Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Coffee! STAT!

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Wednesday – 31 May 2017
I’ve gone on the record – many times over – saying, “I love my kids.” And, it’s true. Parenthood has been… an interesting experience, but one that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What I would like to trade, however, is the lack-of-sleep that Team DiVa occasionally affords me.

Case in point: Last night…

I got into bed about midnight (early night for me…).  I read and chatted for a little bit before I realized that I’d been doing a lot of extended inner-eyelid studies. So, I decided that it was time to call it a night and go explore The Dreaming.

And that’s just what I did.

Less than an hour into sleep, I woke up because I felt a weight on the bed, by my legs. I turned to find a kinder-form sitting on the bed. Staring at me. Too groggy to do much more than grunt, I motioned for her to come up and get under the covers. She did. A few minutes later, she was ready to head back to her room. She asked if I would carry her back to her bed; I told her that she could walk. (C’mon… I was all snug and comfy in bed.) She climbed down and ambled back to her room. I fell back asleep.

Some indeterminate amount of time later, weight on the bed. Again.

This time, there was a bad dream involved:

“Can your body parts fall off?  Like your crotch and your bum… can they fall off?”


“Oh.” *crawls under the covers and falls asleep*

At this point, I was relegated from the comfort of half a queen bed… to approximately one-sixth. For the rest of the morning.

Let me clarify a few things: I love getting cuddles from my kids and welcome them whenever they are given… especially since I know that in a few years, there is a better than average chance that they won’t be nearly as freely given. On the flip side, I like my sleep. I don’t usually need a lot of it, but I do like it.

But, there I was: Doing the delicate balancing act of not falling off the bed and not squishing my kid.

Oh, and not sleeping well.

Thus, I’m here at my desk… mainlining my coffee, wishing that I could just configure it into an IV drip.

But, it was totally worth it for a kid who slept soundly and at peace.


Kids and the Things They Say

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Kids and the Things They Say

Tuesday – 10 November 2015
Sunday evening, as we were heading home from dinner with Sara’s parents, Vanessa started coughing. Well, “coughing” may be a bit of an exaggeration. It was more of a “cough-like throat-clearing,” but she’s been doing it for a few days.

I said to her: “Vanessa, can you stop coughing…?”

Without missing a beat, she replied: “I can’t control my coughs, like Elsa can’t control her ice magic.”

Not only did my four-year-old daughter shoot me down, but she did it with a perfectly apt analogy.

Sara and I are either totally winning at this whole parenting thing… or we’re in a whole lot of trouble.

“It’s lonely out in space…”

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Wednesday – 03 June 2015
It’s a sunny #NBNThursdayEve in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Last night, I was putting Team DiVa to bed and, as they were getting into bed, they reminded me that “…we didn’t do a special story,” which is how I referred to Monday night’s D&D-style story. We spent the next ten minutes spinning a tale of their new adventure. (Yes, this made my inner #geekdad grin like a fiend.) They went to bed; I went to pick up this week’s comics. Win-Win.

I managed to make it to the gym this morning… after oversleeping. But, I went. I had a decent workout. Back home to help get Team DiVa ready for the day and out the door. And to get me ready and out the door, too.

Work’s been good and there haven’t been any major monkey wrenches thrown into my day, so I consider those all positive things.


  • Elliptical: 5 minutes/ 0.55 miles
  • Lat pulldown (wide grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Lat pulldown (short grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Dorsi Flexor row: 3 x 8 x 75
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep pulldown (rope): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep press: 3 x 8 x 70

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
I found this quote as part of an interview with Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars:

Moving on doesn’t mean neglecting my past.

I like it. It strikes me as an interesting corollary to a couple lines from Time Stand Still by Rush:

I’m not looking back
But I want to look around me now


“But that’s totally feather-pluckn insane…”*

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"But that's totally feather-pluckn insane..."*

Excerpted from a conversation with Sara!:

Rob: Is [coworker] around?

Sara: Yes. She is.

Rob: Ask her: WHAT. IS. THIS?!! http://boingboing.net/2015/05/20/how-to-fluff-chicken-butts-fl.html
Because I don’t have anything resembling words for it.
(NOTE: Sara’s coworker has a sister who raises chickens.)

Sara: Umm…. this is why we will never get chickens.

* – Apologies to The Presidents of the United States of America


Coffee and Other Things That Made Me Smile This Morning

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Coffee and Other Things That Made Me Smile This Morning

Thursday – 05 March 2015
It’s just another Manic Monday No Bad News Thursday.

My day started a little earlier than usual, as I had to be on-site about an hour-and-a-half early to follow up on a [EXPLETIVES DELETED] [REDACTED] project. As I was getting ready, I heard Vanessa milling about in her room. I went in and told her that it was still “sleeping time” and that she should go back to sleep. She didn’t, but she did lie quietly in bed.

Ten or fifteen minutes later, I heard her making (mostly) quiet noises; I went back in to check on her. She asked “Is the sun up?” I told her that it was, but that it wasn’t time to wake up yet; I asked if she wanted to go into the other bedroom and hang out with Sara! until it was time to get up. She said “no,” and that she wanted to read in bed. I told her that would be fine. She got one of her My Little Pony comics, crawled under her covers, and proceeded to “read” it.

Shortly, I was packed up and out the door. I didn’t set the coffee maker last night, therefore, I had no to-go cup of caffeinated goodness this morning. I rectified that with a trip to Pin-up Girl Espresso.


I paid with a card, but didn’t have anything smaller than a $5 bill with me for a tip. So, I gave Mia the five, told her to take her tip out of it and to apply the rest to the next person’s drink order. Why not make someone else’s day a little better, if you can, after all?

On to work.

And that’s where I am. Time to chase down info for this project, put out some fires, and just be awesome. Possibly even in that order.

Quote of the Day
I messaged Sara! a little while ago, to see how morning prep with Team DiVa went. This was how that conversation went:

Good morning!
I hope that getting under way wasn’t too bad…

Good morning!
The only big meltdown was when the girls realized that you were already gone for the day and they couldn’t give you a hug and a kiss. It was meltdown city.

Well, damn. I’m sorry.

It was very sweet that they were so upset. It was okay. we sorted it out.


And, we took a rocket ship ride to the moon this morning. Then the rocket ship took me to work. So the astronauts are going to stay on the moon all day, and the rocket ship will pick them up and bring them back to earth tonight.

HAHAHAhA that’s awesome.

Yeah, it was pretty good. DIana wasn’t into it this morning (contrast to yesterday) but by the time we were almost to learning tree she was on board looking for planets and aliens. So it turned out okay.

I love those kids and their imaginations.

As I noted above: It’s No Bad News Thursday… get out there and attack the day!


Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

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Team DiVa Tuesday Returns!

Tuesday – 23 August 2014
Not only is today Team DiVa Tuesday,  it is the first day of Autumn, as well.

Last night, we stopped by Sara’s parents’ place for a visit. While there, the girls decided that they wanted to wear some of their Papi and Gumbi’s hats. I managed to capture this picture:

Team DiVa in Hats!

Team DiVa in Hats!

Over the years, I’ve heard people mention how adept kids are at picking up habits and phrases from their parents. Our girls are no exception to this, it would seem.

Apparently, when I encounter a facepalm-worthy situation around the girls, I often say: “Oh, God…

I can’t remember what situation prompted it on Sunday, but Diana said it on the way back from breakfast. I think that Sara and I laughed for a good mile-and-a-half before either of us was composed enough to talk about it. Even then, we still cracked up while discussing it.

Sara related this to me when I got home from work last night:

She picked the ladies up from preschool. Typically, we’ll give them a small pre-dinner snack, because they’re “so hungry…” Yesterday’s snack was a bowl of cashews and peanuts. Through some unknown-to-me process, Vanessa managed to spill all of her nuts on the floor, prompting a transformation from Team DiVa Cutie into… Baby Meltdown!!!

Diana, hearing the commotion, ran into the kitchen to see what was going on. When she got there, she looked at the floor, saw the mess, and said, “Oh, God…

Yep. My kid.  (I wish I had been there to witness it.)

“Ponies don’t have hands.”

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"Ponies don't have hands."

Wednesday – 25 June 2014
Totally missed “Team DiVa Tuesday” (again) yesterday. Hopefully, this will make up for it:

Hanging out at Wheeler Historic Farm

Hanging out at Wheeler Historic Farm

On the tiger statue at Hogle Zoo

On the tiger statue at Hogle Zoo

On the elephant statue at Hogle Zoo

On the elephant statue at Hogle Zoo

Oh, and John V. might want to stop reading now…

Is he gone?  Okay.

The girls have taken a pretty strong liking to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, since being introduced to it about a month ago. Last night was Vanessa’s night to choose what they watched before bedtime and she chose…. dun dun DUNNNNN…. MLP. No problem.

I found the first season on Netflix and fired up the first episode. (Why not start at the beginning, after all?) This episode introduces the main ponies and how they met. That’s pretty good for a first episode.

During the scene where Twilight Sparkle meets Applejack – yes, I actually have gotten to know the ponies’ names. I’ll just chalk this up to what my mother calls being a “Commendable Daddy.” –  Applejack takes Twilight’s hoof and starts shaking it, vigorously. Diana, at this point, looked up and rather nonchalantly noted: “Ponies don’t have hands,” and then continued to watch the rest of the episode.

Sara and I just kind of stared at each other, with a “Did she really just say that…?!” expression on our faces.

Proud parents. 🙂


“To the moon, Alice…!”

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"To the moon, Alice...!"

Thursday – 14 March 2014
It’s another fine NBN Thursday in the valley.

The following was culled from the “It Happened in Chat” file:

(12:35:03 PM) ***Steve crash lands.
(12:39:54 PM) Rob: Airplane or Airplane II style?
(12:40:02 PM) ***Beth goes ‘heh heh heh.’
(12:40:40 PM) Steve: Airplane II with Shatner guiding me in. ’cause that means we have a moon base and won’t die out as quick when the asteroid hits the earth.
(12:40:58 PM) Rob: Moon base.
(12:41:18 PM) Steve: I don’t worry about gun control. I worry about extinction level events.
(12:41:21 PM) R0b: You’re forgetting/overlooking two potential obstacles, though.
(12:42:59 PM) Steve: obstacles?
(12:43:03 PM) R0b: Yeah.
(12:43:28 PM) R0b: 1. The giant metal baboon-looking robot that Michael Bay chronicled as living on the moon.
(12:43:32 PM) R0b: 2. Nazis.
(12:43:35 PM) Steve: shatter is involved. we don’t believe in the no-win scenario.
(12:43:41 PM) Steve: shatner.
(12:43:42 PM) Mike: william shatter.
(12:43:57 PM) Steve: how could i ever turn off autocorrect? it is so lovable.
(12:44:59 PM) Steve: oh shit. nazi transformers on the moon. *calls michael bay*

Just like that.


And then, it was Tuesday.

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And then, it was Tuesday.

Tuesday – 18 December 2012
Christmas is nigh upon us.

Sara! and I finally got our Christmas cards back from the printer. We are quite pleased with them. Last night, before addressing envelopes, I may have put a loop of track and a trolley under the tree. Tonight, I may put a few buildings under there. We shall see…

Vanessa surprised me last night with a new phrase: “Chocolate milk.” It came out more like “Chah-mick,” but she was pointing at my then-full glass of chocolate milk when she said it… and then, along with Diana, proceeded to drink about half of the glass of milk before I got a sip myself.

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
From a conversation with Sara! yesterday:

 Hmm… which makes me think Jet Li won’t be in it… you certainly can’t have two Asian actors in the same action film.
 Kind of like the “No Two Black Guys” rule on The Walking Dead.
Exactly! Come to think of it… there’s only one black guy in Expendables
Also true.


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Tuesday – 01 May 2012
A new month begins.
As it’s May, that means that today is May Day.
Or, if you’re Jonathan Coulton: First of May (NSFW)

It also means that it’s my friend Bret’s birthday:

Last night, SaraRules! had to work late. She was going to get home after it was time for Team DiVa to start getting ready for bed, so I asked Galadriel to come over and lend a hand. She did. And I was very grateful, especially since last night was also Adventure Baby Splash Zone bath night for the girls.

When she got home, SaraRules! fixed jambalaya for dinner. We ate and watched TopGear, Hawaii Five-O and Castle. TopGear was… TopGear, as it should be. I fortunately stumbled onto the Hawaii Five-O episode; it was the first of a two-part crossover with NCIS: Los Angeles. And the Castle episode was a zombie-themed episode, of which SaraRules! stated:

This may be the best episode of Castle ever!

It was rather fun.

|| PAUSE ||

Davis took a deep breath.  He told the others that it was just to center himself. It wasn’t. He’d been calm and focused since he entered the garage. He had to be. There was a lot riding on his part in this. He held the breath for a few seconds before exhaling slowly.

The others were talking. He wasn’t paying too much attention, but he could hear the anxiety in the new kid’s voice. Part adrenaline, part fear. Hopefully, the adrenaline would give the newbie enough of an edge to stave off her fear. On the other hand, Flynn wouldn’t have let her tag along if he didn’t think she could pull her weight.

If she’s good enough for Flynn, that’s good enough for me.

Davis closed his eyes and took another deep breath. He held it a little longer this time.

All the chatter stopped as an someone’s alarm beeped.

“Time to go,” Flynn said.

Everyone shouldered their gear and got into the van.

Davis got up, stretched and made his way over to the driver’s door. He climbed in and closed the door. He reached over his shoulders and pulled the harness down, clipping it into the buckle. He flipped switches on the dashboard and gauges flared to life. Looking over the instrument cluster, he cinched down the harness.

Check… check…check… he thought, as he looked at the readouts.

“About set here,” Davis said.

“Roll when you’re ready,” Flynn replied evenly.

Davis reached for the cable in the center console. His hand ran down the cable until he reached the jack.

Deep breath. Hold.

He plugged the jack into the port at the base of his neck. The instrument cluster gauges dimmed as images of them  painted themselves in his field of vision. He exhaled slowly…

…and the engine revved, dying down as he finished exhaling.

“We’re gone”, he said and pulled out into the night.

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
While I promised the person that the quote would remain unattributed, I had to share this:

Concubines usually get paid.

Which as I recall, isn’t necessarily true (unless you count the whole “I’m not having you beheaded” thing), but was still amusing.


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


Tick.. tick… tick…

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Tick.. tick... tick...

Thursday – 29 March 2012
It’s another Thursday in the valley. So far, it’s held up to NBN scrutiny.  Hopefully, that will continue.
(UPDATE: It did.)

Last night, SaraRules! and I watched…

…for our Date Night movie; I’ve seen it before (we own the DVD), but she hadn’t. She liked it, despite a couple of uncanny valley issues.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
This nugget of joy comes by way of my sister-in-law, Chelsea, and my nephew, Caden:

Caden: Mom, what’s that?
Me: It’s a water tower.
Caden: Oh. . .Where’s the othere one’s?
Me: What other one’s?
Caden: The milk tower and the juice tower.

The utter brilliance and genius of the three-year-old mind.


In like a lion…

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In like a lion...

Thursday – 01 March 2012
March kicks off with an NBN Technical Friday.

And there’s snow; granted it’s from last night…

… but it’s still snow.

After getting Adventure Babies to bed last night, SaraRules! and I settled down to pizza and a movie. Yes, it was “Pasta and Movie Date Night,” but we decided to call an audible and have pizza instead. For our movie, we watched The Thing (2011), a prequel to the 1982 movie. It wasn’t awesome, but it was far from the worst movie that I’ve seen.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Today’s nugget of wisdom comes by way of Texts From Last Night:

A houseboat for a bachelor party is a terrible idea, we nearly die when on dry land, so how the hell are we supposed to survive a 3 day binge on a massive lake?


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


“I don’t know what to say, the monkeys won’t do…”

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"I don't know what to say, the monkeys won't do..."

Thursday – 08 December 2011
Not only is today “NBN” Thursday, nor is it just my “Technical Friday”…

But today is Vanessa’s 1/4-birthday!

And, I got to start the morning with cuddles from both “Baby Dynamo” (as SaraRules! calls her) and Little Miss Diana. AND… I made all seven of the lights on the way to work this morning. (It was a close call at Light #4, but I made it.) I take these things as omens that today is going to be a good day.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
I made the following post on Twitter a little while ago:

Civility, logic, reason and common sense all seem to go out the window when people see/hear the words “sale” or “free.” #monkeys

I predicated this statement based on the observation of peoples’ reactions to a recycling/giveaway that was being done in our office. People were complaining about “This [item] doesn’t have [component]…” or “This isn’t as good as that one…” or, and this is my favorite: “Can I go through X and Y and Z and scavenge pieces for this…?”



The equipment is being given away.


ALL you had to do was put your name in a bag to be drawn to be eligible to TAKE an item.


If it’s too much hassle to be happy with what you’re getting – again: FOR FREE! – then maybe (just maybe) you shouldn’t have put your name in the bag in the first place.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
I have a dead-blow hammer – bequeathed to me by – at my desk at work. I have been known to refer to it as Mjolnir, on occasion. Today, Julie borrowed it, to crush peppermint. (Don’t know why; didn’t ask.) She brought it back and said:

“Thor’s hammer smells a bit like peppermint…”

I retorted:

“Now dispensing minty-fresh justice!”

We both laughed.