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A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog

Happy birthday, oxymoron67. May your states projects be funny, your technology functional and may we join you someday on an adventure into cultural elitism:)

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captainsblog

Ima gonna post this first part just like I Faced it yesterday:

Good God, I'm an idiot.

We have a double laundry tub downstairs. After two big loads this morning, both were pretty full. Sometimes I can plunge it, other times it takes a Drano bombing.

This time, I planned on the first. I put the drain plug in the right-side tub and came up to get the plunger. Then I saw a shiny and completely forgot. I went back down, saw the tubs were still full- especially the one on the right- and dropped the Drano bomb, and then another. An hour later, the left was clear but the right hadn't budged. FINALLY, I realized my stupid, stuck a (rubber-gloved) paw down there and removed the plug.

It's better now. The drain, that is. The brain, not so much.

----

After (and despite) that, we had a nice afternoon. Eleanor watched, or at least listened to, almost all of the Mets game with me.  Then I got to see reports from many friends who made the trek from downstate to Cooperstown to see only the second player ever to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame wearing our cap.

Overnight, finally, it rained for more than the usual three minutes. I'd had pretty bad insomnia round the time the dog went out before the storm- nothing bad, just a case of the Mondays- and I was rather slow-going when I finally woke for good around 8.  I didn't make more than the one leftover cup of coffee before it was time for Eleanor to go to work, but not long after she left, she called and asked if I'd microwave it and bring it over:

The store's power had gone out.  Seemed odd once I got there, since everything else back here and along Sheridan looked fine.  Turns out it was a direct lightning hit on the mechanical box on the roof.  It took well over an hour to get it back.

I then came home and worked some more on a project I have to submit tomorrow.  When it was time to leave, I noticed way more than the usual number of cars going past our house. Some of them more than once.  Sure enough, a trip out to the main road confirmed it: they'd reduced Sheridan to one lane westbound and it must've gotten backed up enough for people to start detouring through this subdivision. You can get theyah from heah, but not the way you'd instinctively think, and we live on one of three streets making a circle, so we get to see this kind of parade at least a few times a year.

Got my project finished, walked the dog, found two more Pokemons back here, and now everybody eats- animals first.  Hopefully I won't forget to take the lid off the cat food can.

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captainsblog

Since we're not going to have any Harvey Days for the rest of the year, I figured I'd pick up the slack;)

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over.  Earlier in this week, Old Credit Card Bank, now forever known as Hackeybank, sent Eleanor her new credit card on the account we were closing because it was paid off. 

Read that last sentence again. Yes, in this wonderful world of paperlessness, it was absolutely essential that we be in physical possession of a piece of plastic in order to regain online access to our information.  When it arrived, I tried to activate it over the phone, but the call quickly got routed to the Fraud Police and my Eleanor imitation isn't the best, so I hung up. She did it the next morning. Finally, Friday morning, I got online and achieved Balance Nirvana.  They'd posted our payoff, canceled the late fees and unauthorized charges, and in fact owed Eleanor a smidge over three dollars.  I think I will have her cash it at the local Hackeybank branch, get it back all in pennies, and then hurl them at one of their ATMs.

One final oddity is that the transaction history doesn't even show the bigger of the fraudulent charges; the only one that appeared (and got reversed) was a nine-dollar online purchase from a gaming site in  Berlin.  When we saw yesterday that much of Star Trek Beyond was filmed in Dubai, I wondered if some of our unauthorized charges there had gone into post-production or something.

----

Our Shorter, More Regional Nightmare Is Also Over. I got an email from the Water Authority a little before 1 p.m. yesterday that the county water in our area had passed its second required test following the big break in a main Wednesday night, and we no longer needed to boil water for drinking or cooking. The results were actually known several hours earlier, but they had nobody updating their website and their only social media option was Twitter. The whole thing was a clusterfuck from start to finish; and, surprise surprise, the Republicans in charge of the County Lej (and the resulting parade of patronage down to this place) had awarded the contract for Water Authority crisis management to a Donald Drumpf disciple who was away all week at the GOP Hatefest in Cleveland.

----

On the Brighter Side, though,.... We got our bikes yesterday. Well, ordered them; Eleanor's needs to be ordered in her choice of color and gear speeds, and mine has handlebars too big to have fit in the back of the car, so we'll get them probably Monday or Tuesday.  Turns out we'd each worked with the same salesperson on the different occasions we'd been in previously; I told him the story about how I wound up freecycling the old bike that would've been too expensive to fix. He got a kick out of it, but told us one of his own: a guy recently came in with an even older bike- a Raleigh English racer, probably from the 40s, covered in dirt. He wanted to get an estimate on if it could be brought back to life and for how much. When he got the answers- uncertain, and a lot- he gave up on the attempt, but one of their mechanics asked if he could try tinkering with it rather than having the guy kick it to the curb. He agreed and left it with them; Justin hadn't seen what (or even if) it would look like, but he had a lot of respect for the history in those handlebars and tyres and is hoping it will turn out well.

We saw one funny at the register unrelated to any of this: apparently there's a brand of bike accessory called CatEye.  That brought back an odd memory from our honeymoon in England.  We'd rented a car, and were tooling around somewhere up round Stoke, and we saw a sign looking something like this one:



Ewwwww!, we said. Eventually, we figured it out- as these LA Times readers finally did when an expat Brit explained it all:

The sign did not denote the presence of a mad scientist in the neighborhood, I was told, but the absence of reflector dots down the center of the road (probably removed during construction).

"At a distance, they create the same appearance as lights reflecting in a cat's eyes," wrote Arthur Gimson of Redondo Beach, "and are of tremendous help while navigating narrow, winding country roads."

In the dark and on the wrong side of the road? Once we finally saw some and realised what they were, you betcha:)

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captainsblog
We went Beyond this afternoon. Loved it.  Unlike the last installment, which stuck its head way too far up canonical ass, this one introduced totally new people, places and things- but with just enough homages to TOS to keep it real.

I cried once at the end- no spoiler, but it involved both Spocks- but the more significant-to-today almost-cry came much earlier. Jim and Bones are sharing a bottle of Chekhov's secret stash of scotch (his actor, also now dearly departed as Leonard Nimoy is, homages "Tribbles" in a much later scene mentioning the provenance of the beverage).  McCoy toasts his Captain's birthday; Kirk, sadly, recognizes (and I cannot yet find the exact quote) that the occasion is one more birthday that his father never made it to.

So it is here, today.  Sandy would have turned 77 today. And my next and 57th birthday will be the seventh that I will celebrate that she never made it to.

Rarely does a day go by here without my thinking of her in some way- blunt-force, subtle, or anything in between.  Having a house full of spoiled animals constantly invites the remembrances. Watching The Graduate last weekend reminded me of her love of Simon & Garfunkel.  And just this past week, a high school friend who I've reconnected with had a particularly difficult couple of days: she was passing a kidney stone, and was doing it at a place I'd never heard of- something called St. Joseph's Hospital on Route 24 in Bethpage, Long Island.

But Facebook, being Facebook, had to provide a handy-dandy map to the center of her pain.  Route 24 is what I know as Hempstead Turnpike, and that location looked exactly like the hospital that Sandy worked at for most of her time living near my parents' from the early 1970s until not long before she died in 1988.



Yup, it was quickly confirmed that this was the facility once known as Mid-Island Hospital. This is where I was taken in 1969 after falling off my banana-seated bike, where they stabilized me  but never realized I'd ruptured an eardrum, which remains ruptured to this day and made me near-deaf on my right side ever since.  Sandy didn't arrive on the nursing staff until a few years after that, after the first of my nieces was born- but I visited it dozens of times as her husband or my father picked her up from work on occasions I was tagging along.  I always got a kick out of the reserved parking sign in front of the main entrance- THIS SPACE RESERVED FOR ROBERT REED. I expected to see assorted Brady Bunch kids coming and going, but this was a different RR, who actually owned the horsepital through an entity that he controlled known as Simon Cohen Real Estate & Management Company [hereinafter "SCREAM"].

You can't make this shit up. Any more than you can make up a South Asian Star Trek villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Sandy started there shortly before my niece Nicole was born, and never worked anywhere else (that I can remember) until the demons made it impossible for her to work, or cope, or eventually to live. Her last birthday was her 49th, on this day in 1988; I sadly lapped her in 2008, and have now passed her seven times since. I take neither pride nor hope in this accomplishment. Rather, I take pride in having married and brought an awesome kid into the world- as she did, twice, and as each of them has since done, three times between them.  I take pride in respecting those less fortunate than us, and working toward ensuring that they are not margnalized or made illegal by those who have more.  I take pride in remembering the songs and singers who she loved- even if my own singing voice couldn't hold a candle to hers.

I miss her. I am, and shall always be, her brother.
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captainsblog

I've been more nostalgic than usual here in recent days, and that will continue with some later reflections about today being my late sister's birthday. But there's this meme going round that I just can't get completely behind.  There are regional and even neighborhood variations of it, so I don't understand all the references but can extrapolate to my own experiences. It's coming from people who I like, if not love, and there doesn't seem to be a mean bone in it- or them. But it's what it doesn't say that you have to keep in mind when you start trying to turn back time.

Here's what it says:

I grew up [name of neighborhood in town in state- and I've seen these from all over], during a time when everyone treated each other like family. We went outside to play, we got dirty and we ate whatever our mom cooked....We played Mother May I? Red Light-Green Light, What time is it Mr. Fox, kickball, tetherball, Tag and freeze-tag, rode bikes all over, Roller skated, hide and seek, and played til dark. We played soccer and softball at the school. We weren't AFRAID OF ANYTHING BUT STRAY DOGS (and most of them knew us, and left us alone). If someone had a fight, that's what it was, a fist Fight, then made up the next day. We did pretend to play cops and robbers; cowboys and Indians. We knew where our friends were by where all the bikes were "parked". The street lights were our reminder to "get your butt to the front of the house you lived in so you can hear your mama when she yells your name to come in for the night". School was mandatory and we rode the bus there and back unless we had after school activities. We watched our mouths around our elders because we knew If you DISRESPECTED any grown up, you're gonna get HIT with whatever's close by. Re-post with your block if you're proud that you came from a close knit community and will never forget where you came from!

So, yeah. All of that is true.  I was in a rougher neighborhood where it was "WOLF what time is it?" and we literally played a game called "Kill the Guy," and we climbed to the top of child-eating sets of monkey bars on concrete-padded playgrounds- but we all lived, give or take a stitch here and there.  Also, yes to the interchangeable backyards and communal supervision.  Just be careful about defining it in terms of "close knit community," because that's where the nostalgia starts to break down.

Here's what it doesn't say:

Everyone treated each other like family unless they were different. If some kid was physically disabled, he or she was a "cripple," and if they were developmentally disabled they'd be shouted down constantly as being a "retard." I remember a family coming to our church when I was maybe eight, bringing a daughter into our Sunday School class who had cerebral palsy.  She wanted so hard to belong, to be accepted, to show us she could be one of us- but she was shamed and beaten down with chants of "retard!" that the spineless adult teachers either couldn't stop or just didn't care to. That girl never came back. I remember her name to this very day, because she very proudly wrote it on the blackboard. Thanks to the internet, I now know that she died in 1971, perhaps four years after I watched her being emotionally assaulted by a band of eight-year-old so-called "Christians."

If you had all your functions but you were different in some other way, you'd be out of the club, too.  If you were a boy who couldn't run fast or throw a ball very far or very accurately, you were a "fag." We had gym teachers who openly encouraged this sort of treatment, letting the biggest jocks captain the teams and choose up sides until the fags and the cripples and the retards were left, staring at their own feet, before begrudgingly being assigned to mop-up duty on one side or the other.  I know. I was one of them.

And it goes without saying that every. Single. ONE of the kids in these stories was white, native-born and unaccented-English speaking.  If your skin was even slightly off, or your last name implied a different heritage, you had an epithet waiting for you that you would never shake.  We had one African-American kid in the entire seven years I spent in my elementary school.  I don't need to tell you what the "close knit community" called HIM.

All of that is true, as well.  That is the America that this past week's angry mob in Cleveland wants to go back to.

Was it all bad? Of course not.  I maintain friendships with dozens of people from those years to varying degrees, and have reconnected with others who also remember the good parts.  Almost all of them accept and apologize for the bad.  Nor are the present world's differences necessarily better, either: I despise "participation trophies" and helicopter parenting and any notion that a kid, properly raised and minimally supervised, needs to be programmed and controlled 24 hours a day.  I can tell you this, though: our daughter would never have done, witnessed or tolerated any of the words or actions that I experienced when I was of comparable age back in the "good old days."

So treasure the good memories you have. Just be mindful that treasure, like all valuable things, comes with a price.

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captainsblog
When we left the restaurant after Eleanor's birthday dinner the other night, I told her that I'd continued our special-occasion tradition of paying-forward to the server.  I wound up phrasing it in the manner of a famed song lyric:

And I handed her [amount] for a [somewhat lower amount] tab and I said, "Victoria, keep the change."

Those words come from the Harry Chapin song "Taxi," and I was vaguely aware of why they were close to the top of my mind: I'd seen memorial posts on social media in the past week, since last Saturday was the 35th anniversary of his sudden and tragic death at the age of 38.

When news of that death originally reached me, living in Ithaca a month before beginning law school, I was still working for the Syracuse Post-Standard, covering news from that region. In the summers, with Cornell quieted down, that meant covering a lot of festivals and sleeping in at routine city council meetings and taking pictures of cows in Mecklenburg.  This news got sent my way, though, because Harry had attended Cornell in the 1960s.  I'm not sure how many people knew that- the Cornell Sun review of his last concert on campus barely mentions it and leaves out his class year, as Sunstyle would have mandated- but I knew.

Harry's was the first concert I ever attended that wasn't held in an auditorium of one of my own schools. It wasn't in Ithaca but down the road in Binghamton, where I went with my sister to the county arena to hear it.  He told stories of the connections in his music to the travels he had made- the same ones I had- between his downstate home and Cornell. The steep hills coming into Scranton, Pennsylvania helped inspire his arena-favorite song "30,000 Pounds of Bananas," and the bus's ride through the small village of Candor brought "The Mayor of Candor Lied." 

His music was always more story than song, and thus was more suited to the concert hall rather than the 3:05 formats of FM radio as it became increasingly short and structured through the 70s.  His sudden death on the Long Island Expressway in 1981- on his way to a free concert in my home town's central park- brought back all of those stories I'd heard on albums and in that one concert venue....

which, together with the Cornell connection, meant that I got to write his obituary.

----

I've tried to find a copy- I may stop in Syracuse next time I'm passing through to find a library archive- but I remember having a hard time finding anyone in town who remembered him more than a decade after he'd been there as a student.  There was one fraternity he'd roomed in where I think I found someone, and one of the older bars had someone toss off  a quote, maybe. But mostly I wrote about the songs and stories as I remembered them, and got to share them with thousands of readers, many of whom probably didn't even know who he was.

My memories of him didn't carry that well through my ensuing years of moves, and radio stations are still light on replaying anything other than "Taxi" and "Cat's in the Cradle," but I still remember many of the stories that I heard him telling in verse.  After tossing off the reference to "keep the change" the other night, I wanted to hear some others, so after bringing Emily to and then home from my Rochester office at the end of the day yesterday (more about that soon), I tried Youtubing a specific song or two. Then I saw an entire live performance in the list- the preview pane showed Harry on the guitar, but the clip itself begins, strangely enough, with Chevy Chase of all people bopping around the stage and goofing on him.  This was 1978, at the height of Chevy's comic popularity after just leaving SNL; he may have been an opening act for the night. After a song or two, though, the show settles in, and it's just Harry- no brothers or band on hand, as they were when the Cornell reviewer saw him in 1980 and I did in late '77- and he uses the show to try out some new songs, to do some solo arrangements of some others like WOLD, and gets in his usual audience participation bits to great effect....

including the one that made me stop the show before I cried.

----

Harry asks for volunteers to sing the lower parts in a song called "Mr. Tanner"- a song about singing, and about the hopes and dreams it can channel and cancel- and he seems to be having trouble finding the necessary guys.  But then he's joined onstage by a little girl-



(you can also see her at about 1:03 of the embed below)



-who, if I'm not mistaken, is Harry's daughter Jen. I haven't confirmed it, but she'd be about the right age. She's now an awesome musician in her own right, and I must make it to one of her shows sometime in this lifetime. Because, as one of the songs in that concert sadly reminds us:

The one thing we know
Is that time, time, time goes too fast.
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captainsblog
We had a nice dinner out last night, at our favorite sit-down pizza-and-specialty place near us.  Both our server and the manager came over to apologize because one of our entrees got dropped in the back and had to be remade.  We were fine on time, and enjoying appetizers and conversation, but they graciously comped a bottle of wine for us- all of the price of which got plowed back into the server's tip (who we usually try to be especially generous to on occasions when we go out).

That would be about the last thing we would have to drink, though:P  Eleanor noticed, when we got home, that our water pressure was way down.  Just before that, I'd noticed a friend posting from one town over having the same problem. Then more to the east. And south. The water authority website was down, but clearly this was bad.

By this morning, the pressure was back up, but the bad was continuing: Erie County officials had tracked it to a break in a large main maybe three miles from our house, which on failure drained two of the biggest holding tanks in the whole system, including the local landmark known to all simply as the Big Blue Water Tower-



Worse, the loss of pressure required the county to issue a boil-water advisory which, for now at least, isn't scheduled to be lifted until the weekend.  But the true horror came after waking, showering, downing my geezer meds with bottled H2O, heading for breakfast at Timmy's, and finding....NO COFFEE.

Ice Capps were on offer, but they don't brew the stuff to boiling, so I had to come all the way to Rochester before reaching full sentience.  Fortunately, I finished my one appearance here quickly, made progress on a few things in the other office, and will be heading to meet up with Emily soon.

Hopefully we've had all the bad breaks for the day we're due to get.
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captainsblog
Eleanor hits a round number on the odometer today: 60.  So we've spent some time dealing with a different means of traveling miles.

Probably a decade ago, we both got bicycles.  As life took its turns, they got less and less use. Finally, not too long ago she sent hers, and one or two older ones Emily had used, to the curb, as they were either outgrown (the kid's) or, um, damaged by some idiot parking his car in the garage and ramming into it (hers).  I decided to keep mine, though; it was in the backest of the back of the garage and looked at the time to maybe just be in need of a tune-up.

Last week, Eleanor suggested that I get her a new one for her birthday. That sounded good- and maybe now I actually would take mine in to be tuned up so we could ride together sometime.  By yesterday, she'd done some research and settled on a brand and a model she liked- and it would mean a trip to Bert's.  That is the local leader in the bike and moving-fitness market; three big stores surrounding the city with a fourth in Rochester.  We've never bought from them before- the last ones came from Sears, I think- but they have a decent reputation and are likely to be here for the long haul.  I left work a little early yesterday and loaded my old bike in the trunk, so we could do the handoff of the old and the purchase of her new....

And, in a word, didn't. We wound up in an awkward conversation where Eleanor was trying to explain all kinds of things about the model she wanted and what she'd seen in the store versus online- including one term I completely misheard- and I just checked out. We regrouped in a bit and decided we'd do two things to simplify the process. One: we'd put off the new bike until Thursday; and two, I'd do the repair thing before that.

Around lunchtime today, I headed over to the Boulevard to bring mine in, and even before I got it in the door I pretty much knew how it was going to go.  I'd checked their service policies online, and their most basic of tuneups- a $50 package- clearly wasn't going to be enough.  Nor was the one-up from that. No, we were looking, at a minimum, at Professional Overhaul, which would be a minimum of two-fitty plus any parts that had to be replaced (and from the look of them, the dérailleur, the tires and possibly the wheels would).  I brought it in anyway, and my diagnosis was quickly confirmed.

But I also checked with the guy on the sales floor about the one model Eleanor had shown me before it all got (as my mother used to say) "compicated."  They didn't have hers in stock, but the men's model of the same thing was. He helped me understand the misheard term a lot better- and it seemed like a durable, reasonable model at least for me for not much more than overhauling the old.  So we'll be back Thursday and will try to get hers ordered (unless one comes in by then) and this, as well.

I almost asked if they would let me leave the old one with them; they probably have more means to recycle such things. In the end, though, I'm glad I didn't.

----

Wednesday is garbage night in these parts.  I got home around 1, put one of our totes out, and rested the bike up against it as if to say, no, my kid didn't just leave it here- go ahead.  Then I waited for the scavengers to arrive.  Winter and summer, night and day, I swear these curbpickers have long-range metal detectors attached to GPS systems, because there's usually one out there within 20 minutes even if I just drop a paper clip in the grass.

Not this time, though- but it was still within 20 minutes.  The doorbell rang; the scavengers never do that. No, it was a woman on her own bike, asking if it really was available. Her husband loves tinkering with such things, and it would be the perfect size for their daughter.  I told her, absolutely, and we moved it closer to the house so it wouldn't get grabbed by Metal Man before she could come back with her car to pick it up.  By the time I went back to work, she'd given it a new home- and it wound up being part of the kind of birthday present that I (and, I think, the birthday girl) love as much as any tangible thing:

It was an act of kindness that made somebody happy.  Besides, what better a thing is there to freecycle than a cycle?

And speaking of happy, my beloved,

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captainsblog
Going in chronological order rather than raginess:

I met with our gastroenterologist yesterday.  After mulling it over, I've decided to pass on the colonoscopy at this point.  He confirmed the randomness and outright unfairness in the current US system of rules for screenings. Basically, if you have no history and a prior clear test, anything short of ten years is considered diagnostic and thus high-deductible patients ::waves:: get to pay for the whole thing.  There are two alternatives that are cheaper and less invasive: one new (a "virtual" one using CT technology, but insurers consider it too new and unproven), one rather old and clunky (TMI, but the word "barium" is involved).  On the whole, I'll save my money and take my chances.

----

First thing this morning, my calendar reminded me it was time for an Amazon order- Orphan Black season 4 released today!

Sort of.

I'd stuffed an odd lot of things into my cart, waiting for this so I could use Amazon-branded credit card points that would also post today (you can't use them on pre-orders).  Included were a washable vacuum filter and some funky pastas Eleanor wanted; the latter had to be reordered because the original supplier ran out, and something else I wanted went up $60 in price and I had to re-order that at the lower price, as well. But worst of all was the news from Clone Club. Yes, I could have the latest series for a mere 18 bucks- but only if I was a member of Amazon Prime.

This has been an increasingly annoying bugaboo with them for months now.  Used to be, even free-shipping items arrived here way before the promised 5-8 business day estimate. These days?  Amazon doesn't even prepare a super-saver order for shipping for at least a week; THEN, though, it almost always gets here in the same two days after they finally get around to shipping it.

For the sake of the clones, I compromised. Prime can now be pay-as-you-go at $10.99 a month, 25 percent more than if you go all-in for the $99 a year, but we don't order enough for that difference to be much of a difference. So basically, the Prime month and the Amazon credit card points canceled each other out- and we'll have the whole bloody lot by Thursday.

----

And last but least in customer service:

New Bank's mortgage sent out the payoffs of our old bills on Friday.

Old Mortgage's payoff posted Saturday. For three or four brief shining days, we own our home free and clear.

Old Car's payoff posted last night. It was a few dollars short because they didn't get it until yesterday, but we had a $5.00 cushion in an associated savings account, so we're cool with them as well.

That leaves Old Credit Card Bank- which apparently sent our money into the ether. Or Cleveland- makes sense, since that's where they used to be headquartered.  As of this morning, OCCB was still saying they'd received no payoff- and worse, they were harassing Eleanor to make a payment to them because the minimum payment was due Saturday.

This we knew.  So much so that I went into an OCCB branch on Friday with said minimum payment, despite New Bank having already cut a check for the full payoff- and they couldn't take it.  Due to the hack, they changed the account number, and the branch had no access to the new account number. Nor do we; because of the fraud, if they told us, they'd have to kill us. But they will, supposedly, overnight a new card to us containing said number so we can straighten it out tomorrow.

We'll see. Not to name names or anything, but they haven't been the best of corporate Shitizens up until now:P
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captainsblog

We saw the new Ghostbusters yesterday.  Most of the pre-release pub about it was negative and misogynistic, driven by fanboys of the 80s original who were shocked, SHOCKED! that they'd cast chicks in the coveralls of their favorite nerds.

Despite the fact that the three living actors from that set were supportive and did cameos in the picture (and the daughter of the fourth, the late Harold Ramis, said that her dad was always open to a reboot with diverse casting- suggesting a foursome of Harold and Kumar's Kal Penn, Chris Rock, Jack Black and Maya Rudolph). Despite there being no way to put the toothpaste of the original incarnation back in the tube- or the ghosts back in the trap, I suppose.  No, this was pure Sad Puppies hatred at work, and it got into the press and into some serious IMDB downvoting before any of them even saw the film.

Moneywise, it did fine on opening weekend- making back 46 of its 150 million budget in the first three days, and beating everything except the equally anticipated and promoted Secret Life of Pets (which we also want to see). Plotwise, it was as good as it was gonna get: tracking the original, with plenty of homages to in-script and off-screen things, but still being different enough to not be a scene-by-scene redo.  Best of all, though, was the quality of the four main performances.  These grrls got it- and they get it.  Whereas the Original Three scientists mostly came across as horny fraudsters who only got serious when Zuul virtually tripped in front of them, these three are serious, if not entirely believers, right from the get-go. They're also more honest about embracing their nerdiness, which winds up being the bond that overcomes the initial conflict between Abby and Erin.  The actual bustin' scenes are nothing to write home about, scriptwise or effectwise, but then neither were the ones in the original.  It was the characters' reactions to the devastation around them that made those scenes work- and the same reactions here have the same effect, CGI-enhanced or not.  (One particular homage I enjoyed, which I haven't seen mentioned, was Melissa McCarthy(?) dragging a hotel dining room table through a hallway and having the tablecloth come off it- reprising Bill Murray's moment with a similar table in a similar hotel).

If there's a quibble, it would be in the roles given to the supporting cast.  Chris Hemsworth is cute in performing essentially two of the roles from the original film, but they could've done more with him in both capacities.  There's no real villain who's either as evil as Zuul or as bureaucratically stupid as the EPA guy from the original.  And oddly enough, I thought the best cameos were the ones from the supporting cast members- Potts, Hudson and Weaver- all briefer and funnier than the lines fed to Dan and Bill.

Sort-of spoiler about the Blow The City Up scene:

No, not Mister Sta-Puft. You KNEW about him.Collapse )

The music is great- respecting but rebooting Ray Parker Junior in multiple ways. Finally, stay through the credits (themselves well done with outtakes and bustin' moves)- there's a brief but possibly sequel-promising end scene.

Who'm I gonna call? The bros- and I'm calling them asshats for not wanting this:P

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captainsblog
One of our favourite videos from the years of Emily's animation screenings, other than hers of course, was this one, which might or might not embed:



Eleanor runs into that lady's last-scene appearance at the register just about every week. I'm a little luckier, but I tend to get behind one at the worst possible times. Today, for instance.

I had an alarm go off today just past seven. I did my workout an hour early so I could go do the Bank Thing bright and early- for our funds were finally funded!

New Bank handed me enough cash to cover the online payments due yesterday that I made last night before the cutoff, and gave me a check for the remainder of what I need to pay off during the coming week.  I'd also hoped to get an explanation of why the payoffs they sent appeared to be $500 or so higher than what I had given them- the figure wasn't itemized- but I couldn't get a straight answer from them.  So I just headed over to Yet Another Bank (not the one involved in the refi or the credit card hack) to deposit the funds....

and wound up behind the soulmate of the old lady in the video.

He was slow. He was plodding. He was monopolizing the only teller- who I adore, and who I know from recent conversations to have been having a bad time of things in her life. Broken key in the door, flat tire, shittiness from the ex, you name it. And now him- needing his hand held to cash a single check. Meanwhile, I was getting so verklempt listening to it, I wound up dropping my stash of Benjamins all over the floor of the branch.

No Pokemons in there, but fortunately I caught them all.  Finally, Mary said "thank you," but he continued to prattle on about things she couldn't help him with. And that's when I heard enough of the voice to realize:

I know the guy from church.  As in Grumpy Old Man in Full Business Suit Even in Midsummer guy, who's been a member since the sanctuary was consecreated in 1846 and who donates too much money for anybody to tell him to shut up.

I got my more complex transaction done in half the time, Mary and I sharing more than one eyeroll, and I headed out to find him still there.

So, Ray, haven't seen you in church!

No, and you're not going to as long as guys like you are dictating what we do and how we express what we believe.

(I didn't say it. But I meant it.)

----

Speaking of Benjamins, or more particularly the one named Braddock:

We Netflixed The Graduate last night. We'd never seen it together, and I probably never saw it full-through except on over-the-air television, thus likely with some of the racy stuff cut out.  I did have one of the odder takes on some early parts of the film, though.  First, in the scenes at the start of Mrs. R's seduction; she's at their delightfully tacky 60s in-home bar, with the cleverly-labeled "BAR" sign on it.  Check the booze dispensers on Anne Bancroft's right, though:



You see them again, in action, when Mr. Robinson commits graduatus interruptus moments later and takes Benjamin back downstairs for a little talk:



Is it just me, or is this scene the inspiration for Darth Vader's getup? Remember- we know that Lucas named R2-D2 after a cannister of film from American Graffiti that was in a room with him! 

Need more?  Advance a couple of minutes to this clip- the bizarre Scuba scene:



At about 20 seconds in, the outside dialog cuts out and all you hear is the raspiness of the breathing apparatus.

Well. We KNOW he's Luke's father. Now I'm starting to wonder if Mrs. Robinson, rather than Padme, might be his mother.
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captainsblog
Decent morning- solved (I think) a significant problem for Emily; possibly picked up two new pieces of business for decent clients; and made progress on some other stuff.

Crappy afternoon- in the last twoish hours of the workday, got an "inquiry letter" on one case that will eat my brain for the next week or two; received a bill (I think) from a client who paid me $3000 to do $4700 worth of work, stopped cooperating and even contacting me and now apparently wants his money back (look! a flying pig!); cracked the glass on my tablet shortly after getting home and now cannot get the touchscreen to work; and have to wait until tomorrow to work out several pieces of moving around the refi money which is now, officially, ours.

But never mind any of that.  Here are my juvenile moments from the past few days.

First, this one. Copies of this ugly mug started showing up a few days ago. This school actually renamed itself TO "University of North Texas" from something more teachery-collegey, but clearly they didn't think out the implications on putting it on a vessel with an actual handle:



The item, reportedly, is no longer for sale;)

----

Next, an actual text I got at the end of the workday yesterday. I'm told it meant to say that the client had "a tenant stiff me." Siri and/or autocorrect took it from there:



----

Then, just now.  It's been known for much of the week that His Drumpfiness planned to pair with Indiana's wackadoodle governor, Mike Pence, as his VP choice. The jokes about Trumpence and TP began almost immediately, but leave it to these two to take it visually to yet another (lower) level. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2016 Republican Presidential logo:



We always knew this ticket was out to screw America.  I just didn't expect that they'd be so graphic about it.

ETA. Annnnd the logo is dead. Completely scrubbed from official GOP sites. America has always been great again. We have always been at war with EurEastasia.
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captainsblog
The morning routine here varies within an hour or so, but it begins either when the dog needs to go out or the cats become beyond annoying. The over-under's somewhere between 4:30 and 5 a.m.  I let Ebony out and back in; if it's closer to 4:30, I have a minor chance of getting back to sleep for an hour, but usually I just stay up, read on the tablet, and right before or during the Official Feeding Time (round 0545), I'll usually get out of bed to feed them, turn this computer on and check personal email and things like direct deposits.

So it went this morning, except Twobor didn't come up out of sleep mode.  This computer does that at least once a week. Some thing in either Windows 10 or Toshiba will occasionally run in the dead of night, and when I power it back up it just sticks.  Usually a hard reset does the trick- and today it did as well....

but a much meaner trick.

It logged me in normally, but then my desktop was gone. It was the default plain-Jane 10 background-



- it had the Cortana "ask me anything" prompt I'd turned off months ago, my icons were rearranged and some were missing.

As were my files.  All of them. Outlook and billing wanted to install themselves cleanly.  I'd seen this before on a prior 8 machine (the Tobor that was later replaced by Twobor)- it's the result of a "recovery" attempt- only it didn't wipe data files.

Somehow, I suspected this hadn't, either- it had merely renamed my Users folders.  My bigger worry was what would happen if I was wrong; since installing all of my proggies on this computer a few months ago (when the backup had some issues which, of course, it is also having at this moment), I got out of the habit of backing up everything onto that laptop. Or anywhere else.  My last files showed a date of April 11- and my email might be completely unrecoverable.

Except they're not.

I did a system restore to the last restore point about a week ago. That got me bluescreens and failed Toshiba diagnostics.  Panic began to set in, but I pressed on to the prior one, sometime in late June.  THAT one took, which is why I can post this through Semagic now. After backing up the shite out of every data, client and email file on here.  It all SEEMS back to normal- or for whatever passes for normal around here.

This also seems to be the time for me to learn how to automatically sync to the cloud. Only problem is, Microsoft just announced that they're cutting back free OneDrive storage from 15 gigs to 5.  I'm over, but only because of storing music up there, but I can move those files to Google Drive that's still at 15 free gigs.

God help us, though, when everybody starts uploading the Pokemons they've captured.
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captainsblog

It's 1:30 and we're not one fifth done with a calendar that started at 1. But my day effectively ends when this does. Then it'll be out to see at least Emily. She is working 9 to 3 for the summer. It was supposed to be 10 to 4, but there was a little glitch with that.  On her first 10-to-4 day, when she got to the office, the Overnight Delivery Guy was waiting at the outer door. They get a lot of overnights, so it didn't make sense for her to come in later than the delivery time.

Especially with this guy.

After she signed for the delivery, Emily put in her code to unlock the outer door. It no workee.  Tried again. Still no good. Fortunately, ODG was still there, and he explained. When he couldn't open the outer door, he called the office phone number shown on the airbill. Not by using his phone; not by using any other phone. No, he keyed it in on the keypad for the alarm system.

Repeatedly.

As the spouse of a security system alumna, I can attest to what this does. It does, and did, lock the system so even the correct code would no longer work- and it may have called out to the cops. Em got it sorted before anything stupid happened, but I came to two quick conclusions about ODG's place on the delivery company organization chart:

- putting him behind the wheel of a very large truck: possibly bad.

- not letting him fly the company's plane: very very good.

----

We won't be hanging out at the office much, though (barring further breaking and enterings:P). Rather? I may stick a toe into some monster-infested waters:

The kids have been doing Pokemon Go.

Honest, I would never have seen this coming. Even with this year's return of other 90s classics- Ninja Turtles, Fargo, a Clinton Presidency- the return of this cartoon farm to such prominence was just Pokewow.

The cool part is how it's actually encouraging action and exercise away from a single spot. The kids have been getting up at 6 a.m. to go hunting and gathering. And in anticipation of seeing this in real time, I went and downloaded the app to this phone.

Not without a little trepidation, mind. Recent days have brought concerns about just how much data the app is allowed to access, especially on the Google platforms that the app defaults to during the install. So I've gone and added a new account with a name nobody will ever associate with any of my other online lives.

Sincerely,
Boaty McBoatface
(boatfaceymcboat at da g)

 

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captainsblog

Our gastroenterologist called late yesterday. I'm scheduled for my second colonscopy a week from Saturday; Eleanor's went just fine a few weekends ago, and her insurance covered it in full with no deductible or co-pay because her previous one five years ago had shown some minor stuff.

Mine, last time, was perfectly fine, and I have no family history of it that I know of- so my insurance considers it premature (the standard is every ten years absent either identified issues or history), but it will cover it, subject to me picking up the whole cost of it against my $2,000 deductible.

At least I know what I'm looking at (see what I did there?), since I have Eleanor's paid bills to go by.  The Doc gets $750 for lookin' around, and the anaesthesiologist gets another $500.  That's more than half what we've got in our health savings account right now; so far, I've only paid for prescriptions out of there for this calendar year, so if I don't incur any major expense, I can roll those funds over to next year for things like getting my hearing or teeth improved upon.

This morning, I decided to schedule a consult with the doctor first- explain what possible issues I'm having and whether they're anything that's likely to be diagnosed through the procedure.  He may be able to do some less invasive looking or testing and get to the answer.  If we still think it would be advisable, I'm still scheduled for a week from Saturday.

The scary thing is how random the cost variation is.  I honestly don't know if there's any family history; most of my relatives passed long before these screenings became the routine thing they now are.  I may check with my sister to see if she knows of anything.  Given such a major cost difference, there's incentive to answer that question differently than I did; I just have much bigger incentives not to do that.

Meanwhile, my GP is bugging me to come in just because one of my maintenance scrips is up and he wants to check my BP before giving me six more months of the stuff.  And let's not even talk about how late I am getting back to the dentist.

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captainsblog

Our refi closed this afternoon. How it closed was completely unexpected.

Eleanor had to be at work by 12:30.  I was nervous and called the branch manager at least four times during the morning to see if we'd been cleared (our regular loan officer was off today).  Concurrent with those calls, I was getting messages from the friends who were heading back stateside after a weekend in Toronto; they wound up driving past my office round noon and at least got to stop and visit with me for a few minutes:



Moments after they left, and after Eleanor left for work, the call finally came: everything was ready to sign. I ran over to the store and we worked out that I'd pick her up at 3 to take her to the bank (eight doors down from her store) and back again.

That hour came, and her boss let her out early for the afternoon; said boss, in her mid-20s, already owns her own home and knows all too well how these closings can go.  We got to the branch and instead of meeting with our officer or the branch manager, the closing was handled by another bank employee, Richard. I don't recall ever meeting him, but we bonded quickly enough.

Between reviewing our loan papers and seeing Eleanor in her store uniform, he asked which Wegmans she worked at.  We told him. He then told us of his own connection to the W-Brand: his sister Celia, who worked at their store a mile or so east of Eleanor's, died very unexpectedly in 2014.

We knew.

Celia's death resulted in both grief and love beyond the grounds of her Transit Road store.  Eleanor was one of the other-store employees who volunteered to work at Transit on the day of Celia's funeral so that all of her co-workers could attend. Her obituary remains as a tribute to her dedication to the store, her fellow employees and their customers:

Celia A. Parwulski, a familiar face to service desk customers at various Wegmans stores for the past quarter- century, died unexpectedly Tuesday in her Clarence Center home. She was 52.

Born Celia Greco in Buffalo, she grew up in Snyder and graduated from Amherst High School in 1980. For several years, she worked in training and special projects for Western Savings Bank and its successors before joining Wegmans as a customer service manager in 1989.

Mrs. Parwulski last worked at Wegmans’ Transit Road store in Amherst and became widely known for coordinating scores of requests for donations and services in the community each year. Her husband, Keith, said she was often recognized by the company and shoppers alike for her passion for customer service.

“Wegmans has always had some pretty high standards,” he said. “Then there was the ‘Celia standard.’ That was even higher. She lived it and breathed it.”

Mrs. Parwulski was honored by Wegmans at a ceremony honoring its 25-year employees last Friday, just four days before her death.

They've since renovated that store, and it prominently honors her history and memory there.

So yeah. Her brother wound up giving us that kind of customer service in finalizing this deal.

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captainsblog
Now that we've had a credit card account hacked, I'm starting to see bad guys under every bed.  It really gives me pause just how omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent this interweb thing really is.

I liked to think I was pretty locked down. I never use my real name in connection with this journal; I have several tracker-blockers going in every browser, and I've turned off (often after much digging) social media settings that make it easier to identify you and your preferences.  In the Faceworld, I have a general rule about friending: no clients and no co-workers.  (There are one or two exceptions to each.) Just too much potential for cross-pollination of information. And I never, ever, use my work email address for anything other than work.

Doesn't matter.  Between other people being stupid and systems being so pervasive, I'm seeing way too much crossing of the streams.  Which, as you know, is bad.

Clients occasionally try to friend me on Facebook. I decline, and explain (offline) that there are ethical as well as personal reasons; if that Wall becomes something I market my practice with, it is then subjected to a ton of rules involving advertising and disclosures and who knows what else.  Despite this, though, in the past week or so I've been getting regular pictures of clients who have NOT asked to friend me; their names and pictures just show up in those ubiquitous "people you may know" blocks.  I know how this happens, most likely: Friend Finding tools that feed in peoples' incoming email addresses and match them up with known email addresses or likely name-city combinations that Facebook already knows about.  Years ago, I got caught doing this myself - Facebook's iPhone app proceeded to populate all of that phone's contacts, including clients synced from my office Outlook, with their Facebook photos and other ID information- even if I had never interacted with them in social media at all. No, I do not need to see your wedding selfie every time you call me, Megan; and really, Charles, I didn't want to have the name "Chuckie Vegas" permanently associated with you.  But I do.

They also seem almost fetishly obsessed with making wild guesses about who you "may know." I've been with my current gym for just over a year. In that time, I've friended one person who I met there- she works there, and I did it, in part, in the effort to get her votes in a contest.  But just that one person has now gotten Zuckerberg trundling dozens of others from that gym past me because they "liked" it or "checked in" there. I don't dislike them; some seem pretty cool. But I don't know them beyond recognizing their faces. It also backasswardly goes against one of the principles of this fitness place: they default to relative anonymity.  At any of their studios, I'm RAYS09.  Their public posts about members are similarly limited to their first name and last initial.  Yet there they are, with full names and sample selfies being sent to someone that they know back as barely as I know them.  Unintended? Definitely. Consequences? You would hope not.

Then there are the impracticalities resulting when things do occasionally go bump.  The paper ran an article today about how to check up on your Google privacy settings; given the hack, it seemed a good idea, so off I went.  They asked for my Google password even though I was already logged in; in theory, a good protection, but I haven't entered it in months.  When I couldn't come up with it, they required a reset, which now requires the password also being changed, through two-step verification, on at least five other devices.   (Oh, and my privacy settings were all fine as they were:P)

A similar c-fudge is resulting with Old Credit Card Bank; they're due to be paid off out of our new mortgage, but with the delay from the hack and a mandatory three-day wait between closing and funding, it's possible they will not get full payment by the day the current payment is due. So my thought was to send them the minimum payment and we'd eventually get that back once they got New Bank's money.  Just one problem:  they've disabled online access to the account because of the breach.  And we went paperless with them after all their nags about saving Mother Nature. Fortunately, I'd kept a .pdf copy of the last statement which shows the minimum amount, so I will bring that in to a branch this week and get it taken care of. Still, I pity the shlub who didn't think that far ahead and could wind up in default because they couldn't access the information needed to give other people their money.

Hopefully, all this will pass.  First thing Monday, we're expecting clearance to close and it should all be sorted by the end of the week.  Then next up, for me at least, is a colonoscopy two weekends hence.  At least there there's little doubt whether I'm really me or not.

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captainsblog
We've needed rain around here.  It took packing up the trunk and driving to Delaware Park to get it to show up.

Shakespeare in Delaware Park is in its 41st season. I probably go back to seeing it for the first time during its seventh, my first summer here. Same artistic director, same perfect spot behind the Albright-Knox. New stage this year, and a revival of their first-ever performance, of A Winter's Tale. 

I'd forgotten how difficult a work it is- brimming with misogny, in the bombastic person of the King of Sicilia, who suspects a fellow King of boinking his wife, orders him killed, fails, then orders his newborn daughter to be burned and, on reconsideration, banished from the realm, a task assigned to Bad King's minion Antigonus, which gives rise to the most famous line from the text, one not actually spoken:

ANTIGONUS 

Come, poor babe:
Et cetera, et cetera, et ceteraCollapse )
 Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:
 I am gone for ever.
[Exit, pursued by a bear]

That's become the pop-culture tag for this play.  The merch stand atop Shakespeare Hill features it as the obligatory Clever Line On The T-Shirt.  And it became an integral part of the Cornetto Trilogy, as well as my own vocabulary, in this scene from The World's End:



It was only fitting, then, that an hour or so into the production, we all had to Boo-Boo:(

----

SDP is one of those things we always say we want to do every summer but usually don't. This weekend seemed the right time: the play, lesser known and then perhaps lesser crowded; the female lead is someone we've known from church since the summer we moved here; and hey, the weather's been so sunny and dry all summer, so it ain't gonna get rained out!

We'll get back to THAT bit. Also, a longtime gym friend of mine also posted that she wanted to go tonight; she always struck me as a kindred spirit to Eleanor, so we eventually decided to pick her up and head over together.

Earlier in the day, Eleanor had been practically daring the skies to open.  We have a remote boombox-ish "base station" that connects to computers and smartphones through either cables (tricky) or Bluetooth (better); most nights eating outside on the patio, it's been my iPhone powering the tuneage. A few weeks ago, she'd asked me about Bluetooth updates she was getting on her PC; they turned out to be surplus, as her hardware didn't include any such capability.  But then I discovered it could be added through a teeny USB thumbdrive of an adapter- and, unlike my failed attempt at rigging Blu-Ray onto my computer, I checked with the manufacturer and was assured that it would not require any additional purchases of software.  Seventeen bucks and a week or so later, it arrived in this morning's mail- and, true to their word, it didn't need anything extra.  Eleanor was gleefully playing Mary Fahl songs through the base station as she sat at the backyard patio table this afternoon, even as the sky was turning grey-to-black and showing every sign of starting to pour.

It never did.  She, Ann and I decided it was a go- and it was, through getting there unfashionably early, setting up our chairs, and watching right through until two scenes before the appearance of Boo-Boo.  THAT's when we got our rain; quick and pelting, enough for the stage manager to call time on the performance with haste.

(No argument from the cheap seats.  This summer's performers were in early 20th-century business dress, including almost all of the women including our church friend in heels, and the stage remains wooden and slick and there was enough injury and potential death in the script itself without risking the real thing.)

They chose this as an early intermission, and the actors proceeded up the Hill, as they have in each of the 40 summers previous, to pass their purses to support their incredibly worthy cause. I got a hug from Hermione as I gave her my wallet's all- and soon after, the greyest of the clouds appeared to be moving on, and thus the action returned to Sicilia and her rather rigged trial....

Which ended in a mist-trial, if you will, as the drizzle returned, then escalated, and right after my two companions agreed it was time for us to Boo-Boo, the stage manager called off the remainder of the evening.

We're all invited back between tomorrow and a week from Sunday, when this half of the schedule closes.  We may instead rendezvous for Taming of the Shrew, which is the second-half performance.  Plenty of bared claws, but no bears.
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captainsblog
There are serious things going on in the world that have to be addressed. I can't just yet. Certainly it's nothing to laugh about.

My day, though? Laugh away. It can't make things any worse.

When we last refinanced our home in 2013, I posted about the near-daily struggles we were having with underwriters and other regulators to prove we were worthy.  This one had been brief and boring in comparison; they asked for relatively little stuff, and sent their approval a couple of weeks ago.  All we needed was to pay off three debts: the existing mortgage (derp), my car (little left), and one credit card of Eleanor's.

We'd authorized New Bank to get payoffs from all three.  By late last week, it was clear we wouldn't close and fund by the end of June- significant, because our current mortgage is a type that you owe the entire following month of interest for if you pay off on even the second of the month.  So I told them to shoot for late this week.  With the Monday holiday and a crazy couple of days after that, I didn't hear and didn't have time to bug them, so I thought it might be ready for us to sign by today. It has to be signed by next Tuesday under the commitment, so I got a little nervous and called yesterday, without response.

Overnight, I dreamed of snafus in the process- some underwriter suddenly wanted to know what some code was on some document.  So I planned to go to the branch first thing to check. First, though, I went into my little Technology Corner to start a process, and that's where our old landline phone number resides.  The one we barely use and rarely check.

It had voicemails.

Two from New Bank: nothing major, just a "little snafu" (yes, she used the same word) over needing an account number on our current mortgage. Easy to solve. 

The other two, from Old Credit Card Bank: calling Eleanor about possible fraudulent use of her account. I didn't even tell her; silly me, I thought it might have been triggered by New Bank requesting a payoff from them.

By the time I got to the branch in a light rain (this will be important later), the Old Mortgage problem had fixed itself, and the car payoff was in. But OCCB was giving her grief; even though Eleanor signed an authorization to provide information (common in mortgage transactions), they wouldn't tell New Bank anything unless either Eleanor herself was on the phone or she submitted a signed Power of Attorney.

We called, Eleanor at home and at the ready to jump on the line. Which is when we found out that the fraud alert was real.  Someone had used her card number to charge close to $2,000 of stuff in Dubai and Berlin (and they might've gotten more but the 2K probably came close to maxing out the limit).

So Eleanor's now dealing with two problems at once on a conference call through her cell phone, run through New Bank officer's phone. It took close to two hours, Eleanor eventually coming in to the branch and risking being late for work on account of it, but we think we've shut down the fraud AND have a viable payoff that will let the closing close.

Oh- and right before Eleanor got to the branch? Joan (our incredibly patient New Bank officer) was just sitting on hold with OCCB Customer Disservice; there was little I could do and I was now late for work myself, with a half gallon of milk for the office fridge in my back seat.  I was promised a call if I was needed and headed out to my car....

which wouldn't start because I'd left my freaking lights on.

We've been in a virtual drought here for weeks.  It's been so long since I've used the wipers on my car that when it rained for about two minutes yesterday, I forgot which switch worked the front ones versus the rear wiper. Overnight, it rained a little more, and it was drizzling this morning, so I put my headlights on and left them that way when I got to the bank.  It makes a dingy-noise, but all of this is a little distracting, yaknow.  An hour-plus later was all it took to drain the thing; hybrids have separate small batteries that run what batteries do on regular gas vehicles, and it was shot.

Finally, though, luck turned.  The AAA guy was literally in the next parking lot, and I got it jumped in under 10 minutes from my call.  I've made it to work and nothing bad has happened in a whole hour.


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captainsblog

I got my first-ever call yesterday from a client in Dubai.

Turns out, he's an existing client, referred by a lawyer in New Jersey for me to file some paperwork related to the case here in NYS.  The other parties to the case just filed bankruptcy, in Trenton, and he wanted me to do this and that in response to it.

Here are the concerns with that:

* I don't poach. You refer a client to me to do x, that's what I do, not a through f or whatever it is the referring attorney does. Now here, I don't know if the referring attorney does this additional work, or wants any help with it. I've asked, and am awaiting a response.  But even if the answer is yes,

* New Jersey is a fucking bitch when it comes to out-of-state lawyers poaching on their turf.

Out-of-state lawyers appear in our bankruptcy courts all the time on an individual case basis. You register for an electronic filing account (no fee), file a simple motion and proposed order allowing it for that case, and you're in.  But Joisey, once disparaged by Benjamin Franklin as "a keg tapped at both ends," cannot just throw shade at the fancypants lawyers coming in from those two taps (Philadelphia and New York City). No, they have to say "fuggedabutit" to everyone who is not a true-green member of the Jersey State Bar.  Here's how they do it:

-Require a $150 fee to appear in one case. (In contrast, New York State charges lawyers $375 as their entire registration fee for two years.)

- Also require the lawyer to pay the full calendar-year fee to the New Jersey State Court Client Protection Fund as if you were a resident attorney; that amount, in my case, would be $212 upfront, with that fee recurring on January 1st if my representation were to continue into 2017; and

- Even after all that, your temporary admission gets you no filing privileges- you still need a permanent Bar member to "stand up" for you in receipt and filing of all documents.  So you get to address the court in your own voice. That's about it.

It can get even worse even after you jump through all of these hoops- as I did, for a particularly good client of an old law firm, close to 20 years ago.  Years later, I got a letter from Trenton, offering me AMNESTY! for my years of unpaid annual registration fees to the Client Protection Fund. Nobody told them, or had reason to tell them, that I had only paid their fee for one case for one year and had neither the knowledge nor the form required to terminate my relationship to that great state.  I sent them a letter saying so and never heard back.

Still, I hesitate to do it again. Hell, now I hesitate to take the Toinpike between here and Maryland anymore, lest I get pulled over for speeding (or stuck in a gas station bathroom) and have them haul me off on a warrant for being a Bar Association scofflaw.

----

Then today's Court. Return with me to those thrilling days of 2015:...

I did things 1 through 6, the way they're usually done.

Other Party didn't do thing 7. I did it for them.

Trustee objected, saying I'd done thing 7 too late.

I asked the judge to let it stand. Trustee objected.  We worked out a Rube Goldberg solution where we would do, in order and on a schedule, Things 8 through 12.  All were done, except the final step of 12. That merely awaited a judge's approval of the unopposed Thing.

Except it wasn't unopposed.  Someone showed up. But meanwhile, back at the ranch, the trustee had figured out that he never should have opposed me doing Thing 7, way back when. And so we put the toothpaste back into the tube, undoing everything we'd done since then, allowing thing 7, and putting us back exactly where we were in, oh, February....

except for the probably $3,000 worth of my time that I put in that I will never see a nickel for.

At least I don't have to send any money to New Jersey, though. That I know of:P

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