 1797, the location of his burial is unsubstantiated.

Quote of the Day
Today’s quote comes from my friend, Ashley:

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day we commemorate the battle between the Evil Dead and the common man. Remember to celebrate this, the grooviest of holidays, in the traditional manner: the viewing of Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.

Stray Toasters