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Tuesday Musings

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Tuesday Musings

Tuesday – 25 August 2015
Today is my “Monday,” due to staying home with a sick little girl (and a non-sick one) yesterday. I thought that I might be able to squeeze in a bit of work, but opted to just hang out with them. And, in my humble opinion, that was the best call. We had a fun day. And, last night, we assembled a play castle for them.

The started decorating it last night. And resumed this morning, after breakfast.

Over the weekend, we also took them on their first visits to a trampoline park (for a friend’s birthday) and to the “planet museum,” as they have taken to calling the Clark Planetarium. Both were fairly big hits, although Vanessa was definitely not a fan of the “motion” in the movie – Perfect Little Planet – in the planetarium dome. To be fair, I don’t suffer from motion sickness, but I could easily understand how someone could succumb to it while watching that film.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“It’s lonely out in space…”

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Wednesday – 03 June 2015
It’s a sunny #NBNThursdayEve in the Land Behind the Zion Curtain.

Last night, I was putting Team DiVa to bed and, as they were getting into bed, they reminded me that “…we didn’t do a special story,” which is how I referred to Monday night’s D&D-style story. We spent the next ten minutes spinning a tale of their new adventure. (Yes, this made my inner #geekdad grin like a fiend.) They went to bed; I went to pick up this week’s comics. Win-Win.

I managed to make it to the gym this morning… after oversleeping. But, I went. I had a decent workout. Back home to help get Team DiVa ready for the day and out the door. And to get me ready and out the door, too.

Work’s been good and there haven’t been any major monkey wrenches thrown into my day, so I consider those all positive things.

Workout

  • Elliptical: 5 minutes/ 0.55 miles
  • Lat pulldown (wide grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Lat pulldown (short grip): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Dorsi Flexor row: 3 x 8 x 75
  • Row: 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep pulldown (rope): 3 x 8 x 70
  • Standing tricep press: 3 x 8 x 70

Stray Toasters

Quote of the Day
I found this quote as part of an interview with Joy Williams, formerly of The Civil Wars:

Moving on doesn’t mean neglecting my past.

I like it. It strikes me as an interesting corollary to a couple lines from Time Stand Still by Rush:

I’m not looking back
But I want to look around me now

Namaste.

“Moving ahead so life won’t pass my by…”

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"Moving ahead so life won't pass my by..."

Friday – 15 May 2015
I should get around to writing this before it is no longer Friday.

Things have been good during my extended radio silence. What’s kept me from posting? Basically: Laziness. I’ll freely cop to that. That said, I had planned to write something this afternoon, but wound up getting wrapped up in a project and the next thing I knew,  it was time to get Team DiVa from daycare. Oh, well, better late than never. On the other hand, I got to have dinner with these two cuties, so it was worth it.

Dinner with Team DiVa

One of the good things of the past two-ish weeks has been that Sara and I have rejoined a gym. More specifically we joined Vasa Fitness, a rebranded gym that we used to go to before Team DiVa was born. We’ve been trying to figure out schedules that would allow us to both work out 2-3 times a week.

Another good thing from this week, was in a training class for work (at home!) which had an east coast-based schedule. That meant that I was up each morning for a 7:00 AM class. That also meant that my “lunch” time was around 10:30 each day. I used that time to go to the gym, instead. I actually like the idea of getting up a bit early and starting my day with a workout. My plan is to keep getting up around 6:30 and putting in forty-five minutes to an hour at the gym before getting on to the so-called “friction of the day.”

Sidenote (since I just made a Rush reference): I’ve been tracking my visits to the gym on Swarm/Foursquare with the tags #carveawaythestone. Why? Because it’s less typing than #OhDearLordHowAndWhyDidILetMyselfGetSoOutOfShape and a bit less embarrassing than #WhyDoesThisHurtSoMuch.

And, being back in the gym means that I need to start tracking my workouts again. So, let’s get the past couple weeks out of the way:

  • Thursday- 23 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 15 minutes, 1.3 miles
    • Lower Back Extensions: 3 sets / 10 reps
    • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 90 lbs
    • Inclined Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 sets/8 reps – 2 sets, 70 lbs; 1 set, 90 lbs
  • Monday – 27 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Raises (Roman Chair): 3 sets/10 reps
    • Rotary Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets/10 reps, 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 50 lbs
    • Seated Tricep Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 45 lbs
  • Wednesday – 29 April 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, ~1 mile
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curl: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Reverse Punches: 3 x 10 x 10 lbs
    • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 X 30 lbs (forward)
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 30 lbs (reverse)
  • Tuesday – 05 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 minutes, 1 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 95 lbs
    • Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Fly: 3 x 8 x 60
    • Vertical Press: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Barbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 30 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curl: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Plank: 3 x 30 seconds
  • Saturday – 09 May 2015
    • Fitness Assessment
      • Walking High Kicks: 2 x 10 steps
      • Walking Quad Stretches: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Walking Butt Kicks: 2 x 10 steps (each leg)
      • Kettlebell Overhead Tricep Extensions: 3 x 10 x 15 lbs
      • Kettlebell Squats: 3 x 10 x 25 lbs
      • Lunges: 3 x 10 steps x 15 lbs (each hand)
      • Hollow-Body Hold: 3 x 30 seconds
      • Russian Twists: 3 x 10 x 20 lbs
  • Tuesday – 12 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Smith Squats: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 10 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
  • Wednesday – 13 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 10 min, 1 mile
    • Lat Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Short Grip Pulldowns: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • T-Bar Pulls: 3 x 8 x 25 lbs
    • Row: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Standing Rope Pulldown: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Tricep Press: 3 x 8 x 40 lbs
  • Thursday – 14 May 2015
    • Treadmill: 10 minutes, ~0.7 mile (betw. 0 and 2% incline)
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
    • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 60 lbs
    • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 50 lbs
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 10 x 60
    • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 40
    • Seated Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 25
  • Friday – 15 May 2015
    • Elliptical: 7 minutes, 0.75 mile
    • Bench Press: 3 x 8 x 115 lbs
    • Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 3 x 8 x 1 @ 20 lbs/2 @ 25 lbs
    • Dumbbell Fly: 3 x 8 x 20 lbs
    • Dumbbell Curls: 3 x 8 x 2 @ 20 lbs/1 @ 25 lbs
    • Wrist Curls: 3 x 15 x 2 @ 30 lbs/1 @ 40 lbs

And that was that. It’s going to take a while to get back to where I was when I stopped going to the gym, but I’m enjoying the journey so far.

Stray Toasters

  • Since cutting the cord, nearly two months ago now, I haven’t missed cable.
  • I’ve been quite pleased with and a occasionally surprised by my Comics-On-TV shows of late: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Flash, and iZombie.
  • By way of Mike B.: Space X gets certified to launch NASA science missions
  • I’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron twice now. I’ll see if I can’t type up a two-part review in the next day or two.
  • Team DiVa asked me to play Candy Land with them last weekend. It was, not surprisingly, the first time I’d played the game in many, many years. And, it was fun, too.
  • Check out this Flash Gordon animated short, by Rob Pratt
  • Confederates in the Jungle
  • I don’t recall how I stumbled across this item, On Being a Cripple, by Nancy Mairs, but it is a fantastic and fascinating read. It is long and, for some, might not be necessarily “easy” to read, but I think that it’s very much worth the time to read.

And, it’s well into Saturday morning, now. I guess I’ll just schedule this to post sometime after the sun is up.

Namaste.

Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen…

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Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen...

Saturday – 17 January 2015
Okay, three-for-one time…

Day 15: Come up with your own Cabinet of Invisible Counselors. There are innumerable great men from history who we can learn from today. When thinking about your life or pondering some question or problem, yes, go to actual mentors and friends, but also take in the advice of men of yore. Write out who you would have on your list and what you admire about them. Having trouble coming up with a list? The comments in the post should offer plenty of ideas.

I wasn’t sure how literally to take the “take in the advice of men of yore” when I first read this. I decided to take a more “interpretive” stand with it, and thus my list will include men and women.

My list would include:

  • My grandfathers – One died before I was born, the other before I was really old enough to go to him for advice.
  • Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart – It would be fascinating to talk with them about being pioneers, despite the cultural and societal changes they faced.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X – I would like to discuss the more mundane/day-to-day struggles they faced that we never hear about.
  • Sun-TzuThe Art of War is one of my favorite books. I would want to talk with him about how he devised the strategies in the book and whether he ever considered them as having viable applications beyond the battlefield.
  • Neil Armstrong – C’mon, who doesn’t want to know not only what was it like to walk on the moon!? And he’s the second Boilermaker (Ms. Earhart was the other) list. Win-Win. Also, the challenges of shooting a tin can into space, get it to orbit another astronomical body, LAND on said body, take off from said AND return to Earth have to be many and varied. That’s knowledge and background to which I’d love to have access.

Day 16: Imagine that someone has decided to write a book about your life, just up to this point. What would the cover blurb say? Be honest here. Is it kind of boring? Are you happy with it? Now imagine what you’d like that blurb to say at the end of your life. What changes need to made for that to happen?

Yeah. I’ve been pondering this one and I’m just not sure. I don’t think that it would necessarily be anything out of the ordinary. Would it be boring? Dunno. I think that I live a kind of mundane life, but to someone else, it might be kind of out there. Am I happy with my life? Yep. No matter what I’ve been through, it’s helped to get me where I am.

Day 17: Hop on the internet and search for the biggest news stories in the year you were born. Infoplease is a great resource for this. Think about how these news stories, or even statistics, may have shaped your childhood or who you are today. For example, the year I was born, it was discovered that 98% of American households had at least one television set. I could write about how television influenced my generation, and continues to do so today, either positively or negatively.

  • Prime time football ABC begins it’s long running Monday Night Football
    I came into watching football kind of late: In my early 20s. A friend of mine introduced me to John Madden on the Sega Genesis and fan of the Miami Dolphins. I kind of latched on to the Dolphins as my first football team, despite the fact that I had grown up in and around Baltimore. (This was after the Indianapolis Professional Football Club left Maryland…) It was around this point that I started watching Monday Night Football and started paying attention to games on Sunday.Fast forward twenty years, I’m a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and the Carolina Panthers)… and the Dolphins still hold a special place in my heart. I watch Sunday games – and Monday Night Football – when I can (and when the Ravens’ games are on).
  • World Trade Center is completed

    This picture was taken in 1999. And two years later, the towers were gone. This is what I had to say on that day. I haven’t been to New York for more than a layover since then, but I would love to visit the site on my next visit.

  • First F-14 Tomcat Tested – Dec. 21, 1970: The first ever F-14 Tomcat was tested; This led to use by the NAVY for about 30 years.This was one of my favorite aircraft in my early model-building years. Top Gun didn’t hurt my love for it either. While my favorite planes today are the SR-71 and the P-51 Mustang, I still appreciate the Tomcat.

Namaste.

May the 4th be with you, Cinco de Mayo, and the Revenge of the 6th… or something like that

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May the 4th be with you, Cinco de Mayo, and the Revenge of the 6th... or something like that

Monday – 06 May 2013
A new week begins, after a good weekend.

Friday felt like it was nine days long. Not so much because I went to the Iron Man 3 premiere on Thursday, but because I had one of my worst night’s sleeps in many months. It took forever to fall asleep. I had what I’m figuring was a reflux event an hour or two later. The girls woke up around 5:00 AM. So, when the alarm went off, all I wanted to do was curl into a ball and sleep the day away. But, that was not to be. So, I got up and got right on to the proverbial friction of the day. Fortunately, it wasn’t a “bad” day. Just long. On the up side: We visited our friends, Dave and Angy, Friday evening. On the way there, we told the girls that they were going to see two dogs. All the way to Dave and Angy’s they kept saying “Two dogs! Two dogs!” And they repeated it all the way home, as well. It was cute.

Saturday was a long day. It started with Sara! heading off to her quilt club, which meant that Team DiVa and I got in some quality time. At one point, Diana asked for “gah-layo.” I had absolutely no idea what that meant. So, I tried a couple of known favorites. No dice. I finally got around to trying a couple of Baby Einstein videos… and then I saw it in the history: “Baby Galileo.” No sooner than I clicked on it than both girls were all smiles. I also managed to catch this:

After Sara! got home, we headed to Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection for Free Comic Book Day. There was a line down the walkway outside the store, and it was nearly the Team DiVa’s lunch and nap time, so I just planned on heading back to the store after the girls went down for their naps. And I did. It was good. I got to hang with some of the Volt’s staff and see a few people I hadn’t seen in a while.

From there, I headed to Hastur Games & Comics. I had promised my friend, Charity, that I’d pop into the Hello, Sweetie! Podcast event.  I was only able to stay for a few, but I was able to keep my promise.

I headed back home to help with Team DiVa’s dinner and pre-bed prep. After that, I got ready to head to Abravanel Hall for Utah Symphony‘s performance of “The Music of John Williams,” conducted by Jerry Steichen.

photo 2

The musicians of Utah Symphony (taken before the concert)

Sara! stayed home to watch the ladies, so I went with my friend, Bonnie, who needed to attend a concert for one of her classes. I also met up with Melody and Jack and Dave and Kim during intermission. Win-Win. It was a fantastic concert. They opened with a medley from the Star Wars movies. An amusing sidenote: Sara! took part of my Jedi costume to work for Jerry to possibly wear for the concerts; he came on-stage wearing the overtunic. It made me chuckle. What I didn’t realize, until after they had finished playing the Star Wars medley, was that Sara! had also given him my lightsaber…. which he then proceeded to play some of the settings on-stage. I realized something during the concert: I’ve heard Williams’ Olympic Fanfare and Theme many times over the years, but there was “an added element” to hearing it performed live. And hearing “Raiders March” from Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Yeah. Pretty awesome, too. The only – ONLY – disappointing point of the concert was that they didn’t perform Theme from Superman (Main Title). Oh, well. Can’t win ’em all.

Sunday morning started far too early (7:30 AM), when Diana decided to let everyone know that she was not only awake, but didn’t intend to spend any more time in her crib. I had barely gotten her and brought her into Sara! and my bedroom when Vanessa announced that she wanted to hang out, too. And thus, started the day. Sara! made a coffee cake for breakfast, while I hung out with the little ladies. After breakfast, I tamed the fury that is the lawn. I came back in and had a bite for lunch and then got ready for work. Yep, work. On a Sunday. Fortunately, things went well and I was only there for a couple of hours. I got home in time to hang out with Team DiVa for a bit before dinner. Being Cinco de Mayo, Sara! prepared chicken enchiladas and margaritas. And they were good. Very good, indeed.

And here we are, once more, at Monday.

Bring it on.

Namaste.

“To the moon, Alice…!”

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"To the moon, Alice...!"

Thursday – 14 March 2014
It’s another fine NBN Thursday in the valley.

The following was culled from the “It Happened in Chat” file:

(12:35:03 PM) ***Steve crash lands.
(12:39:54 PM) Rob: Airplane or Airplane II style?
(12:40:02 PM) ***Beth goes ‘heh heh heh.’
(12:40:40 PM) Steve: Airplane II with Shatner guiding me in. ’cause that means we have a moon base and won’t die out as quick when the asteroid hits the earth.
(12:40:58 PM) Rob: Moon base.
(12:41:18 PM) Steve: I don’t worry about gun control. I worry about extinction level events.
(12:41:21 PM) R0b: You’re forgetting/overlooking two potential obstacles, though.
(12:42:59 PM) Steve: obstacles?
(12:43:03 PM) R0b: Yeah.
(12:43:28 PM) R0b: 1. The giant metal baboon-looking robot that Michael Bay chronicled as living on the moon.
(12:43:32 PM) R0b: 2. Nazis.
(12:43:35 PM) Steve: shatter is involved. we don’t believe in the no-win scenario.
(12:43:41 PM) Steve: shatner.
(12:43:42 PM) Mike: william shatter.
(12:43:57 PM) Steve: how could i ever turn off autocorrect? it is so lovable.
(12:44:59 PM) Steve: oh shit. nazi transformers on the moon. *calls michael bay*

Just like that.

Namaste.

Space: The Final Frontier…

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Space: The Final Frontier...

Thursday – 21 February 2013
It’s No Bad News Thursday. That’s really all that needs to be said.

nbn2 smaller

As I’ve mentioned, Team DiVa has a computer with a series of astronomy pictures as a screen saver in their room. The girls have been identifying things like “moon,” “stars” and the closest that they can get to “nebula” for weeks now. Tonight, Vanessa surprised me with how well she could say “Saturn” – granted, it sounded more like “Sa’UHN” – when its picture appeared on the monitor. Yet another proud daddy moment.

After Team DiVa was in bed, Sara! and I watched Alex Cross.

alex-cross-2

It wasn’t an awesome movie. I’m not sure what I expected, but what I got was Alex Cross in more of an action movie than a thriller (as we got used to with Morgan Freeman’s portrayals of Dr. Cross). It was… meh.

Oddly enough, though, I am curious about Tyler Perry’s Medea movies. I know that he’s made eleventy-seven of them, but I have never seen one. But, I’m considering it.

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Here are two items for Thursday:

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson – Scientist, television personality, writerNeil-deGrasse-Tyson-600x300Tyson was born as the second of three children in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, but was raised in the Bronx. His mother, Sunchita Feliciano Tyson, was a gerontologist, and his father, Cyril deGrasse Tyson, was a sociologist, human resource commissioner for the New York City mayor John Lindsay and the first Director of Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Tyson attended the Bronx High School of Science (1972–1976, astrophysics emphasis) where he was captain of the wrestling team and was editor-in-chief of the school’s Physical Science Journal. Tyson had an abiding interest in astronomy since he was nine years old, following his visit to the Hayden Planetarium. He obsessively studied astronomy in his teens, and eventually even gained some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of fifteen. Tyson recalls that “so strong was that imprint [of the night sky] that I’m certain that I had no choice in the matter, that in fact, the universe called me.”
    Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a faculty member at Cornell University, tried to recruit Tyson to Cornell for undergraduate studies. During an interview with writer Daniel Simone, Tyson said, “Interestingly, when I applied to Cornell, my application dripped of my passion for the study and research of the Universe. Somehow the admissions office brought my application to the attention of the late Dr. Sagan, and he actually took the initiative and care to contact me. He was very inspirational and a most powerful influence. Dr. Sagan was as great as the universe, an effective mentor.” Tyson chose to attend Harvard University, however, where he majored in physics. He was a member of the crew team during his freshman year, but returned to wrestling, eventually lettering in his senior year. In addition to wrestling and rowing in college, he was active in dance in styles including jazz, ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and Latin Ballroom. Tyson earned aBachelor of Arts in physics from Harvard in 1980 and began his graduate work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Master of Arts in astronomy in 1983. In 1985, he won a gold medal with the University of Texas dance team at a national tournament in the International Latin Ballroom style. Tyson transferred from the University of Texas at Austin to Columbia University in 1988 after his committee was dissolved. At Columbia University, in 1989, he received a Master of Philosophy in astrophysics and, in 1991, he earned a doctor of philosophy in astrophysics.Tyson’s research has focused on observations in stellar formation and evolution as well as cosmology and galactic astronomy. He has held numerous positions at institutions including University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and Hayden Planetarium.

    Tyson has written a number of popular books on astronomy. In 1995, he began to write the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine. In a column he authored for the magazine in 2002, Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” to describe the two days annually on which the evening sun aligns with the cross streets of the street grid in Manhattan, making the sunset visible along unobstructed side streets. Tyson’s column also influenced his work as a professor with The Great Courses.

    In 2001, US President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to serve on the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry and in 2004 to serve on the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, the latter better known as the “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” commission. Soon afterward he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by NASA.

    In 2004, he hosted the four-part Origins miniseries of PBS’s Nova, and, with Donald Goldsmith, co-authored the companion volume for this series, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution. He again collaborated with Goldsmith as the narrator on the documentary 400 Years of the Telescope which premiered on PBS in April 2009.

    As director of the Hayden Planetarium, Tyson bucked traditional thinking in order to keep Pluto from being referred to as the ninth planet in exhibits at the center. Tyson has explained that he wanted to look at commonalities between objects, grouping the terrestrial planets together, the gas giants together, and Pluto with like objects and to get away from simply counting the planets. He has stated on The Colbert ReportThe Daily Show, and BBC Horizon that this decision has resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children. In 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) confirmed this assessment by changing Pluto to the dwarf planet classification. Daniel Simone wrote of the interview with Tyson describing his frustration. “For a while, we were not very popular here at the Hayden Planetarium.”

    Tyson has been vice-president, president, and chairman of the board of the Planetary Society. He was also the host of the PBS program Nova ScienceNow until 2011. He attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival symposium on November 2006. In 2007, Tyson, who is known for his vibrant character, cheerful demeanor, and awe of the vastness of the universe itself, was chosen to be a regular on The History Channel’s popular series The Universe.

    In May 2009, he launched a one-hour radio talk show called StarTalk, which he co-hosted with comedienne Lynne Koplitz. The show was syndicated on Sunday afternoons on KTLK AM in Los Angeles and WHFS in Washington DC. The show lasted for thirteen weeks, but was resurrected in December 2010 and then, co-hosted with comedians Chuck Nice and Leighann Lord instead of Koplitz. Guests range from colleagues in science to celebrities such as Gza, Wil Wheaton, Sarah Silverman, and Bill Maher. The show is also available via the internet through a live stream or in the form of a podcast.

    In April 2011, Tyson was the keynote speaker at the 93rd International Convention of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of the Two-year School. He and James Randi delivered a lecture entitled Skepticism, which related directly with the convention’s theme of The Democratization of Information: Power, Peril, and Promise.

    In 2012, Tyson announced that he would appear in a YouTube series based on his radio show StarTalk. A premiere date for the show has not been announced, but it will be distributed on the Nerdist YouTube Channel.


  • Sarah Vaughan – Singersarah-vaughan-14
    Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer. Nicknamed “Sailor” (for her salty speech), “Sassy” and “The Divine One“, Sarah Vaughan was a Grammy Award winner. The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its “highest honor in jazz”, the NEA Jazz Masters Award, in 1989.Sarah began piano lessons at the age of seven, sang in the church choir and occasionally played piano for rehearsals and services. Vaughan developed an early love for popular music on records and the radio. In the 1930s, Newark had a very active live music scene and Vaughan frequently saw local and touring bands that played in the city at venues like the Montgomery Street Skating Rink. By her mid-teens, Vaughan began venturing (illegally) into Newark’s night clubs and performing as a pianist and, occasionally, singer, most notably at the Piccadilly Club and the Newark Airport USO.Vaughan initially attended Newark’s East Side High School, later transferring to Newark Arts High School, which had opened in 1931 as the United States’ first arts “magnet” high school. However, her nocturnal adventures as a performer began to overwhelm her academic pursuits and Vaughan dropped out of high school during her junior year to concentrate more fully on music. Around this time, Vaughan and her friends also began venturing across the Hudson River into New York City to hear big bands at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.

    Sometime in the fall of 1942 (when Sarah was 18 years old), Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete herself as a singer. Vaughan sang “Body and Soul” and won, although the exact date of her victorious Apollo performance is uncertain. The prize, as Vaughan recalled later to Marian McPartland, was US$10 and the promise of a week’s engagement at the Apollo. After a considerable delay, Vaughan was contacted by the Apollo in the spring of 1943 to open for Ella Fitzgerald.

    Sometime during her week of performances at the Apollo, Vaughan was introduced to bandleader and pianist Earl Hines, although the exact details of that introduction are disputed. Billy Eckstine, Hines’ singer at the time, has been credited by Vaughan and others with hearing her at the Apollo and recommending her to Hines. After a brief tryout at the Apollo, Hines officially replaced his existing male singer with Vaughan on April 4, 1943.

    Eckstine left the Hines band in late 1943 and formed his own big band with Gillespie, leaving Hines to become the new band’s musical director. Parker came along too, and the Eckstine band over the next few years would host a startling cast of jazz talent: Miles DavisKenny DorhamArt BlakeyLucky ThompsonGene AmmonsDexter Gordon, among others.

    Vaughan accepted Eckstine’s invitation to join his new band in 1944, giving her an opportunity to develop her musicianship with the seminal figures in this era of jazz. Eckstine’s band also afforded her first recording opportunity, a December 5, 1944 date that yielded the song “I’ll Wait and Pray” for the Deluxe label. That date led to critic and producer Leonard Feather to ask her to cut four sides under her own name later that month for the Continental label, backed by a septet that included Dizzy Gillespie and Georgie Auld. Vaughan officially left the Eckstine band in late 1944 to pursue a solo career, although she remained very close to Eckstine personally and recorded with him frequently throughout her life.

    Vaughan began her solo career in 1945 by freelancing in clubs on New York’s 52nd Street such as the Three Deuces, the Famous Door, the Downbeat and the Onyx Club. Vaughan also hung around the Braddock Grill, next door to the Apollo Theater in Harlem. After being invited by violinist Stuff Smith to record the song “Time and Again” in October, Vaughan was offered a contract to record for the Musicraft label by owner Albert Marx, although she would not begin recording as a leader for Musicraft until May 7, 1946. Vaughan’s recording success for Musicraft continued through 1947 and 1948.

    A musicians union ban pushed Musicraft to the brink of bankruptcy and Vaughan used the missed royalty payments as an opportunity to sign with the larger Columbia record label. During her tenure at Columbia through 1953, Vaughan was steered almost exclusively to commercial pop ballads, a number of which had chart success.

    Vaughan also achieved substantial critical acclaim. She won Esquire magazine’s New Star Award for 1947 as well as awards from Down Beat magazine continuously from 1947 through 1952, and from Metronome magazine from 1948 through 1953. A handful of critics disliked her singing as being “over-stylized”, reflecting the heated controversies of the time over the new musical trends of the late 40s. However, the critical reception to the young singer was generally positive.

    Vaughan began recording for Roulette Records in April 1960, making a string of strong large ensemble albums arranged and/or conducted by Billy MayJimmy JonesJoe ReismanQuincy JonesBenny CarterLalo Schifrin, and Gerald Wilson. When her contract with Roulette ended in 1963, Vaughan returned to the more familiar confines of Mercury Records. At the conclusion of her Mercury deal in 1967, she was left without a recording contract for the remainder of the decade.

    The seventies heralded a rebirth in Vaughan’s recording activity. In 1971, Bob Shad, who had worked with her as producer at Mercury Records, asked her to record for his new record label, Mainstream Records. Vaughan’s relationship with Mainstream soured in 1974; this left Vaughan again without a recording contract for three years.

    In December 1974, Vaughan played a private concert for the United States President Gerald Ford and French president Giscard d’Estaing during their summit on Martinique.

    Vaughan remained quite active as a performer during the 1980s and began receiving awards recognizing her contribution to American music and status as an important elder stateswoman of jazz.

    Vaughan’s final complete album was Brazilian Romance, produced and composed by Sérgio Mendes and recorded primarily in the early part of 1987 in New York and Detroit. In 1988, Vaughan contributed vocals to an album of Christmas carols recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and sold in Hallmark Cards stores. In 1989, Quincy Jones’ album Back on the Block featured Vaughan in a brief scatting duet with Ella Fitzgerald. This was Vaughan’s final studio recording and, fittingly, it was Vaughan’s only formal studio recording with Fitzgerald in a career that had begun 46 years earlier opening for Fitzgerald at the Apollo.

    Vaughan is featured in a number of video recordings from the 1980s. Sarah Vaughan Live from Monterey was taped in 1983 or 1984 and featured her working trio with guest soloists. Sass and Brass was taped in 1986 in New Orleans and also features her working trio with guest soloists, including Dizzy Gillespie and Maynard Ferguson. Sarah Vaughan: The Divine One was featured in the American Masters series on PBS. Also in 1986, on Independence Day in a program nationally-televised on PBS she performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich, in a medley of songs composed by George Gershwin

    In 1989, Vaughan’s health began to decline, although she rarely revealed any hints in her performances. She canceled a series of engagements in Europe in 1989 citing the need to seek treatment for arthritis in the hand, although she was able to complete a later series of performances in Japan. During a run at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club in 1989, Vaughan received a diagnosis of lung cancer and was too ill to finish the final day of what would turn out to be her final series of public performances.

    Vaughan returned to her home in California to begin chemotherapy and spent her final months alternating stays in the hospital and at home. Vaughan grew weary of the struggle and demanded to be taken home, where she died on the evening of April 3, 1990, while watching a television movie featuring her daughter, a week after her 66th birthday.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen…”

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"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen..."

Tuesday – 19 February 2013
It’s been a busy past few days around here. But, they’ve also been good days on the whole, so, like the one-legged man: I can’t kick.

Saturday, I had the pleasure of going to work to kick a server back into… um… service. It had decided to go belly-up around mid-morning and needed something just this side of percussive maintenance to get it back in gear. The rest of Saturday was, thankfully uneventful. Sunday, Sara!, Team DiVa and I went out for brunch and a trip to The Garden of Sweden. (We went for ONE THING… and left with about eight or nine things. None of which were the one we were after.) Monday, we took the girls for their first trip to Utah’s Hogle Zoo:

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Umm, Daddy… why are we just sitting here?

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Sara! and Vanessa

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Rob and Diana

The trip was a BIG hit. The girls went nuts for the elephants, although seeing the giraffes was a little disconcerting for Vanessa. By the time we were done, they didn’t want to leave, despite the fact that it was lunch time AND the fact that they didn’t have morning naps. There were parts of the zoo that were closed for construction, but that didn’t stop us from seeing a good number of animals. And the girls kept demanding “More! More!” I can see many more trips to the zoo in the not-distant future.

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Once again, playing catch-up for the days I’ve missed.  There’s a lot of information here, so let’s get to it:

  • Eleanor Holmes Norton – Civil rights activist, politician490px-Eleanorholmesnorton
    Born June 13, 1937 in Washington, D.C. A graduate of Antioch College, Yale University and Yale University Law School, Norton worked in private practice before becoming assistant director of the American Civil Liberties Union (1965–70) where she defended both Julian Bond‘s and George Wallace‘s freedom-of-speech rights.As Chairman of the New York Human Rights Commission (1970–7), Norton championed women’s rights and anti-block-busting legislation. She then went to Washington to chair the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (1977–83), and in 1982 became a law professor at Georgetown University.In 1990, Norton was elected as a Democratic non-voting delegate to the House from the District of Columbia. Currently under scrutiny, the DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act (or DC Vote) would give one vote to the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. Norton is a regular panelist on the PBS women’s news program To the Contrary.
  • Floyd Patterson – Boxerfloyd_pattersonFloyd Patterson (January 4, 1935 – May 11, 2006) was an American professional boxer and former Undisputed Heavyweight Champion. At 21, Patterson became the youngest man to win the world heavyweight title. He was also the first heavyweight boxer to regain the title. He had a record of 55 wins, 8 losses and 1 draw, with 40 wins by knockout. He won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympic Games as a middleweight.Born into a poor family in Waco, North Carolina, Patterson was the youngest of eleven children and experienced an insular and troubled childhood. His family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Floyd was a truant and petty thief. At age ten, he was sent to the Wiltwyck School for Boys, a reform school in upstate New York, which he credited with turning his life around. He stayed there for almost 2 years. He attended high school in New Paltz, NY where he succeeded in all sports.(to this day the New Paltz football field is named in his honor) At age fourteen, he started to box, trained by Cus D’Amato at his Gramercy Gym.

    Aged just 17, Patterson won the Gold medal in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics as a middleweight. 1952 turned out to be a good year for the young Patterson; in addition to Olympic gold Patterson won the National Amateur Middleweight Championship and New York Golden Gloves Middleweight Championship. Patterson turned pro and steadily rose through the ranks, his only early defeat being an eight-round decision to former Light Heavyweight Champion Joey Maxim on June 7, 1954, at the Eastern Parkway Arena in Brooklyn, New York. Most people think Patterson did enough to win, and Maxim’s greater fame at the time helped to sway the judges.

    Although Patterson fought around the light heavyweight limit for much of his early career, he and manager Cus D’Amato always had plans to fight for the Heavyweight Championship. In fact, D’Amato made these plans clear as early as 1954, when he told the press that Patterson was aiming for the heavyweight title. However, after Rocky Marciano announced his retirement as World Heavyweight Champion on April 27, 1956, Patterson was ranked by The Ring magazine as the top light heavyweight contender. After Marciano’s announcement, Jim Norris of the International Boxing Club stated that Patterson was one of the six fighters who would take part in an elimination tournament to crown Marciano’s successor. The Ring then moved Patterson into the heavyweight rankings, at number five.

    Following a series of defeats, Patterson went through a depression. However, he eventually recovered and began winning fights again, including top victories over Eddie Machen and George Chuvalo. Patterson was now the number one challenger for the title held by Muhammad Ali. On November 22, 1965, in yet another attempt to be the first to win the World Heavyweight title three times, Patterson lost by technical knockout at the end of the 12th round, going into the fight with an injured sacro-iliac joint in a bout in which Ali was clearly dominant. Ali called Patterson an “Uncle Tom” for refusing to call him Muhammad Ali (Patterson continued to call him Cassius Clay) and for this outspokenness against black Muslims. Instead of scoring a quick knockout, Ali mocked, humiliated and punished Patterson throughout the fight.
    Patterson was still a legitimate contender. In 1966 he traveled to England and knocked out British boxer Henry Cooper in just four rounds at Wembley Stadium. In comparison, Ali never scored a knockdown against Cooper in their two bouts and was nearly knocked out by Cooper in their first fight after he was knocked down near the end of the fourth round, but recovered after his corner used smelling salts on him (which was against British rules) at the end of that round. Ali would go on to score a TKO over Cooper after Cooper was severely cut in the fifth round.

    In September 1969 he divorced his first wife, Sandra Hicks Patterson, who wanted him to quit boxing, while he still had hopes for another title shot.

    When Ali was stripped of his title for refusing induction into the military, the World Boxing Association staged an eight-man tournament to determine his successor. Patterson fought Jerry Quarry to a draw in 1967. In a rematch four months later, Patterson lost a controversial 12-round decision to Quarry. Subsequently, in a third and final attempt at winning the title a third time, Patterson lost a controversial 15-round referee’s decision to Jimmy Ellis in Sweden, despite breaking Ellis’ nose and scoring a disputed knockdown.

    Patterson continued on, defeating Oscar Bonavena in a close fight over ten rounds in early 1972.

    At age 37, Patterson was stopped in the seventh round in a rematch with Muhammad Ali for the NABF Heavyweight title on September 20, 1972. The defeat proved to be Patterson’s last fight, although there was never an announcement of retirement.

    Floyd Patterson suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer and had been hospitalized for a week prior to his death. He died at home in New Paltz in 2006 at age 71.

  • Queen Latifah – Actress, entrepreneur, music producer, rapper, singerQueen-Latifah-Covergirl-561x700
    Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens on March 18, 1970, in Newark, New Jersey. The second child of Lance and Rita Owens, Latifah is best known for her social politics, acting skills and gift for rhyme. When she was 8 years old, a Muslim cousin gave her the nickname Latifah, meaning “delicate and sensitive” in Arabic. Latifah began singing in the choir of Shiloh Baptist Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and had her first public performance when she sang a version of “Home” as one of the two Dorothys in a production of The Wizard of Oz at St. Anne’s parochial school.

In her first year of high school, Latifah began informal singing and rapping in the restrooms and locker rooms. In her junior year, she formed a rap group, Ladies Fresh, with her friends Tangy B and Landy D in response to the formation of another young women’s group. Soon the group was making appearances wherever they could. Latifah’s mother was a catalyst; she was in touch with the students and the music. She invited Mark James, a local disc jockey known as D.J. Mark the 45 King, to appear at a school dance. The basement of James’s parents’ house in East Orange, which was equipped with electronic and recording equipment, became the hangout of Latifah and her friends. They began to call themselves “Flavor Unit.”James was beginning a career as a producer and made a demo record of Queen Latifah’s rap Princess of the Posse. He gave the demo to the host of Yo! MTV Raps, Fred Braithwaite (professionally known as “Fab 5 Freddy“). The recording captured the attention of Tommy Boy Music employee Dante Ross, who immediately signed Latifah, and in 1988 issued her first single, “Wrath of My Madness.” The track met with a positive response and afforded her the opportunity to launch a European tour, and to perform at the Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater. The next year Latifah released her first album, All Hail to the Queen, which went on to sell more than 1 million copies.As she began to earn money, Latifah displayed an interest in investment, putting money into a delicatessen and a video store on the ground floor of the apartment in which she was living. She came to realize that she had a knack for business, and realized that there was an opening for her in record production. In 1991, Latifah organized and became chief executive officer of the Flavor Unit Records and Management Company, headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey. By late 1993, the company had signed 17 rap groups, including the very successful Naughty by Nature. In 1993, Latifah recorded a jazz- and reggae-influenced album titled Black Reign. While the album sold more than 500,000 copies, the single “U.N.I.T.Y.” earned Latifah her first Grammy Award in 1995.

In the 1990s, Latifah branched out into acting. She made her big screen debut in Spike Lee’s interracial romance drama Jungle Fever (1991). The following year, Latifah appeared in the crime thriller Juice with Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur. She soon landed a leading role on the small screen, appearing in the sitcom Living Single from 1993 to ’98. The comedy, which also starred Kim Coles, Kim Fields and Erika Alexander, proved to be a ground-breaking show. It remains one of the few sitcoms to focus on a group of African-American women.

A talented performer, Latifah continued to tackle both comedic and dramatic parts. She co-starred in 1996’s Set It Off with Jada Pinkett Smith and Vivica A. Fox, playing as a lesbian bank robber. Two years later, Latifah teamed up with Holly Hunter and Danny DeVito for the comedy Living Out Loud (1998). She also appeared withDenzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in The Bone Collector.

Perhaps Latifah’s most acclaimed film role to date came in the 2002 hit musical Chicago, starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jonesand Renee Zellweger. Her portrayal of prison matron Mama Morton gave her a chance to show off both her singing talents and acting skills. For her work in the film, Latifah earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She lost to Chicago co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Latifah went on to receive strong reviews for 2003’s romantic comedy Bringing Down the House co-starring with Steve Martin. The following year, she experienced some disappointment withTaxi, which co-starred Jimmy Fallon. The comedy proved to be a critical and commercial dud. She fared better with Beauty Shop(2005) and her voice-over work in the hit animated film Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).

In 2007, Queen Latifah again delighted movie-goers with her musical talents. She appeared as Motormouth Maybelle in Hairspraywith John Travolta. Her crime caper Mad Money (2008) with Diane Keaton and Katie Holmes received much colder reception. Returning to drama, Latifah gave a strong performance in The Secret Life of Bees (2008).

On the small screen, Latifah has made a number of guest television appearances over the years, including on the shows 30 Rock and Single Ladies. She also co-starred in the 2012 TV remake of Steel Magnolias with Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad and Jill Scott. Latifah branched out in a new direction the following year. She will enter the daytime television market with a new talk show. The Queen Latifah Show will debut in the fall of 2013. The program promises to be a mix of interviews and comedic and musical performances, according to BET.com.

In addition to acting, Queen Latifah serves as a spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics. She even has her own line with the company: The Queen Collection.

  • Diana Ross – Actress, singer

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    Diana Ross was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 26, 1944. The second-eldest child of Ernestine (née Moten) (January 27, 1916 – October 9, 1984), a schoolteacher, and Fred Ross, Sr. (July 4, 1920 – November 21, 2007), a former United States Army soldier, Ross would later say that she didn’t see much of her father until he had returned from service following World War II.

    Ross and her family originally lived at Belmont Road in the North End section of Detroit, near Highland Park, Michigan, where she was neighbors with Smokey Robinson, who first met Ross when she was eight. Despite her early life as a “tomboy”, upon her teenage years, Ross had dreams of being a fashion designer. She studied design, millinery, pattern-making and seamstress skills while attending Cass Technical High School, a four-year college preparatory magnet school, in downtown Detroit. In her late teens, Ross worked at Hudson’s Department Store where, it was claimed in biographies, that she was the first black employee “allowed outside the kitchen”. Ross graduated in January 1962, one semester earlier than her classmates. Around this same time, Ross was turned on by the emerging rock and roll music scene, and her early influences included Frankie Lymon and Etta James.

    At fifteen, Ross was brought to the attention of music impresario Milton Jenkins, manager of the local doo-wop group the Primes, by Mary Wilson. Paul Williams, then member of The Primes, convinced Jenkins to include Ross in the Primettes, considered a “sister group” of the Primes. Ross was part of a lineup that included Wilson,Florence Ballard and Betty McGlown, who completed the lineup. In 1960, following their win at a singing contest in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, the group auditioned for a spot on Motown Records after Smokey Robinson introduced the young group to Berry Gordy. Upon learning of their ages, Gordy advised them to come back after graduation. Undeterred, the quartet stayed around Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A. headquarters, offering to provide extra help for Motown’s recordings, often including hand-claps and background vocals.

    In January 1961, Berry Gordy agreed to sign the young act under the condition they change their name. Each member picked out various names from friends. Eventually they settled on The Supremes, though Ross initially had apprehensions toward the name – she felt the name would mistake them for a male vocal group. But Gordy agreed with the new name and signed them on January 15 of that year. During the group’s early years, there was no designated lead vocalist for the group as they had agreed to split lead vocals between their choice of song material; Ross favoring the uptempo pop songs. That changed in 1963 when Gordy assigned Ross, who had already sung lead on the majority of their early singles, as the main lead vocalist, considering that her vocals had potential to reach Gordy’s dreams of crossover success. Between August 1964 and May 1967, Ross, Wilson and Ballard sang on ten number-one hit singles, all of which also made the UK top forty. The group had also become a hit with audiences both domestically and abroad, going on to become Motown’s most successful vocal act throughout the sixties.

    In 1968, Ross started performing as a solo artist mainly on television specials, including The Supremes’ own specials such as TCB and G.I.T. on Broadway. In mid-1969, Gordy decided to have Ross leave the group by the end of the year and Ross began sessions for her own solo work that July. One of the first plans for Ross to establish her own solo career was to bring in a new Motown recording act. Though she herself didn’t claim discovery, Motown pinned Ross as having discovered The Jackson 5. In November, Ross confirmed a split from the Supremes on Billboard. Ross’ presumed first solo recording, “Someday We’ll Be Together”, was eventually released as a Supremes recording and became the group’s final number-one hit on the Hot 100. Ross made her final appearance with the Supremes at the Frontier Hotel in Las Vegas on January 14, 1970.

    After her obligations with the Supremes were fulfilled, Ross signed a new contract as a solo artist in March 1970. Two months later, Motown released her eponymous solo debut, which included the hits, “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand)” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the latter song becoming her first number-one single as a solo artist on the pop and R&B charts, also becoming an international hit reaching the UK top ten, and winning Ross her first Grammy nomination. Ross only released one solo recording in 1972. She reemerged in 1973 with “Touch Me in the Morning,” which became her first single to reach number-one in three years. The album of the same name became Ross’s first non-soundtrack studio album to reach the top ten, peaking at #5. Later that year, the Diana & Marvin album, her duet album with Gaye, was released, and spawned five hit singles, including three released in the United States and two in Europe, gaining an international hit with their cover of The Stylistics’ “You Are Everything.” In 1973, Ross began giving out concerts overseas where she immediately sold out at every concert venue she performed at. That year, Ross became the first entertainer in Japan’s history to receive an invitation to the Imperial Palace for a private audience with the Empress Nagako, wife of Emperor Hirohito.

    Ross’s follow-up albums, 1977’s Baby It’s Me and 1978’s Ross, however, both faltered on the charts, mainly due to lack of promotion and a period of growing tension between Ross and Gordy, stemming from an incident in 1975 after Ross struck him after the two engaged in an argument on the set of Ross’s film, Mahogany. In 1977, Ross starred in her own one-woman show at Broadway, titled An Evening with Diana Ross. Her performance later resulted in her winning a Tony Award.

    After catching the group Chic at a concert where she attended with her daughters, Ross advised to the leaders of the band, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to work with them in New York on her next album. They agreed and, in 1980, Ross released the Diana album. The album became her highest-charting solo album and her most successful, featuring hits including the number-one hit, “Upside Down,” her first song to reach the top position in four years. Another song, “I’m Coming Out,” became equally successful; its hook would later be sampled for “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.” Diana would become Ross’s final studio album under her Motown contract. She would later work on four songs to complete her contractual obligations for the compilation album, To Love Again, which would be released in May 1981. Though Ross had sought to leave Motown in 1980 shortly after the release of Diana, she discovered, just as she was planning to leave Motown, that she only had up to $150,000 in her name despite helping Motown to earn millions of dollars with her recordings in the twenty years she had been signed to the label. Ross signed with RCA on May 20, 1981, and her $20 million deal in 1981 became then the most lucrative contract of any recording artist at the time. After leaving, Ross achieved her sixth and final number-one hit with Lionel Richie on the ballad “Endless Love” around the same time Ross left the label.

    In 1971, Diana Ross began working on her first film, Lady Sings the Blues, which was a loosely based biography on music legend Billie Holiday. Some critics lambasted the idea of the singer playing Holiday considering how “miles apart” their styles were. At one point, Ross began talking with several of Holiday’s acquaintances and listened to her recordings to get into character. During an audition to acquire the role, Ross would act on cue to the film’s producers’s commands, helping Ross to win her part. When Berry Gordy heard Ross perform covers of Holiday’s material, he felt Ross had put “a little too much” Holiday in her vocal range, advising Ross to “put a little Diana back into it.”

    Ross also talked with doctors at drug clinics in research of the film, as Holiday had been a known drug addict. Ross would later make a crucial decision when it came to interpreting Holiday’s music: instead of flatly imitating Holiday, she only focused on Holiday’s vocal phrasing. “Lady Sings the Blues” opened in theaters in October 1972, becoming a major success in Ross’s career. Ross’s role in the film won her Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Alongside Cicely Tyson, who was nominated for her role in the film, Sounder, they were the first Black actresses to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress since Dorothy Dandridge. The soundtrack to “Lady Sings the Blues” became just as successful, reaching #1 on the Billboard 200 staying there for two weeks and breaking then-industry records by shipping 300,000 copies during the first eight days of its release. At nearly two million in sales, it is one of Ross’s best-selling albums to date.

    After the film, Ross returned to her music career, reemerging with another film in 1975 with Mahogany, her second film, in which she starred alongside Billy Dee Williams and whose costumes she designed. The story of an aspiring fashion designer who becomes a runway model and the toast of the industry, Mahogany was a troubled production from its inception. The film’s original director, Tony Richardson, was fired during production, and Berry Gordy assumed the director’s chair himself. In addition, Gordy and Ross clashed during filming, with Ross leaving the production before shooting was completed, forcing Gordy to use secretary Edna Anderson as a body double for Ross. While a box office success, the film was not well received by the critics: Time magazine’s review of the film chastised Gordy for “squandering one of America’s most natural resources: Diana Ross.”

    In 1977, Motown acquired the film rights to the Broadway play The Wiz, an African-American reinterpretation of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The film initially was to include the stage actors who had performed on the play. However, the role of Dorothy, which had been performed onstage by Stephanie Mills, would be given to Ross after she convinced film producer Rob Cohen to cast her in the role of Dorothy. This decision eventually led to a change in the film’s script in which Dorothy went from a schoolgirl to a schoolteacher. The role of the Scarecrow, also performed by someone else onstage, was eventually given to Ross’s former Motown label mate, Michael Jackson. The film adaptation of The Wiz had been a $24 million production, but upon its October 1978 release, it earned only $21,049,053 at the box office. Though pre-release television broadcast rights had been sold to CBS for over $10 million, the film produced a net loss of $10.4 million for Motown and Universal. At the time, it was the most expensive film musical ever made. The film’s failure ended Ross’s short career on the big screen and contributed to the Hollywood studios’s reluctance to produce the all-black film projects which had become popular during the blaxploitation era of the early to mid-1970s for several years. The Wiz was Ross’s final film for Motown.

    Ross had success with movie-themed songs. While her version of Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache” only performed modestly well in early 1973, her recording of “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” gave Ross her third number-one hit, in late 1975. Three years later, Ross and Michael Jackson had a modest dance hit with their recording of “Ease on Down the Road.” Their second duet, actually as part of the ensemble of The Wiz, “Brand New Day,” found some success overseas. Ross scored a Top 10 hit in late 1980 with the theme song to the 1980 film It’s My Turn. The following year, she collaborated with former Commodores singer-songwriter Lionel Richie on the theme song for the film Endless Love. The Academy Award-nominated title single became her final hit on Motown Records, and the number one record of the year. Several years later, in 1988, Ross recorded the theme song to The Land Before Time. “If We Hold On Together” became an international hit, reaching number-one in Japan.

    In 1984, Ross’s career spiked yet again with the release of the million-selling Swept Away. This featured a duet with Julio Iglesias, “All Of You,” which was featured on both the albums they had then released—his 1100 Bel Air Place as well as her Swept Away. It and the title selection both became international hits, as did the chart-topping ballad, “Missing You,” which was a tribute to Marvin Gaye, who had died earlier that year. Her 1985 album, Eaten Alive, found major success overseas with the title track and “Chain Reaction,” although neither of the songs became the best-sellers she was once accustomed to in America. Earlier in 1985, she appeared as part of the supergroup USA for Africa on the ‘”We Are the World“‘ charity single, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Ross’s 1987 follow up to Eaten Alive, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, found less success than the prior album. In 1988, Ross chose to not renew her RCA contract. Around this same time, Ross had been in talks with her former mentor Berry Gordy to return to Motown. When she learned of Gordy’s plans to sell Motown, Ross tried advising him against the decision though he sold it to MCA Records in 1988. Following this decision, Gordy offered Ross a new contract to return to Motown with the condition that she have shares in the company as a part-owner. Ross accepted the offer.

    Despite its heavy promotion, Diana’s next album, Workin’ Overtime, was a critical and commercial failure. Subsequent follow-ups such as The Force Behind the Power(1991), Take Me Higher (1995), and Every Day Is a New Day (1999) produced similarly disappointing sales. Ross had more success overseas with the albums than she did in America. In 1994, Ross performed at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, hosted in the USA. Her performance has become a running joke in football circles due to her obvious miming and for missing the goal from close range. On January 28, 1996, Ross performed the Halftime Show at Super Bowl XXX.

    In 1999, she was named the most successful female singer in the history of the United Kingdom charts, based upon a tally of her career hits. Madonna would eventually succeed Ross as the most successful female artist in the UK.

    In 2004, after spending several years away from the spotlight and after a stint in jail for committing a DUI, Ross returned to live touring, first in Europe and then in the United States all within the same year. In 2005, she participated in Rod Stewart‘s Thanks for the Memory: The Great American Songbook, Volume IV recording a duet version of the Gershwin standard, “I’ve Got a Crush on You“. The song was released as promotion for the album and later reached number 19 on the Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary chart, marking her first Billboard chart entry since 2000. Ross was featured in another hit duet, this time with Westlife, on a cover of Ross’ 1991 hit, “When You Tell Me You Love Me”, which repeated the same chart success of the original just fourteen years before.

    In June 2006, Universal released Ross’ shelved 1972 Blue album. It peaked at #2 on Billboard’s jazz albums chart. Later in 2006, Ross released her first studio album in seven years with I Love You. It would be released on EMI/Manhattan Records in the United States in January 2007. EMI Inside later reported the album had sold more than 622,000 copies worldwide. Ross later ventured on a world tour to promote I Love You which garnered rave reviews. In 2007, she was honored twice, first with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BET Awards and later was one of the honorees at the Kennedy Center Honors.

    In 2010, Ross embarked on her first headlining tour in three years titled the More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour. She dedicated the entire concert tour to her late friend, Michael Jackson, who died in June 2009. Ross has garnered critical success as well as commercial success from the now two-year tour. In February 2012, Diana Ross received her first ever Grammy Award, for Lifetime Achievement, and announced the nominees for the Album of the Year. In May, a DVD of Ross’ Central Park concert performances, “For One & For All”, was released and featured commentary from Steve Binder, who directed the special.

  • Dred Scott – Civil rights activistdredscottDred Scott was born in sometime around the turn of the century, often fixed at 1795, in Southampton County, Virginia. Legend has it that his name was Sam, but when his elder brother died, he adopted his name instead. His parents were slaves, but it is uncertain whether the Blow family owned them at his birth or thereafter. Peter Blow and his family relocated first to Huntsville, Alabama, and then to St. Louis Missouri. After Peter Blow’s death, in the early 1830s, Scott was sold to a U.S. Army doctor, John Emerson.In 1836, Scott fell in love with a slave of another army doctor, 19-year-old Harriett Robinson, and her ownership was transferred over to Dr. Emerson when they were wed. In the ensuing years, Dr. Emerson traveled to Illinois and the Wisconsin Territories, both of which prohibited slavery. When Emerson died in 1846, Scott tried to buy freedom for himself and his family from Emerson’s widow, but she refused. Dred Scott made history by launching a legal battle to gain his freedom. That he had lived with Dr. Emerson in free territories become the basis for his case.

    The process began in 1846: Scott lost in his initial suit in a local St. Louis district court, but he won in a second trial, only to have that decision overturned by the Missouri State Supreme Court. With support from local abolitionists, Scott filed another suit in federal court in 1854, against John Sanford, the widow Emerson’s brother and executor of his estate. When that case was decided in favor of Sanford, that Scott turned to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    In December 1856, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech, foreshadowing the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, examining the constitutional implications of the Dred Scott Case.

    On March 6, 1857, the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued, 11 long years after the initial suits. Seven of the nine judges agreed with the outcome delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, who announced that slaves were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no rights to sue in Federal courts: “… They had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” The decision also declared that the Missouri Compromise (which had allowed Scott to sample freedom in Illinois and Wisconsin) was unconstitutional, and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery.

    The Dred Scott decision sparked outrage in the northern states and glee in the south—the growing schism made civil war inevitable.

    Too controversial to retain the Scotts as slaves after the trial, Mrs. Emerson remarried and returned Dred Scott and his family to the Blows who granted them their freedom in May 1857. That same month, Frederick Douglassdelivered a speech discussing the Dred Scott decision on the anniversary of the American Abolition Society.

    Eventually, the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution overrode this Supreme Court ruling.

 

Stray Toasters

And, with that, what has to be the post with the longest gestation time comes to an end.

Namaste.

Thursday in the valley

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Thursday in the valley

Thursday – 07 February 2013
It’s No Bad News Thursday.  ‘Nuff said.

There was fog in the valley, at least in the central/north part. The trees around here are coated with ice crystals, but not as much sheen as after an ice storm.

Last night, Sara! and I watched The Rescuers.

the_rescuers

It’s her favorite Disney movie. For her, the movie holds fun childhood memories in much the same way that Superman: the Movie does for me and is my favorite movie. Somehow, I’d never seen this movie before. It was a little darker than I would have expected… especially from Disney. I was also pleasantly surprised to see hear Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor in the starring roles. And I can’t imagine anyone else in those roles. All told, it was a fun movie and I enjoyed it.

After the movie, and after flipping channels for a bit, I landed on The Science Channel. We watched Dark Matters: Twisted But True. Interesting show, but it’s made better by being hosted by John Noble (Walter Bishop on Fringe).

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Marvin Gaye

marvingaye2

Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. (he added the “e” to his last name alter in life) was born in Washington, D.C. on April 2, 1939. Gaye was raised under the strict control of his father, Rev. Marvin Gay Sr., the minister at a local church, against a bleak backdrop of widespread violence in his neighborhood.

Throughout his childhood, Marvin Gaye often found peace in music, mastering the piano and drums at a young age. Until high school, his singing experience was limited to church revivals, but soon he developed a love for R&B and doo-wop that would set the foundation for his career. In the late 1950s, Gaye joined a vocal group called The New Moonglows. The talented singer had a phenomenal range that spanned three vocal styles and he soon impressed the group’s founder, Harvey Fuqua. It wasn’t long before Gaye and Fuqua both came to the attention of Detroit music impresario Berry Gordy and were signed to Gordy’s legendary Motown Records.

Gaye’s first certified hit under his own name wouldn’t come until 1962, but his early years at Motown were full of behind-the-scenes successes. He was a session drummer for Motown legends such as Little Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, and Martha and the Vandellas. Showing his stripes as Motown’s renaissance man, Gaye went on to break into the Top 40 for the first time on his own in 1962 with his solo single “Hitch Hike.” Throughout the 1960s, Gaye would show his immense range, churning out solo dance hits and romantic duets with hit-makers like Diana Ross and Mary Wells. “Can I Get a Witness” and “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (vide0) were some of Gaye’s biggest hits of the period, the latter achieving its place as Motown’s bestselling single of the 1960s. For three high-flying years, Gaye and Tammi Terrell wowed the country with their soaring duet performances of songs like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (video) and “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You”. Unfortunately, their reign as the Royal Couple of R&B ended when Terrell succumbed to a brain tumor in 1970. His beloved partner’s death ushered in a dark period for the singer, who swore never to partner with another female vocalist and threatened to abandon the stage for good.

In 1970, inspired by escalating violence and political unrest over the Vietnam War, Gaye wrote the landmark song “What’s Going On.” (video) Despite clashes with Motown over the song’s creative direction, the single was released in 1971 and became an instant smash. Its success prompted Gaye to take even more risks, both musically and politically. When it was released in the spring of 1971, the What’s Going On album served to open Gaye up to new audiences while maintaining his Motown following.

Departing from the tried and true Motown formula, Gaye went out on his own artistically, paving the way for other Motown artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to branch out in later years. Beyond influencing his peers, the album garnered widespread critical acclaim, winning the Rolling Stone Album of the Year award.

In 1972, Gaye moved to Los Angeles and soon met Janis Hunter,who would later become his second wife. Inspired in part by his newfound independence, Gaye recorded one of the most revered love anthems of all time, “Let’s Get It On.” (video) The song became his second number one Billboard hit, cementing his crossover appeal once and for all. Shortly afterwards, Motown pushed Gaye into touring to capitalize on his most recent success; reluctantly the singer-songwriter returned to the stage.

In 1975, Gaye’s wife Anna Gordy — Barry Gordy’s daughter — filed for divorce, and two years later Gaye married Hunter, who had by then given birth to their daughter, Nona (born September 4, 1974) and their son Frankie (born November 16, 1975). Gaye also had an adopted son (Marvin Pentz Gaye III) from his previous marriage. The singer’s marriage to Hunter proved short lived and tumultuous, ending in divorce in 1981.

Through most of the mid-1970s, Gaye was touring, collaborating or producing. Working with Diana Ross and The Miracles, he would put off releasing another solo album until 1976. He continued touring after the release of I Want You (1976) and released his last album for Motown Records (Here, My Dear) in 1978. After two decades at Motown, Gaye signed with CBS’s Columbia Records in 1982 and began to work on his last album, Midnight Love. The lead single from that album, “Sexual Healing,” (video) became a huge comeback hit for the R&B star and earned him his first two Grammy Awards and an American Music Award for Favorite Soul Single.

Despite his successful comeback in the early 1980s, Gaye struggled badly with the substance abuse and bouts of depression that had plagued him for most of his life. After his last tour, he moved into his parents’ house. There he and his father fell into a pattern of violent fights and quarrels that recalled conflicts that had haunted the family for decades. On April 1, 1984, Marvin Gaye Sr. shot and killed his son after a physical altercation; the father claimed he acted in self-defense but would later be convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Three years after his death, Marvin Gaye Jr. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Creating beautiful art from a troubled life, Gaye again and again brought his vision, range, and artistry to the world stage. At the end of his career, he admitted he no longer made music for pleasure; instead, he said, “I record so that I can feed people what they need, what they feel. Hopefully, I record so that I can help someone overcome a bad time.”

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Enter: February

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Enter: February

Friday – 01 February 2013
Not only is the weekend nearly upon us…

purple_friday

What…?! Like I’d pass up this (golden) opportunity to give it up for my team on their way to the Super Bowl? Really? Not likely.

…but it’s also the start of a new month.

And with the start of February comes the start of Black History Month.

black_history_banner

Once again, I’m going to go through more “ABC’s of Black History.” So sit back and learn a little somethin’.

Chew on This: Food For Thought – Black History Month
Today, we start with “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali.

muhammad-ali

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.; January 17, 1942) is an American former professional boxer, philanthropist and social activist. Considered a cultural icon, Ali has both been idolized and vilified.

Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., was born in Louisville, Kentucky. The older of two boys, he was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr. His father painted billboards and signs, and his mother, Odessa O’Grady Clay, was a household domestic. Although Cassius Sr. was a Methodist, he allowed Odessa to bring up both Cassius and his younger brother Rudolph “Rudy” Clay (later renamed Rahman Ali) as Baptists.

Clay was first directed toward boxing by Louisville police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who encountered the 12-year-old fuming over a thief taking his bicycle. He told the officer he was going to “whup” the thief. The officer told him he better learn how to box first. Clay won six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an Amateur Athletic Union National Title, and the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Clay’s amateur record was 100 wins with five losses.

Clay made his professional debut on October 29, 1960, winning a six-round decision over Tunney Hunsaker. From then until 1963, Clay amassed a record of 19-0 with 15 wins by knockout. He defeated boxers including Tony Esperti, Jim Robinson, Donnie Fleeman, Alonzo Johnson, George Logan, Willi Besmanoff, Lamar Clark, Doug Jones and Henry Cooper.

Ali had amassed a record of 19–0, with 15 knockouts and became the top contender for Sonny Liston’s title. The fight was set for February 25, 1964 in Miami. Despite his record, the Ali was a 7-1 underdog. During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, the ever-boastful Clay, who frequently taunted Liston during the buildup by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” (among other things), declared that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” and, summarizing his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults, said, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” Clay and Liston fought for six rounds in their first title fight, with Clay dominating most of the rounds, except in round four when it was alleged Clay had trouble seeing due to a substance in his eyes. Despite Liston’s attempts to knock Clay out in the fifth, Clay was able to escape Liston’s offense until sweat and tears rinsed the substance from his eyes, leading to Clay to respond back with a flurry of combinations near the end of the fifth round. During the sixth round, Clay dominated Liston throughout. When Liston refused to answer the bell for the seventh round, Clay was declared the winner. Liston would later claim he had injured his shoulder. Following the win, a triumphant Clay rushed to the press stands, pointing to them and screaming “I fooled you!” During the now-infamous in-ring interview following the match, Clay shouted “I shook up the world!” and “I must be ‘The Greatest’!” When Clay won, he became the youngest boxer to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion at just 22.

Clay, now having changed his name to Muhammad Ali following his conversion to Islam, and Liston met up for their rematch in May the following year. Midway through the first round, Liston was knocked down by one of Ali’s punches, later dubbed by the press as the “phantom punch”. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott stopped the match shortly afterwards and Ali was declared the winner around 1:52 of the first round.

In 1967, three years after Ali had won the heavyweight championship, he was publicly vilified for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali was eventually arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges; he was stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned, but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was eventually successful.

Ali would go on to become the first and only three-time lineal World Heavyweight Champion.

Nicknamed “The Greatest”, Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among these were three with rival Joe Frazier, which are considered among the greatest in boxing history, and one with George Foreman, where he finally regained his stripped titles seven years later. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, epitomized by his catchphrase “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, and employing techniques such as the Ali Shuffle and the rope-a-dope. Ali brought beauty and grace to the most uncompromising of sports and through the wonderful excesses of skill and character, he became the most famous athlete in the world. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents, often with rhymes.

Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984, a disease that is common to head trauma from activities such as boxing. Ali still remained active during this time, however, later participating as a guest referee in the inaugural WrestleMania event. Ali’s other high profile events during this time included being selected by the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution to personify the vitality of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights around 1987. Ali rode on a float at the following year’s Tournament of Roses Parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th birthday commemoration. He published an oral history, Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser, in 1991. That same year Ali traveled to Iraq during the Gulf War and met with Saddam Hussein in an attempt to negotiate the release of American hostages. In 1996, he had the honor of lighting the flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1999, Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC.

Ali’s bout with Parkinson’s led to a gradual decline in Ali’s health though he was still active into the early years of the millennium, even promoting his own biopic, Ali, in 2001. On November 17, 2002, Muhammad Ali went to Afghanistan as “U.N. Messenger of Peace”. He was in Kabul for a three-day goodwill mission as a special guest of the UN.

In 2009, Ali visited Ennis, the ancestral site of his great-grandfather before he emigrated to the U.S. in the 1860s, before eventually settling in Kentucky. Ali later received the honour of freedom at a civic reception in Ennis. He also became a freeman at Ennis, Co Clare, Ireland. On July 27, 2012, Ali was a titular bearer of the Olympic Flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He was helped to his feet by his wife Lonnie to stand before the flag due to his Parkinson’s rendering him unable to carry it into the stadium.

reference: Wikipedia

Stray Toasters

So get out there and rock,
And roll the bones.
Get busy!

Namaste.

Daddy-DiVa Saturday!

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

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

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

Vanessa (l) and Diana

Vanessa (l) and Diana

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

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

Stray Toasters

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

Namaste.

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.
11:01am
Exactly! Come to think of it… there’s only one black guy in Expendables
Also true.
Namaste.

“Life, the Universe and Everything”

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"Life, the Universe and Everything"

Friday – 26 October 2012
Not only is it Friday…

…nor is it just…

…but, as of 7:00 AM Eastern, I turn(ed) 42.

I’m not panicking and I know where my towel is. And I’d like to think that I’m a (at least somewhat) hoopy frood. Now, if I could just figure out what the Ultimate Question to which 42 is the answer is, I’d be set.

It’s been a good year. To paraphrase last year’s comment: I have a great family and friends, as well as met some new great people.

Sidenote: In case I haven’t said it recently – or enough – I’m grateful for the people in my life. Yes, this means you.

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some fun things. So, I’m ready for forty-two to bring it on.

Stray Toasters

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Kids, Trucks, and Opera

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Kids, Trucks, and Opera

Monday – 14 October 2012
It was a good weekend…

…but let’s go back a few days. I mentioned on Thursday:

I was also informed that there’s also some good news from one of the East Coast contingents of the family. Good news is always welcome.

Well, the good news was: I’m an uncle again. My sister, Kristen, had a little girl on Thursday:

Kennadi Noelle

She was 5 lbs., 18.5 inches. Wee thing. Kennadi and Kristen are doing well and both should be going home from the hospital tomorrow (Monday).

Saturday, Sara and I took Team DiVa to the Junior League of Salt Lake City’s Touch-a-Truck event. The girls got to see – and touch and climb into – a number of trucks and buses:

Vanessa (l) and Diana, on a school bus

df

Later, Sara! and I attended the opening performance of Utah Opera‘s 2012-2013 season, Il Trovatore:

And, aside from being a great date night, it was also a great opportunity to wear my tuxedo:

The performance was quite good. If you live in the greater Salt Lake City metropolitan area, I’d recommend seeing this opera.

Sunday was a mostly quiet day around the house, but we did manage a trip downtown to the Urban Flea Market. Later, Sara!’s parents came over for dinner. Sara! made a french onion soup, which was delicious. We weren’t sure how Team DiVa would respond to it. We shouldn’t have worried: They loved it.

Instant Replay: Football
Today, the Ravens hosted the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens
29 – 31
Tony Romo led the 2-2 Cowboys into M&T Bank Stadium… and the Ravens sent ‘em back to the Lone Star State with a loss.

Joe Flacco and the offense started out strongly, but ended their first drive with a field goal. Dallas marched down the field and scored a touchdown.

The defense got broken down like fractions by Dallas’ run offense. Fortunately, Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees figured out where the gaps in the defense were and closed them for the most part.

Possibly the game’s biggest highlight: In the Third Quarter, WR Jacoby Jones, fielded a kick-off – eight yards deep in the end zone – and ran it 108 yards for a touchdown, tying a NFL record and breaking WR David Reed’s former Raven record of 103 yards.

The game came down to a Dallas 51-yard field goal attempt… which went wide to the left.

It wasn’t a pretty win, but the Ravens still came away with the “W” and stay atop the AFC North with a 5-1 record.

Stray Toasters

And with that…
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.