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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...

Monday.  Had to be in traffic court at 9 a.m. for a former BK client who got popped for obstructed view over a Christmas tree air freshener, of all things.  If he had stopped in ahead of time at my office to return or sign a simple form, we could've done the whole damn thing through the mail.

I was the first attorney there at 9- so early there wasn’t a signup sheet. The prosecutor showed up, took one ahead of me and was in with him for 25 minutes. The line of attorneys started piling up into double digits. We discussed sending in first responders if he didn’t open the damn door.  Meanwhile, this being (a) Monday morning, (b) after a bad Bills home loss and (c) with the police officer station being just the other side of the court facility's wall, we got to be serenaded by some dude in the drunk tank who probably needed the first responders even more.

Finally, I was admitted to the Holy of Holies- and got my plea in under two minutes (pro tip: this is much closer to normal, and it'd have been under 30 seconds if he'd had the file out on his desk like he should have.)  Then, to the Bat-Courtroom!- where the judge was also having to deal with 25 Minute Guy and his lawyer, trying to understand why the client was turning down a conditional dismissal of his case.  But ultimately we got out with not too much damage to my day or my client's wallet.


Tuesday. Met a nice doggie. At the office of an attorney who wouldn't handle a case for an existing client of his, and who then spent most of last week playing phone tag with me over getting the file information from him so I could take it over . His office was on my way from Wegmans, where I had to bring something over to Eleanor, so I stopped by- and there at his door were Ambar (the lawyer) and Otto (the dog). Ambar promised to email me the documents (he still hasn't). Otto was very sweet, but didn't seem to know anything about Nietzsche.


Wednesday. Suffice it that I wrote out a time entry, ultimately posted for more than an hour with better legal-beaglese explanation, that simply said, Herd cats. This was the consequence of being unable to be in two places at once that morning and confirming the adjournment of the hearing in Place #2, with nobody opposing it but everybody being afraid that someone else would show up and screw up the adjournment.  Finally got it confirmed, after my trip to Place #1 turned out to be utterly a waste of my time.

More fun with dogs, though. Place #1 was Niagara Falls, and I chose to detour across that scenic county- VISIT OUR FARMS!, says one billboard- to Lockport, where Pepper's chosen brand of chow is closest (not counting the puppy-mill-supply-chain pet store two miles from here which I won't patronize).  Clyde's not only had a cute pup chatting up all the customers with a ball in her mouth; they guarantee your pet will eat the hippy dippy organic shiz they sell you, they voided the sale to apply the coupon I didn't even have, and they ask you to return the 40-pound bags empty so the manufacturer can recycle them.

They also sell cat food, but there were none there to herd.


Thursday. More Belushi:

One of the easier ones- no court, only one appointment and not until 2, and the snow of the previous week was nearly gone- and I got the added schadenfreude of not having to be in traffic court to defend the guy I saw on the other side of the 90 en route.  In reverse order:
1- A car with a state trooper behind it, writing the driver up.
2- A wrecked state trooper car being loaded onto a tow truck.
3- Another state trooper behind the wreck and the tow truck, hoping some asshole doesn’t hit him.


My first workout after attending a free clinic on rowing and running technique a couple of nights earlier.  The coach did a very good job of taking the components of each literally from the ground up- first, foot (treadmill) and leg (rower) positioning and sequencing, then core, and finally upper body (motion for the rower, avoiding swingy motion on the tread).  Jacob also gave some great explanations of how important breathing is in both processes.  Trying it out this evening showed I actually larned me some things there- most of the metrics were up from what they typically have been, and I had the soreness to prove it.


Saturday. Eleanor continues her weekend-warrioring getting the inside of the house repainted. Saturday is usually my day to collect all those herd cats timesheet fragments from the week, supplement them with checking my phone and email for additional things I did, and put it all into the billing program.  Got that done. Also got the Saturday mail at the office, something I've done in five different places over 30-plus years; did most of the running up-and-down-cellar stairs for things Eleanor needed for the paint job and otherwise; and we both somehow managed to stay out of Wegmans for an entire day.

Oh, and I got tricked by our own dog.

When the mail came at the house, my car registration sticker was in it. Good thing, because it expired that day. (They now let you print a 10-day extension from when you pay online, but even that was running short.)  I opened the car door to stick it on, went back to grab the knife to peel the old one, and Pepper jumped in the car and said, let’s go! There was no getting her out. So, of course, we wound up at the Parp! for an extra two-plus times round:

Eleanor had a Buddhist meeting Saturday night, so I listened to the Sabres, interspersed with bingeing a good chunk of Good Place season 2, and got ready for a return to the park at the usual time on....


Sunday. Two more trips around, lots more new noses to nuzzle, then I returned Pepper home before a run to Wegmans.  I got some groceries after OTF this morning and asked for a $10 bill back. Then went to my next stop and found I had two $20s in my wallet. Checked the receipt- yup, $10 back. So I trundled back to Wegmans (Eleanor had some extra stuff she needed anyway) and traded the $20 for the $10 so she wouldn't get in trouble for being under. She was very appreciative. Spent the $10 on the remaining groceries.  Then, what do you think I found in my car?


The brick.

Sorry, couldn't resist. No, what I found, of course, was the $10 bill the cashier had given me, correctly, in the first place, which means now her till is $10 over. Fortunately, Eleanor assured me it's highly unlikely they'll be able to trace it to her (tills are typically shared during a shift), and even if they do, hopefully she'll remember the goofy guy who tried to do the right thing.

And I was rewarded for my attempted good deed by seeing this cutie in the adjacent car before coming home:

I wonder if he knows what Nietzsche would have thought of my moral dilemma.

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As regulars to this space (three of you at last count) all know, there are two felines in our home.  Zoey, aka Good Kitty, is going on 10, but still remains very kittenish. Michelle, aka Evil Cat, will be old enough to vote in the next election and is, well, evil. She’s the one who disappeared for close to two weeks into early October, before marching back into the garage demanding food. Her time away did nothing to endear her to us any more, and the feline is mutual.

She did seem a lit-tle calmer until last week. I could usually hold off her yowls until something resembling 6 am, and then get back to sleep thereafter. But the past week, she’s been rising close to 3-4 a.m., hauling dish towels down the hall with a vibrato Freddie Mercury would be proud of, not shutting up until fed, and then resuming the act AFTER noms, as if to say, c'mon, wake up so I can go back and sleep all day!

Two nights ago, I done got sick of it, and kicked her back out to the garage for the first time since her prodigal return. This got me two uninterrupted (mostly) hours of sleep before it got close to Dog Park time, and she seemed no worse for wear when she came in.

I say mostly uninterrupted because the first dream I had was of my having left a door open and Evil Cat being stared down by a mean old junkyard dog. Of course I saved her. Later, at the park, I recounted the dream to Ursula’s mommy and joked, “I’d like to meet that dog.”

Ann: “Careful, Ray. There’s such a thing as bad karma,”

Me: “I know. And she’s IT.  No idea what sin we got her for.”

So this morning she got tossed out again- but now she’s got a doggie bed and blankie to save her from the horrible cold (no colder than it was on some of those 10 nights outdoors when she ran away).  Plus, she can hang out with the deer who come right outside the door, and think about who to vote for in the next Presidential election when she turns 20.

Now that’s what REALLY scares me.


Zoey gives us none of this grief. She sleeps with us, too, but her only noise is a perfectly delightful purr that induces sleep. She’ll rattle around right before feeding time, but nothing meriting eviction.

She does occasionally cop an attitude with the dog, nothing beyond a hiss;  and she’ll tussle with Evil Cat now and again. Biggest trouble she is to us is when her claws get sharp. She struggles and bites while I try to clip them (oddly, Evil Cat is quite compliant when I do hers). Zoey needed a mani-pedi yesterday, and as usual she resisted- but this time I understood why.

One of her front claws was gone. Still sensitive when I pulled back the paw, but by all appearances completely healed. She gave no sign of any blood, pain or discomfort whenever it happened. She walks fine, has never stopped being cuddly, and we wish we could speak Cat so we’d catch these things.


Some things in life are easier to notice- although Eleanor's usually quicker on the uptake.  Her phone's just past two years old (and, yay!, now paid for), and a few weeks ago, she took it on a bike ride outside its protective case and it fell. It looked to her like she'd cracked the screen. I've done that more than once, and hers didn't look nearly webby-wobbly enough for a clean break past the protector.  So I took it, two weekends ago, to a small iGadget joint near here, where a coworker had had good luck getting a screen repair.  Our karma was even better; it was just the protector (and a teeny chip on the edge, which is under the frame of the OtterBox and unlikely to go further), and the guy replaced it in under five minutes, and for free. His only request was that I recommend them to people. So I am.

Meanwhile, my older version, which has had a protector on it quite a bit longer, had gotten somewhat ratty over the years, and was even peeling around the edges. I finally resolved to get it replaced this past weekend; seemed tacky to ask them for another freebie, so I got a replacement from Tarjay of the same brand that had held up well and prevented any cracks of the phone.

As opposed to cracks in the protector itself: not all of these were visible, but clearly (or rather, not so clearly), it was time:

Of course I dropped it first thing this morning, but it took the licking and kept on ticking without any new cracks.  Maybe I can sell it to an art museum as some kind of modernist glasswork.

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(I know, enough with all the Mel Brooks, already....)

Most of this week was spent in a mixture of frustration and relief over my attempt to do what you'd think would be a simple thing: find a pair of snow tires in Buffalo.  I had trouble finding four of them last winter, so settled for two for the back. That was a massive improvement, but I'd occasionally have weird traction issues on curves and such, so I was determined to go with a full foursome this time. 

The dealer we bought from no longer sells any Smart cars, but they still ::koff:: service them. In early November, when the first signs of the white stuff were showing up, I tried to get an appointment with them, to make my purchase but also to appease  the nag screen I was getting every startup about my 10,000 mile service being overdue.  I signed up for that, for reinstalling my two rear snows from last year, and for purchasing two new snows for the front. Soonest they could get me in was the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Seeing that, I gave them an extra week to this past Monday, so they could also do the NYS inspection that's due in December.  I even stopped in the Friday before the appointment, to confirm they had all these down, and to add asking them to check my odd problem with demonic possession that occurred around Thanksgiving.

We brought them JARVIS at ass-crack o:clock this past Monday morning; Eleanor then took me to work.  I didn't hear boo for hours, putting me in an unsettled state despite having noplace I had to drive and despite being able to walk home if I had to.  Mid-afternoon, the call came: the rear snows were on, the evil spirit remained in hiding (I hadn't heard it go off since Thanksgiving, so maybe Mom has settled back in the dirt;), but, and this was the bad news, they could not find new snow tires, or indeed any new tires, for the front of the car. Worse, the original front tires were now beyond inspection pale. My choices were to suck it up or to take a loaner from them.  I did not want one of their Mercedes S-class panzers, and told them so, but they blessedly still had a gas Smart, same year and otherwise essentially identical to mine, wot I could use until they finished their game of Where's Waldo's Tires?

A co-worker gave me a ride to at day's end, and this became my Car Away From Car for the rest of the week:

The rules were simple: 150 miles a day max (not a problem unless they found the tires the next morning, as I had to be in Rochester Tuesday); no leaving the state; and no smoking in the car.  Also, an ambiguous directive about using my toll transponder:

(The service dude gave me mine back along with my garage door opener, so I'm guessing it just meant this loaner didn't have its own.  And that is the name of the old Sly Stone song, I've since learned.)

Those last two, which I didn't think would be an issue, each came close.  The Tuesday Rochester client was nervous about her hearing, so I drove her downtown in the Loaner Arranger (yes, we name everything;). She was also a heavy smoker, and even though she didn't smoke in the car, I was afraid the contact high from her just sitting there might've busted me.  I also considered breaking the New York Only rule once I found out that there are still plenty of Smart dealers in Ontario province- one in St. Catharine's, even closer to home than Rochester- that might well have the Holy Snow Tires.  Of course, these days, going to Canada makes it harder to abide by the no-smoking rule;)

But that wouldn't have been until late in the week- I was in Rochester that day and two days later, the latter being in a messy morning-commute mix of snow and slush in a loaner that didn't even have snows on the back.  It also almost got hit by a FREEKIN EEDJIT across from the federal courthouse on Tuesday, who was trying to parallel park her boat of an SUV into a space right behind the loaner.  I waved and screamed and pulled out of dry dock to give her plenty of room to drop anchor.

Wednesday was quiet due to the all the Asscloth and Sashes for Bush 41- mail canceled, federal proceedings all closed- and I just cranked out work. Thursday brought that second messy Rochester trip, which was scary the first 20 miles out and the last 20 miles back but otherwise featured barely a flake falling.  I had a foreclosure hearing there- which was my third case of the week involving clients trapped in this mess.  The first, by a hardworking client who fell behind after filing a Chapter 13 and couldn't get her bank to agree to reinstate her mortgage. The second, by a client who also fell behind after filing a Chapter 13 and went on the lam from federal marshals in connection with a transaction that might have been legal in Ontario now but still isn't here. Guess which one of those two got approved for a trial mortgage modification lowering their payment and interest rate? Gwon, guess.

By late Thursday, when I got back to my office here from the white-knuckle snow drive, I was starting to wonder whether this dealer was literally trying to reinvent the wheel.  But they called, to surrender but also to appease me even further. They'd found a pair of all-seasons for the front of JARVIS and could have them on either by the end of that day or sometime Friday.  I went along with this plan, since I would need those tires for the end of the winter anyway, and once I retrieved my own car I could visit Canada, and its many tourist attractions;), at my leisure.

I got the call round 11 yesterday morning that JARVIS was ready to go. This gave me just enough time for two accomplishments.


First was getting my hair cut, with a stylist I've had a number of times before.  I noticed her wearing what I thought was some new hardware on the fourth left finger, and indeed she had just gotten engaged. I congratulated her, and told her that I'd proposed to my own beloved on this same day, 32 years before.

Second was working in  a workout for the first time since JARVIS went on HIAT-US.  I'd planned one for the end of the afternoon the day before, but the travel home was too long and stressful for that.  My stylist finished in just enough time for me to bop on over for a noon-hour class not far from the dealership, and there I experienced one of Life's Little Victories:

Most of the workout was good but expected: a routine run-to-row, nothing-unusual floor exercises, but one new (to me) component: a three minute plank hold. You could start on palms or elbows, got one switch from one to the other, and otherwise owed Stephanie five push-ups for every drop. (And trust me- she checks;)

I was determined to hold the damn thing- and somehow I did. I'm slower than virtually all on that floor, am older than maybe one or two, but despite shaking palm to foot at the 2:59:60 mark, I made it. Around 30 seconds left, the push-up trade sounded darned reasonable, but as one of the other coaches says, you can do anything for 30 seconds. Even cranky old me.


From that, I got back my car, inspected, tire-d front and rear, more than I expected for a tab ($180 for putting on my own tires versus $130 for buying and mounting the new ones), but I was reunited. And it felt so good.

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For days, they were whining about an OMGSnowpocalypse! coming into town today and burying us in Le Feete of messy precip.  That's now been scaled back to OMehGod estimates of a couple of inches- but it gave me one more thing to stress about the night before a trial.

I only do a handful of these a year now. They're all-or-nothing propositions, waste inordinate amounts of time on protocol, and my general aversion to anxiety makes the night before one a sure bet for insomnia, and the inevitable weeks (if not months) of waiting for a decision from a judge or arbitrator a pins-and-needles form of torture. 

Note that "juries" are not in that list of fact-finders; yes, they're quick, but so is cyanide.  I've done exactly one-half of such a case in 30-plus years and got my clients' head handed to me. (Half, how? Because it was an odd hybrid form called a "summary jury trial" which was a Thing mostly in the southern sectors of Western New York. For years, there was an official state court brochure promoting the program online, which listed the types of cases "successfully" disposed of by the expedited process; one of which, though described generically, could only have been The Case of The Color Coded Timber With Ray's Head Hanging From It.)

So I write this just before an early turn-in and, just as likely, an early wakeup and stayup.


Most of what I've social-mediaized the past few days has been the usual Dumb Stuff. A hockey fight breaking out at a football game; Melania's Handmaid-Tale-inspired Christmas trees; and getting this stupidly meta message after Windows crapped out in the process of reporting a crapout:

One thing that went unposted, here or anywhere, over the weekend was the progress made round the house, mainly by Eleanor on painting our ceilings for the first time in forever.  (I wasn't totally slouchy, spending a few hours outside working on transporting our backyard leaves to the curb, but it was a fraction of the effort she put in.)  Late Sunday night, Eleanor called me out on that- wondering why I was not acknowledging in any public form how hard she'd worked at this process.  It was too late to get into thinking, much less arguing about it, but by the following day, the answer came to me from a place likely unknown to anyone but me or her:

She's been quite the fan of this book since it not long after it first came out 20 years ago. I've been aware of it, but don't have the same burn into the brain of its meaning. It speaks of finding joy and spirituality in "the ordinary" of daily repeated tasks- laundry in the title, but perhaps the painting of a ceiling would be a better example right about now.

I don't relate to it in the same way. Maybe some of that is how much is ingrained in me to find the opposite of joy in that kind of task- raised as I was to learn that anything I did (other than read, write and do rithmetic) was not good enough, or wasn't as easy for me as they thought it should be. It's taken 30 years with a blessed and beloved to overcome a lot of that- but, as one of the reviews of this book puts it, "It might also be a good read for a spouse who has trouble understanding exactly what their partner does day in and day out."

Most of what I post here, and on the blog, is of momentary inspirations- a thing, a person, an event, a thing that happened to a person at an event. Quotidian things don't capture the imagination (at least not mine) in the same way- but that doesn't make them any less important or worth writing about.

The more I thought about it after sharing these thoughts with Eleanor, the more I realized- I was doubly damaged by this upbringing. For not only did I learn not to expect patience learning things I'm not good at, I learned not to give patience in teaching or explaining the things I can do well. It's why I've never done well with assistants at work, or showing someone how to do something; I give up trying to show, and take over trying to do.  It's quicker, but see above about that.

So since that discussion, there's not been much if any further painting, and definitely no more raking (hopefully not running the risk of major forest fires around here:P).  But I'm glad for the insight into the thinking and feeling behind it- and we have a fresh copy of that book Amazonning its way here along with a fresh load of compression socks. Yes, for both of us.  Get off my lawn; I'm not done raking it.


Here's another silly thing I've mentioned a few times online but will now explain in some detail.

I go way back with trivia games- from call-ins to radio shows in the 70s and 80s, to joining and eventually hosting online games for AOL in the 90s, to the occasional night out with friends these days at a Geeks Who Drink event- I have pretty good brain chemistry for remembering a lifetime full of useless information.  This time round, my new trivia outlet is entirely online and I'm alone when actually competing.  I'd read something about it a while back- probably this Times piece- but was never interested enough to look into it until I became one of the chosen nerds to receive a referral from wayback LJ bud [personal profile] audacian and an invitation from "the league’s trivia-obsessed founder, Shayne Bushfield, who in his capacity as 'commissioner' uses the moniker 'Thorsten A. Integrity.'”

The article lays out the generalities- six questions per play day (generally non-holiday weekdays) for 25 total contests, questions which, in Jeopardy! clue fashion often hint at their own answers or possibly at wrong ones, and the daily matchups where you're rotated in your "rundle" against 20-ish other triviots known only by first initial, last name and a few other mostly ungooglable identifying traits. 

Here's where it gets interesting, though: you mostly score points for getting questions right, but the points are awarded based on how your opponent for each day thinks you will do.  Figuring these out is as tricky as getting the answers right. You assign weights of 1 point to two of the questions, 2 points for two more, and throw in one zero (for the one you think your opponent is most likely to get) and one three (for the one you think they're least likely to).  These are the components of your daily score.  You get limited historical information about how your opponent has done in the past- here's mine's for today through the first six rounds:

The days' difficulties vary. Monday's were a tire fire of trivia hell: I only got one of the six right, while my opponent got one more right but scored twice as many points because I guessed wrong about which would be hardest for them.  Tonight, on the other hand, I nailed five of the six, but have no idea how I or my opponent did until we see how we bet points against each other.  (Answers are revealed immediately, but the scores show up in the wee smalls, which is fine, because, trust me, I'll be up then:P)

There are no prizes other than bragging rights- and after your initial free invite you pay for the privilege, between $30 and 100 a year. And in theory, there's absolutely nothing stopping me from passing the answers to any friend I know who's in it, or looking shit up on the Interwebs.  One theory I have about how they discourage the latter: these people are smart, duh. There's nothing stopping them from making up questions, or more likely answers to questions about extremely obscure facts, crowdsourcing those fake answers out into cyberspace to trap the disreputable, and then banhammering any player who "correctly" answers the fake answer.  (The copyright equivalents of that come from the world of cartography, where mapmakers would invent "trap streets" and "paper towns" to find infringers on their designs. This actually became the basis for the film Paper Towns, leading to the eponymous nonexistent burg of Agloe, New York, a trout's throw from the World Famous Roscoe Diner but absolutely not the real diner where they filmed a scene in the film.)

That, of course, is the only thing stopping me from doing it- well, other than that little guy on my shoulder going


Not getting enough sleep would also be wrong, so, adieu.

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My mind can wander off to the strangest places, especially with a day off with nothing to distract it.  I began this day linking to a political piece, which got me into, of all things, family history- or my general lack of knowing it.

I'll begin here at the same beginning (a very good place to start).  Our Congresscritter since the 2012 elections has been a South Buffalo Democrat named Brian Higgins. Good guy- helped us with a constituent service issue some years back- and one who generally follows standard party positions, but he's got some backbone. Despite running in the plainly safest D seat in Western New York (his opponent barely campaigned this time), he did take a stand earlier this year against a return to status quo politics if his party regained a House majority. In particular, he announced, in surprisingly unflattering terms, that he would oppose Nancy Pelosi's election as speaker, calling her "aloof, frenetic and misguided" (which would be a good name for a band). As recently as earlier this week, he signed a letter affirming that position. But yesterday came word that he would support her leadership in exchange for two things she'd blown him off on in the past: getting a major infrastructure bill shepherded through the House; and, this one's the one she promised him a specific leadership role on, beginning the road to Medicare For All by immediately allowing Americans 50 and older to buy in to the program.

I immediately posted my liking this idea on the Facey Thing:

The "over 50 Medicare buy-in" Higgins is getting to push makes sense. Lowering the buy-in age will provide the proof to counter the "Harry and Louise" bullshit already planned to combat the leap to Medicare for all- that Medicare expansion won't triple its cost, increase bureaucracy or kill Grandma (because these days, Grandma is as likely to be between 50 and 65 as she is older). Then with that proof, and Democratic control of all of Congress and the WH after 2020, expand it to all.</p>

The fact that we're 59 and 62 and would immediately benefit from this while millennials would have to suck it up a couple more years? Pure coincidence;)

I'd have to look into whether I'd want to buy in while I'm still working- the devil, as always, is in the details- but it would be a godsend for Eleanor. The main reason she didn't retire this year at 62 was because her job provides low-cost health insurance for her, and if she can start getting Social Security and Medicare with comparable coverage, well,

But this has what to do about family history?, I hear you cry.

The first person to respond to my Facebook post about Brian Higgins was, well, Brian Higgins. But not my Congressperson; another one,  friend of our dear friend [profile] mayiwrite who I connected with here a few years back. I immediately commented that it was not Mister NY26 sockpuppeting a like of  himself, and that got us talking about the fun of people with the same name.

Him: My digital doppelganger, mudding up my self-googling for years

And here's where the brain went down the rabbit hole, because it reminded me of my favorite scourge, not by my exact name, but close: Try doing genealogy when you've got relatives named Arthur and there's an entire freakin town in Texas named for the one famous Arthur Stilwell you're NOT related to.

To me, the Arthur of our last name is "Uncle Arthur." Not the wacky warlocky one played by Paul Lynde, or the weird one in the Coen Brothers movie we just started watching last night, but my father's older brother. He's probably the one relative outside the immediate fam that I spent the most time with; he lived one county away with his wife ("Penny" to us, "Emma" on the gravestone they put up after rolling her rather rotund remains into the family plot, partly infringing on Mom's never-used spot out there to this day), and their two sons: Arthur Michael, and, what else?, Michael Arthur.  My uncle was a burly, mustachioed dude who always seemed to have an air of larceny about him.   I couldn't tell you what, if anything, he did for a living.  I remember the oddest things of their rambling home out in Huntington- a lot of land, and a player-piano-style organ in their finished basement.  (Or it may have been one of those horrid play-by-color jobs which Robert Klein decimated in this 70s bit.)

As for my cousins? Arthur Michael was quite a bit older- actually a few months older than Donna, and he got married around the same time our oldest sister did, to a woman named Marie but who went by Bunny.  (Yes, Bunny and Penny under the same roof.) We found his obit some time back- Arthur Michael passed in 2004 at age 58, survived then by Bunny, by his brother Michael, and by three boys, one of whom he named Arthur, because it's apparently the law.  He was in the fence business, which I hope, given my uncle's questionable history, meant he put barriers up on property lines.  Michael, my closest relative in terms of age, has remained perpetually ungoogleable, and Uncle Arthur and his other grandkids (one named Joseph, probably for the famous general we're peripherally related to, the other named Shawn) have also defied tracking, mainly because of the Real Famous Arthur.


I've known about the Namesake of Port Arthur Texas for years- mainly out of wishing he'd never been born so I could find who I'm looking for- but I only just discovered this bio of him from someplace called the Museum of the Gulf Coast:

Arthur Edward Stilwell, the founder of Port Arthur, was born in Rochester, New York. He left home at fourteen and persuaded a family friend, George Darling, to employ him as Billiard Room Cashier of his Southern Hotel, in St. Louis, at the salary of $60 per month.

There's the first red herring. In my 30-plus years in and out of Rochester, I have never met a soul of our name, much less one I might be related to. But Artie wasn't done in Rachacha just yet:

After his father lost most of the family’s money through poor investments, Stilwell returned home.  He took the $400 left him by his grandfather, and bought a printing plant in Smith's Arcade.  Six months later Stilwell joined Williamson and Highy, stationers and law-blank printers in Rochester, as a commercial traveler (salesman).

That stationer was long departed from the Flower City by my time, and while there is, to this day, a D.F. Williamson Co. dating to 1870 here in Buffalo, its history seems unrelated, as does most of what I find when I look this shiz up.  And Smith's Arcade was at the Four Corners, currently occupied by the 60s-hideous architecture of the Four Corners Building and now home to the Monroe County Bar Association.

From there, he got into insurance, and eventually railroads, designing and constructing towns along their lines including the eponymous one in Texas which was his "planned city."  From the town's Wiki entry:

Arthur Stilwell founded the Port Arthur Channel and Dock Company to manage the port facilities. The port officially opened with the arrival of the British steamer Saint Oswald in 1899. (The ship later sank in 1915, after colliding with the French battleship Suffren during World War I.)

Are you sensing the same series of unfortunate events here that I am?  Well, they continued:

Stilwell backed every endeavor with his own funds, but he never became lastingly rich. His crowning achievement was a railroad to the Gulf which he designed, financed, and served as president of. After being forced out of his various investments, Stilwell began to write and publish books. One of his books, "Cannibals of Finance", attacked John W. “Bet-a-Million” Gates, Harriman, and Thalmann, the men who forced the KCP&G (Kansas City Southern) into receivership....Stilwell’s fortunes had crumbled by the time he died at age 68.  Less than two weeks later, on October 9, 1928, his wife committed suicide. Dressed in her best clothes, she walked out the window of their 12th floor Manhattan apartment.

Hey. At least they beat having to live through the Great Depression and she didn't run into any other falling bodies on the way down:P

But the best part of Famous Arthur's bio is this:

Stilwell himself was notably unstable.  He claimed that all of his business ventures were dictated to him by voices from the spiritual world.

Now THAT, finally, gets me wondering if maybe we are related to the guy. After all,  I root for the Mets, Bills and Sabres, the misfortunes of whom can only have similar otherwordly explanations.

So maybe I'll get to reopening the genealogy books with Donna next time I visit. 

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Been an unusual week, that's for sure. With only three workdays, the third typically being a getaway day, it's usually pretty quiet. So I guess the noise had to come from someplace.

My car's remote lock/unlock settings have been weird for weeks. Usually, pushing the lock button on the fob causes JARVIS's headlights to blink and his horn to beep. Since this weirdness started, though, the headlights blink twice and the horn beeps not at all- except when it doesn't do that and goes back to the way it usually works. This was annoying (especially when using the horn to find the car in a crowded parking lot- finding a Smart car is a sea of white Silverados and grey Toyotas is not the easiest thing, yo), but not that big a deal, until yesterday. That's when I heard a car alarm going off out in our office car park, and made my usual under-my-breath grumbles about assholes who hit the panic button by mistake.... until the office manager came in and said, "Ray, did you park out front? I think your alarm's going off."

I ran out to shut it off, somewhat embarrassed. My keys had been in my pocket; had I hit the red button by accident, despite all the obvious warnings?

Ever trying to be helpful, I took my keys out of said pocket. Not five minutes later, the damn thing went off again. This time, I went over to check the car for damage, put something in the trunk to see if that hadn't been shut properly, and had a safe remainder of the afternoon and evening.

All of this was getting into weird territory- but one other thing took it from Ludicrous to Plaid in the way of weirdness. Last weekend, Emily called me a couple of times, to ask if I'd ever had a problem with Kermit the Hybrid's alarm spontaneously going off. No, never did for me- but it did for her, just that day- and it KEPT going off. AAA came and couldn't diagnose it, and until she can get it into the dealer, the only solution is to disconnect the battery every time she parks so she doesn't have the neighbors going all Torches and Pitchforks on her. Then, just to complete the trilogy of weird, a friend of my sister's saw my Facebook post about this odd coincidence. She reported that Donna's computer has started a constant beeping every time she turns it on. I'm not surprised- it's an ancient tower running XP I got for her probably five years ago, that is running with no support for preventing malware or other nasties. (There's probably a pre-Christmas visit in my plans- probably with Pepper in tow this time to see how she does on a 400 mile round trip.) Still, though- having this come up just as two cars, of different makes, six model years and 700 miles apart, came down with the same defect?

My only thought is that Mom's decided to start haunting us.


Speaking of Pepper.... I considered taking her with me on the Turkey Trot this morning. It's pretty dog-friendly, although I'd have been kept out of the afterparty and would have had to carpool to have cars on both ends of the route; but none of my usual run buds were going this year, and besides, COLD!!!! It wasn't expected to get much above 20F, and we decided that was just too cold for even a hardy pup to be out in for over an hour.

I'd walked her at her usual time yesterday, but she had some different expectations after I got home after work yesterday. A friend from Rochester planned to come over to record something off of local TV, and we made plans to go out for wings after that; Scott was here last year on the day that the local tourism people announced the Buffalo Wing Trail, and avoiding the obvious choices, we wound up that year at a place near UB I'd somehow never been to. This time, we stayed even closer to home- a tavern in the village nearest to here that I'd been to before, but never for their signature trail mix of Sicilian wings. What makes them Sicilian? Not little guns that shoot at you, but a very different mix of garlic and parmesan cheese in the wing sauce.

Needless to say, we went to this minus the third wheel (paw?) dog, who would've devoured every bit of food and every heart in the place. But she saw Daddy putting on his hoodie and his outer coat, and he was even going with this really cool guy who smells like a really cool dog himself. So she snitted- didn't sleep with me last night for the first time in ages. Fortunately, dogs have big hearts and short memories, and by this afternoon's post-Trot nap, she was back where she usually is- hogging way more of the damn bed than you'd think a 50-pound body would be able to.


As for that Trot:

After walking the bed-absent dog round 8 this morning, I gauged the outside temperature (cold), forecast (sunny) and wind (not much), and made the last-minute racetime decision to bib up and go. It took 20 minutes- everything here takes 20 minutes- and got an onstreet parking space barely a block north of the YMCA that sponsors the event. I fobbed my car shut, started walking toward Delaware Avenue, and damn if the alarm didn't go off again. After shutting it off, I simply prayed- that I wouldn't return three hours later to an empty space, to an angry mob, or to a windshield full of nasty notes and axes.

None of it happened, though (far as I can tell). I did the warmup weave to the starting chute, passing the usual collection of roaming dinosaurs and black knights and knightettes-

- and started my loneliness of the not-so-long distance runner by going through the start chute at about 9:20.

My phone misbehaved most of the way- I thought, and apparently it thought, that it had drained way too quickly, but I'm pretty sure that was just the 20F temperature making it too cold to operate properly. I did get this one shot of the guy who, far as I'm  concerned, won the race no matter what his time was-

My feet and shins started acting up pretty badly before the halfway point; my goal is always to try to finish the five miles in under an hour- hey, I can run 5 mph on a treadmill with no problem. Inside. With no wind.- but unless I'd pulled a Rosie Ruiz on the final mile, that wasn't happening. I ended up at just under 1:09 by my stopwatch (which seemed to die literally the second after snapping the pic of the time), about three minutes longer than it took last year. But I'm older, and other than those inside treadmills didn't do a stitch of training for the thing, so I'll take it.

The bus ride back gave my calves a chance to join the pity party, and it's mostly been taking it easy today. (Eleanor, not so much- she's been repainting the living room ceiling, and it's turning out beautifully.) We have low-key food plans for tonight, she works tomorrow, I don't, and then it's on to a full week of fun in various courts for me.

None of which, hopefully, will alarm the damn car too much. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1536175.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Late yesterday, after a full day on the road, I picked up the box delivered to my office here containing the computer which took close to two months to diagnose and repair under warranty.  All I did last night was plop it in our tech room; we had a date out to see an amazing African-American author, and we didn't get home in time for me to do anything connected with the returned product until today.

Most of the morning today was devoted to getting Horse With No Name back in the game. Fortunately, this didn't take nearly as long as backing it up weeks ago in the event Dell wiped it clean; I just had to transfer a couple of databases, reload Outlook as it stood on LaNova this morning, re-install a browser or two to its previous condition, and save/copy a few downloads from the past two weeks. It was all done by 10 a.m.- plenty of time to take Eleanor to work (she'd left Ziggy at the store after I picked her up before the lecture) and then confirm that the print/scan functions still worked at my office as they had before the repair (they did! Yay!).

I then cranked out a small but significant amount of work for a Friday afternoon, left early to join a November-birthday workout at OTF, and got home in time for a lovely dinner from my beloved, a beginning of watching BlacKKKlansman, and this post- not on the repaired laptop but on the now-backup one.  To cut down on the wear and tear from travel, Horse With No Name will stay at my office in Amherst and travel only with me to Rochester; this one will become the Home Compyootur, never leaving this desk.

I will leave it now, though. Good nighhhhtttt.....

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Yesterday brought the news of the passing of Marvel founder (for all intents and purposes) Stan Lee.  I was never into the comic books, but came of age in the 60s era of Bad Animation and Cheap Syndication. New York's WOR Channel 9 (your home of the Mets- as it still should be, dammit) ran a half-hour block of their characters at 7 weeknights, often right before the pregame came on.  Captain America threw his mighty shield on Mondays; Tuesday was when Doctor Banner, belted by gamma rays, turned into the Hulk (ain't he un-glamour-ays?); Wednesday brought Iron Man; Thursday was, well, who do you THINK?; and Friday we went swimmin' with the Sub-Mariner.  Another station got nightly doses of Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can....

All of these except Fishy Boy had Stan's inky fingerprints on them- along with the Fantastic Four, the X-Men franchise, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and most of the teams into which they've been Assembling! on film for most of this century.  Perhaps that's why the Marvel Cinematic Universe retains a continuity that DC always manages to miss; Supe, Bat and WW came from different minds in different eras and never had the underlying snark that Stan's characters embodied long before "snark" was even a word.

The amazing thing is how this man didn't even hit his stride until his late 30s. Although he'd dabbled at Marvel's predecessor in the 1940s and worked in a variety of comic genres through the 50s, his first superheroes as we know them were the Four, created two years after my birth and 39 years after his.  To have created so much, and then enjoyed such a renaissance of them (and him!) in the MCU films and their Stan Lee cameos, respectively, must've made passing away almost an afterthought.

At least he outlasted Thanos by close to a year;)


Meanwhile, I've just about outlasted the Great Laptop Outage of 2018:)

I checked on arriving home tonight and discovered that Horse With No Name, the Dell machine I shipped off two weekends ago, has been repaired and put back into transit and should be here by the time I get back from Rochester on Thursday.  This one's been fine for the transition- and I will probably start using this one at home permanently while keeping the Dell mostly at the office(s)- but this keyboard has quirks and missing features, and the prodigal laptop interfaces with the rest of the office technologies better than this one does, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm also slowly getting used to the replacement adding machine I picked up last week to replace the one apparently fried a week ago during the Election Day Windstorm power surges.  They market it as a "mini desktop printing calculator" now, but that's basic BS: if you total your sums with a * key and not a = key, it's a flippin' adding machine. Dammit.  This one lacks a subtotaling function (that I can find, anyway), and has about 30 functions I don't understand- including an IT button, which I'm afraid to push lest it start screaming at me in a high pitched tone and getting hair all over my desk-


Both of my offices were officially closed yesterday but both had attorneys in and out of them during- including me for a bit in the one here.  I spent most of today, when not in court, in the other one, and for the first time in ages, actually sat in on an interview of a potential new lawyer there.  He went to my alma mater here in Buffalo, and when he passed out copies of his transcript, I discovered that UB Law School has recently begun providing them with a useful new tool:

Grades. Real ones. As in A's and B's down to F's, with pluses and minuses and actual GPAs.

This is quite a change in how things used to be done out at the People's Republic of Getzville. In my day, we were graded on something best described as the "Q continuum"- hippy dippy 70s faculty decided to eliminate those ableist grades and cumes, going solely with whether your work was Q(ualified) or not. The latter eventually got divided by order of the state's highest court, which set the standards for bar exam eligibility and was having none of that, into D and F. Also around that time, the faculty, being after all a bunch of high-achieving pointy-heads, added an H grade for "honors" at the top, and by my time, this bizarre H/Q/D/F system also sprouted *s on the Qs for those showing more than "just qualified" but not quite "honorable" work. (I've even heard of 90s grads who had Q+ and Q- subdividing their qualification.)  Still, this system defied calculations of grade-point averages, and it became beloved by slacker students and abhorred by law firms staffed by anyone other than graduates of the same crazy system.

I have no recollection of the change to traditional letter grades- brief legal research suggests it dates to around 2010- but they've been so busy unbranding and rebranding themselves as UB Law, SUNY Buffalo Law and the NEW YORK State Law School* in conjunction with the undergraduate athletic programs making similar multiple changes in their laundry; I must've missed the memo.  I did confirm that one vestige of egalitarianism remains- that even though they compute the cumes to hundredths of a point, they still refuse to rank the class in order of those numbers.  Instead, the Registrar just offers some Very General Advice as to who can say they're in the top 10, 15, 20 or 25 percent. (We got similar VGA under the Weird System- 50 percent H's meant you were "probably" in the top 10 percent, meaning that I, and the other 90 percent of the class, could claim to be just outside the top 10 percent.)


at Buffalo.

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As of 3-something yesterday morning? Another year older.  Paid a bunch of bills today, so not deeper in debt.  Good wishes from family and many friends.  The day itself, though? Dark and stormy.

Dark, because I was up at that exact moment of my birth. I couldn't get back to sleep after a 3 a.m. pee run and Zoey came in to purr in my face; by the time she scratched at the door to get out of the room, my alarm was dangerously close to going off (I had to be in Rochester by 8), so I just stayed up the whole time. That court appearance went fine, once the client showed up barely in time. While waiting, I also got to witness a rather despised local attorney committing malpractice, but I was probably one of only two people in the room who knew it; the other is the bankruptcy trustee conducting the hearing, who could've given him a simple practice tip but was under no obligation to do so to a "smiling dick."  (On the other hand, everyone in the local bankruptcy bar now knows about the Buffalo attorney who was the cause of this decision.  He's having surgery this weekend to seal the new hole in his ass which the judge ripped for him.)

Stormy, because we got our first snow yesterday. Not much here, and none today, but south of the city it's piling up in feet. It still made for sloppy driving and wet clothes as I trudged between outside appointments in three locations after court and then back to my office for two more.  Fortunately, I managed to get home by animal feeding time, saving the two humans endless aggravation.  Our snowplow stakes got delivered earlier this week, and I cleared a bunch of our front yard leaves when it was actually warm and sunny last weekend.  The back yard still awaits its annual Dave Drop- the pin oak back there, named for Letterman for forgotten reasons, is the largest tree on the lot and it pretty much unleashes its entire crown in a ten-minute span on a random day unaffected by temperature or wind.


The post-election craziness has been a mixture of entertaining and frightening.  Entertaining, watching scared Republicans trying to gin up conspiracy theories about elections officials "stealing the vote" (by which they mean "preventing the officials from showing that the Republicans lost").  Everyone from the Cheeto to his Chief of Staff Lumpy Hannity to not-running Florida senator MARCO! RUBIO! has been screaming about election fraud.  The state Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that it's found absolutely nothing to investigate, but do continue watching the screaming and howling as a preview of 2020 coming attractions. That same electorate also passed an amendment by a wide margin restoring voting rights to over a million Florida felons who'd completed their sentences, so I'm sure Rick Scott (almost a felon himself) and MARCO! know that future elections down there ain't gonna be nearly as close.

Frightening, because it took less than a day for the Cheeto to sack Jefferson Davis Beauregard Stonewall Lee Wallace Bull Connor Sessions and replace him with an even nuttier acting AG. One who, among other things, committed fraud on veterans and has stated that believing in Jesus should be a requirement to hold judicial office.  Even Jesus thinks that's whacked.  He's also threatening to withhold emergency funds from California for wildfire relief because it's too blue, and he couldn't even bring himself to set foot in a French military cemetery on the anniversary of the Armistice because, I don't know, anything connected with active duty must make his bone spurs hurt.


We're due to see a friend in a musical tonight. I may go check out a new gym for cardio, since the one we belong to is closing next week. This, after they took over the location from a different franchise, spent months renovating it and endured more months of the landlord redoing the exterior of the entire plaza. Apparently they didn't want to pay the new and improved rent the landlord was looking for in exchange for all that. Eleanor's been to their closest alternative location, and she says it's nicer and better ventilated, but has a much older crowd with music to match.  So let me tell you about my hoinia, as the old guys in the JCC sauna alway used to say.

I'm also damn proud of Eleanor.  We had an electrical switch go out for our outdoor spotlights, which she'd replaced herself during the kitchen reno.  She tried to fix it and instead got stymied, with an adjacent switch for an indoor fixture also going on the fritz.  I called a client who does electrical work (including a few jobs here over the years), but the only day he could send someone from Rochester was one we both were unavailable. So this morning, she just got in there again, took a fresh look at the connections, and now they're both working again. So go you:)

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9:15 Election Night

...mainly because I'll get shit sleep not knowing how things turned out.  The first hour after poll-close is the most unreliable and spinny-winny of the entire cycle.  It's not helping that we've been in a ridiculous windstorm since (and probably before) I got home; the power's gone off, and quickly come back on, at least five times since around 5 p.m.  The adding machine on my desk at home seems to have shat the bed, leading me to believe that a surge from one of the power-ons blowed it up; I'm  keeping LaNova disconnected each time the power goes out so it doesn't get fried by a power-on surge.

(Me and this laptop, we'll be hanging together for quite some time. After my major effort Saturday to ship the previous one back to Dell, I discovered that their deal with Fed Ex is "slow boat to Red Rock," with the laptop not scheduled to arrive at the repair depot until Friday, which is when their 7-14 day repair window begins.  This one's been fine, except for its touchpad being incredibly touchy and constantly adjusting the display to anywhere from 15% to 380% of what it should be.  I also have had to work some workarounds for things in the office that are havin' a failyah to comMUNNicate with other devices, but they'll be okay for the now two week window, as well.)

I did my own civic duty pretty early this morning, but not as early as Eleanor; I'd come home feeling poorly the night before, owing to, well, I didn't know what. The workday was okay for a Monday; I didn't overdo any exercise or other activity; and I'd slept decently the night before. My guesses were bug (seemingly not); PBSD (Post-Bills Stress Disorder); and anxiety about what is going on today.  It helped to get into a privacy screen (formerly a voting booth) before arriving at work shortly after 9; I was the 162nd to check in at our polling station. Eleanor was 50 before me, our friend and neighbor Ann 90 before her.  Those are higher totals than I've ever seen even in years when I've voted after work. 

Just in: Republicans flip the Indiana Senate seat. Not good.

There weren't many contested races on the ballot we voted on. Our Democratic Guv and US Senator won in landslides that were called within minutes of the 9 p.m. poll close.  Most of the other races on our local ballot, from state Lej to county clerk, involve Republican incumbents who have the inherent advantages of incumbency, and despite qualified and energetic women running against all of them, I saw too many old coots at our polling place this morning to hold out much hope.  Our D Congressman should cakewalk back into office, but I'm watching the three other Congressional races that touch Western NY: the Southern Tier one where a wonderful D is taking on a mealy-mouthed incumbent R; Louise Slaughter's seat-for-life until she died, between an entrenched Albany D and a supposed "outsider" R; and the key one, indicted felon Chris Collins, running in the reddest congressional district in the state against a decent and now-funded D opponent.  If he wins, Collins will almost certainly have to resign in order to cop a plea in his insider trading case (unless the Cheeto pardons him, which he quite possibly will), but just this being a competitive race is a sign of how low the man has sunk.

Just in: Al Franken's former MN seat remains D, his replacement beating the wife of Sabres coach Phil Housley.  That's the problem with this team; everybody tanks.

Now we're in the silent period. Polls are closed except way west; spinners be spinning, but no real information is really there. Collins is losing in Erie County, but the district covers way redder country to the east. I need to break from this and will probably regroup here before morning....


Wednesday, 1 p.m.

....or maybe the next afternoon.

There's a mix in the bag- the immediate results not all good, but the long-term prospects being foretold by them are far better. From the most local on out:

Just one contest in Amherst, for town clerk, and the Democrat lost. Mainly, I think, because there was no Democrat on the ballot; she got booted off after our incompetent county chair screwed up her nominating process, relegating her to the Conservative line (I wrote her in rather than pollute my pen tip with THAT).  The last-minute opening of the job was seen in some circles as a potential landing spot to get Chris Collins off the Congressional ballot, and much as I would have enjoyed forcing him to sign my dog licenses until he goes off to prison, he didn't take the gig.  We'll get back to his unfinished story in a second.

Far as those entrenched Republican males went? My state senator won, but he will now be in the minority and essentially powerless.  My state assemblyman lost, replaced by an energetic woman who who now be in the majority.  Our county clerk race was still in a dead heat at last report- amazing, considering the incumbent had major prior name recognition and a year to leverage the influence of the office.

The Congressional races, in order of my previous discussion: our D incumbent did cakewalk back into office; the Southern Tier mealy-mouth held off his biggest-ever challenge from a woman who can probably beat him in a redrawn district (that'll happen after 2020); Louise's seat-for-life is now Joe's-for-life, most likely; but the saddest was the in-between-all-of-them NY27, the reddest in the state, where indicted felon Chris Collins eked out the narrowest of victories. Or maybe not; his D opponent conceded too early (likely another of our party chair's stupid moves) and it's now within the margin of near-mandatory recount.  But even if Collins holds on to his seat, he will hold it powerlessly and meaninglessly; his own party stripped him of all committee work when he was indicted, he is now in the minority party, and he's probably just a placeholder until he's convicted, resigns to "spend more time with his family outside the prison they're all going to," or gets pardoned and becomes Cheeto's new Secretary of the Treasury.

The biggest signs of hope? Yes, the Senate is redder, but only through Herculean efforts to hold onto what would've been unthinkable seats to lose before this President in the likes of Texas and Arizona.  A larger number of R seats come up each of the next two cycles.  More important is where Republicans didn't win: their governor/US Senator candidates went down to defeat in the three key states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.  Those three were part of the supposed Great Blue Firewall that Hillary managed to lose two years ago; if those 46 electoral votes flip back where they belong in 2020, even if everything else stays the same, we send Cheeto packing on November 3 of that year.


Rest of life's been okay, with the occasional hiccup. I came home after work yesterday to discover Pepper had gotten into our kitchen trash can and completely covered the tile floor, into the living room, with every single stitch of nasty gar-baggge. She was busted and she knew it, slinking to a nearby corner while I swept and herded it all out to the tote.  She may have been verklempt over the weather; a warm day, but windy as all get-out, with all of those power flickers; I have now confirmed that, even with a battery installed, the adding machine on my desk at home was indeed fried.  Fortunately, I have about 20 other office supplies which all seem to be running out simultaneously, so it won't be a wasted trip.

We're going to a poetry reading tonight, Bohemian Rhapsody one of the next nights thereafter, and then I begin my 60th year.  At least I'm feeling a better kind of Blue right now:)

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Yeah, that was our theme last week.

Tuesday night was Memories of a local event I had no recollection of but was connected in many ways to things I did recall. One of my Rochester friends with radio connections invited me to join him and his wife for a screening of a documentary about the War of the Worlds broadcast that shook the area. Not the Halloween 1938 one by Orson Welles, but the Halloween 1968 one that was run on WKBW-AM 1520 on its 30th anniversary.

Missed it by about six years.  Or 13, depending on how you count.

I should explain.

Although I did not move here until the fall of 1981, and had not been west of Rochester before then (other than perhaps a vaguely-remembered daytrip to the Canadian Falls in the 60s sometime), I knew Depew. And Lackawanna. And where every one of the local nine 22-hour McDonalds restaurants were, and about Tuxedo Junction rental stores, and about Tops and Bells and dozens of other chains I would not set foot in for years, if ever.

The clue to all of that was WKBW-AM, a blowtorch of a station, originated in the 20s with call letters standing for "Well Known Bible Witness." By my time, they'd gone Top-40, with national legends Hound Dog Lorenz, Joey Reynolds and (most relevant to this week's proceedings) Jeff Kaye leading the way into a lineup of DJs who would carry their fame into many places, some of them weird or evil, over the next 40-50 years.

One of them had previously been a DJ on WPIX-FM in New York, who I first came to follow in the early to mid 70s, when first discovering NYC FM radio. His name was Jim Quinn. He was funny, and irreverent, and reached out to his listeners and took dedications all over the Tri-State Area, and did a nightly trivia contest called Stump the Audience. Then, one night in 1974, he was gone. Somehow, randomly, from my listening post on Lawn Guyland, I discovered he'd moved to KB- a 50,000 watt AM all-nighter that blasted its skywaves from Buffalo all the way up and down the eastern seaboard from Nova Scotia to Miami, Florida- until the sun came up, the signal no longer bounced, and itty-bitty standards stations like 1520 WTHE in nearby Mineola came on the air.

I stuck with his humor, his dedications, eventually his trivia game, until I went off to college in 1977- closer to Buffalo but not interested enough to keep listening. Somewhere in there, he moved back to Pittsburgh, got charged with sexual harassment, and turned into a wackier-than-Limbaugh wackadoodle, where he remained well into this decade.

Yet there he was, in the documentary of his station's multiple riffs on the War of the Worlds broadcast, leading into its 1975 version:


Also appearing, more prominently featured, and speaking at the documentary's screening, was longtime Buffalo talker Don Pesola. Oh, sorry; he hates when you use his real name. He's always gone by the on-air nom de guerre of "Sandy Beach," and despite his past as a wacky rock and roll DJ (he was even the jocks' union rep at KB in the 1970s), he has now gone over to the Dark Side and holds forth on a right-wing talk show three hours every weekday morning on KB's now-sister station, where he still continues to spout scary stories about alien invaders coming to our country to destroy our way of life. Only now, they don't put in disclaimers reminding listeners it's fiction.

Jeff Kaye, who masterminded the whole business, was gone by the time of Quinn's brief connection to the documentary- he  became a Bills broadcaster (Van Miller, Stan Barron and Jeff "Fan" Kaye) and was even a longtime voice of NFL Films before his death. He was much remembered at the screening- also attended, in addition to Pesola, by its producer, another prominent voice in the production, and longtime KB morning man Danny (who "Moves Your Fanny") Neaverth. Dan was the only one I said hello to after the show was over; I remembered his show from winter mornings when KB was still able to be heard before the Mineola station went on the air, and I shared my appreciation for his role in the broadcast and the history of Buffalo radio.  I kept my mouth shut about the right-wing nutjob on the panel.

All of this occurred after I'd gone to the completely wrong place. My Rochester friends had invited me weeks before, but I'd forgotten, and when Scott reminded me that morning, I assumed that a WNED documentary would be screened at their spacious studios on the waterfront.   Claude the Security Guard quickly disabused me of that notion, and I discovered it was at the legendary North Park theater some 10 miles to the north:


Fortunately, I didn't miss much of the hourlong screening, coming in just as a previous WKBW-TV broadcast was depicting longtime anchor Irv Weinstein reporting on the birth of Jesus (saved from "pistol-packin Pharisees"). After it was over, Scott and Lisa stopped over to set up to record the shorter broadcast version of the documentary shown after midnight the following night, which I now also have a copy of.

I delivered the copy to Scott in Rochester on Thursday, once again getting lost after discovering that the Wegmans Next Door restaurant in Pittsford isn't the one that's next door to the Wegmans in Pittsford. That was quite nice and a lot cheaper than the white-tablecloth joint that isn't Next Door.


I finished with clients and Udda Things just in time to get home Thursday night for more memories: a local synagogue was memorializing a onetime member, named Bart Slepian, to honor him a week after the 20th anniversary of his murder.  I'm spending increasing portions of my life at funereal experiences, but this is my first, and hopefully last, including the word "assassinated" in the program. For Bart was an obstetrician who also performed abortions, and that made him a literal target.  Shot in his kitchen, in front of his boys, by a crazed "pro-lifer."  Yeah, it is ironic, dontcha think?

The shul was full, with police protection, saying hello to at least one friend of mine (on the board of his memorial fund) and hearing a kickass Resistance Revolution Womens' Chorus. The speakers were kind and funny and sad.  Eleanor (who was still working when it got going) had known Bart and his wife from her days installing outdoor lighting; she quite possibly was working in their yard when the murderer was casing the joint.

The following night, the temple had another memorial service scheduled- for the previous weekend's victims of a senseless mass murder at a Pittsburgh shul.  One perpetrated by a madman who couldn't cope with that congregation supporting an immigrant relief project; one who was scared to their deaths by the caravan of migrants that might reach Texas by 2021. Who our president* enabled, encouraged and seemed surprised that people were blaming him for.

But some of his best friends are Jewish, so that makes it all okay.


I rolled from that into a fairly decent final workday on Friday, leaving me plenty of time to get one thing done yesterday: finally wrap up and pack up the laptop needin' of a fixin', and put it in a box to send back to Dell via FedEx.

Easier said than done.

I'd copied everything I needed over to this new laptop by early last week, and bought a package to handle the dreaded iTunes transfer for me, so Saturday morning was all just deleting sensitive stuff I didn't want Larry In Dell's Accounting Department getting copies of.  All I needed to do was print out the FedEx shipping label they'd sent, and stick it on the box I'd kept which I'd brought the laptop home in not quite a year ago.

Or not.  First, they also provided instructions saying, um, that box you kept isn't intended to actually SHIP anything in. You need to put it in a bigger box and cram 20 pounds of bubble wrap into it- OR buy a pre-bubblewrapped shipping box from FedEx.

I chose the former.  Only the label wouldn't print; the link to it had expired. I called Dell. Long story short: they're assholes. Department One insisted that I could not, no way no how, get a new label until Customer Care reopened on Monday morning. Department Two (which I reached after a reading from the Book of Threats) did promise to generate one, but it might take as long as 24 hours.

It showed up 10 minutes later. And us, ready to get on the road to go to Rochester to see a friend's art show. We detoured over to the FedEx depot at the airport, and the Horse With No Name(as I finally named it) is now on its way to Red Rock. The show was lovely, the Sabres scored 9 goals, the Bills matched that point total in sucking and losing today, and it's all good.

And that's all I can remember;) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1534895.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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...from the  new LaNova laptop....

Maybe the problem with the last one is that I never named it.  It was a Dell, dude, and for the first ten months it was a little cranky with my old XP-era programs and slow to load pages but was generally fine.  But when the bottom row (and a few other random keys) shit the bed a month or so ago, and I discovered that Dell, dude, would only repair it if I shipped it back to them for at least two weeks, I hunkered down and was determined to repair it myself so I could turn it around in a day or so even if it voided the remaining month or so of my warranty.

Friday, that dream died. My nearby guru had ordered a $30  replacement KB, and I brought it over for a quick repair. Instead, it was a quick disappointment: Dell had fused the fucking keyboard to the motherboard, and the only way to replace one was to replace both, with even reconditioned ones starting close to 200 bucks.  This got it close enough to Replacement Territory for me to surrender, and so I went SHO-pping yesterday for a laptop that would hold down the fort while I shipped the DeadDell back.

The nominee quickly became a Lenovo. Eleanor's had  a Thinkpad from them for a year or so; I found a cheaper Ideapad, but with several of  my preferred "gets"- a built-in CD/DVD drive, a calculator keyboard next to the QWERTY lineup, and a decent amount of storage- and walked out of Best Buy with it yesterday afternoon on a financing deal that won't cost me anything for it until sometime next year. That left today for the dirty job of getting it ready for work. This went incredibly well so far: my document/spreadsheet files were already cloud-synced and showed up instantly, my BK software and client files transferred through a simple copy/paste, and my other ancient 200-ought proggies all installed and opened files with minimal compatibility problems.  

All that's left is iTunes, which I'm using this opportunity to clean up several dead laptops' worth of mishmash and getting everything into a single file structure. It went so well, the name came quickly: Lenovo became LaNova, the local Mafia-owned pizza joint which has essentially ended organized crime in Western NY because their profits from pies are better than any of their illegitimate businesses had been bringing in. So there's been all of that.  Since last posting here, let's see: I met up with a high school friend who I hadn't seen since we graduated, who was making sales calls all of last week on local real estate offices, and we had a great time reconnecting; I got a new tag for the dear-departed-but-came-home-kitty-

- and one day this week, The Schwartz was with me!

That's all I've got for the weekend. Check, please!

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All in all, the past workweek wasn't bad, despite four straight days of court and one day being a brutally long one.  Most of the court was mostly standing in place and marking time, without any real progress or regress on the cases themselves.  So instead the Technology Gods escalated their long battle to drive me crazy.  I still don't have my new keyboard installed or even ordered, and the externals (now three of them- home and in each office) continue to get in my way.  Unsatisfied with that, each of the last few days brought another annoyance or two.

Thursday morning, on walkies, I checked on my phone to see if Eleanor's paycheck had posted. I got this message, which I get virtually every time I use their mobile site:

(As a side rant, I hate Hate HATE when sites use Millennialspeak like this "working hard" shiz.  The AT&T site always spins around with the message "please give us a minute- we're almost there!"  Turbo Tax opens with "Wait a moment," then instantly updates that to "okay, we know it's taking longer than a moment." If you wasted fewer lines on snarky code, you wouldn't need the snarky code:P)

I know that messages like that usually come from cranky cookies, so I relogged in on the phone with cookies disabled- which of course generated a new problem: now it didn't recognize the phone, even with password provided, and demanded I answer a security question.  Fortunately, I remembered the one they unwisely let me choose for myself:

Got right in after that. (I've had to report that answer to tech support people. They seem to appreciate it.)


That was how my longest of days began; it would have been even more stressful if I'd been receiving my usual complement of phone calls during the day, but I wasn't.  A few calls came from people who had my actual mobile number, but most people reach me by calling my office landline, which forwards to that phone, except when it doesn't. Worried by the silence, I tried calling the number myself from my mobile, which usually goes straight to my AT&T voicemail, but this time I got "call failed" errors all day. I later tried it from another landline, which gave a "network error" message.  Whatever it was, by the next morning it was all fixed, but it's frightening how quickly you can lose touch with your world and not know it, much less be able to do a damn thing about it.

To take the edge off the long day, my solution was to make it longer.  My final Rochester appointment ended around 6:30, so I kept a plan to meet up with friends who were doing one of the Geeks Who Drink theme quizzes at another client's eating and drinking establishment.  I'd forgotten that the venue, part of a historic local beer hall, had been renovated in the 80s by yet another client and had once hosted, in this very lower-level space-

a high-end prime rib joint co-owned by one of my then law partners originally named the Down Under.  (This was the site of one of my most famed-ever snarky lines, to a waiter who brought me the wrong selection: "This is very nice. It's not what I ordered, but it's very nice.")  It's now a combination of Asian food and craft brew- I ordered the KFC, which around here stands for Korean Fusion Chicken:

Coincidentally, "KFC" was also one of the answers in the eight-round quiz, all based on the first two seasons of Stranger Things.  Our team of four, the Eggo Bandits, did quite well, snagging a bonus question and holding down second place for most of the evening until a killa final two rounds pushed us to fourth of seven.  Here's the quiz's post of us at our table:

(If you don't understand the angle of that photo,click here, or even better start watching the damn show;)


Friday's court was two different ones in the morning. The first, adjourned, which I'd have known if the phones worked. The other was my first foray into Bankruptcy Court since they moved over to the fancy schmancy new Robert H. Jackson Courthouse. It’s sleek and cavernous and everything’s up to date in Jackson City- other than no public search terminals yet, and quite purposely and permanently, no paper calendars of what cases are scheduled and in what order. Yup, everything’s on these scrolling monitors arranged by judicial precedence- so the redheaded stepchild BK judges display after eight other District Judges and magistrates, who each get at least 20 seconds even if there’s nothing on- and then the stepchild calendar stops in the middle when the whole thing times out.  So the only way I found my case was on was for it to BE on. Maybe by December, when I go back, they'll have straightened the bug out- or they will have discovered papyrus.


Not to be outdone by Speculum's phone problems of Thursday, they proceeded to misery me some more yesterday by disabling my email.  Again, I noticed only by not noticing anything. That's when I did, finally, see that they had passed through a message two days before:

Dear Spectrum Customer,

In order to make Spectrum email accounts more secure, we have updated our password security requirements as accounts with weak passwords are more likely to be compromised.

We are writing to you because your account password has been identified as weak, and will be automatically reset on or after 10/11/18.

Nice of them to send that on 10/16/18, huh.  I pretty much ignored that because so many phishing emails are made to look just that important and scary, but when I suddenly couldn't send or receive anything, I manually went to the twcc dot com site (a year since the merger and they STILL do everything as Time Warner), I got it easily fixed.

On this computer.

I then had to do it again on my mobile. Twice. (POP and SMTP are separate in iLand.) And will again on every backup device I ever use to access my mail. 

Oh, and the weak password? THEY picked it out last time.  I hope I gave them a good challenge question answer involving death and flames if I have to remember the new one.


So far, the only thing that's broken today was a small plant pot. (Not to be confused with a pot plant, which we haven't smuggled over from Canada yet;)  That was during this morning's Get Both Cars Back In The Garage cleanup effort. I was bringing Ebony's old crate out to the back yard to rinse it- the SPCA is looking for donations of them- and the pile of patio dirt piled out there, which we've named Poopy Boy after this scene from Dogma, tripped me up and led to a cascade of garden things.  They're cleaned up, as is the garage- at least enough to get both cars in.

Best of all, nobody died in a fire;)

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Among all the once-mighty grain silos on Buffalo’s waterfront, General Mills still makes its signature brand of cereal in and around them, putting that oaty smell all over the air. (I used to enjoy the occasional Cocoa Puffs day even more, but I haven’t caught much kookoo in the air recently.) You’re just used to it. But every once in awhile, the product becomes more up close and personal.

Which is how, this morning, I wound up hanging out with a cereal bowl, a dog and a Hall of Fame running back:

(No, not O.J.)

I saw the post overnight from our friend Sarabeth, one of the servers we met on one of our early random acts of anniversary:

One of my favorite things about Buffalo is how it lives up to its reputation as the City of Good Neighbors. Once again, we’ve been recognized as one of America’s Friendliest Cities 👋🏼

As part of their Good Goes Round program, my partner Cheerios is rewarding the beautiful people of Buffalo for their good deeds! Tomorrow, Oct. 16 from 7:30 am to 1 pm, head down to Fountain Plaza to get yourself a free breakfast and try out a virtual high-five machine — allowing Buffalonians to high-five each other live from across the city.
I’ll be there from 7:30-8:30 am, overlapping with our beloved local Buffalo Bills legend Thurman Thomas (he’ll be there until 9:30). For each high-five given, Cheerios will donate $5 to the Thurman Thomas Foundation which supports local Buffalo families and scholarships to Erie Community College, up to $10k.
As a Buffalonian, I smell home whenever I open a box of Cheerios, and it’s no wonder since the brand has been a proud part of the Buffalo community since 1941, where they make the Cheerios that are delivered all across the nation. You’ll know the smell right away when you open your windows and smell a fresh batch enveloping the city! Hundreds of Buffalo citizens help in the process of making this iconic cereal and keep the good going round in the community.
Hope to see you there!

How could I pass that up? 

I’d kept in touch with Sara and fam as she moved across the country and back, married and began her family- but we hadn’t connected in person since that first night at the dear-departed Bully’s.  I was up early enough to get out the door, dog in tow, for our usual morning walkies, so I figured, why not take the walk downtown?

The street team for the event was bigger than the crowd at 8:15 a.m., and after putting in my high-five (Pepper wasn't tall enough to offer a high-twenty)-


-they asked if we wanted a picture with #34.  Do fish have lips?

Do dogs want Cheerios?

Why, indeed they do. And, please, Sir, can I have some more?

We hung till close to the 8:30 Sarabeth had said, but eventually she commented on one of those pictures and said I'd just missed her- but she was right around the corner:)


I have beautiful friends. (Married one, didn't I?) Her equally beautiful hubby waved from across the street, and her exceptionally beautiful youngun was in the back of her car.  With, of course, Cheerios:

That blur in the foreground would be Pepper. Fox liked her very much despite the bad manners;)

After that, it was back home, for proper clothes, ordinary work and typical annoyances, but I think I now know what to run out for in an emergency if we ever run out of dog food:)

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This past week should have been easy peasy. A rare one with no court appearances, no significant meetings or appointments, and zero travel outside Amherst and contiguous towns and city.  Plenty of annoyances, though. Theme Week on the 4:30 Movie was battles with dealerships- battle joined in one, about to begin in a second, and avoided in a third.

In order:

Rochester Area Client hired me to sue a Porsche dealership near Albany, where he'd bought a Certified Pre-Owned 911.  "Certified" apparently doesn't mean what you think it means, because as soon as he took delivery, its brakes started squeaking to high heaven.  Dealer's response: "they all do that." My reply, from years of listening to Car Talk: "Well then, they all need to be fixed and you may as well start with this one."  Client, meanwhile, took it to the Rochester Porsche dealer, who reported the brakes were 50% worn and that $3,000 of repairs ought to get rid of the noise. I gave client two choices: sue Albanyish dealer in an Albanyish Small Claims Court, but he'd have to go for a quick hearing on it, for which he'd pay 20 bucks out of pocket and I'd get paid $200 for "small claim assistance" (but would not have to attend the hearing); or, sue the dealer in his own county's State Supreme Court, requiring them to come to him, for which he would (and did) pay $400 for filing and service fees and I'll get paid $750 for my time eventually, easy peasy if they didn't respond.  Which, of course, they did; they answered, demanded a deposition, and are likely spending way more than the $3,000 to establish the "they all do that" defense because, assholes.

Buffalo Area Friends got a sweet deal to move to Rochester for work.  To provide living quarters until they could sell their local home, they bought a 2019 RV which they could live in until they could sell their local home and find one there. Except, (a) the RV they delivered was actually a 2018, (b) it had miles and damage put on it between signing and taking delivery, and (c) oopsies, the water won't work when it's cold outside so, no, not usable to live in Oop Here from about next week to next May.  I wrote a nastygram suggesting that they'd pay the resulting loans if the dealer delivered a conforming vehicle by this past Friday, which of course they didn't. So I'll sue it, they'll answer, demand a deposition, and will spend way more than the case is worth to preserve their right to be assholes.

And lastly, the fight not fought: Fellow Dog Park Human Ann couldn't make our trip last Sunday, because she'd gotten in a minor but damagey accident in her 12-year-old Honda the Saturday before.  She called me on Friday for advice because things were starting to snowball against her: a collision shop, which she had not approved an estimate for, was about to begin $2,800 of work on said car despite initial indications that her insurance company was going to total it and give her a check for more than 3K.  When she raised protest, the shop threatened to pull her rental that day and charge her "restocking fees" for the parts they'd pulled off a shelf that afternoon.  I gave her some advice, but it was her insurance agent who really threw weight around and saved her day: they stopped the work, waived the BS fees, gave her the $2,800 to put into a new car (versus repairing a 2006 that would've needed $500 in unrelated repairs to pass inspection), and gave her time to get a replacement new car and salvage the old one.   We met up today at the Parp! with the new VW Jetta present, already giving off New Car and Old Ursula smells.

Not taking any new car claims, thanks.


But I am enjoying tales about battles, generally.

The post I saw about it isn't public (yet), and I haven't seen any other news about it (yet), but someone who practices in the realm of criminal law has reported seeing, in response to a routine traffic ticket, a demand for trial by combat.  Just like on Game of Thrones.

I remember reading about stories where assorted nutballs from the 19th, 20th and even 21st century had tried to use this defense, so I went to google the term, and as soon as I got "trial by" in, it suggested something slightly different:

Despite the New England and Aussie refs, this turns out to be a craft beer brewed on our very own Elmwood Avenue.  Sadly, it's not in stock at the moment, but when I called to inquire, I told them about the pending motion and suggested they might want to brew some up.


No nights out for us other than a poetry reading Wednesday night; we saw the lovely Colette this afternoon, missed most of the latest horrific Bills loss, and will begin the latest Doctor in seven minutes. Preferably with no insurance claims for a missing TARDIS.

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There's been a lot of 80s nostalgia around these posts of late. My last three Saturday nights have been spent at concerts by artists I, or we, discovered in that decade- and not a spot of spandex among any of them;)  The news has been full of things that (uncorroboratedly but most likely) were done by a sex offender on the Supreme Court in Maryland and Connecticut in those years.  And there was my biggest 80s moment of them all being remembered for the 31st time- our wedding anniversary.

So it's only fitting that we now go back to 30 years ago when I lost one of my closest relatives and best friends ever:

That was her with the bride on our wedding day in 1987.  And even earlier 80s, at my 1981 college graduation:

We weren't close in age, and except for a seven-year sliver of our lives spent both on Long Island in the 70s, we weren't close geographically, either for most of the life I remember.  But she got me, like few ever did or would.  She understood the limitations that had been put on me (and to some extent her) by some textbook bad parenting, and she and her husband (once she had one) really tried to help me grow into and out of things I didn't realize were important.

I've done dozens of tributes to her here over the years on this day, her July birthday, her October anniversary.  Her singing, her humor, her heart.  The inevitability and yet the unacceptabilty of how and why her life ended so soon, in those final weeks such a fraction of her former vibrant self. The lives she left- one going on almost 20 years thereafter, two more continuing beautifully with children of their own now, and ours- still remembering her near daily in a phrase or a gesture or a memory.

There's a line in the just-aired Doctor Who season premiere, spoken by She Who Has Now Regenerated. Someone has died before their time. Sandy would have related to their kindness and their profession. Many are left to grieve. They ask the Doctor if she has family. She says no, but then she says, "I carry them with me. What they would have thought, or said and done. Made them a part of who I am. So even though they're gone from the world, they're never gone from me."

That's the kind  of thing Sandy would have said.  And I say, every of the many times I remember.

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Another Saturday night and I’m stag at a concert. This one’s a little over an hour from home, and I got tickets for us both, but Eleanor’s varied aches and pains were really getting to her, so she curled up with a heating pad and the novel Mohsin Hamid read from the other night.

Me? Clearing a 37-year old stone from the bucket.

I moved to Buffalo for school in 1981, just as a band from nearby Jamestown was beginning to make its mark. They did gigs at UB, at the legendary downtown Continental, at Mr. Goodbar and Nietzsche's. I’d heard of them, but never HEARD them until my college roommate,  years after graduation, gave me a cassette with In My Tribe and Blind Man’s Zoo on it. They were 10,000 Maniacs, and SHE was Natalie Merchant.  By the time I got to Rochester, they were getting bigger, and my attention was elsewhere. Next I knew, they were headlining Darien Lake, performing on Johnny Carson and MTV Unplugged, and not coming back to Nietszche's any time soon.

Then Natalie left. Their sometime backup female vocalist and violinist Mary Ramsey stepped up to the mike. Their first and last Nataless Geffen Records album came out, and I loved it. I may have been the only one.

In this time came my one shot to see them- at a Rochester outdoor gig over a summer when Emily was maybe 5. We got there early, I took her to use the loo in the Cadillac Hotel across the street (perhaps the scariest moment of her young life, and maybe even mine;), and we waited for the band to come out. Nothing. Word finally got out: longtime member Robert Buck was too sick to go on. Mary and her Maniac partner John Lombardo offered to do some of their duo songs, but no. We left minus Mania.

Rob’s problems continued, and he would pass from liver failure in late 2000.  Soon they were indie again, had a weird fling with a West Coast chanteuse named Oskar, causing Mary and her original Maniac partner John Lombardo to exit, and 10,000 Mania largely faded.   But they’ve largely returned to roots, with smaller shows and at-the-venue albums, and with John back in the fold and Mary doing both her songs and Natalie’s.

So this is the night I am finally seeing them.


Bittersweet drive down to Jamestown, ending on a road I'd never taken there from Fredonia. That’s where I reconnected with my oldest friend in the world Janice, when she spoke at SUNY mere months before she died way too soon.

She’d have hit 59 next week, not quite a month before I’m scheduled to. 

Also on the drive down, the signs on the 90 for Erie, PA reminded me of driving there two Novembers ago to help protect the polls. The darkness and dreariness of that whole day paled compared to the news that night: our democracy had also died way too soon.  There was also getting confirmation of The Confirmation on the drive down, which I could (and soon will) rant plenty about. But just as WUBJ Jamestown ended its Kav-erage, I got this reminder on this mostly Rainy Day that some things are bigger and more beautiful than even ass(ociate) justices on the Supremes:

I got there in plenty of time to join these fellow Maniacs in Rocking the Vote and flipping NY23 from Tom, a mealy-mouthed Mostlytrumper to a genuine Democrat.  Since I was earlyish, my "general admission" turned into one of my best concert seats ever, three rows from the stage:

Right on time, it got Maniacal.  They played a mix of stuff from BN and AN eras (though neither she nor Rob was ever mentioned by name), much of it on this album which I got autographed by Bassist Steve and Candidate Tracy after the show:

But they added one from The Earth Pressed Flat, their first post-Geffen CD which Mary said that owning would be rare (we do;), and "Pit Viper," from their longago first album Hope Chest (got that, too;). That was sung by the newest Maniac, guitarist Jeff Erickson (on the left on this earlier song, with John in the middle and bassist Steve to his left with Mary on her stool in her strappy shoes):

By the second half of the show, the stool was gone, the sensible shoes were on, and she and her violin did a lot more jamming, including here on "Because the Night." Although not a Natalie-written song, I associate that one perhaps the most with her as lead vocalist, but Mary adds a virtuoso violin bridge to it that her predecessor never could:

In between halves, Candidate Tracy came out and gave a resounding crescendo of blue to the crowd.  The band "ended" with "Hey Jack Kerouac," but we knew it wasn't over.  There was one to go, and it brought out the singing, the dancing, and the love:

That's Tracy in the front row under where Dennis Drew is keyboarding, dancing and hugging and joining in the support. I'd like to see Tom Reed show this kind of enthusiasm ::koff::


Got my signed merch, drove home in a wickedly beautiful thunderstorm, and today is back to the usual Sunday routines: good trip to Dog Park, bad news expected from Orchard Park, and a closing of a friend's art show this afternoon. But with one more album on my phone and the best of memories of friends I've finally met:)


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Pardon any typos, since I started writing this in my car while waiting for Eleanor to meet me before we went  out last night. We have  tickets to the four-author series of literary readings at Buffalo's famed Kleinhans Music Hall. Since we were running late, I found myself wondering if literary readings have opening acts. Maybe a nice spelling bee or something.  Didn't matter; we got there just as Mohsin Hamid was taking  the podium:

He's a Booker Prize winning author of four novels, a Harvard Law graduate,  and apparently the father of a dinosaur. He  spoke mostly on his latest work Exit West and reminded us all that we are all migrants, and mongrels, and people before and above all.

But that's the latest and greatest. Much else has happened here since my last post. For one, the stupid cat came home. Just like that, she sashayed into the garage after a 12-day vacay, thinner but otherwise without a scratch on her.  She seems a bit less annoying,  and perhaps, dare I even say it?, grateful for the service around this establishment.  That was Sunday afternoon, when I was at the time midpoint and furthest distance in my remarkable journey of just over 36 hours.

I followed through on my plan to go to the last Mets game of the year on Sunday afternoon, the night after they bid a fond farewell to their long time team captain. I didn’t attend that event, instead opting for my fourth time seeing a friend in concert that night. I’ve been gradually following Lucy Kaplansky down the Thruway over the past decade. First in Buffalo, then Syracuse, next just south of Albany, and this time in the Hudson Valley in a cool old city named Beacon. The venue was an amazing old-school place with a wall of history of great performers who been there before. I started taking photos of the photos that basically made up our record collection, as I walked into the hall where the concert would be held:

Former October Project-or Mary Fahl, who we will see in  Geneseo in a few weeks. And some other Band;)

Assorted  Maniacs, who we will see (minus Natalie) at a Vote Blue fundraiser this Saturday night in Jamestown.

More, and more, and Maura.  Clearly, a special place; and  somebody else  thinks so, too.  As I was taking those, I was approached by a guy carrying a fairly large Nikon camera, with deelyboppers on it.  He asked what I was photographing, and I explained our collection connections to that wall. He then said he was doing a documentary about this venue-an almost  half century of  good music on the Hudson and still going  strong.  The deelyboppers  were for the audio.

The opener was a local folker named Christopher Brown, who sings and plays well and tells a great tale.  Then, round 9, Lucy took the stage:

For close to two hours, she shared songs and stories- mainly from and about her just-released and self-produced album Everyday Street, available only at shows or at her website. That title comes from a song she wrote to Janie, her first-ever dog who she's totally smitten with. There are also songs to Molly her daughter, to her old friend Shawn Colvin, and a very touching one to Philip Seymour Hoffman, who she knew. She was funny and perfectionist with her music and incredibly generous with everybody who stopped at the table afterward, buying merch or not. The fotogs (another one taking  stills) shot  the whole show, and I'm dying to find out when and how I'll  be able to see it.

I stayed up in that area and was back at my hotel by midnight. The trains, and the Mets, awaited in the morning.


Why anybody drives over bridges and  steaming ashphalt, when they can let a professional take  you sooner and  for less money, is beyond me.   My first sight of Holy Ground from the 7 train, just over two hours after leaving Beacon:

Almost three full seasons before this day, I got to attend my first ever Mets opening day, thanks to Kevin and Sharon Chapman. I missed the tailgate and all the pregame festivities, thanks to the city DOT and the Wilpons’ incompetence at handling a large crowd. The Mets won, as they always do for their opener.  This time was my first ever Mets closing day. Ticketing was my own, and this time the MTA got me there in time to tailgate with the Chapmans:


The difference between doing shots at Mets vs Bills tailgates:

- No diving into card tables;

- Nobody’s on fire.

We then headed in to our separate seats, me not far from the 7 Line  Army I "met"  up with in Toronto:

Thor, the day's starter, warming up in the outfield:

He would go on to pitch a complete game shutout as the Mets won, 1-0. I amscrayed around  Seventh Inning Stretch to get home to the Prodigal Cat a  little sooner (Eleanor reported her return during  the tailgate), was back to Beacon close to  sunset-

-and made it home in a record-time straight shot by 1 Monday morning.

The dog was happy  to see me. The cat didn't even budge.


Rest of this week so far has been okay with minor annoyances. Finding out a client is a fugitive from the US Marshals. Lots of rain and a dog who insists on being walked in it.  My replacement keyboard STILL  not being in. The whole Kavanaugh Clusterfuck.  But with memories like  all  of these, it's  a lot  more bearable:)

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Still no grumpy old cat.  We're at the final ticky box on Ye Olde Kubler Ross Scale. If she shows up, she shows up.  Friday's SPCA visit seemed to be the end of the line as far as efforting (and the kitten I saw there was quickly adopted out to somebody else because of course she was:).   We did get a little glimmer into Sunday morning, when both of us swore we heard plaintive mewing- only it was coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!   Turned out to be Zoey, who thought that playing with a foamy ball  at 1 to 3 a.m. was just a darned excellent idea- especially when Mommy's been having trouble sleeping and Daddy was out late to a concert and birthday observance  (more about that to come).  So for now, we're a family of four- two with two paws and two with four.

Before Saturday night came  Friday night, though, and that's when a tale (or is it a tail?) came back into our lives from a cat that was never really ours.  I hesitate sometimes to repeat this story, lest anyone think it's about how cool and generous we are, but we're not, and it's not about us; it's about the lives we touch.

Nine years ago, we began a tradition under odd circumstances. That year, our anniversary was on a September Saturday night. We had rezzies for Hedges, a lakefront restaurant from our Rochester days, and a hotel room out that way. But that day, we met this guy- a stray who showed up across the street from us.

We fed him, looked around for a possible owner, put up signs, the works. Eventually he went to the SPCA, but by departure time we were too tired for an 80-mile drive to Webster. Only place we could get in near home on a Saturday night was the edge of the village- then a fancyish steakhouse. After finishing our anniversary dinner, Eleanor twinkled (as she'll do) and said, "Yaknow, we just saved a buttload of money on hotel and gas." So it went on the tip line. That server was brought to tears- and we vowed to do it, or something close to it, whenever we could.

A year later, we met Sarabeth, our waitress that night who I remain friends with, and we did the same. Years have passed, not every one with an anniversary out, but whenever we can, we've paid it forward. This year, we decided to do the dinner on Friday night, five days before the occasion. Eleanor picked a place now known as Milos. SHE may have realized it was the same building as the steakhouse where it all began; but I'D forgotten all about Charlie the cat- despite the SPCA reminding me of him earlier today when I went to their new location to report the missing kitty. So we were back at the same place, after a day spent with the same sort-of circumstances.

The server was a fun, attentive young woman who grew up one county over from me on Long Island. At the end of the meal, we told her that the tip was not a mistake- and we explained why. The tears tonight weren't purely of joy but necessity- she just got laid off from her day job, and that extra money is really gonna help. Hugs went all around.  We never did find out what became of Charlie. We do know that the love between us can never stay just between us-  we need  to share it.


Saturday, we made plans for what we jokingly refer to (from a longlost old New Yorker cartoon) as "ART- AND PLENTY OF IT!" In the afternoon, we returned to a Lockport gallery for a second look at a watercolor collection of mostly new works by a friend of ours  and two others.  We first went for its opening a few weekends ago, but the venue was packed  and  loud, and there wasn't  much chance for  quiet contemplation. This time, we had the place almost to ourselves; officially, they were closed  for a wedding on the grounds, but  even this turned into a fun moment  as I caught one of my spontaneous sightings of an accidental "objay-dart" left in  one of the exhibition rooms:

Two Become One
Metal and plastic on marble

(We told one of the groomsmen on the way out that it had already sold;)

Later, we had plans for the season opener of Buffalo Folk Music's annual series.  Eleanor was too tired for the late night, but I met up with friends there and saw a local opening act and a duo we've loved for years but had never seen- Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers.  Joined here by  Sally's husband (Claudia's in the middle)-

-she told a story of them visiting Israel a few years ago and being invited to sing in an ancient cistern. As she described the gorgeous acoustics, I was reminded of the sounds of the silo from a few weekends back- and, this being just one step above a house concert, I got to tell her about the local venue.

One in our party was finishing her birthday observance that night, so we joined her for a pint at a village pub, ending quite the day.

Yet quite not as "quite the day" as yesterday.


For one thing, the Bills won.  By a lot. After being expected to lose by a lot, on the road against a very good team.  I didn't see a lick of this, though, because we were on our way to, at and from a first-time experience with a new form of outdoor experience:


This isn't us, nor is it where we were, and we were certainly not between tall buildings. We were never more than an extension ladder's height above the ground- which is good, because that's how we both came down before the course's end. But this video does nicely show the extent of the safety equipment and the "briefing" you must take before hooking up for realz.

There's a lot to learn, much of it repetitive; the harness connections have built-in redundancies that prevent you from  disconnecting from your harness, and you then lock and unlock the extra connectors using a device called a "tweezil." (And yes, apparently it is named  for  Dweezil Zappa,  Son of Frank.)  There's also a trolley,  which takes you, not to the Land of Make Believe but to the next platform on the course.

In our case, it was the only one we crossed. After by-foot climbing a series of short uphill connectors (which reminded Eleanor of an obstacle course and me of the Monty Python Bridge of Death), we were on the platform leading to the first zipline.  Eleanor connected, rode across, and stopped perhaps three feet short- now facing away from the platform.  Staff was called.  A lovely and unjudgmental young woman helped her reverse, move onto it, and then down.  I was ready to reverse course, but they talked me through the plunge, and I made it, slowly but straightly, onto the platform- which I quickly Exited, Stage Ladder. This is called "quitting while you're ahead." 

All in all, it was one of the three hours we'd booked. Fortunately, we were the  only n00bs on the "bunny zip" (the whippersnappers all choosing the "black  widow" and similar thrillseeker options), so there was nobody behind us to complain  about how slow we were.  As Eleanor  put it, "We didn’t do real well, but we did well, for our ages and physical conditions." It  was enough of a thrill to want to try it again, now that we've literally learned the ropes  and that the tweeziling has become almost second nature.


And now, another manic Monday nears its end.  This day has brought an above-average share of annoyances to and from and at and away from the job- but these past few days have had so much hangover-ing goodness that they havent annoyed me nearly as much as they ordinarily would. I'm staying later at work than I need to this afternoon, because there's a court reception for a retiring law clerk at the end  of the day.  And  this one I'm just driving to. On the ground.


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Least the soundtrack of life has been good.  We saw Spike Lee's BlacKKKlansman last weekend, which was full of soulful 70s goodness, including this by the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose I hadn't thought of, much less heard, in probably 30 years but still remembered every word and note of.

But for the past almost 72 hours, the song in my head has been this one from the Chi-Lites:

The humans (and dog) here are fine, but overnight Tuesday, the evil cat got out- and despite postings, searching and, today, a visit to the SPCA, Michelle is still missing.

We've had her for 15 of  her almost 17 years- they confirmed the adoption  date and her age when  I went down  to make the report today  (we got her and her much nicer, long-deader older brother from  the SPCA Whisker Wagon).  They also told me something we never knew: they didn't do microchips back then. (Ebony,  who we got a bit earlier but who was younger than Michelle,  was our first pet to have one.) However, this cat does have a hidden tat, which will identify her if anyone brings her in.

As for the rest of the drill? Signed up on local pages for lost cats. Put out a litter box she'll recognize (trust me) and a hoodie with Mommy's scent. (They also suggested putting a favorite toy outside. That's hilarious; this cat does not play. She might torture a bug for fun, but that's about it.) We've reported to all the nearby neighbors who might see/have seen.  And Pepper and I (joined for a bit last night by our friend Ann and her friend Ursula) have walked the block at all hours.  Calling out her name that she'd never deign to answer to; also calling out the far more familiar-to-her cry of "Shut Up, Cat!"  (We had a neighbor at our previous Rochester house who named their kitty that.)  All that remains is to put up some signs; I'll do that tomorrow, since we're expecting a remnant-of-Florence storm tonight, which would just blow them all down anyway but which might entice the stupid aminal to come home.

It's only been two nights.  Esmeralda, Bozo, Biggsy all went missing for days if not weeks; Zoey tends to stick close to where the fud is.  And the dogs have all gotten out for a good chase now and then, but they're much easier to spot and corner.

I swore I heard her distinct yowl in the pens at the SPCA, but there was no sign of her. On the other hand, there was this little beauty:

That would be Lilly, all four months of her.  Hers was the first cage I looked into and the resemblance to our beloved departed Tazzer was striking.  So if we  give up,....

Oh, shut up, cat:P  And get  your cranky old ass back here.
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