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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
The kids are home:)

This day was totally theirs, from virtually five minutes after 9 when I made a needed bank deposit for work until we rolled in a bit past 4 in their (now plural) cars.

I didn't hear until last night when I would be able to pick up the furniture to be delivered to them, and by that time, U-Haul had lost my "cart" info for the one-way journey.  It scared the shit out of me saying a one-day rental would be over 500 bucks. By the time we worked in the real charge, mileage, the "nice truck you got dere, be a shame if sumthin happened ta it" insurance and the tax,  it was a hair below a buck forty.  Plus tolls, double those for a car. Plus gas, almost 20 bucks for a 100 mile trip.

Then there was the driving.  They've improved the mirrors and the cockpit since my first-ever rental truck run in '86 where my wingman later reported I was setting off sparks all along Route 17, but I still get nervous.  Especially when Cameron's stepdad insisted on backing it right up to the garage where the furniture was waiting.  I let him do it; it was his fence and awning over the side door to miss (and he did miss them).  One sofa, one love seat, one wingback chair.  Off to the 90.

Just getting to the Williamsville tolls was an adventure.  At Main and Eggert, a humongous steel beam OVERSIZE LOAD came at me the other way, with the usual private escort vehicles plus Christmas-tree-lit NYS troopers requiring me to pull over.  Then I got behind an idiot turning left into the Eggertsville library (on a stretch of Main Street with no suicide lane) who would. Not. TURN even though there was nothing coming the other way.  I was an annoying trucker for a moment and honked the shit out of them.

Once on the 90 proper, after remembering, yes you have no EZ-Pass, take a damn ticket, it was mostly fine.  I listened to my usual music through the phone, including to what is, for at least the moment, my favorite Christmas carol:

I got to their apartment a little ahead of schedule; Cameron and I (which is to say "mostly Cameron") hauled their old sofa down and the two big pieces up; I managed the wingback myself ::beats chest::. We then had to return the truck by driving right past a dropoff location two miles from their place (because the cost of dropping it off there would've been almost double) and to the nearby Mall Heaven that is Victor, New York.

Then our neighbor took us to lunch.


It wasn't planned that way, I'm sure, but I knew it was the right thing to do. When Betty's niece came over the other night to thank us for our help with the transition and gifted us a yummy jar of biscotti, she also left a card. Only this morning did I realize it held a $100 bill.

The tab at Chili's was just under $70. All but ten short of the $100 went to the tip. My third food coma in five days.

Emily drove home- first in their car and then, once we returned to my point and place of U-beginning, in the Honda that is now hers. It's never been clearer that the accident three years ago really traumatized her; any unusual or aggressive driving around her causes her to at least comment, tense up and look miserable.  She has a first meeting with a doctor next week who hopefully can help with that. I have to count myself as lucky; my first and worst car accident occurred when I was younger than her, in a much less safe car, in which I was concussed (but which wasn't as much of a medical concern back then), and yet it never gave me the PTSD that she plainly has.  I hope that offers hope that, at least in terms of the cerebral DNA, it is possible she'll get through this.

So we have random plans for the next couple of days for filmage, visiting, going to the Parp! with the dog, and them doing all their laundry here.  At least the heavy lifting is over.
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(Written at 8ish last night; posted at dog-outing time this morning because LJ was misbehaving.)

Other than one scheduled court appearance today, the calendar said it was a pretty light week.


That one appearance involved a client trying to shut down a former franchisee who, after months of patience and settlement opportunities, finally got the client to terminate his franchise. Within a week, a relative of his had begun a competing pizza business at the same location.  That led to papers last month to enforce non-competition provisions, which finally got scheduled for hearing this week.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or split level), another client called after buying a house out of a foreclosure. The former owner had apparently been breaking back in, wrecking things and stealing the hot tub from the yard (damn, wish he'd been the former owner of the house next to ours:P). So we needed to finalize the closing of the foreclosure transfer back to him- where he's paying X dollars, getting Y dollars back as surplus, and then has to pay Z dollars to clear post-foreclosure taxes. We agreed to do this deal today, as well.

But first, a poem. Wot I wrote while waiting for some of these developments to develop on Tuesday:

'Twas five days before Xmas, and all Hell did break loose,
The clients' demands choking me like a noose,
The client who hadn't been in yet still needs a

Court order to stop a guy from selling pizza,
And meanwhile the guy who was foreclosed last Wednesday
Is breaking back into his house- so let's call Ray!
And nobody else will do jack shit on time
But at least only one ass committed a crime!
And you'll hear me exclaim, with my week on the brink:
"Merry Christmas to all- Jesus, I need a drink!"

Yesterday, I got that last wish: four different Buffalo co-workers (most of whom had gotten the goofy candles from me) gifted me bottles of the grape: two bottles of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of champagne instead:)  We also had our food-coma office lunch, and not much happened after that, but today, the pizza and the felon came home to roost.


Court was still on- the penultimate day before the state courts take a two-week break.  It went better than I expected, without a firm result but with good indications from the bench that Hizzoner understood our position.

Then I worked in a set of estate planning documents for a nice young couple, because their legal-plan benefits are "use it or lose it" before next week and I hate when that happens.

Finally, we closed on the breaker-inner's house- and I figured out that I could deliver the deed and other documents to the title company's office which I pass twice a week, a block from where we closed.  Except they weren't there. No, they'd moved to a funky industrial district five blocks away, much closer to the home of the original garbage plate. I could've just driven there- but no-o-o-o; I had another errand to run.

I follow an author blog, where the recent topic was recommending Christmas movies. I immediately commented with Comfort and Joy, a Bill Forsyth gem about love, commitment and ice cream wars- only to find that a previous commenter had already recommended it.

Worse, he'd been stymied in finding the film. As I'd been, a year or two ago- but I had overcome. So I had a copy of the film in a Priority Mail envelope awaiting postage- and there was a Post Office in the way to the Cascade District.

I posted it, then headed toward the smell of hot sauce- and got horribly lost. The problem with loft buildings is they all look alike.  Finally, with a second panicked call, I found their lofty, spacious new offices and dropped off my insure-and-record order- and did not find a ticket waiting for me on Kermit when  I got back to the post office.

And then, the day after the year's shortest day ended: like this-


After that, we set up tomorrow's plans: I pick up a U-Haul around 9, bring it to Cameron's mom to load up furniture for the kids, deliver it to them by noon and return the truck to near a nearby mall. They then drive me back to the local U-Haul place to pick up my her car, and Emily drives me and her home in him so she'll get the feel of the car and its quirks (such as the don't-worry-about-it coolant light and the green button which, unlike Groot's red button, is always "on").

And then it will be Christmas (Eve), and what have you done? Quite a bit of good, actually.
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No post yesterday; long day- from leaving here not long past 7 for an 8:30 a.m. Rochester appointment that never happened, to getting home past 9 p.m. after the annual office party for the firm there.  Said party basically consists of three things:

- good company, much of it under the age of four, as the younger employees bring their itty-bitties;

- way too much food, as my doggie box from last night was still too much to finish at lunch today; and

- a totally evil gift exchange.

This is not your father's Secret Santa. Secret Satan is more like it. Every participant draws a number; mine was five. Each picks and opens a gift from the table, which is theirs, subject to the right of each subsequent participant to steal from the opened stash.  One through four consisted of electronic equipment, a fuzzy blanket, a DVD, and, right before my turn, a bratty kid's claim of a copy of the Exploding Kittens card game.  I saw that and instantly said, Mine.  As did the bratty kid holding Number Six, who stole it right out from under me- leaving me no choice but the only big box on the table that wasn't the one I'd brought.  It turned out to be a Sharper Image candy machine which now dispenses Skittles at my Buffalo office and invariably drops at least three of said candies on the carpet.

That left the final victim to claim the bag I'd contributed, from the coolest record shop on earth. I'd struggled with where to score a gift for the party, much less what gift, before realizing I was a block away from Record Archive- which sells records, duh, and CDs and other formats, but also keeps alive in the land of Amazon and Spotify by selling sooooo much different and better shit.

I posted a mere picture of one display:

Within an hour, a co-worker of mine from my other office basically begged me to claim the Lebowski-Jesus candle for her. Instantly, I changed my plans from the traditional (booze for everyone) to the new (books or BN gift cards for everyone) to a collection of these candles for almost everyone in my local office.

Besides Jesus, I gathered a Mr. Rogers for our paralegal from Pittsburgh, a Mr. T for the other real estate paralegal who's pretty badass, and a Lincoln saint for his boss's nephew. I kept Saint Carl Sagan for myself:)

All were well-received today. The disciple of Jesus will be taking a road trip with me at some point to experience the rest of the ambience.


Yesterday was also my first road trip in JARVIS.  He did well, despite the cold and iced-over morning temps, but we have some things to get used to.

One, his range.  I left the dealer with a seemingly full tank on Friday, and he stayed home for most of the next two days other than getting stuck in our driveway (hasn't happened since:),  but by the time I left the Rochester party, his gauge was down to 20 percent fuel.  This car does not have a range setting as such; I'm told that when it gets to 10 percent or so, it starts to count down the remaining gallons.  I preferred not to test that, and so filled him before heading home:

Just over eleven bucks, as in just under five gallons.  That's consistent with his MPG displays, but it also suggests a fairly small tank. By tonight, which lowered his tank by the ride home, two trips out to Transit and one downtown, he was back to halfway again. His sticker says has a 420-mile range, which I didn't come close to half of,  but I may just have to learn how picky the gauge is.

I will also have to learn how not to use my key in a felonious manner.

JARVIS has a key fob that's a key AND a fob.  Watch:

I'm still getting used to it. My thumb keeps hitting the metal when I flick the button and it pops out.  But that's not my biggest worry:

This is.

In 1958, state legislators banned knives that had a blade that fell out of the handle when the user pointed it at the ground and pushed a lever. The same law bans weapons like brass knuckles and “Kung Fu stars.” But the modern knives sold in countless stores bear little resemblance to the knives that were the original subjects of the ban. Many people, including carpenters, construction workers and stagehands, have no idea that their knives can be made to open with a flick of a wrist — a skill many New York police officers have developed. Most don’t know that simply possessing such a knife breaks the law.

I know- it's a fucking key, not a shiv. But if some Trump SS officer sees me flicking JARVIS's Bic from across a street, I may be stopped, frisked, and possibly sent off to Guantanamo.

There's a clear solution, or rather an unclear one: duct-taping the damn thing in place.

Until I can do that, at least I have some hope: there are no exploding kittens in my possession.
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We weren't sure about our morning plans, since Friday's snow yielded to Saturday thawing and eventually rain that was frozen in place by the time Eleanor and I were up today.

She set out to a Buddhist meeting while I checked with the Dog Church congregation; by the time I was ready to leave, Eleanor had returned. The electric Smart was too light on its feet to even go straight on our back streets.

I decided to leave the new Smart where it was and take the heavier hybrid.  He, too, had trouble on the turns out of the subdivision, but by the time I hit a county-plowed road and then two state ones, they were salted and fine. So I loaded up Ebony and we PARP!ed as usual.

What a difference a week makes. Last Sunday, there were just some small ice floes in the creek. Today, it was all frozen over, with some buttholes showing:

That was from our first time around. The second time, Ebony had her first fight: another dog stopped the usual consensual sniffing and ran right at her in an aggressive barky tone. No teeth were bared, and the owner assured us that she (I think) just barks, but it was a little skeery.

We also saw a perfectly lovely Charlie Brown Christmas tree in a far corner of the PARP!

I wanted to decorate it next Sunday- which is, you know, the actual day- but Ann mentioned that the park members had tried putting a similar decorated tree by the front gate.... which all the dogs peed on.


Then there was workout, and shopping and napping, and no football watching whatsoever. The street ice was sufficiently melted or salted, and I went out to break up the worst of it at the end of our driveway, when it was time to leave to go see Rogue One.

Which was, in a word or two, Rogue One-derful:)

Without spoilers: certainly darker than even ESB (I refuse to unreppress memories of the first trilogy), but the humor and hope in the story made it okay even for Eleanor, who is much more visually attuned to such things.  We inadvertently signed up for the 3D version, which was okay (other than a minor headache) but really didn't add anything to the experience for me; the trailers for Sing! and Spiderman Homecoming made better use of it in my opinion. And it really did a nice job of filling in the gap between where Hayden C left off and David P/ James Earl J picked up in the original.  And hey, Darth Vader in that black and evil mask - did he scare you as much as he scared me-e-e-e?

Well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn't it?

Fine. Have some.Collapse )

So, yeah. Go. See. And may the Force be with you.
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We both had long days yesterday, and decided not to end it reclaiming Kermit, soon to be Emily's car, from the Smart dealership where I'd left it. We stayed in after I left work and picked up Chinese, we continued our documentary series by watching one about Annie Leibovitz, and I got a decent night's sleep other than Ebony finding three deer in the back yard to chase (and miss) at about 4:15 in the morning.  We therefore made our retrieval run a bit past 9 this morning, my first try backing JARVIS out of the driveway.

That went well:P

Eleanor, the far more experienced Smart pilot, knew the drill that I now know for getting out on a snowy day, especially where the town plow has re-dumped a half foot of heavy mush across the apron:

(1) Back out just far enough to see if the coast is clear;
(2) Once it is, gun it in reverse;
(3) Do not slow down at the end of the driveway.

Naturally, the n00b did neither of the first two and did do the third, and we wound up stuck.  Shoveling didn't help; cardboard under the rear wheels, neither. Bless him, though, our plow guy made a return appearance just then, helped push the car out, and said if either Smart got stuck to call him (he lives just around the corner), since he needs to know when the town has messed up his work anyway and he'll do us first.

Last year, I think they came four times all winter.  This is the kindness that makes up for that.


Once we reclaimed the extra car (which did not get stuck backing out), we then split up, with Eleanor taking JARVIS on errands while I gassed up the hybrid and got home first.  I set out to do the shoveling of everything but the driveway which needs doing: in front of our garage man door, the path to the front steps and the steps themselves, and finally the sidewalk.  Everything up to the sidewalk was pretty light and fluffy, but the sidewalk snow's been stomped down by pedestrians plus has added weight from the residue of the town plows.  I got about halfway across when I heard the roar next door.

I'll let the texts with Eleanor take it from here:

By the time she got home, he'd cleared the sidewalk well past the lot line and right up to where I'd stopped. I'm sure it's some kind of passive-aggressive shit going on about not letting his "geriatric" neighbor outbigly him in the snow clearing department.

Now I'm off to work on our other neighbor's shoveling.  As in our deceased one- who until her final real winter would've been out there, morning noon and night no matter the temperature, hand-shoveling her driveway beyond what the plow did (once she finally relented to letting them do that) down to the asphalt, AND every inch of sidewalk round her corner lot.  We'll see if Idiots "R" Us sends someone to help.

ETA. Well then.

After lunch, and originally posting this, I resumed shoveling next door. Did her path and front steps and got almost clear around the corner lot- but then I saw the adjacent neighbor's driveway looming with the extra-high snowpile from HER plow in my way. I decided to take a break.  When I headed back out an hour or so later, it had been cleared.  Not by the snowblowhard on the other side of us- I never heard THAT monster fire up again- but by someone, who must've seen the effort I'd made and decided to randomly act kind to finish it off.

I guess around here, we don't pay it forward. It's more like sideways:)
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Beethoven's birthday. Sing, sing a song of joy for we have a new Smarrrt Carrrrr:)

My whole day revolved around the ve-hickles.  I was out the door semi-stupid-early to get Kermit, our very green (in grey disguise) Honda hybrid, to the dealer to finally replace his killer airbags before I hand off the car to the kids.  First, though, I loaded up a ton of work to do while I waited, and, figuring it would go well past noon, I first dropped off my gym clothes to the studio a mile-ish up the road so I wouldn't have to shlep a bag of stinky shorts and sneakers up Transit Road in the freezing cold.

I checked in the car, found an electrical outlet, began working on a project for a client- and, before I hit paragraph six, was told, "yer done."  They even figured out why my tire gauge had gone off during the day yesterday. No cost, in and out in under an hour.

Shit- had to go back to the office. I finalized my closing from yesterday and turned right round and headed back to Transit for the noon workout, then had time for an indulgent lunch at a Rochester institution in the eastern burbs of Buffalo: Bill Grays.  It's a legendary burger joint which owns the trademark on The World's Greatest Cheeseburger- and it is.  It's also across Main Street from the Smart dealership. So it was perfect to kill the half hour before my signing-and-driving appointment.

There was a sign for a special- it offered said WGC, fries and a beer for ten bucks.  I ordered- and was asked which of five craft brews I'd prefer.  Huh? In my memory in BillGrayLand, "beer" meant "root beer," served in a frosty mug.  I stuck with that, because hey, NEW CAR across the street and I wasn't gonna risk a DWI on a snowy afternoon.

JARVIS was waiting for me. Oddly enough, his tire pressure gauge was also going off; they cleared it.  They also put on his plates.  We'd messed with the idea of getting matching vanity plates for our now dual stable of Smart cars:

They'd make perfect sense in our garage but would confound drivers any time we were apart. (Plus, if we ever parked in reverse, it would come out as OUT THAT SORRY AB, which pretty much describes any time I go to a workout:P)  I showed that photo both our salesperson and the closing concierge (yes, it's connected to the Mercedes dealership next door) and they both thought the pair was awesome.  Not awesome enough to add $100 a year to our registrations, though.  No, I'll go with what the state assigned me:



They opened the bay doors and I headed back to my office and then, eventually, home. He's wonderful. He's cute.  He's the first cool car I've ever owned. (Okay, I did have a Mustang in law school, but that was basically an exploding Pinto with a Mustang grille slapped on it.)  My first new car, almost 32 years ago, was a K Car (a nice Reliant automobile) which stalled out a block out of the dealership on a frigid January day in Rochester.

This was a frigid December day in Buffalo. JARVIS made it to office, liquor store, Chinese restaurant and home with no problems. He's perfect- and the hybrid (which we will reclaim tomorrow) will be perfect for the kids.

Don't tell me otherwise. I asked you not to tell me that!

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Yeah, one of those. At least until we both got home.

We awoke following yesterday's late-day OMGSNOWPOCALYPSE  to find the roads plowed, the sun out, our world seemingly back to normal. Then we left the house.

I got the first warning sign: the BLINK BLINK BLINK of the garage door that refused to go down.  Clearing snow from the sensor path didn't help. Then I realized what had happened: the plow guy had bashed into our garage door and knocked the opener sensor off the door frame, so, there I was, in a suit, out in the near-dark putting it back on.  Amazingly, I got it working on the first try; usually it takes hours to line those beams up.  So I got to work on time, only to get a text from my beloved: Eleanor's store has no heat.

After crunching tons of electronic paperwork out, and realizing too late that I'd misidentified the name of a corporation in one of said filings, I left my office for some real-estating. Instantly, my tire pressure gauge went off, nothing visually wrong other than it's TWELVE F (for Farenheit, and Fucking) DEGREES OUT HERE.

Made it to the county clerk on time. Closed. Despite me using the wrong form (an obsolete TP-584 with the word "LLC" crossed out and the word "cat" written in in crayon). Even got my bill for the closing in to the payor on time (barely) by hacking my own billing account from a downtown Law Library computer.

Another text from the missus: they're still freezing, and of course this is the day that the State chose to do an unannounced inspection of her store.  At least they weren't likely to fail any tests based on the fridge or freezer cases running too warm.

Then, for me, a quick shot up to suburban criminal court, where I occasionally dabble for minor traffic offenses.  This one, briefly, appeared to be over my head: the prosecutor recommended the usual single parking ticket, but the judge was having none of it. This offense was SEEERIUSSSSS. He grilled my client on why he hadn't responded to three prior notices, tossed the prosecutor's recommendation back to me and said, "Go talk to her again."

That's when I realized the water level I'd sunk to.  This was an actual CRIME.  With possible pokey time involved. Shit, the client had had to post BAIL.  All of that had been lost on me when I accepted the referral.  Fortunately, though, as soon as I told the prosecutor what Hizzoner had said, she instantly changed the "parking ticket" plea to "two parking tickets," and learned that "Go talk to her again" was an established code which meant exactly "double the fine."  It was a shakedown, pure and simple, but he couldn't say that in open court.  Once my client agreed to it, it all went fine.

After that, nothing bad really happened. (Well, I forgot to bring home wine, but that was quickly remedied.) We finished watching the documentary done by Leonard Nimoy's son about the career and fatherhood of his dad, which was lovely and tearjerkery.

And now we're falling down after long, occasionally cold, days.  I have two cars to deal with tomorrow but no court; Eleanor works relatively normal (and hopefully warmer) hours.

I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
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 A fairly full Wednesday, as they go.

Met a client at 9 to obtain certified funds for a foreclosure sale at 10:30. They've been moved- from the Stately Courthouse Steps to the Chilly But Less Dangerous Ground-Level Area a block or so away:

Ernie, a former boss-ish of mine and a genuinely nice guy, is second from the right here; to his left, the agent for the foreclosure plaintiff who stopped bidding long after I did.   This venue is much less impressive, and a lot less warmer, than the "courthouse steps" around the corner where these sales used to be conducted. No matter: my guy was the high bidder and will realize 15-20K of funds, only to owe 20-something of post-foreclosure taxes.

All of which would've been cooler if my client hadn't found out, after his bid, that (likely) the prior owner had removed the water heater and attempted to strip copper pipe from his former residence. This is why we can't have nice things, asshole.  See ya on the insurance claim or the balance due on the note::P


All of that occurred in Rochester this morning when it was mostly sunny and completely un-snowy.  That changed within an hour of my getting back on the road to get home. Before I got to the halfway-ish exit at Batavia, the promised lake-effect snow had begun. I bailed on the interstate at the next exit, to give me more options in case of highway shutdown (as many were by this point). An hour and change later, more than half of it from Eleanor's Wegmans to our driveway, I was finally safe and warm inside our home. We watched most of the For the Love of Spock documentary recommended by our dog Parp! buddy Dave- but now its time for rest after a long day.

Which, I'm sure he'd say, is logical.
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It's less than a week until the real Election Day, and the past week's revelations of hanky-panky, confirmed by the CIA and angrily denounced as "fake news" by He, Drumpf, only make that day more significant.  I tossed out some ideas a few weeks ago about how this runaway train of stupid might be stopped.

Forget them.  I do not now see any scenario where Hillary Clinton becomes President, either by changing actual electoral vote totals or by persuading enough electors to go "faithless" and cast their ballots for her.  Her brand is just too tainted, the pushback would be deadly, and we'd likely be in the throes of Civil War II within a month.

But can we keep the Repugnicans out of power?  That takes considerably less effort at turning electors, and in my estimation is the only even marginally feasible way out.

But that would just throw the election into the House, comes the inevitable objection. Worse, the way the 12th Amendment works, what it's thrown to is not a majority vote of the 435 voting members (still majority Republican) but a majority vote of the 50 state delegations of House members. As of the new class about to be sworn in on January 3rd, at least 31 of those 50 delegations will be made up of majorities wearing red- so what's the point?

Stay with me here. Mind, this is about as implausible as the Buffalo Bills' still Mostly Dead chances of making the playoffs, but hey: New England ticked off the first needed result last night (despite almost blowing a 20-point lead at the end), so if it's still possible, so is this.

There's a sneaky little point in that amendment that offers A Way Out; see if you can spot it.

[I]f no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President.

Follow the math.   All the country needs to save itself is for Donald J. Pussygrabber to receive 269 or fewer electoral votes on December 19th.  Electors can switch to Clinton, although they need not. They can abstain.  They can vote for Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, Evan McMullin or Mickey Fucking Mouse. It won't matter IF, two weeks later, enough of the members of the newly-constituted 115th Congress's House of Representatives do what so many of their predecessors have done, especially in the past eight years:



January 3rd comes. Note the quorum requirement.  No President gets elected by that body unless there are representatives of at least two-thirds of the fifty states, which is 34 of them.  Note also, though: the entire state delegation has to be absent. So even though New York's House delegation is overwhelmingly blue, all it would take is one true Drumpf believer to show up (and, sadly, his first Congressional concubine is from one town over from us) and he alone would be enough to count toward New York's answer to the quorum call.

So this would take work. Lots of it.  There are seven states with all-Dem House delegations: CT, DE, HI, MA, NH, RI & VT.   If they unanimously fail to show up, that gets us almost halfway to blocking the vote.  Now we look to the delegations with only one Republican: AK (their only one), ME, MD, MT (also their only one), NV, NV and OR. (I leave out Wyoming because Liz Cheney is their sole rep and she would likely sell her soul to the Blood Orange if only she had one.)  Another seven.  Minnesota has three R's among their delegates, but Minnesotans are a proud, independent lot, you betcha, and I wouldn't underestimate how hostile the good folks back at Lake Trumpbegon might be if they blocked the will of their state's electoral voting.

One to go. Now we need a heavy lift, the equivalent of the Bills needing Miami and New England to play to a tie in Week 17.  New Jersey is majority D but has five R's. We'd need all five to be pissed off enough, or sufficiently otherwise motivated, to stay away from the House floor. Maybe Drumpf's shunning of Chris Christie would be enough to do it. Maybe he'd be pissed off enough to close lanes near their hometown Turnpike exits if they didn't cooperate.

The other last best chance? Virginia: the birthplace of Presidents. And why would its seven Republican representatives go along with such treason? Because, in this case, if all their Representatvies joined the quorum boycott, the Old Dominion state would once again open its virginia and pound out another one.


The 12th Amendment continues:

The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.

Here, we run different numbers if Pence is denied his 270 electoral votes.  The Senate will, and can, and should, convene on January 3rd to decide between him and Tim Kaine (remember, only the top two finishers in the December 19th real vote are eligible).

After last week's runoff in Louisiana, that count stands at 52 Rs to 48 Ds,  But among those 52 are at least two Senators who have expressed monumental anger at their party's putative (or should I say Putin-ative) leader: Lindsay Graham and John McCain.  Both were personally insulted by the Putin-elect, during the campaign and since. All it would take is their joining with their 48 Democratic counterparts to create a 50-50 tie in the selection of the veep.

And guess who breaks that tie if it occurs before January 20th?

So try it out- hell, I didn't even speak it aloud until today: President Tim.  They just have to hold out the House until March the 4th and it's permanent.

How enchanting.
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There's a reason we're at the top of the food chain, and it is not the opposable thumb.  More of it lies in the fact that the lesser life forms have brains that do not exactly measure up to the size of a planet.

Let's meet some of them.

* Squirrels.

We try to keep all kinds of wildlife from starving, especially this time of year, and do it mainly through the bird feeder(s) in the front yard. It's bad enough that these gray furry varmints hog most of the seed and leave us with sights of upside-down squirrel testicles. No, the little shits routinely knock down the feeders, rendering at least one a year utterly useless, or more often requiring me to root through piles of spat-out rotting seeds and bird poop to find the screw, nut or other part needed to put Humpty the Feeder back together again.

This is why we can't have nice things. You idiots, when mama told you to gather nuts for the winter? She meant these-

Fortunately, I found the missing part, and loaded the sucker back up- just in time for Rocky to show up, along with a new and angry friend.  Sorry, squirrels, there's a new sheriff in town:

That's a hawk. A merlin, we think. On its left is what we think was "early dinner."

Don't mess with the bird feeder, assholes.


* Lab-Sharpei mix dogs.

Don't get me wrong; I adore our bark park time, especially in the quiet, and even in the much colder and snowier weather that greeted us this morning. The whole gang was louder and faster-moving than usual, probably because playing helps to keep them from turning into frozen statues (and possibly, for the smaller ones, into Purina Hawk Chow).  No, it's nothing Ebony did or didn't do at the parp!  It's the getting there and back that is never half the fun.

It's a routine by now.  We go at 8 on Sundays to meet our friends.  I leave a little earlier than they do so I can grab my obligatory Timmy's coffee and breakfast sammich on the way. I load Ebony in the back seat, and as soon as we get to the drive-thru, she tries to climb into the front seat and invariably gets stuck.  On one occasion she was wound so tight I had to stop the car in the donut shop parking lot and let her out- whereupon she looked round like, Wow! Never been in this part of the park before! Look! A dumpster!  I shooed her back in before she could poop, which is usually what dumpsters bring out in her.

So it was again, only just a mild entanglement.  But she saved her best efforts for the drive home. This time she started out in the front passenger seat, only to climb to the back, only to begin whining on the 290 once she suspected we might be going someplace horrid- like a vet, or an auto mechanic.  By the time we pulled in to the garage, she had tangled the leash so badly in the car, and around itself, I couldn't even get her out far enough to remove it from her collar without seriously considering cutting it off.  Finally, I found where her license tag had gotten stuck in the loop where the leash connects, and unentangled everything just in time....

just in time, that is, for her to get stuck again by dragging the just-freed leash around Eleanor's car and getting the handhold end stuck under one of Ziggy's wheels.

We'll see how this goes next Sunday when I take JARVIS on his maiden bark park voyage. At least she can't get stuck in the back seat anymore because it hasn't got one.


* Idiot neighbors.

For this one, we refuse to blame the dog- even though it's always so easy to do, as with farts.

Ebony went out around to do her bidness 5:15 this morning, and that's when I first heard it. Eleanor was less lucky.  Harley, the purebred black lab next door at Chateau Idiot, had been barking, by her count, since just after 4. Inside the house, where apparently he was the only living soul around.  That's still a problem, though- because other than Head Idiot's mancave which is in the corner of their house closest to our property line, they've got the place pretty sparsely furnished, and thus when Harley goes barkey, it resonates as if he's in an echo chamber.

Ebony going out only made him bark and echo more. She of course did this twice by the time I fed animals just before 6, but he finally shut up and was still quiet when Ebony and I left for the parp!

Again, for Eleanor, not so much. He went off again around 8, and this time she called it in to the cops. This is also when she took the opportunity to mention that we can't really just knock on their door and ask nicely when they get home, since Idiot, in his last outburst, told Eleanor that he hopes someday to buy our house and bulldoze it.  (Not bad ambitions for a guy who rents the house he drives us crazy from.)

The sad thing is, Harley is a pretty nice goggie- if somewhat lonely.  If all this shit hadn't gone down, we'd have offered in an instant to go over and let him in and out, maybe even take him walkies or to the park, if they were away.  Because dog people do that kind of thing.  But here? Dogs may be people, too, but idiots aren't:(


Come back later, to see what deviltry the cats wind up getting into.
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Mother Nature gave me an early Christmas bonus yesterday: several glorious free hours.

We continue to be nearly snow-free here in the northern reaches of Western New York- but our neighbors to the south got bombed beginning Thursday.  So much so, Bankruptcy Court called off its monthly trip to Olean that would have required me to travel a good three hours (in good weather) plus waiting-round time, all to adjourn two hearings.  It's now all off until January 20th, when whatever the weather does will not be the worst thing happening that day.

So I made the most of my unexpectedly freed time. Most importantly, I sealed the deal on the new Smart car, which I will take delivery on this coming Friday. It's been named- JARVIS, after Iron Man's onboard computer system. The ALL CAPS are mandatory, although I'll waive the periods:

JARVIS the car;

J.A.R.V.I.S. the onboard computer in the suit.

You see the resemblance.

Because I'm buying and not leasing this one, the finance office experience was a little different from what Eleanor got.  While they processed the loan application, I got to watch a video showing me exactly how expensive everything will be to fix in the last three years after the basic warranty expires (WHAT IF?) and why I really need to up my payment 50 bucks a month to double it.  I'm thinking it over.

Meanwhile, I also arranged a free but very necessary repair now that we're committed to letting the kids use my current car.  The Honda has the dreaded Deathtrap airbags, which they wrote to me about early this year when they didn't have parts. I supposedly put myself on "the list" for them back in the spring but never got a call from the dealer.  Now, though, I needed to make sure it was took care of, and it will be- the same Friday morning I will pick up JARVIS.

I called Emily to give her the news. She got pretty weepy; we then worked on the logistics of getting the car to them, and the furniture to them that Cameron's mom has in storage for them, and we finally settled on that-all going down the following Friday, aka Christmas Eve Eve, right before they will be heading here to be with family anyway.

After all that, I got to spend several hours in my office I otherwise wouldn't have, getting some useful work done, and also hearing a wondrous holiday song which I finally tracked down to its source.  It's from a Rochester band called Watkins and the Rapiers, from an album of theirs with several equally sick carols,  but I just love this one:


Despite being out relatively late last night for John Cleese, I got at things early enough today and accomplished quite a bit: weeding out desktop and drawers, drafting a client's bankruptcy, getting my hair cut, running other assorted errands, and finishing several more chapters of the Hamilton bio before my tablet sends its data back to the liberry on Monday.  Fortunately, the page count includes close to 100 pages of footnotes, so I've got a decent shot at finishing tomorrow- or even beyond that if, as a friend posits, a tablet will keep an expired Kindle loan active as long as you disable its wifi.

I'll have to ask JARVIS about that. Or J.A.R.V.I.S.
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Another achievement unlocked: we spent close to two hours in the same room as a real Python.

We've got tickets to all the UB Speaker Series for the academic year, but this is the one I really wanted to see. They split the subscription audience into two shows in the smaller Center for the Arts venue, and we luckily drew the earlier one starting at 7 p.m., with real assigned seats.

John Cleese has always been the face, or at least the voice, I most associate with Monty Python.  He figures in just about every sketch I hold dear from the MPFC years, and so many of the scenes from the films- plus Fawlty Towers (which he saved for question time, thinking the US audience wouldn't know it as well- WRONG!), plus Wanda, plus so much more of an unmistakable presence in so much social media. For crysake, I have a black knight clock on the wall of my office:

His hour-plus main presentation was basically a personal history- from growing up in the dullest of English coastal towns in Weston-super-Mare (bustling, he said, only in comparison to Rochester, presumably the one in Kent), to learning to use humour as his defense against bullying, to being given his big break by David Frost, only to return the favour by convincing the BBC to let his fellow show-writer Marty Feldman appear in front of the camera- with hilarious results in this clip he showed us from his pre-Python series At Last The 1948 Show:

"Pork!" is already on its way to becoming a catchphrase here, as "Albatross!" always was. I cried it out on the steps down the aisle after he finished- I think a few people got it.

Cleese is now older than Charlie Crichton was when they did Wanda in the 80s. That film began solely from a Crichton desire to see a character run over by a steamroller.  Everyone in it was a pleasure to work with, he said.

Once he got to the Fawlty parts, he gave a very kind remembrance of Andrew Sachs, Manuel on the series, who died last month. Cleese set us up to guess where this truly British actor was born- and after we all shouted "Barthelona," he told us the correct answer was Berlin. Sachs was Jewish- and got out in 1938.

Nothing was sacred.  Religion is fine- organized religion, not so much; Cleese wondered how the church has gotten so far away from Christ's own message of denial of ego, almost, in his words, a Buddhist concept. (Eleanor took note of that.)

During questions, someone brought up the Orange Numpty.  Cleese first noticed the squirrel on his head over 30 years ago, and concluded, based on some Cornell research, that Drumpf doesn't know what he's doing- but he also doesn't know that he doesn't know what he's doing.  His sources think it's likely that the bloom will be off the rose orange within a year and that it will be the Republicans who will impeach him.... leaving us with President Pence, and with no hope whatsoever.

Sadly, Eric Idle is not on the Distinguished Speakers Series. Yet.
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December 7th, 1941. Bad.

December 7th, 1986. Much better. It capped a weekend trip to Noo Yawk where we saw a show, attended the wedding of friends (who, oddly enough, celebrated their 30th anniversary the other day), and then followed my late sister's advice to spend a quiet Sunday morning out on a near-deserted Jones Beach where I asked my beloved to marry me.

And so on December 7th, 2016, we relived that moment- only here, and indoors. At one of our favorite local restaurants, where we said yes all over again.

The day began, though, with the two of us furthering plans to help the other two of us: Emily and Cameron need a second car. Simple as that.  So the bare bones of The Plan was to look into a new Smart car- either leasing one for them, or buying one for me that would then free up my current car for them.

The numbers shook out quickly: leasing would be more than I expected, owning quite a bit less than I expected and only about $20 a month more than the lease payments would be.  The best option was a base 2016 model they had on display at the nearby Mostly Dead Mall; they'd recall it so I could test-drive it today.

Wot I did:

There it is, at a pause back at my office after I took it out for its 17th through 30th miles.  For stripped-down, it's pretty loaded: Bluetooth; cruise; compared to the electric, more room forward-and-back as well as up-and-down for feet and head.

Tomorrow is Paperwork Day to seal the deal. It beats being what tomorrow was supposed to be, which was Drive Into a Fecking Blizzard Day; court was to be 90 minutes south of here where snow is piling up at record rates. We have nearly none around here; the judge, who's also from around here, doesn't want to drive into it, either, so tomorrow's been postponed until January 20th....

a day that really will live in infamy.

So once that's done, we assemble a parade.  Cameron's mother has some furniture to send out to the kids. I will rent, or otherwise secure, a vehicle big enough to deliver it to them. They will come out here in their one car to help load up said vehicle- and and they will then drive home in two cars- theirs, and my current one.  I will drive the truck there and back. Then, this Not Yet Named Car will be my home between homes for the next several years.  I haven't driven off a lot in a new car that was my principal vehicle in over 22 years.  This one will be, by far, the coolest and cutest.

I was a little concerned that having matching his-and-hers Smart cars might be a little two twee- but cmon. We had neighbors for years who had matching Jeep SUVS. We don't need back seats or major towing capacity. I just need range to Rochester- and this car's gas engine was beating my hybrid's mileage out and back on Main and Sheridan.

It's all good for us. For our beloved kids, it will make things even better:)
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Today promised to be a long and early-started one, but by the time I ended my workday I was pleased with what I had accomplished. Everybody was (more or less) where they were expected to be with (more or less) what I expected them to have with them; and I made all my connections, got my major drafting project completed on time, avoided a fight over a bullshit issue, and got back home just in time for how I planned to end my day in way that would be efficient for me and fun for the dog.

As I mentioned the other day, our mechanic's new location is about three blocks from the dog park that I take Ebony to every Sunday.  I made an appointment for this afternoon to get my car inspected, and if I got there in time and there were no issues, I could take it home tonight without needing two rides from Eleanor tonight and tomorrow, plus I'd while away the hour by taking Ebony to the PARP!

(Btw, if you don't understand why I call it that-

- you need to read this immediately.)

My dog day wasn't nearly as efficient or productive as the workday had been. For one thing, as soon as my tires hit the 290, it started to rain for the first time all day.  I debated just driving straight to Erin's and waiting in the waiting room for the hour, but I'd brought nothing to read and it looked to be turning snowy. Ebony's a lab-mix- she lurves her Canadian white stuff.  So I went home, changed into sneakers, and got her in the back seat, and we drove the usual way to the bark parp before detouring just short of it....

whereupon she proceeded to poop the instant she got in the mechanic's waiting room.

Granted, she'd been home inside all day, had never been to this place before, and I suspect she mistook it for the vet, where she tends to lose control of her temper as well as her rear.  So I apologized, cleaned, left my key and we took the short walk to and across the Boulevard- with a wide assortment of additional poops arriving and departing into my remaining Wegmans bags along the way.

By the time we got to the entrance, the rain had not snowified but was basically just a freezing pelt- soon it would turn to hail briefly- and we were both soaked and I had a pawful of poop to dispose of.  But that is when karma proved that it has a sick and effective sense of humor- for here is what greeted my near-frozen eyeballs when I opened the first tote inside the airlock gate:

Let the record reflect: I did not remove that sign and consign it to such a poopy demise. But- I am pleased to say that I am responsible for depositing the Wegmans bag at the top center of the photo.

Here's looking at U, Mister Not My President:P


The hail stopped, we mostly dried out during two trips round, seeing a few other hardy souls there at the end of the day (though we were, I think, the last ones out).  As soon as we crossed the bridge to get back to two-legged civilization, it started to rain again, and we were again pretty soaked by the time we returned to my newly-stickered car.  One towel and ten minutes later, we were home, safe and sound....

except she had to run out to the back yard again.  Hopefully she pointed her business at the Drumpf supporters next door:P
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Nothing like getting things rolling bright and early on a Monday.

One of my co-workers in Buffalo came in to my office this morning. She'd had a tough day Friday- multiple trips out of the office on purpose, then two long detours for things she forgot in one place or another late in the day.

(I can totally relate to this.)

Anyway: she just wanted to make sure she wasn't misunderstanding something: the "thing" being that sign we have out front that says "Law Offices."  For on her voicemail first thing today was a call from a client who'd just purchased a home.  The message wasn't about mortgage payments, or escrow items, or unresolved repairs. (Those calls, which we are marginally licensed and trained to deal with, usually don't come in for years after the closing.)  No, this was because there was a windstorm Friday night, which blew the cover off the client's backyard pool and then resulted in rain filling in to it above the acceptable water line.

What do I do?

Well, OF COURSE you call your lawyer about that.  Because we all loaded up our trucks and moved to Beverly. (Hills, that is. Swimmin' pools. Movie stars.)

It did get me thinking, though. Maybe we are being a little too snobby about limiting our ranges of service.  We are, after all, allowed under ethical rules to enter into partnerships with non-lawyers rendering non-legal services as long as we don't cut in any of the un-Barred on our precious legal fees.

So I got right on it.  By luck of the draw, our senior real estate paralegal is now in charge of opening and closing the pools.

Just as obvious was my gig: I'm the house dick. Let me rephrase that. I am in charge of finding all the people and things that cannot be, and possibly do not want to be, found.  This included, just this week, an absolutely impossible-to-find title search and survey for one of my real-estating ventures, which I found last week and laid hands on today just by deciphering a sekrit code on a deed recording from ten years ago; and, also this very day, getting a missing employee to call in when he was AWOL by tracking his Facebook and figuring out who could get in touch with him when his phone was off.

He will now be in charge of making sure everybody's phone is on and charged at all times.

Now I was on a roll. Our second-chair real-estate paralegal just happened to be working her nails with an emery board while I was handing out assignments. BOOM! You're doing the mani-pedi's.  We may be on the only block in our entire town that doesn't have a nail salon, so it'll fit right in.

The attorney at the far end? Hmmmmm.... oh yeah. She drives a really cool Mini Cooper.  So she'll get to do the Uber runs, assuming our benevolent legislators ever allow us rubes to have such a service.

Still working on the last person, but we've got some ideas kicking around the water cooler.

And the name for it? What else but the long-forgotten trade name used by Larry, his brother Darryl and his other brother Darryl when they were introduced in the second episode of Newhart:

"Anything for a Buck."

Now all we need is a catchy phone number with just one repeating digit.

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Some unknown time this month, our dog Ebony will celebrate her 14th birthday.  That's pretty good for an old broad of her breeds. I went and looked just now in the waybacks of her records, and the earliest sign is that she was turned over to her rescue group on January 7 of 2013.  (Susan worked out a deal with the nearby rez, where they had less humane methods of getting rid of puppies than arranging adoptions.)

It would be well over three years later that Emily wrote about our meeting and adopting her on that January day a month after she came into the world. It was for a school project early in ninth grade, and her words still ring true all these years later:

Black Wood Collapse )

She's grown from a tiny puppy who came home in a cat carrier to a full-grown lab mix who outweighed her big sister for many years.  Ebony has known every one of the other animals who ever lived here, has witnessed the passing of, now, five of them including her beloved Tasha, and has never known anything but love and kindness in her life, which surely helped get her to this pretty advanced age.

This morning, we went, as we almost always do, to the nearby dog park with friends.  They started calling it "Dog Church" as something of a gag, but it's really become that missing Sunday morning part of my life that our old congregation wasn't fulfilling anymore and my experiments with other things weren't hitting close to heart, either.  Here, surrounded by nature and mostly quiet, we talk among the friends we know and lovingly greet those- biped and quadreped- that we don't.  We mourn the ones who we don't see anymore and pardon the occasional jumps from the n00bs.  There are people of all stripes, faiths and even politics- yes, I've seen Trumperstickers on some of the cars in the lot- but here we do not speak of these things. We may not all believe in God, but we faithfully believe in Dog.

One new one we met this morning was Oreo, shown here to her right, who reminded Ebony there's someone out there bigger than her:

I mistook that coat for a saddle at first. This dog doesn't walk; he canters.


After taking her home and taking in a workout, I made a brief and relatively painless venture into December Retail.  I'd waited for the paper to arrive with the headline-

- and, more importantly, the coupon for Penney's, so I could stock up on my go-to brand of underwear. Such things never get outgrown or worn out around here- no, they are simply treats on the dog's buffet:P So I stocked up to replace most of her recent kills, and will hopefully be set until the arrival of the next coupon.


Ebony gets a final extra treat, not involving dietary fiber, day after tomorrow. My car's due for inspection, and our mechanic moved a couple of years ago to a location that's barely three blocks from the dog park. So, as long as it's not pelting down snow, my plan is to drop off the car mid-afternoon and just walk her over while they do the checking. Eleanor won't need to come get me as long as they finish by 5. Plus, she'll likely meet a whole different bunch of dogs who come at a different time.

It may not be Sunday, but it'll still kinda be like church. We have communion at the end- passing round treats- and no visit is complete without the passing of the pees.
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My one day this week with no court- indeed, one where I postponed my one appearance on Monday of next week- wound up full of all of the above. In more-or-less reverse order of occurrence:

- The unexpected: I came across two instances of governments backing off from recent stupid ideas.  One,  I witnessed the backoff with my own eyes.

Across the state, beginning this past summer, if you drove on the 90, or any other expressways upstate, you probably saw the signs. Big blue advertisements for New York tourism, food, historic sites and such. Each set- and they grew like topsy in my travels between here, east to Rochester and west/south to Erie- began with what they called a "motherboard"-

-followed by specific ones for each of the four components. All of them pimping the state tourism website and the I♥NY app- you know, computer things you're not supposed to be accessing when you're driving.

 They put over 500 of these suckers up over the summer, and every one of them is now coming down, because the federal highway people consider them to be illegal roadside advertising. I just saw my first road gang starting the rip down around Thruway exit 47. One set still remained on my westbound drive home, but they seem doomed to the scrap heap, as well.

Oh, and of course the signs themselves were mostly manufactured in Arkansas.

Meanwhile, on arrival in Rochester, I discovered that the city's recently elected mayor has ended an evil corporate experiment to raise revenue: red light cameras.  Downstate has had them for years, but upstate cities (and only cities) were given the green light to pass laws enabling them a few years ago. Buffalo never got them, after the city was caught proposing to put them mainly at intersections near suburban borders, earning them the epithet of "honky cams." Rochester did implement them, but their experience turned out to be the opposite: "the ZIP codes that have the city's highest poverty rates, like 14605, 14609 and 14621 generated the highest numbers of red-light camera tickets."

It also didn't help that the program was one of those lovely "public-pirate private partnerships" our new Dear Leader is so fond of. The Arizona company Redflex, which has cornered the market on these red-light gestapos and which profits only from ticket revenues over a certain level, is notorious for shortening yellow light intervals to catch the unsuspecting.  In the years since they went in to city intersections, I always heeded the warning signs and never got one- and once they go dark at the end of this month, I never will.


-The weird: There are, of course, worse things that can happen in Rochester.

One business there, in particular, has had a bad and weird couple of weeks. My office there represents most of the major pizzeria chains in town, with the exception of one of the oldest, which I've sued in the past.  First, they lost one of their locations temporarily (as did a beloved chicken wing business which we do represent) when a fire in a Chinese restaurant in the same plaza caused smoke and water damage and loss of power to the entire strip of stores.  Not to be outdone, though, fate struck even closer to our office at the closest of this Not Our Client's locations:

Monroe County Sheriff's deputies found a man stuck in a vent early Friday morning, in what they say was an attempted break-in of a Penfield pizzeria.

Sheriff's deputies responded to Pontillo's Pizzeria at 1811 Penfield Road about 3:45 a.m., said Cpl. John Helfer of the Sheriff's Office.

"They heard some yells. The guy was stuck in a vent," Helfer said.

Penfield firefighters removed the man and took him to Strong Memorial Hospital. Richard Graham, 53, of Saratoga Street in Rochester, was treated and released, Helfer said in a news release.

"He was as far down as he could go without coming out on top of an oven." said Earl Lubanski, Penfield assistant fire chief. "The ductwork got narrower as you get down closer to the kitchen."

Graham was arraigned in Penfield Town Court on charges of third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal mischief and possession of burglary tools. He is being held without bail in the Monroe County Jail....

Pro tip: ductwork is never as wide or as easy to escape through as it always seems to in movies.


-That brings us to the new- to me at least.  The remainder of my workday there was mainly useless- didn't close the deal I hoped to close, didn't see the client who promised to see me- but it was okay, since this afternoon was one of our occasional Firm Outings that I, for once, got to attend.

Remember laser tag? I do, vaguely- from the 80s.  The first commercial fun places for them date to 1984, and I think the one we have in our town, near its original Wegmans, dates to around then.  I never visited that one, or their Rochester locations, before today, and it turned out to be a fair amount of fun.

Lasertron is basically Chuckie Cheese for grownups. You book your group for a morning or afternoon, and it gets you two competitive games where your workers divide up (ours were legal versus administrative four-on-four) for about half an hour at a time.  First, we did a game that is a mishmash of bumper cars, lacrosse and basketball.  Once I got the hang of the joystick and overcame the fear that the car could tip over, I did pretty well at it, and the four of us bested the back-office peeps after three rounds.

Then, foodage, which was actually pretty good compared to, say, the gas-station-quality hot dogs on offer for three times the price at the cinema one plaza over. Also, craft beer (and non-craft and non-beer).

Finally, it was into the arena for the actual shooting at each other. We donned the vests, charged the phasers, and had at it for four six-minute rounds of seeking and destroying the very people we depend on 40-odd hours a week.  Again, it took some getting the hang of the controls and the rules, but I did the Green Team just proud enough and we took home the bragging rights until we all forget what there was to brag about.

They also have video games and claw machines and tacky prizes, but we stuck to the main events and the late lunch and I was home at a decent hour.  I have nothing to do tomorrow, plans for dog park and workout Sunday, and a car inspection on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.  All signs are good- at least the ones that are still standing;)

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The past couple of days have been full of medical revelations. Some more profound than others, some just more yucky.

I didn't even realize, until I saw it all written down, that I had four straight days of court appearances this week. Absolutely no mental energy went into any one of them, but they still required travel and waiting and the occasional genuflecting.  Somewhere in the middle of them earlier this week, I saw a post on Facebook from glenmarshall, which might just have helped explain one of the major annoyances in my life.  He reported on a doctor's visit, which mentioned his blood pressure; one comment led to another, and someone mentioned that a very commonly-prescribed BP med has a track record of an unfortunate side effect:

A persistent, long-term, hacking cough.


I first visited my own (now-former) doc in late September about my BP being out of range despite a long-term Rx to keep it down. His first response was to switch it from Generico 20mg to GenericoPlusShit 32.5mg- the "plus shit" being a dieutetic component that is supposed to help clear even moar things out of the bloodstream.

It worked- somewhat.  Random checks showed the readings going lower, but still registering higher than normal on occasion. But- three days after that appointment and change, I awoke to a sore throat, followed by several days of what I thought was a cold, which included a cough.  The other symptoms eventually went away, but the cough never did. When I switched docs in early November, I was kept on GenericoPlus for the mornings but also got an afternoon BP med added. This got me out of the high range, but the cough never completely left and after a brief break returned to be a near-daily and much-nightly experience.

Turns out, GenericoPlus has a reputation as an "ACE inhibitor [that] can cause a bad cough." After seeing Glen's friend's post about it yesterday, I switched back to the GenericoNotPlus version that I was originally on (I had several pills left) without incident, plus taking the new afternoon med- and as of tonight, the cough is better. Not gone, but far fewer incidents.  If it's gone by next week, I will check in with New Doc to report the results and see if my own jerry-rigged combination is likely to do the trick.


Then there was this afternoon at another doc's office, where they understandably couldn't help me. Here was the patient they were there to see:

Well, Zoey and her annoying sister Michelle- both were due for shots and checkups.  They're now done, and they're both fine. Me, though?

After we dragged Michelle out of her crate, kicking and MEOWWWing and they finished checking and injecting her, I noticed that my right nostril had begun bleeding. A lot.  Neither of the kittehs had whacked me or otherwise started it- I just suddenly was channeling my two-year-old December self where I broke my sister's nose under the Christmas tree and invoked the immortal family phrase, Mommy, Mommy, there's Hi-C juice coming from Donna's nose!

Only in this case it was Raymond's nose, and it wasn't stopping no matter how many tissues or paper towels I put in to stanch it.  The vet in the room (new, our first time with her, fine with the animals at least) seemed the least able to deal with it.  One of the techs checked with one of the down-the-hall techs who recommended I pinch my nose shut to stem it, and within a minute or so, this actually worked. Other than some nasty bloodstains on my white workshirt (since pretreated by Eleanor and removed by Sears and Roebuck),  it's all fine now.

Hopefully this won't affect my blood pressure one way or the other;)
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* My co-walker from last week posted a couple actual pictures of me with a running bib.  Here near the start with our carpool bud Ellen:

And then, at the halfway mark, pointing the way with my oversized water bottle:

* I've been back to several scenes of recent court appearances, which wound up being less amusing than the previous ones posted about here. Another civil court appearance after a long criminal docket in downtown Buffalo, mostly consisting of the DA adjourning case after case after case. The judge was clearly losing patience after a point, even hitting him with a rather bizarre Perry Mason joke from the bench at one point (and making me wonder if the 30-something prosecutor even knew (a) who Raymond Burr was and (b) if he did, whether he was wondering what Ironside had to do with anything).  No night court this week, but a butt-early appearance in a town court north of here. The case went fine, but the Niagara County ambience can be a little scary. 

As you drive "up the Transit" and cross the county line, within a mile or so you come to a car dealership sporting dozens of flags on poles above the cars.  Stars and Stripes are never uncommon for dealerships, but this one alternated them with that Teabagger favorite, the Gadsden flag:

And that tread comes with a 3 month, 3,000 mile warranty!

Court itself led to more spookiness.  In 30-plus years, I've appeared in dozens of courts in almost as many cities and towns, many smaller than this one- and I have never, once, been asked to commence a session of open court by joining in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Until now.  The judge was anything but authoritarian- very nice in the case itself, didn't even bother to command an "all rise!" when he came in- but this kind of mandated patriotism just creeped me.

* Speaking of mandated patriotism:  our Generalissimo-Elect continues to scare me.  My weekend post about the election-result recount ended with a copy of his expressed disgust about the process- but it was measured disgust.  By the time he got to his usual Twittering,  though, all measure had gone out the window:

Never mind that this has no factual support whatsoever outside the Tin Foil conspiracyland of nuts like Alex Jones. Never mind, also, that he WON the damn thing by the rules (at least so far), but that's not enough for him.

* Nor is any other kind of dissent: lookie what came out of his Twitterhole at his usual 3 a.m. tantrumtime:

Now, in fairness, he hasn't tweeted this. Yet:

Three more hours of work.  And a lot for all of us to work at to overcome this crap.
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....randomly spoken, while I was barely paying attention, opened a bizarre little rabbit hole in my brain that took me back almost 50 years, then forward to last summer, to a totally different (but even more familiar) time and place.

I spent most of yesterday afternoon erranding round the house- emptying catboxes, cleaning the fish tank, splitting BigAss™ bags of shredded cheese into eight-ounce ziplocs.  For most of it, I had the Bills game on the radio through headphones- and out of all the chatter that came from those three hours of generally ugly-sounding football, either Murph or Mark mentioned two words that come up occasionally in the sport, which I'd no doubt heard dozens of times in my 35 autumns of following this team and however many of the Jets before them:

"Off Tackle."

Somehow, that phrase instantly triggered a memory that probably was dormant since the early 1970s- a Platform 9¾ that suddenly opened to me and transported me to a friend's house in a simpler time and to a game older even than PacMan or Pong:

Electric football.


I've posted here before about the nerdy games that friends and I either played or made up in those years- variants on Stratomatic ancestors of current fantasy sports leagues, but this was a real game with a real plug that went into a real wall.  Mike, my friend from church on the other side of East Meadow, got one and I came over to learn how it worked. 

What I remember of it is, well, not much.  The game board was maybe five feet across by three feet wide.  You placed your eleven players on a plugged-in metal board, and your opponent lined his eleven up against you. Then you'd run your play, by pushing one of four secret buttons that supposedly your opponent couldn't see from five feet away (his side having the identical four buttons in the identical order).  Pushing down would complete the circuit, the board would vibrate, and your players would begin to move, more or less toward the opposite end of the field.  The four choices, in theory, would cause slightly different vibration of the board and a slightly different result.  Plain as day, I can remember that the second of the four, left to right, was a call for "OFF TACKLE" (the play, or move-in-a-play, that opened this whole can of memories for me); just as plainly, I can remember that the rightmost of the buttons said "TRICK PLAY." 

I have no idea whatsoever what the first or third ones said or did.  Must've sucked at those.

Everything else from here is either pure speculation or the result of my having looked into this in the past day:  Presumably, the idea was to get one designated "player" to vibrate his way across the opposite goal line, or pass or kick the "ball" (likely a piece of felt- this shit predated the common use of Velcro), which you were allowed to manipulate by hand into the hand or in front of the foot of a player once the vibration got going.  Your opponent picked one of his four buttons to make his players move toward your players and your goal in order to slow down your forward progress.

If it worked like our other geekouts did, we would have named the teams and the players, called our own penalties, kept score and had extended standings.  I remember absolutely nothing of any of that.

Also, if it worked like other shit we did, we likely got bored of it, or the board broke.  It disappeared completely from my consciousness until somebody on the Bills went "off tackle" yesterday and either Murph or Kelso used the words.

But, as the late but still-legendary Bills broadcaster Van Miller always put it after the second quarter, "That's only the half of it!"


As the above shows, I remember nothing of the details other than those two out of four plays- the game name, manufacturer, even the words "electric football" were completely absent from my brain. My best guess was that "electronic football" would have been the generic, but that was likely anachronistic for the early 1970s- we still spoke of "transistors" and "solid-state" when referring to space-age stuff back then, and "electronic," in its early etymology, referred mainly to electrons- how electrons behave in vacuums, gas, semi-conductors, etc.

Still. It was close enough for Google to educate me, and I started finding familiar and unfamilar brand names for "electric" football, as it was christened even back in its earliest incarnations in the 1940s. Coleco was the only name I recognized, mainly for later Christmas-craze toys they manufactured; there was also Gotham, and Eagle from Canada, but the granddaddy was a company called Tudor, which still exists and will still sell you metal boards with tiny players and, from the look of it, somewhat more sophisticated controls than our four stupid buttons.

Most of these memories led to one site: theunforgettablebuzz.com.  And it was through their posts that I discovered a later, further and yet much closer-to-now-home connection to this game- residing in the annals of ESPN sports and the basement of a family in the northern reaches of the City of Rochester, New York.


Even if you don't do any sportsing, ESPN's "30 for 30" documentaries are amazing and worthy of viewing.  They have given Oscar and Emmy-award winning directors the chance to look at unusual angles of games, athletes and contests, old and new.  I've never watched as many as I should, but some I have include one about Goats in Baseball- how Bill Buckner and Steve Bartman became hated figures connected with the two oldest curses on MLB teams and how Buckner found redemption after the Red Sox broke the curse. (It may produce an update on Bartman now that the Cubs have slain their goat of a curse.) Another, focusing on this same era of my youth, was about the American Basketball Association's ultimate merger into the NBA and how a owners of a single franchise took the Lords of Hoops to the cleaners over the ensuing almost 40 years.  Yet another close-to-former-home one was about the New York Islanders, and how a con man became an NHL owner with no due diligence, no money, and no prospects.

The one relevant to this, I missed completely. It's from last June, and was done by Errol Morris, a much-decorated documentarian probably most famous for The Thin Blue Line, the true tale of a wrongly-accused defendant which is now the most common term for the silence and conspiratorial acts of law enforcement when they're determined to "get their man."  These few minutes are much lighter: they literally go into the basement, or as the title of the episode terms it, to the Subterranean Stadium, where a group of guys have been playing these games in league format since the early 1980s....

in Charlotte, New York.

That's pronounced Char-LOT, thank you very much. Once a separate village on Lake Ontario's shore where the Genesee finishes its south-to-north route, it was long ago annexed by the once-smaller and still-souther City of Rochester, where it still retains some of its own identity through its pier, custard shop and watering holes.  It's also the home to the DiCarlos, where father, son and grandson still carry on the metal-board tradition- and then some.

This is a mancave on steroids.  John, his relatives and longtime friends not only play these games and keep score, but painstakingly paint the generic players from the board boxes into "real" player jerseys and uniform numbers, and gather all kinds of merch for both their "teams" and the CEFL- the Charlotte Electric Football League.

Words do not do any of this justice. Watch, on the ESPN site.  But I'll end with two sidenotes that take this as close to home (or rather work) as anything ever could:

Just short of eight minutes in, we meet the grieving football widow. She turns out to own a place called Skip's Meat Market, as much an institution in modern Rochester as the Amerks or the garbage plate.  Heard of it, never met her in my life. But still on the subject of meat, a few moments later, Morris introduces another member of the League of Extraordinarily Nerdy Gentleman: Peter "The Hotman" Dietz, a high school friend of her husband who's still at this game.  The name originally got tagged to him because he "used to always get hot under the collar," but he turned it around into the plural of "hot"- another Rochester tradition of street meat, red hots and white hots, almost always Zweigles brand, sold from street carts throughout downtown and in other high-traffic areas.

His is in front of the state courthouse in downtown Rochester.  I've passed him literally hundreds of times in my comings and goings there.  I recognized him when he showed up on the ESPN screen:

And next time I head over there for court at or near lunchtime, I am going to give him a copy of this post- and ask him to PLEASE tell me what the other two buttons were.
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