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A Møøse once bit my sister ...
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It's been almost a week since we finalized our plans, packed up Eleanor's car, and ventured- out of country, out of state, out of comfort zone- for a whole almost day.  The three-plus-a-bit days at work this week since returning have been a mixture of good and weird: I won (at least partially) a case yesterday, found one missing client, made progress on how to deal with another missing one; but also dealt with a clusterfudge of an issue for much of today, plus throughout the week have had all the background-noise distractions of our Presidency collapsing at a breakneck pace.

My only comment on the latter- sing along with this, replacing "mahna-mahna" with "Emol-uments"-



But that's for another time.

I worked briefly Friday morning, mostly on one of the missing client situations, and finally packed it in around lunchtime so we could get to our Airbnb by the 3 p.m. checkin time.  The weather was fine, the traffic not too congested either at the border or on the expressways, and other than ignoring Siri's original advice to drive completely around Lake Erie to get to Toronto-



- we took the more direct route, found the place barely two turns off the Gardiner, were parked outside it right by the appointed hour....

and were inside something like half an hour later.  My bad; I'd printed the directions to the place (and our reservation for the show that night), but not the Airbnb email with the exact location of the apartment in the unit or how to get inside it.  There'd been emails with that, but we were now in the very foreign Land of Rogers, where email access was impossible until you either got on the wifi (hard to do without the password for it inside the house) or bought a data package (nasty business- 60 bucks US for 30 days, no refund or rollover).  I went with the latter, and eventually found we were to open the yellow door-



- yes, that one, and then key in a four-digit code on a keypad in the hallway. 

It was our first time with this host-free accommodation experience.  There have been plenty of traditional hotel and motel rooms over the years, and we (and I in pre-married days) did B&B trips in the US, Canada and the UK- but those were of rooms in lived-in homes with the owner right there.

Jose, our host for this trip, lived just behind the building, but we never actually saw him, nor did we need to once we were inside.  For barely more than my cost in late August for a single-bedded studio-size motel room on Long Island, we had essentially an entire apartment to ourselves.  Small, but more than we'd need; a full kitchen, television setup-



- complete with a Mister Bean DVD to watch if we chose, full beds at either end of the place and a functional bath featuring perhaps the smallest sink we'd ever encountered, but what were going to be doing? Bobbing for curling stones?

And the art throughout-







As I said, we never met our hosts in person, but I've rarely felt more welcome:)

----

The plan was for Eleanor to get some downtime before the show, and while she tried that, I set out along the commercial strip of West Dundas Street that we were barely a block from.  It shows on maps as "Little Portugal," and you can see that heritage in much of the neighbourhood, with the old-school butcher and Brazilian currency exchange place and the all-encompassing general store (armazém geral, more likely), sharing the street with the Not Tragically Hipsters:



Those three were all within about a block of each other; further west toward the concert venue, another mixture: We cut hair, you can smoke weed here, let's get together;)



I walked just far enough to realize the venue was quite a bit further west on Dundas, so I went back for the car and navigated the very different world of Toronto Traffic. Lots more one-way streets, way more buses, the TTC's still-functioning light-rail streetcars, and far more bicyclists than I see around here in a month.  I found the club, and found no convenient parking for it-yet. (Signs said we could park right in front, but only after 6.) So I turned onto the first side street, which happened to be the site of the first attempted overnight stay I tried to book; just as nice a neighbourhood, but I'll stick with the one we found next time, thanks:)  I walked back to the club, past a cool record shop with actual Homer and Jethro vinyl in the doorway, up to the door of the club, which I found locked, and next to it, this sign:



I had a moment of utter panic. This was Friday night, which in both our country and theirs was October 11th. We were there to see Dar Williams.  Had I screwed up the booking and missed her the night before?

Well, no. If you read from bottom to top, you will confirm that the dates are to the right of the artists' names.  And that locked door was the emergency exit.  The real entry was to the right of the sign, and they were more than happy to confirm our dinner reservation, and make sure that we would have two seats together at the six-top that was all I could book when this show was announced. (They call them "join-up tables," and for most of the evening there were only one or two other people at it with us.)

An hour later, we were back there together for dinner before the show. You don't go to these for the cuisine- it was exquisitely meh, eh?-  but the atmosphere and coming show made up for it. One of the staff sat down with us to explain the history of Hugh's Room- like our own Tralf, which I'd visited and chronicled here last month, this club had a legacy of bringing the cooler, smaller, uniquer acts to town, but couldn't compete with the Big Boys of entertainment for the almighty Loonie and it, like the Tralf, became a non-profit entity to carry on the tradition.  Their Wall of Fame was full of many we've seen, or at least loved in recorded form- from Mary Fahl (there next week) to Beth Neilsen Chapman, to these guys, who I've never seen in concert but know from covers they've done:



(Maybe Siri was trying to send us to Ohio in search of these guys;)


We had over an hour until the opener came on, and we'd each brought a book. Eleanor's choice was Linda Ronstadt's autobiography from 2013 (we saw the documentary about her a few weeks ago and have been catching up on her 40 years of musicmaking); I brought the book I first saw at the Mets gathering two Fridays before, about the post-baseball lives of some of my 1969 heroes.  Our waiter saw Eleanor's book, and asked her who Linda Ronstadt was. Yes, we were in a music club, with Joni Mitchell and Richie Havens on the wall, and this kid hadn't heard of "You're No Good" or "Living in the USA." (Yes, I know we were in Canada, but come on.)  Meanwhile, a guy at the table next to me saw my book, co-written by 1969 Met Art Shamsky. HE knew who Art was, even though (a) the Mets of that era never played in Toronto and (b) I doubt the guy was even close to 50 years old, which would have been required to have seen him play anywhere.

A chapter or two later, the lights dimmed, and Dar's opener came out. We're probably bigger fans of Antje Duvekot than of the headliner, even though we've known of Dar and her music for much longer. We'd seen Antje twice much closer to home- opening for Lucy Kaplansky, and then headlining herself early last year- and her two most recent albums are among our most-played. 



She only did maybe six of her songs, including one or two from her earlier album which we did not have- until that night.  I picked it up between sets, and she was incredibly gracious and unassuming, signing for everyone (before going back to her table for Dar's performance, one away from our own). I have no idea where the autograph came from- I never even told her my name this time- but I love it:)



She signed it to "Mark." Apparently, he is my good musical twin; a few months back, I picked up a CD from another Buffalo Friends of Folk alum in a used record bin for five bucks, also autographed to someone named Mark.  (I may see the singer before another concert tomorrow night, and I'm bringing that CD so he can re-autograph it to us;)

Then Dar came on, Antje joining her on harmony for a couple of songs. We knew most of them, loved all of them. She tells amazing stories of their origins, her own travels and thinking, and joining this sympathetic audience of mostly Canadians, she implored, at one point, Pray for us. (This from a singer who might be best known for a song about pagans;)  She caught me expecting the wrong song from her setup a couple of times; talking about her introduction to FM in the 70s/early 80s, and specifically calling out her love of (and the current bad state of) New York's WBAI, I expected "FM Radio" but got "Are You Out There" instead; and "Christians and the Pagans" wasn't the seasonal song I was expecting at the end but rather we got "February."

 

(I found this review of the show we saw, with some much better photos of both performers.)

We did indeed get to park right outside the club, and were at our away-home and asleep in short order.  Our only issue with the residence was warmth, as in too much; they had their thermostat code-protected, I imagine to conserve, but in our case we just wanted to turn things down and wound up opening windows with the heat on.  Saturday morning, I headed back into the neighbourhood for caffeine and a bit more exploring; the coffee bar shown above was quiet and lovely, with a song on their music system from Andrew Gold, Linda Ronstadt's longtime bandleader who died in 2011.  We packed our few things, and made those two turns back to the Gardiner Expressway,....

which was closed for Thanksgiving.  We'd never heard of an expressway closed for Thanksgiving before, so we meandered along Lake Shore Boulevard, a much more interesting journey than flying by car dealers and billboards on the Gardiner, and eventually hooked back onto the still-open QEW.  I'd stupidly made a grooming appointment for Pepper for 1:30 that afternoon, and while we left in plenty of ordinary time for that, the detour ate at least half an hour, and then the return border trip was promised, in multiple expressway signs, as 30-60 minutes for cars. 

I'd been told (thanks,

[personal profile] warriorsavant) that Thanksgiving is not as big a deal in Canada as our month-later food-football coma is, which probably explains why

90-plus percent of the US bound traffic had Ontario plates.  The lanes were almost all open but moving slowly, particularly when the SUV with rear-window stick figures got to the one we were locked into.  That car got a full once, twice, three times a once-over, and they then plopped a cone behind it.



(Sheesh, did it have to be orange?!?)

Eventually, Immigration Man removed it, we showed our documents and empty pockets, I got yelled at because I didn't await his official Okee Dokee before pulling up to the booth, and we were safely back on native soil, just as the groomer called to tell me Pepper's appointment was actually at one, not 1:30.

My bad again.  Ultimately, she made it, got groomed, just in time for walkies a day or so later where we passed what I thought was an early 2020 campaign sign:



Then again, maybe it IS a sign for Cheeto: stump grinders are low to the ground, make a lot of noise, and kill living things:P

----

We did a lot of things around the house Sunday, both returned to work Monday, attended our first lecture series event at Kleinhans last night, and I will be checking in with more music over the next several nights.  And not a single Emol-u-ment to be found;)

 

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Begun in Little Portugal, Toronto- finished at home many hours later.

We're winding down today from an amazing night of music last night, which I'll get to posting about once all the photos get sorted, but I did want to continue the story from the other day about how The Fates, Gods and Unfaeries were all dead set against me getting into law school and starting to do what I've been doing for the past 35 years.

Sometime in late summer 1980, my Board scores came- good but not great. (The last post maybe explains the "not great" part.) Still not entirely all-in on this quest, I picked a mere four law schools to try applying to, based on very limited knowledge of reputations, finances and future prospects. All were within New York State. To the west, UB, or as it was then clumsily going as, SUNYABFOLAJ.1 (I'll footnote that, eventually.2) Closer to my original home, NYU and Columbia at opposite ends of Manhattan. Last but least likely, Cornell itself; it could fill its first year class with undergrad applicants already on campus, and of course didn't. (Had I started this quest a year or two sooner, I could have applied to a six-year BA/JD program through Cornell's Arts College designed to select the bulk of those nearby undergrads, but alas I missed that boat.)

I remember applying to all four. Cornell sent the promptest and most expected "no thanks." NYU soon followed. Columbia was nice enough to waitlist me. Other than those terminal facts, I remember nothing about their applications. UB's, on the other hand, I remember intimately- precisely because a terminal was involved.

----

I learned computer programming on punch cards.



(If it weren't for zinc oxide, you wouldn't have that high speed card reader ::ding!::)

Ah, but this was 1980. The Dark Ages were ending. The Mac was probably in development- not at Apple, but at Xerox, who never made a dime off their technology- and IBM was already preparing to transition from their building-size mainframes to machines that would fit in a workplace room, if not on your desk: Big Blue’s proposal to personalize its big HAL-style mainframes was something called CMS:

CMS (Conversational Monitor System) is a product that comes with IBM's VM/ESA operating system and allows each of many simultaneous interactive users to appear to have an entire mainframe computer at their personal disposal. Almost as old as IBM's MVSoperating sysem, VM/ESA (generally known as "VM") and CMS originated at IBM's Cambridge Scientific Center in 1964. VM provides an extra layer of programming below an operating system, called the control program that handles the actual machine operation of the computer. The control program lets each operating system, such as MVS and CMS, appear to be in sole charge of the computer - effectively, creating a virtual machine . CMS goes a step further and lets each CMS user appear to have their own personal operating system.

From the University’s giant computing building located miles off campus near Tompkins County International Airstrip, it ran tentacles to campus offices and a handful of computer labs, with CRT monitors and Decwriter printers simulating your having your own almost personal computer- years before that term would become popular.

I probably discovered these either in my one Computer Science course- the one with the punch cards- or down in the computing lab of Uris Hall where the interactive PLATO machine resided for my ill-fated ear training for Music Theory I. They really did simulate the soon-to-come DOS-like environment reasonably well; you entered a login and password, and got a menu of options, which allowed you to write or run your own code, or just plain text in primordial Word-y files, save them to and retrieve them from the mainframe, and maybe, if you Knew A Guy, get access to computer games and programs that would let you make posters of Snoopy saying things on a 5-foot-wide sign.



Like that.

Actual employees at Cornell used the full power of CMS for varied applications. I was high-up enough in the dining-hall food chain to have access to the meal planning and forecasting program. My boss Dick Grout's login was "y4t" and his password was "hock." Yes, I still remember that; "strong passwords" were clearly many decades away. Student users were kept behind virtual velvet ropes and only allowed to access portions of the Big Brain, through an operating system known as SCMS; the first S stood for "subset" or "student." I forget which- along with whatever my login and password were. It was mostly simple programs and Super Star Trek for me, but this one night, in the business school computer lab,....

----

I brought UB's application with me. All of this was done by snail mail and typed paper back then. I had one, and only one, application form to fill in and send back; driving to Amherst for a replacement was out of the question, given time, finances and the fact that I was then driving a deathtrap of a 1971 Ford that would die on its first trip up there after I got admitted and re-die many times more over my first law school semester.

So I wanted to get it right. The fill-in-the-blank sections were easy enough, and I likely did those on my trusty Smith-Corona electric. But then there was the essay. I couldn't tell you the subject, or how I chose to approach it. I do remember it would fit on one page of that precious original application form. From that came the Brilliant Idea: I would code it into my SCMS account, save it as essay.txt (I think the system presaged the eventual DOS filename and type structure), print it on the green-and-white DECwriter paper, proofread the living crap out of it, make the needed corrections, and when it was ab-fab, I'd put the actual application page in (by now, printers had adjustable rollers you could substitute for the Godzilla toilet paper stock), hit print, and impress the shit out of John Henry Schlegel or whichever admissions guru would be reviewing things.

Which I did, that night, in that exact order, burning the oil in Malott Hall, at roughly 11:59 p.m.

You may ask: why, if I don't remember the subject, or the response, or the date, or much of anything else, do I remember that time so well?

Go back up to that mumbo jumbo at the top. This "virtual machine" was really just channeling an infinitesmally small portion of the massive computing power of an IBM mainframe probably bigger than your or my elementary school. And one of the things it was apparently programmed to do, at the stroke of midnight every night, was to stop everything it was doing and tell Dave in the Master Control Room that a new day had virtually dawned and that everything was A-O-K.

This manifested itself on my one and only available application page in the middle of a paragraph, by stopping what I was saying, scrolling up three lines, printing the magic words that looked something like

VM370/168 CMS v. 79.13.21 YYYY/MM/DD 00:00:00 SYSTEM NORMAL

and then going on with whatever it was I had told it to print.

Insert more than seven words you can't say on television. (The case about that was barely a year or two old at the time, but I knew about it, and all seven of the words.) I was well and truly third-worded. I had an unsubmittable page of an application.

Do I remember what I did? No. Can I guess? This is my best: I suspect I was saved by Xerox- the very company that was, at that very moment, being third-worded out of its corporate future by Steve Jobs having stolen technology from its west coast research facility just a year before. (Or not.)

I'm pretty sure that I just cleaned up my vomit, reprinted the essay on a clean sheet of letter-sized paper, scissor-and-scotch-taped it over the HAL-itosised page which I then tore from the application book, put it and the preceding or following page on a reliable old Xerox 914, threw in a shitload of dimes, and stapled them into the package and hoped UB wouldn't notice.

They didn't- or didn't care. I got in. In fact, they wanted me so badly, they wouldn't defer my admission when I had weeble-wobbles about it several months later. That's Part III of this two-part story, which isn't nearly as interesting and which I may never tell. But after the kerfuffle on the law boards and now this, it certainly makes everything I've accomplished in the almost 40 years since seem much more deserved.

----

1 From its founding in 1847 until its takeover by SUNY in 1962, UB was simply the University of Buffalo, and its constituent law school simply Buffalo Law School or UB Law School. By the late 70s, academicians and acronymophiles had gotten involved, and UB had grown to SUNYAB, not to be confused with SUNYBSC across town or any of the other 60 SUNYs. The Law School became the Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence, one of six Faculties which made up SUNYAB's Hexangle of Doom logo from the era. Legend has it that the FOLAJ was intended to be divided into a School of Law AND a School of Jurisprudence, but then the state ran out of money about a week before running out of shitty ideas.

2 See? Told you I would;)


 


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God didn't want me to go to law school.  On at least two occasions, He made that rather clear.

It's not like it was destiny or anything. I was no Oliver Barrett IV, born and bred to follow in the legal footsteps of I, II and III. Hell, just getting a B.A. was the immediate-family record on my side until Emily tied it five years ago.  But after my first three years of a broad undergraduate education, I'd discovered several things about myself:

- I couldn't play, write or even listen to music with skills that would be professionally useful (I was assisted in figuring out the "listening" part of that by a primordial Internettish system called PLATO, which Cornell officially allowed me to use in my sophomore year for ear training but which unofficially introduced me to Star Trek-related video games);

- One introductory computer science course told me I had an aptitude for programming, but not the intestinal fortitude to keep up with the science and engineering majors who'd been, yes, programmed from a far earlier age to go into it;

- I would never speak or understand Spanish beyond a rudimentary ¿Dónde está el baño? kind of way;

- Although I'd declared as an English major from the get-go, I did not have the deep desire to read enough for graduate school, the creativity to become a full-time fiction author, or the tolerance of smart-ass 19-olds to spend the next 40 years teaching smart-ass 19-year-olds.

And so, armed with some limited knowledge of one weird building on our campus, one student therefrom who still wrote for the Cornell Sun, and a brief reading of Scott Turow's nonfiction account of being a 1L, I checked out the requirements for a J.D., which, back then, I pretty much took to stand for Just Delaying.

----

Unlike medical schools, which largely began dictating prepatory curricula from nursery school onward (Bio 000000000.3- How to Sterlize Your Pillow During Nap), law schools neither required nor even recommended particular courses or majors. Get a well-rounded education!, they said. (We want those skulls all full of mush so we can mess with them ourselves!, they meant.) Whether a result or prelude, only one of my first three years of undergrad courses had the word "Law" in the title- Communications Law, taught by a Sun advisor and Ag school professor named Dale Grossman, retired but still kicking as of a year ago:) 

But there was a test. There's always a test. I'd done well at these. In elementary school, I blew the doors off third-grade assessments so loudly, they offered to ship me to a gifted student program at a nearby elementary school in the district and accelerate my graduation by a year.  We passed on that, but years later my SATs were Cornell-worthy, so this  next round in 1980 would now be taking the law school equivalent of that assessment- then, as now, known as the  L_SAT.

(Fun fact: there is no underscore in that, but my blogging software keeps autocorrecting the four letters L, S, A and T to "Last."  So D_E_A_L when I refer to it with that extra _.)

Although "known" by the same name back then, the test itself was not the same as it's been for most of the decades since.  The 1980 admission exam I took was essentially an amped-up cousin to the verbal section of the college-entry SAT I'd taken four years before, and scored on the same scale minus a digit, so 20-to-80, not 200-to-800.  It included reading comprehension, analogies, and similar verbal-burbles you could work out entirely in your head.  The only scoring difference from the SAT is the Legal Eagles took points off for wrong answers, so guessing was discouraged.  Another difference: undergraduate programs accepted your highest SAT score, but  law schools considered your average L_SAT score after repeat takes- unless, say, something weird happened on the day you took it.

As, of course, it did for me.

----

A Saturday, in the Hall, I think it was the middle of June. 

For my second straight summer, I was living in Ithaca, working in the dining facilities, living on Highland Road and honing my nooz skillz for the upcoming semester on The Sun- but I'd dropped whatever the then-modest fee was to take the L_SAT at Myron Taylor Hall, home of the Cornell Law School.

No Kaplan course, no sample exams beyond the questions in the book they sent with the registration materials.  This was a lark, and I treated it as such.  We took our seats in Myron's cafeteria, were thumbprinted (don't recall that for the SAT, but law school stakes were higher, apparently), handed our bubble-covered answer sheets and DO NOT UNSEAL AND BEGIN UNTIL TOLD TO DO SO exam books, and, we were off.

Two pages in, we were WAY off.

There, at the bottom of page three, no bottom of page three.  Question 5 on the bottom, and Question 7 behind it on page 4, were missing.  You could see the hand-torn tear in the page. This was no printer's error; this was what Bugs Bunny once referred to as



I raised my hand. The proctor did not notice. I did my best Horshack imitation:

</site-embed>

via GIPHY



Okay, maybe not that much.

Instead, I was well and truly forked. As in fork in the road.  The proctor said, in essence:

You wanna be a lawyer? Well, here's your first lesson in election of remedies: You can stop right now, no score reported, and get a free retake next time, still in time to apply for the fall of 1981. Or you can siddown and shaddap and not answer two freakin questions out of however many are in that book.

I had less than 30 seconds to decide.  Final Jeopardy! gets you more.  Hmmmmmbupbupbupbup That retake would be during the fall semester, with classes and newspaper and 20-plus hours a week of work and maybe even a girlllllll, and I'm here, and it's just two questions, and I really don't care anyway, and.....

I saddown. I shaddapped. I finished the incomplete exam and turned in my page of bubbles.

Weeks later, I got my score. I forget what it was. Something equivalent to mid-to-upper 600s on SAT verbal.  Enough to sail into UB. Not enough for Cornell or NYU. Just below Columbia, who waitlisted me (I'd committed to UB before they ever got to me).

(I said there was a second Sign From God about this whole process. I'm saving that for another post.)

-----

What reminded me of all this was something that wasn't on my L_SAT, and which, after many changes, isn't on it anymore.

The test itself, and the scoring scale, went through many changes after they took it off the stone tablets which I was subjected to (try filling in bubbles with a chisel;).  For one thing, the reported scaled score stopped tracking the 20-to-80 SAT analog sometime in the 80s; you now get something between a 120 and a 180, with 150 being the median.  They also added a writing sample component, but also, until recently, threw in a section that included  series of problems referred to as "logic games."

Wanna try one? Click this.  Or just look at the sample setup of one from that example and the first two questions based on it....
 

If you dare....Collapse )

There are four more questions based on that just that one fact pattern. The L_SAT, when it included this craziness, expected you to do four such fact patterns in just over half an hour.

The testers recently announced they are dropping these "games" after a discrimination lawsuit was brought on behalf of blind applicants.  It's generally understood that to succeed at these problems, you need to work them out with diagrams, which require (or at least benefit greatly from) seeing the diagrams you've worked out. 

That's entirely fair.  What may or not be just as fair is, there are different kinds of "seeing." And for all my mad test-taking skills, visualizing has never been big among them.  If these games had been on my L_SAT, I fully expect my score would have been in the 50s (500, or dead average on the SAT equivalent), if not lower. I fully doubt I would have gotten into UB. And I fully wonder if I would have spent the past almost 40 years working at a Pudgie's Pizza in Cortland while trying to get my first novel published and not having the life, the wife, the child or the memories that have come since that strange experience.

Wonder with me, and come back for the law school application- we're gonna do.... MAINFRAMES!

 

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The continuing storrrrrreeeeee.... of the trip, that's gone to the dogs.

Don't worry. This does have a happyish ending. Doubly so because "dogs" is indeed now plural across our 800-mile extended fam. After issues with biting, possible eviction and a swallowed-whole rib (this, too, did pass), Emily and Cameron have now officially adopted Jenna.  She's happy, as you can see:



But closer to home.... only about 90 miles north, in a country somehow far far away.... it took four tries on three different booking sites, but I finally got a place for us to stay in Toronto before the concert this Friday night.  One complication I'd forgotten about is that it's their Thanksgiving weekend, but the Day, eh?, isn't until Monday. Still, we think it led to freeze-oot number three just now.

To recap:  I tried one booking site on Saturday morning, finding a perfect place for a decent price around the corner from the concert venue.  Only it never got confirmed because the website couldn't get the credit card approved.  There's plenty of available credit on it, and there's some suspicion of, well, suspicion on the part of Citibank about a charge coming through from another country.  Unfazed, I moved on to Site The Second, which located one a little further away, but not too, and for fewer ¢DNs than the first.  This one took the credit card (only then mentioning a $300 deposit in case we turned out to be five drunken frat boys), gave me a confirmation number, but then, after I noticed no credit card payment had posted, sent me an unconfirmation email. The site said it was once again a credit card issue, but this time I called the "host," who told me she'd pulled it from the site for this weekend because they're doing construction.

Um, thanks, I guess?  So on to AirThreeAndThree, the website that started all this private-home-rental nonsense. (We wanted this rather than a hotel because those can be utterly unpredictable about things like being put in a room next to five drunken frat boys, plus, this time, Thanksgiving weekend.)  There, even closer to the venue than the second and almost as close as the first, was a nice looking place, decent price, and after five rounds of AirBndB-S about profile pictures and identification documents, it was good to go.... until it wasn't.  THAT host suddenly realized he had to be there Friday night for company coming Saturday morning. 


By this point, I was getting pretty punchy. In scrolling around the map on their site to try to find SOMETHING, I discovered there's an actual exurb neighbourhood in the GTA named..... Brimstone.



Please, tell me more!




Golf and Lockport?!?  Maybe I have descended into hell:P


After seeing that, I was almost ready to go back to the third guy and beg him to just let us camp out in his driveway,  but ultimately I found the Fourth. Pretty close to the concert, comparably priced, and the hosts are Jose and Peter.  They sound nice. They're actually looking forward to taking our money, which seemed to be a near impossibility after the first three tries.  So we have a place to crash both before and after the show:)

Now we just have to pray the idiot in DC doesn't declare war on Canada in the next two days and close the border:P This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1561481.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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The Rochester newspaper chronicler's of Things Past brought up a sad anniversary the other day. October 5, 2005 was when the Wegmans organization announced that it was leaving the home improvement business and closing its then 14-store chain of Chase-Pitkin home repair stores. "Chasin' Chickens" was their pet name among members of Eleanor's family, and years after their demise, that still sticks in my head.

I still see the occasional reference to them on Shoppers Club cards on customers ahead of me in line. I long ago replaced mine, but being an eternal pack rat, I still have the one from back then:



(Don't try using that number for anything; the card expired in 1993;)

This weekend's piece simply noted that Wegmans attributed the closing to an " inability to successfully compete with giant home centers such as Home Depot — which entered the Rochester market in 1996 — and Lowe’s. Chase-Pitkin became part of Wegmans in 1974 and had 10 stores in the Rochester area and nearly 400 full-time employees. Wegmans said the closings would allow the company to concentrate on expanding its food business."

At least two others of the eventual 14 former stores were in the Buffalo area.  The one closest to us opened across the parking lot from their early Alberta Drive store- on the footprint of the former General Cinema Boulevard III multiplex.  We gave it plenty of business over the years, including, most bigly, my bringing home a small pin oak tree to fill a hole in our back yard. We named him Dave, and he's now one of the tallest trees on the whole block.

Another site traced this chain back to more than half a century before the Wegman family opened their first store:

The company's roots began with the Chase Brothers Nursery, which was founded in 1857 by brothers Ethan, Lewis, and Martin Chase. William Pitkin, who married Lewis Chase's daughter, joined the Chase brothers in their company. Pitkin served as mayor of Rochester from 1845 to 1846, and was a descendant (by another marriage) of Nathaniel Rochester. 

The Pitkin in the name still lives on with a street long named for him in the city's cultural east end.  A commenter added this to the story, which sounds like the Wegman way of doing business:

Wegman negotiated for a couple years to buy Chase-Pitkin, and when negotiations broke down, Wegmans opened their first home repair store in the then former grocery store on Spencerport Rd and Howard Rd. By then Chase Pitkin had suffered economic downturn, and Wegmans bought on Wegman's terms about a year after opening Wegmans Home Repair Center, and rebranded the stores.

Since Wegmans was on a program of doubling footprint of all their grocery stores, new Chase Pitkin stores opened as empty grocery stores became available. The Ridgemont store was the exception, it opened in the store formerly occupied by Woolworths. 

As the former Chase-Pitkins closed, the reverse phenomenon occurred; Wegmans, needing even bigger stores than ever, tore down the hardware building on Alberta Drive, turning it into their largest Northtowns superstore. (The original Alberta Wegmans, just opened when I moved here for law school, became the Ashley Furniture building that Eleanor worked at for many years.)  The other one I remember here was across from the Galleria, and the Wegmans eventually abandoned that entire location, with both the C-P and the grocery store there closing sometime in the ought's.

Pretty much all of their stores now, both new and renovated, are huuuuge. The one outlier, preserved in amber from an earlier time, is the one on Fairport Road in Easta Rach, which looks Straight Outta Sixties Still:



I doubt they would have had the real estate or the desire to make their Chases-Pitkin as big, and that's where the decision to shut it down came from.  Could they have retained their niche? In Buffalo, in addition to the small, True Value or Ace-affiliated neighborhood shops, two chains have survived the arrival of the big blue and orange boxes. I was in one of them yesterday: it's called Valu, has been based here since the 60s and before the Wegman Invasion, and has settled nicely into its spot as a Not As Big A Box.  Their manager spent 10 minutes with me trying to figure out whether I needed a new $10 part or a battery replacement for my existing one; and their cashier was friendly and reminded everyone of what obscure National This or That Day it was.  (The other's called Hector's, and it's both smaller-box and lower-rent, but it seems to have its devotees.)

Two thoughts on why Chase-Pitkin couldn't have managed in this mess: My theory is that the Wegman culture simply doesn't allow them to be, and to be known as, anything other than The Best at whatever they get into.  Valu may be able to thrive on being the Smaller Box, but the Wegman family usually can't or won't.  The other theory, advanced with merit by a Rochester friend, is that they well might have maintained that role in Rochester and even here, but they would not have been able to keep the economies of scale as they moved into new markets with a grocery name everybody loves but an older affiliated DIY name that would've made people go, huh?  Strip malls have been littered with the former locations of hardware chains, beloved in their original markets, that got too big for their 2 x 4's (Hechingers and Rickels are two that come to mind).

----

Wegmans rarely gets things wrong; when they do, you can usually figure out why, and they are usually quick to cut their losses.  Here are a few tried-and-false attempts I recall them taking shots at in my time shopping with them:

* In-store dry cleaning.  There were never any complaints about the prices or the service, but it was a bad use of valuable front-end space to service only your richest and bitchiest of customers.  Danny didn't get to where he is letting somebody else's shirts sit for days in plastic bags waiting for their owners to show up and pay. This experiment lasted maybe a year.

* Video departments.  Their stores were among the first to compete with Blockbuster for this service, and they were way ahead of the curve in getting out of the business once VCRs died and even smaller-space DVDs were supplanted by streaming.  Now, a Redbox or two in the vestibule is the only remaining trace.

* W-PET.  You can still see vestiges of these at some of their stores dating to around the 90s. When the premium pet food brands refused to sell to supermarkets, Danny said, Fine!, and opened supposedly separate store-within-a-stores to get access to the IAMS and Eukanubas.  Whether they failed on their own or the manufacturers just caved (eventually they even allowed Wally World to carry their fancy stuff), these were W-GONE in a hurry.

* Drive-through pharmacies. I've only seen one or two stores where they tried this. Um, no. Come inside. Mmmmmm it smells so GOOD!

* That's T.H.E. Ticket. If anyone would have the moxie to take on the evil monopoly of Ticketmonster, it'd be these guys.  They rolled out their own in-store ticketing service with a fair amount of fanfare, but it never made a dent in the market power of the three-headed force of seller (TM)/promoter (Live Nation) and media backer (Clear Channel) all keeping all the good stuff away from their terminals.  The service still exists, but only for October hayrides and very local specialty events; try finding anything other than a stray reference to it on their website, and don't ask what the T.H.E. stands for, because I sure as H.E.L.L couldn't tell you;)

It's also worth noting the things they've given up or restricted, not out of profit concerns but out of real ones. Wegmans was one of the first major retailers to stop selling tobacco products, and they've shut down the fraud-magnet money delivery services like Western Union and Moneygram that little old ladies kept using to send their life savings to scammers in Nigeria.

----

So if you're shopping in Alberta or Hylan Drive, and catch the slightest whiff of linseed oil or see some sawdust, stop for a second and remember almost 150 years of lost history. Go on. Don't be chicken;)

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One of an actual occasion remembered, one of an even older occasion I don't remember, and a few odds and ends.

The workweek was reasonably busy- three straight days of court, none taking terribly long and all going more or less as planned. Tuesday was the first of them, and it bringing the start of the new month, I remembered what else that brought with it:  It was 35 years ago that day, in 1984,  that I woke up with the Wease (a WCMF morning DJ, not a disease), put on one of my two suits, and headed in for my first day of work as an almost-real lawyer. (The bar results wouldn't come for two more months, admission not for almost three after that.) On my desk on the 11th floor of First Federal Plaza were five files- a will to draft for a local chiropractor, a couple of others involving a Ponzi scheme case that would later turn into a bankruptcy case lasting 12 years, a set of corporate minutes to update for the "Dilly Deli," and probably my first ever collection case.

I would never have a completely clear desk after that. The will client died in 2012; I do hope he updated the thing after I left in 1994. The Ponzi schemer was still alive and living in Pittsford at last report. The Dilly Deli dissolved sometime in the 90s.

I'm still here- mostly on my own now after going through that firm, a bigger one, a smaller one, which got bigger then smaller and finally convinced me to get down to Mostly Just Me.  My sister was a big part of moving to exactly where I did back then, a furnished apartment in a neighborhood that just happened to have a Methodist church at the other end of the street.  I wandered into it one Sunday, and while I've given up that faith (or, more, its national leaders have given up on mine), it led directly to the woman I met and married and much of the life that came after that.

----

Also heard from my college roommate this past week. We've been emailing on and off and are trying to swing a get-together at some point, but he came up with this old chestnut. I know exactly where at Cornell that is, but couldn't even begin to guess when it was, or what that t-shirt says:



We're still on for a get-awaying of our own at the end of this week. Two of our favorite singers are playing at a small club in Toronto on Friday night, and we have dinner-and-the-show plans for it.  Because travels are hard on both of us, especially Eleanor, we decided to book an overnight, preferably with time in a room ahead of time for, what else, napping! This proved to be the usual cluster of internet fail; a check of the club's neighborhood led to a booking site with a perfectly lovely full apartment to ourselves for a decent price- which we then lost because the site wouldn't accept a perfectly lovely and valid credit card.  We wound up picking one a little further from the venue, but for quite a bit less for the stay; only problem might be a later check-in time than we'd like, but I'm going to check on that tomorrow.

----

Then there was one of the saddest occasions to observe:

I mentioned last weekend that I'd attended a gathering of Mets fans at a local racino.  There was the thrill of seeing the three of our 1969 championship team's members, but I also got to meet the local sports-radio personality who emceed the event. (Meeting and greeting the three Mets required a VIP package; Howard was just hanging around.)  He's about my age, moved here from Long Island for school about the same time I came for law school, and has long confessed his life as a suffering fellow fan on his programs on different stations over the years.  He was gracious, but something seemed a little off.  The following Tuesday, I found out what:

His on-air co-host,  just-turned-40 and recently married, had not been on the air at all for several days.  Nobody said anything; in the cutthroat radio business, that usually means bad things- but not THIS bad.  A few months ago, Jeremy had announced to his listeners that he and his new bride were expecting- quadruplets.  Well, the whole previous week, he and his wife had been in the local Children's Hospital, as she went into pre-term labor and, one by one by one by one, lost all four of them.  Each was named; each was held; each is still grieved and will always be.  Jeremy's announcement of it was heartfelt and heartbreaking, but I passed a message along to his co-host, the one I'd met the previous weekend, when he knew what was going on, couldn't talk about it, and still honored his commitment to introduce three of our childhood heroes at a racetrack out Far Far Away.

Later in the day after hearing that news, Amazon delivered the latest book co-written by one of the Mets at the event:



The key word in that title is "After." Unlike his previous book, which was about the memories of what happened in the Met's magical 1969 season, this one mostly traces the later lives of those players, not all still alive and many who remain struggling with ailments and Alzheimers.  I've just started reading it, and it's a touching yet sobering reminder that the superstars of our memories are, in the end, just as human as the rest of us are.

----

Ending with a couple of updates and a few sillies:

- I finished Learned League ninth out of 26 with a final record of 14-10-1. Pretty good after an 0-9 start.

- The Mets ended their season over .500 and one team out of making the post-season. Their manager got the boot earlier this week, and their first baseman broke all rookie records for home runs, so we've got Hope, if not Howe, going into 2020.

- And finally, just for fun:  a friend photoshopped this one to make it more haikuily accurate:




- while I photoshopped our walking-buddy dog into this one, so I'l finally have something to say when people tell us, as they do at least once every Sunday, that Ursula "looks just like a wolf!"

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Friday's workday, frankly,.... well, let's let Donnie say it:



Eleanor's was worse than mine, but I basically blew a tank of gas driving to, from and all around Rochester for little good purpose at all.  I did not meet the one client I went there mainly to meet (who was at a funeral, so what're you gonna say?). We did not have a farewell lunch for a departing coworker, and I almost got into words with another coworker over the reasons for that.  All in all, I was ready for an early departure, except that I had a chance to get my mind off it halfway home at, of all places,



- a harness racetrack?!?

Yup. Clippety-clippety-clippety clop, Batavia Downs is quite the spot.  Been by it a million times, but never set hoof in it, or in the quasi-casino the state's been running out of it for the past decade or so.  It would take a miracle for me to make that stop, but in this case it wound up being three of them- a trio of Miracle Mets from the 1969 World Series team, on a 50th anniversary tour that actually made it to this faraway outpost.



That photo's off one of the bigscreen tv's they had in the meeting room; VIP tickets were required to sit closer and get personal pictures with the heroes, and I wasn't investing that kinda money on these guys.  I did get a closer shot of Ed Kranepool before they convened-



Eddie was the veteran of the group, going all the way back to the Mets first season in 1962 right out of high school. I'd met him before, at the 2012 conference I spoke at down at Hofstra. Here, he's sporting his brand new kidney, which he'd been Cleon Jonesing for over the past several years. ("A young lady donated it, so I got her kidney, but also her hot flashes," he said.)  Also at that prior event was the youngest of the three, traded to the Mets the year before the Miracle,....



....Art Shamsky. Back then, he'd just come out with his book about the three New York teams- Jets, Mets and Knicks- who in or including 1969 overcame odds and beat teams from Baltimore on the way to acquiring their sports' world championships.  He autographed that one for me at the time-



- and while they did have his new book available-



- they were pre-signed and he was not at the merch table to add to it, so I've Amazoned it.

The Third Amigo was the one I'd never met before, unless he was at his (and Eddie's) restaurant on Long Island on the one weekend I vaguely remember going to it, but he was probably my biggest hero of the three, Ron Swoboda:



"I didn't have a career, I had a catch."  He also has a newly repaired heart; in the weeks in between the team's official celebration of their championship's 50th anniversary back in late June and their appearance here, Ron had life-saving bypass surgery.  He told some of the best stories- about losing their tough but beloved manager Gil Hodges only a few years after that season and finding out, only much later, that his own father had served in the same WWII Pacific theater that Gil had; about another gone-too-soon teammate, Tug McGraw, not being able to judge the Astroturf compared to the former grass at Candlestick Park because he "never smoked Astroturf;" and about Yogi Berra, their future manager but in 1969 coaching first base while also allegedly serving as the team's hitting coach. The only hitting advice Yogi ever gave him in all those years was this one tip: See it, and hit it. How are you gonna argue with that? (Or with Yogi about anything?)  He also compared the two aces of the staff from those years, Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman, the latter finally to be honored next year by having his number retired.  Back then, teams didn't typically match their best pitchers against each other, so while Seaver usually won more games, Kooz was more often pitted against the other team's ace. "Seaver was Van Gogh; Koosman was Patton," Swoboda said.

The turnout was pretty good, considering how few and far between Mets fans seem to be in these parts. I passed on the chance to get most of my admission charge back in "free play" at the video slots; just watching the rooms full of fogies staring absently at those blinky-blinky screens was a reminder of what I never want to turn into.

----

Because Eleanor worked each weeknight on and after our anniversary, we planned our dinner for last night, at one of Buffalo's oldest yet newest landmarks:



That magnificent structure began life in the late 19th century as Buffalo's State Asylum for the Insane.  The building is the product of famed architect Henry Hobson Richardson, and equally famed park designer Frederick Law Olmsted designed the 100 acres of peaceful grounds around it.  Times and treatments changed, much of the campus was turned over to the adjacent Buffalo State College, and by the 1970s, the building was abandoned and facing the wrecking ball.  Spirited efforts to preserve it resulted in its eventual rebirth as the Hotel Henry, and in the more recent opening within it of the 100 Acres Restaurant.  That was our choice for the evening- once we found it in the dark and I got a place to park. 

Speaking of "spirited," the place does have quite the reputation for being haunted by its former patients.  We saw/heard/felt none of them, although while in the elevator, when nobody got off on one floor, we did pretend to have brought Gertrude, deceased owner of our last Rochester home who we swear followed us here.

The food was yummy, the ambience nice once we got away from a four-top of loudmouths adjacent to us, and we continued our long tradition of leaving our server with an extra gratuity for the evening.  I explained to the waitress what we were doing, and how it all traced back to 10 anniversaries ago, when our plans were interrupted by rescuing this guy, found wandering around our yard:



Our then-neighbor, who'd seen him eating spilled Cheerios from her toddler, had named him Charlie, and that's who he'll always be to us.  He was in our life for barely a day, but he's paid forward our thanks for almost every anniversary since- and this year's recipient was especially touched by the tale and by this particular tail-wagger.  She appreciated the generosity because she'd recently had her tonsils out and was worried about the bill (waitstaff-types generally getting minimal health insurance if any at all); and she appreciated her benefactor even more, because, she said, she has a cat herself who looks a lot like him:)

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It was a relatively quiet week workwise, for no particular reason.  The slew of bankruptcies I finished filing in June and July have mostly been put to bed, with a bunch of them reaching their terminus in the past couple of days and only one new one getting filed this month.  What cases I did have were combinations of successful and, shall we say, interesting.  This one's probably the best example of the latter:

Monday's tale of woe, intrigue and possible bigamy was followed later in the week by Some Debtor calling me up and calling me a fargin' icehole.  Okay, he may have used the more conventional term.  I stumbled on to a potential asset of his, years after taking judgment against him and more or less giving up on collecting it. His new lawyer in the new case brushed me off, and eventually palmed me back off on his client, who told a completely different sob story than his lawyer had about why he didn't owe my client anything.  And he was gonna go to his bank and get all the checks he gave Some Guy Steve to PROVE it. And what bank is that, Jim?  So he just told me. Monologuing. It never goes well for villains.  By day's end, I'd sent papers out to my marshal to take my judgment out of his account. And Some Guy Steve? OF COURSE I'd once consulted with him about a case and he turned out to be as much a piece of work as the rest of the people in this story.

----

These came in between assorted fights with various pieces of technology. My mobile phone is not set to update apps automatically; I like to see what-all they're up to when they're forcing new things down its i-throat.  But a bunch I often use all seemed to be sluggish or otherwise in need of it, so I gave in and hit the "update all" button sometime over the weekend. The most immediate effect of THAT was almost getting a parking ticket due to the city's mobile app having completely redesigned itself. I'd also been wrangling with the mobile scheduler/tracker for my gym; this was a whole newly designed app, not just an update of the earlier one (two earlier ones, actually, each with partial functionality) but supposedly the Best New Thing Ever- and it would carry over all your data from the previous one! Except it wouldn't; despite telling you to use your login from the old one, when you did that, it kept saying You are not allowed to access another member's resources. "Another member" being, you know, me. Eventually, Eddy in tech support got around that and for the first time ever, I could book a class at another franchised location in advance! Yay! 

Giddy with success, I then discovered that my phone (an older small iPhone model, neither a 5 nor a 6 but an in-between SE) was eligible for the latest Apple software update.  This took the better part of a day and a half to download and install, freezing up my work computer the whole time it was doing it. But now that it's on, it seems to be okay, even improved in some ways (its privacy settings are supposed to be much improved).

----

Word from the outside world has been Mostly Weird all week.  Ukrainegate looks like it may be the straw that finally broke Pelosi's spineless back, and the actual direct quotes that they're admitting to are damning in and of themselves:




But the other story of the week of note was that Placido Domingo got booted off the Met Opera stage on account of the recent revelations of sexual harassment being leveled against him.  Noting that it was the Scottish Opera that done did him in, my thoughts went back to the second season of Slings and Arrows, where they encountered all kinds of curseworthy things during their attempt at the source play.  Two of the troupe's older members start each season's episode with a barroom ballad about its material. It didn't take much editing for me to turn it into a new song about the opera:

 Call him out for preying on the powerless or weak
But it all came down when he took a role
Whose name one dare not speak

They say that the play’s
Got a terrible curse
But accused of a metoo crime is worse
So sorry, he won't play Mackers

He could’ve played Faust
And gone straight to hell
Or done Don Jose, but the snitch had to tell
So sorry, he can’t do Mackers

Any soul that plays the role
Cannot be weak or wussy
So they went with a dude who sure knew how to
Grab them by the….
(I think I’ll leave this last word out just to be on the safe side)

So give him Walküre
Or maybe Samson
Otello or Tosca
To play in prison
He’d play them all for free
But you’d be crackers
To take on Mackers
You see, I'm skittish about the Scottish tragedy!

The original is at the end of this clip:



On to more trivial matters:

The guy whose brother I went to law school with? (Eleanor told me he met his other brother this week, who I believe is also a local lawyer.) Anyway, I watched the other night as He Lost On Jeopardy! (oooooh-oo-oooh-ooooh!)  He was quite gracious about it, seemed genuinely congratulatory of both other players who literally gave him a run for his money during the game, and there was even a clue about our dog!




In my own Trivial Pursuit, I'm coming into the final week of the online competition I've done since last year.  I almost didn't </i>sign up for the current round of Learned League. After the first couple of weeks, I wished I hadn't. I was Dead. Fargin. Last. 0-9, and I wasn't even close in any of them. The questions were evil; I'd KNOW what answer they were looking for, from figuring out a clue in the question, but I just wouldn't remember the exact name, or I'd guess wrong between two choices.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to my disgrace. (That play was an answer a couple of weeks ago, one of few early on that I actually knew). Since that starting streak, I've gone 12-0-1, and way more of the questions have been in my wheelhouse than in those first nine. My only goal among these freakin geniuses is to finish at least .500, which I am now guaranteed of doing with just three matches left even if I lose them all.

----

That takes us to yesterday and last night. The latter was much better, and I'll give both their own post.



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(So called because the last two afternoons have gone generally better than their mornings....)

Yesterday began with the dog waking me up by upchucking her previous night's dinner all over the bed.  It was a quick and seemingly cleansing hork, and she seemed well enough for walkies- and was.  Only problem with that was, we twice encountered the Stepford neighbor walking her Golden and terrier- who, after earlier experiences, I've taken to referring to as, well,


On the mere sight of either of her dogs, or ours, letting out the slightest noise or making the closest approach, she barks back at her charges to STAY! and QUIET!, this time even putting her hand over the Golden's mouth.  I'm closer and closer to just popping off at her: dogs are social animals. Their leashes are not pretty handbags for you to drape over your wrist.  Our dog has never attacked nor been attacked, and I'll take any chances if yours want to, God forbid, PLAY! for a whole half a second. 

Will it make her heart grow three sizes that day? I doubt it; you've got to have a functioning organ in there in the first place.

(Of happier dog note: Emily and Cameron have just adopted their first:



A 2-year-old shepherd mix, she spent close to a year in a shelter before they found her. She's on a five-day trial with the kids and (just as important) their cats, and two days in, it seems to be going mostly well. They're going to need to do some training against too much exuberance, but so far so good.  They're not fond of the name she came with, and consensus among Furmommies/daddies I polled (including a vet) is that it's fine to change it even at this relatively late date- so stay tuned to see if she finds her way into the theme of some of their current and former bebbies.)

Once safely inside from the sounds of neighing, a reminder on my phone went off, about a useless court appearance in 45 minutes I'd completely forgotten about. Shower, throw clothes on, zoom down there, discover the parking meter app on my phone had completely changed during an update and needed extra feeding, but at least I wasn't having as bad a day as this door, the former entrance to Bankruptcy Court two iterations back and now The Police Headquarters:



Yes, it's the Ambiguity Building at the Historic Dillon Courthouse!

Things got better after that. I received formal word of a decision I'd heard about from the client over the weekend (I won my first, and probably last, appeal of an adverse unemployment decision, yay!), as well as word I wasn't expecting about another case I wound up winning that week by doing little other than shrugging at the judge (shrudging?).  I got to write two incredibly snarky letters to opponents- one an asshat of a former landlord of a client, the other a former sort-of boss of me, now representing a circus of a client who is about to be sued by a new client of mine.  In just ten minutes of searching, I found his client and his possible partner tagged with tax and judgment liens, the first anti-terrorism lien I've ever seen, and the ever-slightest hint of bigamy.

Even bigger, though? I saw a post last night that two of our favorite folk singers are performing together in Toronto on the evening of October 11th.  It's in a club about the size of the Tralf, and I was able to get two of the last available tabled tickets for it.  If we make a whole day out of it, Eleanor should be able to make it through, and since it's in Canada, we're gonna try our best, come hell or high-sticking.

----

Today followed a similar pattern.  I went downtown to formally file the order in the shrudging case, which took me on my usual route through the three roundabouts just south of my office on Harlem Road.  Two are actually one right after another, with a single lane passing round; the third, barely half a mile past those, has two lanes circling the center point.  I've loved these alternatives to traffic signals since I first encountered them whilst driving on the wrong side of the road in the UK ages ago. Their speeds are slow but you keep moving as long as nothing is coming; once you're in, you have the right of way; and if you miss your turnoff, you just keep going round till you get it.  Unfortunately, these tend to attract two opposite species of brainless drivers: Speedy, who doesn't look where he (usually) is going and doesn't yield to me (usually) already in the thing; and Little Old Lady (usually), who doesn't understand, stops on entry and at each point in the device, and today almost caused my death by cutting from the one lane to the second I was then occupying, as she completed the roundabout onto Harlem itself where it has two lanes to do so.

I survived with no damage except to my blood pressure, and then got back just in time for a client to drop off a document. As many do, though, he did not stop to see me- and thus, I did not get to see that he'd left a signature off until after he was long gone.   I was a bit short with him when I called, but eventually blamed it on Little Old Lady (LOL) and we're cool about it.  I left a bit early to get some files in storage organized, and am picking Eleanor up shortly to go see the documentary about Linda Ronstadt that just opened here.

Impeachment is coming, the Bills are 3-0, and the dog hasn't expectorated anything since eating.   More proof that afternoons are better than mornings:) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1560127.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Friday night in the Big City.  I continued on my quest to see performers I've always loved, preferably in small venues, while I can still get around and up sets of stairs (or, as last summer, across country fields minus my keys). Already, Eleanor is pretty much at a point where she can't get to, and stay at, any of these events for their duration due to chronic pains- so I'm filling my bucket while I can.

Problem with bucket lists, though, is you never quite fill them. I have the Bucket of Sisyphus.  It's a fairly typical scenario: one of the venues I've been to before, or Facebook, or Ticketmonster, announces an on-sale of some show I'd really like to see, usually several months off.  More often than not, I pass when I first see it, not knowing what my work or life schedule will be at that point, and by the time I remember it (more likely, one of the above prompts remind me of it), it turns out to be sold out. 

And So It Goes, or rather how it went, with the other night's show featuring Nick Lowe.  A mainstay of British music from the late 70s on, co-maker of Rockpile, former spouse of Johnny Cash's stepdaughter Carlene Carter, and generally iconic dude.  I heard him on World Cafe months ago, a rerun of this interview from 2018, with clips of him playing with his new backup band, Los Straitjackets. They're not strictly a Mexican band- although they all wear masks made famous on Mexican wrestling shows- but they have serious indie cred and rockabilly roots out of Nashville and I hoped to catch both them and Nick on their stop here the other night.

And Facebook said....



Secondary sites were no help, but then, two days before the show, some additional seats popped up, and I planted my virtual butt into one of them:)


We have some long and happy history with the Tralf.  Originally the Tralfamadore Cafe and based way up Main Street from downtown, it was relocated as part of 1980s "urban renewal" to a site next to Shea's, the main performing arts venue in the Theatre District.  The newspaper's archivist of such things traced the history through the late 80s here. After that change to a Jazz Institute, it briefly fell under (or into) skeevy management in "Marquee" days, but finally got in the hands of an experienced musician and owner who made it what it simply is today: The Tralf.

Through all that, I, and later both of us, had been regulars by that third incarnation. In law school, I saw one of my favorite (and long-gone) Ithaca bands there on perhaps their only tour outside the Finger Lakes, and it also hosted Bar Revue, the irreverent attempt at humor and music by young lawyers (picture "I-O-L-A" done to the Village People song). I started bringing Eleanor there for eclectic acts including Steps Ahead, the Nylons, and the one she remembers- Bruce Cockburn, ruined because the audience just wouldn't shaddap during his show.

As downtown theater grew along with downtown in general in recent years, the club has kept its niche- one of the mid-size places where you won't get The Who but plenty of Who's You've Heard Of.  I missed many there I wish I'd seen, including Warren Zevon who was there more than once, and, back in law school days, this guy:



and any number of other legends more recently:



There are others now fitting the bill for this size of performance: Ani DiFranco lovingly renovated the former downtown Methodist church building into Babeville (more about that to come), and the Town Ballroom and sometimes the Statler bring in acts of this stature. But you can't go wrong going up those stairs (elevators in previous incarnations, at least possibly remembered) to see, as I would tonight, Nick and his band.

----

I'd also meet more people, one planned, one not planned, and two, really, not at all:

Years ago after joining Facebook, I became friends with a local semi-legend named Peterjoe Certo. Eleanor knew his beer distributor company from its visits to her store, but I met him through an East Meadow lifelong friend who'd met him back in misbegotten 80s times.  We finally caught up at his table not too far from mine, and while my camera takes shit pictures and I hate selfies, he did get this much better than any of my shots of the band:





I also got to meet their opening act, who I'd not heard of (nor known there was an opening act):



Her name is Esther Rose, a Michigander transplanted to New Orleans and who did a perfectly lovely and well-timed opening set. I met her at the merch table after and brought home her most recent CD.

Then there was the night's Beth and Bill, named for the couple I met at the last club show I attended who became stand-ins of sorts for the days when we could go to venues like this together:



These two, I didn't even get names. I didn't need them. They were enjoying the music and were plainly in love. I complimented both on their jewelry, told them about the connection to the last show, and she told me it was her birthday present to her beloved, who's a big fan of Marshall Crenshaw, who has also toured with Los Straitjackets and who's done Nick Lowe music with them.

Yeah, they did Cruel to Be Kind for us, too:



And did most of his famed pieces, ending with a final encore of perhaps his most beloved piece recorded by many others (Elvis Costello, Lucy Kaplansky, Steve Earle and many others), "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."

Truer than ever.

Quite the night. I headed out into a full-on celebration outside, for this night was Curtain Up!, the premiere night of many of the professional and experimental theatrical performances in town.  Shea's was doing Mean Girls, and Tina Fey was spotted about town earlier in the day. I passed clowns on bikes juggling hula hoops (yes, I had wine, but not THAT much;), and headed home.

----

One friend I did not get to meet there was too sick to attend. I offered to join him for the show next month at Babeville- Lake Street Dive, in a much more intimate setting than where I saw them with thousands of others last summer.  I also grabbed one Babeville ticket for December for Hot Tuna- somewhat to see those two (I've never seen Jack, and only saw Jorma once back in college in his unfortunate punk phase in a band called Vital Parts), but even more for their opening act, who I saw open for Lucy a few winters back. And to complete the Sisyphus metaphor, on the morning of the Nick Lowe show, Babeville put tickets on sale, for six months from now, for an evening with Graham Nash, who I've also never seen.

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First week of Unofficial Fall is in the books. The four days of work were about as stressful as expected, although each day did bring good things. Tuesday, I settled three cases before lunchtime; Wednesday and Thursday, I had productive morning consultations; and Friday's clusterfudge of work ended with,.... well, I'll get to that.

In the evenings in the middle, though, there was baseball. Tuesday's was only on the radio for me, and it was a simply horrid drama of epic bad proportions. I’m not going to say that was the worst loss in Mets history- so many of those to choose from- but I can say with no reservation that it was the most Mets loss in Mets history.

Stay with me here. Top nine,  we had a two run lead and our best reliever, arguably our only reliable reliever, was ready to pitch the bottom of the ninth. Then a Washington infielder made an absolutely stupid, totally Mets-like play, and before you know it, we had a six run lead. Therefore, there was no need to waste the arm strength of the one good reliever.

So our manager called in Curly. That didn’t work. Next, Larry. The lead was down to making it a save situation. So now you got to go to Moe, as in Mo' Extra Base Hits. Two bad pitches from Edwin Diaz, a double and a walkoff slam by a .230 catcher, and the Mets had made history. Neither team in their combined 100-plus years of history had blown or come back against a lead that big that late. And just to complete the cosmic circle, Syracuse, our AAA affiliate, had to win a one game playoff to get into the postseason, and basically did the same damn thing at the end of their game.  

With the increasing likelihood there will not be playoff baseball in Queens, and definitely none involving Syracuse, Rochester or Buffalo, we still found the crack of the bat, appropriately enough, in Bat-avia. Even better, they made it an extra Bark in the Park night with free admission for all pups.  Our friend Scott was bringing Sadie (and his four-legged son) from the east, so we headed out to join them at the halfway point. Pepper and I got there first, and we waited outside the Free Parking:



I'd made my first stop inside Dwyer, or indeed at any game at this lowest minor league level, for their last game of the 2018 season, and told some of the history of the league, team and stadium after that game.  This was my first accompanied by both two and four-legged friends, though. Pepper quickly gravitated toward Dewey, the Muckdog mascot-



- as did Sadie when she got her turn-



Batavia was hosting the first and their only home game of the best-of-three opening round involving Red Sox low prospects from Lowell, Massachusetts.  The Muckdogs got out to an early 1-0 lead and held on to win 4-1. Alas, they would lose the final two on the road, the first of them in Mets-evoking fashion. One, twelve Muckdogs in a row struck out, breaking an all time professional ball record held by none other than our own legendary Tom Seaver (it still holds as the MLB record); and two, despite all those Ks, Batavia was still tied going to the bottom of the ninth when they lost to Lowell on a walkoff home run. Lowell also won the rubber game and will now face Brooklyn, made up of Mets prospects, in the NY-Penn finals.

But that was still to come and far, far away.  In Batavia that night, there was beauty-



-there was pageantry in the moment of the 'Dogs final victory-



And, most importantly from Pepper's POV, there was food:



Me: Is it cannibalism to feed a hot dog to a dog?
Her: Shut up and pass the damn bun!

That one was all hers. She then tried to share my knockoff of a garbage plate-




- but all she got of that were a few bits of burger. (She may have also gotten a few bites of skeeter, since she began scratching pretty feverishly two mornings later; she had a scheduled vet visit anyway, and she showed no sign of tiny livestock or of any visible bites, so the guess is allergies and she's on Benadryl).

Beers were four bucks.  Kids were cute.  I came within a row of my first-ever foul ball. These are my people, these are my friends.



----

Then there are the friends I hadn't even met yet, which is the weird way my Friday night and Saturday at the office went.

Friday was a totally shitty workday from pillar to post, and from the sound of it Eleanor didn’t have any better of one, either. I stopped at the store to say hello to her and get a medication for the dog, and ran into an old workout friend of in the Wegmans parking lot. That was fun, but then it got strange.

Next, I went to take a check to deposit at an ATM, and there, sitting in the machine, was the previous (and nowhere in sight) customer’s card, and the receipt for his withdrawal, conveniently showing the $17,000 balance in his checking account. Here’s where he got lucky. First, he got me, who not only is too honest to fool around with financial crimes but also perfectly well understands this particular failing of leaving cards behind. Second, he had a distinctive enough name and a landline number that I could google. The number turned out not to be his, but I got his daughter-in-law, I know where he lives, and I met him at a Starbucks yesterday morning to return it to him safe and sound.

After that and a workout, I headed to the office, where more financial fun awaited.

Sometime last year, I appeared in a foreclosure case for a client we will call Mr. X. Mrs. X was also named on the mortgage and in the case, but she died last year. I got Mr. X a loan modification. For my trouble, I began getting all of the bank's notices sent to me rather than to him. Those seem to have stopped since the loan mod- but the bank apparently was kind enough to sell their names to sucker lists.

Guess who just got an offer of a $2,000 credit card? Mrs. X. Who is currently dead. They even included two sample plastic cards to entice her to reach up out of the grave for her money. They come in two styles: pink for dead girls and blue for dead boys.  Maybe I should mail them to the Mets' owners, but they'd only use the money to sign another horrible reliever or twelve:P

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Enjoy your day off, (most of) you wage slaves.  And tomorrow, all of us can look forward to a four day workweek packed with at least five days worth of stress (in my case, more like eight due to the vacay last week). 

This "holiday" always stuck me as a depressing one.  Corporate America, frightened by the labor movement and its ties to Komyunizm, tore the organic May 1st workers' holiday away from US workers and replaced it with this one on the first weekend of September. The hope of spring, turned into fall. No more festivals or cool outdoor things to go to. Baseball in these parts is over, and while the big kids still play another month, that's nail-biting or worse for Mets fans.  And no, I am NOT ready for some football:P

The day itself doesn't lend itself to the celebrations of the Fourth or the memorializing of the last Monday in May. Oddly, there isn't even a Labor Day parade of any significance in Buffalo, but Rochester, one of the most union-averse towns in the Rust Belt, has had one for decades.  Both as a parent and as a parented, we didn't do much on this day because, dum-dum-DUMMMMMM!, school started back up the next day or maybe the day after that.  So my strongest memory of the holiday, going back to the late 60s and even with check-ins years later, was of spending the day with a horrible actor and his millions of "kids" while he begged for money.



This was Jerry Lewis's other connection to my childhood. In the early 70s, he got into the franchise business and promised investors a popcorn money-printing machine by tying his name to what were usually two or three screen miniplexes fit into corners or outparcels of strip plazas.  East Meadow got one, at the time its second cinema and the only one with, wow, two different screens in  it!  I can't remember if he came for the grand opening, but his hand/footprints and autograph were in the concrete outside the auditoriums.  The concept lasted less than a decade there, it turning into an indie duplex run by the legendary Uniondale Mini Cinema people for a few years.  Today, there's no evidence of it at all, as a dollar store now sits where Jerry once clipped the ties pocketbook of some shlub. 

Others held out longer; I remember seeing The Natural, not in the Buffalo where it was filmed, but at a Jerry Lewis up in Niagara Falls that was still there in 1984.  Some years before that, both Jerry and his cinema venture company wound up in Bankruptcy Court; this piece reviews why it didn't work and how, even years later, Jerry's annual telethon appearances still angered those who lost not just their ties but their shirts to him.

My fondest memories of Late But Not Dead Jerry were from Letterman appearances in the 90s, where Dave would goad him into doing bits from his goofy heyyyy layyyydee period and Jerry would try to come off as a serious actor. Yet those memories will never overtake in quantity the ones spent inside, on this day, watching his most famous schtick for year after year.

-----

I could swear I did a piece here about this experience on one of the previous 15 Labor Days I've been blogging, but I see nothing about it in the archives, so here goes.  This telethon was an institution around the country, but even more so in his native Noo Yawk. Channel 5 carried it for most of its life, and from Sunday evening until Labor Day sundown, all through the night, with Jerry and his pals, primarily Ed McMahon, hosting mostly B- and C-level stars who sang, danced and told jokes in between the pictures of the "kids" in wheelchairs, the filmstrips of the scientists feverishly working on a muscular dystrophy cure, and the hourly shots of the toteboard:



Yeah, like that one. That was the year they surprised him with Sinatra backstage; they even pulled off a Dean Martin reunion one year.  Through it all, on channel 5 and I'm sure others, was the constant crawl of the local phone numbers. This was all back when calls to long distance area codes, or from our house to "the city," were precious and few; 800 numbers were only beginning to arrive. So the organizers had a string of them, from the main 212 number to the one I called more than a few times in the 516, all the way up to the edge of the viewing area, to Jerry's Borscht Belt home at the Brown's Hotel.  The event always ended on that last afternoon with Jerry's final spiel, and just before the final tote count, his rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone."  (Go ahead and google it; I tested well for no diabetes the other day and don't want to take chances with too much sugar.)

As entertainment and fundraising evolved in the years since I last watched, the telethon shrunk in duration, and the Association ended its association with Jerry in 2011. By 2015, the show was gone, and Jerry would follow it to his own grave a couple of years later.  Brown's Hotel is now condos.  Channel 5 is showing reruns of tabloid shows followed by a drag race at 1 p.m.

And I'm blogging. So I guess there are some things that never change.

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After Tuesday's game, I was back in the, back in the, back in the Nas-sass-sass-sau for the first night in several years. I'd been in the habit of staying north of the city the past few trips, but wanted to stay on the stadium side of bridges so I could take the train in for the second night of my planned events. More than a few years back, on the occasion of the funeral of a friend, I discovered a decent and reasonably priced (for the area) hotel on Sunrise Highway just across from the Merrick LIRR. That's where I landed the night after the game, and to where I returned after an evening in Manhattan.  But first, a return to roots- because Merrick is just one "town" over from the house I grew up in, the schools I attended, and the memories that still stick.



That's a different coat of paint from my formative years, but it's the main named landmark honoring the 1600s tradition of Hempstead farmers leading their "cowes" out to the "east meadowes."  I drove the length of Prospect Avenue on my way to meeting Al for breakfast, beginning on Merrick Avenue and ending at a shopping center at its terminus at Hempstead Turnpike- longago home to an A&P supermarket, but now hosting, among other small businesses, one of Long Island's local franchises of the fitness brand I belong to.  I had one class left to use before the end of August, and I was up early enough to book the same class there I could have taken on Transit Road that morning:



It was just surreal- me, getting up to take an 8 a.m. gym class in East Meadow. Voluntarily. I was afraid the high school building, barely a mile away, was going to crash to the ground from the shock.  (Spoiler alert: it didn't.) 

Our breakfast got pushed back to more brunch timey, which gave me time to stop at a Starbucks and deal with client business- and with the horrors of my internet provider.  They would not let me email files from my usual program on my laptop, and their suggested workaround for that was to use their browser-based webmail. Ah, but I hadn't used that in ages, so it made me change my password, and that then screwed up my sending AND receiving on both that laptop and my phone for the rest of the day.  But hell, I was on vacation anyway, it's all fixed now, and none of my clients crashed to the ground in those 24 hours, either.

We had a nice visit at a cool Huntington restaurant, followed by a visit to an indie bookstore around the corner from it, and when Mr. P headed off to his doctor's appointment, I asked Siri to find the way to our family plot.  It was just twelve miles away, and my three relatives out there- Dad, Sandy and my uncle's wife Penny (the one so rotund she had to be dropped in sideways) are all still there, each minus the spouse they had at the times of their demises-



When I turned around to head back toward East Meadow, the skies opened. The Northern State was nearly flooded out in spots, and it was still coming down heavy when I took my remaining photos of the old home town and the home therein:



Clockwise from bottom right: one you pass when getting off the Wantagh to head down Carman Avenue, not a school facility as such but formerly known as the county "Children's Shelter," and the place for delinquents and "galoots" that parents would threaten to send their misbehaving children to; further down Carman, the edge of the real school property, a "temporary" building known to us as the "400 wing," still in use 50-ish years after it went up; and the entrance to the school itself.  Classes don't begin until next week, so things were pretty quiet, but the memories were thick in the air.

Still thicker, though, was driving down the route I took for many of my three years walking to and from that school. (We had an austerity budget with no buses one year, and after-school activities often kept me there late the other two.)  Powers Avenue, with its original brick Cape homes from the same era as the Levitt homes in the "town" next door, has both evolved and devolved in the 70-plus years since they went up. I'd guess the homes fall into four categories: the ones looking almost identical to how they did when I left in 1977 (including the home of our neighbors on one side who I believe are still there); falling apart with varying levels of zombieness present, including at least one halfway down the avenue with fencing and both CONDEMNED and FOR SALE signs out in front; complete teardowns, usually replaced by mickiermansions now taking up double lots; and those like our former home, updated but still recognizable:



No, I did not stop, either there or at Dom and Terry's next door; yes, that was still rain pelting down, which continued all the way back to the hotel, where I got in a brief geezer nap before catching the train from the station across the street.

----

Since I'd brunched, it wound up being pizza for linner in a classic Manhattan hurry-up-and-order joint right in Penn Station.  Around this time, I heard from another old East Meadow friend, who in five minutes would be two blocks away from me on 7th Avenue.  I waited for him, then walked him back to the train and we made plans for another East Meadow visit the next morning, and I continued up 7th and then Broadway to the club where yet another old friend of ours would be leading the New York Ska and Jazz Ensemble on its return to the US after touring Europe for months.

The band came on just past 8 and played for 90 minutes of intense and soulful music.  They're led by our old pal Fred, mostly on the sax but on flute as well:






The rest of the group: Kevin Batchelor on Trumpet (who I also got to meet afterwards- very cool dude)-





Mark Damon on the bass, Earl Appleton behind the keyboard, Andy Basford on guitar, and Joey Gallo on the drums:









The seating was at rows of tables, and I had no plus-one for the other side of my real estate, so when a couple arrived to my left (Beth and Bill, I would learn), I asked if they wanted the seat across. Not only did this allow them to sit next to each other, it gave Bill a better view of the stage.  I never met them before, probably never will again, but in 90 minutes of music they became part of a very fun story:



But in the end, it was Freddie I was there to see. He was out before the show and we got this shot together- two kids from Prospect Elementary who got assigned the clarinet, and one of them made much better use of his chops than the other one ever did;)



That picture, alas, is the last one of me you will ever see with those glasses.  By the time I made the 10:02 back to Merrick, they were not on me or in my stash of book/ticket/memorabilia/Iridium t-shirt.  I'd hoped they were left back next to Beth and Bill, but the club had not found them by the next night; more likely they fell off when I was futzing around in the 7th Avenue Times Square subway station with my expired Metrocard. I wound up walking and making the train, and I now have a new prescription and a need to find a replacement pair.

----

Thursday brought me back to East Meadow one last time; the sun had returned, so my prescription sunglasses did me fine for the whole trip home.  Old friend Ted and I met at this longtime diner landmark, known to generations as the Empress but now rebranded in a Broadway theme:



But a diner's still a diner, and by 9ish, it was back on the road.  Inbound was a bit more congested, and I had just one last stop before making home: my sister's, whose home I had sailed by in those 6.5 hours the prior day.  She's actually been getting out more than me lately- here are some shots a friend took of her up at Cornell, where I might have set foot on campus once this century:



We ate and reminisced for about an hour, and I got back home at just about the aminals' usual 6:00 feeding time.  Yesterday was quiet with a little bit of work, and today's been set aside for bathing the dog, getting my eyes checked (good shape- cataract surgery is still years away), and resuming our binge of Rita on Netflix.

And the Mets finally won- once they left the area, too:P

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That was quite the week. 

I had to work right up to my point of departure, thanks to two clients who were either absent from or totally unprepared for their initial hearing date in late July.  The Monday before departure was just full of bad juju; people calling out of the blue, promised financial transactions from clients not going as promised. I got crap sleep that night, some due to all of that but some, I think, due to the antici-

SAY IT!



-of being gone for the better part of three days.

As stressed as the Monday workday was, the little bit of it left for Tuesday morning went smoothly. Both clients showed up, one hearing went perfectly fine, while the other didn't even have to proceed because the client had sufficiently cleaned up his toys in advance of it. I was out of workclothes and on 490 by a bit past 11 a.m., with my guests due to arrive sometime around 5:30.  That left me a bit over six hours for the trip which, as I've mentioned, should take just that under normal conditions. Normal includes usually one stop for gas and even a pilgrimage to a beloved diner; it does not include hourlong backups on I-81, which in the summertime are virtually certain.  So I tried to avoid that road altogether, taking the predictably long detour down Cayuga Lake and then through Ithaca. 

It's always a comfort going down 89, which at times passes within 100 feet of the lakeshore. I also enjoy seeing the string of wineries we've been going to for ages, some still there, other new ones taking over or popping up in between. This time, lots more breweries and distilleries in the mix.  But then, a sign promoting something to do when you've had more than one bottle of Cayuga White:



I wonder if they can handle a cow;)

I came out of the back country just north of Binghamton on the dreaded highway- I'd checked DOT websites for construction updates, which were all, What, like we'd tell you?!? Here, have an update on the Prospect Mountain construction site from February! - and, somehow, word leaked out on an overhead sign that there was a 30-minute backup at, what else, the Prospect Mountain construction site.  I bailed onto US 11, grabbed Wendy's (no diner for you this time), and rejoined on the other side of the mountain for a nearly nonstop ride down 17, back onto the Thruway, over the Fredo Bridge, through the Bronnix, across the RFK and into the Citi Field parking lot by the very arrival time my friends had announced.....

except THEY were late. Stuck in traffic on Long Island.



So I parked- and almost got into the lot for free. The US Tennis Open was going on at the adjacent stadium, and there was this sign at the Citi Field parking gate:




I actually had her convinced I was a Mercedes (I certainly pay enough for their goddam car washes:P), and I would've been comped if I was going to the Open and not the Mets.  So I bit the bullet and paid, so as not to jinx the team that night. (As we will learn, that didn't go all that well.)

At least this time I wasn't ferried halfway across the Fairgrounds like in 2016. So after noting my space was near this touching tribute to the late Bill Buckner-



- I headed over to the Apple to wait. This cheap and chintzy feature of Shea Stadium, where everything was cheap and chintzy, has been relocated outside the new ballpark and serves as a meetup spot for fans coming from different places and by different modes.  There's even a plaque, and a chance to take bad selfies at it!




There's a much newer and nicer one inside now; we got to see it rise for rookie Pete Alonso's 42nd home run, which broke the team's record for such things.  That was one of the few nice moments of the evening.  Meeting these guys was the main one, though:



In the middle, my high school physics teacher, Al "Pistol Pete" Palazzo, who I hadn't seen since the year after I graduated.  To his left, his lovely bride Risa, who I had met once and have followed stories from on social media in recent times.  Their two sons and the GF of one of them are out of shot (you can only expect so much of the Cubs fan who took that;). 

I only ran into one of my fellow fans from the blogging community- a Toronto 7 Line traveler from a year ago.  This was my third try catching another dear friend I've never met in person, but every time I wandered to her nearby section, she was out of her seat.  On the other hand, I got within handshake distance of the radio broadcast booth, and got these shots of our announcers practicing their craft:




(The TV booth is just past that, but Gary, Keith and Ron have guards below them to keep you from annoying them on the air. Howie presumably just uses the dump button- which probably should have been used for the entire series the Mets lost:P)

No matter, though; spending the evening with a mentor and an artist was joy enough. Al has now been retired from teaching for some time; we met up the next morning for breakfast in a little place just over the Nassau/Suffolk line, and it was good to share everything with them that night except the much-needed Mets win.  At least we didn't suffer through rain or a 10-run Cub outburst like fans did the next night, or the "heroics" (?) of a no-name catcher singlehandedly beating the Mets' best pitcher the night after that.

But I had other plans for Wednesday and Thursday, which will follow in a sequel to this post:)

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Fall's around the corner.  You've felt it the past few mornings- or rather, I haven't felt the oppressive heat from getting in my car after it's been sitting out all day.  There's a hint of crisp, there are football games being played, meaningless though they may be, and there's one more week and weekend until Labor Day, which traditionally marks the end of Summer As We Know It.

Between 9 this past Monday morning and 6 on Thursday evening, I was busier than all get-out.  Three hearings on the morning of the 19th and a faraway fourth at day's end graciously postponed without me having to go.  Tuesday, another three, but in three different courts between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. and almost 100 miles put on the car without leaving the county.  Only one brief one Wednesday, and an even briefer one Thursday, but the latter was in Rochester and had client meetings packed around it and I didn't get home until 6.  Fortunately, I kept yesterday free- I'd thought of signing up for a seminar to use my comp pass from teaching, but put that off for an equally boring one in November, when it won't be nearly as nice out as it was yesterday- as we shall see.

The animals had none of this stress. Zoey responded to my tossing my suitjacket off, as soon as I came in the door Monday, with her usual approach-



-If I fits, I sits....

and Pepper had none of my pre-7 a.m. grumpiness on walkies the next morning, as she'd made herself a new fren-



While Wednesday was the easiest workday for me with actual workclothes on, it also had its aggravating moments; taking a deposit to the bank, I got behind a guy at the fancy new ATM which accepts cash, only it wouldn't accept his wadded up bills. It kept spitting them back to him and he kept shoving them right back in. After about the fifth go-round, I pulled around into the staffed lane next to it, scribbled a deposit slip, and told the teller (that's what they're called tellers for, I guess) that he was having issues with the machine.  He must have sensed my annoyance, because he sent this back with my receipt:



(Unless he was trying to tell me that I was the dum-dum sucker;)

Fortunately, Friday got here just in time, again a relatively quiet day in terms of people responding to me. I set out to update plans for next week's voyage, and to help get me in a baseballier mood for the main event, I arranged to meet a friend for last night's Bisons game in downtown Buffalo, the first (and last) time I would make it to that storied stadium this year.

----

First, the plans: 

I leave here crack-early on the morning of Tuesday the 27th, but I will not get out of Western New York until well past 10. That's because I have two clients who got Rochester court hearings adjourned to 9:30 that morning. One will go quickly; the other, well, let's just say it ate my brain last month and I fully expect another heaping helping of neurons to be on the menu, despite my trying valiantly over the past few weeks to get everything revised, signed and submitted in full and on time.  Assuming I do not kill nor be killed at that, I will make a pit stop at my office there just long enough to change into baseball clothes and will make it to Queens in a straight shot that, on a good day, takes just around six hours.  "On a good day" is highly optimistic, and I will likely wind up emailing the other tickets to the group before I leave, because with the Mets doing and drawing better these days and those six hours running smack into evening rush, who knows when I will actually get there for a 7:00 first pitch.

There's also the weather.  This was the first preview of what they thought next week would look like:



Well, they were right about that first Thursday, two nights ago; the game got halted with the Mets up 2-0 in the sixth inning, and after an interminable rain delay, they finally called it short at that after midnight. (Last night's Met game was almost as long in better weather, just due to lack of hitting by either team and an extended tie game- as we also shall see.)  Fortunately, by the next day, the forecast for that subsequent Tuesday cleared up, and has stayed that way:



(They are calling for some heavy weather closer to here on the 27th, though, which might slow me down.) 

Last night's pre-game game came about somewhat strangely: Cornell began sending me emails a while back about their local alumni club's outings. I've passed on joining them for faculty visits, winery stops and a reserved section at Shakespeare in Delaware Park. But they announced a Bisons game event for last night, and while it took some arguing with an alumni rep in Ithaca to get into the group because of a supposedly missed deadline (no it wasn't) (yes it was), I finally got the confirming email for two seats, and further confirmed that my usual baseball bud Scott would be coming in from the 585 to sit in the other one.

And what seats!



We were closer to more foul balls than ever, while still not catching any behind that screen.  Other than handing me the two tickets and taking my money for them, this alumni group was remarkably un-rah rah. There were a couple of quick introductions, but other than that hardly anybody spoke to anyone they didn't sit next to for the entire game.  (This is not a complaint; I find so much of college alumni bonding to be so much BS.)  We were also on our own for whatever food and drink we wanted to find.  For me, at this place, it's become just one tradition-



La poutine!  This oop north delicacy arrived when the Bisons affiliated with Toronto, even though it's much more of a Quebecois thing. (That's Scott above it, with the more traditional Sahlen hot.)  And to wash it down?  I started with a Great Lakes golden ale, not finding any of their Edmund Fitzgerald from last week's entry; maybe the truck got in a wreck;)  But some guys from the group had found cans of the true local delicacy in this department:



A local craft brewery began making this IPA last year as a tribute to Conehead, famed local beer vendor at all the available indoor and outdoor venues from ROC to BUF.  I'd tried finding it at other places and at Resurgence, but never managed to- but Tom (so famous now we know his real name) keeps a stash of it on hand as he works the aisles:



I had to wait for him to card a few kids claiming his other brews; being an aged coot like me, he now uses a magnifying glass to check their birthdates (and no, he didn't bother to check mine).  He'd have even autographed the can after it was empty, but alas I waited too long past the sixth inning end of serving hours.  Next time I'll have to consume fewer or faster quantities.

The Bisons are sort-of in the minor league pennant chase, the first time in ages they've been even remotely close this late in the year.  In the previous series in Rochester, they no-hit the Red Wings one night and then gave up 20 runs to their alter egos the Garbage Plates two nights later.  Last night's, against a noncontending and lame duck Pawtucket team, was close most of the night, but we didn't win and it's a shame:( 

I also saw a play I'd never seen before and still don't quite understand: a Buffalo batter struck out, but the ball got away from the catcher. I did know that this entitled the hitter to run to first to get on base despite striking out. What I didn't know is, if the catcher then muffs the throw and it falls in foul territory, the play is dead and the batter gets a second life.  Or at least I THINK that's what happened; I've checked the rather arcane rules about U3K (uncaught third strikes), and while they're not QUITE as bad as the ones for the blue lines in hockey, I'm not entirely convinced that the umpire didn't just make the whole thing up.

For the final few innings, I multitasked between watching the Bisons' comelack and listening to the Mets on the radio.  As we walked into the stadium, I mentioned to Scott that the evening's pitcher for the Mets in Queens, Jacob deGrom, has had a history of stellar pitching matched with crappy run support from his teammates, and that often the only way he can score a run is if he drives it in himself.

Well. While we weren't watching, he went and did just that:



(Sorry about the eyestrain from those awful uniforms. They'll be back out of their long johns by the time we get there Tuesday.)

That tied the Mets at 1-1- where it remained for my whole ride home, and probably Scott's even longer one.  It mercifully ended in the 14th, just after I'd finally given up on trying to stay up to a second bitter end. But the Mets are still doing much better than they were two months ago, and the Not Quite That Good Citi Field Seats I picked up CHEEP back in early July are much pricier now.

Weather permitting, that will be Tuesday night. I will spend Wednes-day exploring in City and on Island, catching an old friend in concert in Manhattan that night, and then making the journey home, with more time to stop in area codes in-between, on Thursday the 29th.  Hopefully my desk will not then resemble a war zone. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1558355.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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As I've sort-of mentioned in some previous posts, I'm finding it mentally healthy in stressed-out times to take even a small sliver of Me Time when I can.  If a full-blown Mental Health Day isn't possible, make it an hour or two. Or just pause in the midst of the mandatories and see or do something not previously seen or done.

Thursday was my one busy day this week, on the road to Rochester.  Morning court, followed by two client appointments on that end.  They went efficiently, if not necessarily well, and I was able to pull up stakes a bit earlier than I usually do, and set out to run two errands on the way home. Neither succeeded- Client Three did not leave his report for me to pick up, and Client Four's longtime nemesis was not in to annoy him on my final stop. But stop I did, and I'm glad I did.

The place is just over the Monroe line into Orleans County- the Village of Holley.  Perhaps best known for having an abandoned and probably haunted high school in the center of town (it's being renovated for apartments), it also has at least one business named after the nearby Holley Falls. They were the reason for my trip, and despite the owner's absence, I lingered a bit on and around the public square.  First was this oddity:



That's cold.  (My first worry was that the other name partner was cold, as in recently deceased, but the ex-sign turns out to have been advertising the former Heath & Martin, the latter having broken off with a huuuuge sign on his new joint across the square.)  Unfortunately, that means I now also can't use my joke anymore about the other guy not having been able to pass the Heath Bar.

Past them is an accumulation of little shops, a bunch of fitness salons crammed into one building, the Village Hall to which we shall return, and a lovely little library.  I passed a few minutes there, as I've done in dozens of little towns while waiting for courts to open or clients to arrive.  Even in the midst of territory where Voldemort 2020 signs are already prevalent, there's still hope as long as there are books.

Walking back, I checked the windows in the Village Hall entrance.  The usual upcoming chicken barbecues and whatnots, but also this sign of the times, if "the times" are 50 years ago this weekend:



In 1969, your hippie attire probably would have gotten your head bashed in on that square. Today,  it's the hippies who go by "Pops." Now get off my farm....

Heading back to my car, I kept seeing references to "the Falls," and not just on the name of the business, so I followed the trail.  Upstate New York is packed with these little hidden-away gems; at least one friend who works near Holley told me she's been going there for work twice a year and had no idea this was even there:



See? We don't need to buy Greenland, after all:P

----

The week ended on a quiet note; I only had one appointment in the office yesterday, and from the sound of my non-ringing phone, most of the universe was on vacation or at least taking the day off.  I did come across this sight on my way to work, though:



Interesting choice for a brewery, naming a craft beer for a multi-fatality nautical disaster.  I wonder if there's one in Texas peddling School Book Depository Bitter (fruity with a taste of grassy knoll!), or if there's a Bhopal Union Carbide India Pale Ale.  I posted that picture on arrival at the office, leading to any number of horrible puns:

 

"The one beer to have when you want to get really wrecked."

"The Mets should sign a deal here. The bullpen can always use help with a good sinker."

"I'd sink a few of those."  "Well, at least 29."

"I'm getting a sinking feeling."  "Better that than feeling Superior."

Thanks, I'm here all week.  The ship, only until the 3rd of November. (And Gordon Lightfoot, bless him, is still touring and will be here at the end of October. I presume he takes the bus.)

----

Hoping for a few such minutes in the coming week, but it won't be as easy.  Monday morning brings three separate court appearances in downtown Buffalo, Tuesday a fourth there surrounded by town court gigs at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m., Wednesday is so far just one in the morning, and Thursday I'm away all day. I'd planned to use my complimentary pass for an all-day seminar on Friday, but I am going to see if I can use it for a later one. And then comes the road trip from the 27th to 29th. More details on that as the weather situation becomes clearer. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1558093.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Only court days this week were Monday and will be tomorrow- neither with clients in tow, so none of the aggravation I went through last week.  That's given me time to catch up on calling people, getting some Project-y things prepared, and, unfortunately, using my brain where I'm the only one with that particular body part turned on.

Just a few examples of that:

- Trying to get a foreclosure wrapped up by my client refinancing his way out of it.  The figures work, the documents are all prepared, but the lender keeps insisting that the OLD lender "lift the foreclosure" before they will scratch a check.  I've spent probably two hours on the phone just this week brainsplainin' to these people that it doesn't work that way: the old lender provides a figure (provided), promises to sign all the "lift the foreclosure" documents once they get it (promised), and the borrower and his attorney guarantee those documents will get where they need to get (guaranteed).  They're pissing people off in three states over this, and I've yet to see a plugged nickel for my efforts.

- Needing a break from the nonsense and yesterday being stupidly sticky humid, I cut out of the office early and got my hair cut.  At this salon, the stylists are required to stop what they're doing and answer the phone whenever it rings- which it did, repeatedly, while I was waiting for my appointment.  My stylist took the last of these, which went something like this: Hello? What? Um, no. This is a haircutting place, not a dog grooming place.  Of course, that meant I didn't get any treats when she called me over; I was so upset, I shed all over her chair;)

----

In non-stupid other news:

I spent time the past couple of nights catching up with my college roommate(s) from three of our four Cornell years. The parentheses are because Jim's wife pretty much lived with us much of that time when we were off-campus.  I'd written them back in May after the Hamilton and Who experience and Jim just got back- understandable, since Jean's older brother John passed away earlier this year after a long illness. I'd met him a few times at functions including their 1982 wedding, and he always struck me as a good soul. Not much religiousness in his departure; his wife chose as send-off songs two quite dear to me, the aforementioned Who's anthem "Love Reign O'er Me," and Warren Zevon's "Keep Me In Your Heart."  I'd been thinking of them this week as I always do around August 15th; that was the day our first off-campus lease began in 1978, and I, with the help of my sister and her then-BF, was the first one to move in, because I couldn't get off Long Island quick enough after a horrific first (and last) "summer at home." I became so much more independent in those first twelve months, learning to shop for myself, eventually understanding the difference between a head of lettuce and a cabbage; finding a school-work balance that worked for both; and for the first time, choosing and being chosen by the people I lived with.

When Eleanor gets home, a bit earlier than usual tonight, we're heading out to the poetry reading in the Elmwood Village we've attended many of on Wednesdays for the past year. This one's special because one of the hosts of the program is bidding Buffalo farewell tonight. His beloved is moving to Nairobi for school, and Ben will be right by her side for this adventure.  The co-host will be continuing the tradition, though.

Over the weekend, we saw The Farewell, an indie picture set and filmed mostly in China. The actress/rapper Awkwafina stars in a role much toned down from her turns in Oceans 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, and she and the rest of the Chinese cast do an awesome job.  Like the film Yesterday we saw a few weekends before, the somewhat spoilery main premise of the film was pretty well known before we got there, but they managed to leave some surprises for us to discover which I will not spoil.

On the boobier tube, I just finished the 13-week run of the current season of Handmaid's Tale. It's had its up and down moments, but the final few episodes brought some much-needed Blows Against The Empire and an ending filled with both hope and schadenfreude.  Margaret Atwood (author of the source material and a producer of the series) has announced that her own novelized sequel will be out in the months between this ending and the eventual fourth series, so it'll be interesting to see how much runs in parallel and how much differs.  Eleanor has passed on this experience, but we've picked up our own communal binge- of Rita, a Danish TV series that ran from 2012 to 2017, the final two co-produced by Netflix and those four years' worth now streaming here with subtitles.  The writing and performances are spot-on, the humor has an edge, and we're already finding ourselves quoting things and referencing characters from it.

The humidity's down, so I'm off to read for a bit before we go. Hopefully neither it nor the clients will be stupid from here on out. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1557867.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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I only had two days in court this past week- one each in Rochester and Buffalo with bankruptcy clients who were the first to receive my new and improved third-grade-level Activity Sheet to help them understand the teeny leetle things they had to do to get out of thousands of dollars in debt:

-Show up on time.  Depending on the time, place and circumstances, I tell them to either meet me in my office an hour before the hearing in downtown Whatever, or at the hearing location 30 minutes before. My letters always told them this; the Activity Sheet now puts it right on the top. Tuesday's was 30 minutes before in the hearing room; Friday's, an hour before at my office here.

Did either of these work?
 



 



Of course not. The client for Tuesday's 10:30 hearing was still parking the car at 10:20, and was only saved from embarrassment and an extra hour's wait because the prior hearings had fallen further behind then even she was. Friday's, where we needed every minute to prepare for a potential shitshow, the preparation didn't get started until the client rolled in to my office less than 30 minutes before we had to be in the room, 20 minutes away.

-Bring what I tell you. Ah, but the biggest item on the Activity Sheet was devoted to getting people to bring proof of their full Social Security Number with them.  This is now absolutely mandatory because of a small amount of identity fraudsters giving out the wrong number, but a bigger (but still fairly small) amount of people who simply gave their attorney a number that was one digit off.  As you can imagine, this does bad things to the credit of the unfortunate soul whose number was used, and the offending party has to go through a bunch of curative steps to fix those problems.

They have several options for bringing proof of their full Social, but it's gotta be one of them, and fishing around for it when you're in the hearing room is NOT one of them. But that's what they both did- fortunately, I had suitable ways of overcoming with each, but cmon, people.



Just as fortunately, we got out of the first with no further delays or consequences; and while the shitshow did not occur as expected in the other, there was some unexpected shit on display, which I think I managed to get all nice and clean- or at least will once the client manages to show up at my office with a nominal filing fee so I can do my.... One Job.

Sometimes I wonder if "Job" should be pronounced more often with a long "O" sound.

----

In between those, I just caught up on a lot of sit-down paperwork projects that are hard to get into with a court date looming.  I also picked up a new client- the Erie County Agricultural Society, better known in these parts as "The Fair."  They had an issue with a possible bankruptcy involving one of their traveling vendors, and I talked them through it reasonably quickly.  In the end, it hardly seemed worth sending a bill for barely an hour of my time, so I've been thinking about proposing that they just send some passes to the event to call it even that I could share with friends or co-workers.

"The event," in these parts, remains a surprisingly Big Thing.  I have vague memories of attending a county fair somewhere near Binghamton when I was a kid, but that's about it.  Long Island didn't have enough farmland left to support any kind of agricultural shows; there was a Tompkins County Fair up in Trumansburg, but Ithaca's too close to the season-ending State Af-Fair up in Syracuse for it to ever get much traction-pulls.   Monroe County has a sizeable Fairgrounds, even with a permanent indoor arena, but when we lived there it seemed a tacky minor-league thing; they've moved what's left of it to more rural parts of the county, a far cry from the 70s when school bus demolition derbies and even strippers were part of the Midway.

Somehow, though, Erie County's has always maintained its cachet.  Having a large, permanent site with year-round structures and attractions has helped (a harness track, now casino gambling).  It's also taken on an emotional connection, with this early-to-mid-August event being considered by many to be Buffalo's "end of the summer" marker.  For a few years after we moved back here, the promoters got a little too big for their bigtops and started promoting it beyond the immediate region as "America's Fair." That didn't last long, and they've returned to their roots (if not their rutabagas) and are back to the Ferris wheel and funnel cakes and all the memories they inspire.

Somehow, in my on-and-off almost 40 years here, I've never been.  If we work it out with comps, this will be a first.  I wouldn't say it's Bucket List; more one of those "let's do this so I'll never be tempted to do it again" kind of things.

Besides, there are other options.  There's a Bark in the Park baseball game closer to home in Batavia on Tuesday night, and while our Rochester friends will likely miss it, Pepper and I may give it a shot.  We're also closing in on t-minus two weeks to the Big League Event with the Mets; they have continued their completely amazin' turnaround, beating up on a series of lesser opponents through last week before, the past two nights, coming from behind against the arguably better team in front of them in the standings with two straight walk-off wins where they trailed going into the bottom of the ninth.  Until Friday night, they hadn't won a single game from behind in their final at-bat; now they've done it two nights in a row.  And I missed both of them; we were watching our newest Netflix binge, a Danish tv show called Rita, for most of both evenings, and I turned in before either of the comebacks.  But then, this team has always generally done better when I'm not actually paying attention;) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1557532.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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I looked at my car's display this morning and went, huh. Where did all those miles come from? I didn't GO anywhere this weekend!



Once I thought about it, though, I realized, yeah. Did some things there, didn't I?

I tried my hand at a couple of household tasks on Friday. Early in the day, the relatively new freezer-on-the-bottom fridge left a puddle on the kitchen floor, as it seems to about once a month; we got it defrosted, but I hadn't had enough coffee just yet and it was slower going than I would have liked.  Things stayed slow at the office- lots of vacations or at least long weekends going on, I guess- so I decided to take off a little early and visited a friend and father/FIL of friends for the first time at his home in North Tonawanda.  His twin daughters have been longtime friends of mine from early LJ days, and they've both married and left the country- Erin to Sweden, Sara to Newfoundland. Vince made the overland trip Oop North a few weeks back, and asked if I'd be interested in him bringing back the books of short fiction that Sara's husband Jeff has been published in:



Of course, eh?  (And he wouldn't take a loonie for either, since he didn't pay the kids for either of them.)

I hadn't seen Vince (or his daughters) since the funeral of their beloved Cathy early last summer, but we've connected through Facebook and we spent time talking about various adventures in life and cars.  When he saw JARVIS at the curb, fresh off its $160US car wash, he brought out his mobile tester, confirmed that Herr Overpricederdealership had correctly diagnosed the code, but also confirmed that their pricing on both the repair and the part were ridiculously high.  At last report, he'd found the main offending part, running over $600 at the dealer, for $75 on eBay.

I am blessed knowing the best people:)

----

The good feeling carried over into the bathroom.

Let me rephrase that.  I'd had such a nice visit, I set out to correct another longstanding household defect once I got home. Heaven help me, I plumbed.

Our bathroom sink backs up a bit- recent treatments with various goops have helped- but the bigger problem was that the built-in stopper wasn't going up and down properly and you couldn't get the sink to fill.  I got under there with a flashlight and confirmed Eleanor's diagnosis- that the mechanism connected to the gizmo above sink level wasn't actually moving the gezakis inside the pipe.  Of course there's a Youtube video on how to remedy this- from a Canadian, yet- and somehow, I got the ratty old piece out, the replacement part secured for under ten bucks (five with a coupon), and the new one installed and working in five minutes out of the package.  All without injury or adult supervision.

----

That-all accounted for maybe 30 of those 100 miles. (At least 10 of them were needless because Siri misdirected me to a random spot on Niagara Falls Boulevard rather than Vince's actual house until I corrected her.)  A few came Saturday with routine stops at my office and Wegmans after we did some modest outdoor work, but the rest were saved for yesterday.  Our usual dog park trip got postponed since our walking buds were volunteering at a road race downtown, so I accepted a different invite for the morning and took Pepper to her first trip (with me, anyway) to a beach.

Emerald Beach, it's called- no swimming, but quite the view:



A coworker sponsored a morning-lawn cleanup of the plastic detritis that rolls in with the tide and gets left from the walkers along the shore and on the path above.  I've lived here on and off for going on 40 years and never knew this beach existed, but the directions to the Erie Basin Marina seemed clear enough- at least until I hit a detour caused by the same road race our friends were volunteering at.  Several wrong turns later, I was much closer to the former industrial pillars of the city-



(okay, not exactly brimming with human activity these days;)

- and wound up going past this place for the first time ever:



That's the solar panel factory that Elon Musk has promised to take us into the 24th and a half century- except between tariffs and other economic issues, production and employment so far are way below projections. They may need to start making other electricky things here to justify the big chunk of the "Buffalo Billion" the state sunk into this brownfield.

When I stopped for that shot, I then saw this oddity across the street from it- just sitting there in a car park:



Who knows? Maybe it's bigger than it looks on the inside;)

Ultimately, Siri apologized for her misdirections of the previous experience, put me safely on the 190 and landed me not far behind City Hall where I should have just known to go in the first place.  We quickly found the cleanup crew already in action-




(Michelle from my office in the middle, her older daughter and a friend either side)

- and Pepper quickly found the cache at the top of the site to keep us hydrated et al-



(I also like donuts.)

Within an hour, we'd collected quite a haul, being both cleaned and catalogued for an environmental project about the lakefront, but we also found far more than just things to pick up:  monarchs were seen flying about-




- and led us, in quick succession, to the first monarch caterpillar I think I've ever seen:




I texted that one to Eleanor and immediately got back:

Oh. My. God. I'm drawing that!

Pepper was very good the whole time, but we were both fairly worn out by homecoming time.  I got a bit more done in the yard, but ended with reading from my new finds and continuing another I've wanted to finish this summer.

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Today was memorable and uneventful. The latter because I did NOT spend it arguing to a jury as originally scheduled; the former because today marks 25 years since we closed on the purchase of this home. That's way longer than I've lived in any one place, and we're closing in on how long my parents homesteaded in East Meadow.  These other sights make things interesting, but there's no place I'd rather be. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1557378.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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When work's quiet, and I'm not going anywhere afterwards, and Eleanor and I see each other about 60 waking minutes a day, there's not much to talk about here. I'm left sharing mostly odd little inspirations from books, websites or other media that strike me as funny or interesting or whatever. All of these have been Facebooked at least in original versions, some as comments on others' posts, but since I keep this collection as a more semi-permanent record of life going back, wow, close to a third of my life now, I'll just toss them off more or less in the order they entered my head:

Bless my mother, may she rest in Vestal. She had an answer for everything, even if the answer wasn't particularly good.

When I was a kid, if we were watching a tv show or a movie on the tv with some kind of inexplicable visual- and this was way back before CGI or anything close- I'd pipe up and ask, "Mom! How'd Superman fly out of that window without falling to the ground?" Or, "how did Roadrunner make a hole in the side of that cliff shaped just like his body?" Her answer was, "Camera tricks"- as if that explained anything and everything.

All these years later, it's become a catch phrase between Eleanor and me when we're watching things- even if we question a plot hole in the script, or new actor suddenly taking over a role in a series, it will be explained away by me saying in my Mom voice, "Camera tricks," and her responding, "Thank you, Dorothy!"

I thought of this the other day when Eleanor mentioned that she'd emailed some photos to her brother, which for some reason came out sideways in the attachments. When she asked how that might have happened, I gave the Mom Stock Answer- and then we both realized, that, possibly for the first time ever, Dorothy was literally right:)

----

That was before my one trip of the week to Rochester yesterday- yeah, I guess I did do a little something this week- which began at 9 with a two-hour small claims trial and then followed with a couple of client meetups. I ended that day heading home in the afternoon, and as I sometimes do, I decided to check in on the enemy broadcasts on the AM talk radio dial. By far the biggest blood pressure-raiser is Sean Hannity, affectionately dubbed "Lumpy" by Jon Stewart. For months, he's been whining about this one remark that a Justice Department never-Trumper supposedly made about "smelly WalMart voters." He rails about their insensitivity: "How dare they demonize you good people on account of a stereotype?" Yet for all of this week, Lumpy's been all-in on the President of the United States demonizing the entire population of a Congressional District in Baltimore as being "rat-infested slumdwellers," as if that's totally legitimate. Tonight on my Fox show- we'll show you a picture of a rat in Baltimore, so it must be true!

Dude. I've been to Wally World. You can't post photos of smelly, but trust me, if we're playing the Anecdotal Evidence Game, we've both got ammunition.

----

Once home from that, we both read a bit and turned in kinda early, but insomnia set in for some reason. It didn't help that the Mets were still playing in Chicago (against the American League team there) until close to midnight- and, amazin'ly, were leading! Despite my remarks the other day about them being pretty much out of contention this year, they've had a nice run of wins, the last seven of them in a row- and the radio announcers and even the fairly cynical regular bloggers were assessing the upcoming schedule and going, Hmmm, maybe, if this and then that and definitely not that other thing, we could sneak back into the pennant race! I'm always enough of a Polyanna to buy into it, but a long-suffering enough fan to not put actual wagers on it.

I understand it, though. For I'm also a Bills fan- and every December, we go through this. Despite the team missing the playoffs for 18 of the past 19 years (and sneaking in on a wing and prayer two seasons ago), despite their talent and schedule usually consigning them to having no real chance of making it by Thanksgiving, and despite the Killer B's in Foxboro stealing our lunch money every year since 2001, the networks still put the Bills' 5-8 record on the onscreen graphic and say we're "In the Hunt."

And that leads to only one image. Not of Dog the Bounty Hunter, or of Hill Street's Howard Hunter, or of Fred Dryer AS Hunter. No, of the one who championed fearlessness and oxygen deprivation as an inspiration to us all....

SEA Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges! Who went on to be better known for a later project:



----

I've been re-reading Jim Bouton's book Ball Four all the way through, to honor his memory after his passing last month. One cool thing I came across last night was that a few weeks before his death, the Library of Congress announced that it had acquired Bouton's collection of personal papers, including his notes, recordings and edited drafts of the legendary book:






I remember exactly where in the book that was, and am glad the crossed-out section got retained- "stet" means "forget my editor's cross-out, I lost the argument with the author, put it back".

No plans to visit the Library of Congress for a look at these, but it's definitely going on the Bucket List, and hey- the kids aren't too far from DC,....

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Today was an even more uneventful workday- the only excitement being that I got to write a delicious set of papers to try to hold a cranky old man in contempt for ignoring my client's recent bankruptcy filing and continuing to send her passive-aggressive texts. I'd sent him my "fair warning" letter a couple of weeks ago, and my client outright told him he was risking a contempt citation, but today he crossed over into practically stalking her near her new residence and sending one final text saying "RUN BUT U CAN'T HIDE U NEED TO PAY UR PAST RENT." The bad l33tsp33k alone is gonna cost him an extra 200 bucks in my attorneys fees.

But I did have time for some inappropriate behavior of my own. I'd gotten in a couple of potential lawsuits yesterday, but only realized today what the name of one of them was. Fortunately, Facebook provides the perfect background to set up the joke:



There followed the obligatory references to the Pope and to Sherlock. Because all of my online friends are also twelve;)

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Trying to finish the latest episode of Handmaid's Tale- just two to go in this season after the one that dropped yesterday. I'm still trying to get my brain around learning that the lead actress, Elisabeth Moss, is a Scientologist, and working on how she can reconcile her performance with that real-life membership. Member-controlling religion? Check. Rejection of accepted mental health treatment? Check. Totally paranoid leadership? Check.

At least I haven't seen OfLRon jumping up and down on a couch yet.

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One day of August down. Two games to get back to .500. And nothing ahead in life that a few good camera tricks can't fix:)


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