Just for Fun

Hobbit Birthday Party, Round Two

Welcome! Tomorrow is my birthday, and in true hobbit tradition, I’ll again be giving out virtual presents to all of you to celebrate. This was so much fun last year (stop by for that post for double the gifts), that I decided to do it again.

Unfortunately, there will be no fireworks. Haven’t quite figured out how to make that happen.

Pretend I actually made this cake. Just for you.

These are various fun things I’ve found on the Internet over the past year. Hope you enjoy them!

Galadriel: Because I can picture elves being crunchy hipsters (and they’ve got the subtle brag thing down).

Frodo: Because you have to remember what’s worth sacrificing for.

Smaug: Because he could use a crash course in riddles.

Grima Wormtongue: Because I have no idea how he even became advisor with a name like that.

Boromir and Faramir: Because even brothers disagree sometimes.

Sam: Because basically everything about him is heartwarming and wonderful.

Bilbo: Because he needs a little help dealing with difficult dinner party guests.

And finally, a short speech.

I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve….

Kidding. Wrong one.

As some of you know, I’m a youth group leader at my church, and this year we’re doing a few fundraisers for summer camp. I thought I’d join in on my birthday blog. If you’d like to help pay for meals and s’mores and scholarships for our teens, I’ll be sending fun thank-you gifts to anyone who donates. It’s basically a bake sale, but where I am pawning off random artifacts of creativity instead of cupcakes. Here’s how it works:

If you give at least $5: I will send you a hand-crafted, limited edition Calvin and Hobbes postcard and a personal note of thanks.

If you give at least $10: I will give you access to three amusing one-act plays I wrote. (And the Calvin and Hobbes postcard.)

If you give at least $20: I will write a short story with you (or a person of your choice) as the main character. (And the Calvin and Hobbes postcard and access to three one-act plays.)

You can give more if you like, but those are the only levels I’m assigning thank-you gifts to, because otherwise I’ll be making rewards until Christmas. The card and one-act plays will be delivered within a week or two. The short story, obviously, will take longer. I’ll work out dates depending on how many requests I get.

If you’d like to support our camp fund (or, you know, just receive fun gifts), here’s how in three easy steps.

Step One: Go to my church’s giving website and donate your chosen amount. Since you have to select a fund, choose General Operations, but be sure to write “Donation for Youth Camp” in the memo line.

Step Two: Go to this form to let me know that you donated.

Step Three: Wait for the postcard/note to arrive in the mail, for the one-acts to be delivered to your email, and/or for Amy to send you an email to work out a short story possibility.

If you have any questions for me, ask them in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Thanks for another great year, friends. I am immensely fond of you all, and eleventy-one years is too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.

The Moon Colony Question

Sometimes, small talk is boring. When I’m tired of discussing the weather, my go-to is my favorite hypothetical question, one I’ve asked dozens of people to answer for me. (The original version belongs to my friend Kyle, and I have blatantly stolen it.)

You are the leader of a moon colony with 5000 residents. Over the years, you have become almost entirely self-sustaining, growing your own food, recycling water, and generating your own oxygen. Currently, all of this is contained under an air-locked dome, but a terraforming system is being tested and may be successful.

Reports from Earth have been coming in about an alarming disease, a pandemic on a scale the world has never seen before. Those infected don’t have any visible symptoms for several weeks, but they can often sense a change in their health before then. The disease is highly contagious and always fatal.

Soon, your attempts to communicate with Earth go unanswered. You can only assume that enough people have died that technical systems are failing. Several days of silence go by, and then you receive a transmission from a spacecraft approaching the moon.

They claim to be a ship from Earth, bearing news that everyone on the planet either has or will soon die. They were quarantined and insist that none of the 100 people on board have any sign of the disease, so they are requesting you to lower your shield and allow them into the colony. Also, the oxygen on their ship ran into issues on the way. They only have ten minutes of air left.

As the colony’s leader, you must decide between one of two options: do you let them in, risking contaminating your colony and possibly eradicating the human race? Or do you leave them in space and let them die?

(Are you thinking about your answer before you read what other people said? Good.)

When I give this scenario, the first thing that happens is that everyone tries to look for a third option. (You don’t have time to send up a doctor for examinations, you do not have a separate docking bay that could contain contaminants, you are not allowed to resign your post as leader, and it doesn’t matter if this scenario makes no scientific or medical sense.)

So, assume I told you that your clever loophole doesn’t work for some obviously contrived reason.

Next, people ask questions. This part is the most interesting to me—the answers people feel they need in order to make a good decision. Here are just a few I’ve been asked:

  • Were these one hundred people randomly chosen, or are they all rich politicians and military leaders who forced their way in?
  • Do I know anyone on board the ship?
  • What kind of leader am I? (Elected, dictator, etc.)
  • Do we have any way to verify that all or most humans on earth are dead?
  • What is the anticipated public response if I let these people die?
  • Are most of the people on the ship babies? (This is the best image ever. Enjoy. And yes, someone actually asked me that.)

Mostly instead of answering, I ask people why or how their answers would change if I said yes or no.

Finally, people have to choose. All of the people who have answered this for me fall into one of three groups:

One: People who let the spaceship in, usually motivated by compassion. Most women chose this option (with one exception, mentioned later). The general idea they expressed was that they’d rather do what they felt to be right and risk the consequences than live with blood on their hands. Many (but not all) Christians who took this option, interestingly, had a very high view of the sovereignty of God. They explained that it was their duty to do what they believed to be right, and leave the power of life and death to God.

Two: People who felt they would have to let the 100 people die, with different degrees of agony depending on the person. This was a smaller group. Some decided right away that this was the best option. (Most of my writing friends, regardless of gender fell into this group, possibly because it gives the story more of a plot.) But there were also people who agonized back and forth, taking the question very seriously. They finally felt that as a leader, they had a responsibility to their people and the human race in general to make a painful choice and deal with the fallout, both from their citizens and with their own conscience.

Three: People who refused to answer or still manage to weasel out a third option despite all of my attempts to stop them, like shooting down the spaceship in the sky to make their deaths quick and painless, then holding a colony press conference where you lie your head off and say it was an attacking ship so you don’t have to deal with the fallout of intentionally killing 100 potentially innocent people. (Yes, really. Two people suggested something like that.)

So, if you’d like to share your answer in the comment section, here it is: would you let ship from Earth enter your colony, potentially killing every human on your colony and maybe in the universe? Or let them die even if you weren’t sure they had the disease, ensuring the safety of your own people?

“Love at First Fight” Valentines

This one’s a little different than my past Valentine’s Day series, which were more focused (Theologian Valentines and Lord of the Rings Valentines). But I have to say, I enjoy a good story where lovers start out as fighters.

If your romance started out with conflict (or at least some witty banter), these cards are for you. Enjoy!
loveatfirstfightvalentines

We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled blogging next week. Happy Valentine’s Day from the Monday Heretic!

Any suggestions for other lovers and fighters?

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