The Hobbit

2194861The Hobbit (or, There and Back Again)
J.R.R. Tolkien
Publication Date: 1937
Version Date: 1997 (Houghton Mifflin)
Pages: 256
Word Count: 95,022
Date Finished: December 31, 2016
Source: Personal Copy

The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins, a respectable member of a race of little people called hobbits. Now, like many of his kind, Bilbo cherishes comfort and spurns adventure of any sort. But that will all change when Gandalf the wizard scratches a sign in his door, and the hobbit is besieged by thirteen ravenous dwarves. The next thing he knows, Bilbo is off on a perilous quest to reclaim a stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug, a quest that will lead him to a creature named Gollum and a very magical ring….

–Dust Cover Summary

I don’t think I’ve ever really noticed the POV in The Hobbit until now. Tolkien uses omniscient third in The Lord of the Rings, and this is a frequent example given in some of the writing forums I frequent. His narration here, however, is different. At first it looks very much like omniscient third, but it occasionally switches to a mixed first/second narration. These switches are fairly short and organic — they’re very much like asides from storyteller to listener. What makes it strange is that this is a written story, and I’d hazard a guess that most readers aren’t reading aloud.

These sorts of asides are common in oral stories, and the narrative takes on the qualities of mythology. The narrator frequently ties the story back to the reader/listener, with asides relating to the invention of golf and open speculation on the motivations of the characters. I enjoyed this particularly because I was reading aloud. It was a cool effect, feeling as though I wasn’t only a reader/listener but also a narrator speaking to some invisible audience.

♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

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A Reading Project

I started a project a while ago. At the time, I didn’t write anything about it because I wanted to establish it properly, without having to worry about stopping in a week or two and starting over (which I did, several times). This has allowed me to focus on developing a method, which I have finally, finally, finished.

The method:

  1. Read a book.
  2. If the book is part of a series, read the rest of the series.
  3. As you finish each book, make a list of connections to other books. (I get my lists from NoveList Plus, Goodreads, and WhatShouldIReadNext.)
  4. For each book that is not the end of the series, pick a book from the list to read next.
  5. Repeat.

This isn’t particularly illuminating, so I’ll provide an illustration:


Titles highlighted in green are ones I’ve finished reading. The title in blue is the one I’m reading now.

This charts the beginning of my progress. I’ve started with Mary Stanton’s Unicorns of Balinor series, mostly for sentimental reasons – The Road to Balinor was the book that really got me motivated to learn to read.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo was chosen because of its connection to The Road to Balinor. It’s connected to other books, as well, but I essentially randomized a list of books connected to The Road to Balinor and came up with this result. Similarly, the next book I read (since The Tale of Despereaux isn’t part of a series) will be from a randomized list of books connected to Sunchaser’s Quest.

I’ve had some interesting results, even this early in the project. I’m using Scrivener to create a database of my results. I kind of want to share them on a wiki of some sort, but I’m not entirely certain what sort of wiki engine I should use, or if I should just do something on this blog or something. If anyone has any thoughts on this, let me know.

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What I’ve Learned Today

It’s the first day of classes and the second day of the semester over here. I figure I might as well update this blog. Formation of good habits and whatnot.

1.) Sometimes, the bus breezes by the stop you’re standing at.

2.) Sometimes your mom (who drove you to school because you missed the bus–see #1) manages to find the bus driver in the parking lot and gets some information on where you should catch the bus in the future.

3.) Sometimes the bus doesn’t stop because it has to make a weird turn across four lanes and can’t get over quickly enough to stop safely.

4.) Sometimes lab gets canceled because you went over all the information in lecture.

5.) You don’t need to freak out if you don’t have the clicker you need on the first day of class. Especially if no one else knew they needed one, either.

6.) Sometimes a student ID is free (at my last uni it was not).

7.) Sometimes the school bookstore doesn’t require you to put your bag in a locker before entering. Which is awesome because I didn’t have change on me and those stupid things cost a quarter.

8.) Sometimes you run into random people from the creative writing workshop you took last semester at another school.

9.) There’s a gene in fruit flies that when expressed makes eyes grow all over.

10.) Math is really very refreshing. Especially when you haven’t taken it in about two years.

More to come as the day goes on.


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Adventures in Keybinding

I played Skyrim for the first time last night. Naturally, my gameplay was constantly interrupted by me looking up the controls for things and remapping them to fit left-handed play with a keyboard and mouse. I quickly found out this would be more difficult than usual.

For those who don’t know, the number pad keys 1-8 in Skyrim are marked as “Reserved,” though those keys aren’t actually used for anything. This has resulted in some rather creative keybinding strategies.

Apparently, this has always been an issue in Skyrim, though it wasn’t an issue in Oblivion or Morrowind. Congratulations, Bethesda. This is the sound of my left hand clapping.

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Going Back to School is a Pain

My bill is due on a given date. To pay my bill, I need to register for classes. But the registration date is after the payment date. Before I register for classes, I need to figure out if I’m going part-time or full-time. And before I do that, I need to talk to an advisor.

Today I managed to contact Financial Aid. That was helpful, but it would have been even better if I’d managed to get ahold of Student Accounts before they closed. They must only have one person there or something, because I spent about an hour and half just trying to get a person and not the answering service.

To make things even better, I’m off to Florida in a bit, so any more phone calls will be long distance. Whelp.

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I have made a decision. I will go back to the school I ended up leaving in the first place. I will take at least two classes. I will take the bus there on the days I have class at 8:00 and leave whenever I get picked up. Some days I may stay in town at a friend’s apartment. When I am not in class I shall sequester myself in the library or in another quiet area until at least half of the homework due for the following day’s classes are completed. I will take notes. I will do all the readings. I will make crib sheets. I will communicate with the members of my group (assuming I can actually get into a lab). I will procure a (cheap) dictaphone and I will use it.

I will take a General Biology class and a computer science class (hopefully procedural). I will try to get into a math class (hopefully statistics). And if I go full-time, I might try for an English class. Maybe. I haven’t decided much beyond the bio class.

I will continue learning about IF and different IF languages. I would like to create a game, perhaps in I7 or perhaps in QDK to start with.

I will continue my writing exercise.

I will find a therapist that fits.

I will continue taking my medicine.

I will find some form of employment or volunteer one day a week.

And I will fucking succeed. Just so I can laugh in the face of the dean who tells me I’m not ready to come back.

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The Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences, or OEIS,  is pretty awesome. It’s…well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. A professor told me about it a couple years ago, and recently I’ve started using it as a reference to create numeric cryptograms.

In each entry, it contains reference lists to information about the sequence listed. This includes papers, Mathematica, Maple, and pseudocode, and cross-references with other related sequences. It also includes notes on research done on the properties of each sequence.

What’s really cool about this site is that it’s just a ton of detailed, topic-relevant information all in one place. It’s easy to find referential starting points, and it’s more informative and easy to access than a lot of the upper-level math Wikipedia entries.

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I’ve mentioned before on my personal blog that I was getting a baby tree.

Here it is! Groot is a Japanese Garden Juniper:


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