Thanks for Visiting my Blog!

I am curious to learn where the people who are reading my blog are from in the World. I don't know any way to find out except to ask, so I am. I have a Visitor's Poll on the right side. Please take a second to select the best answer. If I don't have your Country listed it is not intended as a Slight (China was suppose to be there; I can't add it now). I quickly realized I could not list every country, so I have continents listed. Feel free to drop me a comment or email as to which Country you reside in if it isn't in the list IN ADDITION to selecting the best answer in the poll. Thanks

Friday, December 28, 2007

Moving across the border

Teaching English as a Foreign Language or a second language -

A week from now I should be in Cuidad Miguel Alemán. I am moving there next week to teach English to a group of Second Grade children. I have substitute taught the past 2 years at the local elementary school here (Junction City Arkansas - Louisiana). But this will be a new experience (pun intended). No not the Spanish language environment. I have visited and even worked for short periods of time in countries that spoke Spanish or Portuguese. This will be the first time where I was primarily responsible for each day. As a substitute I simply take what the teacher has prepared and it is my job to execute it - in other words I teach what the regular teacher says I should that day.

Starting on January 7 it will be my responsibility to design and prepare each days work. This will be a new challenge. The fact it will be children who are learning a foreign language simply adds a dimension to the challenge. I have already been gathering a variety of "tools" to assist me. These range from Sight Word materials to workbooks and such that have additional phonetic theme work I can copy and use with the children.

One thing I learned as a substitute was that having "fill" material is important. Dead time is not good. Even the best of children with nothing to do will invariably start disrupting the class. Being in a position to give them material that will help them learn the concept we are studying is a goal of mine. A second thing I learned was "be flexible" Some days we will not accomplish everything on the plan. It is more important that the children learn the concepts than that I adhere rigidly to a schedule. And each child will learn at a different pace.

My first challenge on Monday, January 7, 2008 will be learning where each child presently is in their knowledge of English (and grammar in general). And to learn each child's name. It will be important for me to get off on a good relationship with each child. Even as I type this I am thinking of ways to accomplish these goals.

Between now and next Friday, I will be reviewing material and studying Spanish. I know some Spanish but most of it is at the outer reaches of my brain lying in the murky shadows. In other words, I haven't used it and as a result it takes time to recall. I need to expose myself to what I already know to get it familiar again and learn more. I will be teaching English but I want to learn Spanish and gain fluency.

I hope to update this blog weekly if not daily from Cuidad Miguel Alemán. Feel free to drop in and leave any comments. This will be a learning experience for all.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis the Season for Giving

Yes it is the season for giving with Christmas just around the corner. Have you wondered why we restrict ourselves to giving just this time of year? Should we?

This blog is about giving. It just so happens this is the time of year for giving. It could be any time and it would would apply.

14 year old starts Library in his town: needs Books donated!

I was reading through the website of author Lois Lowry (a favorite author of mine) and discovered an opportunity to give. A Young boy, age 14, is starting a Library in his town of Rollinsford, New Hampshire. He had written Lois when he was 11 and mentioned his town did not have a Library. Reminescent of Cicero, Lois responded "I told him then that a town with no library was like a body with no heart." Being a lover of books, I agree. And this is my small part of helping.

If you would like to help 14 year old Robert (or R.J.) Bolian and his efforts to start a Library, one can make a donation to:

This is the address to which book donations should be sent:

Rollinsford Public Library
Cutter Family Properties
Suite 214
1 Front Street
Rollinsford, NH 03869

RJ Bolian, the 14 year old boy who spent three years getting this library up and running—because

his town had none—tells me that they are especially short of children's books.

You can read the original blog of Lois Lowry on this and other issues at

Give the Gift of Life!

Another gift that is always timely is the gift of life. I have been a regular donator of blood to the American Red Cross since I was 18 and old enough to donate. About a month ago the Red Cross called me. That is a fairly regular occurrence. Every 54 days for years they have called to remind me I was once again eligible to give. This call was different. This time they called wanting me to donate platelets. It is a longer process, but they need platelets for Cancer victims among others.

It took about 80 minutes for me to donate the platelets. They had a portable DVD player so I was able to watch a movie while my platelets were collected. One is able to donate platelets every 2 weeks or so compared to 54 days between blood donations. My blood is CMV negative which is the only blood newborns or peopre who are receiving an organ transplant can use. Now I must chose as two branches of the Red Cross compete - blood or platelets.

If you are healthy and able to donate blood or platelets, please do. Blood is truly a gift worth giving. You can save a life!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I have been Negligent

Wow it has been so long since I last posted. I apologize to anyone who has visited and been disappointed.

I do have my share of excuses. I have been busy with fantasy sports - I now have NFL, NBA and NHL teams, teaching elementary students as a substitute teacher and taking a 2 week trip through the middle of the US. Along with the latter, I have been working on getting the photographs I took on the trip online (some are now on my picasa page) and working on my mother's new computer and our network. Doesn't sound like a lot but when you realize I knew nothing about Hockey until after I joined the fantasy hockey league on Yahoo Sports, and take into account that I wanted to know what I was doing, then it becomes more understandable. I was learning as much as I could about Hockey and watching NBA games while I could (Dish Network had a free preview period). And I have been blogging on

If you are a fantasy sports fan you really should be participating on Screaming Sports. It is free.

Today I added a blog on just fantasy sports. It is Fantasy Sportsaholic
If you are into fantasy sports, be sure and visit my Sports Blog and book mark it.

I'll try to do a better job keeping my blogs all up to date. And check my website for a photo journal soon of our trip through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan (including the Upper Peninsula), Indiana, and Ohio. Hopefully I will get it online this next week. It will be in the Photo section of the website.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Busy with Fantasy Football

I've been preoccupied with Fantasy Football so haven't posted anything here in awhile.

I never realized just how involved Fantasy Football could be. I say could because one doesn't have to do as much as I have been but I suspect the more you do the better prepared you will be.

If you want to know what I have been doing to prepare as a 1st year manager or any tidbits I may have learned, drop me an email. I'm not dumb enough to post it where my opponent managers can see it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fantasy Football! My team

This is my first experience with any Fantasy team. and considering that I have not really watched Professional football in the past few years, it has been a challenge already!

Our Team draft has happened. The team is hosted on ESPN and is under standard ESPN rules. You have a 16 player team and start 9 - 1 QB, 2 RB, 2WR, 1RB/WR, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 Defense/Special Team. We have a 10 team league and use Head to Head matchups each week. I drafted 4th. My 16 picks were (not in order drafted but by position):

My Draft Roster:

QB Kitna - Det - Plays @ Oakland week 1
QB Losman - Buf - Plays Denver week 1

RB Stephen Jackson (Stl) - Plays Carolina week 1
RB Willie Parker (Pit) - Plays @ Cleveland week 1
RB Rudi Johnson (Cin) - Plays Baltimore week 1
RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG) - Plays @ Dallas week 1

WR Terrell Owens (Dal) - Plays NYG week 1
WR Donald Driver (GB) - Plays Philedelphia week 1 (assuming he plays)
WR Deion Branch (Sea) - Plays Tampa Bay week 1
WR Calvin Johnson (Det) - Plays @ Oakland week 1
WR Dante Stallworth (NE) - Plays @ NYJ week 1

TE Ben Watson (NE) - Plays @ NYJ week 1
TE Owen Daniel (Hou) - Plays @Kansas City week 1

K J. Wilkins (Stl) - Plays Carolina Week 1

D/ST Chicago Bears - Plays @ San Diego week 1
D/ST Denver - Plays @ Buffalo week 1

Since the draft I waived Hou TE Owen Daniel since both he and Watson had the exact same Bye Week (I had written down Daniel's Bye Week wrong on my draft sheet). I can add a player Sunday to fill that vacant position.

So what do you think? On paper it looked good, and then I started looking at the first week games. Ouch. Rudi Johnson at home but against Baltimore! I have a great #1 Defense in Chicago but week 1 they play at San Diego!

and my first week opponent has players who look good in their first round match-ups

Opposing Team Roster and week 1 opponent:

StL QB Marc Bulger car
SF QB Alex Smith ari

SF RB Frank Gore ari
NE RB Laurence Maroney @NYJ
Phi RB Brian Westbrook @gb
ATL RB Jerious Norwood @min
CAR RB DeShaun Foster stl

Was WR Santana Moss mia
Ari WR Anquan Boldin @sf
NO WR Devery Henderson @ind
NYG WR Plaxico Burress @Dal

Pit TE Heath Miller @cle'
SF TE Vernon Davis ari

Dal D/ST Cowboys D/ST nyg
Jac D/ST Jaguars D/ST ten

any suggestions? Who should I sit? Start?

Leave your comments or email me

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Words in Color" Puzzle challenge

This is not original from me. My first disclaimer.

The Rules are simple. Look at the image below and say the color of the word - not the word. Understand? For example, when you see red you would say Blue since the color is blue even though the letters spell the word RED.

See how many colors you can say correctly before making a mistake. See how fast you can sat all the colors in sequence without saying the word written. Let the fun begin.

So how did you do?

And by the way, did you vote in the visitor poll? Please do.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coffee! Benefits and risks

I love coffee! The image above says it all.

These are just a few of the news articles on coffeee - 2 of the 3 in just the last couple of days.

Girl overdoes on espresso coffee

Is Coffee bad for you?

Coffee 'protects female memory'

It seems like I have been drinking coffee all of my life. My mother claims I started drinking it when I was just a few months old when she gave it to me mixed with milk in my bottle because I wanted what she was drinking. Today I prefer it strong and pure or black as some say. No sugar, no cream or milk or substitutes. While in Brasil, I shocked some people by preferring their strong rich brew without the traditional sugar and cream added. "puro, por favor!" Obrigado! I love it espresso strength. Now that doesn't mean I don't drink it otherways. I drink lattes, mochas, fraps, cafe au lait, etc. What I do not particularly like is "american coffee". Folgers or Maxwell House or some similar brand brewed so that one can see partially through the liquid. That is just colored warm water. I prefer it dark and rich. When I brew coffee, one can not see through it even a little. And one doesn't need an espresso machine to brew dark, rich, strong coffee. I start with high quality coffee (it doesn't have to be expensive - I found one at Wal-Mart at about $3 a lb that is excellent), I fill my filter full and then add 12 cups of cold water and let it brew. That is using a Krups drip coffee machine. As long as you have good coffee, it is great! Try that with folgers or maxwell house and you will have 1 bitter brew!

The first article linked above however highlights one of the risks of coffee. Maybe the only risk. Some people can not handle the caffeine. If 7 double espressos were too much for her system, she doesn't want to have mine. I drink my coffee by the "mug", at least 12 oz at a time and I can drink coffee anytime, 24/7. Caffeine has never adversely affected me. In fact I tried to use coffee from Puerto Rico (excellent coffee!) while in college to stay awake and study. It never worked. I could fall right to sleep studying Organic Chemistry with or without the coffee.

The other 2 articles highlights some of the benefits of coffee. I actually use to have a collection of articles similar to these (and probably still have the bookmarks) that show the benefits of drinking coffee. Warding off dementia is just one of them. I have a father with Alzheimer's and will probably post this same post on my Living with alzheimer's blog.

Just so you don't think I am prejudice against other hot drinks, I also love hot tea and Hot Chocolate. Unlike some other Coffee lovers, I do not despise tea. In fact, I love hot and cold tea especially hot green tea, herbal teas and oolong tea. I don't like English breakfast tea as well. And tea has been shown to be very good for you also with hot green tea probably drawing the most accolates as to health benefits. I am also a chocoholic and love hot cocoa as well. Chocolate (not the supper sugared versions but real dark chocolate) has also been shown to benefit ones' health.

But coffee is coffee. It has a special place. In November of 2000 I was fortunate to visit a friend in Slovakia. Before returning to the US, I stayed a couple of nights in Vienna, Austria. Coffee and chocolate on every corner! I highly recommend it to the coffee and chocolate lovers. If you don't like chocolate (how can you not?), you may want to consider a trip to Costa Rica. It isn't known for its chocolate but it has some of the best coffee grown anywhere. I can also recommend coffess from Brasil (there are a couple I really like) and elsewhere. Just avoid the coffees that are designed to be brewed weak if you want the real experience of rich, flavorful coffee.

PS: I just added the link to oolong tea, and I haven't even read it all myself. Discovered it as I searched "oolong" to make sure I spelled it correctly.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I just finished reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This is his second novel. His debut novel was The Kite Runner which I have not yet read. However it spent something like 2 years on the NY Times best seller list.

I don't want to spoil the book for anyone, but the setting of the book is Afghanistan and spans about 50 years. You primarily view the history of Afghanistan during this time through the eyes of 2 women. It is a poignant and moving story and is not recommended for those who are looking for a light amusing book.

For fans of UK author, Joanne Harris ( Chocolat, Blackberry Wine: A Novel, Coastliners: A Novel, Five Quarters of the Orange), you should really like this book. And vice versa. If you like A Thousand Splendid Suns, you should also enjoy Joanne Harris' books. She is one of my favorite modern authors. You should also consider Purple Hibiscus by Adichie. Another book you may want to read if you like books on life in Afghanistan during the Taliban era is Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. And yes I have read every one of these recommended books and would not recommend a book I did not think was very good. If you have school children anywhere from 4th grade and up, this last book is one they can read and enjoy.

IF you enjoy books and reading, I am adding pages to a section on my website devoted to books - one of my passions. I just finished adding Modern Library's 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century to the site. This is actually 2 lists (100 by the Board and 100 by the readers). How many of the best books of the 20th century have you read? Take a visit and see. It is interesting to see how divergent the 2 lists are.

I have also listed some of my favorite UK authors and favorite US authors in addition to a list of authors and books fans of JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series may enjoy reading since the end of that series. My plans are to continue adding material so visit often to see what is new. If you have book suggestions, comments or questions about books I have recommended on this blog or my site, please leave a comment or email me. I love feedback and prefer dialogue over monologue any day.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Cleaning up, rearranging

I've been cleaning up and rearranging the blog. It is still a work in progress as I experiment with layouts and elements. 2 Polls closed - Which of the New Wonders of the World would you like to Visit? and How Harry Potter affected your Reading Habits. Taj Mahal won the New Wonder of the World most of you readers would like to visit followed by Michu Pichu and the Great Wall of China, then the Roman Colaseum and Brasil's Statute of Christ, and the Jordon's Petra and finally Mexico's Ruins. On Harry Potter, most of you already loved to read before Harry Potter was discovered by you.

I have removed the games. I'm not sure if anyone was playing any of them or not. If you were, you can still play them by visiting my website and selecting games from the left hand frame. The Harry PotterGames, Tic-Tac-Toe, and Sudoku (my favorite) are all there.

I think everything else is still here just rearranged. 3 Polls on Harry Potter are still open. If you haven't voted yet, there is still time. The polls are located on the left side - just scroll down.

As I am posting this, I am also cleaning up, rearranging and adding elements to my website. One new section deals with books. IF you like to read, you will want to check out that section. It is still having pages added but I already have suggestions for fans of Harry Potter on books they may enjoy reading and suggestions on US and UK authors. I plan to add genre sections, Best 100 Novels sections, Non-US, Non-UK authors sections, and others as time allows. I am including links to authors' websites so it takes time.

I have also added a section on Alzheimer's and a section on Global News sites in English (listed in left hand frame).

I am also in the process of scanning photographs and adding them to my photo section of my website. I have literally hundreds of photos to process that are already scanned and plan to scan more. I am also adding photos to my Picasa albums and Flickr albums. I have more on picasa than flickr. IF you do not already have a picasa album, I would recommend it. It is FREE and part of the Google Pack. You can get it by clicking the Google Pack banner on the side menu. There are several items included in the Free Google Pack in addition to picasa. Flickr is by Google's competitor Yahoo. I have not yet done as much with it but it is also free. Why not get both and see which you prefer? Just do a quick search for Flickr above in the search box and you'll find it. I will be adding more photos to both of my accounts as time permits.

I think that about covers it. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saving the environment

one tree at a time.

The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is attempting to set a world record by planting 10 million trees in a single day on Tuesday- July 31. It is an effort to be applauded whether they set the record or not. The previous record by the way is 852,587 trees, planted in 6,284 locations in Tamil Nadu state in 2006.

Trees and vegetation provide us with the oxygen we breath. Just as important, trees and vegetation inhale the carbon dioxide we exhale. It's a nice cycle as we provide what the other needs to live.

But as the earth's population of humans continues to increase, the earth's population of trees continues to decrease. That isn't a formula for success. We hold the future of the world in our hands today. It is nice to see the reforestation effort by India and others.

There are no easy solutions to the world's problem with environmental pollution. Countries that are poor are often asked to bear a larger portion of the social costs of preventing deforestation. Why? Because the richer nations have already cut their trees and profited by it -- at least in some forms -- while the poorer nations did not and still have their trees. They are now asked to not cut theirs so that the damage can be halted. The solution? Support reforestation and support efforts to slow down the cutting of the rain forest and other old wood forests that remain. But recognize we are asking those nations who have the rain forests such as brasil to do what many of our nations did not -- protect our forests.

Planting trees like the
Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is doing is a step in the right direction. If the world is to survive, we must learn to live in harmony with nature. We must give back and not just take. Economic interests of today must be weighed and balanced against the costs to the future generations of tomorrow. And those asked to make the economic sacrifices of today, should in some way be compensated. But the costs to the environment of economic development should never be ignored. We should all bear the burden of saving the environment.

So say a big Thank You to India and its officials for bearing some of the burden we all owe to life here on Planet Earth. And if you have the opportunity, plant a tree.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Journey into Forgetfulness

A Journey into forgetfulness

Have you ever had an experience where you knew …

The name of the person, it was on the tip of your tongue as they say, but ….it just eludes you, just stays slightly beyond your grasp.

Or you just had those car keys, sun glasses, …. but now what did you do with them? Where did you put them?

Now imagine …. that is your life. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, that is your life.

You just can’t quite recall. It is something you should know but. …. It eludes you.

And day by day, week by week the things that slip just into the shadows of your mind where you can sort of glimpse them but can’t quite make out what they are grow and grow and slip further and farther away.


I had promised my next blog would have a more serious subject - Alzheimer's. After thinking it over, I decided to create a stand-a-lone blog just for Alzheimer's. My father has Alzheimer's. If you have a family member or friend who has Alzheimer's or cares for a victim of Alzheimer's, please visit and participate in this blog. It is truly a debilitating disease. The blog is called Living With Alzheimer's and the above post is identical to the first post there.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

One last Harry Potter blog - It's the Little Things

One last Harry Potter blog --

at least for now. The next blog is planned to be about a more serious subject although it does have a Harry Potter connection. Alzheimer's. The connection with Harry Potter? It is the model JK Rowling uses for Neville's mother.

Back to Deathly Hallows. Some people have questioned WHY? Why are you and others disappointed. So I have decided to try and answer. This next part is from what I posted recently on orkut's Harry Potter for Adults
(with a few modifications):
If you were the parents of Hermione, would you be excited if she suddenly had test scores that were acceptable rather than outstanding? Wouldn't you be just a bit disappointed? Wouldn't you expect more from her?

Never in 6 books did JKR write anything that was not completely consistent with what she had previously written. She was no average writer. She excelled at writing a story that was interesting yet complex. She gave details and dropped hints and clues and always when you looked backward you could see how everything aligned and made sense.

Book 7 departs from that. Suddenly things that should not happen, happen; things that should, don't.

IF this had been the first book I had read of JK Rowling I would be happy. It is better than most of the books I read. But it is not to the higher level she has previously written. It is like Hermione getting a mediocre grade rather than outstanding. Something is just out of whack! It doesn't fit.

Entertaining? Sure. Just as the movies are entertaining. Are the movies as good as the books? No. Do they make as much sense as the books? No. Is this book as well written technically as the previous 6? No. Does it make sense as the previous 6 books? No.

There are parts of the book that are signature JK Rowling. Maybe 90 percent or more. But it is those bits and pieces that just do not fit that bring it down for those of us who loved her because of how well she wrote, how consistent she was.

It's the little things. JK Rowling has always been a master writer of the little things. It is one of the reasons I loved reading her books. In book 7, the little things are what disappoints. They are no longer consistent. The story is still good but not as good as if the little things remained as before -- consistent. For example, in previous books we learned that James fought Voldemort in an effort to give Lily time to escape with Harry. We were told he put up a valiant fight. But not in Deathly Hallows. In Deathly Hallows, there is no fight. James does not even have his wand, and Voldemort simply kills him. Little things like this in the past have always aligned and made sense with her previous writing. In book 7, it doesn't. They are out of alignment. They contradict.

I loved to read before JK Rowling ever wrote the first Harry Potter book. I read more than the average person, and most of what I read is not nearly as well written as Deathly Hallows. One day (hopefully soon) I plan to add an extended book section to my website that lists some of the authors and books I find to be worth recommending. JK Rowling will still be there. So don't take what I have written out of context.

JK Rowling is like Hermione. She is brilliant enough to always get Outstanding. But here she doesn't write to her normal standards. The Little Things that have in the past bolstered her writing now magnify the short-falls. It's the little things we have come to expect from her. That is why I and others are disappointed with Deathly Hallows. It's the Little Things.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Polls - updates

Many of you have voted on the various polls I have listed: New Wonder of the World you'd most like to visit; How Harry Potter had afected your reading habits; Whether you were disappointed with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Which of the Harry Potter books was your favorite and which was your least favorite.

This is just a snapshot look at these polls.

Of the 7 new Wonders of the World, which would you most like to visit?

18 Votes

India's Taj Mahal leads with 7 votes

Peru's Machu Picchu and China's Great Wall both have 3 votes

The Colosseum in Rome and Brasil's Statue of Christ the Redeemer both have 2 votes

Jordon's Petra has 1 vote and

Mexico's Ruins of Chichen Itza has received 0 votes.

I wish there was some way to match up the votes with geography -- where the voters reside. Without any comments on why they chose the ones they did, can't really say alot. Machu Picchu would have received my vote IF I had voted followed by the Great Wall of china. Why? I love remote locations away from the crowds. The Ruins of Chicken Itza would probably have been my third choice for the same reason -- away from the crowds.

How has Harry Potter affected your reading habits?

20 votes

This one surprised me. I had heard so much about how Harry Potter and made people who did not like to read into readers. But the poll shows that of the 20 votes, 14 loved to read before ever reading Harry Potter. I would be in this group also. The other 6 liked to read some but Harry Potter increased their love of reading. Maybe the ones who started to read because of Harry Potter still don't like reading other things including my blog?

Did Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows disappoint you?

13 votes.

The early votes were all disappointed but later voters not as much. Currently 8 of the readers are disappointed, 4 are not (2 of whom loved the book) and 1 neutral

What is your Favorite of the Harry Potter Books?

9 votes

I was surprised here. Half-Blood Prince leads the way with 3 votes; Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire both received 2 votes; Order of the Phoenix 1 and Deathly Hallows 1.

Which is your least favorite of the Harry Potter Books?

10 votes

Again I was surprised. Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire tied with 3 votes each. Order of the Phoenix received 2 and Deathly Hallows 2.

Polls are still open so if you haven't voted, feel free to vote. If you have voted and want to explain your choices, just send me a comment and I'll add it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

JK Rowling Disappoints

Many fans of JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books are disappointed today. The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows did NOT continue her previous dazzling ability to write both cleverly and logically. In past books, everything made sense - at least in hindsight. There were no giant leaps of logic, no major inconsistencies in the plot. That ended in Book 7. Harry Potter carrying around a piece of Voldemort's soul for 16 years unaware? Let's face it - that is completely inconsistent with a Professor Quirrel who could not even touch Harry without enduring intense pain in book 1 because he was possessed by Voldemort's soul OR Voldemort possessing Harry in Book 5 and having to flee because of the Mortal agony it caused for Voldemort's soul to be in contact with Harry's. IF a piece of Voldemort had been embedded in Harry, that piece should have been constant pain for Harry -- if the plot was to be consistent. In fact, it should not have been able to survive the contact. IF the magical protection given to Harry by Lily's scaricfice was sufficient to block the Avada Kedavra curse AND prevent Voldemort from touching Harry, then no piece of Voldemort should have been able to enter Harry either and certainly not survive without pain. That was the biggest inconsistency and biggest disappointment for me personally. But there were others.

JKR does a complete reversal in book 7 on the fidelus charm and how it works. This is NOT an inconsistency within the books as much as an inconsistency with her explanation on her website which her many fans relied on for information between books. On her websites she says:

Result of F.A.Q. Poll


What happens to a secret when the Secret-Keeper dies?

I was surprised that this question won, because it is not the one that I'd have voted for… but hey, if this is what you want to know, this is what you want to know!

When a Secret-Keeper dies, their secret dies with them, or, to put it another way, the status of their secret will remain as it was at the moment of their death. Everybody in whom they confided will continue to know the hidden information, but nobody else.

Just in case you have forgotten exactly how the Fidelius Charm works, it is

"an immensely complex spell involving the magical concealment of a secret inside a single, living soul. The information is hidden inside the chosen person, or Secret-Keeper, and is henceforth impossible to find -- unless, of course, the Secret-Keeper chooses to divulge it" (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)

In other words, a secret (eg, the location of a family in hiding, like the Potters) is enchanted so that it is protected by a single Keeper (in our example, Peter Pettigrew, a.k.a. Wormtail). Thenceforth nobody else – not even the subjects of the secret themselves – can divulge the secret. Even if one of the Potters had been captured, force fed Veritaserum or placed under the Imperius Curse, they would not have been able to give away the whereabouts of the other two. The only people who ever knew their precise location were those whom Wormtail had told directly, but none of them would have been able to pass on the information.

from JK Rowling FAQ

IS this how the fidelus Charm is depicted as working in book 7? No. Suddenly with the death of the secret keeper, Dumbledore, every person who previously knew the secret became able to reveal the secret. There suddenly became multiple secret keepers any of which could reveal the secret. Why the reversal?

And why did Fred have to die near the end during a lull of the battle? How did his death further the plot? Especially in such a manner? Having kept all of the Weasleys alive until then, was it really necessary to have one of the twins die? Was that required to have Ron go beserk or for Molly to duel Bellatrix? It's the only death I really question other than I wish Harry's owl Hedwig hadn't died. Dobby's death at least served a purpose.

But once again, the deaths were largely one sided until the end. How is it that death eaters never died during the battles with Order of the Phoenix members? Was it because the Order was not seeking to kill, just disarm? Even during the final battle at Hogwarts? And once disarmed and disabled, why were they constantly able to escape and resume fighting?

Having started the article negative, let me say JK Rowling has achieved a lot. Writing a 7 book series with hundreds of characters and not having a lot of inconsistencies is remarkable. This is especially true since book 1 was indeed her first book. I just got the impression in reading book 7 that she finally realized that she had too many loose ends that should be closed but did not know how to close them and stay consistent. How to explain the connection between Voldemort and Harry without it conflicting with the "Voldemort can not touch Harry" protection established in Book 1 and Book 5?

Other loose ends and inconsistencies:

How did Voldemort get his wand back after being Vanquished in book 1? (She never explains this). There were a lot of questions by fans before the book about HOW Hagrid was able to get Harry in the first book. If the location was protected by a fidelus charm, then how was Hagrid able to go to Godric's Hollow and retrieve the baby? Obviously Pettigrew the Secret Keeper did not reveal the secret since no one but James, Lily and Sirius knew James had switched to him as the secret keeper. So how did Hagrid find Harry in book 1? And how did Dumbledore and all of the others suddenly know Voldemort had Vanquished or that Harry had survived? Why did it take so long for Hagrid to get Harry from Godric's Hollow to Privet Drive? What did James and Lily do for a living? Why did Snape who supposedly loved Lily treat her son like trash? Just because he resembled his father James? Is that how you would treat the child of someone you truly cared about? So many questions remain.

Thank you JK Rowling for giving us the World of Harry Potter. Because of you, many children today enjoy reading who otherwise probably would have gone through life not reading books for enjoyment. Maybe we as fans came to expect too much from you. Maybe it is our higher expectations that have left us feeling disappointed rather than your ending. Did we expect too much? Sort of like Harry being disappointed with Dumbledore because he had not lived up to how Harry viewed him. There were flaws in his past. Maybe after the dust has settled, the disappointed will likewise settle.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Discussions

This post is more of a warning for the Harry Potter fans out there who will be reading the books over the next few hours and in some cases days. Many of you will read the book virtually non-stop once you have it and many of you will wait hours at some store tonight to get a copy as soon as you can. I had originally planned to drop in a Wal-Mart at about 2 or 3 am local time and get a copy and then try to read it. BUT it turns out, a copy of the book was "leaked" and this time the leak was authentic. I received photos of the book about 2 days ago and the first 10 chapters in pdf. SO I admit, I have already read the book. After I read the photo version of the last 20 or so chapters, the complete pdf version appeared. It has some typing errors but the text of the book was clear enough

Which is why I am posting a Spoiler warning. Over the next couple of days, I will be posting some thoughts about the book and some polls to get your opinions. SO please, if you have not read the book and do not want to learn what is going to happen, avoid reading this blog until you are prepared to discuss book 7 or at least hear about what happens in book 7. I won't begin posting anything about it until sometime tomorrow (saturday) which is when I would have finished reading the book anyway. And yes, I am buying the book! I just won't be visiting Wal-Mart in the wee early hours of the morning to do so. In fact, I have already bought 2 copies from Amazon UK and they are enroute as I type. I hope to save up and get the deluxe version also. So if you have read the pdf version, or the photographed version, please go ahead and get the book also. Fair is fair.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Spoilers * Photos of Deathly Hallow


Read no farther if you do NOT wish to have any advance knowledge of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Someone has taken photographs of the Table of Contents of Scholastic's version of the book. Below I transcribe those photographs except I use a : rather than a period since the period in the photos is elevated to the midpoint of the text - I couldn't figure how to replicate that so I use a colon instead. The Photos show the Table of Contents beginning on Page *VII* and ending on page *X* . The font and typeset appears very similar to that used in Order of Phoenix - I checked one recent book to compare.

Yesterday I wrote about avoiding being spoiled. And there are different levels of "Spoilage". To me, knowing the Table of contents is minor. I don't mind knowing which is why I don't mind sharing the information. But in fairness, if you don't even want that small bit of tainting of book 7, please don't read this post.

For months people have been circulating a fanfic by Melinda as the real book. It isn't and she had no involvement in the scam. There have been other efforts by people to fool everyone with fake versions of the book or fake versions of the Table of Contents. This may be yet another fake, but it passes my intuition test. I think it is the real book's table of contents. This list is directly from the photos posted.


The Dark Lord Ascending : 1

In Memoriam : 13

The Dursleys Departing : 30

The Seven Potters : 43

Fallen Warrior : 63

The Ghoul in Pajamas : 86

The Will of Albus Dumbledore : 111

The Wedding : 137

A Place to Hide : 160

* VII *

Kreacher's Tale : 176

The Bribe : 201

Magic is Might : 223

The Muggle-born Registration Commission : 246

The Thief :268

The Goblin's Revenge : 284

Godric's Hallow : 311

Bathilda's Secret : 330

The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore : 350

The Silver Doe : 363

* VIII *

Xenophilius Lovegood : 388

The Tale of the Three Brothers : 405

The Deathly Hallows :424

Malfoy Manor : 446

The Wandmaker :477

Shell Cottage : 502

Gringotts: 519

The Final Hiding Place : 544

The Missing Mirror : 554

The Lost Diadem : 571

* IX *

The Sacking of Severus Snape : 589

The Battle of Hogwarts : 608

The Elder Wand : 638

The Prince's Tale : 659

The Forest Again :691

King's Cross : 705

The Flaw in the Plan : 724


* X *

That is a transciption of the photos. I did not post the photos here. I can not verify they are true photos of the book but they seem to me to be. If you want to see the actual photos, drop me a note with a valid email address and I'll try to email you the links.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday the 13th! -- 1 week to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Yes today was Friday the 13th! But Jason was no where to be seen at least around here. I guess he still has about 20 minutes to make an appearance. That is for you horror film movie buffs. I have to admit I was never a Friday the 13th movie fan. But Friday the 13th as a day has always been good to me.

Now take this Friday the 13th. Doesn't the title of JK Rowling's last Harry Potter book, Harry Potter andthe Deathly Hallows just seem to go with today? I mean Friday the 13th and Deathly Hallows? Has a ring to it, doesn't it? A kind of symmetry? I thought so anyway. Too bad they didn't decide to release the book today. I think it would have been appropos. Maybe they thought it would be too close to the Order of the Phoenix movie release.

Anyway, today marks the 1 week milestone. One week from today, at about this time many of you will be gathering at bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, or Borders Books, or a local Wal-Mart and queueing up to get your hands on the last of the Harry Potter series. I may also. I still have not decided. For Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I did the midnight trip to our local Wal-Mart, bought the book, got home at about 1 am and proceeded to read the book more or less non-stop. I finished it sometime early evening that day.

This time around I already have my order in at Amazon UK for one of their Adult and one of their Children's edition just as I did last time. But as I type, I am tempted to wait until about 3 or 4 am to go to my local Wal-Mart. By then all the frenzied crowd will be gone. I should be able to walk in, get the book and leave.

And what about spoilers? You know people who scan the book looking for key moments and then go around telling everyone the information before they have a chance to read it for themselves. How many of you will take precautions in the upcoming week and continue until you finish the book to keep from learning what happens from others? I know I will, but since I live in the middle of nowhere, I more or less just have to be cautious on reading what is posted on the internet and avoid anyone shouting inforamtion when I go to book. I don't plan to rush through this one but still if I get it early saturday morning I suspect I will have it finished no later than sometime Sunday afternoon.

So here is to one more week of anticipation, one more week of avoiding spoilers, one more week until the end of one of the best written series in history.

Then I'll have to wait for her next book in a different genre. Yes I will read it also. I'll have to post a blog here just on books and authors sometime. JK Rowling is an exceptional writer but there are others out there worth reading also. But that is for another day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Photography -- time to change from 35 mm to digital?

I love to take photographs. I guess it was something inborn since it is something I have always enjoyed doing since as long as I can remember. BUT I was not always good at taking photographs. There is a difference in loving to do something and being good at doing it. As long as the lighting was perfect, I tended to get some good pictures. However, I knew absolutely nothing, nada, about why a photograph was good or was bad. I snapped and I got what I got - good or bad. Sound familiar to any of you? Shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focal, all were foreign words. I knew camera, film and click the button.

Then in December of 1997 I attended a Christmas concert featuring Christian music group Point of Grace. I was excited. I had decent seats and center stage. I had my little Fuji point and shoot camera. I was all ready. At least until the photos came back from the lab. Something was wrong. They were all blurry. Not a clear picture in the bunch.

So while I was working in Calgary, Canada I decided I was going to get a camera that would take a decent photograph at concerts. Remember at this point I knew literally nothing about the fundamentals of photography. I just knew that if I bought a good enough camera, I would get good photos. It had to be the camera, right? (I'm sure I'm not the only person who ever had these thoughts).

So I began my research. And after checking and rechecking, it all came down to 2 cameras. The Nikon F5 and a Canon 2E or something like that - it had a feature where the focus point was determined by where your eye looked. That feature sounded a little freaky to me so as you may have guessed, I bought the Nikon F5 by ordering it online from a New York camera store. And it has been a love affair ever since.

It was February of 1998 and I had a concert to attend the same day as the camera arrived at my home. It was some friends of mine, Nickel & Dime (now disbanded) opening for Caedmon's Call. Either Bebo Norman or Andrew Petersen or both were also playing. I arrive at the venue, and for the first time I realize I do not know even how to load the film. Where is the release? I had not had time to read any of the instruction manual.

With such a begining you'd think the photos that night were a complete disaster. But I made a great selection in cameras. The F5 knew much more about taking photographs than I did and for the most part the photos were great! Much much better than my Christmas concert effort.

Since February of 1998, I have managed to learn some of the basics of photography. Books by John Shaw - including Landscape Photography and Nature Photography helped a lot as did a tutorial on Ansel Adams' zone system of exposure. Now I have others asking me for advice on taking photos! However to some extent the world of photography has passed me by. I am still using the Nikon F5 and taking film while the vogue now is digital. And I am now beginning to take notice. Luckily, Nikon has some decent digital SLR cameras. I am seriously looking at the D200 IF the sale price I saw advertised for it is correct. If so, I may gravitate that direction but I doubt I will ever totally abandon film and slides.

In the interim I have been scanning slides and negatives and photos. So I am beginning to understand the appeal of digital. At the rate I am going, it will take me a year to scan my existing images. With digital, it is USB plug and upload. Even the editing is reduced. My scans get dust or a hair or such and that requires editing out. With digital images, very little editing in my experience is required. Usually one is just cropping, or editing a little for exposure or color or shadows. It takes seconds compared to sometimes minutes for scanned images.

So if any one out there has a Nikon F5 and a Nikon SLR, (or a Fuji SLR that is compatible with Nikon lenses) drop me a note on how the digital compares to the F5. My impression is that converting from the F5 to one of the upper Nikon SLRs will be easy for me since many features are similar and it will accept my existing lenses.

For those who are new to photography or are seeking answers to why that camera of yours didn't take a good picture (like I was in 1998), come back and visit. I have recently been asked by someone for my advice on how to take good photos. I am no expert, but I soon hope to post a topic on what I have learned since 1998 - some by reading but a lot by trial and error. So drop in again and say hello.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Drago Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

Drago Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

is one of the first phrases a reader of the Harry Potter series sees. It appears on the title page of Book 1 - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the UK and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the US but doesn't really make an appearance in the series up to now. Does its significance await book 7, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? My guess is that it does.

Scholastic has released the Cover Art for the deluxe version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and, surprise ...

it shows the heroic threesome, Harry, Hermione and Ron riding a dragon!

That suggested to me that the Hogwarts' Motto may have meaning for Book 7. Then today I was reading some of the promotional material from Amazon UK and they have included an audio teaser from Stephen Fry, the voice behind the Harry Potter Audio series. And the teaser he offers is "Drago Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" or "Never Tickle a sleeping Dragon."

So with 10 days remaining until the official launch of the final book in the Harry Potter series, we have something new to ponder. Is that dragon depicted in the deluxe cover Hagrid's pet dragon Norbert now grown? Or is it somehow Hogwarts' Motto come alive?

More on Harry Potter later

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Poll Added: Which of the 7 New Wonders of the World would you most like to visit?

7 New Wonders of the world have been recently voted upon. They are:

  1. The Ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico
  2. Brasil's Statue of Christ the Redeemer
  3. The Colosseum in Rome
  4. The Great Wall of China
  5. Peru's Machu Picchu
  6. Jordan's Petra
  7. India's Taj Mahal
Which of the 7 would you most like to visit? Or how would you rank them 1 to 7 of places to visit?

Internet News - 70 year old lady arrested for not watering lawn!

I don't know about many of you, but I use the internet for my news. That is, when I want to know what is going on about me in the world, I rarely opt to physically read a newspaper or magazine. I go on-line. My favorite news sites are the BBC and the New York Times but the internet offers so many options for news that when I want a fresh perspective, it is readily available. For middle eastern views I will often visit the Jordanian Newspaper site or other regional English Language Newspapers online. I would prefer to read the Arabic versions but since I haven't learned Arabic that is not possible.

But back to the news. How many of you have read the story linked above? A 70 year old Utah female residence is arrested for what? Failure to water and maintain her lawn? You have got to be kidding! I guess I am fortunate that the good Lord has been providing the water for our lawn (7 straight days worth so far) otherwise I would probably be as guilty as that poor lady.

I have heard of cities imposing a ban on watering lawns during times of draught. That makes sense since water is scarce. But I have never heard of a situation where it was illegal NOT to water your lawn. That seems to be a bit over reaching to me. Is the city going to pay the water utility bill? Or maybe for the elderly or disabled, the city will pay to install a lawn spinkler system so the lawn will be watered to their satisfaction?

I am sure that Orem city officials today are embarassed by the news. But shouldn't they have thought about these issues before having police arrest people for not watering the lawn? It probably isn't a good day to be the Mayor of Orem or the Chief of Police.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

rain, rain and more rain

For the past week it has been raining and raining and raining. I was starting to look around for Noah it was raining so much.

And with the rain storms also came no internet service. You see, we live in the middle of nowhere, USA. After years of tempermental and slow dial-up service, we recently switched to Satellite Internet. It is a lot faster than our previous dialup service - that is when it is functioning. Like all satellite signals, the internet satellite does not perform well in stormy weather and most of the day yesterday we did not have service. I have lost track of how many straight days of rain we have had (I think either 7 or 8) but yesterday was unusual in that the rain didn't pause. It was continuous. I think we ended up with about 4 inches total from that front and we still have a 30% chance of rain forecasted for the next few days.

So as a result of the rain and other things such as scanning slides, negatives and photos, I did not post to the blog yesterday. So that answers one question. It isn't a daily blog. At least not yet.

What subjects can one anticipate appearing here? Well almost anything is fair game. I love to read so books or authors may appear as subjects. As mentioned I am scanning photos so photography is likely to appear from time to time. I try to keep up with current events and I have a father with Alzheimer's. So there is no telling what subjects may arise from day to day here or post to post -- who knows some days I may post more than once.

For now, back to scanning slides

Thursday, July 5, 2007

First Post

Just an introductory post

No idea what this blog will be

How often I will post

what I will post

I am sort of testing the waters

discovering what it is about as I go

So feel free to join me

maybe you can help me discover what it is I do not know I am seeking

or maybe discover yourself along the way

Welcome to a New World

my world

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