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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
We're not bingy here, as a rule. But rules are made to be broken.  Last week, we came across a new Netflix stream called Russian Doll. A cast member or showrunner was familiar, here or there: Elizabeth Ashley, who we'd just seen in a quirky little indie film that was one of Kristen Stewart's breakout roles pre-Sparkly!  Also, Amy Poehler, one of the creators of the show coming out of the Parks and Rec coaching tree; but her involvement itself was no guarantee of good, as we learned when trying a Hulu she EP'd a few years back called Difficult People that was also difficult to watch.  Mostly, though, from the first moment this show was about an actress I knew (at the time) virtually nothing about: Natasha Lyonne, who I'd seen in her first-ever role on Pee Wee's Playhouse in the 80s and might've known from Orange is the New Black if I'd ever watched the thing.

Last Monday night, I tried the first of the eight not-quite-half-hour episodes solo. Eleanor joined me for a rewatch the next night- and on to the second.  Wednesday, the third.  Friday night, we sat down for the fourth and just kept going until the end. We then returned, between Sunday and tonight, to do it all over again to see the things we'd either missed or would understand better after seeing it through.

The premise sounded to a lot of people like Groundhog Day- it even premiered on Groundhog Eve- but there's not even a sideways homage to Bill Murray or that particular varmint in it.  Rather, this series takes the concept of a repeating reality- ending each time in a usually sudden, almost always slapstick death leading right back to the opening scene of the series- and builds on it, both in terms of the story and in terms of the filming.  Not quite halfway through, we meet another sort-of Time Traveler (or did we meet him earlier?), who compares and contrasts with Natasha's Nadia in how he goes through "the loop."  Little by little, we get to know the friends and lovers, present and former, who interact with both of them.  Early on, it reminded me more of 11.22.63 than anything else- a Man Called Horse seems to be in a role similar to King's Yellow Card Man, and the rules of the reset(s) resembled what Jake and Al got us used to- but by the midway point it reminded me of nothing other than the world it had created entirely on its own.

Word is that Lyonne, Poehler and co-creator (and mostly-director) Leslye Headland pitched a three-season arc. The finale hinted at any of several ways in which their future could go: forward, back, or even sideways.  We'll be watching; until then, our lexicon has picked up lines like "I am not a cock-a-roach," and imagery like car trunks being filled with watermelons, to tide us over until things start getting weird in Alphabet City again.

Pepper's been less than thrilled at the humans paying so much consecutive attention to the funny window in the room; here she is, binge-watching us while we're binge-watching the show:


Eleanor had the day off from work today for a followup appointment about her knee situation.  The healing seems to have gone well; they are recommending that she use only one crutch for now, and are leaning toward weight-train-based PT rather than surgery for the meniscus. 

My week is shaping up to be relatively quiet, with now only two court dates out of five and only one scheduled out of town. Plenty of new things to keep me at my desk and out of trouble, though.

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The biggest range of uppity/downity, of course, has been on the thermometer. Just four days after tying a record low temperature of -3F here, the temp broke an even older record high temperature of 64F. It stayed warmish for the next day or so, but then the past two mornings have brought freezing rain, black ice and walks even too slippery for a dog on four paws.  Now it's going back up again overnight before going right back down again.

Also down, for a sort-of count: me. These weather swings always mess with my metabolism, and sure enough, Monday's warmup also brought me a runny sneezy nose that tried to go away but, as of today, is clearly back.  I'm on the OTC version of the Flonaise that Eleanor's been on since last week.  It's not bad as bugs go, but it's annoying as all sneeze-out.

On the up side, Eleanor finally got her remote starter issues resolved while I was away today, so yay!

On the down side, I was away today for my fourth court appearance and second Rochester trip in four days. Every one of them was a cluster of delay, misunderstanding or, today, what I suspect was an outright money grab by the judge to force me to pay extra filing fees for something I don't think I need to pay extra filing fees for.  Shouldn't bother me- the client pays them- but I'm just inherently cheap and/or protective of them when it comes to things like this.

I hit my downest late Monday when I got into it with another attorney who refused to extend a simple courtesy and is now making me do an extra butt-ton of work over yet another simple misunderstanding. Fortunately, everyone else I've spoken to about it has my back on it, and we'll get through it one way or another.

Another upside: the Big Ugly, as I refer to my annual ritual of preparing our taxes, is mostly done. Eleanor works until 7:30 every night this week, so I put my time in, literally, putting my time (or rather receipts and expenses) into a spreadsheet and then carrying them over to the tax software program. On the whole, the impact of the 2017 tax law changes is a mix for us: several deductions were taken away or rendered irrelevant, but other things more or less took their place in comparable amounts.  It's unsettling just how much they changed the forms themselves: no more 1040-A "short form" or 1040-EZ "really short form," but a new mishmash of schedules that will take years of getting used to.  The general consensus is a lot of middle class people, mostly W-2 earners, are finding they're either getting much smaller refunds this time or even having to pay unexpectedly.  Yet all of Cheeto's supporters continue to drink the Koolaid and seem to be saying, well, fine, as long as you're using it to hurt immigrants and homos....

That's mostly it.  At least tomorrow is the one workday this week when I don't have to set an alarm to get, you know,....

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Relative normalcy returned today. Still plenty of snow to melt, but they're calling for 50F temps by Monday. At least one friend referred to this pattern as the "bipolar vortex." All in all, Eleanor missed four days of work, and I was in second gear at best for the past three. Around the corner, a water main blew, probably on the coldest night; I came on it with Pepper on our walk yesterday, and it flooded the whole street before freezing into a brown spiky hockey rink.

By far, though, the saddest part of the whole ordeal was the loss of a life in our neighboring village. Only in death did we learn the full name- Lawrence Bierl- of the homeless man everyone knew just as "Larry." Police found him at a corner on the edge of the village, dead of exposure in a bus stop shelter on the coldest night in probably 20 years.

Larry was a fixture, mostly on Main from the heart of the village to the 290; best guesses are that he slept somewhere in the woods adjacent to the expressway. He never actively panhandled, at most giving you a look; I never gave, but I never avoided. And those who did help support him commented that he would only accept the help he wanted. A gift card to Timmy's or Tops, he'd take; offers of shelter or other active assistance, never. Even on that final day, he stopped at a fairly fru-fru new hotel on Main; the owners fed him, which he accepted, and offered him a room, which he declined.

Thursday brought newspaper articles and other recollections of people encountering him, trying to help him, never being afraid of him. Thursday also brought a difficult day in Eleanor's recovery from a stupid sinus infection: Doc-in-a-Box screwed up the note she needed for an extra day cleared from going back to work, and it took close to four hours before they finally saw her and scribbled it out. We were both in fairly rough shape by nightfall, and got into some words, but ultimately found our way through it all. I then resolved to act on an idea I had earlier in the day: I wasn't just going out to Wegmans to get flowers for her (which I did), but I picked these up to bring to the bus stop the next morning:

My thought at the time was, I'd be happy to be the first to bring flowers there, but even happier if someone(s) else had done so already. Turned out, well, sort of:

Thursday was another bitter cold night, after all, and that morning not much warmer; it didn't break 20F until sometime today. As of early this afternoon, at least two other arrangements were on the bench next to mine, and I'm trying to arrange for the altar flowers from my old church to get brought over tomorrow after the service. A GoFundMe for a memorial service quickly exceeded the amount requested in it; it will be sometime in March. It may or may not be warmer then, but the pouring of hearts in the past few days brought plenty of warmth into a record-chilly time and place.


ETA. Just a few final passing thoughts on this passing.

Eleanor had come across a comment on a friend's post about Larry, suggesting that his family was somehow complicit in this death. It seemed both contradictory to his own spirit and premature for a family that, above all, needed to grieve. This morning's obituaries brought their response, and hopefully will put to rest, not only Larry, but that kind of claptrap:

Meanwhile, I called off my effort to add flowers to the collection I'd started, because when I drove by the shelter this morning, all the arrangements were gone.  We later heard that there was some confusion over which shelter had been his actual final stop, and that one just down the road- one which the daughter of a dear friend gets her bus downtown from every day- had begun its own tribute.  I went out just now to check it out, and it's full of lovely sentiments, and not just of flowers:

Four nights ago, Larry died on one of the most brutally cold nights in any recent memory. As I drove over there in 50F temperature, kids were riding bikes down Park Club Lane.  As another tragically taken soul once sang:

All my life's a circle.
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This storm turned out pretty damn close to As Advertised.  Just about everything was shut down all morning here. Courts (none of which I had to attend), closed.  Nary a plow to be seen until late morning.  Eleanor's sinus infection was still going and she called in to call off work for the day.  None of us ventured out all morning, unless you count a couple of quick trips by the dog to the back yard.  By mid-day, the snow band had moved mostly south of here, where out-and-out driving bans started popping up, but we were in sunshine, and plowed, when Eleanor decided to get the sinus thing checked out and a note to clear her from work for the rest of the week. Our regular doctor's office insisted on a visit, which in this weather was not practical, so it was off to the nearby Doc-in-a-Box....

or whatever they're calling themselves this week.

 If you ever wondered why health care costs so much, look no further. When this joint opened, they were called MedFirst. That name's still on the building. Catchy jingle and all. Then, a few years ago, they rebranded- as, no lie, MASH. "Medical Attention Starts Here," or so they said. They co-branded with nursing home shuttles which all became "MASH vans." But the associations with meatball surgery and orderlies in dresses must have been too much- because now they've rebranded AGAIN- as....

Maybe they'll merge with Jack Daniels and become StillWellNOW. Then I could sue;) But even then, I'd STILL call them Doc-in-a-Box;)


Three good things came out of that trip: a scrip for the condition; the needed note (needs revision, though); and, after yesterday's experiences, the trip itself. Alanis started and handled just fine, even if we still can't control her through the Internet of Things just yet.  I volunteered for the Rx run to Wegmans, stopping first at my office (not a single car in the parking lot), then going in to a mostly-dead grocery store.  I passed two shuttered liquor stores, so I honored the memory of the late Jimmy Griffin, and the scale established in his name for occasions like this, and brought home a six-pack:

And my car's thermisor reading? We're Number Plus One!

By the time I took that picture, the snowband had settled back over us- where it's mostly remained and where the temp has gone down even further.  Tonight is garbage night on our street, except it isn't; schools, including the We Never Close UB, have already announced their second straight snow day tomorrow; and while I probably will get out at some point once we're again plowed out, I have plenty to work on from here and no particular place to go.

We started Roma on Netflix tonight- a beautiful memoir of the director's coming-of-age year in Mexico. Last night, keeping with the Frozen theme, I alternated between the first half of I, Tonya on my computer and the Sabres game on the radio.  Since we won, I'll try that again tonight.

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Well, Eleanor's first ride home last night was fine.  Car started and handled without incident, it fits in its bigger space in the garage, the new charging cord is on the better side to access the outlet,.... um, why won't it connect? Oh. Parking brake has to be engaged before you can charge the car. Mmmmmkay. (Alanis has the old-style foot pedal on the way left for this.)

All seemed well, so I toodled off to my 9:30 court this morning, with her planning on some errands before going to work at noon. Then the call came at 11: the engines turned on (yes, it has two- one gas, one electric), but idiot lights surrounded it on the dash and the thing wouldn't move.  I was done with appointments for the day, and it looked like a promised French Toast Special of a snowstorm, due tonight, had seemingly gotten up early and snarled traffic on my way downtown (some) and back (worse)- so I figured I'd come home, try to fix the problem, and either switch cars or take her to work.  Help was on the way! from Hyundai roadside assistance, so we had to time things delicately. Or not, as it turned out- Eleanor was also nursing a sinus infection, so after calling into work, she decided to bail on the day there and wait for the truck.

I gave it a try, too. Same thing. Turned right on, lights stayed on, wheels stayed put.  I'd brought work home and started cranking it- and within an hour, truck guy showed up and cranked the car, as well. No idiot lights. Apparently, this car requires your foot to be on the brake when you turn it on; we've long been used to safety redundancy that makes you put your foot there before the transmission lever will move, but this seemed, well, odd.  So they didn't have to tow it back to the dealer for service on its first full day in our possession.

This "feature" seemed ever odder, because the Big Deal with this thing is its remote capabilities.  The salesperson spent close to the first half hour yesterday morning getting the BlueLink app installed on Eleanor's phone.  No easy feat, that; took several tries and required a number of requests and resets of passwords. But she got 'er done. Today, though, the thought came by: why does the car require your foot to be on the brake to start it with the key fob when you can start it remotely from the next area code if you use the app?

Alas, there was no testing this hypothesis, because every time she logged in and tried to start it, it popped Error 12345 (not its real number, but it is the same one I have on my luggage).  Now, after already having blown her morning on fun and games with both the dealer and the roadside assistance people, she was on to an afternoon on the phone with Blue Link support,....

who, I kid you not, recommended a reset of the entire car-to-phone communication system by resetting it.  Using a paper clip.

This worked! At requiring complete resets of all her information on the server side, including perhaps a personal record for the most passwords requested for a single site in just over 24 hours.  But not at remotely starting the damn car:P She's reported the 12345 code to them.  It's bad; this we know.  So bad, it has resulted in the issuance of a ticket- to an engineer, who will get it in 3-5 days, and will then get 3-5 days to respond to it.  Fortunately, none of this is coming off the free three years of this hoity-toity service they provide. (After that, it looks to go up to around $200 a year for the two biggest components of it.)

I'm convinced that a car this complex should only be handed out to a new-to-them owner on a Saturday morning- so you can take all the time you need at the dealer to ask questions about How Things Work, and so you have until Monday morning to read through the materials and figure things out for yourselves before being pressed to leave for work less than 24 hours after driving it for the first time ever for realz.

All in all, we've had pretty good luck with car purchases.  First new car I ever bought, four months into my career, was the '84 K-car that we kept until right before our move here a decade later.  I bought that one, pre-Eleanor, from a Rochester Dodge dealer on a day almost as brutally cold as the one they've promised us for tomorrow- and it stalled out before it got to the next driveway on West Henrietta Road.  I near-totaled a new Ford in another January, six years later, when a semi didn't see me passing him and merged into my engine block; and various cars have nagged us (named that one "Dorothy" for my mother), broke things on us ("Cruela de Bonneville"), and got hit and run by an asshat from New Hampshire (Heshie, my final Ford). But we've loved most of the rest; kept many for ages; donated a few near the end of their lives to friend, family or charity; and I wouldn't have managed my goofy two-city practice for this long if they hadn't reliable and comfortable way more often than they're not.

So we're hoping this is just a first-day Hyundai Jitter.

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(Pro tip: never accept that damn download at 4:45 right before leaving work:P)

-She's ours:)

Paperwork was a pain, but it got done and even with some annoying software experiences and some last-minute changes to things, we got to work on time.

-She's also ours:

That's the doggie bed I bought a week or so after Pepper came home. Her prior one got dropped off a few weeks later, and she's never really taken to it (why, when humans are so willing to let you sleep on theirs?), but she seemed restless during movies the past few nights so I moved this one out to the living room and she quickly gave it her snout of approval:)

- Another OMGSnowColdPocalypse! is on the way for Wednesday. Since I have nowhere to be then, I doubt anything will come of it.

Right, it's updated. Outta heah.

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(Little bit of Alanis Morisette humour there.)

Signing Day for our new Alanis, aka the Ioniq hybrid, is tomorrow. We thought it would be yesterday because that's when we were supposed to meet with Finance Guy, but that was just for the obligatory upsell on all the extras.  They've realized over the years that people are onto the dealership scams about rustproofing and floor mats and all that, so they now iPad you with all that crap on one side, but the two "real necessities" preloaded into the price on the other. One, the prepurchase of the bumper-to-bumper service contract to match the 10/100,000 that comes included on the power train (this does include the computer, and the big battery is warrantied for life). Hard pass.  We did get talked into the nine-buck upcharge for full tire protection, but I'm not signing for it until I see what, and more importantly where, that actually covers you for.

Eleanor cleaned Ziggy out this morning, his two keys and seven manuals are all ready to go back, and by this time tomorrow, Alanis will take his place in the garage- where I spent time yesterday clearing out even more crap to make room for her bigger-ness.  This included moving the slag heap of dirt and stone left over from last summer's patio dig, known affectionately as "Poopy Boy" for its resemblance to the shit demon in Dogma. He's now over in front of my car.


After leaving that, we headed into the city for a few errands. One was to pick up a bunch of meats at an old-school Italian place called Lorigo's. They're fresher and cheaper than even Wegmans, and the ambience is amazing.  It's on the West Side, in an area virtually left for dead 20 years ago but which has largely been revitalized by refugees, many from Somalia. Lorigo's welcomes them with their food selections and signs in their vestibule.  The whole neighborhood, anchored on lower Grant Street, has an incredibly funky beat to it, compared to the chi-chi rep that the Elmwood strip a block east has had since I first lived here.  Just to contrast: both have tat parlors, but whereas Elmwood gives you "Seven Seas Tattoos," arrrrr, on Grant Street it's "Ink Assassins."

We then swung over to pick up dog food from Elmwood Pet Supplies. It's an institution in the neighborhood, something of a TARDIS in a small storefront space (there's even a dog wash now).  Their long-beloved mural of the dog and cat driving there had gotten a little ratty-

- so it's been updated.  I'd gone in search of a fairly specialty brand Pepper's been on since the fall.  I could only get it before at a feed store with locations way to the north and south, but they had a smaller bag of a different flavor, and she likes it! Hey Mikey!

We ended the rounds seeing this on the way home:


A couple of other things since my last post:

I mentioned being in Rochester Thursday, but not the strangest thing I saw that day:

That was my first law firm. Founded 42 years ago by one of the most brilliant minds in the entire legal community, who died two years into my tenure there, 33 years ago (and 12 years younger than I am now).  I told one of my fellow former partners there that if I had the new car, I'd have driven it over to Mount Hope Cemetery and plugged it into Lloyd Relin's grave. The spinning would have charged it in minutes.

Friday turned quite wintry, and a little after 7 I drove over to Wegmans to clear Eleanor's car off (not an easy thing to do on crutches with the wind whipping).  I then drove by the sign at the nearby reform shul advertising that night's Erev Shabbat- based on Bob Dylan songs.  You KNOW where that got my mind going:

Oy Lady Oy
Rainy Day Bubbies #12 & 35
Positively Hester Street
The Shabbat Candle Times they Are-a Changin
Just Like a Shishka
and the biggest hit of all: Blowin' Shofar in the Wind.

This theme continued this morning, when I saw this sign on the way back from the dog park:

I went with the obvious, if secular, reaction of "What could possibly go wrong?" but was quickly reminded of perhaps the biggest laugh ever recorded in the 30ish years of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show:

The clip cuts it off (ouch) at the end, but Johnny's last words to Ed Ames were "Welcome to Frontier Bris."


Oh, forgot the icon.

We finished our eight-film binge of all the Harry Potter movies last night. The last one was the only one we'd never acquired on DVD, and most of the ones we had were film only without special features. So I ordered the Blu-ray of Deathly Hallows II: Electricus Boogalusimoi, and we got to see not just the last film but a very touching special feature centering on the three actors who literally grew up in this series. All four of the directors, and most of the adult cast, including a couple who departed this earth during or after the series, were included in cameo recollections about Dan, Rupert and Emma. I'm glad to see all three of them still acting and being good people:)

Tonight, we've got First Man, about the moon landing. I'm sure Mrs. Gorsky will be pleased;)

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In a little over 72 hours, our electric Smart Car will be ours no more. It's been a long strange trip this week.

I mentioned a while back that a friend had looked into a plug-in hybrid from Hyundai. Turns out that look-in was way back in June. The actual car we looked at, for the first time two weekends ago, didn't even exist at that point.  Ann finally had to go with something else late last year- but then earlier this month, the dealer called her- it was in.  She remembered our interest and we looked. This week, after she decided not to try a trade-in of an almost brand-new VW, we looked more seriously.  And last night, we sealed the deal.

That's not the actual car, either, but it's close.  It has two separate engines- gas with a 10-gallon tank and a usual 600-mile range when you're using the battery for some of the drive, and a battery that can go close to 50 miles entirely on its own.  What you don't see there is important: the plug is on the driver's side, unlike both of Eleanor's electric Smarts, which required you to wrap the charging coil around the entire rear of the car.  Also not there to be seen: the charging cord itself, which looks to be better designed.

It's got a radio/climate menu that's more complex than a Windows desktop, a gagillion electronic gadgets we'll never use, but probably the most important thing, after two years of just two-seater cars? A back seat and a real trunk.  Which means we can travel, in relative comfort and with a dog, to see the kids:)

There are about 6500 total in rebates on the thing from the IRS (off 2019 taxes when filed) and NYS (a direct payment to the dealer), so that brings it to pretty close to the cost of my gas Smart.  The battery is guaranteed for life, and we own it (Smart makes you lease the battery separately either way); the car itself has a 10/100,000 warranty on the big stuff. Friends with Hyundais have spoken highly of their reliability and service.  The payment will be more than the combined lease-battery cost on Ziggy, but we've done some soul-searching and have found some things to cut that will really not be sacrifices- and this time, an artificially low payment will not just have to be rejiggered in three years as we did three years ago.

I knew we were done for when I named her.  We had a long series in alphabetical order, from Bessie in 1984 to Kermit in 2013.  Our two current cars have broken that: Ziggy replaced Iggy as Eleanor's electric, and mine looks like Iron Man's suit, so I went with JARVIS. This one is called a Hyundai Ioniq. So I went with "Alanis." Yes, Morrisette.

SpoilerCollapse )

Financing was quickly approved. We do the paperwork Saturday, then pick her up Monday morning, leaving Ziggy to be sent back to Mercedes for last rites.  (More about THAT in a moment.) Hyundai is giving us the final couple of payments on his lease to send in along with any damage they claim.  It's been a fun six-year run, but when Mercedes USA decided to abandon its commitment to these cars, they made it virtually impossible for us to remain loyal to the brand.


In the middle of a dining-table discussion of the details with the dealer last night, our electric theme took another unfortunate jolt.  Shortly before we were ready to hang up, Pepper heard something- probably a squirrel cracking a loose branch somewhere in Montana- and jumped apopletically toward the door out of the dining room. In the process, she tripped over the power cord connected to Eleanor's laptop and wrestled it to the ground.  The computer is fine, but the power supply got gorked.  This particular Lenovo has a USB-looking connection on the laptop end, and it's now the second to have literally gotten bent out of shape.  The replacement one was not salvageable, but I found the original which does work, if a little wonkily, and I ordered another one from Amazon which should be here tomorrow.  While I wait for those (and the final Harry Potter film so we can finish our binge), I can also run over to Lensgrinders and have them reshape my glasses, which fell off my desk today not once but twice, the second time really getting run over:P


Which gets us back to the final aspect of this- the piece de , yes, resistance from our former car dealer. (There's a pun thread on Facebook: "Ohm my." "Resistance is futile- we will assimilate you in any capacitor we choose." "If the car breaks down, take the Universal Serial Bus." "Watt?!?" "I don't know." "Third valence level!")

Eleanor was among the first local adopters of the all-electric Smart for Two back in 2013.  The salesperson really bonded with her over it- Kelli loved her take-home electric, and seemed thrilled that Eleanor chose immediately to personalize Iggy with a giant yellow mustache on his not so giant hood.  Three years later, when Iggy Became Ziggy, Eleanor simply switched out the one hood for the other.  This time, though, she knew she'd have to do something about the decoration before we turned him in, so even before the sale this week, she checked to see if she could order a replacement hood.  Answer: nein. At least not in the same color as her previous two cars.  We really sense that they just don't care about us as customers because they know we're certainly not jonesing for the S-series panzers they make most of their marks off.  So, meh- she asked about just getting a neutral-colored one and spray-painting it herself, and/or painting over the 'stache.

Once the new car deal got done, though, it took on some urgency, since the car has to be back in Mercedes's possession before they'll even talk about "da damages."  So this morning, she called again- and at first got a massive runaround. First, they said it would have to be done at their designated collision shop, and done before they could quote us on the final "owe" on the car.  The dude at said shop was a complete asshat, who gave the completely opposite story- he couldn't quote or do anything until the dealer had authorized it, which they wouldn't until they had it back. Which gave him every incentive to stick us with an above-retail bill for the thing. Finally, Eleanor talked again with Kelli- who went over the the Mercedes side of things during her original lease and is now a fairly-high mucky-muck in the whole dealership. She sympathized with the way Mercedes is treating its (let's be real here) former customers, and gave some assurances that, as long as we pay for a new hood, we won't get stuck with anything massive for repainting it.  They really have little to complain about: they're getting the car back with barely half of its mileage allowance spoken for, no accidents other than the teeniest of bumper-bumps a couple of years ago, and maintenance done on it religiously.  This is also the dealer who couldn't find snow tires in Buffalo for my car in November ahead of the first real snows- and the one who, when the plug on Eleanor's charging coil started getting loose, offered us no choice other than to spend $1200 on a entire new charger. (We fixed it for way less material and cost than that, just as Eleanor told them flat out that the "labor" on replacing the hood would, for her, be under ten minutes with a single screwdriver. Even they finally laughed at that.)


While Eleanor was dealing with most of all that today, I was mostly in Rochester. Unlike the last OMGStorm which wasn't, the driving this morning was almost as bad, and yet not a peep about it from the fearmongers.  One more workday, some cleaning out of our garage on Saturday (this car's gonna need more, ummm, SPACE!) and then Alanis comes home. We'll each have one key fob in our pocket, and the other one hopefully not setting the panic button off again! (Mine did that at Wegmans tonight. So embarrassing. Probably an electrical problem, but I'd better not go on about it. I know your time is short.) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1542176.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Sunday morning, 5-something a.m.

Not a good night for sleeping. I've been inside since about 1 p.m. yesterday (Eleanor didn't leave the house all day), as the snow slowly but steadily piled up. Our most reliable snow gauge is how much lands atop the lamppost on the driveway; this was the Not Much as of around 4 yesterday afternoon:

It's probably twice that now, but nothing's been plowed, and the bigger problem is the cold. As bitter as predicted a week ago, and at single-digit-F temps, NaCl tends to NoGo.

So it seemed likely, and was widely reported, that virtually all air travel would be canceled- as was every departing flight last night shown on the airport status site. When I got up round midnight to check, they'd only posted the earliest of Not Departures, and the first Delta flight of the day showed as canceled. Wasn't looking like I'd even have a chance to get out....

until I did.

At 3 a.m., there was Flight 5443, one of only four the whole morning showing as still scheduled to depart. All but one of them, Deltas. Checking again at 4 (you think I can sleep with this?) and finally at 5 when I'd need to be up anyway? Still on- as it was as of a few minutes ago-

I then made the executive decision: No.

Even if I got there on time and the plane got out, I'd still have bad weather in NYC and no guarantee of a return flight. So I'm eating the flight cost (unless they wind up last-minute canceling anyway), but will save on parking, ground transportation and the inevitable Udda Thingza. The friend who took Eleanor's ticket is speaking for the other one as well. I hope they enjoy it. Someday, I will....


ETA. A bit more detail, now I've gotten some much-needed sleep, done the necessary shoveling, and taken Pepper out for a romp with her BFF:

The hype for this OMGSNOWPOACLYPSE! began sometime Monday.  By Friday, the literal warning signs were up, the cancellations of weekend events began pouring in, and the Guv made his obligatory I'm In Control Here appearance at a Thruway garage in Cheektowaga, promising to keep semis off the 90 for the safety of us all.

By mid-Saturday, it was beginning to look like a bunch of piffle. Yes, there was snow. We get that.  On the Jimmy Griffin Scale, it barely merited an OV Split.  But the weather reporters continued to preach: Trust us, it's gonna get worse.  And yeah, it did- to maybe a Genny Cream Ale or two.  This was our measuring stick at 9:30 this morning after it was all done:

MAYBE half a foot.  But it worked sufficiently to ground every flight here as of late Saturday afternoon and gave every expectation that it would continue to call everything off this morning.

When crutches came into our life two weeks ago, I made alternate plans for Eleanor's ticket- a friend I know through the baseball blogger world, who'd been on my backup list the LAST time I bailed on this show, spoke for the one. Being unsure, I told her that if she could cover my cost for the second as well, she could have both if I didn't make it, or just the one if I did. Deal was done.  So I headed to an early sleep with the probability I'd be turning the 5 a.m. alarm off whenever they pulled the plug.

At midnightish (pee break), the first few departures got posted on the flight status page, and all of them, including Delta's first out of the day to NY, were cancelled. Then came 3: a much longer list, all but four showing cancellations. One Jet Blue to JFK, the other three Deltas, including mine.  Try getting back to sleep with those needles and pins. I knew I'd have to make a call no later than 5, because going would mean, well, GOING: gathering my stuff, getting out of the driveway and to the airport by 6:15 at the latest for the 7 departure, and then waiting out the whethers of the weather.

I looked at two adorable animals sleeping either side of me, and the only speakable words were fuck it.  I texted my backer-upper and committed to the bail; it then only remained to see if any of those four flights would make it out despite the week of OMGs.

Mine certainly did (although the website does mention a delay, so I might still get some kind  of accommodation). So did the earlier ones. Far as the news goes, none of them crashed or got diverted to Dubuque.  Moments after I made the call, our driveway was plowed. By 9ish, when I was up after finally getting some sleep, I took the picture above of the piffly accumulation, brought in our Sunday paper which was delivered right on time, and saw the usual amount of cars going by for that time of a weekend morning.

By all looks this was a moderately bad but majorly overhyped winter storm. But there was still always the question of whether they'd completely miss something preventing me from getting from airport to theatre, or back to it and home late tonight.  I did not want to spend the whole afternoon exhausted from the getting and worried about the returning.  It's an amazing show and I am determined to not only see it but enjoy it.

No pity party here. That show's not leaving Broadway any time soon , and Toronto's Broadway-bringer will have it in town there next year.  I'm on the preferred list for ticket batch releases, and this time will shoot for something in the summer, although with my luck there is still the risk of locusts, boils or frogs.  (If we can confine them to Yankee Stadium, I'm perfectly fine with that;)

Speaking of curses, we still have two Harry Potter movies cued. My friends  are gonna have a great time. And the Patriots might lose, so then I'll leave Marcia Brady to do all the complaining;)

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seems almost inevitable now.

The Scare became a Watch became a Warning, with digital road signs already up saying GO HOME SATURDAY MORNING TO SUNDAY NIGHT. One local tv weather guy is backing off Epic Proportion threats, but even he says it's gonna be at least a small-b "big one," probably enough to make things impassible around here exactly when I'd need it to not be.  My outbound flight remains "on time," although Delta is full of warnings about checking first and all that; from some airline experiences, they may pull the plug on it long before the go-or-no-go call absolutely has to be made. Their warning zone is not just up here but down to JFK, LGA and all airpoints in between.

And if it's no-go, I am, also. The past just-over-48 hours were exhausting, and even though today only had two brief appointments, I could really use three whole days of downtime to catch up instead of exploring the best underground tunnels to walk from Queens to Midtown.  I am  not going to try leaving ahead of it and getting stuck somewhere else. Sunday morning, the alarm goes at 5 if the flight hasn't been canceled before then; if it's on and I can get to it, I'll give it My Shot. Otherwise, it's going to be two fun days of processing refund and insurance claims.

I've also gotten ridiculously busy.  About three years ago, a coworker invited me to join a prepaid legal plan. She does real estate closings referred by it (I did, too, until swearing off the accursed things), but they also provide a steady stream of consumer bankruptcy cases, small litigation matters, and my only foray into the land of criminals, traffic ticket referrals.  I do these mainly as a public service; I tell them upfront that I will not get them any better of a deal than they could get themselves, but most courts allow attorneys to appear for the driver, take us first even if the client has to be there, and give our clients more time to pay than is offered to the Great Unwashed.  For the first two years, I ran this through my Rochester office, but they had Mission Statement Issues, so I upped my personal malpractice coverage at the beginning of August and now handle them through my own accounting system (I can still see referred clients from that area at their offices).  Just since December 1, close to a dozen new clients have been referred through this program, while others from earlier have worked their way through. The clients are mostly responsive and appreciative, even they're getting my services for free-to-them; and the flat fees for most of the services are comparable to what I'd charge, except on mornings like yesterday when the 9 a.m. traffic appearance kept me there close to 10 because the judge didn't bother to take the bench until 9:50 with a room full of criminals waiting for her since well before 8:30.

It also hasn't helped that my back has decided to go into spasms the past 24 hours- probably from all the dashing about in stupid cold weather in constricting suits.  Even if there is a plane to fly on at 7 Sunday morning, I'm not sure I'm gonna wanna.

But there have been moments of levity- like seeing this on my way to checking a court case this morning:

Dyslexics of the world, untie! (At least one crewmember suggested that this is correct, but I have my doubts.) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1541847.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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- For two thrill-packed days of work. Following routine court this morning, I am now beginning a stretch of meeting with/appearing for seven different clients in four different places 70 miles apart in just over 24 hours. That follows four different client meetings in the past two days, and following these will be a court appearance and at least one client appointment Friday.  Oh, and we're going out tonight.


- For the Sturm und Drang of the Century to get here, just in time for me to try to get out of here. As soon as I booked a plane ticket to NYC on Monday for the Hamilton matinee this coming Sunday, the weather idiots immediately started mongering about OHNOESTHISCOULDBETHEBIGONE!- all the while waffling about whether it was likely to happen or not.  Early yesterday, they upped the headline to OMGWTFSNO!!!!!, still disclaiming any certainty- and today? The messy mix continues: scary tweets like this-

-with, of course, this:

Forecasters at the National Weather Service are also fine-tuning some details as to how much it will affect the region as the weekend draws closer.

"While the models are still in fairly strong agreement, they have both shifted their track for the cyclone farther south by some 50 to 75 miles," the weather service said. "This may not sound like much, but it would place the area of heaviest synoptic snow south of our region."

It cautioned, however: "That being said, there are still several days before the system will impact the region and the forecast track could shift back to the north, so we need to be very vigilant as we progress through the end of the work week. It would be foolish to let your guard down at this point."

So, in other words, throw a dart.  In my case, a very expensive dart; I've got plane and theater tickets riding on this. The latter are covered by insurance, which does cover me for not showing up for the show IF there's an advisory or state of emergency declared.  The plane ticket is not insured- although I imagine they'll refund it if the damn thing can't get off the ground.  One option would be to bail on the airline and just drive out of here before it hits on Saturday- risking getting stuck in it anyway and/or not being able to get home.

All of a sudden, planning this for January doesn't seem like such a great idea- although the first set we ordered last year, which were in mid-March (I sold them to a friend), also involved a fearmongering winter storm.


- For the government to reopen.  It hasn't affected me at work or us at home to any significant extent, although I've heard the judiciary runs out of money sometime this month.  I miss grownups.

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Next weekend's Hamiltonning has taken shape, more or less.  The plane ticket price actually went down 20 bucks by the time I booked it today, but I will be up at Ass-Crack a week from today for a 7 a.m. flight from Buffalo to LaGuardia.  I picked the early one so that if it gets snowed or colded out, I'll still have time to bail on the plane and drive (I can do door-to-door in seven hours if needed, and I'll have eight).   The matinee is at 3, and I'll find someone or ones for a meetup before heading to JFK for a 10 p.m.-ish return flight. (There's a school of thought saying the Last Flight Out gives you the best chance of picking up a voucher for a free future flight if you volunteer to be bumped.)

The downside of this is I will not get to spend any time at my sister's this time round- but hopefully once Eleanor's stress fracture has healed and the miniscus-fixus is decided, I can make more time for that.  We're not the only hurting turkeys in the vicinity: my favorite trainer where I work out was on the mend for a few weeks after shoulder surgery. She came back today, but a bit earlier than she probably should have (she couldn't demo the exercises with her right arm because her range of motion on that side is about an inch above shoulder height), but she wound up subbing for someone with an even bigger problem.  Part of the trainer's job is to collect "treadmill cards" that are handed out, first-come-first-serve, to the roughly half the class that begins on those machines. The lucky 14 lay them at the bottom of the tread rail. One of the class members didn't see or hear the trainer coming behind them to collect the card, and next thing she knew, she took a foot to the head and is in concussion protocol.  I'm sure she's sad and scared about it, but knowing the people in this place, I'm sure the Accidental Footist is totally mortified about it.

Problems aren't the only things that are getting bigger, though,....


Eleanor's all-electric Smart car goes off lease in a few months, and the "early reminder" contacts about that have begun. Last time, it was a smooth transition from an Iggy (class of '13) to an almost identical Ziggy (class of '16), but there are no class of '19 Smarts of any kind matriculating around here.  Mercedes no longer makes the gas-only kind that I drive (also a '16, but I bought it rather than leased it), and their local dealer no longer sells either version (the closest US dealer is in Albany, we're told). And, frankly, their servicing of both of our Smarts has been Stupid the last few times I've gone in there.  So we've been checking on other models- Teslas are probably beyond us, but VWs and Volts and Bolts and who knows what else....

Would you believe, Hyundai?

Our friend Ann had checked out their options when her aging Honda was coming up for inspection this past fall. Hyundai makes three versions of their Ioniq model: mainly-gas-hybrid, all-electric, but also a plug-in hybrid version.  Hel-lo!

That's lighter (we drove a grayish one) and older (2018) than the one Ann asked about - and the 2019 plug-in Ioniq finally came into the dealership this week. Unfortunately, that was a month or so after her prior Honda got totaled and she wound up buying a VW Jetta.  So for fun, she went over to test drive it anyway, and I came with, in case she didn't (and probably won't) wind up buying it.  I  mostly kept my mouth shut, and was impressed that the salesman talked the whole time to her and not to her Not Husband. He didn't even ask for my name, even though we told him we might be interested in the car.

In terms of room, ride, general design, it reminded me a LOT of the Honda hybrid I drove for a couple of years after Emily and Cameron's Chevy was totaled and I gave them our 2005 Ford Fuckus.  Once that car reached the end of its life, Kermit the Hybrid went to them and I acquired the gas Smart I still drive.  But Kermit had things we occasionally miss: a back seat, for one. Room for more than one breathing life form. Ability to visit the kids with the dog and luggage and room to breathe.  And, as a plug-in, the Ioniq qualifies for various federal and state rebates that would make Cheeto pay for most of the above-market cost.  Hyundai warranties the battery for life (Smart, instead, makes you rent it) and has a 100,000 mile power train warranty (double what is about to run out on JARVIS). It's got heated seats, yo! (Also, a switch to turn them on and off.)

So she gets first dibs,  but then we'll see what we can work out. 


Tonight, we're due to get halfway through our re-binge of the Harry Potter saga.  The fourth of the eighth films is cued up. Three remain that we own; the final, Deathly Hallows II: Electric Voldermoo, I'll have to pick up sometime this week. It's been amazing watching how the main three grew up in our sight- and this fourth one is the one where Daniel Radcliffe really becomes his future self in both actor and character.

I wonder if we'll hear him fart. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1541150.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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In local media, that refers to a series of remember-whens written and photographically illustrated by a Facebook friend of mine named Steve Cichon.  His piece this week was of a fairly recent teardown- of the ambulance-chasing law firm whose billboards and slogans have been a staple of local advertising for ages, even as the boys are now breaking up the band.  Another friend-of-friends runs a similar beat in the Rochester paper, usually on weekends, although I remembered one of his most recent Whatever Happened To... pieces more from the now-716 than the not-yet-585.

On this most recent Tuesday, though, "torn down" took on a scarier meaning closer to home. 

We knew Eleanor had a torn meniscus in her left knee. That was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, but she had an MRI last weekend to ascertain the extent of the tear.  Of course the results were not conveyed, until she got home from work Monday and found a voicemail from the ortho saying, You need to call us ASAP.

Phone tag ensued, and was unresolved when I left for work on Tuesday morning. I was one county away when this message came through on my phone:

So, yeah, that happened.  I finished one of my fastest court appearances ever, bopped home and found the items in question for delivery closer to 4. That's when I got the confirmation: Eleanor's left knee also has a stress fracture, which needs to heal on its own before the meniscus can be tackled, so limiting the stress on the stress fracture is a good thing, duh.

It's now three nights later. That day, and the next one, she worked a relatively short afternoon. Yesterday, she took a day off to help with the healing part.  Today, she was back to her regular 7.5 hour shift and did okay with it.  I've done what I can to help with hauling, anticipating and even some cooking.  We've also made some, but not all, adjustments in the entertainment department to accommodate these new realities.

Wednesday night, we'd planned on seeing friends in a one-night-only play inspired by the old Twilight Zone television series; even though it was her earlier night, the snow had finally returned to our vicinity and we both wound up begging out of it.  Last night ended a 13-hour day for me spent mostly in Rochester, and I kept an engagement there to see a performer friend of ours who is "in residency" at a cinema café that's been beloved to us since courting days.

It's been ages since I'd had one of their totally decadent brownies- and a lovable latte with it:

And on the musical tap, the Observers- one of about 28 bands our friend Tyler is in. Here he is on banjo, with his fellow Observer on a washboard that includes ringy-bangy-lemony-twangy geegaws on the bottom as well as a bicycle horn and slide whistle on the sides:

Our weeks ended today at around 3 (for me, thanks to a postponed deposition) and 7:30 (for her) and we continued a binge of the seven Harry Potter movies before turning in. Our next entertainment conundrum comes up next weekend: I'd scored a pair of Hamilton tickets on Broadway for the matinee on January 20th (selected as the halfway point of the Great National Nightmare), but clearly with this condition, Eleanor is not getting into a plane, train or automobile to get there. So I've found a taker for the second seat, and noodled around how to do it with the least expense and inconvenience. One option is a one-day quick turnaround by air; I have reservable flights that morning into JFK and at around 10:30 that night out; but checking the early weather report for next weekend gives me chills:

Those are Farenheit numbers, folks, unseen in these parts since a couple of days last year.  I think I'll wait a day or two before committing to the mode of transport, given the risk that ain't no planes getting off the ground in that- with or without crutches. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1541106.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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I had the phrase "rabbit hole" come into my head recently- it's what I've come to call the spot in my consciousness when I'm trying to get (usually back) to sleep. It's when whatever I'm thinking about- a case, a person, an event- suddenly stops making sense, and I realize I'm about to cross over into un/subconsciousness. Being self-aware of this only makes it harder to follow through with getting back to sleep, but whatevs.

"Rabbit hole," ever since Lewis Carroll, has had a specific plot meaning: that place you go down where you don't know what to expect or whether you'll even get back. It's been used in thousands of works, but the one I remember it being used most recently, and powerfully, is in the J.J. Abrams adaptation of Stephen King's 11.22.63. I started watching it again on Hulu tonight, and I also read the King original material after finishing it the first time. There are differences between the two, beginning right with the title- the book used slashes, not dots, between the numbers- and the series also compresses the time period covered by the....

plot device.... yes, spoilers from here on out....Collapse ) This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1540706.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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I meant to put something about this on my year-in-review list, but it got away from me.  I was reminded because I spent part of last night at a 50th birthday party for a friend, and with other friends, who seem inclined to this sort of thing.

In 2018, I returned to an on-and-off life passion for trivia.  It's ranged from board games as a kid (one of which I saw at the party last night), to Trivial Pursuit when that became a Thing (I first discovered it before it went viral in the US through hearing some of its questions on a Toronto radio station, as the game originated Oop North Eh), through following Jeopardy! from the start of its mid-80s revival, to making a very important stop on AOL from the late 90s to the early oughts, playing and eventually hosting nightly chatroom games from which I still retain many friends. 

I've never made a dime off any of this (unless you count a class-action settlement where "volunteer" hosts sued AOL claiming they should have been paid- and we were, eventually, something resembling prison license plate wages), but have dipped into the game show well a few times.  After Meredith Vieira became the host of the syndicated WWTBAM, I tried out at a contestant caravan gig at the Boulevard Mall. I passed the written test!, yay!, but then they brought us over for brief video interviews, and clearly the Final Answer on this face was NO.  I did retain the Lovely Parting Gift they gave us deemed not pretty enough to proceed: this odd talisman from it (must've been around 2002).

As the Internet got bigger and easier, eventually these contestant roundups went away in favor of online testing. I've done the Jeopardy! test any number of times, the results varying among (a) remembered, sucked; (b) remembered 10 minutes into the final night of the test, sucked; and (c) didn't even remember.  (Any time I do the permanently-posted practice test in the identical format, though? I nail that sucka.) 

But a friend from LJ days did get on, and her only(? first? she ain't sayin') appearance is tomorrow night!


As for what I have been doing:

"Pub quizzes" have been a UK staple since the 70s; back in AOL days, some Brit-based chatrooms would occasionally draw one of our local "triviots" in for something closer in format to their setup, but it never really appealed to me without the actual pints being present.  Geeks Who Drink has (have?) solved that problem.  They run quizzes, usually themed, in fairly cool US drinking establishments, with teams competing for fairly low-rent prizes.  I've now done two with the family of last night's birthday girl- one here at our local Dinosaur Barbecue, the most recent at a client's down-under watering hole in Rochester's South Wedge.  We almost won the first, Marvel-themed, and less well but still respectably with one based on Stranger Things.

Then, apart from that, I got invited into the Learned League.  My post from soon after I began summarizes its quirky rules and scoring.  Its 25 matches ended right before Christmas, and I wound up 7th out of our group of 30 n00bs, which will put me in the third-toughest bracket for the next round.   (Might've done a little better if I hadn't forgotten to play two of the matches; this is called forfeiting, and it is not only bad sport, you lose points from previous wins for forgetting. Three forfeits in a season and you may well be booted out.)  I now get to move into a  non-rookie "rundle." I also get to pay for the privilege; 30 bucks a year is the minimum for non-virgins.  No decision need be made until right before the next round in mid-February, but I probably will give it another go.  I also invited last night's birthday girl to join the fun; she's just geeky enough to fit right in (hell, we spent part of last night checking out the Notorious RBG socks on some of the partygoers;).


Once in awhile, I'll listen to NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (its public radio competition, Whadya Know, sadly departed a few years back), or try a trivia question on the longtime Rochester weeknight sports radio show.  As for Jeopardy!, I can only look back and say one thing:

Le tits now! This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1540515.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Our little girl turns 27 today.  Some perspective:  I was 27 when I was admitted to the Bar, and met Eleanor.

Quite a ways for both of us from this:

We just texted today, but spoke a few days ago.  At 27, I was within two years of losing my father (no major loss there) and we were way beyond talking every day.  With this kid, though? Even without the daily talks, there are always the daily feels.  Still feeling the closeness, despite the greatest distance we've had from her and her now-family. Still feeling the pride in what she's accomplished and how she's done it with caring and kindness and whip-smarts and that goofy sense of humor we imbued in her.  Still feeling that no matter how old and creaky we get, we will still always "get" each others' music, and film, and art, in a way that I never did with my parents.

I know that Mom and I are in such different places than we were in 1992- in terms of faiths, outlooks and attitudes. I can only imagine how much you've grown in those years. But you still poop. Everybody poops. (I used a store gift card over the weekend to buy a new toilet seat. You'll find how how important this is as you get older.)

Zoey misses you. Pepper would have adored you. Michelle, well, at least she's sitting here quietly and not interrupting me as she usually does....

We hope the year brings you all you want, need and deserve- way more than we can give you, but we also know you don't expect that.  We will see you at some point- maybe with an insane dog in tow:)


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Another I got to hear done live. A few years ago, Lake Street Dive broke through with a Youtube cover of "I Want You Back" and an album called Bad Self Portaits; this one's from Free Yourself Up, and Rachael blew the roof off the Eastman Dump with a live rendition of "Good Kisser" (if not this actual one):

I can't find the Tyler Westcott song I know I heard live back in February- "Pot Farmer's Daughter"- but I'm pretty sure he also played this one; here's a 2015 recording of it with Folkfaces:

On the way to see Tyler in East Aurora from Rochester, I stopped in Geneseo and worshiped at the musical altar of Buzzo. His music and record shop is legendary in these parts. I picked up a CD of songs from a local band, of which this one likely carries the most local, um, color:

Meanwhile, in Canada eh?: Great Big Sea is now still great and big but unseen; Sean and Bob have their own projects, but Alan Doyle probably carries the Carbonear torch most closely, and this was the prerelease off his solo album from 2018:

Christopher Brown opened for Lucy when I saw her back in October; this song predates the year, but 2018 was the year I discovered it, and him:

This next one, I can't find a Youtube or other embeddable for. Sue me. It came as a moment of joy, when I discovered this year that Stephanie Brooks Goddard had done a song about her dog Jazz. I know Jazz. Jazz is a friend of mine. Until Jazz's legs got too hinky, she joined Ursula and Ebony almost every Sunday at the dog park. So when I found out that she'd done a CD of songs including a tribute to her puppy, I was thrilled. It was even more thrilling to realize that this Stephanie was THE Stephanie who did music classes with Emily at the JCC in Amherst for some of her formative years here. I may upload the song to a Youtube myself; then you'll see it here.

Another World Cafe find: we've loved Lucinda for ages, but who knew she'd paired with jazz legend Charles Lloyd and his band for a new album? We did, and now you do. This isn't on Vanished Gardens, but who cares?

That was them at Not The Rochester International Jazz Festival. This is one I discovered at said Festival: Gwyneth Herbert. The "Sea Theme" from Sea Cabinet:

Janelle Monáe acts. She also sings. Damn well. I've seen Dirty Computer on any number of best-of lists for 2018, and it's no surprise that she also makes mine for "I Got the Juice."

And I end with the find that just came over the World Cafe threshold last week. Amos Lee, doing this song he wrote for a young disease survivor. It's way more upbeat than anything else on the 2018 album My New Moon, but he insisted on it being included. Because how could you not?


Hope you agree, or enjoy if you don't know, and for those of you reading this who made some of these songs special for me in 2018, much love. Studios open tomorrow morning; pens and iPads are available tonight. Let's make 2019 even better{{{{}}}} This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1540089.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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(The first eight, anyway. I'm gonna split this baby more or less in half. I'm also getting rid of the embedded videos, because for some reason they're cutting off not only themselves but the surrounding text. Click the links and you'll see them.)

A longtime friend posted his Spotify list of favorite songs from the past year. I was struck by how much overlap there was in the selections with songs (or at least artists) I've gotten to know through public radio- either our local (well, Rochester) programs or NPR's World Cafe. Two of Andy's tracks came to me by way of Scott or Michael or David or Talia spinning them.  So I'll steal those two for my own list of 18 from the year (embedding  linking to them here, because I don't do Spotify, and neither do at least one or two of these artists):

Elvis Costello's "Under Lime," from his new band's latest, Look Now. (We'll return to this collection later in this countdown.)

Elvis Costello-Under Lime

And the Jayhawks' '"Backwards Women," from Back Roads and Abandoned Motels :

Jayhawks- Backwards Women

Now, mines all mines.

Just arrived in popular compact disk format was Jen Chapin's latest crowdfunded effort Desert or Sea, for which I'm proud to have been in the crowd.  The title track is one I found on a Youtube that goes back to 2012, and "Desert or Sea" I've set the link to kick in where this song starts:

Jen Chapin- Desert or Sea

Back to Declan, Elvis, whoever: When Talia had him on a while back, they talked about his "fourth song" theory: that track four on an album is usually where the artist has gotten the preliminaries out of the way and is ready to get down to the serious business.  Fourth song on Look Now is this one, "Stripping Paper," a moving song from a woman's point of view about discovering infidelity and all the wall-marked memories it undoes:

Elvis Costello- Stripping Paper

Next, one of several here I was blessed to hear perform live by the original artist. Well, one of them. We also supported Lucy Kaplansky's latest self-produced effort, Everyday Street, and the first song on the record recounts her friendship with Shawn Colvin, who also came in to do background vocals on "Old Friends" (but not this live version, captured a few weeks after I heard her perform it):

Lucy Kaplansky- Old Friends

Lucy knows the next song, too- her cover of it goes way back with us. Elvis, likewise, from having written it. But Nick Lowe, who made the biggest hit out of it back in the day, returned to World Cafe a few months ago to perform an updated version of it with his newest backers, Los Straitjackets:

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets- What's So Funny....

One of the few here I discovered on commercial radio, Alt Buffalo 107.7: this is the version of "Hunger" that Florence and the Machine did on Fallon earlier in 2018. This is one that has to be watched, not just listened to:

Florence and the Machine- Hunger

Another I got to hear live: Chris Barron, the coolest (heh) song on his solo album from this past year, Angels and One-Armed Jugglers, titled "In a Cold Kind of Way."

Chris Barron- In A Cold Kind of Way

Oops. I think I'm only making it to eight this half. Just made a date for the dog park. Mores laters. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1539743.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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A dreary day outside to end the year. Worked a few hours either side of wrangling the cats for their annual checkups and shot deliveries (they're remarkably fine and healthy).  Eleanor goes another hour at work, then a pizza arrives for the Eve-ning festivities, minimalist as they will be.  Yesterday, I got to watch the Bills' longest-tenured player go out in style, the team Squishing The Fish, their biggest rival, by a not-even-close score and having their quarterback throw a pass to him (a defensive player "reported as eligible" for the play), which he caught and almost ran for a first down:)  We then prepared for tomorrow's Thirteen Holiday Episode by re-watching Twelve's finale from the previous year; we love Jodie's take on the Doctor role, but Capaldi had something special going there, and his final soliloquy is one for the ages, even counting all of theirs.

As for the rest of the previous 363 days: I can only hit a few high and notable points. 

The grind. Putting final touches on time entries today, I discovered I'd signed up almost the exact number of hours in 2018 that I did the year before, which itself was my busiest year ever.  I've transitioned some types of work and some billing arrangements on some, but most days I'm still okay, if not always happy, going into work. I deal with wonderful coworkers and am learning to say no to clients who I feel are going to make me crazy.  Eleanor is a year closer to retirement and may even start drawing Social Security this year, since her Wegmans income is under the threshold where you lose benefits for working.

The bods. Despite the getting older and creakier part, we managed to get through 2018 (hopefully not jinxing its final seven hours) with no surgeries, broken parts or major events. Eleanor found a new orthopaedics practice and massage therapist she's happy with, and our primary remains kind and down-to-earth. She continued losing a lot of weight, while I've hovered around the same number for most of the year that's still improved over where my hovering was for most of 2017.  I've also continued a pretty intense workout program, taking a workshop at the end of the year which has already taught me some cool things that make the classes even more productive.

The cord. Done cut it; well, the cable-box part of it, since Internet still comes through the cord part, and we kept a small retinue of local and specialty stations that still resulted in us paying just over half of what we had been for 300 channels with nothing on.  No local sports stations, but see below about how great a loss THAT was.  With some of the savings, we upgraded our late-90s sight and sound into something resembling Home Theater- a bigger HD smart screen, a Blu-ray player that also accepts DVDs and even music CDs, and a soundbar that (for Eleanor at least) majorly magnifies the quality of the audio of both.

The sport. Mostly sucked in terms of results, but had plenty of fun moments. Not counting the Bills' last-January playoff appearance that was really part of the 2017 season, nobody here at any level won much of anything. Sabres, Mets and both AAA teams were shut out of playoff appearances, and the Amerks did make the AHL post-season but blinked out in the first round.  But I got to my first-ever experience of A-ball in Batavia, my first-ever last-game for the Mets in Queens, saw them in Toronto with 700 crazed fellow fans, and have much hope for their future prospects as well as those of all the others I follow.

The fam. Probably the biggest change was the one which, also, we consider a leftover from 2017: the kids are all gone, but the kids are all right. Emily joined Cameron in Virginia at the end of January after spending almost that entire month finishing up her Rochester job and getting their apartment ready for early moveout. We never made it to see them, and they haven't been back, but we speak and even Skype to keep the home fires sufficiently warm.  Beyond that, while we attended the occasional funeral and that one year-end wedding, none of them involved anyone we're related to.

The home. Solar began to pay its dividends, as for most months our electric bill went down from an average close-to-100 amount to the minimum under-20 needed to be on the grid. (It went up last month and will again for the winter bills, but on the whole it makes economic as well as environmental sense.)  Our big projects were redoing the outdoor patio- reconfiguring wasted garden space into a bricked pathish thing, and expanding and freshening the slate slabs under the (new) patio table.  After that, Eleanor moved inside, and has gotten close to half this floor repainted, along the way decluttering areas that we're just not capable or desirous of keeping up housekeeping on for the sake of a few tscochkes.

The nots.
Not much travel beyond two area codes for both of us, and not even any for me except work-related and the handful of baseball pilgrimages.  No theater beyond the community kind.  And other than work stuff and this blog, no real writing of any significance. Still, I'm here: between this first full year on this non-homophobic site and its predecessor back in the USSR, I'm up to almost 6,000 entries since 2004. It's not a daily thing, but it's still an outlet for any who still read or care- including, just as importantly, me.

I'm sure I'm forgetting something of great significance, but if you care to find it and inform me, start here and keep hitting the → button until you see it. Comment and I'll revise. Until then, 2018 can kiss my grits before we next awaken, and we'll see all'yall on the other side:)

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(Title courtesy of Joe Jackson. The musical one....)

After 30 years together, adding to that age and physical limitations,  slightly-off-kilter sets of working hours and our mutual abandonment of Sunday morning church activities together? We weren't getting out much. This year largely changed that.  Weekends and even weeknights found one or (more often) both of us out and about more often than in years. 

We got to a number of art openings/events, from close to home to as far flung as Clifton Springs, New York. We signed up for a series of readings by thoughtful and delightful writers, whose books we've come to know through it.  We became regulars at a biweekly poetry reading series on Elmwood, where we've met new friends and become closer friends to each other.  A friend has rekindled her love of community theater, and we saw two well-done productions she was featured in at a fab old restored downtown venue in Lockport.

Hell, we even ziplined.

But it's the musical moments that largely defined this year for me.  Our outings for this have slowed in recent weeks, between fewer winter events and the holidays and work picking up all the way into last week, but from February to October, I or we experienced a year's worth of artists ranging from jazz to folk to classic rock. 

Month by month:

January: Nobody. See above about holidays and fewer winter events.

February: Just me. Down in East Aurora with two friends: one a co-worker joining me at a craft brewery for the show by the other, an amazingly versatile member of numerous bands named Tyler Westcott.  He'd opened a year or two before for the artist we saw this March in Williamsville- Antje Duvekot- and it was just announced that he, and various of his projects, will be spending numerous January 2019 nights in residence at the Little Theatre's cafe venue in Rochester.

March. Two events. First, with Eleanor again seeing the aforementioned Antje, who sang songs from her previous albums and many covers she worked onto a still-waiting release of songs she literally recorded in her closet while fearing she was going to lose her voice permanently (spoiler alert: she didn't). Then me, again seeing jazz pianist-vocalist Deanna Witkowski and her two trio members in the faraway corner of Houghton, New York- only to meet her and her bass player the next day when they got stuck in Buffalo and I got to take them out for wings.

April: None to speak of, although I did attend a trivia night at a famed local music venue with no music that day.

May: Again eased up. Did work my way into the Hamilton ticket machine to score two Broadway tickees for this coming January 20th- selected as being the halfway point of the Voldemort Administration.

June: Made up for the lapses. First was a fortunately won and amazingly intimate night with Chris Barron, the guitarist from the Spin Doctors. Eight of us shared an evening at Abeline, a beloved Rochester bar, that will never be duplicated unless I again somehow stumble upon something that sparsely attended and yet magical.  The other, planned months before with thousands more in attendance, was seeing Lake Street Dive at the Rochester Jazz Festival.  Their first appearance at this event, they played to a small crowd at that same Abeline; now they were headlining, and doing so beautifully.

July: Nuthin magical-musical- but we did make our first poetry reading appearance and saw our friend Kelly headlining in Singin in the Rain, so it wasn't a dull month.

August: Old and new. Old was me at Darien Lake for REO and, more significantly, Chicago. I'd never seen them live before, and despite compications and missing keys, it was a great night. New was both of us at Silo City, a newish waterfront venue in an ancient waterfront grain elevator, where we enjoyed an electronica performance by UVB76.

September: began my run of three straight Saturday Nights Out to see performers of the amazing persuasion. This night back in our local folk venue featured a duo we've loved for decades, Claudia Schmidt and Sally Rogers.

October: Solo for the next two. The first Saturday in October reunited me with friend Lucy Kaplansky en route to the Mets season finale, at an awesome Hudson Valley venue where one of its denizens opened. That was followed closer to home, a weekend later, by finally seeing 10,000 Maniacs for the first time in over 30 years of trying.

And that mostly wraps the musical gigs.  We got to more readings, and another musical up in Lockport, but none of that is anything to sneeze at.  Throw in any dozens of artists we discovered through friends, or Open Tunings or World Cafe, or just randomness, and our hearts and soundbar are full.

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