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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
I'd worked out a day of travel arrangements today based on having to be in a Rochester courtroom at 10 this morning. That bed got shat when the judge's office called close to 4:00 yesterday afternoon to advise of a postponement. Still, I'd booked other things there before that call, and kept most of the schedule intact. Including:

* Getting to my office there round 10 to organize some things and finally file a case that's been stalled for a week due to technical things;

* Heading out to catch up with Emily. First, we visited the patient, who's doing much better-


* Then taking her (but not him) to lunch and hearing a lot about their immediate and long-term plans. It's all good:)

* Doubling back to the office, finishing an appointment with a new-but-kinda-old client, and getting some downtown things filed and looked up;

* And finally getting home to finish mowing the back forty, sharing dinner tacos that Eleanor made, and starting a Neil Young concert documentary.

Virtually every minute of travel between those points was consumed by Sportstalk Talk about the Patriots and their golden boy quarterback Tom "Marcia" Brady being found civilly liable of cheating toward the end ot the last NFL season. All that remains is the proclamation of the punishment: Bills fans hope for at least a two-game suspension, so we'll be spared our annual home-game slaughter at Brady's hands in the second week of the upcoming season. The guilt of the QB and his equipment honks is obvious except to Boston-area homers; how can they explain text messages from Marcia's minions from long before the game in which they got caught, including this one, following a game where Brady got mad at them for not deflating the balls enough:

“The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating.”

Marcia Marcia Marcia, why is it always Marcia?
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Before getting to the Main Event of this post, just some quick-hitter updates:

* Arthur the Cat went home with the kids last night. He's on meds that he is responding to well, and is eating and purring his brains out. They haven't ruled out long-term Bads, but getting him home and happy without surgery is a big step.

* Harold the Purple Foot is much less purple. My followup check is a week from tomorrow, but I've done more the past couple of days without the boot on; I still wear it round downtown courts and such, but routine round-the-house stuff seems more stable with just good sneakers.

* New glasses will be in next week; I did find the missing ones.

* And Albert the Bird is still hanging about; he decamps for hours at a time across the street, and I've caught him filing flight plans around two adjacent homes while we come and go.

Right. After taking almost nine weeks to read J.K. Rowling's first under-her-own-name novel for grownups and having trouble with much of it, I put in three hours over four gym afternoons/ pre-sleep evenings watching the BBC/HBO miniseries adaptation of Casual Vacancy. Unlike the Eight From Seven films in the Harry Potter series, which varied little at all from the books, the screenwriter (Sarah Phelps, late of Eastenders) performed major magic on the text to fit it into three hours, to play to the talents of the cast, and, yes, to make it rather better than Jo did.

Spoileramuses!Collapse )
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I have no ex's who live in Texas.  I do count a few friends from there, including some now or formerly posting on LJ. We adore many musicians and writers who've grown up there. I shook hands with Kinky Friedman within the past year. So I say this with the best of intentions:

Y'all need to check the water supply and the tin foil. There's weirdass shit comin' out of there.


The incumbent governor of the Lone Star State, and a declared candidate for President now serving it in the United States Senate, have bought into the notion of a deep dark conspiracy to put Texas under martial law through something called Jade Helm. Now, of course, we have the final proof of its veracity: Chuck Norris is on the case.

“If you haven’t heard about Operation Jade Helm 15, you need to,” says noted actor, martial artist and Internet meme Chuck Norris.

It’s a training exercise planned for this summer involving four branches of the military and seven southwest states. According to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, the operation is routine (though extensive) and will have little to no impact on civilians.

But Norris, and a handful of of other conspiracy-minded critics of President Barack Obama, don’t buy it. And Norris doesn’t think you should either.

“The U.S. government says, ‘It’s just a training exercise.’ But I’m not sure the term ‘just’ has any reference to reality when the government uses it,” Norris wrote in his column for the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily Monday.

“It’s neither over-reactionary nor conspiratorial to call into question or ask for transparency about Jade Helm 15 or any other government activity,” he continued. “To those who merely think we should check our brains at the door of the White House and trust what the government does, I would reiterate to you the words of one of our government’s primary founders, Benjamin Franklin, who said, ‘Distrust and caution are the parents of security.'”

....In his column, Norris doesn’t claim outright that Jade Helm 15 is really a cover-up for a military takeover. But he does believe there’s more to the operation than officials have admitted.

Why they didn't just send Norris to repel the Union Army single-handedly is beyond me, but Guv Greg "Hey" Abbott was concerned enough to activate the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on things over this weekend. This was followed by Texas U.S. Senator Rafael "T-eh-d" Cruz (R-Canada) lending his support to keeping a watchful eye on what the Kenyan Marxist Socialist occupying the White House might be planning. He was even quoted (admittedly in a different, but just as recent, context) telling a campaign audience, "Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you."

This would be funny if it didn't have me scared shitless.


Then there are other stories, just as sad and scary, coming out of Texas. Where to begin?

The one with the most coverage, and biggest tragedy, was the ISIS attack on a Texas town's art show. But this is not the annual juried exhibition at your nearest major gallery, but rather a premeditated shouting of FIRE, YOU MUSLIM FUCKERS in a crowded public place that got exactly the intended reaction. As the always reliable Rude Pundit explained it (most of the gratuitous profanity deleted):

The American Freedom Defense Initiative....sponsored the event yesterday, the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, and it was organized by founder Pamela Geller. Geller, you might remember, has made a career of being the craziest Muslim-hater of them all. If you say you hate Muslims so much you'd cut off your finger to prove it, she'd've already cut off her arm to one-up you. The "art" show was, she said, a celebration of the First Amendment right to free expression, with a $10,000 prize going to the person who drew the bestest Muhammad cartoon of all.

Obviously, Geller saw how people loved French magazine Charlie Hebdo after its staff got brutally attacked by Muslim extremists for their cartoon depictions of Muhammad and thought, "I can do that, too, but stupidly and with bullshit justification for myself." Actually, at a meeting to discuss if the CCC should be used for the event, Garland resident Mary Ehlenfeldt said, "So some lady wants to be stupid and say, ‘I’m going to show everybody what hate is.’ That is what our Constitution says she has a right to do." The CCC had to allow the event by the ISD's nondiscrimination policy, just as it had a previous event, "Stand With the Prophet in Honor and Respect," as well as her group's event in January. The two are not remotely analogous, despite Geller's attempts to make them so. It'd be like saying a KKK rally is a rational response to a gospel concert.

Less-covered stories I saw just today include a Texas House member (a guy- go figure!) who introduced an Amendment of Crazy to an anti-abortion bill that would require women past 20 weeks to carry even a non-viable fetus to term as a form of penance: fetuses, he said, “are going to suffer, they’re going to feel pain.... That's part of the human condition, when sin entered the world, and it grieves us all.”

And, lest the kids get left out, we have a Texas high school which adopted an abstinence-only sex ed curriculum and now has a major chlamydia outbreak on its hands. (Well, more to the south of the hands.) Such stories always remind me of the dark ages in which I was taught sex ed in high school, where, pressed for clinical details, our health teacher would always blush and stammer back, "Um, use your imagination."

Now it's forty years later, and even I could not have imagined that we'd get as medieval as all of THIS.
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* Do or not do, there is no Surgery....

As of sometime this morning, the kids got some news on the kitty: it's not a foreign object causing his troubles. That alleviated a lot of guilt they'd been feeling (not entirely deserved, since you can never completely cat-proof your life). Arthur's staying overnight at the vet once more, though, while they try to figure out what IS causing the fever and blockage. The range of possibilities could be as simple as changing diet; or it could be something Bad. (This is the one Bad they've been prepared for, but it has yet to be even shown to be probable.) They've found their ways to a number of options for affording whatever presents itself, including this charitable site that one of my people-doctor friends tipped us off to, but prayers and kitty head-butts are still encouraged. We love him, even if he IS a little short for a stormtrooper;)


* The Force is Strong with This One. The Eyesight, Not So Much....

For at least the third time in recent months, I've misplaced my glasses. I've been resigned and resolving to use Health Savings money for a new pair, especially since the up-close part of my current prescription (little more than clear glass as of my last eyecheck) isn't really doing it for teeny print anymore. Last time they went missing, I literally had a Lenscrafters coupon in hand when I found the damn things on the floor. This time, though, it's a commit: I prepaid for a Living Social deal for $200 of frames/lenses for 44 bucks. It doesn't include the eye exam, but I'm cool buying that, too, and it doesn't have to be from them. This way, even if they do turn up- as they always do- I can't use that as an excuse to wuss on it- as I always do. Also, the two suits from pre-Foot that had to be ordered in, are in; and the other two, which were in and were measured, will be tailored and done by the end of the week. Which is great- but don't worry, I won't get cocky.


* These Are Not the Papers We're Looking For. Move along.

This morning brought my first court appearance since Not Operation on the Foot. I asked the court for Thing One under Statute X, or alternatively Thing Two under Statute Y. The other side sent papers last week opposing my request for Sorta Thing One, but based their opposition on my not having complied with Statute Z, which I didn't even mention. But that didn't matter, because when my case got called around 9:45 (15 minutes after the appointed time), the judge didn't have their papers anyway, and nobody else showed up, so, yay! Thing One granted!

I called the client from the hall to give him the good news. But before I got to my next stop of the day closer to home, I got a call. Opposing Lawyers hired a local mouthpiece earlier that morning, who showed up after I'd left and talked them into adjourning it for two weeks. So I had to call back to the client with a mixture of Apology (to him) and Hulksmash. Likely there's no harm in the wait, but it's just an annoyance; I found their lack of courtesy disturbing.


And finally,

Laugh it up, Feather Ball....

Albert the Tumbler Pigeon is still very much around. Eleanor figured out that he camps out, pretty much all night, in the tree directly across the street from us. She also heard him at length for the first time today, when she put out the morning noms for the birds. He practically chewed her out for the quality of the service in this establishment. And yet, we remain determined to gain his trust, get him safely into our care, and if possible return him to his original home.

Why? Because, Albert, "We love you."
"I know.
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Eleanor and I went to Avengers 2: Age of Ultron this afternoon. The previews were full of a bunch of other Formulaic Summer Blockbusters: Pixels, Ant Man, Tomorrowland- are those are just the ones they ran after we came in. But before and after the show, we were getting word from Emily, of another Gathering Storm of bad plot facing a superhero of local note:

That's Arthur in January, hiding in his Cat Cave. He's a big boy, all muscle, playful if a little skittish around possible villains like me.  They got him as their second kitty last year; tonight, he's in an animal hospital, with his humans worried sick about him.

We got the call a bit before the movie: Arthur was getting way underweight, wasn't eating, and had (sorry for the TMI) pooped funny.  Their vet has an urgent care deal, so they brought him in. By halfway through the film when I checked time and texts, he was being x-rayed. On the drive home, we knew what they knew: there's definitely a blockage, but they can't tell if it's food or foreign object. Surgery may be the only way to tell if other clearing measures don't work by morning.

They're freaked and upset, as we would be and have been many times. Unlike those times, though, we're pretty tapped ourselves. April is the cruelest month for self-employed people, as Uncle Shlomo just got more than $6,000 from me; throw in the kitchen we're already all-in on and our own medical expenses in progress, and we have little left to give right now.  Cam's 'rents agreed to kick in for the x-rays, but they've said no to the potential surgery expense. Not can't; won't.

By morning, we'll know if it's either needed or even likely to work; the C word has been mentioned as one possible cause, and we've been there with several of our kitty friends who we knew couldn't be rescued after a certain point. It's agonizing for her, and us, as we hope and pray for the best and least invasive of alternatives.

The Avengers faced worse today. We'll get through this, too. As a team.
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We're done for: we've named it. The pigeon's name is Albert. It may add an -a on the end once duly sexed, but it seems to work. He's been hanging around all day, and toodles all the way to the back of the basket we've set up under the birdfeeders in hopes of bringing him inside. Reports are that he is building trust and we may well have him inside by next week. (There's a decorative birdcage in our dining room, which we'll roll into the kids' room to ease the four-legged stress.) He'll then need a vet visit, a microchip check, and more lost bird research.

It's always been clear: They choose Us.


Sometimes, not as swimmingly as other times.

Our most annoying companion is the middle-child female cat. She's the diva, the clawer and scratcher, she who the others get along with the least, and, for the two-plus years since Tasha the dog died, the mother of her dish towels.

I've wanted to shoot this schtick for months now, and finally got a decent sample of it today:

We get this morning and night, daily. That distinct MEOW from down the hall, ending with the deposit of (usually) a cloth napkin or kitchen linen at the end of the hall or on a bedroom floor. Biggest she's ever hauled is a wadded-up dirty dress shirt from the downstairs laundry area.

God only knows what Albert's gonna make of this.
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Our traveling neighbor pigeon returned this afternoon:) Nobody's claimed hem* yet, and this afternoon's appearance has not been repeated, but it's endearing to know we've become a preferred feeding spot for hem *.

Here's the still photo Eleanor took of hem* and posted to a rescue site:



The evening's entertainment was Robot and Frank, a sweet piece from 2012 with Frank (Frank Langella) as the second-billed elder criminal, assisted in the crimes by a robot (Robot). Elements of Bicentennial Man and Breaking In came to mind, but the particular dynamic of this one was sweet and unique unto itself.


Eleanor works tomorrow. I'm planning my first real (non-footie) workout since Bad Thing tomorrow.


* Gender undetermined.
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Also, one really weird lookin' bird, but I'm going to let Eleanor handle that one.

Going backward in time for these three events of the day:

The t-bone was what happened to Cameron an hour or so ago. He's fine (he says), and it was his company's car, which got hit while he was stopped in traffic, five minutes from his workplace and some idjit t-boned his drivers side door. Fortunately, the "car" was more of a van, and he was up higher than he would've been in their car. He will be nagged beyond belief if he doesn't go check out any post-accident pain he has.

The fridge is here. It's ours. Pinocchio, you're a real kitchen now:)  I wasn't here for the delivery, but I opened it moments ago, and.... I SAW COLD THINGS. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE. THEY'RE NOT PILED ON TOP OF ONE ANOTHER ALL HIGGELDY-PIGGELDY. STUFF IS AT EYE LEVEL.   I know, I usually don't get excited about household appliances, but this was way overdue and deserved. The cooktop and microwave are also delivered, but not yet set up.  One thing at a time.

And den dere is Das Boot. I took it on my foot's first extended journey today: Rochester and back, including both offices, one court, three other lawyers' offices, and lunch.  All of it with the heavy, hockey-skatey one on except for the long drives to and from home, for which I switched into the Velcrostock sandal one. Other than stubbing one toe at one stop, it doesn't seem to have overdone it, although I'm avoiding further activity today and will take it much easier until my next Work Day Out on Monday.

Now off to not get ready for the NFL draft.

ETA. Couple things to add:

* Emily called with more detail on Wha'Happened: Cam was moving, starting a left turn, when Idjit decided he was going too slow and decided to pass him on the left.  Claims he didn't see his turn signal. Uh huh. Hard to see anything when your head is either looking down at your phone or up your own ass.

* Okay, I will talk about the bird. We both saw it out front- an all-white pigeon, hanging round the feeders.  Turns out to be a tumbler pigeon: not a website, but the kind trained to, well, tumble, like back with the spinning tops on the 60s Ed Sullivan Show. It's almost certainly a lost pet, but it seems rather taken by our yard; here's our guest strutting out front a while ago:

It boogied when a neighbor rolled in her garbage tote, but I'm guessing on a return.

* And an odd third thing: Facebook pulled a link to this very post earlier, sending my friend cafemusique a replacement link saying it had been flagged for possible malicious content. As originally posted, this entry was innocuous to the point of bordering on boring (no links within it, no pics, not even any curses!), enough to make me wonder if I'd flagged some identity-theft algorithm by being that clean.

Fuck that.

Turns out other people have been having similar issues with links to known pr0n sites like CNN and Vanity Fair.  Let's see if this revised version gets through, with embedded video and at least some added profanity.
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So much to say about things in Baltimore and beyond.  So unable to articulate much of it.  No matter what you hear from the Right, there IS an element of SOMETHING-ism that makes this status quo of police protection to be totally unacceptable, even when it's black-on-black as alleged here, and even when it's white-on-white; this sad story from near my home town shows that it can even happen to the white son of a Nassau County cop.

So maybe it trivializes things to focus on the effect it all had on a stupid ballgame, but it was unprecedented in major league baseball, so it's at least relatable as Something Big and Bad: Baltimore hosted an official championship contest today, and the box score will forever reveal something as strange as it was sad:


That last line looks weird; the picture of it, even more so:


I watched a little of it in between work things today; MLB made it their free online game of the day. With one bizarre exception:

It was blacked out online in all of Maryland and Virginia.  Yup; to protect the home team's attendance, baseball does not allow live streaming of games to even paying customers in a Byzantine tile-map of restricted areas. EVEN IF THE FUCKING BALLPARK IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

(Merlinders and Virgins only miss out on Orioles and Nationals games; we are Internet-blacked out of both New York teams- they're on our cable, so no prob- but also Cleveland and Pittsburgh games. Yet Toronto, the closest venue to us, is not subject to blackout because, Canada.)

Only one thing is reasonably certain: this great nation will finally solve its long-standing problems with race and criminal justice before our sports leagues fix their copyright and blackout rules.  I'm not staying up late expecting either anytime soon.
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Showtime Sunday nights now feature an end and a beginning: the final season of Nurse Jackie, and the first installments of Happyish, a rather bizarre take on life and advertising that sums up the former in its title and the latter in three words spoken by its star, Steve Coogan:

"Fuck Mad Men!"

I'll get to Thom in a moment. Before that, though, the first Three of Jacks:

Some spoilers for the final year"s shows....Collapse )

Previews of next week already reveal how the writers intend to push this envelope. It's painful to watch, and yet virtually impossible not to, if you've come to care about these characters over the past six years.

There are other storylines that began or continued to develop, some character-driven with another just introduced that seemed very Late St. Elsewhere-ish. There's also an Igor who lives in the basement who has potential to be fun.

Ten to go. Or is it nine?


And then in with the new.

The reluctant star of Happyish, transplanted Brit Steve Coogan, was initially best known to us from his serious turn opposite Dame Judi in Philhomena (a film he also co-wrote). More recently, we got to know his more comic side from the series of Trip mostly-mockumentaries he did with Rob Brydon. They riffed through the North of England and much of Italy, often doing Imitation Showdowns of everyone from Michael Caine to Al Pacino.

None of that in his premiere here. (Oddly, it was the preceding half hour of Jackie that broke the tension with Eddie and Coop doing Dueling Brandos as one begged the other to be his kid's Godfadda. Peter Facinelli also got in what I think was his first outright vampire joke about himself in six-plus seasons.) Rather, for all its laughs and its manifest weirdness, there was a pervading sadness in the Happyish picture. That, of course, accounts for the reluctance in Coogan's starring:

The part was originally written, or least cast, for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

At least one reviewer has speculated over whether the show's tone and inherent (if not actual) drugginess may have contributed to PSH's relapse and death. Coogan brings at least an extra amping of comic relief to having to replace the man (who, even in his more comic roles was always more dry than extreme in his humor). I don't know, for instance, if I could picture Hoffman, um,[Spoiler (click to open)]banging a Keebler elf,but Coogan pulls it off.

Neither actor could ever overshadow the influence of Shalom Auslander, writer and showrunner of the piece. I knew him best previously from This American Life bits, particularly the one transcribed in this article about the pain he endured because "my parents named me God." His premise here has quite a bit of Ira Glassian little-too-cool-for-schoolness about it, from the crazy credits giving star billing to "Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus And Alois Alzheimer" to the fantasy interlude involving sex with a cookie that doesn't even have a hole in the middle.

(Wait. That is not a spoiler. How can it be? You have to see it to understand it to spoil it, and I can't and it therefore ain't.)

Lots of it is also hard to watch- but it has enough potential to see where future top stars Marc Chagall, Abuela and Adolf Hitler take it.
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OK, not quite. The bone in my right foot IS broken. Just not as badly as was first prognosticated.

We'll get there. With pictures, even. First, the getting to the "get there," which is fun as always.

My referral from yesterday was to an outfit called UB Med Ortho Care, which is apparently a practice affiliated with my local alma's medical school.  The doc-in-a-box dude urged me (see what I did there?) to call them first thing. Turns out, though, I didn't have to: they have their own ortho-in-a-box subpractice in the same building around the corner from MASH, and they were open Sunday.  Would've saved a little cash and a lot of worry if I'd known that.

The urgent PA diagnosed it as a Jones fracture, which, as I said yesterday, is in a very tricky place on the fifth metatarsal (below the little toe) bone.  He was concerned enough to put it in a boot (I thought), order me onto crutches, and refer me to the orthopod, stat.  These predictions cost me a good amount of sleep last night as I was picturing falls from the crutches and AWOL time for surgery and PT.

I did call first thing, and got booked for 12:30 in their weekend-open annex, which apparently handles the last-minute appointments during the week. They said to come early for paperwork, so I presented at 12:10 with the Holy Trinity of Healthcare, US-style: insurance card, photo ID, health savings debit card.  I was asked for my birthdate at least twice, plus turned over my license to them. (It's in November; you could look it up.)  They grabbed the CD of my Sunday x-rays from me, took my picture for their file (healthcare impersonation is a Thing here), futzed with the computer, and Intake Lady then said, "$1,218.57?"

Holy deductible! I know I'm responsible for the first two grand all year, but how did they get to THAT?!?

They didn't. Somehow they had aged me almost two years and were trying to confirm my 12/18/57 birthday.  More paperwork, more SMILE! for the file photo, and finally a pile of documents to fill out while waiting.


Which, after all that, wasn't bad- timewise or diagnosiswise.

I got a PA again- very nice, and with one view of the x-rays confirmed that, yes, there was a break, but no, it wasn't a bad break. This is me and my fracture:

Cut for the in-need-of-pedicure radiology...Collapse )

And this is what a Jones fracture looks like:

Named, btw, for a Dr. Jones....Collapse )

See the break, how far it's down? THAT's what gets you pins and pain.

Instead, mine got the boot.


A real one- not a velcro'd Birkenstock like yesterday. This thing looks like a hockey skate sans the skate, will provide much more stability, and for two fitty of payment to the durable medical provider had better not get eaten by the dog.  I can still wear the other one in less stressed places where I'm not walking or am driving, and I can even fiddle with both of them to get back to upper body exercise and some non-impact forms of cardio- bikes and ellipticals, mainly, the latter being what I usually use anyway. No stairmasters or step-ups, duh, and NO MORE FUCKING TREADMILLS ON SHABBOS.

I'm to call back in a couple of weeks to see how the heal is. I should also have most of the EOB's by then, which will tell me just how much all this stupid has cost.

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The subject is DEATH. Not the least bit inspired by the events of Wednesday through this afternoon. Really.

Rather, it comes from an LJ post- from one susandennis. I met Susan through Eleanor, when they'd friended each other (since, not so much). We then friended each other; she, since, not so much, although I did keep her on mine, and she responds to comments I occasionally leave. Her post from earlier this weekend was a followup on one she'd done some time earlier, one I must've missed, about her having lost track of her former husband.  Another friend of hers apparently tracked him down for her, and then, just now, tracked down his obituary.  He died this past January. Nobody from his family seems to have made an effort (least not a remotely successful one) to notify her.

That strikes me as unusual, even within the often unpleasant arena of failed marital relationships. I've never entered it- not personally, nor for any family member, nor for any client in more than  30 years.  The closest I get is occasionally representing one or both divorcing spouses in bankruptcy cases. (If it's both of them, I do it, and they both specifically sign off, on what I call the "You and Me Against the World" system- I can handle their joint problems against creditors and trustees, but cannot get involved in a shred of conflict between them. Ever.) Most of these have worked out, but sometimes they get strained enough that I can't have the two of them in the same room at the same time.  Even so- I can't imagine any of them ever so losing track of the other that they wouldn't know how to get in touch with them, or that the distance (physical or emotional) would ever get so great that the loved ones of a deceased spouse wouldn't get word to their former wife or husband.

It's not just sentiment that enters in.  An ex's death could trigger a change in the other's Social Security benefits, or some long-forgotten insurance policy might have been forgotten in (or even provided for under) the terms of the divorce.  And if there were kids (there weren't in Susan's case- at least none she ever had with him), there might be medical information that should be passed along.  The guy had two other spouses that she knew of (one before her, one after), and neither of them made the obituary, either.  That's a potential goat rodeo of misinformation times three.

Bedfellows can be strange. My sister has lived in and around Binghamton, New York for almost 50 years now, and lived for about a third of those with a gentleman who'd recently divorced.  Almost from the beginning, but especially during and after Joe's battle with cancer which ended in the early 90s, Donna has been close to his ex-wife and only daughter- in recent years, probably one of their best friends in the world.  We all attended his funeral as family- dysfunctional, to be sure, but hey, it worked:)

(Oddly, Susan's now-late husband grew up in Binghamton, and one of his kids, a Robert Dennis, still lives in the area.)


The other thing this story got me thinking about is the changes in Old Journalism and social media that affect DEATH. They certainly make it easier to find out about, and discover incredibly detailed stuff concerning, the life and passing of the deceased.

First, terminology: "obituaries" are journalism. They are written by reporters, at no cost to the family, and are entirely within the paper's editorial discretion as to length and content. What many people consider "obits" are actually "death notices," essentially advertising bought and paid for by the family and/or funeral arranger, with only the cost and the paper's available space limiting what can be said.

When my father died, his was typical of death notices of the time: averaging an inch or two of small type, with little more than age, occupation, survivors and arrangements.  Accompanying pictures were rare; flags and crosses/Mogen Davids soon became an option to identify veterans and religion.  My mother's, over a decade later, was much longer and detailed. Today, these expressions are longer still, often paying the freight for the entire newspaper's budget, given the loss of display advertisers to Google and classifieds to Craigslist. Today's death notices are full of photos and quotes, and extended lists of interests and hobbies and anything else they or their family wanted everybody to know. (And sometimes that's an issue: my older sister's husband, who she predeceased by 18 years, didn't get a death notice in Newsday or the Times; Grieving Wife #2 thought it unseemly or unsafe for the family manse.)

Susan's husband also illustrates (or, rather, his death does) the other difference I've seen: the perpetuity of these things. Legacy.com, also a major player in the genealogy biz, still hosts his information for all the world to read almost four months after his passing; it'll stay up even longer if a kind relation will "sponsor" the page after the tastefully free period of shiva. Her ex was a retired journalist, so his hometown paper also gave him an extensive obituary, which will also live on in cyberspace indefinitely.  The obit spoke of his past reporting and his contribution to a Pulitzer-winning series in 1981; his death notice actually quotes at length from articles he wrote (neither of them the Pulitzer winner).

And then there are the codes (none I could find in her ex's, but they exist). Some you know: "longtime companion" was Deathspeak for gay relationships for so long, it became the name of perhaps the most famous movie about AIDS ever made.  Then there's this one, which I learned of last year in this New Yorker piece about the epidemic of drug deaths in the city's most suburban borough:

Johnathan Crupi’s parents, Barry and Candace Crupi, did not want his obituary in the Advance to say he “died at home”—a newspaper formula sometimes used for overdose victims. The writeup described him as a “wonderful kid until drugs came” and said he died of a heroin overdose.

One small but meaningful factor in me choosing law over journalism in 1981 (the year of this guy's Pulitzer- go figure) was my distaste at having the scut newsroom job of pre-writing or updating obituaries for famous people who were Not Dead Yet.  Nowadays, the internet doubtless makes these easier if not entirely unnecessary, but every now and then you'll see a story about one getting posted online to great embarrassment.  Just ask Morgan Freeman how THAT goes.


We've done no preplanning, our wills are ridiculously out of date (guardianship issues gone, among other things), and we really have to get our various plans and policies over to the planner who we did our 2014 IRA work with. But one thing's certain to me, at least: whatever gets said about me from the other side of the linen lining, be it good or bad, professionally reported or paid for, I won't hear or give a shit about a word of it.

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::at the Urgent Care, Best Care Anywhere::

Well. Now there are TWO renovations going on. The kitchen, which we committed to this morning, and my bum foot.

Yes, it's gotten annoying. No more pain than previous days, but I suspect I overdid things yesterday: not gym stuff so much, but shlepping round Home Despot's concrete floor, up and down stairs at a friend's house, and then having to cram on dress shoes and take them on and off about eight times for all the suit fittings yesterday. I awoke to much more stiffness in that foot and[Spoiler (click to open)]  a 6-square inch purple splotch in the middle of the foot, nowhere near the pain or the sprain. The stiffness went away after moving round a bit, but the decorating was a little too scary to ignore, so I resolved to get it checked out at the nearby Doc-in-a-Box....

But AFTER our kitchen appointment, which we'd made yesterday for 10 today. Plus, that would avoid the Saturday night drunks lined up at 8.

We got to the Depot a bit before 10, and headed for the sinks. Yes, the mouse was hungry again. Their shop is going to cut and laminate the new counters for us, as opposed to Eleanor's original plan of laminating the new raw counters herself. (It would've been 300 times harder and only a few shekels less.) BUT. They need exact measurements for the cutouts for sink and cooktop, and the safest measure is of a new unit you buy at the same time. Plus, the sink is also likely house-original, is heavy and stained to all get-out, and was damaged when a plumber replaced our faucet some years back. It added a buck 75 to the tab, and will look better.

Then we sat down with Ruth. Ruth is not a slack-jawed bimbo of the type you often find in "decorating." She was knowledgeable, quick but thorough, has done her own construction projects, and best of all talked to Eleanor rather than to me. We worked through all the counter specs, added in the three appliances (the sink will follow), and finally got a number with minimal upselling on extras....

And got 18 months to pay the whole thing off interest free. That is HUGE.Our tax bill will be way up this year without Emily as a dependent, and I'm sure (as I'm sitting here, in a Doc-in-a-Box) to need way more health deductible money than we got away with last year. There will still be other costs- for the (yes, everything Including) the kitchen sink, as well as for tile and tools and diddlybits, but getting the big part onto a budget plan helps a ton.

Trust me. I measured.


We were out, with a This Thursday delivery date on the three appliances, before 11:30. I headed over to MASH, its real name, about half an hour ago.

I got triaged quickly, and am now just waiting for the Doc to appear from whatever part of the Box he or she is in. The triage/rad tech had no comment as to What, How Bad or What To Do/Not Do, but I'm guessing there will be drugs, and some kind of protocol for keeping the blood from being a nuisance.

::Back home, after a pause for actual medical care::

Well, then.

The good news is,(a) no drugs, and (b) the purple in the foot is not that big a deal-just gravity, doing what it does.

On  the other hand (or foot, I suppose), I've got a really tricky fracture down there. A Jones fracture, to be precise, in a notoriously hard-to-heal segment of your basic fifth metatarsal.  "A patient with a Jones fracture may not realize that a fracture has occurred," says Doctor Internet. No shit, Sherlock.  I'd have likely gone on for days, until it really broke in half, if the lividity (my new vocabulary word) hadn't scared me.

The PA gave me a boot; it helps. He also ordered me on crutches, which I have somehow managed to avoid using for my entire life and which are now taking some major getting used to.  Finally,  he gave me an orthopedist list and said I had best get to them tomorrow first thing.  It could be wait-and-see with limits on activity, or there could be a pin going in.  (Just not 1-2-3-4; that's the one I have on my luggage.)

Blessings and silver linings:

* I have no court this week, and only a couple the following. Relatively few other appointments, too.

* I still have use of hands and brain (such as they were),  which is something like 80 percent of the job that isn't Just Showing Up.

* I have coworkers I can ask to pick up the slack on some of the things I'd normally be shlepping round  to do myself

* It  isn't really painful, except on the wounded-pride and worst-case-worrying scales.  Those are pretty frowny-face now.

 It'll be okay. But it's going to be a Project. Go me.
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Earlier today, I did something that I haven't done since George W. Bush was President:

I went into a mens' clothing store and purchased business suits.  Four of them.

You may find this somewhere between wretchedly excessive and stupid. I completely agree- that it's a stupid way to do business.

Blame the guy at the Bank.


There's been a Jos. A. Bank location near us for years- two doors down from the gym I'm at almost every day.  Back before some serious weight loss, I checked out one of their sales and found I'd fatted myself out of their inventory; I'm down enough to at least have some selection there now.  And you need to have some with their current recurring promotion:

Buy a suit, get three free.

They've run this at least four or five times since the fall, when the other guy lawyer in my Rochester office tipped me off to it. A stroke of luck on a case earlier this week made it possible, so I went in, hoping (a) I'd fit, and (b) they wouldn't be ridiculously overpriced. The answers were: Yes, and No, not really.

I didn't see a single two-piece in the place for under 300 bucks. Most in my size range were more than twice that, and some were over $800 that didn't look all that fancier-schmancier than the ones in the $600-ish neighborhood. Still. Three free, yo. So I wound up topping out just under 700 for the most expensive, and threw in the one clearancey one that was closest to 300 as one of my freebies. (The guy wound up cooking the register so I got the four for the $650 amount that was kinda the average of the four.)

The whole model seems weird- overpricing your shit and then giving 75 percent of it away for nothing? It's a variation on the old joke about the failing merchant, who brags, "I lose money on every suit but I make it up on the volume." It definitely keeps your employees hopping, having to do four times the work for the same commissions. And wouldn't you think they'd put an extra tailor or two on staff for the extra workload? Nahhhhh.

They also charge for alterations (unlike the competing* Mens Wearhouse model, which charges less and does free lifetime alterations, but doesn't do these kinds of big-deal come-ons), but Joe's alteration charges are reasonable. The whole shebang, with tax and two altered, was just over 200 per suit- about what I've always paid on average.

Most of my original collection came from the opposite concept- slash prices on everything. Rochester is still home to the Hickey Freeman clothing factory, and in the 80s and early 90s when we lived there, the Big Thing was their annual "outlet sale"- three days in, usually, a vacant vast storefront rented for the occasion, with $2000 suits knocked down to the low hundreds. But with the "lows" came the "no's"- no rainchecks, no alterations, no appointments. So you lined up in the cold in the predawn hours of Friday morning (did I mention this was in November?) to get the best, and often the only, selection. I usually did buy three or four at a time, but that was choice, not come-on. I found a good tailor near home and most of those lasted well after our move here. Toward the end of my days there, our firm started getting "private sale" passes to come in the day before, but so, apparently, did every other firm in town, and so you instead lined up in the cold in the predawn hours of THURSDAY morning for the same shit.

After we moved to B-lo, they tried taking the show on the road here- renting out a vast abandoned furniture store for the occasion (ironically subdivided later into the local home of Syms, where an educated consumer was their best customer and smarter than the idiots who bankrupted the company). But by then, neither the home or road shows were the same. Casual Fridays and Other Days had cut supply, and Bush recessions took their tolls. Hickey Freeman started doing them more often during the year, but with less to sell and smaller discounts. As of a few years ago, I'd still see ads for them, but that ship of suits has sailed for me.

I'll get two of the four back in a week or so; the other two are being switched out for slightly different coats and then those will get altered (or maybe I'll hold on that for awhile). And to be sure of having enough for the kitchen project, I'll go out next week and try to find at least four new clients. Maybe one of them will even pay;)

* I seem to recall that these two chains were going to merge after Mens Wearhouse sacked its founder and longtime TV pitchman, George Zimmer. Ah, they DID merge, and he was only mildly unhappy about it. I wonder if he'll guarantee that I'll like the way I look.
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Many will recognise that reference- to this beloved book from Emily's childhood:

So it goes with our kitchen.... and beyond.

We decided a few weeks ago that it was time to replace the built-in stovetop that's original to the home, circa 1960. It's down to two of four electric burners and is likely irreparable as to the two dead ones and the two hanging-on-by-literally-thread ones. So, replacement. The choices were "similar, though updated"- like this:

or "Starbase 12," like this:

We both leaned toward the upper concept at first, because those models were slightly cheaper, but also because they would be more likely to match the still-original '59 Buick of an oven that we're keeping.  But once we got into measurements and other logistics, the lower one became the leading contender.  It will require less cutting and pasting to get into the current space, but it is also requiring major work around it- so we're also looking at laminate for around, and tile for behind.  Eleanor will be contributing all the know-how and labour to get these actually installed, so I have every reason to defer to her expertise.

Similarly, both involve colour combinations that do not register on my personal palate, so  I'll shut up, other than to note that blue is involved.

I like blue.


Replacing the cooktop and re-tiling and laminating the counters around it will also require the temporary removal of the kitchen sink.  But moving to the left is the next obvious Thing: the refrigerator.

Movable appliances, like fridges, are generally not included in the purchase price of homes in these parts. When we moved here, we had to pay extra to keep the one that Kevin and Karen left for us; the buyer of our Rochester home paid nothing for the one we left behind (and was rather pissed we'd left it for him to have to haul to the curb).  Still, the one we bought here has served us for 20-plus years, but it's inefficient and bursting at the seams with content. So I piped up first and suggested we replace it, also, before either refinishing the cabinets above it (too small, too high) or making assumptions about counters or tiles based on Old rather than New.

Since talking about this, we've looked at a bunch of fridgedators, too- finding that bottom-level freezers are now The Thing, rather than topside ones (which we now have, and which causes cold things to tumble a lot), or side-by-siders (too 70s for me).  If we go with one of those, we'll name it Donnie- after the similar freezer unit that Alison and her husband used to store Dr. Leekie until the final resting place was ready.


But our mouse isn't done.

Hours apart, we both noticed that our current microwave is decrepit, dirty and would look like crap next to All the (New) Things in there.

And sometime in the past 48 hours, the kitchen tile samples migrated to the bathroom.

Anyone else want a cookie?
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* This week's Throwback Thursday entry:

Don't know what reminded me that I still had this- maybe all the "shop talk" going round the house with our kitchen project, which Eleanor se habla so much better than I ever have or will. I got none of it at home, and school didn't help, either- except when it came to one 40-plus-year old business card. As I retold the tale earlier:

My ‪#‎tbt‬- in junior high, they made all the boys take shop class in 7th and 8th grade. (The girls were in home ec, learning to burn popcorn.) Yeah. Imagine me with saws and power tools. The teachers were mostly frustrated ex-military types who treated us all like the juvies on the VoPro track who they taught at the high school. Alas, my bird feeder from wood shop and yard sign from metal shop didn't survive the decades, but print shop was kinda fun, and the teacher let me get away with this for the business card project:


On reflection, that was pretty prescient on my part- print shop would've been either fall '72 or spring '73, quite a bit before Watergate became a complete national obsession- and it was pretty tolerant of that one shop teacher to let me diss the incumbent President that long before his resignation.


* One moment of time I'd like to throw back:

That stupid moment of yesterday when I slipped and hurt my foot. It's much better today- I even got through my usual afternoon cardio routine without incident, although step-ups and such are still at least a few days out- and I got a reasonable mixture of sympathy and laughs from friends and family to whom I told the tale.


* The financial institution I'd like to throw into the Niagara River right before it pours over the Falls:

Not one in this town, but one that abandoned Buffalo at the retail branch level a decade or so ago. Its name can be found following a comedian's first-named Chevy, or preceding a horrible Phillie last-named Utley. It very kindly froze an opposing party's bank account for me last week, with whom I worked out a reasonable settlement premised on the amount being wired to me quickly.

Almost three full days later, no wire. Their definition of "quickly" is not the same as yours or mine.

I'm still fine if it shows up tomorrow, or even Monday, but it still sucks that they are slow in carrying out the request of their own customer (whose checks are still potentially bouncing until the wire goes through). Ironically, the bank's only remaining significant presence in Buffalo is sponsoring a corporate road race and drunken after-party for corporate challengers; this experience has me wondering if they even bother to time the results. And that's cutting to the chase of how I feel.
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None of the pieces below are what I'd planned to write about tonight. I'll save that story of Retail Adventures (non home improvement division) until the weekend. Maybe by then I'll have left the house again.


This takes REAL talent:PCollapse )


Fortunately, if this results in a visit to Doc-in-the-Box or worse, we'll be able to cope:

Diagnostic Quest! By Grabthar"s Hammer We"re Avenged!Collapse )


We also did better than several unexpected visitors to Buffalo today. The tv's at the gym blew up while I was doing similar blow-up shit, with Live Local Coverage of a jet that made an unexpected landing here on the way from Chicago to Hartford, after a passenger became seriously ill. Probably because he had the fish. And now, exclusive coverage of the pilot's emergency landing:


I have no appointments tomorrow- except, probably, with an ice pack.
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The three kids of my immediate family have created three kids of the next generation: our Emily, and Sandy's two daughters, now both in their forties, have given us two grand-nieces and a grand-nephew. We're rather distant geographically- the older one in Florida, her sister in Connecticut- but they, especially Michele, are closest to me in age, in disposition, and in shared memories to have always gotten along. Both had to deal with the death of their mother while they were still in their teens, and then with the dual heartbreaks of their father remarrying and then fighting a long battle with cancer.

They both now have kids of their own-and are making their own, new memories.


Yesterday, Michele posted this- from a minor league stadium near Palm Beach:

Her comment on posting it yesterday was just as inspiring:

If I can do it, anyone can do it... I was the kid who never raised a hand in class, couldn't get the solo in chorus, and was afraid to speak up in meetings. This one's for all our brave servicemen and servicewomen fighting to protect the land of the free and the home of the brave. God bless.

I was a lot like "the kid" she's describing, which just makes the bond between us stronger than blood.


Yesterday also brought sadder recollections from her sister Nicole, who was reminded, as she will every Boston Marathon race day, of how bad things were in 2013 and how much worse they could have been:

Hard to believe its been two years....I was looking for a picture and came across my status update and felt it appropriate to share....the Boston Marathon has been such a big part of our life and our running community....tonight, to see all the success stories throughout Facebook and on the news....it leaves me with continued hope that with some of the most unimaginable tragedy, the best in people come out and the strength and perseverance that one might have never thought they had can shine through...

Her husband ran that race; she and their son were at that finish line, blessedly way ahead of the time selected by the madmen for more crowd and fewer eyes on them as the larger group of slower runners took the worst of it. I knew they were there that day; word of the bombing reached me during a deposition, and I worried fiercely until I finally saw this that day:

Read more...Collapse )

The "share of tragedy" to which she refers is Mark having been one of the first responders at Sandy Hook barely four months earlier. They have since moved (fairly close within the same area), and their son has started school, which must come with even more separation anxiety for all concerned than it always has.


We are not a big family, or especially close-knit. But ours is a love that has endured much- and always will.
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I've really come to rely on the avclub website as my go-to for episode reviews of shows I follow- but their other work is also great.  This retrospective on Airplane!, which dropped on Friday and has been shared about 8 million times since, is a really well-done explanation of the how's and why's behind everything from the casting to the eventual release of the film.

It's one of the few I can remember seeing in a particular place.  The film came out in the summer of 1980, between my junior and senior years at Cornell, and even though you'd think a college town would have found a screen for it, my roommates and I wound up having to drive the 40-odd miles down the road to Elmira to see it.  This was also when the Internet, if even called that, was located on probably three terminals on the Engineering Quad, so the only buzz it got was in the papers, and maybe a little on primordial pop-culture shows like PM Magazine (Entertainment Tonight didn't debut until the following year).

However we heard about it, it was enough for us to make the unfamiliar drive down Route 13 and see this utterly unconventional spoof of the airplane/disaster genres. I knew about the inventors of the schtick- I'd seen the Zucker/Abrahams earlier work Kentucky Fried Movie,but this one went for far fewer of the obvious sight gags. In fact, most of its comedy came in the droll delivery of so many of the lines by the usual straight-man likes of Bridges, Stack, Graves and, especially, Leslie Nielsen. Later I learned, and the avclub piece confirmed, that most of those lines were written by Arthur Hailey of the serious Airport series of films and were lifted straight out of his screenplay for the 50s B-movie Zero Hour!:

Jerry Zucker: We’d never heard of Zero Hour! before [accidentally taping it while trawling for funny late-night television], and at first we were probably sort of just fast-forwarding to the commercials, or maybe looking at but mostly just waiting for the commercials—but then we started really watching it and getting into the movie. And, you know, Zero Hour! actually works. It was written by Arthur Hailey, who also wrote Airport. You could teach film structure using Zero Hour. It’s a perfectly classically structured film.

Abrahams: It’s like a classic three-act play: You meet a guy in the first act, you throw stones at him in the second act, and in the third act everything is resolved.

The rest of the piece speaks with the other Zucker, as well as a number of the actors, many of whom were in minor roles but still recall their places in history with fondness. The kid who played Joey, a number of the religious zealots, and Slap Woman all tell their tales.

So we watched the DVD of it last night- with so many iconic one-liners (Don't call me Shirley, Looks like I picked the wrong week, and pretty much everything Johnny ad-libbed), you forget a lot of the lesser known gags. I kept saying, "Damn! I never noticed it's Jimmie Walker[Spoiler (click to open)] washing the window!" or "Kareem is[And stop calling me Spoiler (click to open)] wearing his Laker uniform from the waist down?!?"

Once done, I checked to see if Zero Hour! was obtainable. Netflix and the library said no, and most online copies are pricey, but TMC is showing it on the night of May 13th.

I just have to remember to set all the controls on the DVR, so it doesn't come in too fast.
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I wouldn't worry too much about spoilers in this review of Orphan Black's premiere of the year last night, because to a significant extent, we STILL haven't figured out what was going on. But anyone (other than those Philistine, Canadian-hatin' Emmy voters) could see the star of this show still taking the roles where even she hasn't boldly gone before (as one rather spoilery review noted, "Let’s all try to keep track of the plotlines, throw out wild theories, and praise how Tatiana Maslany even manages to make each clone cry differently together, shall we?").

One thing about her I did catch right off: Tatiana now gets a producer credit in the opening titles. Seems only fair, because her mad skillz make everybody elses' jobs so much easier.  And Jordan Gavaris, who plays "their" brother, is now second-credited, over Dylan "Paul the Soldier" Bruce.

Now that there are even more clones than ever to keep track of, following is going to be harder. Likewise, with that comes the infinite potential for permutations of B-stories (Cosima/Delphine) C-stories (Ali running for school board? REALLY?!?) and ZZ9 Plural-Z A stories (how long HAVE you had that pet, Helena?). It also doesn't help that our BBC America feed continues to have issues with closed-captioning (the only cable channel that does), and getting through the East Ender and Gordy McGordy accents is sometimes impossible.

But at least you can buy Orphan Black swag at Hot Topic now, so they've got that going for them, which is nice:

On second thought, maybe she DOES look better rocking Ukranian Peasant gear. Must be the science.
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