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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
The original Star Wars opened. Its release was limited to about 30 venues nationwide, including the Mann's Twin Cinema in Hicksville, Long Island. A few weeks later, my best friend Dennis and I rode our bikes over from East Meadow to see what the Force was all about. The rest, as they say, is history.

From five years ago:

It’s hard to remember a day when Star Wars wasn’t a towering cultural and marketing event, but on May 25, 1977, it was a smallish movie opening on a Wednesday in just 32 theaters.

There was no premiere.



Theater goers wait in lines in front of the Avco Center Theater in Los Angeles to see "Star Wars" in June 7, 1977.

“Theaters didn't want the movie. We were lucky to get thirty theaters to open it,” Charles Lippincott, former Lucasfilm promotions chief later said of the troubled and much-delayed production.

In New York, you could go see Star Wars at two theaters in Manhattan - the Loews Orpheum on East 86th St. and the Astor Plaza in Times Square - and on Long Island at the Mann Twin South in Hicksville. All three movie palaces have since been demolished.

Tickets were $4. Some viewers remember the box office handing out lapel buttons saying “May the Force be with You.”

It was June-something, days before our high school graduation, when we made the ride over. (Around that time, Mann Cinemas  became owners of the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and had taken Sid's name off the marquee by the time I visited it with another East Meadow friend in the winter of 1979-80. I think we saw Empire Strikes Back there.)

The saga and I have always been traveling companions.  Return of the Jedi came out just before I spent a summer in England, and I wound up seeing it in a forgotten seaside cinema in 1983.  We were told then, sorry, three was it, and had no hope of either the forgettable prequels from the 99-oughts or the far better Return of the Series last year.  But I (and Eleanor, and Emily) saw all of them, mostly on or just after their release dates.

Now? The Force is everywhere. VIII and IX are real and conceived and ready to roll.  Rogue One, which we began re-watching tonight in honour of the 40th, gave us our first side-story and the immediate prequel to what Dennis and I saw 40 Junes ago. And there's a Solo project and a Boba Fett project and, yes, even Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money (or some other title).

The Force is strong with us.  Good, because we need It more than ever.

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Kermit the Car, that is. Not to be confused with the eponymous frog.

Yesterday was a long one, totally apart from the hour-and-change devoted to getting Emily's car formally transferred to her. Clients at 10:30, 11:30, 1 and 6, plus one who didn't show and many who called.  The day dawned on the road from the diner, where I saw this oddity outside the Catholic church in Clarence Holler:

I speculated that all clients would be required to wash their hands of all guilt before using the reformers.

Despite the backlog of appointments, everything proceeded pretty much on schedule; I used some downtime waiting for the 1:00 court hearing to fill out all the paperwork to transfer the title, and got there a few minutes before our appointed appointment.  Only thing I forgot was to record the odometer reading, so Emily continued with the paperwork and I headed out to write it down, stopping to take one last (or so I thought) shot of the lucky plates on that car which are about to be destroyed:

This was the set originally on Janis, the Cavalier I got for her to drive during college, and which was on that car when it was totaled in 2013 and Em and Cameron blessedly escaped unhurt.  I gave them my then-car to drive and bought this hybrid with the insurance proceeds (and then some); they tried to trash the plates and put new ones on it, but to me they were lucky charms and they stayed on it for the next three years as my ride and for the five months since I got JARVIS for myself and let them "borrow" Kermit until Emily got a new job.

Now that she has one, it was time. The paperwork all went fine, she was given a number in a short queue to finalize the transaction, and I went out to remove the old plates....

one of which, of course (the rear one in that last photo), was completely fused to the hatch and no amount of unscrewing or prodding would get it off.  Fortunately, the auto bureau plaza has an Auto Zone, so I headed over and bought a can of WD-40. They loaned me a bigger tool for the removal job (this happens often over there, as you might expect).  But I'd forgotten to turn my ringer on after leaving court, and Emily came out pretty panicked because she knew none of this, had been unable to reach me- and wound up having to pay the $118 to buy the new plates and register the thing for its first two years.  I told her I'd get cash out to cover that, and met her back at my office. There, further tools and sprigs of the oily stuff still failed to do the job, but then she asked:

They don't have to be in perfect shape, do they?

Hell, no; DMV destroys them as soon as you turn them in.   This opened up greater possibilities, namely, one (1) tire iron.  The top screws remained, but the plate, she came a tumblin' down:

(Some of the bending was from the accident in 2013, but most of it was fresh destruction. Heh heh.)

All that remained was to attach two plates with two screws- those removed when the front plate popped right off.  The new front plate seated nicely held down by just one, but the back one was a little wibbly wobbly platey watey for her drive home until Cameron could drill out the stripped top screws and replace them:

It's tighter than it looks on the outside. And it's now all hers. I took the damaged plates in to be destroyed this morning, and delivered the receipt to our insurance office, so it's now really all hers.

Weird-but-good karma continued. My last client left the Rochester office leaving me just enough time to get to my workout studio's Pittsford location for their last class of the day.  I pulled in, pulled out my bag, went to check for my heart monitor, and found it half-missing- the strap half.  I could've done it without, but I was worried about where I might have left it and/or lost it, so I got home by 8. This was just in time to find it sitting on my desk, but also near the pile of the six Blackadder videos which had to be back in the hands of the Erie County Library by 9 or I'd be looking at $6 per day fine for turning them in late.  I never would have made it to the library in time if I'd done the class last night- and I made it up, with the strap, after returning the plates this afternoon. 

So that last plate picture is quite fitting: things are a little wobbly sometimes, but the important stuff holds together:)

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Sometimes you just need to get away from It.  For the first Saturday in ages, I didn't set foot in my office, check the weekend mail, or obsess over how behinder I'm getting.  Yes, I did send out one revision of a petition this morning, but that was as far as I went.  It was time to return to my repast- the National Pastime, minor league edition.

The Red Sox AAA affiliate is in town, and they started one of the star Boston pitchers last night on a rehab assignment. I asked my Soxfan friends from Rochester if they were interested, and the timing didn't work out; just as well, since Eleanor and I wound up going out to dinner for the first time in ages, and the game wound up with David Price pitching only two innings and the contest going into extra innings.  But Scott and his son were up to coming in for the afternoon tilt today- no star pitcher, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval was still rehabbing and was expected to be in the lineup.

I love local baseball. Where else can you print tickets at home, just over two hours before gametime, for three seats seven rows up from the visitors' dugout for just over fifty bucks for the lot?  They picked me up, we found a street space, and were in those amazing seats just in time for first pitch.

In the second, Scott and Son headed off for hot dogs and coke. I was off for fancier fare- poutine, a sop to the Blue Jay affiliation (I still hate them divorcing the Mets but it's the second best choice), and a craft beer from a Rochester brewer.  I just needed to make sure the woman in the next row kept her hair out of the gravy (she put it up seconds after this was taken):

Panda, as he's known, played about half the game, including fielding at third and getting a hit.  Here's how close we were to him for most of his time on the infield:

Not sure why he wasn't wearing his Boston 48, but hey, Seaver homages are always welcome.

It was sheer joy sharing a ballgame with a father and his inquisitive son. Among the few good memories I have of my own father are of him answering my endless questions about the game, the rules, the players and such; Eli's inquiries far extended beyond mine in space and time, perhaps because he produced authentic Starfleet identification as soon as we met up:

Midway through the game was the obligatory Chicken Wing race. I don't even pay attention to the winner anymore, being more peeved that Celery Never Wins. Today, alas, was no exception:

Just past the Stretch, we got our final visit from Conehead, a fixture at this ballpark (and others in Western New York), pitching his bargain five-dollar beers with the Conehead Guar-an-tee!  I wasn't driving, so of course:)

"Thirty years of service" to this stadium now in its 30th year- the first of the retro downtown parks now dotting America from Baltimore to Seattle and all building on its success.

Pawtucket broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth, and despite their closer loading the bases, the final out was recorded and the Sox fans went home happy. As did the Mets fan who didn't go for the outcome but the company and the sunshine.  We may meet up again at a Binghamton Bronies game sometime soon, but that will likely be at night.  There's just something magical about baseball in the daytime, surrounded by the friends you know and everyone around you who you don't but with whom you share the baseball bond.

We arrived home safely:)

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Yeah, de feets hurt.  You get that after another week of running around to six court appearances in four places in two cities (plus udda thingza) and ending it all with a workout with a fairly famous guy.  But this week didn't end with the exhaustion and overwhelmedness of two weeks ago.  It helped immensely having any number of Life's Little Victories to push me on. That's the title of a running comic series by artist Keith Knight.  Here are a few of them.

My one out-of-town trip Tuesday confirmed the essential death of my tablet to unknown causes. The replacement glass alone for it would run $100, before getting into the labor to sever the broken glass from the digitizer and reconnect the whole business. So I resorted to, dare I say it?, books! during cardio; Graham Nash's memoir, recounted in a 70s flashback on World Cafe a few months ago, came home from Hamburg along with the Blackadder disks we've been bingeing, and it's been delightful. My tablet time has converted to watch-scenes-on-this-laptop-time in the wee smalls after Ebony or a cat wakes me up before feeding time. I will replace the tablet in time, but no rush.... but I did achieve Life's Little Victory #517 the day after the Rochester trip:

Lisa, my go-to guru of recent times, succeeded in repairing the color printer which had been Eleanor's, was left for dead until Lisa fixed it a previous time, and was then handed down to Emily, where it remained until it started farting black ink all over her drawings. Eleanor donated her newer printer back to the kid, and we took the older Epson in for further guru-ness. Nothing was promised, but two days ago, a fully functioning Epson was re-delivered to me. It just needed a new print head and some cleaning of cat hair.  The cost? Reasonable. The effect? Priceless.

She also got my backup laptop working again.  No great feats of programming or diagnostics were required. No, she simply baked its motherboard. As in, in-the-oven-baked. Apparently this revitalizes the soldering connections on the thing, and it's back to its smiling happy self- and making me happier and smilier for reasons we'll get to later.


Thursday began with more of a de-feet-ist moment in court, but by afternoon, I was smilier again. We got things in motion to transfer the hybrid car to Emily for realz; she texted me, wanting information about its insurance for work, and I replied that now that she's commuting with it (and maybe using it for work trips), it really needs to be in her name and on her policy.  I took the first steps yesterday afternoon, she followed up with the agents at lunchtime, and I picked up the forms for the transfer after my last court appearance of the week this afternoon. We have an appointment at a Rochester area DMV on Monday afternoon to finalize the transfer. 

It's a big step, but one she's clearly ready for now.


The two final court appearances of this week were four hours apart and both downtown- too much time to just piddle away down there in between, so I headed back to the office and got some stuff done. Including a determination to do less stuff:

Four of the pending BKs got filed between last Friday and two days ago- but the backlog is still pretty overwhelming. Some, I've invested too much personal knowledge and connection into, but one just stood out as a good candidate for some help on: client had filed a previous case, and sent me her "changes" on that petition from 2013 via a bombing of embedded picture files of each page.  My BP was going up just trying to save and print each page. That's when I decided, for the first time in 32 years, to hire somebody on my own dime to help with my own work.

Back I went to Lisa's. We got my backup laptop up and running, the necessary software updated, and the client's bare file entered into it. This one person is now off. My. PLATE! for the foreseeable future, and it feels wonderful. I still have three to fine-tune over the weekend, but that's down from five, and not nearly as much raw work needs to go into any of them. I've even set aside time to take friends to a Bisons game tomorrow- and I ended my workweek a little early and in the accompaniment of a chocolate egg cream from Jerk's downtown (no egg and no cream in it, so don't worry):

Also, they have an incredibly cute puppy over there, so that helps with the stress, as well.


Work done for both of us here, we ended it nicely.  Eleanor heard from an artist friend who's really excited about the drawing Eleanor's been doing lately, and has asked her to think about organizing a show of her work for the first time in decades or ever, depending on the definition of "show."  We went out for Thai food tonight and enjoyed talking about all these victories, little and not-so, that have come to us despite stress, and politics, and the occasional agonies of all four of our de-feets.

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Other than sleepydowntime, I've been in pretty nonstop motion between my last post and now.  This won't even hit all of the events of those 30-ish hours, but we'll try to hit the highs.

* Have a Shitty Day!

That's perhaps the most iconic quote from Donnie Hendrix in Orphan Black. Kristian Bruun, who brought that originally-planned-as-a-one-off character into the most important male in the series, has also done other work in the Toronto-area television community. Last year, he appeared briefly as a Parkland Hospital emergency room doctor in 11.22.63.  And yesterday, when I reached a certain point in a certain binge, there he was again in a white coat....

Spoilers of the ewwww-est kindCollapse )

I had to stop watching. This was serious brain bleach territory for me. An actor who I associate so much with positives in a scene so full of negative. I texted Emily to make sure she'd caught it too, broke from the living room watch, and decided to resume on an elliptical.


Apparently Donnie didn't make just me sick.

I got to Under New Management And Now We Have Wifi Fitness, changed, turned on my tablet and,.... screenfreeze.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new; my Android has never functioned within normal parameters. This time, though, the freeze was irreversible: I saw a major smash in the lower left of the screen glass, fanning out into cracks going northeast and east from it across the display, and the touch function of the unit was completely gone.  It booted, and gave the start screen, but nothing would unlock the lock, bring up the icons or allow a letter of typing.

How? I still don't know. I did not drop it, step on it, and while I did put it in my gym bag, I did so as I have dozens of times, with the cover shut and nothing of significant weight laid atop it in or on top of the bag.  I don't recall any bumps or jostles on the way there that would have hurled something onto it. I did leave it in a cubby for perhaps two minutes while retrieving some forgotten thing from my car, but unless someone had a real mean streak,....

This particular brand fuses the gorilla glass to the unit.  There are repair youtubes involving sharp knives and power drills. Out of my league.  The choices are (a) a co-worker's go-to place near here where she got her iPhone screen fixed reasonably last year, (b) a Rochester client who was advertising such repairs at the trade show we both went to last month, or (c) surrendering to my own clumsiness and replacing it with a permanent rental through our cell plan which will cost some bucks but at least will provide insurance.


* Not all Doctors are bad.

Once I got home from that with some disgusting Mothers Day chocolate and some odd lots from Wally World, we settled in for the previous night's Who/Class double feature. We're liking how both arcs are going. Capaldi's wit and acting chops got them through what was a fairly routine Saving Shit In Space plot (though the Star Trek riff was epic).  Class continues to develop the relationships between the characters, even finding a hint of gray in an otherwise black-hatted connection between April and her father.


* Buying back your own memories.

In addition to the Mothers Day remembrances I'd posted mostly about mine, I also sent my nieces a link to a picture of my mother, and theirs, from 60 years ago:

By morning, my niece Michele had responded with a remarkable memory of her own. She's a single mom now, with teenage daughters, and they spent much of their Mothers Day working at the thrift store at their church:

 I found a family treasure. I'd donated a book without realizing my Nana had written an inscription inside it in October 1980, most likely after picking it up at one of HER church's Rummage Sales.

The book was Hans Brinker. And this was what mom wrote to her first granddaughter:

I replied back that it was amazingly coincidental- not just that she found her lost memory, but the timing of it for us: 

I was just thinking of mom's time in the Netherlands; we finally saw Fault in Our Stars, which is set for a small but significant portion in Amsterdam, and I wondered how different life would have been if we'd wound up there.


* Phones still work- if people will use them.

That got us to this morning. I knew the 9:30-10:30 hour would be rough- two hearings of unknown duration, in two separate courts three blocks apart. I know, you saw this.  And at least it wasn't raining.

The 10:00 opponent left a message around 8 that he hadn't received something and wanted to adjourn his case again. This time I said no; it had been adjourned at least three times already and it was delaying certain events. So I drew up a quick proposal to resolve things and took it with me to court.  Meanwhile, I just missed the 9:30 opponent leaving his office, and thus had to check in there at 9:30 (he wasn't there yet), scoot up the street to the 10:00- and by 10:30, both of their motions had been withdrawn. So I won. Ish. But not without a lot of running about


* Running about, you say?

Those three blocks were just a warmup. It was time to head into the mysterious world of local geography known as the Southtowns.

The Buffalo metro is mainly on a north-south axis- unsurprising with a lake/river and a foreign country to the west.  I've lived and worked exclusively in the city and northern suburbs, but occasionally I need to travel to Beyond Where Thar Be Dragons.

The wake began at 1. Court and some followup law library time ended a bit past 11.  I had a plan and a Siri.  First, Hamburg.  Their public library has the only system copies of the entire series of Blackadder, which we've watched online snippets of but definitely must binge.  Plus, that meant a drive along the lakeshore, past the harbor, grain elevators, old steel mills and now the Steel Winds turbines.  Quite a nice repast.

Their library, once you find its car park, is bright and active.  It was 12-something when I got my disks and a book to take to cardio (which I hopefully will not smash), so I went out onto the village's main drag.  It was so much quieter and quainter than the comparable road through our nearest village Oop North; Main Street through Williamsville is a road-ragey deathtrap.  But Buffalo Street in Hamburg, perhaps calmed by multiple roundabouts and a lower speed limit, was walkable. And it almost had a 50s quality to it; yoga and aromatherapy places, to be sure, but an oldschool movie palace (Guardians 2, one show a night on one screen), a bowling alley in the middle of the block, and a corner service station that I swear still had a "Flying A" sign on it.  I found a bakery, enjoyed a panini, a Snapple and the view, before getting back on the road to my main reason for coming this way....


* You can call me Ray,....

Next week's Absent Bankruptcy Client was laid out in the shadow of the Bills' stadium, but the sport of the day in the room was auto racing. He'd been a longtime driver at a nearby speedway, and most of the rels were there in race-team t-shirts.

Including the widow. I hadn't told her I was coming, but she saw me, said, Ray?!?, and hugged me. She seemed really surprised I'd come this far.  (Hmmm. She knew I go to Rochester at least once a week.) Then she started introducing me to people, and the light dawned: she'd mistaken me for her brother-in-law Ray, from Florida, who she really hadn't expected to show up.  She was still appreciative of the effort, and I again told her not to worry about anything involving next week's hearing.

Then there was this. Before walking in, I saw this in the funeral home's car park:

It turned out to be the deceased's daughter's car, up from NC for the funeral, and the reference was to Not Him but Na Tasha, of Avengers fame.  Still, odd- at least in terms of what-are-the-odds?


* But wait- we're not through!

I had one more Southtowns stop to make, which went quickly and satisfactorily, and was back at my desk a bit past 2. Yet the running about was not over.  I tracked down someone who absolutely positively had to sign something by Wednesday; I'm out of town tomorrow, and he was available today, so back in the car, and back toward downtown, only with a slide across Best/Summer Streets (passing my second Home of The Bills of the day) to get the document signed. Then back along the Niagara River and more sightings of Canada, stops for a workout and groceries, and finally home just before Eleanor rolled in on her bike.

Not watching anything tonight.  More fun lies ahead tomorrow, but at least I know where I'm going.

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Just an ordinary weekend around here.

Yesterday, I was copied on a photo posted on the Facething by a downstate Republican congressman, who represents an area near where I grew up. Congressman King was so sad because people were picketing his home in protest of his vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with what I affectionately call Ryanide.

In my comment about it, I asked about whether he'd held any town hall meetings to give them another outlet to petition the government for redress of grievances (citing US CONST, Amd. 1, while we still have it). I also linked to this piece, which explains that, no, New Yorkers are NOT immune from the bill's hideousness. Multistate employers would be able to pick and choose which of their states' insurance rules will govern all their policies nationwide. Because that's worked so well with credit card companies hiding out in South Dakota, yo.

I started getting notifications of replies from Peter himself- but alas, no reply to me. (I'm not sure whether he's even kept it up.) He's just thanking all his sycophants for agreeing with him. One of them even recommended he use "Second Amendment remedies" against the protesters. Wow. (Prayer: Do NOT let the Cheeto watch Handmaid's Tale. "You mean they just shoot live ammunition and throw bombs into the crowds of protesters? Great! Let's do that!")

In fairness, though, Peter King is not a complete moron. A hypocritical, insensitive Republican tool, to be sure, but I love his work on MMQB.


By day's end, the Mompictures began taking over the Facefeed. One was from a longago friend from church who has lived in Switzerland for years. Her mom, who was dear friends with mine, is named Eleanor- the first I would ever know by that name and still second on the list of importance. She posted a recent picture of the two of them, and she looks remarkably the same, although health issues have been a struggle more recently.

I linked to this old chestnut of pictures of my mom, which I found around what would have been her 100th birthday last October. It's remarkable to hear how many people still remember and love her after all these years and miles away.


Yesterday proved to be better than expected weatherwise, and I managed to get in a mow of the entire back yard. Today dawned even sunnier, which meant my usual Sunday morning alarm to take Ebony to the bark park. The Ellicott Creek Island was once just part of the larger county park of that name, with picnic facilities and assorted outbuildings, most of which have been left to blend in or fall down as nature will have it. Today, Ann noticed a leftover swing set (is a swing set a set if it only has one swing?), and figured the swinging motion might be good for her aching back.

From the smile, I'd say it was. Note the curious dog sticking her yap in the .gif in the final few seconds.


Client's wake is tomorrow at 1. Two court appearances before that. Life goes on, except when it doesn't.

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Blah blah lots of court blah blah more bankruptcies to keep track of than I can count without a spreadsheet blah blah....

We interrupt this Usual Ray Post for some unusual developments in the world of his law practice.

Today didn't require an alarm, since court wasn't until 1. Yet there I was, up right before 8, and checking the headlines in the local paper:

That phone number's long superseded. When a competing personal injury lawyer started cutting into their negligence empire using a catchy rhyming slogan and a 444-4444 phone number, the boys retaliated a few years back with Don't Wait, Dial 8! as their slogan, and with spending tons to acquire the 888-8888 number in virtually every area code (including 800) and the SMS number "8" for texts.  This firm, other leaked court filings confirm, spends close to 44 percent of their revenue on billboards, tv/radio ads and other marketing (I spend closer to five percent, if that), and the firm expects that any lawyer leaving the firm will reimburse them for a comparable percentage of any recovery they make on their own thereafter. (Incidentally, the judge who ruled in that earlier case has resigned the bench and been disbarred for taking bribes in a political scandal.  I never got along with him, which I am now proud of.)

Well, now, Cellino has sued Barnes, seeking a judicial dissolution of their professional corporation.  Cellino also got the (new) Commercial Division judge to seal the entire record of the proceeding, including even the routine order setting the date (May 19th) and manner of service. But not before I downloaded a copy of it:

(Oops. Even that procedural order has since been sealed, including its rather unusual waivers of publication of notice of the pendency of the dissolution proceeding and even of service on the NYS Tax Department.  State courts are generally, and statutorily, loath to keep the public out of the records of proceedings, but it's not unusual for well-connected parties, either financially or politically, to exercise their muscle and get their case records sealed.  Parties to a controversial case in Rochester, which I had very peripheral connections to, got a record sealed, but reporters and the local paper's lawyers got it unsealed so a very salacious story could be fully known by the public.)

Although the Buffalo daily and the local tv stations have reported on the "business divorce," none has yet come forward to challenge the sealing of the record. It may be relevant that the firm is a heavy advertiser with all of them; some have even wondered whether the local media will suffer budget cuts if their Cellino & Cashcow goes away.

Or, the advertising could double. There's plenty of speculation about THAT, and about who will wind up with the iconic slogan and phone number in the divorce.  I did some checking today, at least locally. 222-2222 had been a personal injury competitor firm, but it broke up and the number, to this day, wound up with a DWI firm. The 444 guy also snagged the 777-7777 number, which once had ties to a legendary (and disbarred) Rochester ambulance chaser. And despite the demonic connotations, it turns out that Cellino & Barnes also locked up 666-6666. Assuming that 555 is out for its 411 ties, and 999 is too close to 911,  that leaves 333-3333 as the only asset that might be allocated in the divorce.

I think I'll trademark Dial 3, You'll See! Or something.


Meanwhile, the ordinary life of this non-personal-injury lawyer (slogan: Call 634-XXXX! Because OUR clients are smart enough to remember a seven-digit phone number!) went on all morning. Blah blah, forward K's initial questions and information from our meeting yesterday, blah blah, update M and A's almost-final drafts, blah blah meet with N and revise stuff for his trustee after meeting with him, SHIT! it's time to leave for my one and only 1 p.m. hearing, ....

which I get to right on time, client there, hearing officer rolling in. We begin the drill. Unlike many, we have this hour all to ourselves. Other than the ordinarily stressful morning, getting here and being here were neither. So imagine my surprise when, 20 minutes in while my client was basically monologuing, I wiped a sudden bit of snot from my nose and discovered it was not snot, but blood.

I caught it quickly and early, excused myself to the gents, and both stopped the bleeding and cleaned up the rather ugly redfacing. Last time this happened was just under six months ago, at our vet, when my schnozz went bloody while taking both of our cats to the vet.  Neither was expected, or consistent with overall levels of activity or stress: I HAD this!, just as I'd taken pairs of cats in for routine checkups many times.  I'd eaten before the meeting; I hadn't worked out or raced three blocks to get there (as I'd done just yesterday with no nosebleed); and when I did do cardio at the end of the day, the nose and the blood each were as they usually are.

If it happens again, or coincides with a change in meds or activity, I will get it checked out, but otherwise I am not going to overly stress about it.  If I really get nervous, after all, I can always Dial 8!

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Okay, the run and bike legs weren't regulation. (Marathoners get very upset when you try to relate your shorter-distance running experiences to theirs.)  But still, this is Grumpy Old Guy we're talking about here. So Ima proud of what I got done.

Workwise, this week isn't even a half-marathon compared to last week; it's barely a Fun Run. Early court yesterday, two downtown here today, one more downtown at 1 tomorrow.  And unlike last week, the sun's been out consistently, so it's nice to be running round outside.  Today, though, was the half hour of intensity thanks to screwing up my schedule.

State court at 9:30, Bankruptcy Court at 10. Three blocks apart. Done this dozens if not hundreds of times. I roll in to the first, and find....confusion. No court official present. (Something about "getting her coffee.") Once she arrives, no file.  Turns out Siri betrayed me and it had actually been scheduled in Buffalo for 9:30 yesterday, when I was obliviously in Rochester at a 9:00.

She Without Coffee looks for file, for notes, for everything, as 10 a.m. got closer and those three blocks didn't get any shorter.  Finally, I am released- Well, nothing bad happened yesterday; I'll get back with the date. (She did.The date is June 9th (the morning after an upcoming distance challenge I'll mention at the end of this); the prognosis is good; and I already am in the same building that very morning for something else.)

Still, I have three minutes to power-walk those three blocks, with a metal detector in my way, but I make it, three cases before mine is called, and nobody is opposing.

God, Fate, Time, Whatever? Thank you.


The run portion was short and mostly metaphorical. Biking was real, though.

Two mornings ago, as chronicled here, I came home at lunchtime and took my bike on its maiden voyage of the unspringy spring.  A stiff wind and some stiff hamstrings kept me from going all the way to the office, but at least I clocked maybe a mile round the 'hood.  After returning from court and needing a Fact from a File in the Garage, I came home, ate lunch here, lost the suit, and decided to try it again.  This time, the headwind was from the north: perfect, since the ride to my office has its longest  stretch (and steepest incline) on the southbound part on Harlem Road.  I chanced it- and made it.  On my previous efforts last year, I needed to stop and catch my breath at least once on the uphill. Today, though, I stopped only when dodging cars right before our office driveway made it necessary. 

The headwind was still there going home, but it was downhill. Coast, baby, coast! It's not as far as Eleanor's going on the days (like today) that she bikes to work- just under 2 miles for me, closer to 2.5 miles for her, plus she tends to haul groceries home on the back of her bike at the end of the day (I return with my car to claim my computer, buy wine, etc., etc., etc.). But today's the first day we both biked to work and back and made it successfully.


Neither of us have any real competitive things scheduled for our ever-growing running/biking capacities. But I was invited to a nice-sounding walk today, sponsored by the Presbyterian Church that's also two-ish miles on a bike from our home, where we've mostly attended musical performances they've sponsored:

North Church, along with Muslim Public Affairs Council Western New York (MPAC-WNY), Congregation Havurah, Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier, Network of Religious Communities, and Westminster Presbyterian Church is sponsoring a 4.5-, 3-, 2-, 1-, and 0-mile solidarity walk that will take place in conjunction with its 12th Annual Tent of Abraham event.

The 4.5-mile walk will start at North and includes a stop at Heim Middle School where a shorter 1-mile walk will begin. (Please note ample water will be available during the walk.) The walk will finish at the Muslim Community Center (Islamic Center), 745 Heim Road, Amherst, where walkers will join “The Tent of Abraham” event participants for dinner. Enjoy and e
vening of friendship and conversation of our shared values as we "break the fast" together. Enjoy this ethnic dinner with friends and neighbors.

Transportation will be available, free of charge, after the Tent of Abraham dinner for participants to pick up their cars from Heim Middle School and North Presbyterian Church. Transportation will also be available at the beginning of the Walk at the Church and Heim Middle School for pick-up of non-perishable food items for distribution to the less fortunate. Please do not forget to bring some non-perishable food for distribution.

The schedule for the evening is as follows:
5: 30-5: 45 PM Forming for 4.5 mile walk at North Presbyterian Church
5: 45 PM The walk begins
7: 00-7: 15 PM Forming for 1-mile walk from the Heim Middle School;
7: 15 PM The walk begins
7: 30 PM Tent of Abraham activities begin at the Islamic Center;
8: 54 PM Iftar (breaking the fast) and dinner

Now more than ever, such circles need to be made and be unbroken.  So far, I am free of court commitment that day, and only have those two-in-the-same-place appearances at a decent hour the next morning.  I am hoping to even get a Buddhist or two to join in. It's not strictly a swim to complete the triathalon, but consider it a baptism of kindness rather than of fire.

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Today was the longest and earliest of the three straight days of court this week.  It also packed the greatest quantity of stupid, much of it involving Old Things from over a decade ago.

Court itself first thing in the day was fine, if a little annoying. I then arrived to find papers fully signed by another client in all the right spots- but with three additional party names scribbled on one not-to-be-signed page near the back of the pack. That's it; no addresses, amounts or other details.  Apparently I'm just expected to know these minor details. I've been waiting for a promised clarifying email ever since.

But at least those debts are more-or-less from the last year or so. I left early to head back home because I had no further scheduled appointments and nobody was returning my calls or emails.  I find disappearing to be a good way to remedy this. Sure enough, three calls instantly rolled in once I got in the car.


The first took me back to 2006. Client had a judgment taken against him. I would not meet the man for another nine years, and I filed a BK for him last year, which removed all of his debt except that judgment as a lien on his home. The call today was because the evil creditor had just begun a proceeding to force the payment of the judgment out of the equity in his house. Once I got back and saw what had been actually filed, I offered some options, but he's basically hurting emotionally over the whole thing.  He told me I hadn't done things that I did, and that he'd paid me amounts he never paid (I keep anal records for this very reason). Nothing will even begin to happen for over a month, so I told him to sit tight for a couple of days and think over the choices I gave him. It will be very clear, if he does hire me, what I will be doing and what he will be paying.

Second call was from a fellow attorney who I get along pretty well with, but who is on the opposite side of a fairly nasty contractor dispute.  My client on this one is one of those night owls who tends to send emails in the evening and well into the wee smalls, so it's hard to have really good communication.

Finally, though, came the "Peace Duh Resistance," as they say in France;)  A couple of weeks ago, against my better judgment (foreshadowing-ironic term), I took on a new real estate deal just as I was wrapping up my previous one.  I'd tried to ship this one elsewhere, but the potential replacement was going out of town and boom! there was the contract in my email. So I took it, approved the deal, and waited for the buyer to get his mortgage.

Then the call came last week: Client had a lit-tle problem. Apparently back in 2003, someone took a judgment against HIM, which everyone, including the creditor, proceeded to ignore for the next 13-plus years. Until virtually the same moment that he bid on a house on a deal I approved, whereupon it came back to life and resulted in a garnishment being slapped on him.

Oddity of New York law: judgments are good for 20 years, but are only liens on real estate for 10.  You can renew them for a second decade, but you have to do it within the tenth year. This one was never renewed as a lien, and it thus never appeared in any credit or title report, but the underwriter saw the garnishment on his pay stub and asked about it.  The thing about garnishments, though, is that they are always the same percentage of an employee's pay whether the judgment is for 100 bucks or 100 million bucks.  And nobody in this transaction seems to care which.  Hence, the final call I got in the car today: he has been approved for the mortgage, which will close next month as soon as he presents proof that he's made three months of payment on the garnishment. And once he closes and owns the home, I can make almost completely sure that he will never have to pay it again for a fourth month.


Once finally home, we watched the most recent episode of Class, with a break in the middle because Emily asked me to send copies of the kids' tax returns to them because they, too, are beginning the mortgage process this week- so they may be owning, rather than renting, a home once their current lease is up.

At least with HER, I know I'm not going to have to go back in time before 1992.

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Thus go two more days of life along my threescore-and-tennish quota.

My usual Sunday routine: set an alarm for 7:30. Make sure at least one Dog Church member is coming. If they are, throw on clothes and get to the Bark Park by 8.  But not after last week's work craziness and the continuing rain. Nope, no alarm was set.

Yet there I was, awake at 7:30 after a relatively mellow Saturday, with the only alarm being traces of sunshine coming through the blinds.  They were enough: after recent days, that passed for "mostly sunny," so I dressed (warmly, still, with winter boots because, mud) and leashed the dog for her usual PARP! experience.

All was well. Our usual friends arrived soon after, the semi-regular sweet Dobies joined in (both having spotted me as a sucker, leaning up against me for petting and scritches), and we were soon joined by bunches of beagles and labs and mutts, oh my!  It was a lovely and dry way to start the day.  I passed on the usual Sunday workout because I'd burned three of my eight monthly quota of them last week without even remembering the third (I finished second in the 40-and-up half marathon for April, so there may be a medal coming), and instead finished the last of the five bankruptcies I'd brought home for the weekend as far as I could get them....

until it was time to Be Groot.


GOTG2 was set for 3:10 Sunday. It was worth every minute of the eight Blow Shit Up previews they subjected us to (several Marvels, yet another Transformers, Wonder Woman, Star Wars VIII and Some Shit With Tom Cruise). And while James Gunn and his cast blow plenty of shit up themselves in their almost 2.5 hours, they do it with humor, with meaning, and with a soundtrack that's just as awesome as Awesome Mix Vol. 1.

The word was that 2 was sweeter than 1- and the word was right.  Peter, Gamora and Nebula, and Yondu in his own way all resolve their issues with parents/parenting- and we even see Rocket cry.

There are cheesy parts to the soundtrack- as there were in the original- but let's just spoil that Fleetwood Mac will kick your ass.  Lindsey Buckingham is good at that.


No alarm this morning, either. Three straight mornings of those starting tomorrow. Yet there I was, up just past 7:30 and at my desk by 9.  I emailed the last of the five new filings from the weekend with their Draft So Far, glommed through additional mail, and decided to have lunch at home and even considered a bike ride back to the office since the sun was still, remarkably, out for an entire day.

I hauled out the bike, filled the tires, and began the ride.  The battery on the onboard odometer died over the winter, but I remembered it being right around two miles. Barely three blocks in, my hamstrings started sending signals: Work your way up to this, asshole. And so I detoured back towards home, with a run around the circle coming closer to a mile-and-change the first time out.  I returned to JARVIS and put in an afternoon of intaking yet another BK filing before leaving for the missed Sunday workout, a stop for office supplies, and finally a yummy dinner (thanks, Eleanor) and a semi-clearing of the crap on my desk (thanks, me;).

After getting home, I even mowed the front lawn. Inspiring that was a podcast riffing on a once-favourite podcast, confirming many of the things that caused me to stop listening to it:

There are many reasons for my apostasy, but perhaps this is the biggest: My dog IS allowed in the Dog Park.

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Five days. Court appearances every one of them. Morning (between 9 and 10), all but one of them. Multiples, also all but one of them. Different proceedings for the multiples, all but two of them. And Monday and Wednesday were the trifecta: of multiples, in different proceedings,  but also in different buildings, three blocks apart.  (In fairness, Monday's second was adjourned, it was raining, a friend declined a ride up the three blocks and I decided to just leave.)

Plus, one fallen tree (not mine), one flat tire (mine), and a rarely-ending pelt of rain that promises to turn into snow before getting any better.

In one of those rare moments of not-raining, though, hangs a tale.

Thursday morning. Two appearances, different proceedings, but the same building one floor apart. It's the butt-ugly Brutalist behemoth from the 70s known as the Buffalo City Court building, but in which higher courts also have numerous courtrooms.  Despite its Soviet-style hideousness, I've always seemed to have had better luck in these halls than either of the other two buildings used by the state courts down there.  Thursday, though, was ten minutes of unpaid uselessness, over an hour apart.  One was to confirm a last-minute requested adjournment; the other, a judge-mandated appearance in a case where I am not being paid, the client hasn't communicated with me in over nine months, and the other side also doesn't want to waste time or money on the case, either. But her emails! Standards and Goals reports!* demand that she move the chains every couple of months, so down we come.

Down, to a downtown remarkably full of parked cars and metermaids/metermermen everywhere, because for once it wasn't raining. And full parking ramps, because it would be raining later. A few trips round, and I finally snag a spot on the other side of Niagara Square. One of the small number remaining with the old-school Insert Quarters At This Meter meters**. And with 45 minutes still on it!

I check my stash, and find a single quarter to add 15 minutes to the total and make it the hour I would need.  But of course, I would need more.

Appearance One was quick enough, but Appearance Two was hobbled by (a) an opponent who was himself hobbled on crutches and in a walking boot, (b) the two other judges he had to hobble with and around before he could join me, and (c) two lawyers making arguments in a useless-but-you-gotta-do-it proceeding before Hobble and I could have our five minutes of Her Honor's time.  (You knew they were both gonna be blowhards because they each began their remarks with, "I will be brief.")

By the time we got in and out (with a blessed adjournment of six full months, because Judge Two still just can't let a case sit indefinitely even if everybody wants her to), my hour was up- and the vultures were circling. Leaving me, still with one more errand to be run, in a potential pickle. But I have a Plan.  I have two dollar bills in my wallet, and while no private business or civil servant will deign to make change for parking meters, there's a vending machine- and a totally acceptable candy bar on offer for a buck fifteen.

There's a scribbled sign on it- BILLS ONLY, NO COINS- but I ignore that. I have bills. The bills make me wanna SHOUT! It takes them. It dispenses eight ounces of Snickers- and then out comes my precious 85 cents of coinage in change....

in nickels.

I now have no choice but to exit my spot- fortunately unticketed in the 10 minute of exposure- and try my luck again.  On the way, I see Hobble on the corner, and I decide to be kind and offer him a ride. He declines, but Someone was watching, for there, closer to my final destination, was a spot that only my tiny (and well-tired***) car would have a prayer of backing into. With a meter machine that took my useless pile of 5-cent-pieces.

See? It's all good.


Even when it appears to be horribly, horribly bad.

Yesterday was the earliest and furthest of the appearances- Rochester at 9 a.m. Which, thanks to the dog's scheduling, wound up with me just staying up after she woke me up at 5, getting a proper diner breakfast en route, and arriving in the downtown Federal Building a good 20 minutes ahead of when the clients were expected.  It was built at about the same time as Buffalo's city court erection****, but Nixon's architects were somehow better visioned than Nelson Rockefeller's. It was built out of marble, with plenty of glass and street-facing exterior offices, all of which have now been fenced and walled off by 20 years of terrorismophobia. But the marble's still nicer to the eye than the Brutalist brick- at least until you hang shit on it.

Obama and Biden's portraits came out of the lobby right after the Inauguration, but this was my first sight, surreptitiously photographed, of their unfortunate replacements:

Several people who saw that refused to believe that's his official portrait photo.  The more I looked at it, the more I wondered if, yeah, maybe there is some rogue in the General Services Administration who did it to mock him.  (He's very sensitive, if you hadn't heard- and they're now investigating and even prosecuting people for laughing at and telling jokes about him and his nominees.)

Despite the intestinal distress coming from the sight of that bigly-ugly mug (Eleanor's response was that he looks constipated), the final two hearings of the week went well, I got through the rest of the day without incident or ticket, and other than the rain, it remained all good.

Now on to next week- only three appearances, and only one a day.


* You might sympathize with a state employee being pressured by "standards and goals" reports. But when that employee is a judge, that pressure is meaningless to anything other than their personal pride. Judges, once elected for terms ranging from 10 to 14 years, enjoy complete job security- even convicted criminals cannot be removed from a bench without extended legal proceedings- full dedicated staffs of three or more employees, and near-dictatorial control of what they do, when they do it, and what and when they decide things.  In theory, a judge could be reassigned to the wilds of Allegany County (or, worse, the Bronx) if they really bucked the system, but that's about the only leverage anybody has over them.

** Most of the spaces are now regulated by one-to-a-block meter machines, which accept nickels-and-up coinage and even credit cards (but not bills, although Baltimore, for one, orders them with slots for greenbacks). Buffalo and Rochester both got the original versions a year or so apart; the City of Good Neighbors has now "upgraded" to a version that requires you to key in your license plate number which is printed on the receipt, because people were being too Good Neighborly and giving their unused-time receipts to people pulling in.

*** AND remarkably clean. Apparently when you drop $160 fixing a tire, one of the only four things on a new car not covered by warranty in the first few thousand miles, they wash your car for you. We also removed the FUDT bumper sticker, just in case the tire was "keyed" by a Trumpernutter.

**** Yes, I'm twelve.

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Back in that Other Place I used to use as my primary blog site, it took all of four days of 2017 for me to call the year into the principal's office for a good talking-to.  Not fully done with three days of May, and it's time for a refresher.


MayDay itself wasn't especially bad, other than the weather, noted here at the time.  Just one court appearance, which went about as expected, and the Mets won #hownovel .

Tuesday, though, brought on the need for the talk.  Before 9 a.m., there were two calls and two voicemails from my sister down in the 607. Here's how Siri, in her inimitable transcription mode, reported it:

Hi _⁠_⁠_ it's Donna I have to tell you something that happened you last night um I'm gonna try calling you _⁠_ _⁠_ on the cell phone but I wanted to talk to you before I call the insurance man talk to you later bye-bye…

"Insurance man" is never good. Neither is what happened down there in the wee smalls of Mayday Night: a large tree fell over, crashed into the fence around her inground pool, and smooshed the shed next to the pool that houses the filter and other stuff. Nobody was hurt, and at last report the filter and other pool innards hadn't been damaged, but what a way to start a morning.


Tuesday  was also my latest-of-the-day court of the five straight days this week, so I came home before the noon appointment and saw Eleanor's car still in the garage.... but her bike missing. Ah. She'd been talking about biking to work for a couple of weeks, and had been taking some morning rides round the neighborhood to work up to it. That day, turned out, she'd done just that- and was fortunately wearing a poncho, because the rain was coming down on-and-off the whole 2-to-3 ish miles over there.

Meanwhile, I got to, in and out of my noon court and back for an afternoon appointment, a pile of backlogged documents needing to go out, and a phone full of other annoyances. I beat Eleanor home by half an hour or so-understandable, since the wind had picked up and was blowing against her the whole way home. We tried the new Fargo series with mixed reactions, and turned in for our respective runs at the Day of Hump.


I was the first one out. And the first to Fail:P

Before I was even out of the driveway, JARVIS popped an idiot light. Only not his warning tire pressure low one  but a major DANGER SEVERE TIRE DAMAGE one previously unseen.  The ride felt okay, but I'd gotten up early enough before court to check, so I rolled into the gas station kittycorner to my office and pumped up all four to spec. The left front seemed the softest, but it was the right rear which turned out to have the inch-long screw poking out of the edge of its tread.

Avengers, assembled! I knew Eleanor didn't go in to work until 11, but didn't know if she was planning to bike in again;  but I texted her, grabbed her electric car with its 90 percent charge, and boogied downtown. She, eventually, had the presence of mind to call Mercedes roadside assistance (because our lil Smarts are, indeed, full-fledged members of the Daimler-Benz familie) rather than AAA, and she got them to come to the house, get him on a tow truck (no small feat, since Smart tow hooks are buried in odd places), and got a ride to the store with him.

Meanwhile, Ziggy was a champ. Court, a detour Emily had asked me to make for Cameron's brother, back to work, a post-work errand for a client, and finally to our Under New Management cardio gym and he still had plenty of juice.  Things got a little dicey because I didn't know about the riding-to-work-in-the-tow-truck part until I snarked about picking Eleanor up from the store- but I did. After heading for said cardio, (factory-reset) tablet in hand, and discovering that the New Management did not pay the cable/internet bill for the Old Management and thus, no wifi. And, since I'd just reset the tablet, no Kindle, either.

I picked Eleanor up early.

We'd found out, earlier, that the tire was indeed screwed- non-repairable and in need of a new one. About the only part not covered under a new car bumper-to-bumper-but-not-the-tires warranty.  We didn't get out in time to pick it up  by their closing time, and thus will be out there tomorrow morning, stupid early, so I can pick up JARVIS and head downtown for Fourth of Five.

Complaining is futile. I will be ass-holilated. I might even see our own kid at some point tomorrow- either before they leave town or if I get to the Rochester area the afternoon before Fifth of Five. AKA cinco de mayo. Which involves drinking heavily, which has been a major inspiration of this post.

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It's that most stressful time of the year for people like us who don't watch much television. All of the Good Stuff has come back, or is coming back in the coming weeks. It's cutting into my cardio reading schedule; as perhaps a bit of karma, my Android tablet has just shat the bed and won't come out of an infinite boot cycle. I've resorted to Factory Reset and even that seems slow to fix things. It's within a year of purchase, so I may also have return options. I didn't drop or drain or otherwise damage it; it just decided it'd had enough silliness and Dystopianess.  So stay tuned on that.

Meanwhile, here's a quick summary of what I, and/or we, have been keeping up on and/or looking forward to:

* MST3K:) Joel and the bots are now Jonah and the same-differently-voiced bots, and Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank are now Kinga and Max- but Joel and many of the original participants are behind this crowdsourced return. The first two eps laid down the renewed premise and gave us two utterly horrible films to make fun of. Emily especially enjoyed the many Muppet references.

* BBC current:) We're three weeks into both series 10 of the reGenerated Doctor and series 1 of the spunoff Class. Both are brilliantly acted, well-written, and full of scripted moments that bring out the best of both.

* Handmaid's Tale. I couldn't pass up on the best of current dystopia, so I began this one right before the tablet checked out, and finished the pilot on this laptop. It's been updated to present-dayish with Uber and mobile phone references, and the cast is much more diverse than the Atwood original and prior film allowed, but the main things remain: the fear. The evil misuse of religious doctrine. The plutocracy.  (Wait- the miniseries also includes those. I was referring to current events.)  My only objection concerned the commercials which Hulu fed me as I was sitting there feeling for these women: David's Bridal with models prancing about? And an online lingerie site?  That's right up there with the oven cleaner commercials during the 70s Holocaust miniseries. (Oddly, Emily, who also watched it, didn't get those offensive ads. I must have a fucking weird algorhythmic presence.)

* Fargo.  Of course I missed that Series 3 of these Coen-blessed spinoffs had begun.  We tried the first ep; Eleanor bailed, but I will likely check back in on where Noah Hawley goes with two Ewan McGregors and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who I fell in love with during the dear-departed Brain Dead.

* House of Cards.  Trailers and other hints abound, but Francis and the gang won't be formally back until the end of the month. That hasn't stopped a local billboard from riffing on it:

* And finally (of this list and for the Clones), Orphan Black. It's routinely teased during Doctor and Class as being the final season, but it won't be back until June.  The focus seems to be on the main four: Sarah, Alison, Helena and Kosima; but there are plenty of hints of spinoffs and detours. Pass the pork rinds AND the chards.

AND we have unseen Portlandias, and One Days at a Time, and are way backlogged on films. All in all, good problems to have:)

ETA Annnd the factory reset worked. Tablet, email accounts, Kindle, Netflix and Hulu are all back and running:) Oh, and in the other news of the day: Eleanor got through rain falling on her riding her bike to work for the first time today; the ride home was drier but windier and much harder. And my sister got through a tree falling on her pool and poolshed overnight. I had nothing fall on me except clients, but I seem to have lived:)

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It's three days ahead of Star Wars Day, but let's be clear: April is over.  Except the "showers" part.

I had court (aka "First of Five") this morning, avoiding most of the downpour, but it came and found me when I stopped out for lunch. Then, just as I got ready to leave at the end of the day, it really started coming down, water leaking through the lawyer's office window adjacent to mine and thunder and hail joining in. By the time I finally got up the two major highways leading home, on my turn into this subdivision I found the first street in to be completely flooded. Of course, I "found" this only after I was about ten feet into the brink. I somehow kept my wits and my engine power and got home to a relatively dry inside. As of a few minutes ago, it appears God is keeping His promise and we won't have to build another Ark:

In between dodging downpours, not a bad day getting things done. I cleared a long-bothersome project off my desk; picked up a piece of business that could be majorly good, majorly trouble or both; and moved a Stupid Early appointment from Friday morning in Rochester to tomorrow afternoon here. Plus both Third and Fourth of Five have decent chances of being resolved before their Wednesday and Thursday respectivelies.  Borg, Schmorg.
And in between those in-betweens, I got to read about a hitherto-untold version of the story of the American Civil War:

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”
— Donald Trump

Narrator: The Civil War, if you think about it, why?

Sad fiddle music begins to play.

Yes, this is the story of that conflict as told by Ken Burns (or at least as imagined Ken would have told it, riffed by the WaPo blogger who fooled the Cheeto into putting one of her parody pieces onto the whitehouse.gov website back in March).

Given his sympathies for the losing cause, the biggest surprise is that he didn't refer to it as the "War Against Northern Aggression." But then, those are bigly words with lots of syllables. Probably want to make sure he learns his colors first.

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Not long after I moved here over 35 years ago, I worked out that the calendar is not the same as in the rest of the world. January, January, February, March, May, July, July, August, October, November, December, December is much more accurate.  And never assume that this "March" is gonna go out like a lamb, either. We had nearly hot days once or twice, but it was 39F outside as I took Ebony to the Bark Park for her first trip since it reopened last week- and quickly boogied home when it began to pour and then thunder about half an hour later. Still was worth it- saw old friends from back before the cleanup-closing, including a fat low-to-the-ground named Peter and a puppy with him named Piper. (They promised the next rescue would be named "Pickled Pepper.")

That explains the icon. As for the headline, those were fixtures of the past few days around here.  All last week, from co-workers to random people in conversation, the talk was All About That Castle.  Yes, there really is one in the nearby Village, barely a block from the church I just quit my lifetime membership in.  I'd been vaguely aware of it from occasional tales told over the years- including of the owners letting kids onto the grounds at Halloween.  But this was a rare opportunity to see it up close and even inside, as for three days the contents were put up at an estate sale and the public was invited in:

An estate sale began at 9 a.m. Thursday in the stone home known alternately as "Cambria Castle" or "Oechsner's Castle." It was built on 1.3 acres of Dream Island beginning in 1917 by a German-born mason named Ignatz Oechsner.

Oechsner was "homesick for his native village Oxenforte in Germany on the Meine River" and "determined to build exactly the medieval castle that was so familiar to him in his early boyhood," according to the 1965 book "A History of the Town of Amherst, New York" by Sue Miller Young.

Fossil rock from the Town of Holland was used to build the castle, towers and moat. But Oechsner died in 1942, having never completed his dream....

The property was then neglected, changed ownership several times and badly damaged by a fire in 1956 leaving only the walls just after it was purchased by H. Reginald Davies and his wife, Winifred. The couple "painstakingly" restored the home's interior in 1958, Miller Young wrote.

Winifred Davies had studied architecture at the University at Buffalo in the 1950s, said Mary Lowther, president of the Village of Williamsville Historical Society.

"She actually drew the drawings for when they restored the building," she said. "It looks exactly the same today."

The castle became a mix of modern and medieval. The exterior features a carrier pigeon tower, gargoyles, animal reliefs, arched cornices and a library room in a turret, Lowther said.

"But being in there you would think you stepped back into the '50s the way it looks – the kitchen, everything," she said. "It's a really unique piece of property."

The current owners are Davies' daughters, Mildred O'Rourke and Onalee Davies, said Lowther, who visited the castle several times at their invitation. O'Rourke died several years ago and Onalee Davies resides in an assisted living facility.

It's got what you would expect: a bridge to enter, turrets, probably a bratty kid up in the tallest tower shooting arrows at passing kinnigits.  Also, for those three days, it had ridiculous crowds.  I drove by briefly on my way from getting a forgotten office supply late on Friday, and tried again yesterday: cops had barricades up and the lines to get in were blotto.  But our friend Ann did make it on, and in: here's her whole album of them, but just for a taste:

There are hundreds more, just as beautiful and strange. So go click that bad boy and look.

No word yet on whether they'll be selling and what will happen once it sells; the house has landmark status, so anything will have to respect what's there.  But it's still an amazing view into the past.


Some things, not quite so old, can be demolished much more easily without needing town approval. This, I found out yesterday when I heard some noise outside and Eleanor asked me to come look.

She'd taken a "before" picture- of the brick planter that's been attached to one side of the front of our house since it was built in 1960:

She's hated it for half a forever- the stuff inside it, the potential for ants making it into the house from it, and her very different vision of what to do with that whole strip between house to the right of that angle and her garden outside the shot to the left. Plus, the thing was buckling (see circle and arrow and a paragraph on the back).

Here's what she accomplished with a surprisingly small number of swings of a sledgehammer:

Practically fell apart under its own weight. Scary, the number of times we've climbed into that planter- many of them on top of an extension ladder- to get to windows or gutters.  The big sections of brick are still out there for now, but I made close to a dozen wheelbarrow trips getting the singletons and smaller sectional pieces off the lawn and out onto the back concrete porch.  We'll either need to chisel the big ones apart or get burlier help to get rid of them.

Too bad they're red brick; maybe the realtor at the castle could've used them for repairs;)


I'm still pretty sore, given that activity, the first full mow of the back forty the previous two nights and two workouts to end the "marathon" for April. We have two BBC America hours and numerous other films to catch up on, and my five straight mornings of court await.

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Yesterday. Whole morning pretty much tied up in court here. I got out just in time to place a lunch order for the staff in my Rochester office- an early Administrative Professionals Day observance for them, since I wouldn't be able to join them for the official one today. It was raining on and off and dreary the whole afternoon, and I slogged through four appointments in just about three hours before heading out of my way to drop off a printer at the kids' place.  Hers, Eleanor's previous photo printer which we'd had refurbished, had been leaking and streaking for weeks, and rather than just bringing it home to fix and return (we hope), Eleanor volunteered her own photo printer at least for the duration.

Once we got it up the stairs and on the network, I finally found out why this was such a Big Deal: Emily had drawn Cameron's Valentines Day present on her computer, and it had been sitting there, unprintable, for over two months.

Yeah, I'd say that drawing (and that smile) justified the extra miles:)


No court today (or the next two days- yay!- next week will make up for that, though:P), and my only outside commitment of the day was my local office's observance of Administrative Professionals Day.  The staff doesn't officially work for me, but they are kind and helpful and don't bring me any office-political bullshit. I was invited to join them, at a fairly high-end local steak place, but I first ran out to Wegmans and got greeting and gift cards for everybody.

Minutes after we got there, my co-workers' real boss stopped at a nearby table. She introduced me; this was our landlord, taking his staff out for the occasion. I'd never met him (or really anybody from management) before, since I've been subletting. After our orders were placed, the waiter came up and whispered something to Melissa:

Our landlord had just comped our entire table.

Now, granted, the timing was great in more ways than one. Not only were we both there for the same occasion, but we had just re-upped (with me now as an official co-tenant) for another three years starting next week. So in terms of keeping a good-performing lease on his books, we meant more to them than a table full of very nice salads. Still, it was quite a kind gesture.


That brings us to what tomorrow might bring- and I do expect news.  What it is ranges from hopeful to fearful.

The Supreme Court-ish power of United Methodism is vested in a Judicial Council.  Like the denomination itself, it is made up of voting members from all over the US and from growing foreign jurisdictions, particularly in the Third World, that take a far less progressive view of LGBTQ issues than many corners of the church.

Last year, the bishops of a US-based region of the church elected the first-ever openly LGBTQ pastor to serve in an episcopal role.  Within days, the leaders of a southern-fundie jurisdiction ratted them out and petitioned the Judicial Council to overturn the election because her very existence as an avowed lesbian precluded her from serving in any level of United Methodist clergy, much less as part of the highest body (Methodists ain't got no pope, or Archbishop of Canterbury equivalent).

The Council met yesterday to hear Karen's case. A decision is expected as soon as tomorrow. There;s a progressive bishop and leadership in a neighboring conference of New York, but the one for this region has ranged in his pronouncements from wishy-washy to outright hostile to the step taken by elevating Pastor Karen to the episcopacy.  He sent out an email (yes, I still get them- mainly to track this issue), and he urged restraint in reacting to it:

No one can predict the outcomes of this session of the Judicial Council, but I implore us to trust that God is in the midst of it. While the work of the Judicial Council is significant and has impact upon our common life, I urge us to see this week as simply one part of the whole work that is before us as a denomination. The Commission on a Way Forward, commissioned by the Council of Bishops and authorized by the General Conference, is working diligently to help us find God's way forward for The United Methodist Church, specifically in our fractures around homosexuality.

Just by using the "H" word instead of LGBTQ, he's tipped his hand as to his bias.  The Commission he refers to was, like most other commissions and committees created in organizations, an attempt to kick the can of LGBTQ rights down the road to prevent an up-or-more-likely-down vote on changing the offensive language in Methodist doctrine (dating all the way back to 1972) that bans same-sex marriage and ordination.

He continues:
While you may be tempted to allow the decisions made this week to guide your sense of the future, I beg you not to do so. Whatever the Judicial Council decides, it is the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, acted upon by a special session of the General Conference, which will be the most important decision point for these critical matters.

Yeah. Someday. And probably, even if it calls for a change in the language, the full body of clergy and laity, many filled more with bigotry and fear than with the Holy Spirit, will vote down the change and go thank their God that they saved the Church Ladies from those icky homos one more time.

Perhaps coincidentally, in my travels this morning, I heard this song, by legendary Rochester folk artist Connie Deming:

Oh, where would we be, if Rosa had simply given up her seat?

The song starts about a minute in, after some banter and tuning:

No, Mark, I'm done with commissions and task forces and surveys. I'm sick of my friends, and likely a relative somewhere, being pushed to the back of the ecclesiastical bus because of homophobia preserved in biblical amber for almost 2,000 years. I'm hurt when I read shit like this from one of the fundie-side organizations which has come out (heh heh) to beat down (heh heh) progress in the face of Bishop Karen's bravery:

The Wesleyan Covenant Association, a United Methodist evangelical group, will be meeting in Memphis, Tennessee, April 28-29, meaning it could be in session when the Judicial Council decision is announced.

The Rev. Jeffrey Greenway, a leader of the group, said the timing was coincidental. But he said the hearing is definitely on his mind and that of other WCA members. He’s praying for the various parties involved, but said he hopes the Judicial Council invalidates Oliveto’s election.

“She is a bishop of the whole United Methodist Church, while publicly embracing and advocating a lifestyle that is contrary to our polity in terms of licensing, ordination and appointment of clergy,” Greenway said. “For her to remain in her role would make (denominational) unity exponentially more difficult.”

The Rev. Rob Renfroe, president of Good News, another unofficial evangelical group, agreed.

“There would just be many evangelicals who could not live in a church that allows not just individuals, but one of our episcopal leaders, to adopt a lifestyle contrary to the scriptures,” he said.

In other words, to live her life the way God created her, in faithful commitment to a single soulmate, inspiring boys and girls and men and women and none of the aboves that they, too, matter in the sight of their God and there is a place for them, not only in the cheap seats and in the receiving line of the Communion table, but on both sides of the altar when the day comes to be called to marriage or ordination. And if "many evangelicals.... could not live in a church" like that, well, guys, don't let the nave doors hit you on the way out. Because otherwise, I've gone out that door, and will join my wife in it being a one-way exit if you fuck this up.

ETA Late Friday, the word came: the Council ruled against her. A neighboring jurisdiction does have the right to tell another one that it can't appoint LGBT bishops- or presumably any other clergy. Bishop Karen is not removed from office or defrocked- yet- but these nine voices could have opened the door (and the hearts and minds that would have come in through it) to saying "We welcome all, nurture all, accept and even empower all." They did not. And so I resigned my membership that night. I might return to it, more likely in a congregation like our former one in Rochester that formally stands as part of the Resistance, but those who live in the 19th century are dead to me.

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Nothing from my workday, though it was okay.

Nor from the end of the day, where we just got home from seeing Boss Baby, which was quite fun and sweeter than the previews would have suggested.

No, tonight I dare YELL just a little bit because


It's been in the works for a few weeks, and I'm almost as proud to say that I had virtually nothing to do with it. My first clue was walking into a colleague's office in Rochester earlier this month and hearing, "Well, I've known her since she was 8, and she's worked here over the summer and did a great job...." I knew that was Brett giving her a reference- for a job which turned out to be with the Alzheimer's Association in Rochester.  I asked her about it and tried not to be too nosy about the progress in the ensuing weeks, but as of last time we discussed it, they'd told her things were moving along with the application, but that some organizational changes meant they might move a little more slowly.  Until today- when they made her the offer and she accepted it to begin probably mid-May.

We haven't gone into the specifics of responsibilities or pay, but it's bound to be an improvement. My coworker helped get her the current gig right after she graduated from RIT three years ago, and for various reasons it wound up being more stressful and less remunerative than she would have liked. It will also likely get the kids moving a little closer to us when their current lease is up over the summer.

It's a good day and everyone who's encountered the organization has had good things to say about it. Her nana on my side of the family suffered from dementia in her final years, which may give her some extra empathy in dealing with what the situation presents.

I will see her after work tomorrow- another day in Rochester with back-to-back-to-backs after an early appointment here- and will be bringing her Eleanor's good printer while we try to fix its predecessor, which we donated to her sometime last year.  We will also pick up her unneeded DVD copy of Rogue One when I go out there.

The Force does, indeed, appear to be with us:)

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I knew yesterday was going to be a long one.  What began with a single afternoon commitment (an early afternoon real estate closing in Rochester) started gathering additional appointments round it like darts thrown at a board, and when I left yesterday morning I had a total of six scheduled gigs between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Also, when I left yesterday morning, I'd been up since 3 a.m.  You can thank the dog and my brain for that; Ebony needed to go out, and that's about the worst possible time in terms of sleep cycle. Earlier, and it's much easier to beat down the wakeys and get back to sleep; later, and it's easier to just say fuggedabutit and stay up.  But the wheels on the brain turned for a good two-plus hours before I finally surrendered, fed everybody early, and left earlier than I needed to so I'd get an early start.

I may also have sensed a disturbance in the Force.  For 70 miles away at 5 a.m., one of my Rochester co-workers was reading an email which hurt him and impugned me, and he was livid about it, even when I finally caught up with him hours later.  They clearly have my back in the dispute, and it's going to come to a head Monday. I will not be there for it, but there will be further reports one way or the other.

Other than that, though? Not all that bad.  The earliest of the six rescheduled (to Tuesday, which is similarly starting to grow appointments like topsy), the people I saw were all nice, largely complimentary of how I worked with them and explained things, and all of it was in one place except the closing.  That was the usual hour of frustration for me, as banks continue to expand their piles of crap they expect people to sign in order to get a loan. Also, the figures were wrong, and the client overpaid- by the exact amount of their previous deposit. THAT was because banks also consider their customers to be lying criminals, and they did not credit the deposit even though the contract, the closing communications between buyer and seller, and the realtor had already confirmed it. No, they needed to see a bank statement PROVING the deposit had been deposited.  They're refunding it by early next week. No harm, no foul.

The final appointment started on time and finished right after 6, and after grabbing dinner and gas (at different establishments;), I rolled in right around 8 last night.  Eleanor had also had a tiring day, including plenty of amateur psychotherapy of her own customers, but it was finally the weekend! We could sleep in!

About that....


Ebony went outside at an earlier hour, and other than those few minutes I got a full night's uninterrupted sleep before making it until my usual target feeding time of 6 a.m.  The drill for that goes like this: older cat gets fed on kitchen counter, younger gets fed in Ebony's old training crate (otherwise she raids everybody else), the dog's bowl gets filled with kibble and meds and is placed on the floor.  Munching ensues, and Ebony needs to go out again roughly half the time. When everyone's finished, Zoey is released from her captivity, the dog comes down to this end of the house- and these days, we put up a baby gate to keep her AT this end of the house. She'd picked up an annoying trick where she'd bark at the back door, only to turn when the tired doorman/woman appeared and head for the kitchen where her treats are.  No more of that.  Usually, she falls asleep with one or the other of us, the cats annoy to varying but acceptable extents, and we can catch an hour or so of additional zed's.

This morning, soon after the raising of the Wall, I heard a thud down kitchen way.  I stumbled out to the gate and saw and heard nothing further from the other side. Figured it was nothing major and headed back to bed. Ebony, on our side of the gate, would not settle down; pawing back and forth, from room to room to hall, with the occasional bark and whine.  We resisted, told her to settle down, to no avail.  Finally, I took the gate down and found the cause of it all:

The thud (or was it a thunk? It could be important!) was the dog food bucket, which the inattentive waitstaff (me) had left on the kitchen counter instead of returning it to the safety of its cabinet.  Zoey, especially, was practically in orgasm over it. I picked up as much as could be cleanly returned, swept out the rest that I could see or reach, especially under the hutch in the kitchen, that was covered in dust bunnies, and tried to get back to sleep. No luck: Ebony was still pissed despite getting treats from both of us, and the cats were basically fat tubs of goo who, even now 20 minutes before their evening feeding, are showing no interest in being fed again- other than Zoey making a game out of getting the last crumb of kibble from under the hutch.

I also knocked over at least two things in my travels before finally getting out of here later in the morning- but I've mostly recovered from the day and the disaster.  I took the vacuum in for servicing, did a killer workout, and visited my local office for the first time in 48 hours.  Eleanor biked some, bought some things for her bike in thoughts of starting to ride it to and from work, and she's been drawing. Plants, not kibble.

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I have nothing major on my work schedule this week, but there have been daily commitments I've had and will continue to deal with, plus more than the average amount of aggravations.

Monday was pre-Tax Day; we filed ours weeks ago, getting a small surprise refund from the state for once, but it's also that wonderful time of year when I have to corral copies of tax returns from newly-filing bankruptcy clients and from certain old ones who have to produce them annually. I spent much of Monday trying to run the last of those down- when I wasn't being run down myself.

There's nasty looking construction on my main route from home to work, so I've been doing the route by a slightly longer, clockwise set of streets.  One of them has always had a dangerous spot: Park Club Lane, which is a commuter-traveled road for most of its northerly trail from Main Street, but which bends to the east just before the edge of our subdivision where a differently-named street begins.  Cars coming from the small stretch beyond the bend have a stop sign, and it is the only one of the three directions that does have one.  A year or so ago, after doubtless many bad assumptions about it being an all-way stop, the one and only stop sign got capped with one of these:

You think that stops people? Of course not. It certainly had no effect on the woman who saw me coming, and not stopping, and decided to plow into the intersection anyway, missing me by no more than twenty feet.  I greeted her with a honk and the Brooklyn dialect of American Sign Language, but only then did I catch that her license plate was KARMA B.

Yeah it is, lady. As you'll find next time you try that and the other guy DOESN'T stop.


Tuesday morning was just feisty.  I got into arguments with at least two friends over a seemingly joyous moment at the previous day's Boston Marathon:

It came from a Facebook page called Marathon Investigation, which routinely rats out runners for taking shortcuts, or for going bandit and running without a proper signup and bib, or, here, for blocking the finish line and ruining the finish photos of the people behind them.  My initial reaction was that anybody who runs that far can celebrate their finish any way they want as long as it's not in the competitive stage of the race.  When questioned on who I was to say whether this was a competitive stage or not, I cited the time shown on the clock above the finish, checked where it put this stage relative to other finishers (well into the 4,800th-placers) and concluded that it was okay at that point.  That only got stronger reactions, much about how this is the one race not to be taken trivially.   (At least I didn't say anything as dumb as Adidas did.)

They're right. I've never come within a fifth of this distance and my best 5-mile time would've had me a good hour behind these finishers if I'd even somehow managed to maintain it for a full 26.  And most of my running experience involves dodging drunks in dinosaur costumes on a routine basis.  I've only shot through maybe six chutes in my life (four more if the 20-mile March of Dimes walks in the 70s had them), and I can't remember paying attention to anyone ahead or behind me when I saw the F(inish) word- just exhiliration at having finished.

I stand corrected.  Unfortunately, a few hours later, I had someone else in need of correcting, and it wasn't something I could do.  I took a client to a routine bankruptcy hearing; by all accounts, she had nothing to be concerned about, but her trustee took a gratuituous opportunity to slam her, suggesting that someone in her line of work should've known better about getting into so much debt.  I didn't catch the tears until we were through, and I tried reassuring her about what the guy was probably frustrated about but I wished that hadn't happened, either.

No taxes filed or received.


That gets us to today: Eleanor and I switched cars, since she had a doctor's appointment Up The Transit and Ziggy doesn't go that far and back on a full charge.  Since we'd both be leaving early, I did everything I could think of to be ready for the switch in the morning.  But after she left first and I finally backed out, the staccato of rain on the sunroof reminded me of the one thing I'd indeed left in JARVIS's hindquarters: my umbrella.

Fortunately, Karma was less bitchy this time. I was annoyed already since I was only going downtown, in full lawyer clothes, to adjourn something I got (what else?) a last-minute call about yesterday, after the court didn't answer or return several calls I made trying to do it late yesterday afternoon.  But despite the rain coming down in buckets on the 33 inbound (and eventually outbound), I not only found a close-in parking place near court, but the rain let up for the whole 20 minutes there, in, out and back.  That got me home, back into casualer clothes and a hoodie, and then I didn't give a shit about the rain any more.

If I got two more things accomplished all afternoon, it was a lot.  We did confirm that we will have a new tenant joining us when the current two lawyers end their leases at the end of the month (one of whom I've been subletting from), and we took the new lease as an opportunity to request some repairs in the small bathroom we use in our office kitchen.  A gaggle of workers came, saw and apparently stripped up some ratty old tiles they will be replacing- but left the Liquid Nails-ish adhesive on the floor where they'd been.  I was almost trapped in the amber in a position where anthropologists wouldn't appreciate seeing me in 5 million years, so I escaped and put an OUT OF ORDER sign on the thing.

Maybe we'll catch someone in there who hasn't brought me their tax returns yet.

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Higgeldy piggeldy,
Peter Capaldi- he's
Back with a brand-new
Companion named Bill

She's black and she's gay
But it's way more important
She's brilliant and gets more
Than most humans will

About Twelve, she does, anyway.  That's what we found in our first dose of Doctor when it finally arrived on Saturday night.  Despite her not officially being a student at Unnamed University, she's clearly brighter than the firstest of the Firsts- at least in a brain processing sense.  In a "let's go unaccompanied into peril and hope we come out alive and/or get rescued" sense of Not So Bright? Not so much.

I liked the episode.  Lots of throwbacks to prior incarnations and performers, a decent standalone of a story, and lots of potential for good adventures in time and space to follow.


Jiggery pokery,
Coal Hill Academy's
Hiding two aliens
Right in plain sight

Figures the Doctor's
The one who transplanted
Them into the heart
Of a Shadowkin fight

When BBCA endlessly pushes a premiere during its return-series premieres (Doctor Who, Orphan Black), I'm mostly annoyed and tend not to want to watch. Yet Class had the promise of another spot of Twelve in it, so although we hadn't DVR'd it, I found it on-demand and we watched it during dinner last night.

Another grade of "well done."  They did a nice job of establishing the premise and the characters, who stood on their own for more than half the episode before Doctor ex Machina came along to save the day.  Still, any remaining signs of Capaldi on the BBC boards are fine with me.  Apparently this series already had its first run on Auntie's home turf, and the decision's been made not to renew it; how closely tied that is to the imminent cast change on the main show, I've yet to hear.  Maybe Netflix or Amazon can boldly go to carry it forward if it does well in the US.

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