♫And if you, should survive, to a Hundred and Five,....♫

Spoiler alert: she didn't.

And the remembrance of my mother's birthday 105 years ago next Thursday is the latest in the month out of the occasions I'll be remembering here. Still, it became top-of-mind today because of its entwining with more recent events and one of the others we come upon remembering this month.

October has long included two birthdays and an anniversary in my family; in order: my oldest sister Sandy's wedding anniversary from October 21, 1967; their older daughter's birthday from October 23, 1969; and my mother's birthday from October 27, 1916. Not long after Eleanor joined the family, it also began bringing the sad remembrance of Sandy's too-soon passing in early October of 1988.  I've now lived more than half my life without her, and only this week did I tie that loss to one we're feeling so recently and vividly of a friend we never even shared a hemisphere with.

For this occurred to me today: that Eleanor and I are now both within sight  of the age (72) that my mother was just short of when Sandy passed, and that her daughter's age wasn't too far off (49) from the age our just-passed friend J had attained.  The one thing I specifically remember from Sandy's funeral was Mom approaching the open casket, crying, and saying, No parent should have to bury their own child.  I "got" that intellectually at the time, but at the time I'd been away over a decade, was beginning our own family from 300-plus miles away, and I probably saw Sandy a handful of times a year and talked on the phone barely much more.  Mom, on the other hand, lived 15 minutes away from her oldest child, saw her almost every week, and probably talked with her every day.  I don't think I could have felt the emotional sting that she did. It was a sting that began her own decline through depression into dementia that would fell her barely ten years later.

Feeling the loss this week across similar years, albeit of a never-met friend from thousands of miles greater distance? Now I understand far more of what Mom meant by that.


Yesterday was the 54th anniversary of Sandy's wedding. I was the ring bearer and the ooh-er and ahh-er at the ceremony; I was home with the babysitter for the festivities to follow.  She managed to make it to our wedding twenty autumns later, after her decline had already begun, and one of my most cherished moments from our own after-festivities was this one. It was captured by a last-minute second photographer who begged to shoot our wedding and reception for an RIT photography project:

Her husband would survive. Eventually he would remarry, a woman who moved into that near-to-Mom's home and devotedly erased every trace of Sandy's life from it over the next few years. When he passed not quite 20 years later, my sister was not remembered in any way in or at his memorializing- except to the extent that I, our sister, and our nieces made it so.  We still do and always will.  Muriel can go fuck herself if she's even still alive.


That older of those nieces turns 52 tomorrow. Sadly, we no longer speak. Other than me seeing her at her father's 2007 funeral, we last saw her in her Florida town in 2005, at a time of crisis of birthing and marriage she soldiered through with family's love and help. She later remarried, to a man who has crossed her over to the dark side of Trumpernuttery that now comes between us.  Until we're needed again, when of course we will be there for her and all will be forgotten.


Other memories pock their marks this month.

October 13th would have been the 62nd birthday of my longest standing friend in the world. Janice grew up with me, shared a youth of common experiences, lost touch with me for decades, but finally reconnected for a final blessed few moments on her way to speaking at a conference at a near-to-us SUNY college in 2009. Mere months later, she was gone; a sudden and merciless victim of cancer.  I learned, literally this minute, that her husband Doug also passed, back in 2015. They had two talented and caring boys who now have no parents as they age into their 30s. 

On a happier note, I did remember to mention here recently that this month includes Pepper's presumed sixth birthday. We'll never know for sure, as she was a stray rescued on the streets of Buffalo two years later. But when they found her, she had a microchip with an "October 2015" date in it and nothing else to identify her.  (It phones home to us now.)  Her three-plus years in her forever home here have been full of joy, hiliarity, occasional stress (especially with strange contractors lying in insulation) but especially a sense that we rescued her and the reverse was also true.

Finally, this week includes Gotcha Day for the crazy little kitten who came home with his brother of (probably) another father just a year ago.  Krispie and Pop were renamed Bronzini and Boz, and for two glorious months, they played, they fought, they snuggled and purred. Then the little orange guy had his second vet visit, where "failure to thrive" was becoming a concern. Three weeks later, he was gone, passing quietly in the night by my side surrounded by two of our older four-legged brood. The B-Man is thriving, though still on the runty side and barely able to get up on a counter for his noms without help or an extra boost from a counter or trash can. But he's brave, and crazy, and gets along with all of us, including his slightly older stepbrother Jack who's been here since April. They fight to the death and then spoon in the sunshine.

A good prescription for all of us, that last part.... This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1673014.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
Mr Yuk

Stink. Stank. Stunk. (Plus furry friends who don't.)

It's been a rough few days on a number of fronts. Not so much work, or things between the two of us, but life has been intervening in all kinds of ways that we weren't expecting and didn't need.

The newest and biggest of these developments is the one I alluded to yesterday. Details are slowly showing up online, and while I still need to be careful about all of the details, I think this much can be shared:

J was a dear, never-met friend- mine for over a decade, Eleanor's more recently but if anything more closely. She and I go back to LiveJournal days; I can't remember how or why who friended who, but there was a connection there. She was a teacher, a musician, a kindred spirit and a furmommy, who moved from California to Australia not long before we "met" to make a new life with a husband. She gained Aussie citizenship but kept her US as well, and she had been going through some major and difficult life situations that we and other friends were listening and supporting her through.

Skipping way way ahead: A few weeks ago, she had a nasty slip and fall and tore her Achilles. Surgery was scheduled and conducted. We saw posts from and about her saying it had gone well.

A very close friend of hers just posted this, which we've known the details of for a day; it explains what happened next, with some identifying details taken out:

Sometime during the morning on October 17th J suffered a heart attack, likely caused by an embolism. While they were able to get her on life support after extraordinary measures by the hospital staff, it was determined on October 18th that J did not have any brain function and her spouse and parents made the joint decision to stop life support. She passed away around 2:30 pm on Monday the 18th (8:30 p.m. on the 17th Pacific). 

Her parents are having difficulty getting to Tasmania. They were supposed to leave yesterday, but Australia is currently back on lockdown and the Australian government has denied their request for an exemption to a 14 day mandatory quarantine in Sydney. They are currently appealing that decision, but that may take some time as well. Even after getting to Sydney, there may not be a way to get to Tasmania, as it is on full lockdown until Monday.

So that's it. A life well lived, about to take turns for the better, taken in a blink of an eye. And Fucking COVID makes it even worse now.

We remain heartbroken. There is nothing we can do except keep her memory alive and share our collective memories with each other.

As someone here just said who knew nothing of this:

I am grateful that I know what love is.  Many don't.  Many others don't know how to express it.  Some take it for granted--or that they will always have enough time left to tell someone.  I don't.  Life can be snuffed out in a minute--and all our plans lost.

Don't take it for granted...please.


Also, clean your dishwasher.  (We now return you to your regularly scheduled stinks.)

Ours is at least 15 years old. It’s rarely needed service but we’ve never given its innards a good cleaning. In recent weeks, Ludo from Labyrinth kept coming in while I was emptying the thing and going, SMELLLLLL BADDD!

So with everything Eleanor has been doing around here, I decided to tackle the Bog of Eternal Stench at the bottom. I ran it, emptied it, and removed the lower rack, then dug in. The exposed bottom wasn’t TOO bad, but I could tell most of the gathered gloom was inside the trap atop the drain. I tried shopvaccing it out, to little avail. It would need to come off. And of course it was held down by nuts, not screws, and they were smaller than any nut driver I could find.

Eleanor promptly found the right sized one- now labeled for the task- and here’s what I found when I popped it off.

It was almost solid. It may have been sentient. Sorry, Federation, but I killed it. Least I hope I did.

I ran it again, this time empty with a cup of white vinegar,  and promised to do this more often than every 15 years.


Then there's the stink of dealing with tech. Some simple- yesterday, after the weather cooled, my car's tire gauge went off, simply fixed early this morning with two quarters and some air- some less so.

This computer's been a godsend for me. Particularly because its predecessor has virtually slowed to a crawl on the occasions I've needed to use it.  I showed Eleanor how to do some of our billpaying using this one, guided by a helpful Word document titled In Case I Am Hit By Bus, and I figured she would soon want an upgrade of her just-as-old, just-as-slow machine herself.

She found one online. I of course found a better, cheaper, faster delivered one. Ordered it Sunday night. Funds came right out of our debit card account. But no email confirming shipping or e-delivery of the antivirus program thrown in for 90 dollars off we could both use. Yesterday morning, we found out why:

They canceled the order.

No notice to us. The debit, still "pending" on our account. I called to find out why. Turns out it was for our own protection: that even though the charge was "authorized" for purposes of taking our money, it was not "verified" for purposes of shipment. Also turns out this verification glitch came from when I filled out the payment form on the order page: soon as I typed an R in the "first name" box, the browser popped up and offered to autofill it. Stupidly, I chose an option that had "RC" instead of "Raymond" as my first name.  There also may have been an issue over what name, exactly, is associated with our zip code. Officially, any zip starting with 142 is "Buffalo," but many people, including us, use specific variants like Kenmore, Snyder, Williamsville and West Seneca for their specific five digits, and the mail gets right through.  Computers, not so much.

I talked to the Customer Service Lady and was duly verified. Eleanor's machine could now ship. Only it couldn't, because it had gone out of stock in the time this snafu took.  They found a comparable one, for a little less money and all the same features save one missing one. We said okay. NOW the trouble was that this store's online staff was stretched so thin, CSL was actually taking sales calls from her regular gig in their survey department- and she couldn't access the order platform. She had to forward it to someone else who never got back, and by the time I followed up this morning, Choice Two had also gone out of stock.

At this point, I handed the whole thing back to Eleanor, who found the original item on a site which took her money and promised to ship no later than tomorrow. I'll believe it when the truck driver dumps it on the stoop. 

The ironic thing? This one, I ordered online, but from a store with a local presence and I arranged to pick it up at a brick and mortar location near here.  When I went in to do so? They never even asked to see my ID. "Hi, I'm Ray and you have a laptop for me ::points at it on shelf::"  "Oh, yeah, sure, here ya go."

The one final win from Snafu City?  Before giving up on them, I tried to get today's CSL to sell me the multi-user antivirus for the 30 bucks I'd been quoted on the original canceled order. She said she couldn't. I said there was someone over her head who could.  Several footprints on her scalp later, a supervisor had emailed me a $100 coupon so it wound up being only just over 20 bucks. It's installed on mine, and will be on hers when it gets here.

When, dammit.  Not if. WHEN.


There have been other tecknickull issues- Microsoft Teams failed me again this afternoon, a bank has utterly fucked up computations on a credit card account, I'm forgetting at least one or two others- but I'll end with some soothers instead of more whining.

Starting with our own brood: whenever I have time and energy before coffee, I try to start the day right by making the bed-

- or at least as much of it as I can manage.  Pepper turned six last week, and Zoey just keeps going and going and going.

We also each took turns with rescues last week.  Last Wednesday, Eleanor was heading out to Sheridan Drive, a very busy state highway, and came across a gorgeous but loose Pittie following a mom and kid down the road.  After some tag-checking and corralling and many sloppy kisses of the back of Eleanor's head, Mr. Stephen came home with us until his furmommy could come get him:

Who's a good boy?!?

Two days later, it was my turn: I was heading out by way of North Forest, also a very busy state highway, and came upon a very pretty but older looking hound wandering about. He offered no resistance when I came up to him, and I helped wrangle Flash home.  No picture, because his mommy came out quickly to herd him. Flash is close to 15 and going senile; he used to follow his daddy all around the golf course he works at and thinks our neighborhood is Pebble Beach for him to roam in.

Also, a good boy.

Finally, a new good girl: friends of mine back to law school days, who walked their aging and sadly passed mutt Jake with us until this winter, finally got the bug again and adopted a new pup from the same city shelter Pepper was rescued at. Meet Natasha:


They're loving and caring people and she's lucky to have them. And vice versa. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1672729.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Sync or SIM? How about both?

I'll spare details on a couple of workdays. Yesterday's semi-holiday wound up with me staying well beyond the half day everyone else observed but getting one major Hairy Bear off my plate, while today began and ended with clients who didn't listen to me, one of whom got extraordinary dispensation for it and the last of them who, so far, didn't:P  Plus today was largely taken up with busywork that I will likely never see a dime for but which was the right thing to do for the client(s) involved.

But the tech wars were largely won, and this makes me happy.


The one Bit (or was it a Bob?) that I'd been putting off from my tech transfer? Anything involving syncing my new Microsoft-based laptop with my existing Apple-based phone. These marriages have never gone well.   The routine that seemed to work, when I was using an iPhone and an older version of Microsoft Outlook, was like this:

- Open iTunes on my laptop; this is their catch-all product that plays music but also gathers calendar and (briefly but never reliably for me) contact information and "sync'd" them between the two devices;

- Plug the phone into the laptop's USB port;

- Wait, painfully long at the end, to get iTunes to open, offer updates of both iTunes and the phone's operating system, and eventually see the phone and sync it.

This drill was five minutes on a good day and more often closer to half an hour.

I knew, from previous upgrades, that as soon as I put iTunes on this laptop, I would have to give up ever using it on the old one again. And that would mean transferring hundreds of music files. So this time, I deliberately did NOT put iTunes on the new device, still using the old laptop when I need to add music for either of us, and I went with iCloud on the new laptop. It said it would sync calendars with Outlook. Only it didn't, until it did.

At the same time I got this new laptop, I sprung for the multi-user version of Microsoft Office, which meant I was no longer using a 2003-era version tied specifically to this hard drive.  Over the almost two weeks since purchase, I've been learning how to access the older version's files through OneDrive, save them in a form I can use on even the older one, and which of my old-school file-menu and ctrl-ThisOrThat commands still work. (More do than don't, but I'm learning the workarounds for the latter.)

Likewise, the new Outlook was easier than any previous version in getting my email set up and more-or-less working.  But I've yet to learn how to merge my Roadrunner-based new items with my years-accumulated archives of received and sent messages. So I just went with two separate sets of folders: the top one, the new ones since Zero Day, the bottom my 2013-2021 archive:

"Inbox" and "Sent Items" in the top set contain everything sent and received since October 1; while their equivalents in "Personal Folders" are the archival versions.  These open and send/receive/display so fast, compared to the last one, that I don't mind looking in two places as needed, and this Outlook version allows both windows to be open at the same time. But calendars still resisted syncing.

Until just now.

At some point, I noticed that below "personal folders" was another tab:

Outlook was displaying everything that Apple had put in the iCloud; I just hadn't bothered to look. And, when clicking "Calendar" in that set, I found every appointment, past and present, that I had both in my "Personal Folders" and my phone-based calendar after my last sync.  Including everything new I'd put there since Changeover Day.

I experimented. I set an appointment on my iCloud calendar for 10 a.m. Thursday: Rob Bank.  Immediately, it displayed both on that calendar and on my phone without the iTunes/plugin/wait/wait/wait/wait/sync drill.

Now, all I have to do is remember that's the correct one to display, and I'll be syncd like a boss.


I also took time today to finally end the Mystery of the Locked Stupid Old Phone.

One more trip to AT&T, the seventh, confirmed that once they ported the number out, they could no longer access the old burner to unlock it.  I was desperate enough to ask if they could sell me a basic cheap unlocked phone to put the SIM card into.

No, he frankly replied, but Walmart or somesuch could- and probably for less than one of their more expensive locked ones.

So down the street to Wally World, where no mobile plan specialists were working. But Ken was.  I think he was mostly in charge of stocking DVDs, but he felt my pain. We found a $30 unlocked, no-frills Android phone to put my recently reconstructed SIM card into. Before I left, he got it receiving calls, and when I called it from my own mobile and heard the traditional rotary-phone ringtone on it, I knew I'd achieved Burner Nirvana.

I'm still fidgeting with little things like, How do you get past its lock screen?, but I've set up its voicemail and got it charging. The whole business- new plan, new SIM card and now new hardware- ran me just over 50 bucks plus tax, but we'll save almost that much in the first month we don't have that stupid old burner on our AT&T plan. And I still have plans for that ancient Nokia, as soon as I can find a steamroller:

This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1672067.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

More Maniacal Laughter, More Much-Needed Karma

"Maniacal Laughter" was the title of a post I put up here just over three years ago, when I finally ended a nearly 37 year quest to see one of my favorite bands perform live.  I became vaguely aware of 10,000 Maniacs when I got to Buffalo in 1981, not long after their founding in nearby Jamestown that year. They played local schools and clubs in intimate settings, with their lead singer Natalie Merchant's soaring vocals and Dennis Drew's distinctive keyboards. By the time I was introduced to a few of their albums by my best friend from college, they were largely out of our area code and my price range to see them.  When Natalie left the band in 1993, they were rejoined by original Maniac John Lombardo and his longtime singing partner Mary Ramsey, who'd done backing vocals and strings for the band in the past but who now brought Mary to the front of the stage with her own songs and her faithful interpretations of those Natalie left behind.

I've recounted, in that previous post, my one failed effort to see the group during their Love Among the Ruins tour; their subsequent regroupings following the death of their guitarist Rob Buck, the brief departure of John and Mary in their Less Than Celebrated Oskar Period; their return to the fold and to recording; and finally to a political benefit show in their hometown on October 7, 2008 where, finally, the current band of Maniacs and I occupied the same room for the first time.

It remains my only. COVID killed their touring plans for over a year; they did a couple of gigs in the spring and summer, south of Syracuse and in the Hudson Valley, that I missed, and they've been to our south in shows since.  But I've become a follower on social media and, counting my local friend Maria who sang backup for them about a decade ago, I am now Facebook friends with three actual onstage Maniacs: Maria, Mary, and their bassist Steve Gustafson, who runs their social media account.

Just 9,997 to go;)

There have been rumblings about a homecoming show in late November, most likely in Jamestown.  That's something I would go out of my way for.


Two nights ago, though, the Maniacs came to me, at a moment I really needed them.

Their final studio album with Natalie in the lead was titled Our Time In Eden. Friday, for me at least, was a heaping helping of Our Time in Retrograde Mercury.  Every phone call and email at work during the day was an annoyance, the tech was misbehaving, and Eleanor was near tears over the reno project at home. It was past 6 p.m., I'd been sent on an errand to procure takeout food that would take another half hour on a busy Friday night. And there I was, getting out of my car for my then fifth trip in three weeks to the AT&T store to fix something with our mobiles

The strip mall it sits in is one of those that plays music outside the stores. And then, at my lowest moment of the day and perhaps week, I heard the beat and chords and words of  my favorite Natalie-era Maniac song:

I had just been listening to the album version of that song, as well as the Mary-led live version of it from their Playing Favorites CD, in my car a couple of days before.  I know it more or less by heart, but had always had trouble remember the final few words. So I'd looked them up, and hearing them, in that parking lot after a long and difficult, I knew

How it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you, to you.

I posted that experience on their page, thanking my Maniacs for redeeming just one of These Days. Which, now thanks to this medium, I'll remember. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1671762.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

♫1-877-Karma's-Not Just for Kids♫

We've had us some moments in the past few days. My workweek was four straight days of virtual court appearances, a Tuesday with five straight hourly appointments (including one of those court things) and a Friday with no court but plenty of stress from clients and opponents. Meanwhile, Eleanor finally got to the point of being ready to install the final major things in the loo, but for various reasons the Big Day came the morning after she got her bimonthly cortisone shot in her knee, which meant she was amped up on steroids, sleep deprived the night before and sweating like crazy during the process. We've gone two nights with no upstairs toilet, which is less of an issue for me than for her (there's a portapotty up here for such things), and there have been any number of mismeasurements and false starts and stops, but we're getting there.

And in it all, there have been those moments. Here are some of them.


A neighbor and friend of ours has been of immense help in getting this project done. When we first set out to fix the big things in the bathroom, we couldn't get any of a half dozen possible contractors to help. The insurance company tried and failed to get somebody under contract to do it. Friends or other contacts recommended one guy or another, but they were too busy, or it was too big a job, or it was too small a job, or they couldn't commit to get here until next year. I even had a client who does this kind of work, but he never bothered to even show up to look at the job. So it largely became DIY, or in this case Do It HERself, but our neighbor has more experience at this than even she does and he has popped in previously to offer advice. We decided some time ago that when it came to the end of the job- fixing the rotted floor, replacing the throne and laying down the new underlaiment and vinyl flooring- we would hire him for that purpose.

Eleanor decided on a figure. I agreed with it. She told him the other morning what it was. He said it was too much. We insisted. He accepted it. And somewhere in there, he told us that the exact number was a sort of sign. You see, he and his girlfriend two houses away have had troubles of their own. Her mother, who they live with (and they moved here from another state to help take care of and her then-husband who died last year), had a major health crisis a few months ago. Both of them lost time from work dealing with it. They've mostly recovered financially, as Mom has medically, but it turned out there was one specific bill that they were worried about getting paid on time, for which they were somewhat short,....

by the exact amount we'd decided to pay him.


Moving on to my own tilts with windmills:

For much of the past two weeks, I've been dealing with new tech, mostly in the office but also moving an older printer from there to the house and then setting up this new laptop. Last time I posted here, I reported that I'd done some DIYing of my own getting the new printer and this laptop to communicate: I solved the mystery of how to get it to scan to this machine's scans folder, called Tech Guy #1 back to tell him I'd done so (and explained how I'd done it), and also mentioned I'd never heard from TG#2 who was supposed to take a crack at it.

Well, TG#2 finally called me yesterday, because apparently the service order was still sitting around in their system. At some point in the past couple of weeks, probably due to changes we've made on our phone plans (more about THAT joyful experience to follow), my phone now displays all incoming phone calls by name rather than number. (It had always displayed contacts by name, but now every name, or UNKNOWN, or TOLL FREE NUMBER displays.) I didn't know who JOE NOTHISREALNAME was, but it looked vaguely familiar. Joe turned out to be TG#2, following up to see if I still needed help.

No, but where did I know his name from? A think, a thank and a thunk later, I checked in a particular piece of software, and boom:

I'd done the guy's bankruptcy five years ago. He worked for the company at the time, but I had just moved into that office and wasn't dealing with billing or service on the printer back then so I had no idea he was connected (heh) to my tech. I asked if he recognized my name from anywhere else, and after a few seconds, he said, Wait, were YOU the guy who....?

Yeah, that's me. Glad I made such a good impression (heh again).


Our other circle of Tech Hell has involved the mobile phones. As part of getting my old office printer to connect wirelessly in the house after it turned its nose printhead up on talking to our existing wifi, I got the brilliant idea of using my iPhone as a hotspot. Last time I'd looked into this, it was a limited and expensive proposition, but now, it's right on the Settings menu to turn it on!

Or not. Apparently my plan was so old, it didn't even have an option to enable such a thing. So I looked into whether I could upgrade any or all of our plans to include such an option. My iPhone has had unlimited data since back when it was originally Cingular Wireless. When Eleanor got an iPhone of her own, she went with a limited data plan that's occasionally burped and bumped into a higher price bracket due to some glitch or extended video watch. But we found a new plan that would put Eleanor's phone into the unlimited data category, add mobile hotspotting to mine, and even throw in an HBO Max subscription that we now get through the kids (they can now cancel and use ours), all for less than we're paying now!

Except, that is, for the burner.

That was Eleanor's last pre-smartphone, finally replaced with an iPhone 6s five years ago. Little Nokia sat, lost and lonely, until we ripped out our multiple landline phones which were running us over $175 most months. I then ported the one "personal number" among them to AT&T and parked it on that burner, just so we could keep in touch with people who had that number for us.

Few ever did. Most of the calls we did get on it were from doctors confirming appointments, and various robots and spammers. It Just Sat for most of the past five years, occasionally ringing, more occasionally letting out death pangs if we'd left it unplugged, and perhaps being useful a dozen times to find a missing phone or take when one of ours had been left behind someplace.

But it was only 10 bucks a month, plus taxes and garbage fees close to that- until we changed the plans. Even though our total bill went down when we made the change, the tiers meant that we were now paying $45 a month to have, well, THAT.

And so, I was given a QUEST:

I would remove the burner from our plan, saving us something, and then either tossing the phone or putting that burner, with its oldschool landline number, onto an El Cheapo™ prepaid service which would cost something around the 10 bucks a month it was costing us before.

After four more trips to AT&T stores, four separate trips to other retailers, and endless time on phone calls with bots and beings, we think it's done. The burner is definitely off our AT&T account, saving to be determined in about three weeks. But here, if you care, is the litany of how we got there:

Collapse )

Meanwhile, while I was doing all that, look what materialized in my absence:

The new vinyl floor, all in except for some trim. The new throne has received its first bits of business. The extended vanity is in. The heat register will move from the windowsill to the hole where it belongs. The new handmade shower curtain will take its place.

But for most intents and purposes?



This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1671577.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Other than iTunes, Mrs. Lincoln, How's the Tech Playing?

I still can't bring myself to address that inevitable cluster.  I do have iCloud installed on the new laptop, and it appears ready to do some syncin for me, but I refuse to plug the phone into it until I get through my run of five straight appointments in Rochester tomorrow between 10 and 2:30.  At least I got out of a sixth at 3:15 because my dentist's hygienist called in sick for tomorrow; this is now the second health professional to beg out on seeing me in the past week.

Over the weekend, I finally got the Semagic blogging software going on here. The install itself was easy, but I'd forgotten that Dreamwidth imposed an extra layer of password protection about 18 months ago. That finally explained why the Masked Password in the Semagic login box on the other computer was much longer than the one I use to access DW itself.  This post contains the magic beans to get connected, which I have duly copied and saved in a Word file in this laptop's Semagic folder.

Speaking of Word, I got all of my ancient Office files more-or-less working on this laptop using the Office 365 app.  Outlook won't sync the old laptop-based mail folders and calendar items with the server-based ones the new laptop connected to, so for now at least I have two sets of folders to toggle between. Even with that, though, the new machine is SO much faster at everything that those extra seconds of toggling are just fine, thanks.

Then, today, I got the new computer and new printer to talk to each other. This was another Case of the Mysterious Password, where the login/password that connected Old Laptop to New Printer did not connect New Laptop to New Printer. A Tech Guy showed up unannounced at 10 this morning, just as I was going on a call with a court, supposedly to "fix things," but he never figured it out.  He escalated me to a Bigger Smarter Faster Tech Guy who was going to do a remote takeover of this machine. Eventually, though,  I got tired of waiting for him, googled some support forums, and figured the damn thing out on my own, thankuvermush. (For future reference: the trick is to make the "Scans" folder on the PC shareable through Windows.) After I got it going, I called TG#1 to tell him to tell TG#2 not to bother calling- and to educate #1 on what I'd learned so the next poor shlub won't get stuck with the same problem I did.

Turning in now in hopes of getting good sleep before All The Things tomorrow. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1671333.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

Of Two Computers and Many Saints

Only a couple more days off here since last posted remarks. Most of the past waking hours have been spent finally purchasing and setting up the laptop that will take over my work functions as of Monday.

More of those hours have been waking than I would have liked. Overnight into Thursday morning, the state road crew returned to the scene of the noise on the 290, where a few weeks ago they shook our house to its foundations. The work this time was on the eastbound lanes a bit further from us, or maybe the new windows and insulation helped, so no shaking. Still kept me awake from 3 a.m. on.  Thursday night into Friday was much quieter out there, but insomnia still came at about the same hour and had me dragging again early that day.

That was part of the reason I didn't even begin the process of setting up the new computer until late yesterday morning.  Also, work being very busy both days, although having a molasses-infested laptop didn't help with that.  Finally, though, I got the process going and, with a couple of exceptions that I'll get to, it's done and the yet-unnamed computer is good to go.

It’s largely the same model as the Dell I've had since 2017, but with twice the memory and I finally upgraded into the 21st-century with an Office 365 family subscription that will last us through February 2023. It is still an adventure carrying over some of my ancient work programs- my primary bankruptcy software still runs through Internet Explorer- but oh my some things are infinitely easier. Every prior time I’ve tried to carry over Outlook from a previous computer, it took hours of configuring back door settings for TCP, SMTP, I GottaP, with ports and server addresses that had to be perfect. This be all, hi what’s your email address and password? A minute later, BOOM, here you go.

It doesn’t have an onboard optic drive, but it’s almost impossible to find one anymore. We have a good one at home that seems to be working nicely with it.

Life’s little victory: even though I had no way of knowing this, it uses the same power supply as the previous one, which means I can leave plugs for it in all three places I need them.

Less than a little victory: even though it’s the same brand, model and size as the previous one, computer manufacturers seem determined to deposit the home, end, pgup and pgdn keys in completely random spots on the keyboard. This one splits them two on the top row and two on the bottom to the left of the keypad. It makes sense ergonomically, I think, and I’ll get used to it on a week like I usually do.

It connects wirelessly to my old office printer in the house in the new office printer in the office. I never did get the printer to connect to our home wifi, but after three trips to the AT&T store, I got our plans upgraded and I now have a mobile hotspot coming from my phone that I've been able to connect the laptops and printer to each other through.  There will be a fourth trip to that store tomorrow, because Eleanor quickly noticed that our two phones' plans went down quite a bit but a third emergency "burner" phone actually went up in cost. We're probably going to ditch the thing altogether and replace it with a real prepaid burner for times a phone is lost or broken. Even before that, though, our plans went down around $30 a month and I expect will go down even more once we kick it out.

Next Tuesday, I configure the laptop with the printers and wifi in the other office. That's going to be a full day of phone hearings, client appointments, and a run to beautiful Wyoming County to file something and, oh, a cleaning at my own dentist to finish the day off.

But I have no complaints about things as of now. OMGOMG THIS COMPUTER IS SO FAST compared to the last one. I had a Zoom meeting today that went fine (people said my video was much improved) and one with the dreaded Teams on Monday. I can’t wait to see how much better THAT one goes.

The only things I haven't done yet, just to avoid pushing my luck? The easier one is finding and downloading the blogging software that I use to post here. I'm sure it will work fine, but I haven't had the energy to root around for the download location and all the needed settings, so I will either post direct from DW through the browser or go back to the old one as I am doing right now.  The other evil beast of my prior acquintance? FuckingITunes.  I only need it for work to sync my work calendar with the one on my phone, and I will first explore if iCloud can do that without making me even crazier than fIt does.  It will otherwise be a scary bear trying to transfer 20 years of music over from this one to the new one, and since I only add a CD maybe once a month, I'm fine doing that from here even at its now-painfully slow speed.


One other thing that works fine on the new setup is HBO Max. We even got a free subscription to it when I upgraded my phone to the new plan, so Emily can likely cancel the one she's had and we've been using.  We've been watching a lot on it together- Awkwafina's series, the Daniel Radcliffe/Steve Buscemi medieval comedy, and a Stanley Tucci food documentary that got us both wanting to have spaghetti carbonara tonight for the first time in years.

But the Home Box also brought the simultaneous delivery, along with theaters, of David Chase's long awaited prequel to The Sopranos titled Many Saints of Newark. Set in the troubled racial times of 1967 northern Jersey, it is Tony: The Previous Generation Played By The Next One. Janice, Junior and Livia all return as their younger selves, played by actors who are so far nailing their depictions without parodying them. Others star who we either never saw in the prior series or who only made brief appearances, mainly the lead role of Dickie Montesanti ("more saints" in Italian). His son, a baby here, who we knew as Christophuh for most of Tony's run, narrates part of the film. But the show is stolen by James Gandolfini's own son Michael, playing his father's signature character as Young Teen Tony. I've only watched a few moments of it so far, but he is so much his father's son in appearance.

I suspect there will be more side stories of this crew if this one takes off, which it likely will. 

This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1671119.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

♫Easy Come. Easy Go, Little Hiatus, Little Low....♫

Since someone was kind enough to send a message asking? Yeah. We're still here.

The last thing I wrote about here was the idea of us having too many spoons. Well, for me, this daily reporting had become one of them. More like several of them. Too much else to do, to say, to think, to plan without constantly looking back.

So I'm not giving this up, but the daily routine is going to move on without it being a mandatory part of it.

There's been a lot of clanking in the silverware drawer this past week. Some good, some bad, some both at the same time.  The latter, largely, is how I'd sum up the renovation work: the parade of outside contractors through the house is almost done. Last Monday, they did the insulation and weatherstripping. Then, Wednesday, they replaced a number of ratty old windows (mousy, more like it, since Ignatz and Mickey had taken up residence in two of them) with much more efficient and light-giving glass block jobs. Also, without telling Eleanor, the Wednesday guy fixed the connection venting the dryer through one of the older glass block windows- a "fix" she spent a good part of Monday working on herself and wound up being a wasted effort. There's one bit of cleanup still to be done, and some money is being held back until they do it, but having it done is a good thing. There's still DIY work to be done in the bathroom, which has progressed slowly but surely, but having the outside-our-control part is goodly bigly.

Less good is the effect it had on the dog. Pepper still has issues with people other than us. It must date to her pre-rescue life. She never goes after anyone, and most times a single visitor will wind up getting sniffs and smooches, but having five guys in Ghostbusters suits, with heavy equipment and loud noises, took a toll on her. At one point last Monday, Eleanor was sweeping and got a broom too close to the dog, and she freaked. We suspect one may have been used on her in an unkind way at some point in her past. She didn't eat for much of last week, spent time throwing up in various spots, and seemed listless and more clingy than usual.  It's taken a week, and some special diet of chicken and rice, but she seems to have gotten more or less back to normal. Still, the preparation and dispensing of this new stuff is adding another spoon to our own routines.

Then there was my own good news/bad news combo. My new office printer arrived last Monday, and by the end of a long day it was connected to everything it had to be. That got us to bringing the old one home; it still works, but it's a toner hog and the shit's expensive. By the end of last Monday, I had only the energy to haul it into the garage. I then decided, bright and early last Tuesday before another expected long day, to bring it in and set it up.  It took until this weekend to get it communicating with this computer at all, and it still won't work on the home wifi.  I worked out a fix using our cable modem/router that at least allowed me to give the thing its new IP address and connect it to this laptop when hardwired to the router. Unfortunately, moving the box this far from the middle of the house ruins our wifi reception for internet and the smart tv in the living room. I have one DIY experiment to go, and then I'm surrendering to paid tech support to get the wifi we've got to talk to the hand printer.

I should never have undertaken the beginning of this tech project when I did, and we had a bad day on account of it. Ultimately, though, it led to some better understandings and sources of progress. There have still been bumps with all the clanking of spoons, but I'd say we're in a much better place than we were a week ago.

And maybe, one big spoon got removed. I left work a little early yesterday for various errands, and noticed that my car's dreaded check engine light, which lit up on me two weeks ago, had gone back out on its own. I'm strongly considering getting the car inspected as soon as the calendar turns October; it's two months earlier than needed, but if the thing pops again, I won't have to deal with that repair until a year from now when the car will finally be paid for.

Other than all of that, lots of nothing to report. No poetry last Wednesday, no writers group last Saturday. Our anniversary Sunday was homebound and low key.  The Mets were finally put out of their post-season misery a couple of days ago, the Bills played their best game in ages on Sunday, and Gods help us the hockey preseason starts tonight.

Russell T. Davies is returning to helm the season-after-this of Doctor Who, we're progressing with Only Murders and Miracle Workers, and the Sopranos prequel that drops this weekend sounds really well done; James Gandolfini's son plays a previous-generation version of Tony in it. Hopefully no ducks will be whacked at Holsten's.

Not sure when I will return here, but I promise it will be with Something. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1670822.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

♫Saturday, Sunday, Too Many Spoons Day....♫

We both took on too many spoons today. Both should have seen it coming and didn't.

If you're not familiar with the concept, it apparently dates to this article. The underlying condition of the original author was Lupus, but the idea carries over to disorders of many kinds or just general overwhelminess:

I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

The shorthand of "too many spoons" has been with many people for years; for us, on and off, for many of them. Today, in spades.

We knew what today would be: a gaggle of Ghostbusters coming into our house to blow insulation into walls and do assorted insulation related fixes in various places.  Even though we'd done everything we needed to do for preparation- removing things from walls, lowering the stairs to the attic, clearing shit off the floor up there- it was still a good size clanky pile of spoons waiting for us. Would they arrive on time? (More or less.) Have enough to get the job done? (Took a detour to Home Depot, but eventually, yes.) Would they do everything they needed to do? (Unknown, Captain.) Contracts are paper; spoons are cold metal. Spoons beat contracts.

We'd known for weeks that this day was The Day for this job. It was on the kitchen calendar.  I'd originally kept it free, Just In Case anything went goofy, but then I heard the clanks. 

Clank One: Client has to have a motion heard before October 5th? Fine- I put it on for September 20th! (That was today, if you're keeping score at home. Never mind that the judge does these hearings every Monday except fedurul holidays, so why not the 27th, or October 4th, which ::checks TARDIS:: is still technically before October 5th? I have no idea. Early birds and worms, or something.) (PS: It was heard this morning, and got put off until October 4th, which is as fine as it would have been if I'd done that in the first place:P)

Clank Two: Late Friday, coworker interrupts my lunch because Potential Client wants to hire me. I'm not dropping my sammich to see him on the spot, but when can he see me? Today, of course. Now I'm stuck out of the house from 10 until at least 11:30.

Clank Three: The company calls about the new printer for my office. When's the soonest they can deliver before the Infinitesmal Percent Remaining on my current LOWWWW TONER! runs out? Today. I booked them for noon, because Potential Client's already booked for the earlier hour. Now the whole morning is full of spoons. And that's just mine- the whole office had about 3,000 closings today, plus at least two Very Annoying Clients I heard them trying to talk down off ledges on introductory phone calls.

Meanwhile, back home during all this, Eleanor was rooting through the silverware drawer herself. Yesterday, she kindly volunteered to bring laundry up that I'd started while I was clearing out the wall for today's spoons. And of course SHE saw the dryer ductwork had come loose again. As it consistently has because no contractor will assume the risk of connecting it to an outside vent on their liability.  Next we know, she's in the silverware drawer, and on the drawing board, designing a foolproof new way of connecting that ductwork so it won't fall down go boom.  This of course gets implemented while the Ghostbusters were beginning their work. She headed off for a minor purchase, and then spent hours in major labor doing the fix. All of which while I was out dealing with my own day's tableware.

Then the dog, who I offered to bring with me to the office, peed all over the rug where she'd been restrained from bothering the Ghostbusters. Clank.

I got to hear this after my postponed hearing, and just after the slightly late Potential Client came and went and during the effort by the New Printer Guy to set up the beast, connect it to my laptop and get the scan and wireless print functions working.

More than three hours later, it was all finally more or less done. Ghostbusters busted out, and New Printer was running. Old Printer is now in our garage, awaiting similar re-setting up on our home network, but my spoons are all bent right now. We ordered Wegmans takeout for dinner, watched nothing in the way of entertainment, and will regroup tomorrow.

All I have is a series of three phone or Teams court hearings between 9 and 3. And no more spoons.

This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1670471.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

NERRRRRDS! NerdsNerdsNerdsNerds....

This was the soundtrack of my childhood, and I've never really turned it off:

I think they're talking about us.

Well, today, I was doing the talking. Twice. Memories of my nerdy-kid post came up in two different contexts, and I shared them as comments with friends before deciding to turn them into their very own post.

The first was inspired by this meme:

I replied:

Not quite the same joke but next to it at Wegmans: I was a nerdy kid growing up, surprise surprise, and endured quite a bit of bullying. My mom waved it off, saying, “They’re just jealous!“ So after a round of some particularly bad name-calling from one of them, I blurted out “You’re just jealous!” And the little galoot shot back, “I don’t even like jelly!”

That was over 50 years ago. I can still remember the kid's name and exactly where we were when he said it. They moved away a couple years later and, other than that memory, I've had no contacts or recollections with him or his family.


Now, we move into my teens, for a memory inspired by how [personal profile] dauntless_heart and her husband wound up in their current home town, now base to their very wonderful doggo business, literally after throwing a dart that landed on the town.

Okay, there was stuff that happened in between the dart and the move, but it's a What-If worthy of a Marvel series. I have one almost as strange, and it goes back to the nerdy days of midteen Ray. Edited slightly, but the point preserves (speaking of jam and jelly;)-

It was August 1975. Maybe 74. I forget. I'd only recently acquired my first FM radio and discovered a wacky rock-and-roll disk jockey on one of the local stations. He was My People. He used goofy sound effects and retold Johnny Carson jokes I didn't stay up late enough to hear and such. He ran a nightly trivia contest with one question and no prizes. I never won (or not won).

Then one night, he was gone. This happens in radio a lot. So I turned to another weirdness I'd acquired in past years- tuning in to 50,000 watt clear channel AM stations from other places at night. In my then Lawn Guyland home, I could get 3WE from Cleveland and Cincy's WCKY, Super CFL from Chicago, CHUM from Toronto, even stations as far away as Charlotte and Iowa. I flipped the AM dial maybe a week after he went off the air in New York, and somehow, on 1520AM out of Buffalo, there he was! Same silly show, only now it was 6-10 instead of 7-midnight and you had to wait sometimes for a closer lower-power station to go off the air at sundown to catch it. The trivia bit took a few months before it came back, but it was on for most of the time I listened, and I still never (not) won.

I had never been to Buffalo, and wouldn't until after applying to and getting into its law school. But from those few years of listening to KB, I learned a ton of the geography, the politics, the local quirks (google "Dyngus Day"). I knew wings were a thing before anybody outside the 716 did. And that's where I picked up my early connections to Bills and Sabres, which in time would replace the downstate teams I then rooted for. (The Mets, of course, had no replacement here, and probably wouldn't have cured me of THAT disease even if we had one.)

I can't remember if he left the station before I went off to Cornell or I just lost interest. He eventually moved to Pittsburgh where his radio career began, got sued for sexual harassment before it became a common thing (the suits, not the harassment), and he ultimately morphed into a wackadoodle MAGAnutzoid. I will not even speak his name out of the dishonor he did to my early appreciation of him.

Still, I wonder: what if I hadn't had that audio-only introduction to Cheektowaga and beef on weck and "We're Gonna Win That Cup" and where the nine 22-hour McDonalds all were? I might not have even considered a school this far away, much less chosen it, much less packed up to a place where I knew nobody except the four other Cornell alums in my class, much less made it my (and later our) permanent home.

Hell, I might be in Pittsburgh now if he'd gone straight back there. At least the Bills-Steelers last Sunday would have been much more enjoyable. But hey, we rebounded today and Squished the Fish in Miami in a 35-0 shutout, so who am I to complain?


Finally, in between those two events, I was twelve. Apparently I still am.

As if there haven't been enough toilet references around here, a friend posted this WalMart advertisement this morning:

My initial thought: I'm already afraid that when we finally rip out our current toilet at the end of the job, the Shit Demon from Dogma is gonna come roaring out #PoopyBoy

That drew a comment: A friend of mine got a toilet with bluetooth.

And my reply: That could be tricky; pick the wrong pairing and you’ll have shit coming out of your toaster.


Lower-key day today, not involving the opening of any portals to hell. Just ran some wash, moved stuff in the garage where they're going to be blowing insulation tomorrow, and enjoyed the Fish squishing. Tomorrow and Tuesday are going to be very busy days at and around work, so I'll try to recover the energy I had back when I was a nerdy kid. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1670378.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.