Monday, January 28, 2008

Music Mondays - what sounds good?

So I decided over the weekend that Mondays would now, and henceforth, become Music Mondays on this blog. Why? Uh, well, because "Music Tuesday" just doesn't have the same ring, and because I like having set topics associated with specific days. I've got Music Mondays, and Flash Fiction Fridays. Hm, now to come up with something for every other day of the week...

My iPod holds about 30GB of music--not as large of a collection as some of you, but more than a lot of people I know. I've been doing this country music thing for about 7 years, so easily 1/3rd of my collection is country. Having said that, I've got a lot of obscure stuff, too. So Music Mondays are my chance to write about a song, or an album, or a snippet of something or other, that's either really moving me, is on my mind, etc.

So for this week, I've really been digging on the new Robert Plant/Allison Krauss project called Raising Sand. A friend bought it for me for Christmas. It's one of those records that, from the time you first put it in, it grabs you.

I've always loved Plant's voice, as well as Allison Krauss'. He's got the quintessential rock 'n' roll voice, and her voice is so delicate and ephemeral. It's a great mixing of vocal styles. The other thing that's interesting about this record is the music. Usually, you have a lead guitar or some other instrument playing the melody. On this project, though, their voices are the melody and a base guitar and drums are the backup (beat, harmony, etc), along with a couple other instruments here and there.

It's great mood music--good for driving, good for thinking, and good for creative work. I have a friend who likes to have it on when he's doing photography shoots.

It's produced by T-Bone Burnett and, as the article on the record notes, he is credited with giving the album it's "skeletal, and somewhat haunting, musical style." There are also several great songwriting legends whose work appears on this record--the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Page, Tom Waits, and Mel Tillis to name a few.

It's a fantastic record, and I highly recommend you go out and get it. I know what I'm listening to on my drive home tonight...

More later...

Friday, January 25, 2008

55FFF - Chapter XI

"Why Kathryn, what are you implying?"

"I'm not implying anything," she said. "I'm stating fact. I don't know what it is, but I know where it came from."

"That knowledge makes you very dangerous, Kathryn," he said slowly.

In the van outside, the FBI man turned to his partner...

"You getting all this on tape?"


More later...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Buckle up,'s going to be a bumpy ride...

OK, I have to confess something...I am a CNBC addict. I'm talking I watch it when I get up in the mornings, when I run on the treadmill here at home, listen to it on the way into work (thank you, XM Radio!), and keep the site open in a web browser most of the day. Today of all days was a great time to be glued to the coverage. Because today, my good friends, was one of the more turbulent days in the history of our stock markets. Let's not forget this comes in a year in which the markets have had their worst January (to date) EVER. So as the airline pilots say as you're flying over into turbulent conditions: "Folks, please take your seats and buckle up - it's going to get bumpy..."

If you don't follow the economy, the Federal Reserve lowered their lending rates to banks by 75 basis points today (or .75%, but I guess "basis points" sounds cooler). This was very unexpected, and was the Fed's attempt to shore up the US economy in the face of downward economic indicators.

However, the Dow and NASDAQ seemed to have a "too little, too late" reaction. The Dow was down almost 500 points at one point today, but managed to end up down only 128 points. I don't know how NASDAQ ended up but it wasn't too good, either.

The economy, and the stock market, have been a virtual rollercoaster ride over the past several months--100+ points up one day, down over 100 the next. Markets are almost completely driven by fear at this point, and there's a lot of technical reasons as to why stock is being sold, even when sellers are taking a loss on it.

Suffice it to say, we ain't out of the woods yet, and this will trickle down even more to the "you and me" level. Most economic indicators are pointing to a mild recession that will hopefully end before the end of this year. Mild recession, OK. Anything more than 2 quarters, we could see companies cutting back and then everyone's wondering about their jobs.

Then again, I could be a complete panic monger and worrying about nothing. It's just that...well, I like the company I work for, I think it's a great place to be, and because of some life situations right now this ain't a good time to be looking for a job.

But hey, this is just my mad ramblings. What do y'all think is going to happen with the economy and the stock market?

More later...

Friday, January 18, 2008

55FFF - Chapter X

Safe house, Nevada Desert, 4 hours later

"Now, where were we, Kathryn?"

"Simple. You stole $100,000 from me. I want it back, and you get your device..."

"And?" he asked.

"And what?"

"'And' you'll tell me who took it from me. You know I hate thieves..."

"Yeah," she said, "but don't forget you took it from Uncle Sam in the first place."

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hey, wanna help me invent a meme?

Just a quick one tonight--I'm a little under the weather so I've mostly been sleeping all day. Therefore, nothing exciting to write about--unless you consider rest, drinking lots of fluids, and sleep to be page-turning excitement! (C:

I know there are several meme-ers out there--SuchSimplePleasures is one, Snowelf has been known to do a meme or two, as has Daniel. I've got this idea for a meme, but I just can't get enough questions/statements in it to feel like I've got critical mass. So...anyone want to help me create it?

Email me at jtj3 at comcast dot net, I'll send you something back with the idea and what I've got so far. Who's with me???

More later...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Now "she" is an "it"!

My little girly kitty cat Bella is now no longer a girl--she's an "it".

We dropped her off at the vet yesterday to have her spayed. We also had her declawed in the front. Before anyone goes off on me for the front declaw--yes, I get it that some people think it's torture, cruel and unusual punishment, etc...but with as much of a cat person as Mrs. jtj3 is (side note, I've decided that is now her official name...uh, "her" being the wife and not the cat), we looked into it and decided it was the best, safest choice for us. we picked her up today. She's still very groggy, and she looks like she's got an owwy belly and paws ("owwy" being a technical term (C; ), but I'm sure in another day or two she'll be back to normal.

We were both kind of sweating it out--this is routine surgery that usually goes without a hitch, but you never know. Thank goodness all is well.

I'm off to take care of her and give her some cuddlin'. More later...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday meme!

I've seen a couple people do this one recently, so I stole this from Flash. I've seen other people do this also, so I thought it was time. I'm not tagging anyone, but if you want it you're welcome to it.

The 4x MEME

Four jobs I have had in my life:

  1. Paperboy
  2. Retail clerk
  3. Telemarketer
  4. Data entry
Four places I have lived:

  1. Decatur, IL
  2. Blue Mound, IL
  3. Lisle, IL
  4. Aurora, IL
Four places I have been on vacation:
  1. Jamaica
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Zermatt, Switzerland
  4. Salzburg, Austria
Four of my favorite foods:
  1. Thin crust pizza
  2. Coffee (it's a food, right?)
  3. Steak
  4. Dessert

Four places I would rather be right now:
  1. Somewhere warm!
  2. On a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean
  3. A small restaurant somewhere in Europe, just sipping coffee and watching the world go by.
  4. Outside running!!!

Hope you enjoyed this.

More later...

Friday, January 11, 2008

55FFF - Chapter IX

One year earlier

"I can't get it open," she said dejectedly.

"Patience--use all your senses, Kate."

She sighed, closed her eyes, and moved the lockpick just a hair.


The last tumbler fell into place, and the safe opened. She relaxed and smiled.

The fat man patted her shoulder. "Good, Kate--very good. You are a suprisingly good student..."

More later...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tomorrow's Friday already???

Yikes. It's the first full work week of the year for me, and it's gone way too fast. It's one of those weeks where I know I did a lot of stuff, and had a bunch of meetings, etc., but couldn't tell you anything truly significant that I did. I'm sure there's a diamond somewhere in the dust, though.

I'm running, I'm working, I'm blogging, and I'm, that's about it. I'm starting to get more sucked into a digital lifestyle, though--found a couple new podcasts (one on running, one on digatal photography) that I'm getting into. As my skills in Photoshop are getting better, I'm doing more fiddling around with my pictures. I really thought this one came out really well--very artistic looking.

This weekend we get to drive two hours to have lunch with my sister, who is in town from Washington DC. It'll be good to see her, as it's been a few months. Then, dinner with friends Sunday...and after that, it's back to Monday again.

Tomorrow--Flash Fiction Friday here, and Guest Photo Fridays over at Photos from Jim. If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will!!! (C;

More later...

Monday, January 7, 2008

First meme of 2008!

I was tagged by SuchSimplePleasures. She's got a wicked funny blog--go check her out! Anyway, the birth month meme. It lists a bunch of traits for each birth month and you are supposed to see which ones are, like, so you.

So, the rules for this meme are...copy and paste the 12 months and their characteristics. Highlight the traits that are yours and, of course, make some snide comment about it, or you can be serious, too...whatever works for you. Then tag 12 of your closest and dearest friends...or, just randomly pick 12 blogs, or...a combo...s'up to you! My birthday is July 4th...let's see what it has to say about me, shall we?


Fun to be with. Yep, that'd be me. I make parties FUN. My sense of humor irritates some people who don't "get me", but I usually don't feel awkward/paranoid/regretful until AFTER the party.

Concerned about people’s feelings. Very. Sometimes to a fault. I'm a people pleaser at heart...

Emotional temperamental and unpredictable. What the HELL are you implying??? Why, if I had a gun and a club, I'd...oh wait. Yeah, so I'm temperamental at times. Which goes with the next one...

Moody and easily hurt.

Judges people through observations. If you're familiar with Meyers-Briggs, I'm an INTJ, and the "N" means I tend to collect data via intuition, rather than abstract data.

Loves to be alone. Again, if you know Meyers-Briggs, I'm an "I" - Introvert - which means I recharge best when I'm alone...

Likes to be quiet. I attend a lot of meetings and talk to a lot of customers as part of my job. When I get home, I want (but don't always get) complete silence for an hour or so. Helps me unwind...

JANUARY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Ambitious and serious. Loves to teach and be taught. Always looking at people’s flaws and weaknesses. Likes to criticize. Hardworking and productive. Smart, neat and organized. Sensitive and has deep thoughts. Knows how to make others happy. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Rather reserved. Highly attentive. Resistant to illnesses but prone to colds. Romantic but has difficulties expressing love. Loves children. Loyal. Has great social abilities yet easily jealous. Very stubborn and money cautious.

FEBRUARY: Abstract thoughts. Loves reality and abstract. Intelligent and clever. Changing personality. Attractive. Sexy. Temperamental. Quiet, shy and humble. Honest and loyal. Determined to reach goals. Loves freedom. Rebellious when restricted. Loves aggressiveness. Too sensitive and easily hurt. Gets angry really easily but does not show it. Dislikes unnecessary things. Loves making friends but rarely shows it. Daring and stubborn. Ambitious. Realizes dreams and hopes. Sharp. Loves entertainment and leisure. Romantic on the inside not outside. Superstitious and ludicrous. Spendthrift. Tries to learn to show emotions.

MARCH: Attractive personality. Sexy. Affectionate. Shy and reserved. Secretive. Naturally honest, generous and sympathetic. Loves peace and serenity. Sensitive to others. Loves to serve others. Easily angered. Trustworthy. Appreciative and returns kindness. Observant and assesses others. Revengeful. Loves to dream and fantasize. Loves traveling. Loves attention. Hasty decisions in choosing partners. Loves home decors. Musically talented. Loves special things. Moody.

APRIL: Active and dynamic. Decisive and hasty but tends to regret. Attractive and affectionate to oneself. Strong mentality. Loves attention. Diplomatic. Consoling, friendly and solves people’s problems. Brave and fearless. Adventurous. Loving and caring. Suave and generous. Emotional. Aggressive. Hasty. Good memory. Moving. Motivates oneself and others. Sickness usually of the head and chest. Sexy in a way that only their lover can see.

MAY: Stubborn and hard-hearted. Strong-willed and highly motivated. Sharp thoughts. Easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention. Deep feelings. Beautiful physically and mentally. Firm Standpoint. Needs no motivation. Easily consoled. Systematic (left brain). Loves to dream. Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually in the ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical. Weak breathing. Loves literature and the arts. Loves traveling. Dislike being at home. Restless. Not having many children. Hardworking. High spirited. Spendthrift.

JUNE: Thinks far with vision. Easily influenced by kindness. Polite and soft-spoken. Having ideas. Sensitive. Active mind. Hesitating, tends to delay. Choosy and always wants the best. Temperamental. Funny and humorous. Loves to joke. Good debating skills. Talkative. Daydreamer. Friendly. Knows how to make friends. Able to show character. Easily hurt. Prone to getting colds. Loves to dress up. Easily bored. Fussy. Seldom shows emotions. Takes time to recover when hurt. Brand conscious. Executive. Stubborn.

JULY: Fun to be with. Secretive. Difficult to fathom and to be understood. Quiet unless excited or tensed. Takes pride in oneself. Has reputation. Easily consoled. Honest. Concerned about people’s feelings. Tactful. Friendly. Approachable. Emotional temperamental and unpredictable. Moody and easily hurt. Witty and sparkly. Not revengeful. Forgiving but never forgets. Dislikes nonsensical and unnecessary things. Guides others physically and mentally. Sensitive and forms impressions carefully. Caring and loving. Treats others equally. Strong sense of sympathy. Wary and sharp. Judges people through observations. Hardworking. No difficulties in studying. Loves to be alone. Always broods about the past and the old friends. Likes to be quiet. Homely person. Waits for friends. Never looks for friends. Not aggressive unless provoked. Prone to having stomach and dieting problems. Loves to be loved. Easily hurt but takes long to recover.

AUGUST: Loves to joke. Attractive. Suave and caring. Brave and fearless. Firm and has leadership qualities. Knows how to console others. Too generous and egoistic. Takes high pride in oneself. Thirsty for praises. Extraordinary spirit. Easily angered. Angry when provoked. Easily jealous. Observant. Careful and cautious. Thinks quickly. Independent thoughts. Loves to lead and to be led. Loves to dream. Talented in the arts, music and defense. Sensitive but not petty. Poor resistance against illnesses. Learns to relax. Hasty and trusty. Romantic. Loving and caring. Loves to make friends.

SEPTEMBER: Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people’s mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

OCTOBER: Loves to chat. Loves those who loves them. Loves to take things at the center. Inner and physical beauty. Lies but doesn’t pretend. Gets angry often. Treats friends importantly. Always making friends. Easily hurt but recovers easily. Daydreamer. Opinionated. Does not care of what others think. Emotional. Decisive. Strong clairvoyance. Loves to travel, the arts and literature. Touchy and easily jealous. Concerned. Loves outdoors. Just and fair. Spendthrift. Easily influenced. Easily loses confidence. Loves children.

NOVEMBER: Has a lot of ideas. Difficult to fathom. Thinks forward. Unique and brilliant. Extraordinary ideas. Sharp thinking. Fine and strong clairvoyance. Can become good doctors. Dynamic in personality. Secretive. Inquisitive. Knows how to dig secrets. Always thinking. Less talkative but amiable. Brave and generous. Patient. Stubborn and hard-hearted. If there is a will, there is a way. Determined. Never give up. Hardly becomes angry unless provoked. Loves to be alone. Thinks differently from others. Sharp-minded. Motivates oneself. Does not appreciate praises. High-spirited. Well-built and tough. Deep love and emotions. Romantic. Uncertain in relationships. Homely. Hardworking. High abilities. Trustworthy. Honest and keeps secrets. Not able to control emotions. Unpredictable.

DECEMBER: Loyal and generous. Sexy. Patriotic. Active in games and interactions. Impatient and hasty. Ambitious. Influential in organizations. Fun to be with. Loves to socialize. Loves praises. Loves attention. Loves to be loved. Honest and trustworthy. Not pretending. Short tempered. Changing personality. Not egotistic. Take high pride in oneself. Hates restrictions. Loves to joke. Good sense of humor. Logical.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Are most bloggers female?

NOT, of course, that there's anything wrong with that!!!

So the reason I ask--I've been making more blog-world friends, meeting people at Cre8Buzz, etc. It's dawned on me that most of the blogs I read, and most of the people commenting on others' blogs, are female. Again, not that there's anything wrong with it! I know exactly four male bloggers: Flash, Charles, Daniel, and Mike. Contrast that with a blog I visited that shall remain nameless, but had 98 (count 'em...NINTY-EIGHT!!!) comments on one post, and as far as I could tell from the names, all the commenters were female.

Why is that, anyway? Because most men are more the "strong but silent" type? Because women are better at creative writing? Oh heck, who knows. I'd be interested in YOUR theories, though...

More later...

555FFF - Chapter VIII

The continuing saga of Kate and the fat man is now back on the air! I had to think about this for a while--Charles posted a comment on the last chapter of my story, and said "He's not too awfully bright to pull a knife in a casino, is he?"

Yeah, true. What was I thinking??? There'd be cameras, guards, etc., all around, there's no way in hell he'd get away with it. So...this chapter may be a bit of a stretch, but I just ask you to go with it. It's better than me getting them out of their pickle but not explaining how... (C;


Gun drawn, the guard yelled "Drop your weapons!"

The fat man whispered, "Three inches to your left, Kate..."

Years of training under him had their intended effect--she didn't understand, but complied.

The guard yelled again: "I said..."

Blindingly fast, the fat man's knife flew straight and true into the guard's eye.

"Run for it, Kate..."


More later...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New template - what do you think???

I decided it was time for a fresh look. I didn't like any of the templates available from so I did some surfing around and found this new one from I'm interested in any feedback, comments, suggestions, whatever...please register your vote in the poll (on the right side below the "About Me" section).

Hope y'all are having a great new year so far!!!

More later...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 in review

All told, 2007 was a great year. Sure, there were some rough patches and some things I wish I could have fast forwarded through, but it all made me what I am right now. Just a very few things that went right this year:

  • Started two blogs--this one, and Photos from Jim.
  • Met many new blog world friends, and reconnected with old friends via the bloggosphere, too.
  • Trained for and ran in the Chicago Marathon.
  • Set PRs for 5K, 4 mile, and 8K.
  • Rediscovered my love of photography.
  • Had a great 2 week vacation, plus enough days off here and there to recharge my batteries.
  • Dreamed big (both work and personal), and accomplished a lot of what I dreamed about.
  • Got better at being patient with people who push my buttons, and got better at looking for the good in everyone.
So, what's on the docket for 2008?
  • Completing my first marathon (and hopefully my second, also!)
  • Not losing my temper so much
  • Eating less red meat, more fish
  • Running--LOTS and LOTS of running!
  • A promotion at work(?)
  • More blog-world friends!
  • Another White Sox World Series ring (hey, a guy can dream, can't he?)
These aren't resolutions, because I don't believe in them. Resolutions, to me, are binary things--either you do something for the whole year, or you've failed. These are more like areas where I want to be different, better, etc., than I am now. Every year, I want to be a better person both personally and professionally. I feel like it's my responsibility to learn and to better myself...and if I'm not, then I'm just slacking.

How will 2008 end up? I've got some ideas, and I'm sure they'll unfold in this blog over the course of the year. But if I can write this same post one year from now, and say that I did one thing better in 2008 than I did it in 2007, then I'll feel like it was a good year.

Hope your 2008 is getting off to a good start!

More later...