Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure


cars, comics and animation, everyday glory, golf, house and home, movies and TV, music, opera No Comments »

Friday – 11 March 2016
It’s the end of the week! Of course, I thought that last week and wound up back in the office at 11:30 PM…

Tomorrow is opening night for Aida. If you:

  • are in the Salt Lake City metropolitan opera,
  • are looking for something different to do on a Saturday evening, and
  • like opera,

you should come check it out – ticket information can be found here. It’s pretty amazing. (Personally, it’s even more amazing, having seen what’s been going on behind-the-scenes.) Added bonus, you get to see about 100 more people1 (other than just Roy and me) dressed up as – and walking like – Egyptians:

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)

AIDA: Captain (me) and Guard (Roy)


Stray Toasters

  • Conversations like this are among the many reasons I love Sara:
    • 1:25pm
      I apologize, in advance, if I come home with a windmill tonight.1:34pm

      I’m sorry…. WHAT!?
      Like garden-sized windmill?1:36pm

      Well, I’m going to a vintage market… there’s no telling what I might come home with this time.1:37pm
      You bring home a windmill, I’m making a miniature golf course hole in the backyard.
      Just putting that out there.

      Sara Kelly Neal
      Okay, I accept that gauntlet.

    • Minister Golf
  • Does anyone have a recommendation for a good OBD-II diagnostic scanner?
  • What is the order of the Gorillaz videos in terms of plot line?
  • It seems as though Shohreh Aghdashloo has joined the cast of Star Trek Beyond. That’s just a bonus, right there.


1 – DISCLAIMER: Not all 100 will be Egyptian; some will be dressed as Ethiopians.

Day Thirteen

business and economy, cars, computers, education, everyday glory, family and friends, food for thought, geekery, health, house and home, office antics, politics and law, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?!, workout No Comments »
Day Thirteen

Tuesday (with a little Wednesday thrown in…) – 13 January 2014
Day 13: Perform a mind dump of everything you’re worried about. From the leaky dishwasher to your family member’s poor health — get it all out. Dwight D. Eisenhower did it, and it significantly helped him manage his stress. Just as your body needs to…cleanse itself of waste, so does your mind every once in a while. Getting all your stressors on paper may alleviate some of that pressure. Use David Allen’s GTD trigger list to help you out.

With apologies to Monty Python, “I’m so worried about…”

  • Being a good husband and dad.
  • Keeping in touch with my family – here and “back home.”
  • Making time for friends.
  • Making time for me.
  • Staying on top of my health.
  • Whether or not I’ll be able to fit some travel in this year.
  • Projects around the house, now that I don’t have the Train Room as an excuse.
  • Becoming more aware of and informed about issues in the community.
  • What the Hell is still “not as right as it could be” with my car?!
  • Keeping all of the balls that I’m juggling for work in the air.
    • This one isn’t horrible, but there’s just been a lot going on over the past two weeks.
  • A proposed project (that’s actually kind of up my alley) – I just want it to go well.
  • Cleaning up my queue of work requests.
  • Managing to get – and do well in – upcoming training.
  • “…the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow.”


Team DiVa Tuesday – 14 January 2014

art, cars, comics and animation, everyday glory, food for thought, geekery, human of the day, kids, movies and TV, music, stage plays and theatre, toys 1 Comment »
Team DiVa Tuesday - 14 January 2014

Tuesday – 14 January 2014
Life with kids can be interesting. It would probably be best to say that life with kids is often interesting. That’s not to say that it’s not fun. And exciting. And, all too often, very amusing.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve introduced the concept of “time out” to Team DiVa. It’s been met with mixed results. Most often, when one of the girls does something to antagonize her sister and I tell them they’re going to time out, they either:

  • Start saying “I not going to time out! I not going to time out!,”
  • Make a bee-line for Sara!,
  • Start crying,
  • Some combination of all of the above.

But, time out usually happens. (They do not like it.) And they stay there until they tell me why it is that they are in time out. Once they tell me that, I ask them what they need to do to get out of time out, which is usually finding their sister, saying they are sorry and giving their sister a hug.

So, you can imagine my surprise – and amusement – when I came home from work today to find that the girls had introduced something new to their toys. They have a handful of Fisher-Price Little People figures, including three Wonder Woman figures and a Batgirl figure. They would have the figures playing, hit them together, then tell one figure that it was going to time out.

Puddle Jumpers!

Puddle Jumpers!

Team DiVa and grandparents

Team DiVa and grandparents

Also, this:

Stray Toasters


Friday: Things and Whatnot

cars, comics and animation, education, environment, everyday glory, food for thought, history, music, politics and law, style and fashion, the world, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?!, zombies No Comments »
Friday: Things and Whatnot

Friday – 08 February 2013
It’s (almost) the weekend.

This evening, I’ll be getting together with a high school classmate for dinner. If memory serves, we haven’t seen each other since graduation… many moons ago.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note: Zora Neale Hurston


Zora Neale Hurston (January 7, 1891 – January 28, 1960) was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Of Hurston’s four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Hurston was the daughter of two former slaves. Her father, John Hurston, was a pastor, and he moved the family to Florida when Hurston was very young. She was born in Notasulga, Alabama, where her father grew up and her grandfather was the preacher of a Baptist church. Her family moved to Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all-Black towns to be incorporated in the United States, when she was three. Hurston said she always felt that Eatonville was “home” to her and sometimes claimed it as her birthplace. Her father later became mayor of the town, which Hurston would glorify in her stories as a place where African Americans could live as they desired, independent of white society. In 1901, some northern schoolteachers visited Eatonville and gave Hurston a number of books that opened her mind to literature, and this may be why she sometimes describes her “birth” as taking place in that year.

In 1904, Hurston’s mother died and her father remarried, to Matte Moge. Hurston’s father and new stepmother sent her away to a boarding school in Jacksonville, Florida, but they eventually stopped paying her tuition and the school expelled her. She later worked as a maid to the lead singer in a traveling Gilbert & Sullivan theatrical company. In 1917, Hurston began attending Morgan Academy, the high school division of the historically African-American Morgan College in Baltimore, Maryland. It was at this time, and apparently to qualify for a free high-school education (as well, perhaps to reflect her literary birth), that the 26-year-old Hurston began claiming 1901 as her date of birth. She graduated from Morgan Academy in 1918.

To support herself and finance her efforts to get an education, Hurston worked a variety of jobs, including as a maid for an actress in a touring Gilbert and Sullivan group. In 1920, Hurston earned an associate degree from Howard University. She published one of her earliest works in the university’s newspaper. A few years later, she moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she became a fixture in the area’s thriving art scene.

In 1921, she wrote a short story, John Redding Goes to Sea, which qualified her to become a member of Alaine Locke’s literary club, The Stylus. Hurston left Howard in 1924 and in 1925 was offered a scholarship to Barnard CollegeColumbia University where she was the college’s sole black student. Hurston received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927, when she was 36. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research with noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead. After graduating from Barnard, Hurston spent two years as a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University.

Living in Harlem in the 1920s, Hurston befriended the likes of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, among several others. Her apartment, according to some accounts, was a popular spot for social gatherings. Around this time, Hurston experienced a few early literary successes, including placing in short-story and playwriting contests in Opportunity magazine.

In the mid-1930s, Hurston explored the fine arts through a number of different projects. She worked with Langston Hughes on a play called Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life—disputes over the work would eventually lead to a falling out between the two writers—and wrote several other plays, including The Great Day and From Sun to Sun.

Hurston released her first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, in 1934. She also established a school of dramatic arts “based on pure Negro expression” at Bethune-Cookman University (at the time, Bethune-Cookman College) in Daytona Beach, Florida.Two years later, she received a Guggenheim fellowship, which allowed her to work on what would become her most famous work: Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). She wrote the novel while traveling in Haiti, where she also studied local voodoo practices. That same year, Hurston spent time in Jamaica conducting anthropological research.

In 1942, Hurston published her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. This personal work was well-received by critics, but her life and career soon began to falter. Hurston was charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1948; despite being able to prove that she was out of the country at the time of the incident, she suffered greatly from this false accusation.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Hurston struggled financially and personally during her final decade. She kept writing, but she had difficulty getting her work published. Additionally, she experienced some backlash for her criticism of the 1955 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the end of school segregation.

In 1956 Hurston was bestowed the Bethune-Cookman College Award for Education and Human Relations in recognition of her vast achievements, and the English Department at Bethune-Cookman College remains dedicated to preserving her cultural legacy.

A few years later, Hurston had suffered several strokes and was living in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home. The once-famous writer and folklorist died poor and alone on January 28, 1960, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida.

More than a decade later, another great talent helped to revive interest in Hurston and her work: Alice Walker wrote about Hurston in the essay “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in Ms.magazine in 1975. Walker’s essay helped introduce Hurston to a new generation of readers, and encouraged publishers to print new editions of Hurston’s long-out-of-print novels and other writings. In addition to Walker, Hurston heavily influenced Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, among other writers.

reference: Biography.com and Wikipedia

Stray Toasters


The Tenth Month

baseball, books, business and economy, cars, everyday glory, football, house and home, movies and TV, music, style and fashion, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
The Tenth Month

Monday – 01 October 2012
October is upon us and, as it is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the blog has “Gone Pink for October.”

In an odd twist, it’s Monday night and there’s football… but, I really don’t care about tonight’s game. Of course, maybe that’s because the Ravens played last Thursday but – and won – and neither the Panthers nor the Dolphins could find their way to a “W.”

In other entertainment news: I finally got to watch “The Angels Take Manhattan.”

Well played, Steven Moffat. I think that I might be a Doctor Who fan. Again. For the first time in over 20 years. (Although, I’ve been told that I should check out the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors, as well.) And, I am thinking of picking up “The Angels Kiss” e-book tie-in, too. Just because.

Stray Toasters

  • Baltimore is in the playoffs. As my friend, Liz, posted:
    Congrats to the O’s on making it to the 2012 MLB Playoffs!
  • Fait accompli. I could be wrong, but I think that I am finished with the taping/mudding of the train room. As of this evening, I actually think that the room is ready for primer and paint… after a little sweeping and mopping, that is.
  • The GQ Guide to Suits
  • What in the Hell is happening in this Bears-Cowboy game!? Three Four Five INTs?!
  • Birchbox Men.  ‘Nuff said.
  • The VW Passat commercial with Rush’s Fly By Night in it makes me chuckle. Every. Time.

That’s good for now.


A pre-summer Monday…

cars, comics and animation, computers, education, event, everyday glory, food for thought, geekery, health, house and home, kids, movies and TV, music, politics and law, space, style and fashion, the world, trains/model railroads, travel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! 3 Comments »
A pre-summer Monday...

Monday – 04 June 2012
A new week is here.

The weekend was good – and fairly busy – weekend. We started with a pancake breakfast/car show, supporting the local Boy Scout troop. Next, SaraRules! went to quilt club while I stayed home with Team DiVa. After she got back, I headed out to judge a ‘Clix tourney. And, if that wasn’t enough: We also attended a friend’s birthday party.

Saturday night has now unofficially become “Action Movie Saturday Date Night.” We didn’t know what we wanted to watch, so we left it up to the Fickle Finger of Fate method of “Hey, what does Netflix have to offer?” We wound up watching Trollhunter:

It was surprisingly fun. And funny. We went into it with no real expectations or assumptions, but were quite well entertained by the time the credits rolled. I also found that I liked what they did with some of the mythology of the creatures.

Sunday was a little more relaxed… although it did start early: We hit the Wasatch Front Farmers Market. The rest of the day was spent mostly hanging out with SaraRules! and Team DiVa. I wrapped up the evening upgrading my game box from Windows XP to Windows 7. Finally. And by “upgrading,” I mean “I did a clean install on a bigger hard drive.” Now, I just need to reinstall the games. And remember to copy my bookmarks over.

And, speaking of Team DiVa:

Diana (in her custom Batgirl onesie)

Vanessa (in her custom Flash onesie)

Stray Toasters


The memory of you.

art, cars, computers, everyday glory, football, health, kids, movies and TV, politics and law, robots and AI, science and technology, space, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot...?! No Comments »
The memory of you.

Thursday – 03 May 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday in the valley.

This morning, Diana decided that 6:20 was a good time to wake up. She’d managed to roll herself onto her stomach again. I rolled her over and put her blanket back on her and hoped that she’d knock out for another half-hour to hour.

No go, Flight.

She played in her crib until I 6:50. (And, yes, she’d inverse-turtled herself a couple more times by then.) When I went in, Vanessa was also up; I decided to turn on their light, do their morning diaper change and start their day.

And then, I started mine.

Last night, SaraRules! and I watched Royal Wedding for our Date Night movie. I’d gotten the movie from Netflix “a while ago,” mostly because I wanted to see Astaire’s famous dance around a hotel room:

I wasn’t disappointed. For a 60-year-old effect, it was pulled off very well. And the movie itself was rather light-hearted and fun and a good way to spend the evening.

|| PAUSE ||

Mornings were always rough, not that Carl would admit it to anyone. Mornings always reminded him that she wasn’t there to share the new day with him. He looked at the other side of the bed and ran his hand over the spot where she used to lay. “Good morning, sweetheart,” he said. He swung his feet out of bed and sat up. He paused, hands on his knees, before standing up. A yawn – one that sounded more like a wild bear’s growl – forced its way to freedom.  He scratched his chin, stood and shuffled to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, Carl made his way downstairs. He stopped in front of the cluster of pictures at the bottom of the stairway. He reached up and touched the picture in the silver frame. Her picture. He smiled… and his heart ached a little. He stood there a moment before continuing on to the kitchen. He fixed a bowl of oatmeal while waiting for his coffee to brew. When breakfast was ready, he sat at the small table and ate. He looked out the window and watched as people headed to wherever they were going. Work? Home? Vacation? He shrugged. He didn’t really care. They were just going places.

After breakfast, he went back upstairs and got dressed. He didn’t have anywhere to go, but Carl had never been one to just sit around in his bedclothes all day. It just didn’t seem right. He came back downstairs and sat down in his comfy chair. He turned to look out the window, watching another little slice of the world passing by.

Adventure is out there, he thought. But not for me. Not today.

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters


On this day of Thor…

business and economy, cars, comics and animation, everyday glory, family and friends, food for thought, football, geekery, LEGO and Rokenbok, movies and TV, politics and law, robots and AI, science and technology, space 9 Comments »
On this day of Thor...

Thursday – 05 April 2012
Another Thursday in the valley. Hopefully, this one will maintain the NBN tradition; it’s doing pretty well, so far.

This week’s been pretty decent. Busy, but decent. SaraRules! and Team DiVa are doing well.

Diana, Sara and Vanessa



Last night was Pasta and Movie Date Night. It was SaraRules!’ turn to pick a flick; she chose to start catching up on Mad Men. I was good with that, considering that we’re a season-and-a-half behind. We watched three episodes and are only two away from only being one season behind. (Hey, we’ll take the small victories where and when we can.)

I didn’t play MW3 last night, opting to read some of yesterday’s new comics. As part of the haul, I also downloaded Marvel Comics’ Avengers vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 – available only as a digital comic – which serves as a prelude to the Avengers vs. X-Men miniseries, which also started yesterday (technically, it came out on Tuesday, but let’s not quibble). If this is a possible look at “the future of comics,” as it claims, I have to give it thumbs-up for presentation. Well played, Mark Waid and Stuart Immonen.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.