The Continuing Storrrrreeeeee....

of the chips that went to the dogs....

We can only imagine how stressful it would be if one of our cared-fur crowd actually DID get loose. Just getting the damn chips registered turned out to be virtually an all-day proposition.

The good news to start the day was finding the payment information for Pepper's registration. We indeed did sign up for it in 2018- just a month or so later than I expected we had, but there it was in the spreadsheet.  That led to Call The First to PetsiteNotTheirRealName dot com, after running all of our assorted emails through their website to try to track down the registration. It took well over half an hour on the phone- much of it on hold, with that most annoying combo of music (hummmmmmBOP bababababop hummmmmmBOP bababababop) and voiceus interruptus every 30 seconds telling us how important our call is to them. But finally, there was Stefan. Or possibly Steven.  Or Stevedore.  We weren't taking copious enough notes at this point.  He pulled Pepper's chip right up- because, it turned out, this joint catalogs them by PHONE NUMBER and not email address on their end, despite their website being the complete opposite.  Within minutes, we had the magic fifteen digits for the dog- saved to my computer files, printed and stapled to the dog's Permanent Record Card, copied to a password list, and we'd have considered tats if numbers on those weren't so creepy.

That, alas, was the end of the good news. We then moved on to Bronzini, whose chip was also one of their proprietary brand. Nobody said boo about whether they could be registered anywhere else, and in a fit of dopamine from the prior success, we got hornschwoggled into another 80-plus dollar "lifetime package," including access to their 800 number, a Petco gift card we might actually use and some other online shit we probably never would.  But hey- a password reset was on the way for both of them, and  at least Jack's registration with another playah in the chipping industry didn't cost nuthin'.

Then I went to work, and Eleanor went to weird.


The receipt showed right up, but the email with the reset never did. So Eleanor took the next two rounds of calls to them to straighten that out. More hummmmmmBOP bababababops, and finally Cathy with a C. Or possibly a K.  Lots of apologies. No link. Either she or someone on a preceding or subsequent call actually told Eleanor the problem was with HER email address- which I had painstakingly spelled out for Stefanopolis and she for CateKateKale. Is there another email address you can use?, she asked, probably perkily.

Dunno, is there another registration site WE can use?

Turns out there is. As at least some people mentioned here or on Facebook, manufacturers cannot monopolize their chips. Long as you have the magic digits, you can register them pretty much anyplace for either no money or a lot less than Supersite With Kryptonite.

So when we both got home, it was on to Call The Fifth, hummmmmmBOP bababababa, and we talked to You Can Call Me Jay.  We made clear right off that we were no longer interested in the Faboo Service we'd bought, and before he got to reading back StephaniePowers's explanation of the "nonrefundable" part, I read back to him a few lines from First Year Contracts about acceptances being conditioned on performance and they could either refund the payment or have the charge disputed and get Yelped into next year about their shitty service.

He quickly relented- and finally got us the email for the no-cost registration service. It's free because you have to do more work to find your pet if they get lost.  I can't imagine it being any harder than this shit.

Besides, I don't see either of them leaving anytime soon:

That was them, in between all the calls, westing in their Westinghouse.


Pepper remains on the deluxe plan, because she does leave the house, sometimes even off leash briefly.  This was on our walk yesterday:

We humans see a gorgeous tree;
To her, it's just a place to pee;)

We then spotted this in the window in the trail parking lot after our out and back:

I didn't realize Phil's shiva was over so soon. Either that or maybe he finally regenerated into Peter Capaldi.


Other loose ends from the past few days:

- Lawnmower remains in flux.  My kludge to access the bolt worked, at least as far as getting the bolt out, but that handle continues to remain fixed in place.  Only after all of that did we realize how far down to the base of the mower the anchoring goes.  We have some other possible avenues to resolve it, and meanwhile, it's back together with screws in and bungee cord so it can be used in the meantime.

- Entertainmentwise, we followed Truly Madly Deeply with  Anthony Minghella's follow-on directorial job to it, Mr. Wonderful.  Matt Dillon, Annabella Sciorra , William Hurt and Mary-Louise Parker were the biggest names in it when it came out, although a very young and still-head-of-haired James Gandolfini makes a very un-Tony appearance in it.  Last night, we went totally escapist with Thunder Force, a Melissa McCarthy-Octavia Spencer superhero tale that the Sad Puppies will hate and thus made us love it all the more. And tonight, we began watching the new HBO series Mare of Easttown, starring Kate Winslet with a perfect PA accent and set in the dark corners of the Delaware Valley. If you've heard of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, you can consider this equal time for the opposing viewpoint. Even the out-of-wedlock little kids in the premiere look like they're ready to suck their first baby beer bottle:

Let's go, Mare! This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1630124.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

When the Chips Aren't Down....

First of all, all the furbabies are fine. This is more 50% preventive and 50% annoying.

Eleanor registered Jack's microchip last week, and we were also going to do Bronzini's at the same time. I was a bit surprised when she said Jack's didn't cost anything- when Pepper's chip ID was transferred over to us in 2018, we paid something like 75 bucks for lifetime registration.

Also weird was that the chip site for the kittehs had no record of us. Which means it's NOT the same site we did Pepper with. 

Long story short, we've lost Pepper's registration paperwork. We went through all of her records, and Zoey's in case they got misplaced with hers from the same time frame. If they got stuck in Ebony's or Evil Cat's, they got tossed in a fit of spring cleaning. 

But not an issue- all you need is the tag number and this site will track down whose chip it is.

We can't find the number.

It's not on her dog license paperwork, any of the records from our vet, the one from her previous humans, or the shelter she was originally rescued from. I also looked through a ton of credit and bank statements from the time in question to at least see who we paid it to- nuthin'.

This means we're going to have to call, and maybe visit, our vet to either get the number off internal paperwork or bring her in for a scan.  Knowing how car dealerships deal with idiot light codes, I have no expectation this will be free.

But maybe there's an app for that! No, not really- the scanners that read these things use a tech that mobile phones aren't set up for.

So please: next time you're at your vet, if you have a chipped pet, ask them to write the number down for you. Then save it in your password list or strongbox or wherever you keep vitals.  Also ask them if they'd consider printing that number on their invoices. Ask them to loan you 20 bucks. Ask them if they like gladiator movies.  Ask them if they can recommend a new vet after you're done asking them these questions.  

Nobody's lost here, thank cats, but imagine if we were running around on a Sunday night trying to get that information. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1629948.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Parts is Parts

I wasn't sure, going into today, if I would be spending outdoor time mowing the lawn for the first time since last summer, shoveling snow, or both.  Fortunately, the latter held off, though it was still plenty chilly for mid-April, so I checked the battery on the good not-so-old electric B&D mower (fully charged after seven months!), headed down to the sidewalk strip,... and remembered why this thing drove me crazy LAST summer.  Behold the beast in question:

and now see how something relatively compact could have over 200 replacement parts:

Our problem lies with the part of the part I yellowed there. Basically, its male end broke off neatly just outside the point where it was bolted into a female hole in the lower frame. All last summer, I kludged it with a combination of duct tape and a bungee cord, but after the thing popped out five times in today's maiden voyage around just the front yard (the back has way more tight spots that encourage poppage), I resolved to get the damn thing fixed before going any further into the season.

Once Eleanor got home with the bigger car, I loaded it in and headed to old reliable Hector's Hardware- a local chain that survives the big boxes by having legacy staffing and knowledge of such things.  Before I could even get it out of the trunk, Minion called "the boss" to look at it, who promptly informed me that they don't service electrics.  But he did look at the issue, and thought it would be a simple enough deal for me to order a replacement part from B&D and then simply remove the one bolt holding the severed penis to the frame and then screw in the new one.

Uh huh.  As the old TV theme asked, Part 54, Where Are You?


Soon as I researched the above diagram, Step One quickly faded out of sight:

I tried similar sites and got similar results. I even checked to see if I could buy the entire unit, maybe less a battery or something, without luck.  Then Eleanor decided this would be her latest Tall Building to leap over in a single bound. I can fabricate a piece of metal to attach and then bolt onto the upper handle, which we can then bolt into the hole. All we have to do is get the severed part out!

Welp. Remember the Ballad of Remove Screws from a few weeks back?  Apparently this mower was built at the same factory. We were able, with some WD40 and the correct nut driver (which, amazingly, I found YAY!), to loosen the nut holding the severed penis onto the frame- but it still wouldn't completely disengage. Plus, we determined there was a fairly large head on the bolt anchoring it, so we'd have to come at it from the other end. And THAT involved removing screws. Lots of them.  Close to a dozen, at least four of them buried down shafts full of multiyear accumulations of dead grass, dirt, dog poop and recently applied WD40.  We finally gave up around 5 this afternoon, just as I proposed the very kind of There I Fixed It Idea that Eleanor usually hates:

Why not just drill an access panel in the plastic OVER the top of the bolt holding the thing in, and leave the rest of the cover and the 30,000 screws in place? Then we can unscrew the ONE bolt from the top, duct tape over the hole, USE the damn thing until the replacement piece can be engineered, and then unpeel/repeel when it's ready.

She liked it! Hey Mikey! We just haven't done it yet.

It just frosts me that this piece of equipment was basically built designed to (a) fail and (b) not be serviceable.  I go back to a time when the best advice was NOT to buy extended warranties or "purchase protection" as they now call it, because they usually never resulted in you getting your money's worth for them because of that damned quality American workmanship.  Now, though, after a bad-turned-good experience with a dryer that we DID buy (though briefly forgot about buying) an extended warranty on, and an even worse one with the Case of the Riveting Laptop linked to above where I also did buy it but not for long enough, I'm convinced that these things are worth the investment. If we'd had the coverage and called it in, they likely would have declined the repair and just sent us a gift card for the original purchase price to go out and buy a new one. Which would, of course, have had purchase protection on it. And so on and so on and so on.


While we were doing all of that, the new Brothers of Different Mothers advised us that they'd pretty much worked out any differences they may have had in their first full week together:

Oh, was this YOUR bed? Your bad....

Moments later, they took it a step further, heading from cuddle right to kink:

Well, we wound up dealing with B&D all day, so why shouldn't they?


One final missing part. I meant to work this in to my rant the other day about the current state of craziness in our country's polity.

I learned the other day, trawling around news from the Nuts Running America's bankruptcy case, that the former CFO of the NRA is named Wilson Phillips.


It's enough to make you break into song:

♫Some day somebody's gonna make you want to turn around and shoot them dead
Until then, baby, you think you can stop the change the people said?
Don't you know? Don't you know, things can change, things'll go our way
If you Shoot Down the NRA!♫

Thanks. I'm here all week. Unless I get shot in the back or run over by a lawnmower. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1629659.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

News from the George Washington Home for the Criminally Insane

....formerly known as the United States Capitol.

Not a lot to report from our own lives today. I finished a project of the "big ugly" variety with time to spare, decided not to take on a client who just went on and on and on about the case (and uttered the epithet sure to turn me off your side- I HAVE PICTURES!- and Eleanor merely hopped over short buildings with a running start on her day off instead of leaping tall ones in a single bound like she usually does on her days off.

So instead I'll cast the ol' net nationally and repost a question from the immortal Charlie Pierce. I've been a fan of his from everything from Wait Wait to Stephanie Miller to Rude Pundit, mostly following him on his own ineffectively-paywalled Esquire page.  Today's tweet sums up his thinking in alignment with mine:

The lead reply to that was, Only several? Because I'm definitely past fingers and quickly running out of toes trying to count them all.

Some would say it's always been this way, and for much of our nation's history, it was. It took a revolution and a civil war, followed by a century of de facto status quo where the loser of the latter acted like it actually won, before we finally made some progress in my lifetime.  My six-plus decades include any number of prior rodeos, and I don't recall the riders or horses being as crazed as they are now.

In my most formative years, a Texas Senator, thrust into the Presidency, accomplished a ton of progressive legislation and was rewarded with a landslide vote returning him to office.  His opponents were mostly fellow Southerners from his own party.  Then Nixon squeaked in, did more in his first four years for progressive causes and SCOTUS appointments than Clinton or Obama would later do in eight, got rewarded with a landslide victory of his own, and promptly pissed it away in a fit of paranoia.  His Congressional supporters were few and lukewarm; I remember one Jersey Republican named Charles Sandman being his leading voice of defense, until the final tapes came out and even he deserted Dick.

Carter was too bogged down with shit beyond his control to have to face any real opposition,  but despite a relatively close loss to Reagan (compared to Mondale's, anyway), the Democrats on both sides of the Dome largely worked with him. Tip O'Neill was the model of loyal opposition, which the extremes of both sides hated but a working body of lawmakers joined with to, you know, make laws. 

By the 90s, the current sewer was starting to be laid. Newt Gingrich personified the politics of hatred and of making compromise into a dirty word, even though he couldn't take Clinton down at the ballot box or at an impeachment trial.  His rhetoric from back then seems almost quaint.  Dubya was another outlier, in that 9/11 gave him a pity card that allowed him to govern out of a false sense of unity.  But once they brought in the Black guy, the worst started to surface.

Even so, it took a few years, and a crazed successor to Obama, to really lower the bar for elected office.  Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were among the first, but the crops of the past two elections, including Hawley and Tuberville on that side, have brought it to a total Senate of Stink.  Throw in the House side with the Q-Anon nuts, the Hitler worshiping nut(s), the teenager-chasing nut(s), and Louie  Gohmert who's just totally nuts, and you wonder how that building doesn't get an insurrection mounted in it every business day.

There's no politeness, dignity or sense of working together. These are people who voted against awarding a Congressional honor to a Capitol police officer (fittingly named Goodman) who risked his life on January 6th, because the resolution used the I-word to brand the insurrectionist's armed supporters. There's the one now being investigated for sex trafficking who was the only one on the floor of the House to vote against an anti-sex-trafficking bill.  They're never wrong, they never apologize and they always double and quadruple down whenever the inconvenient facts get in their way.

I'd hoped that the denouement of Donald would have given them a rear-view mirror to look back in and watch getting smaller. But insurrectionists are always closer than they appear, and Mar-a-Lago has turned into an armed camp of sedition that all the potential 2024 players make pilgrimage to.

It sucks. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1629311.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Not Much... You?

Relatively little to report from Deferred Tax Day.  Finally got the dog a grooming gig two weeks from Monday, but she's second on a cancellation waitlist so we could get a call tomorrow.  Our entertainment the past two nights was David Mamet's State and Main, which is way funnier than Glengarry or any of his other things I remember.

Beyond that, just a caption contest:

I've come up with I find your lack of headlights disturbing, but I don't much like it. Be better.
This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1629164.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Making the best of it....

The morning was full of life's little aggravations rather than victories this time round.  I planned a Rochester day mainly on account of an actual eviction hearing brought against a client, transferred from a town court to the downtown SPECIAL COVID INTERVENTION PART.  (Turn your sound down before clicking that.) I have no idea what qualified this case for such relative privilege, since landlord-tenant cases remain stayed by state regulation through the end of the month and by CDC guidelines even longer (not that it's stopping red states from ignoring those). Because of these uncertainties and my recent hatred of getting dressed up for anything anymore, I contacted my opposing counsel several times before today, without response. So, on with the tie, and on to the road bright and early today.... only to get an email in transit from the client- saying she'd heard it had been canceled again.

I thought about flipping a U-ie, just as I did a week before when we found out we'd been approved for Jack, but like that time I just kept going. I'd find other things to do, I figured.

And did:

- Settled the damn case, finally, the landlord essentially agreeing to something I'd proposed weeks before.

- Showed up in court anyway to confirm the postponement, which will allow me to bill my full fee for the wasted time.

- Confirmed all paperwork done and funds exchanged in the last case I showed up for down there, tie and all, and got kicked out of.

- Met another client and resolved a bill of mine going back to last fall.

- Had lunch in the office and got this photo of a co-worker's lunchbag:

I commented on Facebook that she wasn't likely to have anyone stealing her food. This led to the usual trip down the sewer of black humor:

Mel: Unless someone's having a craving for liver & onions or steak & kidney pie...

Me: Or a stack of pancreas.

Mel: I've not had (anything's) pancreas, oddly enough. Sheep heart/aorta is amazing when stir-fried with cumin.

Me: Tastes like chicken.

Robert: Are they having it with fava beans and a nice Chianti?

Me: Heavens no! We’re not into day drinking. Or Day eating.

Check, please!


On a nicer note, the boys have achieved Snuggle:

Eleanor also got both of their microchips registered, so that's a good move.  I had less success with trying to get a grooming gig for the dog. We've mostly been using the one at a nearby Petco, but I haven't been able to get them to return a phone call, and their online booking site says they have nothing until the second week of May. I even stopped in on my useless drive today, and nobody was in the studio. Next, I tried the fancier-schmancier place next to our Rochester office where I took her early in the pandemic when things there opened up sooner than things here did. Same deal; no response to call or text.  Maybe THEY were just put off by the human remains.

Speaking of, I decided yesterday I've definitely lived here too long. I passed this humongous RV in a round-corner neighbor's driveway-

- and thought the branding was "Amigone."

For those who haven't seen the thousands of memes about it, Amigone is the name of the leading local chain of funeral homes:

That'd make one heckuva hearse, huh. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1628827.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Forget Schrödinger. This here's the story of Seinfeld's Cats....

... so named because, on this day at least, nothing happened.  The first nothing of which was something wonderful.

Little by little, the four-legged foursome has been getting to know each other. Things were relatively normal when I left for work this morning- a bit early, because I had to print out a bit of detail about our now-oldest cat Zoey for Eleanor to take with her to the vet. They are still doing appointments by drop-off only, so she wrote up a note to them about the history of the kitty's journey of going on 18 months with some form of mouth cancer:

Collapse )

I came home with the printout of that, ran a couple of errands, and by the time I got back to my office, Zoey had been seen. And,... Miracle Max seems to have done wonders again:)


We'd been hopeful. Despite them giving us a pretty grim diagnosis back then- we were talking weeks, not months and certainly not years- didn't she show every sign over the next 3-4 months that she was fine? We often approach veterinary care like we did pediatrics when Emily was little. Any time our bebbie didn't hit an exact mark in the What To Expect sequel, or touched a dirty Thing for more than two seconds, we'd be on the phone to Dr. Hirsch. His first question, before getting into any symptoms, was, How's the kid? Well, she SEEMS fine, but it says on page 342.... But me no buts. Call me when she's not fine. 

Zoey was fine- so fine, by the time the weather warmed last spring and she started showing her usual wanderlust to follow the dog out into the yard, we called our vet- just after Shit Got Real pandemicwise- to get her the vaccines they'd told us not to bother with in December. At that point, they were limiting care to emergencies only unless we could wait well over a month. Fook dat; I took her to a clinic at the Joint In Back Of The Petsomething, who pronounced her as healthy as a first look could and gave her all the shots.

In time, we brought the records from that over to our regular vet, and today was the anniversary. She needed no shots (go figure- McPets gives three-year vaccinations for everything while ours insists on annuals), but we wanted to have her condition checked out.

Eleanor reports:

Last night I wrote the vets a long note.  I explained how I perceived the time after that day.  The discovery of a probable abscess next to the tumor, which burst and cleaned itself out (stinky, but ultimately that corrected itself).  My getting trained in mixing and applying essential oils.  Watching and waiting and checking on the tumor, which went from raw hamburger red to a soft rose color. How it seemed at times to be shrinking, or at least not growing virulently, as we'd come to expect.

And how does the patient seem these days?  According to the vet, everything looks normal (other than the tumor).  She has not gained or lost so much as an ounce.  She was her usual sassy self when I put her into the carrier.

She allowed the vet to look at her mouth, which is remarkable - cats are finicky about things like that.  The vet told me that it's normal, with cats who have oral cancer, for the lymph nodes on that side of the body to become hard, and the animal is distinctly uncomfortable having them felt, which is how they are examined.  With Zoey, her lymph nodes are nice and squishy, and she wasn't at all skittish about having them examined.  Along that line, I explained that when I chant, I often hold Zoey's head in my hands, and she actively solicits rubbing along the side of her head where the tumor lies.

We left it that we would continue to have her examined yearly, unless something changed.  The shots she got last year at the Petsmart vet practice are good for three years.  The vet said that if she seemed to need it, an antibiotic would be readily available.  Other than that, she said she wouldn't recommend that we change a thing about her care. 

Her opinion of why she's doing so well, given the original diagnosis, is that it was misdiagnosed.  Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common type of cancer found in cats' mouths, and it kills quickly, usually within a few months.  Perhaps this is some other form of cancer. 

I am thrilled, humbled, and determined to carry on and enjoy this amazing little wonder.  Nam myoho renge kyo.

That last sentence is the Nichirin Buddhist mantra that she chants twice daily, often with Zoey in her lap or at her side, headbutting and purring. They do not believe in cross-species reincarnation, but if they did, Zo would be a fitting candidate for having practiced it in a previous life.

Whatever you believe, even if only in the Mets, we are more than accepting of Miracles.

(Oh, and the most surprising thing for me from that visit? The bit about her not having gained any weight in well over a year This is proof of the power of optical illusion. When the two 8-week-old kittens came to us in October, it seemed like Zoey gained about five pounds overnight. But it all turns out to be relative. Pepper has definitely lost weight, between me making an effort to walk her longer most days and cutting back her kibble/adding veggies to her diet. Evil Cat was probably wasting away to her final fighting weight barely above the kittens. Zoey just LOOKED bigger. These days, she looks about the same as the new guy, who might actually weigh slightly more than she does.)


Speaking of the new guy, and of optical illusions....

Jack disappeared for a good portion of the day today.  He was more elusive than the CAN YOU FIND THE CAT in this meme that has resurfaced recently:

(Google "CAN YOU FIND THE CAT," or tilt the old maid 90 degrees to help.)

Eleanor left for work today a little later than usual. She'd reported that Zo had been plenty feisty getting into her carrier for the vet trip, so once I got some work out this morning, I thought it would be a good idea to hang with the new guy in case she was still acting snitty after her return. Jack was AWOL when I got home, and for the whole time I was here, there was no sign of him.  Eventually I started checking possible hiding and/or sticking places: in the cellar, various closets, even the ceiling in the finished side of the basement where a former beloved cat named Biggsy used to hang out when things got too crazy around here. No reply at all.  I felt a little guilt, because even though I'd ordered a custom tag for him and a collar to match, in the first 36 hours I hadn't managed to wrestle it onto him.  (He is chipped, but we haven't registered it to us yet, and the information on his original vet records from Tennessee is inconclusive about what company's database contains the chip data.)

Still, I wasn't worried. He'd shown no inclination to try to sneak out of the house. And while Bronzini managed to dumpster-dive into the ductwork on his first night in the house (we had to pry it open downstairs to rescue him), Jack was way too big to do that now, plus he's quite the talker-squeaker and I'm sure even I would have heard him if he'd been in distress.

Sure enough, when Eleanor was the first one home tonight, there was no sign of him, until there was. Marching around like nothing had happened. Because of course nothing had.  I made damn sure, though, that we got that collar on him-

- and as long as the Alert Secret Service Agents had seized him and wrestled him to the ground for that, I threw in his first much needed semi-mani-pedi.  His initial reaction to THAT be all, I'm outta here- see ya in two weeks. Put food through the cat door.

He is now known as ....

♫Jackavity the Mystery Cat,
His hiding place still hides,
He drives the humans crazy
While he's on his secret rides

He's much bigger than his brother
And not much smaller than the pup,
But when he disappears himself-
Is he down or is he up?-

He could be here hiding anyplace,
It really isn't fair,
For when we worry bout this cat
Jackavity's NOT THERE!♫


This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1628593.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Jack Attack

♫The deal was made through PayPal, then on a dark and stormy day,
We headed back to Rochester, to take our Jack away......♫

Don't worry, though; nobody's headless.  And we ultimately resorted to just giving Jack's foster a pile of cash money, because hitting an ATM was easier than screwing around with finding wifi in an unfamiliar neighborhood.*

As we recounted our longtime furbaby history to this woman younger than our own kid, though, we realized that our first, almost 33 years ago, was adopted from friends who lived about three blocks from her very home.  We lived in Rochester at the time, so the drive was shorter. Yesterday's drive was fine, but once we got there and put our masks on, the elastic on the left side of mine snapped. Eleanor managed to jerry-rig it onto the rim of my glasses, so we entered safely, and there he was. Bigger than we expected- from best-we-can-tell records, he's actually two weeks younger than Bronzini and his lost bro, but here, in one of their first encounters, you can see the size difference:

In his bright, comfy home with one of his own litter-or-sheltermates, he was very at ease with us- purring up a storm, playing with (non-electrical) wires, giving the occasional non-yowly MEW. Those escalated on the drive home, as Jack's not much for car rides, but he eventually corked off on the hour drive back. Then it was time for meet and greet, and it went reasonably well. There were a few hisses, the occasional human reaction of "LANGUAGE!," but mostly they played rope-a-dope with each other.  Jack eventually claimed space under the coffee table as his initial preferred spot. I took to calling it the Jackcave and thought about sending up a Jacksignal in case we needed him.

By tonight, though, he had captured the castle- the kitty condo Eleanor built after the pair came home, and which both Zini and Zoey have taken to at various times. The little guy seemed offput once Jack got up there, retreating to the kitchen and harumphing:

Jack likes open windows, laser pointers and quiet time while he gets to know this weird new place. He's seemed most comfortable with the dog than with any of the other species choices, so far.  Pepper, along with the other two cats, pretty much kept to their overnight and morning routines today, sleeping (and waking-the-human) near me like they always do and eating on their set schedules. We're not sure if Jack has set feeding times or just grazes from kibble, but he still seems to have plenty of energy.

It's all a work in progress, but we think we've got good matches all the way around.

Boz has been very much in and top of mind, as we see Jack not as a replacement but as a continuation. That little Poohbear in the castle bed was one Eleanor gave the little guy in his failing weeks, and we've given it to Bronzini, and now to Jack, so they will always know there was a little kitten with a huge heart.

* ETA. Oops, I forgot that we DID have to hop on the wifi there, to e-sign the Offishul Adopt-y-One Agreement for this guy. Our hostess graciously let us connect to hers, which was conveniently named FUCK TRUMP. There was also a FUCK TRUMP 5G. Either would work, she said. She was quite right:)
This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1628409.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Eventually.

It's April, the infield grass is riz,
I wonder where my tickets is!

It's yet another surreal turn as the Lost 2020 becomes the Uncertain 2021.  I punched the second chit in my vaccination passport on Wednesday, and, had I been crazy enough to do it, could have been fully qualified to attend the Mets' home opener a mere 21 hours later.

Instead we found out we're getting a kitten today. Maybe JACK could've gotten Jacob deGrom some run support yesterday:P

Not that I'm planning to visit the Queen of Corona anytime soon, anyway. Tickets on the official site begin at over $100, and while SchmubHub shows things as little as six bucks, I have no idea if they're even allowing secondary-market admissions at this point.  Plus, I don't want to travel that far or expose beyond necessity until the effectiveness and availability of vaccination have become better known and distributed.

Besides, we have teams closer to here, right?


As my mother used to say, it's compicated.

We have two minor league teams at the top level of the sport near here, both of whom I've followed and attended games at for ages.  Neither played a single game last summer.  Locally, the Bisons graciously turned over their unused home field to their parent club from Toronto, which was shutout of their home dome due to the border closure. The Jays played most of their shortened 2020 home season in our own downtown, but only in front of cardboard cutouts. No accessible viewing points (I tried and got shooed), and no television of the games, either.

The border remains shut, and Toronto, now playing early "home" games at their training base in Florida, still plans to settle into their closer-to-home home sometime mid-season, after renovations to suit their millionaire players are complete:

To accommodate the scheduling of major league games and to complete the renovations, our Triple-A team has announced that they will begin their delayed 2021 "home" season at a former Double-A stadium in Trenton, New Jersey. That venue was abandoned by the Lords of Baseball in the off-season's Great Minor League Purge, so Your Buffalo Bisons will play their first several weeks of home games as Their Trenton Thunder.  On the road, they will revert to being the Bisons again.  By August, they may be the Oregon State Hospital Schizophrenics.

As usual, I have questions. Will Buster show up at Jersey games and get into knife fights with Boomer?

Will Conehead be allowed to sell his famed beer from the Trenton stands or does he have to pay protection to Paulie Walnuts first?  And will the usual theme from The Natural play when a Bison Thunderer cracks a home run?

More seriously, if they wanted to move the team to a venue left high and dry, why not Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, a mere 30 miles away? That city's team been kicked out of professional baseball and the park reduced to a schedule of college-amateur players in the shuffle.

But at least the Jays will be here, and their home fans are still oot and verbooten from crossing the border to see them. Though the Mets are not on their 2021 "home" schedule for some reason, there'll be real major league play, and living breathing fans in the stands, once the field renos are complete. Here's what they have to say about that:

Can I buy tickets for Blue Jays games at Sahlen Field?

  • There are no tickets or group hospitality areas currently on sale for any games at Sahlen Field in 2021. If the Blue Jays end up playing home games in Buffalo, NY, ticket availability will be announced on Bisons.com.

Can I get on a waiting list to purchase Blue Jays tickets?

  • There is no waiting list for the right to purchase Blue Jays tickets. Should the Blue Jays play games at Sahlen Field in 2021, existing Bisons season ticket holders and pack holders will be given the first right to purchase those tickets (details to be announced).

It's like adopting a rescue. Don't call us, child, we'll call you!


At least Rochester doesn't have these major complicating issues. The grass is grown, the schedule's set, the home opener's May 18th (at night, the huh?). Sign me up!

Um, that would be a no:

This is your ballpark. Enjoy it!

Look, I get it- the regulations are necessary and change all the time. Yet somehow we got a few thousand fans into Citi and Yankee earlier this month.  I just get a bad feeling that all the limited seats are going to wind up in the hands of corporate sponsors and ticket bots.

Or I could easily attend one of the final remaining Sabres games, where seats are plentiful.  But if they have a sanity as well as a COVID test, that'd land me in Oregon State Hospital, and I've really lost my taste for Juicy Fruit.

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And now, a prompt that mostly isn't....

This is a post that's been germinating for a bit. It was almost brought out of the Repressed Memory Anxiety Closet a few weeks ago, when somebody asked us to write about the most famous person was that we personally knew who'd been made into a movie character. I've lived a fairly non-famous Upstate life these past almost 45 years,  but my hometown of East Meadow has a few I have or might have met: former Met pitcher Frank Viola, Broadway playwright Richard Greenberg, and Nets legend Julius Erving (mostly a Roosevelt kid but some sources say he lived there) were all around in the 70s, but none achieved film fame that I know of. 

This guy did:

I vaguely remember a movie being made, not too long ago, about the story of the notorious killer who I'd known since elementary school. When I found this was streaming for free on Amazon Prime, I felt a need to watch it, much like the one to slow down to watch a really bad road accident, and so I tried.

I failed. It is utterly unwatchable. The soundtrack, of both music and effects, is nails-on-a-blackboard loud.  The flashback sex scenes are something out of a 1960s stag reel (some of them may BE scenes from a 1960s stag reel), and at least in the first half hour there is absolutely no East Meadow authenticity. They change the name of his street, show a generic non-EMHS high school and a totally different hospital than the one in our town where his father died, and the street scenes are stock rolls of Capes, not his neighborhood or probably anywhere in the 11554. They don't even mention East Meadow that I caught, referring only to "Long Island."

There is only one reason to even think of for watching this drek, and that's to see the portrayal by an actor named Arnold Odo, in what so far is his first and only screen role. I last saw Joel well over a decade before the earliest events portrayed, but he NAILS the depiction, at least in terms of appearance aged out to his late 20s.

But he's come to mind many times in the 40-plus years since our paths last crossed.


He was a misfit. Uncoordinated for sport. Interested in things none of the cool kids were. Sound familiar?  I wouldn't say we were ever friends, but I was in his house at least once to check out a stamp collection in that fleeting phase of my life. We stopped mostly being in the same classes by junior high- he had an undiagnosed learning disability and tracking put him and me on different paths- but by senior year we wound up on the same newspaper staff. I've previously posted my yearbook picture that I share with him- in mine, another evil friend drew an arrow through his head- but this one's clean and directly from the pages of  Résumé '77, with all the names named:

(I'm also in the bottom one from another staff, but up top that's Joel in the corner, one Corey away from me and my tacky 70s Qiana shirt.)

After the later events, word came out about how mean kids were to him. He ran track just to literally get away from the bullying, and the jocks on that and other teams did unthinkable things- locking him into places and getting cheerleader types to flirt with him.  We fellow nerds on the paper just used words: our final senior issue contained a "Last Will and Testament" of inside jokes about faculty and fellow students; our advisor censored us giving our least favorite gym teacher a "grammar school equivalency diploma," but he had no trouble with us leaving Joel "a shade for the lamp in his darkroom." See, he was the photo editor. Wukka wukka.

Years later, almost everybody agreed that if we'd added a yearbook poll question of "most likely to chop up 17 hookers in his mother's garage," Joel would have been close to the bottom of the list.  I'd have nominated another kid- he went to one of the other three elementaries that fed into our junior high, and when he was bullied, he acted out, stabbing people with pens and whatever else was at his disposal. But he either didn't have any diagnosable disabilities or had been treated for them, and by graduation he was just another nerdy kid. You know, like me.

Meanwhile, Joel never crossed my mind for seven years in universities and for almost another decade of practice, marriage and fatherhood- until calls started coming though in the summer of 1993. First from old friends, then from the State Police. Did I remember him? Duh, I'm two away from him in a yearbook picture. Any contact since then? None, though he did attend college briefly in Brockport, perhaps when I was either in school just  to the west or living just to the east. And was there anything in his behavior back then that he might try to use for an insanity defense? Um, he was weird, but if that's a crime you'd better arrest about 600 of us in that class. 

A pulp paperback about it came out that I still have someplace. Then the biopic from a few years ago. But apparently what made that wonderful old photo surface just now is that someone's decided to documentarize him on the Oxygen network, debuting this very day:

What would it be like to learn your loved one was capable of multiple brutal murders?

That was the nightmare Jeanne Rifkin and Jan Rifkin experienced after they learned their son and brother, respectively, had admitted he killed not just one, but a total of 17 women.

Joel Rifkin, who is the focus of Oxygen’s new special “Rifkin on Rifkin: Private Confessions of a Serial Killer,” targeted sex workers in New York City. From 1989 to 1993, he’d cruise the streets, pick women up, and strangle them before disposing of their bodies throughout the greater metropolitan area.

We dumped cable a few years back except for a few local and sports/film related sites, so I cannot sit and endure this yet. But those who have done so report that it's chilling.  I will share one other story about that unfortunate family from a few years ago, though.


In addition to the famousish people above, East Meadow has produced a number of published writers who've made a living, or at least an avocation, out of the craft.  I've known some of them for  years- Clea Simon and a number of mystery series collections, and Susan Breen, who I knew from church as Sue Zelony, who's done both non-fiction and a novel about an aging parent titled, fittingly, The Fiction Class. Others, I've met either through them or other online sources. One is a just-retired NYC teacher a few years younger than me named Tim O'Mara. He's got a series of murder mystery novels featuring a part-time detective named Raymond Donne. A few years ago, he released Dead Red, third in the series, and he gave a reading at our old hometown library on a night I was headed to the area for other things. I stopped in, introduced myself IRL for the first time, and also met his older brother, who was a year behind me in high school. I didn't know him before, either, so when he asked what year I was and I said '77, his brow furrowed and he said, "Ohhhhhh. Joel!"

I nodded. You know the old Groucho Marx line about not wanting to belong to any club that would have him as a member? That's "Club Joel" for pretty much anyone who grew up there. He started to lean into tales of who knows what, but before he could get far, Tim shushed him:

His sister's here!

Yup, there was Jan in the front row. I never would have recognized her without the cue, but my mind went straight to boggle. She was several years younger than her brother and me- maybe knew Tim in high school?- and I remember that Joel's father had been active on the library board, but what the motivation was for the sister of a brutal killer to be checking out murder novelists in her free time?  Whatever it was, I'll never know; I listened through the reading, queued up for my autographed copy, and never saw her in the line or anytime after.  We'd heard the crime-scene house sold several years before that for over 300K, well below its original asking price. Smaller ones like our childhood home now routinely go there for over half a million. I doubt even his house got any bullshit from appraisers like we just did.

So now it's all bubbling up again. I'm told at least one still-friend of mine, same age as us who grew up on Joel's street, makes an appearance in the documentary. Freddie, an accomplished jazz-ska musician, also turned the tale into a song by his band called "Nasty By Nature," so I think we'll put this tale to an early DEATH by linking to that:


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