Hmm. My last blog was posted almost exactly a year ago. Have I really been away from
blogging that long? It's amazing how distracting life can be when you
becoming busy with other projects. While it's great that I've been busy
(that's a mark of strong success, actually), it's also sad -- and
unacceptable. I need to fix that.
So, I guess a year-long break from blogging is long enough. It's time to put the fingers back on the keyboard -- it's time to get back to the business of writing.
I have achieved many wonderful things in my life. I have created
amazing things out of nothing. I have built popular stories and
fictional universes that hundreds -- even thousands -- of people enjoy. I
am hugely successful at most of the projects I undertake. I have
experienced things others can only dream of. I strive to be respectable,
trusted, determined.... remembered. But I am not, nor will I ever be
great. I am little. I am tiny. I am a miniscule success story in this world -- in this vast universe -- that I am part of.
God alone is great. And when I consider my own amazing achievements in
this life, I am but a single speck of sand on an endless beach compared
to what God has engineered. God... is great. I am but a tiny reflection
of a tiny part of Him.
I have been wonderfully engineered, from
the muscles that give me strength to the unique and complex DNA that
makes me who I am. I have been created out of nothing, beginning life as
nothing more than cells combining on a microscopic level. I have been
given the breath of life, a gift only God can provide. I have been given
intelligence and granted the right to choose my own path in life. I
have been blessed with wonderful things I could never have obtained
without God's wisdom and love. And I have been eternally redeemed from
the death of sin I was born with -- a victory only Christ himself could
I am successful. I may be amazing. But only God is great.
The process to obtain the new Baas House continues.
This evening, my wife and I attended a first time home buyers class in a nearby city. It's a class designed to help people understand the process of buying their first house. It's also a requirement for a home buyers grant we're hoping to secure. While most of the people in the class seemed to be at an early pre-offer stage, Kelli and I have already signed an offer on a house, we're working with a realtor, we've completed the home inspection, and we're proceeding with the funding process. We're a lot further along by comparison.
To be honest, I was a bit dubious going into this class. I'm not thrilled by classroom adult-learning settings. They aren't an engaging environment for me. The idea of desks, a chalkboard (or it's comparable modern equivalent), and a teacher/professor droning on about a topic is the exact opposite of exciting. If that's the nature of a "class", just give me the text book, and let me read about the topic myself.
Thankfully, the teacher for this class was an interesting man. He teaches these classes regularly, and he knows his stuff. He made it engaging enough to keep my attention, and, although Kelli and I have already worked with much of this stuff first-hand already, I still managed to learn a few things. That definitely made the class worthwhile.
What moved me the most, though, was a detail that was revealed later in the 3-hour class. Our teacher was explaining a few concepts related to home insurance, home safety and the like. He was answering some great class questions, when he stopped a moment and added, "here, let me show you something."
Digging around in his laptop files for a few moments, he opened a file, and had it displayed on the large flat screen television mounted on the classroom wall (the "chalkboard" of the room). It was a photo of a nice house.... that had just burned to the ground. Some of the debris was still smoldering.
After a moment of silence while the class looked at the photo, our teacher quietly informed us that this was a photo of his house. It had burned down two months ago -- in March. An electrical malfunction in his car, while it was parked in the attached garage, ignited flames, which spread to the rest of the house, and destroyed everything. He and his wife were home at the time; neither of them were hurt. But the house, and everything in it, was a total loss.
The mood in the room changed instantly. My heart sank. The man teaching us about safely buying our first home, had just lost his -- a brand new house he and his wife had built ten years ago. It struck home, and it did so in an extraordinarily poignant way. Anything can happen -- even the most unexpected of events. Being prepared, and knowing how to deal with the challenges of home ownership is vital -- long before you move into a new house.
I really felt for the man, though. It physically hurt to see his life burned to the ground in one night. Yes, that fire had happened two months ago, the ruins of his house had already been torn down, and he was already planning to rebuild on the same foundation, but it still hurt. It was a painful revelation. But, on the other hand, given what the man does, and how his job is to help new home buyers..... that was one heck of a lesson and a powerful visual aid.
Tonight was actually the first part of a two-day class. The second part is next Wednesday. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to the rest of this class.
So, my wife and I took a new step in life this week -- we're buying our first house. Up until now (for the past five years) we've been living in a nice apartment building. But the time has come to upgrade to something more permanent. So, earlier this week, we made an offer on a house here in Brillion, the offer was countered by the seller, and we accepted. It's legally binding now.... if everything else falls into place (as we anticipate it will), when we close in the near future, the house will be ours.
It's an exciting step. I've never owned a house before. I've lived in many different houses and apartments in my life -- in many cities -- I've moved far more often than I would have liked -- but I, personally, have never owned a house. The nice thing is, though, this is a great house, great location, great neighborhood. We both like it. It has many things our present residence does not. I'm certainly looking forward to the joys and challenges of home ownership, and the growth opportunities it presents, but I can't say that I'm eager for yet another move.
The good thing is, though, when you own a house, the chances of moving drop significantly. I can live with that. It'll be a place to settle into, and a place to truly call home.
I won't say much about the house at this point, there are still a few post-signing steps to complete, and then, of course, there's closing. But when that happens, expect to hear more details. It's a big step, but it's a big step forward. And in life, that's always a good direction to travel.
I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron last night, and I'll be completely honest, it was a fantastic ride! The story was solid, the special effects were jaw-dropping, and James Spader was pure evil (and sounded it too!). If you haven't seen this film yet, go see it.
According to reports, Avengers: Age of Ulron made $27.6 million in domestic ticket sales on Thursday alone. Even before the official opening day here in the United States, the movie has already brought in $287.3 million internationally. And, if the excitement on social media is any indication, I have a feeling it will be breaking a few cinema profit records.
Go see this film. For your convenience, here's the official film trailer.
In my continued efforts to remodel JonBaas.com, my site forum has now been upgraded. I've widened and reworked the layout (with more expansion coming soon), I've updated the design, improved the navigation, and added some new features for members. I'll be working to promote this forum as an active community in the coming days and weeks, but for now, the forum is up and running. Stop by for a visit, set up a profile, join a discussion. Let's see where this goes!
As some of you already know, I've become a big fan of Marvel in recent years -- primarily because of "Avengers" and their other related film and television efforts. My personal favorite Marvel superhero is, without a doubt, Captain America. There's just something fascinating about his down-to-earth personality that I like. He's a character you can't help admiring.
In fact, that seems to be the angle I take in all of my superhero fandom. Even in the DC universe, I side more with Green Arrow (as seen in the television series, "Arrow"). He's a human character thrust into a good versus bad world, not because he wants to, but because he has to -- to save the city he loves. He's a superhero, without a super power.
Lately, I've become a fan of yet another superhero, Marvel's Daredevil -- not the Ben Affleck film version, no, the Charlie Cox television version released on Netflix. There's just something remarkably compelling about a blind man using his heightened senses to fight crime on the streets of New York City at night, while fighting injustice by day as a lawyer.
If you're a fan of Marvel, superheroes, or even just a great, well-written thrill ride of a story, look for Daredevil on Netflix. Grab your popcorn and binge-watch. Season one is available in it's entirety, and it's well worth your time. Although, I will warn you, it's a darker breed of superhero. Darker.... but nonetheless addictive.
Well, as promised, the update to my website has been completed; the new pages have been uploaded. JonBaas.com 2.0 is live and ready to enjoy!
Of course, you'll notice that the site still bears the same basic format as the previous rendition -- that was intended (I like the simplicity of the design), however, it's a complete bottom-up overhaul. I've re-coded everything to make it cleaner, fresher, and easier to read. I've adjusted the color scheme, giving the blues a more welcoming feel. I've increased the site width and font size, I've even updated the content across all pages.
It's a new site for a new era.
If you happen to see any errors, though, please let me know. Send me a message, post a comment, however is most convenient for you, and I'll take care of it asap.
How cool is this! The elevators to the observatory at the top of the new 1 World Trade Center in Manhattan show an animated time lapse video recreating the development of New York City's skyline, from the 1500s until today. You'll even see one of the old World Trade Center towers appear for a moment, and then fade away, memorializing the old towers that once stood on that very same spot.
It's a short video, but well worth your time. Watch and enjoy.
Alright, folks, I'm relaunching full-steam after a hiatus from blogging. My many projects stole my attention (and rightly so), but it's time to get back into the world of daily musings. If you've been
one of my readers for the past twelve years, you're seeing a
newly-minted blog design. I am working on updating the rest of my website to match. It's cleaner, fresher, and more in line with advancing
web standards. Yeah, I know, about time, right?
tuned as I kick things off again -- just like old times. Only this time,
we'll be diving back into the world of blogging with a new perspective.
Blog 2.0. Let's get started!
To the scammers out there: if you're going to call me on the phone pretending
to be from "Microsoft", speaking in a thick Indian accent with
artificial concern, and offering to "fix the technicals" of "Mr. Kelli's" computer (FYI: Kelli is my wife), I will hang up on you.
I received a call like this today, and it went something like this:
ME: Hello, this is Jon.
SCAMMER: Hello. I am Tom from Microsoft. May I talk to Mister Kelli?
ME: Kelli is a girl.
SCAMMER: Uh... Can I speak to him? May I leave a message.
SCAMMER: Uh... Okay.... I am calling from Microsoft. We have
informations about problems to fix the technicals on Mr. Kelli's
computer. If you can...
*click* ... (me hanging up on "Tom" mid-sentence).
Clearly, "Tom" wasn't listening. Nor did he care about his supposed "customer service".
You'd think these scammers would get get the hint from the other dozen
times I've hung up on them. They used to call asking for "Mr. John". I've
hung up on them quite rudely every time. Now they're calling for "Mr.
Kelli" (who is a woman, and, quite clearly, my wife). These guys are attempting to
scam people by convincing those people to give them remote access to their
personal computers (so that they can install malware and other dangerous programs).
Their scam has been widely reported on the news, cautioned by word-of-mouth,
and can easily be discerned by most people.... yet they
persist. They are foolishly determined to steal from and scam anyone who will do what they ask.
If you get a call from someone like this claiming to be from Microsoft, hang up. Microsoft does not call people asking to fix their computers. That's not how Microsoft works.
I'm deeply fascinated by pictures of old abandoned buildings. For places like this, it's as if life just ceased one day, and everyone disappeared. Artifacts are left behind; pictures are still hanging on the walls; once-valuable documents litter the floor. But the questions always remain: What's the story behind each of these abandoned places? And why are they still here for us to wonder about and explore?
Come join me as we take a peek at some off-limits areas. The photos of these unique places are oddly captivating.