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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
There are serious things going on in the world that have to be addressed. I can't just yet. Certainly it's nothing to laugh about.

My day, though? Laugh away. It can't make things any worse.

When we last refinanced our home in 2013, I posted about the near-daily struggles we were having with underwriters and other regulators to prove we were worthy.  This one had been brief and boring in comparison; they asked for relatively little stuff, and sent their approval a couple of weeks ago.  All we needed was to pay off three debts: the existing mortgage (derp), my car (little left), and one credit card of Eleanor's.

We'd authorized New Bank to get payoffs from all three.  By late last week, it was clear we wouldn't close and fund by the end of June- significant, because our current mortgage is a type that you owe the entire following month of interest for if you pay off on even the second of the month.  So I told them to shoot for late this week.  With the Monday holiday and a crazy couple of days after that, I didn't hear and didn't have time to bug them, so I thought it might be ready for us to sign by today. It has to be signed by next Tuesday under the commitment, so I got a little nervous and called yesterday, without response.

Overnight, I dreamed of snafus in the process- some underwriter suddenly wanted to know what some code was on some document.  So I planned to go to the branch first thing to check. First, though, I went into my little Technology Corner to start a process, and that's where our old landline phone number resides.  The one we barely use and rarely check.

It had voicemails.

Two from New Bank: nothing major, just a "little snafu" (yes, she used the same word) over needing an account number on our current mortgage. Easy to solve. 

The other two, from Old Credit Card Bank: calling Eleanor about possible fraudulent use of her account. I didn't even tell her; silly me, I thought it might have been triggered by New Bank requesting a payoff from them.

By the time I got to the branch in a light rain (this will be important later), the Old Mortgage problem had fixed itself, and the car payoff was in. But OCCB was giving her grief; even though Eleanor signed an authorization to provide information (common in mortgage transactions), they wouldn't tell New Bank anything unless either Eleanor herself was on the phone or she submitted a signed Power of Attorney.

We called, Eleanor at home and at the ready to jump on the line. Which is when we found out that the fraud alert was real.  Someone had used her card number to charge close to $2,000 of stuff in Dubai and Berlin (and they might've gotten more but the 2K probably came close to maxing out the limit).

So Eleanor's now dealing with two problems at once on a conference call through her cell phone, run through New Bank officer's phone. It took close to two hours, Eleanor eventually coming in to the branch and risking being late for work on account of it, but we think we've shut down the fraud AND have a viable payoff that will let the closing close.

Oh- and right before Eleanor got to the branch? Joan (our incredibly patient New Bank officer) was just sitting on hold with OCCB Customer Disservice; there was little I could do and I was now late for work myself, with a half gallon of milk for the office fridge in my back seat.  I was promised a call if I was needed and headed out to my car....

which wouldn't start because I'd left my freaking lights on.

We've been in a virtual drought here for weeks.  It's been so long since I've used the wipers on my car that when it rained for about two minutes yesterday, I forgot which switch worked the front ones versus the rear wiper. Overnight, it rained a little more, and it was drizzling this morning, so I put my headlights on and left them that way when I got to the bank.  It makes a dingy-noise, but all of this is a little distracting, yaknow.  An hour-plus later was all it took to drain the thing; hybrids have separate small batteries that run what batteries do on regular gas vehicles, and it was shot.

Finally, though, luck turned.  The AAA guy was literally in the next parking lot, and I got it jumped in under 10 minutes from my call.  I've made it to work and nothing bad has happened in a whole hour.

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I got my first-ever call yesterday from a client in Dubai.

Turns out, he's an existing client, referred by a lawyer in New Jersey for me to file some paperwork related to the case here in NYS.  The other parties to the case just filed bankruptcy, in Trenton, and he wanted me to do this and that in response to it.

Here are the concerns with that:

* I don't poach. You refer a client to me to do x, that's what I do, not a through f or whatever it is the referring attorney does. Now here, I don't know if the referring attorney does this additional work, or wants any help with it. I've asked, and am awaiting a response.  But even if the answer is yes,

* New Jersey is a fucking bitch when it comes to out-of-state lawyers poaching on their turf.

Out-of-state lawyers appear in our bankruptcy courts all the time on an individual case basis. You register for an electronic filing account (no fee), file a simple motion and proposed order allowing it for that case, and you're in.  But Joisey, once disparaged by Benjamin Franklin as "a keg tapped at both ends," cannot just throw shade at the fancypants lawyers coming in from those two taps (Philadelphia and New York City). No, they have to say "fuggedabutit" to everyone who is not a true-green member of the Jersey State Bar.  Here's how they do it:

-Require a $150 fee to appear in one case. (In contrast, New York State charges lawyers $375 as their entire registration fee for two years.)

- Also require the lawyer to pay the full calendar-year fee to the New Jersey State Court Client Protection Fund as if you were a resident attorney; that amount, in my case, would be $212 upfront, with that fee recurring on January 1st if my representation were to continue into 2017; and

- Even after all that, your temporary admission gets you no filing privileges- you still need a permanent Bar member to "stand up" for you in receipt and filing of all documents.  So you get to address the court in your own voice. That's about it.

It can get even worse even after you jump through all of these hoops- as I did, for a particularly good client of an old law firm, close to 20 years ago.  Years later, I got a letter from Trenton, offering me AMNESTY! for my years of unpaid annual registration fees to the Client Protection Fund. Nobody told them, or had reason to tell them, that I had only paid their fee for one case for one year and had neither the knowledge nor the form required to terminate my relationship to that great state.  I sent them a letter saying so and never heard back.

Still, I hesitate to do it again. Hell, now I hesitate to take the Toinpike between here and Maryland anymore, lest I get pulled over for speeding (or stuck in a gas station bathroom) and have them haul me off on a warrant for being a Bar Association scofflaw.


Then today's Court. Return with me to those thrilling days of 2015:...

I did things 1 through 6, the way they're usually done.

Other Party didn't do thing 7. I did it for them.

Trustee objected, saying I'd done thing 7 too late.

I asked the judge to let it stand. Trustee objected.  We worked out a Rube Goldberg solution where we would do, in order and on a schedule, Things 8 through 12.  All were done, except the final step of 12. That merely awaited a judge's approval of the unopposed Thing.

Except it wasn't unopposed.  Someone showed up. But meanwhile, back at the ranch, the trustee had figured out that he never should have opposed me doing Thing 7, way back when. And so we put the toothpaste back into the tube, undoing everything we'd done since then, allowing thing 7, and putting us back exactly where we were in, oh, February....

except for the probably $3,000 worth of my time that I put in that I will never see a nickel for.

At least I don't have to send any money to New Jersey, though. That I know of:P

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This week, short to begin with, was scheduled to be very middle-heavy.  Court and court-ish hearings three mornings straight, plus one tomorrow afternoon, plus two new client appointments Thursday afternoon in two different cities.  Plus plus, two adorable friends of mine (daughter of one of my besties and her BF) will be in one Niagara Falls or the other sometime Thursday and I need to try working them in as well.

Today was the earliest court, coming off a less than stellar night sleep on account of all the boom-booms, so I needed my Timmy's and how before getting on the road before 8 this morning.  The queues of cars into their drive-through the morning can be legendary, but this one wasn't too bad. Until I saw construction workers hanging around the entrance to the lane. And then placing a ROAD CLOSED sign next to my car, and then orange cones behind it.  I was to become the Last Double-Double Standing- and close to eight hours later when I drove by again, it was still blocked off.

Don't make me uncaffeinated, Mr. Horton. You wouldn't like me when I'm uncaffeinated.

Court then went okay, I settled the earlier of the two hearings I had scheduled for tomorrow, and then I got to learning some new Stupid Computer Tricks.


My iPhone music has been a mishmash since my previous Windows 8-to-10 laptop went byebye.  I managed to screw up storing it in the OneDrive cloud, and ultimately got the songs mostly back by reverse-restoring into iTunes from my two separate synced-to-phone collections.  But today, I noticed two songs were missing from two playlists.  The same song, as it turned out- three-year-apart vinyl versions of an old college-favourite band which a friend graciously converted to CDs and which I then added to iTunes last summer.  They still showed up on my PC and played when I opened iTunes on here, but in the playlists I saved them to, they appeared in a slightly lighter gray font, and no amount of deleting and restoring from songlist to playlist would ungray them on the PC or make them appear on the phone.  I did some checking, and yes, I'd seen


Yes, you can resolve this by deleting the "bad" songs off of your device manually re-adding them.

=*= This is caused by the song(s) getting corrupted on the device, so for example, if you were to unplug the device while it was synching, you could end up with these "ghost" songs. Or as someone else mentioned, it happened while adding songs while iTunes was performing other activities... So be patient.

=*= This can be a real pain because even if you were to try and add the songs again on top of the ghost songs it wont work because the device already thinks they're being loaded to the device even though they're never going to get there...

=*= There are multiple options for resolving the ghosting songs problem, but really, honestly, the easiest approach is just to take manual control of the music on the device, delete them, and re-add them.

For me, at least, it was only necessary to delete the ghosts from the playlists and iTune songlists, but doing the latter only after making note of their Windows Explorer locations (which in my case have random funky names from the reverse-engineered restoration of them) and then re-adding them to the iTunes library.  They then appeared in full font and synced just fine.

Because I ain't afraid of no ghosts;)


Having conquered Apple, I turned my sights on Amazon. Over the holiday weekend, I finished a Fathers Day gift of a thoroughly wonderful Swedish novel that Eleanor is now reading-

- and then turned to a backlog of Kindles I'd downloaded in recent weeks.  First up was one I think I was offered for all of a buck off of some you may like rec list.  I finished it tonight, and will review it in time, but I encountered something in its text that no Kindle had ever done for me before:

moar grayed text.  Well, gray underlining, anyway:

See it? It's subtle, but it was distracting to not know what it was.  My first two attempts to tap it out produced (1) dictionary definitions and (2) offers to have Audible read the line to me for just $2.99.  (No thanks.)  But I eventually produced this result hovering over the same text (and the Aldous here is not Huxley or Leekie;)

And what, pray, is that, Oh Great God Bezeus?

Amazon displays Popular Highlights by combining the highlights of all Kindle customers and identifying the passages with the most highlights.

Or, if you want a somewhat less biased opinion:

Looking for a good book to read this summer? If you want one that won't bore you halfway through, mathematics professor Jordan Ellenberg has an interesting tip: look at the Kindle highlights.

His theory: if the most popular highlights occur in the first half of the book, it might mean that people aren't reading it all the way through:

How can we find today's greatest non-reads? Amazon's "Popular Highlights" feature provides one quick and dirty measure. Every book's Kindle page lists the five passages most highlighted by readers. If every reader is getting to the end, those highlights could be scattered throughout the length of the book. If nobody has made it past the introduction, the popular highlights will be clustered at the beginning.

Thus, the Hawking Index (HI): Take the page numbers of a book's five top highlights, average them, and divide by the number of pages in the whole book. The higher the number, the more of the book we're guessing most people are likely to have read. (Disclaimer: This is not remotely scientific and is for entertainment purposes only!)

So please, no wagering!

At least one other site mentioned the potential privacy risks inherent in this; your Kindle won't display who those other highlighting reviewers are, but I'd bet that Jeff's Kindle does. And Julian Assange's. And the NSA's.

Sorry, not linking to that last one. I looked it up on my phone, and I refuse to juggle three devices at once. Especially after they shut the damn drive-through after me.

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I was trying to answer a question. Settle a bet, if you will.  Right after the Mets' improbable four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, the team with the best record in baseball (two weekends after being swept by the Atlanta Braves, with one of the worst two records in baseball), a friend mentioned one of those horrible old 70s songs that seemed fitting.

This one:

The question was, what was on the B-side of that 70s single? Before getting to that, I'll answer the two questions that are no doubt being asked by many:

What's a B-side? For that matter, what's a single?

Well, Timmy, until sometime in the 1980s, when the mommy recording artist and the daddy record company loved each other very much, the daddy would screw the mommy. (That part is largely still true.) The hard currency of their union was a "single" vinyl record, played at 45 revolutions per minute and sold in stores for under a dollar- as their descendants still sort-of are to this very day, preserved in the concept of buying a 99-cent "song" on iTunes. These records were preceded by larger 78 rpm offerings, and in time supplemented by longer collections of songs on "long playing" record albums spun at 33⅓ rpm. Although LPs existed back to the late 1940s, they didn't really become the standard of artist production for more than 30 years; only singles were sold in any measurable quantity, and only singles got airplay on the radio stations of the day.

The only other songs that had a feasible chance of beating this system were the ones pressed onto the flip side of the single that was recorded and promoted and destined for stardom. These were the B-sides. They were normally chosen for their suckiness, because if a song was any good, the label wouldn't want to give it away for free. Some relatively rare cases, particularly involving the Beatles, resulted in both sides getting airplay. But in even rarer instances, one of these B-sides would become the "hit" in spite of the label's intentions.

Perhaps the most famous of these was the still-used stadium anthem "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye." A foursome of session musicians got a studio to pick up four of their tracks for release as singles, but they needed B-side filler, and thus dragged out a silly old song from their doo-wop days and added the infectious "Na Na" chorus just to make it fit, only to have it go the 60s equivalent of viral in radio stations around the US. Most B-sides, though, are seldom heard and even more seldom worth listening to- but they exist.

And in an odd twist of fate and weather, they now represent exactly half of my tiny vinyl collection.


Back to Chicago.

My recollection was that "The Night Chicago Died," by a one-hit wonder 70s band, had a B-side called "Billy Don't Be a Hero," which around the same time was made famous by another one-hit wonder 70s band.  I don't just know this from a trivia game; I have memories of hearing their specific version of the song back in the day. And since no radio station would ever have played it, I must've owned the single at some point- and, if I had, there was a good chance I still did.

I was never that much of a record collector until college, and most of the albums I did collect before college were drek. (The original Jesus Christ Superstar, Let it Be, and a Chicago album or two are about all I'll admit to.) They were expensive on an allowance-slave or paper-boy budget- often costing more than five bucks!  Singles, on the other hand, were in the territory of impulse purchases; they'd only cost between one and two dollars with the tax, leaving enough for baseball cards, or an egg cream at the Modell's donut stand.  They were really the only cheap way to have a song "collection" in the sense that iTuners now take for granted; the only other way was to record songs off the radio, usually with deejay banter or the station jingles cutting in at the start or finish. I had many of these on very funky early-day cassette tapes, and to this day associate specific songs, from David Bowie's "Fame" to BTO's "Takin' Care of Business" to particular radio stations I recorded them from. 

These are memories with a big hole in the middle.  Higher-end hi-fi equipment was disdainful of 45s, and you needed a spindle adapter to play them- either one for the turntable-

-or, more commonly later, one inserted in the record itself which you now often see on social media LIKE AND SHARE IF YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS posts-

Somehow, only a handful of these treasures made the move with me to college; they were unsleeved (most stores sold them in generic blank envelopes if they put them in anything other than a bag) and in a pile in the foot locker that moved with me 12 times in the next 10 years and then three times since, ending up in our cellar.

I thought "Billy" might be down there, and I was right and wrong.  From a movie about a Billy, but not a hero:

We actually sang this one in church folk group for the grownups at least once, leaving out the boss karate moves and the "I....just...go....berSERK!" dialogue from the film itself.  It really fits all of the categories that made up my early musical indoctrination: novelty and/or one-hit-wonder.  Even the disk itself had considerable artwork, something lost in the iAge- althought I couldn't for a moment tell you why they were so damn proud of being from Beautiful Downtown Burbank.

Only nine remain.   These are the other eight:

Read more...Collapse )

Any vinyl albums we might've had containing any of these songs got transferred to cassettes which are now hissing piles of ancient magnetism. All of our original vinyl albums got stowed in our last Rochester cellar, and then all of them drowned when the dreaded 1991 ice storm there flooded that basement and took tons of memories with it.

Just not these.
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For thirteen years, in a galaxy far far away, I pledged allegiance to the flag.

In the year of my birth, it changed for the first time in almost 50 years- first from 48 to 49 stars, and then in another blinding flash to 50- where it's remained for my entire life.

As symbols go, it's a pretty cool one. History, embodied by the stripes honoring the original 13. Change, represented by the blue field which has grown from that original circle of 13 to the now mathematically awesome intermixing of rows of six and five making up the 50.  But ultimately, the number that counts is the number one. One flag. One nation. One out of many, as our real national motto has always put it (before the Fundies got scared by the Commies and God-ded up the official motto and the pledge in the 1950s).

I never cursed the flag. I've never burned it. Yes, I've been ashamed of some things done by those carrying it as their banner, just as I've been ashamed by some things done by those lifting high the alleged Cross. Yet this flag is my flag, as much as your flag, or Trump's flag, or Limbaugh's flag.

After 9/11, the Stars and Stripes made quite the comeback. As recently as late last summer when I've traveled around the NYC area, you still see them hung on bridges and sides of buildings.  But it's been in the current political season that I've seen it co-opted by the right, in a constant and in-your-face way that says, My country right or wrong.

We're not talking a foot-square flag attached to a car radio antenna. No, the typical adornment is a full-sized banner, more suited to your high school's flagpole, flying from a six-foot-or taller pole mounted in the back of a very macho full size F-150.  It's usually accompanied by bumper stickers expressing love of Trump and/or guns, hatred of Obama and/or Hillary, and probably a fully-armed family of stick figures in the back window of the cab. 

Let's think about how these drivers probably feel about the elements making up that symbol. They love the history; nothing those original 13 states' founders did can ever be questioned- including their support of slavery, disenfranchisement of women, encouragement of ammosexuality, or concentration of power in privileged minorities of (and within) those 13 states and the 37 to follow.

Change? Aw hell no.  The melting pot of America was good enough to take in their ancestors but not anyone who doesn't look like them now.  Our broken system of choosing our President and other leaders is seen as some sacrosanct pronouncement worthy of a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, despite the facts that the Founders did not contemplate political parties and that the current Convention form of nomination is a malformed creation of only the past half-century or so.  And despite the election and re-election of our first mixed-race President, it's clear that we have still not gotten over the underlying hatred that has been percolated back up with the acceptance (if not outright invitation) of the presumptive Republican nominee.

Finally, the unity in that United States flag is falling between the cracks of those 13 stripes.  We are not one nation but at least two- one looking forward to being the best we can be to all of our people, the other looking back to "make America great again" when "great" meant "white, churchgoing, toeing the line and doing what GM says is good for the country." 

That's not what the Stars and Stripes stand for, Bubba.  So you'll forgive me if I don't salute when your truck passes by. And if I'm not offended when some bullshit set of homeowners association rules result in some apartment tenant (who just happens to be named Samuel Adams) being asked to take his American flag down because it violated decoration rules, becoming a right-wing media darling in the process.  (It's the Land of the Free, Sam. You are free to move someplace where there are no such stupid rules.)

We don't do well with fireworks, and Eleanor's working most of the 4th, so I don't think I'll be in any active celebrations tonight or tomorrow.  But next time I attend a baseball game, I will stand, remove my hat, and express my love of nation with whatever flag is flying or anthem is sung.  Because it's my flag, too.

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We go into the second half of 2016 on what is proving to be a Mostly Dead Friday. Eleanor took the day off in anticipation of needing a followup visit with the colonscopy doc; he canceled it, but she kept the day off anyway.  Her brother's planning to visit tomorrow- first time he'll have been out since the kitchen reno last year.

I've been in the office all day, but lots of other places are closed or closing early, and I'm mainly still here because Stupidhead managed to run a page of labels that came unstuck while going through our printer/copier and now every page, whether printed or copied, comes out like this-

They're supposedly going to get to it this afternoon, so I'm kinda stuck here until they do.

If there's enough time, I've got to run "up the Transit" to the town in the adjacent county where our new Peeper Doctor is located, but not to see him. I filed papers up there electronically last week, but their office doesn't have electronic records to look up other things in connection with it.

Eleanor works Monday when I don't. One thing I might check out is this new, and very weird, Daniel Radcliffe film in which he's Manny instead of Harry:

Hank is stranded on an island and is about to kill himself.

His life flashes before his eyes and it is not the life he had imagined for himself – full of “parties, friends, guitar and possibly a girl.”

Suddenly, a man washes up onshore and although dead, his body has enough stored energy in the form of flatulence that Hank realizes he can ride “Manny” like a jet ski. While they don’t find help, they do get closer to civilization and a grateful and lonely Hank lifts Manny onto his back.

Thus begins “Swiss Army Man” – a surreal quest for survival and highly unusual buddy film.

During their adventure, Manny’s assorted body parts serve as jet ski, canteen, firestarter, gun, razor, wood-splitter, slingshot, and in moments of excitement, a compass.

And don't forget that constant farting part.  I only hope that his lifeless form still has enough wizarding in it to cry out "Expelliaramus!" at least once;)

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I had two court hearings back to back today in downtown Buffalo.  The first involved a pro se (unrepresented) litigant with a documented history of suing anyone and everyone (including lawyers, judges, DA's and so forth) unfortunate enough to get in his way.  It took over an hour, featured much positioning and occasional yelling that at one point prompted a court deputy to come in and shush everybody, and ultimately led to yet another day in court next week.

The other involved a new to me client who I was righteously indignant about what the opposition did and how it did it.  Every fellow lawyer I recited the facts to agreed with me- I was righteous in my indignation! Unfortunately, the judge did not join in that reaction, and we are now facing some unpleasant realities about where things stand and, what else?, another day in court in two weeks.

Neither was pleasant, neither was productive, but they had one other fact in common: both had prior proceedings (two of the cases before the first judge today, and an earlier incarnation of the second case before the second judge) which had been previously assigned to one particular Justice of Supreme Court in this county.

"Supreme Court" is a misnomer; it's the lowest court of general jurisdiction, the judges of which are elected by the voters of the state. Appeals from its decisions go to something called the Appellate Division of such court; it's a hybrid of elected and appointed, as the Guv elevates sitting Supreme Court Justices to this branch to sit in judgment over both their former peers and, on the disciplinary end, over the lawyers in their quarters of the state. Appeals from those decisions are rarer and not automatic, and go to the Court of Appeals in Albany, which is filled solely with Guv-appointed nominees.

In the larger upstate counties, somewhere between 10 and 20 different Supreme Court justices share the caseload.  Many of my cases here and in Rochester go to designated "Commercial Division" judges; others do just matrimonials or entirely criminal dockets and I rarely have anything before them.  But smaller, or non-commercial disputes including mortgage foreclosure cases, get randomly assigned to the rest of them. The subject of today's piece, formerly the Commercial Division judge for this county, has been one of them for the past 4-5 years, and his number's come up on probably half a dozen of my cases in that time.  It has not been the best of experiences; I've lost decisions I expected to win, even when taking note of his thinking in one case in preparing my position in a later one.  His courtroom always had a weird blend of flippancy and fear; most decisions from the bench ended with a pronouncement, "Okay, guys, that's it."

About a month ago, we started hearing Things. A downstate US Attorney, working with the state Attorney General, has been probing state corruption since mid 2014.  Last year, it led to indictments against the leaders of both houses of our state's Lej- one Democrat, one Republican. Here, also last year, a lawyer and very politically connected former Democratic official had his townhouse raided by the FBI.  Little word got out until late May of this year, when word started leaking that this connected lawyer guy- whose last name, which I am not making up, is Pigeon- was being investigated specifically for potentially criminal dealings with this very judge. There were allegations of quid pro quo transactions where Pigeon would "put in a good word" for a relative of the judge seeking employment in political circles; there was talk of this judge suddenly getting assigned a case Pigeon was involved in as an attorney and then ruling in his favor.  The judge lawyered up; the court system began reassigning his pending cases, including the pending ones that were the subject of my first hearing today.

And then, by this afternoon, the bomb dropped:

Bombshells fell on Buffalo’s legal and political circles Wednesday when it was announced that Supreme Court Justice Michalek would plead guilty to charges relating to bribery and filing a false instrument.... On May 28, 2015, state and federal law enforcement executed search warrants at the homes of Pigeon, former Buffalo Deputy Mayor Steve Casey, and Chris Grant, former chief of staff to Congressman Chris Collins. The raids stemmed from allegations of campaign finance illegalities arising out of a failed political committee run by Assembly candidate Kristy Mazurek in 2013 called the “WNY Progressive Caucus” ....

A huge cache of emails from Pigeon’s computers revealed a scheme to engage in bribery:

    State prosecutors will contend that an “understanding” existed between Michalek and Pigeon that the judge would engage in “official misconduct which advanced Pigeon’s interests,” according to the source who is familiar with the felony charges. The charges will accuse Michalek of “accepting and agreeing to accept benefits from Pigeon,” the source said.

In exchange for Pigeon’s help in finding jobs for two of Michalek’s relatives, and Pigeon’s help recommending Michalek for a seat on the Appellate Division of the 4th Department in Rochester, Michalek would make rulings on cases that were favorable to Pigeon’s interests, and went so far as to have Pigeon appointed referee on an Amherst foreclosure, which would have netted Pigeon a few hundred dollars.

Here, it should be noted that it was Pigeon’s once supposedly tight relationship with Governor Cuomo that likely would have prompted Judge Michalek to reach out for help getting an App Div appointment in 2012, and Pigeon responded, “I will start talking u up.”

Remember how appointment to this hybrid court works: the state posts job openings for the vacancies that result from death, retirement and the rare failure of an incumbent to be re-elected, but they're bizarre to read on the Civil Service bulletin board:

Qualifications: Must be an elected sitting State Supreme Court Justice.

Increasingly in recent years, judges who graduated in my law school class and even later ones have been getting these appellate appointments.  (One from my year is now on the state's highest court. Good guy.) Most of the other appointees from recent years have also been stellar jurists, but there are at least a few who I wondered about. Of those few, I knew some as practicing attorneys or appeared before them in trial courts and was less than impressed.  I would not have been impressed with having my ultimate disbarment hearing ended on the record by an Associate Justice of Appellate Division saying, "OK, guys, that's it."  But this is how close he came to getting there.

Pigeon is a known Friend of Cuomo. In his earlier times as a party boss, he was (and maybe still is) a Friend of Billary.  I'm not going to hold that against the Missus as she remains our only hope against the clueless numpty, but I do hope she has the good sense to disavow him now.

Meanwhile, assuming the plea goes as reported, this will open up a vacancy on State Supreme. I have no interest in such a job, but the time seems better than ever to get involved in the nominating process.  I'd need to come up with 1500 unchallengable signatures by mid-July, and I'd need to do it without offering any bribes.

How novel.


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Abalone! You're just being shellfish!

-from the worst collection of fish puns ever

Yesterday, we just kept swimming. First, it was time for me to do the roughly biweekly cleaning of our main aquarium.  For over a decade, this has involved changing the filters; dragging the tank into the kitchen; thoroughly cleaning the algae and other detritus out of the equipment and floor and walls and decorations; dumping the two tenants into a milk jug for the duration; refilling and dechlorinating the (now) ten gallons; dumping the tenants back in and dragging the whole assembly back.

Now, though, come to find? You're Dory-ing it wrong:

The main takes from that:

- Don't change all the water at once any more than once a month; a partial change every few weeks is better for them.

- Don't change the filter even if it looks dirty, as long as it's still circulating water at the normal speed.

- Don't do the partial water change (half to a third is fine) and the filter change at the same time.

- Do use a suction-vacuum thingie to remove the water that you do remove which will also get waste out of the gravel on the bottom.

- Do let the algae remain; it's a sign of a healthy ecosystem. If it's excessive or blocking your view, scrape it only to the extent necessary.

Once Eleanor got home with the $16 new part, these steps cut the time by more than two-thirds and the physical effort by even more. No shlepping the whole 10-gallon tank to and fro, or shocking the fish by moving them into nets and a jug and back again into colder than usual water. They kinda freaked when the vacuum hose went to the bottom, but they're fish; they won't remember a thing in five minutes anyway. Replacing the suctioned water took four dechlorinated gallon jugs and about three minutes, versus five times that for the complete emptying. And the tank/filter/heater/air hose all mostly stayed put.

Now I gotta get that aquarium guy to start working on catboxes;)


This effort came in the middle of our Day At The Cinema, where I wound up getting an unfortunate schooling on online ordering.

We'd been wanting to see Finding Dory, and since yesterday was projected to be utterly beastly in the heat department in the afternoon, that's when we shot for. I went to the ticketing site; I clicked the pretty blue fishy icon; Eleanor confirmed the late afternoon time; I picked two seats in mid-auditorium (AMC does reserved-recliner seating here, and wow there were lots of choices of where to sit); I paid; I printed our tickets....

to the wrong film.

And not anything we'd want to see, either, but a scary shark attack film:P  Too late to back out of the online order, I printed the ticket and took it to the box office, four hours early.  Good: they'd let me switch it out. Better: the Dory time was almost the same.  Not so good: only second row seating was available.

Still, we went, and it was fine, even if close enough that I didn't need glasses. (Besides, there was a beluga in the film to help with nearsightedness;)  Well done, a different enough story than Nemo but still well connected to it, and lots of in-jokes to other films, Pixar and otherwise.


Then, today, every little thing in life seems to have tanked.

A first-thing email from a longtime client (sent at 1:something in the morning) complaining about things going back to 2005.

First hour in the office producing calls from more out-of-left-field clients than I usually get in a month.

Then a call from the kid in a moderate panic over something (we think we've worked it out, but it's still not 100% certain).

It's gotten better since then. A potentially deal-breaking condition on our refi turns out (probably) not to be; I got two major piles of paperwork off my desk on time; and I may have settled a relatively small but painful-for-client case.

Now if only I can get used to the water in my tank tasting a little funny.
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Maybe it's just presidential election years that make things weird.  But it's a pattern of panic now.  Facebook Messenger fires up, and there's someone in trouble.

On a Saturday morning, a bit earlier than this in 2012, it was Coop. On her way to see the Mets in Toronto, she'd flown into our airport instead (because, way cheaper) and expected to get on a Megabus at the Buffalo airport for the final leg of her journey. No bus.  First, I tried to help her find one.  No luck. So I shrugged, pointed at the Peace Bridge and said, "Let's roll."  I got her to the Dome on time, and then had the schadenfreudish pleasure of seeing the bus she would've been on finally rolling toward the stadium long after I'd left and the game had already started.

Then, yesterday.  No game directly involved, although my friend Scott from Rochester, and his newer and more reliable car, were on a road trip to see the Reds in Cincinnati this weekend.  Mid-afternoon, I get a message from his wife; she and their two pre-teen kids were stranded at a Goodyear shop on the north edge of downtown Buffalo, with a blown radiator that wasn't going to get unblown until Monday at the earliest.

I met them. We made a plan; Scott's sister would head west from Rochester, I'd haul them east, and we'd do the handoff in the middle.  Not quite two hours later, I was home, and not long after that, so were they.

We'll see what befalls us in the summer of 2020. Assuming we still have cars and baseball by then, anyway.
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It's back.

It always is, this time of year- occasionally, other times, if inspired by some random sound or measure of music.

It's an earworm of Hamiltonian proportions- the "Independence" movement of a musical. No, not anything as vapidly bad as a High School Musical.  Worse.  We performed this one in elementary school.  Fifth grade, I'm almost certain (I'll get to why in a moment).

Prospect Elementary was a hotbed of crime. Not anything as bad as murder (although I did have a future serial killer in my kindergarten), but plenty of copyright infringement.  A few afternoons a week, we had chorus; that was the default for music education.  Our "faculty" included a band teacher who was a probable devout Communist; it was Mr. LoPatin who taught us that "USSR" was "CCCP" in the Cryllic and it transliterated into Soyuz Sovetskih Sosalistichiskih Republic. (Yes, I still remember this. No, I do not remember what my schedule is on Monday. Get off my lawn.) 

But it was Miss Walsh who was really down with the revolution when it came to the intellectual property rights of The Man.  Rather than trouble us with boring old folk songs, she mostly let us sing what we wanted- and she basically took our handwritten lyrics of Beatles, and S&G, and Joplin songs- Janis, not Scott- and mimeographed them off, mondegreens and all. 

Those were just for fun, though.  Our annual concerts- where it was our job to overcome the nail-on-blackboard efforts of Comrade L's band and Mr. Somebody's orchestra- were among the bigger infringement jobs we had going.  In sixth grade, we performed the entire soundtrack of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, that sortof debut effort by Lord Baron Lloyd Webber.  We were ahead of our time in more ways than one: for one thing, Donnie Osmond at the time was just about our age (still is, I imagine;), and more importantly, there was no public performance of the thing until the following year. Miss Walsh simply made mimeographs out of the lyrics from the concept album and pounded them out. To this day, I can remember the names of the twelve tribes of Israel from that plagiarism.

But that's going too far back in time- at least in terms of the material.  It was fifth grade that brought the musical of my current earworminess- a toe-tapping history of our beloved US of A!  From the stirring overture, through earlier times into "Goin' West!" into FDR, is givin' us all a brand New Deal!, right up to Miss Walsh updating the mimeographs- of course it was mimeographed, paying for 120 parts is expensive!- to reference Nixon's inauguration the previous January. 

Those aren't the earworms, though.  This is:

"Connecticut, are you for independence?
Are you for the pursuit of happiness?
For life and liberty and Freedom?"
Votes YES!"

Every damn Fourth, when I see the flag-draped paper plates and Independence Day bunting come out, that song comes back. I'm almost certain I'd googled it in the past without success, but this time round, a bunch of references came up- including to iTunes and CDBaby sites where you can preview and even purchase this fabulous piece of Americana:

There's even a place to buy the actual, original score and voice parts- you know, like we should have.  And it's from that site that I learned an even more amazin' fact about this piece's provenance: it's listed there as being written by "Ruth Roberts and William Katz."

The huh?!?  Unknown to me in fifth grade, Bill Katz was the chair of my future high school's music department and would, for three later years, be my conductor in marching bands and wind ensembles; he retired not long ago and remains an active Facebooker among music alums from back then.  Did he WRITE this thing?

Erm, no. But.  The East Meadow alum who straightened me on that point made an even cooler point about who these authors were:

NOW I had to listen to "Connecticut." I'd resisted, fearing the earworm would take over my entire frontal lobe.  But yeah, the beat, the repetition, the generally lovable hokiness?  That's the Mets' fight song, yo!

So come on over for the Fourth. If there's enough liquor, I might play the whole thing. If there's any left over, maybe we'll even watch the Mets game;)
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When I went to bed last night, the Mets were leading the worst team in the league, and the voters of the UK were projected to be remaining in the EU.  I even posted a joke about the latter:

By the time the midnight wakies got to me, the Mets had lost their game, and the Brits had lost their minds.

It's scary to contemplate.  One paper is reporting that today, Brits are massively googling terms like "what happens if we leave the EU"- after a 52-ish percent voting majority voted to do just that.  It was a campaign where all factual evidence simply got left on the (wrong) side of the road- Leave champion Boris Johnson drove round in a bus citing a "pants on fire"-factchecked figure for the cost of the nation's EU membership and simply ignored assertions it was false.

Sound familiar, Orange Haired One?  He stepped in it himself after the vote, putting out this tweet-

and immediately getting this response-

Not that anybody in his voting bloc will care about THAT factual inaccuracy, either.

Making it weirder is that the referendum excluded something round 5 million expat British citizens, many of them living in the remaining EU, who didn't get a say in whether they will continue to have free trade, free travel and other freedoms as a result of this.

Most of the opposition came from the same places that fill our own reddest of red states- the elderly and the rural. The ones who habitually vote against their own self-interest- hating Obamacare despite being stuck in states with no expanded Medicaid and thus the very high medical costs they complain about, and despising "Washington" without realizing that almost all of the red states receive far more in federal aid than they pay in. I'm in one of the US states that pays in far more than comes back- and it's okay. That's what makes us a nation, not a confederacy of fifty or 300 million teeny sovereign states occasionally tripping over each other.

Now, likely, Scotland will redo its own exit vote, and just as likely will vote this time to secede from the UK and return to the EU.  Meanwhile, Wales presents as clear a case of the stupidity of this xenophobia as anything:

And Northern Ireland, the only UK component with a land border with the EU, could just as likely be next.

Nice job, guys. From United Kingdom to Untied Kingdom in a fucking day.
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This was my only day this week with no specific commitments to court, clients or travel.  For the second straight day, I worked at home for the morning. It just seems silly to sit all morning in a suit when there's nobody to see it. The setup here's the same as it was for over a decade: I can make and receive calls and emails, look stuff up, produce work and do billing, and print at least modest amounts of material.

Yesterday, I was in the local office for maybe an hour, all dressed up, before court; I went home straight from that.  Today, I barely made it through the office door, and they were lucky to get me in long pants for that.  Before that, though, I went on an adventure in process service.

We sued a company and got a judgment against it without ever having formal process contact with its owner.  In this and most states, you can do that; as a tradeoff for the owner(s) getting limited liability from creditors, the Secretary of State in Albany is authorized to receive legal process on the company's behalf; they then mail it to the company's last known address.

Now, though, I need to serve the owner with post-judgment paperwork.  He has a relatively vanilla name (not quite "John Smith" but far more common than, say, mine), and I'd been flummoxed in tracking down an address. But a friend has a relative who had a tip: Not John Smith lives barely a mile from our house, and it was on my way to something else.

So Siri and I looked him up, and at 11:25 a.m. I was on his front steps....
and his Doberman was looking out the front living room window at me.

Now this could be a sweet adorable Dobie; I've known more than a few of those.  But way, WAY too silent- like the ones in Boys from Brazil who had their larynxes removed so they could eat you in peace and quiet.  Undeterred, I approached the door and rang the bell. Killer did not move, and nobody answered- but then I got an even bigger scare.  On the front door was one of these stickers:

Two was the number of dogs to which it did count. But.

Take a wild guess what the cat census was:

101 ticky boxes!

The answer is...Collapse )

So what's worse? Mauling by a mad dog, or tackling by a Crazy Cat Lady?

I'm giving it one more try before I call in the professional process server- and only if Not John is outside, with no four-legged ones in sight.


In the few minutes I was at my desk, I wound up with only one ridiculously busy moment. The other office had just left a voicemail, I was on a call with one of my Two Degrees of Kevin Bacon people (an opposing party who has completely independent dealings with three different clients of mine), and that is when the local bank officer called about our refi.

Yes, we're doing it again. No, I haven't turned it into a Very Secret Diary series here because they were asking for surprisingly little. The plan is to use the extra equity of the past few years to pay off the entire current mortgage, my car, and one credit card that just jumped interest rates on us- plus leaving some money on a credit line that we can access as needed. The interest rate will be slightly higher than we're now at, and the term will be 15 years rather than the balance of 30 we're now scheduled for, but we will not need to carry mortgage insurance anymore and that alone will make up much of the payment difference, and the No Car Payment should take care of the rest.

I kept waiting for Underwriting Hell, of the kind we got three years ago about proving every penny of my self-employment income, my receivables, even my very existence. The call today, though? None of that- it's approved, and all that remains is to get payoffs on the three loans being paid off and we could be done by the end of the month (key, because our current mortgage is FHA and has a quirky Thing where you have to pay the entire next month's interest if you don't close by the first of a month).

No extravagant plans for the remaining credit line- getting ahead on taxes for once, and funding retirement accounts, are my initial goals.  But no sudden infusions of hundreds, or thousands, or millions or billions of cats.
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I began yesterday getting scheduled for my own session with Mister Doctor Peepers. Saturday, July 23rd, what would have been my sister's 77th birthday. Maybe I can get WABC Musicradio in the waiting room.

Assuming all goes well, I've been invited to a Mets game that next Monday night with a group from UB Law School. Not sure if it'll work, since the Schedule Gods immediately slapped me with a bankruptcy hearing in Buffalo on the following Tuesday morning. I don't mind driving straight home after a day game, but an all-nighter would be pushing it.  I'll check on options for covering my hearing that following day.


Finally, a list of eligible concerts appeared today.  Nothing of any great interest.  Not even Huey Lewis ::runs like hell::

Supposedly, they've released lawn seats to a number of Darien Lake shows, including the Goos and Heart/Joan Jett (different shows).  I've yet to see formal notification of that, and I've already offered one of my two-ticket vouchers to friends who I know would like the latter. If you learn of any in your area, let me know; I have more than I'm ever likely to use.

Meanwhile, a big whoop six-and-change-dollar credit showed up on my Amazon account, perhaps over an Apple price-fixing settlement. You might want to check your account with either Apple or Amazon, to see if you have any unexpected booty.


I settled a case today. The stress in the hearing related not to inside the courtroom, but outside.

We were scheduled for 1:45.  My opponent was still texting his client well past 2. Finally, we had the structure of a deal. But the judge had another matter by then, and then my opponent needed to go feed his parking meter. By the time the court reporter showed up and he came back, I was worried about being overtime at my own meter. Fortunately, when I got back,....


That's all the news there is. I found myself in weak resignation over the Not News of yesterday- that the U.S. Senate once again blocked any meaningful reform of our gun laws because 53 of them are bought and paid for by the Nuts Running America and refused to allow even temporary restrictions on documented terror suspects like the dude in Orlando.

There's no point getting mad about it. Better to get even. If you're in a swing state like Pennsylvania, where a supposed moderate Republican conspired with this insanity, get your butt out and vote him or her out of office in November.  Maybe that will start the process of change. 
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I posted last week about the weirdness of online voting.  Some similar shenanigans are in play when it comes to online ticketing.  There's been news in the past week about it, but I am not holding my breath about any of it being of any real use.

Before the internet became the main medium of ticket exchange, there were basically two ways to get into major music and theatrical events: the box office, and Ticketsomethingorother.  They had various names in different places- Ticketron was the one connected with Madison Square Garden in New York, while a whole generation of Western New Yorkers knew where all the "Central Ticket Outlets, States and Canada" were.   They were typically in bank branches and mall stores, and offered simultaneous access to tickets without having to wait in a single line at the box office.

By the late 80s, Ticketmaster had largely bought out these competing outfits and theirs was the name on the terminal at the Kaufmann's service desk. Eventually, though, the internet removed the need for physical presence anywhere on the day tickets went on sale.  Now you can be anywhere to have no chance whatsoever of getting a good seat.

The blame goes to the "bots"- those rapid-access computer apps which let scalpers bomb the ticket sites within nanoseconds of the opening bell.  But don't you have to "prove you're a human" with some kind of CAPTCHA?, I hear you cry.  In theory, you do- but the bad guys are always one step ahead on these things; some use technology countermeasures which solve them or otherwise mask their robotity in instants, while others simply farm out the data entry to sub-Saharan wage slaves every time one of the bots gets in to the purchase queue.

The results have been depressing: I tried getting Mets World Series tickets through a limited fansite sale, and even their allotment got botted so they were all gone in seconds. When Springsteen put the entire River tour on sale one December morning, nobody had a prayer of getting more than a random single seat (which is how I managed, secondhand, to get a ticket at face value).  In both cases, sites like StubHub already had the scalped tickets for sale before the purchase door even officially opened.

Last week, New York upped its consumer protections. Supposedly.  Bots had been banned before, but with no penalty attached; now it's a misdemeanor to use them, and there are civil penalties that will allegedly be attached to anyone who knowingly resells a botted seat.  That's not as strong as what the Ham-man himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda, had wanted to see:

Staten Island Senator Andrew Lanza's version of the bill would have made the use of ticket bots a felony, punishable by more jail time, and also would have required ticket reselling platforms like StubHub to post the price that they initially paid for the tickets, so that people could see just how much more they would be paying. But that Lin-Manuel Miranda-endorsed legislation didn't make it through the assembly.

"Unfortunately we are not fixing the market," said Brooklyn Senator Daniel Squadron, who supported Lanza's stricter bill.

And given how many of these resellers are operating out-of-state or offshore, they're probably just pissing into the ocean, anyway.  One thing New York did not do was mandate so-called ticketless entry; on the contrary, we remain the only US state which outright prohibits it.  In ticketless entry, your credit card is essentially your proof of entitlement to the seat; you present it at the venue and you and only you, as the original purchaser of the seat, gets in.  The device is not foolproof- scalpers have evaded it by using Visa-or-Amex-branded gift cards to make the actual purchases and then send them to the scalpee, and in some high-roller cases the scalper has literally accompanied his marks to the venue to get them in. And others expressed concern about lines at will-call. Still, it would seem to be a start to at least make ticketless entry an option, requiring presentation of the credit card with the original purchaser's name on it, and allowing exchange for something like a "boarding pass," say, a day or two before the event.

Also contributing to the problem is just how relatively few seats are available for public sale.  The performer(s), promoter, radio stations and "exclusive deal" clubs or credit cards often wind up with close to half the ducats for any given event.  And even though Lin-Manuel came out for the little guy in Albany, his own famed show always holds back "house seats"- so that Bernie Sanders, that famed Man of the People, could just show up at the box office on the Friday night before the New York primary and get an orchestra seat.  Yes, he paid (face value) for it; and yes, house seats often go to more deserving or underprivileged patrons, but it was an extremely tone-deaf thing to have done.


The other scourge created by internet ticketing is the monopolizing of the market and of the expenses associated with the Ticketmonsters of the world.  If you are lucky enough to "get in" to one of these events, once you select your seat, you are typically bombarded with garbage fee after garbage fee. 

Let's say you want to add Weird Al to your bucket list. He's at Fleapac- the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center*- which has a combination of covered-reserved and lawn-general admission seats.  So far, they're only offering the ones under the roof, at $35 a pop. Not bad, right?  Next, you're offered delivery options, one of which is free. Yay! Still at 35 bucks.  But now they add a "processing fee" that takes it up to almost 45 per.  Many other venues add a "convenience fee" on top of the "processing fee," and some (including the evil New York Yankees) do not allow print-at-home ticketing, so it's not unusual for your final total to be double the alleged cost of the actual seat.

Last week, I started seeing friends posting on Facebook that Ticketmonster and Live Nation- the actual concert promoter they merged with several years back- had settled a class action lawsuit which claimed these fees were improperly calculcated or disclosed.  The headlines on last week's stories all said, Yo! You may have free tickets in your account mailbox! And lo and behold, I did!  Four pairs of general admission entry to "designated concert events at Live Nation owned or operated venues, subject to availability and limitations," along with four $2.25 discount coupons you can supposedly use on any of their events.

Just one problem: not a single event is listed on the website as being eligible.  So I tried using one of the free-pair voucher codes anyway. First, with Weird Al; maybe the lawn price would be deducted from the inside price?  Nope.  Then I found a Fleapac event that does have G.A. on the lawn for sale, for another event with bucket list potential: Bob Dylan, who I've never seen live. And still won't; it's not available, either.

Before I'm reduced to checking on Styx and Huey Lewis shows (more sandpail than bucket), I've decided to chill on it. The vouchers are good until 2020, assuming we're still allowed to assemble in public for concerts by then.  You can go on a notification list which will tell you when new eligible shows are added, and I just did. After messing up with multiple CAPTCHAs.  Maybe when something comes out, I'll actually beat the bots for once.


* They rebranded the place a few years ago, naming it after the corporate sponsor and its founding family member, who own the Canandaigua Wine Company, maker of Wild Irish Rose and other classy fortified brands. I refuse to acknowledge it.

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Mostly, it was hey hey hey just an ordinary day. I did a morning workout. I went to the office for mail. I killed shit in the back yard. We finished a movie, and then watched the aftershow for Orphan Black's season finale.

Oh, and Eleanor was unconscious for close to two hours.

That worked out okay, too.  Today was her colonoscopy.  I drove her Up The Transit for her 9:45 rendezvous with diverticulosis.  I then hit every light you could hit on the way back to the workout joint, but I got a full session in despite being a few minutes late. Then I grabbed coffees for both of us on the way back north, and got back to the surgery place right on time. 

Procedure went fine for her. No polyps. And less waiting, along with friendlier surroundings and nicer staff and doctor, than the idjit who did us at the nearby horsepital five years ago.  I'll be scheduling my own with them on Monday.

After we'd been home for a bit, Eleanor went round the corner to chat with a neighbor who put a "for sale" sign on her house. It went under contract very quickly.  Turns out she's just moving locally, to a smaller townhouse which will be easier to maintain. Glad she'll still be around the general vicinity.

Both mother and child have already passed along their Fathers Day cards and gifts. Nice sentiments, and cool things to read.  I still have queasy recollections of my own father, but reminders like this help immensely.
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Right. THAT was a week. I was scheduled to have five court appearances in four different places in three cities in the past three days; one got postponed, but the times and places of the remaining three of them amounted to sheer suckage. I wound up having to be in Rochester late Tuesday, early Wednesday and then again late Thursday, with just the one chance to save a round-trip by staying with the kids. The cases were also filled with weird coincidences, unexpected delays, and general bullshittery.

And speaking of shittery: Eleanor has her colonoscopy tomorrow, and today's the dreaded Prep Day. We did the his-and-hers drill for the first time each, five years ago; her screen back then had some minor but mandatory re-check stuff, so it was clear (see what I did there? you will when you do prep) that she'd be on the five-year schedule.

Me? Not so much. Mine, when done the following week five years ago, was okey-dokey, and there's no family history; but that didn't stop our previous but now discharged (did it again) G.E. from trying to schedule me for a five-year recheck, as well.  When Eleanor moved to a new practice, so did I- and I, in time, got the call to schedule.  But the new guys thought long and hard about it, and actually got the doc with me on the phone who was almost ready to call it off.  Only after I gave him a couple of TMI answers to some current-colorectal-condition questions did we decide: yeah, let's schedule it.

We haven't- yet. I'll probably do it when transporting Eleanor tomorrow.  And I do need to be sure it's covered by my insurance and to what extent.  But the prep, bad as it is, is never as bad as some make it out to be- I did it for a separate kidney-related procedure a few years ago that wound up being called off- and given how busy the Grim Reaper has been this year with both friends and famous, it seems to be a better safe than sorry call.


Back to that last court appearance:  Buffalo is known as the City of Good Neighbors. Apparently, we're a little too good.

Downtown street parking is regulated by meter receipt machines. You pay for your time and it prints out a receipt that you put on your windshield. Many times, I've given and received receipts with unused time on them- when I/they either had to overpay for time (credit cards require an hour minimum), or something or other just wound up going quicker than expected.

No more. Parking Machine II: Electric Boogaloo has arrived. You have to key in your plate number, and it prints it on the receipt. No more sharing.  How petty.  Also, in my case, how stupid: I was so flummoxed by the new tetch-naw-luh-gee, I could only figure out how to pay for the hour minimum.  The hearing, alas, lasted just over that, and by the time I got back to my car, Stanley the Butch Meter Maid had already slapped a $30 ticket on my windshield for being six minutes over.

Of course he did.  Shiny new machines, plus the chance to ticket people who forget to put in their plate number or are the recipient of a random act of kindness.  But it's okay- yesterday, I told a client I'd pay a ticky-tack $30 filing fee for him, but he insisted on sending me a check for it. So the ticket winds up being a wash.

I'd tell the City of Buffalo to kiss my ass, but I think I'll wait to do it on my own Prep Day:P

Meanwhile, out here in the burbs, I got to witness some idiot doing this when I was at the gym late in the day:

No parking ticket for HIM. I think I'll fart in his general direction, too, when the time comes.

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At the kids' tonight. I was in Rochester most of the day, most of it unproductive. Including a crosstown trip to meet a client and a mutual attorney, neither of whom showed up. Then downtown for filing, where I discovered where at least one of the sloths wound up getting work after Zootopia wrapped:

And finally got out just in time to miss a possible midweek workout at my chain's Pittsford location. But 'saright. Ate dinner with Em and Cameron, started bingewatches of something new (Grace and Frankie) and something old (West Wing, continuing the Martin Sheme), and talked with Eleanor, who among other things posted today with a picture of one of the orioles we've been courting:

Oh, and the hearing at 9 tomorrow morning I'm staying over for? The guy running it emailed me within the half hour with a list of 13 different things he wants us to produce.  I have, or can get, most if not all of them- just not on twelve hours notice.  Between the quickness he expects and the sloth I encountered, that about averages out to one normal human being:P

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Such a passionate response, and deservedly so, response to the senseless murder of 50 members of Orlando's LGBT community. Accompanied, unfortunately, by an outpouring of xenophobia and stupidity- based solely and instantly on the name of the killer.  A Muslim. Muslims bad. Just ask the almost certain nominee of the second biggest party in the country, who took the opportunity to tweet an #IToldYouSo; all but blame the current President for the attack;and then have a snit and revoke the press credentials of the Washington Post for translating the dog-whistle into English and reporting that Drumpf did say that.

Meanwhile, early yesterday- a continent away and the morning after-  police stopped another and potentially even bigger threat to the LGBTs of Southern California: James Howell of Indiana, that hotbed of Fundie Christian Sharia Law, was caught with a cache of weapons and bomb-making materials on his way to Santa Monica's gay pride parade.  While pundits were quick to state that this terror incident was not connected to the Florida one, I have yet to hear a peep of protest of how he is emblematic of radically terrorist followers of Jesus- the guy's named after one of His apostles!- who are just as dangerous and destructive in response to the dog-whistles of hate that they hear coming out of the New Testament.

It's a common thread, and these days an all-too-common one; as I posted on Facebook earlier:

Before putting a "hate" label on any religion or ethnicity based on the events of the past weekend- from Orlando to Santa Monica to God knows where the next one will be- just remember that hate is universal. Every religion preaches against it, yet every religion embraces it when it suits its dogma- and the only way to prevent hate of the "other" is to love them instead. Unconditionally.

Accompanying that was a link to this sadly still-relevant song from 1965 by Tom Lehrer.  At least back then we made at least a token effort to put away our prejudices for at least the occasional occasion:

The observance he's singing about was begun in 1934 by the National Conference of Christians and Jews- an odd confluence at the time when the former were still blackballing the latter in business and society and, not long later, actively keeping them out of our country as refugees. (Sound familiar?) It was also before the Fundies fell in love with the Jewish people in general and the State of Israel in particular, which they've done mainly because of apocalyptic prophecies requiring Christians to make nice-nice to them until they can rebuild their Temple and start the timer on the Book of Revelation.

Alas, even by my becoming sentient about such times in the 1970s, it was no longer even a big enough deal to make fun of, and by the end of the Reagan Administration and its institutionalization of dog-whistle politics, the observance was gone.

The political climate has certainly deteriorated since the demise of National Brotherhood Week - although the hatred and vitriol aimed at most of the Presidents during that period has nothing to do with bias, bigotry or racism.

Most?  Yes, my friends. Some (but by no means all) of the Obama hatred we see today is the result of racism.  There cannot be any doubt about that.  Birtherism, demands for school records, calling him and his ideas "foreign" to America - these all come from subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) racism.  Did you think that electing our first President of color would bring us closer to the color-blind society about which Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied?  Sadly, it seems to have brought us further from that dream.  Further from the goals of the NCCJ and National Brotherhood Week.

He then ends with the Lehrer song, too, because in those times, and even more in these, we need that kind of humor- to cut through this bullshit and remind ourselves that laughter and love are a combination that can overcome most anything.
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Plenty of bad news to wake up to and fall asleep to, from the world of violence and LGBT equality. It needs and will get its own commentary, but not now.

I tried for distractions.  More garden extractions and mowing.  Time in the office.  Time in the liquor store.  By afternoon, though, we each tried distractions of the video kind. Toward the end, we eventually got to stream Zootopia- delayed thanks to DRM bullshit coming on account of Emily being the source of the stream. Even this one had more violence and play on "predator" stereotypes than I could've used today.  But overall, a well-drawn and well-voiced (largely by lesser-knowns) contribution to the Disney legacy.

Earlier, on my own, I finished my binge of the six-episode third series of Peaky Blinders.  That's not going to put you into a Kumbaya mood, either. Its final 50-odd minutes took the several plotlines of the previous episodes and even seasons (Grace's death, the mysterious right-wing conspiracy, the boys' connections to both sides of the Russian/Soviet snit of 1922, Polly being painted by DS9's Doctor Bashir, and assorted plans to steal, kill and blow up stuff) and wove it into a virtual nonstop thriller with twist after turn after quiet but deadly cliffhanger at the end.  At the heart of it was Tommy's young son Charlie- who gets kidnapped in a Captain Obvious setup in the first few minutes, witnesses a Dexter boxcar-style murder that will likely turn him into a sociopathic serial killer by Series Five, and finally coos his way through his Da's double- and triple-crossing of family members in the final scene.  Before the screen goes black, Tommy hints at the return of/to his alternative horsey-set girlfriend in Series Four; and I half expect Sam Neill to show back up as a zombie or something because I can't seem to watch a show these days without the dead coming back in one form or another (Danny, Bloodline; various, Orphan Black).

Speaking of the latter, only one more of those, then I'll need to find something new for the summer. BBCA is heavily pimping Thirteen, but I'm not buying- yet. Maybe Grace and Frankie, the Lily Tomlin/Hane Fonda series I've heard good things about. Any other ideas? Bueller?
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No, not this guy:

(I'm kinda getting sick of him and his wading round in DeNial.)  No, it's the one in our back yard.  This afternoon, I gave it one of its periodic haircuts with the weedwhacker-

This, after several hours of clearing even bigger overgrowths of weeds from in and around our compost heap, and performing root canals on several backyard trees- one of which was literally growing out of an older, more established one.

I be sore, particularly from glutes to hammies.  But it's always a feeling of accomplishment.

Also, some swag came today.  One, a onesie- for a coworker about to have her second bebbie:

Wow, that thing is small, but then so are bebbies when you first have them.  Also, some sunscreen Eleanor wanted, but best of all, this:

The third novel from a longtime LJ friend of mine. And the title really works:)  I started it before dinner tonight, in between re-watching the penultimate Orphan Black and continuing our binge of old Moonlighting episodes on Youtube.

Tomorrow there will be mo'. And, of course, mow.
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