Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Tick. Tick. Tick.

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Tick. Tick. Tick.

Saturday – 08 June 2013
Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sorry I’ve been away so long. I won’t let you down again.” -Superman1

Life’s been good. And busy. All things considered, that’s not a bad combination.

Yesterday, Diana turned 21 months; today, Vanessa did the same. Yesterday was also my mother’s birthday.

It's hard to believe that this was almost two years ago...

It’s hard to believe that this was almost two years ago…

Okay, we took a break. Let's go!

Pictures of the Adventure Toddlers from a few weeks back.

I’m looking forward to having only two (2) more days of work before I’m on vacation. (Cue: Sunblock, by emmet swimming) We’re heading eastward for my youngest sister’s wedding. I’m sure that by the time we get back, we’ll need a vacation to recover from our vacation, but somehow, I don’t see that happening. On the other hand, in talking with Sara!, we realized that it’s been roughly three (3) years since we headed to the Right Coast. It will be good to catch up with family and friends – including some old classmates – in person, rather than just over the phone or online.

Reeling By on Celluloid
Some of the movies we’ve watched over the past few weeks:

Another group of four movies that are quite different and for which I had different expectations.

  • Gangster Squad
    This was a cops versus the mob period piece, set in 1940s Los Angeles. The fashion and style were good; the movie was okay. Nothing stellar, but nothing that made us want to claw our eyes out, either.
  • The Last Stand
    Arnold is back, this time as a sheriff whose small town is in the path of an escaping high-profile fugitive, making a run for the border. This movie harkens back to chase movies of the 60s and 70s as well as “small town sheriff fights outside of his weight class” movies.

    It wasn’t a great movie, but it had some fun moments. If you’re looking for a fun, “turn off your brain and enjoy the ride” kind of movie, this might not be a bad way to go.

  • Superman: Unbound
    This movie was based on Geoff Johns’ “Brainiac” story arc from Action Comics in 2008. Given that – and the fact that it was such a good story AND the fact that it had some good voice talent behind it AND the fact that I’m something of a Superman fan – I had rather high expectations for it.

    Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to it. I wasn’t overly thrilled with the animation. And the ending was very anti-climactic, to say the least.

    I don’t think that I’ve been this disappointed in a DCAU feature since Superman: Brainiac Attacks.

  • Mama
    This was Sara!’s last Movie Date Night pick. We hadn’t seen a good horror flick in a while and Guillermo Del Toro’s name attached to a project – even if he’s not directing it – usually means that you’re in for a good ride.

    I wish that was the case with this movie. It had moments of genuine creepiness, but they were more situational and psychological than anything else. The visual effects were… meh. And ,if I had to give a “Best Performer” award to anyone in the cast, it would probably go to young Miss  Isabelle Nélisse for her performance as Lilly… with only about five lines of dialogue in the whole film. Why? Because she was probably the most creepy kid in a film since Damian Thorne. Or the twins in The Shining.

    And the ending? I don’t even know what to say about the ending. (Not in a good way.)
    Emperor Moth (Male)_jpgEmperor Moth (Male)_jpgEmperor Moth (Male)_jpgEmperor Moth (Male)_jpgEmperor Moth (Male)_jpg

Stray Toasters

That’s good enough for now.


1: Superman II (1980)

So many things…

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So many things...

Monday – 20 May 2013
So, it’s been slightly longer than I’d intended since the last non-Team DiVa post. Time somehow manages to just slip away.

It’s been a good couple of weeks, for the most part. Home life has been good and, aside from spending far too many Saturdays in the office – it’s the best opportunity for server maintenance in a couple of cases – work’s been good. This past weekend was something of an exception since the maintenance that I requested and called back to verify on fell through. The service company shipped the wrong part AND didn’t review the error report I sent. Monkeys.

After the failed maintenance window, I headed back home. Sara! and I, thanks to the help of our friends, Dave and Angy, managed to put another nail in the coffin of a landscaping project that’s been long talked about and a tad slow to come to fruition: We got rid of the shrubs in the front yard. Dave and Angy brought over a stump grinder and, after about 75 minutes, the stumps of the shrubs were turned into mulch.

The girls have been doing well, for the most part; Diana had a brief bout of some food not agreeing with her over the weekend, but seems to back to her usual form again.

Reeling by on Celluloid
Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen four movies:

Four very different, but very entertaining movies. So let’s dive in:

  • The Cabin in the Woods
    This movie was made between the time that Chris Hemsworth got on Hollywood’s radar as George Kirk in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek and was bulking up to play the God of Thunder in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.I was recommended to watch this by a coworker. The only thing that he told me about it was that it was a horror movie. Okay, fair enough. Or so I thought.

    Yes, this was a horror movie, but it’s also something… else. Something different. The first few scenes of the movie don’t, at first, give you a sense of what’s to come. I was quite confused when the movie started — to the point of wondering if I had the right disc in the player. Just as the confusion was peaking, the opening credits came on-screen. But it still left a little bit of a disjointed feeling.

    The rest of the movie was entertaining. And strange. Very strange. But, I have to say that the strangeness only added to the movie’s appeal.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness
    As just about anyone who knows me is aware: I’m a Star Trek fan and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is one of my all-time favorite movies. I think that it’s not just a great Star Trek movie, but a great movie in general. In fact, I usually refer to it as “…a great movie, with Star Trek trappings,” because it’s so well-done. When  rumors first started appearing that Into Darkness was possibly going to feature a variation on that story, I was pretty much ready to line up and tell the ticket seller, “Take my money!”Then, word broke that it wasn’t going to be a take on the original ST II. Okay. Fine. I can live with that. When I started watching the trailers, I caught hints of something else. Something familiar. But I was a little hesitant to think that Mr. Abrams and company would pull that particular trigger. Why? A couple of reasons:

    1) As much as I’m a fan of Star Trek: TOS, I’m an even bigger fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. And the inkling that I was getting was something that was first seen on DS9.

    2) Abrams’ movies have reset the timeline, effectively, meaning that everything I knew about [REDACTED] never happened… or at least never existed in the way I knew.

    So, I went into the movie with as open a mind as my Trek-loving self could allow. Turns out, I could allow a lot. Abrams did a good job of expanding upon the story he started in the first movie. This movie was very upfront about showing young Captain Kirk’s penchant for flouting – or just outright ignoring – regulations. And, it was no less upfront about showing the consequences of those actions.

    We were then introduced to the movie’s antagonist, John Harrison. A man who is not what he originally appears to be; there’s something about him that just rang a little “off.”

    And, with that, the chase was on. Abrams took viewers on an action-packed, explosion-filled ride.


  • Crazy, Stupid, Love
    This was another coworker recommendation. To be honest, I didn’t have an interest in this movie when it was out and wouldn’t have given it a second thought had he not suggested it. Having watched it, I must admit: It was a lot of fun. More so than I would have expected.Steve Carell portrays a Cal Weaver, a man who finds that his wife wants a divorce. He accepts it, as best he can, and tries to get on with his life.

    Enter Jacob, a young man who seems to have it all and seems to have no problem meeting attractive young ladies. Jacob then becomes Cal’s mentor and the two begin a journey to get Cal back in the proverbial game.

    Bittersweet hilarity ensues.

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

    I never read The Hobbit nor the Lord of the Rings Trilogy growing up. I own the Trilogy; it was given to me as a gift a few years ago, but I haven’t made the time to read them. So, when this movie was announced, I was interested in seeing it, but had no idea what to expect.It was a beautifully rendered film. Peter Jackson once again brought the world of Middle Earth to lush life. Again, having not read the books, I was surprised to see some familiar faces in the film.

And there you have it.

Stray Toasters

  • I’ve been reading and listening to The Sword of Truth series. One of the recent books focused not on the usual characters, but on a couple of supporting characters. It was set basically between a couple of books that I’d already read; it was a little disconcerting to try and figure out the sequence/time frame. It also took me until about two-thirds of the way through the book to really warm to the new characters. But it wasn’t a necessarily “bad” book. I’m just glad to be back with characters I’ve been reading about for the prior six books.
  • By way of Sara!: 100 Films | 100 Behind the Scenes Photos
  • Looks like we’ll be getting a new Blink ‘Clix. Finally.
  • Pixel art from obscure video games
  • Bans on Same-Sex Marriages Can Take a Psychological Toll
  • One of my coworkers’ sons did a report on The Battle of Antietam for school. He not only did a report, but he made a stop-motion LEGO video to go along with it. I just saw this video and was duly impressed by it. I asked how old he was, just for reference. He’s 14.


New week. New post.

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New week. New post.

Monday – 22 April 2013 It’s been a bit and I have some time (at least I did last night), so I figured that I should get in a new post. Today is Earth Day. Last week, Sara! and I finally got around to watching Django Unchained.


It was a very Tarantino take on a “historical movie” in the same way that Inglorious Basterds was a “historical movie.” (With this in mind, I’m not really sure what everyone’s beef with it was. It’s not Roots, but it’s not trying to be Roots, either.) I found it to be a fun – and funny – movie. It entertained. It told a story. And it didn’t take itself overly seriously in doing so. cowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hatcowboy-hat This weekend was a good one. Saturday morning, Sara!, Team DiVa and I had breakfast with our friend Steve, who was in town with the touring production of West Side Story. We went to The Other Place, not just because it’s a good place for breakfast – and was close both to where Steve was staying and the theatre – but also because it’s a kid-friendly place. As an added bonus, I was able to scheme with our friend, Josh, to get him (and his wife, Aly and their very cute five-month-old daughter) to surprise Sara and Steve. Sara suspected that something was afoot, but Steve was surprised. I’ll still take that as a “Win.” After breakfast, we came back home and I played with Team DiVa for a bit before heading out for a ‘Clix event: Month Five of the WizKids’ “No Man’s Land” event. It was a sealed booster draft – buy two booster packs and build a team – and my packs were not really full of “awesome.” But, I built a team and I played. I wound up going 1-4, but since I normally don’t get to play (and I already had the prize support for the event), I was just there to have fun. And I did. After the game and dinner, Sara! went to see West Side Story; I stayed home with Team DiVa. We watched some Team Umizoomi. We read Moo, Baa, La La La and Barnyard Dance. We put money in their banks. We got them ready for bed. All things considered, they took great mercy on me. After post-bedtime cleaning, I played a bit of DC Universe Online and then watched my first episode of David Tennant’s Doctor Who. I liked it. I look forward to seeing more of his Doctor. Sunday was a fairly low-key day. Breakfast. Shopping. Hanging out at home. I also mowed the lawn for the first time this season. Hell, the first time this year. Sara’s parent’s came over for dinner. Sara! and I also watched Disney’s Tarzan; I haven’t seen it in years, but Sara! had never seen it. It’s not necessarily the best movie ever, but I enjoy it. I also watched my second Tennant Who episode. Stray Toasters


“…one day, they will join you in the sun.”

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"...one day, they will join you in the sun."

Wednesday – 17 April 2013
Movie Date Night.
NBN Thursday Eve.

Sunday, Sara! suggested that we take Team DiVa to Wheeler Farm to see the animals. The girls had fun looking at and identifying them. After we walked through the “farm” part, we went to the playground area. They even went down the big kids’ slide… on our laps. But that’s not the point. They – and we – had fun.

Speaking of the ladies: The girls’ vocabulary is growing, as well. And they are starting to put two- and three-word phrases together. It’s been neat listening to them express themselves.

Monday, I finally got around to mudding and taping the last two corners of the train room closet. It still needs sanding. And there’s a chance that I’ll have to go over things with a second coat of joint compound before putting on the topping compound, but it’s that much closer to being done.

Stray Toasters


At week’s end…

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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.


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.


Stray Toasters

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


“We’re only immortal for a limited time…”

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"We're only immortal for a limited time..."

Monday – 08 April 2013
As if Monday wasn’t… well… “Monday,” I woke to a phone call this morning. It was my sister, Rana, calling.

::: deep breath :::

I’d actually been kind of expecting a call from her over the past couple of days. I wasn’t 100% sure that I’d get one, but I wasn’t looking forward to it, to be honest. She said “Hi” and apologized for possibly waking me and then got on to the part of the call that I wasn’t looking forward to: “I just wanted to let you know that the ambulance is here to take Dad to the hospital.”

Oh, boy…

<< REWIND <<
Turns out that my father had a small heart attack on Thursday — Rana had called me Friday to comment that Dad had been “sick” all day Thursday and the better part of Friday. She even asked if I’d call and see if he’d tell me what was up. I called. We chatted, but he told me that he was feeling fine. He sounded a little off, but I chalked it up to him having been sick.

Dad called me again on Saturday, to ask some questions about some travel plans for this summer. Again, he sounded a little weak, but again, he’d been sick. I didn’t think much of it.

> PLAY >
So, as I mentioned, this morning’s call wasn’t totally unexpected. But, it made for a disconcerting start to the day.

They took my father in for surgery when he got to the hospital. As there was nothing that I could do from this distance, I set about getting ready for the day. I went to work and tried to lose myself in the business of the day. It helped some, but it wasn’t quite enough to quell the worries and questions in the back of my mind.

Over the course of the day, I messaged and talked with Rana a couple more times, and spoke with Adam (my younger brother) as well. Rana confirmed that Dad did, in fact, have a minor heart attack on Thursday. The doctor said that Dad didn’t wait “too late” to get attention, but would have been better off going in Thursday or even on Friday.

Needless to say, my mood today has pretty much run the gamut of emotions. There’s a line from a song I like, Dreamline, that played through my head more than once today:


“We’re only immortal for a limited time.” It’s true. But there comes a time when mortality becomes an all too-present fact of life. Today was one of those days when I thought about it. Mine. My parents’. Even my kids’. I never got to meet two of my grandparents. I lost my other grandparents, including one great grandparent, by the time I was seventeen. I won’t lie: I was not ready to have to deal with losing a parent. I know it happens. I know that it’s a part of life. And it’s something that almost everyone has to face.  Just. Not. Today. Please.

Late this afternoon, I was able to get my father on the phone. Despite having been through surgery earlier in the morning, he sounded much more like himself. (Possibly the best thing I heard today.) He related what happened over the course of the day: They inserted a couple of catheters and stints; turned out that they didn’t need the second catheter, so they removed it. There was some blockage, but they were able to clear it. And, it does not appear to have been any major damage done to his heart. (I think that this was the second best news that I heard today.) They’re keeping him for a few days’ observation. I’ll talk with Rana and/or Dad tomorrow to find out how he’s progressing.

There were a small number of people I talked with and confided in about the morning’s events. To all of them, I’d like to say a very heartfelt “Thank you” for your support and understanding.

It’s been a long day.
It’s also taken me until now to figure out how to get this all off my chest.
But, at least I can rest a little easier tonight.

Stray Toasters

And I think that’s just about everything and anything that I could have to say, save three things:

  • Be good to those you love.
  • Be good to each other.
  • Be good to yourselves.



“In brightest day, in drunkest night..”

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"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:



Outfits for a night at the opera…


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.




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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.


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.


‘Clix, Opera and the AFC

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'Clix, Opera and the AFC

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



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.


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

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


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.


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.


Stray Toasters

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


Nope. Still not Belgium.

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Tuesday – 08 January 2012
Day Two: Go!

Last night, I decided to tackle some of the clutter in the unfinished portion of the basement. I didn’t make a huge dent in it, but I made a decent dent in it. There’s some And, I was able to move the printer out of the office and hook it up to the Mac that’s in there. I consider that a “Win.”

After that, Sara! and I hung out on the couch, watching Castle. I’d call that a good way to wrap up an evening.

Stray Toasters

  • I’ve finally made the decision to pull the plug on my LiveJournal account. That’s where I originally started blogging way back in 2001; since moving my blog to WordPress, I’ve been on LJ less and less over the years. (Of course, it hasn’t hurt that a number of people that I’ve come to know on LJ have migrated to Facebook, other social media or their own personal sites.)

    For those of you who’ve been following my blog on LJ (via cross-post), please feel free to point your browser to Random Access, instead, as I’ll be terminating my LJ account at the end of the month.

  • Lousy Book Covers
  • Shelf Awareness
  • Zombie attack sheet-set

Right on to the friction of the day…


And that was how I spent my summer vacation… I mean “weekend.”

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And that was how I spent my summer vacation... I mean "weekend."

Sunday – 06 January 2013
I have had a great weekend.

No, seriously.

Saturday, I judged a HeroClix tournament at Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. We had a good turn-out; we had ten players. While there, I received a message from my friend, Jonni. He had a show Saturday night and wondered if I would be able to make it. After consulting the Lady Sara!, I learned that I’d be able to make the show. Win.

I came back home and finally got around to making a fix to the railing and got some help from an unexpected quarter.

>> Fast Forward >>
After Team DiVa was in bed, I got ready and headed to the show. Doing some mental gymnastics, I realized that I hadn’t seen Jonni play – Hell, hadn’t even seen him (other than online) – in over ten years. Yeah. That long.

This was taken 10 January 2002 at the release party for his second CD:

This was taken Saturday (05 Jan 13) night:

And, it was a lot of fun. We’re trying to figure out a time when we can get together for lunch or dinner or something.

Instant Replay: Football

Today, I got to watch the Ravens-Indy game. Brad and Dave came over to watch the game, as well.

Indianapolis Professional Football Club at Baltimore Ravens
9 – 24
The Ravens played their first playoff game of the 2012-2013 season today…

…the same day that Ray Lewis played his last game as a Raven at home.

The first half was mostly a defensive struggle, but the Ravens went into halftime with a 10-6 lead.

In the second half, the offense went to work, racking up 14 more points and holding Indy to just another field goal.

Baltimore wound up with the ball as time wound down and for the final play, Ray Lewis came in at running back…

…and after the clock ran down, he treated Baltimore to a final dance.

After the game, Ray took one last celebratory/congratulatory lap around M&T Bank Stadium.

Congratulations to the Ravens on a job well done and “Thank you” to Ray Lewis for an amazing career and legacy.

Next stop: Denver.

And, to wrap up the weekend, Sara! and I are watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Stray Toasters


…out like a lamb.

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...out like a lamb.

Monday – 31 December 2012
The end of the world year is here.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
Today is the last day of 2012. Some of the experiences of the year include:

  • I left my old job and found another one.
  • Team DiVa had their first birthday party.
    • They also started walking, talking, signing and doing other all-around amazing things.
  • I started a new blog: Pinstripes and Polos
  • My mother went back to work… as a consultant.
  • We did some renovations to the house and grounds:
    • We tore down the gazebo to facilitate new landscaping in the back yard.
    • We started felling trees and shrubbery in front yard, also to accomodate new landscaping.
    • We built a new gate to replace the one that a storm demolished. (I need to replace one of the sides of the gate – again! – following another storm.)
    • The Train Room has been finished; I just need to schedule an appointment to have carpet installed.
  • I turned 42… I’m still not sure what the Ultimate Question is, but I do know where my towel is.
  • My fifth niece was born.
  • I played City of Heroes for the last time. Ever.
  • We got to celebrate a very lovely Christmas with Sara!’s family.

…and, as I said a couple of years ago: “…these are all part of ‘life.’”

On the whole, 2012 was a good year. I am thankful for the many new people I met and I am grateful for the many wonderful things that I got to experience. If you were part of my year – no matter how big or small a part – thank you for the pleasure of your company and for being a part of my journey.

Stray Toasters

  • Over the past few days, Sara! and I have combatted the 2012 Death Plague. I’m not sure where we picked it up, but I’m glad to have it in the proverbial rear view mirror. I didn’t leave the bedroom for over 18 hours (Thu night/Friday) and for 10 of those hours, I didn’t even leave the bed. Sara! was laid up all day Saturday and part of the day on Sunday. Somehow, Team DiVa seem to have avoided the worst of it.
  • Sunday afternoon, I headed to the airport to see my friend, Megan, during a long layover. While there, I also ran into Dave, Erica and Aria, as well as former Utah Opera Resident Artist John Buffett. Superpower-on-overdrive for the end-of-year win!
  • I’ve finally gotten around to continuing the Sword of Truth series, which was suggested to me years ago by my friend, Jess. (It was one of her favorite series.) It’s equal parts thrilling and maddening. I’ve also learned that having access to the Internet while reading/listening is not always a necessarily “good” thing, as I have semi-spoiled a couple of things for myself.
  • Snow. 10″ in the past week and we’re having flurries now.
  • I really need to figure out exactly what I want to do with the spare computers around here.
  • While they lost their last game, the Ravens are still the #4 Seed in the AFC and made the playoffs for the fifth straight year under Head Coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco.
  • By way of Mike B.: Off Topic: A Movie So Bad, It’s Good: The Legacy of Road House
    I’ve not seen the movie before, but this just about makes me want to invest the hour-and-a-half to see it.
  • I’m sure that there were eleventy-billion other things I was planning on adding to this list. Oh, well.

I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2013 and beyond.


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.

Twelves. And more.

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Twelves.  And more.

Wednesday – 12 December 2012 Sunday – 16 December 2012
Midweek. Check.
New comics day. Check.
Movie Date Night. Check.

Everyone seems to be going ape over the 12/12/12 thing. Personally, I’m waiting  for the 21st. (Rush fans will understand.)

Yeah. This post started on Wednesday. Then I figured that I’d just finish it on Thursday, which didn’t happen because things went eight kinds of sideways at work. How bad? Think: “Sixteen-hour-day.” Yeah, it was like that.

And Friday? Yeah there was some busy-ness there, too. Not as bad, but still some running around.

Yesterday, I had a tournament and by the time I got home, all I wanted to do was veg. I was so tired that I barely made it through last night’s Action Movie Saturday fare: The Living Daylights.” It was, I think, the last Bond movie – other than Skyfall – that I haven’t seen. It wasn’t a great movie. In fact, I thought that it was at least as cheesy as – if not more cheesy than –  the later Roger Moore Bond films.

Things have been good on the home front. Team DiVa has been full of surprises lately. They’re learning to climb on more things. Their vocabularies are growing, too. They both surprised me the other day when they looked at my cup of coffee and said, “Cocoa?” (They’ve had – and liked – hot chocolate, so it wasn’t a stretch for them t0 assume that I was drinking cocoa.) Clever girls.

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
Today’s Wednesday’s quote actually comes from a few days ago. What?! I’ve been busy.

After the new trailer for Star Trek: Into Darkness came out, there was a lot of buzz about who the villain would be. Khan? Trelaine? Someone new?

I was chatting with John, my brother-in-law, and we had this exchange:

(12/8/2012 5:55:32 PM) John: http://entertainment.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/06/15736805-khaaan-maybe-star-trek-2-movie-teaser-wont-say-or-will-it?lite
(5:55:36 PM) John: what say you?
(12:02:46 PM) Rob: And I say, “Gary Mitchell.”
(12:02:54 PM) Rob: Seems to be the prevailing thought at this point.
(12:03:01 PM) John: No Khan, eh
(12:03:33 PM) Rob: Don’t think so.
(12:03:43 PM) Rob: We had a alot of discussion about it Thursday/Friday
(12:03:53 PM) John: At first I was kind of excited by the possibility…then I got kind of annoyed b/c I think they’d probably screw it up after all this time
(12:04:03 PM) John: Sometimes you have to leave the classics alone
(12:04:04 PM) Rob: And it seems as though Karl Urban let it slip in an interview a couple of weeks ago.
(12:04:30 PM) Rob: I’d be okay if Khan was in the movie… as long as they spun the story in a different direction.
(12:04:53 PM) John: Bingo. I don’t want a damn remake
(12:05:12 PM) John: I’m kind of biased…ST2 is in my top 10 movies
(12:05:25 PM) Rob: In my Top 5, I think.
(12:05:42 PM) John: Also has one of my top 10 movie lines ever too
(12:05:46 PM) Rob: It’s a solid piece of movie-making, with a sci-fi candy-coated shell.
(12:05:58 PM) John: KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN goes well with “KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!” and “Time…to die”
(12:06:11 PM) Rob: heh
(12:06:14 PM) Rob: True enough.
(12:06:18 PM) John: (the latter STILL my favorite movie scene ever)
(12:06:43 PM) Rob: For me it’s: “You… you, I do not know. But you… I never forget a face. Mr…. Chekov!”
(12:06:52 PM) shadorunr: (even though they never met on the original show.
(12:06:57 PM) John: Details.
(12:07:02 PM) shadorunr: Exactly.
(12:07:13 PM) Rob: It happened during a commercial, as far as I’m concerned.
(12:07:17 PM) John: lol
(12:07:31 PM) John: Maybe they ran into each other at the bridge’s urinal line. Who knows.
(12:08:25 PM) Rob: to the Bat-IMDb!
(12:08:28 PM) Rob: Khan says to Chekov, “And you – I never forget a face. Chekov, isn’t it?”. Although Chekov was not a bridge officer in the TV show that first featured Khan, it should be remembered that when Khan first took over Enterprise, he started with the engineering deck. Chekov was engineering ensign at the time, according to the movie’s novelization.
(12:08:34 PM) Rob: Tada!
(12:08:50 PM) John: Eh…I like the urinal explanation better.
(12:08:54 PM) Rob: Ditto.
(12:09:08 PM) John: “Oh yeah…well…he was in…engineering. Yes, engineering.”
(12:10:21 PM) Rob:  From Wikipedia:

Pavel Andreievich Chekov is a young and naïve ensign who first appeared on-screen in The Original Series’ second season as the Enterprise’s navigator. However, The Wrath of Khan established that he had been assigned to the ship sometime before the first season episode “Space Seed”, since Khan remembers him in the movie. Koenig joked that Khan remembered Chekov from the episode after he took too long in a restroom Khan wanted to use

(12:10:46 PM) John: hahahaha!!!
(12:10:50 PM) John: See?
(12:11:01 PM) Rob: So it is written, so must it be.

And for the day’s final miracle: As of 10:03 PM MDT, the painting of the train room is complete!


“I don’t know… I’m making this up as I go.”

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"I don't know... I'm making this up as I go."

Sunday – 02 December 2012
The holiday season is here.

Oh, wait… retailers would say that I’m at least a week out. Feh. I’m sorry, the Christmas season doesn’t start the day after Hallowe’en. Just saying. Besides, I still need to hear Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth before it’s really the season in my book.

Friday night, the sun set on Paragon City for the last time when NCSoft shut down the City of Heroes servers. I decided to log in and be online when the game shut down. I was also able to meet up with a few members of my supergroup.  Um, my former supegroup.

It was nice to get to hang out with them as the game ended. Over the past year or two, I found that the amount of time that I played CoH/CoV diminished, but it was still a fun diversion and I really enjoyed my time in Paragon City. I look forward to seeing what (former) lead designer Matt Miller and company do next.

Today, Sara!, Team DiVa and I went to the local Williams-Sonoma to the Artisans’ Market this afternoon. There were some interesting local vendors and their creations there today. For example, we sampled a really good Nicaraguan coffee as well as a very tasty eggplant spread.

After a much shorter-than-it-should be nap by the little ladies, we watched a good portion of the Steelers-Ravens game.

Diana in a …purple pteranodon onesie?
Sure! It’s close enough to a bird AND it’s a dinosaur! Win-Win!
And every game is better with a 360 controller or two!

Vanessa with my… um, “her”… mini-football.

The family, watching the game…

I missed most of the second half because… well.. kids. They need watching and they are more important than a football game.

Instant Replay: Football
Last night was the only game that I was really concerned with this week:

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
23 – 20
Two weeks after the Ravens went to Pittsburgh, the Steelers came to Charm City.The Ravens were in black jerseys and white pants, not their all-black look, as I was expecting.

The Steelers left Baltimore with a win. But, despite the loss, the Ravens are still atop the AFC North and two games ahead of the Steelers.

Congratulations, Bonne, Bret and Uncle Ronnie.


Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders
20 – 17
The Browns traveled to Oakland and beat the Raiders in their own house.Sorry, Sara! and Rob.


Cincinnati Bengals at San Diego Chargers
20 – 13
The Bengals went to Arrowhead and beat the Chiefs.Congrats, Janie and Becky.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Denver Broncos
23 – 31
The Bucs went to Mile High to face Peyton Manning and company… and left with a loss.Congrats, Dana and Sean.

Stray Toasters

It’s getting late.  I should call it a night now.