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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...

No, not the work kind.  Earlier in the week, I noticed something about the new phone I hadn't before; when I scrolled through the pictures in the camera roll, they seemed to come slightly to life as each rolled by.  I showed Emily on Friday; she explained that the iPhone had added a new "live" function which I'd turned on, which made a short .gif-like short video out of each shot which you accessed by pressing down on the shot.  Unfortunately, they were in an Apple-only format and could only be shared with other iDevices that way.

Unless there was an app for that- and there was. Were, in fact.  The first recommended for conversion to true .gif format was something called Lively, which took these gizmos and gif-ified them- but with watermarks and apparently with charges after the first few tries. I tried anyway, picked a picture of Ebony and Ursula frolicking the previous Sunday, and turned into a gif-a-licious shot of them moving about:)  Unfortuately, Facebook wouldn't publish it with the animation; too big, maybe?  So I pressed on and found one called LP Converter, which was cost-free, watermark-free, but also Facebook-free in that its video attributes didn't upload there, either.  Ah, but with a little help from Dropbox? They upload quite nicely here:)

And I can link to this there, so there ya go:)

(We were back at the parp! this morning and had a nice time running all around.)



Yesterday afternoon, we sat down to watch the recording, from the previous night, of the Hamilton's America documentary on PBS. We were able to record it because our public-television affiliate has finally gone along with the network in showing important things like this on schedule instead of feeding reruns to their large audience of senile viewers who can't stay up that late.

In one word: wow. A-Ham nailed it and how. It's even got me rapping now.

Much of the show itself is shown, either onstage on Broadway or from a command performance with the entire cast and band at the White House.  The documentary segments go back to years before Opening Night, with Lin-Manuel, still onstage with In the Heights, stumbling over Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography of the founding father and turning it into a song, then a second song almost a year later, but eventually an entire book and a set of music and a national phenomenon.

Everybody Loves Alex.  There are clips from both Obama and George Dubya, from Elizabeth Warren and Paul Ryan, from Steven Sondheim and John Weidman, from Jimmy Fallon and both Roots.  They take on the good and the bad of the realties of the characters depicted- the slaveowning founders, the pettiness between men and factions, the blood sport that led, in perfectly punctilious correspondence, to the final duel between A. Hamilton and A. Burr- but they also note that there was a Room Where It Happens- and what happened was a terrible, horrible, nasty and deplorable thing in modern politics: compromise.  They talked; they listened; they gave and they got. Remember when our leaders in our lifetime used to do that without being pilloried?

Through it, we not only see the stage where the show goes on eight times a week, but so many of the places depicted on it: Valley Forge. The site of the Room Where It Happened.  The blood field in Weekawken where it ended. And the graves of both Burr and Hamilton, who both did get their Shot.

I'd never really seen many of the clips from the play or soundtrack before- as with Rent, which I also came to know in a single sitting listening to the soundtrack, I'm glad I got to know it as a more-or-less unified whole, which will make seeing it, whenever and wherever we do see it (as we will see Rent in just over two weeks YAY!), all the more special.
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Never mind that first part of the sentence; it's been the worst of times around here, at least when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.

It'll be three weeks tomorrow since I awoke to a sore throat and feeling generally crappy.  I spent two of the first three ensuing workdays mostly out of the office, by which time I was hocking up major loogies and, I thought, getting over it.  But then Le Cough arrived and still hasn't completely left.  By the end of the following weekend, Eleanor was starting to feel badly as well, and we spent most of last week in a perpetual game of Dueling Coughs.

Other than the coughing jags through the day and night, I seemed okay; I got through several workouts and several heavy intense workdays, some with travel, without other issue.  My goal was to hold out until two days ago, the scheduled followup visit with my MD from the change in my blood pressure meds.  I kept that appointment; in a remarkable coincidence, about an hour before it, Eleanor texted me to ask to switch cars (Ziggy won't make it to her doctor's and back) because her coughing fits were causing her chest pains and she wanted them checked, stat.

I dropped what I was doing as soon as I could drop it and told her I'd bring my car to the store by 1:30.  Then she reported that her doc in the Land of Far Far Away couldn't get her in that afternoon and that Eleanor would instead take the quick trip to a Doc-in-a-Box.  And so it wound up that she and I both presented our near-identical symptoms at near-identical times a little over 48 hours ago.

Here's how THAT went:

Me: Checked in, subjected to a 45-minute wait (enough to lower my BP from seeing the Trumpernutter SUV in the parking lot- of course he was the old, fat, probable smoker), confirmed that my reading is a normal 112/78, had an actual stethoscope placed on my body over the coughing issue, and was diagnosed with the disease I once proposed to be recorded on my mother's tombstone:

Her: Almost simultaneously, Doc Innabox checked Eleanor's symptoms, ran a chest x-ray on her, immediately diagnosed pneumonia, and put her on meds and sent her home from work for two days.

I spent most of yesterday stewing about it, especially when the cough continued to be annoying and sleep-depriving. Then I woke up this morning, after my first cough-free night in two weeks, and headed off for a long, full, rich day. It was not cough-free, but has been significantly cough-reduced.  Maybe the sumbitch is just a cold.

Ah, but there's one other variable.  Since I had to leave well before 8 today and was up for animals right at 6, I elected to just stay up and left early enough for a proper breakfast on the way.  This included the elixir of life; according to my sister and her longtime boyfriend (who had the recipe of the gods), there is no disease on earth that home fries cannot cure:

Honest to shit, this has been my best health day in three weeks.  Much as I'd love to damn my doctor with a diagnosis he missed, I'll be just as happy taking the home-fry cure if it really works.
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TED-X Buffalo, to be precise. My first time in the experience; previous years' audiences were limited and essentially auditioned by email, but this year they just sold cheap seats and I scored two of them weeks ago.

This is the sixth year of TED talks in Buffalo, the second in this amazing now-and-former sacred space once known as Asbury Delaware United Methodist Church- rescued from the wrecking ball by Ani DiFranco, and now the city's premier intimate performance venue.  There's even a bar in the basement; John Wesley's spinning in his grave powers the turbines for the building's electrical service.

That's the first speaker up there, Jim Cielencki. (This is Buffalo, after all.) The talk titles really don't give away much; his was "Discovering I Knew Nothing About My City." There was a hint in the blurb about it being about running, but nothing led to the amazement of what he did over five months: to train for the late-May Buffalo Marathon, Jim set out, GPS tracker aboard, to run down every avenue, street, boulevard, alley, highway and even Skyway within the city limits prior to race day- except for the race course itself. Those 26-ish miles were saved for the end, which he finished in under 5 hours (or about as long as it would take me to run 10).  He showed us awesome pictures from The Roads- of trees and cars and houses of all ilk- and said that nobody, anywhere, hassled him as long as he smiled and said hello and treated them as he'd wanted to be treated.

Next up was a crowdsourcer, Allison Sargraves. She deputized all of us as Citizen Data Scientists, providing numerous websites where we could help researchers- studying everything from Antarctic penguins to the migratory patterns of monarch butterflies to how video gamers can help crack gene sequences for disease cures.

We then got a local geologist, specializing in Arctic glaciers. Jason Briner (what a name for studying sea levels) showed us some scary graphics of how glaciers have been receding, and their former contents filling up sea levels, for the 20 years he's been studying them.  If you live south of Sunrise Highway on Long Island, I hope you can tread water.  But the Paris Agreement offers hope, particularly if we don't have a President who thinks 97 percent of climate scientists are in on a "hoax."

I was most excited about the next one: William Capozzi, speaking about virtual reality and animation.  I even texted Emily a picture of himself.  He was the shortest and slowest of Act One, focusing on how to use VR to animation-capture buildings that are either long-gone (such as the Larkin Building in Buffalo) or threatened (such as a bank building in his downtown home of Olean that I remember from when Bankruptcy Court held forth in that neighborhood). I'd give this one a Concept 10, Looks 3.

And that got us to Jamie.  He's a Digital Arts professor at Canisius, and it was an hour delay on a tarmac out of Buffalo on a winter night that got him talking with another faculty member, which, eventually, led to them combining digital transmission with footwear.  First he demonstrated with a single dancer- how his own steps created the entirety of the music broadcast from his feets.  Then, he brought him back as part of a quartet- five if you count the DJ who was mixing the feeds from all four pairs to create, well, this:

And that was only the half of it.  I'd had a long workday; there were Lloyd's burritos for pickup, but only for those who ordered them over a week ago; and I was alone, since Eleanor was home sick with the same shitty thing I've likely been running for more than a week longer (more about that debacle in another post); I gave away her ticket when I walked in and hopefully it helped someone get in to the soldout hall.  So I bailed at halftime, but all of the Talks should be up on Youtube shortly and I'll link to them when they arrive.
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Been a busy-bee couple of days- much of it involving bleeping electronics.

The remote I sank into the briny deep has now stopped working again, and a factory-original replacement for it appears to cost close to half what the flippin' DVR cost in the first place.  There are much cheaper multimodel versions and I will try ordering one of those first.

Most of the past days' efforts have gone into resuscitating Eleanor's laptop from a backlog of uninstalled Windows updates.  Among them was/were the one/ones which should have automatically upgraded it to 8.1- the only version of that generation which Microsoft still supports.  When we started this over the weekend, there were over 170 of them awaiting download and installation.  Doing all of them at once simply caused the thing to hang.  So I tried doing it by category; more hanging. Finally, come Sunday morning I decided the only sure way to do this was one at a time.  Repeat the following, up to 170 times:

- Open Windows Update. (This itself is not an easy feat in 8-land, where you Start in "Metro" format and get no link to the update section without about 10 different clicks.  A desktop shortcut got that down to two each time.)
- Click the "select updates" choice.
- Unclick the entire list (one keystroke, fortunately), then drop to the bottom and check the oldest.
- Hit "install."
- Pray.

The first one took. Yay! It also required a restart, as more than half of them ultimately did.  By Sunday night, we were closing in on 100 remaining.  Then I started getting cute and experimenting with how many I could do at a time: usually more than five, sometimes just over 10.  By last night, the count was down for the count into the 50s, and we'd crossed over into.... The Upgrade Zone.

OK, her background colour is orange, but that"s the text

That 10 thing wasn't happening; Eleanor's laptop already got it and it had to be rolled back because, HP, but there's that 8.1 link on the left.  Earlier tries to get this downgraded upgraded through the Store had failed, because it insisted we install all the updates first. This time, though, it let me try-

-and fail:P  "Something happened"- sounds real technical, like what Marcia Brady used to say when trying to get out of a date.

Nothing on any official Microsoft site about it, but the Windows Club (which I would've liked to use to pummel more than one Microsoft-running computer over the years) revealed a simple five-minute fix involving four DOS commands and a folder deletion.  And when I left home at lunchtime today, all the updates were on and 8.1 was installing.

Take your Turing test and shove it, Windows. We're still smarter than you:P
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Picked up the 2016 Ghostbusters DVD this afternoon, and we got through about half of it.  Given recent technological events, it came as no surprise when, less than an hour in, the lid of the fish tank fell in to the water- and then when, a good ten minutes after that, I noticed that the DVR remote was floating in the soup tank, as well.

At least it wasn't my new phone.

It seems to have dried out, and with a fresh pair of AAs, appears to be working again.

We spent a lot of time today trying to get Windows updates onto Eleanor's computer. I was sure it was on Windows 8.1 (version 10 didn't play well with it when it first came out and it had to be rolled back), but it says it's just plain 8.  We tried an outside app to get the 100-plus missing updates onto it (one of which, supposedly, is the 8.1 upgrade), but it's still sitting at the dining room table spinning its wheels. Disks. Whatever.


I'm becoming more and more convinced that this election season in general, and Drumpf's rantings in particular, are a leading contributor to my BP being out of whack.  Not a day can go by without multiple reports indicating that he is the worst potential world leader being considered for office in my lifetime- and that includes a decade of Southern segregationists, assorted banana-republic dictators, and several people named Bush.

This also occurred to me the other day:  I made me a list of Presidential-political downfalls within my lifetime:

1968- George Romney, father of Mittens, is a leading contender for the GOP nomination and is immediately shunned and abandoned for using one word- "brainwashing"- in an unscripted interview.

1972- Thomas Eagleton, McGovern's running mate, is dropped like a hot potato from the ticket after the revelation that he had been treated for mental illness.

1972-80: Ted Kennedy, successor to his family's legacy and the best-known and most charismatic candidate the Democrats ever had since his brothers, consistently fails to gain the nomination on account of a single (admittedly horrible) accident in his past.

1984: Gary Hart, a leading contender to take on Reagan at his midpoint, is drummed out of the race over allegations of sexual indiscretions on a motherfucking boat.

2004: Howard Dean, a leading contender to take on Dubya at HIS midpoint, gives a speech which is quickly derided as "I Have a Scream," drops like a stone through the ensuing primaries and is never heard from again.

The common thread? All of these acts and events and statements were deemed to render these candidates unsuitable for the Presidential ticket. Yet now we have a candidate who can say (and has said) far worse things, been accused of far worse things, and promises to do far worse things- and nobody gives a shit.

Today, alone, brought further word of planned insurrections on and after Election Day if the Trumpernutters suspect "it's rigged"- Drumpf himself threatening to challenge voters if he thinks they're not white acceptable enough. Also, the FBI arrested three Christian extremist terrorists in Kansas who were plotting a McVeigh-style murder of Somali Muslims. One of the three was a confirmed ardent Drumpf supporter.

Pass the Lisinopril.

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The replacement for the dead phone is here and fully loaded. It is not the same, larger one Eleanor got but an upgraded (and twice as big on the inside) version of my previous 5S in the same-size case. Which means the previous phone's Mets case still fits, yay!, and with screen protection now added, I should be good to go.

The "restore" wasn't as smooth as advertised. Backups to iTunes do not include passwords or syncing instructions, so those had to be manually entered. Twice, as it turned out, since even after the first full restore, iTunes kept wanting me to restore either to factory or to the previous backup. Eventually I overcame the hiccups (with the help of some new and extremely profane passwords), and all seems to be well.

For me, at least. My dear friend and officemate emailed me this morning to say her father-in-law had just passed away.  Once she finally got into the office, I learned that she, too, had smashed her 5-size iPhone screen- victimized while visiting  neighbors to inform them of their loss. Apparently she is lacking the insurance that I had, so I referred her to a local outlet of a chain which friends spoke highly of when I reported my own loss.   I hope it works out for her.


Failing which, there's always beer.

My friend and fellow dog-church celebrant Ann, who I've been working out with in different places for years, invited me to a fundraiser tonight sponsored by her running group. A twenty-dollar donation to breast cancer research got you two free craft beers from a local microbrewery, pizza and finger foods, a chance at raffle prizes, and plenty of good company.

All of which was all good.  Here's my obligatory photo of Ann the fotog:

Yes, those are beer cans behind her. I'd never guessed there was a microbrewery in this industrial park fourish miles from home; I certainly couldn't guess how many cans there were back there, but Brew Dude and I did some math and we came up with "148,000 cans of beer on the wall" (my donation only got me two pints):

I downed my first (cherry vanilla) pint and a slice of pizza, then headed home to feed animals.  Once Eleanor got home and was cool with it, I returned for some steps into my past and even Emily's.

There were more than those 148,000 cans. This microbrewery had kegs-

- and even vats-

I turned in my second freebie for a Coffee Porter ale, and returned to where Ann and several of her friends were dining.  Deja vu quickly settled in: she'd previously mentioned the name of a friend who I thought I remembered from law school,  and it indeed it was she I saw there tonight, but Ann hadn't mentioned Ellen's husband, also from our class, who I also remembered and appreciated for his Cubs cap (now that the Mets are eliminated;)-

Turns out they live near us, and at least their oldest daughter probably knew Emily at Amherst High School.

Speaking of which, another couple in attendance included a retired AHS teacher who taught AP English there until the year before Em got to ninth grade:

That's Jack, his companion showing off the craft-brew growler they won in the fundraiser's raffle. (Way lots of prizes; even I won something: a bag with a ballcap, a backpack, some  running gloves and a fanny belt, plus assorted chocolate and energy bars.)

All in all, a cool night for a cool cause.
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They say no good deed ever goes unpunished.  We've had mixed results with that over the past few days. Most of them worked out for good, or at least better. Almost all were just functions of being in the right place at the right (or wrong) time.

Beginning with the most recent and one of biggest consequence:

Our personal checking account bank just got acquired. Again.  This is the fourth change in the 20 years since we left Rochester, as First Federal begat Marine Midland which begat HSBC which begat First Niagara and, which, now, hath begat Key Bank.  Our branch itself only moved once in all those times, from First Federal Plaza to a Marine a block away in downtown Rochester; as of yesterday, that historic bank building is no longer hosting a bank for the first time in more than a century.  I have no idea where our deposit account technically resides anymore.

None of which is relevant to the Good Deed of the Day gone bad.  That occurred at a dull '70s bank branch a couple miles from here,  built for the long-gone Buffalo Savings Bank but which has been Keyed for all of our memory here.  It's where we did our most recent refi, and is the closest to home for our former First Niagara funds, so it's where I headed this morning to make a deposit.  I did it by ATM; they have saved us grief by continuing our existing account numbers, checks, deposit slips and debit card, so we haven't had to root around with dozens of pre-authorized payment changes (yet).

But there's one obvious glitch: First Niagara, like several other local banks, programmed its ATMs to return your card as soon as it was swiped. Fewer forgotten cards that way. Key ATMs have always done it the older-school way: you get it back when you're done. People forget; Lord knows I have, including once when a remote machine swallowed it perpetually and required a replacement. So when I got up to the ATM today, the previous customer's transaction, and soon after his card, were still hanging there.  So I collected his, did my transaction, and then did the right and righteous thing: I pulled into a parking space and brought his card into the branch.

It made it.  Here's what didn't:

I've been expecting this for weeks, ever since Eleanor got the one-up version and they insisted on her getting screen protection and a case that would absorb more impact.  So today's pavement did the trick, and turned me all Hulksmash for the next several hours.

But it wound up okay.  I returned to work, got my stuff out, headed downtown to keep another Good Deed Errand; as we will soon see, little was accomplished but nothing further was broken;). Then I headed to an ATT store. (Not the one with The Bros, but on the other side of town and on my way to night court, which went well, because #dammitIwasentitled).

Yes, I've been paying for the Good Insurance all these years.  And because I'd never made an insurance claim in all those years, they cut my deductible in half to $112 and have shipped me the Next iPhone Up- essentially the same one Eleanor got a few weeks ago, for about a fifth of the cost.

Alas, I will need to replace its Mets casing (fat lot of good THAT did anyway when it fell screenside-down), and I will get a screen protector and an Otter box for it before it leaves the house, but as accidents go, this one was one of the happier ones.


Other nice things we've done in recent days, with varying results:

* That trip downtown. An online friend- who I've met For Realz for all of five minutes but is For Realz Friends with a number of different LJ-tree friends of ours- needed help with getting copies of some court records in Buffalo in a case which I never represented them in (and neither had anybody else). They've since moved out of state, and didn't know how to get what they needed.  I did, but not exactly how: yesterday, I found out (a letter from me to them, signed and notarized).  It came via scan late this morning. I took it downtown this afternoon. Good news: the man had the right form! Bad news: state courts are still firmly entrenched in the mid 20th century and will not accept scans, or faxes, or forms written-in in crayon.  So the original is being mailed to me and only then will justice prevail.

* Good and bad people at Register 21. Eleanor's had a variety of experiences working cash registers in the past few days.  First came the bad: on Monday, a customer bitching about a shopper behind her in line who had too many items for the express lane.  Absent serious metaphysical concerns, we refer to this in legal terms as "lack of standing." But then yesterday made up for it: another customer, clearly of limited means, came through and wound up short on her purchase, which included a takeout order.  It's not like she could turn back half the package; rules would require the entire order to be voided and its contents pitched.  Eleanor did what Eleanor does (as I would, and you probably would, too): she reached into her wallet and covered the shortfall. Whereupon the next customer in THAT line, who saw what Eleanor did, pulled out cash to reimburse her for the kindness and then some.  Granted we're talking five bucks here and there, and Eleanor dutifully reported both the kindness and the response, to which her boss replied, Yeah, I figured that's something you would have done.

* Forgive us our debts, unless they're for taxes. 
So I know a guy.  Met him for maybe ten minutes longer than I met the previous friend, but I continue to read his social media postings regularly and find him to be a righteous dude.  (I also met his daughter, at the same time and about for as long, and  she is also as righteous, if somewhat less dude-ish.)  You may have heard of one or both of them; you definitely have heard of at least one actor who played them in a movie based on one of his books a number of years ago.

Anyway. In reaction to the revelation a few weeks back about Candidate Drumpf likely paying no income taxes in the past decade , my friend posted about his own struggles with debt and taxation. TL;DR: he is paying the IRS on account of debts that he is no longer required to pay, thanks to a nasty Internal Revenue Code section that turns "cancellation of indebtedness" into "ordinary income" for the year of cancellation.

But. As Drumpf could tell you, rules have exceptions.  I know of one, that this friend is clearly eligible for. I sent him a message where I pointed out this exception and encouraged him to take advantage of it. The form in question is one page, requires a handful of ticky-boxes to be checked, and could easily ease his financial pain.

Nothing.  No response to the message, or note on his social media postings about it.  I've run into this issue with actual clients in the past, at least one of whom sent me a tax return which reduced a refund because of a misunderstanding about this rule and the main exception to it, and about how a simple amendment would entitle her to get back money that was mistakenly applied to an unjust debt.  No, she said: she didn't want to cause trouble.

In neither case did I expect a nickel for my analysis or recommendation. I just hate seeing people being taken. But I'm also learning to let go when I simply cannot be heard over guilt or other voices in other peoples' heads.

Besides, I'm already getting a new phone. I don't need any more goodies than that.
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Here's a tip: support your local film festival.  It doesn't seem to matter if it's a big one or the kinda ticky-tack one we have going here, that's run out of a basement of a building in Harlem but garishly calls itself the "Buffalo International Film Festival." If you order tickets online, as we did to one of their screenings a few years ago, you wind up on mailing lists for studios and survey operators and get invites to free previews, usually a week or so before their release.  Through this, we saw Philhomena (loved it), Saving Mr. Banks (not so much), Guardians of the Galaxy (got there too late, as they routinely overbook these cinemas, but did get a poster for the kids) and probably invites to some others.  This time was a little different in that they were screening not a full film but just an extended 15-minute preview.

For Doctor Strange. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  In 3-D and IMAX.  Aw hell yeah.

Eleanor had Art And Plenty Of It to keep her busy, so I just ran over to Regal literally on the dot of the scheduled start, and the Marvel comic reel was just starting when I got there.  We watched as Doc S lost his shit and regained higher consciousness or whatever Tilda and Other Benedict were dishing out up on the mountaintop.  The 3-D things hurtled toward us, Manhattan folded in on itself, and of course the stupid Brit does a spot-on US accent.

Before the lights came up, one voice from behind me summed up the whole experience:  HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AWESOME!

It opens 4 November.  I think I'll be there.


Once home, I Facebooked a brief note about the screening. A friend of mine from old AOL days, who lives in London (the Canadian one), mentioned, Oh yeah, that's the one my cousin is in.

Well.  Marvel films tend to go heavy on extras; half of downtown Rochester's daytime population got roped into Amazing Spiderman 2 a few years before that reboot rebusted.  So I asked, Who's your cousin? An Avenger, or Flattened Citizen 16?

Ha ha.  Let me check IMDB, she replied. I think her character's named Christine Palmer.

I got there first- and wow, eh?  My friend's cousin is Rachel McAdams.

It makes sense.  Her breakout US role was in 2004's Mean Girls, but we came to know her (if somewhat later than the original airings) from her work on 2003's first season of Canada's Slings and Arrows.  She always came across as a kind and down-to-earth kind of performer; I'm thrilled to be seeing her in something that looks a little more surreal than your standard SOCK POW BIFF content of the Marvel Comic Universe.

So my Benedict Cumberbatch Number is down to two.  Not as good as Kevin Bacon's, but it's a lot lower than it was at this time last night;)
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Well, here, anyway. If you're Canadian, you're truly blessed with family, a wonderful and multicultural Thanksgiving celebration.  Meanwhile, we get our banks closed and our mail goes undelivered- on account of a dude who didn't discover anything, invaded a continent, kicked the native peoples out of their lands and stole their stuff, and then brought all their treasure (and probably syphilis) back home with him.

Least he didn't get caught on tape calling them pussies.

I could've taken the day off.  The rest of this week is going to be a bear- court in three different places at 9:30 tomorrow, 6:30 Wednesday night and 10 Thursday morning, plus the usual BS that always follows a three-day weekend.

Okay, I slept in (for me) and came in a little late, but I was here.  It was a nice and relatively quiet Sunday- Dog Church at 8, Old Church at 11 (just to see some old friends- little other reason to go back there), cleaning of floors and fish during the afternoon, cardio and a Mr. Robot in between cleanings, and a late but satisfying Bills victory in LA.  We watched another Endeavour, and turned in at a decent hour- so I headed in, just to catch up on timekeeping, get two already-written letters out, and deal with anything else that might come up.

Which, mostly, nothing has.  So I cleaned out the inbasket, but just before closing out one file, I decided to scan the document in it.  Bad move.  I missed a staple in the assembly and the sheet feeder on the copier ground to a complete halt, smooshing every original document stuck into it.

Fortunately, the copier service is neither Italian-American nor Canadian, and their guy got here and fixed the problem within an hour of my calling it in.

I'm now going to scan the  thing- sheet by sheet on the damn glass- and get out of here before anything else, including All Hell, breaks.
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For most purposes, I was off as of noon yesterday. I attended a committee meeting in downtown Buffalo, came home to change out of work clothes, then stopped briefly in the Rochester office before heading out another half-hour east of there to see the kids.  There was purpose in that: Emily is trying to restart her art career, and one step in that was getting access to a professional-grade printer for her samples.  As it happens, we had an extra fitting that order: Eleanor's previous photography-grade printer, an Epson, had stopped working a couple of years ago, and she replaced it with her current HP. Eventually, we had a friend take a shot at fixing its printhead in case she could then sell it at a garage sale she was holding, but she wound up just needing to do some cleaning and reconditioning, and it was pronounced good as new- whereupon it sat in our cellar bathroom ever since.

We tested it out yesterday, connecting it to the crappy old XP Boat Anchor we use for such oddities, and it communicated but was showing cartridge errors. I got out to the kids' place a little after 4 yesterday afternoon, hauled the Epson up the stairs, and Em found the needed Windows 10 drivers for it- but it still popped the cartridge error. Not surprising, given how long it had been in the cellar with the cartridges slowly airing out, so we took a quick trip to Wal-Mart and found a new set of them.  Still, though: no workee.  In time, she told me she'd try to troubleshoot it herself and I began the drive home, but before I even got past the first Rochester exit, there came a text: I got it working!  It needed, surprise surprise, just a little cleaning to get the new cartridges to register.

I rolled in around 8 pm, a Wegmans dinner bought en route half-eaten in the store and the other half quickly consumed once I got here.  Then Eleanor asked me to chant with her, after she'd had a similarly long day of her own.  I was cool with it, but I noticed she kept looking over to me to make sure I could keep up with the 5-15 minute recommended duration of the repeated mantra. When she vocalized that, I just said, "What, you think a lawyer's gonna have trouble in a hot air contest?"  She busted a gut laughing for the duration of the gongyo, and shared the story with several others, including Emily.


After one of my better nights of sleep in a while other than a really weird dream, I woke up right on time for a 9:00 workout. When it was over, it was pouring outside. Usually, I walk from the studio to the Wegmans in the adjacent plaza to get breakfast, but given the rain, I just ran to my car and drove instead to the Wegmans closer to home that Eleanor works at during the week.

I wound up ordering breakfast from a delightful young lady who works at their coffee bar, who complimented me on the shirt I was wearing:

Not only was she familiar with the show; she was in the cast:) (I told Eleanor when I got home; she knows Arin, and knew that both she and her boyfriend had been in the show.)

Spent the afternoon among clearing my desk, mowing the entire yard, and resting from all of the above.  We ended the day with the special feature section of the Endeavour disks, and moar chanting- plus watching in glee as Drumpf disintegrates before our very eyes.

(Oh- and I'm sticking with my default icon, because a question I'd posed to Ken Levine, one of the late-era writers for MASH, was used, and answered relative to something I'd asked him a few weeks back, in the Friday Questions series of his blog. Mine is the one from Ray at the end.)

All in all, pretty accomplished for not having punched in:)
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Sorry, didn't mean to get on a Fender-bender there;)

I was up later than usual last night with two important things.  Neither went all that well.  The Mets lost their one-game entry into the remainder of the post-season, at home, the only runs scoring on a three-run homer by an unheralded midget among Giants.  My review of the game is here.  At least I got one final night of the wisdom of Howie Rose, the excitement of the sold-out Citi Field crowd, and plenty of good feeling that the Mets will be back next year better than ever.

Around the start of the game at 8, I logged into the Jeopardy! test, which this time really was scheduled to start at 9.  I checked every five minutes or so to be sure I didn't miss the start- but then the ballgame got "compicated," as my mother would have said, and all my focus was on whether Thor would keep his no-hitter alive (he didn't) or if the Mets would score when finally getting to the invincible Giant pitcher the second time through the lineup (they didn't, either).  Next I knew, it was 9:06 and I'd missed the first 13 out of 50 questions.  Nothing to do but dive in and hope I'd get on a run..... which I did. A bad one.  Food questions. Ancient geography questions. Just to keep me from what-is-electrocuting-myself, Alex?, they fed me regular sops: a Mister Robot question, one about Thor's hammer (I'd just looked it up for a Noah Syndergaard post an hour before) and a Dan Quayle question where I'd randomly mentioned hime earlier in the day.  None mattered; I sucked almost as badly on the last 37 as on the unanswered first 13- so when it came to the last one, I needed to share my true feelings with the Clue Club (I'm blanking the actual answer, as some people are still scheduled to take the thing later tonight):

Then it was time for sleep, and for the first time in almost a week, I got a good night of it. The bug is definitely beaten and only remotely whimpering, and this was my best day of feels and do's since I came down with the damn thing last Saturday.  I worked from home again this morning- not for caution but convenience, since Ebony had a noon vet appointment.  It went fine; their biggest concern is that she's lost four pounds in the past several months, and 15 in the past year down to just over 50 pounds, but she doesn't look emaciated.  It's more worry over whether it's a symptom of something, so we're going to watch.  She's also all updated on meds, including heartworm which is now back to a monthly pill which I got her to eat on only the second try tonight.

After that, the office, where I was only on the phone with the IRS for about two useless minutes instead of the two annoying and useless hours of the day before.  Even got a workout in before Eleanor got home, and we rewatched the first of the most recent season's Endeavour episodes that I ordered from PBS last month.  It's a sign of a Tale Well Told when you re-watch, vaguely remembering some of the plot twists and reveals, and still have a good sense of suspense as to what's going on and how it all works out.  Best of all is seeing the interplay between Shaun Evans and Roger Allam; despite knowing that Morse will come back, won't die and will be John Thaw in 25 years, his younger self's mentor still needs to sell him on it, and Allam's droll love for his subordinate is a thing of joy to behold.

As is the soundtrack.

-- --- .-. ... .
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Plenty to keep the ol' BP up there for an otherwise quiet evening alone at home (Eleanor's out chanting tonight):

* The bug rebounded during the day.  Maybe I just pushed too hard- running all around with errands, then court, then a document run four blocks away, but I felt crap when I got back to the office. By lunchtime, I felt better, but then midafternoon was just a big bag of awful. Some, granted, because I was on phone calls to the IRS for close to two hours, yielding absolutely no new information.

* While on hold, after finishing a whole bankruptcy draft and a lawsuit for early next week, I began a very intense Mr. Robot. I have that to finish between now and a bit past 8, when the collective nerves of Met fans everywhere will be taxed for more than two hours, because....

* Tonight's the one-and-done playoff game against San Francisco at home, to determine which of the two will continue on to Chicago in two days for a best-of-five Division Series against the team with the best record in baseball all year.  The Giant pitcher is, well, a giant pitcher; I saw him for the first time at the August 2014 game I attended, and he shut the Mets out in a 9-0 tirefire.  On the other hand, we've got a much better team than 2014, plus we've got fucking Thor:

At least I made my arrangements to listen to the Met radio broadcast of the game on my phone instead of the network honks; my subscription wasn't showing the post-season games when I first checked, but the app just needed an update and now it's there.

* Oh, and somewhere in the first inning or so I have to remember to log in to the goddam Jeopardy! test.  I mixed up the start time last night and came in too late; tonight's the one that begins at 9.

No more court this week, just two other appointments, and then the weekend to complete the recovery and hopefully get onto some active hating of the Chicago Cubs.

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Still home, more out of abundance of caution than real need.  Last night's sleep went much better, and today's, um, output has been much more controlled. I start back in with appointments tomorrow, and think I'll be up to them.  Only one of them is court; Thursday, I need to take Ebony to the vet because somehow Dum-Dum owner let her rabies lapse and I need that before I can relicense her (or, um, take her to a dog park:P).  Then Friday's day out consists of a committee meeting here, then a late day in Rochester- partly to deal with craziness from client past, and probably to bring some stuff out to Emily and Cameron.


Most of today, I've been working on one judgment.  Amazing, what people put out about themselves on the internet.  I filed it against a guy just last month; I'd asked the client for any information that would help collect it, but googling his name got me straight to his Linkedin profile- which shows, among other things, that he runs a sports memorabilia business, one that was totally unrelated to the work my client did for him.

I've already prepared the papers in which, in so many words, I threaten to take away his baseball cards.


We both stayed home after long days yesterday, and have no plans to be out tonight, but I suppose we should celebrate cause it's my wife's special day:

The term itself is a Firesign Theater reference, but apparently there's also a punk band with that name which is where the image comes from.


And then the day will end with my annual intellectual butt-kicking:  the Jeopardy online contestant test goes live at 9:00 eastern.  Most years, I've either forgotten to check, or signed up and sucked.  The last one, I thought was reasonably decent, but I never got a callback.  Maybe the 20th time is the charm- or maybe Trebek's just scared of me.  Wussy Canadian.

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As times go to get sick, this is as good a one as any. I was on my third day on the new BP med, which seemed to be working, and was also feeling a little sore in the arm from the flu shot they gave me when I went in, but then Saturday dawned and my throat had that telltale sign of trouble.  I made it through a 9 a.m. workout with no ill effects, but by day's end, it had escalated to chills and general malaise.  Fortunately, I had nothing planned for Saturday other than some Captain America Civil War watching after some earlier-afternoon New York Mets Playoff Spot clinching.

Yesterday morning, I actually felt a little better.  Dog Church was delayed, between rain and our fellow pupperishioners having other plans in the morning.  I finally got Ebony up there around 2 p.m.; we usually prefer morning because it's less crowded, but this was during the Bills game and the place was as quiet as the morning sessions usually are.  Lots of new faces (and butts for Ebony to sniff), including more than a few young pups there for one of their first times.

The afternoon was then divided among three sporting events: the closing moments of the Bills unexpected win, a few check-ins on the Mets final game (they lost, but it was meaningless to their playoff seeding), and best of all listening to most of Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully's final call.  This is a guy who goes back to when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, two years before I was born.  A guy who gave the nation the eternal moments of the Mets' 1986 World Series comeback and victory.  A guy who treated everyone- from his fellow in-awe broadcasters to the cleaner emptying the trash in the broadcast booth- like a friend.  His final words, as the Dodgers lost their final regular season game (also meaningless to their post-season):

I have said enough for a lifetime, and for the last time, I wish you all a pleasant good afternoon.

We ate in the greenhouse last night, and I felt I'd be up to the workday today- but then came Day Three- Attack of the Loogies.  Lots of wakies last night, and by wakeup time I felt as crap as I had two days before.  I've bombed myself with Vitamin C and constant water, which seems to be helping, but I don't want to bring this into the office.  I'd planned to get bagels for them this morning, since today is- okay, Saturday was- the one-year anniversary of my official move into the group here.  They have been the best of co-workers, without exception, and some count among my dearest of friends.  So I ain't getting them sick, thanks.

I have only one court appearance this week, there's enough here to work on, and I will run in briefly to grab a few files and drop off a few inedible things, but I suspect there may be some downtime before day is out.  We've rescheduled Bagel Day from Bagel Jay for Wednesday; hopefully by that time, both my health and the Mets' chances of advancing will be even better:)
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Last week, I briefly mentioned two things that happened on Sunday: Eleanor had friends over from the Buddhist Center for the enshrinement of her scroll (Gohonzon) in the box (Butsudan) that she custom-built for it; and the world came to grips with the sadness about the death, the night before, of a Miami Marlins pitcher named Jose Fernandez in a boating accident.  These two events- one intensely personal, the other worldwide in scope- intertwined in a near miraculous way later in the week.  I wanted to talk more about each anyway, but this gives a point of reference to begin the story from.

Take much of this first part with grains of salt (or beads if you gottem), since I am not an adherent of this practice and have picked up most of this information second-to-fifth-hand.  Just as Methodists are direct descendants of Anglicans who were in turn 16th century divorcees from Roman Catholicism, Eleanor's brand of Buddhism is descended from him, into the words and works of Nichiren and, much more recently, divorced from the main line of that branch into a priest-free international practice called Soka Gakkai International (SGI).  Much of the "worship" (for lack of a better word, because the practice does not worship Buddha, or Nichiren, or the scroll itself) focuses on the six-syllable chant that encapsulates the practice's adoption of Nichiren's 13th century writings known as the Lotus Sutra.  The chant itself- consisting of one Sanskrit syllable followed by five derived from Chinese- is calligraphed in scroll form and given to each new member as a focal point of their practice.  It's considered tacky to photograph the gohnozon itself, but since I'm looking right at a photo of such a thing on the Wiki article about this, you can, too if you want.

The scroll is not worshiped or venerated, but there are Ruulz.  No photos, for one.  The wall it is enshrined on should not have other decorations to distract.  And it should be enclosed in a box, the butsudan, which is what Eleanor literally built from scratch over close to a month.  As it rests, closed:

And here, open, with the lighting installed but before the scroll was:

The first try at the enshrinement was a week after she received her gohonzon.  She'd been given a temporary box, which would not stay affixed to the wall, so it was decided by all to wait until the real thing was up. That was a week ago.  These folks have little formality of service whether at their center or "on the road," so the enshrinement included several minutes of chanting, a very moving moment where the scroll was unrolled and affixed for the first time, and then people just shared stories about things like karma and how it can be harnessed for good.  I threw in our tales from the previous weekend about finding the perfect parking space at UB because we'd chosen to take the electric car last-minute, and about getting Rent tickets sooner than expected.  Eleanor went with something more profound- recalling from memory a story from a longlost book by a once-local author. We didn't know at the time it would have anything to do with the death of a young baseball pitcher, but a day or so later, it did.


John Barth is an American writer who taught English at UB in the brief powerhouse days when it was regarded as the Berkeley of the east.  His writings have been compared to literary messages-in-a-bottle, but in 1994, he wrote a piece called "A Floating Aria" in which he spoke about those who literally send them out- and the miracles that come to the unknown recipient who finds one.  He speaks of a summer in which he found one himself- but first, and as transcribed in Eleanor's paper journal on a September Sunday in (I think) 1997, he refers to the journey he imagined of receiving one from a faroff shore, reading from it the words that Eleanor spoke to her group on this past September Sunday:

It is all right. We understand. Things will not always be as they may seem to you now. A quite wonderful life lies ahead for you, comprising not only the best of what you've seen around you thus far but many things of which you can as yet be aware no more than dimly, if at all.

Wow. So many echoes in that.  To the Corinthians passage referencing "in a mirror dimly," used in our wedding service which we observed in anniversary form the next day.  To the looking-ahead aspects of Eleanor's newfound faith and my own yearnings.  It's all good.

Even when it's bad.


Here's where we get back to the death of a ballplayer.  An hour before the enshriners arrived, Eleanor and I began watching the first moments of the Mets final regular season home game. It was not against the Marlins- they would travel to Miami the next night, lose to the Marlins and hear not a single fan complaint under the circumstances- but the loss of Fernandez was palpable in the dugout, on the field and in the broadcast booth.  Gary Cohen, the total professional play-by-play guy, and Keith Hernandez, the wisecracking former player, had to deal with explaining this tragedy to the fans at home- and it was Keith who burst into tears before they finished, mentioning another former Met who had endured something similar.

I'd forgotten the story.  Bobby Ojeda, a pitcher on Keith's 1986 championship team, almost died in a boating accident before the 1993 season after trying to resume his career with Cleveland.  The other two players on that boat- Steve Olin and Tim Crews - did perish in the accident. Ojeda survived, but his career was never the same, and understandably so.  "Always tell those around you that you love them," Keith said through tears, "because you never know when you might not get the chance."

Yet some chances come in the strangest of ways.  For a day later, while sports fans were still processing the loss of this player, word came out about the final messages sent out by Jose Fernandez:

Hours after Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends were killed in a boating accident, a beachgoer approached a lifeguard in Miami Beach with a mysterious object that had washed ashore on Sunday.

It was a bag containing four baseballs that apparently had been autographed by Fernandez, a law enforcement official told the local television station WSVN....

WSVN reported that the baseballs had numbers on them — presumably dates. The bag was found about a mile from the crash site about 1 p.m., Chief Canosa told the station. He did not immediately return a telephone call to his office seeking comment on Tuesday.

Those balls, for now, are evidence. My hope is they will eventually be returned to his family or his teammates, where they can become enshrined in their own way (at least one, certainly, in Cooperstown) and become a new kind of evidence- of life going on and legacies being strong even after the body ceases to.

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After the bizarro-world Trumperformance at the first debate Monday night, it's clearer than ever that this idiot's only chance is to suppress the vote.  Republicans have given him plenty of help, between legislating efforts to keep voters from the polls if they don't have the "right ID" (student ID cards: bad; open-carry gun permits: good) and encouraging vigilante "poll watchers" (many, likely, with open-carry gun permits) to prevent or slow the voting process.

It's easy enough to pooh-pooh this up here in my safely blue state where there's no doubt of any registered voter being allowed to exercise the franchise.  This election will turn on the "battlegrounds"- many of them with Republican-lej-sponsored "voter fraud" bills that have been overturned in court- where the Drumpfernutters are already threatening to assemble at polling places to do their own independent "poll watching." Some of it, likely, with the aforementioned open-carry guns.

So an attorney I know is part of a movement to do something about it. They're encouraging attorneys and law students to sign up for training and, eventually, travel to a truly contested state to watch the "watchers," keep them from intimidating voters, inform them of their rights and talk them through any obstacles.  The first proposed venue was Florida; nope, not going where even our supporters are probably crazier than I am. But: Pennsylvania is on the list.  Western PA, in particular, is as close as much of upstate NY I travel in regularly.  Hell, we're both going to Erie the night after the election anyway to see Rent, so I can scope out the theater location on the way.  Maybe I'd go there, or more likely they'd want someone in the bigger urban center that is Pittsburgh.  That's a 200-mile trip each way; I'd leave here right after voting myself, then go as needed.

I've told Jeff the commitment is subject to health (I'll have had two doc visits by then) and also the whims of federal and small-town judges who don't take Election Day off. But I feel it's a Right Thing to Do, even though the Right is where all the trouble will be coming from.
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It's rather depressing to learn about your medical conditions through good deeds rather than good practices.

Through the first six-plus months of 2016, I felt fine, was maintaining my weight and energy levels, and had nothing suggesting a need to see The Doctor. Ah, but then I was required to make an appearance; my blood pressure med ran out and the renewal in June was conditioned on me getting my butt in for a walletectomy in late July.  All signs then were fine, and continued fine as far as I was concerned, until about a month ago.

In late August, I signed up for a blood-drive appointment through my twice-weeklyish fitness studio.  This was the Saturday where several potential donors, who came straight from a high-intensity interval workout, were turned away because their heart rates were still too high.  Me? I switched to an earlier class, so as to ensure a normal heart rate, but the bloodsuckers informed me that my blood pressure was higher than "normal."

This time, it was low enough to donate- unlike several years ago, when it was UNYTS, rather than BCBS, who tipped me off to my hypertension. Before they'd let me donate that last time, my doctor put me on Lisinopril, which lowered things sufficiently for my blood to be sucked several times over the ensuing years.

Every time since I'd had it checked- at the doc's, at blood drives, at annualish blood draws- it'd been fine.  But I've spent the past three weeks or so worrying about it, which- surprise!- has raised it even more- checked mostly through free DIY stations at Wegmans.

Two days ago, I had a busted filling drilled down to a post and a temporary crown put in.  Before starting, I told my dentist about the issue, who checked and found it still running high. He monitored, and made sure I didn't get novocaine with a BP-raising component, and it went fine; but I was determined to get to the bottom of what was going on.

My theory: too much caffeine. Both offices have K-Cup machines with tempting pods, and I've likely tripled my caffeine intake in the past year- until this. I've cut back, and gone to "half-caff" blends for most of my coffees, for most of my days.

Eleanor's theory: too much sodium. Yes, I'd gotten into bad habit with snack fuds before and after dinner.  So I've cut way down.

Through it all, though, the "higi stations" at the store were saying I was still high- so I told my doc about it yesterday....

But only after trying to get a different doctor's opinion.


We both shared my current MD until about 3-4 years ago. Eleanor moved to a different practice, then followed her PA when she moved to another one a year or so ago.  Melissa sounded like a practical, straightforward practitioner, so my first call was to her- only to get the damning reply, We're not taking any new patients.

Wowsers.  I can't imagine telling a client that- and I whined enough to get a callback and an acceptance, but not until November 1st.  So it was back to my current doc to respond to the imminent problem, and it looks like he did.

My prior BP med was one of two commonly prescribed, which cleans out the blood.  There's a second, a diuretic, which simply makes you pee more and therefore expels more salt and Other Bad Things more regularly. His RX was to upgrade me to a combination of the two (one Eleanor has been on for a while), which I picked up last night and started this morning.

Amazingly, I felt better even before the first pill went down. I worked from home this morning to be sure of avoiding a bad reaction, then did a noon-hour workout to be sure that the diuretic wouldn't turn me into a complete puddle of goo (it didn't). After that, the Wegmans higi machine said I was "at risk," but that beats being "high"- unless you've got hippie lettuce to work with.

This afternoon was work-stressful,  but I've felt better through it all, and will continue to monitor throughout the days to be sure that "at risk" is the top rather than the bottom end of my readings.  I have a followup with Soon To Be Former Doc on October 13, and if everything holds up, I will let the new practice decide what and how to monitor things from here on out.

And come October 23rd, I'm good to give blood again. Maybe I will:)
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It took two days, but Eleanor finally joined the 21st century with an iPhone of her own.

Any number of times, I'd offered to upgrade her to one, either when one was available on our account or when I was going from a 3 to a 4 to a 5S myself.  Never received any interest from her.  But then the Gohonzon ladies started texting her in the ordinary course, and she wanted to be able to reply off a screen that wasn't too tiny to see anything, as the display on her $15 Nokia Burner clearly (or not so clearly) was.  So I gave her mini-tours of my existing 5S, and of my prior iPhone 4 (cranky, but still in service as a backup)- she got the concepts, but both had keyboards that were too small. So off to ATTLand we headed Sunday afternoon, where we ran into the Corral of the Bros.

Sammy was the designated Bro to sell Eleanor on a product.  We quickly settled on a 6S Plus- not This Year's Model that just came out, but bigger and easier to see than my reliable 5S.  We also figured out how much memory she'd need for her needs and how much it would cost over a 2-year contract.

But then Sammy went bro-rogue on us.

Other than their floor model, this store had no 6S Plus models in stock- but a nearby store "up the Transit" in Lockport did.  We were more than happy to make the 7-mile trek to receive and activate it that afternoon.

That's when Sammy's Head Bro Andrew made a face and walked him into the back.  When they came out, awww too bad, Lockport's already closed. But we can have it transferred here in a day or so.

Worse, Sammy embellished the story: These smaller-town stores just don't have the extended hours that we do here in The Big City, he claimed.  That set off Eleanor's BS meter (and, in retrospect, mine- strip-mall landlords tend to offer the same space to national tenants whether they're in Philly or Podunk).  So we smiled fake smiles, ordered 90 bucks of merch for the phone-including a screen protector, case and lightning cable- and right out the door we called Lockport.  Of course they were still open; Bro and Head Bro just didn't want to lose credit for the sale.  (And we'd even asked, as we always do- Eleanor used to work in commission sales- if Sammy would lose anything on the deal if we didn't buy from him. His mouth denied it, but Head Bro's actions, and the ensuing Actual Facts, suggested otherwise).

So Monday came and almost went; I picked up the purchased Parts and her old phone from Eleanor at work, and headed over at the end of my workday to see if the new 6S Plus was in. It was; but my happiness was not.  I avoided Sammy, and Andrew was not in, but I did my deal with Kevin, who is a fellow Bro and not a minion.  He did what needed doing: activating the new iPhone under Eleanor's existing number; moving her old burner-phone onto our vestigal landline-numbered mobile; and bricking my old iPhone 4 which had been housing the old landline (it still works with wifi).  Then he tried selling me all the extras, and got exactly nothing for his efforts.  No insurance. No extra data.  And no, we don't need peripherals because Sammy Bro had already sold them to us, but here they are and we're returning them, thankuvermush.

He asked why, so I told him- that we don't appreciate being lied to just for the sake of their corporate crap.  He went on defense- Oh, I don't think he meant to lie, he must've just looked up the wrong info.  His own iPad showed Lockport's hours being shorter than his own store's on Sundays- but closing at 5.  We'd been in there closer to 3:30 on Sunday afternoon. Plenty of time to have driven up there ourselves and had the thing activated and running on a day neither of us was, you know, working.  Finally, he stopped trying to defend his fellow bro, perhaps to save his own survey rating, and he took back all the unwanted parts (Eleanor found them online through Amazon for about $30 less total) and we're now up and running.


So we've added a device to the stable.  Earlier today, I subtracted a tooth from my own.

A few weeks ago, I went back to my longtime dentist after a half-year delay caused by an unpleasant (and now unemployed) hygienist.  The cleaning went fine, but the dentist checked out a broken filling I'd been walking round with for months and pronounced it unfixable.  I tend to believe him; he's spit-and-scotch-taped many of my bad-teeth ventures when he could, and this one was probably on its fourth filling, had some short-of-painful decay in it, and needed to go in favor of a crown.

I had reason to question whether to do it today, for non-dental reasons. (More about that to follow soon.)  But we agreed it was doable, and it is now mostly done. Well, done with a temporary, which will be replaced by the permanent in a couple of weeks.

It was good seeing him; I've been going to him slightly longer than I've known Eleanor, and there are few people in my life I'm not related to who I've kept in as much regular contact with for as long.  His boys are all grown, as our girl now is, and he's taking one of them to see a Broadway show in a week or so, an annual tradition between father and son.  I like shizz like that.

Somehow we also got to talking about Rochester architecture, and I discovered that his great-grandfather, around the turn of the previous century, had been the master of running the complex downtown Sibleys outdoor clock, in its historic building that Eleanor worked in and for at the time I met her:

I had to head into downtown after my dental work, and noted that the clock was still there, but not telling the correct time; apparently the building is being renovated into apartments, and part of the plan is to restore it.

Maybe someday Eleanor can take pictures of it telling the right time, even on her new phone:)

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Occasions come and go, and occasionally blend in your memories.  I found out today that one of my co-workers' birthday is today, which is also the anniversary of  Eleanor and I being wed.  That's kinda cool.

A few days ago, though, another friend celebrated a birthday- her first since the tragic loss of her own daughter in an automobile accident.  Not so cool.

She wrote about it at some length in a post titled "Cake, Schmake"- which tries to cope with the jumble of emotions and triggers which come out of these memory streams crossing:

My entire awesome family has wrapped me in love and care every single day, and my friends -- near, far, old, new, online and in person -- have offered more understanding and support than I ever dreamed existed.

Thank you ALL for your good wishes, not just today, but every day. You have all truly been a gift.

So, I think I cried today not just from grief but with gratitude. And my goal, now that I have acknowledged the former, is to spend the rest of the day with as much of the latter as I can.

I know some- nothing close to all, but some- of what she means.  In a little over a month, I will celebrate my next birthday with the woman who's the reason for our anniversary, at a show we both want to see and see together.  But that date has been intertwined, since about my seventh birthday, with it also being the birthday of my oldest sister's husband- who shared it with me until two days before my 48th, and his 70th, in 2007. Jean Pierre passed from cancer and his funeral and burial wound up on our birthday two days later.  The loss to his kids and grandkids was far greater than what I felt and feel, but it's still there.

Then, a few years later- five birthdays of mine ago, in 2011-was the day I got a call from an old friend from Rochester- telling me that one of our former ministers- not a participant in our wedding but who was present at Emily's christening- had been flying cross-country and was taken from us in an instant by an embolism.  My post on my birthday was titled simply Just. Like. That.

But as we remember our vows and celebrations of 29 years ago today, I will always have entanglements with the life that was lost barely a year later.  My sister predeceased her husband by almost 20 years, after a long and sad struggle with drink.  Our wedding was the last time I can remember that we saw her, and this photo- taken by a last-minute RIT student photographer who needed to do a wedding set for her portfolio- portrays the bond between sisters-in-law that no words of mine ever possibly could:

I wrote to my friend celebrating-if-you-could-call-it-that her first birthday without her daughter, partly to share a link about the grieving process, but also to empathize with the mishmash of these occasions.  Among other things, I said this (the "shoe" reference is to one of Peri's coping mechanisms for bringing her daughter back into her life in a tangible way- by sometimes wearing shoes from Jordan's extensive collection):

I have never lost a child, but I have seen the effect it had on a mother- my mother- who did. I have never "gotten over" the loss, and Those Days every year- her birthday, death day, her anniversary and even ours (which is tomorrow and which I will probably post about, perhaps quoting your post if I have your permission). Our wedding day was probably the last time we saw her; barely a year later, she was gone. I have a brain full of memories, a small collection of triggering songs, way too few pictures, but still it is enough. You are blessed that you have so much more in the way of memories (and I, for one, could never get away with wearing any of Sandy's shoes;), but still that is not enough.

Leave it to a fellow writer to turn that reference around in the best of ways:

You may not have been able to wear your sister's shoes, but you have walked closer to mine than many, and my heart is with you and your family. I don't think grief is something that leave us; we just learn to make room for it in our hearts.

And with that, may all your birthdays, and anniversaries, be happy- and real- but leave room in your hearts for everything else that's connected to them.
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No church for me in any of its sundry forms today. Dog Church was off for the day; our usual companions were AWOL, because Ann just spent the past two days participating in a half-marathon up the side of a mountain in the Adirondacks.

She was excused:)

That left my new faith group and the old one.  Oddly, I was leaning toward the latter; although I feel much more comfortable with the theology and practices and inclusiveness of Unity, I found myself missing friends from the Old Methodist Thing, and was actually planning to put in an appearance with them today.

Didn't.  When the crucial launch window arrived, I still had housework to do, preparatory to Eleanor's enshrinement of her scroll (Gohonzon) in the box (Butsudan) that she's been working on for weeks.  That seemed more important to me than singing hymns and chanting lifelong incarnations that really haven't done anything for me for years.  So, some other time.

For her part, Eleanor also stayed home from her new faith's extended morning-long chanting session downtown, since a small group of the faithful would be coming over here this afternoon for this ceremony.  So we cleaned, and ate, and ran wash, and just did what Father Mulcahy once referred to on M*A*S*H as "your secular activities," until the ladies got here a bit past two.

Before that, we witnessed a touching memorial to the sad death of a major league baseball player- for a competing team.  Jose Fernandez was a young, talented and vibrant pitcher for the Miami Marlins, whose death in an off-Florida-shore boating accident the other day was confirmed shortly before the Mets' own game time.  Several players on our team, including at least one native to Cuba as the deceased was, honored him before the game with a Mets jersey (he never played for the team) with his name and number:

The Mets had a small lead before our ceremony began; it would get larger.  The Butsudan was installed, and we did other things, before the day was done, but I'll await both Eleanor's perceptions of it, as well as my own, before adding more.
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