Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Sunday – 14 September 2014
For the past week, I’ve been on vacation. It’s been pretty amazing.

Last weekend, Salt Lake Comic Con was in town. I went (of course), as did Sara and Team DiVa. I think that the girls’ highlight moment can be summed up here:

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They were pretty ecstatic to see Wonder Woman. I thought that Diana was going to try and knock people over to get to her. Unfortunately, by the time I finally got this picture, they were starting to run out of people juice. Click here to see more pictures of the outing.

Sunday afternoon, we packed up and headed to Redfish Lake for a long-anticipated family vacation. As Sunday and Monday were the girls’ birthdays, we had a small to-do for that:

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We spent three-and-a-half days at the lake; it was a nice change of pace and it was a lot of fun to see the girls interacting with a new environment. There was a bit of a love/hate relationship with the lake: Temps were mostly in the 60s and 70s, so the lake was… brisk, to say the least. But, the girls had fun wading in the water and trying to catch minnows:

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Sara! also introduced them to fishing. With hooks and bait and the whole nine yards. The fish weren’t biting, but they still liked it. I even managed to sneak in a bike ride while we were there. Click here for more pictures of our time in Central Idaho.

We came back to Salt Lake City to prepare for the last hurrah of the weekend: Team DiVa’s third birthday party (yes, that’s a picture link):

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Yes, the girls are in their Comic Con costumes – it was a superhero-themed party. We invited some of the girls’ friends from daycare and a few other kids they know. The birthday party was a big hit. My mother, sister, niece and uncle flew in for the weekend to help celebrate. After the party – and a couple of much-needed naps for the girls – we had a family dinner in the back yard. (I think we’ve used the yard more in the past two months than we have in the past two years. Go figure.)

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This morning, we saw Mom, Kris and Kennadi off at the airport.

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My uncle had a early flight, so we said our goodbyes to him last night. It was nice having them here for a few days, as we haven’t seen them since last summer.

After that, we headed to breakfast at Millcreek Cafe. From there, we stopped to pick up a copy of Cinderella for a family movie morning. The movie went over with a mixed reaction, but the girls watched the whole thing. And from there, it was lunch and nap time.

Tomorrow, the working world awaits. But that’s tomorrow. For today, I still have a few hours to spend with Sara! and the girls. And there are Slurpees in our future.

And that’s just fine with me.

Namaste.

Tilting, but not at windmills…

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Tilting, but not at windmills...

Thursday – 09 February 2012
This NBN Thursday is a bit grey and hazy.  But, I started the morning with SaraRules! and the girls, so it was a good kick-off to the day.

Last night, we watched Killer Elite (not to be confused with the movie with almost the same title from 1975) for Movie Date Night. Robert DeNiro. Clive Owen. Jason Statham. All kicking ass and, in some cases, taking names. The premise was a little different than I expected, but not in a bad way. There were a couple of plot holes, but what movie doesn’t have those these days? In the end, it made for a decent night’s viewing.

Also, I tried out something different with my bike trainer: Disengaging the tension wheel, so that the back wheel spun freely. Works, but without any resistance, I was pedaling as easily in the higher gears (15 and up) as I was in the first three gears. Still, it’s an option.

Chew on This: Food for This – Black History Month
Today, you’re getting a double d0es of Black History Month goodness.

  • The first person of note is James Weldon Johnson, author, politician, poet, songwriter, and educator, and early civil rights activist.James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871 – June 26, 1938)  was born in Jacksonville, Florida, the son of Helen Louise Dillet and James Johnson. His brother was the composer J. Rosamond Johnson. Johnson was first educated by his mother (the first female, black teacher in Florida at a grammar school) and then at Edwin M. Stanton School. At the age of 16 he enrolled at Atlanta University, from which he graduated in 1894. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he also completed some graduate coursework there.

    After graduation he returned to Stanton, a school for African American students in Jacksonville, until 1906, where, at the young age of 23, he became principal. As principal Johnson found himself the head of the largest public school in Jacksonville regardless of race. Johnson improved education by adding the ninth and tenth grades. During his tenure at Stanton, Johnson wrote Lift Every Voice and Sing — often called “The Negro National Hymn”, “The Negro National Anthem”, “The Black National Anthem”, or “The African-American National Anthem” — set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1900.

    In 1897, Johnson was the first African American admitted to the Florida Bar Exam since Reconstruction. He was also the first black in Duval County to seek admission to the state bar. In order to receive entry, Johnson underwent a two-hour examination before three attorneys and a judge. He later recalled that one of the examiners, not wanting to see a black man admitted, left the room.

    In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him U.S. consul to Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, and in 1909 he became consul in Corinto, Nicaragua, where he served until 1914. He later taught at Fisk University. Meanwhile, he began writing a novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (published anonymously, 1912), which attracted little attention until it was reissued under his own name in 1927.

    In 1920 Johnson was elected to manage the NAACP, the first African American to hold this position. While serving the NAACP from 1914 through 1930 Johnson started as an organizer and eventually became the first black male secretary in the organization’s history. In 1920, he was sent by the NAACP to investigate conditions in Haiti, which had been occupied by U.S. Marines since 1915. Johnson published a series of articles in The Nation, in which he described the American occupation as being brutal and offered suggestions for the economic and social development of Haiti. These articles were reprinted under the title Self-Determining Haiti. Throughout the 1920s he was one of the major inspirations and promoters of the Harlem Renaissance trying to refute condescending white criticism and helping young black authors to get published.

    Johnson died while vacationing in 1939, when the car he was driving was hit by a train.

  • The second person of note is Mat Johnson (no relation), an American writer of literary fiction.Johnson (born August 19, 1970) grew up in “racially stratified” Philadelphia. His mother is African American; his father, Irish American. After his parents’ divorce, he was raised by his social worker mother in a largely black section of the city, Germantown, where he often felt like a standout. “When I was a little kid, I looked reallywhite—I was this little Irish boy in a dashiki.”In his teens, he transferred to a private school, Abingdon Friends, in a more affluent neighborhood. “It was the first time I was around a lot of white people. I suddenly realized I had an ethnic identity, and started to think about race.” He listened to Public Enemy and devoured The Autobiography of Malcolm X and books by W.E.B. DuBois and Toni Morrison. “African-American literature felt like an intellectual home, this place where I fit and belonged,” he says gratefully.

    Like the late playwright August Wilson, Johnson seems to identify almost exclusively with the African roots of his biracial family tree. “African-American is a Creole culture. It embraces the mix,” he asserts.

    Mat Johnson attended West Chester University, University of Wales-Swansea, and ultimately received his BA from Earlham College, and in 1993, he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Johnson received his MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts in 1999. Johnson has taught at Rutgers University, Columbia University, Bard College, The Callaloo Journal Writers Retreat, and is now a permanent faculty member at The University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

    Mat Johnson’s first novel, Drop (Bloomsbury USA in 2000), was a coming of age novel about a self-hating Philadelphian who thinks he’s found his escape when he takes a job at a Brixton-based advertising agency in London, UK.  Drop was listed among Progressive Magazine’s “Best Novels of the Year.” In 2003, Johnson published Hunting in Harlem (Bloomsbury USA 2003), a satire about gentrification in Harlem and an exploration of belief versus fanaticism. Hunting in Harlem won the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Novel of the Year.

    Johnson made his first move into the comics form with the publication of the five-issue limited series Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite (Vertigo 2005), where he took an existing character of the Hellblazer franchise and created an origin story that strove to offer depth and dignity to a character that was arguably a racial stereotype of the noble savage. The work was set in 18th Century Manhattan, and was based around the research that Johnson was conducting for his first historical effort, The Great Negro Plot, a creative non-fiction that tells the story of the New York Slave Insurrection of 1741 and the resultant trial and hysteria.

    In February 2008, Vertigo Comics published Johnson’s graphic novel Incognegro, a noir mystery that deals with the issue of passing (racial identity) and the lynching past of the American south.

    He was named a 2007 USA James Baldwin Fellow and awarded a $50,000 grant by United States Artists, a public charity that supports and promotes the work of American artists. On September 21, 2011, Mat Johnson was awarded the Dos Passos Prize for Literature.

Information courtesy of Chronogram.com, DCComics.com, matjohnson.info and Wikipedia

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Five Months (Part II)

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Five Months (Part II)

Wednesday – 08 February 2010
Vanessa turned 5-months-old today:

Last night, the girls took another foray into “New Food Adventures” with sweet potatoes. Their primary reflex is still to somewhat spit out whatever they’re fed, if it’s not in a bottle. This can be mitigated by simply re-spooning the food back in. After trying rice cereal last week, we were curious to see how they’d respond to a new food. We got our answer: They seemed to like it.  It was a messy – but successful – test.

As the night wore on, I finally decided to bring my bike in and set up the bike trainer that SaraRules! got me for Christmas. I got everything assembled and decided to try it out. It was a bit noisier than I expected, which may prevent me from using it after the girls go to bed at night… unless I move it into the unfinished part of the basement.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Elmer Samuel Imes, the second African-American to earn a Ph. D. in Physics and among the first African American scientists to make important contributions to Modern physics.

Elmer Samuel Imes (October 12, 1883 – September 11, 1941) was born in Memphis, Tennessee, attended grammar school in Oberlin, Ohio and completed his high school education at the Agricultural and Mechanical High School in Norman, Alabama. Imes graduated from Fisk University in 1903 with a degree in science.

Upon graduating from Fisk, Imes taught mathematics and physics at Georgia Normal and Agricultural Institute in Albany, Georgia (presently Albany State University) and the Emerson Institute in Mobile, Alabama. Imes returned to Fisk in 1913 as an instructor of science and mathematics. During his tenure there, Imes earned a Master’s degree in science from Fisk University.

In 1918, Imes earned a Ph. D. in Physics at the University of Michigan where he studied under Harrison McAllister Randall becoming the second African American to receive a Ph. D. in Physics since Edward Bouchet, did so from Yale University in 1876. Imes’ research and doctoral thesis led to the publication of Measurements on the Near-Infrared Absorption of Some Diamotic Gases in November 1919 in the Astrophysical Journal. This work was followed by a paper co-authored and presented jointly with Dr. Randall: The Fine Structure of the Near Infra-Red Absorption Bands of HCI,HBr, and HF at the American Physical Society and published in the Physical Review in 1920. His work demonstrated for the first time that Quantum Theory could be applied to radiation in all regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, to the rotational energy states of molecules as well as the vibration and electronic levels. His work provided an early verification of Quantum Theory.

Around 1919, Imes became married to Harlem Renaissance writer, Nella Larsen. The couple lived in Harlem becoming part of the Harlem intellectual society which included intellectuals such as Langston Hughes and W.E.B. Du Bois.

During the period Imes spent in the scientific and materials industry, his work resulted in four patents for instruments which were used for measuring magnetic and electric properties.

In 1939, he conducted research in magnetic materials at the Physics Department at New York University and continued as chair of the physics department at Fisk until his death in 1941.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“The trick is to keep breathing…”

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"The trick is to keep breathing..."

Wednesday – 17 August 2011
Midweek and all’s pretty well…

…unless you’re this guy:

I’m talking about the car in the middle of the picture. It appears to have broken down in the median. It’s also been there for a few minutes. I watched as (at least) two patrol cars drove past it — in the left lane — without stopping. *shrug*

After about 40 minutes, another car pulled up behind it. People got out. They stood near the first car. A couple of minutes later, they both pulled off. I’m not sure, but it may have just been a case of running out of gas.  But, I’m still a little… concerned/bothered… that the two police officers just drove past it like nothing was wrong.

Yesterday, I was in the south office. One of my tasks for the day was to join peoples’ computers to the corporate network. In and of itself, not a terribly difficult assignment. Or so you’d think. After all, the computers spoke the same language – Windows – albeit different dialects (XP/Vista/7).

Theoretical Concept: Easy.
Practical Application: *grblsnrkx*

Let’s say that there was a lot of “hurry up and wait” along with the obligatory questions from the engineers of: “Which login do I use?” and “Should I try this?” and “Huh…?!” But, I got a few of the guys taken care of… without bloodshed.

Last night was game night with and crew. It was a good time. Especially as none of us died in the course of adventuring.

Groove. Boogie. Sway.
A couple of songs that helped to get this morning started were:

There were others, but these two were the prime movers of the day.  Oh, yeah, and this one:

It has gotten back into the public eye ear(?) as the background music for the Blackberry PlayBook commercial.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
It’s been a while since I’ve had a good story about my nieces. Fortunately, my brother-in-law posted one yesterday:

Lady, looking at Sophia, dressed in pink with a pink headband: “Oh how cute, is it a little girl?”
Me: No lady, “it” is a duck.
Lady: Well you’re rude.
Me: Well you’re not very bright.
Sophia: QUACK, Daddy! QUACK!

Sophia is just shy of her second birthday.

Namaste.