Westeros

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Westeros recently.  The Game of Thrones series on HBO has now aired episode 7 of 10.  I’ve also just finished rereading the four published books of the series.  That is about three thousand pages of material

One of the keys of the books is that they are told from a very limited omniscient narrative POV.  Each chapter has a different POV character and everything witnessed or felt comes entirely from that character’s POV although told in a 3rd person form.

The eight POV characters is the first novel are 6 of the 8 members of the Stark family plus Daenarys Targaryean and Tyrion Lannister.  Neither Robb nor Rickon Stark are POV characters, but Bran, Arya, Sansa, Jon, Ned and Catelyn are.

One of the surprising aspects of the show is that scenes occur with none of these eight characters present.    An effective scene from this week was a conversation between Jaime and Tywin Lannister.  It gives an insight into these characters that is decidedly different (but not incongruous) from the books.  Previous episodes had similar new scenes.  I think the most effective was one between Cersei and Robert Baratheon.

Other than these added scenes, it is pretty remarkable how close to the books the mini-series has held.  There are lots of small details diferent, but motivations, scenes and plot are almost note for note.  Much of the dialogue is also lifted straight from the books.

If you go to the http://www.westeros.org site they have in-depth book-to-screen analysis of each episodes that compares chapter-to-scene.

The biggest change is a shift in how Cersei Lannister is portrayed.  In the books, she gets no POV of her own (SPOILER – at least until the fourth book ).  No character views her sympathetically in the first book.  But in the show, while still the main villain of the piece, there are several more approachable angles to her character.

Episode 7 has the second big turn of the series.  That was exciting to see.  There is one left (in my reckoning) in this series, but it will not happen until the final episode.  Between now and then there is a lot left to happen.  I outline some of those events below.  Note: what follows is giant SPOILERs for the end of the book and the mini-series:

  • Ned – there is only one big Ned scene left.  He needs to make a deal with the Lannisters.
  • Tyrion – Lots.  The first infantry battle is from his POV.  He needs to make friends with the Mountains of the Moon clansmen.  He needs to meet Shae.
  • Daenarys – Lots.  The assault on the city.  Her saving of the slaves.  The injury and illness of her husband.  Finally the scene that will occur as the last in the series.
  • Jon – The big scene needed is the attack of the wights.  There is also a scene where he deserts and comes back.
  • Bran – Bran does little for the rest of the book, but his POV is used to show Robb’s preparations for war.
  • Catelyn – This picks up where Bran’s POV left off.  She follows Robb at teh start of his war with the Lannisters and his big contract with the Freys.
  • Sansa – The turn causes a big shift in Sansa’s POV chapters.  There are bad things to happen to her.  her big scene is barganinng for the life of her father.
  • Arya – She has some big scenes next episode during the big fight in the castle.  Then she has the climatic events in King’s Landing from her POV.

Weekly Recap

Let me tell you the Friday story.

On Tuesday, I went to work.  “Boss,” I said to my boss, “I feel like another long weekend.  Friday is empty, I’m going to take it off unless you have a problem with that.”

“Sure,” he said.

On Wednesday, I got a meeting booked with an important stakeholder.  The meeting was on Friday at 7 am.  I was grumpy.My boss said, “Come in for the meeting and take the rest of the day off.”

“No.  If I’m up at 5 in the morning to make the meeting it isn’t a day off anymore.  I’ll take Monday off instead.”

My plans for Friday had been sparse.  Get a birthday present for my brother.  Prepare for gaming that night. Sleep in.  I resolved to do those things earlier in the week and do the sleep in bit on Monday.

That lasted until Thursday when I realize they’d need me at work on Monday too.  We had a major change going in Friday night and the impacts would be Monday morning if there were problems.  (There were problems BTW.  Nine problems, but they were medium to minor problems.  Nothing that should get escalated to management.)

Friday dawned and I awoke even earlier than my normal 5:15am in order to make the 7 am meeting.  It had already been a long week.  I was leaving with more problems/work than I entered the week with, but I had also accomplished quite a bit of rewarding work.

I drank two glasses of water, as is my wont.  They began to make my way through my system. 40 minutes later they hit a plug.  A kidney stone plug.  As usual the pain started slowly, but within ten minutes I knew what it was.  I resolved to call in sick and tough it out.  Ten minutes after that I was done toughing it out.  I took two pain relievers and began to get ready to head to the hospital.

I dithered a bit while I decided whether to drive my car or my scooter to the hospital.  The scooter would take much longer, but I’d have a chair to wit in when I reached the emergency room.  I decided on the scooter and I left home about 5 minutes later than I would have if I would have gone to the meeting.

When I was in the elevator down the pain subsided.  I stopped in the entry to send my “I’m missing work e-mail.”  As I was writing it the pain vanished completely.  I left to go to the hospital, but as I was still in the parking lot I realized there was no point.  You can’t go to emergency with, “I feel great!”

So I looped my scooter back into the parkade, traded it for my car and left for my meeting.  I got there ten minutes late.  It was a secure building and all my contacts were already in the meeting so it took another ten minutes for me to gain entry, but by 7:20 I had already had an adventure that morning and I was in a meeting.

The meeting was, to put it charitably, a disaster.  I sat dumbfounded throughout.  It was not good.  It was bad.  By 8:10 the meeting was over and by 8:45 I drove to my normal workplace.  The disastrous meeting left my day, which was originally empty so I could take it off, so busy that I worked through lunch.

I did call it quits a bit early.  I got up to leave at 4:10 pm instead of 4:30 pm.  I was out of the building and in my car by 4:25 pm.

Then the day turned around.  I went out for a  beer (one beer) with my co-workers and saw that one had recovered very nicely from some surgery.  I went home and faked my way through a game.  We had an infrequent guest and that was a pleasure. It was all good.

I ran out of material early so we sat and chatted when the game wrapped up.  And that is how the night finished.

BTW, no pain since.  I think I am healed.  Work is a great healer apparently.  🙂

The great movie aspect challenge

I’m stuck at home because my elevator is on service.  I guess I will blog instead of going to mass.

The RPG we are playing has this mechanic called aspects.  Seven short phrases that describe important characteristics about the character.  These are used in the game instead of attributes.  For instance if you want a really strong man instead of an strength attribute of 18 they would have the aspect “strong as a horse”.

On Friday, someone suggested that characters could be made using entirely quotes and taglines from a single movie or movie series.  Obviously it is pretty easy to create Indiana Jones using quotes from that series.  But can you create characters that aren’t just copies of the characters in the movie itself?

The challenge:  Choose and movie.  Using seven quotes or taglines from that movie create a character that doesn’t appear in the movie.  Genre doesn’t matter.  Whether the character would actually be a good one to play in a game doesn’t matter.

Here is my first try:

  • Name: Chef Hans
  • Movie: Casablanca
  • Template (optional):  Gourmet Chef
  • High Concept: The leading banker in Amsterdam is now the pastry chef in our kitchen.
  • Trouble: The *winning* side would have paid you *much better*.
  • Background: Mostly I remember the last one. The wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look in his face because his insides have been kicked out.
  • Rising Conflict: I’m only a poor corrupt official.
  • The Story: I don’t mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one.
  • Guest Starring 1: I never make plans that far ahead.
  • Guest Starring 2: Oh, he’s just like any other man, only more so.

Hans was a leading banker in Amsterdam.  When his bank started to use poor banking practices he turned whistleblower.  But it turned out badly.  He was implicated himself and forced out when the investigators were themselves bribed..  He moved to Canada and took a cooking certificate at NAIT.  He is cynical and sullen.  He sees corruption everywhere – from the head chef to the food inspectors to the restaurant owner.

Capitulate, plus re, minus itulate, frequency weekly

Recapitulate is to repeat in a more concise form.  But capitulate is to surrender.  Odd.

I had two tasks for the weekend.  One find a present for my brother.  He becomes older this week.  Status: failure.  Two: buy socks.  Status: success, but only today after work.

I read, watched tv, watched movies.  Mostly it was a pretty boring week and long weekend.  I loved it.

I forgot my bus pass on Sunday and today.  Fortunately I had a giant pocket of loonies and toonies, but that is 12 bucks of forgetfulness.

The highlights were seeing Kamenka’s and Johnson’s (Stef’s folks) at church and visiting my parents and solving the crossword with them.

Hmm – short recap.

E-mail

Did my father have e-mail?  They had computer systems in the office, but not e-mail I think.  Certainly no IM and no SharePoint.  I’ll ask next time I see my folks.

True emergencies don’t come through e-mail.  They come in person or they come with a phone call.  Fake emergencies come through e-mail.  The ‘drop everything and prepare a report for the boss’ type emergency.

Decisions don’t happen in e-mail, but often folks won’t acknowledge they’ve been made until they see the documented evidence in e-mail.

Everyone complains about the meetings in government, but they are far less the time suck than e-mail.   It might take you the day to process 120 e-mails.  To send out 60 replies, to file the rest.  At the end of a day of meeting you might have contributed to the overall project.  A new issue might have come up.

At the end of the day of e-mails you just feel empty.

Would it be possible to do the job and just ignore all the e-mails?  No one needed them before the 90s – except some specialized IT shops.

I’d be willing to give it a shot.

3 times

Hey – in other news my stupid life alarm went off three times today before I left the house.

The first was the middle of the night.  It was on my shoulder and I rolled onto my side.  It fell about 2 inches.  I lay there thinking, “If I move it now it won’t go off.  I should do that.  Nah, it fell 2 inches.  I need do nothing.”  Thinking when barely conscious isn’t my forte – if it is my forte at any other time – not sure there.

The second and third times were as I sat down during my various morning absolution.  By the third time it called up I was both annoyed and feeling guilty.  Annoyed that it hardly seemed I could move without alerting someone to my movements.  Guilty that I was causing false alarms.  “I’m not doing this on purpose!” I told the responder when it went off the 3rd time.

Tomorrow we are going to go with zero alarms.

Numbers

One of my favorite XKCD comics is Purity:  http://xkcd.com/435/

And number theory is the most pure of the math subjects.

As we learn numbers, we at first learn that they represent things we can count.  But that breaks down once you encounter fractions or the number zero.  So then it is things you can measure.  But that breaks when you get to negative numbers.  If you come up with an analogy that encompasses negative numbers – financial ledgers – debts and credits for example, then that breaks when you introduce imaginary numbers.

So what the heck are numbers anyway?  Well in math a number is defined by its properties and what operations can be performed on it.  That is getting pretty abstract.

I bought this book on Monday: The Peguin Dictionary of curious and interesting numbers.  Since then I’ve been learning about all sorts of properties i didn’t know about.

Whole numbers, integers, rational number and irrational numbers you’ve probably heard of.  Transcendental and imaginary as well unless you slept through math class.  Odd, even, and prime are likely still familiar terms.

Here are some that might be new to you:

  • lucky
  • happy
  • perfect, tri-perfect and semi-perfect
  • abundant, super abundant and deficient
  • sociable
  • palindromic
  • amicable

You know of square and cubed numbers, but what of triangular, tetrahedral, hexagonal and so forth?  And those just scratch the surface of the various sequences and series the most famous might be Fibonacci’s, but it is only one of many.

There there are the numbers that might be prime – Fermat numbers, Mersenne primes, etc.

The thing I like most about these is that knowing this serves almost no purpose whatsoever.