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…
Ok, first of all, I have to say, AMEN to whoever decided to A. use John William’s original theme and B. dedicate the movie to Christopher Reeve and his wife. That was truly well-done. Also, they did a great job of portraying the…iconness of Superman, for lack of a better word. People will love this movie just for the homages paid to the comic books, movies, and true Superman fans. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love the guy? He’s awesome. And he’s awesome in the movie too. Brandon Routh is a Superman fanboy, and it shows in his portrayal of the Man of Steel. He may, MAY, and I stress the uncertainty, be the best Superman actor ever. He took a lot from Christopher Reeve but also brought a lot of his own to the role too. And ok, here’s where I get all fangirly (as if I wasn’t before). He played Superman as noble, and dang it, I am a huge, HUGE sucker for noble. He was a nice guy, he always did the right thing, he was a HERO. Something that should be more common in movies and less common in talking about movies, because most protagonists are not heroes, whatever people may say. A hero is someone you can look up to, “a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life”.

Also, I loved his boots.

Ahem, but anyway. I especially liked several things:
– He and his mother, at the very beginning. I don’t know why, but it was beautiful.
– The flashbacks to discovering his abilities.
– The inevitable shirt-tearing. How much money must he spend on his shirts?
– Jimmy Olson and Perry White, both very well done.
– The kid. At first I didn’t like him much, but he grows on you. It, er, may have been the piano. However, I hate his hair.
– The Richard dude. He was so NICE. Like, way too nice. I felt very sorry for him. Also: “How did you get here?” “I flew.”
– When Clark’s glasses fall off and Lois gives them back without even looking at him.
– Lex Luthor. Yay, Kevin Spacey, how does it feel to be the new Gene Hackman.
– The whole Angry!Superman when he finds out someone stole the crystals.
– The BOOM landing when he goes to stop Lex. Unnecessary, but still cool.
– the flying and the CGI
– Lifting the new continent thing and the almost dying thing and the almost drowning thing and the standing up after being beaten thing and boy, Superman, you’re just cool, you know.

Ok, now I get to pick holes in it.
Things I did NOT like:
– Lois Lane. Was a brat. He likes her, why? Again, I feel very sorry for Richard. Oops, sorry, not your kid. Oops, sorry, still in love with the other guy. You know, he’s going to get an inkling when the kid starts flinging cars around anyway. I found myself wishing for way less of her, she was just annoying. And, er, this isn’t very charitable, but Kate Bosworth always looks a little bit spoiled for some reason. But I still would’ve liked her just because she was Lois Lane if she did anything nice ever at all.
– Pretty much all the female characters, actually. Why does that Kitty person even exist?
– The kid. Not so much him as his existence, I don’t know where they’re going with that and it could be ugly.
– Bulldog tattoo?
– The curl. Why, Superman, why?
– The cheesiness, and there was some.
– The cannibalistic dogs. What the heck is that, people?
– The interior of the plane scene, highly unrealistic. They all would’ve been dead, because the rocket would’ve ripped the top half of the plane right off, among other reasons. There were a few things that were very much not possible, and it kind of pulled you out of the story back into reality with a thud. Like when Superman pulls Richard, who is holding on to both Lois and the kid, out by one arm. Dislocated shoulder, dude. But that’s Hollywood.

I was also very “um?” about a few things. What was with the religious imagery? Calling Superman a savior all the time, the beating by all the thugs, falling crucifix style, etc. I was a little unsure about that. I was kind of iffy about the very open-endedness of the ending too, until I heard there was a sequel coming in 2009. I was prepared to not like the new suit, but I turned out to not mind it, actually. And like I said, the boots were cool.

I have discovered the joys of Photoshop! I’ve never done anything with it, so I haven’t a single solitary clue what I’m doing, but it’s fun. Behold, my first wallpaper. It’s already kind of embarrassing, so I’m going to post it quick. I made another one, which I think is already getting better. Both are made with screencaps from A Little Princess that I saved eons ago and which have been sitting about on the computer forever. I just thought they were pretty, although I dunno, they’re really…fluffy. I want to experiment with some other stuff soon, maybe with swords! Or puppies. Hmm.

Zoinks, it’s so late! Leaving now.