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Steven Harper

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There ain't no doctor that can cure my disease [12 Jan 2017|10:45pm]
This is probably as political as I'm ever going to get, so you've been warned. I don't hesitate to acknowledge there are many, many people more knowledgeable about these sorts of things than I am, so you've been warned.

I've been reading about the possible impending repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I am fortunate enough to have health insurance that doesn't come from it, so I likely won't be affected, but something that happened to me could be much worse for others. I refilled one of my prescriptions yesterday, and I got a message from the pharmacy that my insurance wasn't covering it. Therefore, instead of the $6 I normally pay, I'd be on the hook for $835. Fortunately, it was only a clerical error and things were cleared up, but I couldn't help but think of the people who actually would have to pay that much for one of their prescriptions every month. Who can do that? Nobody I know.

I don't see how anyone could consciously be against a program to help people in such dire straits. Unfortunately, there are lots of things that have been happening recently that I can't understand. It boggles my mind.
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When I was down, you just stood there grinning [05 Jan 2017|10:28pm]
So I see certain people are trying for a LiveJournal resurgence in 2017. It's got a Facebook group and everything. Here's hoping that takes off.

I, for one, have been in some sort of fog all week. This can happen when the holidays throw things off. Monday was a de facto holiday, which meant things were supposed to be back to normal on Tuesday. Except I spent all day Tuesday thinking it was Monday, and the cycle repeats. I think I know what day it is now.

You know what's a scam? Printer ink. I almost never print anything in color, but somehow I'm always out of colored ink. The printer that I have won't even let you print in black if one of the color cartridges is expended. That means another trip to the office supply store where the music playlist is stuck in 2013 to buy ink that somehow manages to drain itself. Maybe I should just buy a new printer every time that happens. It might be cheaper.
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Never let [expletives deleted] ride [29 Dec 2016|10:26pm]
Here we are, nearing the end of 2016. Many are regarding it as one of the worst years in history, what with the political upheaval and the deaths of so many beloved celebrities. Those things notwithstanding, 2016 has been rather uneventful for me. I don't say that as a bad thing, as I'd rather it be uneventful than full of things I'd rather not have experienced.

Of course, I have no idea what 2017 will hold. I can only hope that at this time next year, I can say it was uneventful as well. Or, maybe, that it was the best year of my life so far. One can only hope.

Happy New Year.
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Friends and relations send salutations [22 Dec 2016|11:54pm]
The time has come for my annual Christmas message. As usual, I have been giving thought to what I would say in every spare moment for the past few days. Here goes.

As this year ends and 2017 is set to begin, many of us are faced with the same uncertainty we have been faced with for the past few weeks. To think that there is any chance of achieving a sense of normality is seen as heresy by many. What is certain is that we are on the cusp of events that no one has seen before. The thing is, every year brings us things no one has seen before, and we have managed to survive so far.

What I can tell you is that as we forge on, we must not lose hope. An ancient book tells us not to be weary in doing good, for we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. That, I think, is very important to remember especially at this time of year.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
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Beatniks and politics, nothing is new [15 Dec 2016|10:44pm]
I was really looking forward to Christmas Cookies ice cream from Blue Bell this year. I haven't had any since it's been reintroduced, because I've had enough bouts with food poisoning to last me a lifetime. I figured this would be as good a time as any to jump back into the fray.

That is, until I read some tweets stating that due to "unforeseen circumstances," there will be no Christmas Cookies this year. Yet they'll still have these BS peppermint and hot chocolate flavors. Hot chocolate ice cream? That's not just oxymoronic, it's plain moronic.

Why can't companies make things I like?
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There oughta be a law against you comin' around [08 Dec 2016|10:22pm]
I have this bad habit of rolling over things with my chair. A while back, I lost my Internet connection. I couldn't figure out what in the world was going on. I had noticed some trucks from the phone company outside, and I thought they might be working on something. There were no lights on the modem. Hours passed. Then I noticed the modem was unplugged. I rolled over the power cord with my chair and unplugged it. I felt like a genius.

Then, last week, I rolled over a pair of headphones and broke them. I ordered a new pair, waited for them to arrive, and they did. Only then did I remember I had a backup pair. I felt like a genius.
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Kool kar kyrie kay salmon [01 Dec 2016|10:33pm]
I warn you before I get started: I really don't know where I'm going with this. We'll see where I end up.

I finally decided to get with the program, so to speak, and started watching "Game of Thrones" last month. I'm almost done with the second season, as I don't have the stamina to binge-watch and only watch one episode at a time.

I wouldn't exactly say I have a problem with it, but... I guess I just expected it to be better than it is. I'm not saying it's a bad show by any means, but it just doesn't draw me in like "Mad Men" or "Breaking Bad" did. Not that medieval fantasy has ever really been my cup of tea, and also when characters have apostrophes in their names... well.

What's that they say? It gets better? I certainly hope that's the case.
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I am the son and the heir [24 Nov 2016|10:37pm]
Here's this week's Weird Thing That Happened to Me. The other night, one of my neighbors put some shrimp concoction down the garbage disposal, which caused the kitchen sink to back up. This has happened before, but it usually drains out without a problem. Not this time. Also, water started leaking from the dishwasher and I had a mess on my hands. A plumber was summoned to remedy the situation.

Everything seemed to be copacetic until I went to the kitchen and noticed my roll of paper towels was missing. The only way that could have happened is that the plumber took them, unless I ate them while I was sleepwalking. Those cost me 48 cents! Money doesn't grow on trees.

I suppose it's a small price to pay for not having a kitchen full of ankle-deep water.

Oh, and it's apparently Thanksgiving, so... happy turkey.
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Time never seems to really fly (split infinitive, I know) [17 Nov 2016|10:33pm]
It's that time of year when my mailbox is stuffed every week with supermarket flyers advertising Thanksgiving sales. What I have noticed is that they're open later and later on Thanksgiving Day, with Kroger closing at 4:00 p.m. This got me to wondering who eats Thanksgiving dinner after 4:00 p.m. I kinda always assumed most people do as my family does, i.e., eat dinner at lunchtime, around 1:00 p.m. We've always been done before the Cowboys game starts.

I decided to run a poll on Twitter, and 55% of the respondents indicated they eat dinner between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. However, 32% eat between 12:00 and 3:00, with only 14% eating after 6:00.

I shouldn't have been surprised, as Nate Silver told me 94% would say they ate dinner before 3:00.
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They will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem [10 Nov 2016|11:00pm]
I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight
getting lost in that hopeless little screen
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that time cannot decay
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
this little wild bouquet
Democracy is coming to the USA


Earlier tonight, I heard the devastating news that Leonard Cohen died. His songs have meant a lot to me over the past 20 years. That song, "Democracy," was from his album The Future, the first album of his I bought when I was 15. I didn't really get it then. It sat on my shelf for years until I rediscovered it and much of his other music in college.

It wasn't until six years ago that I finally got it. I had the opportunity to see him in concert, which may very well have never happened had his financial manager not stolen his money. I had no idea what to expect until the lights dimmed and this 76-year-old man skips joyfully onto the stage. He proceeded to entertain us for the next three hours. Elton John said his concerts were like a religious experience. That, I completely understand.

What's more, just last night I was listening to his music. It had been a while, but something told me I just needed to. The subject line from last week's entry? From perhaps his best-known song, "Hallelujah." So you see just a glimpse of the effect this man has had on me. Whither thou goest, I will go.

It's coming from the feel
that this ain't exactly real
or it's real, but it ain't exactly there


It happened. The thing we all thought could not happen, happened. I went to bed late Tuesday night (early Wednesday morning) feeling like millions of other people did, no doubt. I say I went to bed, but I didn't sleep. I couldn't.

Over the last 48 hours, I've gone from a feeling of dread to one of uncertainty. One side tells me I have nothing to dread, while the other says I don't dread enough. I am trying to remain cautiously optimistic, yet I hope I'm not being lulled into a false sense of security.

I cannot help but recall the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. Then, I wondered, just how many people genuinely thought he was the best candidate for the office as opposed to people who voted for him simply because of his celebrity status. I am wondering the same thing now.

Sail on, sail on
O mighty ship of state
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the squalls of hate
Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on


And as I was driving home today, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" came on the radio. I am sure this was a computer playlist and no human being planned it, but today is November 10. Usually I just post this on November 10 and I'm done with it, but I just couldn't do that this year.

November 10, 1975 the bulk freighter Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior with all hands. This is dedicated to the memory of the 29 men lost that night and the families they left behind.

Read more...Collapse )
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I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you [03 Nov 2016|10:35pm]
I often like to think I'm not as addicted to my smartphone as most people are. This may be true, or it may not. Consider the following scenario:

The other night, Halloween night in fact, I was using my smartphone to view a video, as formerly people would do on a television or computer screen. All of a sudden, Chrome crashed and the phone restarted itself. No big deal, right? Except it froze on the Verizon screen. As it stayed there, I realized I was going into full-on panic mode. The power button wouldn't do anything, and with these models, you can't remove the battery yourself. Whatever was I going to do?

Thankfully, I was able to find a solution (hold the power button down and volume up for 10 seconds to reboot and hope like mad it progresses past the Verizon screen this time, otherwise you're probably screwed). It worked, and things were back to normal.

I was born in that time frame that makes me not sure whether I'm part of Generation X or a millennial, but I have come to realize that my dependence on smartphone technology may make me fall into the latter category.

Or maybe it was goblins... Halloween, after all.
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And the sun shines on the bay [27 Oct 2016|10:30pm]
You know what I hate? Changing light bulbs. It sounds like a simple enough task, and I suppose it is... if you're over six feet tall. I, however, am not. Which means, when it comes time to change a bulb, I have to locate a chair or stepladder so that I might artificially increase my height enough to reach the ceiling. Then I have to do the whole thing all over again in a few months.

If only they'd invent a light bulb that lasted for years so I wouldn't have to replace them so often. Thanks for nothing, Thomas Edison.
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I'm up on the presidential podium [20 Oct 2016|10:57pm]
I've become that person. The "Christmas commercials already?!" person. It happened on Tuesday. I was letting the TV rot my brain when it came on. You may have seen it, unless you don't let TV rot your brain like I do. The commercial with the Hershey's Kisses playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." I like that commercial. I think it's neat. But do we really need to start airing it on October 18?

Back when I used to visit shopping malls more than once a year, I remember when they'd get all decked out for Christmas in early November. I know Christmas stuff usually goes up once Halloween is over. I can usually avoid all that if I so choose. TV commercials are a bit trickier.

Maybe the Amish are onto something after all.
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Meet me in the middle of the day [13 Oct 2016|10:45pm]
You may recall my last visit to the dentist. On second thought, you probably don't. I barely remember it myself. Just kidding. It resulted in me learning, for the first time in 35 years, that I had a cavity. It was one of the worst days of my life.

Today was my first visit since then. I'd been anticipating it with growing apprehension, since last time proved that these things don't always go off without a hitch.

Well, today did go off without a hitch... almost. No cavities. Nothing out of the ordinary. Except I had a different hygienist than usual, and it's kinda weird when she's like, right there next to your ear and her stomach growls twice. And she nicks your lip with one of her sharp metal instruments.

I'll still take that over another cavity.
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Fill up and you don't have to pay [06 Oct 2016|10:26pm]
I did something the other day that I never do, something that I probably should not do.

I commented on an Internet article.

They say you should never read the comments on Internet articles, and this is something I believe wholeheartedly. Nothing good can come of it, and rarely is anything good written there. But this time the article was just so off-base that I couldn't let it go. I had to put my two cents in. Granted, I did everything I could to keep my identity secret to make sure I'm not trolled on any other websites.

I do not plan on doing this on a regular basis, even though the flaming I was expecting hasn't come... at least not yet.
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They see your every move [29 Sep 2016|11:52pm]
Remember those Magic Eye pictures from a few years ago? I do. Try as I might, I could never see them. People would try to coach me on how to do it, but it never worked. I assumed all hope was lost.

One day, I decided to go for broke. There was a picture in the newspaper (really showing my age). I sat there and stared. And stared. And stared some more. And I finally saw it. Somehow I managed not to make myself permanently cross-eyed in the process.

There's really no point to this post. It's just something I thought of. I just wish I could figure out Sudoku.
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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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