Monday, July 30, 2007

Pssst...you missed a key point...

This article has been making the rounds of CF communities: Why Do Doctors Get to Decide When a Woman Is Old Enough to Have Her 'Tubes Tied'?

Unfortunately, they forgot to address a key point: the general consensus of the medical community is that 25-year-old women are too young to decide to get their tubes tied because it's a permanent decision and they may regret it later.

So why do they have no problem with 25-year-old women having babies? That is also a permanent, life-altering choice, but if you end up regretting it the consequences are much more dire.

If I walked into my doctor's office and told her I want to get my tubes tied, she'd say "Come back when you're 30." But if I walked in and told her I wanted to have a baby, she'd say "Great! Let's get you off those birth control pills and onto some folate supplements! You'd better hurry - a woman's fertility drops after the age of 26."

No one would dare suggest that I'm too young or immature to have a baby now at 26, even if I am. In fact, there are a lot of very noisy people who would consider it my right to have a baby, even if it means ruining the kid's life. But, apparently, I don't have the right to make sure I don't ruin the kid's life.

Toilet paper

You know how when you buy toilet paper, your inner child is always afraid that someone will see you and comment on it? You adult self knows that this is unreasonable, that everyone buys toilet paper and the worst anyone can say is "So...are you planning to poo a lot?" But we've all been through middle school and we've all been or seen people be tormented for things much more innocuous than walking down the street carrying a 24-pack of Charmin.

But fear not, I have the solution.

If someone else's inner child gives you shit about buying toilet paper (pun not intended), you tell your inner child to give them shit about NOT buying toilet paper. "Wassa matter with you? Don't you wipe? You're disgusting!"

Things They Should Invent: ipod jukebox

You're having a party. You need music. You need lots of music, and it needs to be way cooler than your own music.

Now imagine that instead of fretting over what music to use, you can just use all the music on all your party guests' ipods.

I'm picturing it as something you can hook up to a computer or a stereo, and a whole shitload of ipods can plug into it. Then everyone shows up, hooks up their ipod, and the jukebox plays a random shuffle of all the songs on all the ipods, perhaps favouring higher-rated songs if your guests rate their mp3s. (I don't, but the option is there.)

What would be cool about this is that if a song is popular among your guests, more people will have it on their ipods, so it has a better chance of being played. Of course, the disadvantage is if someone (like me, for example) has some really lame music on their ipod, and a really lame song comes on and the guests are all WhoTF brought this song? It's also a problem if people keep podcasts or comedy or spoken word or other mp3s that aren't music in their music folder.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Abstract or concrete?

A question that often comes up in Myers-Briggs and similar personality test thingies is "Do you prefer the abstract or the concrete?"

The problem with me is that I like my tangible to be abstract and my intangible to be concrete.

If we're building a bridge, I'd rather be translating the technical specifications for the bridge than attaching the girders together. If we're planning a party, I'd rather think up the menu than work out the seating plan. If we're starting a household, I'd rather draw up the budget than arrange the furniture. Whe it comes to real, hands-on things, I prefer my contribution to be more of an idea than a physical thing you can put your hands on.

But if I'm writing an essay, it I want it to be about concrete ideas rather than vague abstractions. If I'm going to have a religion, I want to be able to grok everything (I've never liked that Holy Spirit fellow). If you want me to subscribe to your values, everything has to make logical sense when applied to the real world.

So I can never answer that question on the MBTI.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Things They Should Invent: pay-per-use Zip.ca

Zip.ca is based on the assumption that you want to watch a lot of music. You pay per month, and can have as many movies as you want for as long as you want. And if you watch a lot of movies, that's great!

But I don't watch a lot of movies. Some months, I may not watch any movies at all. It isn't even worth paying the $10/month package for Zip because 2 movies/month is A LOT for me. The two-week free trial is far too short for me, because, unless I'm off work, I'm not necessarily going to have time to sit down and watch a movie (especially with a DVD, where I want to watch all the features too) in any given two-week period unless I'm taking significant time off work at the same time. The only reason I'm even considering subscribing to Zip is because the selection at my local Blockbuster sucks.

So what I want is the option to pay Zip for each DVD I rent, so I don't have to pay money for months where I don't watch any movies at all (or feel obligated to watch 2 movies/month to get my money's worth). I'd also be very happy if the free trial was for a certain number of DVDs rather than for a certain number of days.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Y.E.T.A.N.O.T.H.E.R. "But why?" moment

Mentioned in passing as a given in Y.E.T.A.N.O.T.H.E.R. article about "OMG different generations in the workplace!"

this is the first time in history that four generations — those who lived through World War II, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y — are together in the workplace.


But WHY is this the first time in history that there have been four generations together in the workplace?

The retirement age isn't older now than it has been historically - sure, some people do have to work past 65, but once upon a time retirement didn't exist at all. And while overall life expectancy was lower, it wasn't unheard of for people to live to 70. Also, historically people started working younger, thus making room for more younger generations in the workplace, and started breeding younger, thus cramming more generations into the same time period. If everyone started working at 16 and retired at 65, you've got a 50-year age range in one workplace. And if everyone had their first kid at 20, you could easily find yourself working in the same workplace as your own grandfather. And the four generations listed above aren't all direct descendents of each other. Gen Y is generally considered the children of the Boomers, and Gen X comes in between (I assume they're descendents of the lived-through-WWII generation?) I'm not exactly sure how this works since I identify as Gen X (even though I'm on the X/Y cusp) and my parents are definitely Boomers, but at any rate Gen Y is most definitely NOT the children of Gen X, so this isn't a children-parents-grandparents sequence.

So what on earth is their logic in saying this is the first time in history that four generations have been in the same workplace? I cannot conceive of any possible way that might be true, so they really shouldn't put it in there without further clarification.

I'm blogging this.

I always had the idea that if anyone ever hired me to liveblog some event or something (I know, I know, but I did come of age during the dotcom boom and I haven't yet been able to completely shake the idea that someone might one day pay me money because I can do basic computery things) I'd wear the "I'm blogging this" t-shirt.

It just occurred to me that I should get one of those shirts anyway, and wear it in tenuous customer service situations. Like if I have to make a complaint or deal with a particularly snobby company or do a certain kind of business transaction for the first time or something.

For example, my move went perfectly smoothly, but I didn't know it would ahead of time. So I might have worn the "I'm blogging this" t-shirt while the movers were moving my stuff as fair warning that I was going to blog it later (which, in fact, I was regardless of outcome).

Tales from the commute

1. There was this lady with incredibly skinny legs wearing skin-tight pants. Like her legs were unhealthily skinny, sponsor-a-starving-African-child skinny. But she was wearing skin-tight pants. And they weren't leggings, they were actual proper pants, made kind of like jeans although not made of denim. And skin-tight. Where on earth do you get pants that skinny?

2. Walking up Yonge, I saw a cameraman filming something outside of Starbucks. Being a oh-so-cool Torontonian, I pretended I didn't see the camera whilst nonchalantly altering my vector so as not to be filmed. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a guy lying on the ground in the area the camera appeared to be filming. Nu? So once I was past the camera, I turned and looked back, and saw that the guy on the ground was a puppeteer, and his puppet was "sitting" at the table outside starbucks. The puppet looked kind of like the Count from Sesame Street, but I don't think it was him.

3. There's this dog in my building with the most expressive eyes. He has the very most perfect markings to emphasize his eyes. Imagine perfect, subtle, impeccable eye makeup on a German Shepherd - that's what this guy looks like. If I had a camera, I'd take a picture. Although that would be kind of a weird interaction - "Hey, can I take a picture of your dog and post it on the internet?"

Things I Don't Understand: why it's fun to spoil people

Why do people enjoy exposing other people to spoilers? Like, what's fun about it?

What's far, far more fun than spoiling people is teasing people. Drop a tantalizing little tidbit that will only make them want to read it more. For example:

You have already seen the final Horcrux. And it's right in the place where you last saw it.

Or, for those of you who don't follow HP:

Luke Skywalker isn't actually an orphan.

Then you can watch them speculate wildly. Isn't that more fun than just ruining it?

Monday, July 23, 2007

I can't get to Leaky, can you?

Ping Potter people:

I haven't been able to get to The Leaky Cauldron the last couple of days. Can you? I don't know whether the site's down or if there's something wrong with my own internet settings.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'd appreciate it if you could please click here (it's a Harry Potter site, which may have spoilers, I don't know) and tell me if you can get to the site or not.

Gracias!

Update: And now it seems to work again. Thanks everyone!

Why people are so readily disappointed in J.K. Rowling

I've followed fandom through three Harry Potter releases, and every time people have been vastly disappointed in some aspect or another of the book, even if they enjoyed it as a whole.

I think this is because of Prisoner of Azkaban.

"But that one's my favourite!" you're protesting. Exactly.

Prisoner of Azkaban kicks ass. Characters who were mentioned in passing in previous books suddenly become key. There's a plot twist we never could have guessed with all kinds of clues laid out in front of us. The darkness hasn't fallen yet (in fact, there's no Voldy whatsoever in this book) so despite the lurking Dementors we get to enjoy the full whimsy of the wizarding world; adding to this whimsy is the time Harry gets to spend independently in Diagon Alley and the visits to Hogsmeade. There are multiple kick-ass Quidditch games. There's more cool and advanced magic, from the Patronus to the Marauder's Map. And then, in a thrilling, action-packed final sequence, everything from the Sirius Black plot to Hermione's odd behaviour to Prof. Lupin's illness several months ago to Ron's pet rat wraps up in a tight yet expositionary plot resolution that also provides us with extensive background on Harry's parents.

The problem is that this has raised our expectations to impossibly high levels. We now want every character mentioned in passing, from Mark Evans to the Giant Squid, to play some crucial role. We now want to know about the full history of everyone we meet, and expect equal amounts of insight on Harry's history. We now want every quirk of odd behaviour to have some key role in the ultimate plot. And we want it to all be fun and whimisical and kick-ass at the same time.

But this is impossible. The plot requires darkness, over 200 characters have had speaking roles (according to the guy who does the audiobooks), and we do need to resolve the plot rather than give the complete history of everything. There simply isn't room to give a full role to every single name and fully explain every odd twitch.

But we've had 10 years with these books, rereading, analyzing, theorizing, ficcing. We've had plenty of time to grow attached to Florean Fortescue or become deeply invested in identifying the Heir of Hufflepuff or created an entire universe around what Dudley saw when attacked by Dementors. Everyone has their own little corner of the Potterverse to which they are attached, about which they wanted full background, which they wanted to play a key role in the resolution of the overall plot arc. We've been developing our little hopes and dreams for the series for 10 years, and JKR cannot possibly meet them all.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Food commercials

An awful lot of food commercials seem to be based on the premise that you can't just go out and buy the food anywhere. They always have people resorting to massive subterfuge to steal the food from other people or trick people into giving them the food. That's really weird. IRL, people just go and buy food.

Why I don't think small towns are better

The Toronto Star talks about lessons we could learn from a small town.

I have some questions about this Leamington place:

- Can you walk down the street holding hands with a member of the same sex and be treated with just as much respect as if you were holding hands with a member of the opposite sex?
- Can you go about your business in a headscarf and get treated with just as much respect as if your clothing was unmarked (in the linguistic sense of the word?)
- Can you be an atheist without people trying to convert you or force you to pray in public?
- Can you cross the street on foot without drivers honking impatiently and telling you to get a car?
- Are groceries available at 2 am?
- Is makeup available to suit non-aryan skintones?
- Can you have your lover spend the night without the neighbours gossiping?
- Can you have crabgrass in your lawn without the neighbours bitching?
- Can you have a public conversation in a foreign language without people complaining?

I grew up in a town about the size of Leamington, and the answer to all these questions was no. In my Toronto life, the answer is yes.

Now I've never been to Leamington. Maybe there the answer to all these questions is yes. Maybe it's just that my small-town experience is pre-21st-century. But personally, if the cost of living somewhere where all the answers are yes is that no one will pull over for my funeral procession, I'll quite happily accept that deal.

Open letter to everyone involved in disseminating Harry Potter spoilers

Dear everyone who had any hand in putting Harry Potter spoilers where people who don't want them might accidentally stumble upon them, and all media outlets who reported or gave the impression that they were reporting Harry Potter spoilers:

FUCK YOU!!!!

Because there were so many spoilers floating around where I might accidentally stumble upon them, I had to put myself on a media blackout in the last couple of weeks leading up to Deathly Hallows, just so that I could enjoy the actual denouement of the plot rather than having bombshells dropped on me without any setup.

Because I had to be on media blackout, I completely missed the fact that Eddie Izzard was playing at Just For Laughs this weekend. Eddie Izzard!!!! Just For Laughs!!!! And I completely missed it because I had to completely ignore all news media just to make sure I'd be able to enjoy this one last book properly!

Oh I am pissed!

How to read this blog if you care about Harry Potter

Until July 28, I will be keeping any spoiler posts about HP under the spoiler warning below, and any non-spoiler HP posts and non-HP posts above the spoiler warning. This means that the dates and times for HP spoiler posts will be manipulated, and if you want to see my spoilered thoughts on HP you'll have to scroll down yourself to see if I've put up anything new.

If you're reading this through a feed and don't want to be spoiled, I'd recommend not reading me at all (and perhaps removing me from your feed reader) until you're finished reading DH.

After July 28, I will post whatever occurs to me whenever it occurs to me without manipulating the date and time. That should give everyone one week to finish the book, which I think is plenty of time.

If you don't care about Harry Potter, none of this should affect your user experience, apart from the fact that you may miss a few posts that are deconstructing Harry Potter.

I'm torn between wanting to deconstruct everything I've just read and wanting to get back into the real world (I've been neglecting chores and news and all kinds of stuff to finish HP), so I don't know how much I'll be posting in the next couple of days or what about.

WARNING: HARRY POTTER SPOILERS BELOW!

There are Harry Potter spoilers below this post!

If you would like to skip the spoilers, use your browser's search function to skip to the post entitled "End of Harry Potter spoilers." If you cannot find this post, it has probably been pushed off the bottom of the page by my liveblogging. Go to my July 2007 archives to see posts written before DH.

The problem with the deaths

I think there were just a few too many meaningless deaths in DH. Overall, actually, most of the deaths in the series have been meaningless. James and Lily's deaths had a purpose, of course. Dumbledore's did, sort of, as did Mad-Eye's and Dobby's. But the big three (for me) in DH - Fred, Lupin and Tonks - had no meaning whatsoever. I think I needed at least one of these to have a purpose.

I think perhaps JKR thinks of Lupin and Tonks as smaller characters than I do. I was just thinking of I wrote this that it would be appropriate if some of the named extras were seen among the body count - Hannah Abbott, for example - but then I realized that this was how Lupin and Tonks were being presented. I can see Tonks being a named extra - I don't think of her that way because I think she's cool, but I can see that interepretation - but I think Lupin is more important and his death, at least, deserves an explanation.

Things I still want to know

1. So who raised Teddy Lupin?
2. What did the trio (and everyone else who left Hogwarts early) end up doing for education/careers? I know Harry is independently wealthy, but Ron and Hermione aren't, and I can't imagine Hermione settling for a job that doesn't require NEWTS. Did they go back and do their 7th year?
3. What happened to the Dursleys when they went into hiding?

Edit: And what was that place where Harry was when he talked to Dumbledore? No, I can't accept that it's a great mystery. I must know!

Epilogue

But WHO are Ron and Hermione's kids named after? And what are H&G&H&R doing for careers etc?

And, I'm sorry, but I don't feel that the point of Harry's eyes looking like Lily's has been addressed!

More tomorrow.

Overall, I'm satisfied with the resolution of the arc, I'm not crying despite mourning for three people, but frankly I don't feel like I've groked everything - all the science of magic that made the plot resolution possible - the first time through. I'm going to have to reread bits later on. But now, schlafenzeit!

PS: The word bitch is used! In a Harry Potter book!

Chapter 36: The Flaw in the Plan

Wow, this is really going to fuck up all those wagers various people were making on the outcome, isn't it?

I'm going to have to reread the whole denouement to figure out what happened exactly. Tomorrow.

Chapters 34 and 35

At the end of Chapter 34, Voldy killed Harry. Then in Chapter 35, he...didn't, actually. And now I have no clue WTF is going on any more so I'm just going to read on.

I'll probably have to reread this part tomorrow when I'm not nodding off.

Chapter 33: The Prince's Tale

I think it take a little longer than an hour to go through all those memories!

Fandom called the Snape = "that awful boy" and Snape/Lily things. I do find myself wondering at the Remus/Lily hinted at in the POA movie though. Didn't JKR say there was something to that?

Also, didn't JKR once unequivocally say that Harry is NOT a Horcrux?

I'm sad about Remus and Tonks. I like them. They're the cool people! (Also, this josses Fernwithy. I think JKR might be just toying with her now.)

If Harry is Teddy Lupin's godfather and Harry has to die, what happens to Teddy? He's becoming rather parallel to Harry. Do Remus or Tonks have any horrid relatives for him to be brought up by? (Well, Tonks does, but we can't use those.) Does Teddy get to be the messiah next?

Chapter 32: The Elder Wand

So....what is this mist? The only thing I can think of is a penseive memory, but that seems wrong.

Why is McGonagall's Patronus THREE cats?

"Ron, are you a wizard or what?" That made me LOL even through my mourning.

The problem with the Acromantulas is now I won't be able to watch the denouement of the last Harry Potter movie. They should eat Nagini at least.

Would a Basilisk fang kill a snake?

Chapter 31: The Battle of Hogwarts

Shit.

Chapter 30: The Sacking of Severus Snape

I find this whole everyone comes to Hogwarts for the final battle thing implausible (unlike, you know, magic and shit) but it seems to be emotionally satisfying (I'm all anticipatey) so I'll agree with it. I think Percy moaning that he was a fool was a bit much, I'd rather just have him show up and quietly save a tiny part of the day.

I'll bet the reason Ron and Hermione have gone to the bathroom is to go get the other Basilisk fang and use it to kill the other Horcrux. Oh, except they can't get down to the Chamber of Secrets, can they? Maybe they can. Anyway, the Battle of Hogwarts has arrived.

Chapter 29: The Lost Diadem

So what if the diadem really is Aunt Muriel's tiara?

I like the whole Room of Requirement/secret hideout thing. A bit ficcy, but it's fun anyway.

Do we have all the horcruxes now? Diary, locket, cup, diadem, Nagini, ring, plus the piece of soul still in Voldy. Yeah, I guess so. So does the wand with pride of place in Ollivander's window have anything to do with anything?

Chapter 28: The Missing Mirror

Aberforth! Why didn't I think of that? I knew that I should know who the blue eye is, but I couldn't arrive at Aberforth.

I was going to theorize that his Patronus was the doe, but he identifies it as a goat.

And now I'm going to do that really annoying thing where my liveblogging entries get short because I want to see what happens next. (Plus I'm getting sleepy (I've had maybe 5 hours sleep in the past 24 hours, and I just ate potatoes) so I want to finish before I fall asleep.)

Chapter 27: The Final Hiding Place

It did NOT occur to me that Harry's mental connection to Voldemort would help him find the Horcruxes! I guess that's why JKR weakened it in Book 6. Everyone predicted they would go to Hogwarts on a Horcrux hunt so that's no surprise there, but the consensus seemed to be that that would satisfy our need for Hogwarts fun. Which it surely won't. But I don't find myself missing Hogwarts as much as I thought I would.

My inner child wants to add a quote from Hermione from the last chapter:

"She tastes disgusting, worse than Gurdyroots! OK, Ron, come here so I can do you..."

Chapter 26: Gringotts

Well, that explains Ron and Hermione's clothes on the cover. I always thought they were just a wee bit fussier than appropriate, but I figured that was an artistic decision. I should learn to trust that these people know what they're doing!

And also the dragon WASN'T Norbert! (Who is now Norberta.) (Unless, through some bizarre coincidence, it was.)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chapter 25: Shell Cottage

I call a Dean & Luna ship, and renew my assertion that it's a goblin holding the sword on the cover, not an elf.

I also wonder why there was no attempt whatsoever to explain to Griphook "Dude, you can have thw sword, just not right away." Like they didn't even think about trying. You'd think the thought would have at least crossed their minds.

I'm going to take a Python break now and start reading again in a hour.

Chapter 24: The Wandmaker

I guessed just two paragraphs before the trio did that Dumbledore had the Elder Wand.

If Bill and Fleur's house is under Fidelius, how did everyone manage to apparate there? Even if the others knew, what about Dobby?

This mirror thing is intriguing, I hope we get a full explanation.

What if the house elf on the cover is really a goblin?

Since Dobby has proven that he can apparate anyone anywhere, are they going to get out of tight spots from now on by calling Kreacher and having him apparate them out?

Chapter 23: Malfoy Manor

When I saw the title of this chapter, I guessed that was where the vault on the cover was located. But it isn't.

Okay, so did Wormtail just die by his own silver hand? That makes two deaths in this chapter - two completely unexpected deaths (Wormtail I expected but under different circumstances) and both by silver. Awful as it sounds, I found myself laughing giddily with joy at the sheer unexpectedness of these deaths. Not at the deaths themselves, but at the joy of having JKR throw something completely unexpected at me.

Interlude

The fact that Voldemort can fly...what does that remind me of?

Chapter 22: The Deathly Hallows

So THAT'S who Peverell is! I knew we'd seen that name before!

The radio program is a clever device for getting caught up, and the Taboo is a clever way of making Harry's habit of saying the word Voldemort into an actual plot point! I wonder if the Taboo existed last time around?

The emotional arc of this chapter was good - we went from high to low quite smoothly.

I keep forgetting that the characters don't know they're in a book with a definite timeline, and wondering why they don't feel more rushed. Then I realize that they think they have the rest of their lives to destroy the Horcruxes.

I see about 250 pages left, 3 Horcruxes to destroy, and one Deathly Hallow to find (and learn how to use). I wonder if this means I'm going to be page-turning for the rest of the book?

Chapter 21: The Tale of the Three Brothers

So assuming Harry's cloak is The Cloak, and the wand in Ollivander's window is The Wand, what is The Stone?

Chapter 20: Xenophilius Lovegood

At the end of this chapter I went "OH!" I had completely forgotten that we still have to find out what Deathly Hallows are!

The Lovegoods' house is nothing like how I pictured it, but it is very similar to the home of my Rowena Ravenclaw Mary Sue. Since both the Lovegoods we've met are both Ravenclaws, I might take advantage of that if I feel inspired to write fic.

Also, either in this chapter or the last one, JKR said that someone was "on the point of" doing something. That is such a gallic construction! Is it in common use in Britain? Here, if I tried to use it in one of my translations, I'd be toldnot to on the basis that it's a gallicism!

Chapter 19: The Silver Doe

Dear JKR:

You'd better explain:

a) where this doe came from
b) how the sword got there
c) what that glowy light thing that helped Ron is
d) the nature and composition of the little wand Harry now has. (I seem to recall that Umbridge had a small wand? And, my inner child would like to add, Fudge was described as having small feet?)

However, the story seemes to be raising back up from the pit of despair, which is a good thing. But I'm still knocking on wood because I don't want to jinx anyone.

Chapter 18: The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore

This is an odd chapter. On one hand, it has a bunch of background information and comes close to addressing some of our questions. On the other hand, it was all written by Rita Skeeter so we can't trust any of it.

It would be very tight writing if Grindlewald ended up being key to defeating Voldemort. I don't think anyone anticipated that - Grindy was always presented as ancient history, far in the past. It would be like if Hitler were key to defeating Bin Laden.

Oops, I mentioned Hitler. Does that mean I lose?

Chapter 17: Bathilda's Secret

Wow, I didn't expect them to be in such a rough spot at this point. They're halfway through the book with no horcruxes destroyed, no further leads on any horcruxes, and now Harry is without a wand!

I can see a couple of places where this might be going. One is that it will take them to Ollivander's with the Ravenclaw's Wand theory. Another is that the fact that Harry no longer has Voldemort's brother wand will come into play. (Although it would have to be a pretty hardcore coincidence for Harry to end up with a wand that's the brother of whatever wand he finds himself facing next. But remember how the contents of Lucius's wand were mentioned at the beginning? That must be important.)

I'd say that it can only be uphill from here, but JKR could totally make it do downhill even more, so I don't want to jinx anyone.

Chapter 16: Godric's Hollow

Not much happens here. I would have expected more in a chapter with such an important title.

I have a vague sense that Harry and Hermione are doing something stupid, but I also have a vague sense that the Potters' gravestone is fake, because of the weird inscription in it.

We'll see, won't we?

Chapter 15: The Goblin's Revenge

Clever way of lettings us know what's going on back at Hogwarts! I'm glad to see the other half of the hex doing something helpful too. I also jst realized that by having Snape in charge of Hogwarts, JKR is alleviating our sadness at not getting to go back to Hogwarts. It's not a fun place any more, so who cares if we can't go back? Well done JKR!

Also, this development with Ron is unexpected.

I find myself nodding off now (I didn't get a proper night's sleep last night) so I'm going to have a wee little nap break before I go further.

Chapter 14: The Thief

First of all, I should have said this a few chapters ago, but gold star for JKR on the Gregorovitch callback. I also like seeing the tent from the Quidditch World Cup again - I originally took this to be just a whimiscal detail so I like seeing that JKR is way ahead of me.

Interesting that the trio have slept in the same room several times without any sexual tension. I do like how JKR keeps the shipping subdued, especially when more important things are going on. I think that's something I'll keep in mind if I ever write fiction myself - if the scene isn't about the romance, it's better to just quietly take it as a given.

The apparating situation isn't clear here. Are all three of them apparating? Harry isn't licenced, is he? Did Hermione side-along both Ron and Hermione to the Quidditch World Cup site? I thought you could only side-along one at a time.

Langling note: at one point, the word "fantasise" was used with that spelling. I am aware of the use of S instead of Z in British, but that's the first time I've ever seen it in that particular word. It looks funny to me.

PS: Going back to Remus's angst a while back, hasn't it already been established that being a werewolf isn't hereditary?

Chapter 13: The Muggle-Born Registration Commission

I hadn't expected this many new characters. I guess there are obviously people in the wizarding world whom Harry hasn't met yet, but I wasn't expecting to have to deal with new names at this point, even though they don't have to be fully fleshed-out characters.

Gryffindors make shitty stealth agents, don't they? One thing I am happy about though is that the trio do seem to be working at a reasonable skill level so far. I was worried that Harry would find himself with Deus Ex Machina Superpowers to complete this task. I guess maybe I should trust JKR better.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a cliffhanger to attend to.

Interlude

OMG, I JUST noticed that there's a houself on the cover of DH, behind Harry, holding the Sword of Gryffindor!

Chapter 12: Magic is Might

Phineas Nigellus Black? I thought his name was just Phineas Nigellus? Why weren't we introduced to him by his full name before?

The Ministry is not a comfy place to be. Which I think is the point.

I think perhaps Kreacher is going to double-cross them. He's being too nice.

Thought: maybe Ginny had one last big snog with Harry because we're never going to see her again?

Chapter 11: The Bribe

"Perhaps just one more, Master Harry, for luck?"

First of all, my inner child would like to snicker at the fact that a few chapters back, Ron couldn't get his wand out.

Speaking of, I wonder if this book on charming witches has anything to do with anything?

So...Remus. Again eerily close to Fernwithy's Shades.

Then there's the fact that Voldemort:Muggleborns::Hitler:Jews, but we knew that already.

Then we got to see Kreacher be increasingly helpful, and an Umbridge callback, which is good. She wouldn't have been nearly as useful as a one-off.

But why is the chapter called The Bribe?

Chapter 10: Kreacher's Tale

Well, everyone in the whole world was right about RAB, and the Kreacher theory had been widely advanced in fandom. This was a well-written chapter though. I knew the story, it wasn't suspenseful at all, but I was still on the edge of my seat reading it. You don't usually notice this ("OMG, I'm turning pages to find out what happens next!") but it is quite impressive that it held my interest while merely confirming what I'd already figured out for myself.

Bonus points to Hermione for trying to accio the locket :)

Chapter 9: A Place To Hide

Why are they so confident that Mad-Eye's security spells will hold even if he's dead?

So the big blond Death Eater is name Rowle. So...what? Why is this the first time we've been told his name? (Rowling?) And what's the dust monster thing?

I rather like this device of forcing the trio to be on the run. It seems more natural than deliberately setting out on a quest (even though they did originally intend to deliberately set out on a quest)

Chapter 8: The Wedding

Okay, so we've got Viktor in England, we've got a potential Grindlewald connection, we've got more of a reason to go to Godric's Hollow, lots of good stuff lined up. Looks like my Scrimgeour theory is kaput, but that's okay.

For some reason, neither I nor any of the fanfics I read pictures Mr. Lovegood as more eccentric than Luna, although that does make perfect sense upon reflection. Interesting that his name comes from the same root as Xenophile and he has a Grindelwald symbol, although I'm still inclined to think of this as a red herring.

Theory: Ariana Dumbledore grew up to be Mrs. Figg. After all, what's the likelihood of a third squib? (Fourth, if you count the Weasley cousin who's an accountant)

And, of course, the whole Godric's Hollow thing tees up the possibility of a blood tie of some sort between Harry and Dumbledore, although I'd prefer if there isn't.

Chapter 7: The Will of Albus Dumbledore

I seem to be reading really slowly today for some reason.

Well, Scrimgeour has served the purpose of James Bond's Q and has doubtless unknowingly given the trio everything they'll need for their quest. I do wonder why the Putter-Outer is suddenly called a Deluminator now?

Current theory: Scrimgeour is Voldy's Ministry insider, either willingly or through Imperius. Perhaps this is why Remus and Tonks need to leave suddenly?

I don't know what's up with the H/G stuff though. I don't care that much about shipping in the first place anyway.

I feel like I should be theorizing more, but I'm quite happy at this point to read on and see what happens.

Chapter 6: The Ghoul in Pyjamas

Wow, a lot of information here, I don't know if I remember all of it.

Hermione using Accio to get the Horcrux books was clever - I've said before that Harry should have used Accio to solve ALL the Triwizard tasks, so it always amuses me to see it used in new and unexpected ways.

Also, the way Hermione got her parents out of the way, and the titular ghoul in the pyjamas. I can't decide whether these will come up later or whether they're just plot devices. It is good to see the ghoul actually being used though, I didn't expect that.

I feel like I should have more to say here but I don't ATM.

Chapter 5: Fallen Warrior

Well, we've lost Hedwig (unless she's going to make a surprise reappearance at a crucial moment - I've always felt she hadn't been fully used yet) and Mad-Eye. That's two deaths, which I think is the confirmed number for this book?

And Fred and George are no longer identical, just moments after they made us laugh by saying they're identical. Ouch, JKR!

The best I can do to explain Harry's wand's behaviour at this point is the Dumbledore = Fawkes theory.

Oh, and Tonks's parents call her Dora! Gold star for Fernwithy!

Chapter 4: The Seven Potters

Well. That was a dizzying action scene! I doubt I caught even half of what happened on the first read-through. That's the problem with good action scenes - you read them frantically and then you miss stuff.

"Fred and George turned to each other and said 'Wow - we're identical!'" That made me LOL.

So we're going to meet Tonks's parents! I hope this doesn't joss Fernwithy's universe.

Fanfic called the idea of multiple people Polyjuiced as Harry - I thought seven Potters referred to relatives of Harry's

Chapter 3: The Dursleys Departing

Dude! Dudley is developing a mind of his own! And since the Dursleys are going into wizarding protection, we'll doubtlessget to find out more about Petunia later on.

Surely the change of plans to which Hestia refers is Voldemort's doing, so I expect to see a skirmish shortly.

I wish it had been clearer in the first chapter whether the either or both of the two possible departure dates the Death Eaters were talking about was before or after Harry's 17th birthday. Edit: turns out it was, I was just reading too fast.

Chapter 2: In Memoriam

Well, I (and the majority of fandom, I'd guess) never guessed Dumbledore's family background. Fanon seemed to generally have him as an orphan and I was blindly accepting that.

The cause of Ariana Dumbledore's death and the fragment of mirror are surely important later on.

Wild theory of the moment: Sirius took his mirror behind the veil with him, and is now sharing it with Dumbledore and anyone else who might want to talk to Harry.

Callback: Dumbledore mentioned several times in previous books that he has ways of moving around/making himself invisible that other peope do not. Surely this will come into play.

Also, POS: Dumbledore is flying to London when he suddenly "realizes" that she should have stayed at Hogwarts. Why does he realize this?

Chapter 1: The Dark Lord Ascending

Oooh! Death Eaters!

So a new name is introduced almost right away: Yaxley. Is he the big blond death eater? Is he one of those two people who were present at Dumbledore's assassination and whom Dumbledore addressed by first name?

Also, we meet the Muggle Studies prof. You know, despite all my rereads and looking for clues, I NEVER realized that the Muggle Studies prof was the only one whose name we didn't know!

My first thought is why is Voldemort trying to kill Harry now, right at the beginning of the book? Then I realized Voldemort doesn't know he's at the very beginning of a book. That would be particularly evil of Voldy, wouldn't it, to ruin the whole carefully ingrained structure of a Harry Potter book?

Wishful thinking: Voldy makes an attempt on Harry's life on Saturday as scheduled. Harry and the Order manage to kill Voldy during this attempt. Then we have a nice happy fun whimsical year at Hogwarts.

End of Harry Potter spoilers

There are no Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spoilers below this post. Everything below here was written before I started the book.

Got it!!!!!

I got the children's edition instead of the adult edition, but who cares? Onwards!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What I want to happen tomorrow

Regardless of what happens to Harry, regardless of who lives and who dies, even regardless of whether Hogwarts reopens (and the prospect of it not reopening is what was most upsetting to me in HBP, because I want to go back to Hogwarts and if Harry doesn't I won't get to either!)...

Tomorrow I want to be completely gobsmacked. I want to be knocked off my feet by plot twists neither I nor anyone else anticipated. I want to find myself shouting "Go JKR!" when something mentioned in passing books ago suddenly becomes key. I want to find myself laughing hysterically - Eddie Izzard-calibre, disturb-the-neighbours laughs - at least twice, and chuckling quietly to myself dozens of times as the whimsy of the wizarding world is mentioned in passing. I want to be literally on the edge of my seat for the last hundred pages or so, frantically reading and turning pages as fast as I can to find out what happens next, my noble attempts at liveblogging turning to crap because I'm in too much suspense to pause between chapters. Then, as I finish the last page, even though I'm saying goodbye to Harry forever, I want to be able to collapse back on my bed, making a sound only mi cielito has ever heard me hear, from the sheer satisfaction of a well-executed and emotionally satisfying story. I want to be unable to tear myself away from Sugarquill for the rest of the weekend (and maybe even try to sneak on at work next week) because I just have so much to say. I want to be eagerly craving a full reread so I can see all the clues in retrospect. I want for my daydreams to once again put me in the wizarding world, as Rowena Ravenclaw or Harry's Mary Sue or some other random character we haven't met yet. I want to be inspired to write fanfiction, even though it will end up being complete crap that will never see the light of day. I want to go to bed hoping my dreams will take me back to Hogwarts.

I don't want to cry, but if I do cry I want it to be worth the tears. I don't want to have to go to wine or comedy to recover from my tears, I want the emotional process to be self-sustaining. When I head back to work, I want to be at peace, even if I'm full-to-bursting with spoilers and theories and fanfiction.

You've done it before, Ms. Rowling. Do it again, please, just one last time.

Clever JKR!

Dumbledore talking about Merope Gaunt: "Of course, it is possible that her unrequited love and the attendant despair sapped her of her powers."

WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO TONKS!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Note to everyone who reads me using a feed reader

On July 21, I plan to liveblog Harry Potter. I expect this to take place during an 8-10 hour period on the day itself. I will be providing appropriate spoiler warnings and spoiler space on my blog itself like I did last time, but the entries will probably show up in your feeds without anything to stop you from seeing them.

So if you're using Bloglines or Google Reader or something similar, and for some reason you might be reading blogs but not wanting Harry Potter spoilers, you may want to remove me from your reading list until you're done reading HP yourself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

More things to come up later in Potter

- The McKinnons
- The Impervius charm (used to keep rain off faces during Quidditch, but is mentioned a lot)
- Broken watches/clocks are mentioned a lot, and the Time Turners haven't really contributed to the series as a whole yet. (They played a major role in POA, but surely there was another way to introduce the fact that Sirius is innocent and tell us about MWPP.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Temporal anomalies

On Star Trek, whenever they realize they're caught in some kind of temporal loop, someone always suggests that they go back, and someone else always says no, we can't go around second-guessing ourselves, turning back might be the very thing that triggers it.

But it always ends up that turning back would have been the right decision, doesn't it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Economics makes my brain hurt

They say that the introduction of a land transfer tax will kill Toronto's housing market, which makes sense.

But if the new tax does burst the bubble, wouldn't it become easier to buy post-bubble?

And if it does become easier to buy post-bubble, wouldn't that revitalize the housing market?

Thus rebuilding the bubble?

Etc. etc. etc.?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Metaphor extreme stress test

We're all familiar with the melting pot vs. tossed salad metaphor for multicultural integration. In the melting pot, heat is applied forcing everything to melt together into a pile of homogenous brown mush. In the tossed salad, everything is left to its own devices and allowed to retain its unique characteristics, thus contributing to a yummier and more interesting whole.

I just realized this metaphor stands up to extreme stress, because:

If you leave a tossed salad alone for long enough, it will eventually turn into a pile of homogenous brown mush! But it won't be very yummy then, so you have to keep adding fresh ingredients.

Sociolinguistics

1. In French, the word droit means "right" (as in human rights) and it also encompasses part of the meaning of the English word "law". I wonder if this overlap leads to a different perception of law and rights as compared with how these concepts are perceived by people for whom they are two completely separate words?

2. In Iceland, your surname is based on your father's name - it is literally translated as [father's]son or [father's]daughter. In Russia, patronymics are used in a certain register of address - those of us who have studied French (or Spanish or German or Polish) would perceive it as a third level of formality between tu and vous (or tĂș/usted, or du/sie, or ty/pan(i) respectively). I wonder if this everyday necessity of knowing your father's name affects cultural attitudes towards people who don't know who their father is? Or cultural attitudes towards creating children who don't know who their father is?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Teach me how to use my ipod please!

A while back, when I was trying to figure out how to do something else, I stumbled upon instructions on how to get your ipod video to play back only the audio of a video. But now I can't find it. Anyone know how?

Way to go JKR!

I just notice that while Hermione is pondering how Rita Skeeter could have overheard the post-second-task conversation between her and Victor, she is in the process of grinding up some scarab beetles in potions class!

(Also, why was Madam Pince unable to find out about Gillyweed? Shouldn't a librarian's research skills be up to that?)

Blogalyzed

The Blogalyser reveals...

Your blog/web page text has an overall readability index of 13.
This suggests that your writing style is conventional
(to communicate well you should aim for a figure between 10 and 20).
Your blog has 10 sentences per entry, which suggests your general message is distinguished by complexity
(writing for the web should be concise).

CHARACTER MATRIX

male malefemale female
self oneselfgroupworld world
past pastpresentfuture future

Your text shows characteristics which are 50% male and 50% female
(for more information see the Gender Genie).
Looking at pronoun indicators, you write mainly about yourself, then the world in general and finally your social circle. Also, your writing focuses primarily on the present, next the past and lastly the future.

Find out what your blogging style is like!

Sirius's vault

In his letter at the end of POA, Sirius mentions in passing his vault number. I always found that strange.

But what if there's a Horcrux in the vault? That one cover picture with all the coins does make me think...

My latest Harry Potter predictions

I predict that the following elements will come up again somehow:

- the fact that Charlie Weasley is a good Seeker
- some factoid picked up at Nearly Headless Nick's Deathday party
- Gabrielle Delacour
- the giant squid

Removing demographics from comedy

(Note: because of the number of youtube links in this post, I have not coded my links to open in a new window, as multiple open youtube links sometimes crash computers. If you would like the links to open in a new window, right-click on them and select "Open in New Window".)

This train of thought started when I was looking for the Four Yorkshiremen, and found a more recent version (Enfield, Rickman, Izzard, and Reeves, for those of you keeping score). One thing I found really distracting about the new version was the performers' obvious and exaggerated attempts at the Yorkshire accent. To me, this didn't add anything to the experience. While I'm sure is (or was in the 1960s) some cultural reason I don't grok for making these characters Yorkshiremen, they don't actually have to be Yorkshiremen - or men at all. They really just have to be people who are old enough to talk about Kids Today.

But people don't usually think of this. If you put me on a stage and told me to perform a Python homage, I'd reach for a British accent. And if you put me in a pepperpot role, I'd probably start screeching. But if you think about it, these features aren't actually integral parts of the characters. Python characters are British because the Pythons are British. Pepperpots screech because they're female characters played by male actors. I could say "lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a mornay sauce garnished with truffle pate brandy and a fried egg on top and spam" just as effectively in my own voice, or in some other made-up voice, as in a screechy British accent.

So this got me thinking, what if you took some of the classics and redid them, removing all elements that are the result of the performers' own demographics?

For example, take Penguin on the Television as two immigrant grandmothers played by older female performers.

Or imagine Nudge Nudge performed by two thugged-out hip-hop type characters. Or maybe just the guy on the left is hip-hop, the other guy is some stuffy business suit type. You'd have to change some of the language, making the argot less 1970s British and more hip-hop, but that wouldn't hurt the humour of the sketch - all it really needs is for Character A to insinuate, insinuate, insinuate, Character B to call him on it, and Character A to deliver the punchline.

Or what if Mr. Bean changing at the beach were rechoreographed for a woman?

Predreaming

I've noticed a kind of cool phenomenon just as I'm falling asleep. While I lie in bed waiting for sleep to overcome me, I tend to think about various things in a deliberate manner (i.e. they aren't just random thoughts that occur to me). Just before I fall asleep, my brain starts providing its own visual images to go with these thoughts. But the images don't match at all, they're just random things culled from my recent experience. So the words my brain is thinking end up superimposed over a picture I saw in the newspaper or that weird and complex table in my latest translation that I'm going to have to figure out how to edit on Monday or the layout of the last website I was looking at. This isn't lucid dreaming because I'm awake, and I do have full control over my thoughts, just not the images. It's like a powerpoint slideshow or a youtube fan tribute gone amok.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wherein my inner child quotes Harry Potter

From pages 138-139 of the Canadian paperback edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire:

"[Harry] was just piling underwear into his cauldron when Ron made a loud noise of disgust behind him."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Parents and kids and cars and driving

I think this article somewhat misses the point.

If you choose to raise your children somewhere where driving is necessary to get around, you owe them transportation. Your kids have no say whatsoever on where you all live, they cannot possibly do anything to relocate to somewhere less car-dependent or to facilitate their own transportation, they have no control whatsoever over the situation and are entirely at your mercy. While I do agree that it makes things easier for everyone if everyone has an idea of what everyone else will require for them, I don't agree that your kid asking you for a ride is inconsiderate or treating your like a slave. It is simply...dependent. They are your dependent, depending on you. If you raise your kids in a situation where the only way to get around is by car, then their expecting you to drive them everywhere they need to go is no more presumptuous than their expecting you to provide them with food or proper clothing or school supplies, or to drop everything and make sure they get any medical attention they need. If you don't want to have to drive your children everywhere, then raise your children somewhere where people don't have to drive to get around.

You know, I know an awful lot of people who think I shouldn't have a dog because I have a job and don't have a backyard, but don't find anything wrong with raising kids somewhere car-dependent and then acting like it's this huge imposition to drive the kids around.

People are listening to me!

1. The long-awaited third book in a trilogy I started reading nearly a decade ago (and the first book in the trilogy was written nearly a decade before that) was recently released in English. (The other option was German, but I find German too arduous for recreational reading.) However, it wasn't in the Toronto library's catalogue. So I sent them a nice little email pointing out that this is the third book in the trilogy and they do have the other two in their collection, so it would be nice to stock the third as well. And, lo and behold, the third book is now in their collection and waiting patiently on my holds list!

2. The Weather Network would include humidex information on its long-range forecasts on television, but not on its website. So I sent them an email suggesting that they put humidex information on the website as well, since they clearly do have that data. Within a couple of weeks, humidex information showed up in the long-range forecasts on the website too!

3. In February 2004, I suggested soundtracking a movie with commonly misheard lyrics. Now they have a gameshow that does that.

4. In March 2004, I said that the TTC should market itself as a convenience to drivers. Now they're considering marketing themselves to people who don't ride the TTC.

Okay, so those last two are a bit of a stretch, but this still an awful lot of synchronicity.

Infinite money

A common "getting to know you" question is what would you do if you won the lottery? But a more interesting to think about is what you would do if you had literally infinite money. Anything you go to buy, you will have enough money. And you will never under any circumstance run out.

It's interesting because with the lottery question, there is the underlying question of not running out of money, or if you do spend it all spending it on something that you would enjoy/benefit from for a lifetime. But if you have infinite money, this just isn't an issue. So it's fascinating to see where different people would splurge, and where they wouldn't bother.

For example, I wouldn't replace perfectly good stuff just because better stuff is available. I'd continue to wear my mall store and thrift store clothes, watch my 20 inch CRT TV, and use my cheap monochrome camera-less cellphone. But when this stuff ran out, their replacements would be top-of-the-line within my needs. My new clothes would be custom-made, my new TV would be LCD (although not a ridiculous 40-something inch screen), and my new cellphone would have all the features in the world.

A lot of the places I'd splurge with infinite money are in the areas of habit. Right now, I'm hesitant to, say, buy expensive makeup or get my hair done in a way that requires regular maintenance, because I know it's hard to do these things just once - once you start, you don't ever want to go back, and that increases your operating expenses. But if money were infinite, Touche Eclat all the way, and a professionaly-designed regime to make the most of my hair. I'd get clothes and undergarments and shoes custom-made specifically to flatter my body, and I'd get my home professionally decorated and furnished.

But it's also interesting to think about what you wouldn't change if you had infinite money. With infinite money, I'd buy the same $400,000 condo I'd buy with a lottery win, because I simply have no use for anything more. I'd still shop at Dominion, because I do like having food of my own choosing in my kitchen. I'd still get books from the library if I only intend to read them once, I'd still borrow CDs from the library and rip them to my itunes, and I'd still take the subway if I'm going directly to another subway stop.

The other weird thing about the infinite money scenario is the opportunity it presents for donations. Any problem in the world that can be solved by throwing money at it, you could solve. Remember Hurricane Katrina? You could pay to have every single person rescued (insofar as money can get them rescued) and buy every single one of them a new home. You could pay for all the medical care everyone in the whole world requires. You could pay off the national debt and tell the politicos "Okay, now that that's dealt with, let's have a decent social safety net, shall we?" You could even sponsor a decent social safety net single-handedly! You could achieve world peace by paying every soldier in the world to NOT participate in the military. I think of all the aspects of the infinite money scenario, what I could do by giving the money to others makes me the biggest megalomaniac.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Open letter to the hideous grasshopper inexplicably standing on my window

Dear Hideous Grasshopper:

You appear to have gotten lost on your way to a biblical plague. Perhaps I can point you in the right direction? You can get to the Holy Land by going in a straight line directly AWAY from my window. Coincidentally, you will also be able to find some, oh, I don't know, GRASS by going directly away from my window. I assure you, this balcony is made entirely of glass and concrete, and there's nothing of interest to you here. You'd really be much happier if you headed directly away from my window and never came back.

Sincerely,

The freaked-out human on the other side of the glass

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain

I think this rule is going to come up again. It's been repeated twice (once in COS after the diary had been destroyed, and once in POA when Harry receives the Marauder's Map, even though the Map is a "good guy"), and wasn't strictly necessary either time.

Offsets

What would happen if every single person and organization in the world bought carbon offsets, but no one actually reduced their carbon production to zero?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Enlightenment du jour!

Thanks to Poodle for leading me to this enlightenment:

When I was in school, I hated doing presentations. However, today I realized that if I were called upon today to make a presentation in front of people, I wouldn't be the least bit nervous. I'd go up there with no pretensions and unapologetically tell them everything I've got. I found this weird, because it never occurred to me that I'd get over hating presentation.

But I realized why just now:

In school, I had to give a presentation on a subject that I wasn't familiar with to an audience where at least one person (the teacher) had knowledge that was superior to mine. I had a chance to do research, yes, but I was assigned the presentation at a point where I didn't have the knowledge yet. And that's not even yet taking into consideration the various ways in which classmates can make your life living hell in middle and high school.

However, in adult life, no one is going to ask me to do a presentation on something I don't know anything about. If anyone asks me to speak to a group of people, it will be because I already have the knowledge, and my audience doesn't. It really has nothing to do with personal confidence, and everything to do with the contexts in which I may be called upon to do public speaking.

(And yes, I still am going to post instructions on how to get DVDs onto iPods, I just had to do an emotionally devastating translation today so it isn't going to happen tonight.)

Cromulent

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

Cromulent is really the best word to go in that sentence, isn't it? There's no other word in the English language that fully encompasses that scope.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

How to get your DVDs onto your iPod

The problem: I own several DVDs that I purchased legally and through commercial channels for the express purpose of supporting the people who made them. Now I want to be able to watch them on my iPod while travelling.

The quick and easy solution: Search for your DVD on Google Video. Not YouTube, Google Video. Google Video videos are allowed to be as long as they want, rather than the 10-minute limit on YouTube, plus some of them have a "Download for iPod" option (in the drop-down menu in the right-hand frame, right next to the Download button) so it's much faster to do this than to rip a DVD.

If it isn't available on Google Video:

1. If it's a commercial DVD, you need a program called DVD43. I'm not providing a link because the copyright police tend to hunt it down and remove it quickly, but at the moment it's readily googleable. Download and install DVD43 (you'll have to reboot after), run the program, and insert the DVD in question into your drive. DVD43 will take it from there.

2. To rip the DVD, the program I used is Handbrake. There are many other programs, but I'm blogging what worked for me. Download, install, and run Handbrake, with the DVD still in the drive and DVD43 still running. Note: At this point, you're going to need to tie up your DVD drive and have your computer running for 2-3 hours straight (based on my 2.8 GHz processor with 1 gig of RAM). Plan accordingly.

3. Once Handbrake is running, a window will pop up saying Select DVD Source. Click on Browse, and select the VIDEO_TS folder in your DVD. Yes, even if that's the only folder in the DVD, you'll still have to select VIDEO_TS rather than the whole DVD. The program should indicate that it's reading the DVD (click OK) on the window that pops up) and a DOS window should come up and then disappear.

4. To confirm that the DVD has been properly read, click on the Tools menu at the top and select View DVD Data. You should see a big long list of the chapters etc. in your DVD. If you don't see this, the most likely solution is to run the DVD through DVD43 again. Make sure the program has properly scanned your DVD before proceeding with the next steps.

4. Next to Destination, click on Browse and tell the computer where you want the resulting mp4 file to be stored.

5. Under the Presets menu at the top, select iPod (1.33). The numbers are the aspect ratio, so don't choose another iPod preset unless you specifically want a different aspect ratio. If you don't understand what this means, just pick 1.33.

6. Click on Encode Video in the bottom right corner of Handbrake. A DOS window will pop up and the bottom line of the text output will indicate how long you have to wait until the DVD is finished ripping. The less computer resources you use, the faster it goes.

7. Once the process is complete, add the resulting mp4 files into the movie library of your iTunes the usual way.

Troubleshooting:

If you don't see an Encode Video button in Handbrake, your screen resolution may be too low. The program didn't anticipate an 800x600 resultion. Minimize all your windows, right-click on your desktop, click on the Settings tab, and slide the little slidey thing over to 1024x768 or greater.

If you immediately get a pop-up saying that the encoding is complete when it clearly isn't, first go back to step 4 and verify that it has properly scanned your DVD. If it has, go to the dropdown menu next to DVD Title (second thing from the top in Handbrake) and manually select the title you want. (If the titles don't have names, you can probably tell by the running time).

Disclaimer: the legality of this procedures varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and I do not advise anyone to do anything that is illegal in their jurisdiction.

Monday, July 02, 2007

HP callback

The vanishing cabinet that Draco is repairing in HBP was broken by Peeves in COS!

Those assholes aren't worth dying for

"Roll With It" by Ani DiFranco just came up on my iTunes. (Can't find a youtube or audio link.)

I'd completely forgotten about this song because the album it's on isn't one of my favourites, but I wish I'd had it in my repetoire in 2003!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Things that may come up in Book 7

1. According to Fantastic Beasts, Kneazles are skilled at leading their owners home
2. In the Quidditch scene where they think Snape is cursing Harry's broom, Hermione mentions that you need to maintain eye contact to do a jinx. In GOF, we learn about the existence of the Conjunctivitis Curse.
3. In the denouement of PS, Quirrel mentions that he has a "special gift with trolls". Is that Quirrel or Voldy talking?