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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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Somewhere before 2 today, my marathon of the week for clients essentially ended, with the last bank statement received, the last BS opposition processed.  Other than the 4th at the end of last week, yesterday was only the second workday all month that I didn't have court (and I'd been scheduled to), and I got through all of it with relative Keeping Calm and Lawyering On.


* LeBron's.

The Interwebs have been all a-titter (and a-Twitter) all week about whether the NBA's best player would re-up with his fashionable finalists in South Beach, or return to his Rust Belt roots. Early this afternoon, he decided to go home, and did so far more thoughtfully and humbly than his Decision had been four years ago.

Now I can go back to mostly not caring about the sport. Cleveland just had too much Buffalo-like bad karma not to pay attention to the soap opera. I hope he brings them a title; hell, if the Republicans steal his arena in the summer of 2016, there's a remote chance he'll be displaced to our downtown to win it.


* Somebody's.

For the past three days, I knew somebody in one of my offices was going to be fired today. I had major agitas about just the knowing, never mind the doing: I've never had the Master Of The Universe personality to dispatch fellow co-workers, no matter the merits of the decision. I've participated in a few sacking choices over the years, but only once did I ever get tasked with delivering the bad news myself, and it was one of the worst days of my life.

I spent the ensuing 72 hours largely avoiding the person in question, lest I say or not say anything that would tip the process. Happily, the colleague who delivered the news did it well, and got a largely accepting response from the person in question- who will still be a Friend of the Show, as it were, welcome at office parties and such on account of knowing, as well as the other side did, that it was not a good fit.


* Emily's.

Late in the day, I meant to call Eleanor with a grocery request, but accidentally called Em instead. (Their mobiles are two digits off.)  She then called me back at the end of the day to return the "call," but it was good to check in with how her new job is going:

Well, apparently. So much so that, in discussing tax-withholding and pay-rate official forms, which she'll have to do again when her formal training period ends in 30 days, her boss told her, don't worry, we'll raise your pay before the end of that; you're catching on so well.

She was also able to get off two whole days next week, before and after the Artpark performance by Sara Bareilles on the 16th; her boss found it funny, and a little endearing, that Em would need the day after to recover from being up that late the night before.

Finally, for this job, and possibly future ones, she got a nice affirmation in our mail today: RIT sent her degree. Her name properly spelled, her achievement properly recognized. (They didn't round her up  the couple hundredths of a GPA point for honors on the degree itself as we thought they might, but she did also just get notification of making the Dean's List for her final semester. She seemed blindsided by that accomplishment, even though she knew she'd mostly aced the final term's courses, so her final memories of the place will be good ones:)


* Lastly, mine- of the homegrown variety.

Once the day ended at 2-ish, and the court streak ended at 7 out of 9 straight workdays, I chilled... for about an hour. Then I heard the Call of the Bush.

Eleanor began digging out a major nasty from the front gardens the other day: a juniper bush that wasn't thriving and was in a space more suited to something else she had in mind. Last night, and again by phone this morning, she asked for my help in uprooting the sucka.

She was scheduled to finish work at 4. Sometime round 4:15, she called home, and I answered, "Call me Ishmael." For I had just ended combat with the great not-so-white whale of the front bed:

That's the beastie, just upended after cutting off the last of the red-hot roots underneath it. I had filthy and slightly bloodied fingers by the time it was done, and got a bow saw blade stuck in one of the thicker ones (amazingly losing only the wingnut at the end of the blade rather than wrecking the blade itself), but it's DONE.

Which, after all, is the point of most jobs:)
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Our morning went better than expected. After meeting a client and getting a BK finalized for her, I did the necessary banking to cover the filing fee for the case, then headed over to deal with another fee, mere blocks from my office. Eleanor got a $60 bill from her eye surgeon supposedly not covered by her insurance, despite it being quite clear (to us, anyway) that she had already paid slightly more than her full $750 annual maximum out-of-pocket for non-prescription items, between his office, the surgery center, and her pre-op clearance from her GP practice.  Sixty bucks wasn't enough to raise a ruckus over, but I went in person just to make clear that this was it- that we had no intention of paying any further nickelly-dimey timey-wimey bills they might gin up in the coming months.

The office manager came out, looked on her screen, then headed to the dreaded Back Room. On her return, the number was up to $100....

but now, amazingly, it was a refund. So we're pretty damn close to the $750 that it should have been all along.

The refund is nice- it will cover most of the  Urgent Care bill that I just got today for my first ear infection appointment- but the closure is even nicer.  Twice already this year, we've gotten "oops" refunds from prior payments- I got one on an overpayment on a January prescription, but the weird one came earlier, when the local public hospital refunded all of $24.90 to her in connection with her emergency burn procedures in 2009. Along with that refund, they also helpfully included a page-long spreadsheet of all the "web transfer" errors that had been made in this particular audit, highlighting Eleanor's name and the date of the posting, but also the names and account numbers of dozens of other patients who were also getting refunds ranging from eight to seventy bucks.

HIPAA, Schmippa.


That was the good news. The annoying news of the day was that Orphan Black, and in particular its amazing star Tatiana Maslany, once again got snubbed in the Emmy nominations.  This time, last year's winner Robin Wright again got one for House of Cards (she's good, don't get me wrong, but she's not clone good); others included Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife), Kerry Washington (Scandal),  Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Claire Danes (Homeland) and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey). So, all either broadcast or premium cable outlets; BBCA is apparently Not Veddy British Enough to get the cachet that comes with a PBS airing:P

The show itself offered a healthy sense of humor over the snub, including the clip you can see in full motion here:

Maybe if Tatiana's lucky, in five years or so the Academy will refund her the Emmy she should've gotten this time (if not last).

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Yesterday,  I posted about an unusual connection between a bankruptcy lawyer I saw at 9 a.m. and a story about him I read close to 12 hours later. (I sent him a link to it, which he thanked me for.)  Today's linkage is even weirder.

This week's New Yorker features a brief profile of the actor Bill Paxton.  (Sorry about the damn paywall.) Among other things, it mentions a recent appearance of his at a local museum, and a number of his "military... doughty crew" roles in movies like Aliens and Apollo 13. Yet it does not mention the thing I probably know him best for, without even realizing it until today:

In 1979, Bill Paxton directed, and starred in, this:

I've known the song since soon after it was birthed from the warped minds of musician Robert Haimer and actor Bill(y) Mumy, formerly of Lost in Space and later of Babylon 5. "Fish Heads" was in regular rotation on the Dr. Demento show when we listened to it in college (scraping in a Rochester signal from our Ithaca apartments) and I continued listening on Buffalo's Z-98. Eventually, Eleanor and I acquired a Dr. Demento tape set, and Emily was serenaded to sleep many a night with the dulcet tones of "eat them up, yum."

Houston, we have no problem with that:)
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The bankruptcy bar of upstate New York is fairly small, compared to a lot of other practice areas, and the regulars know each other pretty well. I'm one of the few who regularly circulates in both my current home town of Buffalo (head office of the Western District of New York) and my original base of Rochester (known, unofficially but realistically, as the "Eastern District of the Western District").  There are official and unofficial differences between standards of practice at both ends of the territory, which I've been aware of since taking on my first major Buffalo case in 1986, and this morning I got to witness a Rochester dressing-down of a Buffalo practitioner (nobody I knew) who wasn't familiar with them.  But this post is all about things in the ROC, both legal and theatrical.

This morning's dressing-downer trustee started by calling the calendar- of both clients and their lawyers. One lawyer name mentioned was that of Pete, a Rochester lawyer (and not the one who drew the trustee's wrath), who I've known for most of my time in practice there. He had a case on the calendar ahead of me, but just the mention of his name jogged the memory of my own client.... who had forgotten that he is still owed money from a BK filed in 2003- a case to which Pete, years later, was assigned to liquidate as Chapter 7 trustee.  He's no longer active in that role, but just by being there, he helped my client make a more complete record for the case.

That was enough coincidence for one day, but not enough to mention in a post. This, however, is.


I vaguely remembered that, years ago, Pete helped Rochester form its own version of Shakespeare in the Park, a staple of many cities' summertime experiences.  I have memories of Joe Papp performances in New York City's Central Park in law school days, but Eleanor, Em and I have been most familiar with the long-standing troupe, originally sponsored by UB's theatre department, which for 30-ish years has done two shows a summer in Buffalo's own Olmstead park.  They've never shied from experimentation- doing an all-female Macbeth a few years back- but I'm not sure that Professor Elkin and Company have ever tried something as innovative as what Rochester's group is doing this week and into next:

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" returns to Rochester this week as the summer presentation by the Rochester Shakespeare Players. The production starts Saturday, July 5, in Highland Park Bowl, and runs for 11 performances through Saturday, July 19 — each night, except for Monday and Thursday. Admission is free and all performances are at 8 p.m.


Though it's more than five centuries old, director Luane Davis Haggerty finds "A Midsummer Night's Dream" still "very relatable in its depiction of the different stages of love and its complications. Shakespeare is also comparing love to magic — the feeling you get when you meet someone who takes your breath away — and I don't think there's anyone who can't relate to that."

Haggerty describes this "Midsummer Night's Dream" production as "history-making." A senior lecturer in the theater department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Haggerty is directing the play with a double cast of hearing and deaf actors — 33 people in all. Each role is played by a voicing actor, who has a signing (American Sign Language) actor assigned to him or her. So there are two languages in use onstage simultaneously: Shakespeare's, and American Sign Language.


And this has to do with bankruptcy, what?

Haggerty calls this hearing-deaf double-casting "history-making," and according to Shakespeare Players president Peter Scribner, no Shakespeare company in North America has ever attempted it before. Professional theaters would find the costs of hiring two casts prohibitively expensive; a volunteering community theater group like the Shakespeare Players can attempt it.

Even more to the point, Rochester has a great resource in the theater department of NTID, whose productions have been nationally recognized for their imagination and excellence. The set and lighting designers for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" are both deaf, and this Highland Park production gives many talented deaf actors a rare chance to perform outside NTID productions.

Yeah, that would be the same Pete. With a capital P which stands for proud. Our daughter just graduated from RIT, and while she had limited NTID interaction, all of her animation screenings were signed, and it's an honor to see the Bard brought into yet another language and his reach extended.

I doubt we will get a chance to see Oberon and Titania- my busy week continues, and we've got tickets for Sara Bareilles closer to home a week from tomorrow night- but I tip my cap to this company for making this amazing effort a midsummer night's reality.

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After a simply beautiful-weathery holiday weekend, my Helluva Workweek began first thing this morning with some pretty massive rain and a return to the Muggies that had marked most of the last half of June. Our weekend work on the front gutter proved to have worked, as there was mere dripping from the front of the house rather than the outright waterfall of recent months (okay, years); and I dodged the rain for my two early stops for court and client, but not the humidity that followed me home.

Tomorrow will be the longest and worst of this week's run: I have two court hearings at 9 and 10, the earlier requiring me to be at our office on the other side of Rochester by close to 8; then follow two important client meetings at 1 and 2. Then I have to be back there the next day, while still finding time before the end of the day to file and serve papers in the case here involving tomorrow's 2:00 appointment.

At least it looks like I've gotten out of a third straight Rochester trip on Thursday, assuming nobody files opposition to my motion in the next three hours. I've seen dumber things happen than that.

One dumb thing we didn't see was the Guardians of the Galaxy sneak preview; they overbooked the auditorium, and it was sold out by the time we showed up slightly late to avoid the half hour of trailers.  We're on a list for a second screening, though, so we'll see if we see.

We instead re-watched the Orphan Black pilot. Amazing how much Sarah has been through since then, and we still don't know the half of her story for her missing almost-year before she jumped in to the plot.

Calling it a Muggy night. To be followed, no doubt, by Tuggy, Wiggy, Thuggy and Friggy.
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Had a brief but bountiful breakfast with an AOL-era friend who I've kept in touch with in all the years since but had never met "live" until this morning:

That's her boyfriend to her left, his first time in these parts that she left as a kid in 1977.  Colleen is here on a mostly-legacy trip to meet many relatives in this area and down toward Wilkes Barre-Pittston PA, places she's documented much of her history as coming from.  This puts her way ahead of me, barely knowing where much of my own almost-immediate family is living these days.

Her suggestion was to work backward from what we do know; documenting Emily's information, then our own, then our sibs, and building the tree from the top down, giving permissions so that relatives can, possibly, find us.

Still, there are tantalizing clues to what I don't know- and the Internet is such an amazing place for finding out stuff about them.


Starting with just my own relatives (I actually know more about Eleanor's in some respects): I know very little about my mother's side of the family, other than that she had no full siblings, that she and her mother were abandoned by her birth father soon after her birth, and that her mother remarried and had at least some rels on his side that she (and/or my father) kept in touch with.

My father's side at least has some graves, besides his. Near it (and our sister's) is my paternal grandmother and her second husband, and that of my Uncle Arthur's rather rotund spouse. (He died in places unknown, as did his oldest son; my only other first cousin, close to my age, is somewhere out there far as I know but I've never managed to find him.)  My other sister has given me a little bit of information on my paternal grandfather's side of the family, which several generations up connected briefly with another kind of generation: dad's aunt Allie's mother was sister to one Mary S., who was Thomas Edison's first wife.

But then there's the lineage on my paternal grandmother's side. I knew she had several sisters, but I wound up in possession of two letters to "Cousin Louise" from 1960 and 1961, both of which reference her (and the author's) grandfather, one William Parisen.  That would make him my great-great GF.  I also have a bunch of primordial photostats of his vital records- marriage, death, pension- that aren't referenced in these typed-out letters but are clearly of the same person.

Lacking the envelopes, I can't even confirm the author's full name; he signs one simply as "Charlie" and one as "Cousin Charlie (Now Bill.)" with no explanation of the reason for the "now" part. But there is an address, one I never recall ever being to or seeing beyond these two letters: 58 Park Avenue in Bloomfield, NJ.

Which, thanks to the series of tubes, I can confirm as still existing:

It last sold in 2011.  I know enough about real estate land records (at least in this state) to be able to trace title back to the 1960s and see if I can get names from that which might lead someplace.  Googling the "Parisen" name has been less useful, but maybe in concert with Charlie/Bill's last name I might find something.

This is far less important to me than, say, making sure Em and Cameron have a place to live in two months, or keeping our house in order in all senses of the word, but as I get older and move closer to the top of the family line, I have more interest in knowing if we do have second or third cousins out there who might know stories of how our parents and grandparents wound up where they did.  In time, Emily may also come to appreciate such connections: her thesis film centered on her creation of a sister for her somewhat biographical protagonist, and having better understanding of our IRL bloodlines might help with that kind of character development someday.

I'm beginning the planning of some visiting and ballgaming for the first weekend in August, and the first Monday of that month may wind up a day between Mets on Sunday and Court on Tuesday. Could be the perfect time to spend a day in Joisey, and see where these half-century-old letters might lead me.
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One of the odd bennies of seeing Dear Mr. Watterson (btw, happy birthday today, Bill:) at the Buffalo International ::koff:: Film Festival last year was it got us on some studio lists for free preview screenings.  We did two late last fall, both at the Amherst: Philhomena, which we adored, and Saving Mr. Banks, which medicine didn't go down nearly as well. Both them bombarded me with review requests, and I was honestly nice with the one and not-so-nice with the other.

The Disney invitations seem to have ceased, but today, one came in for a Monday night sneak peek at Guardians of the Galaxy.  We saw the second trailer for it at X-Men DOFP, and it was a hoot. Or whatever sound raccoons make:

That's Monday night. Tomorrow's the first of six straight early days for me- to meet up with a longtime AOL friend I've never met in person and her BF, who are visiting the area. Pancakes and genealogy, yo. Then it gets compicated. Maybe I need a tree as a sidekick.
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Fortunately, not like this:

We've put off having our front gutter cleaned out in awhile. To the point where the front steps were icing up all winter from overflow from it, and where, in now warmer climate, we were getting full-blown trees sprouting up there. So Eleanor wrote a note to herself to get them cleaned when she got home from work today....

which note, sadly, was intercepted by an unsafe-at-any-speed husband;)

I hauled out a non-extension ladder to take a peek, and saw the extent of the detritis. After rooting (literally) through several handfuls of gunk, I had my first Scathingly Brilliant Idea of the day: Hymie.

Named for the robot agent in Get Smart, Hymie is our shop-vac, who bails out our cellar in its biennial sewage backups and does other occasional yeoman's service.  But today was the first time he rose this high. I planted him atop a garbage can, hauled his tentacle up to the top of the ladder, and let him suck merrily away. He got most of the flora (if not all of the dirt and the rather annoyed antfarm) across most of the front of the house, save a spot near the front steps I didn't feel comfortable going up a ladder without someone riding shotgun on me.  Still, I felt accomplished at the end- enough to post this on Facebook earlier:

Just finished cleaning out our front gutters. Alone. (Eleanor's at work, boo.) Using a kludge right out of "There I Fixed It" to expedite the process. AND, did it on a national holiday, which for us typically ends not with fireworks but with an emergency medical bill. Best of all, here I am, safe and sound, to post about it. TAKE THAT, INVISIBLE SKY WIZAR....

Fortunately, Sky Wiz never retaliated- not even after Eleanor came home and we took turns using an even dicier extension ladder to finish the cleanout and also hammer the loosey-goosey-guttery back into place along the front of the house. 


Ideas were still coming, though, even though I avoided falling on my noggin.

We learned last night that Emily did not get the Palmyra apartment she'd initially checked out. I got a series of texts, and a semi-panicked phone call, during my workout class last night. First, it turned out, the landlord was bringing several people through at once; next, they learned that the advertised apartment had already been rented, but let me show y'all this OTHER one we have! It didn't have nearly the same views and ventilation as the one they'd seen pictures of, was quite a bit more expensive, and had bird poop all over the front door.

I asked her, never mind the competition, never mind the cost; do you like it?

Erm, no.

So they were on to other possibilities seen on the street and through Craigslist, until I had Scathingly Brilliant Theory Number Two of the day later today.

Their current landlord on Rochester's western edge (Palmyra is 20-odd miles east) is a big company with lots of complexes. I googled them and got a state map, with lots of dots in Rochester's county and one lone one in Wayne County to the east.  I clicked it; it's smack dab IN Palmyra; not a six-minute walk to work like Tippi Hedren Estates was, but when Em checked it out, it looks like not much more than fifteen minutes on feets.  Plus, they probably don't need to go through as much vetting since the landlord company already knows them; it's big enough that they probably always have vacancies (she confirmed that their current complex almost always has a FOR RENT sign out front); and they might even be able to coordinate move dates and some of their deposit monies if their current place is a more desirable commodity than one they'd be taking out there.

So she's going to check it on Monday, in addition to their other explorations.  Her first two days of work went well enough that she thinks it's going to be a good fit, so this may work out well as shop-vacc'ing a gutter.
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It's effectively the end of the week here for most of us (although Eleanor gets to work the 4th- AND the 5th), so things were getting a little punchy by the end of the day.  First came this exchange of texts with Emily.

Her first:

So I haven't had my appointment to see the inside of the apartment yet, but. Found out by driving by that it's across the street from a taxidermist. Well then.

I replied:

Meh. I once looked at an apartment across from a crematorium. I figured it wouldn't be a problem as long as they were already dead.

And proof that she is, indeed, our daughter:

Lol that's what I was thinking. As long as I don't wake up to screams of dying goats or deer, I think we're all set.


Then Eleanor chimed in, with this picture from a tumblr site called Someone Ate This.  Think Cake Wrecks, only a full menu of hell.  Today's had to be shared:

And the NSFW captionCollapse )
Happy blowin' up stuff tomorrow to all of you:

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Local fans were unusually optimistic yesterday. The Sabres had a good draft over the weekend, bought out both of their big-money long-term veterans to save them from future cap risks, and, yesterday, got several free agents to agree to come here. Meanwhile, the Bills finished minicamp in June, with much promise for returning last year's much-improved defense. Best of all, none of their players suffered any significant injuries.

Today? Both took deadly shots- one to a throat, one to a knee:(

Rick Jeanneret, the Sabres' longtime voice and recent inductee to the Hockey Hall of Fame, revealed that he's been diagnosed with Stage 3 throat cancer. The prognosis is decent, but it's still a blow to an organ-eye-zation that has been through way too much in the past few years.


Topping even that news, trending nationally, was the seeming season-ending injury to Bills defender Kiko Alonso. A surprise starter as a rookie in 2013 and quickly one of their best prospects, he tore his ACL working out on his own back in Oregon, and the surgery and rehab will likely cost him all of 2014. This, after one of their other defensive stars got busted in two different states in the off-season and will likely be suspended for all or part of the year even if he avoids both pokeys.

Fortunately, we have no other major league teams, so there's nobody else to have their season ruined:P


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Waiting for a 2:00 client to show. This, after close to an hour in one court at 9:30 (waiting through two protracted legal arguments- ours took about five minutes) and a good half hour wait round noon for a two-minute unopposed appearance.

I'm getting grumpier in my old age about sitting still with nothing to do. Or maybe now it's because of institutionalized impatience- voicemails, texts and emails pile up, and while I can discreetly look at them in the back of a courtroom, I can't really sit there and thumb away replies.


Mild panic over Emily needing her birth certificate for the new job. It wasn't in the fireproof box with such things. Fortunately, she had it all along. I did come across some old letters from the early 60s from someone named Charlie (or possibly Bill), who must've been a relative of my paternal grandmother- with references to another (maybe?) relative named William Parison, who died in 1888 after serving in the military. I have a longtime never-met friend from AOL days who will be visiting the area this coming weekend (she grew up near Niagara Falls), and she's quite the genealogist, so maybe she can help me learn where these letters might lead.


My standard 30 minutes of grace are almost up. Off to bank.


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Today brought news, in our own local little world, that was quite good. Beyond our local range of zip codes, less so.

I saw the kids briefly today, on a round of Rochester errands that started late (due to a late-morning doctor's appointment- see below) and ended early (due to a need to get back before the end of the workday). When  I stopped at their apartment, Emily filled me in on her work and their living plans. She was scheduled to begin training at the new job tomorrow; that's been pushed back a day due to some air-conditioning issues at the rather ancient building she'll be working at- and she'd also worked things out with her current part-time people to continue on weekends there for at least the time being. Even with those extra hours, though, she was about ready to give notice to their current landlord to be out by the end of next month, which had to be delivered today. 

In the end, it was a good thing that it wasn't. Because she called just as I was heading back home, to tell me they'd found what might be the perfect place for them, literally minutes on foot from where she'll be working in the Village of Palmyra.  It's a two-bedroom, with full kitchen, hookups for their own washer/dryer, and is cat-friendly.  The rent will be $150 a month less than they're paying now for much less space. Gas and electric are not included, but they're already paying an electric bill at the current apartment. One concern was that it's on a corner building just a block from the heart of Palmyra (which, as every schoolkid knows, is the place where Joseph Smith founded the LDS Church back in the 1800s). Eleanor reassured her that a corner lot in Palmyra is not the same as some of the urban streety places we looked at two summers ago. I heard that part of the conversation and chimed in, "C'mon, it's fucking Mormons." The biggest distraction will likely be white-shirted missionaries knocking on their door.

They have an appointment to look at it Thursday; if they like it, and the landlord likes them (and their/our credit), they can have it September 1st, giving them more time to plan the transition. This, I like:)


The idiots of the day, on the other hand, are down in DC. Five of them on the Supreme Court decided that "closely held" corporations (which can be huge) have more human rights than 51 percent of the population of this country. They got there through a ruling that's so full of shit that it's going to need a septic service truck to clean the tank out.  The swing-voter would have upheld the Obamacare contraceptive mandate except for the illusory notion that, in his view, the government could directly provide such health care benefits in any case where a "sincere" corporation found it against its views.  As if that's gonna happen; and as if that would stop Hobby Lobbies from suing anyway, just as the Little Sisters of the Poor did when the Administration carved out just such a loophole for them. Apparently, signing a statement that you object to providing contraception is just as religiously offensive as providing it, because, slippery slope.

I'd like to see these five grumpy old men slide down an ice-coated slippery slope into the waiting gates of hell right about now.


Below those levels of hell are the ones inside my ears, and those are the ones I dealt with late this morning. Seven days of ordinary antibiotics slowed, but did not stop, my ear infection, and it got worse again over the weekend. This time, I called my own doc first thing and got a late-morning checkup. He prescribed a higher-dosed and faster-acting med, which allegedly will cure it in 10 days after taking the drug for only five. I've done the first day's double dose and am crossing my fingers (and eardrum) that this one kills the nasties.
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Are they the same as the new clones? 

Now a week has passed since the final Orphan Black blew our minds.  Even though we DVR'd the finale as it played, I downloaded the iTunes version the next morning so we could watch it with legible captions and without BBCA's usual stupid and often inappropriate commercials. And it did not disappoint.  Spoilers behind all:

Dance dance dance!Collapse )

Sure beats a sharp stick in the eye;)Collapse )

Hush hush sweet CharlotteCollapse )

And finally, Castor Marks the SpotCollapse )

The DVD's are due in about three weeks, and we'll see how many specials are on there. There are a bunch of extras on iTunes that are only available with the season pass, so I may wind up getting that in the end if they don't, um, duplicate the ones in the box set.

And so, until next season:

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Our local paper fanned some 150-year old flames today over a secession controversy that only a handful of people care about. Meanwhile, there has been virtually no coverage in this country over a real secession controversy which, just over two months from now, may have major implications on Western democracies and economies.

Let's begin with what you're NOT hearing about:

On September 18th, the British subjects of Scotland will vote on whether to become an independent nation from their neighbours to the south. If they succeed and secede, it will end a Union which began in 1706, 70 years (give or take a war or two) before our own Most Perfect One:

The Union flag—featured on everything from tacky souvenirs and Spice Girls attire, to the top of the flagpole on Buckingham Palace and in the design of national flags the world over—could lose its signature blue background and diagonal white cross if Scotland votes to become an independent country in its referendum on Sept. 18.

Those aspects of one of the world’s most recognizable flags come from the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.

When Scotland and England were united in 1706, the Scottish cross was combined with the red St. George’s cross to create the Union flag, more commonly called the Union Jack. The flag was altered in 1801 to add the St. Patrick's cross of Ireland.

If Scotland leaves the United Kingdom, many experts argue, the features it brought to the Union Jack will have to go too.

There are obviously more significant aspects to this than kitschy tourist items. Controversy exists over whether the Scots will be able to retain use of the British pound, or will be admitted as members of the EU. These still-unknown answers could have great significance well beyond Land's End and John o'Groats. Yet there has been barely a whisper in US media about this election or its consequences. Or even of those laying beyond it.

Because if Scotland falls from the Empire, will Wales be far behind? And what would THAT do to the enduring legacy of the Doctor? ("You know they film in Cardiff?")


Of far lesser significance, but of local note, is an upcoming attempt to highlight a strange local aspect of secessionism:

Many local historians know the story about Town Line – how residents of the hamlet on the Lancaster-Alden town line voted 80 to 45 to secede from the United States in 1861, and how it did not vote to rejoin the Union for another 85 years.

An historical marker mounted on a boulder in front of Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden tells that story. It was placed there by the Alden Historical Society and paid with donations from community members, as a curious local footnote to the Civil War.

But now it seems a small rift has popped up within the hamlet, which has a population of about 2,000.

 Another plaque is scheduled to be placed next month on Town Line Road, about 100 yards away from the first one, telling the same story. This marker is funded by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Order of the Southern Cross and United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Even though a local couple helped plan the new plaque and dedication, some locals are uncomfortable. It is not a major rift, but still, it waits to be seen how many locals will be present when the plaque is dedicated the weekend of July 26-27.

There are times when I wonder whether the Union actually DID, in the long run, win the War of Northern Aggression. Sure, we got a nice surrender party and a Reconstruction Era, but de facto enslavement of southern blacks continued well into my lifetime, only to be supplanted at the end of the 1960s by the Republican "Southern Strategy" that demonized and demoralized those same slave descendants.  Having Confederate veterans' groups running around, 150 years after they "lost," makes me wonder if they really did.

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I wound up in Rochester today for barely over two hours. No court, no clients (despite efforts to connect with a couple). I put in a brief obligatory office appearance, but the only real reason for going was to give Cameron a ride to Buffalo so he could get to his brother's high school graduation tomorrow.  Seems like only last week we were attending his (and Emily's) commencement from the Class of 2010, and Cam is still processing the fact that his little brother, and his only full sib, is now taller than him and done with this part of his life.

It was perhaps the longest I've ever spent with Just Him, and it was nice. We riffed on odd things we saw near their apartment (including a TAX PREPARATION-PSYCHIC storefront halfway to the 390-490 onramp), and he seemed amazed by the number of hawks he saw along with 90 in the final miles.  He also confirmed that Emily has gotten the go-ahead to begin training at her new job next week, which we'd kinda been wondering about. So all seems well on their end of things:)


Making that trip just for this purpose reminded me of something I've been meaning to comment about for awhile. You may recall that Iggy has a distinct facial expression-

- but he's not alone in that imagery. A growing-nationwide service has been trying to gain footholds in urban markets to provide ride-sharing services, using the 'stache as the distinguishing feature:

The pink mustache is the symbol of an Internet-driven rideshare service known as Lyft.  There's another major player in the industry known as Uber, which rather makes fun of the pink:

These two startups are poking fun at each other, but the Old Model world is pissed at them both, and is using its political power to stop their drivers from horning in on the established system of medallions, licenses and municipal fees built over the past century by taxicabs and livery services. But they're not just ticketing them. No, this means war:

San Francisco International Airport says its officials have made a dozen citizen arrests of drivers working for Uber Technologies and Lyft, a couple of the new-fangled, mobile device-centric ride dispatching services, saying they were not permitted there and thus trespassed on airport property.

Airport officials say they began July 12 making the misdemeanor trespassing arrests — which do not involve being taken into custody— after repeatedly warning vendors including Lyft, SideCar and Uber that they were subject to enforcement actions and indeed that enforcement was about to begin, said airport spokesman Doug Yakel Tuesday.

Other cities have gone as far as to impound the mustachioed cars (and those of its competitors) in order to preserve the cabbies' city-blessed monopolies.  Never mind that the Lyft and Uber drivers are far more likely to treat their fares pleasantly, and to not bombard them with ad-filled telescreens in the back seat that can't be shut off.

Lodging is going through a similar Lalalala-I-Can't-Hear-You sea change.  Online booking services like Airbnb connect city visitors with property owners willing to sublet their spaces short-term, but here, again, it's the municipal lobbies deprived of ridiculous "bed taxes" on travelers who can't vote them out of office for passing them, along with the old-school hotel industry, who are whining about this uncontrollable rise of capitalism.  Good luck, guys: you are today's telegraph operators, horse-and-buggy maintainers, handwritten spreadsheet printers.  We are outgrowing you; succeed on your own merits or let the competition in.

Maybe, by the time Cameron's step-sibs finish school in 10-15 years, he'll be able to get back to their graduations in a reasonably priced hire with a mustache on it.

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That was a quote from my high school junior-year pre-calc teacher (who at last report was still trawling around on Facebook). That's significant because I readily remember graduating from that institution on June 26, 1977; I remember it for unknown reasons that didn't bind my brain with my anniversary dates of graduating either undergrad or law school, the dates of which are lost to history. 

It also comes to mind because I did not post anything here a day ago, first time since April 7th that I officially had nothing to say. It was a long day out of the house for both of us, in different places, and by the time it ended I really didn't want to fall back on work BS or TV spoilers.

Today, though, was uneventful, and thus worthy of a post.

No court or appointments today, for the first time in a week; I thus got to clear major stuff off my desk, set up appointments and other things for the future, and generally felt better about Things in the professional world by day's end.

Between radio in my travels and TV at the end, I watched the US soccer team lose, and yet advance to the Sweet Sixteen knockout round of the World Cup. Reading the diatribe by A Loner Cunt about the sport made me love it so much more.

In a slightly different world, I'd have spent today driving back from watching the Mets lose last night, to a pitcher the Oakland A's acquired for all of one dollar.  The court hearing connected to that trip got moved to Tuesday August 5th, making feasible a number of home games against the Phillies and Giants from July 30th to August 4th. In the middle of that is the annual Shore Leave sci-fi con near Baltimore, so there are possibilities involving that, as well.

Tomorrow, I hit the road again, but only, mainly, to bring Cameron back here to see his brother graduate from high school on Saturday. Wonder if he'll remember the exact date 37 years from now.
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Hard to believe there won't be a "true story" to watch tonight, as Fargo went out a week ago with many bangs, a horrid snap, and more than a little thin ice.  One has to wonder where, or even if, the show can go from here given what happened.

Week-old spoilers- with a final markdown on irregular socksCollapse )

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Father Guido Saruducci said that, right around the time my own first stint in academia ended and I faced a fork in the road between a skeevy career in part-time journalism and a place in law school. Now, 33 summers later, Emily has gotten to that utensil.

Graduation was a month ago. She'd cut back her part-time off-campus hours, with some resistance on management's part, so she could finish her thesis; once done and looking for more, they failed to promise any increase in her hours (although they wound up calling her in for extra shifts semi-regularly when they couldn't schedule cheaper n00b labor for them). Cameron also started getting his hours cut. So money was tight at the start of June, and remains so....

until, perhaps, next month.

I have a part-time gig in Rochester, with some good people who have lots of contacts in small business settings.  We invited both of the kids to come in last Tuesday, not to interview for anything in particular, but just to review resumes and talk about possibilities.  Cam was working and couldn't make it (and his kinds of gigs are harder to place this time of year), but despite some BS at her current workplace and some nasty weather, she made it over to the office.  Brett speed-dialed several possible office places for her- a realtor, an insurance agent (her own, since he recommended the guy when they needed a renters' policy), and finally one of their better clients who acts as an intermediary for a major national business in Western New York.

They needed somebody yesterday- as in THAT yesterday. They were ready to hire a high school kid for lack of other options.  Emily's resume got scanned and sent within minutes, and she had an interview within a couple of days....

and it's hers, if they both want it.


It's not what she went to school for, but she's not going to find that in her current area code, ours, or any adjacent to either.  And this company knows the deal, and is offering this on a completely try-it-no-hard-feelings-if-it-doesn't-work basis.  It's essentially full-time hours, close to tripling (definitely doubling) her current part-time pay, and it comes with benefits including at least some form of health insurance.  The only down at first? It's the other side of town from where they now live and then some- likely a third of the way to Syracuse. But. They knew before this that their current one-bedroom was not affordable, and for the same rent, they can get into a three-bedroom house near this job, and near a Wegmans that Cam could transfer to- and maybe even buy that house in the future.

That's getting way ahead of things, but the options for house-sharing out there might make it work even better than just finding the same size in a lower rent district.

You want omens? She got three.  I knew how to explain the driving directions for this place (a converted factory and former post office facility in a historic downtown village one county over): drive out to Lollypop Farm and double the drive.  That would be the name of Rochester's SPCA, where they got both of their rescue cats.  So she knew to stay on the same two-lane state highway for an extra 15-20 minutes to get there. On her way, she saw not one, not two, but three blue herons. It is a locally famed bird, enough to get a winery named after it, but seeing them at just those moments meant something to her.

Perhaps the beginning of a career- or at least of a forkful of it:)
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This year's start of summer also brings endings- of three current series I/we have come to follow regularly. Already, the finales of Fargo and Orphan Black have passed, both with great intensity, and while Nurse Jackie's official finale isn't for another week, we will likely snag it on-demand by tomorrow.

Each of these will get a review here once suitable spoilery time has passed, but the bigger question for today is, where to go from here? That's close to three hours a week of prime viewing time. None of the other shows being heavily promoted during these runs on FX, BBCA or Showtime really appeal, except the vague Doctor-returns promos on Auntie; and I don't see myself getting into Game of Thrones or Orange....

(I will return to The Newsroom, but that doesn't restart until fall.)

What, then? I just learned that PBS offers some interesting choices.... sort of.


Somehow, just as I missed for years that they'd made an Inspector Morse sequel with Kevin Whately reprising his Lewis role, I also missed that PBS has now begun showing a second series of a PREQUEL to it, titled Endeavour after the future CI's finally-revealed real first name.  I totally missed that there had been a first series of it, although the two-DVD set, including the pilot, is now in the house to catch up with.

It looks well done, and I'll watch at least a few to be sure it captures the right tone and time-similitude for 1965. Lewis  never really clicked with me; Robbie had aged too much and been put through too much pain, but maybe a flashback with different actors (including John Thaw's daughter) will not have those problems.


I learned of Endeavour because our PBS affiliate has once again decided to delay another national premiere to appease its early-to-bed elderly Canadian viewers: David Tennant playing a lawyer in The Escape Artist debuted in most of the civilised public television world last week and finishes tonight. But not here:

...the second week of the local PBS station's fund drive has delayed the WNED airing of the first part of "Escape" until July 27. The second and final part of the three-hour series airs a week later on Aug.3.

Why such a lengthy delay?

That's so WNED can carry the second season of the  "Endeavour" at the same time as PBS stations across the country. Shaun Evans stars as Rookie Detective Endeavour Morse in the series.

WNED plans to repeat the finale of season one of "Endeavour" this Sunday and then run all the episodes of the second season starting June 29 and running through July 20.

After "The Escape Artist" ends on Aug. 3, WNED plans to carry Season 12 episodes of "Hercule Poirot" on Aug. 10 and 17. It airs on PBS when WNED is carrying "The Escape Artist."

Making things worse this time? Unlike when they did this with Sherlock in January, Ten cannot be streamed on pbs.org, due to "rights issues."  So they're essentially encouraging piracy, to the detriment of both the network's brand and the station's.

It's all a bunch of wibbly-wobbly argy-bargy to me:P


Each of these is a short run anyway, though, so I'm open to thoughts on where else to go. Here are some starters:

* Elementary series 2. I've resumed watching the tail end of the first year's shows, and have the current one queued for when it releases in late August.

*Episodes. I tried this when it first aired on SHO, and liked the basic premise, although I found it a little too LeBlanc-y for my liking. If they focus more on the Brits, I think I'd like it more. I recorded most of the first year, have all of Series 3 still accessible on-demand, and I imagine it'll be easy to track down 2.

* Homeland. This was one of the few shows heavily promoted during something else that I thought I might actually like, but I never gave it a chance. Maybe something manageable enough to marathon?

And with that? I'll open it to recommendations. Any of these have you really turned on or off, or is there something out of left field (pitch?) you'd steer me to instead?

Poll #1972676
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 4

If you've seen any or all of the above, ticky any or all you'd recommend!

View Answers
1 (20.0%)
Escape Artist
0 (0.0%)
2 (40.0%)
0 (0.0%)
2 (40.0%)

Any others? Comment:)

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I watched quite a bit of Ghana-Germany at the gym this afternoon. I am trying, really trying, to get over my natural dislike of this sport that we (and only we) call soccer.

There were plenty of opportunities to get past it, many of them back when we lived in Rochester, a longtime hotbed of the sport for both genders.  Back in the first 1970s wave of US soccer craze- well, more like a mild neurosis- Rochester had an NASL team that faced the likes of Pele and the other New York Cosmos at a near-condemned stadium that almost collapsed from the wild crowds.  After the current US incarnation of "major league soccer" came along in the early 90s, Rochester began fielding a majorly supported team at the first level below, known as the Rhinos, which actually beat several MLS teams to win the sport's officially highest national title, the open-competition known as the US Open Cup, in 1999.  When the US hosted the World Cup in 1994, many televisions (including that of my then-stylist Salvatore) were turned to the matches, and not just to the host team's.  And for the past decade, Rochester native Abby Wambach has been the most famed of the second generation of US Women's National Team players (perhaps tied with Hope Solo, but her hopes just took a hit earlier today with some nasty domestic violence charges).

I should like this, then, right?  I know; I have the prejudices against. Domestic sports honks belittle the "beautiful game" with references to orange slices, Capri Sun boxes and surrounding the stadium with minivans.  And, until ESPN got in bed with FIFA to air the games a few years back, their talkers did exactly the same, but as soon as the World Wide Leader had skin in the game, they suddenly gave it a bunch of cred. Hockey remains the only major sport effectively banned in Bristol.

Ah, hockey. Another reason I should relate to these contests. The basic rules are parallel: forward-line players attack, back-enders defend, the goalie has much more latitude in terms of touching and distributing the object of the game, and there's near-constant action. If anything, I should see soccer as a beautiful blend of American football and hockey, and like it even better because there are no bullshit TV timeouts or two-minute warnings or endless replay reviews.

After close to an hour of Germany-Ghana, though, I'm convinced that the conception of "Assoc" was actually a gruesome threesome- of the NFL, the NHL, and the DMV. Because so much of this sport is in your face with a "that's the way we do it, take it or leave it" attitude that it obscures much of what I would, I think, otherwise truly like.

I won't even get into the distasteful aspects of it that don't really affect things in the games or in the standings- like hooliganism, or FIFA's monumentally corrupt culture that wound up awarding the next two future World Cups to Russia and Dubai (the latter ridiculously hot, the former ridiculously unsportsmanlike).  Rather, these are my beefs with the things that count, all of them witnessed in this test match from today:

Does anybody really know what time it is?Collapse )

Oh, sorry, I meant match.Collapse )

Speaking of that T, um, D word....Collapse )

And, finally, the really sleazy stuffCollapse )

Yet despite all that? I'll probably watch Team USA tomorrow night, and root root root for my country. I just have no idea for how long.
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