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captainsblog

Today was the first of six court appearances I had scheduled over the first four days of the week.  The good news is, that number is now halved; one is done, one to be postponed, one unnecessary.  But, ah, the getting there.

Client One was due to meet me at the court location before 9 this morning. Round 8:48, seeing nobody, I called.  He thought is was on for 10.  This, despite two separate notices in writing and a recent meeting in person where I specifically mentioned the early hour.  It was ultimately no harm, no foul (other than a one-hour delay of game penalty which I got to serve), but it started me off with a bad case of the Mondays.

That grumpiness got visited on Client Three, who had just been renamed Client Two after my earlier hearing tomorrow morning got pulled off my calendar.  Newly Renumbered Client emailed me to beg out of the hearing we had tomorrow; a time off request at work had been denied.  I overruled it: they would move to dismiss, it would inconvenience numerous people (including me, but I didn't highlight that), and it could easily be remedied by the ancient workplace remedy known as Call In Sick.  Within moments, a higher authority than even me confirmed that we could go forward tomorrow. Now I hope I don't break my leg while I'm bowling.

The rest of the day went better, including a stupidly short but reasonably productive trip to Rochester, with office supply stops either side of it to pick at another Going-Out-Of-Business carcass of the Office Max/Depot two-headed hydra.  They resulted in the Thursday hearing there being postponed, so today should be my only road day of the week.

Which is good, because it's pouring holy shitballs out there right now.

----

The two biggest news stories of the day are each bizarre in their own way.

First, it was announced that the Donald's remaining Republican enemies have formed some sort of joint effort to deny him a first-ballot nomination at the convention.  In a season that has Bat fighting Supe, and Cap going after Tony, this just seems like another predictable superhero plot. I assume they'll all reunite in the end to fight off the common supervillains: Socialistman and Cankles!



Somehow, they think this is gonna stop the Walking Drumpf from eating the rest of our country's BRAINNNNNNNS. Good luck with that.

And speaking of zombies: Deflategate has avoided another blow to the head. Our home-team intermediate federal appellate court ruled today that Tom Brady will have to serve his four-game suspension after all, over something so minor and stupid compared to the cover-up that it defies the imagination.  If this finally sticks, the Bills will benefit, since they're scheduled to play New England on the road in the fourth and final week of his exile.  Legal eagles refuse to count Pretty Boy out, though. He still has options: petitioning for a full-circuit court rehearing of the appeal by all 20-odd active circuit judges; asking for the Supreme Court to review the appeal on certiorari; demanding that the International Court of Justice hear his case; and failing that, there's the Federation High Council. Which, quite likely, will already be running this sector of the galaxy by the time these appeals are all exhausted and Brady's great-grandchildren are pursuing the clearing of his name.

Maybe he should just show up in Week One wearing a Spiderman costume.  By then, Sony will have rebooted the franchise yet again and he can pretend that the deflating of footballs just never happened.

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captainsblog
I haven't had that much to say here recently. Combination of being busy and having a bit more blog ennui than usual.  I doubt this week will be much bloggier, as I have six court appearances scheduled for the first four days of this week; some may be moved round, but it's gonna be a bear.

So let's just check in with some of the higher and lower points from the past few days, many of them tied to this changing-of-the-guard time of the year:

We spent most of yesterday in the cleaning and fixer-uppering departments.  Eleanor had asked me to sweep and rinse out the garage yesterday.  That started a game of If You Give a Mouse a Garden Hose, which resulted in one trip to Home Depot (by me), the rearranging of four hoses on four reels, a followup trip to another hardware store (by Eleanor) to buy a replacement clamp for one reel we Frankensteined together to replace the worst of the four we had, and, finally, there was water on the garage floor (intentionally) and hoses and reels connected to all spigots.

April is also tax time, and while we filed earlier in the month, we're now talking to a bank about either a home equity line of credit or an all-out refi.  We got a good rate during our last go-round, but we also got stuck with paying over $100 of mortgage insurance every month, which between better credit now and higher property value may be able to go away. But it's the usual storm of paperwork to get it considered, so we'll be beginning that journey over the next month.

Between all the court and whatnot, I've kept up a good record of getting to workouts.  They're doing a "marathon challenge" this month where you track your treadmill distances and compare them to a half, full or ultra-marathon goal.  With almost a week left, earlier today I already hit the 13.1 mile mark for the month. Between that and trying to cut down on crap-food intake over the past several weeks, I've lost somewhere between 5 and 10 pounds (depending on when I measure).  But I've realised there is a side-effect to that. Two nights running, both recording and then watching Orphan Black, I awoke the next morning not remembering whether I'd put the disk in to record (I had) or if we'd watched the whole episode (we did). As I re-watched the final 15 minutes or so yesterday morning, my recollection of those moments slipped quickly from some to little to none whatsoever.  I didn't get stupid in any other respect, at least verbally, but Eleanor did notice I was getting pretty clumsy. So I've got to either be very mindful of how much I drink, and/or be careful to be eating at least something while I'm doing so. I tried doing so last night, with much better results.

In the middle of all of this, I got a call from my sister; she fell at home and wound up with a broken arm and a very sore schnozz. Between her, Betty, and at least two people I know recovering from full hysterectomies right now, I'm starting to think that the Zodiac sign for this month shouldn't be "Taurus" but "Admitting Ward."

Prince died. Perhaps you heard about it. Bruce Springsteen opened his Brooklyn show last night with a tribute cover of "Purple Rain."  Plenty of other images by and about the man are also abounding right now.  I'm madder at 2016 than ever.

And now we're transitioning to afternoon, and there's things to be done.
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captainsblog
Our lease on Iggy was scheduled to end in two months. Weirdly enough, we got a barrage of calls from Mercedes Benz Financial a couple years ago about making our lease-end arrangements; turned out to be a random coinkidink of mis-entered phone numbers.  But it got us thinking about it before the last minute, and Eleanor arranged to order a replacement lease before the current (see what I did there?) one ended.

I didn't need to be there, but Iggy is family, so I came over at the end of a fairly brutal workday for the passing of the torch charger.  Here's my last sight of Iggy, freshly shaven as they transferred his hoodplate to the new car:

Iggygone

The new one is virtually identical, only with a lower mileage allowance (we were 18000 short of the three-year estimate) and a correspondingly lower payment going forward:

LongLiveZiggy

Life is what happens when you're busy making plans: Weeks before, Eleanor decided that her new ride would be named Ziggy, in honor of David Bowie, who we lost sadly and unexpectedly earlier this year.  The transfer occurred on the day we lost Prince, sadly and unexpectedly, earlier today.

Let's go crazy in his honour:)
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captainsblog
It's come down to this. As in down the toilet.

The electorate is divided far more than ever in my sentient lifetime. There's an epidemic of deaths by pills and stronger stuff than pills which is overtaxing our medical, legal and support systems. Sabres are rattling at every border and across every sea. And yet the biggest problem which state after state seems determined to address is,.....

BATHROOMS?!?

It seemed, ever so briefly, that our society was ready to accept the idea of gender identity being something not always predetermined.  Oh, we'd had the occasional outlier among the famous- Renee Richards in the 70s, the first of the Wachowskis a decade or so ago- but it was probably the Caitlyn Jenner reveal that turned the tide.  Maybe it's the same thinking as "only Nixon could go to China," but it couldn't hurt having a Republican-supporting former Olympian becoming the face of transgender acceptance.  Except among those who are still stuck with their own hang-ups and want to create problems where they don't exist.

Why, people, why?

There is one, and only one, reason that our Constitution does not extend the most fundamental of rights- of equality- to more than half of our population on account of gender: bathrooms.  The OMG! factor was compelling enough for some states to reject the notion of equality and even for others to attempt to rescind their ratifications- all, together, pronouncing the measure as dead, probably for all time.

And now, after years of slow acceptance and reasoned regulation in areas where government has more influence- such as in education, where federal regulations require schools to adopt policies to deal with the special needs of trans students- state legislatures are fighting back with laws- openly referred to as "bathroom bills"- which impose unheard-of levels of regulation and pre-emption of home rule, all to protect our children from "predators."

Frankly? I'm much more worried about running into straight Republican legislators in a men's room than I am of a self-identifying trans guy.

We all need to grow the fuck up.  Yes, I remember locker room anxiety from when I was in junior high school.  I got over it. Even entering Cornell, it was a bit shocking to go through the ritual of having to pass a swim test in order to matriculate; they told us this, and I expected it, but I did not know that the He-Man tradition of the day was that everyone just jumped in nekkid. Got over that, too.

Even before the ERA debacle, I remember there being something both funny and stupid about this whole fascination with human excretion.  Got 26 minutes or so? Watch this M*A*S*H episode from its second season.  It's not embeddable, but other than the quote in the header, there's no one real killer moment in it anyway- in it, an overworked and sleep-deprived Hawkeye realizes what the Korean war is really all about:

Why are the North Koreans bombing us? What do they want? We have guns, they have guns, we have tanks, they have tanks, what could we possibly have that they want? ....This war will go down in history as the Battle of the Bathroom.

Whereupon, Our Hero proceeds to tie the Officer's Latrine to a Jeep and start driving it to the North Koreans- with a General (in)conveniently inside. 

Yes, it's absurd.  But so is everything that's happening today.
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captainsblog

Eleanor and I were among the first 109 voters (of both parties) at our polling place.  Usually, the church lawn is chockablock with signs for the candidates just beyond the 100-foot electioneering limit sign; today, though, there were only the crickets:



Election districts were combined for the day, so there were just two tables- blue for good boys and girls, red for idiots.  I had the place to myself as I pondered.

The actual vote? No pondering required; I'll come back to that. But NY Dem rules are weird; your vote for the actual candidate determines how many delegates they'll get, but you also cast votes for the delegates themselves. Our district had seven on offer, and the split could be 7-0 if one or the other gets 90ish percent of the district vote, moving down to 4-3 as X approaches 50-50.  So, yeah, a one-vote win in a Congressional District could mean a lot.

The candidate votes determine how many; the delegate votes determine which ones get to go party.  I made a deliberate choice to split my votes between Clinton and Sanders delegates, avoiding the Dear Leader Party Hacks from Democratic HQ who drank the Hillary Kool-Aid months ago and have been ignoring the opponent as best they can.  So if Hillary wins the actual vote but they're denied the chance to go to the convention as her delegates, I'll be doubly happy.

Because, yes, she got the vote that counts.

I've had many discussions- mostly reasoned, occasionally drifting into the badlands- with a few Bernie supporters, who I completely respect. (And, this is key, I pledge to support the nominee and I think, in the end, they will, too.)  One of the last-minute talk pieces from one of them quoted a passionate Sanders supporter, Robert Reich, who must be convinced since he was Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor.  The money shot from his piece (which I had already read) was this:

I’ve known Hillary Clinton since she was 19 years old, and have nothing but respect for her. In my view, she’s the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have.

But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have.

He's right.  But the political system we should have? Should also have, at a minimum, the following:

* A constitutional Equal Rights Amendment and corresponding full pay equity;
* Full protection for LGBTs in all aspects of their lives;
* A massive reworking of the military-industrial complex in terms of both dollars and strategies;
* Ponies.

Okay, that last part is snarky. But we should've had the first three since the 1970s, and they're now more resisted than ever. In part, it's because our national political dialogue isn't one; it's a polarized-by-design system that for years has been driven by ad buys and sound bites, and if anything today is reduced even more to vitroilic memes, short tweets, and even shorter hashtags.  And Bernie and his supporters are among the biggest offenders; they've branded the only other candidate of their party as $hillary, at least one of his speakers has called her a whore, and they send out protests of unfairness and "establishment" every time things don't go their way.

Facts tend to get lost in these shortenings of reality. For months, Clinton has been facing demands to RELEASETHETRANSCRIPTS of her paid speech to Goldman Sachs.  I still see them almost daily. None of them mention that the speech has been on Youtube for ages- and it's not a sekrit corporate cabal meeting, but the former First Lady of the country encouraging big companies like them to work on achieving pay equity for women.

Know what's really wrong with the political system we do have? A state-level rigged game that allows and even rewards incumbents when they ignore the last 40 years of computer and data technology and continue to gerrymander their own legislative districts but also the Congressional ones.  That's why our House of Representatives remained solidly Republican in the 2012 elections despite the national Congressional vote being majority-Democratic.  The only way to fix that is state-by-state, and often by amending or replacing protectionist state constitutional provisions- but so-called Progressives tend to oppose any effort to "open Pandora's box" that might threaten their longtime gimmes, and so round we go.  You'll be hearing more from me about that, but that's 2017, not 2016.

We'll get the results later. Hillary will win; Bernie will complain.  Eventually, it will get sorted and I will back the nominee with a whole heart.  Please join me.

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captainsblog
We cleaned today. 

Tazzer's personal catbox is out of my office, much to the dismay of the other two who used it and the dog who considered it an All-You-Can-Eat buffet. Furniture has been moved round, once it was backed away from walls, some of which hadn't seen sunlight since the previous Clinton Administration. The rug, aka Tazzer's Last Stand, was cleaned, was rinsed, burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. (It's been kicked to the curb- finally.)  Eleanor worked on the kitchen floor, as did I, for a time.  Then she decided to go next door.

A friend brought over a gizmo to make Betty more comfortable while seated.  It's an air-filled square that's adjustable to need.  She'd been reluctant about trying it, supposedly on advice of someone who feared it would lead to bedsores. (Dey don't know her very well, do dey?)  But hey- she said she'd consider it.

May as well, because bedsores are increasingly unlikely. That supposedly benign tumor they removed last month? Not benign. Quite the contrary. Aggressive, in fact.  She starts chemo stat.  But really.

Between all make and manner of celebrities, the cat, and now this?  2016 is on my shit list something fierce right now.
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captainsblog
Friday night, we caught up with the Orphan Black season premiere. Just watched it again (Amazon on demand for three bucks, me having screwed up the recording of both the BBCA episode and the aftershow on Thursday night).

Man, I was out of it Friday night on account of Taz.  I barely remembered half of what happened.  But between the two-now views, seeing most of the aftershow (stupid cable box had its powersave mode set to turn off :P- that's now fixed) and reading the AVClub dirt, I think I'm caught up to where we are.

Or rather, were.

Clones of spoilers- Toodles!Collapse )

That was watched for the first time on Tazzer's last night here.  For yesterday, we needed something not so serious, but we stuck with the sestra theme.

Sisters is a fairly typical film from the Saturday Night Live Alumni Association- rapid-fire jokes, plenty of sight gags and drug/drinking humour, and chances for the stars to just be stupid for a couple of hours.  Belushi made a mint off the concept in Animal House, and forty years of later efforts have kept it alive. This was Tina Fey's and Amy Poehler's turn (along with Maya Rudolph in a supporting role, and Amy's love interest coming from a similar gig on MadTV).

For the place we were yesterday afternoon, they killed it.  The comedy was just what we needed.

----

We're settling back into It All today.  I've done a workout, gotten some groceryish things, and have begun beating the area rug from my office back into submission by hanging and hosing it down outside.  Eleanor's been mostly working with seedlings.

We've both settled on the word "numb" to describe the feeling of loss.  It even carried over into my right-before-waking dream today.  But the rest of our lives, and all of the memories, will carry on.
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captainsblog

He went in seconds.

Their Wisteria Room has a futon in it. They brought him in to us, catheterized, in a blue-for-boys blanket with baseballs on it and let us hold him. He was having none of it; he hopped up on the back of the futon into what was always his "usual spot" on the sofa in our living room. They said no cat had ever done that before. That's our boy; unique as ever.

We called Emily, who talked to him over the phone.  He purred throughout (the tech said that is almost always present, even in the hardest cases- it's more a sign of self-comfort rather than of happiness).  Then we said yes, and he said goodbye.

His last moment in the house was on the bed.  Dude always knew how to find the sunny places:



Adios, amigo. Enjoy the squirrels.

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captainsblog
Been a rough morning. I dropped a whole bowl of cat food in the kitchen (not his), and slammed my foot into something (not him) that left a mark on my big toe.

Eleanor bathed him.  He needed it. Grooming is way down these days.  One of those "quality of life" things we can see more clearly now.

Soon we will head off to what a favorite author once referred to as "the swim that needs no towel."  Except for the tears.
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captainsblog
We got many tears, hugs, support today.  We're now noticing more acutely just how "off" he's acting.  I had only one brief appointment today and considered staying home for most of the day, but between the rugs being pulled up from yesterday's adventures and the quiet being just too quiet, I went in.... but came back at lunchtime with treat in hand.

For his last lunch (a rare meal for the animals in the best of times), the boy got a burger:



That's cheese on top and the bacon to the left. (I left the bun and the lettuce out of the deal. He didn't seem to mind.)

Moments later, he was done like dinner:



He had trouble finishing his usual din-din tonight; can't imagine why;)  And there's fish for our dinner, which will be shared.  I'm just hoping the other three don't figure out what's going on and start soiling the house so they can get in on the good noms.

----

Kids are not coming; Cameron has to work a side job tomorrow, and I don't think Emily's up to the emotion of it after a long trip.  But they both brought good news from their world.  Cam just ended his first week on the new job, it's been made permanent, and he's already gotten his first raise.  Meanwhile, Em was approved for a promotion of her own that will involve a lot of travel. And how to do that when they only have the one car which Cameron is driving? Her boss is going to set her up during the day in a vintage Mercedes.

We each got through our workdays okay; I didn't accomplish as much as I would've liked, but I cleared a few nuisances off my plate, and Eleanor found some things she'd been missing. We have last night's Orphan Black for distraction, and I have a film in mind already for tomorrow night when we'll need all the yuks we can get.

Talk at you when he's on the other side of the Bridge.
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captainsblog
I left for a day away at an unusually early hour. Our oldest cat apparently registered protests thereafter. Messy ones.

Tazzer is due to turn 17 next month. After I left, he left major christenings in both this office and our dining room. When I learned of these events in the early afternoon, the vets were in their weekly staff meeting and weren't returning calls. I finally got an appointment for late this afternoon, in time for Eleanor to join us.

Their first reaction, after noting his bad bahaviour and his loss of another precious pound, was to test, test test. Within moments of authorising it, it was clear Eleanor was uncomfortable with both the cost (round $500 from low-end to high-end) and the likelihood of quality-of-life returns for Das Boy. More likely, we'd just find out what he's dying of- kidneys (most likely from Doc L's palpation), diabetes, thyroid, whatever.

So we stopped the train. Clearly he's unable to overcome something, and the solution to that is to book him for Rainbow Bridge on Saturday morning. The kids can join us, but likely won't. At least we gave them the option.

Taz will live like a king tomorrow and Saturday morning, and then it will be Time- as it was for three cats and a dog preceding him on this journey.  He'll miss his 17th birthday by  barely a month, way longer than the charts would predict

We've loved him. We will always love his memory.  But it's time to let go.
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captainsblog
I vaguely knew it was this month, and even more vaguely knew the show would be on Thursdays this year, but I'd missed the fact that Orphan Black returns THIS Thursday. As in tomorrow night. Eleanor helpfully reminded me of that.

There's a preview of the first scene. Unfortunately, the link to the  Auntie video of it here appears gorked, at least out here in the colonies. We're a-cuing for the viewing tonight.

Also, be sure to set those DVRs for an extra half to an hour- BBCA is doing what is referred to round here as a Talking Dead aftershow, but sounds to me much like the Doctor Who Confidential bit they used to show.

Until then,.... have a non-shitty day:)
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captainsblog

I met the Geniuses today. As a result, the cyberkids are speaking to one another again.  Turned out it was an auxiliary Apple program gumming up the connection between phone and PC, which Apple's initial online support instructions didn't tell me to uninstall along with iTunes itself (though they did suggest toggling it, which I did, to no good use).  Once the Geniuses deleted all the proggies and put them back in, Twobor and the phone instantly synced calendars- and, fortunately, did NOT sync music. That would've killed the playlists I'd already made, which did not survive the reinstall on the PC but did survive on the unsync'd music section of the phone.

With a little homework, I figured out that you can transfer playlists in reverse, from phone to PC- but it's a pain. You can only do one at a time, and it's a two-step process, of exporting a text file to the PC and then importing it into iTunes.  Fortunately, I didn't make all that many playlists when I reacquired all my music after the previous Windows 10 laptop went off to Jesus, and I'm going to find out tomorrow if there's some way of storing them in the iCloud for if- oh, let's just say it, for when- this happens again.

----

The Apple Store here is in a mall that's not in the hoitiest-toitiest sections of town, but its shopping population is largely higher-end (and disproportionately Canadian, despite the crashing Loonie).  You could see evidence of that as you walked about.

In the Apple Store itself, a good third of the customers were Middle Eastern women in headscarves.  It's not unusual, even in Wegmans, for other customers to give these women the cold shoulder or worse.  Yet here, they seemed to be perfectly accepted and I saw more smiles than I often see from them when they must feel under siege.

Also, on the way out through H&M, some of the racks were being sorted by a trans woman.  That's a status that in some parts of this area will result in stares or worse.  Here, was just left to her job. It's sad to have to acknowledge that as a sign of progress, but given what's happening in other states right now, it almost is.

----

Springsteen albums were among the first playlists I synced back, and not just on account of having just seen him.  The Boss has taken a bold stance on the asshaberdashery coming out of North Carolina, by canceling a concert that had been scheduled there on his current River tour.  This resulted in vitriol from a Repugnican Congressman who represents the venue city, who called Bruce a bully for not respecting the sincerely held religious beliefs of people who want to be paranoid about public restrooms.  The good Suthin Repasentative also threw shade on Springsteen "for singing Fortunate Son 18 months ago at the Concert of Valor, which aired live on HBO. 'This is a guy who has such a lack of discernment that he sang a draft-dodging song at a Veterans Day concert meant to honor those who have actually served,' Walker said."

To which I had to reply:

Have you listened to the song, asshat? It does not encourage draft dodging, but condemns the wealthy and privileged chicken hawks who didn't have to dodge it because of their connections- Limbaugh (zits on his ass), Nugent (shit his pants at the draft board), Bush, Cheney, Drumpf. All too feeble, too busy, too important to go themselves, but no problems sending somebody else's boy. (BTW, Congressman? I checked your website- it doesn't mention YOUR record of valiant military service. Know who was a veteran? John Fogerty, who wrote the song.)

The schadenfreude is strong with all of these bigots who are using alleged religious freedoms to support overt LGBT discrimination and any other kinds they can get away with.  NC and Mississippi are losing tourism and economic development opportunities in droves. Meanwhile, with Tennessee jumping on the lynchwagon, one of that lej's leading supporters of an OMG-Trans-in-the-Bathroom! statutes has been effectively banned from getting anywhere near women even outside a toilet:

Tennessee Republican Rep. Jeremy Durham is one of the sponsors of the House Bill 2414, which last week passed the House Education Administration and Planning Committee. HB 2414 and its companion, Senate Bill 2387, aim to prohibit students in public elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities or institutions of higher education, from using the bathrooms or locker rooms that comport with their gender identity. The bills mirror provisions of the controversial anti-LGBT laws recently passed in North Carolina and Mississippi, and are near carbon-copies of legislation vetoed by South Dakota’s Republican governor last month after nationwide outcry. ...But Durham is accused of harassment himself — not in restrooms, but elsewhere.

Tennessee's House speaker, Republican Rep. Beth Harwell, recently announced that she's moving Durham's office across the street and limiting his access to the House floor, CBS News reports. Harwell's actions follow an investigation into Durham's conduct by the state attorney general, which included testimonies by 34 women, including politicians, lobbyists, and various staffers. Reports of harassing text messages and sexually suggestive in-person behavior dogged Durham, with some women saying he plied them for their contact information; others said they were fearful of being alone with him. Many women hesitated in reporting the behavior because they feared losing their jobs or being seen as "untrustworthy" by their superiors.


He of course denies everything, and even if he admitted it I'm sure he believes Jeebus would forgive him but not the LGBTs.  Don't know about you, but I have a sincerely held religious belief that he's an asshole.

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captainsblog
My iPhone has stopped talking to Twobor.

I don't know for how long.  While I was away, I got the nag screen:



(Well, two weeks, in my case. It's the idea that's the important thing.)  So I sat down yesterday to do it, also because I wanted to sync calendar entries, some of which I made on my phone while away.  I plugged it in to the usual USB port, heard the ding noises on both ends, and waited for the phone icon to show up in iTunes.

Never did.  I tried all the logical fixes:  switching ports; switching cords; checking phone, iTunes and Windows for any needed software updates; rebooting both; even mucking in Device Manager on the PC. Still nothing.

One last thing left to try: I brought the phone home on my lunch hour and plugged it into Groot.  Apple is very picky about what you can sync with what, and had I left it connected, it would've wiped all music and calendar entries from the phone, so I didn't let it go that far- but the iTunes on Groot at least recognised that there was a phone on the other end of the cord.

And so, safely back at the office, I set out to make a Genius Bar appointment.  Their support website appeared to be down, so I called the local store.  Best they could do was tomorrow afternoon.  To avoid a trip to the Galleria, I even took the final step of uninstalling the current iTunes on here and reinstalling it from the download of it I had to reacquire a month or so ago when I got Twobor.  Still not syncing.

I even had a scathingly brilliant idea.  Maybe they've improved syncing so you can do it wirelessly now instead of mucking about with USB cables? Of course you can. All you need to do is enable it. By adjusting sync settings. On the iPhone tab of iTunes. Which, until you've changed the setting, you can only change by connecting it by USB cable. Grumble grumble grumble.

We'll see how the real geniuses do tomorrow.


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captainsblog
Opening Day is Opening Done.  The Mets won, and that's about all I have to say about the game itself.  The journey is always as big as the destination, if not bigger, and this Bucket List trip was no exception.

It was door-to-door in a bit under 48 hours.  I left town straight from a (useless, as it turned out) Thursday morning court appearance, and made it to my sister's by day's end.  We visited, together and with her best friend- my first time at Sharon's without her dear Dalmatian in residence. (No new dog, but her granddaughter was also visiting and she's storing nine ferrets in the house.  There's also apparently a major colony of chipmunks on the lawn outside Surrogates Court there. )  We Netflixed The Big Short, which is pretty amazingly done considering the director's major pedigree before this was the Anchorman movies; I'd read the book, which is much drier, but he and the regular fourth-wallbreakers livened it up and made it funny, in a bad road accident you have to slow down for kind of way.

Gametime Friday was 1 p.m., and I was due to meet Sharon the Second at their famed family tailgate next to Citi Field sometime around 11-11:30 that morning.  It was cold but clear as I got on 17, was over the Hudson in good time, and made it to the stadium pretty close to 11.  Unfortunately, it was Yankee Stadium; it's on the way if you come down the Thruway to the Triboro, and it's also pretty much where traffic came to a near-complete stop for over an hour.

Yes, there was an unusually large crowd heading to Queens- but rush hour was long over, and I saw no accidents of note. In case there were any, of course, we got this:



(They're the Buffalo-based ambulance chasers who've expanded into the Bronx. God help us, every one.)

Oh, did I mention that some DOT genius decided to close lanes on the Triboro for construction that wasn't even happening? That's all I can think to explain the delay. What's usually a 20-minute drive between the stadia pushed to well past an hour.  I was at least on my native Long Island soil by noon, when I got the text that the tailgaters were heading inside.  But I could see the park from the Grand Central, and I assumed all would be well.

We snaked round the perimeter, and by 12:15 I was three cars from the parking lot entrance.  I'd let people cut in, saying to nobody in particular, don't fight, plenty of room, we'll all get in.  Except we didn't- after letting a parade of pedestrians past, the two cars ahead and I were pointed away from the entrance and toward what would be later explained as "remote parking."

They weren't kidding.

By the time I was parked (for full lot price, of course), I was halfway to the Nassau County border.  And not even in a lot but directed to the side of a road.  In the middle of the 1939/1964 Worlds Fair grounds, and way closer to this than I was to the ballpark:



Yup, the alien launching pad from MiB. As K once remarked to J, Why do you think they put it in Queens?

I couldn't even see the ballpark from here.  Signs mentioned shuttle buses. I found one. It drove us all of about 1,000 feet past the US Open tennis stadium before depositing us at the LIRR station that once served the Fair.  Through it, across a boardwalk to the elevated 7 train station, past any number of vendors hawking cheap counterfeit t-shirts left over from last year's Series (I bought one for five bucks, determined to deprive the Mets owners of a dime for anything I could avoid), over Roosevelt Avenue, and finally into the Rotunda somewhere in the first inning.  I'd missed the Opening Day ceremonies, the raising of the NL pennant, the anthem and the first pitch.

In the end, though? It was 'saright:)

----

Sharon and her husband, their son, his girlfriend and another friend were already in.  Sharon spends much of the game getting some of the best game photography you'll ever see- so rather than compete with her, I just watched her work:



I did get this one Sense of Place shot, though:



Probably the best MLB game seat I've ever had, and I spent close to half the game out of it- between missing the open, spending a good two-plus innings waiting for Shake Shack (worth it, plus there are TVs everywhere), and another twoish up on the Promenade getting my friend Greg to sign my copy of his book about the 2015 Met season-



I got back down mid-eighth, just in time for the Piano Man recital.  I don't recall this from before last year, but it's definitely caught on as a moment of shared joy.  For once, the blind squirrel got a decent picture, this time of Camera Woman and her beloved:



To their left is Andy, a regular among the Mets blogger crowd.  I sat behind him for at least five innings; I didn't realize who he was until we said our METS WIN goodbyes. (He didn't figure out who I was until I tagged him in that picture.)

Everyone left happy, if somewhat chilled, and after at least getting to smell the remnants of their tailgate at their car as we said farewell (and picking up an official Mets World Series cap from Sharon that I paid the Wilpons nothing for;), I took the long walk back to find my car.

Just follow the crowd, Ray. MTA station, LIRR station, most are going down kinda thatta-way.  Wait. This looks vaguely familiar- and I do mean vaguely.

----

This is my 50th year of Mets fandom- Eleanor's birthday in 1967 was my first trip inside Shea's hallowed halls.  But two years before that, I was walking around on these grounds, where the Worlds Fair had landed for the second time in the 20th century.

It was unsanctioned- North America had hosted one in Seattle and would be welcoming the world to Montreal in 1967, but corporatists, and governors, and especially New York's Master Builder Robert Moses, didn't care. They built it, and people came. But not enough: the Fair was a financial disaster, mainly because most European countries didn't come, and thus my memories of international cooperation are mostly of Vatican artifacts and Belgian waffles.   Still, GM gave out buttons which said "I have seen the future" (which somehow neglected to mention Chevy Novas and exploding Pontiacs), and Disney earwormed us with Small World for the first time.  I enjoyed it immensely, but by even the early 70s it was a decrepit appendix to Shea next door.  Only a few talismen remained, most famously, this one:



Those pools once hosted fountains- long gone (and probably would've been iced up that day anyway), but they're immortalized on the grounds in front.  Three icons are on the path to the launching pad:



I was there for that.  No recollection of it whatsoever. Then this one, left over from the prior '39 Fair:



And perhaps the strangest thing Andy Warhol ever did:



Moses was regarded as the builder of the Fair, of Shea Stadium and of most of New York's infrastructure to this day. I waited for someone to pass by and walk over his mug, because that's what he always did to New Yorkers who were in HIS way.

Then I saw shuttle buses. I also saw a line for them longer than the one at Shake Shack. I figured I'd just walk and follow where they went, and that led me back to my car and, eight hours later, home.

That ride was mostly slow and uneventful, through NJ and PA this time- but it had to have a surreal moment in the final hour.  Just before the turn to Batavia in mid-nowhere, cop lights came on behind me.  I was surprised, since in this place, at least, I wasn't going that fast. Unfortunately, he'd been planted in an edge-of-Geneseo speed trap I was too tired to check out for lower speed signs.  Since I wasn't drunk (one beer, nine hours before) and had been driving so long, he made it a parking ticket- for parking at 64 mph in a 45 zone.  So no points and a lower fine, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Yesterday was a recovery day, and last night the Mets lost Opening Night II to these same Phillies.  I watched the last few minutes of it, but without the electricity and memories of the previous day.  Thank you all who were a part of it:)
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captainsblog

I don't remember a lot of things. Like what, exactly, I'm going to be arguing about in court tomorrow morning (it's been postponed a half dozen times since late last year and came within a hair of settling without my involvement, but hey- that's what files are for). Or how long five minutes are after Eleanor pre-treated a stain of cat hork and asked me to clean it up in five minutes:P

But I can easily, and almost literally, remember a reference that William Safire made in an On Language column in 1990:

Ace, rooted in the Latin as, ''unit,'' ''single item'' and the ancient Roman unit of weight - originally about three-quarters of a pound - has a variety of modern meanings. In Amslan, the American sign language of the deaf, the sign for No. 1 is sometimes used as the sign for the playing card ranked higher than a king; the noun ace means a lone, brave pilot with a record of shooting down many enemy planes, and in tennis, the verb to ace is to blaze a serve past an opponent on the first shot.

As a name, the word has a less heroic quality: Sid Zelinka, the comedy writer for the Marx Brothers and other zanies, told friends that whenever he wanted to spoof a company, he would name it the Ace (Whatever) - the Ace Detective Agency fell asleep on the job, the Ace Laundry lost the pillowcases, and so on.

(I suspect the "Acme" products of Roadrunner cartoons and Roger Rabbit fame riffed on the same theme.)

Why this history lesson? Because Groot, my backup laptop, is an Acer. And today, he has essentially proven the theorem.

----

Groot replaced a laptop that had been my main work machine up until 2014.  That laptop dated to Vista days, and I replaced it before its inevitable crash so I wouldn't be totally SOL if there was one.  I kept it for programs that didn't play well with my replacement Windows 8.1 machine, or would've taken up too much space on it.  In the past year or two while my main replacement laptop was still good, its monitor failed, and my Rochester guru figured that replacement was quicker and cheaper than repair, so its data files all migrated to a used Acer he had lying around the la-BOR-a-tory.  "Groot" stuck as his name, because we'd seen Guardians either in cinema or on DVD around that time, and I even replaced the wake-from-sleep .wav file on him with the only three words that Treeboy ever says.

Groot did his thing well, if only occasionally. His power supply was (still is) wonky; about 15 percent of the time, the power seizes up out of sleep mode and he needs to be hard-rebooted, once or twice or many times; and his battery is (and this is a technical term) shit.  But he came with Windows 7, which had most of 8's (and even 10's) better features without the swipes and charms and Metro-style boxes of the failed 8 experiment.  For months starting in July of 2015, Microsoft was begging me to upgrade him from 7 to 10 for free, while simultaneously telling me I couldn't- because Groot didn't have a compatible networking driver.  Finally, though, in February or so, a 7 update of that driver hit the spot, the update took, and until about a week ago, Groot, minus his wakeup .wav file but otherwise running fine, ran fine.

Then came late March.  All of a sudden, that laptop's touchpad went dead.  We have an even older XP-era desktop with a USB wireless mouse, so I transferred it to Groot and got him back running using that, and tried all the tricks to update drivers, install updates, generally beg Microsoft to give me back my touchpad.

Nothing worked; and the external mouse workaround was annoying, because my hands are trained to work toward the center rather than the right of the laptop where it was residing. (If I'm using a desktop, I'm differentially trained enough to know the mouse is off to the side, but see the "can't remember shit" discussion above.)

That's when I surrendered to my local guru.  Lisa's been an all-time friend and one-time co-worker the whole time we've lived here.   She became my go-to when her Rochester counterpart fell down on the job and left a laptop fan so full of cat hair it was pumping kitten-hairballs into the motherboard.  She needed some advice from me; I gave her Groot in return.

Her initial diagnosis: the 10 upgrade never actually happened. She'd have to roll him back to 7. Unfortunately, by the time I even got him to her, the built-in Easy Rollback Option had expired, and we'd be looking at a total wipe of the hard drive and a clean 7 install. When I saw the list of programs I'd need to reinstall, I said fuck it, I'll buy a new mouse and glue it to the touchpad. She told me I could pick it up this afternoon.... and I did, but with the problem nailed, rather than glued down.

Turns out, there's a weird button to the left of the main power switch on dat dere Acer 5532. It's not labeled, and does not light up for on or off- there's only an icon next to it, which only makes sense if (a) you've been through this shit or (b) you have Superman's visual acuity.  It's an icon of a finger touching a touchpad.

Yes, the geniuses at the Acer Detective Agency   Laundry   Computer Company put an unlabeled button in the heart of the power-button territory that disables the touchpad. Likely it was a cat who decided to conduct this experiment. She (Lisa, not a cat) toggled it; the touchpad magically came back on.

So thank you immensely, m'dear, and for you folks at Acer, I only have two words:

Meep Meep.

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captainsblog
Before we get to what that means, just a few quick notes from my LJ-cation of the past few days.

I needed to get out of the routine on this, which had largely turned into me posting only right before bed, when I was tireder and grumpier than usual and feeling, damn, gotta post SOMETHING.

No I don't. So:

* Kids were home Friday night into Saturday. Not in-the-house home much, but they did things they wanted to do and I will see at least Emily in a day or so, because,....

* Smaug, their new car, has been making brakey-wakey noises that have them a bit nervous. They turned down my offer of switching so they could drive home in my even deadlier deathtrap, but we did figure out that they are probably covered for it through a service contract they bought. So she'll be taking it to Rochester ass-early Thursday, and if it's not covered, I'll meet her at the dealer there to take care of it.  And their car is free for that on Thursday because,....

* Cameron is starting a new job next Monday. Better pay right off, and foreman training which will be even better financially once completed.  Company's been in business for 30-plus years, and it looks like a better opportunity for him.

* Both of our cars spent much of the weekend out of the garage. Saturday was cleanup day- we dumped a ton of stuff (including a treasure trove of scrap metal that didn't last at the curb until garbage day), sold off a portable dishwasher they'd stowed with us, and rearranged and cleaned what remained.  Sunday, we mostly recuperated and watched Inside Out which they left behind for us.

* Eleanor is also dealing with car dealers this week- but for better reasons.  Iggy's lease is up in June, and after going over her other options (turn in, buy out, sell to someone else), they offered her a deal on a  new 2017 electric Smart car lease. I suggested "Twiggy" for the name, but Eleanor ultimately decided on "Ziggy," in honour of David Bowie.  The payment will actually be less than we're paying now, since the mileage cap will be lower (she's barely reached a quarter of it, and unlike excess miles which they charge for, there's no adjustment for unused ones).

* I got through the 11.22.63 finale the day it dropped on Monday, and picked up the longer and more complicated source novel 11/22/63 earlier today. Both will be reviewed in due course.

* Today was my fullest, richest day of the week- court in the morning, and the seminar that explains the title (I'll get to it) all afternoon up at UB.  Both went very well.  Moar coart follows, both tomorrow and Thursday mornings, with plenty else to catch up on in between, but then,....

* The Mets lost their road opener Sunday night, but rebounded against their 2015 Series opponents in KC this afternoon.  Now they're off until the home opener Friday, which I am ticketed and "go" for, and where the weather has been upgraded to merely cloudy and 50s F.  I can live with that.

----

Right. About the continuing ed I attended today:

New York State has a dysfunctional and corrupt government, and its state constitution, cobbled together since 1894 in numerous rounds of revisions, is something of a mess, as well. But it contains one interesting component- at least every 20 years, voters must be offered, by referendum, the chance to hold a convention to amend or replace it.  It's come up twice before in my voting life, defeated both times by combinations of voter indifference and lobbyists protecting sacred cows, but the next time is November 2017.  I'll discuss the actual issues, procedures and such as that date gets closer, but this seminar, which I only found out about yesterday, was part of a statewide effort to start getting out the word on it.

The word needs to get more out.  Despite UB Law School offering free Continuing Ed hours for the session, I was the only attorney who at least admitted to the status by signing up for the credits.  The panel and associated mucky-mucks roughly equaled the number of "civilians" in attendance.  Yet it was a good start to an effort that's got over 18 months to develop, and would likely be drowned out by the Trum-pets and Hill-Bill-ies (yes, they're in town this week, too) that will be dominating the political news until November.

Already, some special interests have come out against "opening the Pandora's box" that is the status quo- even though their opposition is limited to fairly narrow provisions in the current document that could be dealt with before or at the same time as the convention if the current entrenched incumbents would allow it.  Yes, that is a pig flying that you see (and smell) there.

It's an effort I will continue to follow, and if it advances to the Actually Holding The Thing stage (which wouldn't actually occur until the spring of 2019), I think I have a decent chance of being a participant in the process.  Be afraid, Albany.

On a side note, this was my first time in the Law School proper in probably over a decade. Parking up there is as deadly as ever despite much more on-campus student housing being nearby, and I wound up risking (but avoiding) a parking ticket as I chanced it for the last "permit only" hour of the day.  The Conference Center is actually carved out from where I used to work in the law library over 30 years ago; it had been the Government Documents depository back when the documents were actually received and catalogued in paper form.  My legacy, still standing into the late 90s, of stored reports with SuDocs classification numbers in my shaky 80s handwriting- all gone.

But they're not completely rid of me:



There's the Class of '84, in the same third floor hallway we were last I checked.  And toward the bottom right:



Yup, me in my celebrated Paul McCartney period.  And above me, as he will now forever be until I head to the Other Place, is my old pal Dave, of whose passing I only recently learned.

To the left of that portrait, mostly black-and-white, almost all male and white, collages of the older graduates. To the right and up the stairs, the younguns, much more diverse and all now bearing the newer branding of "SUNY Buffalo Law School." I like to think that by being in between, I got the best of both:)
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captainsblog
True to form, the final day of March wasn't too baaaaa-d.  Other than nearly all-day rain, and winds that half-blew my explosive car off the 90 on the way home, it was hovering around 60F all day and is still 63 outside at this very moment.

But after this month Marches out in a few hours, April shivers bring many quivers.  By Sunday, we'll be lucky to break freezing for three days- midweek, we get a two day reprieve, but then Friday here promises a high of 32F and rain.  In the more relevant forecast for Flushing on Mets Opener Day, they're predicting warmer temps, but also steady rain that whole day and right into Saturday.

But never mind that- for my first time ever, I have a ticket into Game One:



If it's rained out, it's good for any of the ensuing 81 games that have tickets available, so I'll just be watching the weather between now and this time next week.

----

Never made it to the Dino today- in fact, never left the office in Rochester at all between 9 and almost 3.  My friend's husband, and one of her kids, came down very sick starting yesterday, so she had to put off her near-daily visit to her mom.  We have "rain check" arrangements on that one, too.

----

Meanwhile, our kids are due here tomorrow. Cameron's dad and fam just acquired a pair of miniature dachsie puppies, and they've been wanting to see them while they're still really miniature and adorable. 

----

I've been reading much of the bad press for the Bat v. Supe extravaganza.  One clue to its horrific-ness came in a piece I read earlier today: DC's blockbusters have had a tacit "no jokes" policy ever since Green Lantern tanked.  Since then, the Avengers and Guardians franchises down Marvel Street, among others of theirs, have cleaned up by lightening up, and apparently the WB is finally taking notice and redoing the upcoming Suicide Squad to finally make something funnier.

Anyway: I eventually will see the Ben-and-Hen tire fire that's now out and making gagillions despite the Holy Suckage!- but I thought it would help to see the predecessor Zach Snyder DVD of Man of Steel which largely sets it up.  Apparently I was the only person in Erie County to have this thought, since my nearest library branch had it for the renting, as did just about every other one in the system.  Or maybe it's because of the weird cataloguing; they've got it, not under Snyder, Zach; nor Cavill, Henry; nor Siegel/Shuster; but under Zimmer, Hans.

From the sound of the reviews, the current one might have worked even better with just a lush Zimmer soundtrack and no dialogue whatsoever.
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captainsblog
I'm early in my third year of owning my first-ever import. It's close to 40 years since I first took a wheel, over 35 since I first bought one on my own, and until Kermit (he's a hybrid, and thus it's easy for him to be green), they'd all been domestics.  Mostly Fords, a few GMs and an ill-fated Dodge.  This one's been reliable, good on gas, and other than its maintenance schedule and nags being, well, naggy, I've been pleased.  The only recall I ever got on him was in my first year, his fourth- a computer module needed replacing and was done quickly and at no cost.

Then came yesterday's mail.

Honda has decided that a defect which relates to motor safety exists in certain  2010-2014 model year Insight vehicles.

ORLY? Do tell.

The defect in these vehicles could kill or injure you or other people in your vehicle.

Thanks for the bold.  What's the deal?

....the driver's front airbag inflator could produce excessive internal rupture upon deployment. If an affected airbag deploys the increased internal pressure may cause the inflator to rupture (break apart)....

Thanks. I speak English. (The Spanish on the back is just as patronizing about se rompa.)

...fragmentos metálicos podrian pasar  a través del material cojín de la bolsa de aire, causando posiblemente lesiones o la muerte a los ocupantes del vehículo.

Oops. Forgot to turn the page back over. But you get the basics. Like lesiones, or la muerte.  As in mi muerte. 

Joder.

Past ruptures like this have killed and injured vehicle drivers.

Yeah. I see that. You sent out the identical recall on some other models in 2011. Nice of you getting around to us now two years after I bought the fucking car.

The remedy parts to conduct driver's airbag inflator recalls will  become available in the Summer of 2016. Honda will send you another letter when parts become available to repair your vehicle.

And until then?

Until parts become available for repairs, please feel free discuss your specific needs and concerns with your dealer, including the provision of, or reimbursement for, temporary alternative transportation, as necessary.

I suspect use of the word "free" in that sentence was some kind of irony.  But yeah, once I figure out who, exactly my dealer is- the nearest one where I've had one repair done, or the one in Rochester who originally sold it named, no lie, Dick Ide Honda- I'm sure they're down on letting me have a free loaner for three or four months with the driving I do.

In the meantime, I'm reminded of advice once rendered by one of my dearest friends after a particularly bad string of late 90s car accidents:

Maybe you should just take the bus.

However you say that in Spanish:P
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captainsblog
Words are a funny way of talking.

I go to Rochester just about every week- sometimes twice, rarely more.  It gets to be more of a drag as the ol' bod isn't what it used to be and the resulting sleep is even less of its former self.  But it's no more than a chore- occasionally a joy, and when I'm a little lucky somewhere in between.

What I've learned, from having family both east and south of that city, is that to those on even the far outskirts, "going to Rochester" means something far worse than an inconvenience.  If you're in Lyons or Palmyra, Binghamton or Elmira, it's where you go if you've got really bad things going on- usually, but not exclusively, cancer.

I've sat in some outlying churches on a few Sunday mornings- usually visiting former ministers I keep/kept in touch with.  During their prayer concerns, more than once I would hear the solemn tones about Edith, or Bill, or some other long-time member "going to Rochester"- and everybody would lower their heads.

Almost always, it means Strong- the U of R's teaching hospital and home of that region's largest cancer center. 

("Going to Rochester" lacks that meaning to the west where we are, because we have Roswell Park- an even more famous place for the treatment and battling of cancer. Although sadly, during Betty's recent spins through hospitalization (fortunately noncarcinogenic so far), we heard from more than one person that Roswell frequently regards its elderly patients as guinea pigs for experimental treatments, and delays or declines the more tested and/or aggressive protocols reserved for the younger and healthier.)

I bring this up today because a friend from Buffalo is spending a lot of her time these days at Strong. Not for herself, but for her mom, who is from Elmira, which is smack-dab in the Southern Tier's "going to Rochester" zone.  Mom has a particularly debilitating cardiac condition- it's not cancer, but just as deadly, and just as painful and strung-out.  My friend and her sister have been splitting the near-daily visits from their respective ends of 90 and 390: the Elmira-based daughter comes up on and around the weekends, while her younger sister makes the near-daily trek from Buffalo during the week when their kids are in school.

It's a drag on everything- from the tires to the spirits.  My friend and her husband are among the funniest, kindest, smartest people I know, with two adorable young kids who they must be trying to spare from the stress of it all.

Day after tomorrow, I will be meeting my friend for lunch at Rochester's downtown Dino.  It's a small gesture of support and distraction, but one I just knew needed to be offered.  As with both my mother and mother-in-law, it's the daughters who do this work in so much of our culture- and it's as necessary, and as taxing, as any other kind of "work" one can perform.

Prayers are welcome for her mother, and for her- as "going to Rochester" continues to mean something far harder than a Red Wings game or a Springsteen concert.
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