Log in

entries friends calendar profile Metphistopheles Previous Previous Next Next
Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
My final tallies:

-Over 210 miles on the odometer (many of them on detours for lunch and petrol before heading home, then getting lost after Siri tried to send me the wrong way down a one-way street to get back to the 90).

-Ten hours from arrival in to departure from the precinct.

-282 voters passed through Precinct 5, District 6 on my watch.

-Five very nice poll workers, the head Judge among them always being very nice and even graced me with the bling that my own Erie County Board of Elections refuses to pass out:

-Zero loonies.

Still untallied is the final total- from District 6, from the whole state (believed to be razor-thin), from all of the battlegrounds. Nate Silver's been sticking with Hillary's 73 percent chance overall and 79 percent chance in PA (New York's already in the bag), but there's lots of nervousness.

But, ya know? For those ten hours, I was the quintessential Anti-Drumpf. I had nothing else to do but to be nice to people, and I was: I held open doors, assisted people in wheelchairs, directed them to the right door, let one palm-card passer use my charger, disabused at least one of any fear about not having the "right" ID, thanked the poll workers for putting up with me at the end.

I left my post twice early, and for good about 90 minutes before closing, when it was clear that District 6 was not going to go Hunger Games on me after the dinner-hour rush.  First was for lunch- where else, at the nearest Wegmans.  Comfort food and comfort surroundings, with one notable exception: Pennsylvania lets Danny sell wine, and boy does he:

Not looking to take a bottle home? The mavens of the multi-mixture Coke machine have you fixed up, too:

There was one omnious sign as I headed out on this frolic today:

All the same, I feel fine.

Resultus interruptus: this gives me some relief- while the 538 site is still hedging on the winner, there's this sign of personal success from my day, however minor:

The geographic divide in Pennsylvania is stunning. Outside of the eastern part of the state, Clinton is winning only two counties: Allegheny (Pittsburgh) and Erie. That said, there are a ton of votes in the southeastern part of the state. Still, the current Clinton lead of 12 percentage points will come down considerably.

Erie, city and county, is where I toiled today- and there were plenty of Drumpf signs to be seen, but not many obvious voters for him at our little school.


As the temperature dropped and the rain came down (not on me, but filling a gutter that drip-drip-dripped near me annoying the crap out of me), I made the call to exit roughly ten hours after I arrived. I thanked Judge Ann and her compatriots, secured my voter sticker, got stupid lost (but found the theater we'll be at tomorrow night) and finally got back on the 90 in time to roll in just before our own polls closed.  I missed hitting a deer around Fredonia by maybe 100 feet, making the decision to stay there tomorrow night a wiser one than ever.  We both remain sick with these coughs, but hopefully our spirits will soar by morning.
Leave a comment
It's 9 AM on election day, and I am sitting outside the entrance to the polling place in Erie, Pennsylvania. It's been an interesting morning after a bizarre day yesterday.

Yesterday was the day of the brilliant comeback. Not the Buffalo Bills, although they apparently tried after I went to bed, and hopefully not of any orange-haired candidates, but of my dreaded bug. I never completely shook it, and beginning yesterday morning the cough returned with a vengeance throughout the day. It kept me up a good part of last night, and it seems a little better today, but I'm just pissed off that I didn't completely beat the thing. Eleanor sounds much better, which would be consistent with being on two medications and having an inhaler, and if this is still active when I get home, I'll be spending part of my birthday getting, what else, medications and an inhaler.

Yesterday was also my only full day in my own office in six days, and it was generally a shitshow. Little got accomplished, calls did not get returned, and one of my coworkers had to spend most of HER day fretting about a transaction where a client is now contradicting express instructions he authorized last week.

During my overnight wakefulness, I got to read about the way the referees totally jobbed the Bills last night. I am just glad I didn't have to witness it in real time.

Oh, and I threw the cat out. Michelle, a.k.a. "Satan's little sister," decided to jump up on me while eating, spilling a wine glass all over the living room hardwood floor. After everything else, I just grabbed her and tossed her out the back door. It wasn't raining, or cold, but I had just had enough of her constant in-your-faciness. Eleanor felt sorry for her, so I rounded her up from the back porch, and she proceeded to shun me for a good couple of hours. By bedtime, though, she was back in her usual spot – in my face – and while not kissing, we had made up.


Despite all that, and probably just over four hours of sleep, I was up in time to feed everybody, pack up the car, and head for my two election assignments. First was my own vote, and are nearby polling place. Just after 6 AM, it was packed. There are two precincts that share the church hall, and I was the 29th voter in line when I finally got to the head of the line around 6:30. Our friend Ann, who will be letting Ebony in and out of our house tomorrow, also votes at the church, and she had a similar wait for her line. Then it was just me and Siri finding our way to Erie Pennsylvania for my day of protecting voters.

I'm here. Now all I could use is some voters.


The protection project, and Pennsylvania election law, have two categories of observers. Official poll watchers are allowed in the precinct, and have access to certain things. To be one, you need credentials, which you can only get if you are registered voter in that county. That makes me merely an observer. They assign attorneys from out of Pennsylvania to these locations in case lines get long, or trouble breaks out.

I don't think that's going to be a problem. When I got here, there was not a single voter inside the station. I knew to find the Judge of Election- an official and elected office in this state who is in charge of all decisions and decorum. Very nice lady, but I think I off – put her a little just being here. Before long, she was on the phone to somebody who insisted that I do all my observing from outside the station. But she, and all the poll workers, we're very nice about it, and even offered to share their coffee with me anytime I wanted it. (Frankly, given this bug, access to the bathroom and water fountain is much more important;)

This is actually fine. It's a beautiful day, and there's a working electrical outlet next to the folding chair I brought. So I will be bored but I will not be powerless.

For now, I will fill in the rest of this with some random photos from The trip so far.

A Penn State remote campus right off the 90. Knowledge is good.


Yes, they assigned the guy from Buffalo to a polling place named for the President we shot. At least the foliage is nice out here.


And another, nicer, taste of Buffalo: Sister Karen's peaceprints:)
1 comment or Leave a comment
Just finished a fairly full morning of Ebony running around the dog park, this time with the big boyz in addition to her usual buds-

- and doing a workout and some errands.  We have a date with Doctor Strange for later, so I'll just update a few recent posty things here:

* I did the training for the Election Day voter protection effort by webinar yesterday. While we can't reveal specifics, I will say, proudly, that the speakers emphasized the integrity of the vote over the desire to get votes for one candidate or another- and that if a busload of disabled Drumpf supporters showed up needing assistance, we were to give them the same kindness and assistance we would give anyone else.  That's much the same message the President delivered the other day at a Clinton rally, where loyal Hillary supporters tried to boo and shout down a single opposing voice.  He told the assemblage to stop- to respect the man's First Amendment rights, to be respectful of his obvious age and probable veteran's status, and to express their opinions by voting rather than booing.  As Charlie Pierce reported, it took mere hours for El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago (as Charlie likes to call him) to twist all truth and reconciliation out of this occurrence and straight-out lie about what Obama had said and done:

There can be no reason for any sane individual to consider giving this idiot the time of day, much less a ticky box that could give him nuclear codes. I hope to be part of ensuring that it will never happen.


* On what would've been my mother's 100th birthday a few weeks ago, I commented that her ordinary 40's-to-70's life as a wife and mother would have earned her no prizes.  Yesterday, though, my sister, in my birthday card, mentioned something I'd never known: that in her too-few years of school, she did win a prize. Here's the proof, from a 1931 Brooklyn newspaper (mother's maiden name redacted because, hackers):


* The privileged puss I mentioned earlier this week who attacked an autistic runner because he was afraid of Scary Black Guys half his size?  I wasn't sure if Emily had heard about it- not only had she, but she knew the followup: the judge who initially turned down the arrest warrant wound up issuing it a couple of days later, and dude turned himself in.
I vaguely know of his lawyer; he's not one of the real high-power defense guys in town, but I'm sure he'll get the guy off with only moderate wrist-slapping- which is still better than nothing.


And with that, I think it's time to turn my clock back for another hour;)
1 comment or Leave a comment
That's a variation on an old Republican-Democrat call-and-response chant arising out of a living sexual indiscretion of Buffalo's own Grover Cleveland, which came up against him right before his 1884 Presidential election. *.  This time, the "PA" refers to Pennsylvania, because after a two-day all-day stay in and around Rochester, I finally got the call late yesterday about training and assignment for the voter protection project down there next week.

I spent all but maybe an hour of yesterday, and much of the previous day, on one project for one client.  I had several other people working on it with me in various capacities, but the responsibility to get it signed and filed by day's end was all mine- and we pulled it off. When I returned a co-worker to the office and turned to drive home round 4:15, there was a call from an unknown number in Atlanta.  No voicemail.  I returned it anyway, gods know why, and it was dude confirming my stuff.  I explained why I'd fallen off the grid- that the campaign had basically annoyed the shit out of me with fundraising and scare emails- but he was cool with it.  I'm scheduled for a training webinar at 2 this afternoon, and then early Tuesday**, it's a quick 90-minute drive down the 90 to the largest city in that corner of a battleground state:

While the 7 a.m. time won't happen, I'm pretty sure the 8 p.m. time won't hold, either; part of the job almost certainly will be to encourage and protect anyone who's still in line when the official closing time comes.

So that's set. Besides the training, this weekend will be relatively quiet- Eleanor's on her fourth day on the new drugs which are helping but not completely yet. We will likely catch Doctor Strange tomorrow. I then have my first "normal" day in the office here on Monday, before the Three Days of PA begin- I'm down there and back Tuesday, then picking up Eleanor so we can see Rent in Erie on Wednesday night. We might even have a place to stay and an idea where it is by then.


* I'd heard the story, and the catcall, about ol' Grover many times before, but this article revealed one unconfirmed yet hilarious fact about his illegitimate son: allegedly, the guy changed his name and became a gynecologist in Buffalo, living until the 1940s.

** Not as early as they'd like: apparently their polls open at 7 in the morning, but ours open at 6, and my plan all along was to vote here first before heading there.
Leave a comment

You've probably heard some, but not nearly enough, about the Standing Rock standoff in North Dakota.  An oil company diverted a new pipeline away from Bismarck, North Dakota after complaints that it might leak or explode and pollute the city's water supply. So they rerouted it onto sacred land and water of the Sioux Nation, and when protesters from within and outside the tribe showed up, they enlisted heavily armed rent-a-cops, and eventually hordes of the real ones, to attack protesters with dogs and rubber bullets, arrest journalists on specious charges, and try to spend and militarize their way out of the protest.

There's some hope- President Obama commented on it two days ago and is encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to reroute the pipeline- but today's focus was on a bizarre confluence of Northern greed and South-by-Southwest cool: the CEO of the company behind this pipeline is, of all things, a folk music maven.

Meet Kelcy Warren:

A native of East Texas and graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in civil engineering, Warren worked in the natural gas industry and became co-chair of Energy Transfer Equity in 2007. With business partner Ray Davis, co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Warren built Energy Transfer Equity into one of the nation's largest pipeline companies, which now owns about 71,000 miles of pipelines carrying natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil. The company's holdings include Sunoco, Southern Union and Regency Energy Partners.

...Warren owns the Lajitas Golf Resort along the Rio Grande near the Mexican border as well as Music Road Records, a roots label that operates recording studios in Austin and Cherokee, Texas. Warren's musical model is singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.

He's so enamored of the singer, in 2014 his record company put out a tribute album of covers featuring such respected artists as Don Henley, Keb' Mo', Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen & Patti Scialfa,  Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin. 

Now that word of his evil deeds has gotten out, his beloved subject and many of the artists who covered songs on the record have disavowed the project. Browne himself

this week put out a statement opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline and announcing that he'll donate all proceeds from a tribute album of his songs released by Music Road Records to tribes fighting the pipeline:

    I did not know anything about Kelcy Warren's other business as the production of this album went forward. Although as a music publisher there is no legal way to deny permission to a record company to cover a song that has been previously published, I could have dissuaded the artists from appearing on this record had I known. I routinely vet the companies who ask me to perform for them. I do not play for oil interests. I do not play for companies who defile nature, or companies who attack demonstrators with trained attack dogs and pepper spray. The list of companies I have denied the use of my music is long. I certainly would not have allowed my songs to be recorded by a record company whose owner's other business does what Energy Transfer Partners is allegedly doing — threatening the water supply and the sacred sites of indigenous people.

He also joined many of the artists who contributed the covers- including Colvin, Osborne and Keb'Mo' - in signing a letter penned by the Indigo Girls, who had previously played at his Texas festival. No more:

    "We realize the bucolic setting of your festival and the image it projects is in direct conflict with the Dakota Access Pipeline ... this pipeline violates the Standing Rock Sioux Nations' treaty rights, endangers the vital Missouri River, and continues the trajectory of genocide against Native Peoples."

The letter concluded, "We will no longer play your festival or participate in Music Road Records recordings. We implore you to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

Amy and Emily came on to the Democracy Now radio show this morning to speak about their effort. They will be joining many of their folk performer friends, and Jackson Browne himself, at a concert on Sioux land later this month to benefit and support the water protector efforts.

Later in the day (all of it on the road in Rochester, where I'll return from the kids' place in the morning for another full day there), the local NPR affiliate played this Indigo Girls song- one of my first and still favorites of theirs. Whether the station played it on account of this news or not, I can't say- but it takes on a whole deeper meaning for me knowing that Amy and Emily are putting their royalties where the Rock is:

Leave a comment
(A variation on yesterday's theme.)

*Us. Still. Mostly her, though.

We had his-and-hers doctors appointments yesterday. I know, how womantic.  I finally got through the almost month-long wait to get in to the practice that Eleanor's been with for some time now.  She had her own followup appointment scheduled for today on her pneumonia situation, but the PA was nice enough to call Monday and ask if we wanted to do them at the same time yesterday morning. I'm mostly over my Cough from Hell (still get a jag or two a day, usually around sleeptime, but nothing troublesome), but I got to go first.

In twenty minutes, my new PA practitioner asked more questions, checked more things, and considered more options than my MD of almost 20 years had likely done in all of that time.  She was the first to wonder whether there was a connection with my BP being suddenly up and my minor sleep apnea diagnosis from probably 15 years ago.  A second-a-day pill has been added, and we may be adding a sphygmomanometer  to the house if the stations inside Wegmans pharmacies are too inconvenient or inconsistent (I just like saying "sphygmomanometer" any time I can;).  They did a full blood workup on site, including thyroid and sugar tests, which I may or may not have ever had done; dude just never discussed with me what he was doing.

I feel better already.

Eleanor's going to need more bettering, but she's on the right track. Melissa put her on a new antibiotic and added a steroid pack that's been a real untasty treat the first day, but it tapers over the dose's run.  She also sent her home for the rest of that day and today.  It's a tough customer- at least one of Eleanor's coworkers took a month to shake off the pneumonia- but then she's pretty used to tough customers, so we're hopeful.


* Privileged Puswad in Pittsford.

It took a Washington Post story over the weekend to bring this to my attention, but it's unfortunately much more local and extremely predictable:

For more than two years, Clarise Coleman faithfully attended every track practice and every cross-country meet for her son, Chase.

Part of it was being a supportive parent, proud that Chase had finally found “his sport.” Coleman loved the camaraderie that the cross-country team gave her 15-year-old freshman, even if it meant frequently road-tripping from their home in Syracuse for meets all around New York state.

But as the mother of a nearly nonverbal autistic child, Coleman also knew that she needed to be there for Chase in case he needed help. She often scouted out racecourses ahead of time, noting where the lanky teenager might get lost or confused, as he often did.

A few weeks ago, her worst fears came true when Chase — who was running in a meet in Rochester, N.Y., with his team from Corcoran High School — was assaulted by a stranger in the middle of a race.

Coleman had been waiting for him near the reservoir in Cobb’s Hill Park, at a part of the course where runners would come down a hill — but Chase never appeared. So as she often would do at meets, she went looking for him.

“I started walking that direction, and I’m screaming his name out: ‘Keep going, Chase!'” Coleman told The Washington Post. “And a young lady came up to me and said, ‘Are you looking for one of your runners?’ … She said, ‘Some man just assaulted him.’ ”

"Some man" turned out to be an overentitled white guy, my age, from the Rochester suburb next to, and up from, the one we lived in for our first seven years together:

The female witness, identified in a police report as Collin Thompson, told police that she had seen Chase running in the middle of the road. Thompson then witnessed an older white male get out of his car, according to a police incident report. Thompson said the man approached Chase and push him to the ground, after which he yelled, “Get out of here.”

The other witness, Kris Van Metter, told Syracuse.com that he had just finished a bicycle ride when he saw the same scene.

“I see a grown man, who is quite tall and fairly heavy … exit the vehicle and give this young man a shove that puts him back 10 feet and flat on his butt,” Van Metter told the news site. “Like, just shoved him across the road. The kid didn’t seem to be doing anything but standing there, obviously had nothing in his hands and weighed all of 130 pounds. This guy was easily twice that.”

Neither Thompson nor Van Metter could be reached Sunday.

They had, however, caught the man’s license plate number and police used it to track down a 57-year-old man named Martin MacDonald at his home in Pittsford, a suburb of Rochester, the incident report said.

When a deputy visited MacDonald’s home, he admitted he had pushed Chase to the ground, the report said.

“When [the deputy] asked him why he did that, he replied that he thought Chase was going to mug his wife and take her purse,” the incident report said. “MacDonald’s wife was sitting in the front passenger seat at the time of the [incident]. When [the deputy] asked him why he thought that, MacDonald told him that some youths had broke into his car recently and that crossed his mind. MacDonald went on to say that Chase wasn’t responding to him telling him to move out of the road.”

Coleman said the Rochester police relayed MacDonald’s explanation to her — noting that it had been black youths who had allegedly broken into MacDonald’s car — and she was aghast that this could be used to justify an attack on Chase.

Clearly this is a new scary thing in black urban gang violence: sending out thugs with numbered racing bibs to conduct random assaults on Whitey.  No wonder the poor dear was scared for his woman. /sarcasm

The story continued, as you would expect it would, but maybe not with all the details you'd fill in:

On Oct. 21, Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison sent a letter to the Colemans that shocked them: She had denied their warrant application, and MacDonald would not be charged for second-degree harassment.

The week after the assault, which took place on a Friday, Chase refused to go to practices and skipped running in his last meet of the season. Crestfallen, Coleman watched as her son turned his running uniform in to his coach, who gently encouraged him to change his mind. Chase refused.

This judge has taken more than a rasher of shit for enabling such White Lives Matter conduct, but here's where I break the fourth wall of the piece: I appear regularly before this judge. She's African-American, so the narrative breaks down a little. (She's also very thorough with everything I ever put before her.)

And, now that the local media gotten into the act, we know that it ain't necessarily over for Scared Pittsford Guy:

Teresa Johnson, the administrative judge for City Court, declined to discuss the specific case.

“There might be a number of reasons why a judge will decline to sign a warrant, (such as) insufficient paperwork,” she said.

Oftentimes, the judge will state in a note to police why the information for a warrant was insufficient, Johnson said. Police can then decide whether to submit additional evidence and again seek an arrest warrant.

Responding to mounting outcry over the incident, Rochester police on Monday ramped up an investigation into the matter and collected depositions from Coleman and witnesses.

The story was picked up over the weekend by The Washington Post, USA Today and CBS News , none of whose reporters indicated they had attempted to reach MacDonald.

MacDonald did not return messages for comment left by the Democrat and Chronicle, and a woman who answered the phone at his home Sunday declined to comment. No one answered the door at his home on Monday.

...Coleman said Rochester police visited her Monday in Syracuse to take a deposition as to her son's diagnosis, and that police were contacting the witnesses cited in the police report. She said police explained that they were collecting depositions to bolster her case against MacDonald and that the sworn statements were missing from the paperwork police initially filed with the court.

Coleman described Chase as being autistic and that he has been specifically diagnosed "PDD-NOS," which stands for pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified. She said Chase also suffers from echolalia, which causes him to sometimes repeat people who speak to him.

Rochester police spokeswoman Investigator Jacqueline Shuman said Monday that the department was working in conjunction with the District Attorney's Office and the Coleman family to determine the next steps in the investigation.

MacDonald acknowledged to police that he shoved Chase to the ground, according to the police report.

The police report was written by Rochester Police Officer Marc Sutton, but Sutton did not interview MacDonald. A Monroe County sheriff's deputy was dispatched to visit MacDonald’s home the day of the incident and relayed his notes to Sutton.

The paper also reported that the Rochester Police Department has offered to sponsor a run in Rochester with officers and RPD recruits running with him.  It's a nice gesture, but given what's happened and his state of mind, who knows if he will appreciate it, much less do it.

Seeing the attacker in a nice 5K perp walk sounds more like my idea of a good outcome.

2 comments or Leave a comment
* The ones you'd expect on Halloween:

Goofy-costumed adults in workplaces. I took this one for a giant attack rabbit at the county clerk, but sharper eyes identified her as a unicorn. When I protested that I didn't see a single hint of sparkliness, it was quickly pointed out to me: It's a government office. Nothing sparkles.

Then, candy and plenty of it. We got the bigass bag just in case: historically, we either get 226 kids (and resort to passing out ketchup packets and stale fortune cookies) or we get next to none. We'd expected many, as it was relatively warm and not windy or precip-py- and yet all we got in two-plus lights-on hours were one batch of kids and one Jehovah's Witness. Anybody want some Milk Duds?


* Ghosts of Clients Past:

I was in Rochester from almost 9 to almost 4, and in addition to the two clients and four filings (the last behind the unicorn), I got deluged with out-of-the-blue calls from an assortment of former clients, long-lost clients and maybe-never-were clients. I lost count around the seventh. I may be able to help some of them, but eep, people, not all at once!


* Campaign spookiness.

With barely a week before Election Day, I have heard nothing from the Voter Protection training or assignments for PA. This is likely because I opted out of Hillary's 20-a-day nag-and-beg emails looking for money.

So I went back through the emails I did get from them, and tracked down the name of the woman in charge of it- but not her email address. Left only with a media contact, I wrote to him: "Her email address is so obscured on the Internet that not even Wikileaks or Anthony Weiner has gotten a hold of it."

No response last I checked:P
1 comment or Leave a comment
Hell Week, they call it.

Eight days in this week- last Monday to tomorrow.  The goal? Work in five hourlong workouts at the high-intensity interval training place I've been going to for almost a year and a half.  Typically, I do two a week, but between wanting to accept the challenge and missing most of last week's classes due to my coughing up a lung, I set my schedule for the week of H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks around work and travel commitments: Tuesday noon. Butt-early Wednesday. Friday end of the workday. This morning at 10. And Workout 55&1/5- The Final Insult tomorrow at 5:15 after a whole day on the road in Rochester.

The usual routine for these workouts is to run (or in my case, powerwalk) on a treadmill for just under half an hour, then split the other half hour between "floor" exercises (a combination of dumbbells, TRX straps and bodyweight moves) and a rower.  On average, we might break 1,000 meters of rowing in a half-class unless it's a "run to row" special where rowing replaces running for part of the half.

Not so in Hell Week.  Every one of these has featured significantly more than that average.  One day was Match The Numbers- 100 meters timed to 100 reps, then 400 matched to 40 reps, 700 to 70, and a final 1,000 matched to 10.  I made it through most of that.  Hell Day Two was just straight 600 meter rows. Over and over.  For the third, we were evilly teamed: one did a set of floor reps as fast as possible with a second rowing for distance until the first was finished. The goal for the three of us was 7,000 meters and we almost hit that- I accounted for over 2,000 of it myself. Then today was an almost normal routine, but with higher goals.  Between it all through today, I personally put 7500 meters onto that goddam machine, and there's still the prospect of tomorrow night to have rowed an entire 10K distance in five sessions over eight days.

All of this for a stinkin' t-shirt.


To give us some relief from it, they held a Halloween party over there this afternoon.  Since I rarely want to bother Eleanor with having to watch the Bills game (especially after suckages like they pulled today), I went over for the second half of the game.  I've never been much for Halloween costumes, but right before leaving I had the perfect idea for one:

Our performance at these classes is measured on the treadmills and rowers, but they also track your heart rate, the goal being to be at 80 percent (green) of your maximum for at least half the class and at 90 percent or more (orange) for at least 12-20 minutes of it. That's where the Orange Theory name comes from.  While they've recently introduced Fittybitty-style watches that measure the pulse on your wrist, I've always kicked it old-school with a Polar-type chest strap to which a Bluetooth-enabled "pod" connects:

Like so.

I'm on my third or fourth; I sweat like a sewer and often overload the contacts, and my current one, slightly spacier looking than that one, seems to take 20 minutes to "read" me every time- so I just put it on 20 minutes before class now (and can check its ready status on an app on my phone).  So I figured I'd go as a heart monitor- needing only a heavy black oversized something to wrap round my midsection and a blowup of the pod attached to something like a Tupperware lid or, success!, a bread plate we use just about every night.

Printing the oversized pod was easy. Finding the black something, less so. A kludge with safety pins and one of Eleanor's old pairs of yoga-ish pants wouldn't hold. So instead I figured I'd just hang crepe- that a few wraparounds of black streamers from a Halloween store ought to do the trick.  And there are not one but two such stores just a plaza south of the studio!

Did I mention I'm not much for Halloween costumes?

These places are chockablock full of the Licensed Merch but low on practical things like decorative stramers and, duh, tape.  The first place didn't have anything; Ed's Party City finally filled the bill for just over four bucks, but only after twenty minutes of hunting through aisle after aisle of fake blood, cats-o-nine-tails and assorted severed body parts.  (They also had lifesize mockups of Trump and Hillary in their front window; since I got out so cheap, I considered going back, buying a severed arm, and connecting it to the Orange Numpty so it would look like he was groping the Nasty Woman. Maybe tomorrow.)

In the end, though, I mummified nicely enough, connected the bread-plate pod to it, and walked in dressed as this:

It was rather a hit, and I got a lot of mileage complaining about the fact that my homegrown one didn't register on their monitors, either;)

Lots of kids came with their 'rents, and I spent a little time at the end joining them on our ab-roller dollies tossing balloons around.  Also joining us was "Chef Kristen," my trainer from this morning; I took solace in her helping me disprove one of the theories often advanced by another of the staff during intense mat-based exercises, i.e., that "You can't fall off the floor." The hell I can't- and it was good to see I'm not alone:

Hopefully me and the tee will still be standing after the final one tomorrow night.

ETA The gym site put up one they shot of me in the costume:

Leave a comment
Considering that I had 100 years to get ready for it.

On this day, a century ago, one half- the better half- of my DNA came into being.  I know very little about my mother's life from before my own life, and almost nothing about what it was before she married.  There's a picture floating around somewhere of her on a boat that took her between New York and the Netherlands. That was the one trip I know of where she met her biodad, who returned to the Old Country and, best as I ever knew, never returned to her life.

Her education never got even significantly into high school. Her diploma from a Brooklyn primary school hung in our garage for most of my life.  Neither did she acquire skills that would make an independent life possible outside The Home.  Within it, she tried: she cooked, she cleaned, she raised three kids.  None would win her any awards.  Yet those kids each managed in their own ways to excel, and eventually escape, the life of devotion and dependence that she never could.

Here she is with her daughters on the older's graduation day from high school in 1957:

(I have a small photo folder with plenty from that day which I will share with my nieces.)  This next one is after Sandy moved out- her and Donna, labeled by Mom as "the ladies in pink suits" circa 1965:

(Note the fiberglass drapes behind them; our neighbor who just passed away last month had a set of these in her cellar, which we were warned not to even touch while helping organize things for disposal over there.)

I was spared the pink but not the fiberglass; here's one with me and Mom from probably the same day:

Next up, probably around 1970; the only clue is "vacation in Penn," so we were probably visiting Sandy's in-laws:

Within a year or two, I was taller than she was.

And finally, one of the final pictures we have of Mom- from our wedding reception in 1987, with my niece Michele under the big hair and her dad photobombing:

Yes, these pictures have seen better days. But she was so much a part of so many of them- all of our graduations, weddings and christenings as long as she lived.  For most of the final decade, she didn't respond to who we were or what we said, but we always had the memories of how she tried, and how she cared.

Mom was the Grandmistress of the Impractical Fix. When I wasn't much older than that train picture, I had a fall of some sort that ripped a seam out of the leather seat on my bicycle. I was so upset that I was going to get the This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things lecture from my father, so she set out to make it right with her unique brand of "There, I Fixed It"- by trying to tape the seam back up. With Scotch tape.  That was Mom all over.

To this day, when I give a client or opponent a second chance- or third, or tenth, or an uncountably high number; when I never stop listening no matter how sure I am I'm right and somebody else is wrong; when I come to expect the best out of people and situations that have every reason to prove me wrong. In all of these, my mother's spirit of kindness continues to live on, as of today into its second century.

We toasted Mom as we ate tonight, and I'm sure her answer to that would've been, "That's nice." And so, happy birthday to the oldest and best of my family of Damn Scorpios.
2 comments or Leave a comment

The other day, I was finally contacted about my signup a few weeks earlier to go to a battleground state to keep the Crazy Poll Watchers away from intimidating the unacceptable (i.e., non-white and unarmed) potential voters.  I was confirmed for an assignment in western Pennsylvania on Election Day, and was told to watch my email for login access to a system set up for training and appearance scheduling.

This effort, called LBJ (I've yet to see what it literally stands for, although the initials of course evoke various images), is run out of the Clinton campaign.  Mindful that I've never been one of her biggest fans, I waited to see how this effort would go.

The good: they're being very careful about who can access their servers and how.  The LBJ site sends out an email with a ""token" link you have to click to set up an account.  You then need a password, and they require strong ones. My first choice, "nastywoman," was rejected.  Once I finally came up with one with sufficient diddlybits, I was kicked out because the token had expired.  Sheesh, Hil- if only you'd been this careful with your email access all along, we might not have to be worrying about these wingnuts.

The bad: signing up for this effort gets you on The List. And it nags and begs and doesn't shut up.  You'd think she has the remotest chance of losing, the way these guilt-trip you.  I found a "less email" link and clicked it- which resulted in more email. So I chose a semi-hidden one to really "unsubscribe," hoping I won't lose LBJ emails in the process, and got this:

Pro tip: don't piss off your supporters. This is a good way to do that.  I unsubscribed anyway.  But Ima still going.


My plan is to head down to PA Points West- Erie and Pittsburgh are the most likely urban areas where help will be needed- after I've cast my own vote here at 6 a.m. on November 8.  It's frustrating, because I'm seeing posts from all over the country from friends who have already gotten to exercise their franchise through early voting.

Meanwhile, this bluer-than-blue paradise of a state refuses to extend that courtesy to its own voters.  New York allows absentee votes, but they are only available with an "excuse" (which I would have and could use, and which I have used once or twice in my voting life). Worse, though:  while they allow them to be cast, they are essentially treated as "outcast." Since they allow absentee voters to postmark their ballots as late as the day before Election Day wherever they may be, none of these ballots are counted in the Election Night returns, and are thus rendered irrelevant in 99-plus percent of contests. On the other hand, states which allow Early Voting do not need such post-election windows since, derp, they're early!, and so your vote not only counts but is included in the totals that are reported from the get-go.

Who's to blame for this?  Politicians, of course.  This recent piece talks about it, and notes that we really have no business here complaining about suppressive new techniques in other states when we've been completely repressive ourselves all along:

New York’s voting procedures have become a talking point for Republican-led states in defending their own regression on voting rights. In discussing their limitations on voting rights, North Carolina and Ohio have pointed to the New York rules. If other states can have restrictive policies, the argument goes, why can’t they? As John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, said when asked about his state’s decision to cut early voting from six weeks to four, “I do not know why you are picking on Ohio. Why don’t you go pick on New York?”

Various proposals for reform have floated around the New York state legislature, a notoriously corrupt and ineffective body, but nothing has happened. The reasons for the inaction seem clear. Incumbent politicians benefit from low-turnout, low-interest elections, in which few people muster the enthusiasm or effort to vote. The public rarely displays much interest in the mechanics of elections, so politicians can establish self-serving rules with political impunity. Thus, the status quo endures.

Other analysts have laid the blame specifically at the Republican-controlled (for now) New York State Senate, which refused to consider such a bill earlier this year- but not all of the blame:

This year, the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed a series of voting reforms including making it easier for voters to register, and early voting.

"We've made big strides in the Assembly," said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh. "Unfortunately the Senate has not put any of those bills on a committee agenda or moved them forward."

In addition, while Senate Republicans have not been very eager to work with Democrats to modernize voting procedures and protocols, some Assembly Democrats say neither was former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who was ousted last year by a corruption scandal after having served as Speaker for two decades.

"Some of these bills would move under the old Speaker," Assemblyman Kavanagh said. "We did pass an early voting bill in the past. But I think the package that we passed in the Assembly this year really was unprecedented. "

In a statement a spokesman for Governor Cuomo said:

"For years, the Governor has advanced a series of reforms to New York's election system. We welcome the Mayor to this effort."

Senate Republicans had no comment on the voting bills, although it is widely understood that with a severe enrollment disadvantage in New York State the last thing Republicans want is more people voting.

It's just another stinking thread on the shawl of incumbency- where the current elected officials of both parties shamelessly send out "constituent reports" at taxpayer expense before elections that look exactly like their campaign literature, and they time "tax rebate checks" so they arrive days before the election.  The only thing that will fix this kind of shit, from the local to state to federal level, is wholesale review and reform of the institutions themselves.  Once this 2016 sewage finally settles, I'll begin talking more, here and elsewhere, about the most important 2017 vote in New York. It's the one on whether to enable a bidecennial review of the whole state Constitution and, if approved to consider, to debate and ultimately let voters decide on changes.  Which could include term limits, limits on campaign shenanigans, and, yes, early and even online voting.

I may even make an effort to be in The Room Where It Happens- assuming I make it back from Pennsylvania two weeks from today.

Leave a comment

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's how THAT went:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take your Turing test and shove it, Windows. We're still smarter than you:P
2 comments or Leave a comment

Picked up the 2016 Ghostbusters DVD this afternoon, and we got through about half of it.  Given recent technological events, it came as no surprise when, less than an hour in, the lid of the fish tank fell in to the water- and then when, a good ten minutes after that, I noticed that the DVR remote was floating in the soup tank, as well.

At least it wasn't my new phone.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pass the Lisinopril.

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

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

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


Failing which, there's always beer.

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

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

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

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

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

- and even vats-

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

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

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

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

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

Beginning with the most recent and one of biggest consequence:

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

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

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

It made it.  Here's what didn't:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

All in all, pretty accomplished for not having punched in:)
Leave a comment