Observing the Potter Phenomenon

"No phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon" Niels Bohr.

Wikipedia defines a phenomenon as "an observable event, or quite literally, something that can be seen". In that case, there is no doubt that Harry Potter is a phenomenon; the evidence is everywhere. The incredible commercial success of the books and the movies, the increase literacy among young kids, the number of books and websites analyzing each and every detail of the books, and the fact that JK Rowling is richer than the queen all prove it.

Being a Harry Potter fan myself, I don't need all those facts to tell me Harry Potter is a phenomenal series and JK Rowling is a phenomenal writer. I just have to look at the observable events around me:

  1. The baskets of dirty laundry piling up because I've neglected them in my haste to finish the last Harry Potter book.
  2. The zits on my forehead and bags under my eyes from too many late nights staying up to finish the last Harry Potter book.
  3. The fact that mere possession of the last Harry Potter book is enough to get strangers to come up and talk to me and ask me how the book ends (I never tell).
  4. The number of times I've blogged about Harry Potter in the last month (five, including this one, and sometime soon I'll probably do yet another Harry-related post, this time on the Silicon Valley Moms Blog)
  5. The unusual increase in the number of little boys I've seen walking around with Harry Potter glasses, capes and neckties, even though Halloween is over three months away.
  6. The fact that my 3-year-old sons know who Harry Potter is.
  7. The fact that my parents know who Harry Potter is.
Harry Potter has definitely left a mark (lightning-shaped, of course) on this household. I've enjoyed each and every one of the seven Harry Potter books (I have to say the seventh is the best of all) and I look forward to enjoying them again and again, by myself and later on with my children.

For more phenomena, click here.

Photo Hunters: Creative

Flowers are love's truest language
-- Park Benjamin

If flowers are love's truest language, then here is the most beautiful bouquest I've ever received.

For more expressions of creativity, click here.

Fridays Feast # 153

Describe a toy you remember from your childhood.
My sister and I were crazy about Barbie dolls. One of the best Christmases ever was waking up to find that Santa had given us a Barbie ski lodge, fully assembled on the dining room table and ready to play with.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how observant are you?
Zero, especially when it comes to my husband's grooming habits. Sometimes I will compliment him on his new haircut, and he will roll his eyes and tell me he had it cut two weeks ago.

Where would you rather be at this very moment?
I'm happy to be right where I am: at home with the people I love. It's corny, but true.

Main Course
When was the last time you learned something new?
On Mother's Day, my husband took me sailing and I discovered that it's fun!

Fill in the blank: I have ___but I haven’t ____.
I have read the final Harry Potter book twice already, but I haven't tired of it yet. It's an amazing end to a great series!

For more feasts, click here.

Boys will be boys

Me: Hey 3Po, where's Jammy? What's he doing?

3Po, pointing to the kitchen, where Jammy is sitting by himself, playing with a toy motorcycle: He's over there, playing with himself.

What's in my bag?

I've been meaning to post something like this for the longest time... now the good folks over at Maya's Mom have given me the perfect incentive with this week's Maya's Mom Photo Challenge.

A: Here is my everyday tote bag. In it, I keep.....
B: receipts, flyers and other junk;
C: money, credit cards and ID;
D: a pen;
E: my cellphone;
F: an ultra-compact tote bag so I don't ever have to use plastic shopping bags again;
G: and my car and house keys (not shown in photo, because I'm at home and my keys are somewhere around the house).

As you can see, I'm a bare-bones kind of person. Why, then, do I need such a huge bag? Somehow or other, it always seems to fill up with STUFF, like
H: brushes
I: extra ponytail holders
J: water bottles
K: snacks
L: half-eaten candy
M: extra sweaters
N: kids toys
O: books
P: sunblock
Q: etc...

Stuff like that, just things that come and go each time I leave the house. Only items A through G remain constant. So even though I don't know what extra thing I'm going to be carting around with me, I do know I need the extra space for it.

Fridays Feast

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how much do enjoy watching sports on television?
If it's the Olympics or the World Cup, then it's a 10. Otherwise, it's a 7 for a really good football or soccer game, a 5 for most other sports, and a zero for baseball and fly-fishing.

If you could completely memorize any one work of fiction, which one would you pick?
Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. Hang on, I've already memorized it.

What is your favorite breakfast food?
My favorite healthy breakfast food is yogurt, but my favorite breakfast indulgence is longganisa (Filipino sausages), scrambled eggs and garlic fried rice.

Main Course
Name something fun you can do for less than $10.00.
You're looking at a very cheap date here, I can think of a lot of things! Here are 3: go to a movie, stroll through a street festival and take your kids shopping at a dollar store.

How long does it usually take you to fall asleep?
I don't know, I'm asleep before I get a chance to time it.

For more feasts, click here.

Bonggamom joins the PTA

Can PTA moms be bongga moms? This one is about to find out. This year, I'm helping my daughter's PTA out with tshirt sales. As any self-respecting organization in the Silicon Valley should, we've decided to go with custome online provider Zazzle so that parents can order online and have their products shipped directly to them.

Below is a test product line (DON'T ORDER YET, Please!).....

make custom gifts at Zazzle

This online store is great for me (and any future tshirt coordinators) because I don't have to run around collecting checks from parents and spend my evenings sorting out orders in my living room; I just set up the website, and the PTA just sits back and collects their royalty checks. Well, that's our hope, anyway.

Photo Hunters: Shadow

They're identical twins but I can even tell their shadows apart. How do I know that this is Jammy looking into the huge open-sea tank at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and not 3Po? Because of the little tuft of hair at the top of his head.
For more shadows, click here.

Just Say Yes!

Jammy is talking to his grandparents on the phone......

Grandparents: Blah..blah..blah... (grandparents say something on the phone, obviously asking Jammy a question)

Jammy, responding in the affirmative: nods silently

Alfie, beside Jammy: No Jammy, they can't see you nodding, you have to say it out loud.

Jammy: Nana, I'm nodding.

(and for the rest of the conversation, instead of answering Yes to his grandparents' questions, Jammy would say, "I'm nodding").

Sunday Scribblings: Hair

With this week's Sunday Scribblings' Hair prompt, I couldn't pass up a chance to reflect upon one of the mysteries in my life, namely my daughter's hair. As you can see from the above photo, Pea's blonde hair is as different from the twins' dark brown heads as night and day. See, I'm a Filipina with dark brown hair and Alfie is English with light brown hair (his hair was white-blonde as a child but it darkened). Even though my mother, who is part Spanish, is quite fair, we expected the laws of the dark-haired dominant gene to apply. We expected all our kids to have the coloring that 3Po and Jammy do. But we got Pea.

I'll never forget the day she was born, when I was huffing and puffing and struggling to push her out of the birth canal; Pea's head was just beginning to crown when my obstetrician and the nurses suddenly exclaimed, "She's blonde!". I was delirious with pain and ignored it at first, but they finally convinced me to take a mirror and see for myself.

In the six years since The Pea was born, I've gotten used to the sidelong glances and inquiries, "Is she with you?"; "Is she your daughter?"; "Oh, she's your daughter!". So many people comment and compliment her on her fairness that I'm worried she's starting to think that dark coloring is somehow undesirable! She recently told me she didn't want to go to the Philippines for vacation because she was afraid she would get dark. I gently told her we would do everything we could to keep her skin from burning in the hot sun, but having dark coloring is just as beautiful as being fair, and many fair people actually wish they were a little darker. I told her that in all likelihood, her hair would darken as she grew older.

Well, we've been waiting for it to darken for six years, and it hasn't happened yet.

For more takes on hair, click here.

No More Nosebleeds

We've just had a really enjoyable evening watching Chelsea, Alfie's favorite English Premier League football team, beat Mexico's Club America in an exhibition match, 2-1. All dressed up in Alfie's spare Chelsea jersey and cap, we joined the 46,000 fans in the 50,000-seat stadium and screamed our hearts out. Although the Stanford Football Stadium is thousands of miles away from Stamford Bridge, the stadium had its fair share of Chelsea Blue shirts -- along with the yellow jerseys of Club America as well as a rainbow of team colors of football supporters from around the world.

I think I enjoyed this game most out of all the Chelsea games I've watched, mainly because of our seats. We had front row, center seats, less than six feet from the sidelines. True, being so close has its disadvantages -- you lose sight of the "big picture", and individual players grab your attention, distracting you from the progress of the game.

But on the plus side, it was an amazingly intimate experience (hey, I'm more of a people-watcher anyway, not a rabid fan of the game). We could actually hear the players shouting to each other and hear the thud of the ball as it hit their feet or chest. Everyone seemed bigger, more muscular, and faster that how they appear on television. Since we were watching the game almost at eye level, I almost felt like we were sitting on the grass at the park, watching some amazing college kids playing a game, and after they finished it would be time for 3Po and Jammy to get on the field and start their soccer class.

This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience because there's no way we could have gotten seats like this at a regular Chelsea game -- that would be way too expensive for us and season ticket holders would get first crack at the seats anyway. It's going to be hard to go back to watching matches up in Row 141 instead of Row 1.

Fridays Feast

What is your favorite fruit?
Without question, mangoes. But not the red-skinned, sour, fibrous Indian mangoes -- you haven't lived until you've tasted the Philippine variety. It's golden yellow, sweet and succulent. I could literally live on mangoes and mangoes alone.

Who is someone you consider as a great role model?
Anyone but Paris Hilton... :) Seriously though, speaking of celebrity role models, I think Leonardo di Caprio is shaping up to be a good one. He's fabulously talented yet doesn't seek out the spotlight. He's good looking but doesn't rely on his looks to get ahead. He cares passionately about the state of politics and the environment, and he's not all talk -- he backs it up with action.

If you were to spend one night anywhere within an hour of your home, where would you choose?
We are so lucky to live within a hour of some really wonderful places: the hauntingly beautiful Mendocino Coast (think of the Julia Roberts movie "Dying Young"), the funky hip culture of Santa Cruz and the sophisticated urban vibe of San Francisco. Each of these places has fantastic food, fun things to do and luxurious accommodations. It's hard to choose between them, but if you held a gun to my head I would pick Santa Cruz.

Main Course
Name something you do too often.
It's a tie -- watching too much TV or spending too much time surfing online. In fact, I should be in bed right now.

Fill in the blank: I really like ___________ because ____________.
I really like the view from my bedroom window because when I wake up, I look out the window and I see nothing but green leaves and blue sky.

Hungry for more? Click here.

Potty about Harry

Muggles all over the world are celebrating -- the fifth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, opened today, and the seventh and last installment of the book series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21st.

Even though I'm not tattoing my forehead with a scar and donning my Quidditch gear, I love the Harry Potter series. I was drawn into the characters and plots just as I had been many years ago when I first read that other great children's fantasy series, C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (and FYI, the second movie of the series, Prince Caspian, will be out in May 2008). Even though movie reviews have been less than stellar and rumors of Harry's death in the last book have been flying around, I fully intend to see the movie and read the book and enjoy myself thoroughly.

Here are a few Harry-related numerical facts I came up with:
  • 8 - number of Harry Potter books I've read (Books 1 thru 6, plus JK Rowling's 2 books for Comic Relief -- Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander, and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp)
  • 0 - number of breaks I took when reading each of the six Harry Potter books
  • 5 - aproximate number of hours it took me to read the longest book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • 129 - days since I first put my name down on the waitlist for The Deathly Hallows at my local library
  • 42 - my place on the library waitlist
  • 48 - number of copies the library is purchasing
  • 152 - number of people on the library waitlist as of today
  • 111 million - number of search results when I Googled "Harry Potter"

Click here for some other interesting numerical facts about the Harry Potter phenomenon. And enjoy the coming weeks!

Bitten by crocs

Jammy & 3Po have been begging us for Crocs ever since The Pea got a pair for her birthday, and this weekend we finally got them some. Like the rest of the world, we got them because they are colorful, durable, easy to clean, and soooooo comfortable. I used to hate the look, but now I am a convert (but I only like the Mary-Jane model, the others are too clunky). So now we have joined the bandwagon and become a Crocs family. Well, almost. Alfie has yet to succumb. I just cannot see him wearing these chunky, neoprene shoes -- but you can never tell.

It's Hip to Take Care (of our planet)

We seem to be glued to our television screen today; the 24-hour-long Live Earth concerts are happening all across the globe, with over 100 of music's finest artsts, from Phil Collins to Cat Stevens (I mean Yusuf) to Madonna, and over 2 billion viewers involved. Throughout the telecast, tv and environmental personalities have been voicing their support for the movement as well as showcasing easy ways people can contribute to reduce the global warming crisis.

Want to help? Get on over to Live Earth website and commit to the Live Earth 7-Point Pledge.

Photo Hunters: Fake

This week's Photo Hunters theme is fake.

We had a great time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium today, and the fun started even before we stepped inside. An otter-themed souvenir store on Cannery Row featured this gigantic fake otter that the kids fell in love with. All three insisted on having solos taken with him.

Speaking of fakes and otters, inside the store we found these Harry Potter knockoffs that I thought were absolutely hilarious! I just had to share it, but didn't think to take a photo at the time, so I searched the internet and found this (public) photo on Flickr -- thanks to chrisada for the photo!

Hairy Otter, originally uploaded by chrisada.

For more fakes, click here.

I'm On the Road to Hell

Now that the Vatican has issued their new Ten Commandments of Driving, I had to stop and take a long, hard look:

  1. You shall not kill.
  2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
  3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.
  4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
  5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
  6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
  7. Support the families of accident victims.
  8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
  9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
  10. Feel responsible toward others.
It's a pretty good list, although I have lots of questions about it. Where are the commandments that address motorists respecting the environment? Why 10 commandments for driving? Why not the 10 commandments for International Conflict, or 10 Commandments for the Treatment of Women?

And how does it work, anyway? If you violate these commandments, is that a mortal sin? A venial sin? Is it worse or better than molesting a choirboy? Do they feel like if they put these commandments down as law, then God-fearing Catholics will be more likely to follow them because they fear eternal damnation? It seems to me that these are rules decent people with any sense of fairness, compassion and respect for fellow human beings ought to be following anyway.

Despite these questions, I figured I'd better examine my conscience to see how many of these I've violated anyway:

Commandment #1, 2 and 6: Never, never and never. I'm in the state of grace on those.

Commandments #3 and 10: I think almost any Filipino driver violates these commandments on a daily basis. Drivers are constantly swerving, running red lights, speeding, cutting people off, anything to get one or two cars ahead. Although I'm not an aggressive driver, there is NO WAY I'm going to let ANYONE cut ahead of me when I'm in the proper lane -- so I guess I've sinned.

Commandments #4, 7 and 8: I've actually never been in a situation where these commandments would apply -- unless you count rubbernecking when there are accidents on the highway (and there are already policmen there anyway) or refusing to forgive the idiot policeman who issued me a traffic ticket three years ago. Would those count as venial (minor) sins?

Commandment #5: I'm going to burn in hell for this one. Once you've driven a BMW, it's hard to enjoy driving anything other than The Ultimate Driving Machine. The speed, the acceleration, the power, feeling As One With The Car ... ahhhhhhh. Power and pleasure? Yes! Yes! Yees! I'm unrepentant in my enjoyment -- it's sort of like having sex for enjoyment rather than merely procreation. And I'm not even going to discuss my usage of cars as an occasion for that type of sin!

Commandment #9: I used to be a big sinner on this one -- again, the driving habits of Filipinos in Manila. It's hard enough to get drivers to adopt the habit of wearing seatbelts, much less the passengers, to say nothing of carseats for babies. As a child, I rode cars sitting on adults' laps in both the front and back row. When I visit Manila, I see nothing has changed. But after living in the US for so long, I've seen the light and have been born again on this one. Seat belts are non-negotiable in our family, whether here or in Manila.

I guess I've failed the Decent Driver test - but not because I'm violating these Commandments. I consider myself a good (though somewhat lapsed) Catholic -- and by that, I mean instead of asking myself, "What does the Church say?", I ask myself, "What would Jesus do?" (thanks to Alfie for that simple yet powerful mantra). I've failed because Jesus would always slow down to let another driver get into His lane, and Jesus would smile and say the policeman who gave him a ticket was only doing his job. I have to say, though, that I do think Jesus would enjoy driving a BMW for the sake of it - he's human, after all.

For more of my thoughts on the Ten Driving Commandments, head on over to my post at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.