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Qui-Gon is the best. He is my icon today.

Trip to Pennsylvania went well! We made the 12 hour voyage on Friday, went for a walk and hit the hay. Saturday was church, of course, and then a get-together at the Szalenkiewicz’ house. I think I spelled that right. It was ok, except we didn’t actually know anyone, and felt a bit like outlanders. One kid did this really cool jump off of the porch roof, though! It was at least 10 feet, I was very impressed, except that it was kind of a dumb thing to do with gravel underneath and no imminent peril to motivate him. That really has nothing to do with anything, but it stuck out as a memorable moment.

Anyway, the main point of going to PA was so that I could be baptized with my uncle present as well as our immediate family. The Szalenkiewicz family kindly allowed us the use of their pool. I don’t think a public livejournal reserved for inconsequential rambling is quite the place to elaborate on such a serious subject, but suffice to say that it was very good.

We drove all the way home today, so I must admit that any desire I had for a road trip has been effectively quenched for the foreseeable future. We had fun, of course; we stopped at a ginormous antique/craft/random stuff place, and I bought a couple books: To Kill a Mockingbird as well as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I think I’ll go back there one day when I have my own house. They had tapestry and fleece and all kinds of unusual fabric for sale and aisles full of ribbon and dusty horse harness and huge urns and corn huskers and old records and just all kinds of neat things.

Pennsylvania has great names. We wandered by an old graveyard, and on one of the stones was the name Frew. Isn’t that a great name? Say it out loud. Also, the town names are so interesting. Some of them are just silly-interesting, like Gabby Heights, but some of them are so neat I had to write them down. Ambler, Blawnox, Bryn Athryn, Distant, Ephrata, Highspire, Leisenring, Yoe. Then I started looking in the road atlas for other interesting names. If you ever are writing a story, and you can’t think of a name, take a look at Idaho.

One one of our walks (we took a lot of walks), Ed and I passed a sign that said Driveway, only some letters had fallen off, so it said Riv way. I believe I could write a whole story just from those words, they sound so mysterious. Don’t let me forget to do that one day.

I’ve had grand dreams lately, only they’re strangely fuzzy. Usually when I have a great dream, they’re so real and vivid I can’t forget them. There was one the other day where I woke up enough to think that something in the dream was very useful information for real life, and I told myself to remember it, and then went back into the dream, only now I can’t remember! That’s what comes of not having paper next to your bed at hotels. There was one dream in which I wandered into L.M. Montgomery’s house, and we talked for ages, only she was an old grouch and I left to go play with some dogs. Then I had one yesterday that was so real while I was dreaming it that I kept having to remind my dream self that it was only a dream, only as soon as I woke up I forgot everything about it except for when I kept telling myself it was a dream. Most sad, because I think it was really good.

WAIT, I just remembered! It was about a huge flood, only it was beautiful and I should paint it someday, and Steve from work and a girl I don’t know but would probably recognize if I saw her in real life and a whole bunch of other people were in a school by the sea, and the flood came pouring down a jungle cliff and flooded the school and we climbed out of a high window in a class room and floated away and it was very very good. I’m so glad I remembered, I love dreams.b

Books! It seems like this journal has become one huge catalog of books I have read, but don’t worry, it’ll slow down during the school year when I haven’t as much time to read. I finished The Illustrated Man and it was marvelous. It was so good that I’m coaxing Ed to read it, and he’s already more than halfway done too, and he never reads. Bradbury feels so familiar. Even when I know I haven’t read a particular story, it feels like I have, only so long ago that I dont’ remember anything about it except the feel of it. I think it’s because he describes the things that a lot of people feel but could never ever put into words, so his words feel homey and comfortable because they’re like your own, only more beautiful than your own.

Someone had recommended A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay, so I read that next on the way to Penn. I think I’m going to have a stern chat with whoever recommended it. I’m not sure I understood quite all of it, but what I did understand was ugly, and not in a good way. He occasionally touched on a true thought, but then he’d skip away again into drudgery and twisted philosophy and dullness. Not even making exceedingly vague Norse references could save the book. In some ways it was good for me to read a book I didn’t like, because I had been reading so many truly great ones that I was about to take them for granted.

After the ill-fated Arcturus affair, I re-read Dune Messiah. Once you enter the Dune universe, it never stops beckoning; you will read and reread and rereread and still love it. Also, “beckon” is a great word. I wolfed it down so fast I think I’ll have to read it again soon. Maybe I should just buy all the Dune books next time I go book-shopping, they’re so hard to get a hold of. I desperately want to read Children of Dune, but our library doesn’t have it. Humph.

Today after finishing Dune Messiah, I started Lieutenant Hornblower and ended up getting so wrapped up in it that I read the whole thing in one sitting. Long car trips do have their advantages. I desperately need C.S. Forester’s books too, they’re wonderful. I used the words “naval drama and adventure” to describe them the other day and confused the person I was talking to because they thought I was talking about belly buttons. I was deeply saddened by that, but such is life. The Hornblower books are so deliciously quotable. I find myself wanting to write down big chunks of them so I remember them, which means I need to buy the books. I’m usually picky about what books I buy; I have to love everything about them and want to remember everything.

On the car trip, we did a few notes to other cars. It’s become tradition to write things on sheets of notebook paper and hold them up against the car window for other people to read and see how many people we can get to laugh or write something back. Ed had “I’m so bored. 5 hours to go…” up for a while, and someone wrote back, “Whatever, we still have 13 hours to Florida”, which I thought was pretty funny.

Our video rental store place thingy had some discounted movies for sale, so we grabbed an ancient copy of Return of the Jedi, some movie about Ann Boleyn, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I loved the Narnia bloopers! Minotaurs in green tights, pricless. I sort of got sucked in then and watched the whole thing with the commentary, which was lots of fun. If I were ever to be in a movie, one of the Narnia movies would be the most fun. As long as I got to ride horses and wield a sword, anyway. Perhaps I could get in as a centaur. I would love to be a centaur for a day or two.

We went to see Lady in the Water, as per Ricker tradition with M. Night Shyamalan films, a week ago Saturday night. It was very good. It was not great. It’s definitely worth seeing, but it’s just not my favorite of M. Night’s movies. As with all M. Night Shyamalan movies, the less you know about it (and thus the fewer expectations you have) the more you’ll enjoy it, so I won’t say anything else. In more distressing news, it appears Shyamalan is no longer working on the movie version of Life of Pi. Having read the book now, I’m not sure if I’ll like a movie version of it anyway. It’s one thing to read about a hyena dismembering a zebra in a lifeboat and quite another thing to see it. Hmm, taken out of context, I imagine that would be a rather amusing sentence.

I don’t mean this to sound morbid at all, but sometimes I’m a bit concerned that I won’t have enough time to do everything I want to before I die. There are just so many things I’d love to do, and I hope I can squeeze it all in. But then, I suppose it would be exceedingly horrible to realize you had done everything you wanted to at, say, 67, and then to live another 20 years. I guess the trick is to make your to-do list just the right length so that you run out of things at the same time you run out of life, but I have a feeling that’s hard to do.

Hm. I thought I had updated a couple times since the last time, but then I remembered that I only *thought* about doing it and never did! I’m so funny har har.

Anyway! Books. I finished Life of Pi, and it was every bit as grand as the intro led me to believe. I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. I don’t want to talk about it too much because it would kind of ruin it, I think, but just trust me, it’s good.

After Pi, I read The Longest Road, the last book in the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. And…just…wow. I don’t know if I can talk too much about that one either, just because I don’t think I know the words. So, so good. I noticed Guy Gavriel Kay helped Chris Tolkien edit the Silmarillion, so I guess that explains it. You just don’t know what to do after reading those books. I do not know how he can blend so much sorrow in so much beauty, it makes you want to laugh and scream. As an aside note, I learned something recently; in Kay’s books, there are svart alfar and lios alfar, being (very) roughly the equivalent of orcs and elves, respectively, in Tolkien’s universe. But what’s so neat is this: while I was reading Corpus Poeticum Boreale in English, I was also playing around with the Old Norse, and learned that “svart alfar” is the Old Norse expression for Dark Elves, while “lios alfar” means Light Elves. I find that unspeakably cool. Do you realize how few people in this country know Old Icelandic/Norse? Actually neither do I, but it’s not many; it’s like a tiny little secret worked into the book. He also incorporates a multitude of myths into his story, which I thought was neat. It’s interesting to go through and say this came from such and such. It gives the books such a strong sense of history.

Well, I could go on about Kay, but like I said, I can’t do it justice. After Fionavar, I reread Prince Caspian by, of course, C.S. Lewis. I was going to read it right before the movie came out, but it looks as if the release date has been pushed back and I wanted to read it sooner. *hugs lovely Lewis books* I rather love him. It also helped that I was munching apples most of the way through the book. It’s such an apple book.

I read Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz, which may be his most recent book, I’m not sure. I thoroughly enjoyed it, one of my Koontz favorites. I’ve been reading so many great books one after the other, I feel a little book-drunk. My brain will explode from all the word goodness!!

And now I’m working on The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, so further explosions are no doubt imminent. This is the last Bradbury book the library has that I haven’t read. I don’t know what I shall do. It’s wonderful, though. Sarah told me the first story in the book and did such a great job I felt as if I had already read it. She will one day be a famous story-teller, mark my words. Her children will have word-feasts every night before bed. The rest of Illustrated Man is so far incredible, as befits a Bradbury book. I will report on it when I’m done.

This will no doubt be incoherent when I look at it tomorrow. I got up at 5:30 this morning to work the early shift, and it’s approaching 1am now. Next week will be easier, that is until we leave for Pennsylvania on Friday. Busy busy RUN AWAY NOW busy. It’s actually good though, I need the money. I got the first bill for this coming semester of CU. *wrinkles nose*

Hey hey! Last week the new seasons of Stargate started up. You better all have watched. *narrows eyes* ‘Cause it was great and all. I do dearly love my scifi.

Ok, names. I like names. A lot. I have pages and pages of names that I like. Names for dogs, cats, hamsters (we do not have nor have ever had nor do we ever plan on having a hamster), kids, book heroes, book villains, book two-bit characters who die in chapter one of horrible birth defects, etc. But also I like the ideas behind names and the power (?) in them. I think I’ve read too many old myths in which beings are bound or released or compelled or known too deeply through use of their name. In so many of the old stories, magic and power are tied to names of people, whether it be of the protagonist or the antagonist. It’s not just mythology, though; in the Bible, demons are cast out by use of Christ’s name. Biblical figures are renamed as they change (Abram to Abraham) or are given names prophetic of their lives or names that in some way tell their personality (Jacob) or the circumstances of their life (Moses). Presumably because of all that, I always viewed names as rather important things. Which is the only reason I can think of why it bothers me when people use my name (or someone else’s) lightly. At work, of course we all wear nametags, and occasionally I get customers who just seem to love to use your name. In the space of a two minute transaction, they say your name two or three times, but of course you don’t know their name. It reminds me of the old expression, “you have the advantage of me”, used when somone knows you but you don’t know them. It feels like they really do have an advantage, and yet I know that’s silly.

It kind of feels the same way when people give you nicknames. I always introduce myself as Stephanie. It’s the name I’d rather strangers use. Steph, Stephie, or any variations thereof are reserved for people who know me. Usually after a few months of being friends with someone, they’ll start to call me Steph on their own. I always notice the first time they do, because it seems like a marker of a change in the interaction. It means we officially know each other well enough to call each other by friend names instead of acquaintance names. So it’s a nice little thrill when friends call me Steph for the first time. But at the same time I absolutely HATE it when strangers who have known me a few minutes/days/weeks call me Steph. It feels like they have that old advantage over me again, because I don’t feel like we’re friends at all. Sometimes people I dislike call me Steph, and that’s even worse. Once in a while they seem to look at you as if they’re wondering if you’re going to object (or maybe I’m imagining that), but I never say anything. It seems even worst yet to admit that it bothers me to the person because then they would be fully aware of the advantage they have over me. Good grief, that sounds horribly superstitious, I can’t explain it right at all at this hour. 😛

Oh, I got new userpics! They are most snazzy. I seem to have gathered far too many Narnia ones, specifically of Peter, so I’ll try to spread them out and use them up without overloading anyone. Oh, also, I’m still working like a fiend on trying to get my site back up. Web design sucks up time like a black hole, it’s a bit horrid. I’ve made progress on the Musiczilla project, though! I’ve made it all the way to the Concretes, which means instead of finishing it when I’m 68, I may only be 31. I can live with that.

I had so much to write about and now it’s gone again! I really should make a list or something. I know, I’ll go to bed. Yes. That will be good. Very good.

I have a tale of woe to tell, my friends. I occasionally get e-mails from people who liked my site (this isn’t the woeful part), and I got one the other night asking me why why site was down. Now, I never update my site anymore, so I didn’t even know it *was* down, but I checked it out. It turns out that my site is GONE. Not just semi-gone or partially vanished, no no. GONE. My free host had switched their server and in the process completely wiped the old one, and didn’t give me any notice. So, I was lamenting this sad fact and e-mailing everyone back who was asking about it, when lo and behold, one of my “fans” (can I even call them that?) told me that they had saved some big chunks of my site! Hooray for similarly obsessed people! So, I haven’t lost everything. Anyway, I’m rebuilding, and it will be better than ever! If I ever get time to work on it, that is. Work is going to keep me horrendously busy for the next two weeks. But that’s ok because I need money!

Yesterday I made the voyage to the library and came back with all sorts o’ loot. I’m reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel right now, and thus far it is quite grand! Here, let me quote some.

Cut because I get carried away by books.

My ceiling fan has not been turned off in six days. If I spontaneously combust, I just hope it’s not near my bookshelf.

I don’t know if anyone here watches either of the Battlestar Galactica series’, but I’ve got a little rant prepared. The old Battlestar Galactica from 1978 was AWESOME. Yes, it was cheesy as all get-out. But it was *good*. I highly recommend everyone see at least one episode. Specifically keep an eye out for the fake dog, because that was actually a chimpanzee inside a suit. I just recently found this out, but it makes sense because the thing moves very oddly and I was always wondering what exactly was inside it. It was a rather ground-breaking series for its time. Oh, and it’s really funny, I came across this article saying that it was full of anti-Soviet propaganda. That’s hilarious now, looking back on it, although I guess maybe at the time they thought a short-lived scifi series was corrupting the minds of Americans. Anyway, this has nothing to do with the rant. The rant is that they have made a new Battlestar Galactica, which is very little like the original. One of the coolest characters in the old series was Starbuck, a daredevil pilot who liked to smoke cigars and gamble. He was like Han Solo, minus the Wookiee and plus a noble cause. He also had this awesome 70s haircut. In the new series, Starbuck is still a cigar-smoking pilot, only now she’s a girl (that’s her on the right). They also turned Boomer, an African American male pilot, into a female Oriental pilot who, surprise surprise, is really a Cylon. Or something. Commander Cain is also a girl, and the leader of the entire fleet is no longer Adama, but a female president. Basically they took almost all of the cool guys and made them girls, and completely ditched all of the original female characters. The Cylons, who used to be creepy drones in brilliant armor with huge blasters, are now lingerie models (no joke). As a classic scifi fan, this saddens and depresses me. Fortunately, Scifi channel plays reruns of the old BSG, so you too can become a fan of the true Battlestar! *toothpaste commercial smile*

Oh phooey, I was going to write more but I have to go to bed. I have a bajillion hours this week at Staples.

The Ricker household is no longer dogless! Meet Gracie, the lovely collie. She is very sweet and well-mannered, and I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship! We just got her today, but she’s settling in quite well and has already made friends with Beowulf the cat.

Hey, more pictures. This was our raft, dubbed The Grey Dinghy, on our white-water trip. On the last fall, they have a camera set up to get your reaction, similar to on a roller coaster. While this sounds horribly commercialized and un-nature-ish, it does make for some neat shots. I don’t know if I should be ashamed to post that, I look kind of like I just killed something.

At work the other day, a random employee named Steve was printing out sale labels and out of the blue asked, “Stephanie, do you ride horses?” “Why yes, as a matter of fact I do,” I replied, but explained that I had sold mine, etc. etc. I asked how he knew and he said that no one had told him (indeed, I haven’t mentioned it to anyone there), but that I just looked like a person who rode horses. The thing is, he’s the third person who doesn’t know me very well who has said the same thing, and none of them know each other. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but three times kinda stretches the boundaries of coincidenceism (so totally not a word – or is it? *looks it up* Nope, not a word.) So now I’m wondering, are horse people indelibly branded as such to the non-horsey population? Or does everyone have telepathy? If so, why am I the last to get it, and can I trade it in for telekinesis?

This brings to mind another issue. I just realized that from the previous paragraph, I consider myself still a horse person, even though I don’t own horses and haven’t ridden in a year. I still consider myself a midwesterner and a Yank even though I haven’t lived in the north for 3.5 years. I only lived in Indiana for a total of 8 years of my life, which is less than half, but I still consider that to be home. What’s the nature of these self-labels? Why do people take certain definitions as their own when others would fit better, at least to the outside observer? Does everyone have a skewed inner view of themselves that differs from the world’s, or is it the world’s view that is skewed? Maybe it doesn’t matter what’s a technically, currently correct personal definition if inside you still consider yourself to be something different. It’s like the New Yorker who was born in the Appalachians and still considers himself a country boy. Or something, I dunno.

Which logically leads me to another thought, which is kind of what I was thinking of last time. One of my favorite quotes is, “We are who we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” I agree with that, because if you tell yourself you are a thing, you eventually believe it and your personality alters slightly to fit. Ah, the powers of self-persuasion. The human mind is so fascinating. If you can, to some degree, shape your own personality, are you changing reality? And if you can change your internal reality, which thus changes how you perceive the external reality, does that mean you are changing the external reality? But the fact that you can change your own personality reflects the desire to change your personality (you are doing the “pretending”), so was that personality trait there all along and you simply made it grow? And what about imagination? They say reality is what can be similarly experience by everyone. But how does thought and imagination figure into that? What is dreamed, what is imagined, what is real? If a dream becomes more real than reality to you, is it therefore reality of itself because it impacts the external reality? Can a work of fiction, imagined by an author, spark the imagination of a reader in a related but different direction? But then, does that mean that every book or every shared, imagined thought is capable of creating many realities through the people who experience it? I think I think too much, but it sure is fun.

Sometimes people are so interesting, and sometimes I want to run far away from all of them. I very much need alone time after being around people for too long. After work sometimes it’s like I have seen too many people in one day and I don’t want to talk to any more of them. Which, that may have something to do with them being nasty or grouchy sometimes, but sometimes it’s just that I get tired of having to be around other people. That sounds horribly anti-social and perhaps stereotypically home-schooled, although Ed’s not that way and we were raised/schooled the same, so I tend to think it’s personality. I realized that I don’t have any friends who actually live less than half an hour away, but I also realized that since I didn’t even realize that until now, it must not bother me. Getting together with friends every few weeks or so is just fine, at least for now. I’m kind of in recharge mode over the summer, being unsociable, since I was SO sociable over the schoolyear. Don’t get me wrong, I had an absolutely wonderful year at college and loved every minute, but when I got home I realized I was really enjoying being alone. People might say that’s unhealthy or whatever, but it works for me. And really, it would seem to me to be a mark of insecurity if you can’t be alone sometimes. So many people I know can never be alone without being lonely, or if they’re alone they have to be talking to someone on the phone or text messaging someone. They can’t just let themselves be; it’s like they’re not themselves unless they have someone with them. Maybe that’s a side-effect of having communication so readily available nowadays; if you don’t want to be alone, you don’t have to be. There’s always cell phones, beepers, instant message, or e-mail, and if all that fails, you’re still being bombarded by commercials, music, television, and the inescapable, ever-present pop culture. Wow, I am on a roll.

Again hopping to an only-slight-related topic, in spite of my anti-social tendencies (or whatever they are), people never seem to notice. I find it oddly disturbing, the number of people that consider me a good friend. I don’t even know them! So many people that I would consider barely past the acquaintance stage have called me their best friend. It always surprises me and makes me a little nervous, because usually I’ve never considered them in that light, and then I feel like I should act more like a best friend or something, however that is. The other day at work, two people on two separate occasions remarked in an offhanded way that they trusted me; actually both of them were comparing me to another employee, whom they apparently didn’t trust. That was very nice and everything, but I wouldn’t trust either one of them very far in return, which made me feel kind of…ungrateful? Or something. It’s just a little disconcerting, when you think you have no connections to a person and suddenly you find out that you do, and you’re not at all sure that you *want* connections. Oh dear. That sounded awful. I think I may have some serious issues if I ever get into any kind of serious relationship. 😛

On a completely, totally, 180 degrees-different topic, I saw Superman Returns last night! It was much better than I expected, although I’m not quite sure why my expectations were low. I liked it, but… Cut for movie spoilers

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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