Sunday, July 29, 2007, posted by Q6 at 12:49 PM
My fiancee and I have now seen three possible wedding venues and have had a few discussions about the guest lists, costs, the "degree" of wedding we want, and all the other stuff. We haven't yet fought about anything, but there comes a point in each discussion when one of us must stop talking due to "overwhelm" overload.

We've now the task of sitting down and crunching numbers and guest lists, deciding which venue will be most suitable, or whether we should chuck the whole thing, invite 20 or so people to a small, private ceremony, and blow the money on a kick-ass honeymoon. (We've always said that we're more interested in BEING married than GETTING married, as the pre-marital counseling demonstrated, so the semi-elopement option still isn't out of the question.)

It's a frustrating task, but it's also a little fun--as it should be, I suppose. Anyway, there will be occasional posts about wedding plans. Stay tuned.
Thursday, July 26, 2007, posted by Q6 at 12:47 AM
After almost two months of agonizing over it, I finally sent in my registration for my 20th high school reunion. My fiancee is coming with me, though I know the night won't mean as much to her as it will to me. (Actually, it will mean as much to her if only a few of my old friends show up.) I only know of a few of my old friends who are going, one who is not, and the rest are question marks. Naturally, most of the ones I'd most like to see are the question marks, mainly because none of us has kept in touch over the years. I'm most looking forward to seeing that core few that I grew up with, from elementary school all the way to graduation. (There are two that I'm not particularly looking forward to seeing, unless, of course, they've come to the same realization that I have: boyfirend/girlfriend relationships in high school are frought with peril, since neither side really knows what its doing. Same might go for my first two marriages, actually; only now, as my third wedding approaches, do I realize what goes into a successful relationship.) This event is a little daunting for me for another reason: I remember most everything. As I've posted before, I have whtever the opposite of Alzheimer's is. Having all those memories wash back over me, as they have the last few days, reminds me that although I knew a lot of people, and was liked, I was not "well-liked" (with a nod to Arthur Miller), and I don't know if that will still hold true after this many years. If I have a chance to start all over again at this reunion, I hope I do it right. In the end, I guess, the key is to be myself--honestly, just myself. It's been working for me so far.

The event is to be held August 11th at the hotel that was the venue for our senior prom.

God--what will I wear?
, posted by Q6 at 12:31 AM
My daughter has been here for almost two weeks, and I'm starting to worry that I might not be keeping her in proper vacation activities. She's usually fine with her own "personal time" when she's here (since she has no six-year-old sister to babysit), but I feel like I'm ignoring her sometimes in order to do things I want to do. Those who know me would (a) congratulate me for thinking about myself, and (b) be not the least bit surprised that I'm giving myself a hard time about it. Since she's arrived we've gone to the movies (which we'll do again), gone swimming every day, gone out to eat--a lot, and seen family (which we'll do again). We're going to the Orange County Fair, we're planning on going kite flying at some point, and maybe go take some pictures somewhere. I know, I know--I'm doing fine. It never feels like it, though, and I still wonder why that is.

* Yes, it's a "Love Boat" reference. I liked "Love Boat." Shut up.
Monday, July 23, 2007, posted by Q6 at 2:42 PM
This blog post is about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I make references to the story that may spoil things for those who are still on the Library's waiting list. If you have not yet read the book, J.K. Rowling requests that you not read this post.
For added spoiler security, I have used "inviso-text" for the spoiler parts.

My family did this whole last-Harry-Potter-book thing right. Although we didn't go to a bookstore in costume for a midnight party (because we're not that nerdy), we did walk down to the local grocery store at about 11:30 that Friday night. They had the book for 40% off, they had a smaller line, and we could pick up cupcakes and cinnamon rolls at the same time. (And I gotta give props to J.K. Rowling: there's something to be said for creating a phenomenon that gets about 100 people to line up for a literary event at a grocery store.)

Then we went home and started reading. My fiancee, my 13-year-old daughter, and I were all spawled out in the living room at 12:30 in the morning reading our books. It was quickly evident that my fiancee was going to finish first: at our first page-check she was 50 pages ahead of me and my daughter was about 40 behind me.

But it's not a competition. :)

It was a good book, and a fitting end to the series. Because the characters don't go back to Hogwarts for their final year of school, it doesn't get to be an HP-formula until about midway through (and how any of these three graduate without attending their senior year is--well, I guess that makes them like most American students, actually). I went into it fully prepared for Harry to die, since Rowling has been (and probably still is) worried that someone else will try to pick up where she leaves off, but I wasn't disappointed that he was spared. Dumbledore's character makes an appearance late in the book, and although he's probably my favorite character in the series I'm kinda glad he's not in a lot of this. As many bloggers have commented already, it would have been just sad for the kids to be running back to his portrait every ten minutes to ask another question. I was also prepared for Snape to be a good guy (relatively speaking), though his crush on Lily being the motivation was something of a surprise.

Harry's conversation with Dumbledore near the end reminided me a lot--unfortunately--of the last episode of "Magnum, P.I." He gets shot, walks through the clouds a bit, comes to a decision, and goes back. I guess "Quantum Leap" did the same thing, really, with its finale. Come to think of it, this "you're not quite dead yet, you must go back" device isn't terribly uncommon.

I could have done without the epilogue, because it's kind of cheesy and superfluous. I suppose my bigger problem with it is that there are now younger kids once again introduced, leaving room for bad knock-offs. (I remember an old rumor that floated around for years that George Lucas had purchased the movie rights to The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy just so that the movie would never be made. My point is this: if you're going to end it, end it. Don't leave room for more if it's done. Moreover, if you're going to write the epilogue, at least tell us who the new headmaster at Hogwarts is.) The epilogue, however, was inevitable, for we must remember that this was originally written for young readers and that demographic needs a lot more closure. Yes, we can all remember when the craze started, and many of the adults were hesitant to read a book (published by Scholastic, no less) and expect to enjoy it. Rowling did acknowledge a growing adult readership by making the last few darker and killing some people off, but this was originally written for the kids, and so I don't blame Rowling for epilogue.

Overall, a good book. I conked out about 3am and finished the rest after I woke up (all told, about ten hours). My fiancee had it done before I woke up--she went through the whole thing at once, six hours or so. My daughter didn't finish until well into Saturday night, and I made a point of reading the last three chapters aloud to her (it's something she's used to; I do the voices!). It was fun to get the book and stay up reading.

(I haven't seen the fifth movie yet, but I've read mixed reviews. Having read the books, the movies almost seem like reruns to me. I'll see it at some point, but while I'm doing a Harry Potter post I may as well include this: I had a discussion about the casting of the characters with a few people, and ideas that were thrown out for Slughorn included Stephen Fry and Bob Hoskins. I still maintain that Michael Gambon, while a good actor, was the wrong choice for Dumbledore, especially since we all got addicted to Richard Harris in the role. I thought a better choice for the new Dumbledore would have been someone tall, thin--almost gaunt-looking--with big eyes and the ability to be a calm sort of figure. Someone like, . . . I dunno . . . Hugh Laurie.)

I'll say this, though: no matter what the statistical reports may suggest, J.K. Rowling is responsible for engaging millions of young people in reading. For that alone, Rowling has my respect. It's one thing to engage young readers, but quite another to keep it going for seven books and finish with this big a response at the finale.

* I thought this movie quote was fitting. It's the last line of "The Truman Show," once the only-watched TV show comes to an end. Given that the Harry Potter books have been so much literary heroin to so many, I wonder what the public will do now.

Friday, July 20, 2007, posted by Q6 at 12:00 AM
After only one week of my daughter's presence here, I feel incredibly old. First, she's thirteen (but acts about twenty-two sometimes). I can remember when she was a shrieking little girl with a pacifier, and now she's reading books and writing book reports and touring colleges and stuff. Second, she's got this new two-piece bathing suit that . . . that . . . . *Sigh*. It's just small. Third, we're swimming together daily. It's become a routine for us, a good one, and we get to talk about all sorts of things. The exercise, however, is reminding me just how out of shape I am. The first day I could go almost two hours, swimming, lounging in the water, and playing around. By day five, I'm good for an hour, and I'm feeling it--particularly in the upper body. Yesterday I was losing it after 45 minutes, and I decided to work on my legs; today, they're absolutely killing me. I've either gotta pace myself or do this a whole lot more.

And no, I haven't been on my bike yet at all.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007, posted by Q6 at 12:08 PM
It truly isn't easy being green.

The Set-up: My front yard used to be the stuff that gardening shows were made of. It was nothing but weeds, it had foot-deep holes in it from when I was trying to fix it up, and it looked a complete mess. I received several letters from the homeowners' association about it, and I was getting tired of the whole thing. I finally gave up and spent the money to have artificial turf installed, and it looks great. It looks great ALL THE TIME, and I don't have to do anything to it. The CC & Rs of the HOA don't say anything about artificial turf, and only about half of the people who have commented on it realize it's fake. It's great. Maybe you've seen it.

The Punch line: On July 1 I get a letter from the HOA. They thanked me for getting my front yard issues resolved, but claimed that it seemed a little dry and could use watering. Water?!? I went to all this trouble to stop these letters and now the little old ladies that inspect the neighborhood once a week (the "old-biddy-clipboard-committee" is what we used to call them) seem to think that the crunching sound my lawn makes when stepped on is dehydration and not the base-filled polystrene that it actually is. I called the general manager of the HOA, explained the situation, got my apology letter, and that was that. (She even wrote that it looks great, so I probably won't get dinged for doing it.)

The Footnote: The HOA newsletter for August arrived today. Among the general manager's announcements is this: If it is difficult for you to maintain your landscaping, you may want to consider a quality artificial turf product. Although natural plant material is preferable, several residents who prefer not to mow, weed and water in a routine manner have found this product to be a viable substitute. Please submit your choice of material to the Architectural Committee before installing. I'm not aware of other residents using the stuff, but as long as my mailbox is free of their letterhead, I don't care.

My fiancee is blonde. My yard is fake. I live in Orange County, California.