So, the temporal coincidence with Jane Jacobs is that just today (actually, Wednesday) I finished taking my comprehensive written exams for my Master's degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona, and one of the essays I had to write this morning was based largely on interpreting Jacobs's Cities and the Wealth of Nations. This degree is something I've been working on since 2002, and assuming I passed all of my exams, this means I'm about 99.9% finished with my degree, with just a short oral follow-up to my written exams in a few weeks to complete the requirements.
The way the comp exams work is that Monday and Wednesday of this week we had both morning and afternoon sessions. Each session involves three hours of typing away like mad to answer essay prompts based on the core classes of the program, in a small, stuffy computer room with 13 other students doing the same thing. Since January we've had weekly meetings for study and review, and the questions were all open-book and open-note. So by and large we all knew pretty much what to expect, but still, it's a fairly tight schedule for organizing one's thoughts for an average of two essays per session, each of which have to make coherent arguments backed up by the literature. We have to get a passing grade on each section; I'm pretty confident that I did a pretty good job, except for one of the essays in which I think I really had to stretch to make my points, but from talking with the other students, it seems just about everybody was thrown for a loop by that prompt. So I feel pretty good, but I'll feel better when I found out that I passed.
If that weren't enough, this coming Sunday is my wedding day! Needless to say, there has been a ton of preparation going into this... I don't want to begin trying to calculate the man-hours involved in this thing. Not to mention the trouble of trying to please as many people as possible while keeping within a budget, trying to maintain sanity and prevent family feuds, etc. I'm sure everything will go great, but if I had known all of these headaches at the beginning, a quickie package in Las Vegas would have been awfully tempting. My one piece of advice is to make sure that the two families and/or the couple themselves clearly establish and agree upon an arrangement of who is going to pay how much for what as early in the process as possible, and to keep the lines of communication open between the various parties involved as early as possible.
One unexpected side effect of all of this is that over the course of the last year I've bought or been involved with the purchase of one diamond, three rings, and one pearl necklace. My knowledge of jewelry and the jewelry-buying process has now reached a level far beyond what it was at the beginning of last year. All the same, I still would not be able to pick out a good pair of earrings for my wife.