O, To Be A Game Of Thrones Character, And To Name Your Death!

George R.R. Martin, the author of Game of Thrones and the other books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, is offering fans a unique opportunity:  in exchange for contributions to worthy charities Martin supports, they can get interesting items related to the books.

The best prize?  Two people — one male and one female — who contribute $20,000 will have a character named after them in an upcoming book in the Ice and Fire series, and can choose their character’s station in the world of Westeros and the method by which they go to meet the Seven.

I don’t have $20,000 lying around — more’s the pity! — but the notion is intriguing.  If you could be a Game of Thrones character, what would you be, and what would you want to be the cause of your untimely demise?  You wouldn’t want to duplicate some of the more gruesome deaths that already have occurred.  Ned Stark has locked in beheadings, for example, and the no one could possibly carry off having their head crushed by hand like the Red Viper of Dorne.  And we’ve seen people immolated by dragon fire and wildfire, killed by molten gold poured over the head, shot full of bolts from crossbows, poisoned, stabbed by a creature of smoke, crucified, pushed through the Moon Door, and stabbed through the back of the skull — among countless other causes of death.

So what’s left?  There are still some good choices, I think. A foolishly brave hedge knight who tries to protect a main character from a charging direwolf and is torn to bloody bits.  A gluttonous lord who is stabbed through the eye by a broken off chicken bone.  A turncoat meister who is tortured to confession and then fed, alive, to one of Daenerys’ dragons.  A rogue supporter of Roose Bolton who consumes a potion that causes his bowels to explode through his torso, mail, armor, and all.  A plucky young page who is impaled on one of the tusks of a wildling mammoth and then crushed against the Wall by the rampaging beast and the giant who spurs him on.

Yes, I’d say good choices remain.  Now, where’s that $20 K?

Get Some Sleep!

It’s hard to imagine that we need scientific studies to encourage us to sleep, but the evidence is mounting that getting enough shut-eye at night has crucial, lasting benefits for human beings.

The latest study examines the role of sleep in improving memory and learning.  The study found that sleep promotes the creation of brain synapses — the connections between the brain’s neurons — that are essential to learning.  That study follows countless others that demonstrate the physical and mental benefits of sleep — a state that allows the brain to discard toxins formed by daily activity, helps us recharge and reduce the risk of many different diseases, and restores the body to the ancient circadian rhythms that human beings have followed since the dawn of the species.

I’ve always tried to make sure that I get enough sleep.  In law school, on the day before our final exams when some of my classmates would stay up until all hours cramming, I  put my books aside and went to bed early so I could be fresh and ready for the big test tomorrow.  I always felt like my rested state gave me an advantage in terms of energy and mental focus, and I’ve tried to carry through that practice in my career, too.

Many of us — in our zeal to be SuperMom, or our focus on our jobs, or our desire to cram every conceivable bit of activity into the waking hours — have cut significantly into our sleep time.  Obviously, it’s a mistake.  If you want to help your kids do better in school or on the job, make sure they get a good night’s sleep.  And instead of staying up to watch a late night talk show or another Seinfeld rerun, why not hit the sack yourself?