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Another letter to my Senators

Dear Senator,

A reminder: health care is a human right, not a commodity. According to our founding fathers, we are all of us endowed by our creator with the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life extends beyond the as yet unborn to all ages. Neither the right of liberty nor the pursuit of happiness can truly be attained when one is held back by injury or illness. Please keep these things in mind when considering your vote for the Senate bill regarding health care.

Thank you,

Sheila O’Shea

This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/230218.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

My Email to the Senate - Health Care

So, after a bit of procrastination, I wrote to Senators Isakson and Perdue about the health care bill being worked on in the Senate. I paste it below, and urge anybody else in America to write their own letter as well.

Dear Senator,

I am a resident of Georgia and I would like to express my views on the current attempt at health care reform.

I am relieved to learn that the Senate will not be voting on the House bill that passed by a narrow margin, but instead will be creating their own bill. As your constituent, I would like to make my wishes known regarding the new bill.

Premiums should not be increased for people with pre-existing conditions. The healthy helping pay for the less fortunate is the way insurance works. Pre-existing conditions are not just the results of lifestyle choices, they are more often genetic or the result of injury. I have the pre-existing condition of bipolar II disorder, and no amount of lifestyle changes will rid me of it. Increasing the cost will put help with pre-existing conditions out of the reach of most people, and the fact that they technically have insurance available to them does not alleviate this.

Victims of crimes should not have the injuries they suffer be treated as pre-existing conditions.

Coverage for certain health conditions should be considered carefully before being removed from the list of mandatory coverage requirements. In my own case, I am naturally concerned with mental health. One in five Americans suffers from a mental illness each year. People with mental illness compose 90% of all suicides and suicide itself is one of the 10 most common causes of death in America.

If birth control for women is no longer to be covered, drugs to treat erectile dysfunction in men should also be dropped.

Medicaid and Medicare should not be cut. This is imperative. These programs serve people in desperate situations, including many of your constituents, and cutting their access to healthcare will, in many cases, condemn them to death.

In providing more coverage to the American people, I understand that the tax cuts you have planned will have to be reduced. However, the top tier of taxpayers paid a higher tax rate during the Reagan administration, and that was considered a prosperous era. Leaving the tax rate for them at the current levels will do no harm. You can emphasize the middle class in your tax reforms and boost the economy that way. The ACA has already helped the economy by drastically reducing the number of bankruptcies filed. Reducing the number of people who can afford health insurance will increase those numbers again.

I thank you for your time and your service to the state of Georgia and I hope you will consider my suggestions.


Sheila O’Shea

This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/229906.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Strange Life . . .

So I have my shiny new journal set up at Dreamwidth and I started going back through my previous entries.

All of them.

I ended up going all the way back to the very first one.

It was interesting reading when viewed through the lens of my undiagnosed bipolar disorder. I'd been misdiagnosed with unipolar depression and was even taking medication for it. It kinda sorta helped with the depression, but didn't do much with the hypomania, which I'm pretty sure can be blamed for me flying all the way to California to see Duran Duran play and coming all the way back inside of 24 hours.

It also reminded me that I used to post a lot more often. I don't know if the shiny newness of having a Dreamwidth journal will be enough to inspire me to write more often, but it certainly can't hurt.

Today I took pleasure in rereading and tweaking my novella.

Today I learned that my very first LiveJournal entry was on April 11, 2003. (I'm sure I knew this at some point, I just forgot over time.) Fourteen years ago. Yikes.

This entry was originally posted at http://wonderbink.dreamwidth.org/229840.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Lux Life

I'm going to try writing about things that happened a while ago, so that they're vintage rather than stale, since I'm still writing these things five minutes at a time.

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Dogs and Frogs and Pigs and Chickens

My parents have pretty much given up with Christmas gifts. They buy them for their grandchildren but for the rest of us we get checks to spend on whatever we really want. They do the same for birthdays and each time I go on an Amazon spending spree and buy stuff I've been longing for, like red satin pajamas. Mostly I go for books and DVDs or Blu-Rays.

This particular spending spree I got the first three seasons of The Muppet Show. I haven't been binge watching them, precisely, but I've been playing them while drawing my flowers the way I do with RiffTrax shorts. Most RiffTrax shorts are basically riffers versus Authoritative Disembodied Voices, so I don't have to look up and watch them as much. The Muppets have more visual gags, so I have to pay more attention. I still get the flowers done, though it does take me a little more time.

Here are some observations about The Muppet Show in no particular order:

1. I figured the first episode would be a little weaker because they'd still be finding their feet. The first episode has "Manah Manah" in it, so no. They had found their feet and started running with them.

2. Miss Piggy didn't start speaking French beyond moi et vous until after the episode with Charles Aznavour, who made her swoon by whispering nonsensical French into her ear, like the phone number for the Paris garbage dump. Only after that episode did she start inserting so many French phrases into her conversation. He must have made quite an impression.

3. Speaking of Miss Piggy, her voice changes a lot in the first season because they hadn't quite settled on who her puppeteer was. It alternated between Frank Oz and Richard Hunt. Sometimes which puppeteer was Piggy depended on whether or not the other puppeteer was performing another role in the scene. In Veternarian's Hospital, Richard Hunt would be on Piggy duty when Frank Oz was handling the patient on the table, for example.

4. Animal had a girlfriend! Or at least a dance partner. During the At The Dance sequences, Animal would dance with the same girl most times. She was a perfectly normal looking redhead--white person skin, sculpted nose, none of the weirdnesses of a typical Muppet. Animal was fond of doing "1-2-3 dip!" with her, but she seemed to take it in stride. Eventually, they seem to have parted ways. In the At The Dance sequence, Animal was dancing with a more Muppety and assertive partner, who squeezed him until he collapsed. His former partner came up while dancing with someone new. "Call him a doctor!" she said to him. As would be expected, he responded by looking down at Animal and saying "Okay. You're a doctor."

5. Miss Piggy started out a little more assertive in her pursuit of Kermit, to the point that she would throw him down and start forcibly kissing him. It's a bit squicky now, because what she did we now call sexual assault. She eventually stopped, though, perhaps because of the squick factor.

6. I have lots of thinky-thoughts and feels about the Rudolf Nureyev episode in the second season, but I'll try to confine myself to one. I remember the steam bath sequence whereby Nureyev is trapped with an amorous Miss Piggy and is trying to avoid her. I don't remember them singing in it. I definitely don't remember what they sang--a gender-reversed version of "Baby, It's Cold Outside." (!!!) I about fell out of my chair laughing.

7. Kermit and Miss PIggy's love story is kind of a weird one as far as I've gotten. Through the first season, Kermit is firmly Not Interested, and says as much multiple times. Then in the Avery Schreiber episode, Miss Piggy recruits Scooter (by threatening him with grievous bodily harm if he doesn't comply) to spread rumors that she is having a torrid affair with Schreiber, in order to make Kermit jealous. And it works! Kermit declares that he's going to have dinner with Piggy, just the two of them, right after the show. However, a little later in the show, his ardent passion has cooled back to his usual indifference, because Scooter confessed the scheme to Kermit. (You bet there was some karate-choppin' action.)

8. Damn, but Elton John had some eye-searing outfits in the 70s. He made Liberace look dignified.

9. There are few puppet expressions quite as evocative of disgust and frustration as Kermit's crumpleface.

10. There's not a lot of episode to episode continuity. In one episode, the band threatens to leave because they're tired of playing the theme song. It even ends with the closing tune played by Rowlf on piano with the conductor directing him. The next episode? "It's time to play the music! It's time to light the lights!" Maybe they came back because they couldn't get another offer. (More likely, it was because the show was syndicated, and there were no guarantees it would be shown in order.)

11. Even if I'd never heard of the guest star, the show would still be entertaining because Muppets. (The Leo Sayer episode was pretty painful, though.)

12. The first season set has this nifty thing called "Muppet Morsels", which is kinda like a commentary track, only in subtitle form. I've been re-watching the entire set to see all of them.

13. When dealing with Muppets with multiple performers (such as the Swedish Chef) I can't stop wondering how close these people had to stand next to one another in order to pull it off.

14. Sweetums gets all the full-body Muppet attention, but Thog (the huge blue one) is adorable.

15. Gonzo the Great is right up there with Yoko Ono in the realms of performance art.

16. I can usually tell if Jim Henson is operating a Muppet by the sound of the voice. Ditto Frank Oz.

17. Some of the bits use stereotypes that are reeeeaaaaally problematic.

18. The fat-shaming of Miss Piggy is pretty wince-inducing, too.

19. However, it was the 1970s, and they had some quaint notions back then.

20. On the other hand, they also used Pigs In Space to make fun of male chauvinist, well, pigs. Link Hogthrob and Doctor Strangepork would often saddle Piggy with domestic duties or treat her as lesser because she was a woman and Piggy or fate itself would usually extract some kind of revenge.

21. Nearly everything I remember comes out differently than what I remember when I watch it again. And there are entire episodes I've completely forgotten.

22. For example, I never realized that Gonzo had a crush on Miss Piggy until I watched my way through three seasons. This is probably because his expressions of desire are so few and far between that you figure he's gotten over it and then WHAM, he's back to crushing all over her. He doesn't seem to be very loyal--he goes from swooning over Camilla the chicken to swooning all over somebody else RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER. At one point he asks a cow out on a date. A live cow, not a Muppet cow. (Occasionally the Muppets encounter actual live animals and don't seem to be sure what to do with them.)

23. Statler and Waldorf either bisexual or gay men with beards. They make reference to their wives, but they also dance together a couple of times in the At The Dance sequences. According to the Muppet Morsels, we eventually meet Waldorf's wife, Astoria, and she apparently looks exactly like Statler in drag.

24. By season three, Beaker still isn't going mee-mee-mee-mee. He makes some kinds of incoherent yelps, but no mee-mees.

25. Every time Kermit sings "It's Not Easy Being Green" I have to reach for the tissues.

By the time I've finished writing this, I've made it to season three, but there's a glitch in the Spike Milligan episode that cuts it off before the grand finale. So I'll have to send it back and watch it all over again to make sure it's defect-free.


Today I took pleasure in a reassurance from my mother.

Today I learned I'll have to reschedule my appointment with my psychiatrist. (Argh!)


Weekend Report December 16-18

For the past eight years, Jeffrey Butzer and T. T. Mahoney have performed the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Christmas live. Butzer plays drums, Mahoney plays piano and some other guy (not always the same guy from year to year) plays bass in a classic jazz trio. Occasionally, a group of female singers will come up to sing the vocal parts.

I've seen it for the past few years and I enjoy it immensely. The soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas is the only Christmas album I own, and it pretty much sets the mood for the season. So when it came around, I purchased a ticket in advance (it inevitably sells out) and put in for the time off with The Big Green Grocery Store.

I figured I'd be scheduled right up to my departure time, like I usually am, but instead they gave me the whole day off. I usually close on Saturday nights, and I guess they figured that if they couldn't have me close, they didn't want me at all. I spent the Saturday cleaning the place, like I used to do when I had a Monday through Friday job. I hope for it to be a portent to things yet to come.

Doors opened at 8:30 and there was already a line stretching into the restaurant area just before 8:30 arrived. By the time I'd gotten in and ordered a drink, all the places to sit were taken. I sat on the step that leads up to the corner where the couches are (the TARDIS corner, I call it, because the walls there have a grid of large circles that resemble the walls of the old-school TARDIS) and moodled with my phone until the show started.

The opening act was Jeffrey Butzer's other project, The Bicycle Eaters. They're basically the soundtrack to an art film set in Paris. Many of the songs are sung in French, in fact, because English would just seem jarring matched against the music. The next act was The Silent Knights, who played the entirely of the surf rock Christmas album by The Ventures. It was the first time I'd ever heard Jingle Bell Rock actually sound like rock. I get a big kick out of surf rock (it's probably picked up from Greg Nicoll and seeing The Penetrators so many times) so I had a good time.

Then, finally, the jazz trio hit the stage and we were treated to the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas. The thing I rather like about their performance is that it isn't a note for note replica, but has a little of the improvisation that jazz is made of.

Then this happened. They got to Fur Elise by Beethoven (Schroeder plays it while Lucy is bothering him) and Jeffrey Butzer got out from behind the drumkit, lay down on his stomach and propped his chin up on his hands, like a child in front of the fireplace. Then somebody started grabbing me and trying to shove me to one side.

I turned to see my eternal nemesis, a Drunk Blond Chick, in a Santa hat. She asked me to move over. I asked her why. She explained that she wanted a clearer view of Jeffrey Butzer in childhood pose, because it was so cute. I assented and moved over for the length of the piece. When it was over and all the musicians had resumed their positions I moved about halfway back and planted my feet. There the matter would have ended but then she started poking and grabbing me again.

I turned around. "Stop touching me," I said.

"We just wanted you to sway with us, in the sprit of Christmas," she explained.

"Stop. Touching. Me," I repeated

And to her credit, she did. Give or take the time she collided with me (I'm pretty sure it was her) when she was dancing with the enthusiasm of the drunk. I got through the rest of the show without irritation and headed to my parents' house to sleep.

Sunday was the annual Cookie Party. My mom bakes about 1,500 Christmas cookies (usually more) every year and the Cookie Party is one of the ways she distributes them. She invites friends and neighbors to partake in cookies, eggnog and punch. I reluctantly caught people up on what I've been doing--I wish I had something better to tell them--and indulged in my favorite cookies. Our friend Jeff came over and performed the annual Christmas ritual of sneaking new ornaments onto the tree when Mom isn't looking. The first time he and Angelo did it, Mom was completely baffled with it was time to pack the ornaments away and this strange Santa ornament had shown up on the tree. These days, she has grown to expect it and it's become something of a game to see how long it takes before Mom figures it out.

After the Cookie Party, my parents and I went across the street to another neighborhood gathering with many of the same people attending. This time it was a housewarming after a massive renovation of a house that my parents still refer to by its previous owner. There was enough food about to make a modest post-cookie dinner. I wasn't too familiar with the new owners, but I was familiar with one of the neighbors attending the party--he was a classmate of mine in high school. He's buying a house on my parents' street, so I may well see more of him. He wasn't particularly brutal to me in the days past, so I'm fine with it.

The party pretty much blew my chance to go to Java Monkey for the open mike there, but maybe some other time.

I'm sorry this was so boring. I'm sort of using this as a supplementary diary now to fill in all the details I miss in my handwritten diary pages. Only a few people are reading this and most of them are related to me.

Today I took pleasure in a cool glass of lemon water.

Today I learned someone's hypothesis that 2017 isn't going to be much better in terms of famous people dying on us.

Weekend Report, December 2-4

I don't know how many days after the weekend it will take before I post this. I've been writing blog posts for my various blogs at the rate of approximately five minutes a day. It's worked, though--all my blogs, even the ones I haven't updated for years now have shiny new posts on them. It should be easy to keep up, too.

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Today I took pleasure in watching RiffTrax shorts while drawing flowers.

Today I learned RiffTrax has a new VOD available.

Hello Again

One of my New Year's resolutions for this year was posting on LJ
approximately once a month. So much for that idea. But I've decided to try
working on posts a little bit at a time so I can fit it into my busy schedule.

I'm working two and a half jobs right now. One is my part time gig at the Big Green Grocery Store. Not much to say about that. The other gig is writing blog posts for a personal injury firm. It pays well for a few hours worth of work, and the research can hit the sweet spot of my methodical mind. The half gig is scoring essay questions for a standardized testing company, but the work is too intermittent to call it a full job.

I'm still working on my Ten Thousand Flowers. I've upped my output to two flowers a day, so I'll be done in around ten years instead of twenty. The first flower of the day still goes up on various social media--Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram. I've just added Tumblr to the mix, so those of you with Tumblrs hit me up with your username so I can add you to my dashboard and have something to read besides the stuff they force-feed me. Some hipster already swiped wonderbink (seriously?) so I'm 10Kflowers over there.

Today I took pleasure in water with lime juice.

Today I learned the precise meaning of 'rarified.'


I'm still alive, thanks. I'm actually doing pretty well, all things said and done. I've cut my hours at The Big Green Grocery Store to make room to do some remote scoring for an educational testing company that I've worked for before. The last time I worked for them, it was at a scoring center in a decaying office building that was not the most pleasant of environments. This time, I'll be working from my own damn computer, so the conditions should be much more amenable. All I have to do is pass the certification exam, which I took on Saturday. Wish me luck.

Life at The Big Green Grocery Store can be pretty entertaining. The tabloid headlines right after Prince passed away were gruesomely amusing. Depending on which tabloid you read, he either was murdered, committed suicide, or died of AIDS. The AIDS one came from the National Enquirer, which also claimed that David Bowie died of AIDS right after his passing. Apparently if you're a phenomenally influential performer with an unconventional gender presentation, you are doomed to die of AIDS.

I've been revising a novella called The Suicide Demon which is a sequel to The Two Kinds of Magic, the novel that is currently sitting on an agent's desk awaiting his attention. (He's agreed to look at it to repay a favor to my sister, but favors take lower priority than paying work.) Anyway, the revision process may be put on hold while I'm working two jobs (the scoring gig is temporary so I'll be back to one job in a couple of weeks. Or this week, if I flunk the certification.) It's kinda ground to a halt as it is, which I'm a little dissatisfied about, but I hope to pick it up after the scoring thing blows over.

So that's what I've been up to lately. Still drawing flowers and putting the first one of the day on Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram. (I'm wonderbink in all those places, if'n you want to follow along.) Each time I do this, I resolve to do it more often, so we'll see if I hold up this time.

Today I took pleasure in sitting out on the screen porch while composing this blog entry.

Today I learned how to make those awesome brownies my mom makes.
David Bowie is dead and I just feel kind of blank about it. I feel like maybe I should be grieving, but I can't bring myself to it. (Not a condemnation of those who are, of course. You have my condolences and understanding.)

It could be because I'd already made my peace with the fact that he wouldn't be around much longer right about the time he went in for heart surgery. After that he sunk into a kind of isolation that rendered him as distant as someone already dead. Then he surprised me with The Next Day (a great album, by the way) and my hope for another tour rose up and then fell again. Blackstar came out (still have to get that one) and I got my hopes up once more (to a lesser extent) and then two days later it all went down.

I still have the memories of seeing him play live (especially the Sound + Vision tour, which was one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen in my life) and I still have all the albums I own. Those things aren't going away. So what have I lost exactly? The possibility of new music from him? I still haven't gotten around to hearing all the stuff he already recorded, and that may take a while. And the old stuff holds up so well I can listen to it over and over again and not get sick of it.

He had an amazing life and he ended it well. Considering how many different lives he led in the course of his 69 years, maybe he just ran out of regenerations.

Today I took pleasure in forty-five minutes of solid Bowie played on WREK.

Today I learned how many pages worth of psychiatrists who take my insurance are within ten miles of me. (Nine, in case you wondered.)