BJ Shea

 BJ Shea

BJ'S BLOG 11/24/15 "Paying Back an Ex"

It's time for Group Therapy, where Rock-A-Holics reach out for some help from their own kind!

A few years ago, Marissa borrowed a fair amount of money from her then-boyfriend; at the time, he said that she didn't have to worry about paying the money back, and they didn't sign any kind of agreement. Still, she insisted that she would eventually pay him back, but he said it was no big deal.

As you may have guessed, the couple split up a while back, and they haven't spoken since then. He never said anything about the money, so she dismissed the idea of ever paying him back.

Marissa heard from her ex recently: he wrote her on Facebook, asking if they could discuss her paying back the money. Interestingly enough, Marissa waited until this point in the story to reveal the amount in question…it's SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! She also seems to be leaning pretty hard on the fact that her ex told her that she didn't have to pay him back.

Rock-A-Holics, let's hear it from you: what do you think Marissa should do about this significant debt that she thought she'd never need to repay?
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BJ'S BLOG 11/23/15 "Mountaintop Days: The Beginning"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

I started blogging when my wife was battling cancer and we knew it was terminal. I quit work to be home with her, and to occupy my time I started to write. What time we had to share was more important than any amount of future financial security I might have after she was gone.

That lack of finances and my own weariness combined to find me at another crossroads, and I have decided to do what many have asked me to do in the past: tell you part of my life story. I hope some will now understand where I'm coming from.

Recent world and personal events have led me to this day. Actually, a lifetime has led me to this day in the last week of the eleventh month of the year 2015. But the beginning was sometime in the spring of 1966.

It was May when I first drove the winding roads through the deepest parts of one of the most beautiful states in our country, West Virginia. The Vietnam War was raging, and young men and women were dying. Protesters were marching and going to jail, and some of them were dying as well. It was a time of almost diabolical contrast, from the killing fields of Vietnam to the loving fields of San Francisco. Woodstock was yet to be. United States President Lyndon Johnson was saying that we should stay in Vietnam until communist aggression was stopped there. US troops totaled 190,000, and 20,000 Buddhists marched in demonstrations against the policies of the military government in South Vietnam.

Driving that back-country road with the beauty of spring coming to life, I was feeling far removed from all that was going on in the "outside world." But I was about as not removed as a person could be. I was, in the words of John Fogerty, "a fortunate one." I had already refused to take part in the safe life, having publicly burned my draft card. I had refused induction into the Vietnam War, after forcing the Selective Service to reclassify me from "fortunate" (otherwise known as 3-A, that is, a family hardship deferment) [What Hardship? you ask] and a college deferment, to boot, which meant I was never going to Vietnam. Except I was not going to sit silently and watch others die while I took the easy way out.

As I drove that beautiful country road, I thought about the day I was supposed to step forward and accept enlistment but instead stepped backward and said "No, thank you." I laughed as I remembered the Sergeant's face, which looked like it was about to explode. Prison, no doubt, was in my future as it was part of my plan to accept no deal "they" would offer, but first I was going to have a little fun and lead them, the FBI, and a few others on a merry chase. There might be more on those adventures in the future, but this is about the wonder and beauty of being alone and the ability to sink into my mind, leaving behind the sounds of the city and the normal rush and noise of the day-to-day world.

To get where I was going there would be a few more miles on paved road, the last few covered on foot, and there was no cabin. That would need to be built before the first cold spell on my mountaintop.

(To be continued)

I might say more about this blog in the podcast, but there will be definitely some rock-and-roll history, music, news, and more on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.
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BJ'S BLOG 11/20/15 "For More Tips"

It's Group Therapy, where Rock-A-Holics do their best to help one of their own!

Jeff's girlfriend is a bartender, and she works with one Jeff's good friends. This friend – a woman – told Jeff that his girlfriend says she's single when good-looking guys ask about her status. When she's approached by less-attractive guys, she claims to be married, saying that she doesn't get a ring because it gets in the way of her work.

Jeff's girlfriend has told him before that she does what she can to make better tips, but he feels like this methodology goes a little bit too far out of the comfort zone. He confronted her recently, but she said that his friend was lying about the whole thing, because she wants to sleep with him herself. Jeff says he's known this woman for 20 years, and he's sure that's not the case.

Let's see: women creating drama in someone else's relationship, and a guy who thinks his close female friend couldn't possibly have deeper feelings about him than she's let on. Yup, we have some of the classic cliches that I keep railing against, right here in today's session.

What do you think, gang? Is Jeff overreacting about his girlfriend? Is she telling the truth? Is he being completely clueless about his female friend's intentions? So many questions that need your answers…help us out, won't you?
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BJ'S BLOG 11/19/15 "Hiring A Lazy Friend"

Do you know why we love you so much, fellow Rock-A-Holics? It's because you never let us down…unlike a certain friend mentioned in today's Group Therapy. Read on!

Thomas has a longtime friend who has been out of work for about a year. This friend is – by Thomas's own admission – sort of a loser: he's lazy, unmotivated, and has even bragged about getting away with doing very little work at his previous jobs.

So…what should Thomas do about the fact that his friend has hit him up for a job at Thomas's new business? It's a position the friend is technically qualified for, and he DOES need a job…but there's definitely some risk involved in hiring him, and Thomas is worried that he'll eventually have to fire him.

Thomas is looking for some serious advice here, so if any of you good people have some insight for this concerned friend and business owner, it's time to get on the job!
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BJ'S BLOG 11/18/15 "Vegan Thanksgiving"

It's almost Turkey Time…for most of us, anyway. If you have a vegan partner, then maybe it's time to be thankful that you have Group Therapy!

We heard from Brian, who thinks his girlfriend has lost her mind. The girlfriend's best friend has become a strict vegan, so guess who else has jumped on the bandwagon? Well, it gets worse: Brian and his lady are hosting Thanksgiving for both of their families, and she has declared their Thanksgiving dinner a NO MEAT ZONE!

Brian told his girlfriend that their families will be disappointed, but she told him to tell his family that he's "had a shift in his thinking", and "won't be an animal murderer anymore"! Poor Brian says she tends to be overbearing and intense about her decisions and life choices, so he has a tough fight ahead of him. He suggested letting someone else host Thanksgiving, but the girlfriend refused, claiming that her new dietary needs wouldn't be accommodated…so she's not going anywhere!

This argument really hit a dead end when the girlfriend pointed out that she pays the bulk of their rent, which she claims entitles her to the final word on the subject.

I feel your pain, brother…so let's see what your fellow Rock-A-Holics have to say about it!
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BJ'S BLOG 11/17/15 "Friends With The Ex"

Hey, Rock-A-Holics! If you need help with your day-to-day conflicts, stick around for Group Therapy…where everybody gets along!

Can ex-spouses stay best friends after the split? That's the question on Tammy's mind, because her current boyfriend is still super-close with his ex-wife. Tammy's guy and his ex-wife have no kids together, and she lives in Portland, but Tammy has definitely taken notice of their continuing friendship. In fact, she finally put her foot down and insisted that her boyfriend needs to stop talking to his ex EVERY DAY.

The woman would call constantly – interrupting meals, quiet moments, and even when Tammy and her guy were in bed. Tammy was tired of the intrusions, and the boyfriend said that he told his ex to limit her phone calls to important things only. Everything got a lot quieter…until Tammy discovered that he was still in touch with his ex, just as often as he was before…only this time, he was doing it in secret. Tammy finally told him that he had to choose between his friendship with his ex-wife and his relationship with his girlfriend.

Now, Tammy is here to ask if we think she's gone too far by issuing an ultimatum. Personally, I'm a big fan of this move…which is odd, because I don't usually applaud the "make a choice" option, especially when it's issued by a woman. In this case, I LIKE IT.

What do you think, gang?
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BJ'S BLOG 11/16/15 "The Art and Power of Protest"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

I once told someone that I was a student at UCLA in the 1960's, and they responded by saying, in a most complimentary way, "Oh, that den of radicals!" I just smiled.

True nonviolent protest is an art, it is a learning process, and it has a system. Some of the protests I had seen recently had been discouraging. To me, a protest, hunger strike, or boycott has nothing to do with throwing things, setting fires, or looting. I have also been more than discouraged by the way the authorities have handled peaceful protests. Billy clubs, mace, or tasers should not be used on anyone doing nothing but sitting on the ground or locking arms in a circle of solidarity. Part of the art of peaceful protest is to keep your head when confronted by a big uniform with a big stick. The largest student strike/boycott in American history occurred in May and June, 1970, during the aftermath of the American invasion of Cambodia and the killings of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. An estimated four million students at more than 450 universities, colleges, and high schools participated in the student strike.

I had thought that students today had become so apathetic that not only did they not know how to protest, they didn't care enough to do so, but now there has been an awakening not only of the power of protest but the art of protest. The series of actions recently at the University of Missouri related to race, workplace benefits, and leadership included a hunger strike by student Jonathan Butler and a boycott by the football team and resulted in the resignation of the president of the University of Missouri, Tim Wolfe, and the chancellor of that flagship Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin. These results were infectious. Students at Ithaca College in upstate New York gathered last Wednesday, 11/11, for a major protest on campus, demanding that the school's president, Tom Rochon, resign over a series of racist incidents at the school. According to the Ithaca Journal, about 1,000 students participated in what they called a solidarity walkout, inspired by the student protests over racism at the University of Missouri as well as at Yale University and Smith College. I hope these protests continue to grow and branch out into all the social issues that are facing us, but most of all I hope there will be teachers to show students how to protest peacefully and those in uniform learn how to handle peaceful protests.

Music, of course, has always played a part in protest. Phil Ochs once said "A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for BS." John Fogerty, in a 2004 protest song titled "Deja Vu (All Over Again)" noted that voices that started as whispers a long time ago became louder and stronger day by day, and I hope this continues to happen.

There's more on the power and art of protest in the podcast as well as a rock-and-roll timeline and the answer to this question: What song has the Prince of Protest Music, Bob Dylan, not performed since 1976, and why? Join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.
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BJ'S BLOG 11/12/15 "Joke At Work"

It's time for Group Therapy, and that's no joke!

Let's see if we can help out a Rock-A-Holic named Diana, who is having some trouble in the workplace. A few months ago, a male coworker started openly flirting with Diana, even in front of their supervisors. Diana is 20 years older than this guy, and in a post-divorce relationship, so she didn't take it seriously. She's always nice to the coworker, but does nothing to encourage the flirtation, as flattering as it is.

Diana describes herself as "overweight, and not all that attractive", so she didn't see how this handsome young man could possibly find her appealing. The mystery was solved recently, when a friendly coworker revealed that the whole thing has been an ongoing joke, and most of Diana's coworkers are in on it. Even worse, it's still going on…and she needs some help to solve it.

Diana, this guy is a horrible person. That's the plain and simple truth! Oh, and any of your supervisors who knew about this should be strung up in the middle of the office. I'm not sure how people are allowing this to go on, and I'm truly sorry that you've had to deal with it.

What advice do you have for Diana, friends? This is truly a Rock-A-Holic in need!
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BJ'S BLOG 11/11/15 "Standing Up For Yourself"

Rock-A-Holics unite! It's time for another session of Group Therapy!

Shauna and her husband regularly spend time with a close-knit group of other couples, but there's a problem: Shauna's husband is the frequent butt of everyone's jokes! He's an easygoing, non-confrontational guy, and that makes him an easy target. Shauna doesn't believe their friends are mean-spirited – especially the most frequent jokers, who happen to be her husband's oldest friends -- but after ten years, she's starting to feel like the jokes have gone on far too long.

None of these comments and gags are directed at Shauna, so she's avoided taking up the fight on her husband's behalf…but she recently told him that if he didn't stand up for himself, she would!

Shauna's looking for some advice regarding this situation, and I'm just not sure what to tell her. It sounds like she's far more bothered by this situation than her husband is, but we don't know that for sure.

What say you, good people? Is this a case of the wife creating drama where none exists, or is this a fight worth jumping into? Your advice is appreciated!
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BJ'S BLOG 11/10/15 "Gender Reveal Party"

Oh, baby! It's time for Group Therapy!

Ray's wife has put him in an awkward situation, and he's not shy about sharing! His wife is planning a "gender reveal" party for the baby they're expecting, and Ray thinks it's just plain stupid. He was willing to let it happen, begrudgingly…but then she dropped the bomb that she wants to make it a party for women AND men to attend. That's when Ray went completely off the deep end.

Ray doesn't want to be there at all, but he sure as hell won't invite his friends to this bash. Unfortunately, that's exactly what his wife wants him to do. I get the impression that Ray won't be going along with inviting his friends, because he's asking if HE even has to attend the party.

The younger generation requires so much "special attention" for every event in their lives, and this is a prime example of this. Yes, it's exciting to have a baby, but a party to announce the sex of the baby?! Seriously? WHO CARES? And why does Ray have to suffer through something that is predominantly more exciting for women? I don't get it.

Talk to me, folks: should Ray get a pass on this party?
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BJ'S BLOG 11/09/14 "I'm No Lunatic, I Just Love the Sun"

Today's blog comes from one of my mentors, Dan Sanders:

The moon gets a lot of credit in songs for being romantic, but to me some of the most romantic songs are about the sun. Maybe I feel that way only because I am a sun worshiper. The sun is my god and goddess. Elton John wants the sun to not go down on him, and John Denver said sunshine made him high. It does me also. The Beatles gave praise in "Here Comes the Sun," and "Summertime," composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess, is one of the most covered songs in music.

I put a post on Facebook not long ago dealing with two things. One is the changing of the clocks, or falling back, as it is not-so-lovingly called in my world, an exercise that no one seems to like and for which no one seems to have a logical explanation, but every year, like clockwork, there it goes. The other issue is SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. I have suffered from SAD since I was a young boy and anyone who says it's all in your head is right, but if one more person in my presence denies it's a real medical issue, it's all going to be in their head as I sucker-smack them.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same time every year, and if you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. SAD saps your energy and makes you feel moody. The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown, but your biological clock might come into play. The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight disrupts the body's internal clock and causes feelings of depression. Bubble-headed news types tell me I'll gain an hour of sleep when the clocks change in fall, but they have rubbed my ticker the wrong way. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood and might trigger depression, and the change in seasons can disrupt the balance of the body's level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

It's estimated that about 6% of the population suffers from mild to severe SAD, and from what I can tell, nearly 100% of the population suffers from the time change. If I let myself, I could get really depressed thinking it's some type of government plot to make me crazy.

In the podcast, there might not be much more about SAD, but who knows what will pop into my brain when I open the mic? There will be a rock-and-roll timeline and the answer to this question: What famous, now deceased, singer-songwriter was once a Harvard theology major? Join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.
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BJ'S BLOG 11/05/15 "4-Year-Old Tattoo Artist"

A father in Florida is catching some flak for letting his 4-year-old daughter give him a tattoo of her own design. Let's be clear: she didn't just DRAW the strawberry that went on her father's skin…she literally used the tattooing needle to put the ink on him. Oh, and she did a great job, too!

I'm not a tattoo guy, but I am a parent, and I actually have 100% understanding for this guy's decision. This will be the most special tattoo he'll ever have, and they've made a beautiful memory to share forever. Of course, the Outrage Police are attacking this in full force, calling the dad irresponsible…but I think it's awesome.

What do you think, folks?
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BJ'S BLOG 1104/15 "Past Coming Back To Haunt You"

This is the place for Rock-A-Holics helping Rock-A-Holics…it's Group Therapy!

We heard from Dawn, who thinks her past may be coming back to haunt her.

Five years ago, she had a brief relationship with a married man from Portland; the fling ended when she transferred to a new job in the Seattle area, which is where she met the man who became her husband six months ago.

Everything was peaches-and-cream for Dawn…until she received a phone call from an unidentified number. She didn't answer, but the caller left a voicemail: it was her married fling's wife, wanting to discuss the affair that Dawn had with her husband. Dawn ignored it, but the woman has called five more times, and even told Dawn that she wasn't going away until the two of them talked about the past.

Dawn's ex-fling contacted her via Facebook, and explained that his wife had found some old receipts from a trip that he took with Dawn, and the evidence was fairly damning. He lied to his wife, telling her it was a one-time thing, but she says they can't move forward in their marriage until she talks about it with "the other woman". Dawn has not replied to the message.

To her credit, Dawn brought her husband into the loop immediately, and he thinks that she should continue to ignore the woman. Dawn's not sure what to do, and she could certainly use some advice from you, good people!
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BJ'S BLOG 10/03/15 "Good Enough For Your Kid"

We're in the home stretch of 2015, folks…but we still have plenty of Rock-A-Holics to help! It's time for the first Group Therapy session of November!

What would you do if your kid was seriously dating someone that you don't approve of? Kim is dealing with exactly that: her daughter is a medical professional with multiple degrees, and a successful career.

(Yes, the "kid" is in her 30s, but we know how mothers can be; let's hear the rest of it.)

Kim's daughter has a serious boyfriend, but Kim thinks she could do much better for herself. The boyfriend doesn't have a high school diploma – in fact, he doesn't even have a GED – and he's never had a steady job, either. He lives with his elderly mother, and Kim thinks that he's looking for a meal ticket…which is why she was especially horrified to learn that her daughter has been talking about MARRYING this guy! She's completely baffled, and goes on to add that this man doesn't even treat her daughter with any kind of respect on a day-to-day basis.

Kim and her daughter's three siblings all agree that the daughter needs to dump this guy, but their pleading falls on deaf ears every time. There's no word on the opinion of the father, and we don't even know if he's in the picture. Maybe that's one of the reasons why Kim turned to us for some advice. I also wonder if this boyfriend is anything like the daughter's dad, because you know what they say about marrying someone just like one of your parents…

It's hard to speculate too deeply with the available information, so I'm going to ask the Rock-A-Holics for their advice! What kind of help can you offer this seriously worried mother?
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BJ'S BLOG 11/02/15 "The Artist's Dilemma"

Today's blog comes from one of my metors, Dan Sanders:

There has been some talk on Facebook lately about posting artists' works without financial compensation. To me, artists are like waiters and waitresses. We survive by hoping our audience will like what we do enough to leave a tip. A blogger on Facebook said that The Huffington Post had wanted to re-run one of his pieces and he was very happy to have them do so until he learned they were not willing to pay him for it. What probably was hours and hours of research, writing, and to me the most dreaded job of all, editing, was not considered. While he didn't write the piece for them, they should have paid him for permission to use it, at the least.

HubPages, a company I once worked for, does pay—a little. They have a strong acceptance policy, and a lot of fine writers have done ok with them. But when I was there, I kept getting this rejection notice: "We cannot accept this because it appears on other parts of the Internet." Of course it does! I have my own website!! Yes, I am all over the Internet. I am like puppy poop in the park. I am everywhere, and I want to be everywhere. HubPages wanted exclusivity, and I left for that reason.

I have recently begun working with three different stock photo agencies, and when I submit a photo, I have an option that if accepted by them I can give them the exclusive rights to it. I never do this! I want to be in as many places as I can. If they want to make my paycheck big enough so I don't need to be other places, then we can talk.

When you have your own website, occasionally another website/platform asks to re-post something on it with the proper credits given, and sometimes I let them, biting my pride. My talent is worth money and probably has always been worth more than I have ever been paid, but the added publicity for my photography, podcast, or blogs is worth it. Fame or fortune: That's the artist's dilemma.

There are more thoughts on this as well as the rock-and-roll timeline on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there, and come with the answer to this question: Do you know which rock-and-roll singer-songwriter is also an astrophysicist?
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