Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

New week. New post.

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New week. New post.

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


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


Team DiVa Tuesday

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Team DiVa Tuesday

Tuesday – 26 February 2013
The day is racing away, but I was bound and determined to get in a new Team DiVa Tuesday post!

As I’ve posted before, the girls are pretty fond of my LEGO magnets. VERY. FOND. INDEED. Though, with a limited number of magnets – and the girls not always being the best at sharing – there can be some… discontent.

Yesterday, Sara! scored a major “win” in the “New Toys for Team DiVa” department: Alphanumeric magnets. She picked up a set the other day, while shopping, and gave them to the girls when she got home from work yesterday.  This was the result:


They apparently kept sticking magnets on the refrigerator and dishwasher in the same manner as seen in the video for at least fifteen minutes before I got home. Non-stop. This video was taken about 10 minutes after I got home. Playing with the magnets was even more fun/important to the girls than eating dinner. It was even more fun than getting ready for bed, too. Go figure.

But, the bottom line is: They had a lot of fun playing with them. And that’s the important thing.


Respond Vibrate Feedback Resonate

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Respond Vibrate Feedback Resonate

Wednesday  – 13 February 2013
New comics day? Yep
Movie Date Night with Sara!? Yep.

And, it’s my sister, Rana’s, birthday:


Last night, Sara! fixed jambalaya for dinner, in honor of Fat Tuesday. As always, it was very good.

This morning, I arrived in the office to find out that I had three meetings scheduled back-to-overlapping-back to slightly-more-breathing-room back. Yay. Fortunately, the first meeting was rescheduled for tomorrow.

As I mentioned above, tonight is Movie Date Night. It’s also my pick for a movie… and I have no idea what tonight’s selection will be.

Chew on This – Food for Thought: Black History Month
Today’s item is: Negro Romance Comics

negro romance

Negro Romance was a romance comic book published in the 1950s by Fawcett Comics (which through a series of sales and acquisitions, is now part of Warner Communications, which owns  DC Comics). It is remarkable in eschewing African-American stereotypes, telling stories interchangeable with those told about white characters. The comic even mentions college, which was relatively uncommon in the 1950s, even moreso among African-Americans. Negro Romance ran for only three issues.

It was developed as an experiment in expanding into the romance market, conceived by editor Roy Ald, who was European-American, and written by him without credit. It was illustrated by Alvin Hollingsworth, the first African-American artist hired by Fawcett.

Because of their obscurity and rarity, the Negro Romance issues sell for hundreds of dollars each.

The PBS series History Detectives also did a feature on African-American Comic Books:


Stray Toasters

Yeah, that’s it.


December 7th

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December 7th

Friday – 07 December 2012
Today is the  71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

“…a day that will live in infamy.”

Today is also the day that Diana turns 15-months-old:


Stray Toasters

  • Soup. That’s what’s for lunch, late though it is. I’m having the Campbell’s Grilled Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. It has a little more “bite” than the Progresso Chicken Gumbo. Not to say that one is necessarily better than the other; both have their good qualities.
  • Best Art Ever (This Week)
  • I kind of covet this Dark Phoenix.
  • WWII War Paint: How Bomber-Jacket Art Emboldened Our Boys
  • Last Resort. I just learned today that it will be ending after its 13th episode. That’s a pity, it’s been a great show. But, according to one of the show’s creators, they will be able to wrap up the story before it ends.


One Year Later: The Day After

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One Year Later: The Day After

Sunday – 09 September 2012
It’s Sunday morning, the day after the girls’ first birthday party.

That’s right… The girls of Team DiVa are no longer “Adventure Babies,” they’re “Adventure Tots!”

Vanessa (l) and Diana… with cake!

More pictures – and a couple of videos – from the day can be seen here.

This has been a busy weekend,  and I would like to extend a very grateful “Thank you” to everyone who helped make it fun and special for the girls.

My mother and uncle left a little while ago for the airport. It’s the first time I’ve seen Mom (other than a couple of video chats) in just shy of a year and the first time I’ve seen my uncle since last Christmas.  I am delighted that they were able to be here for the girls’ birthdays.  My father and stepmom weren’t able to make it out, but we did have them on a Skype video call for some of the party festivities.  (Hey, it was better to have them virtually present than not having them involved at all.  Thank you, Technology!)

Team DiVa: Year One has been good and I look forward to Year Two… and beyond!


“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


Halfway There (Part I)

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Halfway There (Part I)

Wednesday – 07 March 2012
It’s the middle of the week. And it’s new comics day. And it may or may not be Pasta and Movie Date Night.

But, more importantly: It’s Diana’s 6-month birthday!

Both little ladies are doing well, despite long crying jags in the wee hours of this morning: Diana started around 2:30, Vanessa around 4:00. We’re trying to get the girls to learn to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night, so we didn’t go immediately rushing in to comfort them…
…which made for a long couple of hours.

…which, in turn, led me to sleep on the couch downstairs so I could get my last few hours’ sleep (and not have an encore presentation of Monday).

But, by the time I looked in on them around 7:15, they were all giggles, grins and kicks.

Kids. Go figure.

Stray Toasters


“No, I have not been to Oxford town…”

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"No, I have not been to Oxford town..."

Tuesday – 21 February 2012
Ugh. That’s how I felt this morning when my alarm went off. Not because the girls woke up in the middle of the night. (Which was fine, as they woke up about 4:15 and were asleep again shortly thereafter.) No, last night’s broken sleep came courtesy of some rather disturbing dreams. Disturbing enough that it took me a while to want to go back to sleep. Yeah, it was that much fun.

The evening, however, was good. It was another bath night for the girls. After last week’s experience with Vanessa (a.k.a. “Splash-O-Matic 5000”), I decided to change into shorts before giving the girls their baths. And, of course, this week, both girls were fairly subdued. Still, bath time was good.

After the girls were down, SaraRules! made a fantastic chicken curry dish (with chickpeas and spinach) over rice. We ate and knocked a couple of episodes of NCIS: Los Angeles and Castle off the DVR. When those were done, we saw that Blade Runner was on AMC. We watched part of it and realized that neither of us had watched the whole film in a while. We plan on rectifying that in the not-too-distant future.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is: Leslie Uggams, an American actress and singer.

Leslie Uggams was born on May 25, 1943 in New York City, to Harold and Juanita Uggams. As a small child Uggams would sing along to records, exhibiting a remarkably mature voice. The fact that Uggams had vocal talent was not a total surprise. Her father was a member of the Hall Johnson Choir, and her mother was a chorus girl at the Cotton Club.

In 1949, at age six, Uggams sang in public for the first time at St. James Presbyterian Church in New York City. The following year, she made her acting debut with a small part on an episode of the television comedy Beulah, which starred the legendary Ethel Waters. Uggams played Beulah’s niece.

At 9-years-old Leslie, opened for such legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington at the Apollo Theater. She also made appearances on Your Show of Shows, The Milton Berle Show, and The Arthur Godfrey Show. After completing the third grade, Uggams left her local public school to enroll at the Professional Children’s School, a private institution in Manhattan catering to children with show business connections.

At 15 , she appeared on the CBS-TV quiz show “Name That Tune,” winning $12,500 toward her college education. The appearance gave Uggams a chance to showcase her vocal skills. Her rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” was noticed by record producer Mitch Miller who, as director of artists and repertory at Columbia Records, was one of the most influential figures in popular music during the 1950s. Miller signed Uggams to a contract, and her first album was released in 1959. Despite increasing career demands, Uggams continued to excel at school. At the Professional Children’s School, from which she graduated in 1961, Uggams was editor of the yearbook and president of the student body.

When Miller got his own television show, Sing Along with Mitch, in 1961, Uggams was asked to appear on it, first as a guest vocalist, then as a regular member of the all-singer cast. She became the lone African American performer regularly appearing on network television. The presence of an African American singer on the Sing Along with Mitch show drew relatively little controversy, although some stations in the South refused to air the program. “Mitch was told either I go or the show goes. He said, ‘Either she stays or there’s no show.’ He loved that show, and he had been trying to sell it for so long that to turn around and do that was heroic,” Uggams told Nadine Brozan of the New York Times in 1994. Uggams sometimes found her position as television’s only African American performer difficult to bear. “It was a heavy load. I was responsible for having a clean image. I wanted people to have respect for black people.”

Uggams later attended the prestigious Juilliard School of Music, where she studied every subject offered except singing. “They said they wouldn’t touch her voice,” Uggams’ mother told Newsweek. In 1963, Uggams left Juilliard a few credits short of a degree.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Uggams acted in television shows like The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., I Spy, The Mod Squad, Marcus Welby, M.D., while continuing to appear as herself on variety shows. In 1970, she had her own musical variety television series on CBS-TV, The Leslie Uggams Show, and signed a new recording contract with Atlantic Records. In 1972, she made her dramatic film debut opposite Charlton Heston in the MGM film Skyjacked.  However, it was Leslie’s portrayal of Kizzy in the most watched dramatic show in TV history, Alex Haley’s Roots, that won her worldwide recognition as a dramatic actress – including the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, an Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress and coveted Golden Globe Nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

In 1983, Uggams won a Daytime Emmy as “Outstanding Host or Hostess of a Variety Series” for Fantasy.

In 1987, she toured with Peter Nero and Mel Torme in “The Great Gershwin Concert,” for which she received rave reviews. In 1988, she starred as Reno Sweeney in the National Company of the Lincoln Center Production of “Anything Goes” and later reprised the role at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater on Broadway.

Uggams entered the world of daytime drama in 1996 when she played Rose Keefer, a woman with a checkered past, on All My Children. Her portrayal of Rose Keefer earned Uggams a nomination for the NAACP Image Award.

Singing continues to be the mainstay of Uggams’ career, and acting assignments are fit into a busy concert schedule. Uggams would like to do more acting but,”You can’t just sit around waiting for a good script. You can wait forever.”
Information courtesy of Answers.com, IMDb.com, LeslieUggams.com, MasterworksBroadway.com, NPR and Wikipedia.
Stray Toasters

“Boom De Yada… Boom De Yada…”

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"Boom De Yada... Boom De Yada..."

Tuesday – 31 January 2012
It’s the end of the month. More specifically, it’s the last Tuesday of the month. That must mean it’s time for Guys’ Night Out. Amen. The only thing that could – and did – make the day better was starting the morning with cuddles from Diana and Vanessa, as well as a kiss and a hug from SaraRules! Quadruple win.

I would also like to thank Ms. Galadriel for coming over (again) last night to help put the twins to bed while SaraRules! was at a Justice League meeting. There was no wailing, moaning or gnashing of teeth. And the twins were fine, too.

My subconscious has been drawing from my memories of 70’s and 80’s TV shows. This has become especially apparent over the past few nights’ dreams.  A few nights ago, Nicholas Hammond (probably most “known” for playing Peter Parker in CBS’ prime-time, live-action The Amazing Spider-Man) made an appearance. And last night, I had a dream sequence that was like a scene from the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman. (Although the costume was a little wrong.) It was a little odd, but amusing, nevertheless.

And, I woke up with this running through my head:

Stray Toasters


“I’m back in the saddle again…”

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"I'm back in the saddle again..."

Tuesday – 03 January 2012
I’m still trying to train my fingers to type “2012” rather than “2011.”  (Or “2112,” for that matter.)

It’s the first day back at work in two weeks. I won’t lie: There’s been some struggle in getting back into “work” mode. But, there strides have been made. I’ve even managed to accomplish a thing or two.

Yesterday afternoon and last night were – as I suspected they might be – long. After the girls’ four-month checkup (which went very well), SaraRules! and I headed to Black Water Coffee Company, to say “Hi” to Jim — our former neighborhood coffee shop owner.  BWCC is the second location of Pin-up Girl Espresso… which makes it (currently) the only location, at least until IHC finishes construction of a new facility in our neighborhood. It was good to see Jim and to catch up on a few things. And, getting a frozen mocha didn’t hurt, either. As the girls started to rouse, we headed home.

Diana and Vanessa were cranky, thanks in no small part to receiving their immunizations. After trying to get Vanessa to nap around 3:00 PM, she finally nodded off around 4:30. Of course, she refused to lie down, so I wound up with on my shoulder.

On the couch.

For an hour.

Although, I was glad that she slept. She needed it, as did Diana. On the back side of the nap (and before bedtime), they were intermittently happy and fussy. And there was little to no warning as to when their moods would change. Bedtime was a welcome thing. Fortunately, the little ladies headed to The Dreaming without too much ado. They slept until almost 5:00 AM this morning, which was also quite welcome.

After feeding the girls, I went back to bed. For reasons that I have yet to figure out, let alone explain, I had Will2K stuck in my head.

Yeah. Didn’t make it easy to fall asleep. But, I did and when the 6:30 alarm went off… I ignored it.  And the 7:00 alarm. And the 7:10 snooze. I finally got up at 7:30. I was good with that.

Stray Toasters


Post-Christmas wrap-up (or would that be “unwrapping?”)

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Post-Christmas wrap-up (or would that be "unwrapping?")

Tuesday – 27 December 2011
Our first Christmas as parents has come and gone. And it was a good one. We spent the holiday with Sara’s family and, as usual, it was a lot of fun. Added bonuses: I was able to video chat not only with my mom and uncle, but also with Rana, John and the girls, as well. Win-Win.

Because I didn’t consider what scheduling a post for midnight on Christmas might mean for “getting it lost on Facebook,” here’s this year’s Christmas card:

The picture was taken by Jenny Porter of Serendipity Photography.

And pictures of Christmas day can be found here.

Diana and Vanessa made out like little bandits. Lots of clothes, a few books, and even some toys. Granted, they’re not really “up” on the whole idea of Christmas, so it was just another day for them… aside from the fact that we hung out with their grandparents and aunts and uncles for the better part of the day.

I was able to surprise SaraRules! with a couple of gifts this year. (Go, me!) She had asked for one thing – which I got – but I had remembered that she had shown a particular interest in a letterpress kit we saw a few weeks ago. I found the kit and got it for her. What I didn’t know was that she had gone looking for that same kit elsewhere… just before Christmas. (That would have been awkward.) Fortunately for me, she didn’t find it. Again: Win.

I also was very fortunate in the gifts that I received. As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I got myself the 12-pack of Legion action figures for Christmas. It showed up on… Thursday, I think. I didn’t even bother wrapping the shipping box; I just wrapped a ribbon around it and called it good. SaraRules! got me a bike trainer, which is great — I’ll be able to actually get some cardio conditioning in while I’d otherwise be sitting on my butt, watching TV or playing video games.  (Oh, yeah, we bought a new 360 to replace “old and busted.” I didn’t realize how much smaller and more quiet the new models are.) Among the other things I got were:

  • The MTH DCS Remote Set for my model train layout
  • A couple of calendars — one Green Lantern calendar and one of train paintings
  • The Anniversary Edition of Roots
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • A nice cologne set
  • A set of Lord of the Rings ‘Clix, and
  • A GL action figure (Hal Jordan: Test Pilot)

Like I said: It was a good Christmas.

Another “gift” that SaraRules! and I got (from her sister and mom) was the ability to go out for a movie date on Saturday. We saw Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. It was a good bit of fun. Lots of action. Decent enough plot. Although, we both agreed that the female lead seemed kind of “just there to be there.”  If there’s an M:I 5 and she’s in it, hopefully, she’ll be fleshed out a bit more.

We also finally got around to seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 last night. Long movie. But, it was good. Of course, knowing how it turns out didn’t hurt.

Sounds like little ones are safely abed, so I should head on to Guys’ Night Out!

I hope that everyone had a safe and merry Christmas.

Happy Kwanzaa for those who celebrate it.


Sharing a little Christmas Eve cheer…

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Sharing a little Christmas Eve cheer...

Saturday – 24 December 2011
It’s Christmas Eve. Over the past few days, I’ve taken some pictures of the way that our Christmas decorating has shaped up… and I thought I’d share:

Click here to see the rest of the pictures.

I hope that everyone has a safe and merry Christmas!

Around the World in a Daze

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Around the World in a Daze

Thursday – 22 December 2011
It’s another great NBN Thursday in the valley… and it’s made even better by the following: 1) It’s SaraRules!’ first day of vacation; 2) Hanging out with the girls; 3) A smattering of snow fell over the valley, clearing out the inversion. Individually, any of those is a good thing. Together, they’re a trifecta of awesome.

Speaking of the girls, here’s today’s dose of cuteness:

Last night, the girls spent their first night in their cribs. In their room. All night. It’s nice to be able to say that the girls – as well as SaraRules! and I – survived the experience just fine. The girls slept well, aside from Vanessa deciding that she didn’t want to go back to sleep after her 2:30 feeding. An hour later, she finally drifted off. They woke up again about 8:00. Hey, that counts as sleeping in.

Today, SaraRules!’ parents offered to watch the girls while we finished the last bits of Christmas shopping. We managed to squeeze in lunch (at Pawit’s Royale Thai) and a quick visit to Corey and Jessica before running all over Hell and half of Georgia. But, in the end: We finished.

Stray Toasters

Okay, that’s good for now.


“When the moon is in the Seventh House…”

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"When the moon is in the Seventh House..."

Thursday – 15 December 2011
It’s a grey and foggy NBN Thursday in the valley. (Thanks, inversion!)

Last night, the girls were winding down by the time I got home.  Actually, they had pretty much wound down… just in time to be awakened to eat. They ate and returned to sleepy mode, by way of “I can’t get comfortable” mode. They finally settled down and dozed for a bit before it was time to get them all set for bed. That went fairly painlessly. The “going to sleep” part was a little more difficult, at least for Vanessa — she had gone past “sleepy” and straight into “too tired to do anything but cry A LOT.” Not fun. SaraRules! sat with her and got her calmed down enough to nod off. She still took a while to fully go to sleep, but she did. Eventually.

Chris came over just after Vanessa started her meltdown. We were, ostensibly, going to play dolls. Neither of us had assembled teams for the scenario that I’d come up with, so we wound up sitting around and hashing out more details for the scenario. We may give it a go Saturday afternoon, if time permits.

Stray Toasters

And now, to the office holiday lunch/party/extravaganza/thingamabob…



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Friday – 21 October 2011
It’s almost the weekend. Amen. “Almost” because it’s my 9/80 “on” Friday. No worries. It’s quiet around here and I can get a couple of things taken care of. In fact, I’ve already put out one minor and one potentially major fire. And, I’ve even eaten lunch already.

Last night, SaraRules! came home with a new technique for swaddling the girls. She showed me the method: It involves the use of two sheets, as compared to the usual one, and it’s quite effective. It took the twins a little while to get used to the fact that their hands aren’t free to flail about… but they seem to be adapting to it. And, it seems to have helped them sleep better. We will see how it fares in prolonged use.

SaraRules! also sent me a terminally cute picture of Vanessa this morning:

Yeah, she’s a little cutie.

Stray Toasters