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“I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid…”

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"I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid..."

Monday – 18 September 2017
In alignment with my rationale for #NBNThursday, today has most definitely been “a Monday.” That’s okay, this too shall pass. OK Go said so.

See? Told ya so.

Today started far too early. 5:15 AM early. I was in the office at 6:15. Much respect to those of you who are up, out, and making the doughnuts that early every day. The reason for such an early start was to handle last-minute prep for a week of meetings. In itself, that’s not so bad. It became “not-so-great” on Friday evening when – long after the day had been “done” – I was notified that said meetings were going to start at 10 AM, rather than the 2 PM we had originally been told. In short, our timeline for handling things just had four hours lopped off the top. As there was nothing to be done about it, I simply replied with “We can only do what we can do.” And then, I proceeded to enjoy my weekend.

“Enjoying my weekend” included, but was not limited to:

  • Judging a game tournament.
  • Watching the new DuckTales cartoon (and Star Wars: Rebels and Care Bears) with Team DiVa.
  • Going to the State Fair
  • Playing too few video games.

Fast forward (or would it be “rewind,” in this case) to this morning. We got the prep work out of the way for the influx of meeting participants with time to spare. Yes, there were a couple of glitches, but on the whole, we were done and life was good.

A few minutes after the presenters got started setting up for the day, we were informed that they were changing the configuration of one of the meeting rooms. Okay, fine. Whatever. Then we were informed “why” they were doing it: In the original configuration, only one of the projectors in that room was activated. That was news to me, but it didn’t preclude them from making the room work. As this news was being relayed, a coworker started laughing to himself. Naturally, I asked why. He proceeded to tell us that he knew of this idiosyncrasy.

I’ll pause here to note that he was here last week when we were setting up the room, but said nothing about it.

::: braincramp :::

Mischief managed. And external ire restrained.

The morning wore in afternoon with out much further ado. Thankfully.

And then, I saw this article: Toys ‘R’ Us could file for bankruptcy this week.

I was struck with a sense of nostalgic sadness. One of the first things that went through my mind upon reading the article was the childhood glee of trips to the TRU in Catonsville with either my mother or father. We may not have gone weekly , but there were definitely a lot of trips there. For me, those were the days of The Adventure People, Micronauts, and electric trains (mostly Tyco, when you could buy a decent train set – or just pieces – at your local toy purveyor). I remember asking my father to drive down “the roller coaster road,” a hilly back road ending at the Toys ‘R’ Us parking lot, which – if you went just fast enough – would send rollercoaster-like butterflies into the pit of your stomach. I remember wandering the aisles of the store, while my mother shopped at a clothing store next door. Hell, I still remember the 1970s commercial jingle – the long version.

Roughly a year ago, there were three (3) TRU locations in the Salt Lake Valley. One closed last November, the other closed a few months ago. The lone remaining store is down the street from my house. Yes, I still go there, but it’s not just for me, these days. Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed the quantity of some toy lines diminishing, while others have… not-exactly “flourished,” but at least survived. But it hasn’t felt like the same store that I used to visit as a kid for a long time. I’m sure that a fair portion of that is attributable to having gotten older.

There was no mention plans for the chain to close in the article, but like so many things, perhaps its time is nearing an end.

My inner kid still hopes that’s a long way off, though.

Happy Green Lantern Day (or, that day about that one guy…)

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Happy Green Lantern Day (or, that day about that one guy...)

Friday – 17 March 2017
There are a lot of good things about today:

  • It’s Friday. That, in and of itself, is a great thing.
  • Salt Lake Comic Con FanX kicks off today.
  • The sun is out (at least it is in SLC).

But, far more importantly, it’s the second most important day in March (third, depending on when Easter falls): Green Lantern Day!

On Greenest Day…

Of course, there are those (uncreative types, I’d say) who would say that it’s simply “St. Patrick’s Day.” And that’s fine; I’m alright with sharing the day.

Whatever you’re celebrating, I hope that your day is fantastic!

Namaste.

Catching up.

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Catching up.

Monday – 20 February 2017
Today is President’s Day in the U.S.

For my President’s Day #morningcoffee picture, I used Lex Luthor. Because I could.

Today was a slightly busier-than-planned day, but still very good. Team DiVa, after sleeping in until after 9:30 on Sunday morning, were up at 7:30 this morning – Diana decided to play with the Kindle, while Vanessa decided that crawling into our bed was her best option. (To be honest, I still appreciate getting kid cuddles when I can, as I know that they won’t last forever.)

After breakfast (cinnamon rolls!), it was a kind of lazy morning… until 10:30, when I got an email from work.

<sarcasm>
Yay.
</sarcasm>

So, I did what any diligent IT guy would do: I made like Kool Moe Dee and I went to work. I got there and looked at the system in question, only to find that there was nothing wrong. At. All.

*grblsnrkx*

Back home in time to surprise Team DiVa with a trip to the theatre to see The LEGO Batman Movie. It was a big hit. (Sara and I enjoyed it, too.) Back home again before heading up to Park City for…

…dinner with Liz, a high school classmate:

With Liz (photobomb by Maya)

We met at the Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, where Liz and her family are staying this week. It’s the first time we’ve seen each other since high school graduation. We had a nice dinner and caught up a little bit on the last three decades. (Man, it really seems like a long time when you put it that way…)

Diana, Liz, and Vanessa

 

Liz, Maya, and Michael

 

Diana, Maya, and Vanessa

After dinner, said our goodbyes and headed back to Salt Lake City. We got little ladies ready for bed, took care of a couple of chores, I caught up on a couple episodes of The Flash, including one that I somehow missed about three weeks ago.

And that brings us to now.

Stray Toasters

Tomorrow comes soon, I should probably start considering hitting the rack.

Namaste.

“In brightest day, in blackest night…”

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"In brightest day, in blackest night..."

Friday – 23 December 2016
There are many things that make for a “good day.” The fact that today is Christmas Eve Eve is one. The fact that our office is closed – meaning a long weekend – is another. Other things include, but are not limited to:

  • Coffee. (If I have to explain this one, we may need to reevaluate our friendship…)
    • Making a new #morningcoffee post with The Incredibles.
  • Sleeping in – technically “going back to bed after Sara and Team DiVa headed out for the day,” but you get the gist.
  • Chatting with friends and family.
  • Reading comics.

I’ll even throw “going to the gym” (happening shortly) in there, too.

But, one of the other things that made to day really stand out was receiving an email. More specifically, receiving an email saying that I was having a package delivered. After all, who doesn’t like getting packages? And, especially at Christmastime? Turns out the package was from Sideshow Collectibles. Let me backtrack a bit…

::: Scooby Doo flashback wavy lines :::

Last month, Sideshow tweeted about a contest they were having:

Seemed simple and reasonable enough: Make a board, throw pins on it, hope to win something. And that’s exactly what I did – I selected nineteen figures and statues and cast my lot to the wind. Granted, they have “a few thousand” followers on Pinterest, so I wasn’t really expecting anything to come of it. Fast forward last Friday, I received this message

Hi Rob! We’d like to fulfill your wish for a Green Lantern Sixth Scale figure. Email [redacted] to claim your wish. Happy holidays!

Anyone who has known me for more than about six minutes knows that I’m “a bit” of a Green Lantern fan. Sure, I’m more John Stewart than Hal Jordan these days, but Hal is the GL I grew up with and I have absolutely nothing against him. And there’s that whole “gift horses” thing, too.

I replied to the message and waited. There was a snafu with email, checking to find out what information they needed to ship it, which wasn’t resolved until earlier this week. Given that and knowing what I do about shipping packages around the holidays, I wasn’t sure when it would show up.

::: end flashback :::

A little after 11:30, the doorbell rang. It was my friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man UPS driver. Lo and behold, he had the box from Sideshow. I grinned like a fiend, signed, and thanked him. (I do not recall if there was a “My precious….” in there or not. I hope not, as that would be more-than-slightly embarrassing…) I brought the box downstairs, opened it, and this is what was inside:

Let’s just say that my day and Christmas weekend has gotten off to a great start and many thanks to Sideshow Collectibles.

Okay, enough lollygagging. Time to get right on to the friction of the day…

Namaste.

Memory Dump

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Memory Dump

Wednesday – 12 October 2016
Stuff and things and whatnot.

Namaste.

 

 

 

Wait. That’s not a proper post. I really should do one of those someday…

I guess that since I’m logged in, I should make like Nike and “just do it.” Now.

*cracks knuckles*
::: deep breath :::

The past few weeks have been good. Work’s been interesting. The company I work for has been (officially) purchased by a larger entity. So far, things are remaining status quo. I also got to spend about 36 hours on the east coast, thanks to a business trip. I was pleasantly surprised at how “green” things still were – I expected to see far more fall colors. Oh, well. That was only a slight disappointment, to be honest.

Team DiVa continues to astound and entertain me.

There was even a seven-year-anniversary in there, too.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

“Hello, my name is…”

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"Hello, my name is..."

Friday – 17 June 2016

Last night, while running some errands, I picked up a couple of “squishy balls” for #TeamDiVa2016.

Balls, spikes and all...

Balls, spikes and all…

The girls “found” them in the car this morning, on the way to school. Apparently, they named them on the way to school:

  • Vanessa named hers (purple) “Fluffy,”
  • Diana named hers “Fluffy Puffy.”

As you might imagine, the names have gone through a number of permutations since this morning.

Kids. Go figure.

“He’s not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay…”

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"He's not concerned with yesterday, he knows constant change is here to stay..."

Thursday – 25 February 2016
Another fine day in the valley…

Long story, short version: Stuff. Things. Adventure.

The slightly less-abridged version is: I woke up a little early and did a short workout with dumbbells and a Swiss ball this morning. I went to work , dealt with the usual things, dealt with one not-so-usual-anymore thing, and even wound up having a coworker decide to have “Neal Day” and wear a suit in my honor.

Suited

Changing the work dress code, one coworker at a time…

Sara pinged me in the late afternoon to ask if I’d mind picking up Team DiVa, as she had to work late. That also put me in (nominal) charge of figuring out what to do for dinner. I delegated that responsibility to the little ladies. We wound up going to McDonald’s. It wasn’t a total loss, though, as they asked if we could eat there, so they could play in the PlaySpace. (An easy way to make my kids happy? Bet.)

After dinner, we arrived at home a couple minutes before Sara. Sometime between her getting a bite to eat and giving the girls a bath, I fell asleep. Quickly and rather deeply asleep. I missed bath time, but I was up for pre-bedtime prep.

The little ones are now asleep. I have read comics. And, I do believe that there is a nominal amount of gaming in the evening’s future. Selah.

Stray Toasters

And, with that, it’s time to figure out what game to play…

Namaste.

“A long time ago…”

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"A long time ago..."

Thursday – 04 June 2015
Hello and welcome back, #NBNThursday.

This morning, we had a little change to our routine: We took Vanessa to the dentist to look at what was causing her mouth to hurt. She has a little cut on her gum that the dentist said should heal in a week or two. The ladies go back in a few weeks for their first “real” visits. But, I think that seeing more or less what it is that the dentist does today should make going back for a check-up and cleaning much easier.

Last night, I actually made a reasonable dent in cleaning the Train Room. It’s amazing how much “out of sight, out of mind” factors in once you sit down at your desk, focus on your computer, and basically ignore the rest of the room. I’ve made a solid start and I just need to keep forging along that path.

Workout
I got up, out, and into the gym this morning.

  • Elliptical: 10 min/1.1 mi
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Leg Press: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Leg Extensions: 3 x 8 x 70 lbs
  • Leg Curls: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 100 lbs
  • Standing Calf Raises: 3 x 8 x 80 lbs

Many of you have most likely noticed that I tweet about going to the gym. Part of it is because of Swarm/Foursquare and the other part of it is for motivation. I guess that another part, at least for leg days and my #neverskipalegday hashtag, is an acknowledgement of two things:

  1. Leg days are not my favorite, and
  2. Thanking Jay Whittaker for the inspiration/incentive to go in and do leg work, like it or not.

I’ve also been using #carveawaythestone for workout tweets. That’s a throwback to a Rush song of the same name and a nod to not being lethargic and doing something that’s good for me and that I enjoy.

Stray Toasters

  • Sara introduced Team DiVa to Star Wars a couple nights ago, showing them the first few minutes of “A New Hope.” At this point, they can identify Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, R2D2, Chewbacca, and (most of the time) Han Solo.

    Picture (c) gameinformer magazine

    Picture (c) gameinformer magazine

    And, “Yes,” I plan to introduce them to the Disney Infinity version of the characters, when the games are released.

  • Why Haven’t You Canceled Your Cable?
  • These Dolls Get Sunburn to Teach Kids About Using Sunblock
  • I’ve never played Minecraft, but it seems to me that the new LEGO Worlds – which is being endlessly hyped as “basically Minecraft but with those little plastic bricks we love” – might be better served if people said that it was the next evolution of the now-defunct LEGO Universe, which was a game whose time was all too brief.

Namaste.

Free Comic Book Day 2015

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Free Comic Book Day 2015

Saturday – 02 May 2015
Today is Free Comic Book Day, a day awaited by the comic faithful all year long. Long story, short version:

Celebrate and discover the amazing world of comic books on Free Comic Book Day! Taking place annually on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops!1

Sara, Team DiVa and I got up, had breakfast, and headed to Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection to partake in the bounty!

We stood in line for a bit… before friends brought us up to their spot in line… and then went inside to get comics for the girls and me and a couple of action figures (1, 2) for Team DiVa. We also managed to find a few other heroes to take pictures with.

The New Birds of Prey: Hawkgirls and Black Canary

The New Birds of Prey: Hawkgirls and Black Canary

Click here to see other pictures from the event.

All too soon, it was over… until next year!

And, of course, thanks to Dr. Volt’s for hosting this event.

1 – Source: Free Comic Book Day website.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 14 January 2014

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 14 January 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Puddle Jumpers!

Puddle Jumpers!

Team DiVa and grandparents

Team DiVa and grandparents

Also, this:

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 03 September 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 03 September 2013

Tuesday – 03 September 2013
It’s time for another look at the past week in Team DiVa-dom…

Successful trip to IKEA

Successful trip to IKEA

Vanessa, doing a little light reading...

Vanessa, doing a little light reading…

Helping Daddy sweep the floor. No, really... we ARE helping!  Really!

Helping Daddy sweep the floor. No, really… we ARE helping! Really! (For the most part.)

Building a tower...

Building a tower…

Climbing on Mom at the end of the day...

Climbing on Mom at the end of the day…

Namaste.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 27 August 2013

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Tuesday – 27 August 2013
It’s a rainy Team DiVa Tuesday, but it’s a Tuesday nonetheless.

Diana and the Train

Diana and the Train

 

IMG_1202

Just a couple of dinosaurs and their bears…

 

IMG_1192

Diana-saur

 

IMG_1200

Vanessa-raptor at rest

 

IMG_1198

Dinosaurs with bears… “playing on monkey bars.” (Their words, not mine.)

Namaste.

“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.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 04 June 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 04 June 2013

Tuesday – 04 June 2013
Here we are… and here we go…

On the way to the zoo!

On the way to the zoo!

Vanessa, trying to decide if she's okay with the splash pad

Vanessa, trying to decide if she’s okay with the splash pad

IMG_0735

Diana, trying to decide if she's okay with the splash pad

Diana, trying to decide if she’s okay with the splash pad

IMG_0740

And a little playtime video…

Namaste.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 28 May 2013

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Team DiVa Tuesday - 28 May 2013

Tuesday – 28 May 2013
It’s another TDVT here in The Land Behind the Zion Curtain. Let’s get to it…

Vanessa on a tire swing

Vanessa on a tire swing

Vanessa LOVED this. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen her get so much enjoyment from a swing. And, in an interesting turn, she was even willing to swing with other kids.

Diana on the big kid slide

And for the record: Diana had a veritable field day climbing up on the slide and going down by herself. I wish I could have gotten a picture of her part way down the slide, because every time she went down it, she had a huge grin on her face.

It’s not just a toy; it’s a hat!

We got Daddy’s iPad again!

And there was also this gem from Friday…

Sara posted the following on Facebook:

Robert had probably the best moment of his life as a father tonight… Diana picked up a John Stewart Green Lantern figure and called it “Daddy.”

Long story, short version: I was looking for toys around the house that the girls could play with. I found an unopened set of Justice League Unlimited figures, including the aforementioned John Stewart GL (ex.: figure on the far left). The rest went pretty much the way Sara explained it.

And, yes, I freely admit that I was rather proud of our Little Bean for making the connection.

Of course, she might have just been gunning for “Favorite Daughter” status.

Either way… “Win.”

Namaste.