What I Learned on My Summer Vacation, by Bill D.
1. Traveling anywhere for a week with a toddler isn't the best idea ever. There are a lot of fun times to be had, but a lot of not-fun times, too.
2. You can wax poetic all you like about the smell and added flavor, but the simple truth is that charcoal grills are more trouble than they're worth. I'll stick to my efficient, reliable, and easy-to-use gas grill, thanks.
3. Smores are all kinds of excellent, but microwaving them, which we tried as an experiment, produces really messy results. Tasty, but messy.
4. I can live quite comfortably without most TV, radio, or computer-related entertainment, but I really missed reliable access to the Red Sox. Even if I'm not really paying attention, I love the background noise it provides.
5. I have yet to be disappointed by anything I have ever consumed at the Gritty's in Freeport, ME.
5a. And that duck sausage Philly cheesesteak sandwich I had really needs to become a regular menu item.
5b. A Gritty's Best Brown Ale would be extra-tasty right now.
Thanks to Tangonat for the manga suggestions. I have to admit that I was hoping for a little more audience participation (usually, if you even say "manga," over-enthusiastic fans jump out of the woodwork with suggestions), but this is a good start.
Spending a week by the lake with little media access made reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows a nice, relaxing, blissfully spoiler-free experience (though I'm thankful I finished before the Today show interviews with J.K. Rowling, which spilled beans left and right!). On the whole, I enjoyed the book, though I'm glad it followed so closely on the heels of the movie version of Order of the Phoenix, since a lot of concepts from there popped up in this book, and there's no way in hell I would've remembered them otherwise. It wasn't the best of the series (that's still either Prisoner of Azkaban or Goblet of Fire, depending on my mood the day you ask), but it was engaging and well-paced. On the whole, I only had two minor problems with it:
1. Harry Potter suffers from what I call "The Buffy Syndrome." Harry, like Buffy Summers, is surrounded by a diverse and well-developed supporting cast, and as a result, Harry, like Buffy, ends up being the character I find least interesting. It's not like Harry or Buffy are bad characters (aside from the tendency both have to waste a lot of my precious reading/viewing time bemoaning their fates), but everyone else is just so much better, IMHO, and I'd rather read more about what's going on with them than yet another chapter of Harry once again proving why he's the darling of the Hot Topic/LiveJournal scene.
2. Not enough Luna. The few bits she got were great, and they cemented her position as my favorite HP universe character, but I wanted more.