Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A post to make you feel better about your day.

Sometimes I blog because I need to share my opinion, sometimes because I'm bored, and sometimes because I haven't posted anything in a few days and want to at least have something posted from the last week or so. And then sometimes I post for you, the reader. By reading such posts, you are bound to feel better about how your day has gone. Just a few examples of these from the past year can be found here (in which the water turns off in my apartment, right after I had lathered up my head with shampoo) and here (in which a trip to the store turns disastrous).

Today was just as fun. I felt like the pathetic character in some tragicomedy, watching everything go wrong, powerless to stop it.

The day started normally enough. I woke up, worked on some work stuff, and was mostly lazy, reading some blogs and some Harry Potter message boards. Then I had to head out for a doctor appointment. Easy enough, right? Well, it was raining outside. Hard. My umbrella was, of course, in my car. And, for some reason, none of the jackets I have with me in Tucson have hoods. So, in order to reach my car, I put on a bath robe over my clothes and a shower cap over my hair. The shower cap worked. The robe failed miserably, not only letting the clothes underneath become soaked, but leaving me with a huge soaking robe in my car.

Either way, I was in the car, and that was a plus. But as soon as I get out on the roads, it's clear that this isn't going to be an easy trip. At one point I got into what was perhaps too deep a patch of water. My car started sliding along with the water, finally being stopped on its course by the curb. Never have I been so happy to run into the curb on the side of the road.

I finally get to the doctor and have my appointment. Then I have to head to campus for a meeting. Easier said than done. The roads are now worse than ever, especially the roads near campus. Two attempted routes to my parking garage are blocked by police cars warning that the water is to deep to drive. I finally find my way into a garage. Just as I enter, a loud crash of thunder sounds and the lights in the garage turn off and several car alarms sound.

I prepare to get out and make my way to the soc building, determined to brave any and all bad weather, with my umbrella now by my side. I get to the first road I must cross and find that the water depth is somewhere between my ankles and my knees--and it's moving pretty swiftly. I brave on, reminding myself of the many times during The Oregon Trail during middle and elementary school that I decided to ford the river rather than pay for a ferry.

Just as happened during many a river fording back in the day, my fording of the flooded street failed. The failure was not immediately apparent. At first, I lost control of my shoe, which just flitted off my foot and started gushing down the river/street. Still feeling in control of the situation, I run after the shoe, at one point putting out my umbrella into the rushing water, trying to watch the shoe as if in a net. This is unsuccessful, merely serving to flip the umbrella out, inverting it, and breaking one of the metal pieces. I continue to run after the shoe. I am, at this point, running in mid-leg-length water, completely soaked. But it got worse. I tripped over something--a rock, a hole in the ground, someone else's escaped shoe, or my own two feet, it's not clear--and fell. Right into the water. Any bit of me that had remained dry during the shoe chase was now wet and cold.

I decided to give up on the meeting. I couldn't really walk into the soc building literally soaking, with one shoe on. So as I watched my shoe sail away, I decided to head back to the car, not bothering to fix the umbrella. What was the point at this point?

After a dejected, one-shoed walk back to the car, I called the person I was to meet with, and said that I need to go home and change shoes because I lost mine in the flood. I didn't mention the fall, or say that I need to go home to completely change my clothes, but I needed to do that as well.

When I get home, I realize that the only other shoes I have in Tucson are dress shoes. My sandals died and several pairs of tennis shoes are in Denison. So, my options are going to a shoe store with one shoe on, or going into a shoe store with two dress shoes on, while not wearing dressy clothes (I wasn't after all, about to go dress up simply to go to a shoe store. I'd been through enough). I choose option number 2. Around this time, the person I was meeting with called to say that the office had been closed due to a leak and that we should meet tomorrow morning.

Fine. But I still needed to go get shoes. So, again, I made my way through absurdly flooded streets. But I finally got shoes. And I just now got home.

Was your day better than this?*

*I do realize, of course, that most people in the world are having a worse day than this. What with war, genocide, and poverty, some would love a day where getting stuck in the rain is their biggest problem. Indeed, today wasn't so bad for me. It was mostly funny. In retrospect.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Snape is Heathcliff.

I was re-organizing my books in order to avoid the real cleaning that needs to be done, and got sucked into a little bit of Wuthering Heights. And I realized that Snape is Heathcliff. Their physical descriptions are similar, they're both motivated by tragic love, and they're both often cruel. And they both fascinate me as characters. And, clearly, this means that James Potter is Edgar Linton. I'm cool with that. I was always kind of apathetic about them both.

I was right about him (Snape), incidentally. After all the people who would approach me just to argue whenever I would wear my "Snape is innocent" shirt, I feel the need to gloat a little bit.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What kind of Liberal Are You?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

I am, however, obviously a fan of Jesus.

Probably the creepiest thing ever.

I'm back in Tucson, but too tired for substantive updates. Watch this creepy (fictional!) video about GoogleEarth.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's officially Harry Potter week!

I guess it has been ever since the Order of the Phoenix movie came out (sure, a rather long week, spanning Tuesday to Saturday of the next week). But, the party really starts tomorrow. I'm leaving in the morning for Texas, where my hair will become Weasley red, in the hopes that all Weasleys make it out of Deathly Hallows happy and in tact.

I am positively giddy. I'm kind of going around singing and smiling at everyone. Everyone else looks at me like I'm a bit of an idiot. But that's okay.

Oh, today I bought a wand. It was from Borders, not from Ollivander's. But Ollivander has been kidnapped by the DE's, now hasn't he? It was the best I could do. It's kind of cheesy. It makes noises. It cost $5. It almost certainly does not have a phoenix feather core. But it gets the job done. So watch out or I'll hex you. Ginny and I both do a mean bat bogey hex.

Don't care about Harry Potter? "Even Muggles like yourself should be celebrating, this happy, happy day!" (random wizard to Vernon Dursley in Philosopher's Stone)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

spoiled senseless

I've spent the past few hours digging up spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They abound: chapter titles, chapter art, summaries, lists of deaths, scans of the epilogue, etc.

While I do not want to be spoiled, something about the presence of spoilers compels me to seek them out. The thing, however, is that I don't feel spoiled at all. So many of the things I've read were contradictory, so that even if it happens to be the case that one of them is true, it will still come as a surprise upon reading it. And the epilogue scans: if they're true, I'll be disappointed. It was really cheesy.

Email me or something if you want spoilers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

It's true.

With Deathly Hallows coming so soon, it's hard to focus on anything. I am being terribly unproductive. But, if nobody minds, it doesn't matter. The PhD Comics people are, of course, correct. And I certainly don't mind*.

*I know I will later, though, *sigh*. I had so many grand ambitions for this summer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Order of the Phoenix, the movie

Things I Loved:
--Umbridge. Umbridge. Umbridge. Perfection.
--Luna was great.
--Sirius and Harry
--the fact that this new screenwriter actually incorporated a lot of dialogue from the book itself. Take a hint, Steve Kloves, since you insist on coming back for HBP
--Fred and George's exit
--the music
--small hints of R/H and H/G
--"Nice one, James."
--Dumbledore's exit "Yes, I thought we'd hit that little snag." ("But you can't deny he's got style!")
--"emotional range of a teaspoon."
--Ginny's brilliant reductor spell
--the floo looked way better than in Goblet of Fire. No more talking embers pretending to be Sirius
--skiving snackboxes!
--They had the cat plates in Umbridge's office!!!
--Death Eater costumes much improved
--Lupin holding Harry back
--a goat in the Hog's Head. Sheer brilliance!
--Fred and George and the little boy
--Filch staking out the room of requirement
--"Probably full of nargles."

Things I Didn't So Much Like:
--the weird choke hold the dementor had on Harry at the beginning
--Arabella Figg, generally
--Bellatrix Avada Kedavra-ing Sirius. That's not how it goes.
--The veil. That's just not how I pictured it.
--Harry realizing the whole "love" thing. He's not supposed to get it yet.
--"And I feel sorry for you."
--Movie!Hermione is still calling Ron "Ronald" in that weird way.
--"Don't you have schoolwork to do?!"
--it wasn't clear how Ginny, Luna, and Neville came to be among those detained by the Inquisitorial Squad
--The Room of Requirement: where were the crash mats, dark detectors, etc.?

Things That Should've Been Included:
--Mundungus Fletcher
--Hagrid's tale
--more time at 12 Grimmauld Place, cleaning, etc.
--St. Mungo's and Neville's parents!!
--Rita Skeeter interview
--Quidditch and "Weasley is our King!"
--No smashing things in Dumbledore's office
--The Ministry of Magic. Where is the planet room, the locked door, etc, etc.
--more of the hearing. squashy armchairs and all!
--Career advice; "Biscuit, Potter?...Don't be ridiculous."
--The fact that Umbridge sent the dementors to Privet Drive
--Mrs. Black's screaming portrait
--Phinneas Nigellus
--where was Lily in the Snape's Worst Memory scene?
--More Remus/Sirius
--Petunia knowing about the dementors
--Ginny's "lucky you" and "oh damn" lines
--Mrs. Weasley's boggart

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Protect the sanctity of his marriage!

Senator David Vitter (Republican-LA) has turned up on the DC Madam's phone records. Now, I obviously am not a fan of adultery. However, I wouldn't be terribly upset; it is, after all, his private life, and something he and his family need to deal with and work through. But, I do start to care when he is openly hypocritical.

According to his website, a statement on the Sanctity of Marriage: "This is a real outrage. The Hollywood left is redefining the most basic institution in human history, and our two U.S. Senators won’t do anything about it. We need a U.S. Senator who will stand up for Louisiana values, not Massachusetts’s values. I am the only Senate Candidate to coauthor the Federal Marriage Amendment; the only one fighting for its passage."

Yes, we need to keep the gays and lesbians from getting married. Obviously, two people of the same sex having the same legal rights and protections as he and his family threaten the sanctity of his marriage. At the very least, it's obviously worse than his adultery and prostitute patronage. Right?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Remind me never to read biographies of people I admire.

Most of the time, I end up wanting to punch them in the face, if they're not already dead. In this case, I'm talking to you, Bob Dylan and John Lennon.

erasable pens

For some reason, erasable pens always evoke for me memories of my 3rd and 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Covington. I've used them often since, but in my mind they are indelibly linked with that class.

She was brilliant. We got to set our own spelling words each week and then tested each other. We got to dress in white "lab coats" and do "science experiments," which we then wrote up in our journals, describing each piece of the scientific method.

Her class wasn't like other classes. We didn't sit at desks all day, doing worksheets. I remember that when we would give each other our spelling tests, Laurie and I (my friend, who I just now remembered! I haven't seen her since 5th grade) would sit under the table to do it.

We were up and about, using our hands and all of our senses to understand what was going on. We had a considerable amount of autonomy in deciding what we wanted to study and how we wanted to study it. We voted on whether we wanted to focus on Egypt or some other places in social studies (Egypt won, so I don't remember the other options we had :-)).

Sorry for the lapse into nostalgia. When you're looking for procrastination, something as simple as erasable pens can keep you from working.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The only comment I plan on making about Scooter Libby

About the whole Scooter Libby commutation thing. Let's say, for argument's sake, that the penalty was, as Bush argued, too harsh to fit the crime. (Which, btw, it was in line with sentencing standards, so it's hard to argue it was "too harsh.") If the problem was the length, why not cut down the 30 month sentence to 5 months, or whatever the President felt was appropriate? Why require him to serve not a single day in jail?

According to the New York Times, this is completely out of line with Bush's previous actions:
“The grounds he offered for commuting Libby’s sentence were equity — that the sentence was out of line with other sentences — or compassion,” Professor Sarat said. “Those two grounds seem so out of character with anything Bush had ever said or done in the area of clemency that it’s as if he has become a different person.”

He's clearly giving special treatment to his friends and people who have lied to protect him.

And, I suppose that is a President's privilege. However, it was amazingly disheartening to see the one instance in which someone was being held accountable for this administration's actions that led to a disastrous war be thwarted by the President.

It wasn't a whole lot. There were no impeachment proceedings. (After all, it's not as if GWB were getting a blowjob. That would require more tough action.) It was a staffer getting punished for lying to the American people about his actions in outing a CIA agent in order to discredit someone who was telling a different story about Iraq's attempts to get WMD. This would blow over relatively soon. Bush doesn't lose a whole lot by letting Libby serve his sentence. And Libby's sentence doesn't require any more loss of face by this administration. We're not demanding he tell the truth, after all. Just that he serve some time for lying under oath.

That's why this is so distressing. It's just another example of the power that the President has to prevent any accountability, any responsibility for his actions. It's a reminder that he's in charge, that the law doesn't apply to him and his, and that we the people can try whatever means we want to make him responsible for his actions, he can undo them just like that.

Edited to add: Also, again like the Paris Hilton case, this demonstrates the powerful differences in the legal system for the rich and the middle class and the poor. Most of the time the differences aren't so stark. You don't see the President's friends getting their sentences commuted because they're "not fair" or socialites going home after a few days because they're suffering mental breakdowns.

No, usually, the difference happens at the trial level, where those with money are more able to get off or to get lighter sentences because they can afford better lawyers. Public defenders, after all, are notoriously overworked, and thus often less effective in defending their clients.

But it's these high profile cases, like the Paris Hilton and Scooter Libby ones, that highlight in dramatic terms the ways in which justice is not equal in this country. The average person whose sentence is "too harsh" does not get a commutation. And there are thousands of mentally disturbed people in our prison and jail systems. Why does Paris get to leave because she's having mental issues?

Along with exemplifying the lack of responsibility taken by this administration for it's own actions, the Scooter Libby ordeal crystallizes the problems resulting from unequal justice and inequality before the law.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourteen days left

The final Harry Potter book will be here in 14 days. To be at this moment is surreal. I started reading when there were only three of them, and became obsessed when there were only four. I've been to two book release parties and I've been at the midnight showing for every movie except the first one. I've written and read fan-fiction. I've evangelized the series to others and now have several friends who would not be HP fans but for my stubborn obsession. (Nevermind the many friends who might never read HP because of my obsession...)

Harry Potter is irrevocably intertwined with my memories of my freshman year of college. I remember coming home for Christmas break and downloading hundreds of pages of fanfiction onto 3.5 inch disks so that I could read in my room (where I had no internet). I remember making fan videos before youtube and fan videos were cool. I remember the shipping wars. I remember reading the books for the first time. You never get that first reading back.

Book 1: I remember thinking, throughout the entire book, "If Snape is the bad guy, this is the most predictable piece of children's crap ever written." He wasn't, and I was duly impressed.

Book 2: I don't remember much of my reactions while reading this actually. At the time, though, I was reading it aloud to my brother, and I remember his audible gasp when we found out that Tom Riddle was Lord Voldemort. I remember this distinctly. I miss me and Daniel reading Harry Potter together. I don't think he's even read the 6th book yet, and probably won't be terribly interested in the 7th.

Book 3: This book was simply incredible. I am still slightly stunned every time I reread the Shrieking Shack scene. The finale of this book convinced me of JKR's utter genius.

Book 4: Moody, Moody, Moody. Oh, to relive the moment I found out that Professor Moody was not Professor Moody. That's the excitement you can only get on a first read.

Book 5: This was spoiled for me by one Ms. Sarah Collins. Not (as of then) a fan of the books, she thought it no big deal, when I asked her to read to me while I was driving, to turn to the very end and hear Harry scream to Voldemort, "You killed my godfather!" The rest of the book, I could not help but worry for Sirius.

Book 6: I stayed up all night reading this, and went to bed, having been up nearly 24 hours, with few powers of reflection or consideration, depressed that Snape was, in fact, working for Lord Voldemort. Upon awaking and considering the book again, I realized that I was utterly wrong.

Book 7: Who knows what the ending will be. But, the "ending," that moment where you read, for the first time, how it all goes down, where everything you've read up to that point clicks into place, and things make sense... that can really only ever happen once. In fact, it might be something that can never happen for future generations of readers. For instance, if Harry dies (which, for the record, I don't think that he will), this will be common cultural knowledge. We all know Beth dies, we know Darth Vader is Luke's father, and we know that Rhett doesn't "give a damn." We know these things, even if we've never seen/read Star Wars, Little Women, or Gone With the Wind. Whatever happens to Harry it will be headline news and become simply a part of our culture. People starting the series will know whether Harry makes it out or not. We don't. We are perhaps unique here. I intend to make the ending of this book, the experience of reading it for the first time, count.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Why does Target not carry Harry Potter party things?

They have cups, plates, napkins, and every other party accessory for Spiderman, Barbie, Shrek, and any and every other movie vaguely targeted at children. But no Harry Potter.

And, why, when I ask a sales person where I might find the HP stuff does she assume that it is for my child?

And why, most importantly, do I feel compelled to simply agree that, yes, it is for my HP-obsessed kid* and not for myself?

*who does not exist

Monday, July 02, 2007

Ringo's Rotogravure

That's the record I am currently listening to. Yes, that's right, record. After over a week of wondering whether they still make record players and fretting over whether it would be worth the cost to get one, I've given in and purchased a turntable. For these first five minutes, at least, it's completely worth the time and effort involved in getting it.

I have a rather large (for someone who has never owned a record player) collection of records. I once decorated my living room with some ($.25-$1.00 at thrift stores!) and recently bought a few for about $4 each at Bookmans. The recent ones include post-Beatle projects of The Beatles. Like I could find actual Beatles albums at thrift stores! Ha.

Anyway, I'm currently waxing nostalgic about turntables, records, and an era in which I never lived. I guess if I wanted to be truly nostalgic, I'd bust out a cassette tape player. But those are not nearly so fun.