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Gwen's Spot

17 August 2005

Guess the Series: In Which Gwen Confuses Potterites

The story begins with extraneous birthday narration, then the hero of the tale is told that he is fated to attempt to defeat the Dark Lord, an evil being who, although being thwarted before, lay dormant for years before gathering the strength to return. With the aid of two close friends, along with many others met along the way, the hero finds himself visiting lands he thought purely legendary, meeting people he had never heard of (some good, some evil, and some just plain strange), and doing things he had never thought possible. (He also discovers that he is far more well-known than he had ever imagined.) Despite the fact that his friends and allies are in many ways more resourceful, knowledgeable, and powerful than the hero, all agree that only he has the power- and the destiny- to defeat the Dark Lord.
At the point in the story when I started composing this, the hero had, alone of all his companions, fainted after being attacked by strange evil beings, who, despite having little physical substance, go around in long black robes scaring the living daylights out of everyone. The hero's mentor, an elderly wizard with the bad habit of keeping important secrets from him, is there when he regains consciousness to explain many things from him- the nature of the rising of the Dark Lord and his minions, how exactly the hero's previous guardian got him into this whole kill-or-be-killed mess with the Dark Lord to begin with, and so on.
A couple more hints...
The hero's elderly-wizard mentor is betrayed by another wizard, who was corrupted by long study of the Dark Arts, though he studied them to help good.
This series was made into a series of (non-animated!) fantasy movies not too long ago.
These books are very popular and famous, and have been since their release.
The author's name has, among other letters and punctuation marks, two periods, an R, a J, an N, an L, an I, and an O.
Oh yeah, and pretty much of all the above is spoiler.

Can you guess the series of which I speak? Quick, get out a piece of paper and a writing utensil (pencil, pen, stylus, spaghetti noodle, whatever) and write your guess. Scroll down...

If you guessed the Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling, you...are...WRONG! Sorry, I was talking about the Lord of the Rings series, by J. R. R. Tolkien. At the moment, I am re-reading the Fellowship of the Ring, and like every other blogger on the Internet, am compelled to tell you exactly what I'm doing at any particular time. The only difference between me and the other bloggers is that you got, at least, a fun trick to play on your (preferably Harry-Potter-obsessed; you know the type- scrapping pictures of them sitting around with the caption "Waiting For Harry Potter #," the ones who went to the bookstore at ten o'clock to wait for two hours until they put the sixth/fifth/fourth/third/second book on the shelves, just so they could be first in line) friends out of my blog.
Anyway, there are enough differences between HP and LOTR for me to say that there is no more than a very heavy influence of one on the other (or, who knows, maybe she'd never read any of them... but I find that highly unlikely)- for instance, the presence of important females in HP, seven books instead of three-supposed-to-be-one-plus-the-Hobbit-and-the-Silmarillion-and-all-of-the-books-of-Middle-Earth-legends, and the use of an overall repeatedly-defeat-Voldemort-and-try-to-win-the-Cup-at-the-same-time instead of an overall destroy-the-Ring-and-temporarily-defeat-Evil theme.
After I re-read the Fellowship, I'll try to wangle a swing by the library to borrow the Two Towers, and then re-read the Return of the King. After that, on to a re-reading of the Hobbit, then the Silmarillion, then perhaps to the aforementioned all-of-the-books-of-Middle-Earth-legends. At the end of that, I'll probably browse through Harry Potter to give my brain a bit of a break, and giggle over the fact that none of the characters seem to notice that calling the Dark Lord (of the Harry Potter series, obviously) "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" is naming him exactly as much as calling him "Lord Voldemort" or, say, "Tom." (The same thing happens in the movie The Village, incidentally, with all of the villagers referring to "the ones who must not be spoken of" as "the ones who must not be spoken of," and yet "the ones who must not be spoken of" [or, as I prefer to call them, "the ones of whom we must not speak"] are the one topic that they speak of continuously. Hmm.)
Okay, I'm done now. Go check out on Tamora Pierce's web site, it's disorienting.

08 August 2005

Half-Full vs. Half-Empty: In Which Gwen Rants About Split Hairs, And No One Listens

Someone with a very limited one-way-or-the-other mind has apparently decided that whether you say "half-full" or "half-empty" signifies a whole host of things, among them your entire worldview and permission for people who think that they are more intelligent than you to smirk and say "or half-empty" if you say "half-full" or "or half-full" if you say "half-empty," simply because you are trying to communicate the state of approximate equilibrium between air and a fluid in a given container.

Note to whomever it was: Watch out. If I ever find out who you are, I'm coming after you.

Note to all of the people arguing that the glass is too big, or is sufficient, or is "halfway between half-full and half-empty" (I'm not kidding, someone actually said that), thinking that they're funny: You're not.

Note well-meaning people who think they're being funny: You're not either.

Note to the smirking general populace: Enough about the half-full/half-empty thing. You've made your point: There is balance in the universe, we all follow an ever-changing path, and you are so much more clever than the rest of us poor intellects who thought that you could understand with only one of a pair of complementary adjectives what we were talking about.

Whether I say something is half-full or half-empty depends solely on the situation and my conscious choice.

But because, apparently, you couldn't figure out this relatively simple behavioral concept and instead have decided to justify all the money you spent on The Idiot's Guide To Annoying The Heck Out Of People Around You With Stupid Misapplied Psychobabble In The Vain Hope That It Will Make You Look Smart by pushing your stupid black-and-white view of the universe on me, I've made a handy-dandy reference table for you. Scroll down (or press control+end, or whatever) to the bottom of the post to see it, unless, of course, you're lazy, which wouldn't surprise me if you're a member of the aforementioned smirking general populace.

You're back. So, there you go. From now on, whenever I say that something is half-full, or half-empty, or for that matter partly cloudy or partly sunny, or any other half and half combination, you know to just pay attention and get from it that "huh, she says her glass is half-empty" or "the weather is partly sunny" rather than "haha, she must be a pessimist."

In closing, let's remember the probably misquoted words of Maxine- "The glass isn't half-full or half-empty, it's a glass that's already had someone else's germs on it."

How I Am Likely To Describe The State Of The Container
Past progress"Half full""Half empty"
Future progress"Half empty""Half full"

06 August 2005

Regender: In Which Gwen Tells The World About Something Really Quite Cool

Someone has created a hack where you can browse the Internet and have genders switched throughout each page. Not only does it change pronouns like him to her, and common words like girl to boy, but it also changes first names (and occasionally last names as well- ever heard of famous civil rights activist Mary Lucille Queen, Jr.?). It's kind of surreal to, for instance, look up feminism in Wikipedia, or to read the Book of Genesis (although Eden keeps getting changed) in the Queen Jamie Bible, or to read where a certain feminist has posted all the hate mail she gets (here). And, of course, to check out my blog, George's Spot.
It's very thought-provoking, especially the anti-feminism people who say things like "If a person believes in the bible, [sic] it is quite obvious that masculism began in the garden [sic] of Edwin when Evan was away from his wife by choice." Or "Hello all you stinking masculists. Do you ever read your bible [sic] it say's [sic] that a woman is to rule over the [sic] man. Even Goddess is sexist she does'nt [sic] want men to be preachers or do any activities in worship except sit there and listen and take ladies supper. I dread the day when a men is elected president were [sic] doomed for hell. [sic] I think that the lady [sic] wants only women to be the [sic] president. If masculist want to be as equal than why don't you gals make the men sign up for [sic] draft of [sic] fight for them to. [sic] I think that men in the ARMY is a dicrase [sic] to our contry [sic] why do they even join any way [sic] they wont [sic] even be able to fight in a war. I can only imagine a man with a gun he would'nt [sic] be able to fire it or shoot someone. I [sic] says in the bible [sic] women are supperior [sic] than [sic] men and goddess [sic] makes it that way for a reason. I sure can tell you gals are'ne [sic] nottin [sic] but yankees [sic]". (Unfortunately, it isn't a spellchecker as well.)
For some gender-bending fun, check out

Texas Instruments Contest Thingy: In Which Gwen Loses Her Mind

Recently I discovered something on the Texas Instruments website that allows you to design a calculator cover with their admittedly very limited design tools. Being bored, I did so, then discovered that I have an opportunity to win $1000 and a bunch of calculators for the school of my choice (and not in the You Could Win One Million Dollars! way either). All I have to do is get more people to vote for me than anybody else can. (Doubtful.)
So, go here and vote for me! You can vote once per day, but you have to be over thirteen (stupid adultist age restriction mutter mutter grrr). Or you can vote less. I really don't care all that much. But it would be nice to win.

Edit: Apparently the qualifying round is over, so voting will commence on the semi-finalists (one of whom I'm not) from 1 October to 15 October. Good luck, other people who from the looks of some of them just got all of their friends to get a whole bunch of different e-mail addresses/birthdays and vote more than once per day!

05 August 2005

Happy Anniversary!: In Which Gwen Does Something Sweet, And Hopes Everyone Forgets About It

Today is my parents' ten-year anniversary. They have been happily married since 5 August 1995 and are still going strong!
Due to all the crazy things going on right now, mostly building a house, they couldn't celebrate their anniversary as planned (going to Las Vegas to renew their vows with Elvis as the preacher) and in fact, both of them completely forget about their anniversary until Mom saw something with the date on it. (That's got to signify something...)
They went out and had lunch together, but other than that it's a pretty ordinary-seeming day.
Everyone wish them a happy anniversary and best wishes for the next ten years!