Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Opposites attract (or “That’s a heck of a way to run a railroad…”)

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Opposites attract (or "That's a heck of a way to run a railroad...")

Saturday – 18 June 2016
I’ve often said that Sara is something of a saint for putting up with a lot of my geeky habits, be they gaming, trains, comics… or anything in between. That said, there have been more and more signs that she’s getting to be geeky by osmosis – he occasionally makes comics- and/or science fiction-related comments that would, previously, be more attributable to me. Here is a prime example from earlier today (along with a bit of backstory):


I have a model railroad. It’s O Gauge, which I may or may not have gotten into because it “happens” to be the same scale as HeroClix. (Lucky coincidence…?) When we bought our house, it had about 1/3 of the basement was unfinished; with the help of a few friends and my father-in-law, I’ve built a train room. The fact that the room has also become my office and gaming room is a lucky coincidence/fringe benefit. No, I don’t call it a “man cave,” because I quite frankly abhor that term. I usually just call it “the train room,” or “my room,” or “The Toy Box.” But I digress. The room was finished about two years ago, give or take a couple months. Details have kind of slipped away. I finally built a train table and put up an actual working layout about a year ago. I finished the train table (added another 3′ section) and redid the trains on it.

One of the things that I realized is that I can pretty much have what I want on my layout, like a “Conjunction Junction.” (What’s your function?) Other things that might wind up on the layout might include a “Petticoat Junction” and/or a Botany Bay, if I create a seaport area…

Something that I recently decided is that I wanted to build a small version of Stark Tower/Avengers Tower and put it on the layout.

Stark Tower

Stark Tower

I have to admit that I was pretty amused and enthused about the possibility of actually putting my Quinjet on the landing pad, as well.

picture (c) Figures.com

picture (c) Figures.com

Once I got under way, I realized something in practical application that hadn’t occurred to me in the theory phase: At the size I wanted to do the tower, it would require at least three linear feet – and about 3-4 square feet – of space on the layout for the building’s base. That’s a problem, as my table is 11′-6″ long. That’s a LOT of real estate. So, I started rethinking the idea.

Today, I came up with a great alternative: The Baxter Building – home of the Fantastic Four.


picture (c) Marvel

This was great on a number of levels:

  • It’s still a rather iconic comics building.
  • It has a MUCH smaller footprint.
  • I have Fantastic Four ‘Clix who could be on the roof, preparing to take on the latest threat… as a train rolled past the building.

I even considered the prospect of doing the 4 Freedoms Plaza incarnation of the building…

End of backstory.

While we were out running errands today, I mentioned to Sara the conundrum I’d been having about what building to put on the layout, after realizing that Stark Tower would have to wait until I decide to either move my office out of the train room or we move to a place where I have a lot more room for a layout. I also mentioned the Baxter Building idea. She listened and, without missing a beat, said:

“You could just do Titans Tower.”

It was like a shaft of light shone down from the heavens. For a moment. Just as quickly as the words had formed in her head and crossed her lips, her face contorted into the classic “I can’t believe I just said that…” expression, as she realized that her nascent geekiness had bubbled to the surface and erupted like Vesuvius reborn.

And, yes, I reveled in that moment and the look.

But, I also decided that Titans Tower will be the new addition to the train table.  (Good thing I have some extra Titans lying around.)



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Tuesday – 07 June 2016
Today is my mother’s birthday.


Mom and my stepfather


The Diva meeting Team DiVa...

The Diva, meeting Team DiVa for the first time…

I am usually pretty good at crafting words into the shapes that I desire. Even so, I don’t think that I could adequately express how blessed and fortunate I am to have her as my mother or appropriately convey the sheer number of things that she has done, not only done for my sister and me, but for countless others – family, friends, students, and strangers.


At work…

Suffice it to say that my world is a better place because she is my mother.

And, I’m happy to celebrate her birthday… even from the other side of the country.

With Mom...


Happy Birthday, Mom!

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Happy Birthday, Mom!

Sunday – 07 June 2015
Some people will note that today is Sunday.
Others might lament that it’s the end of the weekend.

I’ll take a little of Column A, a dash of Column B, and a double-helping of “Neither of those things really matter, because it’s my mother’s birthday!”


It would be a gross understatement to say that “I love my mom.” Because, I do. Not just because she’s my mom – and is, therefore, more or less stuck with me – but because she’s been one of my biggest supporters and, when needed, biggest voices of reason… even when it’s caused her pain, heartbreak and/or sacrifice. My sister, Kristen, and I have been astoundingly lucky and blessed to have her for our mother.

A few days ago, her high school chorus threw her a surprise birthday/second retirement party. I found out about it via social media. The best part wasn’t seeing the pictures, but reading the wonderful things that her students – who only saw her for a small fraction of their day, five days a week – had to say about her. I loved the fact that so many of them said that she was such a strong and positive influence in their lives. To be fair, it wasn’t the first time that I’ve heard/read these things from her students, but it always makes me even more proud to be her son when I do.


And, if was only the students from her current classes who had such glowing things to say about her, that would be one thing. But that’s not the case. Students from years (even decades) past still show up when she “puts out the call” for her alumni chorus. And it is far from unusual for some students – past and present – to show up at the holidays, just because they were in town.

That’s the kind of teacher she is… at least for the next five days. She’s retiring. Again. After forty years in the classroom. (I don’t know what amazes me more: That the school system asked her to return to teaching a year after she originally retired or that she said “Yes.”)

That’s also the kind of mother that she’s always been. Kind. Generous. Loving. Not that she wouldn’t light into you if you got out of line, either. Thank God she’s mellowed with age. Somewhat. Regardless, I wouldn’t be the person I am without her influence. For that, I am grateful.


Or, for the “Too long; didn’t read” version: “Happy birthday, Mom” and “I love you!”


Happy Birthday, Sara!

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Happy Birthday, Sara!

Thursday – 06 November 2014
You know that it must be something of “a day” when it takes me this long to get around to wishing the lovely Sara! a “Happy Birthday!”


But, before any more of the day gets away from me, I want to be sure that I say it and wish her a great day and a wonderful year to come… because she deserves all that and much more!

Team DiVa Tuesday – 14 January 2014

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 14 January 2014

Tuesday – 14 January 2014
Life with kids can be interesting. It would probably be best to say that life with kids is often interesting. That’s not to say that it’s not fun. And exciting. And, all too often, very amusing.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve introduced the concept of “time out” to Team DiVa. It’s been met with mixed results. Most often, when one of the girls does something to antagonize her sister and I tell them they’re going to time out, they either:

  • Start saying “I not going to time out! I not going to time out!,”
  • Make a bee-line for Sara!,
  • Start crying,
  • Some combination of all of the above.

But, time out usually happens. (They do not like it.) And they stay there until they tell me why it is that they are in time out. Once they tell me that, I ask them what they need to do to get out of time out, which is usually finding their sister, saying they are sorry and giving their sister a hug.

So, you can imagine my surprise – and amusement – when I came home from work today to find that the girls had introduced something new to their toys. They have a handful of Fisher-Price Little People figures, including three Wonder Woman figures and a Batgirl figure. They would have the figures playing, hit them together, then tell one figure that it was going to time out.

Puddle Jumpers!

Puddle Jumpers!

Team DiVa and grandparents

Team DiVa and grandparents

Also, this:

Stray Toasters


Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

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Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Wednesday – 13 March 2013
Not only is today New Comics Day…

…nor is it just Movie Date Night…

…it’s apparently my version of Groundhog Day, as well.

This morning, I left the house three (3) times before finally completing my journey to work:

  1. After getting up, dressed, and out the door, I stopped to get a couple of doughnuts for breakfast. It was only then that I noticed that what I thought was a black-based ensemble was, in fact, black-and-blue. *grblsnrkx*  Fortunately, I was just across the street from the house when I discovered the error. So, I went home, changed pants and headed out the door. Again.
  2. I got off our street, onto the nearby main thoroughfare and on the on-ramp to the freeway when I had an epiphany: I left my wallet in the pants I had just taken off. Just as I was finishing that thought, my phone rang. It was Sara!; she wanted to let me know that I had (also) left my work badge on the bed.  ::: braincramp ::: I told her that I was on the way back home because my wallet was still there, too. I got off the freeway at the next exit and completed the loop to home. Sara! was in the kitchen when I opened the door, with my badge, wallet and a fresh travel mug of coffee in hand, securing her spot as today’s Human of the Day. With that, I was off yet again.
  3. Apparently, the third departure was the charmed one. I made it to the freeway without incident. The commute was uneventful. I arrived at work in one piece. There was a minor moment of concern when, on exiting the car, I couldn’t find my wallet. I checked both seats, the spaces between them and even the back seat. No go, Flight. Turns out that it was in my pocket the whole time. *sigh*

And that’s how my NBN Thursday Eve started.


Respond Vibrate Feedback Resonate

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Wednesday  – 13 February 2013
New comics day? Yep
Movie Date Night with Sara!? Yep.

And, it’s my sister, Rana’s, birthday:


Last night, Sara! fixed jambalaya for dinner, in honor of Fat Tuesday. As always, it was very good.

This morning, I arrived in the office to find out that I had three meetings scheduled back-to-overlapping-back to slightly-more-breathing-room back. Yay. Fortunately, the first meeting was rescheduled for tomorrow.

As I mentioned above, tonight is Movie Date Night. It’s also my pick for a movie… and I have no idea what tonight’s selection will be.

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Today’s item is: Negro Romance Comics

negro romance

Negro Romance was a romance comic book published in the 1950s by Fawcett Comics (which through a series of sales and acquisitions, is now part of Warner Communications, which owns  DC Comics). It is remarkable in eschewing African-American stereotypes, telling stories interchangeable with those told about white characters. The comic even mentions college, which was relatively uncommon in the 1950s, even moreso among African-Americans. Negro Romance ran for only three issues.

It was developed as an experiment in expanding into the romance market, conceived by editor Roy Ald, who was European-American, and written by him without credit. It was illustrated by Alvin Hollingsworth, the first African-American artist hired by Fawcett.

Because of their obscurity and rarity, the Negro Romance issues sell for hundreds of dollars each.

The PBS series History Detectives also did a feature on African-American Comic Books:


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Yeah, that’s it.


It’s almost February…

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It's almost February...

Thursday – 31 January 2013
I woke up this morning to this:


Yeah, waking up to a warmer temperature than most days’ highs over the past few weeks is a good thing. Even with a 30% chance of snow.

I know that there were no Team DiVa Tuesday photos, but Sara! was quick enough – and kind enough – to snap a picture last night before the ladies went to bed, so that there’s a Team DiVa No Bad News Thursday picture:

Story time!  Diana (l), Vanessa (r)

Story time! Diana (l), Vanessa (r)

Reeling By On Celluloid
Last night, Sara! and I watched Seven Psychopaths:


This was an odd movie. This is not to say that it wasn’t a very enjoyable movie, though. It was riotously funny at points. It was poignant at points. And, to be honest: There were a fair number of “What.. just.. happened…?” moments, too. In many ways, it reminded me of Pulp Fiction or Go, in the way that it combined a number of seemingly disparate arcs into one story. (And, like Pulp Fiction, this movie had Christopher Walken. Win-Win.)

Sara! brought up the point that she’d want to watch it again, as there were a couple of things early on – before she grokked the rhythm of the movie – that she’d like to see, with the understanding of how things unfold. I’d gladly be down for watching it again. And, I happily recommend this movie.

(I would have given it seven bricks – to keep with the “Seven Psychopaths” theme, but it was an eight-brick movie.)

Stray Toasters



“Style, it’s like a second cousin to class…”

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"Style, it's like a second cousin to class..."

Wednesday – 20 June 2012
The summer solstice has arrived.
And it’s new comics Wednesday.
And it’s Pasta and Movie Date Night.

Quite frankly, I think that sounds like “Win” all the way around.

Yesterday was a good day. With the able assistance of Dave and Steve, I was able to pick up some drywall – twelve sheets of it – get it home, bring it in (through a basement window that Steve removed) and put it in place for hanging. All told, it took a little over an hour-and-a-half, including the time it took to attach and detach Dave’s trailer to his Jeep. I offer up a huge “Thank you” to Steve and Dave for their time and effort.  And, I’m counting drywall-schlepping as yesterday’s workout, to boot!

Chew on This: Food for Thought
This is a series of blog posts from a local woman (with Retinitis Pigmentosa, which is important to the story), who encountered less-than-stellar – and more importantly, less-than-decent – treatment when she attempted to go shopping with her guide dog this past week:

  1. Disappointed in Ann Taylor
  2. Sharing
  3. Finding Lemonade

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Thursday (or something quite like it)

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Thursday (or something quite like it)

Thursday – 07 June 2012
Not only is today NBN Thursday, it is also my mother’s birthday:

And, it is also the day that Diana turns 9-months-old:

To celebrate the day, the girls get to go for another visit to the pediatrician… which means: Shots! (Which also means “Cranky children this afternoon.”) Yay.


Well, as it turns out, the girls did not have to get shots today. But, they will be getting four at their one-year check-up. (Joy of joys.) On the plus side, we found out that their pediatrician’s office will be moving… to our neighborhood right before that visit. So, I guess that means the offices will still have that new car office smell.

Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s good for now.


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


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


Something… Something… Something…

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Something... Something... Something...

Wednesday – 11 April 2012
Midweek, once more, is upon us.

Last night, because of their Uncle Logan’s birthday, Team DiVa stayed up a little past their normal dinner and bedtimes.

Vanessa (l) and Diana

They did nap a little on the way home; after a bite to eat, bottles and pre-bed wash-ups, they were still calm enough for a quick bedtime story. (Or, maybe they were just punchy.) But, they were out pretty quickly once they were in bed.

After they were down, SaraRules! and I split a piece of birthday cake (Raspberry Marzipan) and watched a little NCIS before calling it a night.

Stray Toasters


“Ghosts appear and fade away…”

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"Ghosts appear and fade away..."

Monday – 30 January 2012
Wow. Looks like it’s been almost a week since I posted. Long time, that. So let’s get to it…

It’s been a good week. In a nutshell, it’s included:

  • Spending time with SaraRules! and the girls:

    Vanessa (l) and Diana… with Tigger and Pooh

  • Watching Real Steel with SaraRules! (It wasn’t bad; think “Rocky Meets Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots”)
  • Kicking off a new multi-month ‘Clix event series for Dr. Volt’s… (in addition to the regular tourneys)
  • Playing a fair bit of Modern Warfare 3… and a little Gears of War 3
  • Picking up a Butterfinger-dipped caramel apple (!!!)
  • Seeing Utah Opera’s performance of Rigoletto.

Yeah, It was a good week.

This week has the possibility of being quite nice, as well.

Stray Toasters


“It’s just a jump to the left…”

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"It's just a jump to the left..."

Tuesday – 24 January 2012
For a day that started off grey with low clouds, it sure is sunny and bright out there. Of course, that’s a marked improvement over yesterday evening’s snow, so I’ll not complain.

Yesterday morning:

This morning:

Last night, came over. The original plan was for her to help me get the girls to bed while SaraRules! attended a Junior League meeting… but the meeting got rescheduled. So, she just came over and hung out with us, instead. She also tried to teach Diana to do The Time Warp, but it didn’t go so well. (I attribute it to the fact that the twins can’t stand yet, let alone dance.) But, I applaud her effort.

And, here’s a shot of the girls from this past weekend:

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