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“Don’t call it a comeback…” and Team DiVa Tuesday

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"Don't call it a comeback..." and Team DiVa Tuesday

Tuesday – 11 August 2013
It’s been a while.
Sure, that’s an understatement, but it’s my blog and there you go.

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot going on. The highlights include:

The Train Room is (mostly) finished; the only thing remaining is to choose and install some baseboard. The carpet went in at the end of July. It was a bit more of an adventure than expected. And by “adventure,” I mean that the carpet was installed; the same day, we started noticing a couple of problems:

  • It started separating from the step in the room, 
  • There were patches were it appeared to have not been stretched and was coming up from the tack strips, and
  • There were spots where the tacks on said tack strips weren’t bent over… so you could feel them when you walked on those parts of the carpet.

Needless to say, there was a callback to have the job redone. When they asked if I wanted the same installers, I asked to have someone else come out, “to have another pair of eyes look at the job,” as I told the CSR. A few days later, the second installer came out and looked at the job. His comments included:

  • “I can’t believe they left it like this,”
  • “I’m taking pictures of this to send to my boss,” and
  • “This is the second time that I’ve had to go behind them and finish a job.”

When I came home after the fix, things were done properly… including adding a tack strip to the step to hold down the carpet. You know, the way it should have been done the first time.

But, the room is otherwise ready to go… as seen here:

Next up, was the Rush Clockworks Angels concert; my sixth Rush concert and fifth one I’ve attended in Utah. I went with Jeff (Galadriel’s stepdad) for his birthday. We were out on the lawn, just off-center to stage right, which afforded a great view of the venue and the crowd. The band played a show just shy of two-and-a-half hours, excluding a twenty minute intermission. The setlist included songs that I haven’t heard live in many years and some that I hadn’t heard live at all. It was a blast. I even ran into my friend, Jason and his son. Win-Win.

2013-07-31 - Clockwork Angels - 11378

Usana Amphitheatre, waiting for the concert to begin

2013-07-31 - Clockwork Angels - 11383

Ladies and gentlemen… Rush

Clockwork Angels tourbook and ticket

Clockwork Angels tourbook and ticket

And, while not quite as grand in scale as a home improvement project or a concert – but easily as grand on the “cool factor” scale, I got to hang out with Melissa (Sib-4) last week. It was nice; it had been far too long since we’d done so.

Also, last week, I set up my monorail for the girls to play with. I’d expected them to “like” it; I didn’t expect this:

[KGVID]http://blog.echopulse.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/monorail3.mov[/KGVID]

Totally worth it. In fact, it’s become their go-to spot between and after their nightly episodes of Team Umizoomi.

Saturday, we got up early and took the Team DiVa down to Stone Mountain Park for the Sandy City Hot Air Balloon Fest. The girls have been somewhat fascinated with hot air balloons and Sara! learned that the event was coming up, so it seemed like a perfect match.

Up, up and away...

Up, up and away…

We weren’t disappointed: The girls had a great time watching the balloons. They even got to see one landig, as we were driving away. On the way home, they kept asking for “More hot air balloons… More hot air balloons!”

Saturday night, Chris came over to play ‘Clix. We played a couple of games and he whupped my teams rather handily — I don’t think that I even managed to damage any of his characters in the first game. Yeah, it was that bad. But it was fun to play and well worth the drubbing I took.

Sunday was a good day. We started out with a trip to the Wasatch Front Farmer’s Market at Wheeler Historic Farm.

photo 3

Quiet repose on a bench – Vanessa (l) and Diana

photo 1

Here there be cows…

photo 2

Hey! There are rocks here, too!

 We ran into our friend, Diane, whom I don’t think we have seen in… a year or two. We also took the girls to see some of the animals.

Stray Toasters – Team DiVa Music Edition

  • Among the ladies’ top music requests these days are such diverse elements as:
    • Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give It Up – which they call “The Star Song,” because of the cover art that shows up with it on Spotify
    • Gorillaz’ 19-2000 (Soulchild Remix)which they call “Baby Crying,” again because of the cover art. (Not sure exactly how they arrived at this one, but that’s what they call it.
    • The Monkey Song, from Animaniacs – their current favorite pre-bedtime song/video.
      • Sara! surprised me with the information that this wasn’t an original song, but was adapted from a song called Monkey, by Harry Belafonte.
    • Elmo’s Song, from Sesame Street (Hey, they’re kids. Go figure.)
  • Sunday evening, as we were leaving the house to go to Sara’s parents’ house, Diana started singing “I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…” Neither Sara nor I taught her Bicycle Race, so we were stymied by her belting it out. It turns out that Sara’s mother taught it to the girls, singing it to/with them whenever they see a bicycle go by. Diana, seeing my bicycle in the garage on our way out, just did what her grandmother had taught her. “Clever girl.”
  • On the way home from dinner, the girls started singing “The Tra La La Song (Theme from The Banana Splits Show).” That one I take full credit/blame for.

And with that, I’m calling this entry “done.”

Namaste.

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
    gangster_squadwide
    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.
    prop-police-badgeprop-police-badgeprop-police-badgeprop-police-badgeprop-police-badgeprop-police-badge
  • The Last Stand
    arnold_in_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.
    sheriff_badgesheriff_badgesheriff_badgesheriff_badgesheriff_badgesheriff_badge

  • Superman: Unbound
    supermanunbound
    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.
    superman_shieldsuperman_shieldsuperman_shieldsuperman_shieldsuperman_shield

  • Mama
    Mama-Movie-Wallpaper-2013
    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.

Namaste.

1: Superman II (1980)

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.

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

Namaste.

“The Camera Eye”

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"The Camera Eye"

Thursday – 26 July 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday in the valley.

Were she alive, my maternal great-grandmother would have been 112 today.

Last night, Sara! and I watched In Time for Movie Date Night:

To be honest, it wasn’t bad. It reminded me quite a bit of Logan’s Run, but had enough of a twist to make – and keep – it interesting. I was also quite surprised to see [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and [REDACTED] in the movie, too.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Adventures in Parenting
As a parent, I’m always happy when Diana and Vanessa hit developmental milestones. One such achievement happened a few months back when the girls figured out how to roll from their backs to their stomachs. Sara! and I were delighted at this… um… “turn of events.” However, as the girls started making other advancements, we seemed to forget about the rolling over. Until recently. The girls have taken it upon themselves to remind us just how big a deal that barrel rolls are…

…when we are changing their diapers.

Vanessa is especially adept at this. Just as you get the loaded diaper open and bear witness the havok within, she decides that it’s time to roll  to her left. This usually results in a lot of under-the-breath expletives. And the thought processes – and physical gymnastics – of “How do I keep this from getting on everything?!”

So far, nothing has gotten to the point where we’ve had to call in Damage Control or Utah Disaster Kleen-up, but there have been a couple of instances where it’s taken both of us to get from dirty diaper to a clean one.

But, they’re still cute kids and I wouldn’t trade the experience/adventure for anything.

Reading time is still reading time… even if your book is upside-down.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“I wish that I could live it all again…”

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"I wish that I could live it all again..."

Tuesday – 19 June 2012
This morning, Sector 2814 (at least the portion of it that contains our living room) is being protected by two members of the Justice League:

Vanessa, as a rookie Green Lantern

Diana, as Batgirl-in-Training (complete with her own… um… Bat-saucer)

Shortly after these pictures were taken, the mini-Leaguers decided to do some combat training (also known as: “Using Daddy as a climbing toy”). Since they are both cruising – and not always wanting to go in the same direction – this taxed my abilities to keep both of them in arm’s reach. Fortunately, Bonne was here to help keep up with them.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Tuesday stuff and things

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Tuesday stuff and things

Tuesday – 08 May 2012
It’s Tuesday.

Yesterday was Diana’s 8-month-birthday; today is Vanessa’s:

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Today is also my stepmother and brother’s birthday:

And, it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week.

This past weekend was a busy one. This isn’t to say that it wasn’t also fun, but it was definitely busy. I could have used another day to recuperate. Or something like that.

Friday, I had hoped to get a chance to nap while the girls were having their post-lunch siesta, but that didn’t come to pass… mostly because they didn’t take naps. So, when I went back to work, I was tired. After returning home from work, I was still tired. The evening was rather low-key, spent mostly Fringe and helping SaraRules! make superhero onesies for the twins:

She had already made the GL one, but has asked my help in getting the emblems for Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash. I thought – briefly – about trying to hand-draw them. Then I had a minor epiphany: I could use my Silhouette to cut the shapes. I downloaded images of each emblem, imported them into Silhouette Studio and did a test cut. They came out better than I had expected. So, we were ready to do the cuts on the masking paper. The picture above shows how they turned out.

Saturday, SaraRules! had brunch with her friend, Sara(NotSaraRules!), so I got to spend a couple of solo hours with Team DiVa. After SaraRules! and Sara(NotSaraRules!) returned, I got ready to head to Dr. Volt’s for Free Comic Book Day. At The Avengers premiere, I made an agreement with Dave (the owner of Dr. Volt’s) that if he came to FCBD as Dr. Who – Matt Smith version, with fez! – that I would come as Green Lantern. So, when I showed up at the store like this:

Dave gave me a bit of flak. Until I turned down the collar of my shirt to reveal the GL costume underneath:

It was the first time that I’d gone to an FCBD event dressed in a costume… let alone two costumes… but it was made even more fun and worth it, because a few kids came up to me and asked if they could have pictures with me.

And remember those superhero onesies I mentioned? Well, the twins wore them to their first Free Comic Book Day:

Sunday, we met up with the Kelly clan for a picnic at Liberty Park.

The reason: Celebrating Logan’s graduation with his Doctorate in Pharmacy.  It was a little brisk if you weren’t in the sun, but it was an otherwise excellent day. And fun.

Monday was… Monday. (As Mondays are wont to be). It included quality time with SaraRules! and Team DiVa, which is never a bad thing. It also included a couple of changes to the status quo which should yield good things.  After the girls were asleep, SaraRules! and I wound down the evening with burgers that I cooked on the grill,  TopGear and Castle.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Drive.

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Drive.

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

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

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

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

This may be the best episode of Castle ever!

It was rather fun.

|| PAUSE ||

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

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

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

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

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

“Time to go,” Flynn said.

Everyone shouldered their gear and got into the van.

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

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

“About set here,” Davis said.

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

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

Deep breath. Hold.

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

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

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

> PLAY >

Stray Toasters

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

Concubines usually get paid.

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

Namaste.

Weekend Update

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Weekend Update

Sunday – 11 March 2012
It was a very good weekend. It was busy. It was productive. But, most of all, it was fun.

Saturday, we took Adventure Babies: Team DiVa to their first concert.

Diana (l) and Vanessa

Utah Symphony performed The Carnival of the Animals. SaraRules! got us tickets in the First Tier (stage left), just above the stage, so we had a fantastic view of the symphony and the dancers. The girls were great. Seriously. They sat and watched the musicians and the dancers – until they fell asleep. Vanessa knocked off first, early into the performance, but was up for Carnival; Diana stayed awake through the beginning of Carnival, and couldn’t fight sleep any longer.

Saturday afternoon, Steve (father-in-law), Dave, Jason and Sean came over to help frame the train room. We started a little after 1:00 and by 4:30 were mostly done — we ran out of lumber for the closet wall. But, what we did looks great. (Here are the pictures to prove it!) However, this didn’t come without a price: Steve put a framing nail through his thumb. Fortunately, it was a through-and-through and missed the bone. But it still prompted a visit to the local InstaCare.

Saturday evening, as you might imagine, was quiet and low-key. It involved mostly sitting on the sofa and watching shows from the DVR.

Sunday was clear and warm. The girls slept until 8:30 AM, thanks to the miracle of Daylight Saving Time. (Yes, It’s “Saving,” not “Savings.” Don’t believe me? Look it up.) We had a relatively quiet morning in and, after the twins’ lunchtime feeding, headed to the Salt Lake Tribune Home and Garden Festival. It was actually my idea/desire to go. And, to be honest, I wanted to go for ONE reason: Ahmed Hassan (from DIY Network’s Yard Crashers and Turf War) was one of the featured guests. And, I’m a (big) fan. So, off we went. The show was crowded, which surprised me on a Sunday in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain. The girls handled the crowds and the activity beautifully. We caught about half of Ahmed’s 1:00 PM talk. He was as entertaining – and amusing and informative – in person as he appears on TV. After his session was over, we wandered around the show. There was a LOT of stuff, but nothing that really caught our attention. We made our way back over to where Ahmed was doing a photo and signature meet-and-greet… and waited in line. A few minutes later, I had this to show for it:

…and this…

We chatted, briefly, while taking the pictures and while he checked out Adventure Babies: Team DiVa. All-in-all, nice guy.

On the way home, SaraRules! detoured past Black Water Coffee Company (Pin-up Girl Espresso “2”) for a Sunday coffee. Then it was time to feed the little ones and put them down for a nap. Feeding happened. Naps didn’t. So, we put them in their Johnny Jump-ups to play for a bit. (And, yes, there will be a new Adventure Babies video following soon.) A little later, the ladies were tired enough to knock out for a bit. SaraRules!’ parents came by a little later for dinner. We had chicken tacos with Spanish rice. The grand’rents helped put the girls to bed before leaving.

And now, it’s Monday. But, it’s my short week. Selah.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Dragons, the policeman knew, were supposed to breathe fire and occasionally get themselves slaughtered…”

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"Dragons, the policeman knew, were supposed to breathe fire and occasionally get themselves slaughtered..."

Monday – 27 February 2012
It’s a grey day with the threat of a fairly major snow storm on the horizon. At least there’s coffee…

…and, unless my basic math skills are failing me, the girls slept through the night for the FOURTH NIGHT IN A ROW!

This past weekend, while very good, was also very busy. Saturday, I judged Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection’s second “Infinity Gauntlet” HeroClix tournament… which I left in the middle of to attend a surprise birthday lunch for lj user=”nox_aeternus”. It was held at Bohemian Brewery, a place I had not been in many, many rains. Good food, good company, and yes, good beer. Then, I dashed back to Dr. Volt’s to finish up the tourney. (Thanks to SaraRules! for watching the girls and allowing me some “time off for good behavior.”) I returned home to find SaraRules! and lj user=”suzie_lightning” hanging out with the girls.

Sunday, after the girls were fed and dressed, we headed to Millcreek Cafe and Eggworks for breakfast. While there, we saw Christy, one of our former Pin-up Girl Espresso baristas. Back at home, it was time for a little pre-Spring cleaning and housework. This included (but was not limited to) some child-proofing and installing a couple of wine racks in the kitchen. Later in the day, SaraRules!’ parents came over for dinner. Since we’ve been having pretty decent weather, I fired up the grill and did hamburgers, while the girls and their granddad watched Fantasia 2000:

Diana (l), Steve and Vanessa

After dinner, the in-laws helped get the girls prepped for bed. By the end of the evening, though, all SaraRules! and I wanted to do was plop down on the couch and veg. And we did. (And watched Resident Evil, to boot!)

 Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s profile is: Roger Arliner Young (1899 – November 9, 1964) was a scientist of zoology, biology, and marine biology.

Born in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 1899, Young soon moved with her family to Burgettstown, Pennsylvania. The family was poor and much time and resources were expended in the care of her disabled mother.In 1916, Young enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study music. She did not take her first science course until 1921. Though her grades were poor at the beginning of her college career, some of her teachers saw promise in her. One of these was Ernest Everett Just, a prominent black biologist and head of the Zoology department at Howard. He started mentoring her, and Young graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1923. In 1924 Young began studying for her master’s degree at the University of Chicago. While at Chicago, she was asked to join Sigma XI, a scientific research society, which was an unusual honor for a master’s student. She also began to publish her research, and in 1924 her first article, “On the excretory apparatus in Paramecium” was published in the journal Science, making her the first African American woman to research and professionally publish in this field. Young received her master’s degree in 1926.

Just invited Young to work with him during the summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, starting in 1927. Young assisted him with research on the fertilization process in marine organisms. She also worked on the processes of hydration and dehydration in living cells. Her expertise grew, and Just called her a “real genius in zoology.”

Early in 1929, Young stood in for Just as head of the Howard zoology department while Just worked on a grant project in Europe. In the fall of that year, Young returned to Chicago to start a Ph.D. under the direction of Frank Lillie, the embryologist who had been Just’s mentor at Woods Hole. But she failed her qualifying exams in January 1930. She had given little indication of stress, but the failure to qualify was devastating. She was broke and still had to care for her mother. She left and told no one her whereabouts. Lillie, deeply concerned, wrote the president of Howard about her mental condition. She eventually returned to Howard to teach and continued working at Woods Hole in the summers.

In June 1937, she went to the University of Pennsylvania, studying with Lewis Victor Heilbrunn(another scientist she met at the Marine Biological Laboratory) and graduated with her doctorate in 1940.After obtaining her doctorate, Young became an assistant professor at the North Carolina College for Negroes (later North Carolina Central University). She later held teaching positions in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Young contributed a great deal of work to science. She studied the effects of direct and indirect radiation on sea urchin eggs, on the structures that control the salt concentration in paramecium, as well as hydration and dehydration of living cells. She published four papers between 1935 and 1938 and also wrote several books.

Young was never married. In the 1950s her mental health began to deteriorate and she was hospitalized. Roger Arliner Young died on November 9, 1964 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Stray Toasters

“Froggie jumped all over the stage that day…”

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"Froggie jumped all over the stage that day..."

Monday – 20 February 2012
It’s a new work week. Yay (or something to that effect).

I am, however, rather excited as the girls – for the second time in three days – slept through the night!

Vanessa (l), Sara, and Diana

That’s right, seven-and-a-half hours of sleep. (If only I didn’t have such disconcerting dreams last night…)

The rest of the weekend was good, as well. Saturday afternoon, I judged a tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection. Saturday evening, I attended Utah Symphony‘s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto N0. 2 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 with Melissa Sanders. It was a fantastic concert.

Sunday was a relaxing day, spent mostly at home. We did venture out for a bit to Black Water Coffee Company and Fashion Place Mall… where the girls went on a shopping spree. Seriously. They cleaned up. (Okay, okay… it helped that Carter’s was having a pretty big sale. Still…) Later in the day, we headed up to SaraRules!’ parents for dinner before heading home for little girls’ bedtime. And, we wound up the evening with The Walking Dead and with me playing a little Modern Warfare 3.

And today is Presidents Day.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
After taking the weekend off from blogging, let’s get back into the swing of things with an all-music selection of notables:

  • Questlove (also known as ?uestlove), is an American drummer, DJ, music journalist and record producer.

    Ahmir Khalib Thompson (January 20, 1971) Thompson was born in Philadelphia. His father was Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the Hearts, one of the great 50s doo-wop groups. Ahmir, who started drumming at the age of 2, often accompanied his parents on tour. By the age of 8, he was well-versed in life on the road, learning how to “cut gels, place mics, place lights. Then I became the sound guy and tech guy. One night the drummer didn’t make it, and then I was [my father’s] drummer.”

    Thompson’s first gig came at the age of 13, during a performance at Radio City Music Hall. “My parents didn’t trust babysitters back in the early 70s,” Thompson told Mother Jones magazine in 2011. “So I had to play bongos on stage with them ’cause ‘No stranger’s gonna watch my son in Muncie, Indiana!’” That same year, Thompson was named the musical director for his father’s group, and he became determined to establish his own career in music.

    Questlove’s parents then enrolled him at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. By the time he graduated, he had founded a band called The Square Roots (later dropping the word “square”) with his friend Tariq Trotter (Black Thought). After high school, Thompson was offered a spot at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, but the young musician couldn’t afford the tuition. Instead, Thompson devoted himself to making his unique style of music. The Roots’ roster was soon completed, with Questlove on percussion, Tariq Trotter and Malik B on vocals, Josh Abrams (Rubber Band) on bass (who was replaced by Leonard Hubbard in 1994), and Scott Storch on keyboards.

    Questlove currently performs with The Roots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, occasionally performing solos titled ‘re-mixing the clips’ where he draws on his production and DJ abilities to dub video clips, cue audio samples in rhythm, and play drum breaks simultaneously.

    Thompson, not one to rest on the heels of his success, has also been involved in a dizzying array of side projects. He appeared as a drummer for the instrumental jazz album, The Philadelphia Experiment in 2001, and in 2002 he released the compilation ?uestlove Presents: Babies Making Babies. He has also served as an executive producer for artists such as D’Angelo and Common; has written film scores; and drummed for artists like Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple and Joss Stone.

  • Otis Redding (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was an American soul singer-songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout.

    Otis Ray Redding, Jr. (September 9, 1941 – December 10, 1967) was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia to gospel singer Otis Redding, Sr., and housekeeper Fannie Redding. At an early age, he sang in the Vineville Baptist Church choir and learned guitar and piano. From the age of 10, he took drum and singing lessons. Later, at Ballard-Hudson High School, he sang in a school band. Every Sunday he earned $6 (USD) by performing songs for Macon radio station WIBB. His passion was singing and often cited Little Richard and Sam Cooke as major influences.

    At age fifteen, he abandoned school to help his family financially. His father had contracted tuberculosis and was often hospitalized, leaving his mother as the primary financial provider for the family, while Redding worked as a well digger, gas station attendant and guest musician in the following years. His breakthrough came when he played Little Richard’s “Heebie Jeebies”, winning a $5 contest fifteen weeks in a row, until being banned.Redding was soon hired by Little Richard’s band The Upsetters.

    Redding joined Johnny Jenkins’s Pinetoppers, a local Georgia band, and also served as the group’s driver. When the group traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to record at the famed Stax studios, Redding sang two songs of his own at the end of the session. One of the two, “These Arms of Mine” (1962), launched his career, attracting both a record label executive (Jim Stewart) and a manager (Phil Walden) who passionately believed in his talent.Redding’s open-throated singing became the measure of the decade’s great soul artists. Unabashedly emotional, he sang with overwhelming power and irresistible sincerity. “Otis wore his heart on his sleeve,” said Jerry Wexler, whose Atlantic label handled Stax’s distribution, thus bringing Redding to a national market. Redding’s influence extended beyond his gritty vocals. As a composer, especially with his frequent partner Steve Cropper, he introduced a new sort of rhythm-and-blues line—lean, clean, and steely strong. He arranged his songs as he wrote them, singing horn and rhythm parts to the musicians and, in general, sculpting his total sound. That sound, the Stax signature, would resonate for decades to come.

    Redding developed polyps on his larynx, which he tried to treat with tea and lemon or honey. He was hospitalized in September 1967 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to undergo surgery. In the winter of 1967, he again recorded at Stax. One new song was (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay, written by Cropper and Redding. Redding was inspired by the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and tried to create a similar sound, against the label’s wishes, and his wife was dissatisfied with its atypical melody. Redding wanted to change his musical style to avoid boring his audience. The Stax crew were similarly dissatisfied; Stewart thought that it was not R&B, while bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn thought its sound would damage Stax’s reputation. However, Redding thought it was the best song he ever wrote and would top the charts. Redding died just three days later, when his chartered plane crashed into Lake Monona, Wisconsin. Redding was entombed at his ranch in Round Oak, about 20 miles (32 km) north of Macon. Jerry Wexler delivered the eulogy. Redding was survived by his wife and three children.

  • Tupac Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), was an American rapper and actor.

    Tupac Amaru Shakur was born on the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. He was named after Túpac Amaru II, a Peruvian revolutionary who led an indigenous uprising against Spain and was subsequently executed. His mother, Afeni Shakur, and his father, Billy Garland, were active members of the Black Panther Party in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s; he was born just one month after his mother’s acquittal on more than 150 charges of “Conspiracy against the United States government and New York landmarks” in the New York Panther 21 court case.

    At the age of twelve, Shakur enrolled in Harlem’s 127th Street Repertory Ensemble and was cast as the Travis Younger character in the play A Raisin in the Sun, which was performed at the Apollo Theater. In 1986, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. After completing his second year at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School he transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied acting, poetry, jazz, and ballet. As a teenager, Shakur attended the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he took acting and dance classes, including ballet. While living in Baltimore, he discovered rap and began performing as MC New York.

    In June 1988, Shakur and his family moved to Marin City, California. He began attending the poetry classes of Leila Steinberg in 1989. That same year, Steinberg organized a concert with a former group of Shakur’s, Strictly Dope; the concert led to him being signed with Atron Gregory who set him up as a roadie and backup dancer with the young rap group Digital Underground in 1990.

    In 1991, Shakur emerged as a solo artist – using the name 2Pac – with his debut album 2Pacalypse Now. The track “Brenda’s Got a Baby” reached as high as number three on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. His second album Strictly 4 My N. I. G. G. A. Z. crossed over to the pop charts, with singles “I Get Around” and “Keep Ya Head Up.” The album went platinum, selling more than a million copies. Around this time, Shakur also appeared in several films, including Poetic Justice (1993) opposite Janet Jackson.

    Tupac became quite a sensation, earning praise for his musical and acting talent as well as condemnation for his explicit, violent lyrics. Many of his songs told of fights, gangs, and sex. He appeared to be living up to his aggressive gangster rap persona with several arrests for violent offenses in the 1990s. In 1994, he spent several days in jail for assaulting director Allen Hughes and was later convicted of sexual assault in another case.

    Shakur himself fell victim to violence, getting shot five times in the lobby of a recording studio during a mugging. On the night of November 30, 1994, the day before the verdict in his sexual abuse trial was to be announced, Shakur was shot five times and robbed after entering the lobby of Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan by two armed men in army fatigues. He would later accuse Sean Combs, Andre Harrell, and Biggie Smalls—whom he saw after the shooting—of setting him up. According to the doctors at Bellevue Hospital, where he was admitted immediately following the incident, Shakur had received five bullet wounds; twice in the head, twice in the groin and once through the arm and thigh. He checked out of the hospital, against doctor’s orders, three hours after surgery. In the day that followed, Shakur entered the courthouse in a wheelchair and was found guilty of three counts of molestation, but innocent of six others, including sodomy. On February 6, 1995, he was sentenced to one-and-a-half to four-and-a-half years in prison on a sexual assault charge.

    After serving eight months in prison, Shakur returned to music with the album All Eyez on Me. He was reportedly released after Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight paid a bond of more than $1 million as part of Shakur’s parole. In his latest project, Shakur as the defiant street thug was back in full force on this recording. The song “California Love” featured a guest appearance by famed rapper-producer Dr. Dre and made a strong showing on the pop charts. Besides his hit album, he tackled several film roles.

    On a trip to Las Vegas to attend a boxing match, Shakur was shot while riding in a car driven by Knight on September 7, 1996. He died six days later on September 13 from his injuries. His killer has never been caught. Since his death, numerous albums of his work have been released, selling millions of copies.

  • Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years

    Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock; November 26, 1939) was born in Nutbush, Tennessee, the daughter of Zelma Bullock, a factory worker, and Floyd Richard Bullock, a Baptist deacon, farm overseer, and factory worker. Zelma Bullock later relocated to St. Louis, Missouri. Floyd Bullock moved to Detroit and later settled in California. Anna Mae and her sister relocated to Brownsville where they were raised by their grandmother.  She performed on several talent shows as a child and sang at her church choir. She later moved to St. Louis and, following her graduation from high school in 1958, took work as a nurse aide at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

    In between the time Anna Bullock had moved to St. Louis, she was enthralled by the city’s thriving nightclub scene and her sister often took her to several of the clubs, much to their mother’s chagrin. Anna was introduced to Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm band after her sister took her to Club Manhattan where Alline served as a barmaid. Anna pursued Ike Turner for months asking him to let her sing with his band. When she was seventeen, she sang during a band intermission to a B. B. King song which impressed Turner. Eventually Turner allowed her to join the band as a background vocalist. Turner gave Bullock her first stage name, “Little Ann,” during this time and included her in his record, “Box Top”, which was a local hit in St. Louis.

    In November 1959, when a male vocalist failed to show up for a recording session, Anna was told to give a guide vocal to the song. Ike Turner then sent the song to New York where he met with Sue Records president Juggy Murray and played the song to him. Upon hearing it, Murray insisted Turner keep Anna’s vocals on the song, giving Turner a $25,000 advance, convinced the song would be a hit single. In response to this, Turner decided to form a duo around him and Bullock. In the process, he changed her stage name to “Tina Turner.” The two achieved considerable success as a rhythm-and-blues vocal duo and became known for their electrifying stage and television performances. However, after years of abuse, the marriage and professional partnership was officially dissolved in 1976.

    After a slow start, Turner’s solo career took off with a remake of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together in 1983. Her much anticipated solo album, Private Dancer, won four Grammy Awards and sold well over 20 million copies worldwide. Subsequent albums include Break Every Rule (1986), Tina Live in Europe (1988, Grammy for Female Rock Vocal Performance) and Foreign Affair, which included the hit single “(Simply) The Best.” In the 1990s, she released Wildest Dreams and Twenty Four Seven.Turner also launched an acting career, appearing in the films Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdrome starring Mel Gibson and The Last Action Hero with Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has also made several recordings for soundtracks, including “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” “Goldeneye,” and “He Lives In You” for The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride.

    In 1993, Turner’s best-selling 1986 autobiography I, Tina was made into the motion picture What’s Love Got to Do with It? starring Angela Bassett. Her soundtrack for the movie went double platinum in the U.S.

    Though she is now semi-retired, Turner does make rare appearances and recordings. She returned to the stage in 2008 to embark on her “Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour.” It became one of the highest-selling ticketed shows of 2008 and 2009.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Tilting, but not at windmills…

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Tilting, but not at windmills...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Ghosts appear and fade away…”

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"Ghosts appear and fade away..."

Monday – 30 January 2012
Wow. Looks like it’s been almost a week since I posted. Long time, that. So let’s get to it…

It’s been a good week. In a nutshell, it’s included:

  • Spending time with SaraRules! and the girls:

    Vanessa (l) and Diana… with Tigger and Pooh

  • Watching Real Steel with SaraRules! (It wasn’t bad; think “Rocky Meets Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots”)
  • Kicking off a new multi-month ‘Clix event series for Dr. Volt’s… (in addition to the regular tourneys)
  • Playing a fair bit of Modern Warfare 3… and a little Gears of War 3
  • Picking up a Butterfinger-dipped caramel apple (!!!)
  • Seeing Utah Opera’s performance of Rigoletto.

Yeah, It was a good week.

This week has the possibility of being quite nice, as well.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“…a day that will live in infamy.”

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"...a day that will live in infamy."

Wednesday – 07 December 2011
Today is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Today is also Diana’s 1/4-birthday. That’s right, our oldest little lady is three-months-old today.

Last night, SaraRules! took the girls to her book club, leaving me to my own devices for a couple of hours. I decided to be a little productive. For my first amazing feat: I put up the downstairs Christmas tree (more on this later). I also gave my brother a call, to help him suss out why his Xbox wouldn’t connect to Xbox Live after they changed ISPs. After that, I felt that I had earned a trip to Best Buy. Oddly enough, I didn’t find anything that I just couldn’t live without.

I made it home a few minutes before the ladies got home. That gave me time to prep blankets and bottles for the girls. (Hey, I try to be a good father.) We got the girls to bed without too much ado. After getting something to eat, we headed downstairs to watch a little pre-bed TV. SaraRules! asked what I’d done with my evening, so I recounted the events of the night. When I got to the part about “I put up the Christmas tree,” she blinked a couple of times, looked over at the tree and said,”Whoa… you did put up the tree!” That’s right: She totally missed it – all six feet of it – when she went downstairs… despite looking dead at it at one point. (In her defense: She’d had a long day…)

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Give me steam… And how you feel can make it real…”

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"Give me steam... And how you feel can make it real..."

Wednesday – 30 November 2011
Not only is it the middle of the week… or new comics day… or the date that Michael Jackson’s Thriller album was released… it’s also the last day of the month. A month that seemed like it just started a few days ago. How the time flies.

Last night, SaraRules! and I attended the opening night auction for the 2011 Festival of Trees. We were looking for something – not a tree – to add to our holiday decorations; we settled on looking for a centerpiece for the living room table. We found – and bid on and won – one that will go nicely with the tree we got last year:

We also saw a number of really nice trees and gingerbread houses. More pictures can be seen here. If you have a chance to visit the Festival of Trees, do so. It runs through Saturday, 03 December 2011; admission is:

  • $5.00/adults
  • $3.00/children age 2 to 11
  • $4.00/senior citizens.
  • Children under age 2 are free

All proceeds benefit Primary Children’s Medical Center, so it’s a very worthwhile cause.

After the Festival, we picked up the girls, took them home and put them to bed. Then SaraRules! kicked me out of the house… to go to Guys’ Night Out.  (Have I mentioned: “Coolest wife ever” recently? She is.) It was nice to hang out with the guys over beer (Black and Pumpkin!) and food. It was a good way to wrap up a rather good day.

Stray Toasters

And, that should be good for now.

Namaste.

 

“Chase the dreams of merchandise…”

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"Chase the dreams of merchandise..."

Tuesday – 29 November 2011
Day Two of the work week and all’s well. So far. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

Tonight, SaraRules! and I are attending the Opening Night Auction of The Festival of Trees:

Since we got our tree from there last year, we’re going to look for some other decoration. And, it’s for a good cause: Proceeds benefit Primary Children’s Medical Center.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

Namaste.