Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, once again.

You know what I realized? I have been keeping this blog since late 2004, before I even had a laptop and stuff. Crazy.

Well the gift-giving is over, although according to Mum I do have two gifts still to open that she ordered online that didn't make it here before Christmas. And I don't know if I'll get anything from Aunt Jane and Uncle Bobbo, who aren't coming here for Christmas after all cause Uncle Bobbo had to have a surgery of some sort done.

Anyway giving gifts went well and my parents and brother liked what I got them. My brother really liked the Medal of Honor PC game I got him (in lieu of an Xbox game; I couldn't find any games for the normal Xbox at Target). My dad really liked the Amazing Grace book (which is about William Wilberforce, like the recent movie of that name) I got him, and my mom really loved her angel drop Li Bien ornament that I got her from the Pier 1 Imports by my work (which is painted from the inside using an ancient Chinese technique), which I am glad made it to Christmas since it was glass and I was terrified that it would fall and break before Christmas while it sat in my closet since the day I bought it (Black Friday).

Now for what I got (minus the two presents I don't have yet):

~ Fantastic 4 DVD (first one, not Silver Surfer, the one I asked for, but that's ok, I like the first one too, and I didn't already have it)
~ 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters (a book I actually asked for for Christmas but didn't expect to actually get; I am happy I got it. It'll help with my writing).
~ 20 Master Plots and How to Build Them (another book I asked for)
~ The Daring Book for Girls (a book which is actually pretty cool; it's kind of a trivia book and a how-to book in one, done in an old-fashioned style).
~ The Secret Things of God (my brother got this too; it's a book by Henry Cloud, one of my mom's favorite authors, written in response to The Secret)
~ A pack of high-cut underwear
~ A pack of black socks (good for work)
~ Black semi-casual pants (for work)
~ A blue T-shirt with palm trees that says "San Diego"
~ A tan shirt that says "You are what you read" (it's kinda tight though...*sigh*)
~ "Much Ado About Nothings" Shakespearean Sticky Notes (quirky but fun)
~ Audio Daydream by Blake Lewis (a CD I really wanted, cause I liked Blake on American Idol and he finally came out with a CD).
~Shakespeare's Insults: Educating Your Wit (quite brother was reading some of them after I opened it...hilarious)
~ Final Fantasy XII: Relevant Wings for DS (ooh!)
~ AN IKEA DESK!!!! (yay...I knew I was getting this present but it's still cool)
~ Two CD storage boxes from Ikea, Motorp series (to go with my desk)
~ A three-box with Velcro desk set from Ikea, Motorp series (which matches the CD boxes and is to go with the desk)
~ A nice blue hoodie

All this, plus the stuff in my stocking: some little Twizzlers licorice, a box of Mentos, a Wonka bar, lotion (good for the dry hands I've been having lately cause of washing my hands so much at work), Blistex lip balm, a small purple gel pen, and a Life Savers Sweet Storybook (a stocking stuffer tradition in our family - every year at least one person gets one).

My brother got an iPod Classic and my dad an iPod Nano. I have a funny feeling that by next Christmas or birthday I'm gonna end up capitulating and asking for an iPod, because I have been resisting so far and buying cheaper music players, with the excuse that either iPods are too expensive or that I don't even have enough songs on my computer to make buying a music player that holds 1,100 songs (or whatever) worth it. But with all the CD's I've been buying recently (mainly for entertainment's sake or to try to find good songs for my fandub project) it might be worth it now, and with me making steady money now, I might be able to afford it. I could always buy it at like Wal-Mart or something where it might be cheaper. (The union I'm part of says you shouldn't patronize Wal-Mart, among other stores, cause they're not union, but I say that's stupid - I shopped at Wal-Mart before joining the UFCW, you think I'm gonna stop now?).

While wrapping presents last night, I decided to listen to a podcast. The main PotterCast page wouldn't come up, so I tried going to the main Leaky Cauldron page to get there and still couldn't. So I listened via iTunes, and the next one for me to listen to was...*drumroll* the first part of their exclusive interview with none other than J.K. ROWLING. Yep, you heard me. The one, the ONLY J.K. Rowling. As in the creator of Harry Potter. I had seen stuff about the interview on their site but hadn't heard the podcast yet, and I still felt chills when they called and, after talking to someone else (probably her husband), they got her, and she came on. The first thing she said was "This better not be about house-elves" (referring to the debate between John and Sue of PotterCast about whether Helga Hufflepuff, who Sue adores, who was in charge of the Hogwarts kitchens in the founding days of the school, enslaved the house-elves who work there now - which they had brought to JKR's attention when they got to talk to her before her Carnegie Hall reading).

The interview was very cool. I was particularly happy when JKR said that Hermione went back to school and finished out the year and took her N.E.W.T.'s (Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests), the test you take at the end of your 7th year at Hogwarts (apparently J.K. Rowling has an interesting sense of humor to call the tests "Nastily Exhausting Wizard Tests"). I know Hermione is the character JKR has said is most like her, and JKR is very into education (having herself majored in French and Classics at the prestigous University of Exeter, located in and around the town of that name, located in southwest England). Anyway, Go Hermione!!

Ironically, Harry and Ron did not go back to school to finish out the year and take their exams, JKR said, but went straight into the Auror Department, having proven themselves to be good at that stuff during the Battle of Hogwarts.

She also said she never saw Hermione as a fighter, which I'm guessing is why Hermione didn't become an Auror in the end. While Hermione can do spells, she doesn't really use them in active fighting the way Harry and Ron do. To use a video game analogy, she would be the support person in the team, casting defensive magic and what have you (much like she did in Deathly Hallows by casting protective charms around their campsites).

Oh crud I guess I gotta go. We're going to the movies. Later.

EDIT AT 12:05 PM

Just checked with Papa. We're not leaving just yet.

I looked up what the iPod models are. The iPod Touch is kinda cool, but only comes in 8 GB and 16 GB versions, which is more than I really need truly. At least for music. 8 GB is good for video though. The Touch also has a web browser (Safari, of course) and a YouTube client, similar to the iPhone.

Oh gotta go for real now. Bye.


Since it's still the same day I'm just gonna add edits to this post.

I am at home by myself, cause I decided I didn't want to go watch my brother surf. I'm just in my room, using my laptop. I may work on a video after this, for the heck of it.

I gotta close at work tomorrow (12-9) but then I get two days off, before working 7-4 Saturday and Sunday. Not bad. I haven't gotten more than 2 days off in a row for a week or so, but with this week, the store being closed today for Christmas meant everyone got the day off by default.

I told Mum how seeing Andrew (my brother)'s iPod Classic kinda made me want an iPod, and she said she was afraid I would lose it if I had one. I have lost music players in the past, usually by accidentally leaving them somewhere, so her fear makes sense. And I do lose things sometimes.

I do have a good music player now, a ZVUE ($65 at Wal-Mart), which also plays video though I don't use it that much for that due to the hassle of getting the files on there via ZAPP (the iTunes-like program that came with my player), but I am getting a little tired of it, primarily cause of the aforesaid ZAPP software, which takes a while to load and is kind of tough to use. Plus most of the video files I want to put on there I end up not being able to cause of the really narrow format restrictions (WMV and some form of DivX video). Also when you have WMA files on there, the artist name is displayed with the song but not the title of the CD.

iTunes, on the other hand, is easy to figure out how to use (I've bought music there) and the iTunes store has lots of stuff. Most of the podcasts I've seen cost nothing, and you can listen to them right in iTunes or (supposedly) download them. And while the iPod doesn't

Hold on moving the computer downstairs.


My parents got the movie Little Miss Sunshine for Christmas and so we were just watching it. It's very random.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes. Even though the iPod doesn't support WMA files, you can still get WMA files on your iPod using iTunes.

I like the iPod Mini size, but the Mini appears to have been discontinued. The new Shuffle is a size I'm not likely to lose (cause I can clip it to my clothes) but I want an iPod with a screen so I can see what song is playing. Maybe a Nano -- a 1GB probably.

Eh well can't think of anything else to say. Good night.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thoughts about the future, Order of the Phoenix video game, and other stuff

I was thinking about my future again today, cause my mom told me some people my brother knows invited him to move in with them. This would make him the first of us to move out, which I must admit makes me a little jealous. But then he's the one with all the friends. Anyway he is still deciding.

But in the process of this Mum and I ended up talking about me, and how I feel behind of my friends (yes, I do have some, though not many, and very few close friends) because I don't have a car and I live at home, whereas most of my friends have cars and live by themselves (well, ok, mainly with roommates, since it's pretty much impossible in SoCal for someone my age to afford to live alone in an average apartment, housing prices being what they are). She said eventually, let's just get through Christmas, get the bed from Grandad's in my room and all that, and then we'll see how things go.

Speaking of the future, I still have to send the stuff for my insurance. I am still a bit apprehensive about the insurance, because there are some days I really dislike my job and want to quit. But the insurance holds me back -- I have to have medical insurance, and what if I can't get it again? And even if I do get it, what if 3 months after I get it, I find a better job and quit my current job? Then I'll lose that insurance, and the work of getting it would've been worthless. I'll be back where I started, with no health insurance (I'm too old to be under my dad's plan). I suppose I am just "catastrophizing," as Mum said the other day -- just thinking of the worst-case scenario.

Adulthood is bloody scary. I mean, here I am 23, setting up my own health insurance for the first time and terrified of doing it wrong. Meanwhile, I am only semi-independent as an adult; I live at home still (though I pay for rent every month and pay my monthly cell phone bill, and I buy most of my own food, including my own soda) and last I checked, Mum is still doing my taxes for me, using TurboTax or whatever. I suppose that is ok, but I am starting to wonder if I shouldn't try to do my own taxes this upcoming year, especially since I've got to do my FAFSA too and I might need tax information for that.

Now, granted, I said semi-independent. Like I said, I pay rent each month ($50) and my cell phone bill ($40) and buy most of my own food. I am currently paying for school now by myself and buying my textbooks myself. I do my own laundry and know how to wash dishes. I can more or less prepare a meal for myself, although I tend to eat things that can either be microwaved or easy things like toast or cereal since I'm not much good with the stove still. I can make pasta on the stovetop (boil water in a pot, put the pasta in, and so on) but that's about it (I'm still not good at scrambled eggs, and most of the time I don't have the time in the morning to make that kind of thing for breakfast). And I pretty much never use the oven since I don't usually ever eat anything that requires using the oven.

Also, the future of my schooling...I still haven't heard from Cal State. They're supposed to send me a Campus ID and password so I can check my application status. I wonder if their semester ended too and so things got messed up in the office? Eh well I'll call tomorrow to see.

As for paying for school, like I said I have to do my FAFSA. I am going to do it online because when you do that you get your Student Aid Report within 72 hours, as opposed to a couple weeks if the form's sent by snail mail. Mum said that if it turns out all I can get is loans, that we'll do so and they'll co-sign, and then we'll pay them off with the money we get from selling Gran and Grandad's house, since my parents are intending to use that money for both of our educations (mine and my brother's). I was pleasantly surprised to learn this, since I just did research on loans too (for my scholarship project). The reason it even came up was that my mom said they would use that money to provide for a junior and senior year's education for us both at college, and I said my junior year could be coming up pretty soon (if I get into Cal State for next fall and the right credits transfer over, I should be able to transfer as a junior -- that's how it usually works when you transfer from a junior college to a state university).

Eh well...change of subject. Last Friday, after I missed the FAST bus at 5:30 when I was coming home from work, I went over to EB Games and ended up buying Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for DS. I didn't get around to playing it till today, and not that seriously until I got home because I had left my styluses at home, and a stylus is essential for that game (it's your wand, among other things). And it is really fun. The visuals are way better than my other Harry Potter handheld game, the rather lame Chamber of Secrets GBA game (though not perhaps as nice as the only console Harry Potter game I own, Goblet of Fire for GameCube), and you get to run around the entire castle. That's cool.

You use your stylus in a wide variety of ways. Besides its main function as your wand, which you use on the main map to do everything from repairing Grimmauld Place vases and furniture to a Hogwarts suit of armor and some fixtures in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom (and then some) with Reparo to moving chairs out of the way with Wingardium Leviosa, it has other uses as well, such as stirring your potion in Potions or flicking your Gobstone from the bottom screen to the top screen while playing Gobstones.

They utilize other features of the DS as well, besides the stylus. Its two-screen format is used creatively in Gobstones, where the circles you want to aim for are on the top screen, but your Gobstones are on the bottom screen, and you have to use your stylus to get them from one screen to the other. Also, you duel in this game, using a number of different spells (including the staple Harry Potter video game starting spell, Filipendo), and when you duel, you not only use both screens but you turn your DS sideways so it's horizontal like a book. And the really cool thing -- during Potions lessons you can blow into the microphone to make the flames hotter. Cool, huh?

One ironic thing about the beginning of the game is that, despite the fact that the beginning of Order of the Phoenix is about Harry being on trial for use of underage magic outside of school, the game still has you going around Grimmauld Place Reparo-ing vases and furniture and using Wingardium Leviosa to move a table blocking the door to Ginny's room. Um, I thought Harry wasn't supposed to using any spells outside of school...

The storyline more or less follows the book and the movie (I suppose EA has rights to the book too) but with some original content too. Also the plot is mainly task-oriented (much like shooters such as the Bond games, Halo, or the Star Wars shooters, where you focus on completing objectives), but open to change at any moment. For instance, while trying to find the library for a task, I ended up stopping to help Moaning Myrtle fix stuff in her bathroom. And on the way to find Neville to ask about the Room of Requirement, the trio is stopped by Snape, who accuses them of vandalizing a suit of armor. They need a couple missing pieces, and the nearby portrait will give you a clue as to their possible location if you pass an Astronomy activity. After the pieces are collected, you simply Reparo and Snape comes back and lets you pass.

Anyway it looks great so far.

Well it's late and I'm tired. I fortunately have tomorrow off so I can sleep in. What I'm gonna do tomorrow I'm not sure.

Good night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

FINALS ARE OVER!!! (yay), new manga, next semester plans, room plans


I just came from my last final of the semester. Yay!!! It was for U.S. History. Since the teacher usually does his tests with multiple choice and then essay terms, a few of us were discussing what terms we thought he'd use. None of the ones I guessed he'd use were on the test. The terms were Levittowns, Cash and Carry and Lend Lease, and Postwar Economy. We had to do 2 of those 3. Unfortunately, I didn't remember much about the third of these, but I did about the other two, so I simply did those. The multiple choice was only 20 questions, and I knew the definite answer to most of them. Just in case, I went back over my answers before turning in that part, changing a few of them.

A couple days ago, after my Literature final, I went to the mall to try to get more of the manga series I need more volumes of. They had none of them at Borders Express (the only bookstore at the nearby mall, and where I usually get most of my manga -- I also get some at the Barnes & Noble by my work sometimes -- and if I had the time I'd go to the regular Borders down the street from my work in a shopping center called The Forum, but it's kinda far to walk, plus most of the time I don't have the chance to get over there cause of my work schedule, which is a shame cause they have a good manga selection -- they even had Angelic Layer, which I had been looking for for ages!). But they were having a "buy 4, get one free" sale on all the books in the store, so I decided to take advantage of this and buy more manga than usual. Since there weren't the volumes I needed for the series I had been looking for (namely volume 4 of Cardcaptor Sakura, volume 2 of Wedding Peach, and volume 3 of Tokyo Mew Mew), I decided to go for new series.So I bought five volumes of manga series I hadn't read before (all volume 1, of course; I read manga chronologically). The series were: Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody, Peach Girl: Sae's Story, Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and The Good Witch of the West. The first four I knew something about, but the last one I had never heard of. It looked good though, so I bought it.

Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody is the manga that the popular anime Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch is based on. I know the anime is popular because, like with Fullmetal Alchemist, AMV's with footage from it are all over YouTube. That is usually a good indicator. Basically it is Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid" with mahou shoujo and fantasy mixed in. Or at least the story is very similar to "The Little Mermaid." Having recently read the Tokyo Mew Mew manga, which came out around the same time as Pichi Pichi Pitch, I noticed a number of similarities, even though PPP is not by Mia Ikumi (TMM's creator). The manga features little notes from the creators throughout -- primarily from artist Pink Hanamori -- much the way Ikumi does, and Lucia and Rina look suspiciously like Ichigo and Zakuro respectively. Also Rina is really mature, as is Zakuro. Anyway, this manga is published by Del Rey, the famous sci-fi/fantasy publisher (well known for the Star Wars novels). The manga is more the size of a trade paperback (a normal-sized paperback book) as opposed to the smaller size Tokyopop employs. I'm not sure if this even matters; I just noticed it (my time working at a bookstore has taught me what a "trade paperback" is as well). Also, the "translation notes" at the end of the text are really well done and help explain a lot of things that need explanation, and each notation is given with the page number of the thing being referred to, so you can go back and look at the thing in question. And...yay!...they keep in the honorifics (which Tokyopop does to an extent as well), including a list of common ones and what they mean. But they go farther in emphasizing what it means to not use honorifics with someone, which means you have a special level of intimacy with a person.

Peach Girl: Sae's Story is interesting simply because of the perspective. Whereas the regular Peach Girl series (Peach Girl and Peach Girl: Change of Heart) are from Momo Adachi's perspective, Peach Girl: Sae's Story is from the perspective of her friend/rival Sae. I knew a little bit about the original Peach Girl storyline going into it, having read a sample of Peach Girl in a manga magazine (Smile), so even though I haven't read all of the other Peach Girl manga volumes, I had enough background for me to more or less understand Sae's Story. Basically, it's set after the other two series, and Momo and Kiley are off at college. Sae, on the other hand, got held back because of her bad attendance record, and thus has to repeat her senior year. But she keeps up her bad attendance by constantly ditching class to hang out at the college Momo and Kiley are attending. In the process, this guy who knew Sae when she was a kid shows up, and she tries to avoid him so people won't learn about who she used to be. But he keeps pursuing her anyway. Pretty interesting story. There's three volumes, and I will probably get them all.

Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days is basically a much happier version of the infamously dark Evangelion anime series. The back cover advertises it as "Imagine a Neon Genesis Evangelion where dating the right girl is more important than saving the world." Basically, there's still NERV, the Evas, and all that (which they begin to introduce in volume 1) but on top of that Shinji, Asuka, Rei, etc. actually have normal lives, whereas their normal lives were more or less scrapped in the anime. The result is something more along the lines of a lighter sci-fi comedy series, like Tenchi Muyo. The casting is slightly different as well; Shinji's mom is still alive in Angelic Days whereas she's dead in the anime. Also Misato, while she does work for NERV, is also Shinji and co.'s teacher, and Ritsuko is the school nurse while also working for NERV. A couple of Shinji's friends appear who I don't recall from the anime; Rei is a transfer student, and Asuka and Shinji are childhood friends. Basically, the whole series is supposed to be a manga continuation of a dream sequence Shinji has in episode 26 of the anime. As I have only seen half of the NGE anime, I have not yet seen this episode. Anyway...oh and Kaworu appears too, even though he doesn't appear in the anime series till almost the end. Pretty good; Rei is a little goofy but oh well. She was a bit too serious in the anime anyway.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle is basically a crossover fanfic brought to life by the genius that is CLAMP. While it primarily crosses over xxxHolic and Cardcaptor Sakura, it also contains crossovers from most of CLAMP's other series. Volume 1 alone features characters from Cardcaptor Sakura (Sakura, Syaoran, Touya, Yukito, and Tomoyo), X/1999 (the two Hanshin Republic characters -- the girl resembles Hideki's landlady from Chobits too), Chobits (Chi), and Magic Knight Rayearth (Mokona and Rayearth). According to Wikipedia, only Wish and Shirahime-Syo: Snow Goddess Tales out of all of CLAMP's works do not crossover (at least not yet -- the series is still ongoing) with Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle (or with xxxHolic). Kurogane and Fai are original characters in Tsubasa, not crossing over from any other series, and the "dimension witch" Yuuko is from xxxHolic. This manga is also by Del Rey and provides the usual translation notes as well as a character guide to help you keep the characters and what series they cross over from (if they do) straight.

The Good Witch of the West supposedly inspired an anime as well (which I really want to see now). The manga is actually based on a series of novels, much like certain parts of Tenchi Muyo. The novel basis I found rather influential, since the manga has a very literary feel, much like a fantasy novel or fantasy video game. The title sounds somewhat like a title for an early mahou shoujo anime (many of the earliest mahou shoujo series were about witches coming to the human world) and is somewhat misleading since the main character, Firiel, is not a witch at all. But there is a legend about a "Good Witch of the West" in the manga's world, and a piece of this legend is quoted at the beginning of the manga. So this is probably where the title comes from. Anyway, very good though.


I already enrolled for spring; I am just taking one class for fun. It is a class in Printmaking (doing woodcuts and the like), which should be interesting and fun (and hopefully not too hard). I will have to prepare for graduation and transferring during the spring as well. I am still waiting to hear from Cal State about whether I got accepted. (I'm checking online now...they have a thing where you can check your application status).

Uh ok can't get on. I need to call them.


While I wait for that, I'll talk about my room. My dad measured the bed I am getting from my grandparents' house, and so now I need to measure the area where my bed is now (in a little three-sided jutting piece of wall with a window - a nook, I guess) to see if it will fit there. At any rate, I am going to rearrange some stuff and get storage boxes. I am also getting rid of my large dresser once I have a chance to go through it (ok, granted, I had chances the last two weeks, but I never got to it) since I don't use it much. Normally, I would not be so motivated to organize my room, except that I have been watching a lot of decorating shows lately. Plus the storage box idea I got from my parents' organization of the garage. I bought one organizational thing already: a shelf, technically made for kitchens, that sits on little legs and has non-slip stuff on the top, for putting my TV on when I move it to my small, low dresser (where my boombox is now - I'm getting rid of that too cause the CD player doesn't work) so that it is a little higher. It is high enough (I think) for me to slide my VCR underneath.

Also I am getting a new desk for Christmas, and so I need to figure out that too. I told Mom I want one tall enough for me to put my file cabinet underneath (since I think that would be much more convenient. And I need a real nightstand (not the TV tray I'm using now). I will be able to figure out this stuff much better when we get the bed in the room.

That's all, I guess. Bye.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Strange work schedule, boring union meeting, Golden Compass criticism, school ending, and so on

I got off work at 7 today, the last of the three days this week I worked in a row. Lately I have been given a very strange work schedule -- this last week I got Tuesday and Thursday off as usual and then also Monday and Wednesday, giving me four days off in a row. And for this coming week they gave me the same thing, except next weekend I work 7-4 for three days. It works out cause last week I had a big essay due for Lit that I was able to devote nearly an entire day to doing the rough draft for last Monday, and this week I have finals (in fact, I should be working on my scholarship project right now, cause it's due Tuesday and I don't really want to do it the day before, but my body is saying no -- my back aches and I am dead tired, neither of which would improve my concentration).

On Tuesday of this week I had to go down to the San Diego area to go to a union meeting about the new insurance plan. It was rather boring and one part of it was all about Platinum Plus members, which I'm not, so I should've left when they started that, but it seemed rude to do so. So for a while, I just sat there and followed along with the PowerPoint slide printout, under the premise that I might need this information down the road, but since you need to have been working for 5+ years to get to that level, I don't think I'll need it since it is highly unlikely I'll still be at Stater's 5 years from now. After following along got boring, I started taking notes from this book I bought for my scholarship assignment research called Free $ For College for Dummies, which I had brought with me to take notes from in case I had downtime before or after the meeting. Fortunately, I was sitting near the back so I was fairly inconspicuous, not that they check to see if you're paying attention anyways. The good thing is I finished the notes while waiting for Papa to pick me up after the meeting, so those are done.

Tikkie from work informed me in a somewhat roundabout fashion last night that some churches are telling people not to go see the movie The Golden Compass, something my mom mentioned too. So I was thinking about that today. I have been wanting to see Golden Compass since they first starting showing trailers for it, mainly cause it was a fantasy movie and I usually like fantasy in any format. I started reading the book trilogy Golden Compass comes from (it's a trilogy called His Dark Materials, of which The Golden Compass--Northern Lights in the UK--is the first. The other two are The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) because Melissa Anelli was pushing it on PotterCast as being an awesome series (apparently some people think it's similar to Harry Potter -- I disagree; it's so much more complex than HP and in my opinion is more of the "high fantasy" genre, like Lord of the Rings). I really liked it, strange portrayal of Christianity aside.

Actually I was just reading that secular groups have been criticizing the movie too because the moviemakers were planning to cut as much of the religious material as was possible to do and not mess up the main story. So churches boycotting it is slightly ironic.

Anyway, it is difficult for me to explain the very complex religious viewpoint portrayal in the trilogy. I just checked a site and it does say Pullman (the author of the book) is an atheist; but then, I knew it was not a Christian book going into it. He does however quote Paradise Lost at the beginning, and it is from Book 3 of said poem that the title of the series comes:
Into this wilde Abyss, [ 910 ]
The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave,
Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire,
But all these in thir pregnant causes mixt
Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain [ 915 ]
His dark materials to create more Worlds... (emphasis mine)
The title is somewhat appropriate since much of the His Dark Materials trilogy revolves around parallel worlds.

The view of God did strike me very much as a nihilist "God is dead" sort of philosophy, since God seems very distant if he is in fact present at all, in heaven or anywhere, for that matter; also the angels were far from perfect, much like the angels of Cruxis in Tales of Symphonia (who were in fact evolved half-elves, not created angels). The angel Metatron, hailed as the "Regent of Heaven," is equated with the Biblical Enoch, but much of what is said about this Enoch (that he had lots of wives for example) does not fit any description of Enoch, canonical or apocryphal, in Judaism, Christianity, or Islam (all of which have some Enoch story). There is an angel named Metatron in Jewish tradition though (according to what I just looked up), and apparently he is considered to be the same as Enoch by some early Kabbalah followers. But then Kabbalah, though taken very seriously by some Jews, is above all a mystic tradition and thus is liable to present somewhat far-out beliefs.

So when Pullman was trying to portray the religion of Lyra's world (and presumably others too), he obviously based it on mystical traditions, perhaps apocryphal too, and maybe some nihilism and some of his own atheism.

In the book in which he finally appears (The Amber Spyglass), Metatron is seeking to take God's place through battle, much like Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost. Mainly he seeks to supplant "The Authority," who is really the first angel created and not God, though he claims to be God.

So where is the real God exactly? Who created everything -- the angels, the worlds, etc. -- if not The Authority?

Good question. I don't know. The answer is probably that there isn't a God in that universe. That's what the atheistic Pullman would probably say. As for who the creator is, well anyone who knows about atheistic views knows the answer: there is none. Evolution is what created everything.

Now that I research stuff and get it into writing, one thought is coming up in my mind quite clearly: THE THEOLOGY IN THESE BOOKS IS WHACKED! It's not theology from any one religion, combining traditions from Judaism, Christianity probably too, maybe nihilism, and certainly secular humanism (and maybe deism too, which suggests a God who set the world in motion but now stays out of human affairs).

Now does that mean I won't go see the movie? No. That would be like not going to see Harry Potter cause it has witchcraft in it. If anything, I will get to see Daniel Craig in something other than a Bond movie, and two other actors I like -- Nicole Kidman (as Marisa Coulter) and Ian McKellen (as the voice of Iorek Byrnison). Come to think of it, this movie is a bit of a reunion for Craig too, as his Casino Royale co-star Eva Green (who played Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale) is also in Golden Compass (playing witch queen Serafina Pekkala, although I think she looks too young; Serafina is young-looking, as are most witches in His Dark Materials, but I always pictured her as older-looking than Eva Green looks in the part in the trailers). They also have Freddie Highmore doing the voice of Pantalaimon, Lyra's daemon (the physical manifestation of her soul; everyone has one in His Dark Materials; they are only externally seen in Lyra's world), who I enjoyed in Finding Neverland (where he played one of Kate Winslet's kids; Johnny Depp starred as Peter Pan author James Barrie) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (in which he starred as the title character Charlie Bucket, co-starring--again--alongside Johnny Depp, who played Willy Wonka). All of those are reasons to see it, I guess.

Oh and the
Alethiometer (the "compass" of the title) reminded me somewhat of a Ouija board, in that you ask the alethiometer a question and a needle swings of its own accord to the answer, much the same way that a Ouija board does. Only the alethiometer seems to be able to answer more than just "yes" and "no" questions.

Anyway moving on, since it's getting late (fortunately, I'm off tomorrow so I can sleep in)...

School is ending; we have finals this week. I think I can enroll for spring semester starting on the 12th of December; I have to check. At any rate, I won't start spring semester till January 22.

All right I am going to start getting ready for bed after I post this. Good night.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Continuing (finally) Tuesday's post

I promised to finish discussing what I had planned to discuss in my last post, but I didn't get to it until now, with a full day of work yesterday and today school and spending the afternoon trying to add music and credits to the last part of Act 21 for my fandub project, which I finally did finish and which I am uploading to YouTube right now.

My computer is working okay now speed-wise but this is only after at least one forced restart (orchestrated by turning the computer off and then turning it back on again).

Transfer progress first, I guess. I have made some. A couple weeks ago, I stayed up late after a long day at work to fill out the application online for Cal State San Marcos, the school I'm planning to go to (it's the closest university to my house). I know it was a couple weeks ago because I printed stuff out from it on my new printer. Anyway, after being busy last week with the book review, I got back to business this week and filled out a Request for Transcript form so that my transcript will be sent to Cal State San Marcos ASAP. I also went to Financial Aid today and asked them when I need to do the FAFSA. They said January (which is what I had figured was true anyway, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask).

I am going to graduate next spring, and since graduating after a semester where you don't take any classes seems sort of silly, I made plans to take classes next spring. Initially, I probably would've gone with more transfer articulation stuff (classes at my school that correspond to classes at CSUSM -- where if you take the classes that correspond you don't have to take the corresponding university courses, supposedly anyway), but seeing how hard it's been to keep up with schoolwork and such with a full-time job, my mom's idea of only taking one fun class sounds better. Not to mention that I already have at least 20 units over what Cal State requires for a transfer student and don't need a ton more -- I'll be approaching 90 units just by the end of this semester (Cal State only takes 60 -- I'm just hoping they take my IGETC stuff or I'm screwed).

Fortunately, the spring print schedule came to campus today (ahead of schedule -- they weren't supposed to be available on campus till the 19th) so I snagged a copy. There were quite a few classes that interested me. ART 210 (Printmaking) is interesting me the most at present, as is Basic Office Skills (which I've taken some sections of already). I was bummed that the class in "research in the online world" (a Library Science class) wasn't being offered next spring, cause since I'd be graduating from our little 2-level junior college library to the 5-story CSUSM library and so I may have to learn research all over again. I'm also bummed that the next "preview day" (this Saturday) for CSUSM I can't go to cause of work.

I found out about the "preview day" cause some CSUSM reps were at school today and there were fliers for the "preview day." The lady at the table told me they do campus tours every weekday so even if I can't make it to that event I can still arrange to tour the campus and stuff. Although, if it doesn't work out, I like exploring. I just don't want to get lost is all.

While I was at it, I picked up a folder at another rep's table with Financial Aid info. I'm gonna need that for sure.


AND NOW THE CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC: DUMBLEDORE. He is now "officially possible as a slash fiction character" as I mentioned in the title of the last post. For those not familiar with fanfiction-speak, "slash fiction" is fiction focused on homosexual relationships, which are usually denoted by a / between the names, hence the name.

That's right. DUMBLEDORE IS HOMOSEXUAL. Now I know everybody probably knows this already. It's been news for a while, and very heavily promoted. I am only writing about it because I have not had a chance to work out in writing my reaction to this revelation.

Now, some background. This revelation came about at a live reading/book signing J.K. Rowling was doing at Carnegie Hall in New York City. At some point, she began taking questions from the audience. One fan asked about Dumbledore's love life. She said:

My truthful answer to you... I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] ... Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.

(Thanks to for the quote, from their transcript of JKR's Q & A section)

Now that she saved this information for after the publishing of Deathly Hallows is certainly shrewd, given the controversy it generated (it might have hurt book sales if revealed pre-DH, I think). Also Deathly Hallows is where we learn of Dumbledore's unusually high admiration of and friendship with Gellert Grindelwald, the wizard Dumbledore would later go on to defeat in a famous duel in 1945 (the duel mentioned on Dumbledore's Chocolate Frog card in Sorcerer's Stone), so the timing sort of fits in that respect as well.

Now I should mention right now that I am a Christian and, while I am not anti-homosexuals in an extremist fundamentalist sense, I do believe the Bible is true, and it says that homosexuality is wrong. Now I suppose there may be lines to draw here. Did Dumbledore ever have sex with another man? I think that is the main Biblical issue with homosexuality -- the idea of having sex with someone of the same gender. It's not so much that being sexually attracted to those of the same sex is a sin (although it's not the norm, for sure) as is the actual act of having sex with someone of the same gender, which is deemed by the Bible as not natural. (One verse I know of on this is in Romans: "For this reason [because they rejected God] God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations with those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" [Romans 1:26-27, English Standard Version]. The Old Testament has various laws forbidding sex with non-human animals too, as if anyone would be that desperate for sex or even sexually interested in an animal in the first place -- this was long before the Minotaur story, mind you, where a woman fell in love with a bull and even had a "child" with it [the Minotaur], and even in that story her love is considered unnatural, the result of divine punishment on her husband).

I worked with a guy in the deli at the Stater Bros. by me named Matthew. He was a homosexual, the first one I'd ever worked with (and he's a Harry Potter fan too, strangely enough...I wonder what he thinks about this revelation). He didn't like to be called "homosexual" cause it implied he was having sex with other men, which he was not. I think he wanted to be called "queer." Not that I ever called him queer; that's a little weird for me.

Anyway, I am a little nervous about this news, since Dumbledore is my second favorite character (after Hermione). I'm not sure how to view him. I was able to accept his faults as portrayed in Deathly Hallows mainly cause JKR set it up from the end of Order of the Phoenix onward to show that Dumbledore was not perfect.

There does not seem to be any evidence that Grindelwald was homosexual; JKR went on to say Dumbledore's love for Grindelwald was unrequited, which means that even if Grindelwald was homosexual, he and Dumbledore weren't "partners" in the sense that they felt any mutual erotic affection. Age was not a factor here as Grindelwald was actually younger than Dumbledore by 2 years and thus there was not much of an age gap.

This does not upset any relationship preference I have as far as the fandom goes, not like how the Epilogue finally forced me to capitulate my preference for the Harry/Hermione ship (the Epilogue of DH clearly states that the end pairups are Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione). I was not a fan of any Dumbledore pairup, normal or slash. I somewhat supported the Dumbledore/McGonagall ship, but only cause it was the only Dumbledore ship I knew of.

Oy. I better go to bed soon cause I have to get up at 5:30. I'll discuss this more later. But one last thing: in hearing discussion on this topic through the podcasts, I heard that there are people who support the "slash" pairup of Lupin and Sirius. I do not get that pairing at all. Some people claim that pairing is why Lupin was hesitant to marry Tonks (who had feelings for Sirius, her cousin, before his death). THAT IS NOT IT AT ALL. Lupin was hesitant to marry Tonks because he didn't want her to have to share in the discrimination he experiences as a werewolf. Case closed. As for Sirius, I don't think he ever had any romantic relationships, normal or slash, at any point in time. Hope that settles that.

More later. Good night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

School work piles up, new YouTube account, transfer progress, Dumbledore now officially possible as a slash fiction character, etc.

As you can see, I am as usual not writing here much. I am busy, as usual, with school and work. With the semester being almost over, not to mention the school schedule getting disrupted from its normal pace by the wildfires, the work is piling up at school as teachers try to rearrange their semester schedules to accomodate the fact that we missed a week. I had a journal (small essay) due for Lit last Thursday (on White Teeth, the novel we've been reading, which we finished recently -- I did mine on "Irie Jones as the sane one" cause for some reason she is my favorite character), plus a test in U.S. History, and my book review for World History was due the following day.

Having some half shifts at work last week really helped; we have some new people in our department so I got a break from my seemingly endless string of all-full-shift weeks. And I do this week too except that tomorrow and Sunday I have full shifts (10-7) but that's not too bad. The new people are a girl named Rebecca, a girl named Liz, and these two baggers named Matt and Corey who got promoted to GMC (General Merchandise Clerk, which is what I am, except since they just started as GMC's and I've been a GMC since I started at Stater Bros nearly 10 months ago and have gotten a few raises, I probably make a bit more than they do -- in fact, I'm sure I do, cause when I started as a GMC I started at $7.65/hour, which was 15 cents over minimum wage, and now I make $8.55/hour) and ended up in the bakery.

Anyway I worked almost non-stop on the book review the last couple weeks, even ordering a book I felt would be useful through Barnes and Noble and getting it like 5 days before the paper was due (a week after I ordered it). And then when I finished typing it up the night before it was due, it was wayyy too long. Like 12 pages (endnotes included), when the page requirement was 3 pages. I sent it to my teacher asking for advice and how to condense it, and she replied back on Friday night (the night the paper was due) that she'd proof it and if it needed a rewrite, she'd give me an extra day. So I waited and waited for her response and finally got it on Sunday. She said my paper was so well-researched and "fabulous" that she'd take it despite the length. Which was awesome.

Now that I can take a breather after that very time-consuming project, I can focus on other things, like my two Lit papers (an essay project on White Teeth and a homework assignment where we do scholarship research) and the Dark Mercury Arc Fandub Project, part of which has finally been posted on YouTube.

One drag to using YouTube is that they once again deleted my account, after giving me quite a bit of hope that they would not when they didn't do so even after blocking like 4 of my videos in one fell swoop. I guess trying to upload this pic as an avatar is what did it, cause that was the last thing I uploaded there.

Anyway, I managed to create a new account, and as a precaution, put some of my old videos on my Veoh account and created a backup account on YouTube. Here's links:

Primary YouTube account

Backup YouTube account

Veoh account (where even the creator of Veoh sent me a friend invite!)

Oops gotta go 4 minutes till class. More about transferring and Dumbledore later. Bye.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Birthday, fires, and other stuff

Well what a week last week was. First of all, the county was in a huge panic cause some nasty wildfires started last Sunday (21st). Actually there were 3 major fires: one was in our area, one was up near Malibu, and one was near the U.S.-Mexico border. Then there were little fires that sprung up from those. Thousands of people were evacuated, including some people at my work. I didn't go to school all week cause school was closed, and even went into work on Thursday (I would've normally been off) so I could get that Sunday (28th) off, as it was my birthday that day.

Yes, I have had my birthday, so I am now TWENTY-THREE. Scary.

(sorry left for a bit and went to YouTube. I'm back though)

Anyway, on my birthday I went to church with my parents (at their church) and then we went to this place called the Elephant Bar for lunch. Then we came home and opened presents. My parents got me a PRINTER, which I do very much need for use with my laptop. To go with it, I got a black/white printer cartridge and a ream of printer paper. I also got a new pair of PJ's, a set of scrunchies (useful for work), and a $15 Itunes gift card (which I can make some use of even though I don't have an iPod).

After this we went to a place called Clay n' Latte (which did not quite live up to its name since its latte machine was broken that day), where you pick out ceramics and paint them. I picked out a little castle thing where the castle is the top for a little trinket box, my mom picked out a similar sort of box but where the top was a crown, and my dad picked out a huge bowl. We had fun doing this.

Afterwards, we went to the movie theater in the same shopping center and saw Dan in Real Life, that new movie with Steve Carell. I have not seen much of his work, but he was really funny. Plus the movie had that guy who plays the dad on Frasier, and he's always excellent and fun to watch.

After this, we went home, and unfortunately got into a heavy discussion about my health insurance and stuff which kinda dampened things. My mom said later that I need to take care of myself -- small things like getting my room clean so it can stay clean -- before worrying about huge stuff like saving for a car. I told Heather the next day this sounded like therapy talk, but it was true and I knew it. Anyway, I felt better later cause we had my cake, and if there's one things sweets can do, it's making you feel better. I ordered the cake from work and Heather decorated it, even suggesting some elements that weren't part of the original design in the book but which she thought would look nice, asking my permission first of course (I was actually at work when she was making it).

I'll probably try to post a picture if I can get my mom to send me one of the pictures she took of the cake with her digital camera, but here's basically what it looked like: it was a double-layered round cake with an edible image on it of the Lord of the Rings movie cast inside the Ring. Heather airbrushed the sides a golden orange to make it match and did a twig-like border with leaves (some icing, some sugar) in place of the not-so-impressive dark blue border the original picture in the book had. Then she did the writing in brown to match the new border (I'd put light blue for the writing color on the original order, assuming I was going to have a dark blue border). It actually looked way better than the book's picture this way, and the twigs and leaves were very season-appropriate, plus the twigs gave that kind of fantasy-forest feel.

I also got a cupcake (which I meant to bring for lunch today but I forgot) from Tori (my department manager). It's one of our new "shavings" cupcakes that is filled with donut filling. They put white shavings on it and then decorated it with a cool candle (all twisty) and three of these Harry Potter rings we got in during the summer (cause of the Order of the Phoenix movie) -- one each of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. It was unexpected and yet cool that she thought of me, and even cooler that they (Heather was in on this too, obviously) remembered that I like Harry Potter. Of course, Heather knows this anyway so she probably came up with the idea, plus rings work really well for decorating cupcakes.

We had a bit of a tense atmosphere yesterday at work because the Health Department was supposed to show up for an inspection. We were more or less prepared, since we've been cleaning the department for this on and off since last Thursday, including a mondo cleaning day on Sunday when I was off. But then they NEVER CAME. Kind of a waste, all our efforts then. Heather said it would be worth it, the cleaning that is, even if they didn't come, cause she was able to clean at least some of the shelves above her decorating table, which did need to be done anyway. Actually, I think a lot of cleaning jobs around the department that never (or at least rarely) get done cause of our skeleton crew got done this weekend, like we cleaned these drains last Thursday that pretty much never get cleaned as far as I know.

I did do some work on my room on Sunday night, which basically consisted of picking up on the floor some and cleaning off my desktop. I also disconnected the old desktop computer that's been taking up space on my desk (after checking it to make sure there weren't things on there that shouldn't be on there when we get rid of it...using only the keyboard, I might add, since someone apparently took my mouse...using a desktop computer without a mouse is very tricky, let me tell ya...good thing I remembered some keyboard shortcuts) and got it out of the way. Once this was gone, there was enough space on my desk for my laptop, my little letter tray where I keep important papers, and my new printer (which is pretty small, but then I don't need anything that big). I haven't had a chance to hook the printer up yet, but I may do so tonight.

While working on my room, I listened to the first MuggleCast after their 12-hour live show (I'm gonna catch up on that later), and it was kinda funny since they were pretending Andrew Sims (the main host) was there, but you could totally tell it was just co-host Jamie Lawrence pretending to be Andrew. The slight accent in "Andrew's" voice was a dead giveaway (Jamie is a Brit). They also sorta made fun of newsman Micah Tannenbaum for having not seen the Order of the Phoenix movie yet.

I also worked on my thesis for World History Sunday night, since it's an online class and so work for it was not disturbed by the fires last week. I tried to post it yesterday morning, but the forum for it in the discussion board wasn't up yet, and then when I tried to post it after work, my computer was so slow I ended up posting it after the due time. Fortunately, I learned today that my teacher has extended the due date for the thesis to November 1st, so I am ok.

In fact, speaking of that class, the CD-ROM that came with my book got cracked recently, and so my computer won't read it, which is probably why I'm not getting full credit on my theses (I can't use sources from the CD-ROM like I'm supposed to). I finally got around to sending an e-mail out to all my fellow classmates (using the handy "Send E-Mail: All Student Users" feature on BlackBoard, where our class is hosted) the other night asking if I could make a copy of someone else's CD. This one gal responded within minutes, and I have been trying to stay in contact with her via e-mail. I e-mailed her this morning about possibly getting together today (short notice, I know, but I didn't read my e-mail today till right before Lit class), but she hasn't e-mailed back yet. So I am at campus still in case she decides to meet me here today. I still haven't gotten an e-mail from her yet. It's about 3:30 now, I'm gonna wait till 4 (the gal is supposed to have class here at 5) and if I don't hear from her, I'm gonna go home.

In my other classes, class work has had to be shifted due to school being closed last week cause of the fires. My midterm for Lit was shifted to today (was supposed to be last Tuesday) and fortunately I found this out enough in advance to prepare for the essay we had to write in-class for that. It took me almost all of the period, even with an outline, to write the essay, but I think I did well. The assignment that was supposed to be due in my U.S. history class last week (after a couple previous due date changes) had another due date change; it is now due this Thursday, BUT we now have the choice of either doing that one or skipping it and doing the next one, rather than having to do both. Not bad. I think I will probably go ahead and do this one since I printed out the information for it anyway. Also, our next test, which was scheduled for this Thursday, was postponed till the 8th (next Thursday).

I got a pleasant surprise for my birthday: the CD I ordered from Philosopherock, one of my favorite wizard rock bands, arrived a few days before my birthday, which was a nice treat. The CD is full of the band's usual "filk" songs (including some songs I've already heard via downloads from their site or their Myspace) and is called Hex Me Draco, One More Time (after one of the songs on it, a song by the same title spoofing the famous Britney song "Hit Me Baby, One More Time"). What songs the songs spoof vary; I can tell with some of them but not with others. Here's my guesses:

-Die, Die, Die : "Bye Bye Bye" by N*Sync
-Charms : No idea
-Eulogy, Book IV : "Skater Boy" by Avril Lavigne
-In My Cape : no idea
-Trapped in the Suburbs : no idea
-Eulogy, Book V : "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys
-Losing My Rememberall : no idea
-This Kiss : "This Kiss" by Faith Hill
-The Real Mad-Eye Moody : "The Real Slim Shady" by Eminem (according to someone on YouTube; I may need to confirm this)
-Hex Me Draco, One More Time : "...Baby One More Time" (sometimes called "Hit Me Baby One More Time") by Britney Spears
-Rita Skeeter : "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5
-Eulogy, Book VI : no idea
-Random Fandom : no idea

"Random Fandom" is just a ramble about the fandom in general but is very good; I also like "Trapped in the Suburbs" a lot out of the songs I hadn't heard prior to getting the CD.

Don't get me wrong, I am not becoming a wizard rock-obsessed maniac. I will most likely only order CD's for bands I really like. Right now there are only three I like that much: The Hermione Crookshanks Experience, Philosopherock, and DJ Luna Lovegood. I also like Harry and the Potters and Hollow Godric, but not as much (HaTP's song "Phoenix Tears" is very catchy, as is my favorite song of theirs right now, "Save Ginny Weasley," and Hollow Godric's Celtic, which is always a plus). The Hermione Crookshanks Experience posted some new songs recently on Myspace from her (it's one girl) new CD, How to Write With a Feather. I may order that CD, since her first one was sold out last I checked. And DJ Luna Lovegood has a new CD out called Yellowish, plus you can still order her (this band's one girl too) first CD.

Aside from Hex Me Draco, One More Time, I pre-ordered this CD Melissa from PotterCast has been pushing on said podcast called Jingle Spells. It's a Christmas CD featuring a lot of wizard rock bands, including (naturally) the grandfathers of wizard rock, the DeGeorge brothers (a.k.a. Harry and the Potters) and their friendly rivals Draco and the Malfoys, but also (yay) The Hermione Crookshanks Experience (singing a song about, I figure anyway, Hermione wanting one of Mrs. Weasley's sweaters, based on the preview I heard). I mainly pre-ordered it cause Melissa kept mentioning it (same reason I bought that Mugglenet "Book 7" book -- they kept promoting it on MuggleCast) but also cause the proceeds go to charity (Book Aid), and you can't beat that!

Okay it is now 4:10 as I write this.

Okay, no e-mail from that girl. And I'm tired and thirsty, so I'm gonna go home. I've gotta work on formulating my book review for World History into an actual paper, which involves sifting through all my notes. Oh I better go check out the book again before I forget. Oh good, it's not checked out. That's good (I figured someone else might be doing the same book and have it checked out). There's a part of my essay I can't really do cause I was having trouble finding stuff on it but may find stuff in this book I ordered on Saturday from the Barnes and Noble at my work. I assume, since it was supposed to take 3-4 days to come in, it will likely be in by today or tomorrow. I hate to have to buy a book, but I'm desperate.

All right, bye for now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big decisions, big problems...c'est la vie?

I haven't written in a while, cause usually I only write in my blog when there's something to write about, and there hasn't been anything to write about lately. Plus, I have been really busy with work lately.

The problem with Stater Bros. is that they make your hours so that, no matter whether you work part time (like some of the courtesy clerks who are still in high school) or full time (pretty much everyone else), you have pretty much no life outside of work. Somehow this seems very tyrannical to me. They have no right to not let you have a life! Example: On work days where I work a full shift (which is typical), I am home for an hour and a half or so in the morning, then I hop on a bus (except on Sundays, when I can't), head to the closest bus station, and get on another bus -- an express -- to go to the nearby shopping mall, where I catch one more bus to get to work. This whole bus trip takes an hour and a half, actually more like 2 hours if you count waiting time between buses. Then I usually have an hour to grab something to eat so I'm not starving by the time my lunch comes later in the afternoon and sit and read while I eat, and then I start. I have lunch, as I said, later in the afternoon (around 4 hours into my 8-hour shift) and other than that no breaks usually -- not that I am not entitled to breaks, it's just that we are so understaffed I am usually so busy with the work I am given I do not have time to take any breaks. Then after lunch I go back to work, get off usually around 9--usually not later than 9:30 cause that's all the overtime they'll usually begrudge me--get picked up around 9:30 (if I get off on time) and get home about 10:00, after which I usually end up spending an hour or so doing stuff on my computer that I didn't have time for in the morning or doing homework. Usually I eat dinner too. Then I get to bed usually between 11pm and 1am, depending on what I'm doing.

Therefore, as you can see, I have very little time for anything else. The only days I get off lately are Tuesdays and Thursdays, because I have school those days. On those days, I wake up early to catch the bus at around 7:30am, get to school (after transferring to another bus) around 8:25, go to my Lit class at 9:00 (where we're reading a rather disturbing novel called White Teeth), and then have some free time before my next class at 1pm, during which I usually have lunch and do homework or other stuff. Then at 1pm I go to U.S. History, where I usually hide in the back behind my laptop, taking notes while also doing other stuff, like checking e-mail or something. Then I usually go home, or sometimes I run errands or something, or stay late at school to do stuff.

Things have been somewhat eventful. I lost my wallet a few weeks back. It was very frightening. I've had to replace everything, and have done so except for my California ID, since I haven't had a chance to go to the DMV yet. I was without a debit card for about a week and had to be careful with money. Fortunately, my paychecks are direct depositing right now so I ended up with quite a surprising amount of money in my checking account since I wasn't spending much.

I have some big decisions facing me. One is about health insurance. I am eligible for it through my work, and I sort of have to go with that for now even though I am trying to find another job through the eCareer Fair our Career Center is doing through MonsterTrak (a job search site), because I will become too old to be eligible for my parents' health insurance later this month when I turn 23. I finally looked over the stuff one morning (I forget which day -- the last week has been a blur) and talked to my dad about it, saying I wanted his and Mum's help when I fill out the forms, since health insurance is completely baffling and alien to me (heck, so is taxes -- I have yet to do my own tax brother got to learn how in Consumer Math his senior year of high school...lucky!). I am planning to do that tonight, sometime before 8pm when their favorite lineup of TV shows comes on (Beauty and the Geek, House, and Boston Legal, which air in that order, at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm, on 3 different channels -- The CW, Fox, and ABC, to be exact). Work this last week was just awful. I was scheduled all 5pm-9pm the entire week (except for my off days, obviously) cause we were supposed to be getting some new people (finally). But only one of the new people bothered to show up, and she was working nights anyway, so that schedule essentially got thrown out the window, and I had to come in early every day of the week except Wednesday, the only day I actually worked 5-9. And the new person who showed up was this lady named Michelle who used to work in the service deli at the Stater Bros. I work at but got transferred to another store. The only problem is she tends to socialize too much on the clock (mostly with old deli cronies), which makes me irritated especially if I need racks and she's packaging, and she knows nothing about bakery, and plus she gripes and complains about anything and everything. Now, I admit I do complain sometimes, but not nearly as much as her. I guess it's true what they say, that often we see how big our faults are when we see them in another person. It's like, I never realize how I can be so talkative until I talk to Tammy and barely get a word in. Likewise, I never really notice how much I complain until I see Michelle complain more.

This week, I'm back to normal schedule (12-9 all the time), which is (strangely) somewhat of a relief, I guess because it's something I can predict, whereas the scheduling last week was a complete disaster. Imagine sitting in your PJ's, minding your own business, at 10:30am, thinking you don't have to leave for a few hours, and getting a call from work asking if you can come in early that day. Talk about last-minute notice!

So anyway, that was my work problem. I want to start at a Cal State next fall, so, for some odd reason, I have to apply now. I guess this is so I have something started before I fill out the FAFSA in January (which is when I think you're supposed to do it -- I suppose if I get accepted they'll tell me). I am trying to narrow it down. I think I have basically ruled out SDSU, mainly cause of distance (it's near downtown San Diego) but also because out of the majors I had been interested in and made a list of, I found I was only really into 2 majors: English (which was, oddly, my choice of major my 1st semester of 12th grade, before whatever ruined my sense of major -- I always blame senioritis -- hit) and French. Unfortunately, English is impacted, which is not good. What "impacted" means is that the program is so dang popular that, in order to prevent overcrowding, they only accept a limited number of students into the aforesaid program. And you can try to get in, but it is really difficult because there are a lot of other people competing for those limited spots. It's not always worth the trouble. And as for French, looking at the required classes, it seemed more appealing as a minor than a major. (It's hard to major in a foreign language anyway, cause what could you do with that sort of major? It's like my classmate Steven Sharif who wanted to be a lawyer and said for the survey that was done of the seniors for the book the juniors made for us to give to us at Junior/Senior Banquet that he wanted to major in International Business and French...first of all, a double major is REALLY hard to pull off, or so I hear anyway, and like I said, what do you do with a foreign language major?).

So I turned to the closer (and more appealing) of the two Cal States in my area, Cal State San Marcos. I had narrowed majors down there before to Literature and Writing Studies (formerly English) and History. Now the first of these was of more interest to me, especially since they have a writing "emphasis" for it, which focuses on creative writing (as I found upon further investigation). Since I want to be an author ultimately, this is right up my alley. So I am thinking of going for that. Unlike English at SDSU, it's not impacted, and while there's not lots of prerequisites listed on ASSIST (the official transfer site for California colleges) that can be fulfilled at my school, I already took one of the classes -- Critical Thinking, Composition, and Literature, a.k.a. English 201 -- as part of the requirements for the IGETC (Inter-Segmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) track, which lines up classes you can take to fulfill GE requirements that will definitely transfer to any UC or Cal State. And out of the list of Lit classes to take (where you pick one), I am taking one of them right now (Intro to Literature). So I may be able to bypass a lot of GE stuff, which will be helpful cause it saves money.

I thought also about doing a minor. CSUSM has a minor in French (and no major, strangely enough) and the coursework looks pretty basic (but then coursework for minors is always less complicated than coursework for majors). Either that or Film Studies, since I have an interest in film. I will have to look into it, and I also feel compelled to pray about it too, even though I haven't prayed seriously in a while, haven't been able to go to church in a while either thanks to my work schedule, and have even fallen off my pattern for daily Bible reading and devotions (I had to catch up on 10 days' reading one day last week).

On my way out of the cafeteria this morning I saw a sign for a website called It was supposedly a site to help you find a major. So this afternoon, I decided to check it out. I made a profile, the setup of which involved several self-examining profiles, including one where you picked from characteristics labeled by words like Creative and Enterprising, which I recognized from taking the Holland Code Test during my Intro to Career Planning class. Like the Myers-Briggs, the Holland Code Test is a professionally-created personality "inventory" designed to connect personality traits to a career.

Anyway, one of the pages on that site linked to this video on YouTube of this guy who was the founder of Apple and Pixar Animation giving a speech at the 2005 Commencement of Stanford University. It's pretty inspiring. You can watch it here:

Well I better go. I'd like to get home with some time to go over that insurance stuff. Bye!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bad day, trip to see the Scrolls

Today has been a bad day. I couldn't find my tie for work this morning (and just having to work on a school day is bad enough) and so I don't know what I'm going to do about that when I get to work (I'm in history class right now). I totally forgot to do my first draft for my Lit assignment, and was the only one who didn't have a draft, and couldn't work on my draft in class cause my computer was being too slow in loading Firefox so I could bring up the homework guidelines. I almost lost my mp3 player (but then it ended up being in the library lost and found...yay). I forgot to buy a scantron for my history quiz before class and had to run down to the bookstore after class started to buy a scantron and a pencil. And that's all before work!

I'm going to have to do something about the amount of hours I'm working, cause it's affecting my schoolwork. I'm not sure what though.

Yesterday I had off so I went to downtown San Diego (near where I live) to see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Natural History Museum near where I live. It was pretty amazing, and I got there and back all by myself on public transit. But I bought a T-shirt there and left it on the bus I rode from that area back to downtown.

That's all I planned to write. Bye.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"A full life"?

I am posting because I feel I need to write something about this.

Just a few minutes ago, my mom came to my room and said that the hospice where Grandad was staying had called. He's dead.

I went to my mom and dad's room a few minutes later to ask if we were all going so I'd know if I should get ready, and Mum said Andrew and I didn't have to go. I saw Papa hugging Andrew and saying that Grandad had led a "full life."

They just left to go to the hospice, even with it being almost 11:30 at night.

I feel kinda choked up, but I know it will not be easy for me to cry about this. I don't cry easily. I didn't even cry at any of the funerals for my other grandparents. Maybe inside, but not outwardly.

Did my Grandad lead a "full life"? What does that mean anyway? Yeah he was 88, which is pretty old. He's outlived most of his family, including his wife. He served our country during World War II as a Seabee (United States Navy Construction Battalions; "Construction Battalions" can be abbreviated "C.B.," hence the nickname). He was married to the same woman for over 50 years. He raised two children who have both gone on to be successful in life (my dad in radio; my aunt in her executive job at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas). He did lots of things in his life, as his written life story indicates.

So anyway, he's dead, and Papa said he hopes to have the funeral ASAP. This is probably good since they didn't have Gran's memorial service till like 2 months after she died, and that would be weird to do again. He thinks it will be this weekend probably. I may have to miss work if that's the case, since I'm scheduled all this weekend, but I'm pretty sure they let you off on short notice for something like that.

The good thing is that as far as arrangements go...we have a burial place already, since Grandad and Gran bought a cremation plot at a graveyard nearby years ago. He's already indicated most of the other stuff I can think of about his final wishes to my dad, which my dad has put in writing. Don't know who will be executor of the estate - Mum thinks Aunt Jane since being executor (or executrix if you're a woman) involves lots of accounting, etc., which is part of Aunt Jane does for her job. I suspect though that both my dad and Aunt Jane will be equally involved, as seems fair.


I'm going to move on to happier news now.

I started back at school today and it was good. I had Intro to Lit and U.S. History. Mr. Jara, my Lit teacher, is fun and likes to make jokes. He seemed interested in my writing (on my "intro card," I'd written writing as one of my hobbies, and when he came to collect my card my group was interviewing me, and he asked me what I wrote and stuff. It was kinda cool). My U.S. History teacher, Mr. Byrom, is funny too (though I think I embarrassed him when I had to correct him on my last name and then said he was only the 2nd teacher to get it wrong...I think I meant to say that differently than I did...oops). He's in a wheelchair, so I expect he will lecture from behind the desk most of the semester. This is not new to me, except the permanent sitting position. Different teachers do different things as far as lecturing is concerned -- my Asian Philosophy & Religion teacher, Professor Scott-James, sometimes sat on the desk when she taught.

I stayed a little after my last class to check my online homework and make "covers" for my folders, which I did using Microsoft Publisher. I printed out the ones for Lit and U.S. History. The U.S. History one has old maps on it, and the Lit one is dedicated to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. The front of it has pics from the movies, and the back has book covers. (I happened to find pics online of Japanese book covers for my two favorite HP books, Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix, which was pretty cool, so I put those on there).

After that, I went to Loaves & Fishes to try to get some stuff before they close. Yes, they are closing their doors as of August 31st. Apparently, the competition which made last summer and fall slow enough that they had to consider cutting staff (which is part of the reason I was laid off) has been even more brutal, and so they have not been making much profit. So after 27 years, they are closing. I talked to Steve about it and he said that their lease was up for renewal, but the rent was going to go way up, and they couldn't make ends meet. Not to mention they pay for A/C, water for the bathrooms, electricity, etc. I went in there and even the fixtures (shelves and such) are on sale -- several had been sold already and were awaiting pickup. This included an antique sewing table that I remember was some sort of display piece in the store (I think in the window) and the slatwall they used to hang hooks for T-shirts.

I wound up spending a lot more than I had intended, even with everything marked down. After the discounts, it was still around $97! Yikes. I guess I'll have to be frugal for the next couple days till I get paid again. I bought a pen that says "Blessed not Lucky," a couple pencils (one of which apparently fell out of the bag on the way home...oh well), a CD with Jewish music, a pamphlet on Old Testament Archaeology, a small poster, a bookmark magnet, three books (Sixth Covenant, a kids' book about Corrie Ten Boom called Are all the watches safe?, and A Little Primer on Humble Apologetics), the 2 available volumes of a new Christian manga called Tomo that I'd read about in the catalog they sent out, and every issue of the Christian comic PowerMark that I did not already own (issues 13-24 of the original ones, and the special issues Victory and Jesus: Someone Who Cares). Technically, everything except the comics and maybe the Jewish CD I could've gotten at other Christian bookstores, but in my shopping frenzy I did not think of this. I had actually come in just for the PowerMark and Sixth Covenant, as well as maybe Tomo. And I probably should've stopped there. *sigh*

Well, it's late. I better go to bed cause I gotta work tomorrow. Mum is planning to give me a ride to work tomorrow so we can go buy pads at the store, although I don't know for sure if this will still happen, given what just happened (Grandad dying). We'll see. I'll get up early enough to get the bus just in case. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Short stuff, Grandad, Harry Potter

I just had some thoughts to get out real quick.

School is coming up real soon. I am actually looking forward to it more than ever cause with school I will have an actual life outside of work. Having separate spheres in life is something that I have always done, for some strange reason. This may explain why I don't invite friends from school or church over. Or maybe it's just my extremely introverted nature.

I decided today, since I was off (which was nice...I haven't had Sunday off for a long time), to try to order the books I still need for school, since the only one I'd gotten was this novel I needed for Lit class, which I got at Barnes & Noble. I went to, this site my mom uses to help find textbooks. It is useful cause it compares prices at many different online retailers. I found prices for all four of the books I need. But my Legal Environment of Business book isn't available anywhere the site listed for under $100. The other books were, though, so I decided to at least order them. So for $86.96 (including shipping, which was like $10.50 overall), I was able to get three of my books used. One of them (my Lit book) was only $10 (quite a bargain compared to the ~$50 my school was charging) and the other two were in the $30-$40 range. I got them off of (which is basically the used textbook haven on Ebay) and put it on my debit card, which since it has a credit card symbol also works as a credit card. It's kinda cool to know that I can use my debit card to make online transactions, although I have resisted thus far the temptation to use this opportunity to make frivolous purchases and have only used my card to pay for school and textbooks online.

I may have to wait till I get paid again to get the other book if I can't find it cheaper. I didn't buy it today because I didn't have a ton of money in checking. It was enough to get those other three books, but not enough to get all four at the price they were asking for the business book.

Grandad (my dad's dad and my only living grandparent) is very sick. I don't think I mentioned this. He had some issue with his stomach, and the doctors said he had stomach cancer, and so at that time there was discussion about treatment, etc. Finally, I think my grandad agreed to do radiation. The situation seemed to go away. But recently he has been sick again, with some internal bleeding that the doctors don't know the cause of (or at least they can't agree on it). They were saying he would need to go in for blood transfusions every 36 hours. My grandad didn't like that idea. So now he has turned to what is just about his last option -- hospice care. He is at a place called Pleasant Care, the same place we moved my grandma (dad's mom) after she had a stroke (from which she never recovered; she died in December 2002). He seems to like it there. My parents and I, along with my Aunt Jane (my dad's one and only sibling), who had come down from her current place of residence in Las Vegas, went to visit him yesterday (I had to work yesterday, but not till later in the day). We all went out to lunch at Panera, where I had a very tasty roast beef sandwich (roast beef and smoked cheddar on Asiago Cheese bread...yum). Then we came back, and my mom took me to work (I was already dressed for work and had my stuff with me).

It seems pretty certain that Grandad will not be around much longer. How long though is anybody's guess. But he seems real at peace about it from what he told us at lunch. Also, both he and my dad are Christians (not sure about my aunt; I did see her wearing a cross necklace yesterday but that doesn't necessarily mean she's a believer) so that helps.

Mum was talking to me about the possibility of there being money for college in whatever inheritance there might be in Grandad's will, but she doesn't know for sure whether that will happen. She has been a co-executrix (with my Uncle Stan) for Grandpa Bashaw (her dad)'s estate though since he died last summer, so she knows something about this stuff. I said that it would be nice if I got money, but I would be really into getting some old family stuff mainly (which is what has occurred with my mom's parents' deaths; I have my grandma's old geisha doll, an old jewelry box of hers, a trio of elf-like porcelain figurines that were hers, plus some old stuff from Grandpa's side of the family). I do already have some old family stuff; Grandad gave me this wooden box that had belonged to I think his mom (my Latvian great-grandmother Anastasia), which has a mother-of-pearl embedded in the center of the lid. The lid was tied on to the bottom with string. Inside were a bunch of old documents, like his parents' original wedding certificate. I should mention that Grandad is 88 and his parents got married way back in the late 1800's or early 1900's. The document is remarkably well preserved for being at least 100 years old. I appreciated the gift greatly because he knows I am very interested in our family history. (I'm the only one in the immediate family that has read my grandad's life story, which he wrote down and had run off several copies of, with binding and everything, for family and friends, all the way through, except maybe my mom cause she was acting as his editor for awhile). I'm not sure of the reason, but it fascinates me greatly.

If he does leave money to me for college (or if it comes out of what we get for his house, or however that all works), it will certainly help. I have $1,000 from Grandpa Bashaw's CD (retirement account) in my savings account that will give me a start, but not much of one.

I am curious -- and this is probably none of my business -- as to whether Aunt Jane will get much from Grandad's will. She and my grandparents had a falling out when she was 18 and she left home to live on her own. Although Grandad and her seem to have made up and have a good relationship now, you always read in stories of people who have fallings out with their parents and then get written out of the will or something. But you can always edit wills later so if he did write her out at one point, he would've probably written her back in by now.

I have been thinking about Harry Potter lately as I am finally digesting the book and have started listening to MuggleCast and PotterCast again, now that DH spoilers no longer can spoil me (since I've finished the book). I've had to catch up quite a bit on PotterCast though, with the result being that I've had to listen to a ton of pre-DH live shows where they speculate about things (like "Is Snape bad or good?") that I already know the answer to. I eventually skipped ahead to the first post-DH show, listened to it, and then went back to playing catchup. I just have to listen to one more such podcast, #107, and then it'll be over, unless I decide to finish listening to the "Special Edition" podcast (Harry Potter Fans for Darfur, put on by the Harry Potter Alliance, a group of HP fans that seek to make HP fans aware of major world issues, like the massacres in Darfur...the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters started it).

Last night, while closing at work (alone, AGAIN, cause Phil called in sick), I was thinking about Snape (as much as I dislike the guy). I was thinking that Snape must be (as Ron would say) "brilliant" if he was able to fool Lord Voldemort (yes I dare to speak his name; oddly, even Entertainment Weekly, in a caption for a picture of Voldemort from the Order of the Phoenix movie, referred to him as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named") for so long. After all, Voldy is supposed to be one of the best Legilimens in the world. Snape would've had to be a darn good liar or much better of an Occlumens than he's given credit for in Order of the Phoenix to keep his treason secret. So I found myself wondering, how did the clever jerk do it? (Yes, I think that Snape, good as he is, is still a jerk cause of how he treated Harry; Mikey B. from MuggleCast agrees). It's one of those conundrums like one sees with illusionists (stage magicians) where they do these totally awesome tricks, and you wonder how they did them. You can speculate, but you'd never know for sure unless you asked the illusionist, and magicians have some sort of vow of secrecy (not formal, per se, just a sort of common habit among those in the trade) where they will never reveal how their tricks are done. It's sorta like Mr.-I'm-Going-to-Try-to-Outdo-Harry-Houdini, a.k.a. magician David Blaine. You have probably heard of him. He's that guy who decided to try being submerged in a tank of water for seven days straight. His surfacing from the water was broadcast live on national TV. And this is just one of this guy's crazy stunts.

Anyway, back to Snape...the only way to know how he did it would've been to ask him. Unfortunately, he didn't live long enough for this to occur. Maybe in the encyclopedia JKR is planning to come out with, we will find out more.

My other big Harry Potter thought this week (which I was thinking of submitting to one of the podcasts) was about Aunt Petunia. In Deathly Hallows, we see one of Snape's memories where he's telling young Lily about the dementors, and it is revealed that young Petunia is spying on them. This made me think of something which I don't think the podcasters have picked up on yet (I think there's some of that stuff in PotterCast's live post-DH call-in show...I haven't listened to that yet though). I thought of it, I think, because it has to do with Order of the Phoenix, one of my favorite Harry Potter books, which I re-read recently.

Anyway, in Order of the Phoenix (page 31 of the U.S. paperback, to be exact), Uncle Vernon is questioning Harry after the dementor attack. The scene goes like so:

"'How many times do I have to tell you?' said Harry, temper and voice rising together. "It wasn't me! It was a couple of dementors!'

'A couple of -- what's this codswallop?'

'De -- men -- tors,' said Harry slowly and clearly. 'Two of them.'

'And what the ruddy hell are dementors?'

'They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,' said Aunt Petunia."
Harry is of course shocked that his Muggle aunt knows this information. On the next page (p. 32), after Harry asks her how she knows this, she says:

"'I heard -- that awful boy -- telling her about them -- years ago,' she said jerkily."
Harry assumes she's, as usual, talking about his parents, Lily and James, and says so:

"'If you mean my mum and dad, why don't you use their names?' said Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him. She seemed horribly flustered."
But in Deathly Hallows, we find out from this particular memory of Snape's that the "awful boy" was Snape, not James. Petunia's flustered behavior may be embarrassment, either from remembering that she had spied on Snape and Lily, or because the fact that Snape clearly cared for Lily embarrasses her, or some sort of nervousness.

One point I find interesting though is this: Petunia, when she spouts her factoid about the dementors, USES THE EXACT SAME WORDS AS THE YOUNG SNAPE. I have no doubt that this is significant. Writers don't do that sort of thing for no reason. I dare any Harry Potter fan to check this. Compare page 31 in the Order of the Phoenix U.S. paperback and page 667 in the Deathly Hallows U.S. hardcover and you'll see the same phrase.

Here's the comparison for you to see if you don't have the books or don't want to search:

Order of the Phoenix U.S. paperback page 31:

"'They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,' said Aunt Petunia."
And now Deathly Hallows U.S. hardcover page 667:

[Young Snape to young Lily] "'They wouldn't give you to the dementors for that! Dementors are for people who do really bad stuff. They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban....'" (emphasis mine)
That is very uncanny, no? I think JKR worded Snape's words carefully in that moment in DH, in order to see if fans of the series in general would pick up on the connection to OOTP. We know for sure this is the memory in question because we learn a few sentences later that Petunia was there spying on them.

Okay I'm gonna go now cause I didn't intend to spend all this time on this (granted, some time was spent getting a little late-night snack and getting my laundry out of the dryer). Good night.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Job and school situation, the Harry Potter journey is over...

In my last post, I promised more. This is because I was going to also talk about my job and school issues, and I got too tired after spilling opinions on big developments in Deathly Hallows (which I finished today btw -- I wasn't planning to finish it so fast, but it got to a point where it was hard to stop reading...I'll mention it later).

I, as you can probably guess, do not like my job. Why do you think I've bought so many CD's and other forms of entertainment in the last few months? Because my job is boring with a capital, bold-faced B. Sure, the coworkers are nice, and the pay is decent. But the commute stinks, the endless closing shifts are causing me to become more and more of a night owl, and nobody seems to appreciate the hard work I do. I'm the behind-the-scenes girl, the one whose breakout makes it possible for all those rolls to grace our table, the La Brea breads to sit in their little baskets, and those danishes, donuts and bagels to sit in pomp in their glass-fronted cases. I'm also behind-the-scenes as the perpetual closer, packaging all the danishes, muffins, danish-case rolls, and bagels so they can be put out in the morning (or whatever it is they do with them), sweeping and spraying down the floors so we don't get flies, and washing the danish and muffin case trays (and often dishes from the cake decorators and bakers too) so the morning crew have clean dishes to use. In other words, I make what the others do possible. (It's like Linus says in the movie Sabrina to his brother David: "My life makes your life possible!").

Now, granted, I am not the only closer, or they could not afford to give me as many days off as they have been doing (I've got 3 this week, including today; 2's the usual). Joseph, Sara, and Elizabeth -- all long-time employees compared to me -- have all closed many times; Filiberto or "Phil" also knows how to close, and no doubt he closes on days I am off. But most of the time it is me.

It would be great if I could get a job at school. I just checked Monstertrak (where MiraCosta posts their job openings) and there were 2 positions. One was for a lab assistant in the library. I am not familiar with "Visual Basic, Macromedia Suite (Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash), Adobe Suite (In Design, Photoshop, Illustrator), Quark Xpress, [and] programming languages" though. But then it does say that you need to have passed CIS 100 (which I did), which is a plus. I don't know Macromedia or Adobe though (which basically means, do I know Flash and/or Photoshop -- the two programs from those companies that I know MiraCosta has classes in--and I know I don't). I'm not sure I'd qualify. I'd have to check. I was going to go to school tomorrow for something else anyway. The other one is for an assistant for the Director of Campus Police. This one essentially requires someone who can do office work and if required, patrol the campus, looking for "hazardous conditions." Now, I am more qualified for this job, since I have office skills (thanks to the BOT program) and know the campus pretty well since I've been going there for over 3 years. But there is only one opening, and it is likely that the opening for Oceanside (they need someone for any of the campuses) is filled already. I'll check tomorrow. (They're both part-time too; the Campus Police job has 3 shifts to choose from; I might have to do the early one cause I can't work 5pm-10pm cause I can't take the bus home and I don't want to make my parents have to pick me up, and if I do 12pm-5pm I sacrifice the chance to rejoin InterVarsity, which meets 12-1 for its weekly meetings, as far as I know, plus I couldn't take any afternoon classes).

Speaking of school, I do want to go back this fall, but I have to decide what to take, since I'm down to major prep stuff now in order to finish my A.A. (University Studies) and nowhere closer to picking a major. I am thinking I will end up having a major and a minor, if I can accomplish that, because that way I will have a degree in two subjects (my dad did this -- he got a B.A. in Speech, with a minor in political science). But if I start a new job somewhere else than at school (where I know they'd accommodate my school schedule...I mean, c'mon, they have to), it would be kinda awkward to spring a standing schedule commitment on my new employers. Now I know most employers are pretty good with working around school schedules, but some aren't (as Heather can attest) so I am afraid to take that risk.

I planned to tackle the school problem last night while using my laptop downstairs, but got caught up in other stuff. So probably tonight. I may not be able to pay till Friday though, assuming my Direct Deposit goes through this week (which Tori told me it should), because I have been a bit reckless with money this week. I just spent about $60 at Wal-Mart this afternoon picking up 6 shirts (one of which I just realized from looking at the receipt was $ must've been on the wrong table, cause I could've sworn I only had 4 $5 shirts and a couple $6.44 shirts) and some iron-transfer paper for my "make my own T-shirts" project (as well as pizza for dinner and some gummy bears).

Just remembered that the price per unit went down, according to the copy of the MiraCosta schedule that I picked up last week when I went to pick up my check from work. (I missed the express bus I normally take, and so I took the 302 Oceanside instead, and since it goes through MC, I decided to hop off and grab a schedule -- one of the benefits of having a monthly pass is that you can actually do such a thing and then just hop on another bus to continue your original journey). I guess maybe Arnold's promise to help out schools is finally going to come true. Anyway, the fee went down to $20 a unit (from $26 a unit) so if I took 12 units it would only be $240. Add to this other fees -- $14 health fee, up to $10 a fiscal year for the "Student Center" fee, and the optional $6 for the ID card (which I always get cause it's needed to check out library materials; plus if I get any books at the school bookstore and decide to write a check, they want your school ID as an ID), and we're looking at an extra $30 (or so) and I have over $300 in my checking account (I night-dropped 3 checks, which made my checking account go up to almost $600, which is how this is possible). So I could write a check for school (since I don't have a credit card I can't do that, and I feel uncomfortable carrying that much cash) and be okay, since I get paid on Friday anyway, and Direct Deposit is supposed to start this week if Tori is right about that (I will have to check Thursday or Friday to make sure). It won't add much (I haven't been working a ton of hours lately, plus my checks have been skimpier cause the union's taking out double dues right now to make up for June -- see my post on visiting the union to see why). But it will help.

Okay now...the news you've been waiting for...Harry Potter. I finished the last book today, as aforesaid. But before, I express my thoughts...


Let's start this this way. PotterCast, on their summer tour, asked each city a 5-question Deathly Hallows "prediction exam," asking the biggest questions still left unanswered. So I'll start with answering those.

1. Harry Potter - Live or Die? He lives. He almost dies, though. It's kind of confusing. This one chapter ends with Harry ready to die (cause of a new discovery...I'll say that in a minute) and a Avada Kedavra curse getting shot at him by Voldemort (or Voldy as I like to call him), and in the next chapter he's in some unidentified place with Dumbledore (who is of course dead). Yet Dumbledore says Harry himself is not dead. Where they actually are is confusing too -- Harry says it looks like King's Cross (where the Hogwarts Express picks up and drops off students) "but cleaner." I'm guessing it's supposed to be some sort of heaven.

2. Snape - Good or Bad? Unfortunately, Mr. Severus Snape is indeed Dumbledore's man. He is good. I say "unfortunately" for this because I was always in the "Snape is evil" camp, though I thought the "Snape is out for himself" theory (which involves Snape playing both sides for his own benefit) was good too. The chapter "The Prince's Tale," which features a bunch of Snape's memories, basically clinches this topic. Even up to the chapter before this, Snape seems to be siding mainly with Voldemort, even offering to bring Harry to Voldemort (despite Voldy's reassurance that Harry will come to him -- Voldy -- instead). And while we're on the subject of Snape, why did Dumbledore trust Snape? I was a little confused on this. I'm not quite sure if this is explicitly answered in DH. Snape's actions to protect Harry had to do with his love for Lily (Snape x Lily fans rejoice!) but I don't think that's why Dumbledore trusted Snape. Snape asks Dumbledore for his word on something and Dumbledore swears not to tell, but I am confused as to what that thing is. The scene goes like this:

[Snape talking] "'I were keep'

"'She and James put their faith in the wrong person,' said Dumbledore. 'Rather like you, Severus. Weren't you hoping that Lord Voldemort would spare her?'

"Snape's breathing was shallow.

"'Her boy survives,' said Dumbledore.

"With a tiny jerk of the head, Snape seemed to flick off an irksome fly.

[Dumbledore] "'Her son lives. He has her eyes, precisely her eyes. You remember the shape and color of Lily Evans's eyes, I am sure?"

"'DON'T!" bellowed Snape. 'Gone...dead..."

"'Is this remorse, Severus?'

"'I wish...I wish I were dead.....'

"'And what use would that be to anyone?' said Dumbledore coldly. 'If you loved Lily Evans, if you truly loved her, then your way forward is clear.'

"Snape seemed to peer through a haze of pain, and Dumbledore's words appeared to take a long time to reach him.

"'What --- what do you mean?'

"'You know how and why she died. Make sure it was not in vain. Help me protect Lily's son.'

"'He does not need protection. The Dark Lord has gone ---"

"'The Dark Lord will return, and Harry Potter will be in terrible danger when he does.'

"There was a long pause, and slowly Snape regained control of himself, mastered his own breathing. At last he said, 'Very well. Very well. But never ---- never tell, Dumbledore! This must be between us! Swear it! I cannot bear...especially Potter's son...I want your word!'

"'My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you?' Dumbledore sighed, looking down into Snape's ferocious, anguished face. 'If you insist...'"

~~ Deathly Hallows pages 678-679

So what does Snape want to hide? That he loves Lily or that he's helping Dumbledore? Not quite sure.

Anyway, moving on...

3. Is Harry a Horcrux - Yes or No? Surprisingly enough, Harry is a Horcrux. I seem to recall the writer of that chapter in's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 seemed highly in favor of that side of the issue, so he (or she) must be pretty happy. Basically, he is, of course, an accidental Horcrux. I doubt Voldemort really wanted to make a seventh Horcrux -- he had 6 already, and the soul in him was the 7th part -- he had successfully split his soul into 7 pieces, as he'd planned. (That is, unless he wanted to find a Gryffindor item and make it a Horcrux --- we know he may have tried with the sword, but was unsuccessful...coincidentally, the Sword manages to be able to take down Horcruxes, and is actually used to take down 2 of them -- the locket and Nagini. Judging by the fact that we know now what all of them are, we find out Voldemort never ended up with Horcuxes from all the four founders). Anyway, it happened cause on the night he killed the Potters, Voldy's soul was so unstable, a piece of it latched onto the only other living soul in the room -- baby Harry's. But when Voldemort tries to kill Harry again, he actually (somehow) destroys that piece of soul, but Harry doesn't die. Something to do with Lily's blood protection being in Voldy too (Voldy used some of Harry's blood to make his new body in Goblet of Fire). I'll have to re-read that part again.

4. Harry Will Return to Hogwarts for School - Yes or No? This question was prompted by fans who realized the U.S. cover says "Year 7" on the spine. Since the "years" on the spine generally refer to Harry's years in school, people figured he'd go back to school (or at least Ron & Hermione would -- as the PotterCast people said, "would Hermione really miss her N.E.W.T.s?"). The answer is no. While the trio does go to the school (to find a Horcrux), they don't actually attend school. But then this is just as well cause with Snape as headmaster (which is a weird thought anyway) and Alecto and Amycus Carrow (dangerous Death Eaters) as Muggle Studies and DADA teachers respectively, Hogwarts is pretty screwed up anyway.

5. Will we go behind the Veil - Yes or No? What Veil? No seriously. The Department of Mysteries does appear briefly in the book, when the trio infiltrates the Ministry cause Mundungus sold the locket Horcrux to Umbridge (yeah, dumb idea, but hey this is Mundungus we're talking he didn't know what the locket really was). But do we even go close to the Veil, let alone behind it in DH? Not at all. Now, one could argue that when Harry is with Dumbledore's spirit after Voldemort aims a AK curse at him and Harry assumes he's dead, that he is "behind the Veil," but this is not explicitly said, and I think JKR would've said that specifically if it were true, cause the Veil is a major plot thing.

Now, for fun, I'll answer Scholastic's "There will be 7" questions.

1. Who will live? Who will die? That's technically 2 questions, Scholastic, but whatever. So who lives and who dies? I'll use the death odds chart in's What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7 in order to identify the main characters people thought might die.

- Dobby: Surprisingly, the Mugglenet people gave Dobby an 100/1 chance of dying, making him the least likely to die. And yet what do we see? Dobby stabbed by Bellatrix's knife as Dobby and Harry are Disapparating from Malfoy Manor to Shell Cottage (Bill and Fleur's house). So, Mugglenet people, Dobby's not gonna die, huh? Wrongo. It was actually very sad when Dobby died, though. I wish he hadn't died.

- Dudley Dursley: We see nothing of the Dursleys after chapter 2, when they are taken into hiding by a couple Order members, so it is not said whether Dudley died, but it's likely he did not (did we ever find out what he saw when the Dementors attacked? I don't think so! I thought we were supposed to find that out!).

- Minerva McGonagall: The Mugglenet people said McGonagall would have an important job as Hogwarts's Head and was not likely to be killed, especially since JKR just killed off another Head (Dumbledore). Well, in DH McGonagall's not Head of Hogwarts (Snape is), and yet she is not killed.

- Vernon Dursley: Same as Dudley, not seen since chapter 2, very likely made it through.

- Petunia Dursley: Same as Vernon and Dudley.

- Luna Lovegood: Luckily Luna (who has quickly become a favorite character of mine, through re-readings of OOTP, plus seeing the OOTP movie) does not die, though since she is captured by the Death Eaters and takes part in the big battle at Hogwarts at the end of the book, the fact that she did survive is definitely amazing.

- Percy Weasley: Percy actually has a change of heart, turns against the Voldy-infiltrated Ministry, and reconciles with Molly and Arthur. Who could've predicted that? But he does not die. Lucky Percy.

- Fred Weasley: Sadly, Fred does actually die! It's not quite clear who kills him; Harry doesn't really see it happen, and of course pretty much everything's from his viewpoint in these books. I was thinking Bellatrix after she taunts Mrs. Weasley with the fact that Fred's dead, but then Bellatrix would do that even if she didn't kill Fred.

- George Weasley: While George does lose an ear when the Order is rescuing Harry from Privet Drive and gets pursued by Death Eaters, he does not die like his twin bro.

- Nymphadora Tonks: Poor Tonks actually does die cause although Lupin tells her to stay home with their new baby, she heads to Hogwarts anyway (leaving the baby with her mom) to help fight Voldemort. Again, not sure who killed her; we just see Harry seeing her body as one of the "50 people who died for him."

- Charlie Weasley: Charlie is supposedly at Bill & Fleur's wedding, though I don't remember him mentioned, but after that he disappears and I don't think he's at the Hogwarts battle. I assume that he lives, cause if he'd died we would have been told as much.

- Grawp: Grawp's 15/1 odds in the Mugglenet book leaned on the idea that he would go back to live with the giants, and the giants, being rather violent, might kill the poor guy. But he stays with Hagrid, rather than going to the other giants, so these odds fall through, and yes he lives.

- Bill Weasley: Bill survives, and actually proves useful to Harry in DH.

- Hermione: Traveling with Harry and Ron to find Horcruxes, Hermione comes close to death many times, and in fact is almost killed by Fenrir Greyback when the trio is captured by Death Eaters and hauled to Malfoy Manor. But she survives (yay!) and goes on to marry Ron (boo!).

- Neville: Neville fights pretty valiantly, even destroying a Horcrux (Nagini; he slices off her head with the Sword of Gryffindor). He doesn't get his revenge duel with Bellatrix though. He makes it through anyway.

- Ron: Ron, too, comes close to death several times, but he pulls through and marries Hermione.

- Ginny: Ginny comes close to death a few times (Bellatrix even almost AK's her, but misses, and this provokes a duel with Mrs. Weasley, who gets so mad she says, "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU B*****!!" Ouch) but survives, and marries Harry.

- Lucius Malfoy: Malfoy gets in some major disfavor with Voldy, especially after Voldy borrows Lucius's wand in order to be able to kill Harry (cause of Priori Incantatem Voldy can't use his own wand) and Harry still escapes. But he does actually survive.

- Harry: As I said, he lives. Even though he's a Horcrux and puts himself in the position to die in order to get rid of that Horcrux, and also to save his friends, he still lives.

- Lupin: Lupin dies. WAHHH! Again, not sure who cast the fatal spell; we just see his body with Tonks's when Harry goes by them in the Great Hall.

- Snape: Snape being good would suggest that he would die, either by taking the blow for Harry or getting killed by a very angry Voldy when Snape reveals he's been a traitor to Voldy all along. And indeed Snape does die, but very unceremoniously. He has an argument with Voldy and Voldy realizes he can only truly be the master of the Elder Wand (the most powerful wand ever) if he kills Snape, since Snape came to the wand by killing Dumbledore, who had won it from Grindelwald. So he kills Snape. Snape manages to survive a few seconds after being AK'd, enough time to allow Harry to collect a flask full of memories from him, which are key in the next chapter.

- Hagrid: Though Hagrid falls into Death Eater hands (he is tied to a tree when Harry comes to the Forbidden Forest to face Voldemort), he makes it through. And despite the Mugglenet writers saying Hagrid has no part to play in the story, he does actually play a part.

- Arthur Weasley: JKR revealed in a recent post-DH interview that Arthur was the character who got the "reprieve" she'd talked about before. (Thanks for this tidbit). This means he was originally slated to die but then she chose not to kill him. Interesting thought. She's gonna be on the Today Show and Dateline this week; maybe she'll say why then (you know people will ask).

- Molly Weasley: Despite daring to duel Bellatrix (after having called Bella the "b-word"...see above), Molly makes it out ok.

- Draco: Draco does survive, though I wasn't sure he did until the very end, when it was said that the "three Malfoys" were sitting together in the Great Hall. Draco marries later on, though who his wife is isn't revealed.

- Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew: Wormtail does die, and apparently the Mugglenet people thought he would too, seeing as he has very bad odds in their book (1/3). He dies while trying to help Harry and friends escape Malfoy Manor. Method of death? Strangulation by an unknown and unseen person (likely Voldy). Reminds me of Darth Vader, and how he'd strangle his underlings on occasion, using the Force.

- Bellatrix: Bellatrix gets killed by Molly in their duel. Ha! Go Molly!

- Voldemort: Um, what did you expect? That he'd live? OF COURSE HE DIES!

2. Is Snape good or evil? He's good, as I've already said.

3. Will Hogwarts reopen? The most pointless question in terms of its relation to the plot, since the trio didn't go back to school anyways. And yes, it did reopen.

4. Who winds up with whom? The epilogue only answers this question for the trio and for Draco. Oh and as for Lupin and Tonks...yes they get married, but then at the end they both die. Draco marries somebody, as I said, but we're not told who. Ron ends up with Hermione and Harry with Ginny. Both relationships were suggested early on but then barely mentioned, so I thought there was still hope for Hermione/Harry and for Ron (who I'm not terribly fond of, though he redeems himself somewhat in DH from the bad rap he has in other books) to be left in the cold. But the epilogue basically lays down the facts: It's Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny, and that's that.

5. Where are the Horcruxes?

There are 7 Horcruxes total: Riddle's diary, the Peverell ring, the Slytherin locket, the Hufflepuff cup, the Diadem of Ravenclaw, Nagini, and Harry himself.

The diary and the ring were found and destroyed pre-DH (Harry destroyed the diary in Chamber of Secrets; in Half-Blood Prince we find out Dumbledore destroyed the ring). The diary was entrusted to Lucius Malfoy, and the ring was hidden in the Gaunts' old shack.

As for the others:

~~ LOCKET: The locket Horcrux was the locket found in the cupboard of Number 12 Grimmauld Place in Order of the Phoenix. According to Kreacher, it was stolen by Mundungus Fletcher, who raided the house, and, according to Mundungus, was sold to Umbridge. The trio infiltrate the Ministry Polyjuiced as Ministry employees, and Hermione manages to steal back the locket. Ron destroys it in chapter 19 of DH using the Sword of Gryffindor.

~~ CUP: Obtained by Voldemort from a lady he knew while working for Borgin & Burkes. Entrusted to Bellatrix Lestrange, who had it locked in her vault at Gringotts. (How she got it there, I'm not sure). Retrieved by the trio (with help from Griphook) from the vault, destroyed by Hermione using a basilisk fang that she and Ron found in the Chamber of Secrets.

~~ DIADEM: Obtained by Voldemort from a tree in Albania, where it had been hidden by The Grey Lady, who was Ravenclaw's daughter. Voldemort brought it back and hid it in the Room of Requirement, similar to how Harry hid the Half-Blood Prince's Potions book in there. It was unknowingly destroyed by Crabbe, who cast a Fiendfyre spell at the trio that also affected most of the stuff in the room, including the diadem.

~~ NAGINI: Nagini was, of course, with Voldemort. Voldemort carries her on his neck when going to show Harry's (supposedly) dead body to the people inside to prove his victory. Seizing a chance (and knowing from Harry that Nagini must be killed), Neville cuts off Nagini's head with the Sword of Gryffindor, which he pulled out of the Sorting Hat.

~~ HARRY: Well we all know where Harry was.

6. Will Voldemort be defeated? Well, duh. Of course he will, and he is.

7. What are the Deathly Hallows? The trio finds out about these "Hallows" from Luna's dad, Xenophilius, who was wearing a necklace with "the sign of the Deathly Hallows" at Bill and Fleur's wedding. Here is the sign:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

They are three items, said (in an old kids' tale) to have been given to three brothers (later known to be the Peverell brothers) by Death after they defied him by magicking up a bridge to cross an otherwise impassable river. The first brother asked for a wand to defeat Death, and so he was given the Elder Wand. The second brother wanted to bring back the dead, so he got the Resurrection Stone. The youngest brother, wiser and not exactly trustful of Death, asked for a way to always escape Death, and Death gives him his own Invisibility Cloak.

The Elder Wand ends up with Gregorovitch (the guy who made Krum's wand), is stolen from him by Grindelwald, passes to Dumbledore when he defeats Grindelwald, passes from him (in loyalty) to Draco when Draco disarms Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince (not to Snape, as Voldy thought), and then to Harry when Harry disarms Draco in DH. Voldy does gain possession of it, but when he uses it, it does basic spells okay, but nothing extraordinary. Harry decides not to keep the Elder Wand, and instead uses it to repair his old wand (which broke in two but was hanging on by a thread) and then intends to put the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore's grave. (It should be noted that in an interview with CBBC at the midnight release of DH, JKR subtly gave away the fact that the chapter title "The Elder Wand" was part of one of the alternate titles she had in mind for DH).

The Resurrection Stone is cracked cause it was in the Peverell ring Horcrux, which Dumbledore destroyed. Wikipedia claims that Harry uses it to "bring back" the spirits of Lupin, Sirius, and his parents as he goes off to face Voldemort in the Forest. I need to re-read that part cause I don't remember him doing that. He loses it in the Forest but decides not to go back for it.

The only Hallow Harry keeps is the Invisibility Cloak, which is indeed the one that was his dad's, which he got from Dumbledore in book 1.

Okay, it's late. Enough with the spoilers and any other news.

Oh, one more thing. How does the symbol represent the Hallows? Simple. The triangle stands for the Cloak, the circle for the Stone, and the line for the Wand.


Gonna go take a shower and go to bed. G'night.

Gah. I started this post around 8pm, and it's 12:25AM now. I guess I got distracted...well the Firefox window was frozen for a while too.

Anyway, g'night.