Archive for the 'family and friends' Category

End-of-the-week musings

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
End-of-the-week musings

Friday – 21 April 2017
Another week comes to an end.
And, apparently, it’s been a month since I dusted off the trusty blog. I really need to get better about this…

In short: It’s been a good – and eventful – month. The highlights of the month include, but are not limited to:

  • Going on a business trip.
  • Surprising my parents by showing up on their doorstep on the first leg of the trip.
  • Meeting some new coworkers on the trip.
  • Getting to visit with my uncle towards the end of the trip.
  • Coming down with some travel-related bug that had me down for almost a week.
  • The start of baseball season and the O’s getting off to a great start. Hopefully, they’ll keep some of this momentum through the season.
  • Meeting a Twitter and Facebook friend.
  • TRAINS!  Well, getting to head up to the train.. museum(?)… and one of my favorite train shops.
  • Traveling to Boise to visit family and friends over Easter.

    Sara, Team DiVa, and Grandmother – Easter 2017

  • Watching Team DiVa hunt for Easter eggs while we were gone and seeing their surprise at discovering that the Easter Bunny had apparently left Easter baskets for them at our home while we were out of town.

I’m sure that I’m leaving more than “a couple” things out, but all-in-all, it really has been a good month.

Stray Toasters

And with that…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye.
(Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, not “The Sound of Music”)

Catching up.

Monday, February 20th, 2017
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.

Saturday Night Musings

Sunday, January 29th, 2017
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.”

Monday, January 16th, 2017
“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…”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
"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

Friday, January 6th, 2017
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…

Thursday, January 5th, 2017
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!

Sunday, December 25th, 2016
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!

 

Life, in a Nutshell

Thursday, October 27th, 2016
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

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
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.

Independence Day 2016

Monday, July 4th, 2016
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

Sunday, June 19th, 2016
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.

“Hello, my name is…”

Friday, June 17th, 2016
"Hello, my name is..."

Friday – 17 June 2016

Last night, while running some errands, I picked up a couple of “squishy balls” for #TeamDiVa2016.

Balls, spikes and all...

Balls, spikes and all…

The girls “found” them in the car this morning, on the way to school. Apparently, they named them on the way to school:

  • Vanessa named hers (purple) “Fluffy,”
  • Diana named hers “Fluffy Puffy.”

As you might imagine, the names have gone through a number of permutations since this morning.

Kids. Go figure.

36 Years

Thursday, June 16th, 2016
36 Years

Thursday – 16 June 2016
Not only is it #NoBadNewsThursday, but I’d like to wish a heartfelt “Happy Anniversary” to my parents…

Gwen and Jay (2009)

Gwen and Jay (2009)

 

2010

2010

…well, one set of parents, that is.

I love you and hope that you have a fantastic day!

Trip to Cascade Springs

Monday, June 13th, 2016
Trip to Cascade Springs

Monday – 13 June 2016
Yesterday, we trekked back down to Utah County and into the Uintah National Forest in an attempt to (finally) visit Cascade Springs. This time, we were successful!

The trip started off well enough, driving into the canyon. As the road ascended slightly, things continued to proceed apace. As the road climbed higher and we started hitting more switchbacks, I became “a little less okay.” A little bit of backstory:

  • I grew up in states that are, for the most part, pretty damned flat.
  • When, in these states, roads rise (reasonably) in elevation and/or border a sharp drop, there are guard rails on the shoulder.
  • On one of my first visits to Utah, I was taken up Little Cottonwood Canyon, to Snowbird. It was on this trip that I discovered what I considered – and continue to consider – Utah’s laissez faire attitude towards winding roads and guard rails. I found this mildly disturbing.
  • A year or two after moving here, I was taken for a picnic overlooking the Bingham Canyon Mine. The road to the picnic spot was roughly a car-and-a-half wide for two-way traffic; I didn’t deal with that very well. (I’ve been told that it’s amusing/disturbing to see a black man white-knuckling the “Oh Shit Bar” over the window.) I was disturbed enough by the ride up that I did to not want to eat, though I did look at the excavation pit. And it was a very quiet ride back down.
  • Years later, I went for a drive up to the C Overlook, in Cedar City. Again, no guard rails. I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but the road was wide enough to give me a modicum of comfort.
  • Shortly after that, Sara took me up to Cedar Breaks, near Cedar City. Most of that ride was fine, although there were a couple of sections of road that had far more of a “scenic view” than I generally care for, but I managed the trip alright.
    • I got a measure of revenge a few year later by inflicting that same ride on my brother-in-law, John. He had the same rough reaction that I did, so I felt nominally better about things.

All of that to say that I have a healthy respect for gravity and my as-yet undiscovered ability to fly without an airplane. (I’m absolutely fine with traveling in planes, though.) That, combined with a lack of rails and only small berms on the sides of the roads, meant that I was “quiet and pensive, my thoughts apprehensive…” for portions of the trip.

Apparently, that’s a trait that Vanessa has inherited from me, as she was rather vocal about her displeasure and discomfort over some sections of the roads we had to take. Diana, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less… other than “it [was] taking too long.”

Sara and I reassured her that she had nothing to worry about. (True, although I fully grokked her apprehension.) But, we both dealt with it – I’ve always said that Vanessa would make a great Green Lantern – and finally reached our destination.

Team DiVa at Cascade Springs

Team DiVa at Cascade Springs

Pictures of our walkabout can be seen here.

It was a very nice spot and we only walked the smaller loop, as the longer one would have been a bit long for the little ladies. Then we were done and ready to head home. Vanessa and I steeled ourselves for the trek back to civilization. until we noted that there was another road that headed over a different ridge and came out near Midway and Heber. At this point, Sara was up for it and I figured that it couldn’t be much worse than the trip in…

…and it wasn’t!

Sure, the road was once more guard rail-free AND it was a dirt road, but it was about three car widths wide in most places. Hallelujah! We made the bumpy not-nearly-as-fast-as-we’d-expected journey down the mountain. We ate lunch at the Hub Cafe, just off the main drag in Heber. After lunch, it was time to head home.

All-in-all, it was a good trip, but if we do it again, I’d probably opt for taking the road through Heber, rather than the forest.