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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
This time last night, I was pretty down. Down for the count with this bug, down about work things that didn't go as expected during the day, down given that none of the nibbles on the old car seemed to be biting, especially down because my go-to work computer was repeatedly shutting off without warning and almost leaving me without necessary work data.

Today?  Better.

Health: still buggy, but much less so. Enough so that I managed to get to and stay in the office and/or court for almost the entire workday. Court went well, but it was on returning that the pleasant surprises began.

Finances: improved. Something I've been waiting on for weeks came through, a new client couple needs to act and seems intent on doing so, and another prospective client finally took a positive step toward some new business.

This computer: it's ba-a-a-a-ack:)  I contacted my friend and local guru for such things, fully expecting she might have to beg out on account of health issues in her family, but she got back and said she could look at it tonight. She also mentioned that Windows updates sometimes cause power issues.  So with nothing else to do until 5, I quietly plugged Tobor into a corner outlet, got him to start, and just left him for several hours. Since then, he's been fine- at first off AC power (the battery is still holding charge just fine), and on it since I've been home.  I'll still get it checked out, but meanwhile it's backing up daily and religiously ::goes, backs up daily and religiously::  ::curses as the Whatever Thing does it again and shuts itself off seconds before backing up::  ::recovers nicely, finishes the religious backup, and has Tobor back on just battery power::

The old car: has a date tomorrow morning. Somebody called twice and sounded nice and very interested.  I will bring it to Rochester (after first bringing some forgotten stuff out to the kids) and if it sells, I have a ride halfway home and Eleanor will meet me there forthe drive the rest of the way.

But the biggest potential development of the day involved the continuing storrrr-eeee of the property dispute next door.  Yesterday, Eleanor took a new angle on it: she realized their outdoor playpen was likely infringing on the local electric company's power pole, and when she called it in, she got a very sympathetic ear.  By late today, that ear must've turned into mouth, because I got a call on the tenants' behalf from an attorney I know and like, asking, essentially, what can we do to fix this?

Eleanor's writing an answer to that.  I won't presume to write it down until I've seen it.  Just getting the contact, and the glimmer of a fair resolution, makes me happy:)
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I end the month with that inspirational quote from the Mom List- that compendium of all the things my mother said to us that I swore I'd never say.  After days like this, it's hard not to.

The Sick continued.  Worse in the morning, but never completely lifting from my nose, throat or spirits. I worked from home as much as I could to keep the swap meet of bugs down as much as I could.  Two clients were scheduled; one canceled, reporting even sicker symptoms than I had. The other did come in, but there really wasn't much I could do today.  I did get my biggest laugh of the day out of the paperwork I saw; among other issues is one with federal compensation (I'm not handling it,  know nothing about how to), but the official government designation on the form told me everything I needed to know about why the process was so evil:


I could only envision what would be coming next:


Done with that one, the other sicker than me, and a moderate amount accomplished, I headed home for the rest of the workday- and my main laptop computer, which had been fine all morning, decided on arrival that it, too, was sick and wouldn't turn on.  I'd run into this glitch a couple of weeks ago when it just shut down dead at the office.  A few hours off seemed to be the tonic that time, and it had never done it again despite bringing it on several trips to both offices.  Today, though, it would not restart- until it did.  Ten booted up, and promptly shut back off.

I ran errands to give it some charging time in case it was a battery issue.  Nope-  still no good.  More errands. Finally, round about 5:30, with some targeted jiggling and some quick work with the external drive, I got it to stay on long enough to cull all of my essential new data off it. Of course it then worked for its longest stretch of the afternoon- until it didn't.  That's when I resolved to Leave Well Enough Alone (another quote from Teh List- thanks, ma:P) and pressed my backup laptop, fondly nicknamed Groot, into service.

It's much slower, doesn't have all my software on it, but it'll hold me until I can either diagnose Tobor locally or ship him back for factoryish diagnosis.  (Fortunately, I bought purchase protection on the damn thing.)

It may also cut in on my posting here, since I don't have Semagic loaded on Groot and am not sure he has enough oomph to run it and everything else.  And as my first try at this post reminded me, direct entry of posts into LJ is an exercise in literary kamikaze.

In fact, I'd better post it now. Because as Mom always said, you'd lose your entry if it wasn't glued onto your neck.
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Our church hosted an entourage today.

US United Methodists are organized into "churches" aka "charges" (usually just one building but sometimes more), several dozen of which make up "districts" (metropolitan-size regions like our Niagara Frontier), often statewide "conferences" combining districts, and large "jurisdictions" combining conferences. Our guest speaker today, the Rev. Lois McMullen Parr, organizes two entire jurisdictions- close to a quarter of the country, perhaps more- for the Reconciling Ministries Network.

RMN's purpose, boiled down, is to combat the specific doctrinal prejudice in our denomination against LGBTQ people.  It's built right into our rulebook; since 1972, our church has officially declared homosexuality to be "incompatible with Christian teaching," and subsequent tweaks have led to the banishment of clergy who either openly practice their own non-cisgendered sexuality or who dare to solemnize the marriages of persons outside the one-man-one-woman trope.

There are different levels at which this can be changed: the best, but pious-in-the-skyiest, would be changing the rulebook itself, which can only occur at a quadrennial "general conference" of all the charges, districts, conferences and jurisdictions in the denomination.  The next one is scheduled for Portland, Oregon, and will occur next May.  (I'd like to think of Toni and Candace getting the Trail Blazers in on that action.)  Unfortunately, Fundies within the denomination have the voting numbers, the lobbying dollars and the close-mindedness needed to make such a change uncertain at best, even given the secular changes of the past few years.

Short of that, super-regional Jurisdictions can (and Portland's own Western Jurisdiction has) put an unofficial ban on the enforcement of the ban; getting such a change here in the Northeast is more likely in sentiment, but is itself subject to timing and bureaucratic limitations on Gittin' Er Done. That's why RMN mostly works at the local charge level- getting people like us, in buildings like ours, to affirm the error in the denomination's ways, to welcome all and proclaim specifically that "all means all, including all sexual orientations." Doing so gets the congregation recognized nationally, and annually, for being brave in the face of the backlash within and without our sanctuary walls.

Our local church has slouched toward this goal. It took more than a year, with my prodding and complaining, to get even the milquetoastiest of Welcome Statements added to our public expressions- with the specific reference to sexual orientation relegated to the footnotes.   Meanwhile, the largest UMC in our entire conference, where Eleanor and I met and married and where Emily was christened- overcame an even bigger and more entrenched bureaucracy earlier this year and adopted a plain, unequivocal, and unanimous welcome, and affirmed its place in the Network.  Sadly, they remain the only place within 60 miles of our home to do so.

Following the service, Lois led a discussion with participants from the earlier service about what RMN is and does, and how a local church can respond.  Only one old-school member offered any real resistance, and I've known him long and well enough to respect his respect for reason.  The message from the remainder of those present was more the one I've been proclaiming: we're losing a generation of members- not just LGBTQs but of allies- who have covenanted to "seek justice and resist evil... and oppression, in whatever forms they present themselves."

I also discussed tactics- and the need to combine gentleness with firmness in getting a house full of way-we've-always-done-it-ists to look at things differently, admit and affirm what needs to be done about it, and call for a formal on-the-record affirmation of that.

It will not take a year this time. If it does, it will do it without me in the house.

And since some say, Pictures or it didn't happen:

That's me in the corner, losing my religion in my Closed Doors/Broken Hearts/We Mind t-shirt from the Syracuse Witch Trial protests of 2013.  Our pastor is to my left, Lois to his.


On a totally unrelated Slow Progress note, I've finally gotten two nibbles on getting rid of Em/Cameron's old car.  One went to a spam filter, the other came through this afternoon, looking to meet up and see the car either tonight or late tomorrow.  This would be a majorly good thing right about now.
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Either Showtime's messin' with us, or there's something up here.

It's been over two years since Dexter sailed off into the old-growth forest, with Our Hero witnessing the brain-death of his beloved sister, his dispatching of her into the sea, just before turning his boat into the full force of a Big Ass Hurricane and convincing everyone, including us, of his death,....

only to see him turn up, alone and surly. as a lumberjack somewhere in the Great Northwest.

Few loved it. Most, including me, accepted it. Most critics, well, haaaaated it. And the network has gone on to do little in the two years since to rival even that unsatisfactory ending.

So what are we to think when this graphic greeted us two mornings ago:

Yes, there are rumors- and rumors of rumors- that somehow, the network wants its Excitable Boy back. Terms like "reboot" and "limited series" have been tossed around, and there's one killer quote (sorry) from SHO head honcho David Nevins that both limits and intrigues:

Nevins had previously commented that any future Dexter would require the participation of Michael C. Hall (and likely Jennifer Carpenter, who seemed ready to leave Dexter behind during her appearance at the Limitless panel).

"It would have to involve Michael. I would only do it with Michael… It remains to be seen if they’re going to want to do it, if I’m going to want to do it. They never felt like killing Dexter is the right end… If we were to do it, I would want to do Dexter in a new concept and configuration.”


Obviously, MCH is key in any scenario.  There can be nobody else.  But is his ex-costar (and, #awkward!, his ex-wife) either up to another go, or even able to, given where the finale ended?

Why the fuck not?

Our brains were already left at the door, dropped in the water, and airmailed across the country to accept the premise of the final scene.  And no coroner ever pronounced Deb dead, nor did she get her brother's usual signature means of disposal.  So maybe the cold Atlantic waters rebooted her brain-dead system; she swam to shore in a tide of Holy Fucking Shitballs; and she then called Bro at his Private Idaho Love Shack to set up the infinitely improbable System Restart.

At least they won't have to take down a bench put up in honor of her demise.

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The day after Thanksgiving is one I always take off on general principles.  It's the one holiday that private enterprise masters excuse their minions from, mainly so they can go out and Shop Till They Drop, but banks and government offices, for the most part, are forced to remain open.

So if I have a case in need of filing (as I did, electronically, late this morning) or a check in need of depositing (as I did, in person, late this afternoon), I'll take advantage, neener-neenering under my breath.

It was less fun this time, because finally, The Sicks of people around me caught up with me. I awoke to a sore throat and general malaise. It hasn't blossomed beyond that- yet- but I took care not to push it most of the day.


The kids advised yesterday that they hadn't yet gotten around to having their new car photographed. It's an insurance Thing in this state, to prevent totalled heaps from being insured and then reported for collision damage.  When we signed the thing up two weeks ago, they printed out a list of places both here and nearer to them where they could do it.  Never happened; Emily somehow got it that it was Cameron's picture they needed, and he was never available to do it. Also, when they came here the other night, no list. But I remembered a collision shop where we'd done a previous vehicle, and I took it over there late this morning and got the deed done.

I then also almost had to drive over to Cam's dad's place because their car, once they retrieved it, wouldn't start. I suspected it was a safety feature gone bad, so I talked Emily through the Neutral Safety Switch Trick and the Jiggle The Locked Steering Wheel Trick, but neither of them worked. I told them I'd be over, but by the time I was ready to walk out the door, they called back: Scott had jiggled the wheel enough to get it unlocked and thus restarted.

After that, my only departure was to procure cat fud and work in a workout.  I did well with it, so whatever this is, it seems not to be affecting me that much from the neck down.

I did see a great license plate in my travels:

To which the best response on Facebook was simply


And the poster's not even from the Anglican-Methodist tradition, so I was pretty impressed:)

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I had a plan. It was a good plan.

Thanksgiving morning here is the home of the oldest continuously-run road race in this county- five miles down Buffalo's Delaware Avenue, now a pack of more than 14,000 participants, many in costume, more than a few drinking their breakfast.  In 2011, I tried getting in on the action too late- but the past four years, I've signed up ahead of time, picked up my materials ahead, and made the trek in just over an hour each time.

Until this year.

The signup, yup. The pickup, yesterday. But none of my assorted gym buds from various places were running, or would be at my relatively glacial pace, so for the third year in a row I was looking at an hour of solitude.

I've done it in sunny upper 40s.  I've done it in frigid sub-20s.  This year would have been one of the warmer, sunnier ones.  Still, the rush of the first few has kinda passed me by.

But, as I said, there was a plan.

I have until the end of next week, aka "within 30 days of your birthday," to get in my biennial attorney registration, including an attestation that I've done my 24 required hours of continuing ed.

As of yesterday, I had 15.  No matter: doing this last-minute is a lawyer rite of passage here. A month before your birthday, the CLE providers start calling, emailing, begging for your biennial business.  I have eight free credits coming at the end of next week through a company I present for.  That left one credit unearned; better make it two or three.  (Unused ones carry over.)  A fellow Damn Scorpio, also doing the last-minute rush, recommended a quick three-credit course on a CD from the local bar association. I ordered it, thinking I'd listen in the car over the past few weeks.

Never did, of course.  Which led to the plan:

Flip the course onto my phone and listen to it, in my lonely hour of solitude, while men in speedos and families of giant caterpillars were trundling down Delaware around me.

Step one: sync the course onto my iPhone.

It's on two CDs.  I put in the first.  As iTunes does, it sent it off to Gracenote to identify the tracks and pull down the album art.  Here's what it came up with for my "2015 Update on NYS Civil Practice and Procedure" disc:

I really want to know what that first one is.  Maybe I get extra credit for being bilingual.

The second disc was even more surprising. Gracenote identified it instantly:

I don't even.

Because we're lawyers, and thus lying sacks of shit, we have to write down three embedded codes given out during the presentation in order to claim the credit: I heard them all (I even had them before listening, on account of the other Damn Scorpio who already listened), but do I get extra credit if I also write down avada kedavra?

So all I had to do was get up on time, drive to Delaware and Kenmore, and have a go of it.  Or not.

The Mooch Patrol had me up well before 5; I was twilighty-awake when Eleanor left for work before 8, but the two oldest animals were snuggling and I just didn't have the oomph, so I turned off the alarm and decided to let nature decide.  When I woke for good at 8:30, with just enough time to throw on sneakers and dash to the start line, I said no.

Good non-move, as it turned out. This seminar material is drier than the King James Bible, and the droning about "articulable nexus" (which might be a band, or a new luxury car) and the references to Tauza versus Susquehanna Coal Company ("SUSQUEHANNA COAL COMPANY?!?") would've had me down to Barely Walking before I even hit the Delaware Park S-curves.

Instead, I listened to Take Five and J.K. Rowling in the quietude of our living room. The codes are written down (and for the record, I did listen to the whole damn thing). Eleanor's home from her four hours with the other horde of Thanksgiving crazies. The kids are due sometime today.

    We've had ups and downs over this year, especially over the past few weeks with external stuff, but we have immense amounts to be thankful for.  Including everyone reading these words.

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    Eleanor woke me up before leaving for work today- first time all week I haven't had an early alarm (and I'll have one tomorrow, too, if I go through with doing the Turkey Trot for the fourth straight year).  She wanted me to call the vet about a sensitive subject we've discussed among ourselves over the past month:

    Kittyboy on top in that picture, snuggling with his BFF, who's also had health issues of late. (She's doing MUCH better:)  They double-whammied us a few weeks ago: the dog came up lame and picked at the swelling in that leg, leading to antibiotics (done), anti-inflammatories (cut way back) and way-increased walkies.  Tazzer, at the same time, went off his feed, and for several days seemed completely out of it- rarely moving, and showing no interest in the catbox whatsoever. (We'd set up his own on the main floor some time ago, but even that seemed too far a walk.)

    Little by little, he returned to being himself. After about a week, his appetite was fully back, and he's also back in his usual snuggling and sunning spots.  We've moved his personal catbox once more- into my room/office, the better to keep an eye on it/him, and he's doing better in that department, but there are more than a few misses. We clean, and prevent.

    The issue this morning, after some particularly toxic deposits got cleaned, was whether we were in denial about him.  And so the call to Dr. Scott, who essentially took the approach to the patient that we usually do:

    How IS he?

    Never mind the quality of the stool. How's the quality of the life? Sure, he's sleeping more at almost 17, but when he's awake, is he active? Eating? Seeking out the sunny spots and the kitty television in the front picture window? Snuggling with us in bed and on sofas?  Playing, even?

    Yes on all counts for now:)

    And so we go on. He can't wear a diaper, which would solve 90 percent of the problems, but we can be vigilant, and caring, and give him every moment he wants. The other key sign, consistent with the earlier cases we've had to send to Rainbow Bridge? Cats, he said, are good at disguising pain; it's an instinct from the wild. When they need to conceal it beyond their visible abilities, they hide. And he hasn't.  He can be found in all the usual places- where he will always find all the usual love:)
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    Fargo is on its fourth incarnation.  First was the film- perhaps not as culty-trendy as Lebowski, but certainly well known in the lexicon, particularly among those of us who feel sorry for Steve Buscemi always seeming to acquire roles ending in gruesome death.  Not long after the film, a TV pilot was attempted, with Edie Falco reprising the Marge Gunderson role from the film. The Coen brothers had no involvement in this one (Gwyneth Paltrow's tv-writer dad Bruce was one of the writers), and it never got picked up; not even the pilot ever aired.

    Last year, with the Coens' blessing and executive-producing, the third version of the franchise- a later-day-set cable season of the story- aired on FX. None of the original film characters were reprised, although there were homages to characters (Martin Freeman /Alison Tolman's characters sharing similar traits with William H. Macy /Frances McDormand's roles from the original) and at least one largely unresolved plotline going back to the buried treasure from the original. But I found the series a bit one-dimensional: Freeman and Tolman's characters, along with the Devil Himself played by Billy Bob Thornton, wound up dominating the arcs and the screentime, leaving few other characters or stories developed.  This, despite having plenty of other talent in the cast, including a recurring cameo by Key and Peele, whose comedy was largely lost in the crossfire of violence.  That violence wound up taking the lives of Malvo and Lester, and essentially PTSDing Molly out of future crime stories, as well.

    So the fourth incarnation, the one airing now, really had nowhere to go in forward gear, so instead it's gone back- and brilliantly.  Once again, there's little character continuity: Molly is now (or rather was then) a precocious seven-year-old, and her dad, retired from the force and pretty PTSD'd himself all along, is in the prime of his police career.  Other than the top-billed Kirsten Dunst and a well-concealed Ted Danson, there aren't many universally known actors in this cast, but it makes for a much better-oiled ensemble overall.

    Two main arcs have carried the tale through last night's seventh episode: Dunst's character and her husband having done dirty deeds to, and eventually with, a member of a third-generation-German crime family in the titular Fargo; and the war between that mob and the bigger fish from Kansas City trying to muscle in.  As with last season and the film, the violence is at times over-the-top, but it's usually so overdone as to be cartoonish; there's always a patented Coen twist to make the death go either incredibly quickly or with some gruesomely funny twist to it.

    After catching up through the series before last night's airing, I found myself in Wegmans, and did a little decorating in honor of the one deceased character whose demise is at the heart of both storylines:

    Among the other actors in supporting roles we've recognised: Jean Smart of Designing Women as the matriarch of the Gerhardt syndicate; Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan on the pre-1980 campaign trail; and Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman as the town lawyer/drunk, full of conspiracy theories and the King of Breakfast.

    The episodes are also full of references, in plot and soundtrack, to prior Coen works.  This week's alone brought two different renditions of Kenny Rogers's "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," and a reference to a weird Minnesota girl named K-nudsen; both of those are Lebowski homages.  No Country, Miller's Crossing and The Man Who Wasn't There have also gotten their moments if you know to look for them.

    I'd finished off last season, and the start of this one, on my own, but as I watched one a few weeks ago, Eleanor got drawn back in by the writing, the performances and the sick irony of the Minnesota Nice accent. We go walkin' around for hours after each episode in that singsong, ya know?

    The only complaint I've got is that FX has been milking the commercials something fierce.  Early ones required only 90 seconds of commercial-skip on the remote, but these last few have extended to more than twice that at times, with a few wildly inappropriate ones inserted.  Tonight's included, in the same commercial break, a movie promo for the Boston Archdiocese priest scandal expose Spotlight barely a minute before this ha-ha Twitter commercial about the Pope's US visit.

    Mea culpa, u betcha!
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    Something strange is happening in the seemingly wonderful world of Canadian breakfast.

    One of the sheer joys of moving here, lo those almost 35 years ago, was the cross-border copacetic coffee then known to all of Canada but little of this country beyond the Niagara Frontier.  Tim Horton was a legendary hockey player for both the Maple Leafs and the early Sabres, and his chain of donut shops became even more legendary after his off-ice death in a car accident following a Sabres game in the early 70s.

    Yet it took until this century for the aroma and the cachet to reach even to Rochester. Wendy's had toyed with merging the chains in the 90s, but the synergy failed to, aw, Take Off! , and the Timmy's were back on their own by the mid-oughts....

    until aboot a year ago.  That's when another Burgermeister, this time Burger King, acquired the chain in a deal widely seen as a tax dodge for the acquiring Southern North Americans.  They were subject to antitrust rules in their own country set down by the then Minister of Industry James Moore:

    The two companies agreed to Moore's conditions, requiring that the Burger King and Tim Hortons chains retain separate operations and not combine locations, maintain "significant employment levels" at the Oakville headquarters, and ensure that Canadians make up at least 30% of Tim Hortons' board of directors.

    None of those restrictions appear to extend over the border, though; Timmy's former US headquarters was shuttered by mid-May of this year, and now, the rest of the economies of scale appear to be happening, on the double-double.


    Last week, a Central New York friend, formerly from here, passed on the news: Tim Hortons had suddenly and inexplicably shuttered its entire presence from west of Syracuse to out toward Utica.  Many of them were franchised locations, meeting their sales goals, who'd been given no notice of the urgent need to close that day until ordered to shut the doors and take down the signs that day.  Among other things, this got the state's Attorney General on the case, for they'd been selling Timmy's gift cards right up to the time of closing, which were now useless anywhere within 50-plus miles in any direction.  (There are still franchised locations on the Thruway, but even months ago I noticed they weren't accepting those cards.)   Then, earlier today, I was shopping for a gift card for a departing coworker, and noticed that the red Timcards had disappeared from the Wegmans display, replaced by a sign saying they no longer sell them.

    It seemed a strange departure.  There's no dominant donut chain other than theirs anywhere upstate; Dunkies has made inroads, but have never truly challenged Tim's in this immediate area, and at most were close but not impossible competition in other Western/Central NY markets. Krispy Kreme tried entering here and in Rochester over a decade ago, with some initial success (they even took over a beloved Rochester-based artisan bread business called Montana Mills), but in time people were scared off by the no-carb demands of the Atkins diet, or got tired of their cracker cachet and their rampant misspelling of the word "donut," and those locations were longago shuttered (one, ironically, turned into a vitamin store).  Some local shops, even small chains, hold their own against the Canadian juggernoot, but there's no real competition to justify a sudden shutdown of a big swath of its entire business....

    unless you count competition from the merged chain itself.


    It rather makes sense.  Burger King has never been big on breakfast: yes, they developed the Croissanwich in the 80s, but it never gained the traction of  the Egg or Bacon McAnything in either culture or sales. This is wild speculation on my part, but I fully expect to see the Central New York corridor turned into a test market for the TimInAKing concept- where existing, underutilized-in-the-morning BK locations get expanded with sides of their brother products.

    Not to mention the advertising benefits that would come from putting a hockey mask on the Creepy King.
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    We knew Jenna Coleman was leaving the series. We now know a lot more about how.

    I'd cut for spoilers, but who knows what's there to spoil?  They've teased the actress departing and the character dying any number of times, only to have her keep coming back in various guises.  So Who knows what the final two regular episodes, or the Christmas special, will bring?

    She really did grow into the role, though, not only saving any number of days but thinking her- their- way out of so many tight spots.  After enduring Danny's death not long after the Doctor's regeneration- into an older, deeper mentor who she really clicked with far more than ever with Eleven- there was really only one more thing for Clara to endure.

    Whether she will, for sure, for good?  Only Time will tell.

    Time's had a cruel sense of foreshadowing this year- as both last night's episode and the previous Zygon two-parter cut dangerously close to current events involving refugees and invaders and how we treat them. Capaldi's soliloquy from the end of Zygon Inversion was spot-on- and this mashup with the real-life events of Paris makes that even clearer:

    And so, farewell, to everyone- and everything- we've lost during these airings.
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    The past couple of workdays had plenty of unpleasantness. Funeral directors shooing me off their property; a former client calling me a "condescending ASS." All we'd need was a nice peaceful weekend to get over that, huh.

    No. It's come to the neighborhood, too. And while there are bright spots over the fences and down the street, this latest incident just emphasized the human condition I ended my pre-Friday-night post with:

    Fuckall- everybody's turning into Donald Trump now.

    No negotiation. No compromise. Not even owning up to things you said that can be proved you said. You double down, you threaten, you do what got done to us last night.

    So, Next Door. We've discussed this before.  Tenants The Third since our dear friend Sally sold. Last month, it was Fire. Last night, it went to Water, as the three of them (D, aka D-Bag; his wife M; and, as they later claimed, M's preteen kid), all chose a late November night to gallivant in their hot tub, eight feet from where Eleanor was trying to sleep after a stressful eight days, the last three of them Mostly Sick.

    We couldn't blow them in to the police just for being out and using their hot tub. It was too early, and they weren't loud and drunk enough-yet. So Eleanor took the initiative, and started taking flash pictures of their spite fence shadow wall, flash a-flashin'.  None of them came out beyond stripes of brown.  Eventually, we left them to peter themselves out, but then our doorbell rang:

    It was Officer David from our local Police Officer Station.  This is the public servant who drew the short straw and had to investigate us for kiddie porn- for taking pictures of the neighbor's daughter in the hot tub.

    Never mind Eleanor didn't know there was a kid in the thing. Never mind the camera couldn't see over the fence. We got a serious eyeroll out of him when we explained that there's been a "neighbor dispute" going on the past few weeks over their putting flammable materials mere feet away from our nearest outer wall.

    He took our names. We took his. We shook his hand and asked for the reference number for his report, which presumably will include 27 8x10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.

    At least it was a clear warm night. And he was wearing a uniform and not a bathing suit in 40-ish weather.


    This morning, we offered the sign of peace: we cleared out that bedroom. It is now the guest room for, primarily, the kids and grandkitties.  Eleanor will now sleep in their former quarters, as far from the madding crowd as one can get and still be in a separate room. (Shocking disclosure: I've been sleeping in my own office since George W. Bush days, mainly because of snoring.  Someday, hers might get better;)  We've enjoyed thinking up retaliatory tactics for their quiet nights out on their veranda, mostly so far involving the delivery of large pizzas with anchovies and blasting of Clash albums out that same window. But we don't have to. We've made our own peace, which as long as they choose it to last, it will last.

    I said I might say something to D to let him know we'd made this gesture. Eleanor prefers I don't; his bullying attitude would likely just be emboldened by learning that he got "his way."  So we're beginning a new chapter, which should have a happy ending.

    It's not us.  Twenty-one-plus years here, eight as homeowners in our last town, seventeen of me living with my folks, and none of this shit. Our neighbors were family at best, friends if not, neutral if not that. No letters, no angry calls, no visits from the po-lice.  But those days are not these days. These days, we have Judge Shows, interspersed with Paternity Shows, all surrounded by partisan News Shows, which divide us and conflict us and tell us that Mean is Good.

    It's not.  I will not stoop. And two final moments from the day today support me in that.


    Late this afternoon, I was out in our driveway, with a shopvac, clearing out the crap accumulated in Em and Cameron's (formerly my) car in anticipation of possibly selling it. (I've posted one Craigslist ad in Rochester with no response; another will go up on the Buffalo Craigslist page tomorrow.) As I was clearing out their massive collection of small change, fast food receipts and nails from Cameron's contracting gigs, a guy knocked on the car's back window.  He just moved in to the neighborhood, saw our snowplow stakes, and asked for who we used. He's Asian, and was hesitant with the language, but I wanted to help him any way I could. I gave him our guy's number;  I gave him my number in case he couldn't connect with that service.  I didn't see anything other than a good person in need of a small thing I could help with.

    After he left, Eleanor came back out to the driveway with a sad but sweet report: D. next door has a black lab. We have a black lab-mix. Because of the strife, the dogs have never "met" in a formal sense, but they use adjoining yards for their, um, needs.  Now that winter's nearing, the wisteria separating the lot line is almost bare, and they can finally see much more of each other.  Just now, as Ebony was out on our side, their puppy came close to her on his side and went into a play-bow.

    If only the humans were so simple to deal with.

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    Today began with the literal kind. Then the worse, figurative ones arrived.

    I had my second Rochester trip of the week and my third straight morning of 9:30 court, this time there. I was close to the usual exit when I noticed a car ahead of me. It was kinda hard not to: its muffler had a good 3-6 inches making constant contact with the pavement. It was flying up a trail of sparks, and I was worried that it would either ignite something under the car or, just as bad, fly off and whack whoever next came upon it. I got into the passing lane, pulled up alongside, and honked repeatedly, pointing at the back of her (as it turned out) car. Nothing. Now, she was not talking or texting on a cell, and I didn't see earbuds on her, so either she was completely oblivious to her surroundings, or she knew and didn't care.

    I thought of calling 911 after I exited (I took the plate down), but I'd have had to stop myself and maybe be late for court on the detour to Bueraurocracyland (as it was, I was mere moments early for it). I hope she, and everyone in her wake, came out okay.


    Court itself was fine.  I headed to the local office, which is usually six miles east but today was straight downhill.

    First, yesterday's client from across from the Law/Funeral Home texted with bad news.  It's manageable but annoying.  Then I got round to answering an email from 6:42 yesterday morning. Just as nothing good ever happens on dark streets at 4 in the morning, nothing good is ever contained in emails which come after 8 at night or before 7 in the morning.

    The sender of the email wanted "the file." That would be the one containing the record of buying a certain property. For reasons of confidentiality, I say no more about the purchase or the property- other than to say "the file" is actually two physical files of the accordioningly-big persuasion, much of it filed documents which incorporate and duplicate earlier documents.

    There's another lawyer involved in the matter for the onetime client now. I asked that lawyer's assistant if there was anything they needed. I was told, no- at least not now.  I reported this to the onetime client this morning, along with a couple of choices if more paper was desired: either come to my office, pick out what was desired and we'd copy it as long as the request was reasonable; or send "the file" out to a copy service to do the heavy lifting and charge for the paper and ink.

    For this, I was called, and I quote, "a condescending ASS" (caps not mine). I was also regaled with tales of other things I'd either allegedly undone or overcharged for, and the usual threats of further action were hurled.

    I sent a muted response and got more vitriol back. At this point, I am going to send what I determine to be ethically required. I am not going to take the bait. The view from the high road is always better.

    This, btw, came a day after another lawyer I know got sued- over a misspelling on a piece of paper. Of one or two letters.  Fuckall- everybody's turning into Donald Trump now.

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    My morning began in Surrogate's Court, a place I rarely tread. It may be called Probate Court or Court of Ordinary where you're from, but around here it's the name for the place where people, legally, literally go to die.

    Everywhere I've appeared in them, they have a history of being what I refer to as "old boy courts"- where a tight-knit bar of (mostly) older (mostly) men make their late-life livings off the generations of wills they've accumulated. They have their own procedure statute, their own forms, and their own Way of Doing Things.

    The current Surrogate Judge in our location is neither old nor boy, and she tries somewhat to level the playing field: we're all a lot more equal after assuming room temperature, and the courtroom is typically a resting place of Big Boys with Big Toys, but also the last resort of smaller estates, which at least today tended to bring out the actual litigants over a lot less money.

    What struck me the most was how quick, and informal, everything went. More than once, the Judge, in re-calling a case, asked if a particular attorney or litigant was "in the house." Now, there's an alternative old-school rendering of that phrase which Eleanor picked up on (think "Is there a doctor in the house?" in a 50s movie trope), but to my ears it was a bit of  an attempt at (very) Vanilla Ice rap on the judge's part.

    I naturally heard more in my head at that point:

    We have jurisdiction, from the proofs you can see,
    So there ain't no impediment to a probate decree
    The guardian ad litems are all in the house
    And ain't no objections, not even from a mouse
    Their fees are acceptable, an Executor waits my say,
    You'll get it in your e-filing, have a nice day.

    Somehow, I don't think Hamilton is in for much competition:P


    So my day began. It ended at the immediately prior stop on the road to Probate.

    A client needed to meet with me after hours. Somehow, we decided that the most convenient spot was an office park at a nearby major intersection.  I got there first.  Across the street from it was a place I've seen many times, and unfortunately been into several times in recent years.  It always struck me as a unique combination of businesses:

    So I walked over and took that there very picture. As I dodged rush-hour traffic to get back to the meeting point across the street, I heard a distressed voice coming from a dark suit calling after me: "SIR! SIRRRR!"

    I ignored it. My hearing's not so good, yaknow, although probably better than many of their customers. Eventually, he gave up and went back inside to his nice mahogggggany.

    Not that I was missing the point: I'm sure he was concerned that I was intruding upon the dignity of the recently deceased by photographing the double doors of a law firm/funeral parlor.  And I'd respect that concern, were it not for the fact that Buffalo is home to a much larger, and infinitely more Internet-mocked, chain of such facilities:

    You almost have to wonder what the "Exit" sign is for.

    I concluded my business, and after coming home we caught up on this week's Fargo- a series guaranteed to keep this line of business quite busy for years to come, you betcha.
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    especially when it isn't, even.

    My internal calendar has been off all day, thinking today is Thursday.  Maybe it's because I've had court every day so far this week including yesterday's clusterphonic appearance.  Or having the kids home over the weekend with the attendant changes in routine for us and (especially) the animals.  I just know I was convinced that a court hearing already occurred that won't until tomorrow- I wasn't planning on going to it anyway- and I've already called a client about meeting on her one day a week in Buffalo, which of course isn't until tomorrow.



    Speaking of Thursdays that aren't here:

    This is only my 20th Book Read of the year, and it took over a month. Some, because my cardio-only workouts have been fewer and shorter since starting the biweekly HIIT classes; but some, also, because the book, funny as it was, took a lot of work to get through. My Goodreadreview is here.


    Finally, a computer that almost didn't make it until Thursday:

    I was waiting for a call, and began this entry at my new desk. Midsentence just below the image above, Tobor made a dangerous-sounding PING! noise and spontaneously shut off.  I'd just done an AVG-demanded restart, and there'd been no signs of trouble, but this computer would not come on.  I removed the battery and reconnected the AC, to no avail. No lights came on anywhere.

    Fortunately, I did a major backup right before the Windows 10 install a few weeks ago, and had most data files backed up through Monday morning on account of taking my backup laptop to Rochester that day.  But I'd still have lost some stuff.

    In short? I ignored it for a whole hour, and it came right back on- rebooting, but without serious error messages or trouble ever since.  (I've now backed up those couple of days' worth, so I'm less nervous now.)

    Except that spell-check has suddenly decided that the word "a" is not a word and is underlining it at every turn. Eleanor came home just now and is blaming Gertrude, the ghost of the owner of our last Rochester home who followed us here and probably is lacking for attention with all the extra kids, cats and cars hanging around here.


    More tomorrow. And hey- it'll be Friday!
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    Today's my only day this week with no court (other than the dreaded Call From Hell Brooklyn I will likely get in the next few minutes), so (a) I'm dressed down and (b) I decided to drive the kids' former car.  You know, the one that's about to turn 200K, sounds like a garbage scow with looks to match, and, most important to the decision to ditch it, has no heat.

    It has heat.

    It'd been out in the driveway, and it was chilly when I left, so for giggles I turned the thermostat knob. Unlike the airflow-directional knob (which was gorked even when I drove it pre-2014, spins like a top and is permanently pointed on the defrost setting), this one seemed to have play in it. I turned it gently clockwise, felt the oomph of the heat kicking on, and within minutes it was downright toasty in there.

    It's also unusually toasty outside right now- 57F in Buffalo in mid-November- so who knows if this will keep up.  It's also still a good thing that they made the move when they did; by avoiding the pressure of a forced decision because the car was dead on the side of a road someplace, they got to be the ones to decide what they'd replace it with, and when, and for how much.  It also changes my own stragedy a bit: rather than either junking it or sending it way south, I can Craigslist it with a somewhat clear conscience and maybe get more for it than the first insurance payment I just made for their new one.

    I may even risk one last Rochester trip with it- I'll Craigslist it there, too- just to be there when it rolls 200K. I've never done that with a car before.


    Speaking of pressure, only this time with a capital P:

    Our latest Netflix find was a 2010 indie film called It's Kind of a Funny Story. In many ways, it is, and yet the subject matter- mental illness including suicide- certainly isn't.  It tells the real-life story of a 16-year-old NYC kid who attempts it, gets help, and triumphs in the end. At least in the end of the film: Ned Vizzini, on whose life (and novel about it) the film was based, never completely overcame his depression and, 16 years after the events depicted (and three after the release of the film), finally took his own life, leaving a wife and son.  Still- the story uplifts, even knowing that- because that's twice the life he went on to live, and a new generation of hope that would not have happened, had he not gotten help the first time.

    Perhaps the most uplifting scene in the film is where they re-enact, in fantasy, the Queen-David Bowie anthem that faces and responds to what affected him, and all of us, and so much of the world now:

    'Cause love's such an old-fashioned word
    And love dares you to care for
    The people on the edge of the night
    And love dares you to change our way of
    Caring about ourselves
    This is our last dance
    This is our last dance
    This is ourselves
    Under pressure
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    I am not in Brooklyn.

    Supposedly we've received revised indulgences to conduct our 15 minutes of court business tomorrow by phone, without having to spend 17 hours shlepping to and fro. So as the "now leaving signs" say,:

    It's still not 100 percent confirmed, but I think I have a good excuse to at least be late if I find out in the morning that they've turned it down.


    On the Fighting Daesh front, two observations. One: Anonymous is going after them, and is using their un-preferred epithet to name and shame them.  Don't make them angry, Daesh; you wouldn't like them when they're angry.

    Also: Florida Man has gotten into the act.  In this case, Florida Congress Man, whose protest letter to the Prez is starting to show up on my news feed:

    What a true Christian way of treating people fleeing brutality and senseless murder at the hands of religious zealots back home. Makes you wonder if there were similar complaints back around 4 BC:

    I'm sure that'll piss off Vern real bad. Maybe he'll go running home to his mummy.
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    * Kids and grandkittehs are safely home.  Here's the happy couple with their new ride:

    * This morning, I had my first workout since my Rochester overnight back at the local location of the chain I joined a few months back. It was nice meeting a fellow weekend warrior who also had a problem falling off a treadmill; in his case, though, it was more of a shin burn, but it was caused by the class instructor giving him an attaboy pat on the back in an unexpected spot, causing him to fall. I told him my Story of Stupid from late April, and I think he agreed that I won;)

    * Remember me mentioning a possible trip to Brooklyn for a court appearance back in September?  Well, my opponent (from Pennsylvania) got dispensation to do it by phone- and then forgot about it on the day of the call. The judge got pissed and rescheduled it for last month, insisting on personal appearances from both of us this time. Then, the case got reassigned, and Brainless emailed me to ask for my consent to doing it by phone again. Good luck with that, but I'll agree if you can get it, I replied.  We got an email Friday about it: it's still on, and he never got permission. Now he still might, tomorrow, but I have to plan for the alternative, which likely means me heading south from Rochester tomorrow afternoon and then home late Tuesday.  Stay tuned.

    * If I manage to escape that, the week will still be busy: two prepped-and-ready BK hearings in Rochester tomorrow and a similarly unopposed one there Friday (all of which should go well, subject to the vicissitudes of the various judges involved); and two quick, local, and far-as-I-know-unopposed appearances Wednesday and Thursday.

    * It's still too soon to get my feelings out about Paris, with one exception: I am all-in on the movement to deprive these madmen of their chosen identity, typically translated into English as one or two acronyms beginning with an I.  Officials and media in France and elsewhere, supported by the Muslim community, have instead begun using the term "Daesh," which is the transliteration of the actual Arabic letters in that abbreviation.  It is not as catchy or sexy, and has a few nasty meanings in the original Arabic.  Their leaders hate its use and threaten those who say it.  To which I reply, Bring it, bastards. Daesh, you Daeshing Dasehers.
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    .... was a failyah ta communicate.

    First things first: They've named the car.  Since it's red, they came up with "Smaug."

    That works for me. Among other things, Benedict Cumberbatch, who voices the beast, is a Ginger himself.  I'm still advocating for "G-Smaug" to keep my influence in there, plus to clue people that the car's not named "Smog"- but it's theirs and I'll work with it:)

    I also acknowledge somewhat misunderstanding the state of affairs at the dealership yesterday. Having never talked to S. about the process, I did not know that the original selection was, well, just a possible thing.  It was Smaug that the dealer made a special effort to set aside for them because it was in such good condition.  So they're thrilled with it and will have many good years with it.

    The tougher miscommunications came later.  Emily and Eleanor were both kinda misreading each others' views and cues on a sensitive subject, and it got rather heated for a bit. Eleanor wound up turning in after a long Friday, and Em and I talked through it pretty thoroughly almost past Cinderella time.  This morning, there were still some unspoken understandings, and Eleanor left before I was even up- but I noticed she had her computer with her. I guessed she would be taking it to write out her thoughts about the situation, which is exactly what she did. They'll be posted, in time, at plantmom if you're a friend over there.  When she got home, everybody understood what had been misunderstood, and at the risk of a spoiler, I will reveal that her words ended with "It's all good." Which it is:)


    We've been mostly home since then, the three and sometimes four of us, plus their cats, who are just now starting to let me even look at them without either being thwapped at (the grrl) or run away from (the younger boy). Eleanor cooked trout tonight, which was a delicious and visually stunning experience.  We've had good tunes on, and there's a Doctor awaiting.
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    Ebony II will not be christened.  Things did not go as planned.

    We did our part.  They got here early this afternoon. I switched cars with them for the afternoon, mainly so I could have the Veddy Nice Bluetooth-Enabled Car Audio removed from the one they're ditching.  They were due by 2:30 at the dealer that S., Cam's mom, had directed them to.  Around the same time, I finalized the insurance for the new truck at our insurance agent's a few blocks down the road from there. We rendezvoused at the dealer a bit before 3, I got her signatures on the forms needed to put the new vehicle in her name and her separate policy (which, we were told the day before, we would have to do), gave her the magic Proof Of Insurance, and toodled off to get the radio removed.

    Then came the call, just as I was finished and ready to head back home:  the dealer had already sold the truck.

    Insurance cards are vehicle-specific. Pricing on policies, likewise. So much of the work of the past 24 hours was essentially turned into twaddle.  Of course they had other vehicles for them to look at.  In a way, they got more of a choice than they had when they first proposed this earlier this week, because S. had essentially picked out THAT TRUCK at THAT PRICE for him (or, as it turns out, for Emily because, reasons) to buy.

    What they are getting instead is this:

    Least I think that's the one; it's the lower-priced, and slightly higher-mileaged, of the two red 2010 Corollas in this megadealer's inventory.  It's also a bit higher priced, and slightly lower-mileaged, than Gone Truck.  It's still a world beyond the Mostly Dead car they've had for two years, and it will certainly be more economical on gas than the truck would've, but still. If we'd known this wasn't a 100 percent done deal, I wouldn't have wasted time processing insurance paperwork assuming it was, and I could've become more involved in making sure they got what they wanted.

    There are other issues about how things were handled, but one can only rant so much without blowing the top off the sphygmomamometer.


    By the time Ginger ("I always wanted to buy Ginger!") was identified, we were perilously close to closing time at Ye Olde Insurance Shoppe.  Cameron started calling me for info about our existing insurance while Em was on the phone with them; I sensed she was mad at the insurance company for "blowing us off." Erm, there are bigger villains in this script.  Ultimately, it was worked out: Ginger will go on our policy for the next 72 hours (despite that having been ruled out as an option when I first presented it to them), and they will then move it to hers once her formal application for that car and insurance card gets processed on Monday.  The only downside is that Cam might not be able to drive it until that happens; that seemed to upset Emily more than any of the other clusterfudgy of the past four hours.

    God, they love each other:)

    We're frustrated at the turn of events that kept them from getting what they'd planned for, but we take comfort that we did everything we could, as and when we were supposed to.  Em just texted that they're almost all signed up and she'll be home soon (Cam is going to a friend's, then they both have a function with his dad's fam tomorrow).

    PS: Anybody want to buy a 10-year old Fuckus with almost 200K on it?
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    Tomorrow's going to be a busy day.

    We're coming up on the second anniversary of the death of Emily's first car. It was quick, and in the end less painful than we might have expected. Nobody was hurt, the accident was entirely Somebody Else's Fault, and the insurance-calculated value of their car went into the down payment for my current one, at a higher level than I would've guessed.

    The night it happened, I drove out there and left my then-car behind for them to use, which they've done ever since.  It then was eight years old, with over 150,000 miles on it and nothing majorly wrong with it beyond cosmetics, but the ensuing two years have not been kind.  The mileage is now closer to 200k; tires have peeled, brakes got down to metal, the electrical system went wibbly-wobbly (and all of the foregoing have been fixed on our dime); and most recently, its climate control system went completely dead- defrosting the windshield with air-conditioned cold air and not much else.  It's been Time for months; and we (both they-we and all-of-us-here-we) have been encouraging Cameron's parents to take some batting practice and step up to the plate this time.

    And they did. In theory. We even got confirmation of the Chosen One earlier this week:

    Cam's mom made the choice, and the arrangements. We're calling it Ebony II since its dealer listing says it has an "Ebony" interior; hopefully that doesn't require the dog to go home with them.  Otherwise, it meets their needs in terms of passenger and cargo space; the price and mileage compare to what I've been driving for the past two years; and the MPG isn't great, but isn't bad, either.  It works. Our job, now, is getting the whole situation to work by this time tomorrow night:

    Yeah- that's kinda where we are right now.


    The kids have been planning a Friday-Saturday visit this weekend for some time now. When I stayed over with them the other night, Emily confirmed that the selected vehicle was still a Go;  that Cameron's 'rents would be funding the down payment; that he, she or they would be signing for the balance of the balance due to the dealer; and that we'd be working the insurance for the new truck into the picture, adding it, and him, to our existing policy if possible.

    The short answer, as of 4 this afternoon: Not Possible.

    Truth be told, Emily should've had our old car, and Cameron, on her/their own separate insurance as soon as she scored her degree last year.  Fortunately, nothing's happened in that time to make an issue out of it. The new purchase will now make the new reality official: Em will need to be the registered and titled owner of Ebony II in order to get an existing customer discount from our insurance company- but even with that, and even moving her current car from our current policy onto one of hers, comparable coverage for their two vehicles would exceed our current payment for three vehicles by more than $2,400 a year.

    Not happening.

    So the plan now is: they arrive late tomorrow morning. He and his mom do the deal for the 2010 truck.  Before or during, they bop over to our agent's office and apply for/confirm the figure for having only the new vehicle insured in their names (if it's the best estimate we've seen so far, we can handle it). First National Bank of Dad (Member FDIC) puts down the down payment on said insurance, and eventually scraps their current car and takes it off our insurance.  The kids eventually reimburse FNBOD for the difference in premiums, less whatever the old car sells for at the scrapyard. And on we go.

    I signed for my first car loan when I was a few months past 25; the cheapo K-Car I could afford stalled a block after driving it away from the dealership.  This will be sooner, and better, for the two of these 23-year olds. That makes me infinitely happy.
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