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.

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