Thursday, July 31, 2014

I've been tagged by the wildlife society.

Okay, maybe not the wildlife society. But I have been tagged by Bethany and Becca at Clever Bunnies!

It's that old Liebster award. What is a Liebster anyway? Is it like a lobster?

The rules are to acknowledge the blogger who tagged you - thank you, girls! - answer their 11 questions, give 11 random facts about yourself (groan), and come up with 11 questions for 11 other bloggers.

11 random facts:
1. I don't like oxycodone.
2. I'm reading Horatio Hornblower right now and really enjoying it.
3. My friend had her wisdom teeth out on the same day I did and we've been recovering together, whilst watching Downton Abbey.
4. I miss camping.
5. Scum is my new favorite card game.
6. My mom and I have been watching a show called Turn Back Time: The Family. It's about a number of different British families who, for a whole week, live as their ancestors did 100 years ago. It's good!
7. I'm still reading Agatha Christie's Autobiography.
8. The remote control to our gas fireplace looks like a shuttlecraft from Star Trek.
9. completely changed their layout and now I am lost.
10. recently came out with a "knock knock, who's there, Doctor, Doctor Who?" t-shirt.
11. P.G. Wodehouse was a wonderful author.

And now to answer Bethany and Becca's questions!

 1) If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?
A bunny! Unfortunately, animal dander allergies make it so this cannot be.
 2) Do you ever read more then one book at once?
What is this strange action called "reading one book at once"? Very, very rarely am I reading less than three at a time.
 3) Who is your favorite superhero?
Oooo, tough! Larryboy.
 4) If you do daily devotions, do you prefer to do them in the morning, or before bed?
I prefer to do them in the morning, to start the day out right!
 5) What is your favorite day of the week, and why?
What an interesting question. I'm not sure how to answer it. Wednesdays are rather nice since I get to go to music lessons. Sundays are also nice because I enjoy church. Saturdays are fun because they generally mean seeing friends or lazing around.
 6) Smoothies or milkshakes?
How about both? :P I don't know, I like them both! Maybe smoothies, because they are healthier. Plus, fruit is just wonderful anyway.
 7) What is your favorite summer activity?
Going camping with my friends!
 8) If you could spend a day with a fictional character, who would you spend it with, and what would you do together?
I think it would be rather fun to send the day with Sherlock Holmes (from the books), though perhaps not spend the day with him so much as shadow him, follow him around, be a fly on the wall of his life. I don't think he'd necessarily want me along. It would be fun to spend a day with Tintin or Asterix and Obelix too!
 9) Skirts or shorts?
 10) Do you have a nickname?
Some people call be Abb, much to the chargin of my mother, who thinks that that nickname is too close to "ab." The only one who was able to get away with it was my saxophone teacher. Maybe it was because he had an English accent?
 11)What would you name a black baby rabbit? (Really, any suggestions would be great!)
Probably something like Fiver or Hazel or Bigwig.

And now, mwahaha, I nominate... NO ONE!!! AHAHAHAHA.

Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kendra's Party: Trilogy of Secrets

My good friend Kendra E. Ardnek (author of the Bookania Quests and The Ankulen) is celebrating 5 years of blogging with a party!
Every day, she will be posting on one of the worlds she has created for her stories, and different bloggers will be interviewing characters from that specific world. I have the honor to welcome Collie, an amnesiac fairy princess!

1. You have amnesia: do you have any idea how it happened? Does having amnesia make life easier or more difficult?

I don't know. Leandra - a lioness who claims that she was my nurse as a child ... actually, she's only a lioness during the day - has a theory, but she won't tell me what it is because she says there's nothing we can do about it unless my aunt were to show up. Yes, it makes things difficult. I can't remember this aunt, can't remember my parents, can't remember the twin sister that people tell me I had. Not that anyone else can remember the twin sister, but that's another issue. 

2. Collie, you have been living in the human world for the past two years. Where and with whom have you been living? Did these people take you in after you contracted amnesia? 

I've been living with the Lianos, the family that found me unconscious in their front yard. My first memory is waking up in a hospital and Mrs. Liano asking me my name - I told her Collie, for that was all I could remember - and she said that she and her husband had adopted me and that I was going to live with them. They've been nice, especially she, but I just don't feel like I belonged.

3. What induced you to walk through the crack in your wall when it opened up? Didn’t you think it was a bit odd to suddenly have a gaping hole in your living room?

I'm ... really not sure what I was thinking. Of course I thought was odd - walls don't just open up and reveal cave passages, after all, but there was something about it. Something that drew me to it. I suppose I smelled home.

4. When you found yourself in another world, confronted by people telling you that you are the fairy princess, how did you react? Do you believe them?

Well, the first person to break the news to me was a talking swan, so ... I don't know. On one hand, I'm stuck in a world where animals talk and turn into humans at night ... well except for Gardenia, the swan, apparently that's her natural form ... and they're calling me the fairy princess and telling me that I have to go on this quest to find this Bookkeeper who'll know how to save the world from maLigthyr, and it's so strange and yet ... so right. Even though I don't have any concrete memories, I am plagued with dreams which are, I realize, wisps of the memories I cannot find. And what they tell me, about myself, about my this world, well, it fits with those dreams. And I'm willing to try anything to get my memories back.

5. You have the highest level of magic in the Land of Magic. What does that mean? Do you have complete control over your magical abilities?

It means that magic responds better to me than anyone else, according to Leandra, magic isn't something that you do, as much as it's a natural force of nature that you can manipulate. For instance, when I use glo-lic, a magic liquid that people use to see around in caves, it glows brighter for me than it does for others. I can also, apparently, rip holes between the worlds. No, I don't have complete control, because I don't remember how to control. According to Leandra, I used to be quite good at it.

Thanks for coming by, Collie!

Live long and prosper.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Health update

This morning I had my two lower wisdom teeth out! I'm just letting you all know that I survived and am on the road to recovery (via lying on the couch and watching Star Trek all day).

Kendra's Party: Elsie and Elyse

My good friend Kendra E. Ardnek (author of the Bookania Quests and The Ankulen) is celebrating 5 years of blogging with a party!
Every day, she will be posting on one of the worlds she has created for her stories, and different bloggers will be interviewing characters from that specific world. I have the honor to welcome Elsie and Elyse, twins from the world Galeon!

1. You are half-Silion; can you tell me about their culture and appearance?

Elsie: We have two heads and three tails ... why are you giving me that look, Elyse?
Elyse: We promised Kendra we would answer the questions accurately.
Elsie: Fine. To explain the Silions, one must also also understand the Alivocks, They're grumpy and we're fun. That's all you need to know. Appearance-wise, well, we look a lot like you humans, but we're shorter, and we age slower. Most of the differences are internal and mental. 
Elyse: Grouped together, we're called the Alisili, and we live on a planet called Silivock.
Elsie: And we love braiding our hair. You should try it some time.

2. You carry the memories of your mother, and the memories that she carried. Is this a biological feature, and if so, is it from your Silion half or your non-Silion half?

Elsie: Yes, it's from the Silion side, and it's not so much a feature as it is an ability. 
Elyse: It the Alisili's place in the universe to remember and to never forget. Everyone has the memory of the fall burned into their mind from the time they gain consciousness.
Elsie: But, when one of us dies - us as a people, not talking about just the two of us - we pass our memories down to a new keeper, usually one of your own children. And when they die, they pass down your memories and theirs, and so on.
Elyse: Our mother died when our younger sister was born.
Elsie: Memories aren't passed on to two people, but Elyse and I are special.

3. Is it strange to have someone else’s memories in your head? Do you get them mixed up with your own?

Elsie: No, it's not strange at all. It's what our minds are built to do. And the fact that Elyse and I share these memories makes it easier.
Elyse: We do get them mixed up with our own. Frequently.
Elsie: But we get our own thoughts mixed up with each other's so we're used to it. It's fun to be older than everyone else.

4. Sadly, I don’t have any siblings, but I always thought it would be fun to have a twin. Tell me about it! Is it as great as I have imagined? Do you get along all of the time, or do you fight?

Elyse: You should get yourself a twin.
Elsie: She doesn't live in Mika, and doesn't know how to Akeaka.
Elyse: We could teach her.
Elsie: We don't have time. Anyways, being a twin is amazing, and we actually have lots more siblings - most of them twins. Our society as a whole is built on twins, and if you don't have one, you get one. It's complicated, and will be explained in the book Akeaka.
Elyse: That's a very sad story.
Elsie: Yes, it is. And actually, Elyse and I are closer than most twins, even for Mika. We're strong empaths, and, for Silions, strong telepaths, and somehow we are almost always mentally connected.
Elyse: We have to get really far apart from each other for that connection to break. 
Elsie: We do argue occasionally, but I usually win, being the elder twin. Dominant mind and all that.

5. What are the perks and downfalls of being princesses? Do you think that having a twin makes a difference in that aspect?

Elsie: Perks include the fact that we get to be part of the crew on the Eagle, the most important ship in the Mika fleet. The fact that we can tell daddy what to do. We get to wear really nice clothes and spill paint on them and no one gets too upset. Oh, there are lot of perks.
Elyse: And being twins really doesn't make that big of a difference, since Mika culture is built on them.
Elsie: But it is more fun with two of us.

Thanks for stopping by, girls!

Live long and prosper.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

In my life...

I'm back from camping! We saw lots of whales, played lots of cards (unfortunately, I ended as lesser scum), guffawed heartily at many a Mad Lib (enter this contest and you too could win a 10-foot foot! Or a three speed cabin. You never know), and ate lots of smores (mmmm, tastes like s'more). What larks!

It was so nice to be away from the internet for ten days - away from life! Now, however, I am thrust back into life, and life is busy. I'm here to let you know that I won't be around much this month. Other than a few promised posts for friends, I don't know how much I will be able to blog. The reason is the overwhelming amount of work that I have to do this month.

Stuff that HAS to get done in August:

1. Finish Algebra 2.
2. Finish church history by August 25.
3. Figure out my online writing class and online history class which start on August 25.
4. Memorize lines for VBS skits.
5. Finish VBS sets.
6. Make VBS costumes.
7. Find VBS props.
8. Figure out what's to be done with the youth group this fall, as we currently have 8 girls, 3 boys (who don't regularly attend), and 1 male leader.
9. Be an MC at my parent's 25th anniversary party.
10. Get my wisdom teeth out on Tuesday (hopefully for real this time).

Stuff that needs to happen in the near future/to keep in mind for the near future:

11. Figure out an exercise regime.
12. Practice piano and voice strenuously in preparation for my senior recital next spring.
13. Get my driver's license.
14. Figure out if I want to do a blog party celebrating my book's 1-year anniversary, and if so,
15. Plan a blog party - activities and giveaways - to celebrate my book's 1-year anniversary on Nov. 1.
16. Finish writing my fantasy book by the end of the year.
17. Daily devotional time.

Thankfully, my amazing father helped me with some organizational techniques today and all of that doesn't look quite so overwhelming. One thing to keep in mind is time management. And what comes with time management? Often times, cutting things that aren't super important. In my case, that's time spent on the internet. Blogging, reading blogs, commenting on blogs... Also, watching Youtube videos or Netflix.

Hopefully things will return to semi-normality in September, but we'll see! I can't quite decide if I'm excited, scared, or just plain nervous about busyness, life, and growing up. I turned 18 last week. Ever since I've been a mess of emotions. Mostly VBS stress... but with everything else piled on top, life is looking pretty dismal. You can pray for me, if you think about it.

Live long and prosper.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kendra's Party: The Trilogy of One.

My good friend Kendra E. Ardnek (author of the Bookania Quests and The Ankulen) is celebrating 5 years of blogging with a party!

Every day, she will be posting on one of the worlds she has created for her stories, and different bloggers will be interviewing characters from that specific world. I have the honor to welcome Shasta, from the Trilogy of One to my blog to be interviewed!
The Trilogy of One follows the adventures of a girl who finds a dwarf in her closet, and follows it into a world she never knew existed. 
Without further ado, onto the questions.

1. The series is called the Trilogy of One. Trilogy and One are seemingly contradictory; Shasta, can you tell me how the two words reconcile themselves?

Trilogy means a series with three books in it, and that's what my series has (though Kendra admits that she isn't certain what the last book is about). In the Land of the Fallen Rainbow, I'm called the One ... it has to do with the prophecy that says that I'll hunt down the Nine Gems of Virtue and save the land and all that ... I'm not sure how I'm going to do that, but ...

2. You were born with crooked legs, can you tell a little more about that? Has it been a difficult thing to live with?

Yes, I was. The doctor said that I would probably never walk, but my parents refused to believe that. I've had many operations, and now I don't even need braces to walk. But my legs still aren't straight, and they're covered in scars from all of the operations. 

3. Why do the kids at school tease you, and how do you deal with the negativity that brings?

Because I'm different. I look different, partly because of my legs, and partly because I'm the tallest kid in my class. I'm only eleven, and I'm almost as tall as our teacher. My mom's over six feet though, so it makes sense, but most of the kids haven't met my mother. I think different - I don't understand the games they play, and I don't learn the same way.

It's been difficult. I was looking forward to "Real School" so much, and now that I'm there ... Mother and Granma encourage me to "do my best" and "ignore them," but it doesn't always help.

4. Can you tell us more about the dwarf that leads you into the Land of the Fallen Rainbow? How tall is he? Does he have a beard? Why was he in your closet?

His name is Flewder, and he comes to about my waist. No, he doesn't - but I believe I've heard someone say that it's a sign of disgrace. He did something - I'm not sure what, that brought the present feud between the elves and dwarves, and now he's not allowed to wear one. He was in my closet because he was the one who found the box for the Nine Gems of Virtue, and is therefore the "Helper" and it was his job to go get the "One" - namely me. Apparently there's some sort of portal in my closet.

5. I was reading some snippets from the Trilogy of One and was wondering if you could tell the readers more about “flowstones”?

It's a slab of black rock that moves like water. Very fast. I really don't know that much about it.
Thanks for the interview, Shasta! 
You can learn more about Kendra, Shasta, the Land of the Fallen Rainbow, and Kendra's party on Kendra's blog (linked above)!
Live long and prosper.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ten Reasons why we love Worf from Star Trek.

But first a mini biography.

Worf was born into the house of Mogh on the Klingon homeworld. When he was six, Worf's parents were killed in an attack by Romulans. A Federation Starship answered the Klingon's distress call and Worf was adopted by a Russian couple who raised him.
Worf became the first Klingon in Starfleet and was eventually posted on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D where we meet him in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He is security chief for most of the show. Later in his career, while taking an extended leave from Starfleet, Worf was called to Deep Space Nine to act as a liaison between Starfleet, the Klingons, and the Cardassians, whom the Klingons had attacked. Eventually, he stayed on Deep Space Nine.

And now, Ten Reasons why we love Worf.

10. For complimenting Major Kira.
Julian: ...and Major Kira Nerys, our first officer.
O'Brien: *giggles*
Worf: Nice hat.
Kira: I don't normally dress like this.

9. For (sort of) tolerating Lwaxanna Troi's mispronunciation of his name.

8. For teaching Wesley Crusher about Klingon courtship methods.





4. For helping Keiko O'Brien to give birth.
"Congratulations, you are fully dilated. You may now give birth."

3. Because instead of drinking Blood Wine like any other Klingon, Worf drinks prune juice. "It is a warrior's drink."

2. For killing Ole' Googly Eyes.

(No, that's not the moment of death. That's what Chancellor Gowron looks like normally.)

1. Because even though he's the biggest guy on the Enterprise bridge - and a fierce Klingon warrior to boot - he seems to be beat up by EVERYBODY (but especially Counselor Troi).

And also because he gets constantly denied when he makes suggestions. So much so that someone made a 15 minute video of people just saying "no" to Worf.

Bonus: For taking care of Data's cat.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Funny Tintin translations.

So I started reading The Calculas Affair in Dutch the other night and found some funny translations and thought I'd share!

Firstly, the title.

In English, it is simply The Calculus Affair. In Dutch, however, Professor is no longer Professor Calculus, but Professor Sunflower. The Dutch version is called "The Sunflower Case."

In English, Nestor, frustrated with a lady who keeps mistaking Marlinspike Hall for the butchery, says "Fiddle-de-dee Madam!" In Dutch, however, he says, "Madam, walk to the moon!"

Captain Haddock's most famous exclamation is "Blistering barnacles and a thundering typhoon!" Kapitein Haddock's most used phrase is "A thousand bombs and grenades!"

I'll let that one speak for itself... Waf! Waf!

Live long and prosper!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Flying Fingers by Robert D. Vandall

One of my recital pieces.

Live long and prosper.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Great Expectations: A Review, of sorts.

Title: Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens

My rating: 10/10 stars.

Synopsis: This coming-of-age story (or bildungsroman) follows Philip "Pip" Pirrip as he starts out in the country as a blacksmith's apprentice. The only problem is that young Pip has fallen in love with Estella, the wealthy ward of Miss Havisham, a woman who has mysteriously spent the last many years of her life locked away in her house, in her wedding dress. Estella causes Pip to raise his expectations from the humble station of an illiterate blacksmith to the seemingly unreachable station of "gentleman." Unexpectedly, a fortune is bequeathed on Pip from a mysterious benefactor and Pip leaves the country for London, to become a gentleman. There is also that mysterious convict that keeps popping unexpectedly into Pip's life.

Negatives: There is child abuse at the beginning, though nothing in great detail.
A few swears, as you are apt to find in any book from the 1800's.
Several of the oily characters do slimy things.

Positives/let the gushing begin! (Beware of minor spoilers beyond this part): Charles Dickens is a genius. Forever will I be comparing my own writing to his. The way he successfully weaves character development, plot, themes, and humor astounds and baffles me. Never before have I seen all four juggled so perfectly and with such a clear outcome.

First characters. The characters in Great Expectations are so human. They grow and change and learn from their mistakes.
I've only time to talk about Pip and my favorite character, Mr. Wemmick.

Pip is the main character and the story follows his life. It starts when he's about seven years, ending when he's about twenty-five. In the first chapter we find him visiting the graves of his parents, whom he doesn't remember. There, Pip meets an escaped convict who persuades Pip to steal food for him, which Pip does, and proceeds to feel extremely guilty about it. Dickens gives us a look into Pip's inner thoughts throughout the book (it is a first person narrative) and the way he describes Pip's guilt over his poor decisions and the way he describes Pip's fear of the convict are perfect. I can remember feeling that exact guilt and that exact fear in my life before. Dickens has a way of describing humanity as it is, no frills added.
Throughout the whole book, Pip struggles between what's logical and right, and what he wants. His intentions aren't bad: he wants to improve himself. However, he wants to improve himself to catch the attention of Estella, not for the sake of reaching his full potential. Through the novel, we see Pip's inner turmoil and through that, we see him grow as a person. We watch him make decisions and we watch him deal with the consequences - whether good or bad - of those decisions. In the end of the book, Pip is very different than in the beginning.

Mr. Wemmick is a law clerk clerk and, at first glance, that seems like that is all he is. But Wemmick has two sides to him. At the office, he is exactly as a law clerk should be. He doles out money to people like Pip, and turns away clients that Mr. Jaggers can't be bothered with. Seemingly, he has no heart, so coolly does he deal with clients.
But when he goes home, he is a totally different person. Mr. Wemmick has built himself a miniature castle in the middle of the city. He has put castle turrets on top of his house, has dug himself a moat (complete with drawbridge), and has mounted a gun on his roof which he fires every night. Just in case something were to happen, Wemmick is entirely self-contained in The Castle, with a garden and a pig out back.
Wemmick is a very practical man and his life's motto is to get "portable property" (but more on that in a moment).
He also has an Aged P.

"Very much," was Wemmick's reply, "for I have had my legs under the desk all day, and shall be glad to stretch them. Now, I'll tell you what I have got for supper, Mr. Pip. I have got a stewed steak - which is of home preparation - and a cold roast fowl - which is from the cook's-shop. I think it's tender, because the master of the shop was a Juryman in some cases of ours the other day, and we let him down easy. I reminded him of it when I bought the fowl, and I said, "Pick us out a good one, old Briton, because if we had chosen to keep you in the box another day or two, we could easily have done it." He said to that, "Let me make you a present of the best fowl in the shop." I let him, of course. As far as it goes, it's property and portable. You don't object to an aged parent, I hope?"
I really thought he was still speaking of the fowl, until he added, "Because I have got an aged parent at my place." I then said what politeness required.
Chapter 25

There are so many other characters I could talk about... Miss Havisham, Estella, Joe, Pumblechook, Mrs. Joe, Mr. Wopsle, Mr. Jaggers, Herbert, Magwitch... Perhaps someday I'll do a post centered on the characters of this great novel.

Plot. At first, Great Expectations just seems like another coming-of-age story. Pip grows up, learns a few things, yawn, boring. But the story is SO much more than that! There are several different plot lines and mini-mysteries weaving through the book and the way they are resolved is quite surprising! I had an inkling to what might happen later and, even when I found out that I had guessed rightly, I was still astonished! I couldn't believe the plot Dickens had conceived! I wonder, did he think it out beforehand, or did it just come to him while he was writing? After all, Great Expectations was a novel published through serialization in a magazine.

Themes. There are so many themes in this book. Pride and shame is something that Pip deals with in regards to his uncle Joe. Pip is so prideful after he becomes a gentleman, that he has no time for Joe - a simple country blacksmith - anymore. This makes Pip feel shameful, but he doesn't do anything about it until the end. This goes right along with the theme of social class, which is evident not only in the way Pip interacts with Joe and his other country friends, but in the way Pip interacts with Miss Havisham and Estella. Pip spends most of the novel trying to reach Estella's level of class.
A huge theme is self-improvement and having "expectations." Having "great expectations" refers to looking forward to greatness in the future. Pip's "great expectations" are to become a gentleman, which does come true. Throughout the whole book, Pip is trying to improve himself. Other characters like Biddy (Pip's first teacher), Joe, and Herbert are also trying to improve themselves in knowledge and in the working world.
One of the reasons that Pip wants to improve himself is that he is not satisfied with what he has at the smithy with Joe. Once he meets Miss Havisham and Estella, he longs for their lifestyle. Satisfaction and contentment when it comes to money and station is a huge theme. Take Wemmick, for example. He always urges Pip to get "portable property" which are small items that you can carry with you on your person and sell quickly if you need money. Things like jewelry. Even food. Practical Wemmick isn't looking for wealth and fame. He just wants enough to live relatively comfortably on. Pip, on the other hand, is discontent with everything he has in the book and wants more, or wants it differently. For example, when he finds out who his benefactor is, he isn't satisfied and refuses any more money (though Wemmick urges him to take the freely offered "portable property" of the benefactor).
Crime is another theme, though I won't go into that one at the present time since it is one that I haven't thought too much about, and also, it would probably spoil things. Love and what love makes people do is another one I won't go into right now. I might have to do a separate post on this sometime too...

Humor. You'd think that a book that aces character, plot, and themes wouldn't have first rate humor in it too, but it does. There are several "comic relief" characters. Pumblechook is Joe's uncle, and he spends the novel bragging to everyone that he was the man who provided Pip with his fortune, which is erroneous. There is also Mr. Wopsle who works in the church, but later abandons it to revive Shakespearean acting. He doesn't get all too warm a reception as Hamlet...
(Aside- Something kind of funny, though... When we were at the Globe Theater in London, they told us that in Shakespeare's time the audience was very involved in the play. They would shout out suggestions or answer the questions the characters posed to themselves. In Great Expectations, when Pip and his friend Herbert go to see Wopsle as Hamlet, the audience similarly takes part in the play!)
Wemmick and his Aged Parent can also be pretty funny, as well as Herbert.
And just the way Charles Dickens describes things can be very funny (or, rather, clever), in a dry sort of way.
Here is a rather humerous quote from chapter 20...

We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared of the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty. ...nevertheless, a hackney coachman, who seemed to have as many capes to his great greatcoat as he was years old...

(Aside no. 2- That's another thing worth mentioning: the descriptions. While some could be a little long-winded at times, they were so clever and painted such a good picture in the mind's eye, you sort of pass over the long-windedness. Take these for example...

It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief.
-Chapter 3

So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else outside grew older, it stood still.
-Chapter 17

Dinner over, we produced a bundle of pens, a copious supply of ink, and a goodly show of writing and blotting paper. For there was something very comfortable in having plenty of stationary.
Chapter 34

The way Dickens described every day things - like the above quote from chapter 34 - has a ring of truth in it. Even the way he describes some of the characters, though they aren't real, just makes them feel real. Like the way Mr. Jaggers the lawyer has to literally "wash his hands of his clients" with scented soap.)

Would I recommend it? I really, really enjoyed this book. I think it is the epitome of a great novel. However, not everyone has the same taste, so people who only read modern books like The Fault in Our Stars probably wouldn't enjoy or find any meaning in Great Expectations.

Live long and prosper!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

So long, farewell, some lo-ong German wo-ord...

Well, folks, it's that time of year again! It's the time when myself and some others take our yearly pilgrimage to the island of San Juan to whale watch, play Mad Libs, eat smores, and generally have a few larks. I have a whole bunch of posts scheduled, so look out for those! (Ironically, when I'm gone, I will be posting more than when I'm here! If that made any sense...)
Until then, I bid you farewell and all that.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Day 12: I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle...

We did two exciting things on this day... The first was go for a bicycle ride! How can you go to Holland and NOT ride a bicycle? It is the primary mode of transportation in The Netherlands.

So what do you see while biking around the countryside? Well, cows, for one. And sheep. And horses. And geese. And other various farm animals. Also ostriches.

No, don't ask me why. We also saw a camel, but didn't get a picture.

We also went to an open market which was SO fun! Mostly because I found a book stall... where I found two Tintin books in Dutch! Huzzah! Also, a really cool comic book version of The Hound of the Baskervilles and one of The Phantom of the Opera which both follow the books almost exactly, and are in Dutch! It was really nice.

For dinner, we went to a nice restaurant for fish. I'm not a huge fish fan, so I got a type of cumin pasta. It was really good... except the bowl they gave me was enough for about five people to eat out of! On top of that, we had all sorts of appetizer/extra things to eat too, like salad, vegetables, and krokets! And on top of the pasta, for some reason, there were eggs.
After letting the food settle for a bit, we ordered ice cream.

This picture does not convey how much FOOD there was in that bowl.


Camp NaNoWriMo is going good! I'm about 10,500 words into my 30,000. 
And now, for your reading pleasure, a snippet (for clarification, the character is going to a masquerade dressed as a cat):

Rozella slipped into her gown. Well, more like it was pulled, heaved, and yanked onto her body. Then it had to be strapped and laced onto her. By the time Lynnie and the other maids were finished with her, Rozella felt as if she were wearing her bed curtains. This was by far the heaviest gown she'd ever worn. She didn't know how she was ever going to dance in it - or even walk or sit for that matter! The thing even had a tail to follow her about the room. 


Things on the reading front are also going well. I've finished three books this month, I believe! One of which is The World of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. I love Wodehouse... In the next week, I'm hoping to finish Agatha Christie's Autobiography and perhaps a short non-Jeeves-and-Wooster Wodehouse book.

To look for in the nearish future...

1. Review of Great Expectations.
2. Review of To The Lighthouse.
3. The last few posts from Holland.
4. Piano recital video(s).

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 11: In retrospect, my favorite day.

We didn't have too much planned for today... Just walk around a couple of old towns. My other grandma (the one who didn't come along) said, "You're seeing the real Holland."
First we went to a little, old fishing village called Urk.

Tintin missed Captain Haddock. He was sure the Captain would love Urk.
It was so interesting to go walking down the empty streets, seeing what was in all the windows. There were lots of boats and lots of nice Dutch lace.

We walked along the ocean to a statue of a woman, looking out to sea, for her husband or son, waiting for them to return, and fearing that they wouldn't. There was a monument behind it to all the sailors from Urk who had died since 1717, with their names and ages.

It was raining, so we headed back to the car, taking alleyways and passages between houses.

 (Remnants of Koningsdag)
 (Little passageway between houses)
(A house behind another house. We took the tiny little alleyway between them)

After we left Urk, we drove to the city of Giethoorn, where we rented a little motorboat and sailed down the canals! It was glorious.

Then we went into the bay.

So what do you see on the canal other than water and trees and bridges?

LOTS of ducks!

Quite a few fowl.

Mmmmm. Pie.

Windmill with its top off.

Other boats.

And a yappy little dog.

It was so beautiful and so peaceful. It was wonderful. Someday, when I'm old and retired, I will buy a house on a canal, or on the ocean, and I will just sit there and read and write all day. Maybe own a boat and go out on the water every so often. That would be so nice. I love water.

For dinner we went to my grandma's sister's house and she gave us a 5-star meal, complete with a soup course. Oh, it was delicious - very filling. 

Live long and prosper!

P.S. Check out the 'Meet the Dolls' page! I just added new pictures!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Are we really as free as we believe?

In the 1800's, the world was a rapidly changing place. For the first 1500 years after Christ, the church and state were inseparable. You couldn't have one without the other. And then the Reformation came along, with the Enlightenment close on its heels.
Before these two ages, the freedom that comes through believing(slash buying indulgences and going to mass and doing penance and going to confession for the remission of your sins) in Christ had been enough for people. The church was the culture, and the culture was all the people knew.
But after the Reformation - and especially after the Enlightenment - freedom through Christ wasn't enough. Everyone had it in their heads that they ought to be "as free as possible."

"Liberty in numerous ancient settings meant more than the mere notion that an individual may choose a course of action. Liberty was typically tied to nature... ...Freedom was noble and important because a person could pursue the goal of living up to their nature or potential. Social barriers restricting a person's progress should be removed when possible."*

It was with this type of liberty in their minds that the Thirteen Colonies declared independence from England. Unfortunately, like so many other things, this definition of freedom has been buried under the sands of time.

"People today often understand liberty apart from nature. They do not wish to be free so they can become a good version of what they are; they think freedom is being able to choose what they want to be. On a similar note ancient understandings of human...happiness [was] tied to...becoming good, not just feeling good. Aristotle, for example, would think it odd that our contemporary culture [has] satisfaction in feeling good [instead of] being good."

As is (very) evident in today's culture, living up to one's full potential is most definitely not the norm. The majority of people, I feel confident in saying, are only concerned with their own pleasure, in getting "satisfaction in feeling good instead of being good." This brings up an interesting question... are we really as free as we believe?

"Alexis de Tocqueville, a visitor in the United States, during the nineteenth century, issued a warning in his classic study, Democracy in America. In the United States, he said, neither aristocracy nor princely tyranny exist. Yet, asked de Tocqueville, does not this unprecedented 'equality of conditions' itself pose a fateful threat: the 'tyranny of the majority'? In the processes of government, de Tocqueville warned, rule of the majority can mean oppression of the minority, control by erratic public moods rather than reasoned leadership."

Sure, the Constitution gives us the freedom to choose our own leaders, to peacefully protest, petition, to practice whatever religion we want (but who reads those stuffy old documents anyway?) - but if the majority of people want to go down the wrong path, the minority who know the right way often get pressured into going the wrong way too. If they do stay strong and take the right path, there are hard feelings and anger involved from both sides.
A great illustration is C3P-O and R2-D2 from Star Wars. After their escape pod crashes on the planet Tatooine in A New Hope, C3P-O wants to go one way, while R2-D2 wants to go another way. They end up getting into an argument and storming off in opposite directions.
So it is with the Christian who tries to take the straight and narrow path in a crooked and wide world. More often than not, the majority's voice will let out such a deafening roar, that the minority's voice - and with it, their rights - are drowned out.

Normally, the majority is just the majority because one person said something with enough force that everyone else thought, "Hey, this guy knows what he's talking about! He must be right!" They don't do their research, they don't look deeper, they don't look at motives. They just follow the crowd.
The minority, on the other hand, are usually the people who know the most. They are aware, attune to the things going on around them.
Unfortunately, not only does the minority have the majority to worry about, they also have the leader of the majority - that strong voice - to worry about. Usually a public figure, someone with authority. And that leader, for whatever motives, tries to crush the minority out of his plan. It has happened over and over and over again in history.
Just look at the papacy in the Middle and Reformation ages. Someone would get an idea contrary to Catholic doctrine and start sharing it with others. The Catholic church would get nervous for one reason or another, and they would condemn the person and his followers as heretics, and try to annihilate them. Sometimes, the people were actual heretics. Many more times, they were people who had started to examine the scriptures, or started to read the early church father's writings, and discovered that they said nothing about indulgences, confession, and mass as a way to be saved, or as a way to heaven.
Eventually you had people like John Calvin and Martin Luther who made enough of a difference that the Church couldn't do much about it and that's how we get so many denominations nowadays and complete separation of church and state.

We need people like the Reformers today. People who will stand up for freedom. And not just freedom to do what feels good. Freedom to become the best that we can become.

Slowly, without even realizing it, our freedom to live up to our potential is being taken from us. Instead of being taught to think and reason, children are being taught that school is a huge bore and that instead, they should go out and party and experiment with sinful things in order to "find themselves" (but don't worry, the government will take good care of them). 
The past few generations, and the current one, and the next ones, are being taught to do what feels good, rather than what is good, which is, I think, a huge reason why we don't have men like Martin Luther any more.
Standing up for what's important is difficult. It's hard. It's painful. It's excruciating. It's uncomfortable. It always has been and it always will be (if you need examples just look at the martyrs from the first three centuries AD, or the Reformers, or missionaries to anti-Christian countries today). The Bible even promises us that we will be persecuted... 1 John 3:13 says, "Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you."
In today's culture, being uncomfortable is a bad thing. Adversity and confrontation is frowned upon.
Well, sorry to break the news to you folks, but being uncomfortable and facing adversity and confrontation is what makes a person grow. The world would like to have you believe that humans can achieve perfection on their own, but that's a lie. As we become more isolated through our electronics, as we stop confiding in each other and sharing hard things, as we stop discussing and talking about things, as we bury our feelings, we're not getting rid of the problem, we're just making it bigger; we're becoming lonelier and lonelier.

Freedom is not free.

It costs. It often costs things we're not willing to give up. Comfort, safety, time, even friends or family sometimes. But do you know what comfort, safety, time, and sometimes friends and family cost?

Eternity. And not just eternity by itself... Eternity with the Creator of the world.

Believers, the Bible says "the truth shall set you free"; one of the most important steps in becoming free is to educate yourself, and then do something with that education, even if it's hard, even if it's uncomfortable. We can't "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:16-20) without getting out feet wet, can we?

Thoughts? Questions? I'd love to hear from you. (GASP! Maybe even get a debate started in the comments! *dramatically puts hand to forehead* Oh no! Not conflict!)

*All quotations taken from Church History in Plain Language by Bruce L. Shelley, 4th edition, chapter 36 "The Restoration of Fortresses," edited slightly by me.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nightstand Books?

No one else has their posts up yet, and since I haven't heard to the contrary, I suppose it is still going on...
This is what I have been reading the past month of June!

I didn't finish one single book in June. Isn't that horrible? This month will be chock full of reading, I'm sure.

Some people have comfort foods, or comfort possessions, and I have comfort books. Replay by Sharon Creech is one of them. The story follows Leo, a 12-year-old boy living in a large Italian family. He has two nicknames: Fog Boy, because he's a dreamer, and Sardine, because, once, he said that he felt like a sardine squished in a can. He often feels invisible in his family, especially since Papa had his heart attack three years ago and changed from happy into testy. When Leo finds his father's Autobiography, Age 13 in the attic, Leo can hardly believe that the carefree boy in the book is his father. And who is the mysterious aunt in the pictures who is never talked about anymore? At school, Leo and his classmates prepare to be in a play that their teacher wrote: Rumpopo's Porch. Leo plays the Old Crone.
Sharon Creech was my favorite author when I was younger. Something about her books just appeals to me.
I think it's that the stories are about regular kids doing regular things and going through regular changes and trying to figure everything out. There are no wars, no explosions, no damsels in distress (well, except maybe in The Castle Corona), only regular, everyday sorts of mishaps and adventures.
The only fault in her writing is that rather than look to God for answers, her characters look into themselves. If Sharon Creech had lived 100 years ago, she probably would have been a Bohemian. 200 or 300 years ago, an Enlightenment thinker. I can't stand them either.
Another thing that I love about Replay is watching Leo and his classmates get ready for their play. This book has so many interweaving plot lines, just like life. They don't all come together at the end in a massive plot twist, but how often does that happen in real life?

Next on the list is another comfort book... The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. I started reading this one last night at 2:30 AM when I couldn't sleep. This morning, after some consideration, I decided not to finish this one and put it back on the shelf. After I finish the other books I'm reading, I'll treat myself to The Penderwick sisters and their summer adventure as they vacation at Arundal Hall.

To the Lighthouse by Virgiania Woolf. I hate this book. I'm reading it for literature. I hate this book. More on it later, when I review it. It is the reason I can't stand Bohemians. Ugh.

These next three should look familiar...

Agatha Christie's Autobiography! Yep, still reading this one. I've gotten to World War One. Agatha has begun to write (finally!) and she's married her first husband. Hoping to finish this one in July...

The World of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. There are about six more short stories in this collection and I'll be finished with this one too.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I'm hoping to finish this one in July as well. I'm really enjoying it, but it's size daunts me. Thankfully, we're going camping in July for a week or so and I am free to spend most of my time reading and writing.

So far my summer reading list is not coming as planned. At all. Other than A.C's Autobiography and To the Lighthouse, I haven't even looked at or started any of the other books on the list. I might make a new one.


Speaking of writing... This month I'm taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo!
My project is a fantasy story I started at the beginning of the year, which I am writing out by hand. It came to a screeching halt roundabout March or April because of some plot and character problems, but I really wanted to finish this story, so I decided to try get it done (at least, most of it) this month for Camp NaNo! I work better on a schedule, where I can see my progress as I go along. The plot and character problems have sorted themselves out, thankfully, and while I'm sure I will have numerous plot holes to deal with in Draft Two (because since I'm not using an outline for the first time in forever, my plot keep changing), I no longer feel debilitated because of a character's not so glorious past. 

(Notebook no. 2, and Trusty Pencil)

Princess Rozella has been waiting twenty years to be rescued from her bubble on the peak of Tallest Mountain. Finally, she is saved by a mysterious duo... The Prisoner and The Hag. They take her back to First Country, where she is supposed to marry King John, whose plans include more than marriage... they include taking over the world! 
The Prisoner, even though he rescued Rozella, like King John wanted, is thrown back into the dungeon where he has spent the last decade and a half, for the simple crime of being different, for being unknown.
And what about those shadows permeating the woods, the rumors penetrating the towns? Are they just shadows, are they just rumors, or are the shadows a darker, more sinister threat, come from over mountains and across deserts, to wreak havoc in the land of humans?

I'm not sure how much of the story I already have... Maybe between 40,000 and 50,000 words. And for Camp NaNoWriMo, I have another 2,000+ to add to that already. My goal is 30,000 words, which puts me at about 1000 words a day - or four notebook pages.
And even with these extra 30,000 words, I'm not sure if I'll actually finish the story! It's turning out to be reeeeeeeeeaaaalllyyy long. Which is actually kind of nice, because I can take time with the story. It's also nice not working with an outline. It gives me more freedom, breathing room. I can let the story travel on its own. I do have a sort-of outline in my head, of course... I know the key moments (what happens in the middle, what happens in the end), but getting to those key moments, and what exactly happens in those key moments, I'm just letting happen. 
If I do manage to finish the story this month, I will most likely read through it in the next three months and write up a detailed outline then, so that when NaNoWriMo comes around in November, I can use it to type up the story. Technically that's not allowed... but I don't think they'd mind. Besides, it'll almost be a whole new novel, because it will need a complete overhaul and rewrite as I type it up.
I'm really excited for this project! Over the next few months and years, I'm hoping to rewrite this book several times to fully develop the plot and characters so they seem real (even if it is a fantasy world). I also hope to fully develop the fantasy world as well. It's an interesting place, and I only know about a small corner of it. That's all my characters know too. The humans daren't pass over the mountains that border their land (not that they have any reason to anyway). Unfortunately, there's nothing stopping other creatures from coming over the mountains into human territory. 
Anyway, by the time I'm finished with it, I'm hoping to have something epic, along the lines of The Faerie Queene or Beowulf or The Lord of the Rings.


To look out for in the next few weeks...

1. Book review of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
2. Book review of To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
3. The final four days of our Holland trip, and two extra posts on Holland (roads and churches).

So what are you up to this summer? Reading any good books? Writing? Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Are you going camping?

Live long and prosper!