Archive for the 'dining and cuisine' Category

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Sunday, September 14th, 2014
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.

Of birthdays, family and friends, and Living Colour

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
Of birthdays, family and friends, and Living Colour

Wednesday – 30 October 2013
It’s been a while, but I do have a few things to talk about. Granted, most of them revolve around the past week and my birthday, go figure.

And, as I mentioned on Facebook: Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to wish me a “Happy Birthday.” I truly appreciated it.

Last week wound up being very long, thanks – or “no thanks,” as the case may be – to Project: Cthulhu. I actually had a vendor rep on the phone for the better part of… six hours over two work days, trying to suss out what was wrong. And their documentation wasn’t much of a help; it was outdated and didn’t cover the correct procedure for what the vendor wanted us to do on the server. Yay. Late Friday afternoon, I had the brilliant epiphany to compare a working server to the one that was being “slightly difficult.” I found a discrepancy and started down a path to rectify it. Lo and behold, it worked. Work week: Saved.

I went home Friday evening tired and a little annoyed that finding the problem, even with the help of the vendor engineer, took so long. Those feelings melted away when I was greeted at the door by Team DiVa, bearing a box of RubySnap cookies and singing “Happy Birthday.” Sure, it was a day early, but it was very sweet. We had dinner and hung out that evening. Sara and I decided to watch Nightmare on Elm Street after the girls were in bed; I started nodding off during the movie. I decided to go take a hot soak and call it an early night. I did and I did. In that order.

Saturday, I woke up not really feeling any older, but definitely glad to have completed another circuit of the sun without any dire encounters with the Dark Lady. Sara made her famous (at least around our house it is) coffee cake for breakfast. We hung out at home all morning until it was time for me to go play dolls HeroClix. Birthday Bonus: It was an Event Week, so I wasn’t judging, but actually playing. It was a sealed event – buy a couple of boosters and build a team from the figures in the boxes. I put together an okay team, but got completely wrecked in the tournament. Didn’t matter because I had a fun time gaming and talking trash with the other players.

I came home and helped get the girls ready for dinner. Shortly after that, Sara’s parents came over – they were kind enough to watch the girls while Sara and I went out for birthday dinner at Rodizio Grill. Added Birthday Bonus: October is Rodizio’s “Wild Game Fest,” so you can sample a few exotic meats. We tried the frog legs and one of my favorites: rattlesnake sausage. We checked out with our Seven Deadly Sins card punched for “Gluttony.” (So. Very. Worth it.) Next: A stop at the Cheesecake Factory for some celebratory dessert. Then it was back home for a movie. Since it was my choice and I wanted something light – and hopefully funny – I picked Iron Sky, which I’ve wanted to see for some time. It was not a great movie, in fact it was pretty ridiculous, but I had a blast watching it. Seriously, how could you not appreciate – if not love – a movie about Nazis on the moon where the heroic lead is a Black guy?!

Sunday was, again, pretty low-key. We didn’t do a whole lot during the day. There were a couple of shopping excursions prior to Sara’s parents, Galadriel, Angy and Dave coming over for dinner. Sara baked a pretty wicked Devil’s Food cake for after-dinner birthday fun. After the guests were gone and the girls were abed, we settled in for cocktails and The Walking Dead. We were not disappointed.

Monday, the work week reared its ugly head once more. I headed in to work for a 9:00AM meeting… only to find that I was a week early for it.

*grblsnrkx*

Had I bothered to confirm the time/date, I would have either come in late or just worked from home. Feh. Fortunately, the day passed fairly quickly. I confirmed that Friday’s server configuration was indeed viable and handed it off to the vendor’s engineers shortly before lunch. I picked up Team DiVa from daycare and ushered them home for snacktime (RubySnap Virginia cookie!) and dinner. Then, it was off to Guys’ Night Out with the usual suspects.

Tuesday, was a quiet day. This was a good thing. Especially as, Tuesday Night, I was going to enjoy Sara’s final birthday present: Living Colour in concert. That’s right. Living Colour. (Yes, Cult of Personality Living Colour.)

Living Colour at The Depot

Living Colour at The Depot

I met up with Jeremiah and Zac at The Depot. They’d already scoped out a prime location about 5 or 6 feet from the stage. We were right in front of Vernon Reid (guitarist) the entire show. I also got to hang out with Robert V., Monica and Alessandro. Pictures (and some video) of the evening can be seen here.

It was an amazing concert, from start to finish. And they had the bass turned WAAAY up. Floor-shaking bass. They opened with Robert Johnson’s Preachin’ Blues (I think), and then went into Vivid. After Cult of Personality, Corey Glover joked, “And now, the rest of the fucking album…” You could tell that they were having a great time, both with the way they played and sang and the way that they interacted with each other and the audience. And if anyone was worried that these guys have lost a step or two…? Rest assured: They sounded fantastic. They started Open Letter (to a Landlord) by opening with a great rendition of Amazing Grace. Or, as I live-tweeted:

They finished out the set with Glamour Boys, What’s Your Favorite Color?, and Which Way to America. I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how much of the album I remembered.

After a spectacular drum solo by Will Calhoun, they closed the show with a great crowd-backed rendition of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side, Love Rears Its Ugly Head (which I was secretly hoping they’d do), Time’s Up, James Brown’s Sex Machine.

It was the perfect way to wrap up an extended birthday celebration.

And that’s pretty much that.

Namaste.

Midpoint

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Midpoint

Wednesday – 10 July 2013
Welcome to the middle of the week.

After a less-than-stellar start to the work week, things seem to be picking up steam. I’m good with that.

Today is also Movie Date Night… and it’s my turn to pick a movie. I should probably try to come up with an idea of what we’re going to watch.

This weekend, Sara!, Team DiVa and I are running participating in the Young Living Farms Run Through the Lavender 5k on Saturday. This year will be our fourth time doing it. (“It’s tradition!”) My time was better last year than  in 2011 – even with my running buddy strapped to my chest…

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…but I am fairly certain that I’m going to lose a few minutes this year, as my running buddy has gotten a little bigger. Not big enough to walk it herself, though – she’ll be on my back. Still, it should be fun. Aside from waking up at O’dark-thirty to be at the starting line on time. My goal: To not be the last person across the finish line. I’m Ivory Soap sure that I can accomplish this goal.

Speaking of “kids in backpacks,” we figured that we should test drive walking around with Team DiVa in their carriers as backpacks, rather than chest packs. It’s been… six months, at least, since they’ve been in the carriers. So, we expected some reluctance.

Vanessa made it immediately known that she was having none of this foolishness, with immediate cries of “Get down! Get down!”

*sigh*

Diana was a little more accommodating. A little. She made it about thirty seconds before she decided that she wasn’t going to put up with being in a carrier, either.

Round 1 –  Carriers: 0, Team DiVa 1

We were eventually able to convince Diana to try again. And she stayed put. Not surprisingly, Vanessa was more willing to get in her carrier after seeing that it wasn’t as doom-laden as she had made it out to be.

And with that, we set off for a lap around the block. It went pretty well. By the time we completed our circuit, we decided to walk a little further, so we walked over to the cul-de-sac a block over. Still no problems. In fact, the girls seemed to have a decent time of it.

After getting the girls to bed, I watched another episode of David Tennant’s Doctor Who and stayed up later than I should have watching Leon: The Professional. Good movie.

 Stray Toasters

  • Some days, you need a good laugh. I thank my friend, Jeremiah, for providing one this morning.
  • While looking for a post I did about concerts I’ve attended, I came across this post. It brought a smile to my face, not just because it ragged on the Steelers, but because it reminded me of my late friend, Dave.
  • I’ve finally gotten around to creating a music playlist based on The Endless (from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman):
    • Dream: Dreams (Van Halen)
    • Death: She Talks to Angels (The Black Crowes)
    • Delirium: Purple Haze (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
    • Desire: The Principles of Lust (Enigma)
    • Despair: Sorrow (David Bowie)
    • Destiny: Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow)
    • Destruction: War (Edwin Starr)
  • I’m craving doughnuts now that a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise has opened locally. Go figure.
  • From Chucks to Dunks: 100 Years of Sneaker Design Visualized

Namaste.

“Now is the little girl a bride…”

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
"Now is the little girl a bride..."

Monday – 17 June 2013 Tuesday – 18 June 2013
This has been a wonderful (and wonderfully taxing, at times) trip. In doing the pre-vacation math, I figured out that I haven’t been home in three years (NC) or five years (MD). That is far too long. If it’s within my power, it won’t be so long between visits the next time. And hopefully not nearly as harried, either.

The impetus for this trip was to see my youngest sister get married. (And to be in the wedding, too, but that wasn’t the main point.) On Saturday, Kristen jumped the proverbial broom. Jeff, her new husband, has been nothing but a stand-up guy in my encounters with him; I’m happy to welcome him into the family. I could not be happier for nor prouder of Kristen. And I feel all the more privileged by the fact that I was able to be a part of her special day.

Jeff and Kristen

Jeff and Kristen

But, let’s backtrack a bit…

We left the Zion Curtain behind in Wednesday. We got up, out and on the way to the airport for Team DiVa’s first trip on an airplane and their first visit to the Right Coast. I can happily say that they did very well on the ride, although Vanessa had a bit of a meltdown about 20 minutes before the plane landed.

The girls have talked with my father on Skype on many occasions, but Wednesday was the first time they met him, so there was a bit of “we think we know this guy” warm-up time involved. But after that, Vanessa would hardly let the man out of her sight. It was a constant barrage of “Ga’pa!” “Ga’pa!” Morning. Night. And if we went out, the first person she wanted to see when we got back was… you guessed it… “Ga’pa!”

Vanessa and Grandpa - BFFs

Vanessa and Grandpa – BFFs

Thursday, we ran out to visit my aunt, who also babysat me when I was the girls’ age. We actually paid her and my uncle a surprise visit. It was exactly the reaction that I expected and totally worth the trip. There was also a sense of… a “Circle of Life” kind of completion, I guess… in having the girls running around and playing in the same place I played as a kid.

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Thursday afternoon, Rana came into town and brought Grace, Sophia and Leila up to meet the girls.

Bit, Pixel, Rana and Widget

Bit, Pixel, Rana and Widget

Bit and Pixel

Grace and Sophia

Other than the occasional video chat, I haven’t seen Grace or Sophia since Sara! and I got married and I’d never met Leila. All three are fine young ladies. Grace, being three-and-a-half years older than our girls, was more patient than I had expected. (Of course, having two younger sisters probably factors into it somewhere…) Sophia was the mediator, trying to calmly settle “I want this toy now” fights by saying that they all had to share. Leila, being the same age ( plus two weeks) as Team DiVa, just wanted to know “Who are these new kids and why are they playing with my toys?!” The eight off us went out for a late lunch at Earth Wood and Fire.

Friday, we got up and hit the road for North Carolina. We got a slightly earlier start than I had originally planned and it was a good thing: Traffic was snarled in a few places and we had to make longer-than-I-was-used-to stops with toddlers. The car ride was not as idyllic as the plane ride had been – there were mini-meltdowns along the way. Add to this, the fact that we were under the gun, with respect to time, as I needed to pick up and try on my tuxedo (in Greensboro) before heading to the hotel (in Winston-Salem) and on to the wedding rehearsal. Ugh… But, we made it. I was late to the rehearsal, but I was there. I also finally got to meet my niece (Kris’ daughter), Kennadi, for the first time:

Kennadi

Kennadi

The rehearsal dinner was at a nice event center/art gallery. The girls did fairly well, putting up with being fawned over with their usual aplomb until they hit the wall and were just done width everyone. It’s worked out well for Sara! and me: We took the opportunity to stop at a nearby Bojangle’s for Cajun Filet Biscuits and seasoned fries. (Vanessa helped herself to about a quarter oh my sandwich.)

Saturday, we headed to Greensboro to meet Don, Christine and their boys for lunch at Five Guys. It was great to see them and to be able to catch up with what’s been going on in each others’ lives. After lunch and a quick shopping run, it was back to Winston-Salem to get ready for the wedding.

Dressed. Up. Out.

Until the wedding pictures are back, this is the only picture I have of me in my wedding tuxedo.

Until the wedding pictures are done, this is the only photo I have of me in my wedding tuxedo. (Along with my Godsister, Tammy)

The venue was only a couple of blocks from the hotel, so we walked over. Unfortunately, there was a bicycle race going on between both places. Thus, we had to wait for breaks in the action – and the go-ahead from local law enforcement – to walk across the streets. When we got to the event center, I headed off to find the wedding party, leaving Sara! to wrangle Team DiVa by herself.

Things did not go well.

Why? Well, between me posting pictures of the girls in various places and my mother doing the same, there were A LOT of people who wanted to meet the girls in person. Let’s look at a few simple facts:

  • Two toddlers,
  • One long plane ride,
  • One long car trip,
  • Off-kilter sleep schedule (especially naps), and
  • Dozens of people who want to pinch/poke/prod/kiss/cuddle/you-name-it the girls.

Yeah, you add those things up and they can only equal one thing: Meltdown.

And that’s exactly what happened. They hit their threshold for dealing with people – especially a bunch of people they didn’t know – and just hit the wall. And Sara! had to deal with it. (I really do have the Best Wife Ever.) Here’s a picture she managed to get between episodes:

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Sara managed to intermittently calm the girls down with crackers and water. This was one of those moments.

The three of them missed the ceremony and the reception. I missed most of the wedding party photos because we took the girls back to the hotel after the the ceremony; Sara! sent me back to the reception. (To my credit, I did bring her food and cake when I got back to the hotel.)

Sunday, we left Winston-Salem and headed back to Greensboro. On the way, I stopped in to see William and Charlie. They and their family are doing well. From there, it was on to Harlem Bistro for a small brunch for Kris and Jeff before they jetted off on their honeymoon.

Kristen, Kennadi and Jeff

Kristen, Kennadi and Jeff

We headed to Reidsville to get a hotel room for the night and to let Team DiVa get a nap. It partially worked. We got the room and they got a nap, but they never made it to the room for their nap. I wound up driving them around town while the room was being prepared. Go figure. Since the girls were up, we headed to my mother’s house for a bit. They discovered Mom’s piano. Mom, in turn, asked when we were signing them up for lessons.

Monday, it was back over to Mom’s before hitting the road again. We picked up breakfast and spent a little time with the North Carolina parental units before piling back into the car for the journey to the Baltimore parental units’ house. Team DiVa not only rediscovered the piano…

Is anyone really surprised by this...? I think not.

Is anyone really surprised by this…? I think not.

…but they also played with Kennadi…

Team DiVa and Team Kennadi, just hanging out...

Team DiVa and Team Kennadi, just hanging out…

…at least as much as an 8-month-old can play with two year-and-a-half old toddlers. But, they made it work. All too soon, it was time to say goodbye.

On the way back to Baltimore, we stopped off to visit Sara!’s cousin, Katie, Royce and their kids. Turns out that they don’t live too far from Rana and John. (Good to know for the next time we’re on this side of the country.) The visit was nice not only because we got to see Katie and company, but also because Team DiVa had someone to play with for a bit.

We finally made it back to Baltimore and reunited Vanessa with her BFF. And all was well.

Tomorrow Today, I have some running around to do, but I also get to spend a little time with Bret, whom I haven’t seen in at least five years, and some of my classmates from Park, whom I haven’t seen in 25 years.

It should be a good day.

Namaste.

“You… you’ve got me? Who’s got YOU!?!”

Thursday, April 25th, 2013
"You... you've got me? Who's got YOU!?!"

25 April 2013
It’s another sunny – and moderately warm – NBN Thursday in the valley.

Last night, was not only Movie Date Night, but it was Sara!’s turn to pick a movie. The only things that she would say about the night’s fare was that it required – REQUIRED – popcorn and that it was “the greatest movie ever made.” I was intrigued by these comments, to say the least.

After a messy dinner  (Two toddlers with Greek food… and rice. Do the math.) and some clean-up, it was time for the movie. And I was, to say the least, surprised by her choice:

That’s right: Superman. My all-time favorite movie.

Best. Wife. Ever.

So we sat on the couch, ate popcorn, and watched Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder and company bring a small slice of the DC Universe to life. And, once again, I was transported to a happy place in my childhood. I  was also able to pick out a few things that I’d never paid attention or associated with the movie before:

  1. Faster than a speeding bullet: Clark snatches the bullet out of mid-air during the mugging.
  2. More powerful than a locomotive: This one comes up twice:
    1. Teenaged Clark is races the train through rural Kansas
    2. Superman subs in for a missing rail as an Amtrak train approaches
  3. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound: This one’s a given – he flies throughout the second half of the movie.
  4. Who can change the course of mighty rivers: Not so much changing the course of a river, but he creates a makeshift dam to stop a river from destroying a town
  5. Bend steel in his bare hands: Again, another two-fer:
    1. He tears the door to Lex Luthor’s lair off it’s hinges
    2. He tears off the door to Lois’ rental car after the California earthquake

At the end of the movie, Sara! admitted: “You know, I hadn’t thought about it the last time we watched it, but that was actually a pretty good movie.” (I simply nodded and smiled at this. Hey, I’m biased… not stupid.) I did have to correct Sara!’s misconception of the “spinning the world in reverse” visual and explain that it wasn’t him turning the world backwards, but that it was simply a representation of him going back in time. (For which there are a great many references in the comics…)

All-in-all, it was a fantastic movie date night.

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Stray Toasters

Namaste.

At week’s end…

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Friday – 12 April 2013
It’s the end of the week. Hallelujah.

Earlier this week, I noted that my father had a heart attack. I am happy to report that he is doing much better. He was moved from ICU to a standard room Thursday evening; also, the overall prognosis for his recovery is positive. Thank you to all who offered their well wishes and prayers.

Wednesday, Sara and I didn’t do our usual Movie Date Night. Instead, we had Dinner Date Night with Dave and Angy. Sara prepared Moroccan chicken and rice. And for dessert: Chocolate pie. And we may (or may not) have polished off a couple of bottles of wine. It was a lovely evening.

Thursday, we did have Movie Date Night. We watched Hitchcock.

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It was surprisingly good. And fun. And witty. Anthony Hopkins made an oddly… delightful… Alfred Hitchcock. Helen Mirren, as his wife Alma, was every bit his match. (Not a big surprise there.) I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that I knew a number of other actors in the film, but didn’t recognize them at all. (Key on this list: Scarlett Johannson.) The movie was set around the filming of Psycho and showed Hitchcock’s interactions, relations and frustrations in accomplishing it. On the whole, it was a good and enjoyable selection.

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Stray Toasters

There was going to be more.  But I don’t remember “what” it was. So…

Namaste.

“In brightest day, in drunkest night..”

Sunday, March 17th, 2013
"In brightest day, in drunkest night.."

Sunday – 17 March 2013
Happy (what’s left of) Green Lantern Day!

…or, as some people refer to it: St. Patrick’s Day.

This post actually started on Friday, but between bouts of laziness, keeping up with Team DiVa, going to the opera, and life (in a nutshell), I haven’t been able to get back to it until now. Better late than never.

Friday morning, Sara! flew down to Las Vegas to attend the wedding of a friend. This meant that Friday night, it was just Team DiVa and me. Suffice it to say that we all survived the experience. Saturday was a mostly stay-at-home day. Team DiVa and I did venture out around 4:30 for a bit; we stopped in at SteamHead Cafe to visit Melissa… who had left shortly before we arrived. Oh, well. The Toddler Titans had fun running around and exploring.

Saturday evening, Bonne came over to watch the girls while I went to the airport to pick up Sara and head to the opera. We attended opening night of The Magic Flute:

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Outfits for a night at the opera…

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The stage

I’d never seen The Magic Flute before, nor was I familiar with the story. I wasn’t expecting there to be asides in English, but there were. After the shock of that wore off, I sat back and enjoyed the show. It was fun. The leads were quite well-suited to their roles. The costumes were also good. If you have an opportunity to see it, I highly suggest it.

Today, Sara!, Team DiVa and I headed to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast. A little later, I headed to Home Depot with Dave, to pick up the last of the drywall needed to complete the train room closet. Later, it was off to the in-laws’ for St. Patrick’s Day dinner:

  • Corned beef
  • Cabbage (with carrots)
  • Potatoes

…and some RubySnap Noelles for dessert.

And then, it was home for Team DiVa’s bedtime, a little clean-up and tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead.

Stray Toasters

  • “Beware the Ides of March!”
    As I mentioned above, this post started out on Friday, known as “The Ides of March.” I had a really geeky moment at one point in which I realized that I want to create an RPG character named “Ides” and have him or her come from a land called “March.” Go figure.
  • DC’s Women Know How to Spend Ladies’ Night
  • Speaking of DC Comics and animation: I’m also watching the last episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice.
  • rl_20130315_2999
  • The last time I checked, the Ravens were down a net of six players. I have faith in management’s decisions, but I’m definitely curious to see how this shakes out in the long run.
  • Sinestropotamus and The Green Lamprey. Ha. Thank you, DC Nation Shorts. Nice way to end things.

Yeah, that’s good enough for now.

Namaste.

 

M-11

Monday, March 11th, 2013
M-11

Monday – 11 March 2013
It’s been a while.

Yesterday, we “sprang forward” into Daylight Saving Time. “Saving.” Not “Savings.” The night/morning, already made short by the leap forward in time, was made even more short by the fact that I had to go into work – at 5:30 AM – for a maintenance window. Yee. Hah.

After getting back home, Sara!, Team DiVa and I had a few friends over for brunch. It was additionally nice, as we hadn’t seen a few people in some time. Sara fixed her famous – at least it’s famous around our house – coffee cake, along with muffins and egg casserole. There was fruit. And bacon. And juice. And coffee. And merriment. And frolicking. (Hey, there were kids. They frolicked. Go figure.)

Today was a pretty decent day. Even though I had a good night’s sleep last night, I was pretty beat this morning. Fortunately, there was coffee to offset the possibility of shambling through the day.

diesel_03279

Tonight, Sara! and I outlined and redefined plans for the front and back yards. Nothing too major, but a few nice changes. After that, we started building the frame for the ceiling in the train room closet. We took a break to watch Castle, but it wasn’t on. So, we caught up on Later… with Jools Holland. The first episode we watched was… lacking. We fast forwarded through most of it. Fortunately, the second episode made up for it.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

Respond Vibrate Feedback Resonate

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013
Respond Vibrate Feedback Resonate

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

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

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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:

References:

Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s it.

Namaste.

Daddy-DiVa Saturday!

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Saturday – 26 January 2013
It’s the weekend. Selah.

It’s been a good and somewhat busy week.  Sara! has been attending a conference this week, so it’s mostly been Team DiVa and me at home at night. We all survived. That’s a good thing. Sara!’s conference ends today, but for most of the day, it’s just me and the little ladies.

Sidenote: Some people have made the mistaken assumption that I refer to the girls as “Team DiVa” because they are – or will possibly be – little divas.  Despite one of their grandmother’s being affectionately referred to as “The Diva” (Capital “T,” Capital “D”) by family and friends, we don’t plan on the girls being spoiled little brats. (Spoiled, maybe. Little, only if they don’t get their mother’s height. Brats, no. Period. Full stop.)

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Vanessa (l) and Diana

We call refer to the girls as Team DiVa because of their names. Hence the two capital letters in “DiVa,” rather than just one. We noted the “nickname” when we chose the name – and, no, we didn’t choose the names to create the nickname. I don’t think that we were really planning on using it until someone asked us if we were aware of that “DiVa” could be made from the girls’ names. From that point on, it just kind of… stuck.

Besides, it makes for an easy way to refer to them as well as a handy hashtag for Twitter.

Stray Toasters

Huh, there are a lot of ‘Toasters about women and women-focused topics here. That’s okay, I want Team DiVa to as many good examples of good female role models as I can find.

Namaste.

‘Clix, Opera and the AFC

Monday, January 21st, 2013
'Clix, Opera and the AFC

Monday – 20 January 2013
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

martin-luther-king

mlk2005_noline

This past weekend was a good weekend.

Saturday, I judged a HeroClix tournament. I set up an event for my friend, Keith, who is in town on vacation. Keith was the judge for ‘Clix tournaments when I first started playing, so I was happy to do it. There was a good turn out for the game – we wound up with 12 players.

After the game, Sara! and I headed out for the evening.

IMG_0023

That’s right, time to break out the tuxedo..

It was the opening night for Utah Opera’s staging of Florencia En El Amazonas:

IMG_0029

This is a fairly “new” opera, first staged in 1996. The set design also included a projected background, which changed over the course of the opera, making it appear that the boat (the main piece of scenery) was traveling on the Amazon River.

The Utah Opera costume shop also did an outstanding job of outfitting the cast. There was also a big of… whimsy in some of the ladies’ dress designs. I was particularly taken with the costuming of one of the male leads, to the point of wanting a couple of the pieces for my own wardrobe.

The music for the opera was well-suited to the story. It wasn’t oppressive or heavy; on the contrary, it was lively and, quite frankly, beautiful.

Something else that I enjoyed was that the libretto was amazingly well done. The stories in many operas are fanciful and often rely on some “magical thing” to happen to wrap things up by the coda. That wasn’t the case in this opera. Far from it, in fact. It was easily one of the – if not THE – most realistic bit of storytelling I’ve seen in an opera. The characters were… human, not just characters and far from being caricatures. Their motivations and reactions were incredibly well-grounded.

I haven’t determined exactly where it falls, but this is definitely on my favorite opera list. I highly recommend  seeing it to any and every one.

Sunday, or at least the early part of it, was mostly spent around the house. The afternoon, however, was dedicated to football. Brad and Keith came over to watch the AFC Championship Game…

Instant Replay: Football

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
28 – 13
The Ravens headed to Foxboro, Massachusetts to take on the New England Patriots in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship:

  1. The Patriots beat the Ravens in last year’s matchup.
  2. The Ravens beat the Patriots in Week 3 of the regular season.
  3. Coming into today’s game, Tom Brady was 5-2, all-time, against the Ravens.
  4. The Pats were 9-point favorites.

There was a lot of expectation that tonight’s game would turn out like last year’s…

…but the Ravens and their fans knew that they didn’t want Ray Lewis’ “Last Ride” to end in New England.

The game was close in the first half, with New England drawing first blood with a field goal. Baltimore answered with a touchdown in the second quarter. New England put up another FG in the 2nd and the teams went into halftime with the Pats up 13-7.

The second half belonged to the Ravens. They put up another 21 points while keeping the Pats out of the end zone and out of field goal range.

On the Pats’ last drive, Brady was moving his team downfield well. It looked like they were about to put 6 points on the board until Cary Williams picked off a pass.

Joe Flacco was able to take a knee and send the Ravens to their first Super Bowl in 12 years.

ravens_afc_champs

Congratulations to the Ravens on a fantastic and well-played game.

On to New Orleans, where the Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh will face the San Francisco 49ers, coached by former Ravens QB Jim Harbaugh… John’s brother.

20_FinalStop_home

Stray Toasters

Yeah, my team is going to the Super Bowl. Boom!

Namaste.

“This mornin’, I shot six holes in my freezer…”

Monday, January 14th, 2013
"This mornin', I shot six holes in my freezer..."

Monday – 14 January 2013
It’s cold here in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

How cold? Well, this is what greeted me when I checked the weather before getting out of bed:

What?! I was reading on my iPad before going to sleep; it was right there. Don’t judge.

This was the difference between my car and outside as I got ready to head into the office:

Yes, that is a nearly 70°F difference. So, like I said: It’s cold.

Reeling By On Celluloid: Tomb Raider
As of last Saturday, Sara! and I finished our run of Bond’s movies… since Amazon wanted me to buy Die Another Day. Yeah, that was not going to happen. We decided to start a new run of movies; we just had to decide on a theme. We wound up going with “Action Movies with Strong Female Leads.” That, in turn, lead us to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

lara_croft_tomb_raider

We’d both seen the movie before and knew that it was light on brainpower and fairly full of action. Win. Win. And something that we’d forgotten: Daniel Craig was in the movie. That’s right. James “Double Oh Seven” Bond. Well, five years before he was Bond. And who could forget that Ms. Jolie’s father, Jim Phelps, I mean Jon Voight was in the movie, as well.

And, in the final analysis: It was fun.

Instant Replay: Football
Saturday afternoon, the Ravens took on the Denver Broncos:

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
38 – 35
The Ravens traveled to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Number 1 in the AFC Denver Broncos for the AFC Divisonal Game. Going into the game, the odds were stacked against the Ravens:

  1. The Broncos gave the Ravens a thorough trouncing in Week 15, just four weeks prior.
  2. The Ravens were playing on a short week – having played in an AFC Wild Card game on Sunday.
  3. Peyton Manning was 8-2, all-time, against the Ravens.
  4. The Broncos were 9-point favorites.
  5. Playing in Denver meant that the Ravens would not only have to travel across the country, but they would also have to acclimatize (quickly) to the thinner air at the higher altitude.

And, there was also this gem, as tweeted by the Ravens’ own Terrell Suggs:

ESPN_RavensNation

But, as Han Solo once told C-3P0: “Never tell me the odds.”

Because the Ravens went to Denver to make like Big Daddy Kane and Get the Job Done.

The game was close all the way through; the score wound up being tied a total of five (5) times! There were amazing plays on both sides

At the end of regulation, the score was tied 35-35.

Then came overtime.
Then came the second overtime.

Then, Peyton Manning threw a pass… that was picked off by Corey Graham.  That set up a game-winning Justin Tucker 49-yard field goal, sending the Ravens to the AFC Championship game.

After the game, two future Hall of Famers met at mid-field for the last time as competitors.

Screen Shot 2013-01-14 at 10.10.16 PM

Congratulations to the Ravens on a great game.

Hey, Joe…?! How does it feel to go into Denver and handle business like you did on Saturday?

Flacco_Denver

Next stop: New England.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Snowblind

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Thursday – 10 January 2013
Another NBN Thursday in the valley draws to a close.

When I woke up this morning, it was in the low 40s. That means that today started off warmer than it’s been during the day for the past week.

And then a snowstorm blew in.

Temperatures fell.
Traffic got stupid.
Yada. Yada. Yada.

And, I’m not kidding about the traffic. My commute home  – depending on the route I take and time of day – is usually about 20 minutes. Today, it was just shy of 2 hours. But, Sara! kept Team DiVa up until I got home, so I was able to end the evening with a smile. And a late dinner. Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Tonight was a perfect night for it, too.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“And the meek shall inherit the earth…”

Friday, December 21st, 2012
"And the meek shall inherit the earth..."

Friday – 21 December 2012
…or as I would write it in short form: 21 Dec 12.
…more to the point: 21 – 12. (With an extra “12” for good measure.)

And this is the last 21-12 of the century.

And with that in mind, I give you: 2112

“Overture” and “Temples of Syrinx”

…and…

The whole “A” side of 2112:

  • I. Overture
  • II. Temples of Syrinx
  • III. Discovery
  • IV. Presentation
  • V. Oracle (The Dream)
  • VI. Soliloquy
  • VII. The Grand Finale

According to the Mayan Calendar, the Fourth World ends today and the Fifth World begins. (Sorry, Jack Kirby.)

Last night, Sara! and I watched Men In Black 3 for Movie Date Night.

 

I thought that it was a fun romp and a nice way to wrap up the series; I think that Sara! thought that it was alright. (It was better than MIB2.) And, Josh Brolin does a very good Tommy Lee Jones.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

December 7th

Friday, December 7th, 2012
December 7th

Friday – 07 December 2012
Today is the  71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

“…a day that will live in infamy.”

Today is also the day that Diana turns 15-months-old:

Diana

Stray Toasters

  • Soup. That’s what’s for lunch, late though it is. I’m having the Campbell’s Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It has a little more “bite” than the Progresso Chicken Gumbo. Not to say that one is necessarily better than the other; both have their good qualities.
  • Best Art Ever (This Week)
  • I kind of covet this Dark Phoenix.
  • WWII War Paint: How Bomber-Jacket Art Emboldened Our Boys
  • Last Resort. I just learned today that it will be ending after its 13th episode. That’s a pity, it’s been a great show. But, according to one of the show’s creators, they will be able to wrap up the story before it ends.

Namaste.