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A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
Part One of this tale is sitting on a dead tablet, written on the train last night. Yes, I let my devices all die again. No, they didn't have a charger in the room; I asked for one this morning when I was more sentient.  I think we left off where I'd just entered Camp Georgetuanamo and somebody had stolen my beer.  Still almost an hour to game time, so I had one more errand of history: Monument Park.

The Yankees have a lot of heroes and a WAY lot of championships. Just ask any of their fans, particularly if they've been drinking. (We'll get to the star of THAT show in due time.)  Far as I could see, they didn't even bother to put up banners or huge placards for their 27 World Series championships, much less a Wild Card post-season win like the Mets do. They couldn't; it would block out the sun.  But they do like their players. We just retired our second player number in 55 seasons, shown among three other numbers from team or baseball history.  The Yankees have an entire section for theirs-

TooManyNumbers

-and that doesn't count Jeter's (I sense a ticket-selling weekend coming up) or the as-big-as-them-all monumental wall to "The Boss," convicted felon George Steinbrenner.

Plus there's a whole Monument Park behind center field. Here, not only do the number-retirees get a plaque and a place, but Hall of Very Good former players like Jorge Pasada get metal.  Plus, you know, Ruth and Gehrig and Mantle- and two I did want to see, from our teams' shared heritage.  Signs point the way- to a door reading

ClosedMan

Oh well. I approached the Premium Seat Entry in the adjoining section; the Mets guard their equivalents of these with nuclear weapons, and and no amount of pleading or cajoling will usually get you in even to say hello to a friend. But their security lady waved me right through- and through a chain link fence, I managed this:

MonumentsNoBanners

Hell, I probably could've sat there the whole night and waved to Marlins Guy across the diamond, but I don't repay kindness that way. Instead, I went back out to the hall, where anyone can pose with the retired crooked numbers.  I chose Casey Stengel, our original manager from when he was funny (and retired by these guys from when he was actually good)-

Casey

-and Yogi Berra, their longtime catcher (ours for maybe two days in his final year) and manager of our famed Ya Gotta Believe comeback team of 1973-

Yogi

Much as I hate the Steinbrenners, I can't question their class. George feuded with Yogi for years after firing him as manager for the umpteenth time, but finally let him back into the fold for his final years. We'd fired him, too, but only once, and we always stayed on good terms with him. But after he died over last winter, the Mets did nothing- 8 remains unretired, and no acknowledgement on the walls or unis.  Every Yankee had an 8 on their sleeve last night. Well played.

----

Then it was time for the nosebleed pills.

Cheapseats

Granted, New Yankee Stadium is not nearly as high or cavernous as its predecessor (neither is ours), but section 328 is still a haul. I did not order in time to join the official 7 Line section-


7Line

-a group of fen who root together at home and (eventually) every road ballpark, plus invading the Bronx every year on the two or four available opportunities. But they were nearby, and I was in the company of majority Met fans up there.  Also plenty of mixed-marriage families. I told one such mom that the place reminded me of my first year of high school; we'd come in from separate junior highs, and spent the first half of the first year on opposite sides of every classroom, because we'd heard that the McCleary kids were a bunch of shiv-carrying, short-tempered punks. Oddly, they'd heard the same things about us.

Whatev. The weather was perfect, the game a close one for the first half, and we even had overhead coverage:

Goodrich Blimp

Unfortunately, this was about the time the Drunken Bros showed up. Maybe they fell out of the blimp. Their leader was wearing a McCann 34 jersey; his number is not retired, nor will it ever be. But I bet he knows how many World Series rings the Yankees have; Head Bro sure does. For most of the game, he was good natured if a little anal (Bartolo Colon threw maybe 30 pitches for balls all night; Head DB cried out "GOOD EYE!" to the Yankee batter 3 miles away at least 60.)

No matter. Then something happened that shut even HIM up.

----

For the record, I hate KissCams and staged marriage proposals at ballgames. Too contrived, and the risk of her saying "no" is always so great that you always know she already did say "yes,"  kindasorta. But Ima sucker for the spontaneous, and it was during the inning when the Mets scored all four of their runs that the Yankee Fan Guy right behind me popped one question and one rock on Yankee Fan Gal next to him.

She cried. She melted. She waved rockage. And just as on the best and worst of occasions, we were all New York.
Propose


That even shut up Head Drunk Bro (DB).  For the most part before that moment, it was mostly banter. A typical exchange:

The Head DB's chant to Bartolo: "You're fat!"
Me, to the DB: "He knows!"
Bartolo: Retires the side leaving two men on.

But after the third or fourth overserved beer (I'd had two all night, plus a sip of the stolen one), he started counting off the 27 Championships as if they were on the evening's scoreboard; then, once he began getting abusive about 7 Line members in section 330 and their mothers' sex lives and was threatening throwdown with them, we "saw something and said something," and New York's finest escorted him out. Too bad for him- the Yankees mounted an almost-comeback bottom nine before Familia Put It In the Books as a 4-1 Met win.  I followed the crowd out to a multicultural row of buskers on the way to the train (no violins, though), and eventually made it to sleepage.

Which my still-charging tablet is still doing, so Part I of this series will be later than Part II. Cope.  I'm slightly detouring to the Hall of Fame on the way home, to see a real plaque for a catcher who was better than Posada was and McCann and his fan ever will be:

PiazzaHOF
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captainsblog
This is essentially a re-post of a scare piece I wrote almost a year before the 2012 election.  I've updated some of the references to be appropriate to the current set of facts, the scariest of which set concerns the absolute shitshow coming out of Drumpf's mouth.  There are serious rumblings that he will drop out of the race rather than have his brand tarnished any further by attacks from Gold Star families and crying babies- and that the resulting scramble to replace him on 51 separate ballots under 51 separate sets of rules (the deadlines for some of which are coming up later this month) may make this an impossible task.

The scenario I wrote of in December 2011 is more plausible- and, Emily tells me, has already been used as a plot point on Veep.  So here- read it and eeep:


We must consider the possibility of a serious third-party candidacy for President. There's already a libertarian ticket with a former Republican moderate as its veep, who could result in Repubs going rogue and siphoning votes off the eventual GOP nominee, be it the Orange Numpty or his ballot successor. It also wouldn't shock me if Bernie Sanders came back into the game from his far left field position.  In a bitterly divided electorate, those potentially spoilery votes could have a serious impact.

At first, I thought, yay! A libertarian thirdster would definitely hurt the Republicans more, and most Democrats are smart enough not to risk wasting their vote Nader-style again after the clusterfudge it produced in 2000. (I think you'd see a lot of vote-and-trade protest vote deals going, where a swing-state Bernie voter would hold her nose and vote for Hillary in exchange for an unneeded New York voter checking Bernie's ticky box.)

Yet, hey! Let's be careful out there. For if any of these candidates were to mount a serious enough race to win an entire state (such as the libertarians taking a place like Utah), even a small one (such as Bernie, or his Comrade-by-a-Different-Momrade Jill Stein, outpolling Hillary among the Moosemonters), we could wind up with a scenario not seen since the days of powdered wigs: no candidate having an electoral vote majority.  And this doesn't even account for the never-decided issue of "faithless electors;" despite vetting and pledging, at least one elector has cast a vote for someone other than their state's designated "winner" - or at least withheld that vote from the winner- in seven of the fourteen Presidential elections occurring in my lifetime.

Be it spoileriness or faithlessness, it doesn't matter. If no candidate gets 270 electoral votes in December, that, in turn, would bring the Twelfth Amendment into play, possibly the most important piece of Constitutional content of our lifetimes that nobody has previously ever thought or cared about.

RTFC:

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

This is what is always, and I mean ALWAYS, referred to in political speculation as the election of our leader being "thrown" into the House of Representatives. And it has only been thrown there once in the post-amendment history of the nation: in 1824, when Andrew Jackson won the most, but not enough, electoral votes in a four-way race and wound up losing to John Quincy Adams in the House vote.

Note two key points, one clear and one un.  Only the top three finishers get to be considered for the job. So in a Hill-Trump-Libertarian-Green scenario, House members could only choose among the three leading finishers (not necessarily those with the most popular votes or even the most states "won," since the electors themselves can, and occasionally do, go "off the board" and vote for someone other than "their" candidate). The House would be limited to that field, and the votes would be by state, producing a much different scenario than the mostly all-in tallies of state majority popular votes for their electoral vote distributions.

Ah, but which House does the voting? The one still technically in office on the day the electors vote in December (i.e., the current Class of 2014, which has thus far accomplished nothing but voting to repeal Obamacare 8,000 times and shutting down the government once), or the new and presumably more reasonable Class of 2016, likely to be more Dem if not majority-Dem after Drumpf drags down the party with his toxic coattails?

You'll love this: the 12th amendment doesn't say.  In the only precedent, that of 1824, it was the lame duck House that gave Quincy, Jr. the job his daddy used to have.  Although at least one analysis says that the amendment was passed specifically to prevent a House election contravening the Election Day expression of popular will, the amendment itself doesn't bother to leave in that date-ish detail.  You can bet the loser will go all the way to the Supremes over that one- and that said lineup will still be short a Pip (if not more than one) since the Senate's not confirming Scalia's replacement no way no how.

But wait- there's more. The last part of the amendment goes on about the contingent procedure to be applied if no Vice-Presidential candidate secures a majority:

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

Note the subtle differences there: Senate voters rather than House ones; no state-bloc voting (the thinking, likely, being that Senators already represent their entire states); and only the top TWO finishers in the electoral voting are eligible.  Now, double back to the previous paragraph: if the House remains deadlocked in its choosing among three, and the Senate finishes its seemingly easier work and names a Veep, either Kaine or Pence becomes the President on the 4th of March, and stays there until and unless the House names a winner. (That March 4 date ties in to the old inauguration date of the POTUS, which was changed by the 20th amendment to the current January 20 date, but which amendment did not adjust the date set forth in the 12th.)  Worse, if the Senate manages to deadlock on its task, we're looking at, you guessed it- Commander in Chief Eddie Munster:



So if the majority of the House member delegations decided to do it, they could permanently disenfranchise a majority popular vote of the people of this country, by being dilatory, politically motivated and determined not to accomplish their Constitutional task.  I am shocked, SHOCKED to hear you say that this current incompetent bunch of Teabagger-led morons would even consider such gambling within their establishment!

I pray this whole post will go down as an obscure footnote to speculative history and that we'll never have to worry about any of these issues. But until and unless Hillary saves from all this speculation in January, though? I'm gonna be getting even less sleep overnights.
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captainsblog
After getting to Rochester late yesterday (and seeing Emily for all of about two minutes), I caught up on a little work in the office here and then met friends at Frontier Field- home, since 1997, of the city's AAA baseball team.  Not many towns would get a line forming, over an hour before first pitch, to be sure of getting a bobblehead of the stadium organist, but there we were:



And here he is, fresh outta the box:



Good thing I queued for it, too- my friends, who got there a little later and came through the main gate, got literally the last one they had.  Scott had his wife, sister, parents and one of his kids with him, along with some ex-pat friends and their kids now living in Colorado, and we enjoyed the company, the food and a Wings win.

The stadium experience was virtually unchanged since the last time I was there for a baseball game- which, honestly, I can't even remember how long ago it was. The stadium is celebrating its "20th season," and that's fitting, since except for a few amenities it is exactly the way it was that year.

I'd run my phone down during the day, so my first thought was to find a charging station somewhere on the concourse.  When I asked at the guest services stand, not only did they tell me there weren't any, she seemed almost shocked that I had asked.  It's hilarious, because Rochester's always had a high-tech reputation, between Xerox and Bausch & Lomb and a home-grown phone company that now has its name on the ballpark.   They have added wi-fi to the stands- courtesy of Frontier, of course- but what's the use if your device is dead?  Around the corner from guest services was an AT&T table- sponsors of the night's giveaway. I thought they might have thought of this simple amenity. Erm, nope- but they'd mention it to their boss.  (I conserved and made it all through the game even with the photography you see here.)

Ah, that reminds me of another fairly famous Rochester company. They used to sell a lot of film to put into a lot of cameras.  Their world HQ (such as remains of it) is adjacent to the left field line of the ballpark.  Yet even their acumen didn't make it down the foul line to home plate.  Before the game, they honored Fred Costello and his family with an onfield ceremony, gave him a glass-encased jersey, and let him say some kind words to the 7,000-plus assembled:



Fred's the guy you can't see in the green shirt- and you can't see him because nobody thought to set up the mike stand out of shadow.  The pitching mound was perfectly lit, but nobody's there.

In hindsight, the city is lucky to have this place at all; it took a massive amount of effort to get team officials to agree to leave their ancient substandard home on the city's outskirts in the mid-90s, and then there was an even bigger fight to get an agreeable site and needed funding for the new place. What they got is much improved over what they had, but it still suffered in comparison to even the corresponding (and slightly older) ballpark in downtown Buffalo. Only two small outfield seating sections are covered from the elements; the video boards are embarrassingly primitive for a town priding itself on its history of leadership in photography and optics; and there are no ribbon boards for out-of-town score updates. Plenty of room and time for sponsor billboards and promotions, though- including the obligatory middle-inning meat race sponsored by Schmeigles Schmot Dogs:



In hindsight, this may all come off as get-off-my-infield-lawn complaining. Don't get me wrong; I'd kill to have crappy old Shea Stadium back, minus chargers and wi-fi and private clubs, if it could get 55,000 crazed fans in the moment the way the Mets' new place has only begun to hint at duplicating.  And I'll leave you with this establishing shot- of the field with  video boards either side of center, homaging its 1927-era predecessor. With grass that's natural, and a skyline that's memorable and meaningful, and the company of thousands of friends of all generations, of whom I knew only four or five by name:



And the Wings took the field to their traditional march referencing "Silver's pride and joy," a reference to the name of the old and gone park; they tried phasing it out to a funkier bass-heavy number when they moved here, but it didn't work.  Just as they could never update "Meet the Mets," not for lack of trying.

There may not be crying in baseball, but there is always remembering- and the memories and the music are big parts of that.  Thanks, Fred:)
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captainsblog

I used to come home at night from my job, I had a job flippin' dino burgers
I see the quarry, it'd be just closing down by then
Little bird up on the pole, he's screaming out how the working day's over
And I'd see them dinosaurs, they'd be herding out through the gates
And the workers, they'd be giving them cars a running start with their fat little feet
Now, so, so one night I'm crossing the alley and I see this one worker coming home to his little stone hut
And I seen the lady's lunch pail by the door, and he calls out to his wife, "hey Wilma! I'm home, honey"


That's from the Bruce Springstone intro to the "Meet the Flintstones" theme song- the one classic I wish the real Bruce had done when I saw him here over the winter.  It comes to mind because for the past two days, Emily and I have shared an office.  Yesterday, I got her in here bright and early, and largely let her do her New Thing while I did my Old Same Olds.  When I took her home at the end of the day, she seemed happy with how she'd done and with how the other people in the office were doing with her and her work.  By the time I got home, it had been a full twelve-hour day, but I got a decent bike ride in before hitting the hay.

This morning, I had an almost-as-early rise but had to be in court in Buffalo, so she took their car, dropped Cameron off for the day, and then met the other attorney I work with here at a networking meeting he goes to every week.  She got to meet a bunch of other professionals before the workday even began.  She was on her way home when I finally got here after court, a client appointment and some other errands, but seemed to have had a good day again.

Tonight, the friends I met for the Springsteen concert will be joining me downtown for the Red Wings game honoring their longtime organist.  The bobbleheads are in limited supply so I'm planning to get there early enough to be sure of a swag snag.  Dinner might wind up being one of Rochester's dreaded garbage plates- it's been ages since I've had one:



Okay, maybe just a hot dog or something;)

I'll stay with the kids tonight and tomorrow will be the last lunch-pail day with the kid. She'll get in on her own Thursday and Friday while I'm away.  Hopefully their cats won't stick me out the window and make me pound on their door:

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captainsblog
As far as my office here is concerned, I'm mostly on vacation this week.  Here's how that's gonna go:

At least tomorrow morning, I will be out of Buffalo at earlier-than-ass o'clock to drive out to the kids' place, and take Emily to work at our office near Rochester. This was a solution to her hours-being-cut problem; she's getting a week of paid vacay from her regular job, and will work for us for the week to fill in between an intern leaving and a maternity-leaver returning. But I'll have a 50 percent longer commute every day I go there.

Tuesday, I have court here at 9 and a client right after. Emily's going to work out getting in on her own. I will take her home, or pick up Cameron as needed, and then it's back to Rochester for a Tuesday night ballgame. I haven't seen the Red Wings at home in years, and will be meeting friends on a special night: the team's organist is being honored for 40 years of service to the team, in two different stadiums, where he has never missed a game.  They first announced he'd be commemorated with a poster. To which I, and no doubt many others, said, WTF?  No, Fred needs a bobblehead, and he's getting one:)



I'm meeting friends and their friends for the event (kids won't be there), and will then either head back home or over to their place to get Em in on Wednesday.

Then something resembling a vacation for real, starting Thursday afternoon. Court here Thursday morning, then it's a straight shot to Da Bronnix. For the first time in my life, I am going to set foot into the enemiest of enemy territories and see the Mets play the Yuckees in their fabulously Drumpfy ballpark.  Ah, to set foot where Babe Ruth once took a leak on the way to his car (the new stadium's next to where he played). To look in awe at the rafters and their 1,781 different retired numbers. And to get in the company of Met fans as soon as possible before the Bleacher Creatures take a leak on me.

I'll find a place on Long Island for the night, and spend Friday with as yet uncertain plans.  There are some museumy things there or in the city, but the real plan is to stay Friday night for my only chance I could find any time soon to see Jen Chapin.  As in Harry's daughter.  If I have time before getting out of upstate, I will try one more time to find the obituary I wrote for her father and let her know how meaningful his music has always been to me and how I'm looking forward to learning hers.

Saturday's to return, Sunday's to recover, then back at it a week from tomorrow.  If you're in any of these paths, be sure to holler.
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captainsblog
We picked up the rest of our cycling stuff today. When I found out Eleanor's was ready Wednesday night, I brought our old rack to pick up both hers and mine. They made major frowny faces about putting such new things on something so old, so we settled for putting hers (with a quick-detach front wheel) into my trunk.  Today, after pricing out a suitable new rack, we picked it up, along with my new one and new helmets for both of us.

Here's mine:



Electra's the brand of both. They call this one a Cruiser- 7 speeds on the motorcycle-style gear selector:



I just gave it the proverbial ride around the block, and it's very easy to shift, even though I've never had one of this type before.  Eleanor's is called a "Townie"-



- with two major differences. One, the pedal placement makes it easier for her feet to reach the ground while stopped; and two, there's a second gear-dial control on the left handlebar that gives her 21 gear options, important with her arthritis issues.

Finally, w0t mine came home on. The brand is Saris- I thought there was a Trek connection to that, but it's actually Galaxy Quest with an extra R in the middle- and the gizmo has room for both and is virtually idiot-proof with its straps all labeled-



It's been years since either of us has been outside on a bike- even more years for me.  And as the header says, it comes back quickly.  I will need to learn more about gear efficiency and may start recumbent-biking at the gym more just to get my buttocks back into game shape, but the nice option is that my office is less than two miles from home- a slight incline on the way there, but a corresponding coast at the end of the day.

Now I just have to get this stupid Queen song out of my head;)
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captainsblog
Papa's got a brand new binge.

::cues James Brown guitar riff::

It's called BrainDead. And while I'm doing the binge through Amazon Prime (more about that later), it's also available on the CBS site and even over the good old air if you don't mind the commercials. It comes from the minds behind The Good Wife, which I never watched but always heard good things about.

In roughly thirds, it's political comedy, sci-fi and horror.  The premise establishes before the first commercial break:  Alien ants arrive on earth via meteor. They quickly find their way to DC, where they literally get in the heads of politicians and turn them into political extremists.  Our Heroine, sister of a young Senator semi-forced to work for him, is the first (so far) to figure it out.  The casting is fabulous: O.H. is Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who we just saw (briefly but powerfully) in Swiss Army Man; Nurse Jackie sends us Dominic Fumusa as the first of the infected zombies, and an even more awesome Tony Shalhoub as the first politician to get the buggers into his head (and I swear he homages his MIB role where he knew all about heads); and Good Wife brings over Zach Greiner in an elder statesman role.

Unlike House of Cards and Alpha House, which also riff on modern politics with occasional cameos but live in their own fictional politiverses, this one is full of current clips of the real candidates and the real controversies; only the fake Rachel Maddow was a distraction, since of course NBC wouldn't let her cameo on a CBS show.  But none of the clips and back stories is really relevant or necessary to following the main plot- although watching the RNC last week, you'd think the ants had already landed and filled every head inside the joint.

Only one episode in, there's already an established trope: "You Might Think" by the Cars is constantly playing in the background, usually while servers and bar patrons are staring at Our Heroine and her reluctant compatriots with already BRAIIIIINNNNNNS-like expressions.

The episode titles are odd- almost in an Orphan Black kind of way- but the writing in them is solid, and the characters are crossing over so many stereotypical genres at once that they don't totally fall into any one trap of looking too much like Dana Scully or Doug Stamper or Doctor Crusher.  I don't know if the show can sustain even a full 24 episodes, but as something Netflix-shorty, I'm thinking it should work.

----

As I mentioned a while back, in order to get first-day ordering on Orphan Black, I had to sign up for at least a month of Prime.  You can now do this a month at a time, and for that month you get all the goodies, including two-day on everything and access to their own video material as well as commercial-free versions of things like BrainDead.  It's the first series I've watched using this service, and they've got one really nice feature compared to Netfix, Hulu and iTunes product deliveries:

At any point during playback, if you touch the screen, you get a sidebar with a headshot photo, captioned with the actor and character names, of everyone appearing in that scene at that moment.  That's a major time and battery saver for OCD viewers like me who just have to know who that is in a scene before you can pay attention to the show itself.

There may be other features in their app, but I've just begun. I am, still, a bit perturbed by how bossy Amazon is about controlling your experience- requiring not one but two full Android app downloads, one of "Underground," the other of "Amazon Video"- in order to begin watching. And Google is none too pleased about it; they do not allow them to be downloaded through the Play Store, and you have to turn off security settings- with screen after screen of warnings- before you can get them.  Plus, this tablet has been error-messaging all over the place with Google apps on it, so I'm tapping that damn screen during playback way more often than I want to see who's playing Senator Healy.

I'll likely finish the backlog before the month is up and can then CBS the rest.  If Alpha House comes back, or if any of Prime Video's other current shows are really good (anyone? anyone?), I might press on.

At least you might think so....
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captainsblog
Clients. As Rolff the Dog once sang, Ya can't live with 'em, ya can't live without 'em.

Almost every week, in a courtroom or hearing room or conference room, I come with clients who are going to testify. Most of these are essentially done under the rules of cross-examination, which means (a) I am not the one asking the questions, (b) the questioner is allowed to ask leading questions and others that may imply answers that are untrue or misleading, and (c) there is little to gain and potentially things to lose if the client strays from what is being asked.  So I always tell them ahead of time to listen carefully to the question, make a brief pause before answering to be sure they understand the question, and most importantly, not to do two things:

* Guess, or
* Blurt.

Guesses only hurt. They can lock you into positions you didn't intend.  It's fine to say "I don't know" or "I'm not sure," because the questioner can (and often will) try to narrow you into a range of answers which at least hurts you less.

Blurting is usually worse.  That's where the witness starts monologuing about something that's beyond the scope of the question, or even is not in response to anything being asked. It's the testimony equivalent of Columbo doing this-



-only they're doing it themselves (and to themselves). So I tell them to stick to the question that's being asked- and to direct to me any blurting they feel the need to do.

Neither of these things works.  Almost always, even if the hearing's only a few minutes, I can circle the word "GUESS" on my Client Bingo card, and they just as often go off the rails with saying things beyond the questions posed that they can only be hurt by saying.

Usually.

The other day, my ruulz got their comeuppance.

----

Client had her ten-minute hearing. A week earlier, I was notified of an "inquiry"- nothing implying any bad conduct, just math.  There are picky forms, which I filled out in a certain way, and the office in charge of reviewing them disagreed with and/or questioned how I'd done it.  Without getting into the picayune, it's a matter of A minus B , and if anything is left, A minus C.

A is your income, simple as that.

B is an arbitrary figure based on your state of residence and your family size- bigger family, bigger B.

If B is bigger than A, you're fine. But if A is bigger than B, you then get to add up a whole bunch of other numbers- a lot of them also determined by household size- and subtract them from A to get C.  If C is zero or negative- in other words, all those numbers you added up are bigger than A- you're fine. If not, you figure some other stuff, and you may or not be okay. In ten-plus years of doing this, I've never lost one on grounds connected just to this cookbookery.

Client came out fine the way I did it. The opposing office went through the hearing asking her questions about some items making up the C calculation, and asked us for some documentation of them. All fine, I thought. 

Then she blurted.  After all questions had been asked and answered.  But this, for once, was a good blurt.  Her family size had increased since the case was filed.  She'd never told me this before.  I redid the numbers based on the higher allowances for a plus-one household. With the extra allowance, she's fine- without even having to include any of the expense items they were asking us to document.

Will I still tell them not to blurt? Absolutely. But I will now always ask before going in, is there any one more thing, ma'am? Because my wife....
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captainsblog

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

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captainsblog

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

Good God, I'm an idiot.

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

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

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

----

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

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

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

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

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

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captainsblog

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

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

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

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

----

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

----

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Here's what it says:

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

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

Here's what it doesn't say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

----

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

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

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

----

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



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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

----

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

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

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

And speaking of happy, my beloved,

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captainsblog
Going in chronological order rather than raginess:

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

----

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

Sort of.

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

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

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

----

And last but least in customer service:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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



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

ETA. Annnnd the logo is dead. Completely scrubbed from official GOP sites. America has always been great again. We have always been at war with EurEastasia.
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