Sunday, July 29, 2007


I guess this blog is good for everyone!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter Book 7 My Review : SPOILERS AHEAD!

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS SO PLEASE DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK AND PLAN TO READ IT IN THE FUTURE!!!

After 9 years, 6 books, and 5 movies, I was ready to buy the final installment of the Harry Potter series. I had my book reserved along with thousands of other people at Barnes & Noble in Houston. Jesse, Ben, Abby, and I walked into Barnes & Noble Midnight Release Party at about 10:30pm. It was crazy. There were people everywhere. People of all ages were dressed up, wearing Harry Potter shirts extremely excited to get the new book. Thankfully we were one of the first 100 so we were able to get our book within 10 of midnight. Jesse and I arrived home and begun to read. I read for about one hour and decided it was time to sleep. The next morning, after getting my diet coke ready and getting into some comfy clothes, I sat down to read with a blanket in our living room. 9 hours later...I was done. How was it? Let me tell you.

All in all, it was definitely the best of the series. It didn't leave too many loose ends but enough to keep your imagination going years after the book was over. here are some points that I think deserve special attention:

1. The story carried well. There were ups as well as downs, but the downs never made me think I could put the book down. It was definitely a rollercoaster ride with some tunnels that left you wondering where you were going to turn up at the end. At no point in time, did I tell myself "Oh, I know the rest of the story". I guessed many parts but other ones I was surprised. There was a definite theme of Love that surfaced throughout the book and it wasn't as cheesy as it could have been.

2. The bloodbath wasn't too bad. There were I think 17 deaths in all (good and bad guys). I cried when Dobby and Fred died because there were two characters I felt dearly about throughout the series (especially because Fred left his twin, George, alive and with only one ear). I wasn't too fond of Lupin and Tonks dying because they left their newborn son, alone with his Grandmother. At least the newly married couple died together. The point was very clear...good guys have to die sometimes.

3. The Malfoy parents as horrible as they were in previous books (namely Lucius and Draco) turned out not so bad. They certainly did not do a 180 and become angels all of a sudden, but they did redeem themselves by making their priority to keep their family alive and together, even if it meant lying to the Dark Lord. I felt that Rowling did well in keeping Narcissa Malfoy almost good in the last two books. She was obviously following Voldemort because of her husband and always made sure someone (namely Snape) was keeping her son safe. Her biggest part in the book was definitely when she saved Harry when she found out her son was still alive.

4. Although only the last few chapters were at Hogwarts, the students were well covered in the end. Some old faces resurface to come to the aid of Harry and ultimately the world. Nevell made all proud by standing up to Voldemort in front of everybody and killing the last Horcrux even when all hope was gone. Ron and Hermione played their part well,, they stuck with harry (mostly) until the end. I have to admit, ron was the funniest in the book. His quick with and sarcastic humor added a lot to the stoyline. He made the slow parts enjoyable to read.

4. As I guessed (and hoped) Snape was good and the bravest of them all. He did what was right even thuogh noone could know about his innocence until after he died. He became one of my favorite characters in the whole series. His love saved everyone while they called him coward, traitor and a million other things. All for the woman he loved and lost, first to another man, and then to death. The love he carried until his last breath when he asked Harry to look at him so that Lily's eyes were the last he saw before dying. It just doesn't get any better.

5. Rowling did something that I didn't think she would do, but now that I think about it (and discussed it with Jesse) I am glad she did. In the first 6 books, Dumbledore was made out to be perfect. He was an all-wise, all-powerful wizard that unfortunately died in Book 6. He was almost perfect, one could say. In book 7, Rowling reveals Dumbledore as a power hungry teen that had neglected his family growing up. His need for power increased as he desired to collect the Hallows to keep himself alive by beating Death. He makes a mistake while collecting the Hallows which costs him his life. However, although he made mistakes and had a desire for power, his heart always remained in the right place. He does his best to protect the Potter family (who were betrayed by Pettigrew) and train Harry to be able to beat Voldemort in the end. In every book, he always has a talk with Harry about what has happened as well as offer his wise advice. I enjoyed hearing that talk at the end when he talks to Harry while he is "dead". Why tarnish the good reputation Dumbledore had with the readers? Because if he was all powerful, all wise, and perfect, why didn't he beat Voldemort himself? There had to be more to him then what we knew before the last book.

6. Many of the characters stood out in this book. Albus Dumbledore's supposed bad brother Aberforth comes back and helps out the team at the end of the book. Mrs. Weasely gets angry and kills Bellatrix when she almost kills her daughter (although I would have left the curse word out due to the children). I can understand why she included it, but it could have been left out. She definitely gets Mom of the Year (or 7) Award. Her purpose in life is to keep her kids and husband safe from harm, and she does well in doing so. I enjoyed the part where Lupin becomes troubled about leaving his son and joining Harry in his fight to get the Horcruxes. Harry puts him in his place about the responsibility of a father, and Lupin goes back to his family and ultimately makes Harry the Godfather of Teddy Lupin. Way to go on the family values Rowling!

7. After Book 6 and in the 2 years afterward, I was troubled whether or not I wanted Harry to die. Not that I WANTED him to die, but I had the feeling he should. I think part of that came from the fact that he was an annoying brat when he was 15 and 16. I guess that is what really happens to teenagers. I KNOW I was a brat back then, why would Harry skip that stage in life? Harry did a lot of growing up in the past 7 Hogwarts years. He finally became a man. He did what had to be done, and in the end he had the choice of dying and taking the easy way out, or living and fighting for the world's safety. I liked not knowing whether or not he was going to die until the second to last chapter. I had no clue, and for a large part, I thought he was going to die. I even cried when he talks to his parents about being with him until the end. He didn't have to die. He just had to be willing to die for all those he loved. In the end Harry is a wonderful person who turns out to be a wonderful dad. Way to go Harry!

8. The epilogue was about 19 years after Voldemort dies. Harry (age 36) and Ginny (35) have three kids, and Ron (36) and Hermione (36) have two. Not much is known about the other characters (except for Neville who is teaching Herbology at Hogwarts, Percy still working for the Ministry of Magic, and Teddy who visits the Potters often). I feel that i would have liked to know a little more about everyone else, but I guess that is left up to my imagination. Rowling made sure that the Potters and Weasely's seemed genuinely happy. She especially made sure Harry was a good father (based on his last conversation with his middle son Albus Severus, named after Dumbledore and Snape, of course)

This was a bittersweet experience. I can't believe there is no more waiting for the "next book". I was a junior in high school when the first came out, and now I am a year from getting my doctorate. Harry brought my imagination back to life and gave my friends, my husband and I something wholesome and fun to talk about for the past 8 years. I will eventually read them again, more slowly to be able to grasp the many things I probably missed. I hope to one day share these books with my children. (This way I can tell them how their father jumped up and down like he was 5 when he recieved the last book). Well. this is it. No more Harry Potter. Not for now, at least. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What about the best time to write your dissertation?

The Best Time of Day to Do Just About Anything according to this cool new website a good friend reccommended!!!

The Best Time of Day to Clean the House
4 p.m.
You’re more likely to whistle while you window wash (and not kick over the bucket) if you do it in the late afternoon. That’s when hand-eye coordination is at its peak and mood levels are high, says Michael Smolensky, a professor of environmental physiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston and author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health (Owl Books, $11, www.amazon.com).

The Best Time of Day to Take a Nap
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Doctors used to think afternoon sleepiness was the result of a big lunch. “But we’ve found that in the early afternoon there’s a dip in body temperature, which causes sleepiness,” says Smolensky. Just as a similar decrease encourages you to shut down at bedtime, this midday dip can make you crave a siesta. An ideal nap, he says, should last 15 to 20 minutes. More than 30 and you may end up with sleep inertia — and feel even more groggy when the nap’s over.

The Best Time of Day to Go to the Doctor
8 a.m. to 9 a.m., or 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
You’ll spend less time in the waiting room if you book the first appointment of the morning or the first after lunch, says Patricia Carroll, R.N., author of What Nurses Know and Doctors Don’t Have Time to Tell You (Perigee, $15, www.amazon.com): “Doctors start fresh in the morning and catch up when the office is ‘closed’ for lunch.”

The Best Time of Day to Take a Multivitamin
Breakfast time
Taking your supplements with a meal is important because “vitamins are components of food, and whether water soluble or fat soluble, they are absorbed better with food,” says Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., a New York City and Hillsboro Beach, Florida, nutrition scientist and a coauthor of The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery Publishing, $13, www.amazon.com). Breakfast is the meal of choice. Because most people have it at home (whereas lunch and dinner are often eaten elsewhere), making the morning meal your time for vitamin-popping will help you stick with the habit.

The Best Time of Day to Take the Dog for a Walk
8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
To you, walking the dog may be about exercise and, well, poop. To him, it’s all about the social life, explains Jean Donaldson, author of Dogs Are From Neptune (Lasar Multimedia, $17, www.amazon.com) and director of the San Francisco SPCA’s dog-training academy. Because owners have more time to stroll in the evening and to let their pets linger over exciting smells and sounds missed on the morning-rush walk, this is when Fido is happiest being out with pals.

The Best Time of Day to Exercise
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“For increasing fitness, decreasing the chance of injury, and improving sleep, the best time to exercise is late afternoon or early evening,” says Matthew Edlund, M.D., author of The Body Clock Advantage (Circadian Press, $15, www.amazon.com) and head of the Center for Circadian Medicine, in Sarasota, Florida. At these times, he says, your lungs use oxygen more efficiently, you’re more coordinated, and your muscles are warmed up, so you’re less likely to suffer a sprain or strain.

The Best Time of Day to Go to the Post Office
7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
The U.S. Postal Service may have more than 700,000 employees, yet there never seem to be enough of them when you’re waiting in line to mail that birthday present. Your best chance, according to USPS spokesperson Monica Suraci: Find out when your post office opens (generally between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.) and arrive a half hour or so later. You’ll hit a midmorning lull, missing the rush of early birds lined up at the door (as well as distracted window personnel chatting with carriers sorting the day’s mail). Heavy traffic is more likely at lunch, at the end of the workday, and just before closing, so those are excellent times to avoid. Suraci’s tip: Look for USPS “contract stations,” which offer services in locations like supermarkets and drugstores, and for new machines being installed in some post-office lobbies that weigh and stamp packages most any time.

The Best Time of Day to Return Merchandise
10 a.m.
Arrive with your what-was-I-thinking sweater within the first hour a store is open. Workforces are leaner these days, but “retailers still need enough staff to open up, so that may be when they have the best ratio of staff to customers,” says Edward Fox, director of Southern Methodist University’s JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence, in Dallas. It may also be the only time all day when staff are at assigned posts, “so you can usually get someone to help,” notes former fashion stylist Linda Arroz, who spent years returning things she didn’t end up using for movies and TV shows. Fox adds that “the most experienced people get the best hours, so they” — not clueless newbies — “will be working the day shift.” Finally, consider customer flow. “A city store may be busier during weekday lunch hours, a suburban store on weekend afternoons,” says Target spokesperson Lena Michaud.

The Best Time of Day to Ask for a Raise
5 p.m.
"The key is finding a moment when your boss is not rushed and has time to truly listen," and that's most likely to be the end of the day, says Lynn Ellis, a career coach in Austin, Texas, who has worked with employees and bosses at global companies like Unilever. “That’s when I’m getting ready for the next day or looking ahead to the next week, and I’m in a good mood because I’m going home soon,” says Amy Holloway, a vice president at AngelouEconomics, in Austin. And you’ll have a biological edge then, since, as Body Clock Advantage (www.amazon.com) author Matthew Edlund, M.D., points out, your elevated body temperature makes you more alert in the late afternoon. But asking for a raise is not an exact science. Ellis advises tracking your boss’s daily habits to find the ideal, low-key time for him or her. And, in the end, if you’re at your best in the a.m., just go for it.

The Best Time of Day to Get a Haircut
8 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Booking the first appointment of the day will help you ease into the shampoo bowl on time. That’s because no latecomers will have thrown off the schedule, says Serena Chreky, co-owner of the Andre Chreky salon, in Washington, D.C. Saturday mornings (after busy workweeks or late Fridays) are usually the least frantic, says Allen Ruiz of the Jackson Ruiz Salon Spa, in Austin. However, some salons fill up then with bridal parties, Chreky cautions, so ask when you book. An early appointment may also get you the best cut. “Stress levels are at their lowest,” says Michelle Breyer, cofounder of NaturallyCurly.com, which deals with salons across the country. “Even if you’re only the third or fourth client of the day, your stylist may not look at your hair with the same enthusiasm.” For the very best service, Breyer and Ruiz both suggest asking your stylist, “What’s your favorite time of day to do hair?”

The Best Time of Day to Fly
Noon
Although U.S. Department of Transportation statistics show that flights taking off between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. have the best on-time record (95.4 percent), those numbers are sometimes misleading, says Rally Caparas, an Atlanta-based air-traffic controller and a Travelocity "Eye on the Sky" correspondent for CNN. "On time" refers to when the plane pushes back from the gate. You can wait on the tarmac for an hour because of weather problems, which cause the vast majority of air delays. Scheduling arrivals and departures between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time, Caparas says, will help you avoid most delay-causing weather patterns. This will also help you avoid airport rush hours, "which mostly coincide with workday rush hours," says Robert Baron, president of the Aviation Consulting Group, in Fort Lauderdale. But for best results, check your guidebook for regional weather patterns and schedule accordingly. For example, for the West Coast, fly in or out after noon Pacific Standard Time, when marine-level fog has dissipated, says Caparas. For southeastern and Gulf Coast hops, steer clear of the thunderstorms that kick up around 3 p.m. "Airline schedules are based on perfect weather conditions," he says. You're more likely to be punctual if you follow Mother Nature's schedule.

The Best Time of Day to Read (and Retain)
8 a.m. or 10 p.m.:
If you're going over notes for today's presentation or memorizing the names of your child's classmates' parents before the school open house tonight, do it early in the morning, when your immediate recall is highest. For longer retention (the book club meets in three weeks, but this weekend's your only chance to finish The Good Nanny), evening is better. "This is just the way the brain is organized," says Michael Smolensky, a professor of environmental physiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston and author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health (Owl Books, $11, www.amazon.com). "Memory depends on nucleic acids, and those show circadian rhythms." In other words, your brain doesn't store information with the same efficiency all day; there are peaks and valleys. "College students often unknowingly take advantage of the dual circadian rhythm by staying up late studying, then doing a quick review the morning of the exam," says Smolensky.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Movies & More

The plumber came, saw, & fixed everything......hahaha not really but most of it. Everything works except.......drumroll please.....the shower. Yep, they have to replace the whole thing, and they won't get to it until next week. What a surprise. In other news, all of our faucets work yay!!!!! Its the small things, people!!

The other day I watched the movie Karol for the 3rd time and I cried my eyes out. What a surprise! Great movie! I ca't wait until my Padre Pio movie comes in!

Jesse, I am proud to say, is no longer a trainee!! He is officially a professional waiter at Mark's. I had a meeting with my advisor about my disseration and if I don't watch it, I think I may end up with Trichotillomania. I had a minor meltdown, but thankfully my husband gave me the "it's all going to be okay" speech which come think of it, is very potent. It's actually an antidote for any anxiety, depressive down in the dumps feeling.

Soooooo....want to hear the happy news?? Well, I have now discovered an UBER cheap movie theatre in Pearland!!! Pearland is this little town right outside of Houston. The theatre is exactly 20 minutes away. It costs......another drumroll please.......$2 before six and $4 after six. Yipeee! Jesse and I saw Ratatouille (sp) on Sunday and Transformers today. Both great movies!!!! Ratatouille is great for all kids!! Transformers has (that I can remember) about 2 or 3 curse words and a reference to some male adolescent sexuality. But all in all, its jam-packed with action, and the graphics are amazing.

What is even more exciting is that My good friend Laura Chapa will be coming tonight and at 3am Wednesday (tonight) we will be watching Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix in Imax 3-D. It just gets better and better. At this rate,when our shower downstairs works....I may go into crazy dancing mode. maybe not.

Have a Blessed Tuesday!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Good Times

This week is definitely getting better every day. I have successfully gotten myself lost and found twice in Houston :). We finally have cable (although, I really haven't watched tv) and I have gotten myself out of bed early enough to get stuff done during the day. Although I tried to get some writing done at Barnes & Noble, the lack of internet access and freezing temperatures didn't help at all so I didn't last more than 3 or 4 hours. After searching on the internet for free internet, I found a café in the Village, and was set to got to it this morning with my trusty, beat up, laptop and books. I got there to find out it was getting renovated. hmpf. It wasn't too much wasted time, because I found New York & Company Store there. Yayyy. I drove myself down to Borders in their littler Meyerland Plaza that I have been going to for whatever I need. It has the bare essentials...except for a grocery store. There is a Target, Circuit City, Ross, Bed Bath & Beyond, GNC, Bank of America, JC Penney, Office Max all in one convenient location which is about 10 minutes from our place. I signed up fo rT-mobile HotSpots for the month so that I could have access to the world during my "breaks". Sadly, they don't have any diet sodas here, but they do have some good hand-made flavored sodas that are very tasty. So, now I can get to work, and keep on coming here for my daily writing.

As for other news, Gerardo and Roxy came down to Houston for the 4th of July. We had some crazy fun watching the astros game and playing the wii afterward. You should check these out!!!!

Last night I got to catch up with my good friend Gaby about her increasingly successful real estate career as well as having good ol' girl talk.

Life is good in the neighborhood and only 4 more days for the Harry Potter movie and 14 days for the Harry Potter book to come out!!!!!


Have a blessed Friday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A bit better every day

is how I feel about living in Houston. The third plumber showedup today and fixed my kitchen faucet in about 10 minutes, which makes me a bit scared. It turns out that the first plumber put the wrong hose on the faucet. Well, I was really happy until I noticed that when I left the water running for more than 10 seconds it would get stuck. So....I panicked a bit, partially because he had JUST left, and partially because I am tired of this condo breaking apart and called the plumber. Pretty much I was told that it was the holiday weekend and noone was going to come and fix my shower or any of the other things until next Tuesday. Hmmmm, they MUST have working showers and sinks at THEIR home so why should they worry about me having it at mine. Yes, I know I am slightly overreacting but I have definitely learned patience. Next, I got dressed and headed out to Barnes & Noble to go write my dissertation a bit because I really have to get it done. Well about 2 hours later, I couldn't feel my toes anymore (it was freezing) so I came home. I finally gave in to my pride and the disgusting downstairs tub that had oxidized water (is that how you call the gross orange stuff?) and got on my hands and knees to begin the scrubbing. I hadn't done it earlier, because it was SUPPOSED to have been clean when we got here and you can ask my parents, it was DISGUSTING. Anyway, half a bottle of Ajax and this cool bathroom bar clean-it-all product it got much better. I really hope the owner was okay, 'cause Lord knows no happy thoughts were going through my mind. Well, I was really angry that the water in the sink wouldn't go away, and just so happened to have Drano. So I figured it couldn't hurt. I poured a whole bottle of dranno down the sink and said a little prayer. At first, it didn't showing promising results, but after a while the water went bye bye into the sink hole thingy. Yay!!! I put some clothes in the wash and then the dryer, which come to think of it, I hope the breaker hasn't flipped because it did last time... and now I am attacking the fan in our room. This fan is SOOOOO noisy. I can't go to bed at night because it is so loud. I can hear it from the kitchen downstairs OVER the radio playing. Yeah...its that bad. Anyway, I have tried taping nails to each of the blades to try to figure out which one is off....but to no avail. Maybe Jesse can help when he gets home. I am officially tired...and I wish the owner would return my million phone calls, but no luck.

I did receive a DVD of Jesse when he was about 2 years old which is adorable. I would put a clip on here, but don't know how to transfer it from the dvd. It made me smile. Ah, the little things.....

Monday, July 2, 2007

24 hour move in!

Thanks to my wonderful parents, we were able to get this apartment going.

We went from this:







To this 24 HOURS, blood, sweat and tears later:







Crazy huh? I didn't think it would be possible... but with the help of parents, there is nothing that can't be done. By the way, we Do have an extra bedroom and (eventually) an extra working bathroom. So if you are ever in town, feel free to give us a call!

We do have some minor mishaps. This complex was built in 1978 and much has not been replaced. The shower in the bathroom downstairs doesn't work. We have no water in the kitchen except in the dishwasher (Thankfully). The sink in the wet bar doesn't work. The shower upstairs leaks and I can't get a hold of the owner. Not to mention that the dryer makes the breaker flip. My Dad and Jesse did an awesome job fixing the closet shelf thingies....that had obviously broken many times prior to us moving in. I guess the main problem is that the place was vacant for a year, and they didn't even check or inspect anything before we moved in.... at least we don't have to pay for it and this place is much nicer than our old one.

On a lighter note, Jesse and I have eaten on the inexpensive side since I am not working right now and he is starting his new job at Mark's American Cuisine . He went to his first training session today and said he loved it. Everyone is very nice and the waitstaff are all considered Professionals. No women are hired. I am not sure why, but I am guessing to avoid conflicts and I have heard that women are not usually good at waiting tables...hmm who knows. Jesse is the youngest and newest waiter there, the oldes being 57 and the longest lasting has been 10 years (since the opening of the restaurant). We probably won't be eating there soon, since lunch costs about $50 per person and dinner is about $100 per person with no employee discount, go figure. :)

I haven't been out too much although, I have to say that I was smazed at how expensive goin gto the movies can be. Jesse and I went to see the final Die Hard movie on Saturday. We paid $3 to park and 19.50 for two tickets. Ahh Crazy! I guess we will either go to Tomball to watch movies or wait until they come out on DVD at the Kroger (they are $1). Last night, I got to see fireworks from outside our condo which was very pretty although it was very muggy outside. Jesse and I are very excited that the Garcia Ibarrola's are coming to town on the 4th of July to go to an Astros game!!! Yippeee!

That is my news for now... I will keep you posted on how the plumbing goes... have a wonderful Monday!