Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of my running heroes

I figured that since I had both a picture *and* a story for today's post, it would be good cross-post fodder, so I put this on my photo blog also.

Last Sunday, my friend Roger and I went to the opening of a Road Runner Sports store nearby. We went not only to check out the store, but to meet one of my running heroes who happened to be doing an appearance there that day. His name is John Bingham, but if you're into running or read Runners' World, you might know him as "The Penguin."He came to running late in life, but since has completed 40 marathons and hundreds of 5K and 10K races. He also wrote a book on marathon training for non-runners, and another on how to start running--how to train, how to work it into your schedule, etc. He's also the man responsible for one of my favorite quotes for runners training for their first race: "The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." It definitely made me feel not quite so bad about my failed marathon attempts...the hard work, and the accomplishment, is just as much in the training as it is in the race itself.

Anyway...there wasn't much of a crowd there, so we stood and talked with John and his wife for probably 15-20 minutes. John's company organizes and manages the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon, so he was handing out and signing technical t-shirts (synthetic fabric, they carry the sweat away from your body--VERY good shirt to do training runs in!). John is a very personable and engaging guy with a big smile and words of encouragement for runners of any level.

One last kinda funny thing--John's wife was nice enough to take this picture of the three of us with my camera phone. She then took another shot with her camera--so the same picture showed up on his blog Monday. Hey, wow, I'm famous now!

More later...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Hey y'all. I got an email yesterday (edited version, below) after my post about training for the 2008 Chicago Marathon. Dana found my site kind of out of the blue, and reached out to me to spread the word. I normally wouldn't promote a fund raiser (unless, of course, I was a participant!), but this one was different. Since it benefits our servicemen and women who protect and defend our country, I thought this was worth passing on. You'll have to evaluate this for yourself: I don't know Dana and make no endorsements of her or of the team she's running for--but it's worth checking out.

My name is Dana Anello White, and I am a military spouse...My husband, MAJ
Paul White, has served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On October 26th, 2008, I will run 26.2 miles across the streets of Washington,
DC as part of Team Fisher House in the 33rd Annual Marine Corps Marathon. As
part of this mission, I will raise money and awareness for The Fisher House
Foundation, a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military
in a time of need (often times following combat-related injuries in the war

Here's a great You Tube Video about The Fisher House Foundation:

As you can imagine, a long-term stay in a military hospital, sometimes
thousands of miles from home, could mean expensive lodging and long separations
from loved ones. The Fisher House Foundation donates "comfort homes" in various
places across the country so that our military families can be together during
extended treatment for serious injury or lengthy physical and/or occupation
therapy...Currently, there are 38 Fisher Houses operating at 18 military bases
and nine Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation
and overseas in Germany.

My website can be found here:

I thank you in advance for your support and feel free to pass this
information along to others who might want to support this worthy cause...If you
have any questions, I can be reached via email at:

So, check it out--and you runners, consider helping a fellow runner!

More later...

Friday, July 18, 2008

I totally forgot to tell you...

So yesterday I mentioned I might post twice...obviously, I didn't. I thought about it as I was drifting off to sleep and was going to get up and write something, but I figured it didn't make that much difference. Plus, I was tired. :-)

Anyway, so what I was going to post about...I totally forgot to tell all y'all that I'm in training for a marathon. Again. If you're new to the blog, let me just tell you this will be the 4th time I've started marathon training in the past 3 years. My history:

  • 2006, trained for the Chicago Marathon. Dropped out in week 12 because of an injury.
  • 2007, trained for the Chicago Marathon again. Started, but stopped when they closed the course after 4 hours (I was at mile 16).
  • 2007/08, trained for the St. Louis Marathon. 2 weeks before the marathon I came down with pneumonia and had to drop out.

Needless to say, I'm feeling less-than-100% confident that I can make it through the actual marathon itself. Now the good news this year is that Chicago is a bit later in the month, I won't be travelling the week before the race, and I've got 3 years of long-distance training under my belt.

I'm sort of tracking to Hal Higdon's novice training plan but am not as strict about it as I've been in past years. Part of it is that training started while we were on vacation, and part of it is I've got lots of other things going on and my time to devote to running is limited this year. Still, I can get enough training under my belt to finish, provided the weather is more cooperative than last year!

Last year I posted training updates on my now-defunct (but still on the web) blog, Runs With Perseverance. I haven't decided whether it's coming back to life or not. I'm leaning against it at this point...again, too many work/life things to get done, and keeping jtj3 plus my photo blog active is about all I can manage. But we'll see.

Wish me luck on the training! More later...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Returning the favor - a shoutout

A couple days ago, my blog friend Sue gave me a nice shout-out the other day, calling me one of the photogs she adores. I'm blushing! For the record, Sue is also a great photographer...she's got a good sense of composition/design, and can make art out of just about anything.

So, today is my turn to give her a shoutout. In her latest post, she talks about how one of her photos got used in an online article on Excellent! This is the first of many published photos for Sue, I'm sure. Oh, and in a shameless shill for her...her work is also featured for sale on

Stop by her photo site and take a look--she does really good stuff.

I'd intended to post on something else look for another post from me later today...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What would you do if you had 30 days left?

"...and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said 'Someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying...'" - Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying

Let me start this post by saying I'm NOT trying to tell you guys anything--as far as I know I'm healthy as a horse and have MANY more days to live!

The reason I bring this up, though...Mrs jtj3 and I started of a book called "One Month to Live" with some friends in our neighborhood last night. The main question behind the study is this: how would you live your life differently if you only had a month?

It's been making me think--a lot--since last night. By coincidence (are you listening, Snow???), I had two fairly major decisions to make today. Finally I asked myself "How would I decide on 'a' and 'b' if I had 30 days to live?" It was amazing the clarity that question brings.

Which leads me to ask all of you, gentle readers--have you ever thought about what you would do? What would you do differently, or stop doing, or start doing, or do more of? Who would you call, write, or talk to? Would you travel more, or less?

There's no right or wrong answer--just what works for you. I can tell you, though, some of the things I'd do:

  • Fulfill my life goal of visiting 50 countries and all 50 U.S. states
  • Spend more time outside experiencing nature
  • Tell all my friends how much I love them (that includes you guys--so "Love you all!")
  • Not sweat the small stuff, and not get so easily offended at perceived slights or digs
  • Run--no, wait, FINISH--a marathon
  • Pray more
  • Read the Bible more

That's just the "off the top of my head" list, which I'm sure I will refine the list as I go along. Even though I'm not (again, as far as I know) at the end of my life, this is a good exercise to help me focus on the most important things.

By the way--there's a website to accompany the book, and it's at The book and web site are written from a Christian perspective and have Bible references...however, the principles really apply to those of all faiths, or those with none.

More later...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nothin' better to do today...

So I thought I'd do a meme! I stole this from my very good blogging pal KathleenyBeany. Truth be told I think Penelope did it also and I intended to take it from her, I, never got around to it. Then again, I got inspiration from KB and from Penelope, so they both get the credit. So without further ado, here it is...

Accent: None. Which is surprising, because I grew up in a small town where almost everyone has a Southern accent, and my mom and dad both came from the south and had an ever-so-slight twang when I was growing up.

Breakfast or no breakfast: Breakfast, of's the most important meal of the day!

Chore I don’t care for: I don't love any of them, but I guess I don't mind them too much either...

Dog or cat: Cats. We have 2, and I think they have way more personality than dogs do.

Essential Electronics: Oh, gosh...I could go on and on. Let's see...Blackberry, iPod (both the regular one and a nano), Dell laptop computer, digital cameras (2 DSLRs and 1 point and shoot--yes, I have a problem...),, that's it for now I guess.

Favorite Cologne: Glacier Bay men's fragrance by Bath & Body Works (OMG do I sound like a metrosexual now?).

Gold or Silver: Gold, I guess.

Handbag I carry most often: Real men do not carry bags! :-)

Insomnia: Once in a while, but not more than one night in a row which I guess is good.

Job Title: Director, Customer Support.

Kids: 2 legged kids, none. 4 legged kids, 2 of ' Bella (just a year old) and Tigger (12 years).

Living Arrangements: "Our house/is a very very very fine house/with two cats in the yard/life used to be so hard/now everything is easy 'cause of you" (Our House, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young).

Most Admirable Trait: Well...I'll let y'all decide. Those who read this know me pretty well, I what do you like about me? Add a comment, let me know (of course I will return the favor).

Overnight hospital stays: Two--one when I was 7 for pneumonia, one about 15 years ago for surgery on a torn ACL.

Phobias: Many, but I don't let them stop me (which ties into my quote, below).

Quote: I love quotes. I collect them, and read them at least every week or two for inspiration. I've been thinking a lot about my phobias (see above), fears, and insecurities, and the quote that inspires me the most right now is this: “Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway.” - John Wayne.

Reason to smile: My friends (that includes all of you!), my life, my job, running, freedom, good jokes, pleasant memories, a nice cup of coffee--basically, just about anything.

Siblings: One brother, one sister...I'm the youngest.

Time I wake up: Usually around 6AM, so I can get an early run in before work.

Unusual Talent or Skill: I'm-hay uent-flay in-hay ig-Pay atin-Lay. I-hay an-cay eak-spay it-hay ike-lay a-hay econd-say anguage-lay.

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Hm...several I haven't tried, and that don't really appeal (Mrs jtj3 always says "beets taste like dirt", and I'm kinda inclined to take her word for it), but I guess I'd try any veggie at least once.

Worst Habit: Trying to please all the people all the time.

X-rays: Had 'em. Beany is right--this is a lame question, but I guess the choice of words starting with "x" is a little limited...

Yummy Stuff: Let's see...dark chocolate, peanut butter, Concord grapes, pluots, steak, pasta, and goat cheese. Wow, I need to go get something to eat now--this is making me hungry!

Zoo Animal I Like Most: Hm, never thought about it much. Uh, some kind of bird, I guess...

One last question since the xray question was so lame — what do you think of the person you got this meme from? Beany is an absolute sweetheart. I found her blog through our mutual friend Sue, and Beany has become a dear friend to me. She's very warm, outgoing, kind, supportive, and friendly. She's got a very deep faith, and she just gives off this vibe of being a very humble person who is grateful for everything God gives her. She's awesome. :-)

That's it for now...more later.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back home...

Made it home safe and sound last night (more like 2AM this morning!) from our Alaska trip. The word for those two weeks was "Wow!" Everything was just...WOW. The mountains, the wildlife, the scenery, the people, the...everything.

My pal Kathleen is an Alaskan, and I got a little taste of the heaven she lives in. Heaven, that is, during the summer--during the winter, not so much. I got the idea it'd be WAAAAAAAY too cold for me up there, so I'm happy to visit but wouldn't want to live there.

I was struck, over and over again, by a sense of amazement and wonder at all of the natural beauty God created. I tend to feel God's presence most strongly when I'm surrounded by nature, and I practically overdosed on it the past couple weeks!

Oh, and photos? I'm not kidding y'all, I took easily 200 pix a day. Now, some of those I tossed out, but I'm going through and editing others. I've already posted some of my shots on Picasa, and this one went on my photo blog today.

More (possibly stories, but definitely photos!) later...

Friday, June 20, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation...

I mentioned in my last post I was going to be gone on vacation for a while, but didn't say where we were going. Well...we're in the middle of a vacation in Alaska--5 days on land, then 7 days on a cruise ship. We've been talking about doing this for a few years, and we decided to just make it happen. We both really like to travel for fun, and so we make it a priority to take one really cool trip every year or so.

Yesterday we spent the entire day inside Denali National Park. I took a ton of pictures, and the ones below were a couple of my favorites. I posted this to my photoblog also, but I thought I'd go ahead and cross-post it here.

We saw this yearling caribou toward the end of our trip. It caught everyone by surprise--it wasn't more than 100 yards from our bus. Quite a rare sighting, from what I hear. I still need to process lots and lots of pictures but I thought this would be a nice sampler.

Tomorrow we're headed to the cruise ship to go south from Anchorage. There will be lots more stories, pictures, more later...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Finally, something interesting!!!

Oh, and not just one interesting thing today but TWO things. WHOOHOO! Life has been work-school-eat-sleep for a few weeks, with a little travel thrown in, so there's not been much to write about. Shameless self-cross-promotion...I was able to work in an afternoon shooting around San Francisco (pictures, not bullets...) and I posted some of my favorite shots from that trip on my photo blog.

Interesting thing #1 - got to go to a book signing last night. One of my favorite authors is Lee Child, who's written a series of 12 books (so far) about a drifter, ex-military, loner, tough-guy named Jack Reacher. Interesting factoid--according to sources, Child's books sell at the rate of one per second. CHA-CHING! Anyway, his latest novel, Nothing To Lose, was just released so he's touring the world to promote it. He's a very engaging speaker and took lots of questions (including 2 from me). I went with a good friend of mine--the friend who turned me on to Child's books a few years ago. We both had a great time last night, and I can't wait to dive into the book. I got a couple of decent pictures, also...

Interesting thing #2: I was poking around on a couple friend's blogs, and found this hysterical photo essay from Sue's blog: The Top 25 Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians. Just wait until you get to the last one on the list. I about died laughing.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'm off on yet another business trip, and then on vacation for 2 weeks (double YAY!). I'm still trying to work out how, when, and whether I will post while I'm gone. Worst case, I'll see you in a couple weeks...

More later...

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thank you!!! Thank you all!!!!!

Editorial note...AAAACK! I wrote this post a couple weeks ago--I *swear* I did...but it ended up as a draft. Yeah, right, you're thinking...the 21st century version of "The dog ate my homework!!!" Whatever. But here it is...

Boys and girls I got an award today!!!

My good pal Sue gave me this award...she was, in turn, given it by our mutual blog friend Penelope. Wow, I'm touched and honored! In the immortal words of Sally Field..."You love me! You really love me!"
So who do I "love this much?" Hm, let's see...Snowelf, Rick, Sue (back), Penelope (looping back), Christine, Daniel, and, of course, "my" Kathleenybeany. :-)
You are all entertain me, make me laugh, and give me something to look forward to. Thanks.
More later...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm in!

Yesterday, I posted about finally pulling the trigger and getting into the world of stock photography. After lots of research and reading, I picked as the service to go with. I checked email this morning, and what do I find? A message that tells me this:

Congratulations, the iStockphoto administrators have determined that your files are commercially and technically ready for Please begin uploading at your convenience.

WHOOHOO! This means I can finally quit my day job! OK, not really...being as how I haven't yet uploaded any pictures (other than the sample shots I sent up). Oh, and there's the whole thing of "How do I distinguish my photos from the other 3.1 million really good photos that are already out there???" Uh, I guess I'll worry about that later.

Interestingly enough, I listened to the Digital Photography Show podcast this morning on the way into work, and they talked about a couple listeners who'd moved from amateur photographers to "working" photographers (making money selling stock photos). Now, very few people are making a living at this, but they said the same thing I was's more about validation of one's artistic skills and ability than the money.

As soon as I get this whole thing figured out and upload some shots, I'll see if I can link to them from here.

More later...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I decided I'm doing it...

Wow, two days in a row with something interesting to say. Look at me.

Ever had an experience like're thinking about something, mulling it over in your mind--maybe for months. Playing the "should I or shouldn't I?" game. Trying to consider all the risks and benefits but realizing you don't know what you don't know. Wanting the upside, but being scared of failure or, worse, rejection. But have a conversation with someone, they lay out a couple obvious questions ("What could it hurt?" "What's the worst thing that could happen?") and then you decide...HECK YEA, I'm gonna jump in.

Well, that's what I'm doing. I am breaking into the :deep inhale: stock photography market. Or at least trying to.

I had an email conversation with a bloggosphere pal yesterday (they know who they are!!!) and we touched on this subject. I've done occasional poking around for months. The service I picked (won't name it until I know they accepted me!) is one I heard about on a podcast a few months ago and have checked them out now and again. It's like looking at the inside of a fancy restaurant, then walking all the way in to where the maitre d' acknowledges you, but then backing out the way you came in. You look at *those people* in *that place*, you just don't think you fit it.

Well, dag-nabbit, maybe I do.

If I pass the 'artistic test' (they like the sample pix I submit), then I'll post more details later. For now--wish me luck.

More later...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Post-race report

Finally, something semi-interesting to write about...lately I feel like my life has been work, school, sleep, repeat same. I don't want to bore y'all with that--heck it's hard enough for ME to stay awake through it...

Anyway, this past Saturday was the Soldier Field 10 mile run. It's a race I've done for the past 3 years, and I really enjoy it. It starts and ends (not surprisingly!) at Soldier Field in Chicago. It goes south on Lakeshore Drive for about 5 miles, then comes back north on a bike/running path that's right along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. The last quarter mile or so curves around the west side of Soldier Field, through one of the north entrances, into the interior area, and out the player's entrance to the field. You run up the sidelines and finish on the 50 yard line, watching yourself on the Jumbotron.

I'd set a goal for myself to beat my time from last year (my personal record, or PR in runner lingo). I also had another goal of breaking 1:40:00, which is a 10:00 per mile pace. About halfway through I was pretty sure I'd beat my previous time. In the last couple miles, I thought maybe...just maybe...I could break the 1:40:00 mark, as long as I didn't poop out. Well, this year--drumroll, please...I set a new PR. I finished in 1:38:51. That's a 9:53 per mile pace, and is almost 3:30 better than my finish time last year of 1:42:14.

Needless to say I was ecstatic! I was also tired, sore, and a little dehydrated, but what the heck...I'd hit both my goals.

This race was really the high point of the long weekend--the rest was "honey do" stuff, grilling out, doing some non-work reading, and generally relaxing. All that was fun, too, by the way. Unfortunately too short, but whatcha gonna do?

More later...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I saw it - UPDATE

The picture is crap (Sue none of the fixing in camera or via Photo Shop could clean this up!), but here 'tis. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you--THE WIENERMOBILE!!!

I saw it!

OHMYGOSH I saw it, I saw it, I saw it! I was so excited--I didn't expect it, but I turned my head and there it was! Just like on TV! Like ever since I was a little kid!!! AAAAAAAI was so excited I thought I was gonna pass out.

**breathes deeply**

OK, jtj3, slow down...

Alright y'all, what I saw was...the Oscar-Meyer Wienermobile. I was driving home last night, and I came up to an intersection with a left-hand turn lane. I look over in the lane, and see this giant towering pinkish-reddish....THING...on top of a car. I knew it was the Wienermobile immediately. I mean, come could you *not*? And I bet right now, as you're reading this, you're humming:

"Oh I wish I were an Oscar-Meyer wiener...that is what I truly want to be-e-eeee..."

If you weren't humming it before, I bet you are now!

I happened to have my camera in the front seat with me so I squeezed off a quick picture, but I don't think it came out very well...too dark. Too bad though. I was in the middle of the "go straight" lanes, but for about half a second I considered cutting across traffic and chasing it down.

But what would I have done if I'd caught it? And besides, I had places to be and people to see. So I decided to let it just be one of those fleeting serendipities (which would be a GREAT name for a band, by the way) that come and go, and only live on in my mind. It was kinda cool, though.

Oh, I wish I were an...oh, nevermind. :-D

More later.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I need a meme fix...

So I'm driving into work this morning, thinking "Wow, it's been a long time since I did a meme. I should do one today." I checked--it's been since April 5th. Anyway, I cruised on over to my pal Snowelf's site and found that not only had she done a meme, but she tagged me!!! Quelle ironic coincidence (the name of Snow's blog is "Ironic Coincidences"). Anyway, I thought it was funny...

So here's my meme. I won't tag anyone, but if any of my pals **cough cough** Sue **cough cough** KathleenyBeany **cough cough** want to do this, then fine...

1.Your name plus “ness”
jtj3ness. Uh, yeah, OK...whatever. Ness.

2. Two feelings at the moment? Satisfied and thankful.

3. What are you listening to right now? Bach's "Sonata for Solo Violin No. 1 in G." Courtesy of my J.S. Bach station on Pandora. Which is like the best website ever, except for Google and Wikipedia.

4. Done anything you regret so far this week? Yes. Two stupid little mistakes that no one but me will think about in 5 minutes, much less 5 days, but I'll agonize and obsess over them until I move onto something else.

5. Describe where you are right now? 9th floor of the building where I work, on the west side of the building, looking out over the west/far west suburbs of Chicago.

6.The highlight of your week? It BETTER BE the fact that I'm going to see "Iron Man" on Friday--cuz if I get bogarted on going to see it, AGAIN, I'm gonna be cranky.

7. What are you craving to have right now? More coffee. Which is odd since I *just* finished a 16-oz cup, and that was my 3rd (or 4th, I forget) of the day.

8. Who were the last people you went out to dinner with? Hm, Mrs. jtj3's mom and dad came over for Mothers Day and we grilled out, does that count? If not, then it would be Mark, Suzanne, Norm, and Heather--we all went to a charity event/fundraiser on Friday.

9. What are you scared of? Lots of things, but mostly of losing the good stuff I have in my life because of dumb mistakes, or fate, or...whatever.

10. Last movie you watched? Hm...uh, DVD of Sin City, I guess...

11. Do you have feelings for someone? Yes--for Mrs. jtj3!!!

12. What is your heritage? Welsh, Irish, little bit of French, and I don't know what else.

13. Are you thinking of someone right now? Yes.

14. Britney Spears is a skank. Agree or disagree? Totally agree!

15. Last thing you downloaded on your computer? "Introducing Joss Stone" by Joss Stone (bought off iTunes, so I guess that counts)...

16.Have you changed much this year? Yep...a ton.

17. Say something about the person who posted this before you? She's my firstest and bestest blogging buddy, and a really neat-o person. Who I admire a lot. With the whole graduating school/single mom/getting a new job thing. You're awesome Snow. (C:

18. Do you like moms? In general, yes.

19.Hugs Or Kisses? What, I have to pick? JEEESH...

20. Say one of your friends and an inside joke with them. Mrs. jtj3--SASKATOON.

21. How many homes have you lived in? 11

22. This Q went AWOL. Er, OK...well, send someone out to find it!

23. Who was the last person to text message you? My friend Randy

24. Where was the last place you went besides where you are? Uh, home last night, I guess...

25. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celeb? No.

26. Do you speak any other language other than English? I can make myself understood in French, I know a little bit of Japanese and a little bit of German.

27. Last thing you watched on TV? The Today Show this morning.

28. Do you dress for style or comfort? Both!

29. Name someone with the same b-day as you? Rube Goldberg (who was responsible for the concept of Rube Goldberg machines). Also, Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren ("Dear Abby").

30. Ever had a drunken night in Mexico? No but it sounds like fun!

31. Whats the craziest thing you’ve done? Skydiving on my 30th? OK not the craziest, but the craziest that I am COMFORTABLE POSTING IN A PUBLIC FORUM...

32. Favorite colour(s)? Blue and green

33. What are your plans for tonight? Woodworking class!

34. What are you looking forward to tomorrow? Hm...catching up on DVR'ed shows, the fact that it's one day closer to when I get to see "Iron Man," the fact that it's hump day...

35. Last time you smiled? When I read this question.

Are my answers boring? Stupid? Did I answer "Mrs. jtj3" too many times? You decide...

More later...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Blogging is therapy!

Must sleep...eyes droopy...can't concentrate...but (C:

Just a quick one before I hit the hay tonight. I was taking a look at, and ran across an interesting story with the headline "Your blog can be group therapy." Great story, and it led me to a great blog, Snickollet.

The story, and the blog, just reinforce what I already knew--this is good therapy! Ahhhh...I feel better already.

G'nite, all...more later.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Missed you! Air kisses!

Hey party people. Little did I know 2 weeks or more ago that my last post would be...well, my last post for a while. Life has been good--busy, but good.

First, work. Well, work is work. Travelling, meetings, etc., etc., all the regular stuff. Nothing new, other than it's starting to get increasingly more demanding (but also the most fun I've ever had at a job, ever!).

I decided work wasn't keeping me busy enough though (HA!) and so I've started on a 2-year MBA program. I just started last week, and it's really a great program. It's all online which works really well for me. I've thought about doing this off and on for many years, but part of what's held me back is travelling and not being able to commit to a regular class. Now, I have no excuse. In (roughly) 2 years, I'll have my degree--SWEET! Needless to say, though, this program is cutting into my free time. Oh well, short term hit for a long term gain...

Speaking of things cutting into my free time--there's blogging, too. I've had a few things pop up here and there that have reminded me that blogging is (was?) starting to have an unhealthy place in my life. I have a somewhat addictive personality by nature, and when I got up to writing 4 blogs and contributing to a 5th, I realized it was time to dial it back a bit.

My Runs With Perseverance blog is still active but on hiatus. Since I'm not training for anything now, I don't really have that much to say about running other than "ran this far, this pace." Big deal. So I decided to combine my running with this blog ( fact it sprung out of this blog). I wanted to keep my photo blog because it's not much work and it's fun. All the other stuff is either gone, or I'm not participating in any more. Just too much.

Well...I think I've got my priorities straight now, at least I hope so. We'll see how this all goes. Even if I stop blogging completely, though (perish the thought!) I'll still come visit y'all occasionally, and will continue my "private email, off the bloggosphere" friendships.

More later...

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Million Blog List

I was doing some poking around last night and came across a brilliant new Wiki site called the Million Blog List. It's an experiment to see how quickly they can get 1,000,000 blogs listed on their site.

I registered my blogs last night, and jtj3 is #575 on the list. The interesting thing--as I write this, it's up to 58 more blogs added in a 10 hour period. Interesting. They have a contest to see who can predict when they'll hit the 1,000,000th blog. I won't enter--I always stink at guessing games like that.

One other thing that is fun to do is look through the list and find blogs that you might like--then, visit them, trade blogroll links, whatever. That's my plan...

Today is Friday, which would normally imply a Flash Fiction post. Maybe today...not so much. But we'll see.

More later...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Things that e-rritate me...

Since we (me, and all y'all that read this) are pretty internet savvy, connected, smart-device, text messaging, POP3 email on my mobile device, chic-geek (copyright on that term!!!) kinda people, more or less, I'm just curious--do any of you know those kind of people who don't exactly "get it" when it comes to the connected world, and especially email? I was thinking about this on the way in--stuff that e-rritates me (like the "e" in email, and 'irritates'--again, copyright on the word!). So, I'm coming up with a set of rules for the 5 or so technologically challenged friends I have...

  • Chain emails don't work. Ever.
  • Forwarding chain emails should be considered a venial sin. Or possibly mortal.
  • Forwarding chain emails with a note saying "I never forward these things, but..." does not absolve you.
  • Each funny picture you include in an email increases the size of the message. Sometimes a lot. To the extent that sending (or receiving!) some messages is like trying to stuff a 10 inch turd through a 5 inch pipe...
  • Speaking of pictures--if you send an email that's supposed to have a picture, and the picture isn't there when I get it, you should assume it's something *you* did wrong in sending it.
  • When you send me something, assume I got it. Especially when you send 10 emails to me, and I respond to one saying "Funny!" or some other lame-ass comment. It's not like the US Post Office--if your email doesn't get to me, chances are you'll get a notification telling you why, then you can resend it (or better yet, NOT...).
  • If your email has been forwarded multiple times, how about you do everyone a favor and clean up the headers...I don't need to see that 'a' forwarded this message to a hundred people, and 'b' who was on 'a's list forwarded it to a hundred people, and 'c' also forwarded get the idea. Hopefully.
  • Before you forward a message about how Microsoft is going to give you $20 for every email you forward, or how we can stick it to The Man (side note--I find it fascinating that Wikipedia actually has an entry for "the man"...) by not buying gas on a specific day, or something that sounds too good to be true--please, please, please, check (or a similar site) to see if it's an urban legend. Cuz first, it's a waste of time for me to have to check your facts and second, you're gonna be pretty embarassed when I do a "Reply All" and say "Hey sorry dude, urban legend..."

I could go on and on, but I think that's a good enough list for now. There...I feel better.

So, what e-rritates you?

UPDATE: Oh yeah, thought of one more. Why, oh why, people, do you send me jokes, videos, pictures, whatever that insult my nationality, my religious affiliation, my choice of sports teams, or (ESPECIALLY) my political beliefs? The political jokes--HUGE e-rritant for me. I'm a registered member of the Democratic Party (and proud of it), so humor that denegrates either the party, its membership, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton doesn't strike me as funny. Thanks for playin'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sorta recycling, again--Boston Marathon

This is kinda sorta swiped from my running blog--just slightly modified for a different audience. Not only because it's a cool topic, have nothing interesting to say today (like that's ever stopped me!)

Anyway-- it's 6 days until the 112th running of the Boston Marathon. Not that I'm running it, mind you. Still, it's a banner day for the sport of running.

I'm willing to bet that most people, even those who don't know what a marathon is all about, have some familiarity with Boston. It's a true classic, and has a long and storied history (read more about it here). Not too long ago I finished reading one of those stories--John Brant's excellent story of the 1982 Boston Marathon entitled Duel In The Sun. If you haven't read it, I recommend it highly. Even if you're a non-runner, you'll still appreciate the back-and-forth battle that stretched for the entire race.

Boston is different from most marathons, in that runners have to qualify (with a few limited exceptions) by finishing another marathon within a specific time goal determined by age. I know what it takes to qualify, and I have an enormous amount of respect and admiration for those who do. I just don't see myself ever getting the hallowed qualifying time of 3:20, based on my current age. In fact, when I'm 80 the qualifying time will be 5:00--heck, I'd feel happy to run a 5:00 marathon now! Unless something changes radically, my participation is going to be limited to watching it on TV.

There's going to be tons of coverage through all kinds of media outlets. The Versus network is going to be showing live coverage. There will also be streaming coverage on the World Championship Sports Network at Steve Runner, runner and podcaster extraordinaire, is recording a podcast during the race, and you'll be able to monitor his progress via his website.

Even if you don't watch the whole thing, or can't catch it live, you should at least take a look. There's truly nothing like it--especially the finish.

Who knows--if it's super-exciting, I may even post a race wrap up. We'll see.

More later...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Music Monday - Madeleine Peyroux

I figured it was getting a little repetitive to have a bunch of posts entitled "Music Monday", so I thought that adding the artist name in the title would be a good idea...

Today's Music Monday CD is Careless Love, the 2nd release from jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux. 11 of the 12 tracks are remakes of jazz or pop standards, with the exception of the 2nd track, "Don't Wait Too Long."

I love Madeleine's voice, and the tracks all sound like the type of music you'd hear in a small jazz club somewhere in the middle of Paris. Small wonder, as she spent her formative years living and singing in Paris. It's somewhat minimalist--not a lot of over-production, and not a lot of instruments. Just a basic jazz quartet with vocals.

My favorite track on the whole CD is her cover of Josephine Baker's classic "J'ai Deux Amours" ('I Have Two Loves'), a song about her deep love for Paris. It's a great song about a great city, and it's a great rendition on this disc.

If you like jazz, even a little, give this CD a spin.

More later...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Recycling a 55FFF post...

I'm "green", kinda sorta, so I'm all about conservation and recycling and stuff. So, in that vein, I decided to recycle a post I wrote on the 55 Flash Fiction Friday blog back in February. If you follow my running blog (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION!!!), you know that I had to stop for a few weeks because of pneumonia. I'm still not back to 100%, so I figure if I can't write about my running I'll write fiction about running...

Five miles into it, sweat pouring down, legs pumping, heart racing.

He did this every week, whether he wanted to or not.

He was past the pain, the cramps, and into his zone.

The miles clicked past effortlessly, and he could have run forever.

"I've unleashed my inner Kenyan," he smiled to himself in triumph.

More later...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hey, wanna see THE MOST irritating thing on the web?

It's RIGHT HERE!!! I'm a huge fan of the Confessions of a Runner podcast. Jodi put an audio clip of this song into one of her 'casts. Since listening to it Monday, I have been unable to get this damned thing out of my head. It's irritating, but it'll stick with you...

Warning you...

Last chance...

How much of it did you actually listen to? I figure the average is about 30 seconds, and then you're scarred for life...

More later...

From around the globe...

Not much going on in the fast-paced, fun filled world of jtj3 today (side note--is it me, or is it irritating when people refer to themselves in third person? Sorry 'bout that...), so I thought I'd share some news stories/links that caught my interest recently:

  • Katie Couric leaving CBS? ran a story today referring to a piece in the Wall Street Journal. The piece quotes unnamed sources saying that Katie Couric may be leaving CBS News well ahead of the expiration of her contract in 2011...possibly as soon as late January next year. Apart from a short-lived bump in the ratings at the start of her tenure, CBS Evening News has been consistently at the bottom of the ratings heap.
  • 8 glasses a day? PFFFFT! A recent editorial in the Journal of the American Society for Nephrology calls into question the idea that we need to drink eight full 8 oz. glasses of water each day for optimum health. Turns out this idea has been popular for over 200 years, but no research exists to show that this amount of water is needed or is beneficial.
  • Look, ma, no lungs! has a report on a species of frog found in Indonesia that has no lungs and breathes through its skin. Scientists say that this species is a good example of "extreme evolution"--rapid change based on extreme environmental conditions. Study of the species could offer more clues into the evolutionary process in general.
  • Slavery is alive and well. Maggie over at Okay, Fine, Dammit had an enlightening and disturbing post today about the human slave trade. Some estimates say there are as many as 27 million slaves in the world today. Quelle eye-opener.
  • I'm not leaving, on a jet plane... American Airlines cut 1,100 flights on Wednesday and another 900 on Thursday to re-inspect the majority of their MD-80 fleet, according to the San Jose Mercury News. It stinks to be stranded--but then again, if it's a flight-safety issue, I'd rather be stranded than up in the air wondering "what if?" for the whole flight...

There's more--LOTS more--but that's enough for now. Man, the Internet is amazing isn't it?

More later...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Music Monday

Today's Music Monday, boys and girls, is a dive into a more obscure genre...electronica/big beat music. The featured record today is Legion of Boom from The Crystal Method.

I became familiar with TCM through their work in films and TV, and also from some of PC games I play. I was shopping for other music about a year ago, saw this on the store shelf, and thought "Hm, let's give it a spin." It was one of those CDs that grabbed me instantly--from the opening measures of the first track, I knew I was hooked.

I've since gotten all TCMs works (except for their newest CD Drive, which I just found out about--YIPPEE, more TCM music!) and listen to them regularly. They make good music for driving, running, working out, etc. I like them all, but Legion of Boom is still my favorite.

Give them a listen--they're awesome.

More later...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

One. Word. Meme.

As Snow pointed out, I never met a meme I didn't like! I borrowed this from my friend Kathleen and, since I didn't have much to write about today, I thought this would be a fun thing to do...

one word meme.

remember — only one word answers.
1.Where is your mobile phone? charger
2.Your significant other? reading
3.Your hair? short
4.Your mother? depressed
5.Your father? heaven
6.Your favourite thing? running
7.Your dream last night? romantic
8.Your favorite drink? cola
9.Your dream/goal? marathon
10.The room you’re in? office
11.Your ex? nonexistent
12.Your fear? lonliness
13.Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
14.Where were you last night? home
15.What you’re not? satisfied
16.Muffins? warm
17.One of your wish list items? marathon
18.Where you grew up? boondocks
19.The last thing you did? emailed
20.What are you wearing? jeans
21.Your TV? Sony
22.Your pets? cats
23.Your computer? obsession
24.Your life? meaningful
25.Your mood? great
26.Missing someone? nope
27.Your car? fast
28.Something you’re not wearing? bra! (this was Kathleen's answer, too, so I decided to swipe it!!!)
29.Favorite Store? depends
30.Your summer? Alaska!
31.Like someone? tons
32.Your favorite color? blue
33.When is the last time you laughed? tonight
34.Last time you cried? funeral
35.Who will/would re-post this? dunno...

That's it...if you do it, let me know!

More later...

Friday, April 4, 2008

55FFF - Spring Is Here

My first non-story arc Flash Fiction in a reeeeeeeeally long time. Cool, I'm excited. (C:

She stormed into the house, her mood matching the tempest outside.

"I hate all this rain!" she said. "Traffic was HORRIBLE today."

"April showers bring May flowers, dear," he said charmingly.

"Don't try cheering me up."

He smiled shyly, handing her the tulips he'd bought just for that purpose.

A smile lit up her face.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Did you get April Fooled?

I'm usually quite the jokester but, for some reason this year, just didn't feel up to April Fooling anyone. I briefly thought about talking to a couple people at work who are active in the gossip mill and saying "Hey, did you hear we got bought???" I could really see that one backfiring, so I decided to leave it alone.

So, did you prank anyone or get pranked? The local NBC affiliate ran a story on the morning news about some of the best tricks on the web:

  • Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes - an alleged joint venture between Virgin Atlantic and Google, Project Virgle was a plan to establish the first manned colony on Mars. Google did a brilliant job with this--their co-founders (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) recorded a YouTube video for the project, as did Sir Richard Branson (videos are here).
  • Rickrolling - The joke here is you give someone a link to an innocuous website, but the link ends up taking them to a YouTube video of Rick Astley performing his 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up." YouTube got in on the act--all their featured videos yesterday ended up being rickrolls.
  • Tribune Company changes names - Sam Zell, owner of the Tribune Company (The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, WGN-TV, and the Chicago Cubs are a few of the company's properties) issued a press release stating that the company's name was changing to ZellCoMediaEnterprises, Inc or ZCMEINC. He was quoted as saying: "I put $315 million into this thing...the least I ought to get is my name on the company's stationery..."
  • More room in coach! - Canada's Westjet Airlines offered their customers the opportunity to get more room and really stretch out in coach. Passengers were told that, for an additional $12, they could stretch out and sleep in the overhead bins. Westjet touted the fact that their overhead space was the "most generous" in the industry.
  • April Fools' roundup from ZDNet Australia - this was such a great catch-all story I had to highlight it. Among the pranks it recounted were Google's new feature offering tomorrow's headlines and sports scores today, Virgin Blue airlines offering "standing room only" spots on flights over 2 hours for only $12, and a story run by an Australian radio outlet stating that the Pope would hold a special mass for gays and lesbians.

So...regardless of whether you tricked, or got tricked yourself, it looks like you had lots of good company.

Just curious, did any of you do anything memorable?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Where I've been...

You probably know by now I'm a sucker for a good meme, and this one that I found on my good pal Snowelf's blog today is no exception. So, without 'tis!

5 years ago - 2003
I went through a reorg at work and ended up with a better position.
Mrs jtj3 had major surgery.
My dad and both paternal grandparents passed away at the end of the year.
I got to see the 2003 MLB All-Star Game at Comiskey Park.
I grew a lot--personally and professionally.
I made my health a top priority because of family health issues (diabetes + heart disease). I started running, lost weight, and started eating better.

10 years ago - 1998
I had a great job with a great company that was approaching $800M in revenue, and I planned on retiring from this company (it got sold a year later...).
We had 3 cats, but one had to go to "kitty heaven".
We decided to take the plunge, sell our townhouse, and buy a single family home.
I started hearing about this wicked cool "Internet" thing.

15 years ago - 1993
We spent a great week on vacation in Jamaica--great, that is, until I had an accident and tore my ACL.
We celebrated our 2nd year of marriage. And we thought we'd never get past the first year...
I had my first (and so far only) major surgery.
I got to see the White Sox win the American League Central chamionship by beating the Seattle Mariners in a late September game.
I started deciding what I wanted to do with my life--stay in a high-tech company, but eventually move into management.

20 years ago - 1988
I was one year out of college and, in retrospect, dumber than a box of rocks.
I left my first post-college job to start my second.
I took a 2-week trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Austria with my folks for vacation.
My college pal "L" started working at the same company I did. "L" and I worked the late shift together, the evenings were pretty quiet, and so we started talking and learning more about each other. I also started thinking she was kinda hawt...3 years later, she ended up becoming Mrs. jtj3. (C:

So, that's a little about where I was. I won't tag anyone, but if you want to swipe this and do it, be my guest--just let me know, because I love reading stuff like this about my blog friends...

Friday, March 28, 2008

55FFF - Chapter XXIII

The Vegas Strip, 4 hours later...

She had her money, and whatever it was her father had stolen from the government. She knew how to get it back to them, and how to use the money to disappear.

She'd done that too many times before.

She started to read the note. "Too many memories," she thought, tossing it away...


55FFF - Chapter XXII

She reached into the small of his back, knowing the money would be there. Pulling it out, she saw her father's handwritten note.

Sirens wailed in the distance--she knew they'd get closer soon. Time to get scarce. The note would wait.

She slipped out the front door, jumped into the van, and headed for safety.

55FFF - Chapter XXI

"...and don't reach for..." CRAP, too late.

As he reached for the pistol she reacted. She struck with her right foot. He gasped for air that would now never come again through his crushed windpipe.

"You wanted it to end this way, father," she said to him softly, tenderly.

She cried softly as he died.

55FFF - Chapter XX

Before he could move, she stepped on his hand with her left foot, placing her right foot a hair above his throat.

"The money," she growled. "I know you have it with you."


"Because I worked with you, I know how you think. How else could I have gotten inside your defenses like that?"

55FFF - Chapter XIX

He backed away from her warily, slipping into a defensive kata.

They circled each other slowly, carefully, probing each other's weaknesses.

His left leg fired out in a high kick, but she knew his style. Anticipating the move, she slid down and kicked his right out from under him.

He landed on his back, stunned...

It ends today

So I'm part of the 55 Flash Fiction nation (thank you, Susie, for turning me onto this, albeit indirectly) and I've been writing this multipart saga about Kathryn and the fat man, which still has no title and probably won't. Anyway, last night I was thinking about all the things I wish I'd done differently with the story, but how I really like it anyway and couldn't wait to get started on a new story arc with completely different characters. So...

The story ends today.

Not right this minute, silly heads. I'm going to do multiple 55FFFs today (assuming I can fit them all in but I am pretty sure it's do-able), and draw the story to its stunning and thrilling conclusion today.

Will I dump these all out at once, you ask? Oh no, gentle readers. I will parcel them out like the last few precious morsels of a sweet delight that you absolutely live for, but know that once it's gone there ain't gonna be no more for a while. Or something. Know what I mean?

Anyway, look for the first of, oh, I'll say 3-4 more chapters in the story, in an hour or two...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Should I be insulted?

I'm taking a sick day today, I'm in between naps, and I was I was cruising blogs. I came across a FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) blog who had this widget that told me the required reading level for his blog. Hm, I thought...I use pretty big words, abstract concepts, deep I was thinking I'd score at least a high-school reading level on this blog. WRONG...

blog readability test

So, uh, should I be insulted? Hey, I wonder if I can sandbag this thing by using words in my posts like "erudite", "unpremeditated," or "antidisestablishmentarianism."

Should I wax philosophically about the Dionysian rites practiced by neo-pagan religionists as they recently celebrated the coming of the vernal equinox?

Would I appear smarter if I echoed the single phrase I remember from my high-school studies of Shakespeare (even though I don't remember exactly what it means) and describe, in great detail, the literary device deus ex machina?

THERE. Those 25-cent words ought to get my rating up, at least a bit. Now I can go back to writing That happens. With people. And things...oh crap, now I'm back to elementary level reading again...

UPDATE: CRAP. Even after using all those big words, I still only rate Elementary School reading level. *sigh* Oh well...

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Music Monday

Whoops, I plum forgot today was new music Monday. Good thing it's still Monday...

Being as how yesterday was Easter--and I hope you all had a great one!--I thought something relating to the Easter story might be good. So this week's record is a bit old but fits in quite well. It's Passion, by Peter Gabriel.

This project is the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's excellent film, The Last Temptation of Christ. I read the book when I was in college and absolutely fell in love with it. The movie was true to the story, and the music really helped it come alive.

There's no mistaking the fact that this is a modern soundtrack--traditional beats and rhythms, etc. But what makes it interesting is that Gabriel used musicians who were little known in the US, but who were well-known in the Middle East and Africa. Gabriel helped pioneer bringing "world music" to the US, and this album was a seminal contribution to this effort. Gabriel also won his first Grammy Award for this album. has a great article about the album here. Although it was originally released almost 20 years ago, it was remastered (along with the rest of Gabriel's catalog) in 2002 and is easily found on and other sites.

If you're not a world music devotee, give it a listen and see what you think. It's good mood music and, in fact, is on in the background as I write this post now.

More later...

Cross posting--I'm becoming an expert...

I just posted this on my running blog a few minutes ago, and I thought it was maybe worthy of a cross-posting here, too...

I'm rapidly becoming an expert in an area that I never thought I'd have experience with, and definitely did NOT want to get any better at.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen...I am becoming an expert at not running marathons...

The week of my 20 mile run I had the flu, so I only got in about 5 miles. I figured I'd be strong enough based on the rest of my training to do at least a run/walk.

Flip forward to last Tuesday. Hm, chest feels a little congested and I'm coughing. Almost like an asthma attack.


So I went to the doctor Saturday, and again today, and the short story is I have pneumonia. That pretty much means I can kiss goodbye both this weekend's Shamrock Shuffle 8K downtown in Chicago, but also next weekend's St. Louis Marathon looks to be almost an impossibility.

Turns out the STL Marathon organizers will allow you to switch from the full to the half marathon, so there's a chance there--but that depends on me getting a LOT better in between now and then. Right now that's the only hope, but it's very slim indeed.

Let's review my training/not running marathoning history:

- 2006: Trained for the Chicago marathon, but dropped out after week 11 because of plantar fasciitis.
- 2007: Trained for and started the Chicago marathon, but couldn't finish because of the course being closed after 4 hours.
- 2008: See above.

Am I disappointed? Yes, absolutely. But I know that skipping it is the right thing to do...there's no point in causing more damage to myself, taking longer to recover, etc.

I'm signed up for Chicago this fall, and training should start around the June timeframe, so we'll see how this goes.

I'm trying to look on the bright side, though--not running marathons opens up a whole new world of possibilities! I thought that someday I could run the world majors (Chicago, Boston, New York, London, and Berlin)...then, I looked at the qualifying times for Boston and New York. Yeesh! But with little to no effort at all, I can not run all of those marathons! Think of the money and time I'll save!

I kid, I joke. Laughter has always been a defense mechanism for me, and I'm deflecting the upset and the negative emotions I feel. The good news--I ran 90% of the miles in my original plan, I ran faster than I ever have (in fact, completed 5 miles just last Monday at a 9:15 pace), and after a little rest and recouperation there's nothing that says I can't try again.

So Sara, from the excellent Running From The Law blog, I know you're running St. Louis--do well, finish strong, and make me proud! (C:

Run strong, y'all...

Friday, March 21, 2008

55FFF - Chapter XVIII

The agent's wary eyes never left Kathryn's. He clicked the cuffs in place and reached for the gag.

Without warning, Kathryn whipped her forhead toward his face. Instantly his nose erupted in a shower of blood.

"One down, one to go," she thought.

The fat man stepped back into a defensive crouch, awaiting her attack...

More later...

This game is COOOOOOL....

The annual Game Developer's Conference is the video gaming industry's premiere venue to strut its stuff and show its new wares. The game that was the talk of the show this year wasn't a shoot-'em-up, or some elaborate game with almost-real graphics and physics models...rather, it was something so simple as to inspire one of those "Duh why didn't I think of that?" moments.

The game that stole the show is called Crayon Physics Deluxe. I could explain it, but it's easier (and cooler!) if you watch the embedded video below:

The game appears to have taken on a life of its own, even to the extent of having its own blog here. I'm going to download it and give it a try later today...looks like a great time waster--er, great way to have fun and, uh, study physics. Yeah that's it.

More later (including another chapter in my Flash Fiction story... (C: )...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Here's a job I'd love...

Explainer is looking for a new freelance writer (see job posting here). While I have a day job that I really really love (and would marry, probably, if I could) and I'm not a fit for the freelance job, still...I think it'd be hella-cool.

What is Explainer, you ask? Well, let, explain. It's a regular column that appears on (in? what's the right preposition when a website is involved?) Explainer's tag line is "answers to your questions about the news." They take an issue from current events, and give you some of the story behind the story (today's column is about comments made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor for Sen. Obama).

I'm endlessly fascinated by trivia, and the more obscure the better. It's a running joke with Mrs. jtj3 and me--I'll whip out some obscure factoid, she looks at me and says "How do you know that?", and I invariably respond "I have no freakin' idea."

Like...well, here goes. Did you know that the first product in the world to have a bar code on it was Wrigley's Doublemint gum back in 1971? Or that there was no women's version of the Olympic marathon until 1984--and the first one was won by Joan Benoit Samuelson? Or that there were a total of 7 different shark models used in the filming of "Jaws"? Or...well, I could go on and on and on...

See, folks, not only do I entertain, but I inform. Think of me as your infotainment blog. Or your edutainment blog. Yeah edutainment. That sounds cooler.

Oh and for more answers to those questions that have always bugged you, you can't hardly beat The Straight Dope...check it out also!

More later...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Someone stole my title!!!

Yesterday I posted about a case coming before the Supreme Court, District of Columbia v Heller. I thought I was being clever by titling the post "Lawyers, Guns, and Money." Turns out I got scooped...the law-related blog "Sentencing Law and Policy" had a post yesterday entitled "Another round of lawyers, guns, and money."


All my good ideas get taken. Ask me about my idea I had back in 1970 for a way to record TV shows onto tape for later viewing...or my idea in 1988 for a portable digital music player. Go ahead, ask me. OK I didn't really have those ideas, but if I did, I'd be filthy stinking rich right now...

*sigh again*

More later...

2003 + 2001

Two news items caught my eye...well, I guess my ear, since I was listening to the radio...on the way into work this morning. One relates to the year 2003, one to 2001.

First the 2003 marks the 5th anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. I was going to say 'the war with Iraq', but that's not really accurate. We're not fighting the country itself, but against an ideology. So how do you know when you've won?

Last year on this date, when I wrote this post, I had a strong feeling we'd still be stuck in this quagmire a year later. The facts and figures I quoted in that post are relevant but now out-of-date...but the bottom line is we're still pouring too much time, money, and too many precious lives of our young men and women into a mess we created, a battle we shouldn't be fighting, and an ideological war we'll never win. How long will we be there? Who knows...maybe our next President will find a way out of this mess. It's clear the current President won't.

Onto our next story...writer Arthur C. Clarke died March 18th at the age of 90 ( obituary is here). Clarke's most famous work was 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but he had many other significant contributions. He was also an early proponent of telecommunications satellites, served as chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, and was a prolific fiction- and non-fiction writer. Last night I heard an excerpt from one of his speeches, and he talked about how when he wrote 2001 he had no idea how many of the concepts in it would end up becoming reality. What an interesting man...we've lost a great visionary and thinker.

That's all for now, folks...more later...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lawyers, Guns, and Money

"Send lawyers, guns, and money...
the sh*t has hit the fan..." - Warren Zevon

Listening to the news this morning, I realized it was all about lawyers, guns, and money at the US Supreme Court today. Allow me to explain...

The Court hears oral arguments today on a case called District of Columbia v. Heller. The case centers around the constitutionality of DC's law which bans the posession of handguns by all except current and retired law enforcement officials. The Court has decided the key question in Heller is this: "Whether the [DC handgun ban], violate[s] the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes?"

Interestingly, the Supreme has only addressed the 2nd Amendment question one other time, in United States v. Miller in 1939. That case, however, did not decide whether the right to bear arms is a right granted to an individual citizen or to a group (a "well-organized militia", as the amendment states).

This case could affect handgun bans in other cities like Chicago. It could also have a far-reaching impact on legislation designed to control and regulate the use of guns--assault weapons bans, laws which prevent felons or the mentally disabled from owning firearms, etc.

I'll come right out and say that I am a gun control advocate--that those who use guns should register them, and should be subjected to reasonable limits on their posession and use. I've heard all the arguments in favor of unrestricted gun acess, and I don't buy any of them. There are plenty of statistics both for and against unrestricted gun ownership, but I'm betting those stats do nothing to change the argument one way or the other. They just help you dig yourself into an even more firmly entrenched position.

Either way this plays out, I expect this case will affect us for a long time to come. As news comes out on the case, I'll post updates and opinions.

More later...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Music Monday

Yes, I'm still alive. (C: A combination of travelling and the flu has gotten me down, but I'm back to normal--er, back to what qualifies as normal in my life. I'm digging out of task hell right now but hadn't posted in like forever, so at least wanted to get a "Music Monday" post up...

Today's album goes back a bit, but not quite as far as I did with my last MM post. The choice for this week is George Strait's live album "For The Last Time: Live From The Houston Astrodome."

It was recorded during Strait's set at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in 2002--the last year it was held in the Astrodome before it was torn down. Strait has a long history with the HLSR, and even talks about it in a monologue on the record.

Before I bought this record I knew who Strait was but wasn't very familiar with his work. It caught me right from the beginning--the crowd goes wild when his band starts an instrumental Texas swing version of "Deep In The Heart of Texas".

Strait is one of those artists that does a quality recording whether it's live or in studio. His voice never varies, and he doesn't lose it on any of the high or low notes. He does some new stuff and some old stuff, and you can tell he's really having a blast with the concert.

If country music doesn't completely turn you off (and it does some people, I know), this disc is definitely worth a listen. It's one of my all-time favorite CDs.

Anyway, that's it for today boys and girls. Good to be back in the posting mode.

More later...

Friday, March 7, 2008

55FFF - Chapter XVII

She asked, ""

"Come now, Kathryn. I didn't teach you all my secrets...I still have some tricks up my sleeve."

The faux agent entered the front door and said, "They'll be here soon, sir."

"Put the cuffs on her, and gag her," the Fat Man said. "No mistakes this time."

"I understand, sir."

Side note--it came to me today how this will end. I'm not kidding...I got off the elevator, was walking into my office, and it hit me. And no, that's not a hint as to how it will end. The thing is, I don't know how many more chapters it'll take me to get there, and I have no idea how the story will get from here to there. But I know it will.

More later...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Music Monday...on Tuesday

As I was drifting off to sleep last night it occurred to me that I hadn't yet posted for New Music Monday. So here it is,, on Tuesday...instead...

I'm going back a ways for today's record...all the way back to 1986. The album of choice today is Miles Davis Tutu.
A bit of back story--I grew up in a very small town in a rural part of Illinois, where all there was to listen to was gospel music, Top 40, and country. I had little to no exposure to other types of music, including jazz.
Fast forward to my college days. I discovered jazz in abouat 1985, and instantly fell in love with it. Miles Davis became one of my favorite artists, and this is my favorite of all of his albums. In earlier years he was very much a purist--he'd do small ensembles consisting of bass, drums, guitar, etc. This record is a departure, in that he uses a lot more synthesizers and electronic sounds to enhance the clean, brassy sound of his horn.
I had the privilege of seeing Miles in concert twice, and both times were exceptionally good shows. He continued recording and releasing quality records up until his death, but to me this is the pinnacle of his later years. In an odd coincidence--he died the same day that Mrs. jtj3 and I got married.
Anyway, if you're into jazz, or even if you're looking to experiment, this is a great record to start with.
More later...

Friday, February 29, 2008

55FFF - Chapter XVI

The killer emerged from the van. "Clear," he said.

Inside, the fat man turned to Kathryn, who was still in shock.

"Wha...what the hell just..." she stammered.

"Kathryn," he said with a grin, "our friends know how to keep us safe, no matter where we are. Take off your wire--no one is listening anyway..."

Much mo' bettah...

Whew, OK. So after digging...and digging...and digging...through the forums (side note--shouldn't that be "foura"? I thought words that came from Latin always ended in 'a' when it's multiple--opus, opera...etc. I'm sure Daniel would know, but I digress...)

So over at Blogcrowds, I found that they found a bug in the template I'm using. Interestingly enough the bug doesn't show up if you take the as-is template but as soon as you try to add in code for your existing widgets it all goes to hell in a handbasket.

So bottom line, it's all better now. Rounders 2 template I LOVE YOU AND WILL NEVER EVER EVER LEAVE YOU AGAIN. PROMISE. Air kisses.

Man, I'm re-reading what I wrote--I seriously just got my geek on, didn't I? Working in the high-tech universe is kinda cool at times...

More later...

ACK!!!! Work in progress! Work in progress!

I like changing templates. Often. But I decided last night that the template I had prior to post 100 was the one I really liked, so I decided to resurrect it. Note to self--before adding in a template, I should make sure that I:

  1. Have a good night's sleep.
  2. Am not on a conference call and trying to multitask
  3. Understand what the stinkin' heck I'm doing!

OK, so it looks a little goofy right now--just doing my fine tuning. Stay tuned...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Is Here!

Ladies and gentlemen, spring has arrived! Yes, there's snow on the ground and yes, the calendar still says February, but it has with out a doubt arrived. Want to know how I know?

Three words: Baseball Spring Training!

I've had a love affair with baseball since I was a kid. Since my family are originally from St. Louis, I started out worshipping the Cardinals. About the time Mrs. jtj3 and I started dating, I decided to convert...her family are rabid White Sox fans so I switched from Cards to Sox, and from the National League to the American League. The Sox have had their ups and downs, and they've broken my heart more times than I care to recount, but it's all good. I still love 'em.

I know that spring training isn't "real" baseball--coaches focus more on getting the kinks out, and not so much winning these games. Having said that, the pitchers are pitching, the batters are batting, and the fielders are fielding--so yeah, it's baseball all right.

I had a very similar post at about the same time last year, and remarked how I was expecting a great season out of the Sox. I did not expect the 72-90 record that they ended up with, and I hope that won't be repeated this year. Guess we'll see.

More later...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Music Mondays - Lenny Kravitz

Now that I'm past the post #100 celebration, it's time for Music Mondays to return to its usual timeslot.

Today's Music Monday record is the new Lenny Kravitz project "It Is Time For A Love Revolution."

I've been a big fan of Lenny Kravitz for a few years now--I like the hard rocking guitar, and how most of his songs are without a lot of embellishment: lead and bass guitar, vocals, drums.

He typically doesn't break a lot of new musical ground from album to album, and this one is no exception. That doesn't take anything away from the artistry or from this work. It's not like one record is hard rock, the next is Latino salsa rhythms.

Now having said that, this record has more of a 70's funk feel to it than some of his previous projects. He brings in some good keyboard action, a fat sax solo or two, etc.

Also, in listening to the words, there seems to be a Christian (or at least 'religious') theme to some of the songs, like this opening lyric from "Bring It On":

I'm gonna walk by faith
Gonna raise my sword
I'm gonna fight my
I'm gonna praise my Lord

Pretty up front about what he believes, if you ask me. Not that it's a bad thing. There are other themes like this through the songs if you listen to the words at all.

All in all, a darned good project and quite enjoyable. Give it a listen.

More later...

Friday, February 22, 2008

55FFF - Chapters XIV and XV

Well...I'm still catching up, sort of, with my flash fiction. Today's section comes in two parts...still a cliff-hanger, but I thought it'd make more sense to have two chapters together. Is that cheating, by the rules of 55FFF? Pffft...who cares? Rules? We don' need no STINKEEN RULES...

Sorry, too much after-dinner espresso. Anyway, boys and girls, here are Chapters 14 and 15 in the continuing saga of Kate and the fat man...

Chapter XIV - Present day
The sniper carefully laid the M40's barrel over the edge of the roof and took aim.

Inside the room the fat man turned to his aide and said, "Show her how I resolve Mexican standoffs..."

A slow trigger squeeze..."PFFFT" went the rifle.

A split second later, the target's head exploded like an overripe melon.

Chapter XV
Inside the house, the two that remained dove for cover.

In the van outside, the FBI man sat bolt upright, his face showing shock and terror.

Keying the mic he yelled, "What the hell was that? Status!!!"

He never heard the response--quickly and silently his partner drove a stiletto into the base of his skull...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The 'how we met' meme

Snowelf asked a question in a comment she made on my previous post...she wanted to know how my wife (who I lovingly refer to as "Mrs. jtj3" THAT'S original!) and I met. The short answer is no, we were not high school sweethearts. However, if you follow this blog you know I love memes, so I decided to turn this story into a meme.

I'm not tagging anyone with this but if you do it, come back and let me know you did it. Doesn't have to be about your spouse--could be about your current or past significant other (or "SO", as I refer to it in the meme), too, so pretty much everyone can play. It's 10 things about how you met your SO.

Hm...memes in 10s seem to be a recurring thing for me. Side note--I actually considered starting a blog called "Ten Things"...every day would be a list of 10 things. Things about me, random thoughts, songs, whatever. Then I decided I had too many blogs already. But if I start 5 more blogs, then rest assured that "Ten Things" will be my 10th blog. I mean, come has to, doesn't it???

With is the "Ten Things About How We Met" meme.

When you met your SO, were you dating anyone?

Did you break up with that person to hook up with your SO?

Where did you and your SO meet?
We were in all the same classes together at college. We went to a technical school where everyone took all the same classes--either a morning or afternoon shift. She switched into mornings during her 2nd term, I was already there--and the rest is history.

What's the first thing you remember saying to your SO?
Probably something inane like "Hi."

Were you and your SO friends first, or did you start dating immediately?
Friends for 5 years before we started dating.

What was your first date?
Dinner at a Bennigan's restaurant, then a movie at my house.

What was your best date?
4th of July weekend of the year after we started dating. My parents came up, we went to the Taste of Chicago to eat and watch the fireworks that night (July 3rd). The next day we went to her family's house, had a BBQ, and made home-made ice cream. Sounds very "Brady Bunch"/"Leave It To Beaver", but it was really fun.

Did you ever break up for good, break up and get back together, or stay together with no breakups?
Since the time we started dating, then got married, no breakups.

Did you (or would you consider marrying) this particular SO?
Yep...sure did. Married her 16 years ago, and it was one of the best days of my far. (C;

The thing I like best about my SO is...
She knows all my good parts and my bad parts, but she loves me unconditionally anyway.

And that, my friends, is all about Mrs. jtj3.

More later...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It's #100!!!!

I promised you something special for my 100th post, and I hope this doesn't disappoint. First, what's a celebration without a few fireworks?

OK so I'm starting with a bang. Uh, what about the content? Er, yeah, guess I gotta write something. OK you all know I'm a meme freak, so what better way to celebrate than a 10X10 meme. So here goes...
Type your summary here

10 ways my blogging has evolved
- New, custom format (thank you Hackosphere!)
- Expandable posts (Update - got them to work at 4AM!)
- I'm not afraid of changing/editing my blog code now
- People are reading and commenting
- I'm reading and commenting more on others' blogs
- More frinds on my blogroll
- Music Mondays
- Flash Fiction Fridays
- Writing for 3 other blogs now - here, here, and here
- I'm become an addict!

10 things about me
- My birthday is the 4th of July, and I turned 10 on the Bicentennial
- I'm passably fluent in 2 languages, speak bits and pieces of 3 more, and can say "hello" in about 10 additional ones
- I've been married to the same wonderful woman, Mrs. jtj3, for 16 years now.
- I'm only 5'4" but my height doesn't bother me.
- My friends call me "gadget guy" because I am a gadget freak.
- I can be scatterbrained.
- I love deeply.
- I get hurt easily.
- I can act like a 6-year-old if I don't get my way.
- I'm living my dream life right now.

10 things about my family
- I have a brother who is 9 years older than me and a sister 8 years older.
- I have no living grandparents.
- I have no cousins, aunts, or uncles--my parents were both only children.
- I have 3 nephews, 1 niece, and 1 step-nephew, and 1 step-niece. I enjoy being their uncle/step uncle.
- All 3 kids graduated from the same high school but I'm the only one to be in the same school district from K-12.
- All 3 of us didn't really like each other much we patched things up when I was in my 30s.
- When you throw in extended family, our clan extends--literally--from coast to coast. Hard to do when there's only 10 of us total.
- My dad died a little over 4 years ago and I still think of him almost every day.
- I have no living grandparents any more.
- "James" (my first name) goes back 5 generations as a first name on my dad's side.

10 things I like
- Listening to country music
- Baby animals, especially puppies and kitties
- Sunsets
- Making people smile
- Writing
- Hot coffee on a cold morning!
- Weekends
- Long drives, except in winter
- Woodworking
- Photography

10 dislikes
- Body odor
- Cranky people
- Big problems with no good answer
- Losing touch with friends for no good reason
- Too much stuff to do, too little time
- Clear-air turbulence
- Being bored
- Being embarassed
- Dishonesty
- People who act like victims and don't take control of their own circumstances

10 favorite foods
- Steak
- Cheeseburger and fries
- Pasta
- Pizza with sausage, onions, and green peppers
- Cheese of almost any kind
- Sweet potatoes
- Dark chocolate
- Coffee
- Bread (again, almost any kind)
- Hummus

10 CDs I'd take to a desert island
- The White Stripes by The White Stripes
- Tutu by Miles Davis
- My Town by Montgomery Gentry
- Careless Love by Madeline Peyroux
- The Nature of Things by Bruce BecVar
- For the Last Time: Live From The Astrodome by George Strait
- Passion by Peter Gabriel
- Any recording of Mozart's Requiem Mass
- Live: Live Those Songs Again by Kenny Chesney
- Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith

10 best blogs I read
- Snowelf
- Sue
- SuchSimplePleasures
- My nephew Ryan
- Penelope
- Tim Wilson's excellent running blog
- Confessions of a Runner
- Running Jayhawk

10 favorite moments in my life so far...
- Spending the summer of 1982 as an exchange student in Patras, Greece.
- Seeing the Matterhorn (1987).
- Marrying my best friend on September 28, 1991.
- Seeing Frank Sinatra live in concert (1994).
- Seeing the White Sox score 5 runs off one hit--July 5, 1995. The Yankees walked 4 batters (scoring one), then John Kruk hit a grand-slam home run.
- Doing my first (and only, so far!) tandem parachute jump on my 30th birthday (July 4 1996).
- Working and living for 3 months in Tokyo during 1996.
- Seeing the 2003 All-Star Game at U.S. Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey).
- Being promoted at work to my "dream role".
- Running the Chicago Half Marathon in 2006.

10 things to do before I die
- Write a book
- Build a Shaker-style tall clock (something similar to what you see in the link) using only hand tools.
- Visit all 50 states of the US by the time I turn 50
- Visit at least 50 countries by the time I turn 50
- Run a marathon
- Visit all 7 continents
- Become fluent in French, German, and Japanese
- Learn to play an instrument
- Climb the Great Wall of China (as Chairman Mao said, "Bú dào Chángchéng fēi hao hàn," roughly meaning "You're not a real man if you haven't climbed the Great Wall".)
- Ride a motorcycle
- Fly around the world

That, my friends, is #100. Thank you SO MUCH for being my blog friends and for reading and commenting on what I do here. My life is much richer for having met all of you, and for discovering this wonderful world of blogging. Y'all are awesome.

Oh yeah, one last thing--Music Mondays will return on their regularly scheduled timetable next week.

More later...