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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
For some unknown reason(s), yesterday was the clusteriest of clusterfucks.  I was on the road from 8 to 4 and accomplished absolutely nothing in that time.  One court appearance: I walked in as the case was being called and other than announcing my appearance, didn't say a word or need to.  Then the first of two client appointments wound up producing no clients.  I couldn't advance anything, get answers to questions on a number of fronts, and by the time the 1 o'clock appointment turned into a 2 o'clock and finally a no o'clock, I just left.  The clients from that second meeting then called- one couldn't hear me, the other insisted on me playing psychic in my spare time.

Once I got back here, moments too late to check on the status of our latest refi, every computer I touched, crashed. It got comical on the third of three.  The first, my backup billing machine I'd brought with me in case I had free time to enter my time (got THAT done, yay:P); the second, a coworker's while I waited for that one to reboot; and finally this one, which had been at home all day, had been properly put into sleep mode before leaving, but insisted on a complete restart anyway.

I then pulled a bonehead move in the back yard right before Eleanor came home, and the day ended with me forgetting to record Orphan Black. Again.

Die, Thursday, die.

----

Fortunately, it did. It tends to at midnight whether you're pissed at it or not. And today was not without its aggravations, but they were far better contained.

Only one client proceeded to be Thursday-level annoying; I did the best I could with it and have nothing else to do or feel bad about.

The client who couldn't hear me yesterday wound up being a brief first-thing phone call this morning.  Never got pushback on that one, either.

Lots of people blew out of their offices early to get a jump on the weekend, so the day went quickly. I screwed up a date on a filing but fortunately noticed in time for a quick recovery before dozens of documents went out with the misteek on it.

Got one court case filed to be finalized next week, and found out that another, resubmitted last week, was just finalized yesterday; I just haven't gotten it back in the mail yet.

I finally got a sort-of refi update; nothing new they need, which is good, but I should have a better idea of what to expect on timing and any other requirements by Tuesday at the latest.

I did wind up getting home a little early this afternoon, and did some backyard things ahead of Eleanor coming home which I believe are NOT boneheaded this time.

And Orphan Black is cued and ready on this computer- which, like the others I used during the day, has not crashed.

----

That leaves three blessed days away from the crazy people. Other than working round here, the only fixed plans for the weekend are a workout tomorrow morning, and church on Sunday.  I'll do my second-in-a-series post before or after that concerning what that-all's about.  Eleanor works Monday; I don't.  One of the long-awaited Netflix-bingers, Bloodline season 2, dropped today, and series 3 of Peaky Blinders hits the legal market on Tuesday (and probably the less legal one already, since BBC2 has been showing it since early May).

Then a short week; Tuesday already got shorter, since a client called to beg out of something that afternoon. Wednesday will be out of town, then the Very Very (etc.) Special Day case from last month should be finalized no later than Friday.

Right. Off to feed animals. Because that, like Jesus, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
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captainsblog

You might remember what that riffs on.  In the 1970s, before cable turned anything and everything into programming, the big networks needed to fill their airwaves with available, affordable sport.  Football wasn't the 24-7-365 media thing is now is, and the other sports' seasons began later and ended earlier. So you got things like Wide World of Sports covering lesser-known events; American Sportsman took you into the outdoor sporting world; and, in one of the earliest examples of reality TV, you had the Superstars.

These shows had nothing to do with Jesus Christ, or even Karen Carpenter. ABC put it on for just over its first decade.  The idea was simple: get athletes competing in events outside their professional wheelhouses.  Each entered ten events other than those he (men only the first time out) competed in for his day job. The initial events ranged from baseball hitting to bowling, with track also heavily represented.  The final event, open to all, was the dreaded obstacle course.  The first year's events were announced by Keith "Whoa Nellie" Jackson and Howard "The Mouth That Roared" Cosell,  and the participants included future felons Pete Rose and Orenthal J. Simpson.  Women debuted in the second year, perky gymnast Cathy Rigby being the only recognizable name from that year's finals.  It carried on, in various forms, on different networks almost into this decade.

I mention it because this week's news has brought a Stupidstars competition of sorts among the four major professional sports in this country.  And at the moment, it's close to a photo finish: they're all losing.

----

* Basketball.
    - Rah Rah Ree, kick him in the knee!
      Rah Rah Rick, kick him in the other knee!

The best team in the NBA's regular season, breaking the single-season record for most wins, is (are, if you're British) the Golden State Warriors. They find themselves surprisingly down in the conference finals to a plucky lot from Seattle now stranded in Oklahoma City. One of OKCs players also found himself down last weekend:

The NBA elected not to suspend Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green for his kick to the groin area of Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Sunday.

Green's foul was upgraded from a flagrant foul 1 to a flagrant foul 2, with a $25,000 fine attached, but the league has decided not to issue a suspension.

With his flagrant foul on Steven Adams being upgraded to a flagrant foul 2, Draymond Green now has three flagrant foul points this postseason and is one more flagrant away from an automatic suspension
.

But Green, you see, is a Star. Star Star Star! And the advertisers aren't paying ABC the big bucks to have a bunch of scrubeenies out there while groin-kickers take their punishment.

Best of all, though, is the name of the league's chief of discipline who meted out the financial punishment (roughly two dimes and a nickel to you or me):

Though Kiki VanDeWeghe, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement that Green's actions were "unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," he seemed to agree with Green's explanation that he was exaggerating his shooting motion.

Good thing Pistol Pete Maravich isn't still alive and in charge of levying the penalties. Adams might have been shot dead on the court.

----

* Hockey.
   -"Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crooded."  - NHL legend Yogi Berr-eh

This sport's having a hard time getting flies to land on its shit playoff ratings.  With no Canadian teams in the playoffs at all, and the hotbeds of Chicago and Minnesota eliminated early, the games among the remaining teams are routinely being outdrawn by infomercials.  Still, fan interest in tonight's Eastern Conference game between Tampa and Pittsburgh was expected to draw a big in-person crowd to the Lightning's Florida arena for a big pre-game party followed by a mass viewing of the game itself on the Jumbotron.

Or not:

The NHL told Deadspin that the Lightning were only allowed to host one official event per series, and that they’d already used up their slot on the Game 5 party. But the Sharks and Blues have each hosted multiple parties during the Western Conference Finals, and sources tell us that the NHL and NBC pressured the team to cancel tonight’s event because of worries about low TV ratings.

We’ve also heard the NHL is threatening to fine teams for violating the watch party rule, again at NBC’s behest. The NHL is most likely enforcing this policy with such vigor because of the disastrous TV ratings these playoffs have drawn.

See, Neilsen doesn't count those 8,000 people, but they will count them if they're watching in sports bars or other paying group venues where the bar owners have to report (and pay for) their body counts. And the league caring about how much an audience of 8,000 people would move the national ratings meter? Tells you all you need to know about this "major league sport."

----

* Baseball.
 - No runs, no hits, many errors of judgment.

In this instance, like the final one, the league itself isn't the source of the stupidity. No, I have my own beloved teams to thank for these.  The Mets are doing Mostly Okay on the field so far, despite a rash of early season injuries and some possible illness, possibly mental illness, afflicting its biggest star pitcher.  Matt Harvey, christened the Dark Knight after last season's heroics, has turned into a Silent Knight this spring- after stinking out his last two starts, he disappeared from the clubhouse after the second of them Tuesday night and wouldn't face questions from the press. 

But we don't need no stinkin' kids to kindle our Metsian love.  No, this weekend is the team's celebration of the 30th anniversary of its last World Series win. Almost all the alums are back in town, and their flagship radio station, right now, is broadcasting the holy recording of the team announcers' play-by-play account of that October 1986 game.

Said flagship station comes in over the air like shit lo these 400-odd miles away- but I have an app to listen to their games (which I pay for), and the station streams its broadcasts.  The app is dark (the 2016 Mets don't have a game today), and the stream is blacked out.  Instead of hearing the immortal Bob Murphy call of Mookie Wilson's little roller to Bill Buckner, I'm getting an informercial....

and it's probably STILL exceeding the ratings of tonight's NHL Game Seven conference final.

----

*Football
  -  I know NOTH-INK, NOTH-H-HINK!

Leave it to the Buffalo Bills to top all of this.

The team began its Not Training Camp pre-season this week.  Members of the media were handed a new policy statement, telling them, in essence, that they could not report on anything bad, or specific, about what the players in attendance were doing. Among others: how many interceptions a quarterback threw; which players were on the first, second or third-team segments of the practices; or anything concerning what plays are being practiced, be they ordinary or "trick."

Well, Bills, now you've done it: you've kicked sand at a press box full of English majors.  We may be puny, but we know how to fight back:



and



I won't even mention the even bigger shitstorm that the team's general manager got into the following day, but that's probably just as well. I wouldn't want this blog banned from future organized team activities.

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captainsblog

In recent months- no. years- I've struggled with my lifelong commitment to a denomination, and a shorter but still significant commitment to one of its congregations.  Probably it's the "lifelong" part that's kept me connected longer than Eleanor; she's given up on both, and I cant say I blame her.  This month has brought what might be called "developments" in the United Methodist Church- on both the big-C Church and little-c-congregation fronts. They offer a little bit of hope, but nothing in the way of promise.

This is the first of three posts I've had germinating in the fertile crescent of my little brain for weeks now.  It, and the second, tie into those particular struggles, of the UMC and of a UMC.  The third traces a longago, strange road that, for me, began as an offshoot of a UMC ministry effort; detoured through Lutheranism and even edges of Judaism before I lost track of (and interest in) both the movement and how it was still affecting lifelong friends; and only just randomly connected me with some recently-blogged histories of the group and how some people are still mired in its grip. 

But those are for another day.  Pull up a chair and come with me to Portland, Oregon.

----

United Methodists are Roman Catholics twice removed- separated from Rome and papal authority first by Henry VIII and his divorce problems in the 1500s, then by the Wesley brothers in the 1700s who found the Anglicans weren't doing it quite right, either.  Still, it's that small-e episcopal heritage which formed the basic structure of the denomination. Although we have no pope, we are top-down in structure; congregations make up districts, which make up annual conferences, which make up jurisdictions, all of which meet together once every four years in General Conference, which is the only time churchwide doctrine and direction can be meaningfully changed. These occur the same years as US presidential elections, and some of the same positioning and politicizing works its way into the process. 

(Sidenote: General Conference, like the UMC itself, is neither US-only nor truly worldwide: among others, Methodists in its original UK home, and those who merged into a larger United Church in Canada, are not part of the deliberating body, but those tracing their roots to US Methodist missionary efforts of the 19th and 20th centuries, mainly in Africa, have members and corresponding bodies of delegates who are voting members of the UMC, growing in number and generally unwavering in their right-wing views.)

Thus it was in 1972 that a General Conference first addressed the issue of homosexuality in the Social Principles portion of The Book of Discipline. That's the rulebook; few members have read it, not many more knew of its existence prior to current developments, but it gives the Fundies their ammunition for demanding trials and ultimate defrocking of clergy who defy the 1972 or (I'll get to these later) 1984 and 1996 edicts.

Neither came out of any sudden realization of The Truth, or the sudden finding of a lost and sacred Aldersgate Scroll under John Wesley's casket.  Both, plainly and simply, were revisionist and reactionary.  Why did it take until 1972 for United Methodists to pronounce gays as icky in their eyes?  Because until about five years before that in a place called Stonewall, gays hadn't dared to have enough of a public presence for bigots to even be aware of them.  And according to this account of the times, it was that uppity-gayishness which forced the church fathers (they being almost exclusively male at the time) to bring down the banhammer on them:

Human sexuality remained contentious within the church, and church policy often followed political policy shifts. In 1972, United Methodists began debating their stance on homosexuality after Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco made headlines when it held a same-sex ceremony. That same year, the UMC added the language that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching” to its social policy.

Somehow, the 1976 and 1980 GC's came and went with nothing as bad, but by 1984, the fears were getting worse.  I confess: in that summer of transition and bar exam review, living within a mile of the gay epicenter of Western New York, I had fears of catching AIDS from a dirty toilet.  I was young(er) and stupid(about the same), and in time I conquered those fears.  But the (still mostly) church fathers weren't going to let anything spread through avowed homosexuals, including, but not limited to, the Gospel. And three GC's later, faced with a mainstream homophobia that even the Clintons bought into, this church again went with the tide rather than bravely walking on the water against it:

In the 1980s, as the stigma around HIV/AIDS increased, the church passed prohibitions on ordaining gay clergy. In 1996, as the country wrestled with Defense of Marriage Act, the church issued a policy against same-sex marriages.

Back to that 1984 move: the author of that clergy ban, now sadly deceased, came out against his own words almost 20 years later:

We are doing preliminary work on legislation for the 1984 General Conference our subject matter was ordained ministry. We worked on many aspects of the subject. But a particular concern being raised was: “How do we screen out homosexual persons from becoming ordained ministers?”   I proposed a seven-word addition to the list of things to which candidates for ministry must commit: “Fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness.”

The phrase had the advantage of not singling out homosexual persons, but being generic applying to all candidates regardless of sexual orientation. It was accepted by all.  That little phrase made its way and was acted upon by the Division of Ordained Ministry, the BHEM, a General Conference legislative committee, the General Conference, and was then printed in The Book of Discipline where it remains to this day.  This is by way of confession.

Now why did we do that?  You would think that on as important a matter as that we might look to Wesley’s guidelines of discernment: that is, scripture, tradition, experience and reason.  But I’m here to tell you that we did not look at the scriptures; we never mentioned tradition; we did not refer to experience, and reason.  It was almost absent from our discussion. Instead of those four classic words guiding our conversation, we were unconsciously guided by two other words: institutional protection. In other words, this issue was raising controversy and problems within our connection the placid sea of United Methodism was being roiled so we would cut it off at the pass.

In other words, 10 percent of the potential ministry of the church was cut off at the knees out of essentially the same thinking infecting every dying local congregation:

But that's the way we've always done it!
or
But we've never done THAT before!

They went along to get along.  They were afraid. And unlike my 1984 AIDSophobia which melted and died in a sea of knowledge and acceptance, theirs got left behind in a printed book which, especially in recent years, has given the Fundies grounds to keep same-sex celebrants out of all of our sanctuaries, be it to celebrate their own lay marriages, or to perform the functions of ordained clergy.

----

I've been aware of these provisions, and their sad generations of persecution, since about the time of the 2012 General Conference, held in Florida.  I was a more active member then, and recipient of near-daily reports from our Annual Conference about it.  Back then, proposed changes to these provisions were the Elephant in the Temple: there was far more mention of clergy-business issues than about this signature statement of Who We Are. 

Well, except for one. 

After the progressive forces were beaten back in their effort to change the Discipline provisions, I got an email from our Annual Conference. This was not from the home office of the denomination or from faraway shores, but from my own back yard- and its featured quote on the subject of the resolution was from a minister in a nearby Buffalo suburb- in whose sanctuary I had taken one of my own Lay Speaking courses- who said, in essence, Good thing we beat back them icky homosexuals again!

That's when I realized I had to take this a lot more personally.  I began connecting with the movement within the UMC of LGBTs and allies, determined to rid our Discipline and our doctrine of these marginalizations of members and of clergy.  I paid attention when respected clergy within and near our conference got charged, and threatened with defrocking, for following their own views of the Bible and marrying committed couples without checking under their clothes for the condition of their naughty-bits. And I began an effort within our own congregation to get it to affirm its commitment to the same progressive principles-  which would have made it, when I started, the first UMC church west of Syracuse to make such a statement.

And we did. Sort of. More a baby-cruise-along-the-sofa than a baby-step, and while the churches of the Reconciling Ministries Network have come closer to us since then (including the much bigger one where we met and were married), we remain in a position to become the first within the Niagara Frontier District and the only one west of the Genesee River.

Stay tuned. That could happen sooner than you think.

----

As for the upshot of this year's GC in the PDX: both the progressives and the Fundies are pissed.  Into a milieu of procedure seeming more paramilitary than parliamentary at times (complete with allegations of secret signalings and speakers being gagged from mentioning LGBTs even by initial), the Council of Bishops got involved.  As I understand the structure, they are men and women of influence, but they have neither greater votes than, nor veto power over, what the lay and clergy delegates do.  Still- faced with the potential for schism and shame if the majority tyrannized again, they convinced the delegates to defer any decisions on changing, or not changing, the sexuality sections of the Discipline, instead turning them over to a commission that is empowered, by 2020 if not sooner, to make recommendations along those lines that may, by then, even make sense to those who are now seeing in a mirror dimly what they are doing by their inaction.   

Both sides have since used the "kick the can down the road" metaphor in response- progressives fearing what will happen in the meantime, Fundies decrying what them liberal bishops will force down our throats- but I've yet to see any gloating reports from anyone near here being happy with the outcome, and that in itself is an improvement.

There was talk about an earlier draft of the bishops' proposal, containing a formal moratorium on further chargings and trials of clergy who either come out themselves or who solemnize same-sex unions- and while the final approved language watered that down, there have been outpourings- both of annual conferences who have added to the voices of many (including the downstate Annual Conference of my baptism) in refusing to honor these demands for persecution, and of clergy by the hundreds who have outed themselves, risking livelihoods and guaranteed appointments for the sake of their brothers and sisters who need their support.  Our own bishop has not yet stated which way this conference will go- he was faced with one such trial a few years ago, which ended in something of a stalemate- but if a brave pastor forces the issue, and a bigoted one demands enforcement, I see an even bigger groundswell of support for the accused than when it last came up.

-----

Sorry for all the tl;dr, and I know I've still got more to say in future posts.  Hope is always the last thing to hold onto, but it's better when you at least get people thinking about it outside the box.

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captainsblog
All her life, Ebony has been a loved and happy dog.  We couldn't say that about our first; when Tasha came to us at around nine months, she'd been a stray, a runaway and showed signs of at least neglect and more likely abuse from her previous life. Although she did much better with us, Emily and eventually Cameron in the dozen years we had her, she never completely got over fear-biting, especially anyone new to her or making sudden moves.

But Ebony has been the sweetest and mellowest of mutts. Only once that I can remember, when our neighbor Sally was boarding her daughter's very high-strung and needy dog, did Ebony get into anything resembling a real fight.  And she'll rarely express signs of dominance encountering another dog on walkies; usually she wavers between fascination and boredom.

Also, she's been an almost total homebody.  Tasha would occasionally resort to her street-rat days if she got out the garage door or loose on a walk, but Ebony's never showed the urge to roam.  She's so that way, when it gets to be gardening season and she pines to be outside with (mostly) Mommy in the front yard, we'll back Ziggy into the driveway and she'll just sit in one of the seats with the windows down. She could easily jump out; she just doesn't. Other times, she'll just putter around where Eleanor's working; usually, just to be on the safe side, we'll put her on a fairly long metal leash, but occasionally not.

Until yesterday. Now she's not going out without always having one end of a leash held by something or someone.

----

I was down the hall, mid-to-late afternoon. I'd been mostly in the back for hours, mowing, while Ebony mostly sat in the car or near the beds where Mommy was.  Eleanor started to head back out from the living room, with the dog pining to come with, and she simply opened the front door for pup to go first.  Usually we're paying the most attention to being sure that the youngest cat doesn't sneak out.

This time, though, I heard, in a matter of seconds: the thunder of paws, a rapid WOOFWOOFWOOF of the kind she'll sometimes let out if she sees a bunny in the back yard, and some panicked cries of EBONY! NO! from Eleanor. I ran down and out to see my sweet, mellow but large lab mix jumping on a woman, trying to cradle for dear life her yippy-dog which she had, until that moment, been peacefully walking.

And not even on our sidewalk, or our side of the street, but on the sidewalk of our cross-the-street neighbor.  As scared as I was for everybody's safety, it was pretty amazing how quickly she burst over there.  In recent years, she's tended to ignore doorbell-ringers and even the mailman unless he walks right past her.

The woman seemed more worried about me, running over to rescue her, than she was by our sudden attack dog. "We're okay," she called out.  And I'd been too late, and too minus glasses, to see how close Ebony had come to doing any damage.  I put her in timeout for a few minutes- we still have the crate we trained her in over a decade ago, now used to keep Zoey, our moochy kitty, from eating everybody elses' food at nom time- and she was clearly upset about it.

The solution is simple: no more free-range puppy. Her walkie-leash goes on her every time she leaves the confines of the house and back yard, whether tied to Ziggy's seat belt or the end of the longer lawn leash. And I will have to be much more careful on walks, when we've sometimes been pretty casual about letting her meet the neighbors. 

If it's an isolated incident, like her one fight with Daphne next door ages ago, it'll be fine. But if it winds up being a signal of an old-age or bad-health change, I'll be far more concerned.
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captainsblog
Yup, that's me. Luddite, cheapskate and knowing just enough about commerce and technology to be dangerous.

So more and more, we're finding, movie DVDs for the home market are devoid of special features.  The studios are making a conscious choice to tease consumers into moving over to the Blu-Ray platform, now that it won the latest of the Betamax wars (only to be losing out to diskless streaming and file transmission).  You want the good stuff, you have to get the fancier disk- and you'll need something to play it on.

Already, our home entertainment system is a higgeldy-piggedly mess of devices and cords. The TV on top, adjacent to a funky old CD disk-changer that also plays the radio, cassette tapes(!), and has RCA-cable * inputs for sound from a VGA-cable connected computer, or my iPhone, or (the default) the DVD recorder-player.

* These guys.  Odd they haven't been renamed by General Electric like everything else once associated with RCA.



One shelf down is said DVR, on top of which is a straight (but multi-region enabled) DVD player we sometimes use, and to their left is an old-school VCR that turns on maybe once or twice a year.  Below them are the speakers.  I really didn't enjoy the idea of adding another piece of hardware to the mix. And so, after consultation with the expert in the field**, we figured an external Blu-Ray drive for this computer would do the trick:

** That would be the kid. This would be the drive:



Note that nice Blu-ray disc logo on the right.  From that, you might be led to believe that you can play Blu-ray discs in it.

Not so fast, Colonel Hogan:P

----

First, came the minor matter of getting the thing.  I ordered it on May 10th, along with Deadpool on its first day of availability and a music CD.  All in stock, all combined to get the FREE Super-Saver Shipping (5-8 business days after ordering) which has sneakily moved up over the years from $25 per order to $35 and, now, $49. But I done made it.  What they didn't done do was even start it on its shipping journey- for over a week.

It's all about that Prime. Just as the studios want to move us into the new hardware, Amazon wants us all signed up for their annual membership that gets access to their original TV material, plus almost instant drone-to-your-doorstep shipping on everything.  We've done it for short trial times, but have never committed to it for whatever the current retail is.  So now, as far as Amazon is concerned, FREE means "the least we can get away with"- yes, the package came on the 20th, eight business days after it was ordered, but by delaying its shipment to the sixth business day, they made sure that two not-included weekend days were included in the wait.  Wouldn't you rather have Prime with that, sir?

Not when the shit doesn't even work, I don't.

----

In fairness, I didn't even try the thing until yesterday. We watched Deadpool the day it came- but that was a DVD-only deal, with a gag reel and some trailers. But we still have the combo pack of The Force Awakens that puts all The Good Behind The Scenes Stuff on the Blu-Ray disk.

I open it, connect the USB, pop Rey and Han into the drive, and.... nothing.  The drive itself has nothing preloaded to play the disk, and Twobor has no program associated with it.  I check the box, looking for the disk that will make it work. None. The "manual," such as it is, offers this helpful tip:

Please confirm you have installed the proper Blu-ray player software (Power DVD, Win DVD Pro, etc...) in your computer. Otherwise please download one to actually play Blu-ray disc.

Mmmmmkay. PowerDVD sounds familiar. I've got such a beast on here.



Yup, all this for just $49.95, a saving of $300!  Also, more than the fucking drive itself cost, and more, the two combined, than a basic dedicated Blu-Ray player would have cost the day I was charged for the order.

There must be other options, I think.  There are. VLC is a great multi-format open-source.  But its current versions, either the one on here or a clean download, do not automatically do Blu-Rays. You need to muck with manually loading codecs in your hidden Windows Users files.  Erm, no.  "Free Blu-Ray software" searches on Google fall into two categories: trial versions that don't work during the trial period (Aieesoft is good for this), and fully-enabled versions that have limited mouse functions and also don't work (Leawo Blu-Ray's the choice here).

Therefore, the final alternative is Back In The Box, Y'All. I'll take it to a UPS place tomorrow, its return authorization duly barcoded on the outside, and they'll credit back my account for the full purchase price of the drive, they say, within two business days.

So, eight.  And since this will bring the whole order below the Super Saver threshold, and since I used Amazon Card points toward it, I fully expect to see less than $39 on my account in eight days.

Ten.
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captainsblog
Today was a relatively good day.  It mostly made up for the tire fire that was yesterday.

I never could get the hang of Thursdays.  Should've known it was going to be a pain when I couldn't even get back to sleep after feeding the animals 0500ish.  I finally rose for good a bit before 0715, got out the door by 8, was in the office round 9 and in court at 10 with a successful settlement of a painish case, but then the downhill Ray-ing event began.

A meeting I thought I had Thursday, turned out, took place without me on Wednesday.  Papers I brought in to file mid-afternoon were incomplete. Which was fine, because the check I'd had cut for the filing fee was wrong- not too little (I could've covered that from cash on hand), but too much (not enough cash to fix that, and no, they don't make change). Worse, by the time I got back to my office, I realized I'd left some important stuff back at the clerk's office.  This perfect day then ended with the Mets' supposedly best pitcher getting bombed in his first three innings of work.

Time to say, Tomorrow is another day.

And it was- and a better one.  Should've known when I did manage to get back to sleep after feeding the animals 0500ish.

Filing, fixed.  Cash, adjusted to cover the lower filing fee and a check for the difference issued back to me.  Stuff, reclaimed. No meeting, but an important application completed with all documentation that should start bringing in some decent business soon.  The followup paperwork from the painish case explained and executed.  And home by 5, with Deadpool finally here and confirmation of a good appraisal on our house that should enable a refi to ease some burdens over the next few months-to-years.

And the Mets haven't played yet.

Tomorrow may, or may not, bring a meeting of its own, which I'll report on if it occurs.
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captainsblog

♫Come with me. And you'll be. In a world of. Pure imagination.♫

No, you probably won't want to. Because the world we're descending into is the world of minor-league sport.

In this country, the NFL and NBA have essentially co-opted our major universities to act as their player development systems. Baseball and hockey draw some players from colleges, as well, but far more players enter those leagues through established networks of professional to semi-pro minor leagues.   Baseball has the older, larger and better known of the two.

Typically, franchises in these minor leagues are owned in their local communities. Some, such as the Buffalo Bisons, are privately held by rich people; in their case, they're literally Rich People.  Others are owned collectively by stockholders from their home cities; the Rochester Red Wings have retired number 8222 in honor of the number of local fans who bought stock in the 1950s to fund buying the franchise from its then parent St. Louis Cardinals.  Still others are owned by their parent clubs: Atlanta owns the Gwinnett Braves outright, and Boston's ownership group bought the Pawtucket Red Sox last year (and promptly threatened to move them to another Rhode Island city).

The names of these teams follow similar patterns.  The older-school minor-league franchises have their own identities apart from any MLB affiliation: Buffalo was once a National League team under the Bisons name, and the Red Wings moniker dates to close to a century ago.  Likewise, Corporal Klinger's beloved Toledo Mud Hens have a long independent tradition connected with that name.

Increasingly, major-league teams want their affiliates to co-brand with them. The Braves and Red Sox have shared their names with their International League affiliates for decades; in the Pacific Coast League, the Iowa Cubs and OKC Dodgers do this, as well.  (One not fitting this pattern is the Indianapolis Indians; although briefly affiliated with Cleveland in the 1950s, they were known as the Indians on their own for decades before that and have been ever since.)

Then there's a final category, which can only be described as "goofy." Minor league franchises are typically run on shoestring budgets: they do not pay for their players or managers (the MLB teams do that), but they have tiny if any TV/radio contracts; they operate out of smaller stadiums in shorter seasons with short and almost meaningless post-seasons; and they cannot charge big league prices for tickets or concessions.  So P.T. Barnumish stunts are almost nightly events to boost interest and attendance, and the best source of predictable merch revenue for these teams is to come up with the most bizarre, unique and marketable names for their franchises, to sell jerseys and caps and other team-branded stuff.

One of the earliest teams to get on this bandwagon was the low-level minor league team in Batavia, a small city between Buffalo and Rochester. They were the Clippers for most of their history; they mimed their MLB-parent Pirates and Indians for a few years; they then went 20 years being known as the Trojans before contraceptive advertising took that off the board; but since 1998, they've been proudly known as the Batavia Muckdogs.

(See, Genesee County has onion fields. They get mucky. And dogs run around in them. Or something.  It's all about the logo, yo.)

BataviaMuckdogs

Recent name changes in the Bisons' and Red Wings' league have included the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (formerly the Ottawa Lynx) and the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Rail Riders (nee the Red Barons, and briefly co-branded with the parent Yankees). The PCL goes even weirder, giving us the Albuquerque Isotopes, the El Paso Chihuahuas, and the Mets current top farm team, the Las Vegas 51's.

One rung between the AAA Iron Pig league and the A-level Muckdog league is AA baseball, where the Mets have, for years, affiliated their franchise in Binghamton.  Since relocating there in 1992, they have always been known as the Mets- or in headline shorthand, as the B-Mets.  They've even taken advantage of that to create a unique co-brand:

BinghamtonMetscap

Apparently, though, Buzzy is not selling enough product, so despite the Mets' fortunes being on the upside, the team's local owner has decided to go his own way with branding for the 2017 season.  As usually happens in these stunts, a fan contest was held to select a new name, then whittled down to five finalists.

You want to see them, don't you?

No you don't.

It helps to understand that Binghamton (where my sister has lived for almost 50 years) has a number of carousels in its public parks.  So you're going to get some horsey-set names here, right? 

* The Thoroughbreds
* The Bridles (think of the onfield weddings!)
* The Belmonts (maybe a Binghamton player will win the Triple Crown someday)
* The Zipsters (being affiliated with the Mets, may as well go for the losingest-ever horse in racing history)
* The Elmers ("roses are red, violets are blue, horses who lose are turned into glue!")

Okay, I made that last one up. Actually, I made all of them up.  None is as bad as the five supposedly selected by the fine people of Broome County:

Without further ado, in ascending order of possible naughtiness, here are the options:

Bullheads: A fairly standard straight-ahead, animal-themed option. The bullhead variety of catfish swims the local Susquehanna River, according to the team.

Rocking Horses: Makes sense, with the carousel motif.

Rumble Ponies: See above, just in slightly more bizarre fashion. Team says: “A herd of fierce horses that no carousel center pole can contain.”

Stud Muffins: This has to be the early betting favorite. The slightly aroused official blurb, which boils down to you know, because horses: “While tipping a cap to the players on the field, the ‘Stud Muffins’ celebrates the collection of carousel horses belonging to Binghamtonians.”

Gobblers: Turkeys, people. Turkeys. Because of hunting and outdoorsy stuff.

Timber Jockeys: Yikes. Again, meant to “[pay] homage to everyone that rides the carousels,” but venturing into unmistakable phallic territory in the grand baseball tradition.

Balloting is open until June 1.  There are no write-in options. In keeping with All-Star balloting tradition, stuffing the box is pretty much unlimited and requires only a fake email address.

The winner gets two lifetime season tickets to the team's games. All other entrants get four.



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captainsblog
Two appointments bookending my workday today. One, a bankruptcy hearing for a guy in his 70s. He last filed in 1974.  He was punctual, thorough, a pleasure to deal with- and emotionally wrecked from having to go through it again.  It's a sentiment I rarely see in the people who come through this legal wringer. Particularly the ones who aren't paying (or paying much) out of pocket for it- they seem to have a sense of entitlement about it.  This guy was pleased and appreciative about how quickly and painlessly it went for him. He also confided some non-financial things that I'd be worried about, too- but those I can't help with.

Then, one of my only will clients came back in, for an update from a few years ago. Also punctual, thorough, a pleasure to deal with.  You could feel the happiness in her as she increased bequests to dear friends and still left her remaining relatives with financial evidence of a life well lived.

These experiences come as I see or read about an increasing number of people- some we know, others, quite a few in fact, the aging parents of friends- who are facing the ends of their days.  It finally occurred to me today: Eleanor and I are way ahead of this curve, since both of us, youngest in our families, were born when our parents were already in their 40s.  We've been through the losses already- our fathers early on, eventually our mothers.  Now it's the friends who had the younger parents growing up in the 1960s and 70s who are having to endure it.  Some are experiencing great catharsis after extended periods of grieving and letting go. Others seem more accepting as it happens, perhaps blessed because it is happening more quickly for their older generation. Still, as I told one of them today- it's never easy. The medicine, the technology, even the medications are better for the patients, but that doesn't change how the kids feel, or what they will miss.

I share my sorrow for their losses- but I also hope that, in time, they will understand that they haven't lost them competely- that so much of the good of that Greatest Generation still lives on in us- and, for those of us so blessed, in our own kids.
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captainsblog
You must expect good things when you set an alarm for 7:45 on a Sunday morning.  One of them was not seeing it snow at 8:55, although that happened. (It downright sleeted back at the house several hours later- but it's better now.)  However, it was something of a redeeming sight to see this on the wall at the studio where I do fitness classes a couple of times a week:



That's missing not just the M from "marathon"  but the equally important qualifier of "half." Thirteen point one, bitches; that was their recommendation for what I should sign up for when they announced this April-long challenge at the beginning of that month, based on how often I show up (usually twice a week) and how fast I go (not too). Honestly, by mid-month it was something of a pain in the ass; there were Ruulz about what distances counted; the workouts varied tremendously, making it sometimes impossible to break a mile in 20-odd minutes and making you do manual math on others; and by month-end, there was virtually no reporting of our self-reported distances beyond what we could read on our own 3x5 sweat-stained index cards.

Still. I was proud when I cleared 13.1 by around the 20th- as proud of my athletic as my mathematic feat of figuring it out- and when I did the last one on the 29th or 30th, I didn't even bother checking my final total. But no matter- I won my age group for the Half!  I, um, was apparently the only male IN my age group for the half:/

No prizes. Hell, I paid 15 bucks plus tax for the privilege, receiving in return a hand towel that probably retails for a third of that.  But it's an accomplishment all the same, and lots of people cheered me on for it.

----

Home, then, for lunch and cleaning the fish and starting to listen to the Mets final road trip game.  Having conquered the treadmill, I felt inspired to tackle the tech.

As I mentioned some time back, a major go-to work website of mine stopped working a few weeks ago.  It only worked in Microsoft browsers, but on Death Day it stopped playing even with them- rejecting my password, a weird occurrence for a site allowing access as a guest.  Even odder, it worked fine on other computers I accessed- so there must've been some Issue with my Edge-stallation on this one.

I tried things.  My friend and guru took a swing at it, but in the end, mighty Lisa had struck out.  I found the "search help" link on the main page which was useless, and calls to the government office and then emails to their Help Desk led to no help.  I even managed to kill Edge on Twobor completely, in hopes of cleanly reinstalling it.  Wound up doing a system restore to get it back, no online access and all.

Finally, today, I resorted to excess: I installed Opera, a fifth browser, on this laptop.  (Neither Microsoft browser worked anymore; Firefox and Chrome couldn't even get past the initial SQL install- whatever "SQL" means:P)

Opera didn't work, either- but. It rendered the page in a smaller font. And THAT revealed a whole bottom of the Main Page I'd never seen before.  Including a link to What To Do If Page Won't Load.

How easy could it be? Open Explorer. Delete blah/blah/appdata/local/app2.  Reopen Edge reclick the link, and BOOM! Back in business!

I will probably email the Help Desk to let them know how I solved my own problem, in hopes that they will help the next schnook the next time it happens.

As if.
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captainsblog
Friday the 13th came and went. Mostly went.  I spent the entire morning basically sitting by my phone, watching the grass grow on the courtyard outside, while clients and opponents went out of their way to not return my repeated calls and emails.

Finally, I said, "Fuck it."  The weather was predicted to be shaky this weekend- and colder, possibly even invoking the S-word after an 80F-degree day on Thursday- so I left at lunchtime. Ate at home, then finished mowing the back yard, which I'd not managed to finish the night before.  Then ran errands- including replacing a lawnmower bolt which fell off somewhere in the back forty weeds, and formally firing our sexist gastroenterologist- before still having enough time to work in a late-afternoon workout.  Only one of the calls finally came, and that was at 4:30.  I'll deal with it Monday.

I'll also deal with the other absent callers who finally got around to returning them today.  One was calling about paying; I took that one. The other can also wait.  Ultimately, the really bad weather never came, and I got in a morning of weed-whacking in the back yard while Eleanor worked on the door to the greenhouse.

Once done with those, we watched the latest Orphan Black, and eventually the aftershow. A return of a much-missed clone, and a Doctor Whomage which apparently the entire rest of the Clone Club- including Emily- missed.

I ordered a bunch of Amazon Things, including Deadpool which came out earlier this week, and an external Blu-Ray drive for our laptops. DVDs are increasingly coming with few if any special features, saving those for the Blu-Ray versions- which they often sell you in the same package as the DVD.  So now we'll be able to see any on that disk, as well as on Force Awakens, which has similar issues.

Best meme about that movie, though? Is this one, which I just saw today:



Eleanor had previously commented that she thought Luke looked more like Orson Welles than Obi-Wan at the end of the film, but this is even closer to the truth.  It also generated a ton of good comments on the associated Facebook link:

That lightsaber really tied the room together.

If your wife owes money to Jabba the Hutt that means you owe money to Jabba the Hutt.

Don't be fatuous, Jar-Jar.

And my contribution, Han Solo having been established as being Walter in the comments:

Shut the fuck up, Chewie!

I better go. I really shouldn't be posting on Shabbos.
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captainsblog
I didn't do well with doors today.

After a morning of cranking out paperwork, I ran errands for an hour or two, including a stop at a Wegmans near a friend's house. I'd hoped she could figure out why a work website was suddenly not playing well with Edge or IE on this computer-  the only browsers, alas, it had ever worked with. No luck. So I headed back to work,  put my perishable groceries in the office fridge, shut the door, and

CRASH!

Apparently a vase full of dried flowers on top of the fridgidydaire had been slowly drifting to the corner of the appliance, slam by slam. Mine was the slam that finally sent it all to Explodoland.  Everyone was kind as they helped me clean it up- nobody's even sure whose vase it was.

Then, after about three more mostly annoying hours of unresponsive and clueless clients, I got home, started feeding the animals, opened our kitchen cabinets to get Ebony's antihistamine out,... and almost caused another crash of crackers onto the kitchen floor.

Maybe I should just stay in tomorrow. I could, because tomorrow morning's scheduled extravaganza finally settled barely 15 minutes before 5 today, and three other things are still awaiting action from other people before I can do anything in response.

Nahhhhh.
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captainsblog
Quite a day today- as much as anything in terms of range as quantity.

I usually stay in my comfort zone, which consists of bankruptcy cases and collections lawsuits. Most of the former involve consumers; most of the latter involve businesses, and it's rare for either to involve genuine disputes.

Today brought plenty in both of those sectors- we finally filed the two-in-a-day cases I thought would be filed last Friday, and I finally did settle the substantial commercial collection case from last Friday which I've been shepherding since last summer.  The latter wound up at a reluctant but safe-to-accept amount, particularly given an unusual amount of consternation among state court judges in these parts right now; it will pay All The Things needing to be paid for this month, which is about as far as I can plan, anyway.

The more interesting thing was the number of times I crossed outside my usual boundaries.  In rough order of occurrence:

Sexual harassment law.  This came earliest, and hit closest to home, since it involved a complaint from my wife against a professional we are both acquainted with.  I am sparing more detail here- she has posted about it if you have access to hers- and my role was more as listener than as doer, but she resolved the situation quickly and satisfactorily in terms of alternative professional commitments for both of us, and if the offender attempts any repercussions, we will both be there to bite him in the ass.

Real estate. Ah, the gift that keeps on giving. After a particularly nail-biting transaction late last year, I finally swore off the acceptance of these kinds of closings, referring them to my friend and officemate who does them routinely and well.  Trouble is, not every existing client knows this, nor do new buyers or sellers who've met me for bankruptcy and want to refer a real estate deal.  Once you get your name on the bottom of a real estate contract, it's basically chiseled as if on a headstone, and no amount of correcting messages or emails from me or Melissa seems to dissuade them from sending me documents, calling me about "status," or generally whining.

Business sale. Here, I'm doing a little better unentangling myself. A friend contacted me a while back about possibly selling his business. I referred it to my co-workers in Rochester, who do that kind of thing routinely and well. Nothing came of it until late last week, when he called to say a business broker might have a buyer for it.  Of course it's a broker that we've all had separate dealings with- me for possible collection referrals, Melissa for possible real estate, Rochester for buy-sell possibilities.  None of us put him in touch with them, or vice versa.  And then my friend unexpectedly showed up in my office late Friday to meet with yet another attorney in our office on yet another Thing.  So today we just moved our Thing along a little.

Yes, even criminal court.  This came at day's end, and left me feeling the guiltiest- not for my incompetence at it (I freely admit that), but at my magical ability to show up a few minutes late for court, over half an hour after a posse of defendants had to wait through a queue and go through security, and without even asking get moved to third on the line and my client (son of a friend) was pleaded and out the door in under 20 minutes from the moment I got there.  He also paid less for his three tickets, once we got them pleaded down to one, than I wound up paying for my one stupid midnight parking ticket on the way back from the Mets.

Come back tomorrow. Maybe we'll do securities law or something.
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captainsblog
I died a little yesterday.  So did a lot of friends, to varying extents.

Over 35 years ago, on a third-floor wall of a rickety old building in downtown Ithaca, New York, hung one clock and three signs:



This was, then, the newsroom of The Cornell Daily Sun- Ithaca's Only Morning Newspaper, also then.  It hasn't been that for years- the Ithaca Journal started on a morning schedule long ago- but The Sun remained one of the most trusted, esteemed, and, yes, daily of newspapers in Central New York.

Let's read the headstones on that wall. Working from the bottom right:  The cut-off one, I think, said, "When we tell people, they know it really happened."

The blurry one, probably the most relevant to me still, reads, "Never believe a rumor until it's officially denied."

Above both, the one you can read quite clearly- which served as a constant reminder from everyone from the lowest trainee to the managing editor: this was not the paper you worked on in high school.  An entire community of readers depended on you doing your job, doing it right, doing it on time, and doing it five times a week.

The clock, alas, has now stopped. 

----

As with the arrival of much bad news, this came (a) during a weekend and (b) with plenty of lipstick on the pig.  The email arrived, headed "A New Direction For The Cornell Daily Sun."

1-36-TBR 3 col.  I can probably still count the headline if I had a couple of drinks.

The first sentence of the message itself mentioned the "Daily Not a Weekly" sign, which still hangs in their much nicer newer digs.  Soon as I saw that, I knew it was a death notice- and that only the funeral arrangements needed to be announced.

I read on.

Digital is the word. It's the word that you heard. It's got a groove, it's got a meaning. 

The paper's losing money on paper.

Online's better for breaking news.

And so and so and so and so and so and so. 

Bottom line- starting in the fall, The Sun will only rise in its present form on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.  The other two, and on the weekends as now, you'll be directed to the website.  Which, so far, is not paywalled.

In fairness, it's not a death- it's only mostly dead.  It's a continuation of a much slower death spiral  which began some years back when The Sun stopped charging for its print editions.  Once you remove the price tag from your product, you instantly diminish its perceived value.  When it became a paperbox freebie like the Ithaca Times or the Your Town Here Pennysaver, your readers lose the incentive to care as much.  It doesn't diminish the journalism in and of itself; alt-weeklies, including the Ithaca Times, do as good and sometimes better of a job covering stories outside the mainstream.  But it's a step- one that gets your readers out of a habit.  Oh, that thing- I'll read it later. Meh- it's free.

Now the remaining newspaper readers will have their habit-at defoliated again.  The Cornell Daily Sun will join the ranks of the UB Spectrum in publishing three times a week.  I read that campus newspaper regularly, triweekly, for three years; they didn't do a bad job on that schedule, and from the look of their online journalism they're still doing pretty well.  But they would never be mistaken for even Amherst's Only Morning Newspaper. They never covered the surrounding community, its politics, its scandals or its cultural life the way The Sun did.

Yes, "did."  I do not see the same dedication of resources, or requiting of reader interest in the product, after it becomes an Anytime Online experience.  Because once you abandon a news cycle, however artificial it may be in our short-attention-span universe, you become something other than what you were.  Your readers will not know to pick up their front page first thing in the morning and see how the news fits. Rather, those replacement pageviews will change from hour to hour, and I have to believe it will be influenced by traffic to the site.  That's just one step away from the advertising department dictating placement- something that was unthinkable in 1880 and even 1980.

It may be inevitable- but there's only one place to go from here, and that's elimination of the newsprint altogether.  Until we get the benefits of a paperless society, and preferably flyin' cars, I'm not ready to make that change.

-30-
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captainsblog
Saturday Afternoon- or, How the Wisteria Was Won

There's a wall of wisteria on and above the fence on our eastern edge. For almost 20 years it separated us from our neighbor Sally. Now, the renters from you-know-where are in residence.

Last year, with us mostly inside tending to the kitchen, these plants got a little out of hand. More like a LOT out of hand. They spread, they dig, they climb. They particularly enjoy entangling themselves in neighboring trees; the Russian olive in our back yard has always been a favourite, but by this spring they'd breached the perimeter of the back yard and started climbing the redwood in front.  And so yesterday, our mission, which we chose to accept, was to beat back the crop, as close to outright extermination on our side of the fence as possible.

God designed these things on a particularly grumpy day. They're almost always too thick to just break apart by hand- but they're squishy on the inside, making them resistive to blades.  (Think a cross between asparagus and overcooked spaghetti and you get pretty close.)  So it takes an arsenal of weapons, keyed to the size and depth, to get them up (or down) and disconnected.  Yesterday, at various times, we used, in increasing order of DEFCON: hand pruners, bypass cutters, a shovel (for where the things really went underground), a mattock (essentially a Pickaxe Lite, which I didn't know existed as a tool until Eleanor brought one home), a bowsaw, and a chainsaw for the ones really in need of being massacred.

We were full-on this effort for barely two hours, but it seemed a lot longer by the time we called it quits.  Here's the haul:



That was shot looking down on it from the back stoop, but at ground level it has elements of the Watts Towers installation to it.  Maybe instead of hauling it to the curb we can get a grant from the Albright Knox or something.

Our dear neighbors' dog was along the fence about half the time, barking for about 80 percent of that- mostly of the "let's play" variety. We get along fine with him, anyway, and he and Ebony seem to have established a decent detente. I also remarked to Eleanor, during one of the digs, that I was pissing off a bunch of worms. At that very moment, Mr. Warmth from next door got into his car and pulled away, so I added, "and some of them even have drivers licenses."

----

Saturday Night- or, Get Off My Outfield Lawn

I'm sad to say I missed seeing this event as it unfolded- but my Internet was brimming with it when I got up this morning.

The Mets have an incredibly talented and generally very young pitching staff.  Plus, they have Big Sexy. That's the term lovingly imprinted on their oldest player, an almost 43-year-old pitcher named Bartolo Colon.  He's closer in age to me than he is to any other player on the team.  He is, to put it kindly, a bit rotund.  And while he is known for his hitting (pitchers in the National League have to fend for themselves at the plate), it is mostly for the amusement that results from watching him, in order of likelihood: swing and miss, not swing and get called out, make contact and rumble down the basepath, and occasionally avoid a fielder and get on base.

Never, in his almost twenty year career, did Colon hit one over a fence.  Until last night. There are better copies of this, but I can only embed Youtubes, so wait for it and enjoy the sheer bliss in the voice of Gary Cohen as Big Sexy goes deep:



The postscript to this event makes it even better. That sea of orange they cut briefly to after the ball went out? Those are Met fans who go to a few dozen games a year, home and away- but they were on the right field side. The home run, as you saw, went to left. And this was in San Diego- and yet the ball was caught by a Mets fan, living nearby in California, but with roots here in Buffalo.

Almost 20 years ago, Bartolo Colon, still on his way up to the majors, threw the first (and still only) no-hitter for the Buffalo Bisons in their modern era. So it's fitting that a Buffalo guy would catch the monumental ball- and, as a Good Neighbor and true Met fan would, he went right down to the clubhouse and gave Big Sexy the ball. For free.

He now gets four or five days off.  We're doing a lot less around the house today.  Because you can do great things at our ages, but not as often.
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captainsblog
That's the title of one of the songs of my childhood, from the beloved Mister Rogers.  Its lyrics were quite profound:

Today is a very special day
A very very very special day
A very very very very very very very very very very very special day

Fortunately, I can't find audio. Because that would be cruel.

Two of my bigger cases are coming to heads today. The newer of them resolved with amazing speed: I sued it in early April; by mid-month heard from a large law firm (not the one beating up another new client of mine) who asked for some time which I gave them; they made an offer Wednesday which the client accepted; and I'm picking up a check today.

Would that all of them 'twere so simple.  (Try saying that repeatedly.)

Today's matter has been on a much slower boat since the middle of last year. Sued in August, defended by September, papers floated around for a few months, an April court date was assigned, adjourned and adjourned again, and now I'm waiting for my opposite number to come in to review the numbers and, I suspect, make an offer.  If not, I file a response to their limited opposition and I take my chances on Monday.

ETA. We're close. Perilously close. I give it a 90-plus percent chance if I can communicate with a client human being first thing Monday. Otherwise, we joust:


----

By the end of today, I likely will file two more bankruptcies, bringing the total for the past two weeks to five.  I've never been a high-volume filer (it's rare to file two on the same day), but making it more remarkable is that in 2012, I didn't file five cases in the entire year, and only one in the first nine months.  The law hasn't changed appreciably between then and now; the economy is improved, especially in this region; and I'm not doing anything different in terms of marketing.  Some of these filings are coming through a colleague and I am trying to get a direct connection to them.

----

Emily's back from the big city; she and a co-worker just went down for a day.  Cameron will be coming home this weekend for his brother's birthday, but we probably won't see much of him, either.

----

Well, the dude's now officially an hour late.  Maybe he got lost in the Land of Make Believe:P
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captainsblog
I got my car back this morning. Well before 6 a.m.

The original plan was for me to get sort-of ready before feeding the animals before 6, then grab a quick final shut-hour before heading over to pick it up- but there was enough noise and such to wake Eleanor, so she opted to leave early. Ziggy didn't even have a full charge back by then, but it was more than enough, and I decided to just go in early once she dropped me in Erin's lot.

The day was marginally productive and not too exhausting despite the early start. I ran into one of my favorite long-time lawyer colleagues in court this morning; he was admitted to the Bar the year I was born, but he has always been a kind and decent soul, and when the judge (older than me, younger than him) started giving him a hard time about some picayune point, I almost wanted to risk contempt and say, Give the dude some respect!

Once home, I finished the first full mow of the back yard, walked the dog, and watched a bit of Mets.  I also got a text from the kid which confirmed that she's finally taken her long-awaited trip to NYC.  Apparently she just missed Pierce Brosnan coming out of NBC Studios, but she had to endure a near-encounter with one of Trump's kids.

Drumpf pere will likely win the main prize tonight and, if you believe him, it will all be over on the Republican side.  I prefer not to get in the habit of believing him about anything.

Tomorrow should be a decent day in terms of Gittin Stuff Done.  I could use that right about now.
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captainsblog
Yeah, right.

I had a first-thing appointment today for a short but annoying list of Car Things.  A closer, more convenient chain place had replaced one of two tires, but its twin was out of stock and I got sick of chasing them to order it.  I also popped an emissions code, which gives a semipermanent nag screen in addition to the idiot light. Plus, the oil was due to be changed, which puts its own code into the cycle.  So I turned it all over to our regular mechanics. They're good people, who don't overcharge, will look for used parts when they know they'll do, and you leave with a smile.

Unfortunately, getting there is now a chore.  They used to be close to Eleanor's previous job, almost exactly a three-mile walk from home. I did it a couple of times back in the day, but a year or two ago, they lost their lease (Maple Road needed another convenience store, dontcha know) and moved to a bigger building Erin and Bill bought outright, several miles further north and a bit west.

We dropped off Kermit yesterday afternoon and went and saw Keanu (fun stuff).  Eleanor had a long workday today, beginning round 11 but scheduled past when Erin closes. My first thought was to do something I've managed not to do in the now seven full months since I moved my office: walk to work and get a ride up there from a co-worker.  I've clocked the distance to my new place at just under two miles, and today I got up early enough to get there on time,.... only to hear the staccato of rain pelting the window frame with no sign of ending any time soon.

So trip #1 in Ziggy covered those two miles first thing this morning, two more on the return trip to take Eleanor to work.  In hindsight, I should've plugged him in last night, since the dropoff-and-Keanu trip took his charge below 80 percent.  Also in hindsight, I should've made sure Erin's counter dude got my whole laundry list of needed work: the tire was done by 9:30, but they didn't finish the other stuff until maybe half an hour after Eleanor had to be at work.

Thus, another 20 percent or so of charge was needed to take her to the store, plus 20-and-change more to drive over to pay for the repair while they were still open.  I started to wonder if he'd have enough to make it on the longest single trip at the end of the day, so I left work a little early, came home and plugged him in.... which got him back to maybe 30 percent.

By the time I got to the store, found her inside and we both loaded up groceries, Ziggy was hoovering just at 20 percent. That's when he stops telling you how many more miles you can drive.  Eleanor avoided getting on the 290; I'd forgotten that unlike gas-powered cars, Iggy and Ziggy do better on "fuel" at lower speeds.  We took a fairly straightforward combination of streets as he started approaching 15 percent; by now, the rain had long passed, and once we were within that sorta-three-mile-walk range, we agreed I would just walk the rest of the way to claim my car.

She pulled over on a fairly busy four-laner just past the 990, put his flashers on, and I went to get my wallet and keys out of the back.  Wallet, fine; keys, though, were nowhere to be found.  I could feel the anxiety rising as I poked through grocery bags both full and empty, and scraped the "floor" of Ziggy's rather modest trunkspace, all to no avail.  Finally, with at least two run red lights and some dirty looks from and at aggressive motorists, we bailed on the adventure and made it home with maybe five percent to spare.  We're just going to do it in the morning, when he'll have a full charge and we'll at least be caffeinated.

Oh, and the missing keys? Fell down between the driver's seat and the transmission lever while I was driving over to pick her up- because I didn't need mine to drive hers.  They, plus wallet and everything I need for court tomorrow morning, will be in one place before I turn in tonight.

Maybe Wednesday I'll take that walk, finally.

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Even before all this, Erin's neighborhood got in my head in a weird way.

Some places just have names- of town or street or building- that always bring out an association for me.  Every Saturday, the temple nearest our home displays "SHABBAT SHALOM" on its electronic sign, to which I always respond out loud with a "SHOMER SHABBOS!", a la John Goodman in Lebowski.  Just past that, they painted "DO NOT BLOCK" on the pavement in front of a firehouse entrance, but they did it this way, so I always off it read in my Yoda best voice-



And, to the point today, the cross-street closest to Erin's new garage is named Wayne Avenue.  I cannot see that name without thinking of this, and saying it in the Batman '66 Narrator voice as he did every time the place was mentioned:



Just seeing the street sign yesterday was enough to get stuck in a bad Bat-dream.  Right before awakening, I was an assistant District Attorney, learning that my boss was about to arrest, um? Was it Batman? Was it Bruce Wayne? Or maybe it was Adam West.  I was trying my damndest to beg off the case without revealing that my sister was, in fact, MARRIED to the Dark Knight. Or the Millionaire Playboy. Or the Campy Actor.  One of those.  Alas, we'll never know, because that's when the Bat-Alarm went off.  Unless there's a thrilling conclusion tomorrow morning,....

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captainsblog
Our major political parties are entering their final pre-convention machinations, with the putative Republican loser naming an even losinger running mate last week, while the putative Democratic loser continues to soldier on, positing various mathematical theorems which say he can still overcome a huge deficit among even pledged delegates.

I'm more worried about Bernie, and his supporters, and those who may run on (or beg him to run on) a minor party line come November when the inevitable happens.  We've had any number of those come to the back of the forefront in elections this century- from the bombastic Jimmy McMillan's runs for NYC mayor and NYS Guv between 2005 and 2010 on the "Rent Is Too Damn High" party line; to assorted wackadoodles on the far right; to, in this state at least, major party candidates who petition separately for vanity lines in addition to their R or D, which our "fusion" system of counting votes encourages.

Scariest of all, though, are the Greens.  To their credit, as a rule they only nominate members of their own party and do not get involved in the backroom deals to trade their endorsement for patronage or prestige. Yet they are still politicians, which means there are exceptions to those rules; and word has been spreading in recent days that the national party would Make Room for Bernie (supplanting its 2012 candidate Jill Stein, who's back on the ballot for this go-round) if he loses to Hillary before or at the convention and still wants to have a shot.

In Presidential terms, "shot" is a term better reserved for reporting on assassinations, and him, or anyone, mounting a serious 2016 third-party run would be about as tragic.  In fact, it would be the Ralph Nadir of presidential politics.

There, I said it.  The patron saint of consumer activism remains dead to me, lo these sixteen years later, after what he did to wreck this country in 2000. He told the country that there was no difference between Bush and Gore, and all it took was fewer than 600 Florida voters to believe him and the fate of the world was changed.

Bernie supporters are hearing none of it.  And since they, too, are politicians- which means they parrot party-line talking points- I've now encountered the TP on this argument at least three times in the past day. The exact words vary, but this is the point:

Nader didn't cost Gore the election.  Gore lost because he couldn't carry his own home state.

Bullcookies.

First of all, George W. Bush didn't carry his home state in 2000, either; Connecticut's eight electoral votes went to the Dems. (Forget that BS about him being from Texas; the dude is bluer-blood than QE2, and that carpetbagging move of his was all hat and no cattle.)  Second: since when is a candidate responsible for the statewide politics of the electorate where he or she hangs a hat? It's far more to his credit that Gore got elected to the U.S. Senate twice in a state as red as Tennessee, the first time in a year when Reagan carried the state on the Presidential level.  It's far more significant that Nader was a distraction in battleground states in 2000; he diverted almost 100,000 Florida votes from the Democratic ticket, where less than one percent of that would have turned the tide.

But Gore would' ve won if the Supreme Court hadn't stopped the recount!, the Nader apologists cry.

True. And if my aunt had testicles, she'd have been my uncle.  There was no way that court, five of nine of whose votes were coming from appointees of either Dubya's daddy or his former boss, was going to let that continue.  It's revisionist history to suggest otherwise, and it's Sanatyana who reminded us about being doomed to repeat history if we don't learn from it.

This is the fire we are playing with. Nader cost this country trillions of debt, at least one unnecessary war, and two Supreme Court appointees who have given us Citizens United, the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act and an eradication of the first clause of the Second Amendment.  This year's victor is likely to get to name three appointees in his (if it turns out to be a he) first term, and who knows how many in a ::shudder:: second.

If you're in a red state and want to cast a protest vote for Bernie Sanders, or JimmyMcMillan, or Mickey Mouse for all I care, go right ahead.  But if you do it where it might actually affect the outcome? You will have a lot more on your hands than any extra ink on the ballot.
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captainsblog
We took Ziggy on his first joyride today.

Recently, Eleanor met a customer at Wegmans, herself a former longtime company employee, who mentioned that her family runs an alpaca farm a few towns over from here. They have various organic meats for sale, including from the older alpacas in the herd, and while we'd planned to go to an open house they have scheduled for tomorrow, today was the better weather day. So I curtailed my wisteria-whacking activities, we headed out toward their place of purveyance, and set out to procure some furry comestibles....

We figured it would be in the new electric Smart Car's range. Not quite three years ago, when we test-drove our salesperson's electric demo, we rode through this Akron farm's town all the way to the Genesee County line. And Iggy's successor did fine, not even coming close to his red-zone 20% charge by the time we got home.  We found the farm easily enough, and after a slow ride up the drive, we knew where we were heading:



To the left of that sign, Jill and her daughter were there to greet us.  They, two big dogs and a smaller one escorted us to the right, to where the stars of the show were chowing down:



That's Muffin Man on your left. The main alpaca herd was behind bales of hay and weren't especially photogenic, but the dogs were all underfoot (Ebony gave their scents a thorough going-over when we got home), and when we headed to the next barn, they helped wrangle in a particularly fast sheep among the rest of the crowd:



The white sheep of the family, front and center, got loose just as we were coming in. Man she moves fast- but so do the dogs, and the humans dedicated to keep her from turning into unintended lambchops.  Within moments, she was safely back inside the barn.

We then headed over to their store.  Alpacas originally were an expensive breed known only for their yarn, but for various reasons their woolly products have tanked in value and the owners are selling off their older acquisitions as meat once their days are done.  We picked up several alpaca steaks and some hotdoggyish creations.

They also have a store full of geegaws with themes from Christmas (they're big on trees in December) to this-



That picture got at least two orders of the sign from assorted Grandma friends of mine after I posted it on Facebook:)

Eleanor made more conventional ribs for tonight, but tomorrow night promises a souvlaki-ish dish with alpaca on the menu. And no, I don't expect it will taste like chicken;)
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captainsblog
One of the original Mets announcers from Way Back When would occasionally describe a game, usually a win (hence the "occasionally" part) as having been a "wild and woolly ballgame at Shea."  I'll come back to those grand old Shea days at the end, but these moments are now wrapping up a week that, for me, has been full of wildness and wooliness.

The final court hearing count was only three, which is the number to which I did count.  But there was plenty of advance work for what was supposed to be a majorly important hearing first thing this coming Monday.  I fretted about whether I'd have my act together in time for it; in the end, I had a day, almost two, to spare. Ultimately, we made progress yesterday and today toward settling it, but the other side's client had a family emergency which convinced me to put it off another week in hopes we can work it out next week.

Also done: filed two new bankruptcies, signed up a third, seriously progressed two more and have yet another potential one coming in Monday afternoon.  Filed one new collection case, a judgment in a second and a foreclosure cross-claim in a third.  Found out about two foreclosures against clients which seem to have accelerated beyond expectations.  No fewer than six clients walked in this week without appointments, to sign stuff, drop stuff off, or pay. I tend to discourage all such things except the latter.

So now Monday will be just for getting some minor but annoying car things taken care of; Tuesday is a Rochester trip; and the later part of the week should be shorter and shorn-er than the past five days have been.

----

About the Mets-mories:

It's been a good week for the boys, who have been playing some suckier than usual competition.  My one guilty pleasure was dropping 20 bucks on an iPhone subscription so I can listen to their radio broadcasts when it's too late for the television, or I'm in the car.  Their radio voice, Howie Rose, isn't quite that of his radio predecessor and now TV lead announcer Gary Cohen, but he has his own panache, and his happy cry of "Put it in the books!" after every Met win has become iconic.

Earlier this week, Howie answered a prayer of mine- one I'd only recently renewed in my somewhat pissed-off talks of late with the Supreme Deity.  The current Met ballpark, and even Shea in its final decades, don't rely on traditional organ music like they did in the old days; hockey's really the only vestige of that.  For not quite half of the Mets franchise lifetime, the Thomas organ was the main musical source, and at the keyboard was an esteemed jazz performer named Jane Jarvis- "the Queen of Melody."  She played three songs that were so emblematic of those hell-cyon days of Shea, I can still hear the afterimages of the notes in my head. One was her take on the National Anthem, the bassline notes booming. The second was her rendition of the official team theme song "Meet the Mets," which still plays in recorded form as you enter Citi Field.  But the third was a lost track- always played, happy and peppy, just before the Mets took the field.  About a decade ago, I learned it had a name- "Let's Go Mets"- and that Jane herself had composed it.  I may have even heard a RealAudio rendition of it, but that format never lent itself to, um, lending, and even if I'd obtained it, it went down in the Crash of '08, most likely.

Within the month, I'd googled it, without success.  And yet, earlier this week, there it was- at the request and through the good and hoardery efforts of none other than Howie Rose himself:)  As he tells it, reprinted on one of the better blogger boards:

By 1994, Jane Jarvis and the Thomas Organ had long since departed the ballpark, replaced by recorded music. I thought that Mets fans would enjoy a chance to hear Jane play a couple of songs that were staples at each and every Mets home game during her tenure with them, if only to remind those loyalists what the place sounded like during that unforgettable season. My idea was to use this music at certain times during the pre and post game shows.

There were two problems with my plan. First, no start to finish, high quality, suitable for airplay version of that music existed on tape. Second, I didn’t really know Jane, although I had met her once or twice, meaning that I would have to ask her for a pretty big favor. The Mets were nice enough to put me in touch with Miss Jarvis, who was living in Florida, but would occasionally come to New York to perform at jazz clubs, which was her first musical love.

She could not have been any nicer. When I explained what I was looking for, she was flattered that anyone would even have an interest in hearing it, and immediately went to work on making it happen. She actually had a Thomas Organ in her home; exactly, she said, like the one she played at Shea Stadium. Her son was capable of engineering a recording which would have “studio quality”, so within a few days, the project was complete and a cassette arrived at my home with exactly what I was looking for.

One was "Meet the Mets."  I'd already heard the results of Howie's effort on that- he gave it to the team, which has used it quite often.  But he, like me, remembered the other one,...

a composition called “Let’s Go Mets” which Jane wrote herself and played just as the Mets took the field prior to her rendition of the national anthem. The only thing Jane asked in return was that the tape not be commercialized and sold anywhere. That pledge was easily honored.

The Mets eventually requested a copy of her version of Meet the Mets and have occasionally used it at the ballpark. It’s not exactly a rarity. “Let’s Go Mets” is a completely different story. Fans of a certain age have clamored to hear it again, and having found the tape (now on CD) during a move last summer, coupled with the Mets winning the 2015 National League Pennant, the time is right.

For those who remember, close your eyes, play the song, and you can see Cleon and Tommie and Buddy and Eddie and Ron and Tom coming out of the dugout. You don’t need the last names. You grew up with them. You know exactly who I’m talking about. If you’re too young to recall,keep your ears perked up. Your eyes just might open wide and the beautiful simplicity of a day or night at the ballpark a generation ago will crystallize as Shea’s Queen of Melody takes you on a very special journey through Mets history.

They're both linked to on that blog page.  I doubt this non-Youtube clip will embed, but let's try, Mets:



And, if not, this link may take you directly to it.

I hear this, and I'm fourteen again. Thank you for bringing back the wilds and the woolies for me:)

 

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