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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
(Or, obscure refererences for 800, Alex;))

First half of the title is a bit of a stretch. Maybe I can make it out to be about buildings I'm usually not in- like malls. I pulled a twofer at one of our area's rapidly decaying temples of  retail, and got out without spending a nickel. Not that there are many places left to spend anything. Macy's (nee Hengerers/Sibleys/Kaufmann's) is now an antique emporium; most of the clothing stores of the 80s are now salons and cell phone hawkers.  (There's still a Spencer Gifts, though; I don't think even nuclear war will kill THAT.)

Stop One was LensCrafters. I'd stupidly stepped on the older pair of glasses which I reverted to after stepping on a more recent pair more irreparably, but this pair needed just a quick adjustment and I was good to go. And so I went to a storefront I remember originally being a video arcade in the 80s, which the current tenant, the UNYTS blood drive walk-in center, has retained the tacky walls from-

That's a file photo of the Auntie Ann's pretzel mascot- yeah, the mall can't kill THEM off, either- but I was there to see if I needed to be prescreened for my first-ever platelet donation at the end of next week.  A friend does it often, and was looking for a donation buddy for the process-  it's no more painful, needle-wise, but it just takes longer.  I had some issues with regular donation (it was through a rejection there that I found out I was hypertensive several years ago and I am now medicated for it), but apparently I'll be fine for it as long as I don't take aspirin, visit England, or get a tat between now and then.

Then, last night and this morning brought another, weird, building story.

Last weekend, the Rochester daily paper (or what little is left of it) published a story about a house on the market in our old neighborhood there.  Making it unusual is that it was the scene of a grisly (and still unsolved) ax murder over 35 years ago.  The reporter quoted one realtor, unaffiliated with the selling family but who had shown the house to a potential buyer not knowing its history. (New York requires disclosure of dozens of things concerning homes' structure, repair histories and some neighborhood aspects, but not whether somebody died in the house unless a buyer asks about it point-blank. Yes, I said that.)

The reporter did not interview the owners, or the realtor who had the listing- and one of the sellers was none too pleased about it. (The "Karen" she refers to in her public Facebook post about it is the paper's editor):

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. As the owner of the "Murder House" as your staff writer calls it, I cannot possibly fathom what the newsworthiness was of the article you published this past Saturday. The content (except for the fact that the home is now for sale) was all regurgitated from articles that had been published in the past, at times when the news story was, in fact, newsworthy. So what possible reason could there have been behind the decision to publish the article other than to sensationalize a 35 year old crime and devalue a family home?

She's got a point, to a point- I think it likely, for one thing, that some genius editor decided that it was a nice Halloweeny spooky story to go with for the first weekend of October.  But boo on them for not at least trying to get a quote from the owner or their agent. At the same time, it seems clear the owner didn't want this fact disclosed- and to paraphrase her,  just because you don't have to, doesn't mean you shouldn't.

The home looks beautiful in its online presentation, was priced way below market for that neighborhood even before the story broke, and is as likely to attract a curious buyer who doesn't care about the history (or maybe like it as a conversation piece) as it will repel others.


Now that I've got the ax murder out of the way, some words about food as promised:

The restaurant from last weekend did get back to me after I private-messaged the owner- they were partly conciliatory, partly appreciative that we didn't go all Yelp Smash on them, but were not entirely apologetic.  They said they "do consider the Kitchen Counter (what we considered "the bar," because it was) reservable seating," and that they would try to find a way to make that clearer when you're booking through Open Table.  They also offered a gift certificate that would basically cover one entree and a starter.  That seems fair, although with Eleanor not likely to be able to sit at a real table anytime after Sunday, we'll have to keep that one in abeyance.  Wherever "A Beyance" is on a map, anyway.

Yes, all systems are go for the surgery Monday morning. We wrangled the wheelchair into the back of Eleanor's car yesterday, and she ordered a camping toilet tonight.  (Would you like me to go back to writing about ax murders?)  I also took a crack at making part of tonight's meal without much intervention from the foodie; she only stopped me from screwing up a measure of a "cup" that meant liquid ounces after every previous ingredient had been fractions of dry-measure "cups."  This would be so much easier if we'd gone metric instead of insisting on measuring shit based on the size of medieval English kings' penises and such.  It ultimately turned out okay, so I'm optimistic that we won't starve while she's on the couch.

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Much of yesterday was focused on DEATH. When the first thing you see at dawncrack is a Facebook notification of a Vegas friend checking himself in "safe," you know it's been a bad night.  Then the pundits all came out from under their rocks and made it worse. "Thoughts and prayers" are all many will offer to remedy over 40 years of deregulation and affirmative expansion of the scope (heh) of a one-sentence amendment to our Constitution. This 2014 piece marks the turning point when the NRA truly became the Nuts Running America we now know them as:

Cut to 1977. Gun-group veterans still call the NRA’s annual meeting that year the “Revolt at Cincinnati.” After the organization’s leadership had decided to move its headquarters to Colorado, signaling a retreat from politics, more than a thousand angry rebels showed up at the annual convention. By four in the morning, the dissenters had voted out the organization’s leadership. Activists from the Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms pushed their way into power.

"Cincinnati" and "1977" were always a hated combination for Mets fans, but this thinly veiled form of Red-baiting of a different kind led directly to the decades of slaughter we've just become numb to. Only a brief respite at the worst end came when Congress finally passed an assault weapons ban in 1994 after numerous killing sprees- but the ammosexuals forced their minions to agree to a 10-year sunset on the bill, and no serious effort to renew it has ever come up in the 13 years since, more than half of them with Democrats controlling the votes of two if not all three of the voices on that choice.  No, instead we are looking down the barrel of a bill this very week that would lift an even older ban on silencers- shamelessly referred to as the "Hearing Protection Act."

Maybe if we renamed the assault ban as the "Bullet Wound Protection Act," we'd have a better chance of coming to our collective senses.


Yesterday also brought word of the untimely death of Tom Petty. It proved to be REALLY untimely word when it came out that he wasn't quite dead yet. (He is now. We think.) I don't think I ever saw him perform, and the only album I ever owned was TP and the HB's You're Gonna Get It, not among his best, which I won from a college radio station in maybe 1979. But I always respected his writing and musicianship- especially enjoying his turns as a Traveling Wilbury, now down another. Bob Dylan, another of that group I've never seen, will be playing here next month, and it's tempting to add that to the bucket list before the next Wilbury kicks it.


Today dawned better- no bad news on any of those fronts, and a nice drive to a remote court appearance south of Rochester before heading up that way.

These are part of a wind farm on US20A on the road from East Aurora to Warsaw. I've only been down that road once I can remember- taking Emily to a folk concert at Geneseo when she was maybe six- and these were not part of the landscape back then.  I find them comforting in their own way, and certainly prettier than the fracking fields many in that county would likely prefer.

I still need to connect with the kid to switch cars before Eleanor's surgery next week, but we will pick up the wheelchair tomorrow morning and I think we can get it and a driver into one of the Smart cars.  Friday, likely, is when I will now do the car handoff so two people and one chair can drive to and from the surgery place on Monday.  The other surgery I'm awaiting is on this computer; two years of accumulated overuse and cat hair have killed off about a quarter of the alphabet, so this entry has been brought to you courtesy of  the letters E, X, T, E, R, N, A & L;)-


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Tuesday was our 30th anniversary. We celebrated that night at home, and quietly, since we'd both had early starts to the workday.  We watched a film we've known and loved for many years, and have always had the soundtrack from, but which I finally tracked down on DVD the week before-

Wednesday brought the end of an unusual late-season warm spell- Buffalo hitting 90F for the first time all year- and the cooler weather also brought out the cute kitty's nesting instincts. First, she decided to have eggs-


and then figured she'd move over to the salad bar-

(Yes, she's still got her Mets tag, the little glutton for punishment. They mercifully ended their season today with an 11-0 drubbing by an even worse team, their longtime manager kicked upstairs in the organization as assistant to Mr. Peter Principle, and a Cheeto-worthy boatload of press leaks needing to be plugged.  On the other hand, the Bills just won their second straight game over a heavily-favoured opponent, this one on the road, and they lead their division at the quarter pole with a full game lead over the New England Cheatriots.)
By week's end, with more long days for both of us, the time came to pick a place for the actual observance of Number 30. I'd heard good things about This Little Pig- a trendy new place in a nearby strip mall, but one run by a couple with longtime downtown restaurant roots.  Friends had been there, the reviews were all good, and when I googled the place to get the phone number to try to reserve, it offered the chance to do it online through Open Table. We'd have to go a little early, but we were confirmed for a table for two at 5:45 last night.
Until we weren't.   Here's the message I sent them this afternoon:
The "traditional place in the village" was a Main Street mainstay, always busy despite having about five legal parking spaces in its lot and a rambleshack architecture, but it works.  We lucked out when we called right after leaving the first place's (ample) car park; maybe it was because we were going in the waning hours of Yom Kippur when peeps don't eat just yet, but we got right in and had a lovely meal and a lovely time.  We continued our longish anniversary tradition of being very generous to the server who made it special for us (as we would have at the first place if we'd been given a table to leave a tip on).
I sent that message a little before 2; they close after Sunday brunch, so I'm going to give them tomorrow before I Yelp Out on them.
That got us to October, and another anniversary for me. I began my law career in Rochester 33 years ago today. There will be no meals to remember it, but I'm pleased at the things that have both changed and remained the same in all that time. This week gets us close to another transition- by midweek, I will have switched with Emily to reclaim my former larger car, and we will then pick out the wheelchair Eleanor will be using after her foot surgery, which is a week from tomorrow. And then some healing and some relief will be the things we will be looking forward to, rather than back at.

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For the Bangles, Sunday was their Fun Day. Their I don't have to run day.  Not mine. Sunday is my Park Day, my listen to the bark day, the find the poopy mark day:

(That's not a breakfast sammich in my right hand:P)

Instead, Saturday is the one day usually without an alarm or an agenda. Except yesterday. The longtime companion of a recent coworker had died, and yesterday morning was that set for his funeral at a small but beautiful Catholic church on Buffalo's west side.

I maybe met Randy once, and didn't work with Jan all that long either, but she's the kind of person you have to come out in support of.  I found the neighborhood- now more Muslim than Catholic- and a parking space on an adjacent street.  Two sights caught me before even setting eyes on the church itself: a cat crossing the street who was more the size of a puma; and a little girl from the neighborhood, dodging oncoming mourners while heading down the sidewalk on a pogo stick.  It's been years since I'd seen one of those in play, and it added a needed touch of levity to what would surely be a sad event.

Randy had overcome more than his share of sadness in life. His parents both died when he was still a teenager. After joining the Navy soon after high school, his first job took him to Rochester, and an almost 30-year career with the Big Yellow Box. Jan had been his high school sweetheart, but they each married and went their own ways.  In time, both of their spouses predeceased them, and Randy was also faced with the premature death of one of his own two sons and with having to care for the younger mentally challenged son, as well. Jan was immense help to him and his son. I chanced to meet him just past the pogo stick- he seemed sad, but supported by a lot of extended family.

The service itself was brief but beautiful. An old-school Catholic parish in a barely Catholic neighborhood presents challenges- often responded to by the Diocese shutting the doors- but this one seemed determined to do God's work for whoever is in need. The priest was African, the pianist/soloist Korean, the altar boys probably Filipino- and the signups in the back weren't for chicken barbecues or pro-life rallies but for helping the immigrants of the community.  Randy's brothers spoke briefly near the end of the memorial, and then the naval honor guard came forward.  There was no casket present, so the sailors unfurled the flag fully before re-folding it and handing it to Jan and to Randy's surviving son.  THAT's the kind of display of a flag that nobody can take issue with.

Randy donated his body to UB's anatomical study program, and in time he will be interred in Rochester's Riverside Cemetery to join his wife and son. My father-in-law also rests there.


I came home to the sounds and fury of a deranged leader who had decided, the night before, to make an incredibly big deal out of the almost-forgotten protests taking place during the playing of the National Anthem at NFL games.  The Cheeto has since doubled and even tripled down on his vitriol, cursing those who protest and demanding their sacking (and not the kind by defensive ends).

You keep using those words, "Respect for the flag." I do not think they mean what you think they mean.  To me, they mean the freedom to express dissent, as long as it is peaceful.  I'm more than halfway through the first week of the Ken Burns Vietnam series, and also just finished a piece about Cheeto's fellow despot-in-crime, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.  Both of those presented tales of citizens, both North and South,  being forced to support the aims and symbols of their repressive governments, being threatened with arrest or worse if they didn't comply.  We are better than that.  Our flag flies for even those who don't completely agree with everything it has ever stood for.  And to ostracize and name-call those who exercise that right? Not right.

The owners of the Bills made this statement in response to the oppobrium from Alabama:  

Several of us met tonight -- players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it's the best way to work through any issue we are facing -- on and off the field.

President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.

Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.

The comments in response to that are running about 90 percent "love it or leave it," but those are not indicative of the world at large. Or of the team- which locked arms for today's anthem, some kneeling, some not. Saying, "we disagree on some things, but we are together where it matters."  I will not say a word about how that will translate to the game's outcome until it's over, but for now it's a very good sign- and I think even Randy would have been proud of them.

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More or less chronological from the past day:

Our longtime neighbor's house is finally up for sale. The sign went up late yesterday, and a listing showed up this morning.  By this afternoon, the listing realtor's site for it had been taken down. Did it sell that fast, or is something else going on?  This third-party site still has the info and some photos of in and out:

Yup, it's the answer to life, the universe and everything!

All traces of Betty's gardens are gone.

A retro-fan friend of mine picked right up on the built-in radio, likely of the same vintage as the '57 Buick of a built-in oven we still have in our kitchen next door.

Anyway, all this can be yours (including the curtains). Unless it can't because it sold in under a day- which does happen around here these days.


Also last night, before I saw any of those pictures, I saw this one:

A friend and fellow aminal lover posted this tale from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter:

Lilly is a 12-18 month old chocolate lab mix who came to the shelter when her owners moved out of their house and left her behind. A concerned neighbor brought her to our care.

REALLY?!? Who does that? She looked well cared for, and the rest of the listing said she was doing well meeting people and other dogs.  I knew the time was all wrong- with Eleanor's three month layup, she's going to have enough trouble letting one dog out the back door during the day- but cmon. That FACCCCCE.  So I detoured after court this morning and checked. Sadly (or happily, really), Lilly already got adopted out. There were plenty of other choices, most of them pitties, but no. This would have been for Tasha- our first doggie rescue, a Chocolate lab mix who we gave the best 12 years of her 13 years of life through a few years ago. I'll continue to say no, but I'll never say never.


In other transitions, a longtime friend lost her longtime cat companion the other day. But not many Rainbow Bridge residents have a whole series of mystery novels starring them for us to remember them by:

Closer to home, the longtime companion of a former coworker passed away this week after a very long series of end days. His funeral is Saturday morning, and I think I need to go to that.


I think I also need to go out of town tomorrow for my only trip this week.  Nothing about THAT ever changes.

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The last three workdays last week were bookended by trips to Rochester for both work and teeth.  The only scheduled work of Wednesday was signing up a couple's wills; only one of them showed up, though, so that wound up making for a very early start on Friday to get Mr. Client's done, as well.

The Wednesday dental appointment was the more routine one- just a semiannual cleaning. The new hygienist is very young, very good, but very chatty. Better to be that during a cleaning than during what came two days later.

Emily's office is just down the road from Dr. Ron's, so I stopped over there to drop off a copy of Nothing- a quirky Canadian film our friend Ann recommended to us.  Since I was running a little behind schedule, I just found her car in the parking lot and slipped the DVD under her windshield. I even texted her that I would probably do that....

which she apparently forgot.  By the time she got home, a good 20 mile drive, she hadn't realized I'd done it, but amazingly, it was still there under the wiper.  Good thing it hadn't rained that day;)


Two days later, I was back there, to take care of problems with two teefs.  One, I'd known about for ages; the other came up on an x-ray last time I was in. Either could have turned into a major crown job, but we got them both filled and smoothed out with much less time and expense.  Before that, I also finished Will Number Two for Wednesday's couple, and got back here at a decent hour for, among other things, watching a goofy Scandinavian film that Netflix sent us; both of us were getting deja vu throughout, which made sense, because not only had we seen it before, we own it.  Then last night, we watched Repo Man, which we knew we owned, in honor of the passing of Harry Dean Stanton.


Small world time at the dog park today.  I'd fallen behind on a lot of paperwork with the time spent driving and sitting in dentists' chairs, so I tried cranking out a bunch of stuff from home on Saturday morning. It wasn't going well- the printer jammed, the work was dreary, and I was in Such A Mood when I left to finish up at the office, I decided to work in a workout first. It shouldn't have been overtiring (I check their unofficial schedule on reddit before booking anything), but for whatever reason it really wore me out. But the instructor is a really nice guy- my second class with him at the studio on the other side of town that is actually closer to my office than my "regular" one is.

Turns out I'd already met him before.  Not long into our first trip round the Parp!, we saw a couple of beagles who've been there before- Peter and Piper.  Their male human looked at me kinda funny, and we finally concluded that he's the trainer I'd done the class with the day before.


Recording Vietnam as I finish this.  I don't know if I'll get into it, but everything I've read about it, and about Burnsian documentaries in general, has been very positive.

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It's not that I've been short on things to write about in recent days; it's more keeping up with All The Things that doesn't leave all that much time for sitting down here.  We've been ramping up my getting acclimated to doing all of the cooking (and eventually the grocery shopping) round here prior to Eleanor's surgery in, now, less than a month. Tonight was the first time I ran an old familiar recipe pretty much from the ingredients on. 

We, and/or I, also continue watching All The Things. Our local PBS affiliate delayed the season finale of Endeavour by a week so they could run more interruptable pledge-drive programming, so we instead watched the first of the Inspector Morse episodes from 1987. "The Dead of Jericho" gave us our first looks at John Thaw as Morse, at Kevin Whately as Lewis, and at the actors whose characters of Max and Strange would be played 30 years later (and 20 years earlier) in Endeavour. Colin Dexter makes his first cameo, and his novel was adapted by Anthony Minghella, later to pen The English Patient among many others. Guest stars included Gemma (later to play Mother of Bridget) Jones, but sadly "Dead of Jericho" also featured one of the last appearances by Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. He would pass away two months after the episode aired, at a Doctor Who convention in Columbus, Georgia.

Then last night, we streamed "Harvest," the finale of this year's model.  For some reason, the stream never got hung up during the 90 minutes, but the video had a herky-jerky character to it throughout, which only added to the episode's spookiness. As with the prior ones in this prequel, there were plenty of Easter-eggy homages throughout, including John Thaw's widow joining his daughter in the cast, and a character name-checking Thaw's first-ever motion picture role, coincidentally occurring in the year in which this episode's events began to unfold. The season ended with some emotional cliffhangery moments, and a Deus ex Regina explanation for how Morse became a Sergeant, but it left all the key people still alive (other than those you know can't be killed off) and we're looking forward to another series of it next year.


On my own time, mainly while getting to cardio (which I couldn't last week while they renovated the gym I go to for that), I've been streaming another crime series, one with its tongue way further embedded in its super-cheek:


This premiered last year, part of Amazon's Vote For Me pilot effort, and His Blue Bugginess made the cut.  It is the latest televised incarnation of a cult comic, this one with the active involvement of the character's creator Ben Edlund, and its cast of mostly comedic performers send up the genre without the limits that even Deadpool and the Guardians face when confined to a Comic Universe with seeeeerious characters (and rights battles among major movie studios, none of whom can really be made fun of).  The Tick brings back the reckless abandon of Batman '66, none of the villains lets their evil get in the way of a good laugh, and there's a certain sweetness in some of the family connections that the characters bring to the story (such as sidekick Arthur and his sister) or that are slowly growing in the script between Blue Antennae and Gray Butterfly.

Only problem I have? I've seen the whole pilot and am more than halfway into the first six-episode drop provided by Prime, and I've yet to hear the Tick utter his trademark line even once:


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Three days of the abbreviated workweek are in the books. They've gone reasonably well, although I'm getting stood up by clients who've been breaking appointments at a rather alarming rate.  Worse, when I'm at the office waiting for them, I'm not at home entertaining the dog.... which leads to occurrences like this one:

No automatic alt text available.

That's the complete destruction of Gil Hodges, and turning Tom Seaver into Ron Swoboda, which is the kind of trade only the Mets would make.


In anticipation of Eleanor's disability layoff (laid-up is probably more accurate), she's been walking me through how to make any of a number of her regular-rotation recipes. Last night it was crafting an Asian sauce for a combination of shrimp and rice.  Monday night, though, she'd planned on a simpler concoction of hot dogs and baked beans, but before she left for work, she told me she was going to beg out of the latter recipe and just make cole slaw from pre-made sliced broccoli fixins from the store.  Only with me having the day off, and after taking Ebony on a bonus Labor Day dog park run, I decided to get the ingredients for the baked beans from the Wegmans nearest the parp!, and had them ready when she got home:

I know, Emeril's job is safe- but helping out over these coming months is feeling a lot easier.


After the dog-and-bean combo Monday, we watched the third installment of Endeavour's fourth series, now airing on PBS.  This one was particularly evocative of a story line from the original Inspector Morse canon, because in "Lazaretto" (all the Endeavour eps have one-word titles), the younger Morse encounters his former almost in-laws- and reveals to us, as his later self would years later, that he had been engaged to be married once.  We even get a brief glimpse of Susan in a cemetery scene.  A little remembering, and a little researching, combined to remind me that said Susan, who eventually married someone else, figured prominently in a Morse episode titled "Dead on Time." I couldn't remember if she was a suspect, a victim or a red herring in that one, so I tracked down the DVD of it from the library and we watched it last night- the first time we've returned to the original episodes since beginning to follow the prequel three years ago.

I'd missed the interaction of Morse and Lewis. His younger self's pairing with Roger Allam's Thursday is a different dynamic- not completely, but there's a grounding that Lewis brings to his Guv that Endeavour either can't manage or just doesn't need to provide in the same way.  It's also strange to see, well, Strange as he turns out- compared to the young former bobby who leapfrogs over Morse on the organisation chart and eventually becomes the constablio di tutti constabliere of the Oxford police. 

This episode also brought a guest star I didn't remember from seeing it the first time round (though I distinctly remember the episode other than the Whodunit part)- Adrian Dunbar, who starred in the beloved-by-us and hard-to-find-on-DVD* film Hear My Song. In the older Morse episode, he plays a doctor who also becomes part of the mystery.  Sadly, "Dead on Time" has no sign of Max the pathologist, played so wonderfully by Peter Woodthorpe early in the Morse series and even more so by James Bradshaw in the prequel; they mention such a professional in the coroner's inquest scene but never show or even name him (or her, as Inspector Lewis would eventually flirt with among the dead bodies).

Just one more Endeavour from Series 4 on PBS; the fifth collection has already been commissioned for an even longer six-episode run that will be out next year.  Maybe by then we'll know what all the tarot cards are about.

One sighting of DEATH is confirmed, though: BBC will not be bringing back Class, last year's Doctor Who spinoff, for a second season.  That link offers some thoughts on why the whole business didn't work.


*Hard but not impossible. Just found a Region 1 DVD of it on Amazon and it's in our cart- along, presumably, with a replacement shirt:P

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It's been a summer tradition at my office in Rochester to close for a summertime day and take everyone, kids in tow, to the local amusement park. For years, I stayed home from it- whether because of incompatible schedules, inclement weather or indifference generally- and this year's first go at it wound up being postponed because it was a partly cloudy 60F day in the middle of July. But this time- despite the  rescheduled date being a partly cloudy 60F day on the first of September- I decided to go. It brought back never-had memories of this particular place, but also rekindled some very much like it that I've had throughout my life.

When and where I was growing up, "theme parks" were far away, if not far into the future. Disneyland was on the other side of the country, and there was nothing like it in this time zone until the 70s. We did get a brief taste of it when New York City hosted a World's Fair That Really Wasn't One when I was four and five years old.  Despite many nations begging out altogether or sending just token pavilions, one of the exhibitors had sacred Vatican artifacts, another introduced us to Belgian waffles, plus we got temporary installations of Disney attractions that continue to earworm kids on multiple continents 50-plus years later.

But these were my first memories of anything approaching a "thrill ride."  After the fair left town in 1965, nothing of its magnitude ever appeared on our side of the Hudson. Yes, there was Coney Island, but it was considered too worn-down and honky-tonk for school trips, much less anything my parents would pay for. And parks in New Jersey beckoned- to "Come on Over!" or "Have a Great Adventure!" (Jerry Lewis even sang the jingle in one of those, now embargoed along with his Nazi clown movie until 2024.)  But that would have involved two bridges and two tolls, plus a shitload of dimes to pay for all the rides.

Us? We had an amusement park closer by, with a name that really wasn't one.


We called it Jolly Roger(s), but that was the name of the restaurant adjacent to it and closest to Hempstead Turnpike. 

Officially, it was Happyland- the final effort of a legend of amusement I knew nothing of at the time, named Nunley:

Happyland was established by William Nunley, a third-generation amusement park entrepreneur, who already operated facilities in Baldwin, in Queens (in Broad Channel and Rockaway Beach), and in Westchester County (in Yonkers), N.Y. The new park would be larger than Nunley's other locations and, unlike its predecessors, was designed from the start for year-round operation, with a heated indoor ride area. Two walls of the pavilion were designed with large movable glass panels which could be opened in warm weather or closed when it was cold. (The glass doors used were salvaged from the French pavilion at the 1939-40 World's Fair.)

Others on Long Island remember "Nunley's" as the Baldwin one, which I remember nothing of; it opened earlier, lasted longer, and had some of its attractions preserved on Nausea County's "Museum Row" of abandoned airplane hangars.  This one was perhaps a couple miles closer to East Meadow, and so that is where we would go for the closest thrills we were going to get:

When Happyland opened in 1951, it had a mix of outdoor and indoor rides. Outdoors were a Schiff Ferris wheel, Schiff roller coaster, Hodges hand cars, and a miniature train. Inside were a Herschel "Sky Fighter," Pinto fire engine, Schiff boat ride, Pinto pony ride, and a 48-horse carousel. (This carousel should not be confused with the one from Nunley's Baldwin facility, which is preserved at Nassau County's "Museum Row.") Along the walls were more than one hundred items of arcade equipment: small coin-operated rides, pinball machines, skee-ball games, and hand-cranked mutoscope-style movie viewers.

This low-rent carny motif is pretty much what I walked into on Friday, preserved in Rochester as in very few other places. All you need to know about the original of my youth comes from the last sentence of the main Wikipedia entry:

The site is now occupied by a strip mall.


By the time I left Long Island for good 40 Augusts ago, Happylands weren't going to cut it for kids who'd already been to Disney World and the soon-to-be-Six-Flagged Great Adventure across the rivers.  When I was at Cornell, Syracuse and Binghamton TV stations began running ads for the new one of that ilk nearest to us: Darien Lake Fun Country.  Developed originally in the middle of the then-716 footprint by Buffalo entrepreneur Paul Snyder (better known for creating hotels and disk jockeys), it started with an emphasis on the "country" part, ending those endless commercials with "....we're a country smile away!"  It went through wheel after wheel of corporate ownership, being Six-Flagged (and Warner Brothers-DC Comic-charactered to death) for much of that time, before now being likely owned by a hedge fund devoted to cutting back on safety measures.  This is the kind of park that goes on "bigger is better and more expensive" as its mantra.  Biggest is the Ride of Steel, formerly named for Supe but now just the tallest coaster in the whole state. I tried it the one time I went with Emily in probably the early oughts; I think my glasses were finally found in an onion field in Orleans County.

For most of Kids These Days who get out at all from staring at their phones or xBoxes, this is likely what they need to go to if they're going to get even the semblance of a thrill.  Except in sleepy Western New York, where amazingly, two proper descendants of the Happyland era still carry on.

One is closer to home here, on Grand Island.  Known in various forms in its history as Fantasy Island (save an unfortunate era as Two Flags Over Niagara), it has all the hallmarks of a park preserved in amber: the historic carousel, the almost-as-historic coaster, the tacky live show (Wild West on the east coast of Canada, yo!), and a ton of other rides which likely haven't been repaired since people my age were first riding on them.  And keeping with the wrong-name theme, ask any Western New Yorker to describe this park in only two words, they will invariably cite an advertising slogan that hasn't been used in most of their lifetimes:


The other is where I spent the afternoon on Friday. Seabreeze is literally at the end of the line- originally of Rochester's trolley cars, now at the northeast end of its Outer Loop interstate. If I'd ever gone there before, I don't remember; it's so interchangeable with Fantasy Island I may be mistaking one of those visits for having been there.  But it has the same boatload of memories for anyone who grew up in that area. Its historic coaster, the Jack Rabbit, is the oldest continuously operating one in the country.  My lawyer colleague who booked this trip remains scared shitless of it from when he was a kid and still won't go on it.  (We settled for the Bobsled, which only flings your glasses to the adjacent town if you don't put them in your pocket).   It lost its historic carousel in a 1994 fire, but the family which still owns the place rebuilt it.  Their version of the tacky live show is what can only be described as "Cheap de Soleil."


We did two other rides, both tied to legendary park attractions: the Music Express, a centifugal-force-on-your-lunch machine playing amped-up dance music, which took the place of an earlier stomach-cruncher called the Gyrosphere, which apparently every Rochesterian associates with its playing of "Fire On High" by the Electric Light Orchestra; and the bumper cars.

This one brought us the most fun and alleviation of feelings about clients as we all rammed into each others' sides (no head-on collisions, sorry:P), but the building itself even predates the ancient Porsches we were driving. It was the original line-up building for an even earlier coaster known as the Greyhound, which dated to 1916 and which the Bobsled more or less resembles.

They've also added massive water park attractions, but given the 60F day none of us, and hardly anybody else, was spotted in or near them.  But as I headed out at the end of the afternoon (after finally realizing the place has TWO major parking areas and the PARK EXIT isn't the one I was close to), I got one final shot of perhaps the biggest attraction of all. Six Flags may bring you a Great Adventure, but only Seabreeze is gonna give you a Great Lake:

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* Celery won its last mascot race in Buffalo, going out with a lifetime record of 1-449!

* The Red Wings renewed their lease for at least another ten years in Rochester!

* The Keith Wenning Era of professional football begins tonight in Orchard Park! (And likely ends Saturday when he is almost certain to be cut from the Bills' roster.)

* August ended with me only filing four new BK cases, but three of them counted as emergency filings, and at least four more non-emergency ones are teed up for September with the papers either fully/nearly complete and/or their filings paid for.

* I finally got to pay-backward my experience of a week ago, paying for an order behind me at Timmy's. I'd also bought a box of Timbits for the office here, only they forgot to hand them over at the drive-thru, and when I went back to claim them, they added a few more to the box for my trouble.

* Monday is a real holiday, but tomorrow my only appointment canceled on me, and the Rochester office is spending the day at an amusement park. A good way to begin a new month:)

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As we hit the midpoint of the last unofficial week of summer, we look back at things which once roamed the earth- and realize that some of them extinct more than others. This week brought a virtual tie between Tradition and Technology. We'll start with the latter, since the subject matter is closer to the bottom (_ _).

Both of us have been out of the house more than usual. Eleanor's been ramping up her hours between now and early October when she goes out for foot surgery, and I've had multiple out-of-town gigs each of the past few weeks, plus another run of bankruptcies all coming at once including three emergency filings this month alone. The dog has reacted to this inattention by turning her attention to anything fabric she can get her jaws on. Sometime in the middle of last week, both of us came home to find a pair of underwear apiece in tatters. I checked my inventory and realized, with the greatest of dread, that it was time to set foot in a clothing store.

For me, for this particular need, that means only one place:

I've been getting the same briefs there since I was probably ten. Stafford's the brand, cotton/polyester's the blend; the size, well, has varied before coming down in recent years. I have my drill at the store nearest my old office and current gym: park on the Transit side, march right into the menswear department, get it and get out. Usually, there's a coupon in hand, but even though I waited for the Sunday paper, they apparently cut back on those. In-store, the offers only involved buying more stuff or signing up for a credit card. No thanks and no thanks, but I did catch a deal on a pack of seven for the price of six. Perfect, I thought; that'll fit right in with my traditional MONDAY-TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY labeling system;) I grabbed one other discretionary item (a new dress shirt as crisp as Johnny's, minus Rex's cigarette pack), brought them home, and discovered that the store had hit the Trifecta of Fail: wrong quantity (just the six), wrong material (all cotton), and wrong size (a reachable goal but not this week).


So I tossed them back in the car and made another stop over there after coming back from Rochester on Monday. (My Last Closing Ever, Promise, closed. Sort of. Took over a day for the papers to be recorded and there were other nuisances.) Brick and mortar stores no longer have dedicated registers in departments and for returns; you enter the corral with all the other shoppers, waiting for the one cashier dedicated to a full third or more of the still-humongous store. She shrugged when I presented the evidence; go get another one.

I tried, pawing over a Jeopardy board-sized matrix of boxes with random sizes, styles and quantities. Not a one had what my package said I'd already scored. I was late getting home at that point, so I just bailed and figured I'd try the somewhat larger Penney's in a somewhat upperscaler mall the next day.

No luck there, either. Bigger game board, but still not a single one of what I was looking for. Now disgusted, I just turned them in for a refund (which at last check has yet to hit my account). This is when I joined the early 21st century and checked online at jcpenney.com. They had them. They also had another item I might've also purchased on Trip The Second (a new bathrobe to replace the one which the dog air-conditioned a few months ago). Together, they qualified for an online-only $25 off coupon and free shipping, which means I'm getting the ill-fated, ill-fitted underwear for a net price of three bucks.

I could also have picked up the briefs in-store. At the first one. Only with them doing the picking and pawing over. I give them five years, tops, until they've been completely Amazonned out of existence.


Banks, on the other hand, have one advantage in getting you into their brick and mortar venues: money. Sometimes you need it, sometimes you need to deposit it. That was my need yesterday, as the checks from MLCE,P finally became clear to deposit at about 3 in the afternoon, giving me an hour to get them into my trust account so I could disburse to everyone today.

I also needed customer service, which banks still generally do have at separate counters. I'd frozen a debtor's bank account- one of my lawyer superpowers which is very effective at getting people to want to pay you all of a sudden. The one who paid needed its account unfrozen, which I am very amenable to do once the check is good. Except its bank- which happens to be my bank- changed the fax number to send these to.

Getting direct phone numbers of banking offices, from branches to back office, generally involves skills needed to hack into NSA computers. Back then there were phone books, and continuing today with online searching, you invariably get shunted into one-number-for-everything customer service lines, which put you into phone trees of prompts if you even get that far because of being asked to please enter your account number.

It's not MY account number, ma'am. (I now HATE the M&T lady voice. I hear it in my sleep now, I heard it so many times.) Voice Mail Jail tricks like pressing zero no longer work. It was at a point where hand delivering the unfaxable fax to their legal processing department, four miles away, seemed like a good choice. But since I was in a branch anyway, I asked their customer service person if she knew what the number was- or even just a voice number.

A few clicks, a few clacks, no better luck than I was having. But then Brenda reached below her desk and solved the problem by pulling out a tool from a long gone time:

Recognize it? (Most will.) Ah, but when did you last USE one, or even better fill out a card in one? These gizmos have been lamented by Gizmodo for being supplanted by technology. The author tells of its progeny ("the brainchild of Arnold Neustadter, a somewhat anal twentieth century inventor from Brooklyn"), its necessity ("Between 1948 and 1970, an estimated 20 percent of all Americans moved each year. How was anyone supposed to keep track of all those new street names without having to rewrite their whole address book every few months?"), and its success where Arnold's other inventions had failed (the Swivodex, the Clipodex, and the utterly unrhyming thing that was the Punched). But the Rolodex stuck, and stuck around as a staple (heh) of office culture all through my first two decades of law practice. I've never had one in the decade-plus I've been out on my own, but don't tell Arnold's kid that:

Mr. Neustadter, who died in 1996, never saw the way in which digital storage would affect his iconic invention. But his daughter insists he would've argued that his Rolo-baby was as relevant as ever. When I called to tell her that I was going to include the Rolodex in OBSOLETE, my book about objects that are fading from our lives, she got huffy. She spoke in a tone that requires exclamation points. "They still work! You just can't carry them around! Places still sell them," she said. I told her she was right—the book is about things that still exist, but just barely. She continued. "They aren't obsolete! Give your book another title! You know, look at it this way: computers get viruses! But the Rolodex, it's never taken a sick day in it's life."

Also, thank gods, you also ain't telling Brenda that. For from the depths of Rololand, she spun the magic wheel and came up with a card with the elusive fax number, erm, the same one I'd been using. But. It also had a voice number on it, and that still worked, leading to the new, toll-free version now embedded in my computer's contact list. I suppose I should write it down, too. Maybe make a list of especially useful, NO!, a chart, NO!, a spinning wheel to contain them all!

Or maybe I should just write it in Sharpie on my eighth pair of underwear, right after the SUNDAY pair;) This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1500712.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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I returned to a minor league stadium last night- its usual tenant back in residence, at least for now.

Officially, this was Work. A guy owes a good client about five grand, and has resisted all routine efforts to procure payment. In googling him, I discovered he has a card collectible business, and further found references to a collectors' group that has regular meetings in a Rochester suburb.  Except this month:

August 26, 2017 (OFF-SITE) – Another exciting show but this one is our annual OFF-SITE show at Frontier Field during the Rochester Red Wings game. Wrestling Hall of Famer IVAN “POLISH POWER” PUTSKI (a.k.a. The Polish Hammer) will be in the stadium from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. signing and throwing out the first pitch. Autographs will be only $20 which includes an 8 X 10 photo.

Okay, then. How could I resist? 

I didn't get on the road until 4:30 and by the time I bought a ticket and got in, first pitch had come and gone- but the tables were all still humming, with sights of many of my 60s/70s era baseball cards which my mother lost on me. Also, no sign of either The Guy or The Polish Hammer.  I spoke with the organizer, who told me, nah, Tony doesn't do these anymore.  So either he really doesn't or they're covering for him.  (I've met him before; he saw the Mets logo on my phone and tried schmoozing me because he's a fan, too.  Sorry, Tony, so was Bernie Madoff and I didn't like him any better, either:P)

So I just got to take in the sights and sounds of a late August minor league game. Most leagues below MLB wrap up on or around Labor Day weekend, so this was likely my last chance to see the Red Wings this summer (they are still alive for a playoff spot but those tend to be anticlimactic after the big teams call up all the good AAA players on September 1st).

This has apparently been there for years, but I somehow never saw it until last night: a sculpture from the city's longago Horses on Parade installation, made out of baseball gloves by whimsical local artist Bill Stewart:

Food was beef on weck. The seat was nowhere near the one named on the ticket, as I squatted in a field-level section right behind the visiting (Buffalo, as it happened) dugout.  For me, though, the highlight of the Red Wings' win was a nice move by a Bison player. A Rochester batter popped a foul right to the railing of our section, and Buffalo shortstop Gregorio Petit made a nice play to catch it. Right in front of him was a little girl with a pink mitt. Usually, players either return a caught ball to the team or, if feeling charitable, flip it into the stands.  Not with this little one in front of him; he bent down, asked if she wanted it, and then gently handed it to her.

Here she is a few pitches later, waiting to field the next one:

I was home by 9:30 and out with the dog at the usual hour today.  The Red Wings beat the Bisons again this afternoon, now leaving for the week before what will be their last homestand over Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, the way things are looking it could be the real last homestand:

Negotiations between the Rochester Red Wings and Monroe County regarding a new lease at Frontier Field haven’t just stalled on the base paths.

With the team's lease expiring, the protracted talks have put the sides — and the International League — in an “unfortunate time crunch’’ where options for the Red Wings to play in 2018 will have to be explored, according to league president Randy Mobley.

“It’s at a serious point, no question about that,’’ Mobley said Friday. “The conversation continues and there’s not a lot of time to get things worked out. That’s where we are. We’ll stay with it but time unfortunately is running out.’’''

The Wings have been in their downtown nest since 1994, and unlike most professional teams, they did not get much of a sweetheart deal.  The county gets cuts of everything from parking and ad revenue to concessions and even naming rights.  (In contrast, Da Bills, who last made the playoffs when Harry Truman may have still been alive, keep all of those goodies and even get money FROM the government as a bribe not to leave.)  Even so, the Monroe County mantra is "never raise taxes," so they're playing hardball with some very good people, both on the field and off.  There have been similar games of chicken in the past, and I expect they will all make nice in the end, but it's unfortunate that it comes to this even as a possibility.


Meanwhile, the Bisons return home for the early part of this week (they traditionally play the last weekend on the road so their stadium can become the home of the Labor Day Weekend Wingfest downtown), but this year the focus of their home games isn't the meat but the celery:

At first glance, you might think all the fuss around the Bisons' WCC Race (that's Wing, Cheese and Celery) speaks to one of those classic goofy minor-league promotions. With the buildup to Celery's final race Wednesday night growing all season, the characters in Buffalo's nightly mascot race have taken over from Buster Bison – or any of the players – as the most popular figures at Coca-Cola Field....the Bisons have a #JustOneWin hashtag for Celery on social media and merchandise with the slogan for sale, including foam fingers.

Celery's final race is among the highlights for what figures to be a big sendoff to the home schedule. The Bisons could approach 50,000 tickets sold for the four-game series against Pawtucket, which will be capped by Fan Appreciation Night on Thursday.

Celery has never won; Darth Vader stopped a seeming victory one year on Star Wars night, and there is much anti(ci)pasto about whether the final run will be the best.  I might even check that one out if the weather's fine.

By then, I will have seen seven different minor league teams play this year in three different parks.  And for the first time in years, I will not have visited the Mets. Considering how THEIR 2017 has gone, this is an eminently good exercise of judgment on my part.

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Wednesday morning, 9 a.m. A little later than Simon & Garfunkel experienced, but a nice way to start a workday.  It had been, as it remained, a fairly quiet workweek, the only court being two phone conferences and a handful of appointments, all here.  Wednesday, I was out the door early mainly to get caught up on things at the office, and when I got to my breakfast stop at Timmy's, it was the usual demolition derby of cars coming at the drive-thru line from three different directions.  I let a car from the primary feed get into the line ahead of me, and that must've been appreciated, because when I got to the window, I discovered that my order had been paid for.  That's an occasional thing, here and elsewhere, and I determined to pay it forward (backward, I suppose), but I haven't been there since. I finally decided to do it tomorrow on our way to the dog park, maybe even leaving a couple of treats to pass out if there's a pup in the car behind:)


That workday then ended with another Little Victory.

Every 20 years, New York State voters are asked to vote on whether to call a convention to consider revisions to the State Constitution.  I began following this over a year ago when my alma mater did a presentation on it. It's now coming up in just over two months, and the Usual Suspects are beginning astroturfed efforts to stop the process from even getting under way. Both major political parties are opposed to it, which tells me it's something I've got to support.  But at least let there be a fair hearing on the issue; opponents have been coming up with all kinds of red herrings and conspiracy theories about what will happen if the referendum passes.

Earlier in the month, I walked into one of our local courthouses, and saw that the security checkpoint's guard station was plastered with bumper stickers urging a NO vote on the proposition.  That both angered and scared me; I know public employee unions have come out against the convention happening, but the implication was that the justice system overall was somehow in harmony with this position. So I wrote to the judge who is in charge of administrative matters for Buffalo and surrounding places, telling her what I had observed, giving her my impression that it was inappropriate at a "literal barrier to entry" to the courts, and saying I would also have been offended by a "VOTE YES" statement in the same place. That letter went out Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, the email arrived: the stickers had been ordered removed "immediately."

Now to see if I get strip-searched next time I pass through there.


Wednesday evening wound up being a little awkward around the house, but it worked out in an unexpected way.

In anticipation of Eleanor's recuperation after surgery in early October, she's been showing me how to cook various favorites each night.  Wednesday was just a heatup of the main course, but she asked me to do sweet potato fries along with them. Long story short: it was too long a story, and by the time I got finished mowing part of the lawn, fed animals, chilled a bit and got it started, they needed to cook and cool for way too long. So she wound up heading to bed and I started watching the Netflix of Mr. Holmes that had arrived.  Moments in, the aged Sherlock's doctor appeared, played by Roger Allam. I then realized I'd completely lost track of the latest series of Endeavour, the Morse prequel in which he plays the future Chief Inspector's original mentor.....

and found that it just started on PBS this past Sunday:)

We streamed it the other night, and it's good to have them back. The writing and acting are at the usual top of everyones' game; the story was filled with homages to past Morse and other events (even a HHGTG reference); and the only sadness was the tribute to Morse's creator Colin Dexter, who passed earlier this year.


As for the bigger thing: this is the latest proposal for our solar array:

That's 32 panels, up from25 in the first go. They did that after a shade analysis which confirmed that the panels would still be effective at the far edges of the roof despite trees in our back yard partially blocking them.  We also confirmed that we will get over a year of interest-free repayment of the portion tied to the tax credits, so we'll have all of this year and next to adjust our tax payments to be sure everything will be paid as needed.


One more week of semi-official summer. My Last Closing Ever, Promise is Monday, and my only scheduled out-of-town next week other than that is for an office party.  There's already some cool in the air here, and baseball season is effectively over (for Mets fans, anyway:P).

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1) Writer's Block.

I last posted here last Sunday. There's been plenty to say since then; I just haven't found the words to say it all with until now.  Somehow, today's events brought some clarity even as the sun has been slowly going obscura all across America on a live feed.

The important part first: we're fine. For the past week, we've been closer to capital-F Fine than we've been in quite some time. But getting there was a long, strange trip.

Some detailCollapse )

It was a sobering (see what I did there?) and terrifying experience, yet it had to happen one way or another. We'd drifted onto the fuzzy, dangerous line of self-medicating to deal with both physical pain and other life stresses, and rather than working on solving the underlying problems with those, we wound up taking things out on each other.  Since this happened and we came out of it okay, I've had any number of moments where some Stupid Little Thing would've gotten me angry, or down on myself, and instead I just said, meh. (Okay, I might have cursed once or twice before the meh, but it didn't escalate from there.)  And last Monday, when I was at my lowest watching and worrying about whether Eleanor would be okay? I still had to go to court and get back to work when that was done, and the court appearances and my half-day of work either side of it were among the best I've had in quite some time.

Since then, we've had any number of good experiences.  I followed through on two of the new pieces of business that I picked up that Monday, and finally got My Last Real Estate Deal Ever, Promise over its biggest obstacle.  Eleanor went back to her foot doctor and is scheduled to have bone spurs removed from both feet in October.  We tracked down and watched an absolutely goofy movie that a friend recommended to us. She had good experiences with people at work and in her religious practice.  We replaced, and I just received the replacement of, the digital camera she's done so much good work with.

And then the sun went out.

2) Sunblock.

No, I never saw a thing outside here- but I followed the moon's coming and going across the face of the sun through the NASA livestream, from Oregon to Idaho to Kentucky in the past hour or so.   I have friends and co-workers who traveled hundreds of miles to get into the "totality zone" for those few precious minutes.

Meanwhile, for whatever reason or no reason, it's again been a very good Monday. Emily texted us early this afternoon to tell us she's already been promoted at work after just around three months- to executive assistant for her chapter's CEO.  I sent her a congratulations, but was able to send even more than that, because my previous text of the day was from the producers of Hamilton.  I've been on their ticket-update email list for ages. Unfortunately, the scalpers are on that list, too, and every time I've tried to get in on the first day of a new block opening up, there were only $3,000 resale seats available.  To combat this, they tried a new method this time: verifying the individual requestor's mobile number on Saturday for a presale today. I just got in under the wire to register, and apparently the scalpers couldn't buy enough burner phones in time, because amazingly this morning, I got a code, and next thing I knew I had two seats for this coming March in The Room Where It Happens:)

I offered them both to Em and Cameron; if he can't go, I'll take the kid myself; it's a matinee this time, so we'll plan it for a stayover after the show, to be sure of getting on the train home the next day.

So all in all, it's been pretty good, as general and local apocalypses go.  Not that I'm encouraging them, but I am encouraged that good things have still been happening.

3) Blocking Nazis.

The intervening week also brought plenty of developments in the division and healing of our nation after the previous weekend's events in Charlottesville. I don't discount how much the anger and frustration from that situation might have fed into both of our states of mind at the end of that weekend- but since then, we've witnessed near universal condemnation of the supremacists, and of the Cheeto who virtually remained the only one not to condemn them completely and consistently. We saw one of the white supremacists shown the door of the White House. And we cheered as the good people of Boston outnumbered and outshamed this past weekend's contingent of white supremacists to the point of rendering them irrelevant- with no violence to speak of.  After such a showing of hate, it was good to see love winning again. This entry was originally posted at http://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1500124.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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It's been another series of busy days.  I had two appointments scheduled for Rochester on Thursday, both of which canceled before I got on the road. I still went through with it, though, because I had a date.... with an event of gastronomy rivaling next week's event minus the g:

Since 1929, the Flower City's professional nine has consistently been known as the Red Wings- originally a homage to their St. Louis Cardinal owners, through the transitions to community ownership and a generation of Orioles affiliation, and now as the top farm team of the Minnesota Twins.  No branding with the parent club's name, or the goofiness of Muckdogs or Rumble Ponies. Tra-dish-SHUN! Until Thursday night, when the emphasis got placed on the DISH and those almost 90 years of history were shunned for the first time.

"Plates" is short for the "garbage plate," which is to the Rochester culinary world what barbecue is to Memphis and wings are to Buffalo.  Begun 100 years ago by the Tahou family that still owns the "garbage" name, it was originally named something like "hots and potatoes" when customers would just get a burger or dog with some side carbs and hot sauce.  Legend has it a bunch of drunk college kids requested a plate "with all the garbage on it," and the term stuck. As does the grease, which can permeate steel, much less the paper plate it, by law, should be served on:

So to celebrate the centennial of the Tahou tradition, the ballteam rebranded themselves for one night- and friends got tickets.  First came the merch- they'd been sold out for weeks, but the T's and caps and (thinking ahead here) hoodies were well stocked by the time we went in:

Our seats were four rows from the first base foul line, giving us a perfect view of the custom uni's for the evening:

Virtually every stand had its own variation on the GP. I'd sworn not to give in- I've had one Nick's original and a few knockoffs over the years, but they're too hot and greasy for my no-longer-cast-iron stomach- but when I got to the Black Angus stand expecting something respectable, there it was. Buffalo chicken with bleu cheese along with the mac, fries and diced onions.

All in all, not that far off from Pilot Field poutine, a staple of their Blue Jay shotgun marriage of the past few years.  It tasted great; it wasn't less filling; and the distress waited a night, but it finally got me by the time of the next night's dinner at home.

The grandson of the founding Tahou threw out the first pitch (and presumably the first drunk). Speaking of such, we wondered whether legendary local beer vendor Conehead would be here or at the meaningless Bills pre-season opener.  Wonder no longer:

I stuck with the relatively short cash-only line at the Genny stand, which had a few of their locally brewed craft variations.  And in the eighth inning, as always, there was ice cream, but my first-ever garbage sundae:

As for the on-field product, well, there was plenty of garbage there, as well. The Plates blew 2-0 and 4-2 leads, had a 4-3 advantage going into the top of the ninth, lost it, then had at least two opportunities for a walk-off win between the 9th and 11th innings that they failed to cash in on.  One of Scott's friends announced he was leaving in the top of the 12th, and he offered me a ride back to my car at our host's house.  The ride was great (the result, less so- Norfolk scored 2 top twelve and the Plates lost 6-4), but I realized as soon as I got to my car that I did not have the phone which had taken all those pictures.

Fortunately, I did have my car keys, so I just headed back that way. Everyone was kind in helping me get parked, get in, and get back to my seat.  By this point it was close to an hour after last out, and the grounds crew was busy getting the field straightened out after over four hours of play. I'd never been in a ballpark this late, so with the phone safely found, I got to take this little video of what it looks like. Note the guy at home plate in the final seconds, taking batting swings with his broom:


After all that, I got to the kids' place close to midnight, was up just past seven and out before eight, and had a full day of appointments including one of the two postponed ones from Thursday. Eleanor had had her own very busy night and day, and we learned yesterday why she wasn't feeling so great: a Saturday trip to the local Doc-in-a-Box confirmed possible pneumonia again, so she's back on multiple antibiotics and off from work for three days.

Me? Just got my hair cut and picked up the office mail, which included this bling from the previous weekend's visits:

The 31 on the left is Mike Piazza's recently retired number, joining the other four I had on a previous version of the shirt. And speaking of previous, those are my once-lost-but-now-am-found glasses which Emily rescued for me when I broke the newer pair last week.

Now to watch the Orphan Black finale and clean up the likely head explosions from that and the weekend's news.

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Four days since my arrival at Destination: Reunion. One of them mostly driving, three of them mostly working. Plenty of stories from each.

Sunday morning and afternoon continued the Diner Tour. This is one part of Long Island Life that really hasn't changed in the 40 years I've been away. Yes, there are IHOPs and Mickey's D (but no Cracker Barrels- Noo Yawkahs wouldn't tolerate what they did to Brad's wife), but these palaces of gastronomy and grease remain the centers of food and conversation for all.  I began just north of the hotel with breakfast and a Ted talk- my friend Ted, that is, who promptly repaid the loan from the reunion's bad planning the night before. We shared stories of kids and forgotten friends for about an hour, and I then pointed west and north for the rest of the day and night.

Well, a dip south into East Meadow came first- my first in at least a couple of years. Memories just flood as you go through, between the things that are exactly the same (the site of my first haircut), those completely obliterated (the Lakeville Plaza of my mother's long patronage holds just one store from even 30 years ago- the kosher butcher) and the things that are just ever so slightly off (the Meadow DELI?!? Really?!?). Carman Avenue, the road to our high school, was completely tree-shaded the first mile or so before you pass the jail, the high school and finally the hospital- all little changed in all these years.

I stopped at, but did not work out at, the local studio of the gym I attend; I drove by, but did not stop at, the church I grew up in; and I took the obligatory drive down my old street. There, a block toward our old home, I saw one of several sad sights that had popped up in a few other places driving round: homes (two I saw) and at least one business, fenced in, headed for or already been through teardown, with ominous Town Gummint signs on the fences warning of the ongoing condemnation.  I googled this when I got home, and they are having serious problems with "zombie foreclosures"- banks which begin the process, chase out the homeowners, but then suddenly realize they might be liable for code violations or injuries if they actually take title. So they don't; they do just enough to keep their mortgages from being wiped out, but the places go to shit in the meantime. That town, unlike most closer to here, is fighting back by demanding security deposits once the buildings go vacant, and adding the teardown costs to taxes if they don't maintain them. Not surprisingly, the banks are not pleased, and threaten to stop lending in the town if they keep being mean to them.  Yeah, right.

Our old home, and our longtime neighbors' next door, looked to be in much better shape, and I continued through to the last of the diner runs- after a detour to Barnes and Noble. There was reading and writing to be done.

My Met blogger friend Greg is on at least his fourth book about the Mets- or in this case, a Met:

I have autographed copies of the previous three, but hadn't gotten out to grab this one, so I picked up one to be signed and two of another book I heard excerpts from on NPR the previous day- more about the venues than the results or players found in them. One, I gifted to the other author in exchange for his kind extra words-

- while the other, I'm already enjoying reading here.

From there, it was close to a straight shot home- just two gas stops, the second just short of my sister's where I spent an hour at the halfway point before finally pulling in around 10:30 Sunday night.


Monday was back to work, with a little twist. Several twists of udder madness, as it turned out:

Our co-worker Cindy took the day off from work for her 60th birthday, and awoke to find 60 of these in her front yard.  She usually gets milk for the office on Mondays, but I ran the errand this time, telling her she shouldn't have to spent her special day milking all those cows.

As days back go, it was pretty typical: three new clients, close to a dozen others popping up from out of left field, the people I did need to hear from not getting back to me, but overall not too bad..... except for dropping my glasses on the office floor and completely smashing the frames, one side irreparably.  I tried two different opticians, and was told to seek out a jeweler who might be able to weld it back; he was on vacation this week. Fortunately, I remembered that I'd lost, but then found, my previous pair with nearly the same prescription- but I couldn't find them at home.  Because they weren't there; I did have a vague memory of putting the extra pair in my car's glove box, now Emily's, and she confirmed yesterday that she does have them. I will pick them up from her tomorrow, try to fix the broken pair when Welder Dude gets back, and then put those in the glove box of my current car.


Then yesterday, work began and ended early, because we had an appointment for our solar evaluation. The guy had already done the aerial photography, and while he had only one picture of the house mocked up with what the panels would look like (not, you know, twenty-seven;), it was a good start to explaining what they could do, what it would cost and how much it should save:

Those are on the back (south-facing) side of the house. "Save" rhymes with "Dave," which is what we named the very large pin oak at the far left of the back of the house. He needs to do a shade analysis to figure out whether the panels will get enough sun closest to his foliage.  But overall, it looks like a good fit.  The whole shebang comes to a little over 20K to install; a state energy agency provides an immediate rebate of over $3000 to act as a down payment; IRS and state tax credits instantly knock off another $10000-plus, and you finance the balance with an unsecured 20-year loan, partly paid back by the money you save on your electric bill. And you save a lot; the system is designed to produce enough electricity in a year to cover your entire usage (not every month- some months you buy, others you sell back your excess at the same price), so in theory all you pay on average per month is the utility's minimum connection fee of $17 a month.  Or, about what I paid in college for my first electric bill for my first (small) apartment.

Wowsers.  Only thing we don't get is Why isn't EVERYBODY doing this? Well, some just don't have the right roof size or angle or orientation, while others are just so indoctrinated by Cheetotalk about fossil fuels they consider it unpatriotic.  I see it as a selfless effort to donate part of our property to the greater good. And getting a break on taxes and bills at the same time only makes it better.


Today was fairly non-descript, although Eleanor just got home from a very good experience helping a co-worker of hers.  I leave in the morning for another two days away, but these will just be in Rochester, and will be broken up tomorrow night with a ballgame downtown there. I'll explain more after the event, but suffice it there is food involved.


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Saturday, sixish p.m.

My first-ever reunion trip in 40 years; the oldest (high school) and furthest (the far county of Long Island). I got on the road right at 8 a.m. and figured a seven-hour trip since I planned it to be non-stop.  But there are always stops.  The first, once I was gassed up and on the 90, came about 20 minutes in, when a bread truck decided to come to a stop in the middle of the eastbound lanes and make a three-point turn. (Another truck of the same brand was on the side of the road and he must've overshot it.)  So, yeah. Good mark on the driving test for precision; bad for judgment.

One cuppa kawfee wasn't enough, so I made a second Timmy's stop in Batavia before taking the shortcut from there down to Geneseo.  That was when Facebook gave me a memory of exactly a year ago today:

Righhht.... that would've been on my drive back from my trip last August to see the Mets at Yankee Stadium. And I was due to head down that very road just four hours later.

So yes, that was another stop; as there were two more for gas (JARVIS gets good mileage but has a small tank).  Finally, there were hundreds of little stops once I turned back onto the Thruway, 87 division, for the last leg of the trip: lots more cars down here, and two major stops for tolls. One, on the Tappan Zee, has already gone cashless; if you don't have an EZ-Pass, your license plate smiles for the camera and you get billed by mail plus a service charge. The East River bridges go to that system next month. (Nothing of the sort is planned for the toll barriers on all sides of our fair city:P)  Even with no accidents or unusual construction, it took the better part of two hours to get through Bronx and Queens Counties, and that was even after taking a different bridge to avoid the Grand Central Parkway around Citi Field, which was just then filling with Mets and, still many, Dodgers fans.  (I did not go to Friday night's game, and am glad I didn't, since it was a rather horrid outcome.)

All in all, it was past 5 this afternoon before I got to the hotel.  Not enough time to make plans to see anyone, so I just continued listening to the Mets on my phone. (This one did not go well, either, after a promising early start:P)  When I got to my floor, the reunion was in full swing; unfortunately, it wasn't mine. Another local high school, a few miles closer to this venue, had pulled out all the stops for its 50th year alums.  Eventually, I changed, and headed past them to see if I could catch some early birds. Not a one. A dark room with warming trays not yet turned on, and a deserted signup table out front.  So we blog. It's what we do.  (We will not post until tomorrow, though, since despite this place being the priciest hotel I've stayed at in ages even with a group discount, they charge for wifi.)

I guess the moral of the story is.... make it to my 50th.


Sunday, one crummy in-room coffee down, 8:30 a.m.

Pricey hotels also don't have breakfast buffets. They have room service. But that's okay; I'm off to a nice and unexpected breakfast anyway.

When I got to the venue the second time, there were four people outside the room: two were from the organizing company, determined to not let a soul into the room with the open bar booze until the stroke of eight. The others were from our class and had helped organize the event (and all its predecesors). It was pretty clear we weren't going to challenge the old farts down the hall for attendance or energy.  In all, about 40 people had signed up; maybe a few more than half of those actually showed.

Plus two.  And they made the whole night worthwhile.

I was good friends with Ted all through high school. We never lost touch, but we're not regular correspondents, either.  He wound up marrying another member of our class, but many years later after many separate moves. I never knew Ann as well, but always liked her; she also chose the law school path and is now just moving into her own solo style of practice.

Ann does the Face-thing; Ted doesn't. (Hence my references to him as the "smartest man in the room.") We messaged the previous week about whether I'd be there, and they were unsure. Ann's mom had been in the final days of hospice, and she finally passed at the end of that week, leaving them and her remaining family with all the stress of "arrangements."  We left it that if they couldn't make it, we'd meet up somewhere nearby, since they live very close to the reunion venue.  Then, Saturday, they confirmed they'd be coming. And a few minutes after we finally broke double-digit attendance, there they were at the registration table.

Did I mention that the outside group which "planned" this event gave it something short of a five-star effort? They did virtually no promotion other than sending one snail-letter and posting a few social media things, all of them purely YOUR HIGH SCHOOL NAME HERE non-descript. After I signed up, I got only one email from them, a few days ahead: You can still attend! Well, I'd hoped so, since I'd paid and all:P But this one was just a general blast to the whole class, encouraging more. Far as I know, Ted and Ann were the only ones who took them up on it, and the two at the table greeted them with the happiest of news: sorry, cash only. And no ticket until you pay.  Between them, they fished out enough to cover one admission, and were about set to find an ATM in the middle of the industrial-park jungle that is Walt Whitman Road.

But I was here. More importantly, I just got here- and hadn't spent more than 20 bucks since I left.  What do you say to an old friend you haven't seen this century when he suddenly needs 130 bucks? You say, get me tomorrow.  Then you all go in; other people you remember fondly arrive; you drink more than you should have because you're not driving, but not so much that you get stupid; and you even get a few pictures in.


And a contemplative Ann (not the best picture, but she's still gorgeous enough not to be badly photographed;):

Across the table from her are Steve and Mary Beth; she was our year, as was Steve's brother, who was also there. I've reconnected with her in recent months and it was great to see them, too.

The easiest job of the night was the bartender; the absolute hardest was the DJ tasked with getting a bunch of tired old 58-year-olds to dance past our usual Saturday night bedtimes.

The obligatory group shot. Yes, I was really there:

And so, the Diner Tour now continues. With Ted in a few at an unspecified one near the hotel; then for lunch back in East Meadow with one of the best Mets bloggers who ever was. Dinner, not diner, will be at my sister's or home late tonight, depending on how many stops I have to make and rogue bread trucks I encounter.

All in all, I think I will try to make the 50th. We might even make it easier on the DJ, slam-dancing to the Ramones in our walkers....

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Not that it was, entirely. I count 18 outbound emails, 55 inbound ones (not all responded to, but all looked at), and close to a dozen phone calls in and out during the day.  None were major, and I kept to my goal of keeping my own mental health ahead of the rest of them.

Things I did accomplish in between all of that and then tonight on the eve of Getaway Day:

* Visited Town Hall and got the details on getting our house set up for solar panel installation. They're pushing a townwide effort to encourage this, waiving electrical permit fees and coordinating site assessments and ultimate installations with three different town-approved contractors. One of them is the one which installed our dedicated outlet for the electric car, upgraded our panel and did some other fiddlybits in 2013; we told the town we preferred hearing from them, but one of the other two got hold of our application and has been pretty aggressive in pitching us to do the work.  I'll call them Monday if the Frey Guys haven't responded by then.

* Did a bunch of things around the house and in my home office that I usually do over the weekend.

* Watched yet another laser light show as thunderstorms continued passing through here. We never lost power, but Wegmans did, briefly, and when I got to a late afternoon workout, the trainer mentioned that they'd lost power earlier in the day, killing the treadmills and requiring some serious improvisation. (None needed when I got there; thundering still went on, but the power held up.)

* Loaded up at Tarjay, mainly for dog food. The place was frighteningly empty during the thundery late afternoon, with red-shirted associates running hither and yon with surprisingly nothing to do.

 *Tried watching the Channing Tatum/Joseph Gordon-Leavitt riff on 80s communism and police procedurals, Comrade Detective. It had its moments, but not enough of them.

Now it's just to pack and get on the road.  The room is mine at 3, the reunion at 8, and I have a variety of plans of fixed and unfixed times on Sunday and possibly some other meetups before the reunion on Saturday.

And Monday, regardless, will be back to work....

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"I'm not even supposed to be here today!"

That, at least, was The Plan. I'd cleared tomorrow from my work calendar, the Mets were returning to Queens for their first home game in almost two weeks on Friday night, and their best pitcher was both starting and starring on a free-for-all t-shirt.  So The Plan was to leave for NY either this afternoon or first thing tomorrow, catch the game tomorrow night, and then be close by for my high school reunion on Saturday night.

I put feelers out, and got little feel back. Most of my usual compadres (notPadres, yo) replied that they would not be there. One dear family confirmed that they would be there, but I know from past experience that their season tickets are in the armed-patrol sections of the stadium right below the broadcast booths, and I have never, in several tries, been able to approach their seats with plebian ticketing.  Plus, I wound up with an unexpected, and largely unnecessary, Rochester round-trip today, and I wanted to be home this afternoon and tonight, so the extra day of the trip loomed even longer and more annoying.

And so we made the Executive Decision: No Game Tomorrow.  (The Saturday afternoon game is too close to the time of the reunion itself, and the Sunday game is disgustingly at 8:30 p.m. because ESPN thinks the whole country wants to see the Mets get slaughtered by the best team in their league.)  Instead, I will work, but not From Work, for most of tomorrow. It won't be a full Mental Health Day but will have Mental Health Components- including a workout, a trip to Tarjay for various things, and a stop at Town Hall to check out the current (see what I did there?) incentives for residents to install solar panels on their homes.

Saturday will then be a straight shot of driving to the Suffolk County hotel hosting the reunion (and my room for the night).  There've been very few details about it despite it being less than 48 hours away, but I did hear from one of our furthest-away classmates yesterday, who moved to Australia sometime in the intervening 40 years; she won't be there, but will be Skype-ing with some friends from back then who will be.

Once recovered from the reminiscences and the rubber chicken dinner, I have a fairly full day back on Sunday: stops in my old home town Sunday morning, lunch with a Met blogger friend in a famed East Meadow diner, and finally home Sunday night after the inevitable repast at my sister's at the halfway point.  I plan to be home, and unconscious, by the time the Mets are down seven runs on Sunday night.

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I know it doesn't rhyme. Don't blame me. English is weird.

John McCain redeemed himself after my last post about the healthcare debacle, refusing his support to the so-called "skinny bill" which really should have been named "Anything for a Win." The resulting tantrums from the Orange House have been predictable, along with the other distractions- from Da Mooch whacking the Cheeto's chief of staff (now replaced by the Homeland Security Secretary, a now-unfilled position because we're so safe now:P), to the Cheeto openly encouraging police brutality (what Don Imus once referred to as "the fun part of law enforcement") to whatever shit went down on the Sunday shows.  I wouldn't know; I was outside. More about that later.

The workweek up to that point was quiet- just one hearing, with the widow of a client who required some very delicate care and feeding, as another client will later this week- except for my one and, I Promise, Last Ever real estate deal going to shit like all my I Promised, Last Ever real estate deals always do- and Friday was deathly quiet. Must be vacations or something. Wouldn't know about those, either (although I will be away for two days at the end of this week for my first-ever high school reunion and possibly a Mets game).


Last night, we got out to the Spiderman:Homecoming film. I've seen all of them since the first Raimi reboot (I even remember the Nicholas Hammond TV turn from the 70s), and haven't been impressed with any of them since, well, the first Raimi reboot, not even with the last Amazing 2 end of the Garfield Administration despite many of its non-CGI Blow-Up-BOOM scenes being filmed in downtown Rochester (NYC having silly rules about superhero film car chase speed limits).  This one, for the most part, was the best since Raimi I.  My takes on it soon after getting out:

-Best of them since the Raimi original, which was homaged, along with many of the comics and even the 60s cartoon.

-Overall good weaving of the character into the MCU. When Tony Stark is understated, you've done something good.

- Good focus on Peter throughout, and best casting ever of the part, but the Blow-Up-BOOM scenes, especially the last one, could've been 15 minutes shorter and about 70 decibels quieter without the story suffering at all.

- Spoiler: the boat sinks. Well, almost.

-Special Guest Villain: Michael Mando, who plays Vulture's henchman, played Vic the Dick in early Orphan Black.

(And that's all I have to say about Orphan Black until I process what we just saw.)


That got us to this morning. Ebony and I made our usual Parp visit, meeting a couple from Maine who brought their dogs through Buffalo on a van tour of the great dog parks of our great nation.  They really liked our little Bark Park Island, but it only made it to Number 10 on their list.   After getting home, the dog settled into a quiet spot in the garden, while Eleanor weeded and I got the fun job.

At the edge of one of the front beds was a bush in need of removal.  After cutting back its evergreeny-needly top parts and machete-ing my way through the weeds all round it, it was time to dig.  Some of my oldest childhood memories are of playtime largely being "digging in the dirt," but the thrill has largely gone out of it. I pruned, I pried, I cursed more than a few times, but after about two hours and a couple of changes of clothes, I was ready to announce that I'd "found the squishy!"  (Okay, I did say something else about Orphan Black.) A few rocks with a shovel, a few snips of the final roots, and the bastard was on the ground:

My shoulders, especially, are sore as shit from all the TRX work that went into that, but I am so glad it's done.


Road trip tomorrow; court Wednesday and maybe Thursday; I Promise, Last Ever real estate deal might actually close this week, and then it's off to Queens on Friday and Suffolk (why the reunion's there, I have no idea) on Saturday.

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