Union Pacific's Great Excursion Adventure

Nope, *still* not Belgium.

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Nope, *still* not Belgium.

Tuesday – 26 June 2012
I want to go on the record as saying that having twins who are crawling and cruising is:

  • Fun,
  • Entertaining, and
  •  A little tiring

Often, they both head in the same vector. However, those times when they don’t…? Let’s just say that I’m getting an inkling of what it’s like to be an NHL goaltender.

Over the weekend, we made a day trip to Cedar City to see my brother-in-law, John, who spent a week in Las Vegas. Being so relatively close, we decided to meet for lunch before he headed back to Baltimore and give him a chance to meet his nieces:

Diana, hanging out with Uncle John

Vanessa and Uncle John

Diana and John hit it off almost immediately; Vanessa decided to scope him out a bit before deciding that he was alright.

Stray Toasters


“Carve away the stone…”

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"Carve away the stone..."

Wednesday – 13 June 2012
Middle of the week means new comics and Pasta and Movie Date Night. I’m good with both of those.

Last night, I went to the gym with special guest star, Dave. He wanted to check out one of my upper body workouts, so we went through my chest and biceps workout. The full one:

  • Elliptical: 10 minutes/1.05 miles
  • Bench Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 135 lbs
  • Incline Chest Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 120 lbs
  • Shoulder Press: 3 sets/8 reps, 60 lbs
  • Fly (machine): 3 sets/8 reps, 100 lbs
  • Fly (dumbbell): 3 sets/8 reps, 20 lbs
  • Curls (barbell): 3 sets/8 reps, 40 lbs
  • Curls (dumbbell): 3 sets/8 reps, 25 lbs
  • Wrist Curls (barbell): 40 lbs (approx)
    • Reverse: 3 sets/15 reps
    • Forward: 3 sets/15 reps
  • Plank: 3 sets, 30 seconds

It was a good – and tiring – workout. But, it was also nice to have company while working out.

Stray Toasters


1 – The live-action parts of the first season of The Banana Splits Adventure Hour were directed by Richard Donner.  (Yes, that Richard Donner.)

“Monday, Monday…”

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"Monday, Monday..."

Monday – 23 April 2012
Another weekend has come and gone. In its wake, a new work week begins.

While “too short,” as most weekends are, this was a good weekend. It wasn’t overly eventful, but there was just enough to keep it interesting and exciting. And, of course, I got to spend most of it with SaraRules! and Team DiVa:

The arm block comes after Vanessa tried to make Zombie Chow of Diana’s shoulder. Go figure.

Yesterday morning, we went to Millcreek Cafe for breakfast. We decided to try something new-ish: We left the girls’ car seats in the car and let them sit in the “big kids'” high chairs. And they did just fine.  They slumped a little, as the chairs didn’t have any cushions, but otherwise, they were great. We also discovered just how far Diana’s reach is. Our waitress set my toast on the table, at what I thought was a safe place. Next thing I know, Diana had reached over, grabbed the plate, pulled it to her and knocked a slice of toast off the plate. I had to recover it quickly. (I did.) Kids. Who knew?!

Later in the afternoon, we took the little ladies to Liberty Park for a stroll:

Then, it was back home for a little play time, dinner and bedtime for little girls.

Later in the evening, I checked out the Diablo III open beta. It was my first-ever foray into the world Diablo. I can see what people enjoy about it. I will have to consider picking this up when the full version releases.

Stray Toasters
I’m going to pass on these until tomorrow.


It’s Monday again.

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It's Monday again.

Monday – 19 March 2012
Another work week begins and this one has brought snow flurries with it.

The past few days have been good. And a bit busy. Highlights included:

  • Taking Adventure Babies: Team DiVa to Sugar House Park for a walk on Friday. We parked near the duck pond, so they watched the birds before we started our walk.
    Diana (rear) and Vanessa, watching the ducks and pigeons
  • Green Lantern/St. Patrick’s Day
  • Judging a HeroClix tournament for Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection.
  • FINALLY watching the first episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series
  • Attending Utah Opera’s The Elixir of Love with SaraRules!
  • Corned beef and cabbage!
  • The season finale of The Walking Dead.

Stray Toasters


Seems like a Tuesday to me.

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Seems like a Tuesday to me.

Tuesday – 13 March 2012
I went outside this morning to find that the gate to our side and back yard was… mostly gone.


We had some strong winds overnight and the gate finally gave way. I’ve never been a big fan of that gate, so aside from the annoyance factor this just means that I get to/have to replace it sooner than I had expected. Yay.

After work last night, we took Team DiVa for a walk around the neighborhood. Just as we were getting ready to leave, Natalie (one of our Pin-up Girl baristas) and her boyfriend, Nick, stopped by.  We spent a few minutes chatting before setting off.  The girls handled the stroll well, watching the houses, cars and people as we strolled past. Another Adventure Babies outing successfully completed.

As an added bonus to the evening, SaraRules! also baked a few RubySnap Scarlett cookies. Win.

Stray Toasters



And then, it was Friday once more…

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And then, it was Friday once more...

Friday – 08 March 2012
End of the work week. Amen.

Last night, we modified the Adventure Babies’ sleep schedule once more. For the past month, SaraRules! and I have been waking them up for a feeding and diaper change just before we go to bed. This has greatly facilitated their sleeping through the night. We have gradually stepped down the amount of formula we gave them at this feeding for four weeks… until last night. Last night, we went to bed without waking the girls first. No diaper change. No feeding.

Diana (l) and Vanessa, ready for breakfast

Diana slept until 4:00 this morning. And, there was no whining or crying when she woke, just some cooing. I got up, changed her and put her back in her crib. By this time, Vanessa had awakened; again, there was no crying. SaraRules! got up and changed her. Then we both went back to bed. The girls talked amongst themselves for a few minutes and then went back to sleep until 7:00 AM.  I consider this “a success.” We’ll see how things carry out from this point forward.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Diana (l), Steve and Vanessa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stray Toasters

“Show, Don’t Tell…”

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"Show, Don't Tell..."

Thursday – 23 February 2012
Another No Bad News Thursday is upon us. Something that makes this day just a little bit better: The girls slept through the night again!

Vanessa (l) and Diana, in new headbands… rocking out with their Sophies and some tissue paper

This more than made up for the atrocious nights’ sleep that I had. More unpleasant dreams and great case of heartburn. YAY!

SaraRules! had another Justice League meeting last night, so her father came over to dote over his granddaughters help me get the girls fed and to bed. And, to be honest, dote a bit. He and the girls played a bit. They took pictures. They told stories about the war.  (Okay, that was just to make sure that you were really paying attention.) Then it was dinner (carrots) time and before too long… time for bed and a story.

SaraRules!, on her way home from saving the world, stopped and got me Chinese food take-out. As it was a bit late for Pasta & Movie Date Night, we opted to finish off the first half of this season’s The Walking Dead. Wow. Some things wound up the way I expected, while I didn’t see a couple of things coming. (Yay for avoiding spoilers for the past two months!)

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s profile is: Madam C.J. Walker, an African-American businesswoman, entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919) was born Sarah Breedlove in Delta, Louisiana to Owen and Minerva Breedlove. She was one of six children. Her parents and elder siblings were slaves on Madison Parish plantation owned by Robert W. Burney . She was the first child in her family born into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

Orphaned at the age of seven, Madam C. J. Walker moved in with her older sister, and brother-in-law, Willie Powell. At the age of 14, she married Moses McWilliams to escape Powell’s abuse. Three years later her daughter, Lelia McWilliams (A’Lelia Walker) was born. When Sarah was 20, her husband died. Shortly afterward she moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers lived. Her second marriage to John Davis ended in 1903.

Driven by her own struggles with hair loss during 1890s, Madam C. J. Walker began experimenting with different hair care treatments and products. In 1905 she invented a method for straightening African-Americans’ “kinky” hair: her method involved her own formula for a pomade, much brushing, and the use of heated combs. Encouraged by her success, she moved to Denver, Colorado, where she married Charles J. Walker. She promoted her method and products by traveling about the country giving lecture-demonstrations. Soon Sarah, now known as “Madam C. J. Walker,” was selling her products throughout the United States. While her daughter Lelia (later known as A’Lelia Walker) ran a mail order business from Denver, Madam Walker and her husband traveled throughout the southern and eastern states. They settled in Pittsburgh in 1908 and opened Lelia College to train “hair culturists.” In 1910 Walker moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where she established her headquarters and built a factory.

She began to teach and train other black women in order to help them build their own businesses. She also gave other lectures on political, economic and social issues at conventions sponsored by powerful black institutions. After the East St. Louis Race Riot, she joined leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in their efforts to support legislation to make lynching a federal crime. In 1918 at the biennial convention of the National Association Of Colored Woman (NACW) she was acknowledged for making the largest contribution to save the Anacostia (Washington, DC) house of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. She continued to donate money throughout her career to the NAACP, the YMCA, and to black schools, organizations, individuals, orphanages, and retirement homes.

In 1917, she moved to her Irvington-on-Hudson, New York estate, Villa Lewaro, which had been designed by Vertner Tandy, the first licensed black architect in New York State and a founding member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Madam C.J. Walker died at Villa Lewaro on Sunday, May 25, 1919 from complications of hypertension. She was 51.

At the time of her death, Madam C. J. Walker was sole owner of her business, which was valued at more than $1 million. Her personal fortune was around $600,000 to $700,000. She left one-third of her estate went to her daughter—who herself became well known as a supporter of the Harlem Renaissance—the remainder to various philanthropies.

Stray Toasters


Midweek and all’s well…

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Midweek and all's well...

Wednesday – 22 February 2012
Odin’s Day is upon us once more. This also means that: The work week is half done and new comics are released today. Win-Win.

Today is also Ash Wednesday.

Last night, SaraRules! cousin, Sarah – and her son, Miles – were in town on their way to Denver.

As I recall, we haven’t seen them since last August, when they were here for Logan and Swiz’ wedding. They stopped in for a bit to visit and meet the girls.

After they left, and the girls were down for bed, SaraRules! suggested Five Guys burgers for dinner. Who was I to argue?! She also stopped at The Sweet Tooth Fairy to pick up cupcakes for dessert. We also cleared another episode of The Walking Dead off the DVR over dinner.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
Today’s person of note is Gustavus Vassa, a prominent African involved in the British movement towards the abolition of the slave trade.

According to his own account, Gustavus Vassa (born Olaudah Equiano) was born in an area called “Igbo” in what is now Nigeria, in 1745. (At the turn of the 21st century, newly discovered documents suggesting that Equiano may have been born in North America raised questions, still unresolved, about whether his accounts of Africa and the Middle Passage are based on memory, reading, or a combination of the two.) He lived with five brothers and a sister; he was the youngest son with one younger sister. At the age of eleven, he and his sister were kidnapped. At this time he endured the Middle Passage to the New World, where he was forced to work as a slave.

When their parents were out, Equiano and his sister were kidnapped by two men and a woman, African kinsmen, and sold to native slaveholders. After changing hands several times, Equiano found himself on the coast, in the hands of European slave traders. He was transported with 244 other enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to Barbados in the West Indies, from where he and a few others were soon transferred to the British colony of Virginia. Soon after arrival, he was bought by Michael Pascal, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He decided to give him a more understandable name, a Latinised form of the name Gustavus Vassa, a Swedish noble who had become Gustav I of Sweden, king in the 16th century.

Pascal sold Equiano to Captain James Doran of the “Charming Sally” at Gravesend, where he was transported to Montserrat, in the Caribbean Leeward Islands. He was sold on to Robert King, a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia who traded in the Caribbean. King set Equiano to work on his shipping routes and in his stores. In 1765, King promised that for forty pounds, the price he had paid, Equiano could buy his freedom. King taught him to read and write more fluently, guided him along the path of religion, and allowed Equiano to engage in profitable trading on his own as well as on his master’s behalf. He enabled Equiano to earn his freedom, which he achieved by his early twenties.

King urged Equiano to stay on as a business partner, but Equiano found it dangerous and limiting to remain in the British colonies as a freedman. For instance, while loading a ship in Georgia, he was almost kidnapped back into slavery. He was released after proving his education. Equiano returned to Britain where, after Somersett’s Case of 1772, men believed they were free of the risk of enslavement.

In 1789, he published his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, which had a strong abolitionist message. Equiano is often regarded as the originator of the slave narrative because of his firsthand literary testimony against the slave trade. Equiano wrote in his narrative that slaves working inside the slaveholders’ homes in Virginia were treated cruelly. They suffered punishments such as an “iron muzzle” (scold’s bridle), used around the mouths to keep house slaves quiet, leaving them barely able to speak or eat. Equiano conveyed the fear and amazement he experienced in his new environment. In fact, Equiano was so shocked by this culture that he tried washing his face in an attempt to change its color. Despite the controversy regarding his birth, The Interesting Narrative remains an essential work both for its picture of 18th-century Africa as a model of social harmony defiled by Western greed and for its eloquent argument against the barbarous slave trade.

In 1792, Equiano married Susanna Cullen; they had two daughters.

Although Equiano’s death is recorded in London, 1797, the location of his burial is unsubstantiated.

Quote of the Day
Today’s quote comes from my friend, Ashley:

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day we commemorate the battle between the Evil Dead and the common man. Remember to celebrate this, the grooviest of holidays, in the traditional manner: the viewing of Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness.

Stray Toasters


“Yeah, yeah and it’s okay… I tie my hands up to a chair, so I don’t fall that way.”

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"Yeah, yeah and it's okay... I tie my hands up to a chair, so I don't fall that way."

Monday – 13 February 2012
Another new work week begins…

…and today is also my Sib-1’s (Rana) birthday:

This weekend was good… and somewhat productive, too. SaraRules! and I have changed the girls’ nighttime sleep and feeding schedule: Wake them up for a small feeding and diaper change just before we go to bed. It seems to be working pretty well. Saturday night (the first night we tried it), they managed to sleep for six straight hours. Unglaublich! And, after they woke up for their “wee hours of the morning” feeding, they slept in until 8:30. It was divine.

Diana (l) and Vanessa, before heading out for the day

We took the girls up to Red Butte Garden for a Saturday afternoon stroll. They seemed to enjoy it… almost as much as yesterday’s pilgrimage to The Garden of Sweden. Amen. Both girls stayed awake through IKEA trip, which became funny when we got into the warehouse area. As I’ve noted before, the girls are fascinated with moving things, especially ceiling fans. I had forgotten that IKEA has ceiling fans in the warehouse. However, this was not something that escaped Vanessa’s notice. Nor, a few seconds later, Diana’s notice. It was funny to look down into the stroller and see them both staring agog at the ceiling.

Chew on This: Food for Thought – Black History Month
It’s another post-weekend two-person post.

  • John Mercer Langston (December 14, 1829 – November 15, 1897) was an American abolitionist, attorney, educator, and political activist.

    Langston was born free in 1829 in Louisa County, Virginia, the youngest of three sons and a daughter of Ralph Quarles, a white plantation owner of English descent and Lucy Jane Langston, a freedwoman of mixed African and Native American descent. After his parents both died when Langston was four, he and his brothers, Gideon Quarles and Charles Henry Langston, moved to Chillicothe, Ohio with their half-brother William Langston. John was taken to live with William Gooch and his family, friends of his father’s.In 1835 the older brothers Gideon and Charles started at the preparatory school at Oberlin College, where they were the first African-American students to be admitted. John Langston earned a bachelor’s degree in 1849 and a master’s degree in theology in 1852 from Oberlin. Denied admission to law schools in New York and Ohio because of his race, Langston then studied law (or “read law”, as was a practice then) under attorney and Republican congressman Philemon Bliss and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1854. In 1855, he was one of the first African-American people in the United States elected to public office when elected as a town clerk in Ohio.

    Together with his older brothers Gideon and Charles, John Langston became active in the Abolitionist movement. He helped runaway slaves to escape to the North along the Ohio part of the Underground Railroad. In 1858 he and Charles partnered in leading the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, with John acting as president and traveling to organize local units, and Charles’ managing as executive secretary in Cleveland.

    In 1864 he helped organize the National Equal Rights League, of which he was the first president. After the American Civil War Langston moved to Washington, D.C., practiced law, and was professor of law and the first dean of the law department (1869–77) and vice president (1872–76) of Howard University.

    He was U.S. minister to Haiti and chargé d’affaires to Santo Domingo (1877–85) and was elected president of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (1885).

    In 1888 he was a Republican candidate from Virginia for the U.S. House of Representatives, and, after a challenge of the election returns that took almost two years, he succeeded in unseating his Democratic opponent and served in Congress from Sept. 23, 1890, to March 3, 1891.

  • Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (October 20, 1885 – July 10, 1941), known professionally as Jelly Roll Morton, was an American ragtime and early jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.

    Morton was born in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. A baptismal certificate issued in 1894 lists his date of birth as October 20, 1890; however Morton himself and his half-sisters claimed the September 20, 1885, date is correct.

    Morton learned the piano as a child and, at the age of fourteen, began working as a piano player in a brothel (or as it was referred to then, a sporting house.) In that atmosphere, he often sang smutty lyrics and it was at this time that he took the nickname “Jelly Roll”, which at the time was black slang for the female genitalia.

    Morton’s piano style was formed from early secondary ragtime and “shout”, which also evolved separately into the New York school of stride piano. Morton’s playing, however, was also close to barrelhouse, which produced boogie woogie. Morton often played the melody of a tune with his right thumb, while sounding a harmony above these notes with other fingers of the right hand. This added a rustic or “out-of-tune” sound (due to the playing of a diminished 5th above the melody). This may still be recognized as belonging to New Orleans. Morton also walked in major and minor sixths in the bass, instead of tenths or octaves. He played basic swing rhythms in both the left and right hand.

    Around 1904, Morton started wandering the American South, working with minstrel shows, gambling and composing. In 1912–1914, he toured with girlfriend Rosa Brown as a vaudeville act before settling in Chicago for three years. By 1914, he had started writing down his compositions, and in 1915 his “Jelly Roll Blues” was arguably the first jazz composition ever published, recording as sheet music the New Orleans traditions that had been jealously guarded by the musicians. In 1917, he followed bandleader William Manuel Johnson and Johnson’s sister Anita Gonzalez to California, where Morton’s tango “The Crave” made a sensation in Hollywood.

    He made his recording debut in 1923, and from 1926 to 1930 he made, with a group called Morton’s Red Hot Peppers, a series of recordings that gained him a national reputation. Morton’s music was more formal than the early Dixieland jazz, though his arrangements only sketched parts and allowed for improvisation.

    During the period when he was recording his interviews, Morton was seriously injured by knife wounds when a fight broke out at the Washington, D.C. establishment where he was playing. A nearby whites-only hospital refused to treat him, and he had to be transported to a lower-quality hospital further away. When he was in the hospital the doctors left ice on his wounds for several hours before attending to his eventually fatal injury. His recovery from his wounds was incomplete, and thereafter he was often ill and easily became short of breath. Morton made a new series of commercial recordings in New York, several recounting tunes from his early years that he had been talking about in his Library of Congress interviews.

    A worsening asthma affliction sent him to a New York hospital for three months at one point and when visiting Los Angeles with a series of manuscripts of new tunes and arrangements, planning to form a new band and restart his career, the ailment took its toll.

    Morton died on July 10, 1941 after an eleven-day stay in Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Stray Toasters


Thoughts on a grey day…

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Thoughts on a grey day...

Thursday – 19 January 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday in the valley… but it’s one without snow. Mother Nature appears to have overlooked us, at least for the moment.

Last night, the girls slept pretty well. Thankfully. Vanessa woke up for a bit at 10:30, but found her way back to sleep about 45 minutes later. Again, thankfully. Both girls were up for a 2:15-ish feeding, followed by another four hours of sleep. So, all things considered, I’d call it a “good” night.

After the girls went to sleep, SaraRules! and I watched Limitless. We had an inkling of what to expect, but I found they took a couple of turns that I didn’t see coming. I appreciated that. While it wasn’t a perfect movie, I thought that it was well-done and quite entertaining. I give it a definite “thumbs-up with an okay.”

Stray Toasters

And… done with meetings for the day. Finally.

Thoughts on a Thursday afternoon…

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Thoughts on a Thursday afternoon...

Thursday – 12 January 2012
It’s another NBN Thursday in the valley. There’s sun, but it’s still quite cold outside. But, my morning started out with cuddles from both girls, so I got a good kickoff to the day.

And, speaking of the little ladies, this picture was taken during last night’s “tummy time:”

Vanessa (l) and Diana
(*waits to see how long before this picture appears on my mother’s Facebook page…*)

Last night was also “Pasta and Movie Date Night” at our house. SaraRules! picked up a movie on the way home: Tangled. It was a cute – and rather fun – movie, putting a slightly different spin on the Rapunzel fairy tale.

Before bed, I read a little more of World War Z. I’m still enjoying it. After turning out the light and calling it a day, I was treated to a few hours of zombie-infested dreams. Go figure. But it wasn’t all The Walking Dead. It was more like “The Walking Dead meets Resident Evil (movies) meets S.H.I.E.L.D. meets The X-Men.” Yeah, it was that weird. Suspenseful. Action-packed. Slightly frenetic. And I think it is that combination of things that kept it from being outright scary/fear-inducing.

Stray Toasters


“Jack, relax… get busy with the facts.”

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"Jack, relax... get busy with the facts."

Tuesday – 10 January 2012
Work Week: Day 2. So far, it’s been monkey-free and relatively painless. But, it is Tuesday, so there will be meetings. Hazard of the job, I guess.

Speaking of “hazards,” for some reason, I had this running through my head last night:

Last night, my sister-in-law, Sanaz, came over to help watch the girls and put them to bed while SaraRules! was at a Junior League meeting.

Under normal circumstances, bedtime is a fairly easy time of night — it’s just that two kids makes it nigh-impossible for one person to get them squared away without help. Last night, I don’t know what exactly happened, but Diana and Vanessa were not happy and wailed – at the top of their lungs –  for the better part of forty-five minutes before winding down enough to eat and go to sleep. (I don’t think that I’ve been so happy for them to go to sleep in a long time…) In thinking about it, it hasn’t been that hard to get them both to sleep in at least two months. And I can’t fathom what I would have done without Sanaz’ help.

After the girls fell asleep – which was almost immediately after they ate – Sanaz and I went into the kitchen so I could tackle the stack o’ bottles from the day. We chatted while I busted suds. I found out a bit about what she does (I know that she’s a pharmacist, but there’s more to her job than just doling out medication), what she would like to do and the world of pharmacy. It was a good conversation.

After SaraRules! got home, I found that I was restless and couldn’t decide how to spend the rest of my evening. I frittered away the better part of an hour before deciding to call it a relatively early night and just read in bed. I know I’m late to the party, but I started reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks. I am liking it.

Stray Toasters


New Year: 2012

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New Year: 2012

Sunday – 01 January 2012
Welcome to 2012 – The Year of the Dragon.

Today is also the seventh day of Kwanzaa; today ‘s principle is “Imani” or “faith”:

To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Last night, SaraRules! and I had over for dinner and a movie.  SaraRules! fixed a Moroccan chicken dish over couscous that was quite good. While we ate, we watched The Horde, a French zombie movie.  It was… interesting. Not bad. Not awesome. Just different.

As this is our first new year as parents, we decided to forego watching the ball drop, so that we would be at least somewhat coherent if/when the girls wake up in the middle of the night. Besides, I’ve seen enough NYE shows to know how it goes, so I’m Ivory Soap sure that we didn’t miss anything… with the possible aside of seeing an even more haggard-looking Dick Clark than last year.

I hope that everyone has a safe, happy and prosperous 2012.

Be well and be good to one another.