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...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The blogger formerly known as...

So, I'm probably making too big a deal out of this, but I've decided that my "name" is changing. So now, both my "main" blog (this one) and my ID will be 'jtj3'. Why? Well, a few reasons...

Even though my 'real world' name is pretty common and generic, I am starting to feel the need to abstract myself from my online persona. If you know my 'real world' name, it's pretty boring and white bread. A lot of my blogger friends have interesting handles, and I thought jtj3 just sounded...I don't know...cooler.

Oh heck, call me whatever you want to call me--I'll still be the same old geeky, approaching-middle-age, middle-to-back-of-the-pack runner type dude that I've always been, the one that you know and love.

Who knows, I may go back to my real name at some point. I like the fact I can change my mind.

My next post is is #100...I've got something special in mind. Until then, I'll say "more later" like usual...

Friday, February 15, 2008

555FFF - Chapters XII and XIII

It's been a few weeks since I've written a 55FFF here, so I'm doing a bit of catch up. Enjoy these chapters...

Chapter XII
Carson City, Nevada FBI field office - 5 months prior

Agent Pilato said, "Our person on the inside, this..."

SAC Wilson cautioned Pilato. "In a situation like this you don't use names. Call the person 'source one.'"

Pilato said, "OK, this...uh, 'source one' will lead us to the head honcho?"

Wilson said, "Yes. They'll help us find who stole the decoder from the CIA."

Chapter XIII
Present day

"Kathryn, you must be joking. You know that no one does this to me and gets out alive," the fat man said.

"Yes," she said, "but I also know things about you that will keep me safe."

"As I do about you," he replied. "What do you call it in your country...a 'Mexican standoff?"


More later...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Well of course I'm going to post about V-tines Day today! Mine has started out very nicely. I had an 8-mile run this morning, then came home to a card and a present from Mrs jtj3. The card was very sweet, and the present--OK, don't laugh--was a box of iced cookies with V-tines sprinkles on the top. She knows me so well, and knows that those are my most favoritest cookies in the whole entire world. She rocks. (C:

She also knows that I am really into photography (WARNING: SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION AHEAD!!!)...oh, uh, gee, did y'all know that I have my very own photo blog? Gee, how did I forget to mention Photos From Jim? Have you visited it? Cuz lots and lots of people have, and they love my work...but I digress. Anyway, Mrs jtj3 also said "Uh, I didn't know what your favorite photo magazine pick one out, I'll get you a subscription." SWEET!

Tonight is pretty mellow--a quick dinner, then choir practice at church. We decided to celebrate with dinner tomorrow instead of today, so we're going to our favorite fancy restaurant for steak (for me) and seafood (for her). We're both really looking forward to it--we only go to this place on special occasions, and V-tine's Day is definitely special.

Since it's such a special day, be nice to your sweetie today. Don't have a sweetie? Call your mom or dad...they'd love to hear from you. If they're gone, call a sibling. If you don't have siblings, then just pick someone at random around you, and wish them a happy V-tine's Day. If you interact with just one other person today, it's an opportunity to spread a little love...

Oh yeah, and "Happy Valentine's Day!" to all my friends, readers, lurkers, and you all. (C:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sun, finally!!!

"...I'm gonna soak up the sun..." - Sheryl Crow was the first day we've had sun in like a bajillion years. OK, a month. OK, really, probably a week or so. But still...

I find that the older I'm getting, the more I'm affected by the presence or absence of sunlight. I'm not talking about at night...nighttime is, well, supposed to be dark. But the grey cloudy winter days just get me down.

For some reason the cold doesn't seem as cold when the sun is out. But when it's grey and cloudy for days on end, I end up getting bummed out.

We're in the middle of winter here in Chicagoland, no doubt about it. But as long as Mr. Clouds continue to stay out of Mr. Sun's way, then I think it'll be bearable for the next few weeks.

Oh, and as a nice capper for the day...the Mrs is making cookies to give to her work friends tomorrow...and I just got to sample the cookie dough. And who among us doesn't like a little taste of cookie dough now and then?

More later...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Music Monday

Interesting, my last post was "Super Tuesday", now today it's "Music Monday". Hm, let's come up with an alliterative title for each day of the week... (C;

I'll have to admit up front that I'm the king of lame-o's, because today's featured record is new to me, but I'm betting everyone else in the world is SO over it by now. You have to understand, folks--I've been almost totally country music for going on 8 years now. So for me to branch out and discover (and talk about!) non-country music is a big step. blog, my rules...

OK, so with that admission, today's Music Monday record is The White Stripes--their eponymous debut album. I started listening to it just a few days ago, and I absolutely love it. I told a friend that they remind me of what The Doors might sound like if they'd formed in the 90s instead of the 60s. The grungy sound is raw and energetic, and I love the vocals. The record has so much passion and energy, it makes you want to get up and shake your body.

Now that I've discovered the White Stripes, I'll probably go back and get more of their works. But this is what I'm listening to for this week!

More later...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

It's been a few days. Work, life, etc., are encroaching on my blogging time and I am not happy about it! But whatchagonnado?

So I'm sitting in my hotel room watching Super Tuesday coverage on CNN. I've followed the coverage of the primaries and caucuses this year since Iowa kicked it all off...a habit I've had ever since I started following national politics in the Ronald Reagan era.

It's a fascinating process, and it's democracy in action. The spin doctors can talk until they pass out, pollsters can poll the stuffin' out of the electorate, but ultimately it all comes down to what happens in the voting booth.

It's been encouraging to see the huge increase in voter turnout for both parties. Voting, especially in primaries, has been on the decline since the mid 1970s, but we seem to be turning the corner over the past two presidential elections. It also seems like htere are more young voters (under 25) than at any other time in recent history.

Now, full disclosure time (we're all friends, right?). I generally vote Democratic. I'm slightly left of center--conservative on some issues, liberal on others, but on the balance slightly more toward the liberal side. I'm rooting for Barack Obama to win the Democratic nomination and hoping that we'll see an Obama/John Edwards ticket in the fall.

But regardless of which side you're on, you really should get out and vote. And if you missed your state's primary, then vote in the general election. Even if your candidate loses, your voice is heard.

What will happen over the coming weeks and months, and what happens in November, no one really knows. It'll be an interesting ride from now until then...and I have a feeling you'll see more posts from me about the whole election thing.

More later...

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'm not feelin' it...

I've been struggling...mightily...all day to put together the next chapter in my continuing 55 Flash Fiction Friday story. I'm just not feelin' it today.

My company closed out its fiscal year yesterday (guess today is New Years' Day...whoohoo!), and there were a lot of 'end of year' activities going on this week. Add to that the fact that Chicago has been blasted with two really bad winter storms this week which means shovelling driveways, long commutes, etc. Oh, and I have to compress my entire weekend into tomorrow, since I get on a plane Sunday to go on a work trip.

So...hopefully I'll be back in the saddle next week, but not today. I'm tired this week.

Do I sound whiney? I'm whining, aren't I? Ugh I hate it when I do that...OK I'll go to bed now.

More later...