Archive for the 'trains/model railroads' Category

Midweek: Mother’s Day and Other Things

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
Midweek: Mother's Day and Other Things

Wednesday – 17 May 2017
Stuff and Things.

This past weekend was… busy. But also awesome. Saturday saw the usual ballet and swim morning routine. I missed the swim portion, as I was judging a game tournament. Then there was a little break – filled by running a couple of errands. Next, early dinner and dropping Team DiVa off at their grandparents’ house, so that Sara and I could see Utah Opera’s Don Giovanni. Again. (We saw the final dress rehearsal, with the little ladies, but went back Saturday for opening night.) I enjoyed the production. They updated the sets and costumes to place it in a noir setting. This changed a couple of scenes, but worked for me on the whole.

Sunday, was Mother’s Day.  Sara had been wanting to go to Spiral Jetty for a while and Golden Spike National Historic Site is just a (long) hop, skip, and a jump from there. Thus, we were up early to pick up DiVa and meet friends at Golden Spike and Spiral Jetty. The first time we went to Golden Spike, the locomotives were in the Engine House for the season; that was not the case this time. We arrived just before the Jupiter made its appearance.

About half an hour later, No. 119 rolled up.

The presentation that the rangers provided also informed us that the engines were fired differently: Jupiter is wood-fired, while No. 119 is coal-fired. You could also tell this from the way they smelled as they approached – Jupiter smelled like a camp fire, No. 119 smelled like a coal-burning oven.

 

After a while, we made the drive to Spiral Jetty. Fifteen miles. Forty minutes. Over bumpy dirt road. The water level was a little higher this time – still not up to the jetty, but only 20 or so yards away to splash pools and just past that to deeper water.

 

 

 

All in all, it was good weekend.

Stray Toasters

And that’s a wrap.

“Burn Down the Mission…”

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
"Burn Down the Mission..."

Wednesday – 11 January 2017
Yesterday was a troubled day. I was of ill humor for the better part of the day, thanks to external forces.

I resolved to bend. Not break.

I also had a seemingly all-too-rare John Stewart moment (1, 2):

Some bridges are need to be burned.

Reflecting on that, I even carried the thought further: Some bridges need to be burned – not only to keep you from going backwards – to keep others from dragging you back.

I also realized that in some cases, I don’t just want or even need to burn the bridge, I want to do it so the bridge burns and those on it are purged in the cleansing fire.

I’m not looking back, but I want to look around me now.

Despite being overcast and rainy and this morning’s comedy of errors – I overslept, spilled a LOT of water on the floor while trying to change the water filter in the refrigerator, and spilled a bit of coffee on myself right before leaving home – today has been much better and I’ve solved a work-related problem that contributed to Tuesday’s irritation. These are wins and I’ll gladly take them.

Stray Toasters

  • This weekend, I stumbled across the Wisconsin-Purdue basketball game and decided to watch it. About 1/3 of the way into the first half, Vanessa came in, sat down, asked what I was doing, and who I wanted to win the game. I explained that I wanted the Boilermakers to win and why – I went to school there. She was so surprised/excited by this, for some reason, she raced out of the room to tell Diana. Mission accomplished, she came back and watched most of the game. Enthusiastically cheering when Purdue scored, not-quite-booing when the Badgers scored. Diana came in for a fair portion of the second half. It was great. We might have to attend a local game and see if that holds their interest as much.
  • Sometimes, working with  a view of the mountains and the airport’s take-off/approach path doesn’t totally suck.
    • Last week, I saw Southwest Airlines’ Maryland One landing. Sure, it’s not really a little slice of home, but it was close enough for me. It surprised me, though, as I didn’t know that SWA was still flying unique liveries like that. I’ll have to keep an eye out for others.

      picture (c) Smithsonian Institution

  • Stan Lee – and other guests whom I wouldn’t mind seeing – was just announced as coming to Salt Lake Comic Con FanX in March…
  • #AlwaysForward
  • Everything really is awesome: The Daily LEGO Project finds the whimsy in everyday objects
  • The Jackal
  • I’m almost done with Dragonflight, the first book in the “Dragonriders of Pern” series. I’ve been enjoying it, despite a few questions I’m sure that almost any Pern-related wiki could answer… but I’m hoping that they play out in the story.
  • 5%
  • I can find music by Yoko Kanno and/or “a band called The Seatbelts” on Spotify, but neither of them are Cowboy Bebop-related, unfortunately.
  • I might play with my trains a bit this evening…
  • …there might even be whiskey involved.

.eof

Opposites attract (or “That’s a heck of a way to run a railroad…”)

Saturday, June 18th, 2016
Opposites attract (or "That's a heck of a way to run a railroad...")

Saturday – 18 June 2016
I’ve often said that Sara is something of a saint for putting up with a lot of my geeky habits, be they gaming, trains, comics… or anything in between. That said, there have been more and more signs that she’s getting to be geeky by osmosis – he occasionally makes comics- and/or science fiction-related comments that would, previously, be more attributable to me. Here is a prime example from earlier today (along with a bit of backstory):

Backstory

I have a model railroad. It’s O Gauge, which I may or may not have gotten into because it “happens” to be the same scale as HeroClix. (Lucky coincidence…?) When we bought our house, it had about 1/3 of the basement was unfinished; with the help of a few friends and my father-in-law, I’ve built a train room. The fact that the room has also become my office and gaming room is a lucky coincidence/fringe benefit. No, I don’t call it a “man cave,” because I quite frankly abhor that term. I usually just call it “the train room,” or “my room,” or “The Toy Box.” But I digress. The room was finished about two years ago, give or take a couple months. Details have kind of slipped away. I finally built a train table and put up an actual working layout about a year ago. I finished the train table (added another 3′ section) and redid the trains on it.

One of the things that I realized is that I can pretty much have what I want on my layout, like a “Conjunction Junction.” (What’s your function?) Other things that might wind up on the layout might include a “Petticoat Junction” and/or a Botany Bay, if I create a seaport area…

Something that I recently decided is that I wanted to build a small version of Stark Tower/Avengers Tower and put it on the layout.

Stark Tower

Stark Tower

I have to admit that I was pretty amused and enthused about the possibility of actually putting my Quinjet on the landing pad, as well.

picture (c) Figures.com

picture (c) Figures.com

Once I got under way, I realized something in practical application that hadn’t occurred to me in the theory phase: At the size I wanted to do the tower, it would require at least three linear feet – and about 3-4 square feet – of space on the layout for the building’s base. That’s a problem, as my table is 11′-6″ long. That’s a LOT of real estate. So, I started rethinking the idea.

Today, I came up with a great alternative: The Baxter Building – home of the Fantastic Four.

Baxter_Building_001

picture (c) Marvel

This was great on a number of levels:

  • It’s still a rather iconic comics building.
  • It has a MUCH smaller footprint.
  • I have Fantastic Four ‘Clix who could be on the roof, preparing to take on the latest threat… as a train rolled past the building.

I even considered the prospect of doing the 4 Freedoms Plaza incarnation of the building…

End of backstory.

While we were out running errands today, I mentioned to Sara the conundrum I’d been having about what building to put on the layout, after realizing that Stark Tower would have to wait until I decide to either move my office out of the train room or we move to a place where I have a lot more room for a layout. I also mentioned the Baxter Building idea. She listened and, without missing a beat, said:

“You could just do Titans Tower.”

It was like a shaft of light shone down from the heavens. For a moment. Just as quickly as the words had formed in her head and crossed her lips, her face contorted into the classic “I can’t believe I just said that…” expression, as she realized that her nascent geekiness had bubbled to the surface and erupted like Vesuvius reborn.

And, yes, I reveled in that moment and the look.

But, I also decided that Titans Tower will be the new addition to the train table.  (Good thing I have some extra Titans lying around.)

Namaste.

“Once more unto the breach…”

Monday, January 25th, 2016
"Once more unto the breach..."

Monday – 25 January 2016
Another work weeks begins. I woke up this morning with the first verse of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 playing on loop in my head. That was a little unexpected.

This past weekend was good and spent mostly around the house. After Team DiVa’s ballet and swim lessons, a lot of the time on Saturday was spent cleaning up. I actually located the rest of the floor in the train room. I should really figure out just “what” I want to call it, since it’s not just my train room, but also my gaming room, and comics-reading room, and home office. And I have a deep dislike for the term “man cave.” I have called similar incarnations of rooms in previous homes the “HALO Command Center,” but I play far more Destiny and Disney Infinity these days than HALO. Perhaps I’ll take a cue from Infinity and call it the “Toy Box.” We’ll see… Speaking of the train room: There are actual trains on the tracks!  I still need to power the inner loop, but trains have been run.

Saturday night, it began snowing in the valley. That continued, off and on, through Sunday. We were expecting company for brunch, so I got up and busted out the shovel. Snow was shoveled. Brunch was had. A good time was had by all.

Later, I watched the Broncos send the Patriots back to Foxboro. I am usually only that happy to see the Pats lose when it’s the Ravens on the field, but this was a suitable proxy. Then, I watched the Panthers take the Cardinals apart. As the Panthers are my #2 team, I was quite pleased with this outcome. Next stop, Super Bowl 50!

6-let-s-celebrate_pg_600

Picture (c) NFL.com

Sunday night, we watched the return of The X-Files and wrapped up the evening with Fringe.

All-in-all, a good weekend.

Stray Toasters

  • I just learned of this version of the Spider-Man theme today. I like it.
    • A few days ago, Vanessa spontaneously started singing this:
      Spider-Man, Spider-Man
      Does whatever a spider can!
      Spins a web – any size
      Catches leaves just like flies…She then stopped and asked: “Mama, why does Spider-Man catch leaves?”
  • Thanks to my friends, Charity and Sean, for introducing me to Friendship is Witchcraft, a dark parody of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
  • I’ve made a few trips to the gym this year, so far. That’s better than the prior two-and-a-half months. I also re-learned that taking such an extended “vacation” causes you to lose a lot of progress. So, I’m finding where I can comfortably pick up and restart.
  • I had a couple of thoughts about the latest Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice teaser trailers.

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

Tuesday Musings

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
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.

The Tale of the Gumdrop Pirates

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
The Tale of the Gumdrop Pirates

Tuesday – 02 June 2015
Today hasn’t been bad, on the whole. Sure, there was that whole “getting a ‘Can you look at this…?’ call at 5:30 this morning” thing. A problem that rectified itself while I was still hearing about what was broken.

*sigh*

Of course, that was after I’d been in bed for about four hours, because I’d forgotten to do some laundry that I needed for this morning – gym stuff, not skivvies – and had to stay up long enough to wash things and put them in the dryer.

*braincramp*

So, this morning’s trip to the gym was lost to the need for more sleep. I could have gone to the gym on four hours’ sleep, but I did that yesterday and I don’t relish getting that little sleep on back-to-back days.

Last night, I tried something new with Team DiVa. Rather than doing  Blue’s Clues or Wonder Pets before bed, I decided to go with a bedtime story for the girls. So… I went downstairs, got a few D&D supplements  (like you do), and proceeded to spin a tale about The Gumdrop Pirates – Captain Diana and First Mate Vanessa – “continuing” a story that my father-in-law made up for them a few weeks ago and that Sara spun a tale about, a few nights ago.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why the D&D books?” Easy answer: They gave me picture references for easy associations on the girls’ parts.

Examples: I told them that pirates had to have a sword, so they picked out the types of swords they wanted to “have” from one of the books. I was also able show pictures of a dragon (one showed up) and townspeople (because they started in a port town).

The other reason was: While I wasn’t exactly teaching them to play D&D, I did tell the story in an interactive manner, much like the way a DM sets the scene for a player group: I gave them a very broad situation – going to a store or talking to travelers – and let them tell me what they wanted to do. The basic story had them setting out on their ship, getting to port, getting supplies, traveling to a cave to find treasure (candy and gold coins – hey, it’s what they said they wanted to find), and returning home.

It went over well, the ladies did a great job explaining what it was “they” were doing and how they did it. My inner geek was pleased. After I finished the story, they wanted to tell stories, as well. They each told a variation of the story I’d just told, but with embellishments. I was quite proud of how they each put their own spin on the story.

After the ladies went to bed, I went downstairs to spend some time playing Disney Infinity… which is how I lost track of time and forgot about doing laundry, until far too late into the night.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

Tautology

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Tautology

Wednesday – 18 February 2015
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is also NBN Thursday Eve.

I was going to post something last night, but I got too distracted by The Flash and Firestorm(!)1.

And a RubySnap cookie and a glass of milk.

And Titanfall.

So, I’m posting today.

This past weekend, Sara!, Team DiVa and I took a trip to Promontory, UT to visit the Golden Spike National Historic Site (read: “TRAINS!!!”) and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. (For pictures, click here.) It was only a couple of hours to Golden Spike, which wasn’t as bad as I had thought. The site is way out in the middle of God’s own country, though. I commented to Sara! that for all the time – not really that much – that it took to get there at 65 MPH+, I could only imagine what it must have been like to try to cover that distance via horse, or wagon. Or, slower still, while trying to lay miles of railroad track. The site was nice, but I was a little disappointed that the locomotives weren’t on display. (That just means that I’ll have to head back up there to see the reenactment of the driving of the golden spike in May.)

From there, we headed out to the Spiral Jetty. While the two sites are only 15 miles apart, it took about 45 minutes to get from Golden Spike to the jetty. The water level on the Great Salt Lake was low. Very low. So low that we were able to walk out to the end of the jetty – 1500 feet – and we were still at least 300 feet from water!

Sunday, we decided to tackle a painting project: Our bedroom. Furniture out. Ladders in. Paint on. We moved our bed to the living room Sunday night, which threw Team DiVa for a bit of a loop Monday morning:

Diana: Why is your new bed in the living room?

Me: It’s not a “new” bed, we just moved it out here.

Diana: Oh.

We went on to explain that we did it since we were painting the bedroom; that answer appeased them.

Sara spent Monday morning/afternoon re-doing the baseboard and crown molding paint, while I vacuumed and shampooed the carpet, replaced four electrical outlets… and then tried to suss out why the overhead lights wouldn’t turn off.

*braincramp*

After a quick consultation with my father-in-law, he suggested that I check the old outlets and verify that they had broken metal connectors on the hot side. They did.  I broke the connectors on two of the new outlets and the lights worked in the manner to which we were accustomed once more!

We moved the furniture back in and slept in our newly-painted room on Monday night. Selah. It was a lot of ass-busting and elbow grease over two days, but it was worth it.

Stray Toasters

  • I stumbled across a picture of VP Biden holding/rubbing/whatever the shoulders of the newly-appointed Secretary of Defense’s wife last night and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a caption:

    Creepy Vice-President is creepy...

    Creepy Vice-President is creepy.

  • Windows Updates. *sigh*
  • Despite the fact that Krispy Kreme UK unwittingly deemed today “KKK Wednesday,” I kind of still want a doughnut.
  • Today is apparently “National Drink Wine Day,” as well. I might have to imbibe a glass or two tonight.

And with that, I think I’m going to get “right on to the friction of the [rest of the] day.”

Namaste.

1Firestorm: The Nuclear Man debuted in 1978. I didn’t really become aware of the character until the second series, which started in 1982… but from then on, I was a fan. I haven’t been as invested in the New 52 version of the character, but I still like the character and the concept. So, when the news broke that he/they would be appearing on CW’s The Flash, my curiosity was piqued. The origin had been tweaked to fit the show, but it was close enough to the original for me. And, it featured all three of the main Firestorm characters – Ronnie Raymond, Martin Stein, and (in a nod to the updated, pre-New52 character) Jason Rusch.

A good weekend…

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
A good weekend...

Tuesday – 13 October 2014
This was, as the title says, a good weekend.

Friday was a “less than stellar” day at the office. Well, that’s not entirely true. The day started off poorly, but did get better. Friday night, I hung out with Jonni. For a bit. It’s kind of hard to hang out with someone when they’re performing. But we managed. I also got to meet Desi Rexx, formerly of the D’Molls; he was a very nice guy. Pictures here.

Saturday was kind of busy. In the morning, we took a trip to the Pumpkin Point Farms pumpkin patch. Pumpkins. Corn mazes. Tractors. Happy kids.

Team DiVa at the Pumpkin Patch

Team DiVa at the Pumpkin Patch

Saturday afternoon, we took the ladies to the home of their friends Isaac and Julia, for Julia’s second birthday party. The kids played well together.

Saturday evening, we went to the home of our friends, Dean and Marilyn, for Canadian Thanksgiving. As always, it was quite the feast. And the company was good. After we got the girls back home and in bed, Sara and I rounded out the night with Doctor Who: “Mummy on the Orient Express” (Twelfth Doctor) and “Blink” (Tenth Doctor), which is quite possibly my favorite episode of the show.

Don't. Blink.

Don’t. Blink.

Sunday, we woke up, hit our local bagel shop and piled into the car for an excursion to look at fall colors. Our trip took us through Heber City and the Provo/Orem areas. Along the way, we stopped at the Heber Valley Railroad, Deer Creek Reservoir and Vivian Park (the park at the far end of the HVRR’s run). Click here for pictures.

Back home for lunch and naps. And football. Oh, football.

The post-nap afternoon/evening was fairly low-key. We did video calls with family around the country. I truly appreciate that technology allows me to keep in touch with my parents – and sibs – and that we are able to see each other.  I am especially happy about the fact that the girls are able to see their relatives who they, otherwise, wouldn’t get to see more than once a year, if that often.

After bath and bedtime for the girls, Sara! and I watched the season premieres of The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead.

Namaste.

Team DiVa Tuesday – 27 August 2013

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

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

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
"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.

M-11

Monday, March 11th, 2013
M-11

Monday – 11 March 2013
It’s been a while.

Yesterday, we “sprang forward” into Daylight Saving Time. “Saving.” Not “Savings.” The night/morning, already made short by the leap forward in time, was made even more short by the fact that I had to go into work – at 5:30 AM – for a maintenance window. Yee. Hah.

After getting back home, Sara!, Team DiVa and I had a few friends over for brunch. It was additionally nice, as we hadn’t seen a few people in some time. Sara fixed her famous – at least it’s famous around our house – coffee cake, along with muffins and egg casserole. There was fruit. And bacon. And juice. And coffee. And merriment. And frolicking. (Hey, there were kids. They frolicked. Go figure.)

Today was a pretty decent day. Even though I had a good night’s sleep last night, I was pretty beat this morning. Fortunately, there was coffee to offset the possibility of shambling through the day.

diesel_03279

Tonight, Sara! and I outlined and redefined plans for the front and back yards. Nothing too major, but a few nice changes. After that, we started building the frame for the ceiling in the train room closet. We took a break to watch Castle, but it wasn’t on. So, we caught up on Later… with Jools Holland. The first episode we watched was… lacking. We fast forwarded through most of it. Fortunately, the second episode made up for it.

Stray Toasters

That’s good for now.

Namaste.

Batter up!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
Batter up!

Thursday  – 28 February 2013
A new NBN Thursday is here. So far, it’s not bad.
It’s also the end of February.

This morning, Diana was up a bit before Vanessa. In order to let Vanessa sleep a bit longer, brought her into our room. This appeased Diana… somewhat. So, I did what any father would do, I broke out the iPad and let her read/play with the Barnyard Dance book/app. This worked for a few minutes. Then, I switched over to Moo, Baa, La La La. That satisfied her for a little while, as well. Long enough for Vanessa to wake up and decide that she was ready to start the day.

Last night, Sara! and I watched Moneyball:

122324CM01A

The characters were well-developed, not just cardboard cut-out caricatures. The dialogue was believable and realistic, not just a bunch of baseball-related cliches. The story also managed to show a bit of the off-the-field life of Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, and his journey from all-star golden boy in high school to a MLB player to general manager of the Oakland A’s.

All told, it was a good film.  Sara! enjoyed it… though she qualified it by saying that it still wasn’t enough to make her like baseball.

baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball baseball

Chew on This – Food for Thought – Black History Month
I didn’t get as many days filled in as I had hoped, but I could not let the month end without an entry:

  • Daniel Hale Williams, Surgeon

    danielwilliams
    Daniel Hale Williams III was born on January 18, 1856, in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, to Sarah Price Williams and Daniel Hale Williams II. The couple had several children, with the elder Daniel H. Williams inheriting a barber business. He also worked with the Equal Rights League, a black civil rights organization active during the Reconstruction era.

    After the elder Williams died, a 10-year-old Daniel was sent to live in Baltimore, Maryland, with family friends. He became a shoemaker’s apprentice but disliked the work and decided to return to his family, who had moved to Illinois. Like his father, he took up barbering, but ultimately decided he wanted to pursue his education. He worked as an apprentice with Dr. Henry Palmer, a highly accomplished surgeon, and then completed further training at Chicago Medical College.

    Williams set up his own practice in Chicago’s Southside and taught anatomy at his alma mater, also becoming the first African-American physician to work for the city’s street railway system. Williams—who was called Dr. Dan by patients—also adopted sterilization procedures for his office informed by the recent findings on germ transmission and prevention from Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister.

    Due to the discrimination of the day, African-American citizens were still barred from being admitted to hospitals and black doctors were refused staff positions. Firmly believing this needed to change, in May 1891, Williams opened Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the nation’s first hospital with a nursing and intern program that had a racially integrated staff. The facility, where Williams worked as a surgeon, was publicly championed by famed abolitionist and writer Frederick Douglass.

    In 1893, Williams continued to make history when he operated on James Cornish, a man with a severe stab wound to his chest who was brought to Provident. Without the benefits of a blood transfusion or modern surgical procedures, Williams successfully sutured Cornish’s pericardium (the membranous sac enclosing the heart), becoming the first person to perform open-heart surgery. Cornish lived for many years after the operation.

    In 1894, Williams moved to Washington, D.C., where he was appointed the chief surgeon of the Freedmen’s Hospital, which provided care for formerly enslaved African Americans. The facility had fallen into deep neglect and had a high mortality rate. Williams worked diligently on revitalization, improving surgical procedures, increasing institutional specialization, allowing public viewing of surgeries, launching ambulance services and adding a multiracial staff, continuing to provide opportunities for black physicians and nursing students.

    And in 1895, he co-founded the National Medical Association, a professional organization for black medical practitioners, as an alternative to the American Medical Association, which didn’t allow African-American membership.

    Williams left Freedmen’s Hospital in 1898. He married Alice Johnson, and the newlyweds moved to Chicago, where Williams returned to his work at Provident. Soon after the turn of the century, he worked at Cook County Hospital and later at St. Luke’s, a large medical institution with ample resources.

    Beginning in 1899, Williams also made annual trips to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was a voluntary visiting clinical professor at Meharry Medical College for more than two decades. He became a charter member of the American College of Surgeons in 1913.

    Daniel Hale Williams experienced a debilitating stroke in 1926 and died five years later, on August 4, 1931, in Idlewild, Michigan.

    Today, Williams’s work as a pioneering physician and advocate for an African-American presence in medicine continues to be honored by educational institutions worldwide.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

…out like a lamb.

Monday, December 31st, 2012
...out like a lamb.

Monday – 31 December 2012
The end of the world year is here.

Chew on This: Food for Thought
Today is the last day of 2012. Some of the experiences of the year include:

  • I left my old job and found another one.
  • Team DiVa had their first birthday party.
    • They also started walking, talking, signing and doing other all-around amazing things.
  • I started a new blog: Pinstripes and Polos
  • My mother went back to work… as a consultant.
  • We did some renovations to the house and grounds:
    • We tore down the gazebo to facilitate new landscaping in the back yard.
    • We started felling trees and shrubbery in front yard, also to accomodate new landscaping.
    • We built a new gate to replace the one that a storm demolished. (I need to replace one of the sides of the gate – again! – following another storm.)
    • The Train Room has been finished; I just need to schedule an appointment to have carpet installed.
  • I turned 42… I’m still not sure what the Ultimate Question is, but I do know where my towel is.
  • My fifth niece was born.
  • I played City of Heroes for the last time. Ever.
  • We got to celebrate a very lovely Christmas with Sara!’s family.

…and, as I said a couple of years ago: “…these are all part of ‘life.’”

On the whole, 2012 was a good year. I am thankful for the many new people I met and I am grateful for the many wonderful things that I got to experience. If you were part of my year – no matter how big or small a part – thank you for the pleasure of your company and for being a part of my journey.

Stray Toasters

  • Over the past few days, Sara! and I have combatted the 2012 Death Plague. I’m not sure where we picked it up, but I’m glad to have it in the proverbial rear view mirror. I didn’t leave the bedroom for over 18 hours (Thu night/Friday) and for 10 of those hours, I didn’t even leave the bed. Sara! was laid up all day Saturday and part of the day on Sunday. Somehow, Team DiVa seem to have avoided the worst of it.
  • Sunday afternoon, I headed to the airport to see my friend, Megan, during a long layover. While there, I also ran into Dave, Erica and Aria, as well as former Utah Opera Resident Artist John Buffett. Superpower-on-overdrive for the end-of-year win!
  • I’ve finally gotten around to continuing the Sword of Truth series, which was suggested to me years ago by my friend, Jess. (It was one of her favorite series.) It’s equal parts thrilling and maddening. I’ve also learned that having access to the Internet while reading/listening is not always a necessarily “good” thing, as I have semi-spoiled a couple of things for myself.
  • Snow. 10″ in the past week and we’re having flurries now.
  • I really need to figure out exactly what I want to do with the spare computers around here.
  • While they lost their last game, the Ravens are still the #4 Seed in the AFC and made the playoffs for the fifth straight year under Head Coach John Harbaugh and QB Joe Flacco.
  • By way of Mike B.: Off Topic: A Movie So Bad, It’s Good: The Legacy of Road House
    I’ve not seen the movie before, but this just about makes me want to invest the hour-and-a-half to see it.
  • I’m sure that there were eleventy-billion other things I was planning on adding to this list. Oh, well.

I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2013 and beyond.

Namaste.

“And the meek shall inherit the earth…”

Friday, December 21st, 2012
"And the meek shall inherit the earth..."

Friday – 21 December 2012
…or as I would write it in short form: 21 Dec 12.
…more to the point: 21 – 12. (With an extra “12” for good measure.)

And this is the last 21-12 of the century.

And with that in mind, I give you: 2112

“Overture” and “Temples of Syrinx”

…and…

The whole “A” side of 2112:

  • I. Overture
  • II. Temples of Syrinx
  • III. Discovery
  • IV. Presentation
  • V. Oracle (The Dream)
  • VI. Soliloquy
  • VII. The Grand Finale

According to the Mayan Calendar, the Fourth World ends today and the Fifth World begins. (Sorry, Jack Kirby.)

Last night, Sara! and I watched Men In Black 3 for Movie Date Night.

 

I thought that it was a fun romp and a nice way to wrap up the series; I think that Sara! thought that it was alright. (It was better than MIB2.) And, Josh Brolin does a very good Tommy Lee Jones.

Stray Toasters

Namaste.

And then, it was Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
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.