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Steven Harper

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I know it's crazy, but it's true [22 Sep 2016|10:26pm]
Well, it finally happened. After accumulating a thick enough layer of dirt, I decided it was time to take my car to the car wash. That's not what finally happened. I'll get to that. After exchanging pleasantries with the cashier who was sheepishly eating a Lunchables (I assured her that all sorts of so-called adults still eat them, myself included), I sat down to wait. And there, I saw him.

An elderly gentleman wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat.

I've told you before that I don't delve much into politics, not because I'm uninterested, but because I don't have anything to add to the conversation that's all that unique. But there it was, a vivid reminder that there are actually people who support the candidate who sports "Make America Great Again" hats. They truly exist.

It really hadn't hit me until then. Now what do I do?

(And then it rained the next day. That's how my luck goes.)
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The song lyrics are in the main text this time [15 Sep 2016|10:24pm]
I've been toying with an idea. Remember how I said I wanted to write a crossword puzzle for the New York Times? I still want to do that, and maybe I'll get around to it someday, but for now, I have a different plan.

I want to write a song that will be used for the theme music of a TV show. Mind you, not a song that's designed to be a TV theme, but a song that someone hears and says, "Hey, I want to use that for my TV show!"

I got this idea from watching a show called "Suits" on USA. If you haven't seen it, it's basically a show about lawyers where the writers make sure to use the s-word the maximum number of times per episode they're allowed to. The song they use for their theme is "Greenback Boogie" by Ima Robot. Some of the lyrics:

See the money wanna stay
For your meal
Get another piece of pie
For your wife

Everybody wanna know
How it feel
Everybody wanna see
What it's like

I'll even eat a bean pie
I don't mind
Me and Missy is so early busy busy makin' money

Alright

All step back, I'm 'bout to dance
The greenback boogie


In other words, lyrics that make absolutely no sense and have nothing to do with the plot of the show. I figure even I can write a song like that, yes?
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My deposits, they be on steroids [08 Sep 2016|10:28pm]
This entry may go down as the most irrelevant-to-absolutely-anything-else entry I've ever written, but it's something I just happened to think about and I don't have any better ideas, aside from my rambling discourse on kneeling during the national anthem.

One time, back in my undergraduate days, we had an essay-type final in a history class. A week before the final, the professor gave us a list of 10 or so questions, from which five or so would be chosen for the final. It would be open book and open notes.

One person in the class had a unique approach. She wrote out answers to all 10 questions, and during the final exam period, simply copied her answers to the questions that had been selected. To this day, I can't decide whether that was genius or a lot of extra work.
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Help. Police. Murder. [01 Sep 2016|10:25pm]
I first read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 3rd grade. It remains, to this day, the only book longer than ~100 pages that I've voluntarily reread. After I read it for the first time, I remember going to the video store (remember those?) and noticing there was a movie version. So I took it home and watched it. Who would have known how many more times I'd watch it after that.

I don't know that there's another movie character that's affected me more than Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka. From his sarcastic snide remarks (which I am all too good at), mastery of languages (not to mention candy-making), and ability to quote Shakespeare offhand (which I wish I was much better at), what other character is quite so complex? It's recently come to light that Wilder did not take this character lightly. He had opinions on exactly how he should dress and other mannerisms.

You can't help but admire a person who takes their craft so seriously. Obviously I never met the man, but I can't help but think he'd have been a person I would have gotten along with tremendously. And I don't say that about very many people.

So shines a good deed in a weary world.
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He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich [25 Aug 2016|10:27pm]
Crystal Pepsi achievement unlocked. Just as I suspected, it doesn't taste all that great. At least there's caffeine in it now.

But the real story this week is that a new study shows cracking your knuckles may be good for you after all. That's great news for those of you who crack your knuckles. Maybe you won't get arthritis. As for me? I don't crack my knuckles and I don't intend to start now. The sound of cracking knuckles is right up there with nails on a chalkboard and Sofia Vergara's voice. I cringe when I somehow crack one accidentally, and it's not exactly easy writing this entry right now.

Next week we'll discuss sitting too close to the TV. Have the rules changed now that all the screens are flat?
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Don't want to wait 'til tomorrow [18 Aug 2016|10:23pm]
What do I want? Crystal Pepsi. When do I want it? Sometime in the near future would be nice. Does this mean I'm giving up on Vanilla Coke? Never.

I remember 1992 like it was 24 years ago. I tried my first Crystal Pepsi and I was not hooked. I didn't think it was all that great. But nostalgia has a way of working on you. It's like those Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies. For some reason, I thought I really liked them as a kid. So I went out and bought a box, took a bite of one, and realized they aren't so good.

I think I'm just jealous of all the people on Twitter who have been able to locate Crystal Pepsi. None of the stores I've been to have had any.

(I've also been watching "Breaking Bad" lately. I never watched it when it was on, and I just finished the second episode of the third season. If you replace "Pepsi" with "meth", then, well...)
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Honest men know that revenge does not taste sweet [11 Aug 2016|10:26pm]
As I grow older and more misanthropic, I take sweet relief in dealing with people as little as I can. I actually enjoy talking to the automated customer service voice inasmuch it can actually help me. I usually end up having to talk to someone in the Philippines anyway.

Last week, I had an issue with a company I've been doing business with for several years. This is the third time I've had this issue with them, and it's usually cleared up after a while. After it did clear up, I received a follow-up phone call on Monday. Great, now I have to call and talk to someone.

Except I didn't. I would dial the number, hear no ringing, and then be hung up on. I redialed several times. Same thing. Not being one to give up easily, though, I called again on Tuesday morning. It rang a few times, and then... voicemail.

So I didn't have to talk to a live person after all! Hurrah!
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(I have conflicting reports on what the actual first line of the "Muppet Babies" theme is) [04 Aug 2016|10:38pm]
Two things.

Thing the first: I currently use "Daniel" by Elton John as my ringback tone. The other day, I received a call from an unknown number. I said hello and heard a female voice singing along, and then a very cheerful "Hey, baby!" I only wish the person on the other end wanted to talk to me. Whoever you are, I want to marry you.

Thing the second: Do you ever wonder why this generation has the problems it does? I think I've found the answer. There were two cartoons among many that lots of us grew up watching: "Inspector Gadget" and "Muppet Babies." You know what those two have in common? You got it, unseen characters. Do you know how frustrating it is to a child to wonder what Dr. Claw and Nanny looked like and NEVER finding out? How can you torment children like that?

I wonder if people who watched "Charlie's Angels" feel the same way.

Corporal Capeman didn't help things either. He was like Scrappy-Doo.
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Wouldn't you give your hand to a friend [28 Jul 2016|10:17pm]
Can you believe Monday will be the 15th anniversary of the creation of this journal? How time flies, or some crap like that.

It was about this time in 2002, the first anniversary of this journal, that I bought the chair I'm currently sitting in. It's served me well, but I fear its time is up. However, I simply cannot drag myself to Office Depot to buy a new one. I was thinking I'd start a GoFundMe page, but those jokers take 5% off the top. It's like those Coinstar machines. I can count my own change, thank you very much. I learned how to count all the way to 100 before I entered kindergarten. That skill has come in handy.

So yeah, I've been doing this for 15 years. I could have a kid in high school by now. That's crazy.
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Gorilla, they come and kill you with bananas [21 Jul 2016|10:54pm]
Remember how a couple of weeks ago I said just because I don't talk about certain issues on social media doesn't mean I don't care about them? I must say the same is true for politics. I do care. I will be voting for someone. I'm just not going to tell you who it is. And that's all I have to say about that.

You know what's good? Fajitas. I am ashamed to admit I have missed out on their goodness. My go-to at Mexican restaurants has been enchiladas for the longest. I can't believe no one ever told me how good fajitas were. Chicken is good, but beef is best. I am anxiously looking forward to the next time I can have fajitas.

This announcement paid for by the Fajitas Are Good Party.
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Taxicabs and buses passing through the night [14 Jul 2016|10:40pm]
I'll try the bullet points approach this time. Let's see if that helps things flow more smoothly.

- The board game Clue(do) is replacing one of its Caucasian characters (Mrs. White) with an Asian character (Dr. Orchid). I don't know if this is an effort to be more culturally inclusive or what, but I don't think this is going to help it not be the most boring board game in the world.

- I saw something that made me think of something that made me want to look up the prices of college economics textbooks. The latest edition of the book I used in my college microeconomics class now retails for $255. For a paperback. I know it's been a while, but I don't think a single one of my textbooks cost nearly that much. By comparison, a six-pound hardcover calculus book goes for $250. I don't know how I managed to carry that thing around every day without giving myself a hernia. I think I've gone off topic. Textbooks are expensive. School is for fools.
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'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary [07 Jul 2016|11:32pm]
I know there have been some terrible things happening in the past few days. The fact that I don't often comment on them on social media makes me wonder if people might think I don't care. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Anything I could say has likely already been said by someone else in a more succinct way. And yet I can't help but feel there's something I could say. Something I could do. (The fact that I'm posting this on the least-trafficked social media site I'm on is not lost on me. I've long since accepted this journal is more for my needs than anyone else's.)

I hate that my first inclination is usually to post a quote or song lyrics or something I didn't come up with. I did that after the Orlando shooting, simply because as I was sitting there trying to reconcile my thoughts, a song came on with a line that couldn't have been more apt. I did that and moved on as if my job was done.

Now I'm sitting here again, trying to reconcile my thoughts again. There are no quotes or song lyrics this time. I feel that my involvement is too low and I don't know what else I can do. I have a lot of soul-searching ahead of me.
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One for the plug and one for the load [30 Jun 2016|10:35pm]
A few days ago, I made a jokey tweet about the etymology of chicken tetrazzini (named after a person), which led to further jokes about the origin of graham crackers (also named after a person, originally meant to be eaten to cleanse oneself of "impure thoughts"). This caused me to remember something from the distant past.

When I was a kid, I loved to watch game shows (still do, there just aren't as many opportunities). One that I remember was a Canadian import called "Bumper Stumpers" where contestants had to decipher vanity license plates. Anyhow, one day there was a contestant on named Graham. This, in my preteen mind, was absolutely hilarious.

"Ha, his name is Graham! What kind of name is that? Did they name him after graham crackers?"

Because, you know, I did not grasp the concept of eponyms at that time. I'm still not sure I do, because I only recently found out that the words "silhouette" and "shrapnel" are named after people too. What do you know?
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Well, I don't know but I say love is kind [23 Jun 2016|10:17pm]
My knee hurts.

I find myself saying this all the time now. Normally I would think it's just a part of getting old, but it's been like this since high school. I mean, I've never injured it or anything, it just hurts. Intermittently. Some days it doesn't, some days it's mildly annoying, other days I just can't take it.

I used to think it was one of those, "oh, my knee hurts when it's about to rain" things. And that's partially true. It does hurt when it's about to rain. It also hurts when it hasn't rained in days and no rain is forecast.

Fortunately, it's nothing that a couple of Advil can't help. If it ever gets to the point where I want to sell my car to buy Oxycontin, I hope you all will stage an intervention before it's too late.
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No dark sarcasm in the classroom [16 Jun 2016|10:28pm]
I am not a fan of teachers on Facebook. Sure, I suppose they have as much a right to be on Facebook as anyone else, but I just wish I didn't have to know about it. I don't need to stumble across my 9th grade history teacher's profile when I'm looking for someone completely different. It's akin to when you would see your teacher at the grocery store. They're not supposed to be there. They're supposed to live at the school. And that one time my kindergarten teacher actually came to my house? That was just freaky.

(Professors are slightly different. I now live in a college town big enough that I never see them in public, but when I lived in Small College Town with Only One Mexican Restaurant and One Chinese Buffet, I would run into them all the time. That's never not awkward.)

Today I was informed by Facebook that it's my high school calculus teacher's birthday. Don't get me wrong, she was a great teacher, but I was still a bit uncomfortable when I got a friend request from her a few months ago. What's even more weird is one of the recurring dreams I have is me failing calculus. There's that one, the one where I've apparently forgotten to attend a class all semester long, and the one where I'm in the airport and always headed to the same destination: Anchorage, Alaska.

Back to the matter at hand: I realize I'm old enough now that many teachers are my age or even younger, but the ones I had in school? They're all old! Who taught them how to use a computer anyway?
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You know I've heard it's said there's beauty in distortion [09 Jun 2016|10:29pm]
It didn't take much to make me happy as a kid. When they showed an episode of "Bananaman" after "Danger Mouse", a bag of Cheetos Puffs, a pint of chocolate milk...

Especially the pint of chocolate milk. Opening up that cardboard container, sticking a straw in it, drinking it... thank goodness I'm not one of the 75% of people of African descent who is lactose-intolerant.

As I grew older, chocolate milk remained good, but something happened. It seemed that overnight, the cardboard containers went away, to be replaced by plastic bottles. It's just not the same. How can I be nostalgic for chocolate milk when I can't see the cardboard pints anymore?

I think if you really want to make America great again, bring back milk in cardboard containers.
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You don't love me, it's plain to see [02 Jun 2016|10:22pm]
For once, I had an idea of what I was going to talk about planned out days in advance. Really, I did. But I didn't bother to write it down or anything that might help me to remember what it was in case I forgot. There's no chance I would forget, right?

Right?

Yeah, I totally forgot what it was. It must have been a really enthralling topic. Hopefully it'll come back to me someday. In the meantime, I suppose this will have to do.

I was in Walmart the other day... you know what, I'm not even gonna tell the whole story. I was curt to a DirecTV salesman. I mean, even if I wanted DirecTV, my first thought wouldn't be, "Hmm... I think I'll go to Walmart and hope there's a DirecTV salesman hanging out in the electronics department." I go to Walmart to buy apple juice and guns, like most ordinary Americans.

But I don't watch TV anyway. TV rots the brain.
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Jose Canseco just snitchin' because he finished [26 May 2016|11:02pm]
You know what sucks? Shaving. Anyone who tells you they enjoy shaving is a liar.

I remember when I was much younger and received a toy razor and shaving cream as a gift. It made me think that being able to shave for real would be fun when the time came around. What a load of crap. Then, when I turned 14 and my sparse beard hair began to come in, there was no turning back.

I have been blessed with the fortunate ability to grow facial hair at twice the rate of the average male. Twenty-four hours after shaving, the stubble is already back. What's worse is, I have very sensitive skin and I cannot shave any more often than once every other week without irritating myself to the extreme.

What also extremely irritates me is guys who say things like "I wish I could grow a beard." Trust me on this one. No, you don't. I would trade places with you in a heartbeat. If I could, I'd go ZZ Top all the way.

Thanks for nothing, human ancestors who thought men with beards made preferable mates. If only I could go back in time 10,000 years, I'd show you the error of your ways.
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A day before he died, I went to see him [19 May 2016|10:36pm]
Now here's to you old skinny Dennis
The only one I think I will miss
I can hear those bass notes ringin'
As sweet and low like a gift you're bringin'

So play it for me one more time now
You got to give it all you can now
Well I believe every word you're sayin'
Just to keep it on keepin' on, keep on playin'
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People out there not hip to the fact [12 May 2016|11:26pm]
So I turned 35 yesterday. Blah. I don't want to talk about that.

To celebrate, I took myself out to dinner at that restaurant where you watch them make your food. You know, Subway. I got what I always get, and like I always do, I asked for vinaigrette. The sandwich artist heard it as vinegar and put that on instead. I pointed out what I really wanted, and you would have thought the guy had just run over my dog... if I were an animal person. He started apologizing profusely and was about to trash the whole sandwich and start over. I pleaded with him not to do that and insisted that his mistake was a minor one that would not affect the taste of the sandwich... which it wouldn't. He continued to apologize and gave me a free cookie. (Birthday treat!) I couldn't help but feel bad for him, though.

You can argue food service workers do not deserve to be paid $15 an hour because they make mistakes, but who among us hasn't? I can't imagine what I might do if I were on the other side of the counter.

I wouldn't work at Long John Silver's, though. They don't let you vape in there.
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