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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Hey hey hey, just an ordinary week this time....

We were busy enough. Eleanor continued working on getting the greenhouse back into shape; Mama Robin has been supervising, and has definitely hatched her first eggs up there:)  And she's not the only one in the tending business. When Emily phoned home for Mother's Day last weekend, she told us about her new calling at the campus where she works: they have multiple nests of purple martins, a species requiring human interaction for their food and cleanliness, and the 83-year-old caretaker was asked to remove himself from his place of supervision up a ladder. (That request came from his wife.)  So Em and several others are learning the job, and soon enough, she'll be up there herself, providing nourishment and even cleaning flies off the bebbies:)  A perfect present for Mom's special day- nothing flowery or glittery, just knowing you raised a good kid:)

Much of the following week here was rainy.  Make that "most of the following week."  I don't think we've gone a day without at least some, and the back yard is turning into what another long-running comic strip refers to as Camp Swampy. At least SOMEBODY is enjoying it out there:

The grass, meanwhile, threatens to reach Little Shop of Horrors potential.  I barely got a third of it mowed last weekend without getting stuck back there, and there wasn't a single full rain-free day to drain the swamp in all of this past week.  Yesterday, I thought about taking a crack at it, but Eleanor preferred that I defoliate our property line- of numerous saplings and other things growing under the ancient picket fence which our neighbors were about to remove.  I got a bunch of them out before finally winning a wrestling match with one of the deeper-seated ones, and when I finally did my 20th goblet squat and pulled the root ball out, I just kept going backwards.  Nothing broken, nothing bruised, but I was muddy as all get-out.  By day's end, Tony and Laura had finished Da Job:

Pepper immediately invited herself into their yard, and almost as quickly found a spot in the remaining fence behind their house to book into three adjacent yards. We caught her, and are just keeping an eye on her travels now when she goes back there; and a much newer and nicer Pepper Proof Fence is on its way:)

This morning, the rain held off for our park trip, and even through a workout, but it started coming down just as I left, so I amscrayed home and started working the remainder of the back lawn.  Maybe halfway through, it started serious pelting (and thunderstorms were forecast), so I gave up, soaked up, cleaned up- just in time for the sun to come back out:P  Finished (mostly) back there, changed (mostly) again, and I'm done with yardwork for at least the day.


Work was fairly ordinary- two days away, three in court, plenty of balls to juggle.  Monday was a late Rochester appearance; Thursday over an hour in Buffalo City Court where, for at least five minutes, at least 20 people in a courtroom from the judge on down were doing Absolutely Nothing.  Not sure if that's better or worse than Friday, when I didn't even get into the courtroom before seeing my case had been adjourned (which is what I wanted but there was no way of requesting or predicting without just #$%* going there).  That left the rest of Friday going back to Rochester for nobody or nothing in particular, other than to try out the new electrical outlet that I asked for at my office there so I can charge Alanis when I'm there:

I also had time to visit Record Archive, my favorite place for music and just weird things.  This day's purchase, neither: I've become friends with Jeff Spevak, the long time arts columnist for the Rochester D&C until he wasn't anymore, a year or so ago.  He's supplemented his severance through online writing, by making a wonderful holiday appearance as the Record Archive Santa, and by doing a reading there the previous week from his new book titled 22 Minutes. I was in Whoville that night, but he left autographed copies, one of which is now mines:

Given his background, I thought it would be a music-related work- 22 minutes is about the old-style size of an album side- but this turns out to be a memoir of a World War II veteran's experience with the USS Vincennes.  He summarizes it in this piece.  I'll be moving onto it as soon as I finish the George Saunders novel I finally got to start this week (Jeff also interviewed HIM back in his newspaper days).


My final reminisce of the previous week of excitement came as I contemplated the stinkin t-shirt I bought to remember it by. I was contemplating in the wee smalls, as one does, and seeing the shirt laying around, I got to thinking, Hmmmm, a gold logo on a black background. Where have I seen that before?

Then it dawned on me: of course! ALEXANDER HAMILTON IS BATMAN!

It all fits. Being cruelly separated from his parents. Going on to become a wealthy playboy, well known among the ladies. Dedicating his life to fighting a villainous tyrant. Been seen out in public in tights and boots. And an unfortunate fascination for weapons (next time, bring a bigger utility belt to the duel).

The Catwoman is irrelevant.

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That was quite the week.  After an amazing evening of theater, and seeing the review of the first stop on this year's Who's Left tour,  in Grand Rapids two nights before their scheduled arrival here, I took the plunge and secured a seat in the 300s.

That's "up there."

The Jumbotron was off, but there were good sized video boards either side of the stage, so I saw and heard way more than I did the last time I saw these guys outdoors in 1982.  It was just under 40 bucks all-in, I took the free-to-ride-downtown Metro Rail from a free parking spot, and spent nary a nickel on the hockey team's overpriced wares.  Including not even having the chance to shop in the closed-for-the-season Sabres store:

For Sale. Playoff jerseys. Never worn.

Several escalators  later, I was in place.  The decent (and keeping it decently short) opening act came and went, giving some time for the sense of the place.  The house lighting was shit when it came to putting the history of the building (and its predecessor Aud) on display.  Of the retired Sabres jerseys, only Tim Horton's Number 2 was the least bit visible-

- and the playoff and division/Trophy banners behind the stage, not legible at all. Maybe when they actually win a Cup....

But then Pete and Roger came on, accompanied by Ringo's son on the drums, their own bassist, keyboardist and additional guitarist, two string players who tour with them on first violin and cello, and a decent chunk of the BPO on stage with them.  My pictures from that point on are even more crap than the ones I just posted, but the paper provided a photo gallery and a good review of the proceedings.

It wasn't perfect. Nobody's hitting every one of the high notes any more, but both singers did their level best to keep it as close to the originals as they could.  What they did mix up was fun and inventive; Rog coming out with an acoustic guitar for at least two pieces, and Pete going with his own acoustic and singing lead on "Won't Get Fooled Again." (One of my all-time favorite renditions of that is one he did, singing the vocal with an acoustic accompaniment at a 1979 Amnesty International benefit, and this one, with him essentially soloing, was goosebumpy.)

The setlist largely followed, with a few expansions, the one from the opening night of the tour earlier in the week- and also included the BPO-less interlude where Just The Who played mostly hits, from early "Kids are Alright" to more recent "Tea and Treasure." (Roger practically hugged Pete at the end of that one. More goosebumps.)  Then, after running through much of Tommy at the top, they rocked out about a side and a half of Quadrophenia, including "The Rock," an instrumental which presents and blends all four of the member's motifs before getting real quiet just before the finale, "Love Reign O'er Me."  Roger did not nail every note leading up to the final scream of "LOVE!," but saved his mojo to blast that out as authentically as ever.

No encore BS- we're too old for that. They introduced their mates, traveling and local, thanked us for their first stop here in 13 years, and went right into "Baba O'Reilly," with their violinist jamming out the closing section from the middle of the stage.

We arrived home safely. No guitars were harmed in the making of the performance.


Friday promised an earlier but international adventure.  We're friends with a lawyer from the UK named Caroline, once known in these parts as [personal profile] hooton but no longer posting regularly here. She's brilliant, and funny as hell, especially when faced with adversity, which her two previous in-house gigs gave her plenty to experiment with.  She's also been blessed with being able to travel to all corners of the world when on holiday, and this past week she got as close to Our Fair City as we were ever likely to see: most of the week in Toronto, with a day trip Friday to Niagara Falls.

It was one of those package deals- you know, the kind that Eric Idle made Watney's Red Barrel famous for- but they'd laid out three whole hours of on-her-own time for Friday afternoon. Eleanor was working, but I met my one client early, grabbed some filings for downtown Buffalo, and planned a Peace Bridge crossing and a quick 20-minute run up the QEW for some combination of fallsviews, butterflies and beer.

"Plans," alas, were as close as we got.  I sent Facebook messages over during the day, finally plunging over around 3:30, when my AT&T coverage morphed into ROGERS.  I decided to decamp at the first convenient Timmy's over there, which had double-doubles just like home but, unlike home, no wi-fi. So I next grabbed signal from a Wally World in the adjacent town centre, checked again, no word.  Finally, near the end of her tour window, I boogied to the bridge (Rainbow this time), but not before seeing, for the first time, this new sign of progress between our two nations:

Now granted, the evil weed is still illegal in New York, but talks are practically burning up (heh) to bring us in line (no, not legalizing THAT;) with several of our more progressive neighbors and neighbours.  This will lead to the conundrum of a substance being legal on both sides of the border but subject to arrest and confiscation at the entirely theoretical federal boundary between them.

Forget the cat. It's Schrödinger's Pot!

I was breezily admitted back in, confessing to my smuggling of half a Canadian double-double (that's coffee, you prudes), and finally got the word: they'd shuffled the tour schedule, forcing her into a vineyard with no wifi for our scheduled meet time.  So we shall have to do this in another land on another day.

I spent most of yesterday running my ass- all around the gym, our floors and about fifteen of the back forty.  We watched a fun old Michael Keaton movie last night, and have Beale Street on tap for tonight before we likely make an early turn-in of it.

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I don't know why it didn't occur to me until I got there last night, but finally seeing Hamilton in Rochester was a homecoming of sorts for me.  I had never been to Rochester, or anywhere in New York west of Cayuga Lake in my life (save one vaguely remembered trip to Niagara Falls ON when I was maybe five) until June of 1980, when my college roommate Jim and I got the chance to see Peter Gabriel at Rochester's Auditorium Theatre.  The setlist's on the Internet, because of course it is; it was a lot from his second solo album (titled, like all of his first four, Peter Gabriel, but generally known as the "Scratch" album on account of the cover), but he also included several from the one he'd just released, known as "Melt."

For years, I bucket-listed that show at this Auditorium as Best Ever Seen; perhaps only Simon & Garfunkel here, or Bruce at the War Memorial, have topped it since. The venue is a classic old performance hall, with the painted ceiling and true proscenium stage; but it's a bit outside the center city of Rochester, the backstage areas aren't up to the bigger bus-and-truck touring standards, and they've been talking about replacing it with a Downtown Development Magic Bullet Performing Arts Centre for most of the 35 years since I finally arrived in Rochester in my own car and decided to stay.

Getting to this place, on this night, was the usual adventure.  Recall that my pair of on-Broadway tickets for the kids got derailed by them moving out of state, and then my second effort four months ago turned into a weather-and-airline cluster.  But for me at least, this round went smoothly. I scored four seats, intending to sell two and take Eleanor, on the day they went on sale to verified human beings. The two went to friends (same ones who'd gotten the first Broadway pair), and until I got home yesterday, Eleanor and I were on target to catch a friend's piece in a Park Avenue art gallery, have dinner, and then see the performance.

Then the Curse of Aaron Burr struck again. Or in her case, Painin Butt.  Here's how she unfortunately described it to a friend who was wishing her healing thoughts about her condition before prematurely hitting the "send" button:

Hey. I've been called worse;)

Suddenly holding an extra ticket, I put out a distress call to the friends who'd bought the other two- and got it claimed in minutes. One of Scott's public radio co-workers, who'd been dying to see the show, took their call and took the ticket. The Shot was with her; Julia was actually on-air at the time, and heard her phone go off, saying, I should've turned that off. No you shouldn't have:) She turns out to be friends with not just our seatmates but at least three other people from completely different circles of this life.

From there, it was the same as planned, just short a beloved.  Saw Phyllis's piece and the other almost 60 on the theme of Metamorphosis; then headed to where I'd planned our dinner for two, now joined by Scott and Lisa.  This was the corner a block away:

Hey, I'm gettin' close.

Wood-fired pizza half-eaten, half-stored, I headed over, met my plus-one and cleared the last hurdle. Ticketmonster essentially requires you to download their app on your phone as the only means of entry if you didn't buy a paper ticket at the box office, and I was worried, given prior luck, that the battery would die, the screen would crack, SOMETHING would keep me out of this thing- but all of a sudden, there we were:

Still a painted ceiling and true proscenium stage, yo.

No photography during the show, of course, but spoiler alert: as good as advertised.  The touring cast nailed every note, every landing, every rap and every laugh. (I think the King George actor was the one who voiced the "no photography" warning, fitting because he largely stole the show in his brief mostly solo musical numbers.)

After three hours of revolutionary magic and an hour's drive home, it was back to my own city, century and reality.  After work today, I have a poetry reading at another friend's art exhibit I am definitely attending, and there's the chance to see the remaining Two of The Who playing in downtown Buffalo tonight. Cheap seats for the undersold show are going for around $20- barely above what I paid to see The Who outside in 1982 (with the Clash and others).  It's not bucket-list, since I've already seen them, but Pete and Roger are supposedly doing a lot of Tommy and Quadrophenia.  Hell, there's probably a setlist out there (because of course there is).


I'm One (At Least). As in One Ticket in the nosebleeds.
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Other than the Avengers review, I never posted anything about the past week in this life.  It went fast- for several minutes, real fast.  Yesterday's workout encouraged us to set a PR- personal record- for fastest 30 seconds on a treadmill. When I started, I could barely break 4 mph for any length of time; I've upped the default pace to just below 5, and yesterday, I built the sprints from my typical 6.5 mph to just short of 7.5.  Here we is:

It was my first time in there all week. Only one court appearance in town- a traffic case for a client, and my own appearance to get Pepper off her Leash Law charge, where she didn't even get a warning from the judge- but lots of new business coming in and one fairly intense out-of-town day with a frustrating court appearance and running around throughout.  I did arrange to get a charging station installed at my Rochester office for when I drive Alanis there- when she's fully charged, she's cranking close to 100 mpg even after the resulting 27 miles of "free" driving passes by.

I continued the Marvel binge at night- almost done with the Ed Norton Hulk- and we just started a new Netflix dramady called Dead to Me- no relation to the George and Rube of the icon, but a take mostly about those left behind among the living. Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are in the leads, and they're incredibly fun with the impeccable writing.

And then we went out.

To another art opening, this one featuring several works and poems by our friend Wendy. The theme was "The Art of Words," pairing each piece with a poem.  She displayed several in both categories, including this one, incorporating the poetry of a writer named George Grace:

It's basically an Ode to a Fallen Ladder, from the perspective of the guy falling off it.  (There was hope of turning the entire exhibit into a book, which I would totally buy, but their proposed printer greedied it up at the last minute; I'm exploring options with people I know.)  This took on even greater relevance yesterday, when I was the one up a ladder, albeit a short steppy one.  Eleanor's greenhouse took a beating this winter, much of the roofing blowing off during one of the worst windstorms, and she'd spent most of the show day clearing out the contents and then turned Sunday to getting the plastic roofing off.  The befores and afters:

My mission was removing the screws seen above the higher orange wrapping cord, and the relatively few a couple of feet above them; Eleanor worked from the inside on a higher ladder to get the screws out closer to the roof peak.  Despite the imagery of the day before, we both wound up sore, but neither wound up injured:)

Adding to all this was the company we discovered:

Because OF COURSE a mama robin decided to build a nest in the rafters just below where we were working. We reached a quick and acceptable peace with her, and no eggs (hers) or faces (ours) were harmed during the construction project.  Now we wait for the new roofing to arrive.  Meanwhile, our neighbors are replacing an ancient wooden picket fence which Pepper has breached any number of times, so things are plenty busy back there.

Today was busy enough, crying infant and all at the end, and now two straight trips to the 585. Tomorrow for court, Wednesday for a duel in the Room Where It Finally Happens Barring an Asteroid Strike.

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The past few nights after getting home from work, I've been watching the original Iron Man film, the one that started it all back in 2008 Sure, Marvel had been teeing up its superheroes for ages before that, in big budget films dropped across numerous studios; Ang Lee's Hulk, Sam and Tobey's Spidey shots, at least a pair of Fantastic Fours, and a mansion full of X-Men. Still- each was a standalone, to itself or at least to its titular superstar or team.  About the only constant was Stan Lee, almost always working his way into a cameo.  There were reboots along the way, of Spidey and of Stretchy and his team, but it took Robert Downey, Jr.- virtually unbookable when he took the role after his years of drug abuse- to find the perfect tone for what would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and to give it the room to grow that these larger-than-life characters all needed.

It took over a decade to bring the Stark Arc to a logical, if not permanent, conclusion.  (That's sort-of a spoiler.  Real ones come after the end of this paragraph.)  It brought two more Iron Man features, along with a sprinkling of Caps and Thors, a reboot and then a recasting of Green Guy, and before we knew it, we had our Original Six Avengers- those four plus Natasha No Boris and Hawkeye No Trapper.  They came, they conquered, they had shawarma.  Next came some fun side stories- Guardians, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, and most recently, Black Panther. All of them started touching each other with more tentacles than Doc Oc- HIS superhero Spidey was excluded from the MCU until a real-life truce between Marvel (now a Disney property) and Sony, but his MCU debut brought him fully into the fold, along with everyone just mentioned and dozens who weren't (only the Four, the X-Men and Deadpool are on the sidelines for the moment, although the recent Fox-Disney merger will likely change that), in last April's penultimate telling of the tale, known as Infinity War.

That film, summarized in a sentence? Rocks fell; half of everybody died.  THAT was such an unspeakable spoiler for months, but somewhere between then and this past season's addition of the MCU Captain Marvel to the team, it became a universal pop-culture joke.  There was also constant crossing of the streams, between real life industry talk and cinematic story, that made the finale's denouement almost inevitable: how could half the Guardians die if a third film was due with all of them?  (Throw in the fifth-wall breakage involving the firing and unfiring of their director, and it gets even more meta.) Tom Holland's Spidey was still on the docket, so how could HE be dead? (Just ask Tom Holland; he'll spoil ANYTHING if you don't stick a sock in his mouth;)  So we knew the what- Thanos's snap would be unsnapped- but not the how or the how many.  Would others, deceased before the snap, somehow be able to come back?  Lots of lobbying was going on for Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston to make it back from their seeming earlier demises.  Most importantly, would we all live happily ever after, or would there still be need for Kleenex?

You got an extra paragraph to avoid this, so here goes:  we do lose two of the Original Six, and see the aging out of a third.  Perhaps it's ironic that all three survived the snap of the previous installment, but not the bitterer ending of this one. All three losses came for the cause, not out of Thanonian randomness.  Cap, charged with returning the Infinity Stones to their proper places and times, comes back as his roughly 110 year old self. Nat, knowing that either she or Hawkeye needs to sacrifice themselves in order to re-retrieve the Soul Stone, makes that choice for the sake of the team that they have and the family that he has and she doesn't.  Finally, as Tony began the Arc with a spontaneous decision to build The Suit in a moment of crisis, he ends his part in it by putting team before his own  newfound family- channeling the impossible power of the gauntlet to put an end to Infinity War's malfeasance and, in so doing, to his own impossibly preserved life. 

At least he doesn't have to sit around all day listening to Gwyenth Paltrow's weird diet tips anymore;)

All the other webbing mostly remains. Hulk has found his middle place, with Green Guy brawn and Brucey brain.  Thor survived his hourlong channeling of The Dude (I'd forgotten that Jeff Bridges was IN this thing way back at the beginning;) and seems destined to join Quill, Rocket and the Shrubbery in some new adventures with cool 70s music.  Hawkeye will mourn his loss, but will probably be paired with BJ and Colonel Potter in some smarmier series.  Hopefully our new Caps- America 2.0 and Marvel Not Shazam- will play bigger roles in the new incarnation of the MCU. The Four, the Mutants, and the Merc with a Mouth are all fair game to come on over now. And who knows? We may be one humongomerger away from the MDCECU. Or even adding The Tick!



Some cinemas were showing the entire 59-hour series of MCU films beginning two days before last Friday's premiere. That's a double-all-nighter; I abandoned the single kind the night Eleanor gave birth.  I'd guess I saw a third of the films in cinema on or close to the days of their premieres; got round to another third much later or on home video; and the rest, including all the original Iron Men, never at all. I will probably make a Thing (not Ben Grimm;) out of trying to watch them all in order now. Over months, not days.

But the gravitas of this one, and the potential for spoilers, was such that I wanted to get out there on Opening Day. Fortunately, my Friday workday was quiet enough after three straight weeks of intensity, that I got to book a 4 p.m. screening.  This movie Hulksmashed all opening weekend grosses, and one reason is that Disney booked it EVERYWHERE. The local multiplexes were showing little else, but even the arts houses were showing it. Including the one remaining local palace from Buffalo's bygone era.  It was restored a few years ago after a brief time out of commission, and it lit up the street on a cold spring afternoon:

I booked an online ticket barely two hours before curtain, and the cinema was maybe half full; perhaps people didn't realize they were screening it.  The feature itself was almost exactly three hours long, so they kept the previews to a minimum and got the comic-book logo cranking by 4:15.  Warnings had been issued: no intermission, and no lull, so bathroom-break at your own risk.  I made it well into the second half before my teeth started chattering, but I picked a good moment to go: when Cap and Tony go back to 1970 Jersey, and he sees Peggy running the installation, BOOK IT.  If you're just a guy peeing, you make it back before the schmoopy stops.

Another spoiler, which definitely helped: no post-credits scene(s) in this one, so I was outta there closer to 7 than 7:15.  That gave me time for some extra shots of the neighborhood color, the latter coming from inside Lloyd Taco, one of Buffalo's food truck pioneers which now has some brick and mortar locations, as well:

I brought the Lloyd's home.  Pepper wound up eating half of it. Clearly, nobody told HER that, like the burrito itself, Thanos's plan had been foiled;) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1550852.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Let's start this recap of the past week with Monday, Monday. Can't trust that day.

Got a shit night sleep Sunday night into Monday- thanks to a cat, the Not Evil Cat for once- who kept getting up, scratch-scratch-scratching to get out, and then minutes later scratch-scratch-scratching to get back in. I didn't mind terribly, because I thought I didn't have any morning appointments and could turn my alarm off. Then I checked my all-knowing, all-seeing phone. Nope. Two conflicting appointments in downtown Buffalo between 9 and 10. At least they were in the same building, so I juggled them successfully. One went quickly and amicably. The other was using a new-to-me procedure for herding cats landlords, one of whom I was helping on the Friends And Family Plan. It wound up being an utter waste of both of our times, since it only achieved a result which the tenants had already self-inflicted.

This got me back home in time to make sure Eleanor got to work on time. We had to switch cars because hers was due for its Repair of Stupidity on the collision shop's Night Shift plan. (It reminded me that Night Shift is a rather spooky Michael Keaton movie I've got to lay hands on;) I brought the car to them after finishing with the soon-to-be-catalogued clients Monday afternoon, with the promise of them returning Alanis to us during the day today. Which they did. I brought it to them around five last night, walked home, and then reclaimed it right before Eleanor went to work today. No further incidents or accidents with the new car in my tooling about the remainder of today.

Ah, but the unexpected stories from the week.


Client One- another of the Friends and Family variety. Bought a vehicle last fall, immediately regretted it. I filed papers to undo the deal. Various hiccups ensued. Eventually, seller lawyered up and essentially proved that the allegations against seller were not provable. We regrouped to "get what you can get" mode, where they were given money to bring their loan on it current, along with a promise to fix all the "weren't right" things about it.

We endured further hiccups about the delivery of the checks (one of which contributed to my booboo with Eleanor's new car two weekends ago), but all was where it needed to be by the middle of last week, and I got confirmation that the vehicle had been "released." Unspecified was where it was at the time of the release. Turns out that while we were negotiating the resolution with seller, the vehicle was indeed "released"- to a car lot in Virginia, where it had since remained, free for my client to pick it up. Client One was not happy about the long drive. Ultimately, I found a method where someone who would be in Virginia this weekend could bring the vehicle back here, but Client One was not interested. They instead wound up doing exactly what I would have done- taking a drive to Virginia and driving it home. There are still issues, but I feel no guilt or shame about any of them.

I have even less guilt or shame about Client Two. HE came to me around two years ago to do a BK for him and Mrs. Client Two. Eventually, Mrs. C2 dropped out of the filing, because of a rental property she owned in another state. Mr. C2 didn't want it getting ensnared in the case in any way. Mister C2's just-him case got confirmed, payments are on schedule, but then this past Monday came a callin'. Mrs. C2 is trying to refinance that house, and MISTER C2's bankruptcy is causing a title objection....

as it will, seeing how the Missus deeded half the property to the Mister 11 years ago.

He lost a lot of sleep over this that night, Me, not so much. He has a bunch of good points in his favor that make it largely a no-harm-no-foul situation, but I can't promise with 100 percent certainty that we can clear the bankruptcy objection, or avoid worse consequences from his name indisputably being on a deed from a decade past.

It's not an uncommon occurrence. Elder law lawyers often put kids on the deeds to their parents' homes without giving a moment's thought to the implications if any of those kids wind up in bankruptcy, which they do, in this venue, at least 10-20 times a year not knowing that Mom and Dad did this. The kinder of bankruptcy trustees ask about this early in cases, to minimize the unintended consequences of such "estate planning." The nastier ones lie in wait and collect four-to-five-figure commissions on the kids' shares of their parents' homes because Mom and/or Dad "didn't know." I suspect, but do not promise, that Client 2's trustee is one from the first group. We shall see.


Other things are more expected: as I riffed on an old Chinese proverb the other day-

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.
Give a lawyer a deadline, and she (or more likely, he) will run around like a crazy person on the last day of the deadline day to get the project done.

Give him two at once with simultaneous deadlines and his head, and possibly other parts, will explode.

(One of my best friends promptly asked, in response to that, "Which parts?" To which I replied, Parts is Parts.)

So Client 3 had a deadline. For months. Ignored it. Went ghost on me for weeks. Finally, in February, Opponent whined to the judge, who agreed to give me until April 15th to respond, because that shoulda been plenty of time. April 11th comes; they roll in with "the documents." Which is to say, the six-page printout I gave them months ago, almost all of them marked "You have this."

Well, we do. In about 30 paper and another hundred electronic files. And hearing this, I asked the office people how long they needed to transmogrify these various things. They said until April 25th. I got an extension until then, but only then. Yet despite my losing sleep over this each ensuing night, of course it didn’t become time sensitive until the day before the deadline. I didn’t get out of there- with the full copy paper box of shit - until 3:30 in the afternoon of the deadline, and got it delivered to Opponent, with a resounding thud of the box on a side chair, just in time to boogie out of there to get back to Buffalo for Night Court.

Night Court wasn't even the Other deadline killing my brain that day. That was for Client 4, but that actually went reasonably smoothly. Information sent and received and reviewed and revised in time to meet an electronic deadline which was also on Thursday. I even fit in picking up time-sensitive documents for the next day from Client 5 and got them to where THEY needed to be yesterday.

Still, all of this contributed to some major verplemptness that spilled into the weekend.


It wasn't until last night that I realized my debit card was missing. I'd last used it at an ATM Thursday morning before all the Give A Lawyer A Deadlining had kicked in, and not again until trying to buy grape late Friday after seeing Avengers: Endgame (an upcoming post of its own). Went back to said ATM today and discovered that said bank branch is closed until Monday. I put an alert on my phone for any suspicious activity on our account, and we've been fine juggling with Eleanor's debit card in the meantime, but this I did not need.

I also had distractions over the past few days connected to the Sabres' minor league hockey team (sucking about as much as they do), the asshole who is ruining Jeopardy!, and players being selected/not selected in the NFL draft. But by today, most of that was past. The dog park has reopened, and Pepper and I returned there for the first time in weeks this morning. Two more of Eleanor's drawings came home framed and are now hanging in the dining room; and I picked up some cool new music, ordered more to arrive Monday, and discovered new and final albums from several other old friends. One such is the final album from the Irish group known as the Cranberries; they lost their lead singer Dolores O'Riordan early last year, and the remaining members decided to finish the album they were working on when she died, titled (probably in retrospect) In the End.

Just be careful pronouncing her name when texting your wife and using Siri's voice recognition function:

She found it funny. Which, after all these years, is what I would have expected;)

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We don't, and therefore didn't, celebrate any of the three major holidays which fell in order. Not the start of Passover Friday night, nor any of Easter on Sunday, and not even any festivities for 4/20, despite several of our state's borders now encouraging that sort of thing.

On Saturday, we cleaned.  There's a half-bath in the cellar, which has been out of use for years except as a storage room; since we can lock it off from the cats, it's the safest place in the house from their comings and goings and leavings.  But, like most crap catchers, it acquired plenty of crap of the non-cat variety over the years, and it was time to say, No mas!  We pretty much filled our entire garbage tote with never-to-be-used again wrapping papers and boring Christmas ornaments and other assorted whatnots.  The recycling tote, of similar size, is virtually full of the boxes previously hoarding all this stuff.  Four huge racks of cassette tapes came up, to be checked for the few we haven't digitized over the years; once that's done, they, too, will hit the road.  A printer went to the town recycling center; a bunch of old kitchen things and books got marked for possible sale at a library event on an upcoming weekend; and lots of my old statements and other records from more than 3 years ago are awaiting a one-way trip to Shred City.

But there were three other things which told a more interesting tale.

I found three of Emily's old school art projects, dating from pre-K to probably late elementary school.  Here are my texts to her sending them for her reaction:

(the two above, that is....) and then I sent her this one that she'd done in pencil- not terribly well rendered even at full size, but she could make out the title:

So she did:

Did more cleaning things after that exchange, and got back to work today for multiple rounds of Mostly Frustration.  I did leave early, because I had to bring Eleanor's car in for its overnight repair.  As I was walking home, I saw I'd gotten an email from a relatively new client, who teaches at Emily's old high school. Last time we contacted each other, I thought to ask the teacher if Emily's name was familiar.

It was.  And not just to the teacher:  I got a photo of a painting Emily did back then, which still hangs on the wall outside the school library:

I asked Em if she knew it was still on display there; she said Cameron's parents see it often, since his youngest stepbrother is in school there now ("what even is time," she asked).


Eleanor's piece has now gone up on our dining room wall. Two more are ready to be picked up for future displaying, here and elsewhere.  Work may be difficult, but home is as beautiful and surprising as ever:)

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Random things from the end of my fortnight of hellish commitments- which settled down, largely, at the end.  Wednesday's court hearing got postponed; Thursday's never even got on the calendar; today's early one took all of five minutes once I got down there.  It was pure joy sitting at my desk for an entire day Wednesday and just. Doing. WORK! without having artificial commitments to be in place X to do thing Y for Z (or more likely Z-squared) minutes.

Thursday, I got enough done, and had enough off my plate, to do something I can't remember ever doing in quite the same way:

I do a high-intensity interval workout a couple times a week. Most of its treadmill components are short- running between your "base" pace (mine's just under 5 mph) and "pushing" a mile above that for 1 to 3 minute intervals, with some "all out" sprints (2 mph above base) of 30 to 60 seconds mixed in.

Not this time. This was a straight one-mile run at push, followed by a row break, then a half-mile run at the push pace. I don't think I have ever before maintained a speed above 5 mph for an entire mile, inside or out, without slowing down at least briefly. But I did. It wound up taking just over 11 minutes. Then, the half-mile took just over 5, since I upped the speed a little since the distance was half. Do that five times outside and I'll do a Turkey Trot in under an hour, which I've never done.

The one odd thing? The heart rate zones. The monitor was working for once, and I only got into the 84-plus percent of maximum heart rate for 9 minutes of the 23 allocated for the mile, the half, and the stuff in between. It climbed slowly and steadily, but never got much below 80 percent or above about 86. Varying the speed must have more of an effect than I realized.

Oh, and I knew I was gonna be sore. But that didn't kick in until this morning, and a hot bath cleared most of it.  We had other things to do last night.


We are blessed here with a vibrant literary community, some coming out of the dozen or so university or college English departments, but also a non-profit called the Just Buffalo Literary Center.  They've been sponsoring reading and writing opportunities for students and lovers of the craft, and for many years have had an ambitious series of lectures by renowned authors, held at (and filling) the Philharmonic's home at Kleinhans Music Hall.  This was our first year as subscribers, and we got to three of the four presentations between fall and spring, the final one coming last night with a Man Booker Prize/MacArthur genius grant winner named George Saunders.  He's been a New Yorker regular, an occasional late night TV guest, and has taught creative writing at Syracuse University for years, but his talk last night about his latest work- Lincoln in the Bardo, a ghost story about the dying-too-young son of Abraham Lincoln- resonated with his connections to Rochester in places and years where I was, or might have been, at or near the same time.

Saunders had an engineering background, and his journey took him to oil fields in Sumatra, and to at least one slaughterhouse ("knuckle-puller" is a job title), before finally landing him in SU graduate school for his writing and, not long after, in a Corporate Woods of Brighton office park (the same one I would toil in from 1995 to 2003) doing technical writing for the likes of Kodak.  A longtime Rochester journalist told the tale a few years back, describing the influence Rochester's environs had on him:

“You go from Corporate Woods in (Brighton), past six-foot-high cattails, to the highway and Kodak Park, which is kind of Willy Wonka with methylene chloride. You can drive a straight line, six miles, and see all of these different levels of America. Different tastes and pop culture. You drive past malls and pioneer cemeteries next to a car wash,” he says. “It’s such a funny mix of the American topography. It supercharged my understanding of the American dilemma. Those things are still in my work.”

He found his groove as a writer while word-doodling during his transcription of a corporate conference call, and that eventually turned into his first collection of short storie- one of them loosely tied to Lincoln called CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. Then, probably around the time I was working in Corporate Woods myself, he got a call out of the blue from Ben Stiller. Yes, that Ben Stiller. He'd only just broken out as a director as well as a star-star-star (oddly, we watched his directorial debut Reality Bites the night before George's talk,  not having any idea of his connection to the actor); he was calling to say he'd optioned the book and wanted to make a movie out of it. 

Saunders told us how they had to ask their best friend, a dentist, if they could borrow his minivan for the visit. Jeff Spevak picks it up from there:

Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are strolling through the quiet grounds of Genesee Country Village & Museum. Stiller has just bought the rights to CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, and he wants to see the inspiration for the short story about a failing theme park. The park is relatively tourist-free at the moment, and only one person recognizes Stiller. As this is 1997, Wilson is still an unknown actor, so no one recognizes him; he stops to get a fake vintage photo taken of himself in a fake Civil War uniform.

And certainly no one recognizes the fellow wandering alongside them, the author of CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, George Saunders.

Some 16 years later, Saunders still escapes widespread recognition. But his critically acclaimed short stories have created a second level of notoriety. There he was, this past January, yukking it up with Stephen Colbert on that hippest of absurdist-news platforms, The Colbert Report, after Saunders’ latest collection of stories, Tenth of December, had just been declared by The New York Times magazine “the best book you will read this year.”

Far as I know, the movie has never been made. But the story, like so many of those reduced to pages by this author, will always stick with me. We now have his more recent Lincoln piece to enjoy.

He also told a frightening-in-retrospect story of how we might never have heard this talk. Some years back, he'd tried cutting out alcohol for a bit, but wound up at a holiday party where the main grape was something called Boone's Farm.  He indulged a bit. He then went home, went into the bathroom, blacked out and hit his head on the edge of the bathtub.  His wife heard it and rescued him from further damage, but one millimeter to either side and maybe not so good an outcome.  On our way home from the venue, I stopped at an Elmwood Avenue late-night liquor shop, and repeated the story to the cashier. He'd never heard of Boone's Farm.

The world will not suffer from this loss.


That late night led to a not-so-early morning here. My one and only court, it of the five minutes, wasn't until 10 this morning. After that, Rochester awaited for the third time in seven days, but as briefly as ever.  I had an overdue appointment with my own dentist there (everything's fine, and no, he wasn't George's dentist back in the day), a quick meetup with a bankruptcy client, but then it was back on the road to get back to downtown Buffalo before 5.  Today was the last day of Eleanor's show, and they needed pieces picked up by the end of the day, so I switched cars with her at Wegmans around 3, got to the gallery a bit past 4, and the piece was safely home by 5.  She has two others which are now framed and waiting to be picked up, so more of this will lie ahead.

Tomorrow is Seinfeld Saturday- the part of Holy Week where nothing happens.  I am looking forward to something similar;)

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As most people who read this know, and far more who don't anymore also know, there is no love lost between me and the current owners of the LiveJournal blogging site.  A San Francisco company sold it off to some Russians ages ago, and a couple of years ago their Terms of Service became especially homophobic and censorial. 

The code for the software itself was open source, and variations developed over the years including DeadJournal, InfiniteJournal, JournalFen, and the one I now use as my primary host- Dreamwidth.  Most of the settings and benefits are the same, and both the sites themselves and the primary software used to draft the entries allow "cross-posting" back to LJ.  It's from those efforts that I get that magic number of 6,004.  Had I been aware more than a day ago of that count, I'd have shut up a little bit so that today hosted my 6,000th entry.

Why?  (What? Who wasn't enough for you? I don't know....)

Because it was 15 years ago today that I first stuck a toe in the blogging waters, and took the nom de bloggue of captainsblog that has stuck with me ever since.

LJ was invite-only back then, and I think I snagged one from a much younger friend I'd been doing online writing with.  It gradually took the place in my life of trivia games and other AOL-based online interactions.  Over those 15 years, my "friends" from that first effort came from everywhere and nowhere. These fellow writers from the online webseries were an initial core; an odd group calling itself  [profile] buffalo_dorks(long-deceased) brought a variety of locally based cool peeps, many of whom I've eventually met and stayed in touch with despite them almost, to a one, leaving the blogging life.  There was an odd "event" called [community profile] ljdq- standing for "daily quiz" but actually propounded weekly, where the goal, much like on QI, was not to get the "right" answer but entertain the audience with your novel or clever one; the mods, one of whom I still connect with, chose the best answers, and I was always proud to make the weekly roundup, and became friends with Ang and others through that.  Friends begat friends of friends, who begat fellow communities with new friends, who occasionally did "friendzies" to repopulate the lists....

and then Facebook and Twitter took over the universe, and most headed to them and, if not totally gone from this world, are rare in their posts.

For me for a long time, it was a daily regimen- but for the past several, one or two a week is ordinary, more is rare, none is less rare.  Mr. Ray will never speak unless he has something to say. Still, despite seeming to not care about the effort, I managed to hit significant milestones right on the April 17 blogiversary, as I noted the day after the event, that year a non-event, in 2012:


For many years, I've been very aware of the anniversary of starting this journal on LJ,  which has been a large and largely amazing part of my life. In several of them, it was possible, even easy, to speed up/slow down an entry here and there so that the anniversary entries were also numerically significant. This one from two years ago, for instance, was the 2900th; the '07 anniversary was the 1440th (gross!); and, the year before that, I hit 1000 on the button.

It was one of the last ones in, [personal profile] ecosopher, who reminded me of all this yesterday.  She posted a note that I just missed the five-year-older birthday of LJ itself.  This is the link to the memory posted of it, which will personalize to you if you're still logged in to the thing.

So here's a raise of a glass to the Final 145- those whose journals still exist in some form, living or dormant, primary or cross-posty, in some secure Soviet bunker in the Ural Mountains.  Some will see me link to this on Facebook and might remember a name they once used, a friend they once made, a laugh we once shared.  I doubt will be doing this again in 2034, so get those comments in while you can, kids;)  I'll even enable them on LJ if you're not logged in; spam's not much of a problem there anymore:P

6th_dr, 9thkvius, active_apathy, adoptivemom, alchemi, andrewducker, angelamermaid, angledge, apocalypticbob, audacian, ayrshire_of_elm, baseballchica03, beccak1961, beekm, believeitup, bellavaruka, bill_sheehan, bktheirregular, bluesilverkdg, bluevicksen11, booksforfood, bowlingpenguin, brainbuffet, brangwaine, cafemusique, canadiandiamond, candysmum, catecumen, ceetar, cinematixyz, cleolinda, cluegirl, cottonmanifesto, darksumomo, darkwaver, diannelamerc, digitalemur, doubtful_salmon, drbear, drhoz, eatsoylentgreen, ecosopher, elbiesee, ellettra, erik415, fiddlingfrog, firynze, floundah, galateadia, gentledissident, giltspur, glamberson, glenmarshall, gnine, greenlily, greenquotebook, groen, headbanger118, hooton, horizonchaser, i_beckygardens, impatient_hands, jblaque, jcd1013, jeanne_dark, jenny_evergreen, katesti, khuckie, kishenehn, kouredios, kythryne, la_rainette, lessthanpie, liddle_oldman, lietya, likethewatch, lindapendant, lmdiago, logicalargument, mabfan, mac_arthur_park, mayiwrite, meredith_mae, mikailborg, miss_katelynne, mon_de_plume, monpais, mrs_professor, murrday, nentikobe, nimnod, nnozomi, nonspecific, oneeyeddaruma, onlyonechoice, oxymoron67, paterson_si, plantmom, platypus, princesskraehe, puppy_ciao, puppykissesblog, rainbow_goddess, roguepuppet, sgauta, shadowhuntress, shappyshaps, shinuhana, siercia, sioneva, sjb_wing, speechteach, spikeswhiterose, squonk_npl, stress_kitten, sturgeonslawyer, suchanadorer, supercalebo, susandennis, swingdancefan, symian, targaff, tatjna, thanatos_kalos, thatyousay, thediva_laments, throbinson, thunderemerald, tilia_tomentosa, timprov, tinnabelle, toft_froggy, troubleagain, tweeti, tybalt_quin, uninvitedcat, urbpan, vashtan, warriorsavant, weebleswobble, wookiemonster, xiphias, xparrot, yesididit, ysidro
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After I got home from Saturday afternoon's home run festival at Frontier Field, we checked out a documentary called Lambert and StampIf I'd ever heard of either, it was in the vaguest sense, but I know a lot about the four musicians who they made famous:

Who? Right.  The Stamp of the documentary title is second from left. Brother of actor Terence Stamp, and unlikely partner of fellow 60s British filmmaker Kit Lambert. The Stamps were working class Brits; Lambert's father was an aristocratic classical conductor and composer. They met as low-level studio workers and decided to make a film about a British band- by finding one and offering to manage them.  The rest, as they say, is Who-story.

It got tiring toward the end, when drugs and money came between all their best efforts. Lambert died in 1981 in a house accident, Stamp not long after this film was finished. Ironically, although they shot a lot of band footage, they never made their intended film, nor did either get more than a passing role in any of the films based on the band's epic works. Still, Stamp was there when The Who received Kennedy Center honors in 2008, and this documentary more-or-less ended with them reconciling with the still-living one of the two who made them Who they were.


My biggest project Sunday was getting the new car ready to be taken in for its rendezvous with expensery.  I had the brilliant idea of using bungee cords to tie the disheveled under-front-end piece back up from the ground. Only problem was that this car is so aerodynamically sleek, there was no place on the front end to connect the cords to. The grille, the edge of the hood, all smooth as silk. I finally yanked them back to the edges of the wheel wells, which held up long enough to pull it into the dealership barely a mile away.  They did a better job of zip-tying it, but made clear that this repair was Collision Shop territory.

And wow. That flimsy part goes for over 700 bucks, and the labor and other fiddlybits more than doubled that.  But then they asked something I hadn't even thought of: Is this going through your insurance? Well, duh.  A collision is a collision even if another car isn't involved. I placed the claim, got a sympathetic ear, and the estimate and photos went over to them today.  We should know by tomorrow if they will cover, and how long it will take, bringing Da Damages down to just the deductible.  Oddly, this is my third insurance claim since April of 2011; all of them have occurred in parking lots.  (The oldest, getting hit-and-run around the corner from Eleanor's store; the second last year, when a phantom attack by my Smart Car on an Acura SUV somehow resulted in a claim against me.)  The good news is, I'm fine once I actually get out on the road.


Today, that evil Smart car was back on the highway, with no ill effects other than me having to leave stupid early.  I prepared a small claim for a client of the Rochester office, and I've gone through at least four iterations of the thing- each time him, or his opponent, writing up their respective issues.  I resolved to get it over and done with this week, and when I told the client I would be in this afternoon for court, he asked for a 9 a.m. appointment. Challenging but doable, as we say at the gym, so I just stayed up when Zoey roused herself at 5:30, fed everyone, walked the dog and got there with a few minutes to spare....

which were about 50 minutes too few. Client rolled in just past 8 for his 9:00 appointment, telling those who were there, Gee, I don't know why I told Ray 9:00, because I have to be at work by 8:30! Not even an attempt to tell me this before I hit the road, or to reschedule with me while I was there.  So his show-and-tell appointment has been canceled, and we'll do the best we can with me not actually seeing him.  On the bright side, my last appointment of the day also showed up an hour early, but hey! I was there anyway and wound up getting home an hour earlier because of it!

And I didn't even smash anything in the process....

ETA.  Everything's set with the insurance and the shop. Alanis goes in Monday at dinnertime, and the overnight crew will have her back to us Tuesday.
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Week One is in the books. Including today's entries in some baseball record books.

The final two workdays just past were less stressful than planned, but plenty still remained. No 10:00 court Thursday, but despite emailing the client, he didn't know that and was planning on showing up when I was in transit to Rochester. I detoured him to my office to get him to sign some still-time-sensitive papers for the non-hearing. That was followed by two further appointments, the last of them with utterly unprepared clients, and finally the chance to stay in town for the Red Wings' home opener.

Not Opening Day, but for some silly reason, Frigid Opening Night. They promised a free ticket to a later game in April or May if the temperature didn't break 50F- but I saw traces of snow for the second day in a row and headed home long before first pitch.

Friday had two court hearings scheduled- did one by phone and I think settled the other- and a deposition, which went as scheduled and largely consisted of me toying with an unrepresented asshat opponent. When he said, "I don't work for free, sir- I'm sure YOU never work for free," I couldn't stifle my laugh. I left after squeezing in one other last minute appointment of a nice couple, sent off settlement funds in one other case, but was still kinda bummed because I knew today would bring yet another Rochester round trip. Because the sort-of settled case's settlement funds were sitting in my office there, and because another drop-dead check due Monday wouldn't be available until today.

I said, fuggit. I'd take Eleanor's new car for comfort, and would see the Red Wings in sunny daylight after picking up the checks. I had Check One in hand by 11, and was due to meet a friend and his son for the afternoon game at 12:30. In between, I visited my favorite record shop on Independent Record Store Day. Didn't buy anything, because the line was too long (and the extinct guy out front wasn't letting anybody past):

I did find some fun things inside, which I may go back for:

Check Two was still not ready by the time I had to meet friends at the ballpark gate, so I arranged for a postgame pickup and made my first visit to hallowed ground by 12:30.  It was Autism Awareness Day- ironically NOT sponsored by Spectrum- which meant the music was somewhat muted, noisemakers were banned (at least off-field ones), and there were fewer between-inning distractions.  I am in favor of all of these.  We got our lunches and brews and sat in the sun, then shade, as the first three of the four hour marathon unfolded.

Before we were in our seats, the opposing Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (or as I prefer to call them, the Nottawa Lynx) had scored a run on no hits.  That sounded suspiciously like a Mets score, but before long, the home Wings had put five on the board. Then the homers began.  Lehigh got their own five runs, Rochester Parton-ed ways and made it Nine to Five, and by the time we left, the score was looking downright footballish:

But the home town heroes tied it, then went ahead 17-16 in the bottom of the eighth, but finally blew that lead top nine to take the game into its fourth hour and its 15th home run by the time I was well on my way home. The minors are implementing the proposed new MLB rule for extra innings- your last batter out starts the next inning on second base- and a walk and that last tater made it 20-17 Lehigh going to the bottom of the tenth.  Rochester also got a man on second, plated him, had the winning run at the plate but it all ended with a 20-18 final score. This tied the most runs ever scored in a Wings home game, and was more offense than I've ever seen in person at any level.

The delayed check was procured, and I arrived home, but not quite safely. Two blocks from home, Alanis the car began making nasty noises. Her front end had suffered a minor bender shortly after the purchase, and something in today's travels made it worse so that there are now Parts dangling and dragging from the entire front of the car.  This means a Monday morning call to try to get it fixed ASAP. 

One working theory is that one of the 15 home runs hit it.

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Humpday One, of the two for this hellish fortnight, is almost done. Tomorrow will be a travel day, with plenty to do, but worse things are behind me now.

Monday required an early departure for a ridiculously short and unproductive court hearing in Rochester- one I tried to arrange to do by phone and failed. I then had all of about an hour before having to turn right around and head back here for another ridiculously short, but slightly more productive, court hearing in downtown Buffalo. That one has, I think, resulted in a settlement, as did one other I worked out yesterday.

The biggest stress of the week, though, began while waiting for the court hearing here on Monday- as an order came through from the bankruptcy case I filed late last week. One of the judges I appear before has been on a Case Management Crusade for much of the past year. For the most part, bankruptcy cases do not mandate the judge's active involvement until somebody asks him or her to do something; one of the major changes shortly before I started practicing, when the largely 19th century Bankruptcy Act was replaced by the modern Bankruptcy Code, was to unentangle bankruptcy judges from day to day case administration and make them more traditional judicial officers. But, like swallows in the Capistrano springtime, some judges have returned to the older ways. The longtime judge in Utica got in the practice of scheduling regular status conferences in Chapter 11 cases, despite there being nothing in the Bankruptcy Code requiring, or even explicitly permitting, such things. Judges are expressly prohibited from attending the "meetings of creditors" (which creditors rarely meet at but debtors are required to attend), so they get their 411s through these alternative means. In our local judge's case, those means are "case management orders." Lots of them. I expected and got my first general one after filing this one, but did not expect to get a specific one three days later, telling me I had 48 hours to do something I was not yet ready to do, and to be before Hizzoner a week thereafter at a specific time I was also not able to be present for.

After some sleeplessness Monday night, I took the lawyerly way out of the problem and moved to extend my time to do those things. There resulted not quite 24 hours of phone calls, deficiency notices and total uncertainty, when I left my office today, about whether I'd missed that deadline. Fortunately, word came late this afternoon that I'd been granted my brief reprieve.

In other reprieve news, I'd been scheduled to spent this entire afternoon in a deposition, but was asked to postpone it and agreed to do so. That gave me the time to stress out about the other business, but also to get some other work done in the meantime. This included taking a state court filing downtown here late this morning. Since I was just waiting on the other thing, I treated myself to a few free minutes of mental health, and stopped at the gallery where Eleanor's debut piece is still on display. The artists prefer not to have photos of the pieces themselves out on The Interwebs, but these are the tags for hers and for the one which the juror gave the first prize award to (the latter, as of today, was also the only one with a "sold" dot on it):

The show continues through a week from Friday. Saturday is the last weekend day, and I've invited a dog park friend or two to join me to see the pieces (I'll hang around outside with the pups) and then take them to a city park while our own usual venue is still waiting to reopen.

Earlier today, Eleanor returned to the framing place to have two more pieces readied for display. The funds for that came from me finding takers for two of our four Hamilton tickets for next month in Rochester. She's also cleared getting off work for the days of and after the play, which should make it easier for us to get to and from it. And since it snowed slightly today, the chances of it doing so in the first full week of May are probably diminished. I'm still not ruling out 45-car pileups on the 90, hurricanes, or the sudden arrival of a black hole.

Speaking of black holes:

Eleanor made herself a to-do list for this past weekend:

Start new lettuces

figure out iCloud

look for chair fabric downstairs

I almost added a snarky reply to the second, that I don't think the weekend's gonna be enough, but I'm proud to say she pretty much pulled it off. Her purpose was to take advantage of cloud storage for the increasing number of photos of her pieces, and the inspirations for them, that have been slowing down her phone. I've never had much luck figuring out iAnything, particularly iCloud, and even wound up deleting the app for it from my PC once it started messing with my syncing of calendars between PC and phone.

She did find that it helped to have had so much experience mucking around with how iTunes stores music on PCs- a lot of the same workarounds came into play. This program has also befuddled me almost entirely. After going through four laptops in just over three years (including the two I'm working with now, one always at home and the other almost always at either office), I've developed massive rabbit holes of nested file folders. Even a clean install from scratch prevents the Windows PC user from depositing music files in the onboard folder called, oddly, "Music." No, iTunes drills down into that folder and creates a sub for "iTunes," a sub-sub for "iTunes Media," and then sub-sub-sub a dub dubs for every artist and album (and often for "unknown artist" or "various artists"). It's a mess. But perhaps, just perhaps, Apple is gonna finally dump the core<:

People have been complaining about iTunes for ages. The bloated and confusingly arcane piece of software has been updated and repurposed and jerry-rigged to handle new tasks for the past 18 years, and one developer says it won’t live to see its 19th birthday. It looks like Apple is finally about to kill iTunes and release separate apps for music, podcasts, and books. Rest in peace, iTunes, you digital dinosaur.

Or maybe, BRAINNNNNNS will prevail:

On the other hand, Apple might just double down on its convoluted iTunes strategy. The company announced that an “iTunes Movies and TV Shows” app would soon be coming to Samsung TVs. Hilariously the too-long name of the app barely fits on the mocked up icon Samsung revealed in a press release. This announcement also happened well before Apple’s big TV+ announcement last month, so it’s possible that Apple will still ditch that iTunes branding. Which it should because it’s time for iTunes to die.

Now THAT I'd welcome. Apple-based streaming programs are the only ones which our smart Samsung does NOT allow us to watch without connecting a laptop to provide the content. Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime and even a wonky but usable YouTube app are right in the tv itself. I just hope I'll be able to navigate to it without breaking the remote drilling down nine layers just to get to a show.


Oh, and I sucked on the Jeopardy! test again last night.  But at least it's behind me now. Also: I don't have to worry about the director of The Room getting the gig if I were ever to appear;)
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* Spring! (We think.) 

The previous week's hints at an on-time arrival, foiled by an unseasonably cold first week of April, finally resulted in the mercury approaching 70F yesterday. This convinced the masses, including me, and more and more neighbors, and folks on assorted drives, seemed to finally be coming out of the woodwork.  Our snowplow stakes disappeared sometime around midweek (the contract ended on the 1st, and we again this year paid the 10 percent penalty for snowfall in excess of 100 inches- I've always likened it to the Chinese government practice of executing criminals by firing squad and then charging the family for the cost of the bullet), I took our storm windows out yesterday, Eleanor took her first bike ride of the season, and last night we ate al fresco on the patio for the first time.  None of this guarantees a complete absence of further snowfall, and I have the over-under on the next occurrence set at 4/20.

We're also seeing lots of new-to-us doggies, on our walks or theirs.  There's a new and loud Rottie in town who Pepper would very much like to get to know ::swoon::, and then there's the canine of unspecified species who's definitely trying to get to her.  Doggie's humans have a solid wooden fence all around their back yard, but there's enough of a gap in it at one corner for us to have seen the full head, and the better part of the shoulders, sticking out from under that gap before we walked out of sight.  I decided to look up the owners' name to let them know they might want to fix it, which led me down one of those bizarre Internet rabbit holes:

Through a tax search, I found the owner's name. Googled THAT. Got a phone number, but also got a reference to a 2008 Erie County Surrogates Court case which suggests that said neighbor was involved in a six-figure dispute with heirs of a guy who died in 2001. He was ordered to pay money over to the heirs, and while there's no hint of anything other than a civil dispute amongst them all, it did serve as a cautionary tale: it all apparently came about because of the deceased's desire to "avoid probate," and the seven-year battle probably wound up taking way longer and costing way more than if he'd just done it through the court in the first place.

Now it's going to be a way more awkward conversation if I call to tell him about the fence.


* Coaches. 

The Sabres' season came to a merciful end last night, as they did two things they hadn't done in either weeks or months: they won a game on the road (first since late January), AND won two games in a row (for the first time since mid-December).  This morning's paper brought strong hints that their second-year coach, former player and Hall of Famer Phil Housley, would survive the tire fire of the past four months and be brought back. Then another former Sabre in the coaching ranks got the boot from Florida- a team which finished 10 points ahead of Buffalo in the standings and beat the Butterknives in four out of five tries this past season- and we wondered, how does Housley still keep HIS job?

Answer: he doesn't. The Grim Reaper of Coaches arrived for Phil shortly after noon, and a replacement- probably the head man on the Amerks, who's doing quite well with that bunch this year- will be announced soon.  Tuesday night, we find out where we will pick in the first round of the upcoming draft. And for the ninth straight year, the only April game played by any seriousness by Sabres players will be golf.


* Malls.

Those brick-and-malltar palaces of late 20th century life, which killed downtown city retail and turned frozen orange drinks and hot pretzels into culinary staples, are facing end-of-life decisions of their own.  Just last week, the closest mall to our home was sold at auction to a local developer for way less than the bank debt on it. Its Sears and its Macy Men's store sit empty, and the remaining Macy's and Penney's anchors aren't looking good, either. Preliminary plans are to repurpose much of the existing space into the retail flavor of the month called the "town centre" concept, with housing and entertainment venues built into the structures.  In other words, just like the downtowns of 50 years ago which they replaced.

Meanwhile, Rochester brings a different spin on the concept.  The mall closest to our last home there also has an empty Sears as well as an ex-Bon Ton, but  its only Macyspace has also been long-defunct.  That store began life as a Sibley's department store, but may now become a hospital outpatient orthopedic department:

Henrietta Town Supervisor Steven Schultz confirmed in July that UR Medicine was highly interested in using the 150,000 square-foot former department store as a new orthopedic center.

The medical plans came forward after Swedish retail chain Ikea, which had been discussing the possibility of a store at Marketplace with officials, changed its business model to focus more on urban centers and online sales.


A public hearing is scheduled for April 15 to air Wilmorite's request to Imagine Monroe (formerly the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency) to use eminent domain to help the company consolidate about 25 acres of parking areas at the mall site into a single parcel that includes the vacant store.

"Malls are often subject to complex agreements that govern property rights like building height, public signage and parking restrictions," said Sleezer. "To proceed with redevelopment, the company has asked that Imagine Monroe assist by using its power of eminent domain or condemnation to acquire these rights."


(Funny how corporations don't mind government regulation when it helps them or puts money or property in their pockets.)

This may be the only future for dead shopping malls. Old people are the only ones who remember their heyday anyway. We can even repurpose the existing storefronts. Old Navy Injury. Victoria's Secret Irritable Bladder. H(ernia) & M(iniscus). And of course, Dick's wouldn't have to change its sign at all.

But there'd still be a Spencer Gifts. Because not even an atomic bomb can get rid of one of those


* The Week Ahead.

I've tried tuning out of work on the weekends, turning off call forwarding to my mobile and deactivating incoming emails, but with these next two weeks promising to be insanity, I succumbed to the stress and turned the Outlook back on. And,.... my, all'yall have been busy little beavers.  Nothing that settles, cancels or otherwise acts as dot removal for the coming days, but lots of little reminders of OTHER things, currently lacking dots, that I'm going to have to work in between all the appointments and drives and whatnots.

But no estate disputes. Yet.

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The most reliable indicator of how busy I am these days comes from looking at the current month on my phone:

A dot means there's SOMETHING in my life happening that day. Not all of them are actual commitments (April 15 is clear of specific appointments so far, but Tax Day is there from the phone's onboard holiday calendar), and not all the actual commitments are worky ones (such as doctor/dentist appointments). But see tomorrow? That's the last, other than Tax Day, where I have an entire weekday to do my job on my schedule for the next two weeks. And Tax Day is a drop-dead deadline for at least two clients other than taxes, both notorious for not taking "drop-dead" seriously.

Next week looks particularly toxic. Early court in Rochester Monday (I may get dispensation on that), followed by afternoon court here; early court in Buffalo Tuesday; two mid-morning court in Rochester Thursday; and depositions, which I hate with the heat of a thousand suns, on both Wednesday AND Friday. Plus clients coming and going for other appointments, and just as likely without appointments, for any other free moments you might think would be there.

The week after Tax Day? Niagara County for court Tuesday, Buffalo for court Wednesday, possible court back in Niagara County Thursday, and court in Buffalo/a dental appointment in Rochester Friday. When a peridontal picking is the most relaxed you get all week, it's pretty bad. (It's also Good Friday. Make of that what you will.)

It only settles down during the week after Easter, but even that is dottier than I often am three weeks out.  None of this factors in not-yet-arrived complications in a few long-term litigation matters that could rear their ugly heads at any moment; or the Chapter 11 I did, finally, file today after three days of technology fails; or any of the five or so new referrals from the past week getting bigger and/or uglier.

It's a good problem to have, but that doesn't make it completely non-problematic.


One thing that happens with both of us when we get overwhelmed, with work or other concerns, is we turn a little scatterbrained.  This is not a sign of old age, as we've been doing it for years; we call it "bus pass syndrome," which goes back to our first two or three years together around our 1987 marriage, when we still only had one car and Eleanor usually took the bus to work.  The transit company, in those pre-Metrocardish days, handed out punchcard bus passes, and when work was particularly stressful, one of the first things she'd misplace would be her bus pass, usually with many unpunched punches on it. 

Among my signs of that just this week:

- Remembering to get a 40 pound box of birdseed.  Not remembering that we keep said birdseed in the front hallway, not down cellar near the catboxes (different 40-pound box involved in THAT), and hauling the birdseed all the way down to the laundry/catbox area before realizing, duh.

Reading an online article, and hearing a radio show, both talking about the Rochester Red Wings Opening Day festivities.  They both mentioned that they would be Thursday; I got all excited and, thinking I would have to go there today for work, started making plans to be there with friends.  They, fortunately, were kind enough to point out that the home opener is NEXT Thursday.  Oops. (On the bright side, I did get out of having to go there today, and I will be there anyway next Thursday for the real thing.)

- I also got in my head that the Mets' home opener, which I did not plan to attend but hoped to watch, was tomorrow. This made sense in my brain because their division opponent Miami Marlins scheduled them for a night game last night, and Citi Field home openers are always afternoon games. Nope: not only did the Mets have a 1:00 home start today after the game 1,000 miles away last night, the Pee Police chose after that game to run random drug tests on Our Heroes, so they didn't get back to New York until almost 3 a.m.  And thus did they get shut out this afternoon despite giving up only one opposing hit (sadly, a two-run homer) in the first eight innings, but it was still fun to watch once I realized when it was.  (Keith Hernandez bought a plug-in car! I want to know more!)


Then there was last night's fun with taxes.  Not ours, although tomorrow I will make the last relevant move toward getting those filed.  No, the kid's.

Regulars will recall that Emily moved to Virginia at the end of last January, following Cameron, who made the move a month before. She adulted and did her federal and VA returns for 2018, but H&R Dad offered to e-file her quickie one-month NY final return to get her back $170.

But nooooo. My tax-filing program won't let me e-file a part year NY return for her, even though I bought five free return filings with my own federal/NY proggie. But New York, gods bless it, REQUIRES you to file electronically if you use a computer program to generate the return. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Help links in the H&R Block filing program require establishing a MyBlock account, which of course used Internet Explorer to link to.... absolutely nothing.

But there's a tech support number. Answered by HAL himself. He eventually promised to forward me to a live support person- which of course produced Muzak. A wonnerful a wonnerful, here's another lovely tune by that fabulous band, Nine Inch Nails on a Blackboard.

At least three times between  close to 15 minutes of serenades, Mrs. HAL cut in with their current slogan: "Block has your back." Silly me- I thought that was a fifteen-yard penalty from the spot of the foul.

In the end, their live human person couldn't help, beyond the advice to file the return in paper and hope for the best.  (I sent it to Em, along with the screenshots of the various hey, I tried! transactions.) But just talking to the live human person gave me a brilliant idea for a possible, if perjurous, workaround. (It didn't work, so we'll never know if I'd be charged.)

Speaking of criminal charges, I saw the prosecutor yesterday who will be handling People v. Pepper on the 29th, and he promised it will be dismissed as long as me and the dog behave ourselves for six months thereafter. That's three and a half years for you and me.

But there's still a dot dere until I get it approved by the judge:P

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Note the date on this post. It was NOT written on April Fool's Day.  Not that you should trust it any more than you would any of the other 363 days of the year, but at least you know.  As you also know, that day just past brings one thing to mind for most people- stupid pranky lyin' things.  For me, though, it has a second connotation. Two of the most important bankruptcies of my career were filed on April 1st, and yesterday almost brought a third.

(I'll come back to the wibbly wobbly pranky lyiny part later.)

Both of the prior April 1 cases marked major turning points for me.  The first of them was 25 years ago yesterday. It was a deliberate choice- April Fools that year was a Friday, the debtor was a longtime client, and it seemed perfect timing to bury the news of it so nobody, in those pre-electronic days, would find out about it until the following week.  It was also significant because it was the last case I would file as a partner in my original Rochester law firm.  We (Eleanor-and-me-we) had decided in the preceding weeks that I needed to move on from the toxicity of that place, and we (my then-partners-and-me-we) could not reach any other way to maintain any kind of ongoing relationship. So when it came time to present the bankruptcy papers the client- two, actually, brothers who'd also been personal clients and friends of all of ours for years- it was also time for them to decide whether they should stay or they should go.

They stayed. As did virtually every other major client that 34-year-old me didn't know how to poach.  We made the move nevertheless, and after some high and low months and years in the new setting, we came to another April Fools filing 12 years later. Let's just say this was an even longer-time client, and it was tied to ending yet another toxic career relationship I'd gotten entwined in. This time, all the bankruptcy work stayed with me, as I overcame decades of fear and resistance and finally stepped out into the world of solo practice.  That case succeeded, more followed it even as filings overall dropped like a stone under new bankruptcy eligibility rules, and while it generated a lot of stress, it was also essential to how I as an attorney, and we as a family, were able to move on from there.

Yesterday would've brought a third.  It's been in the pipeline for a few months, the information and retainer coming to me in installments, but first thing yesterday, the urgency got ratcheted up, so I emailed the needed documents to the client to sign.  He never got them- or rather, he got versions he couldn't open. We tried it another way today- this time, I was the one having trouble receiving the signed pages. So we're doing it the old fashioned way first thing tomorrow morning- meeting to sign in person. Only nobody's leaving this time.

They say there's no such thing as a coincidence.  Sometimes it's because something just isn't;)


Also, sometimes things aren't funny because they're just not. As is much of what passes for humor on the first day of the fourth month.  Fake breakups and faker pregnancies; marketers using the day to outdo each other with over-the-top posts; and, of course, smartasses like me trying to Rickroll the passing public.

Most of the humor I find in the day comes from trying to guess which stories with April Fool datelines are actually true.  Here were the top three contenders I saw yesterday:

- Dunkies announces Peep-flavored products for the Easter season;

- BK rolls out a meatless Whopper that actually tastes just as good as the "real" thing;

- Cheeto puts a Senator on his Replace Obamacare Team who was convicted of billions in Medicare fraud.

Yup. All of those from yesterday were true.  (Rick Scott is, of course, a Florida Man, the most reliable source of April Foolery each and every day of the year.)

There's too much competition for the modest yuks on April 1st, and far less of a chance of getting away with it because it's the one day people are actually skeptical about shit they read on the Internet.  No, the better approach is a different style on a different day.  Going back fifteen years before my 1994 memory, I was an active participant in such under-the-radar Foolery: it was done by The Cornell Daily Sun, and at least internally, we called it the "Joke Issue."


Originally, and traditionally, the paper kept this spoof away from awareness-heightened times: not April Fools, not Halloween, but something then (and maybe still) called Fall Weekend, which fell near but rarely on Samhein itself.  As a freshman in the fall of 1977, I got Sunrolled by this story along with everybody else in my dorm save the one or two who worked on the paper- EMERGENCY HOUSING SHORTAGE FORCES THIRD ROOMMATES INTO ALL DORM ROOMS.  The hooks, lines and sinkers were meticulously planned, right down to the "who to call" number on the front page which was invariably that of a particularly no-commenty university official or a grumpy famous professor.  By the following fall, I was helping to write them, and learned the style: start plausible, slowly descend into absurd, and make the final paragraphs utterly ridiculous, if only to prove that nobody reads to the end of a story.  The tradition always ended with a small correction box on the ensuing Monday morning, with the final sentence being, "The Sun enjoyed the error.")

Sometimes current events helped. When Fall Weekend came in my junior year in 1979, the Iranian hostage crisis had just begun, and the just-deposed Shah had fled to Cornell's downstate medical school for treatment.  We made up fake stories about the Ayatollah offering millions in blood money (please, to call them "donations") in exchange for Cornell turning him over to the Revolutionary Guards.  The fake editorial page chimed in with its own view: "SELL THE SHAH."  (Ridiculous, right? No government, no matter how corrupt, would EVER stoop so low, right?)

I'd heard, some years after getting started in law practice, that the Joke Issue had faded into history, likely a casualty of snowflakery on college campuses.  The Sun itself changed much as well over the later years- first ending its newsstand and subscription models in favor of free distribution, then reducing its press runs from daily to thriceweekly with more constant daily online updates. But some more recent online archives suggest both good- that the Joke Issue is still alive- but also bad.

Bad One: The issue has moved away from its traditional and sneakier Fall Weekend spot.  It looks like in the oughts, it settled into being a Halloween publication; but more recently, it sprung forward into the far more obvious territory of April Foolery.  Until a University president died right before April Fool's Day in 2012, which led to....

Bad Two:

A Cornell University employee recently stole the spoof section from every copy of a Cornell Daily Sun issue available for pick-up within a prominent campus building.  The staffer’s aim was apparently “to prevent parents and prospective students visiting for Cornell Days [a special program for recently-admitted students] from reading them.”

As a trusted source tells me:

    “The Sun, like many other college papers, typically produces a joke issue on April 1.  However, this year, a former Cornell University president died over the weekend, so the editors decided to postpone the joke issue until April 20.  April 20 happened to coincide with Cornell Days, a series of events put on by the university’s admissions department to host newly admitted students on campus. The joke issue featured satirical articles about serious issues on campus, and someone in Cornell’s administrative building removed the joke pages from every copy of the Sun in at least one administrative building where all admissions student tours run through.”

We Were Not Amused:

Perhaps our content may have offended the sensibilities of parents bringing their high schoolers to campus for the first time, but the removal of the cover should not have been allowed to occur. The decision is telling, and it indicates that Cornell is more concerned with constructing the image that it presents to prospective students than it is with giving them the honest account of life at Cornell that they deserve. . . . This decision, however small, cannot be allowed to set a precedent. If the university removed this spoof cover, the next step would be to remove copies of the Sun that paint the university in a negative light.

Day Hall, home of the University hierarchy, has always been a symbol of student oppression and image preservation.  Since the late 60s, they've put out their own weekly house organ with the Proper Positive Spin on everything, lovingly referred to in our newsroom as the Cornell Comical.  I have no doubt that if The Sun accepted any financial support, the strings attached would clog the roads down East Hill leading to the newsroom.

One consequence of that kerfuffle is that the Joke Issue appears to have moved permanently to 4/20, which, if our Guv has his way, will be providing much more in the way of Merry Pranks in years to come. 

Last year's:

I hope someone has a sense of humor down there, still.  If not, and a libel suit results, there's always Chapter 11 as an option;) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1548488.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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The mercury rose at midweek. Much like a zombie responding to BRAINNNNNNs, actual human beings began rising out of hibernation, being seen in public, out of doors and not in parkas, for the first time in months.  Pepper paid attention. Lots of it. By the end of the week, we were both getting sick of her barky-barky-barking at all of them, any of them, eventually none of them appearing to her from outside our living room window.  We began barking back at her to SHADDAP, and it seems to have gotten through to her.  She really doesn't take well to anything other than outright adoration- as an experience Thursday night proved.

I came home in a lovely mood- the Mets had just won their Opening Day game, as they do almost every year- but the cats, of course, cared no-whitters about that:  BFD, where's our fud?  There followed, in about 10 seconds, the following sequence of events:

Daddy: inadvertently steps on EVIL CAT.

EC: lets out a yowl picked up on seismographs at UB several miles away.

PEPPER: scared by yowl, darts under decorative birdcage between living and dining rooms, shaking like a leaf.

GENERALLY GOOD CAT, to this moment uninvolved in the action: runs over to PEPPER and starts putting a whoop-ass on her.

DADDY: Tries to intervene.

GGC: Oh, did you say "intravenous?"


 Ten seconds later, of course, the fussin was all over.  The bleeding continued until morale improved.


Despite the rise of human contact near here, it was no guarantee of a continued March toward spring- so this was on my weather app when I got up this morning:

It was still coming down, and sticking, at the moment of our appointed Sunday Dog Park Trip. Or in this case, the Not Dog Park trip, since it's still closed, as it is every "spring," to let the grass reseed and the mud recede.  Our walkin' buds have tried out other venues with us the past few Sundays, but this time we decided to go to Amherst State Park, or in this case, Amherst Not Exactly A State Park. New York funded its purchase some years back, to save a central spot of open town land (surrounding a motherhouse from a former nunnery) from overdevelopment, but the town is responsible for its maintenance and, unfortunately, its law enforcement.

I got there a few minutes earlier than Ann and Ursula did, and did my usual morning juggle of coffee cup, poop bag, and dog.  Pepper got out a little ahead of me, and then I thought I heard my name being called.

Only it wasn't Ray, it was "hey." It was Officer Obie, the Amherst dog control officer, chomping on his cigar and informing me the dog was illegally off leash. To which I replied, "She's ON a leash, I just let her off it for a second."

Wrong answer. He cops (heh) an attitude, begins writing his summons. Ann arrives, takes Pepper down the trail while Obie shows off his DMV Sloth skills at writing it up. THEN he asks for her license number, which I had offered to give him when I was still holding her. So I have to go back and get her, and decide, F this, we're just going home. (The ticket will get dismissed, but it's going to waste an afternoon at the end of April. Maybe it won't be snowing by then.)

But wait, there's more.

Ann then messages me about how the ticket was not a bad thing:

"Ursula and I came within 100 feet of the coyote in the back field. He was laying in wait for us. I turned her around and after we were 600 yards away he was up and sniffing where we had been. So maybe that ticket was a blessing in disguise. Neither Pepper or Ursula would have been on leash when we encountered him."

I suggested that she report the coyote to Animal Control, picturing the joy of making Obie go traipsing around back there. She declined; while I was most afraid he'd have set the park on fire with that cigar, she was more worried that he'd just shoot the thing.


Busy week ahead. Court appearances every mid-week day. My own appearance isn't until the 29th. That should give him enough time to get his 27 8x10 color glossy pictures together.

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Our worlds have been becoming bigger and less personal at the same time, both factors growing exponentially.  The Interwebs make it possible to communicate with, and even become great friends with, people all over the world, but there are increasingly fewer opportunities to interact with them in what we used to call IRL.

I was an early adopter of such forms, from even long before the dial-up connections of the 90s that kids these days and superhero movies love to make fun of.  Cornell was one of the earliest connectors to ARPANET, even though we had no idea at the time that it even existed- but it also hosted roomsful of "virtual machines" tied to its airport-sized mainframe which could be used to communicate with each other in rudimentary ways.  One of the labs also hosted a terminal for PLATO. One of my music professors (okay, my only music professor, once my lack of skills became apparent) signed us up for a program on it to learn ear-training. That didn't go well for me, but I did learn how to play computer games on it in between signed-up sessions, back when the only other gaming alternatives were arcade machines and perhaps Pong on a black-and-white television.

By law school, PCs had become common, but nothing resembling a "network" in a modern sense existed until well into the 90s.  "Sneakernetting" was as close as we got- which meant saving a document on a floppy on one machine and carrying it down the hall to be edited or printed on another.  But by the mid-90s timeframe used, and lovingly spoofed, in Marvel's latest and eponymous blockbuster, the basics were in place, if slow as molasses. There were newsgroups, chat rooms, bulletin boards, and, by the late 90s in my life, AOL became the "walled garden" incorporating and even policing all of them. I was even one of the "TOS Cops" toward the end of AOL's prominent days, given tools to "gag" difficult users and report their violations.

Through that, I "met" people all over the country, and even some as far away as Australia.  I also discovered the common need for these "meets" to become real- so at least four or five times, I traveled. At least twice to Boston, once to Philly (the only one Eleanor ever joined me for), and I think the last in Myrtle Beach- all gatherings known as "bashes."  They were scheduled in the "be here these days and at this hotel" sense, but there was relatively little scheduling of things during them- other than lots of hanging out in hotel ballrooms (or sometimes just a couple of interconnected rooms), inevitably featuring a PC or two (laptops came later) wired by modem to a local phone line, and, unfortunately, a LOT of cigarette smoke.  The biggest annual one, which I never went to, was in or near DC. Several of the higher-up "Community Leader" types lived there or in adjacent states, there were plenty of nerdy sightseeing opportunities, and lots of "what happens at the DC Bash stays at the DC Bash" stuff -which I can't report on because (a) I wasn't and (b) it did.

Gradually, the AOL garden walls came tumbling down. Somewhere in the oughts, mainly in response to a class action lawsuit, AOL summarily shut down its "TOS Cop" program and stopped any form of compensation for volunteering. (I eventually picked up a modest check for several years of past service.) The chat rooms became much Wild Westier, and many of the former CLs refused to do "for free" what they'd previously received some form of compensation for. AOL itself got buffeted through cyberspace- ripped from its Time Warner merger partner, ultimately thrown into a Verizon cut-out bin with the remnants of Yahoo, and onetime members only able to access the old chat rooms through purchasing "AOL Gold" or another paid service.  (You may laugh at people paying anything for something so ancient. Don't. At last count, millions were still paying AOL monthly charges for dialup access when they've had broadband access for free for years.)

But some of the old "triviots" remained fiercely loyal- and quite a few still do. They continue to pay for the Gold access, they use "trivhost" tools for writing and scoring trivia games that are the current gaming equivalent of Pong, and they even occasionally try to gin up a Bash-style meetup now and then. None are ever planned or promoted in the same way as in the old days, though, and that's largely a consequence of how the Last of the DC Bashes went down a few years back.

There was nostalgia, and there were hopes.  Even though most people had moved on to other forms of social media, I started seeing Facebook posts about it. These were followed by a rash of cancellations, and finally some really shitty news: one of the longtime AOL members who lived near the area had personally committed to kicking in a good sum of money to the "host hotel," and was stuck with a massive bill for all the no-showing that eventually resulted.  (I never planned to show, so I wasn't one of the no-shows, but I remember seeing a lot of anger and angst about it- enough that there will likely never be such an effort again.)  Hotel conferences are a major racket for the hotels' bottom lines: their prices are steep, their rules often strict (understandable if you don't want an entire building crawling with Furries or sword-waving cosplayers), and their cancellation policies are far less forgiving then if you try to cancel a routine one-night hotel room.

So I don't expect to see another capital-B Bash bigger than perhaps a twelve-top in a restaurant someplace. Yet it still surprised me that the same phenomenon seems to be affecting a beloved fan-run sci-fi convention.


These programs have been referred to, totally without irony, as "cons."  They came about largely to fill the void left when the original Star Trek went off the air and "fanfic" kept the characters alive until 1979 when the first Trek film debuted. They were already a trope when Shatner showed up on SNL to spoof them with his famed "Get a Life" line.  I was out of my parents' basement by then, but I still went to a few over the years. One, with a couple of future bloggers (hi, Mel!) in a long-demolished rabbit warren of a hotel across from the Buffalo Airport. A few mainly Trek-based ones at a venue near a friend's house outside Baltimore. Those increasingly were featuring performers and writers from the Doctor Whoniverse, and beginning four years ago, some fans began running a more exclusive-to-Who con not far from it which they called ReGeneration.  Two years ago this very week, I went to the third of them, in a quite schmancy downtown Bawlmer convention hotel. One former Doctor was in attendance, along with a few other actors who'd been on the show and quite a few writers from the various canonical lines.  There'd been some actor cancellations, but it didn't stop everybody from having a perfectly lovely time.  I missed the one last year this time, which seemed to score an even bigger Doctor Coup- Peter Capaldi would be making his first public appearance since handing off the Sonic to his successor, and a friend/ co-organizer of ReGen got to interview him on stage for the first time post-TARDIS. It looked like things were going swimmingly for this valiant effort- until it didn't.

There were signs on the psychic paper. The event was moved closer to DC. Seven was again Scheduled to Appear, as was a recent Companion, but there didn't seem to be as much pre-con buzz going on its page, or of those friends of mine who'd either organized or attended in the past.  Then, this past Sunday, five days before the first check-ins, I started seeing the news:

This news didn't migrate to the event's Facebook page until some time yesterday- and it immediately started (re)generating inquiries and complaints about those potentially left in the lurch.  Fortunately, it was in time for most attendees to cancel their reservations at the venue hotel, but any flying in were likely to be out of luck for anything resembling a reasonably-priced ticket- and there has yet to be any word on refunding the registration fees for the event itself.

Not unique to this one, sci-fi cons tend to lock you in early: in the case of the other Maryland one I attended twice, you had to commit weeks before the event, and if you missed the "early registration" deadline, you not only paid more, you could not guarantee a spot until you showed up at the door on the first day.  The performer-centric events: Q&A's, autographs and photos- often required extra payment and earlier signups for the whole shebang if you wanted even a chance at gazing upon the Star Star Star.  (Shatner's contract rider from the one year HE appeared at Shore Leave when I was there, printed in the program, was legendary; I not only didn't attend it, I didn't catch a sight of him the entire weekend). 

In the modern social media world, it doesn't take much for the best intentions of the planners to get panned, and for their good deeds to be promptly punished with vitriol. You can thank far more mercenary events like Fyre Festival for that.  Lawyers will be called, things will be threatened, and fans will be left with fewer options.  I have no doubt that this kerfuffle is indeed due to late cancels by some of the headliners; studios do call, and rearrange shooting schedules and whatnot. But I've not heard of this kind of thing happening with San Diego ComiCon panelists, or others on the for-profit Big League Con Circuit.  Those exist as much, if not more, for the studios and the showrunners as they do for the fans; Marvel and Auntie are going to be damn sure that their talent shows up when every major fan site is quivering with anticipation for what Brie or Jodie or Next Year's Model has to say.

It sucks.  Unfortunately, this time around, time, money and reputations are included in the suckage. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1547886.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Such was our venture into downtown Buffalo on Friday night.  Our football team is in post-season hibernation; the Sabres just officially got put out of their misery with two horrible losses to Toronto and Montreal; but the forgotten sport of the Queen City, gone from the pros since the 70s, has come back in a big way: UB's basketball teams, men and women, are both in their respective Big Dances, and both won their opening games that tipped off late Friday afternoon as I drove back from Rochester.

I'd never seen City Hall lit up, Empire State Building style, to honor a sports team, but they've apparently installed the technology to do it, and while this photo was taken for a Memorial Day installation and may have included red someplace, this is what we saw on the skyline heading down the 33:

Both teams play again this afternoon with hopes of advancing to their respective Sweet Sixteens.

But that's not what we came there to tell you about.


Never having had a piece of her artwork at a juried installation before, the obvious question was, how was Eleanor feeling Friday morning?

(That's June Cleaver, btw. She also speaks Jive.)

Eleanor wound up begging out of work for the afternoon, partly because of said jitters but also because her bad knee picked this day to start acting up again. She was on crutches again by the time I got home, but managed to get to, into, out of and from the gallery without too much difficulty.

The opening was well attended. My brother-in-law came in from Rochester to see it, and a couple of friends from Eleanor's Buddhist group stopped by, as well.  We met the artist who wound up winning the Best in Show award- also a Rochesterian, she works in 3D and had a couple of creative box pieces on display.  We also met a friend of Wendy's- the artist who got Eleanor into this group- who spoke highly of her selected piece.  Our evening ended at a beloved Italian place on Hertel, and the excitement was about as much as we ever get around here.


The weekend so far, far more ordinary.

Yesterday, I just ran a bunch of errands, including a scary male foray into Bed Bath & Beyond, or as I call it, IHoP- the International House of Potpourri.  The place is famed for bombarding all of its customers with endless, never-expiring, and never-quite-the-same-deal coupons, and this results in slow lines as everyone plays Five Card Coupon with the cashiers.  Two of them, at the time I got in line- both slowed by assorted arguments over the definitions of "percent" and "item." Finally, just when I got to the head of the line, they open a third- and the Stepford Wife behind me and her sidekick (whose name, oddly, must be "Michael Kors" because it was on everything she was wearing) jumped ahead of me and placed their items on the counter.


I responded the way I always do in these situations- by saying to the person behind me, "Do you want to go ahead of me, too, or are THEY the only rude people in the line?" No reaction. I should know better. But the best part? They of course got into an argument  with the cashier over the percentage discount, and Frau Blucher's and/or Michael's husband got dispatched (no doubt from the extensive section of Bills and Sabres pillowcases) to join the fray. They were still there when I was done being quickly and painlessly cashed out. They may still be there. Unless they actually died in the fire I wished on them on my way out.


Today was a little better. Dog park is still closed for spring thaw grass seeding, so Pepper checked out a trail very close to home. Just now, I returned to near that very spot to get my hair cut. In between, though, I had a little loss of mind at my Sunday morning workout studio. Here's THAT sequence of events:

-Book class
-Show up on time for class
-Grab bag from trunk
-Check in
-Clear up data error that was giving me too the wrong numbers of calories/points (the latter based on time spent in a high-percentage heart rate) because the new monitor they gave me last week had defaulted to me being a 78 year old male;
-Take bag into changing room
-Only then, realize “bag” is my computer bag from work and not my gym bag.

Hey, give me a break. I’m almost 79.


Movie time! Last night, Eleanor had a Buddhist event, so I finally checked out Captain Marvel, the first released after Stan Lee's death and which had me near tears before the end of the vanity card, turned into a homage to their founding father.  The rest of it was also marvel-ous fun, as well, including a damn fine cat. Tonight, we have Mary, Queen of Scots awaiting.

Is this the one I'm talking about? "No, I'm not."


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Don't panic. Those do not mean what you think they mean.

Not that yesterday was fun. It most certainly was not.  The cats- especially Zoey, the decidedly non-evil one- made it their business to keep me awake almost non-stop from 2:30 a.m. on.  I had three fixed Rochester commitments (plus a floating crap game of sorts that never happened) beginning at 10 a.m., so after a minimalist nap around 5-something, I just got up and going. Then the dog got into the act and knocked my coffee cup out of my paw after I'd poured most of our last remaining drops of milk into it right before our walk.  There followed the three-ish Rochester appointments, the drive to and fro being in late-winter snowstorms (no accumulation, much aggravation), and I got back to my office here just in time for.... nuthim.

None of the payments promised last week from client (1) or debtor (1).  Still no confirmation from Hamberd about my resolution from last Friday.

Oh, but there was.... this:


The copier in question, I inherited from the two previous tenants of my current office. One, then the other moved out, but even with my share of the expense going from a third to a half to a whole, it was still a decent deal. Roughly $150 a year for the service contract, all parts and labor included, plus a meter-based usage charge for copies above the set maximum which had been running another $150 for two of us, probably less for just me since Michelle moved out.  But now, we may never know, for a corporation has decreed that a perfectly serviceable-for-me machine will no longer be supplied or serviced solely because they say so.

My simple plan is to make sure my toner, drum and functioning functions are all up to date the week prior to Death Day and then take my chances.  I'm also wondering when my health insurance company will start making our doctor send these notices out.

I did get off a killer line to the non-sender of one of the checks- the guy who isn't my client:

If I stuck my neck out for you any further with my client, I'd give birth to a baby giraffe.


Last night went much better.  Weird dreams, but no sleepus interruptus to speak of- and no appointments to speak of, either, except another run downtown with Eleanor.  Today was the day she had to pick up the one of her two framed drawings which is not being exhibited this week; they set a two-hour window for it beginning at 11 this morning, and she had to be at work by noon, so we were outside the gallery right before they opened.  The retrieval was bittersweet in a way, but balanced by her seeing that her accepted piece had already been placed on display for the opening this Friday. It's inspiring what company her piece is in, and even more amazing to realize how unique it is among the ones she saw that will be in the show.

I then brought her home and grabbed my pre-loaded car for the rest of the day at work, a much mellower day compared to the one before both weather-wise and commitment-wise.  I got quite a bit done, including a bit of snark left over from last week:

Back then, a client from 2016 called. I'd done his bankruptcy.  An issue was now coming up about a judgment taken against him and whether it had been "cleared."  I got a little nervous I'd missed something, but there was nothing to have missed: he owned no real estate at the time. Ah, but tell that to the broker in charge of the refinance on his wife's home, which he is now going into title on.  It got interesting when I questioned her knowledge on the point, and she said to me, Sorry, but in all my years of experience, this is the way it is.


I asked: And how many years of experience IS that?

She responded: I don't think I have to divulge that information.

I replied: No, you don't. But since YOU brought it up, I'm just going to bet you two shekels that I'VE been doing this since you were in kindergarten, if you were even alive in 1985.

That, as we say, ended THAT.

Now get off my lawn.

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That line has stuck with us for ages, from a New Yorker cartoon of the 80s spoofing the humongous tapestries advertising installations inside major art galleries:

That's been a big part of our lives (by which I mean "Eleanor's, with me literally along for the ride") the past few days.

Some background. Eleanor's college degree was in studio art.  She'd been drawn to drawing for decades before we even met. But between a domineering mother, at least one overaggressive college faculty member, and a gallery thief who stole some of her stuff, things took her in different career directions. Fortunately, I was in one of those.  She dabbled over the years after we met and married- jewelry, fiber art, landscape lighting installations- but I can't remember her sitting in front of an easel until a few years ago.  This came after her "career" journey wound up at Wegmans, and a fellow artist met her and complimented her on the two purchased but mismatched earrings Eleanor was wearing that day. This connected the two of them, and us to the local art community; we've been to several of Wendy's shows in the years since, most recently last week seeing her entries in a "traditional" installation at a small non-profit gallery on the edge of the local arts neighborhood known as Allentown.

Eleanor's been beginning and completing colored-pencil drawings more-or-less ever since, but this is the year when she had the courage, and both of us the funding, to bring them to fruition in terms of seeking an actual gallery display.  She first thought about entering some in this gallery's traditional show, which just closed, but wound up going with submitting two of her more recent works to their "modern" exhibit which opens this Friday....

one of which was accepted into the show today:)


All of this has been a revelation to me. I've done my own dabbling with fiction, which has a parallel but somewhat different set of rules.  There are no agents or editors in the art world in the same ways or roles that I encountered, but there are "jurors" for the more selective of showings.  These tend to be collectors, curators, other connected individuals; the traditional show that just ended was judged by the curator of the second most famed gallery in this entire region.  For the modern entries, the juror was (well, still is) an artist, curator and author well versed in the arts here and beyond.

There is a protocol.  First, you become a member of the gallery, which we both did. Then, on a designated Saturday morning, you deliver either one or two pieces- prior framing not required but everybody does it if their media lend themselves to framing- to the gallery and pay a nominal entry fee for one or both.  This was our day yesterday.

Eleanor had picked up the two framed pieces from the art store the week before. Both were wrapped in heavy paper by the time they came home, and I only saw them in their final form when they reached the gallery floor.  Getting the new car was a part of this process, since neither of our Smart cars had a back seat to hold them securely, but the new hybrid did. (At least until a sudden stop before the 290 knocked one against the front seats; we're working on remedies for future submissions, and nothing was broken:)

Parking is at a premium in this neighborhood, an increasingly gentrified Medical Campus being a block away, so she drove, I hauled, we switched and I parked while she did the paperwork.  I then watched several of the other artists heading in- one of whom was hauling much bigger pieces and I wound up holding a door for her. She is now the subject of one of our taglines from the event:

SHE must be an artist. She's wearing a beret.

is also a volunteer at the gallery, because she immediately assumed a spot behind one of the entry tables.  There were also a few pieces already on the walls for the new show, suggesting that some Friends of the Gallery had lifetime exemptions or somesuch.  One, already mounted on the gallery wall, I really liked: it consists of a framed piece of white paper, blank except for the words I've seen many times in my own line of work: THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.  I thought of this later today when I saw a quartered page of a prescription disclosure, which has similar artistic qualities:


Hey. I saw an installation in Rochester with a piece based on belly button lint. Don't judge, unless you're the juror;)


And then we waited. Fortunately, not long.  Wendy posted earlier today that her two submitted pieces had been accepted and would be on display.  The submission Ruulz said that "Artists will be contacted by phone/email regarding the juror's decision" either today or tomorrow.  Side notes: (1) today is St. Patrick's Day; and (2) the major Buffalo parade honoring same (mostly by drinking to excess) is also today, passing within about two blocks of the gallery. So my guess was that the juror would either be getting it done early today or waiting until tomorrow.

The former, as it turned out. One of Eleanor's two pieces is in.


I promised I would not post photos of either of the drawings, because copyright assholes are out there. (If you're Facebook friends with either or both of us, you can see it on our pages.) Nor would I even attempt to describe them, having about one-two hundred fifty sixth chromosome of barely artistic talent on my entire helix.  But I will say this: Piece One, which was accepted, was a study of an actual piece of nature lying outside our front window. Piece Two, which was not, was more of an intensely personal piece from Eleanor's imagination.  I'm sure that marketing considerations are part of the jurying process, even if not expressly stated to be: the gallery gets a 40 percent commission on any piece sold.  And the one you'll see on their wall is more generally relatable than the one I would be perfectly happy to see on ours for the next 30 years.

The personal piece has to be picked up Tuesday; because it has not been "exhibited," it remains eligible for future submissions to this or most other galleries.  The accepted one will debut Friday night and remain there for about another month; unless sold, we reclaim it four Saturdays from now.  Maybe we'll even buy some berets by then;)

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