Happy Birthday, Neville!

Well, as many Harry Potter fans know, today is Neville Longbottom’s birthday, and tomorrow is Harry’s!

I probably wouldn’t have thought about that, but last night I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it was better than I could have hoped for. I won’t ruin any of the surprises, because I’m not that kind of a guy. I can’t stand it when people flip to the back of the book to see what happens before they even read it, and I certainly won’t take part in ruining stories for people. But I will say that all your questions get answered: What are the other Horcruxes? What really happened to Dumbledore’s arm? Where do Snapes’ allegiances lie? In my opinion, Book 7 was the best of the series. And after reading it, I can now say that I like the Harry Potter books better than any other series I’ve ever read – and that’s saying quite a lot.

I’ve read most of the Ender books by Orson Scott Card, I’ve read the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, the Lord of the Rings series by Tolkien, the Dune books by Frank Herbert, and many others, but I think I’m most impressed with Harry.

Too often, a series will start out great, but after a couple of books, the author seems to realize that he’s really got something going. At that point, a larger plot is often woven into the story that just wasn’t there in the beginning. I really felt that with the Dark Tower books. King seemed to have had a vague sense of where he was heading, but by the time we reached our destination, it was vastly different than the original feel of the story. Things got stranger and stranger as they went, and Frank Herbert’s Dune universe started getting pretty wacky around book 3.

But Rowling really impressed me with the Harry Potter books. In the beginning, they seemed rather mild. The ending (of the first book) definitely had some pretty cool elements, but the book was still fairly juvenile. As the books progressed, however, so did the overall story and the maturity level. And beginning in Book 4, readers found that major characters could actually die! The stakes had been raised! The depth of the overall plot grew with each installment, but it felt totally natural. I’ve never read a series that remained so consistent.

For me, the entire series has been a complete joy, and I count myself among those who are currently dealing with their withdrawal symptoms. I confessed to a friend earlier today that when I finished reading it last night, I immediately reread the last couple of chapters. Turns out, he did as well!

It’s rare that something that has generated so much hype actually lives up to its reputation, but the Harry Potter books do. If you’ve never read them, you absolutely need to. As Stephen King has said, “I think Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo and Dorothy, and this is one series not just for the decade, but for the ages.”

School Daze (yeah, I know it’s cliche…)

School’s going pretty well so far. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stay caught up in there.

One of my professors, Dr Crigler seems really good so far. I’ve heard some other students say that he’s tough, but you really learn the stuff in his class. That’s the impression I’m getting right now too. We’re moving at a slower pace than I had expected, but that’s really good – any faster, and I probably wouldn’t be able to process it all. This is my second C# class, and he’s actually gone back and explained some things from my first class that I now realize I hadn’t fully understood. He’s an older guy who has some interesting stories about the evolution of programming that he’s witnessed.

He requires a lot more detail for our homework assignments – instead of just turning in code, we have to do charts and diagrams to explain how the solution should work. In every class he emphasizes the importance of being able to “solve the problem” before you ever type your first line of code. I think it will be really helpful in the long run.

My other teacher, Dr Hailey seems really nice, but I’m not sure that all of him is making it to class every night. A couple of nights ago, he was showing us something in Excel, but we spent half the class telling him how to correct what he was typing in. For his lectures, he turns to the back of the chapter and talks about the key terms listed there. The main problem with this is that the terms are listed alphabetically, but of course, they don’t show up that way in the chapter. So you end up discussing terms without even understanding their context. On top of that, his definitions for things don’t always match the book’s. It’s a lot of fun…

Sometimes, he seems to get a spark of inspiration and will actually go through a period good teaching. He did that last night, just when I was starting to think that I would have been better off skipping his class and reading through the book (which I’m doing anyway. I’ve decided to do that in both classes to make sure I’m really getting this stuff).

He’s retiring this summer.  I’m starting to think he may have done it already and just not told anyone.  Click on the link above (his name) and you can check out what people have said about him at RateMyProfessors.com.  It’s a fun read.  🙂

Yo…

Just wanted to drop a quick line and let everyone know that I’m not dead (though our friends at Schwan’s may be disappointed), I’ve just been ridiculously busy.

This month is going to be pretty crammed for me because in addition to my work and family life, I’m trying to fit a semester’s worth of learning into one month.  I’m taking 2 night classes right now (one is on C# for the MicroSoft .net platform, and the other is a database management class).  Anyway, I go to work around 6:30 or 7 in the morning, then go to school from 5:30 – 10 Monday thru Thursday nights.

Involving myself in such unlazy activities has caused me to reduce my posts on this beloved site.  Plus, I just haven’t had the time to do anything with it.

Anyway, if you will continue your patience a little while longer, I should be back to my usual number of posts by early August.  And I’ll keep throwing the occasional one out there between now and then.

So in the immortal words of ol’ Jack Burton, “Just sit tight, hold down the fort, and keep the home fires burning. If I’m not back by dawn, call the President.”

8 Random Things…

Well, Guy over at The Short Fat Kid tagged me to list 8 random things about myself as part of the 8 Things Meme.  I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but I haven’t posted anything in over a week, and I really need something to throw on here.

THE RULES
1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

The List:
1. I would love to go to space.
2. I like to eat lemons and limes with salt.
3. I can find a redeeming quality to almost any movie or song (“Bang on the Drum” by Todd Rundgren is one of the few exceptions).
4. I have jumped onto a moving train and fallen off of a stationary truck.
5. I wish I owned a real lightsaber.
6. Someone once thought my wife was actually my daughter (and I was only 21 at the time…).
7. As a child I wanted to sleep with my shoes on so that I could fight crime at a moment’s notice. It never occurred to me that someone who couldn’t tie their own shoes might not be too adept at crime-fighting.
8. If given a choice, I still prefer to pee outside.

And instead of tagging anyone else, I’ll give you a 9th random thing about myself:

I will often agree to something with no intention of actually going through with it (just like rule #4).