Friday, November 30, 2007

55FFF - Chapter VI

Chapter VI - Nevada Desert, 6 hours later...

She dialed the number in Tokyo from memory.

Nakayama answered. Expecting Kaito, he asked: "Is it done?"

"Kaito-san's dead," she replied. "I want this settled.”

“Come to Tokyo, we can work it out.”

“On your turf? No thanks. Meet me in Vegas in 18 hours. You know where.”

She hung up before he could reply.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Guest Photo Fridays!

Yet another twofer (two posts in one day...). Seems like I've got a "twofer and meme" theme going lately...

Some of you know I have another blog where I post some of my favorite photos from my archives. You'll be amazed at the crafty title I came up with for the blog: Photos from Jim. Catchy, huh? (C:

Anyway...I came up with the idea for "Guest Photo Fridays". I'm asking my photographer friends, relatives, etc., to submit pictures via email, and I'll pick my favorite for that week and post it. I know you all have snaps lying around here and there, and I've seen some of your work (Robert and Dan, especially!). If you'd like to be a guest photographer on my other blog, it'd be my pleasure to feature your work.

That's it for today...more tomorrow...

I did it!

I seem to be on this "the return of..." theme this week. Yesterday was the return of the meme, today it's the return of the marathon.

Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and all the ships at sea...I mentioned in a post earlier this week that I was thinking about signing up for the St Louis Marathon. I discussed it with the Mrs last night...she doesn't understand my obsession with finishing my first marathon (and wasn't happy that I may not stop after this one!), but she's OK with me signing up and us heading down there for the weekend. So...just minutes ago, I officially registered.

I'm excited and nervous at the same time. The course has some hills (see the elevation map)--more so than Chicago--but hey, I figure I can walk parts of it. The main goal is just finishing!

The race will have a small field: they cap it at 3000 marathoners, 10,000 half-marathoners, and 500 4-person teams (or 2000 people total) for the marathon relay. This means if it's capped out, it'll be just over 1/3rd the size of Chicago.

Oddly enough I timed this right, because the 18-week training schedule I've followed in the past (thank you, Hal Higdon!) will start at the beginning of next week. My runs outside will be pretty danged cold, and I'll have to do most of the weekday runs on the treadmill because it stays dark so long in the mornings...but having said that, I've been through all this before and feel like I've learned a ton since June of this year, which is when I started training for Chicago.

So...there it is. Now I know what I'm doing for the next 18 weeks. (C:

More later...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Return of the meme!

I've become quite the fan of memes and now am seeking good ones out. I ran across the SuchSimplePleasures blog almost by accident, and found this great one there. So, here's my version...

I talk: Too much.

I love: My wife, my family of choice, my friends, my hobbies, running, wine, good food, photography, travel, and life in general.

I lost: a few things along the way, but gained even more.

I hate it when: people are two-faced, or don't stand up for themselves, or say "I don't have a choice." Hey, everyone has a choice in every decision, all the time!

Love is: A wonderful thing. A many splendored thing. It's a decision, not a feeling. And it's the greatest thing in the world.

Marriage is: Knowing that no matter where you are in the world, or what situation you're in, there is one person who will always stand beside you...and if you've got that person, you have "a home" right where you are.

Somewhere there is: a land I heard of, once in a lullaby...come to think of it, I think it's somewhere over a rainbow or something...

I'll always be: trying to do whatever I'm doing, just a little better than I did yesterday.

I have a little crush on: Kenny Chesney. I'm straight, it's just a bit of a man-crush. And my wife is perfectly OK with it.

The last time I cried was: Nov 17th, 2007. I was on a flight home, and was thinking about the fact that it was 4 years to the day since my dad passed away. I blogged about it and it brought back some pretty sad emotions..

My cell phone is: both my best friend and my worst enemy. It also has email capability and I get my work email on it, so I'm constantly checking it like, oh, 14 million times an hour...

When I wake up in the morning: I make coffee, check my email, feed the cats...

Before I go to sleep at night: I count my blessings, kiss my wife, and then jump on the Sleepytime Express.

Right now I am thinking about: Someone who works for me. We just got off the phone--he found out less than an hour ago that his dog has bone cancer. I feel really bad for him (the dog and the guy).

Babies are: cute, except when they are crying or sick.

I get on MySpace: Never.

Today I: am having a good day. Got some stuff done, made some work progress, etc..

Tonight I: Will go for a run, have dinner, and watch either Wednesday night shows or stuff I DVR'ed last night.

Tomorrow I will: Have a bunch of meetings, handle some random unplanned crisis, and talk a few people off the ledge. Just another day at work...

I really want to: (in no particular order)--take better photographs, stop being afraid, learn how to ride a motorcycle, spend more time with people I love, pay off my house, have a plan to keep me active after I retire, and die peacefully, in my sleep, at a ripe old age.

The person who is most likely to repost this: Snowelf. (C:

So...that's it! If you borrow this and make it your own, let me know.

More later...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life is groovy...

There is nothing going on that's really blogworthy to me. I mean nothing. Thanksgiving was great--hope everyone else had a good one, too. I ate too much (including 2 pieces of pecan pie, one of my favorites), felt like a beached whale, but got over it Friday. Friday through Sunday, did more or less nothing (except posted a 55FFF and a couple photos!)...we didn't even put up the Christmas tree.

Came back to work yesterday, got more-or-less caught up, chilled at home last night. Got in a run on the treadmill this morning--I'm shooting for 15 miles or more every week now. Today, more work work work, and class (woodworking--YAY!) tonight.

There--how's THAT for boring?

One possibly, maybe interesting thing that might maybe happen (possibly) (how's that for a bunch of caveats?)...I may sign up for the St. Louis Marathon which will be held next April. I ran the Chicago Marathon this year, or at least part of it, and had a less-than-stellar experience. I told the Mrs over the weekend that I didn't want to wait yet another year to finish a marathon. Keep in mind that I was going to run Chicago last year but pulled out because of an injury, I didn't finish this year...I just don't want to have to wait 3 years before I finish a marathon.

My family is from around St. Louis, so it's like a 2nd home to me. Also the field will be small--they're capping the marathon at 3000 runners--so it'll be a lot less crowded.

Now, we just have to see if the schedules line up, what the cost is for driving down there/hotel stay for the weekend/meals out, etc., and see if it's worth it. Of course, I'll keep y'all posted.

More later...

Friday, November 23, 2007

55FFF - Chapter V

I'm attempting a twofer 55FFF this week--not only am I continuing this story, but I'm also writing something for Mike's new 55 Flash Fiction Friday blog. Until I get that written and posted, enjoy Chapter V...


The face registered shock and surprise.

The body twitched slowly, life ebbing out.

A final breath, and then it was over.

She holstered her gun and said menacingly, "You bastard, I told you I hated the name 'Kate'."

She spit on his face one last time, climbed out of the swamp, and headed for civilization...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Naperville Turkey Trot

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

In addition to being Thanksgiving, today was the 10th annual Naperville Turkey Trot 5K race. I've run this race for the past 4 years--it's cool, because it's not a super-long distance so I can do it with no real preparation, and it allows me to eat all the turkey and trimmings I want and not feel guilty! MMMMMM....piiiiiiiiieeeeeee...

I did somewhere in the middle between what I'd hoped for and what I thought was realistic. I ended up finishing in 27:17, or 45 seconds off my personal best for a 5K. I didn't care so much about time--I just wanted to start and finish strong, which I did. It was a really good race, and I said a special "thank you" to some of the people who gave up their Thanksgiving morning to come and volunteer.

Folks if you ever run a road race, or ever do some kind of event that's supported by volunteers in any way, please make a point of thanking them. First, they're there long before the event starts. The race today started at 8AM, the volunteers were probably there between 5:00 and 5:30AM. Second, people tend to forget that they're there--they take the water, bananas, whatever, and just walk on by. It doesn't take any effort at all to just say a big "THANKS!", and it might make someone's day. now to a hearty breakfast which will carry me over until turkey time this afternoon. Eat lots, and be safe, everyone...

More later...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Two days to turkey day!

I saw a friend last night and we started talking about Thanksgiving--the conversation has officially put me in The Thanksgiving Mood! We talked about all the good stuff to eat, where we're both going, etc. In our case we're visiting my wife's cousin's house. Her family is loud and borderline obnoxious, but in a fun and kooky kind of way. Her cousin does an excellent turkey, a truckload full of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes just the way I like them, and--OF COURSE--a green bean casserole with the French's French Fried Onions on top. NUMMY.

After the meal we'll all feel like beached whales and complain about how much we ate. That will last about an hour, until the pies and coffee come out and we start eating all over again.

I need to go out for a run this morning--after thinking about it, I'll probably add on another couple miles just to create space for all the calories I'm going to ingest on Thursday! (C:

I'm fairly sure I'll post between now and Thursday but if for some reason I don't, I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving, surrounded by the ones you love most.

More later...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Four years ago today...

This has been on and off my mind (mostly on) today--my dad passed away four years ago today. Those of you who read my blog will have to forgive me the long post. I've been both dreading and looking forward to writing this for the past couple weeks, knowing that this anniversary was coming up. Dreading it because of reliving all the memories, but looking forward to the chance to remember my dad.

To rewind the tape, my dad had been in declining health for a few years: heart problems, bypass surgery, several small strokes, and amputations on both legs. All these problems were caused by diabetes that he'd ignored for over 40 years. During the last year of his life I got a few calls from my brother saying "You'd better come down to see him this weekend, because he's not going to be around long." I don't think I spent enough time with my dad--then again, who does?--but in retrospect I'm glad I took advantage of those times to be with him near the end. Because of his extremely poor health and lack of mobility, he spent the last few years in a nursing home.

The day it happened is one I'll never forget. I'd just gotten dropped off the airport to catch a plane to California for a meeting. No sooner than I'd handed my baggage over to be checked, my wife called. She said "Your brother is trying to get hold of you--there's something really wrong with your dad." I got my bag back as I figured (correctly, it turned out) that I wouldn't be making that trip.

I called my brother--it turned out that they'd taken my dad for dialysis that morning, he passed out and became unresponsive, and slipped into a coma. Mom, my brother, and his wife were all there. I talked to my sister in law, and she told me what was going on. I told her "Please, just tell him that I love him." She promised she would.

Lisa came to get me at the airport. I sat by the ticket kiosks in Terminal 1 of O'Hare--I even remember the exact bench--and cried. I remember praying that God would just take him and let all his suffering end. For the previous couple years he'd only been existing, not living.

I got home within about 90 minutes of talking with my sister-in-law, and within about 5 minutes of getting home my brother called...all he said was "Jimmie, he's gone."

The next few days were surreal. I remember the dread I felt walking into the funeral home to see him laid out. Ironically, in death he looked better than he'd looked the past few years of life. He wore a dark blue suit, a fresh crisp white shirt, and a striped tie. He looked very handsome indeed, and very peaceful.

Dad was very involved in the community, and people came--non-stop--for over 2 hours to pay their respects. It meant a lot to hear and see stories of how he'd touched people's lives just by being a kind and generous man. My dad was also a Mason and had served 4 years in the Marine Corps, so both those themes figured in the tributes to him.

My folks' minister gave a great eulogy, and then it was everyone's turn to say their last goodbyes. One person in particular sticks with me. My dad had a Masonic brother who is retired US Army, and served with General Patton in WWII. I'm not quite sure how old this gentleman is but I'm sure he's upper 80s. He walks with a cane and is bent over and twisted at the waist. He walked slowly but with bearing up to my dad's casket, stood at full attention, and gave my dad a crisp military salute. I guess you had to be there, but seeing this was so emotional for me...I completely lost it at that point--balled like a baby.

My brother was able to arrange for the local VFW to provide a full flag presentation ceremony and gun salute at the gravesite. I picked up a couple of the empty cartridges and still have them in the change compartment of my truck to this day.

Just after my dad had his first stroke in 1994, I visited him in the hospital--he told me "Son, don't ever let yourself get like this." After his death I took that to heart. I started running again, lost weight, and started taking better care of myself. I also decided that, since he prompted me to start running again--and since he was wheelchair bound for the last year of his life--that I'd consider him my "running partner". When I go on long runs, we talk...actually, I talk and (I think) he listens.

I hear people say of a loved one that they lost: "I think of him/her every day." Do I think of my dad every day? I have to admit that I don't...which, I guess in a way, is maybe not such a bad thing. I do think about it at times when it's natural for a man to need to talk to his father--and I look at Lisa's dad and miss that relationship I could have had with my dad as he aged gracefully into his 70s (dad was 69 when he died).

But it is what it is, and I know he's not only not suffering but is living in a better place with his parents, relatives, and friends who have gone before him. I also know that someday when it's time for mom, my brother, my sister, and me to leave this world, he'll be standing there with a big smile, tears in his eyes, and his goofy laugh to welcome us. I look forward to that day...hopefully not too soon.

If you've made it through the story so far, this is the end of it. Nothing else to write about at this point, other than to say "thank you" for listening. I appreciate you all.

More later...

Friday, November 16, 2007

55FFF - Chapter IV

Happy Friday, y'all!


Chapter IV - Out Of The Frying Pan and Into The Fire

She dragged herself to the edge of the pond, only to find Kaito-san standing there with that smug, superior grin she hated.

"Hello, Kate."

Exhausted and in shock, she mumbled: "Kaito-san, help me out of here--for old times sake?"

Pointing the pistol at her head, he said "Sorry-- can't, Katie-san. Sumimasen..."

BLAM! went the gun...


Oh no...CLIFFHANGER!!!!! (C:

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bon jour de "Beaujolais Nouveau" a tout!

Translation--Happy "Beaujolais Nouveau" day to everyone! It's one of those pseudo-holidays like Grandparents' Day or Administrative Assistants Week (side note--how do THEY get a full week? I'm guessing because THEY wrote the memo...) that's been created by companies and vinyards trying to sell an immature red.

Beaujolais Nouveau (hereafter, "BN") to the uninitiated, is made from a specific type of grape (Gamay), aged for only a few weeks, and then sold starting the 3rd Thursday of November each year. I'll have to be honest that I've never tried it, since I only became a beginning wine connoisseur (that is, a beginning connoisseur, not a connoisseur of beginning wines!) last year,, uh, kinda missed the whole BN thingy.

Anyway--super big deal to those "in the know." So if you are an oneophile, I guess now would be a good time to go out, get a bottle, and enjoy it with some friends. I'm headed back home on Saturday and will probably stop on the way home for a bottle or two (to pick up and take home with me, of course, not to drink on the way home or BEFORE I drive home as that would be bad).

I read an article where one wine critic mocked BN, saying it was "like eating raw cookie dough." I don't know what that broad is smokin', but for me raw cookie dough, especially chocolate chip, is one of life's simple pleasures. So if BN is anything like that experience, I'm looking forward to it.

I may try some next week, I'll let you know what I think.

More later...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My turn for a meme!

I've seen this on Snowelf's blog (yes, I do make a lot of references to her...mostly because she was my firstest, and is my bestest, blog-world-buddy), then on Lime's blog, now on Charles' it's my turn. Plus, I didn't really have anything interesting to post today except some random stories and pix from Japan, but the $*#&*&!!! pix wouldn't load up because my $*#&&!@#! Internet connection is too slow...

If I were going to steal a meme from Snowelf, Lime blog, or Charles... it would be this one.

If I were a beginning, I would be...January 1st--full of hope, promise, and not weighed down by the sins and shortcomings of the previous year.

If I were a month, I would be...October. Halloween, pumpkins, fall weather, and the World Series--what's not to love?

If I were a time of day, I would be...that quiet time right before the sun comes up.

If I were a planet, I would be...hmm, I guess Earth since it's the only one I'm familiar with...

If I were a season, I would be...fall.

If I were a sea animal, I would be...NOT HAPPY that I have to swim in, live in, eat in, and drink in water filled with my own POO.

If I were a direction, I would be...up.

If I were a piece of furniture, I would entertainment center!

If I were a sin, I would be...lzns*

If I were a liquid, I would be...mercury. The first time I saw it I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

If I were a scare, I would that's a false alarm, so no one gets hurt or anything.

If I were a gem, I would be...uh, a ruby? It's my birthstone.

If I were a flower/plant, I would be...ivy. Don't ask me why, that's just the first thing that popped into my head.

If I were a kind of weather, I would be...gentle rain.

If I were a musical instrument, I would acoustic guitar.

If I were an animal, I would be...some kind of wild cat--a lion, a tiger, something like that.

If I were an emotion, I would be...gratitude.

If I were a vegetable, I would be...asparagus (ironic that I chose this, since I had to Google it just to figure out how to spell it!)

If I were a sound, I would be...laughter.

If I were an element, I would be...copper, I guess--it'd go along with my red hair (?)

If I were a car, I would be...a 1968 Mustang fastback flying over the hilly streets of San Francisco, just like the one Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.

If I were a song, I would be...not a "song" per se, but I would definitely be Pachelbel's Canon--I consider this to be the most beautiful piece of music ever written, without question. If you've never heard it go to this link and click the play button...and here is a rock and roll version of it (actually pretty good!)

If I were a food, I would! MMMMMMM....piiiiiiiiizaaaaaaaa......

If I were a place, I would be...a small town where everyone knows everyone else, people are genuine, and things like family and relationships and faith matter way more than money or what you wear or drive. Kinda like Mayberry but not as corny.

If I were a material, I would be...uh, linen? Again, first thing in my head...

If I were a taste, I would, clean, and refreshing--maybe some kind of citrus-y summer drink.

If I were a scent, I would be...fresh cut pine

If I were a religion, I would that offered people grace, hope, love, and the absolute assurance of an afterlife of blissful joy. One that welcomed all people as they are but encouraged them to become better people, and one that encouraged people to "leave the campsite cleaner than they found it." But not one that discriminated, one that had an 'us and them' mentality, or one that was condescending...

If I were a sentence, I would be...long and rambling, with a lot of big words, and then you'd get to the end of it and go "Uh, what the hell was that all about?"

If I were a facial expression, I would be...a smile.

If I were a subject in school, I would be...a foreign language--probably French.

If I were a color, I would (because, HELLO, I'm an ivy! DUH! (C; )

If I were a thing, I would be...either a doohickey or a whatchamacallit.

If I were a book, I would that you'd read over and over, and learn something different about life--and about yourself--every time you picked it up.

If I were an artist, I would be...either Annie Leibovitz or Ansel Adams.

If I were a collection of poems, I would be...Sonnets from the Portuguese.

If I were a landmass, I would be...big, full of lots of geographic, meterological, and biological diversity, one untouched by modern industry, and one where everyone would want to visit for a peaceful vacation.

If I were a watch, I would be...something Swiss.

If I were God, I would be...see my previous answer about religion--I'd be a God that would make all that happen.

If I were a vowel, I would be..."U". It's quirky, and it always follows "Q".

If I were a consonant, I would be..."Q". It's quirky and always proceeds "U".

If I were a theory, I would be...intelligent design.

If I were a famous person, I would that kids and parents could look up to, that was humble, had some great achievements, and didn't have any scandal or skeletons in the closet. Kinda like my General Chuck Yeager, one of my personal heroes.

If I were an item of electronic equipment, I would iPod.

If I were a sport, I would be...running (that was EASY!)

If I were a movie, I would be...Chariots of Fire--the best movie about running I've ever seen.

If I were a cartoon, I would be...Calvin & Hobbes
or possibly Apu Nahasapeemapetalon, just because he's got such a cool name...

If I were an explorer, I would be...charting the unknown reaches of outer space.

If I were a scientist, I would be...
Professor Johnathan I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr.

If I were a relation, I would be...the nutty, sometimes too busy to stay in touch, world travelling brother that you love with your whole heart and would do anything for, knowing he'd do the same for you. Oh wait, I am that brother. (C;

If I were a river, I would that provided a constant supply of fresh water to millions of people in a third-world country

If I were intoxication, I would but not judgement- or driving-impairing, and would not leave you with a hangover.

If I were alone, I would be...not lonely.

If I were a question, I would be...Why not?

If I were a habit, I would be...a good one--like exercising every day, watching what you eat, etc.

If I were in an atom, I would be...about a bajillion times smaller than what I am right now.

If I were you, I would be...interested in this meme enough to swipe it, make your own, and then make a comment on my (your?) blog with a link to your (my?) version of it...

* I was going to type "laziness" but it seemed like it was too much work.

More later...

Random observations of Tokyo...

I was going to call this "Random Observations of Japan," but it struck me that while Tokyo is part of Japan, it's a completely different animal from the rest of the country...kinda like New York or LA isn't necessarily representative of the rest of the US. Anyway, just a few things I've seen that I thought would be interesting or of note (click on the links to see accompanying pictures):

Plastic food is a national art form. No, the food you eat isn't plastic itself--but almost all the restaurants have replicas of their dishes in the display cases at the entrance of the restaurant. This is a Godsend if you don't speak just grab the proprietor, pull them out front, and point to something you want. Believe me--they're used to this.

The kids are super, ultra, mega cute (here and here). Like you want to squish them and eat them up, they're so cute. And they smile almost all the time. 'Nuff said.

The pace of life is unbelieveable. People are rushing everywhere, all the time. 8AM Sunday, 11PM Thursday, doesn't matter--the crush of people can get overwhelming at times.

Vending machines are everywhere, selling darned near everything. Interesting factoid--40% of all the cigarettes sold in Japan are sold through vending machines.

8AM is a baaaaad time to try to get on a train if you don't know what you're doing. There are about a bajillion people standing in line, and God help you if you're in anyone's way. Interesting factoid--the Yamanote line (a line that goes in a circle around Tokyo) alone serves 3.08 million people a day, as compared to just over 5 million people for the entire New York City transit system.

Tokyo police get pretty cranky if you try to take their picture or a picture of a koban (police box). This guy yelled at me--I just gave him one of those patented American "Whaddaya gonna do???" looks and walked on.

I could write, and write, and write, and you'd never get it...unless you came here. This is the strangest, most fascinating, most frustrating, most rewarding place I've ever been. It's both very different and very much like the US. It's foreign, but it also feels like a second home to me.

Anyway...I'm on my way home tomorrow with good memories, good results from the business meetings, and maybe a few more good pictures before I leave. Talk to y'all when I'm back home.

More later...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My second earthquake experience

Last night I was working away in my hotel room when I felt this shaking--almost like a heavy truck driving by a house or something. Then it hits me that I'm 26 stories up, and this ain't no's an EARTHQUAKE! Fortunately it was very small...a magnitude 4.8 (link to USGS report here). I'm tellin' ya, it's just freakin (oops, Snow, sorry for using the word "freakin"...just don't go all mom on me!) weird to feel an entire hotel building move. I mean, come on--I've been in a car on a windy day, no biggie. In a small house when a giant truck or a construction crane goes by and shakes the ground--yep. But an earthquake? Man that just ain't right!

Oddly enough (well, I guess not so odd) my first earthquake experience was also here in Japan. Same feeling "Hm, just something rattling the street--HEY-WAIT-A-MINUTE-OMG-I-HOPE-THE-BUILDING-DOESN'T-FALL-DOWN. Little bit more intense than this one--I think that was a 5.something--but anything like this is just something you can't forget...

More later...

World Run Day

Greetings from Tokyo! Today is the first full day of my trip here...I'll have some pictures later. It's also World Run Day--an event that promotes running and charitable giving at the same time, all on one special day of the year.

Here's me sporting this year's WRD shirt (and a bedraggled look that shouts "Not only am I jetlagged, but I just rolled out of bed!"), about to head out the door for a 5K run in the neighborhood around the hotel where I'm staying.

The whole World Run Day thing really hit home with me today. Running is universal--people who are fast and slow, who are young and old, who are lifelong runners or just starting out, run every day in every country across the globe. It's more than just a sport or a way of exercise, it's a fraternity of sorts. When you meet another runner who is from another part of the world, all the social and economic and political barriers fall down. You're in the company of a kindred spirit and you begin to bond because of your shared passion, not divide because of your differences.

If you've never tried it, let me tell you friends--there is nothing in the world like running. I challenge you to try it. If you've never run before don't worry, because everyone had to start somewhere. You will be a better person for it, both mentally and physically.

More later...

Friday, November 9, 2007

55FFF - Chapter III

Hey's the latest chapter in my (possibly) unending saga of the mystery girl, the mystery device, and the mysterious car crash that left her near death. I decided to set today's chapter in Tokyo because I'm headed there today--I leave on a noon flight from Chicago and arrive Saturday. 12H30M in the air--UGH! Where's my Xanax when I need it? I'll have some free time Sunday to tour around, and I'm planning on taking a bunch of pictures, so plan on posting some of them on my other blog.

I saw comments from a few folks on previous posts--comments from S, Charles
(yes, Charles, Snowelf is cool!), and rubink...I'm so rushed to get out the door right now I haven't had a chance to respond or to cruise over to anyone else's blog. I'll respond to comments, and check y'all out, over the weekend.

Until then...


Chapter III - Tokyo

The fat man checked his watch. "Is she dead yet?"

"We'll know soon," replied Nakayama.

"Soon isn't good enough."

"I understand, Takaido-san."

"No, you don't. I don't just want her dead, I want to send a message. That message is: don't get mixed up in what you don't understand, and don't ever steal from me."


More later...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

10 gadgets I can't live without...

I was thinking yesterday about a post I'd seen on my buddy Dan's blog about "go bags" and the technology stuff people just have to have with them. That got me to thinking about the gadgets I can't live without. Well, OK, I could live without them, it's just that my life would be a lot less productive and/or entertaining. So with that, here's my Top 10 Gadgets list (in no particular order)...

  1. Dell Latitude D620 laptop (that's kind of a no-brainer...) - gotta have a laptop!
  2. Palm Treo 750 Windows Mobile-based PDA phone - Makes me reachable just about everywhere--which is both a good thing and a bad thing.
  3. Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch - helps me keep track of pace, time, and distance when I run. Also has a heart rate monitor but I never use it (long story...)
  4. 80GB video iPod - for music and podcasts in the car, and for movies, music, and podcasts on airplanes.
  5. 8GB iPod nano (2nd generation) - for when I run. The video iPod's hard drive locks up on me after about 20 minutes, but since the nano is flash-memory based, doesn't have that problem.
  6. Nikon D40x D-SLR camera - I'm an absolute photo-taking freak. A few of them are even halfway decent, sorta kinda.
  7. Sony PRS-500 e-book reader - I can store a hundred books or more in a device that's about as wide and tall as a paperback, and as thin as a magazine. What's not to love?
  8. Bose QC-3 noise reduction headphones - you never realize how loud the interior of an airplane is until you have noise reduction headphones on. It's nirvana...
  9. Plantronics CS55 wireless headset - for work--let's me do long conference calls and still wander around the office.
  10. Motorola H700 Bluetooth headset - for driving and talking hands free.
That's what's your list?

More later...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The joys of the bloggosphere

I'm a big fan of Steve Runner and his Phedippidations podcast. In one of the episodes he talked about blogging and said "Write as though you're writing for yourself--if anyone else reads it, it's a bonus." I'm starting to experience that bonus now...

Now that I'm checking out and commenting on other blogs, I find that other people are doing the same to both this blog and my photo/travelogue blog. Cruising around and following links is how I found my (now) good pal Snowelf's wonderful blog, and recently I've found several other good sites--Gerry Gomez's photo blog, a blog of photos from Saline County, Arkansas, and a few others I've bookmarked. Oh and OF COURSE the cult of 55 Flash Fiction Friday is growing, too!

What's my point? Well, as I was explaining to a friend in email the other day...when you write a diary or a journal, it's for yourself and you hope like heck that no one else ever reads it. But with a blog, you write for yourself but hope others will find you. If you're not a blogger, you should start. And if someone comments on your site, do them the courtesy of visiting their site and acknowledging what they do. If you're not a blogger and find this site (or other blogs), please do that same courtesy's nice to get noticed.

More later...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Olympic Marathon trials

Yesterday, November 3rd, the USATF held trials in New York City's Central Park to determine who would represent the US Olympic Team for the marathon in 2008. Unfortunately, a 28 year old runner, Ryan Shay (click here for latest news) collapsed 5 miles into the event and died.

This is obviously a huge tragedy on a day that should have been filled with joy and excitement. An autopsy is being conducted today (Sunday November 4th) to determine the cause of death--most likely an undiagnosed heart problem.

Shay was a 2002 Notre Dame grad, and his wife was a collegiate distance runner for Stanford.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and the family, and I hope you all would send some good thoughts and prayers their way also.

More later...

Friday, November 2, 2007

55FFF - Chapter II

Chapter 2 - Flashback No. 1 - Six Weeks Earlier

She asked again, just to make sure. “Just deliver this...uh, device...and, I get $25K?”

“Yes,” he replied, revealing nothing.

“It’s not illegal?”

“You have my word as a gentleman.”

“$25,000,” she pondered…a lot of scratch. And smart—much more, and she’d know that this was A Bad Deal.

"What the hell," she sighed. "I'm in."


More later...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dinner and a movie night!

Last night was "dinner and a movie" for us. We're good friends with another couple (and you know who you are, since I'm 90% confident you're reading this now!) that we hadn't seen socially for a while. Add to it that the guys are both movie nuts, and that the Mrs and I wanted to avoid the trick-or-treaters (see yesterday's post for the reason why), we decided to go out.

We saw Steve Carell's new movie "Dan In Real Life". It was great. I'm a huge fan of The Office, and his "Michael Scott" loveable, clueless dork character came through in several places. It's a typical romantic comedy and doesn't really blaze any new trails, but is very well executed. The way the family interacts feels like what a "normal" family should be like, and their interactions are a major part of the story.

If you like romantic comedies, go see it! It was fun. Plus, if you're trying to avoid trick-or-treaters, it's a good way to burn a couple hours. Although I guess that really only applies once a year.

More later...