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Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
* We went to the cinema last night, taking in Guillermo Del Toro's Shape of Water. One of the best films we saw all year, with creativity, humor, minimal and manageable gore, and an awesome vintage soundtrack.  If Sally Hawkins doesn't get an Oscar out of the deal, she wuz robbed.

* Before the film, Emily stopped over (Cameron was busy with seeing both of his fams for the last time before leaving for VA tomorrow with most of their stuff already packed up), and we stored some stuff for them in our attic.  She's down to minimal furnishings and whatnots for her final month in  New York- hers and their cats', who will all head down to join Cameron at the beginning of February- and she expects to have her things down to what she can fit in her car by the time she packs up Palmyra for good.

* With the full days Saturday and today not even leaving the house, I got the chance to see how much So Much Winning we'll be doing under the new tax bill.  Short answer: not bloody much. A quick run of the same numbers through the wringers (taking out one-time variables like this year's big tax credits for the solar) show our preliminary total bill for 2018 going down by about 1200 bucks, so, big whoop on the monthly Benjamin!  It might've been more, but we are getting nicely screwed by a change in mortgage interest deduction: the new law, from 2018 to 2025, doubles the previous standard deduction but disallows interest deductions on new mortgages to a still-high level that doesn't affect us.  The screwing part is that the change outlaws any deductions on home equity mortgages, even ones already in place.  That's what we refinanced into last year, saving us all kinds of closing costs and monthly expenses for mortgage insurance- but now, none of it is deductible.  Thanks, Cheeto! And, since state itemized deductions track the federal ones, we'll be limited to the now-much-lower state standard deduction, too.

* Speaking of being screwed, the Bills got jobbed on an instant replay review just before halftime of yesterday's game, and they immediately lost momentum and eventually lost the game.  Every other team that needed to lose to help them, won- so next Sunday's regular reason finales for them and their competitors, all played at 4:25 in the afternoon, will decide whether they will finally break the longest post-season drought in major US sports.

* Just about all giving around here came in cards- we gave movie and game gift cards for the kids, and got cards for Barnes & Noble (thanks, Donna:) and coffee (thanks, Ann and just about my entire office).

* Both of my offices are officially closed tomorrow, as are courts and at least some offices.  I have two appointments here, rescheduled from last week, and the solar guys are due back, assuming they can get all the snow off the roof to finish things up.

* As for today, my only plans are to do some shoveling, maybe meet the couple who moved into Betty's house last week (and possibly their dog, who I've heard but Eleanor has briefly seen), and cue things up for the final Peter Capaldi Doctor Who episode at 9 tonight (unless otherwise "found" sooner). 

ETA Found. Looks awesome. One other good bit to share: Ebony's gone two full days without her Cone of Shame. We put it back on her after the antibiotics and anti-itchies ran out and she started picking away at one spot on her belly, but she showed restraint to and from the dog park yesterday so we left it off, and other than putting it on while at the film last night and again overnight, she's left her itchies alone.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good Monday:)


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We were more or less snowed in all day; not that much piled up, but it was heavy and wet and we really had noplace we needed to go, so we just stayed in. I watched a rather bad movie I wanted very much to like- novel written and screenplay co-written  by Dave Eggers, starring Emma Watson, and with Karen Gillan and Creepy Tom Hanks in the cast; it's called The Circle, it's clearly depicting the evil-if-thinly disguised dark side of The Google, and it just didn't work, either for me or the Rotten Tomatoes crowd that gave it one of the lowest ratings I've ever seen on a film.

That's about all to report from today here.  The past three days, though, we had men on our roof. The call came late Tuesday; our solar panel installation, approved for financing earlier in the week and scheduled to be done yesterday, would begin Wednesday morning!  In anticipation, we moved both of the cars out to the street:

Here, Zoey eagerly anticipates the arrival of the work crew. (Or more likely, she's saying, get your ass out there and fill that feeder so I can watch kitty television.)

They arrived around 11, after I'd left for work.  I came back home while Eleanor had a PT appointment in the early afternoon, but they then knocked off for Day One with the beginning of the grid installed:

They returned Thursday, but I never got to see how much they got done, because I was away the entire day and into the evening.  I had two Rochester court appearances, at 10 and 3, the latter followed by our holiday party at a client's restaurant on my way home.  The early one was short but annoying; some kind of security breach was reported, so even the attorneys who usually bypass the metal detectors got the full frisk-down treatment, complete with having to give the deputies your wallet and your belt. The late one ran way longer than I expected it to, and I briefly lost the client's original documents, finding them only when I ran back to my car to feed the parking meter. But the evening food and festiveness made up for the distractions of the day.

Again Friday, they were here a good amount- I wound up switching cars with Eleanor mid-morning to get to my office and downtown because their trailer and ladder blocked mine into the garage- but by the time I returned for good at the end of the day, I couldn't really tell how much they finished because the snow had begun- and it pretty much continued non-stop until a couple of hours ago, when our service finally came to plow our driveway out.

They return Tuesday, and we expect it to be all done by the end of the year.  The next two days will be quiet- the kids will be around, but Cameron will be doing a lot of good-byeing as he's the first to leave for Virginia next week- and then I'm back at it with three appointments already scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday and a couple more out of town on Friday.  And it's predicted to be cold and snowy the whole time.  But every day, the day now gets longer, and for the first time, we'll actually be powering our home from that blessing:)

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I was yawning my brains out all afternoon.  Seemed odd, after a totally-downtimed Saturday and a not-too-busy Sunday (more about that to come). I woke to a not-too-early alarm this morning, only to find that the 9 a.m. client had called to cancel about a minute after I was up.  We had stuff to do around here (more about that, too), so I worked from home for the morning, caffeinating as I went.

Or so I thought. This was still in the microwave when I got home:

(Yes, that's my Helena coffee mug from Orphan Black. You cennot inhale caffeine. Or pork rinds.)

So after that unconsumed quantity, I think I went the whole afternoon with only one more cuppa. No wonda.


Got some work-work done, in between assorted phone calls and emails, and took numerous swings at clearing ice from our front steps now that it's begun to thaw a little out there. But the main task of the morning was finishing the financing for our solar panel project, which is tentatively set to be installed on Friday.  We got word last week that it would be confirmed as soon as the financing was approved- the financing I thought we'd already applied for. Turns out they don't do the financing step until the structural analysis verification comes back to make sure there are no additional costs before applying.  They kinda forgot that step, but we  called it in on Friday, giving them the contractor ID, project type, loan amounts and some information about our ownership.  Then they asked for the name of the panel manufacturer- which was not on the list of what the contractor told us to tell them- and the one we gave them was not approved.  I called our contact, who's generally been very good, and he got Solaria added to their list. Said we could either reapply once the bank's computers had updated to include it, or else apply with the name of an approved manufacturer we aren't using.  No, I told him- with this amount of tax credits involved, I want every i dotted and t crossed, so we did it this morning....

and again faced the Eternal Curse of the Self-Employed.

The numbers worked, they said, and they were fine with Eleanor's information, but they wanted to see one of my recent pay stubs from the Rochester gig (no problem, I hoard those), and my 2016 tax return to prove my self-employment income.  At least they didn't ask me for a CPA to write three letters proving that I exist, as happened a couple of refinances back.  I suspected the return wouldn't be on this laptop, but I knew what folder I put it in on my external drive.  Not there.  Nor were the data files for Turbo Tax itself.  Not only would this screw up this application, it would make doing taxes for us and the kids incredibly start-from-scratchy in about a month. Fortunately, I found them: I'd switched tax software for a couple of years and returned to the original program for 2016, but stored all the stuff in the Company2 folder because that's where the 2015 info was.  Everything got submitted, approval came a little after 1, and while we're still waiting on word about why they jiggered the two components differently than originally proposed, the dollars are identical and we should be good to go for Friday no matter which way they do it.


Having access to those taxes is also important for another big reason. I've hinted at some News in prior posts, but now it can be told:  Emily and Cameron are leaving for Virginia. This weekend will be his last here, as he begins a new construction job with his uncle (his dad's twin brother) in Lynchburg right at the first of the year. Emily will follow him down at the end of next month.  Moving will be in stages; Scott, his dad, is obtaining a truck for most of their stuff, which will go down next week. Em will spend January downsizing and they will figure out if they can get the rest of it into a combination of her current car and a trailer.

We discussed the finances of both the move and the early termination of their lease up here, and while it's a difficult time for us to put significant cash into those items with Eleanor's extended disability time, I did figure out one way I can help financially.  For years, I've done both of their taxes, so I encouraged them to get me their info for the year as soon as they can so I can get their returns done, and their refunds sent, at the first opportunity.  It may not be all they need, but if past years' refunds are an indication, it'll take a lot of the pressure off.

This news became public when Emily gave her notice at the Alzheimer's Association last week. They're giving her until the end of next month to wrap up her work at their chapter in Rochester, and she's already looking for opportunities where they'll be going. It's a college town, although one of those colleges is Jerry Falwell's International House of Jesus, and there's an Alzheimer's chapter there, if both they and she can find something that will work out for them.


So that's the news to come. That leaves yesterday to account for- where I again left a damned cup of coffee behind in my travels.  This trip, following our usual morning dog park run, was to the west side of the city for a  birthday brunch for our friend Ann.  Friends of hers live in a beautiful restored house between Delaware and Elmwood.  Plenty of plant life in a loft above their second-floor living room-

- and among her friend Mike's many photographs was one they took of one of their more unusual housepets: Mr. Fly.

Mike also held forth with all kinds of stories, from Buffalo politics to Brooklyn pizza and bagels (both of the latter stories punch-lining with cracks against Panera- whose bagels, according to Mike's 92-year-old Aunt Florence, are "fucking bread donuts").  It was a nice gathering at holiday time which wasn't subsumed by The Capital-H Holidays.  I got home in time to see the tail end of the Bills game, and we then watched the DVD of Atomic Blonde, a blood-curdling romp through the last days of the Cold War.


Two holiday parties for me this week, only one day away from here, and hopefully better memory of where the hell I left my coffee cup.

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By the time I pulled back in here yesterday around 5 p.m., just missing a promised locally-intense lake effect snowstorm, way more than snow had piled up for me. I took inventory of it, in lieu of counting sheep, as I tried to get back to sleep this morning after chow call.

Five out-of-town trips in eight days. Four to Rochester, the fifth to Niagara Falls- somewhat less than half the distance of the other four, but four commitments there, bad roads, and the whole morning shot.

And two of those four commitments were formal court appearances. By the time it all shook out, I had eight of those scheduled this past week over the five workdays, in four different courts in three different cities.  While I did not have to attend all of them, I had to deal with all of them one way or another- even the one I thought I had Friday in Buffalo which turned out to be Thursday in Buffalo at the very moment I was hearing about boob jobs in the Falls.  Fortunately, that one got adjourned without me even knowing it was happening- and all of the others, best as I can tell, went well, or least as expected.

Still. After all of that, and the ways yesterday began and ended, I needed a downtime day, and for the most part, I got it today.


The last of those eight court appearances, which I did have to attend, was in Rochester at 9:30 yesterday morning.  I had a horrid Groundhog Day feeling as I left at about the same time, for the same client, in what seemed to be about the same weather as the previous Friday- sucky.  For that reason, I left way earlier than I ordinarily would have, expecting to have another slow and slippery go on the 90.

I didn't.  This time, the snow was just manageably flurrying, and the pavement was clear enough for me to make good time the whole way to the edge of Rochester proper. I was ahead enough of schedule to detour for five minutes to get gas, since I was getting down to a quarter tank and the forecast for the drive home was for much worse conditions.

Make that ten minutes of detour, because I spent the other five getting road-raged.

As I was pulling out my wallet and opening the gas hatch, a van pulled up alongside me and the pump. In it were two dudes in Bills gear, and the driver was screaming at me for being such a fucking idiot.

Huh?!?  Did I cut him off as I was getting to the pump, or as he was leaving the station? No.  Once he got past curse words of one syllable, he accused me of cutting him off as I was getting off the expressway exit to get to the station.

Again I say, huh?!?  Have you seen what I drive?

Now, that sucker would hold up nicely against your bigass van in a fair collision, but it's not like I'm going out of my way to cause trouble.  I double, triple check before changing lanes. I let people in on general principles.  And, see above, I wasn't in a hurry.  If I didn't see him, I didn't see him- but following me off an off-ramp and a quarter mile down the road to scream at me isn't going to improve my vision or my reflexes.

In hindsight, I was glad I stopped where I did, rather than at my next stop, a street outside the courthouse. Gas stations are swarming with cameras to protect against driveoffs, downtowns not so much- and I fully expect that Likes To Fight Guy would've been more likely to get out and throw down if we'd been there rather than  under the station's awning.

Still, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  As it turned out, in other places, as well.


I went from court to office and never left until the workday was done.  Plenty to catch up on, two clients to meet, another testy client in the place raising his voice with (if not at) two other attorneys.  When I finally got on the road, though, I had something else to distract me besides visions of sucker-punches dancing in my head:

Something in my car was burning.

I had no idea what. It was just there,  not getting any worse, and performance-wise, there was nothing in the ride, or on the gauges, to suggest a problem. But it was persistent all the way back to the exit for my local office (yes, I had to stop back there at day's end), and it continued up Harlem Road until I surrendered to the week behind me and the weather ahead and stopped for wine.

That's when I found the answer: in my agitas over Road Rager, I somehow managed to step in a snowbank containing not one but two cigarette butts- and transported them into my front seat floor mats. They weren't lit, but they still reeked of nicotine.  I pitched them from the car before my final leg home, and a therapeutic weekend began right on schedule.


Last night, we watched Everything Is Illuminated- adapted and directed by Live Screiber from a novel about an American Jew tracing his roots back to 1990s Ukraine. Elijah Wood is the only A-list star in the cast and does an amazing job. His primary co-star, playing his guide through the outskirts of Odessa, is Eugene Hutz, who we know from the band Gogol Bordello.

Then, today, whole bunches of needed nothing for me.  I didn't leave the house until just before 5, for a Wegmans run. No work, just a little paperwork.  Organized CDs that were sprouting around the living and dining rooms.  Got ready to watch the Redbox of the night- Atomic Blonde.  The snow never really amounted to all that much, and I have just one scheduled trip out of town next week, and it may be well above freezing again by then.

Monday, we take the final step to confirm installation of our solar panels, and if that goes through, they will be here by the end of the week to install.  There's something fitting about having that done on about the shortest day of the year.

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I usually sleep through Bills games. Some games this year, it seems like the Bills joined me in the afternoon naps.  But today's, I actually watched for most of the final quarter and then the overtime. Yes, it ended tied in regulation- with Buffalo's two top-string quarterbacks and best receiver out with injuries, a worn-down defense who let their pitiful opponent get back in the game (and even take the lead before a penalty took an Indianapolis score off the scoreboard), and, oh, this:

That's what the game was played in, for virtually its entirety. It also ties today's sporting event in with the events of our own lives from the past several days in need of catching up here. So we'll leave Our Heroes in frozen animation briefly and report on things closer to (and the past two days, further from) home.


All of that snow is of the "lake effect" variety. Wind-driven clouds pick up not-yet-frozen Lake Erie water (it was in the 50s Farenheit as recently as last week) and drop that water as snow as soon as it hits landfall. None of these storms are region-wide; traditional "snow belts" are south of downtown Buffalo and where we live to its northeast, but a slight change in wind direction can change that in minutes. So it was that we awoke Thursday to tales of blizzard conditions, reaching as close to us as the Bills' home in Orchard Park, but here, not a flake. We went about relatively ordinary days, mine improved by getting out of an early-morning court appearance that saved time, promptly lost in a late-afternoon court visit.

Then it was our turn on Friday. I let the dog out around 3 to bare ground, but by the time I had to leave for Rochester by 7:30, the snow here had begun. It was nothing like what O.P. had gotten the day before (or would eventually get today), but it was just cold enough to stick and the ground just the right temperature for it to be incredibly slippery. And me, with my little car in need of new rear tires. For the first 10 miles, I slipped and slid and almost spun a dozen times, including a few on the 90 proper that could easily have been death (more from going too slowly than anything else), but before I got to the first exit outside the area, I'd escaped the trail of the wind, the road cleared, and the sun was out for all of that and also the next day.

Good thing, because Eleanor and I both went back to Rochester yesterday. A longtime friend of ours has an art studio in a cool old repurposed factory building, and they were open for Shop Small Saturday, so we got on the road and, with a much less panicked drive, were there in time to see her.

Some of her recent pieces.  I also explored some of the rest of the building (okay, I was looking for the loo;), and found this Not For Sale piece from one of the building's other artists:

We then met up with Emily; she hadn't seen Loving Vincent, and we wanted to make sure she got a chance before some big changes come her way.  Not all can be revealed, but it involves new work for Cameron, and it's all good.  I passed on seeing the film again myself, since Friday also brought a dumping of three bankruptcy petitions to finalize and the promise of at least a fourth being imminent. I brought the new laptop over to the office there and got one of them done just in time for them to finish the film, me to join them for a cup of Jamaican Me Crazy, and then head home on a snowless Saturday night.


This morning was busy and a little overlapped.  Eleanor woke me asking to borrow my car for a trip to the Buddhist Center, since she hadn't charged Ziggy last night. He had enough charge to get Ebony to the dog park and home, but I had to wait for JARVIS to make it back so I could just make a scheduled 10 a.m. workout (which, thankfully due to some changes in their systems have been starting late and I got there just in time).  By the time I got home from that and a Wegmans run, there were the beginnings of snow flurries here in the Northtowns.  On the other hand, Orchard Park, never quite dug out from Thursday, was getting another foot of snow piled on top of the Bills, the Colts and their fans.....

which is where we came in at the start of this entry.


The game was must-win for Buffalo if it wanted a prayer of ending a 17-year drought of post-season appearances. The opponent came in 3-9 and had nothing to play for but pride.  Now add the elements to that. I began napping with the game well under way and with no score, and awoke to the same thing. That's when I learned that the snow had never stopped and that they were continuing to play on in blizzard conditions.

Before I could even turn on a set, the Bills' rookie quarterback, who debuted with one of the worst performances ever by a signal caller, had somehow gotten a touchdown pass to his best receiver. Before long, both would be out with injuries.  I spent time trying to get my cranky old AM portable radio to work, without success, and by the time I gave up and put on CBS's sixth-string broadcast team, the sights were frightful and the chances of a Bills victory near impossible. Indy somehow slogged down the field, survived half a dozen close calls, and scored with a minute left to pull to within a point. On ordinary days, conservative NFL coaches would then kick an easy "point after" to tie the game, but there was the weather, there was an earlier miss by their kicker, and I think there was just a desire to get the damn thing over with. So the Colts' coach decided to "go for two"- a run-or-pass that would leave Indy with either a one-point lead with a minute to play or, essentially, a loss.  And they made it. The two points went on the board- but then, amazingly, came off. A late-called penalty nullified the score and pushed them back ten yards. So their kicker came in to attempt what was now a midrange field goal into the wind and beginning from a snow-covered field.  Ten behemoths did a dance around the spot of the ball, trying to clear the snow off. Both teams called timeouts- the Colts to clear the spot, the Bills to make it snow some more- and then their kicker, the oldest player on the field, made the kick, but for only the one point. Tie game.

Thanks to some Buffalo screwups and fatigue on the part of their defense, the guy got to kick again from almost the same spot with a chance to win the game. This one, he missed, so weeee were going to OVERRRtime (as they say in hockey, which this-all far more resembled).  The Bills won the toss, got across midfield with the ball, and then had the whole stadium and press box boo their coach for kicking the ball back to Indy with barely five minutes to play.  It proved a good move, though; Buffalo's now-a-little-rested defense held the Colts pinned down in their own end, they got the ball again, and the third-string Bills quarterback ran for a first down, threw to an unheralded receiver for another, and finally handed the frozen rock to Shady McCoy, their only offensive star still in the game, who eluded a linebacker and ended the thing with a 21-yard run to the end zone.

All of that ended in a 13-7 win, a 7-6 record, but with the Bills still on the outside looking in at a playoff spot (and none of their competition for that spot is helping in the rest of today's games so far:P). All the same, it was the kind of late-year game that almost always wen t bad for the Bills, and it was one for the ages to have seen end. Even Eleanor, who has no use for this sport, got a kick out of seeing one of the victorious Bills players making a snow angel in the end zone.


Tomorrow brings a third Rochester trip in four days; no major snow in the forecast in that direction, but I am planning on getting snow tires put on.

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After listening to some, watching some, eventually reading some about the latest Bills debacle of a defeat against They Who Must Not Be Named, it finally occurred to me why this is such a twice-annual fool's errand.  With apologies (and full credit) to George Carlin, who laid out the essential generic differences between football and baseball, I now explain the Differences Between Bills and Patriots.  It helps if you read this in a Carlinesque voice, so go as hippy-dippy as you can.

The Patriots play in a STADIUM, named for a razor. The Bills play on a Field, named for a cap!

The Bills give up on many of their young players, trading them for nothing or letting them be signed or even stolen by other teams, and watch them blossom in their new homes. The Patriots identify and sign young players, many of them from the Bills, and make them blossom.

The Patriots instinctively know when a player is nearing the end of his effective career, and mercilessly cut established stars just in time to groom the “next man up.“ The Bills overpay unproven or traded-for players, leaving them in salary cap jail and eventually forcing them to cut or trade them for no value and adding a buttload of dead money cap.  Hey, maybe that's why they play on a field named for a cap!

When a Bills cornerback legally defends a pass and then accidentally falls over the receiver, the Bills player is flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. When a Patriots player viciously and deliberately hits a Bills cornerback after he intercepted a pass, not only is the Patriot not ejected for it, he later apologizes and says it was because he felt "frustration" in a game he was only leading in by two touchdowns in its final moments.

And finally, the object of the two teams games couldn’t be more different. The Patriots, led by a field general who whines and cheats and yet somehow makes every conceivable play, marches his squad down the field, torturing the opponent with endless weapons, runs up the score, shows no mercy, and is the essence of smugness. For the Bills, in January at least, the object of the game is just to go home! This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1508208.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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That's the semi-obscured story of my past 24-ish hours.  In reverse order:

We made plans with a friend of Eleanor's to see an amazing film at a historic venue.  The North Park theater is the only old-timey movie house in Buffalo's city limits; downtown's movie palaces were either demolished (including the Century, which Harvey Weinstein turned into a concert hall in the 70s) or repurposed (Shea's, now a bus-and-truck Broadway hall).  I first discovered it in law school, when it became the local home of the Universal re-release of the "lost" Hitchcock films; a locally based small chain took it over and turned it into something of an art house, but it closed a few years ago, in need of new seating and digitization. A local attorney bought the building and put in the needed repairs; this is how it looks now:

We were not there for Christmas Story, but rather the future classic of animation Loving Vincent. It traces Van Gogh's final days and death in the period immediately following it, and it does so through hand-drawn animation that is both faithful to the artist's own style and a realism of movement rarely seen even from the Big Boy Studios.

Eleanor's guest lives close-ish to the theater off of Hertel Avenue, so we took just the one car, and I waited in the lobby as she collected Julia and brought her in just as the previews were starting. (The first was for Last Jedi, and we agreed that this venue was suitably historic for us to choose to see that in later this month; the theater's history and the recent reno are nicely documented here.)  Following the film, I walked somewhere between one and two miles toward where Eleanor was dropping off her friend, and she found me soon afterward and we headed home. 


Sunday morning was the usual- dog park (reunited with our regular buds for the first time in three weeks). followed by a workout- but more working out awaited after I got home.

Meet Dave:


That's how he looked, in a summertime entry I posted over three years ago:

Eleanor took down an old-style clothesline that had been limping along parallel to our western lot line, and I contributed to the ceremonial removal of the cement cast that had anchored it closest to the house. Somehow wanting to do SOMETHING to contribute to things around here, and remembering how nicely Emily's pin oak had come along, I drove over to the then hardware-garden division of Wegmans, picked one out, and stuck it in, first, my trunk and, then, the hole.  We named it Dave, in honor of Letterman's recent ascension to the hosting of the CBS Late Show. It's going on 20 years for both Daves, now, and ours may not be as funny, but he's a hell of a lot bigger.

Letterman has retired, but Tree has not. He does, however, drop his leaves every fall, but since he's a pin  oak, that drop tends to come on a day relatively late in the season and, when it comes, it comes almost all at once.  This year, Saturday was that day; I looked out after the dog at one point and saw his crown was empty and the circumference of orangey leaves on the lawn was huge.

I warmed up with a garbage can or two late yesterday afternoon while Eleanor was cooking and the animals were annoying, but once the Bills' game started today, I got out there and cleared the turf until my back's protests over walk, park and workout got too loud to ignore. 

By the time the game ended (not happily), we moved on to another film- this one at home.


Eleanor's kept pretty busy, with multiple PT appointments during the week, followups with doctors and the usual management of home and retail- including having to repurchase underwear destroyed by the dog when we're out at the cinema:P  But on days like Friday, she's been cataloging our hundreds of films, and she watched Marathon Man, written for the screen by longtime Hollywood scribe William Goldman.  He's perhaps best known for writing the original material for Princess Bride (named on the book itself shown in the film as  S. Morgenstern), but I remember him fondly for adapting another novel to the screen at around the same time as Marathon Man:

The Hot Rock put Robert Redford in the role of Donald E. Westlake's uberthief John Dortmunder, and George Segal as his neurotic safecracking partner (and brother-in-law) Kelp. It never gained Redford the fame of Butch Cassidy before it or The Sting and others to follow, but it's always had a place in my heart for using East Meadow's own Nassau County Jail as the state prison which Dortmunder gets out of, and ultimately breaks back into, during the course of the film.   That hoosegow was across the street from my high school, which you can see tiny corners of as Kelp is picking him up early in the film; and the chase scene you see in the trailer goes through the Modell's parking lot, which six years later would become the site of my first job.

Eleanor had never seen it, just as she had never been inside the North Park. So it was a weekend of fond remembrances for me and of new experiences for her, enjoyable all the way round:)


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I just Facebooked this picture of Zoey, having returned to her favorite and most annoying spot as predictably as the swallows to Capistrano:

The post with that went like this:

You have a whole house, cat. You can bathe and groom and look beautiful anywhere except on top of these 1.2 square feet. So naturally this is where you keep coming back to. And not only did you type three lines of gibberish before I closed the lid, YOU TURNED ON BING. This will not do.

Which is fine, as far as it goes. But I realized, looking at the picture beyond those 1.2 square feet, that it really contains quite a cross-section of my life.  See if you can find all of these items, in various stages of hiding, in the photo:

- The new laptop, on which I just sent off one of my most aggravating projects to its almost-final destination;

- An ancient broken stapler, one of my few tangible inheritances from my father who probably stole it from work, used most recently to hold up the display of the cranky old laptop I had to use for the two weeks before this one showed up;

- A vintage desk lamp, clearly in need of dusting;

- Bobbleheads of Dr. Teeth (a gift from Emily a few years back), former Bison Aaron Sanchez (I have no idea why), and the longtime Red Wings' organist Fred Costello;

- My new wellness credit card from my health insurer, a $250 annual benefit unused by probably three quarters of the people who get it (and only slightly making up for the $1,000 a year increase in my insurance I just got hit with), so ignored by subscribers that they have to put a "DO NOT THROW AWAY" disclaimer on it;

- An external speaker (twin of one just like it at my desk at work here) so I can play music from my phone or Open Tunings while working;

- An old fashioned AM/FM radio, the only way to listen to the Bills' homer broadcasters, who are only on AM here and who do not allow streams of their games;

- A Luna Bar hat won from their formerly affiliated LunaChix running club at a fundraiser last year, atop the fez Emily used for an 11th Doctor Halloween costume and which is still part of my Google identity even though I haven't posted on their social media site in years;

- One coaster, rarely used;

- One can (of two) of canned air, used mostly to combat cats;

- One promotional pen for Orangetheory Fitness, where I torture myself 2-3 times a week;

- One running sneaker, used in said torture;

- One USB printer cable, connecting to a printer so old that when I tried to setup from  its installation disk, it gave me a message about how I would need to upgrade to Windows XP or Vista in order to proceed (I found the Windows 10 drivers online and we're all good now);

- One now-useless power supply; I've since added it to the whole freaking bag of them I removed from various offices and hideyholes over the past few days (Dells have their own, noncompatible connectors). I told Eleanor that instead of Christmas lights, I was going to string these up on the roof:

I think that's it. For extra credit, there are slight corners of one plaque and one hardcover book in that shot, but you'd need to be truly psychic to get those.

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Yesterday- I think, I hope- was my last day in the most ancient circle of Computer Hell. The emailed gift card arrived early in the day, and I planned to do some Office Depot shop-PING as soon as I got out of work.

First, of course, was the getting out of work part.  My day wasn't that busy, other than the endless waiting round for programs to load and things to print through whipping-round of flash drives between old laptop and borrowed desktop. Plus, the county clerk's website was down, so I couldn't look things up for a potentially important new client.  But one of my co-workers was clearly having it worse than I was.

Her client was stretching the limits of residential real estate practice- selling a home and then buying the new one on the same day.  Problems arose when it suddenly dawned that the new buyer of the old home would greatly appreciate the seller removing himself from his place of residence. Faced with no way to get everything packed, moved and unpacked in the day provided, my coworker was asked, in essence, Where do they expect me to sleep tonight?  When years of experience resulted in her suggesting a hotel for such situations, the client took umbrage, took it up the ladder of complaint, and took all her hard work on both of these deals completely for granted.

I had to go to Wegmans anyway to pick something up, so I decided that something was needed to lighten up the situation.  I found most of it in their bakery, but then stopped back home to give the gift that real "home"-y touch:

I brought them in to the conference room. She first saw just the desserts and started to thank me, but when she saw the add-ons, she went from laughter to tears in about 20 seconds.  It was just was she needed to get over the bad taste of an undeserved bad experience. And the final irony?  That problem I had with the county clerk website wasn't a problem on my end; their whole office was down, and as of the time I left for the day, nothing had closed.  So it was all, more or less, for nothing.  But chocolate always beats nothing, anyway.


Once I finished my own run downtown, dodged a nasty accident and dropped off some papers for a client, it was time to begin my own process of moving- moving files.  Here's the floor model I tried out: it's a Dell, dude.

I had $300 of gift card to spend at Office Depot; my guess was that a comparable laptop, plus purchase protection, would exceed that by at least 500.  There really wasn't much choice; the only other models with my non-negotiable demands (a full keyboard with number pad and an internal CD/DVD drive) were either way too expensive or too cheap/cheaply built.  This was it in the range- $650 list, reduced by a post-Cyber Monday sale by 200. With a (now-cheaper) two-year protection plan on it, I brought it all in for under three bills out-of-pocket.  (That's soon to go above that, though, since this one's power supply is not compatible with any I now have, and I will need at least one more for my one more office, and I stupidly left behind the one they sold me in Rochester.)

Buying it was the quick and easy part.  Then began the days-long process of getting it up to speed with what I need it for-  but even that, so far, has been quicker and easier than any prior transfers. By the end of last night, I had cloud access to my work documents, my specialty softwares installed and running, and Office back onboard.  I took it to Rochester this morning and it got onto their wifi, printers and network with minimal delays; Mozilla got re-installed and all settings restored; email also got set up, back files restored in Outlook, and I now have full access to all my history going back to 2012.  Tonight, I got my journaling software going (or will have, If U Cn Rd Ths), and really all that's left is getting my scanners functional (tomorrow), and then tackling the untamed beast of importing music and syncing it and the rest of my stuff to and from my phone through iTunes (pretty much the whole damn weekend).

Thanks to a last-minute settlement, I did not have to stay over there tonight, and have the whole day tomorrow to do those things and catch up on the rest of work from days and computers away.


Other things happened, too, but you can't write about everything.... /mysterious This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1507267.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Well, the word came down today from Mount Office: my laptop has fallen and can't get up. Least as far as they're concerned at the repair-or-replace facility. In an improvement over how it worked the last time, they will be sending the replacement gift card electronically instead of making me wait close to two weeks for a physical piece of plastic to show up.

I'm sad for a couple of reasons. One, I got that last one as a dirt-cheap clearance when Offices Max and Depot merged their chains and closed half their local stores.  That machine, at that time, listed for 900 bucks and I got it for a third of that. Just a quick look at the Depot's online ad shows stuff (no Toshibas) that can be had for between 4 and 600. Eleanor's most recent Lenovo, comparable to what I had but lacking an internal CD/DVD drive, was over 800. Plus, given the use I put into these things, it's almost essential I get the purchase protection again, so even with the 300 head start I'm looking at half a grande to get back to where I was a month ago.

And then will begin all the reorganizing. Every program reinstalled from scratch, the backups all restored from five different media sources and two clouds. Getting iTunes functional again (not just for music but for syncing my work calendar) is at least a weekend of work itself.

At least I know I'll be at the end of Backup Hell.  My secondary laptop, with cloud and server accesses, never woke up from its latest nappy-doo. It teased me a few times today, before and during the day at work, but none of its boots stuck and I spent the day with this blast from the past:

Once any given program got going, it was fine as far as its data would take it- but some were way short on what I needed to access (due to lack of cloud access and limited space on the flash drive that is its only way in), and I probably waited two full hours during the day for the six different daily work proggies (Word, Excel, Outlook, Adobe, billing and bankruptcy) to fire up. And then there were the random fires- AOL coming out of the woodwork and probably trying to dial up, and the nonfunctional CD drive just randomly popping open every few hours.

I will be enormously happy when this bit is all back to normal.


Our holiday weekend ended nicely. We watched a cool underrated film with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith called Ladies in Lavender, completely distracting me from the Bills game which they somehow won. We then cashed in a gift card that was bigly labeled for Outback steakhouse but turned out to also be good at Carabbas Italian.  We had a good meal with a nice server, an incredibly cute and quiet bebby at the next table, and a lot of relaxing.

Eleanor had two appointments today- one with her PT and a later one with the foot surgeon. Things are progressing, but you know she'd like it to come together sooner. Meanwhile, she's gotten nothing but love for a new hairstyle she's tried out:

Computers are replaceable, but there's nobody in the world like my beautiful bride:)

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I began Thanksgiving, as I have four of the last five, surrounded by about 14,000 crazy people.

There were three of us from the dog park, minus dogs-

(I took that one. Ann, on Ellen's left, took the one above of me and hundreds of more, the ones used here I will credit below).  We carpooled to the end and then start of the nation's oldest continually run race- done here mostly as a lark, with strange creatures running about-

(another of Ann's)

- a couple of turkeys who escaped the oven-

- and plenty of creativity thrown into the, um, pot-

We ambled to the starting chute, and quickly separated into our paces- Ellen, running more than me, finished a few minutes ahead, Ann a bit behind- but throughout there were things to see.  Like the first beer stop near the halfway mark-

(I held out until the end)

- and the traditional sort-of milemarkers of the Allen Street flag near mile 4 and the you're-almost-there comfort of Niagara Square- to the sight of the Convention Center at the end-

(Ann again)

My goal was to get done with the five miles in an hour or less, and missed it by THAT much-

(unofficial but within a few seconds of the posted chip time)

Inside were the essentials: music (a Toronto cover band named Dwayne Gretzky), warmth, beer, and costumed characters enjoying all of the above-

Did I mention beer?

Six sore feet then began their journeys home from the Convention Center, which is when the Unconventional of the holiday took over for me.


We did not have the kids or any other family with us this year. By mid-afternoon, it was pretty clear Eleanor was missing our daughter, who was no doubt busy with the All The Trimmings traditions that Cameron's sets of relatives put on. It was a little rough experiencing it, but in the end I think we both realized and accepted that conventionality, so much a part of these big holidays, is what we don't get to experience with Emily- but that the other 300-plus-almost-all days of the year make up for it.  Mother and daughter have a bond that transcends place settings and Christmas cookies- when Eleanor discovered that the snail in her aquarium had laid eggs and thus established a previously unknown gender identity, that was cause for an immediate call and celebration. And I'd rather spend an hour with the kid at a funky retro record shop than sitting with her (stuffed) on a Thanksgiving sofa (also stuffed) watching Lions and Cowboys and Bears, oh my.

We mostly turned the weekend into something of a film festival. Before the turkey for two on Thursday night, Eleanor and I went and saw Coco, the new Pixar feature about Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico- preceded by an extended Frozen short which explored how to go about making your own holiday traditions. We then finished a film we already had- The Visitor, starring Six Feet Under's Richard Jenkins as an almost-as-dead-as-Late-Nate college professor who comes back to life before our eyes through randomness and even sadness.  Yesterday, we checked out Twentieth Century Women, starring Annette Bening but seen mainly for the amazing young actress Greta Gerwig- a year in time around 1979 in which her character comes of age. And today, we topped it all off with Lady Bird, Gerwig's first solo effort as a writer/director, where another young actress, Saoirse Ronan, takes us through a year of coming-of-age in 2002-03 Sacramento, based largely on Gerwig's own life at the time. It was a little close to the bone at times concerning our own mother-daughter dynamic, but the humor in the script (plus an unscripted moment of our own in the seats) and the quality of the acting made it more than a good choice.


We now return to an almost ordinary Sunday.  Ebony should be good to go for the parp! tomorrow; her fur's not all grown back but it's healed up nicely.  My laptop arrived for repair and I got the "being diagnosed" email mid-day Wednesday, giving me hope I'll have it back (from a place in PA) by the end of next week. The backup has been out of commission since Wednesday night, as well, but this time all but one one-page document was backed up. (Unfortunately, no other backup here could access those files in the Microsoft cloud, but I've repurposed a functional but immobile Windows 8 machine that has retrieved them.  Now to remember how to kill the swipes and charms again.)  The worst of the past few days was when we did hear from Emily, yesterday morning, but even that seems okay: her bank notified her of suspicious activity on her debit card at two nearby Walmarts at virtually the same moment, and they think they've traced it to a card skimmer at a gas station around the corner from them.  All money has been restored, and the store and police have been notified.  The only shopping I did yesterday (or today, for that matter) was at Wegmans, traditionally dead on Black Friday; I got in and out easily and even got my flu shot.

Conventional or not, we still give thanks for all the good we have, and all the good we do.

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This was one of my first sights heading out into the world on Monday morning, two corners over from our house:

By the time I got home, the sign had been repaired, but the symbolism wasn't lost over the past few days.  Monday proved an exercise in endless frustration. The court appearance I got up early for? Unattended by my opponent. (He faxed an apology the next morning; he had to pick his kid up from college. Could we reschedule for a fourth time?)  The file I wanted to pick up from a nearby office? Not there.  The other opponent who I also needed to speakl with? Also not there.  By the time I got back to work, I understood how the sign felt.

Then, yesterday. I got more done, but not without some aggravation.  Worst of it was a near-fistfight breaking out in my Rochester office- nobody I knew, but still loud enough to grind the place to a halt. Before that, a client I did know got testy with me on the phone, and I repaid at least some of it in kind, which is usually not how I roll.  Then, before day's end, a mutual client of both offices raised questions about something I'd worked hard to finish earlier this month. Temporarily resolving that made it a late night home.

Finally, today. Semi-holiday, with many people out. One who was in, though, was another party to that same transaction, who emailed me mid-day with something very unpleasant. Turned out he simply didn't remember signing something I distinctly remember him signing- and which he apologized for not remembering once I reminded him of it.  I also got to spend close to an hour watching a remote tech person run my backup laptop from hundreds (if not thousands) of miles away to explain why a new edition of a program wasn't working for me.  On the bright side, I did get an email confirming that my real laptop has been received and is "being diagnosed." (Derp- the eight missing keys and the broken arm in the upper right corner look pretty self-explanatory to me, guys!)  I got three bankruptcies as far as my data would take me today, and they should be ready to file next week, when the new forms go into effect.

There's a turkey in the fridge- Eleanor went smallish, but it just fit in the roasing pan. My job is to haul it out and put it in the oven before leaving for the Turkey Trot in the morning. That will occupy me until round noon. We have films to watch and a lot to be thankful for:)

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 Except the dog. She's just old.
We got through Wednesday, seeing if she would get better through just home care.  She didn't, and any time the cone was off her, she'd be nibbling on both the gammy leg and her belly which was also infected.  So Eleanor made an appointment for the vet for Thursday morning, and volunteered to take her, since I had a whole day of faraway fun planned in  court.
She came home with a bunch of new meds- antibiotic for the wounds, anti-itch pills and a foaming cleanser to treat where she's picked, and a long-lasting flea medication in case that's what caused it.  They're not even sure, but it's as good a guess as any.  She seems to be doing better after four days of all that, plus this-


(YOU try not feeding this dog when you get The Look at feeding time. That thing turns her eyes into pity lasers.)
But we passed on the dog park today, just to be on the safe side.
That day of court and things went okay for me, in the end. One settled, one reserved decision, one that was so meaningless that nobody showed up on either side.  Then back to the Rochester office for a belated birthday lunch catered by a gourmet burger client.  I had nothing scheduled for Friday, and so spent it getting ready for the handoff of my laptop to UPS, since the shipping box for it arrived that morning.   Files backed up to external drive or cloud; browser data either stored or disabled; and finally a few pieces of Actual Work out the door on my trusty backup Groot. A call confirmed I had until Saturday afternoon to put the parcel into play, giving me those final moments for a few last saves.
It was about this time that Groot went off Grid again.  It again did the thing where it turned off and would not turn back on.  Tricks failed. So I was left with, not the Groot-based Plan B, but what can only be described as a Plan Z-Minus:


That, friends, is a Compaq laptop that was originally Eleanor's, at least four computers back in her life, shown here in its natural lid-open state since the hinges became useless ages ago.  It is slow, it runs on an XP version that hasn't been updated even to SP1, and its internal CD drive can't handle most installation disks.  Yet by Saturday morning, I'd managed to bring it back sufficiently to life to consider taking it to work for the next week or two. It already had Word and Excel on it; its internet still worked with wifi and Firefox graciously accepted the profile from the much newer version on the shipped-off laptop and I had all my history, bookmarks and passwords; it let me install my bankruptcy software onto it and, through a flash drive, got all of THAT data onto it; and even email worked, at least in a going-forward kind of way. (It would not accept archive files from the newer Outlook version I now use, but no biggie.)
I left it at my desk when we turned in last night; one advantage of the hinge thing is that it never goes to sleep. No alarm today, because no dog park, but I was awakened around the same hour by what sounded not <em>quite</em> like our heat coming on.  Then I recognized the sound: it's the one Groot makes when officially asleep but spinning his wheels, usually because of some Very Important Windows Update.
Sure enough, I turned it on, and it powered right up- and has been on ever since.  I got the few unsaved details saved off it first, then worked on it all afternoon up to and including this post. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? I know Tuesday will bring a new battery for it, since that is one possible recurring cause of the problem where, if it drains, it is painfully slow recharging and won't work off AC power until it does.  Meanwhile, the old XP Compaq, all locked and loaded, is now packed up in a spare computer bag in my car's trunk, ready to swing back into action as soon as needed again after such sore neglect.
Just like the Bills' starting quarterback, benched after the worst loss in team history and replaced by a rookie today who immediately through five passes to the other team and is now on track to post, you got it, the worst loss in team history.

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I am sitting in front of the Niagara Falls courthouse, waiting for them to let people in. I am up this early, thanks to a combination of a ridiculous schedule today and some agitas (which Siri just autocorrected to "algae toss") over computer stuff.

Today is essentially yesterday backward. Yesterday was a morning of sit around and wait for things to happen, followed by an afternoon where everything happened and happened fast. Everything, that is, except the final drive.

I had to wait for a deal from Friday to be officially recorded, and I checked the website for that like an OCD gamer every five minutes until the damn thing finally went on a little after 1 PM. Meanwhile, I got two other messages about things I hoped, but didn’t expect, would happen yesterday. One thing had to be picked up from a downtown Rochester court office and filed in another, while the second thing was a long overdue client finally getting his paperwork and payment together. So now I had just over three hours to get all three things done- check from closing, filing from court, paperwork from client. Of course there were waits. The same clerks office that held up the closing recording past 1 PM also had a line for the filing of the document. Which moved like molasses. After that, I got the check quickly enough, but when I took it to the bank, I got behind the stereotypical “guy trying to cash a check from Sri Lanka using his underwear as identification.”

I still had well over an hour to get back to Buffalo, which is usually plenty of time. Except, of course, when it isn’t. I got stuck behind a car accident that knocked 20 minutes off of my schedule. And despite doing my best to make up the time, when I got off the 90, it was just past 5 PM and I was meeting somebody who almost always leaves religiously at five.

Then I got my sign. Not a stop sign – at least not as such. As I cut through a side street to get to my now-late appointment, I had to slow down for a parade of deer, bopping across the street from one house to another. Three does and a fawn. I’ll take my Patronus wherever I can find one.

After that, I knew I was not too late. Sure enough, my contact was just leaving his office, went back in, gave me all my stuff, and I got home to find that Eleanor had also had some good moments during the course of her day yesterday. Now all I had to do was turn in early so I could get up for three-quarter appearances in just over an hour, in two different places, first thing this morning.

This, naturally, is when the technical problems set in.


I’ve made vague reference in the past to needing to get my laptop repaired. It’s nothing major, at least not yet. I’ve had the thing for almost 2 years, and with a house full of fur, I’ve been finding several of the keys starting to stick. I have attempted to clean underneath them, but I am now missing about a quarter of the alphabet , from keys that popped off during attempted cleaning and could not be put back on. (Go look up “replace laptop key” and you’ll see some fun videos as to how impossible that is.) Even my usually reliable guru couldn’t do it. So I have relegated it to backup duty, until finally getting around, yesterday, to starting to set up a repair claim to either have my newer one fixed or, just as likely, replaced with a gift card for a new-new one. In the meantime, I’ve been using an even older laptop, with a history of quirkiness but a fully working keyboard. (The one I am repairing also has a case problem, where one of the hinges has come unhinged and the power supply to the display is literally hanging by a thread.)

Until last night, the backup has been slow, but serviceable. When I got it home from my three-hour adventure, however, it was clearly in a bad mood, and ultimately it did the thing it does and powered off, refusing to come back on. This has happened before, there are some tricks that sometimes work, but I went to sleep last night not knowing if any of them would. I had weeks of new bankruptcy data, plus all of my daily updated spreadsheets, that would be lost if that puppy were to go.

Speaking of puppies, ours woke me around 5 this morning. Groot* briefly booted, but didn’t stay on long enough to plug in a drive for backup. So I fed everyone, tried ignoring things and trying to not much more than nap, but finally gave in and started at fixing it again. Somehow, I got it to boot, backed up the essentials, and it was fine when I left for court. It’s now an hour later, I have my deal in Da Falls but no judge yet to approve it, and two more matters waiting in Buffalo I’ll be lucky to get to on time.


Noon, now.

No, I didn't make it on time, but it didn't matter. The opposing party didn't show up on either, and this judge required a wait until 10:30 to treat them as "defaults" and give me what I asked for. At least I get to ask him, in writing, whereupon I expect either or both of my opponents will pitch fits.

I now get a whole afternoon today, and a whole day tomorrow, where I don't have to leave the office. The Groot reboot has held, allowing me to finish this entry begun on my phone, and I've called in the remainder of the repair order on the other one and am awaiting the shipping box for them to take it back and fix it.  This is, as they say, all good.


* Groot is my name for the backup laptop, since I got it around the time of the original GOTG film. I even redid his wav files so he answered "I am Groot" whenever coming out of sleep in Windows 7. Since the upgrade to 10, it don't do dat no more. The main laptop, which replaced a Windows 8 one I'd named Tobor, goes by the name Twobor, and if they replace it with a gift card will become Threebor.

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Thursday shaped up to be a good day for a celebration. Only one court appearance- resolved the day before with no need to go- and no clients. Thus, no alarm. I spent the whole workday in my office here and just cranked out work- until the ice cream cake came out. Then cranked some more. Dinner was steak on the grill. Good wishes were abundant all day from near and far, including gift cards for dinner and Dunkin Donuts, and some wonderful books from Eleanor. Thank you for those:)


Winter, first day of (Observed).

We always get it here closer to my birthday than the Solstice, some years as early as October, but this year the first snow fell on Friday. Not much, and unlike most patterns it seemed to be moving east to west: Buffalo was clear and sunny-coming-up when I left, but I hit whiteout conditions on the 90, and by the time I got to sunny-but-it-had-snowed Rochester, Eleanor texted to report we got a bunch here after I left. Nothing stuck, and nothing since, but it's a Western New York State of Mind you just have to get into. I put the storm doors in this afternoon, and am waiting for our one big tree to drop its crown of leaves so I can get that-all cleared out, hopefully before the tundra sets in.

Veterans Day (Remembrance or Poppy Day to you, perhaps) fell officially on Saturday, leading to confusion about what was and wasn't closed. Banks were open, but courts and government offices weren't. There was mail, but neither of my offices got deliveries of it. I had one early appointment and was chasing a closing which all-but-finished except for the government-office-closed part to officially record it. In between, I checked to see if Emily had the day off, and she did- her first since taking the new job- and we met up to exchange media we'd been saving for each other and to indulge the local obsession we've both gotten into on Rochester's way east side.

My task at Record Archive was to see if I could find a David Sanborn album lost to history around here. I did, finally (the only copy they had among close to 100 of his others which we already had), and no, that bruise on his face was not permanent:

Just about every CD in the place is five bucks, so they make their money off other merch- some new releases, but mostly the weirdest of the weird:



I kept away from these, and Emily wound up getting me the CD I did pick out, as well as the vinyl she sought, and then taking me to lunch for my day-after-birthday. Our little girl is all growed up- growed up real good:)


Veterans (real).

Sure enough, 11/11 was the real deal for no banks and no mail. Fortunately, I had no need for either, and spent the day mostly home, but with one project I wanted to get to. Earlier in the week, I taught Eleanor to use some software, which she asked me to install on her laptop. This required finding the installation disk, which I last touched when putting it on my soon-to-be-serviced main laptop not quite two years ago. Good luck with that: I keep all that media in a desk-drawer portion of the highboy dresser I've had in my home for 30-plus years, and it becomes the Professor Whoopee closet of clutter if you let it, which unfortunately I do. So I hauled a bigass empty garden bucket to tame the weeds of memories and crap in there.

Among the first steps: admit you have a problem hoarding things that are beyond saving.


Thanks, dog:P (That was one of her earlier kills.)

Before too long, a bucket of other meaningless Met memorabilia joined the hat, along with backup logs of AOL trivia games from 15 years ago; tax software from 2001; installation disks for programs I can't even remember using, much less how to; and way too much paper. I kept one envelope of potentially sentimental photos, of which this one, of our two original kitties in their prime, was the only one even worthy of sticking on the scanner for this:


Our current two got fighting sometime late yesterday; I just showed them this and said, Cmon, THIS is how it's done:)


Fan Appreciation.

That wasn't officially the event on the Bills home schedule, but traditionally that's what sports teams call the game they use to thank their fans when the season is over. It sure feels like that after their second straight blowout loss, both to teams they were originally expected to beat handily.

But around here, Sundays always mean Dog Appreciation Day, and I was up and out with the pup as usual by 8 a.m. Once it was light enough and I was behind her, I saw (as Eleanor had before I left) that Ebony had a nasty wound on the back of her left hindquarter. It didn't seem to be bothering her while walking, but she'd clearly been working at it when on the sofa during the night, so when I got home, I cleaned it and coned her- at least I tried to, with a blowup cushiony one that sometimes works. At first, after I left for a workout, it seemed like she had gone into acceptance of her fate-


- but before I got home, Eleanor reported that the dog was working around the thing to get to some nasty spottage on her belly, as well. So she went out and got the full-on Cone of Shame for her, which she's been wearing, and bumping into things, ever since. Theories abound, but my best guess is it's one of the new food items we introduced after she got picky about her kibble and milkboney treats. She's been on Wegmans organic wet fud for weeks- I did bring some new flavors home, but it's pretty high quality- but the likelier suspect is that I got her some new rawhide treats after she started refusing the biscuit kind over the past month. Any product from China labeled "NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION" can't be good, no matter how much she begs. So we'll wait, and see, and clean. She'll cope, and complain, and bump.


No holidays this week- two Rochester trips, none with expected snow, one of them the second of my two multi-court days Tuesday and Thursday. I got three entries in since last weekend here, and did some Nano-ing; not sure if those trends will continue with work picking up.

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As I headed to the polls around lunchtime yesterday, I was mindful of how my Election Day began and ended last year. I was up to an early alarm, out of my polling place before 7 a.m., and for the next 14 hours was in Pennsylvania, pollwatching to prevent Republican trouble that never came- at least not in the form of onsite voter suppression. There'd been bad omens during the day, and by the time I was back in this Erie County, the radio reports were turning dark. Sure things elsewhere weren't, and PA, still too close to call when I turned in, wound up in the R camp, either putting the Cheeto Not Yet To Be Named over the top or ensuring his place in the Electoral College even if one of the other supposed "blue firewall" states got recounted away from him.

Today was the anniversary proper of that day and night, and overall it produced hope for change when I heard the results from yesterday's elections. Democrats won governorships that had been predicted to remain or flip to GOP hands; yesterday's nutjob pundits called the Virginia race a bellwether until the Cheeto-backed candidate lost. Now they're saying it was a blue state all along and had nothing to do with his orange coattails. In my own state, with no state or national races on the ballot, Democrats took countywide offices in places I once lived that were reliably Republican- including Nassau County (where the incumbent GOP exec was shamed out of running again due to a federal indictment last year, which he blamed on the Clintons), and in the county surrounding Rochester (where Dems took the only countywide office and several towns that had been reliably red for decades). My current county's Democratic party regained control of its Lej, but lost the three countywide races on the ballot owing mainly to party incompetence at picking candidates and getting out the vote. Closest to home, though, we swept Republicans completely out of town government, ending their one-stop shop for connected developers to pave every remaining square inch of the place.

So- not perfect, but enough to make me keep calm and carry on until the midterms.



I went looking for a business card the other morning in the massive, disorganized box I keep such things in, along with varied expired credit cards, college and work IDs going back to the 70s, and wallet-sized photos of various people. In it, just above what I was looking for, tied to someone and some-when I'd been semi-aware of since the weekend. It was my brother-in-law's business card, probably from the 90s, and it fell into my hand on the 10th anniversary of his passing in November 2007, just two days short of his 70th (and my 48th) birthday.

Jean-Pierre was part of my life for over 40 years, from his first courting of my sister when I was very young, through a decade of weekend visits as my nieces grew, to living with him and them briefly just before my law career started, continuing after Sandy passed, his children married and eventually he remarried as well. Even though he's not with us to share the day tomorrow in person, our memories of the shared occasion will always be with me- we, the latest on the calendar of what his wife referred to as her family full of "you damn Scorpios."



That'll be me, in about three hours (sixish if you want to time it to the exact 3ish moment I popped out). I plan to spend it working but not crazy, as this week has been so far: three days, six court appearances in three different places in two cities. One tomorrow is resolved, and Friday is Veterans Day Observed. Tomorrow will be in my office here, Friday in Rochester. I might do something one of those nights, but just as likely it'll be kept quiet.

With age comes awareness of one's limitations, and as Sandy told me ages ago, "you know you're on your own when you have to buy your own toilet paper." This got brought home at the office earlier this week: Monday, we had a genuine crisis, as I discovered that we were down to the last couple rolls of TP. Our assistant in charge of such things had ordered the Big Box, but it's been on back order despite his diligent calls to check on it. (My guess is the shipments get directed to DC and Albany this time of year because they're so much fuller of shit around election time.)

At my age, trust me- this is not something to trifle with. So Monday night, I picked up some extra rolls at the store and brought them in when I got in yesterday. As did virtually every other person in the office.

This is why I love my coworkers. We cover each others' asses. Literally.

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Yeah. Still busy. Haven't gotten a word in here since two Saturdays ago. We've had ups and downs- of temperatures, client experiences (me), medical experiences (Eleanor) and events in the world at large.

Last Sunday began the final stretch of an annual Thing at the gym I go to called Hell Week. Show up five times in eight days and earn a t-shirt. And they do mean earn, John Houseman stylee, because these are not the ordinary ones. The first day, the 24th, included 23 straight minutes of rowing. I passed on that one. I did get the Inclines of Death on the treadmill one day, a full-out Tornado on the 29th (you rotate nine times between three stations over the course of an hour), and left potentially the worst for the last day, Halloween itself (coming late on a day I'd been up for an early Rochester court appearance): you pick your exercises from cards in trick-or-treat buckets, and do what they say. For the second straight year, I lucked out on these, getting all treats (still decent sets of exercise but nothing ridiculous) until my final pull in the final minutes was the dreaded "31 burpees" card. I could have come up short since time was called, but by then it was a mission, and I finished the damn things. Now to just hope the dog doesn't eat the shirt.

More about her later.


Monday ended with the second-to-last of these Hells (I think that was Burpees Over a Vat of Boiling Oil Day;), but before that it was errands with and for Eleanor. Her car had popped a check engine code- one just generic enough to be kinda scary:


On a Smart car, that could be anything from a brake failure to a speck of dust on the rear-view mirror, so I brought it first thing Monday and hoped for the best. That turned out to be "a three-day wait for a valve." We wondered where an electric car even HAS valves, and it turned out to be in the air conditioning system. They offered a loaner, but since that would have likely involved a Mercedes-branded tank, I passed and got a shuttle ride home- more or less in time to take Eleanor for her second post-op checkup. Doc was pleased with progress but didn't offer much of new horizons for her- walks, bike rides, any significant climbing or standing was still out, unless she wanted to go back to work the next week. He did, more or less, approve her to drive, so she took that first step Thursday when her car was finally ready and we went back for it.

First, though, I took her to a Buddhist meeting Wednesday night- and headed to a nearby cafe to take a crack at this year's NaNo effort. I've begun it maybe four or five times, and finished two 50,000 word short novels on two of them. This idea came weeks ago, re-germinated the night before (31 burpees will do that), and I wondered if it had 500 words in it, much less 100 times that.


That was my first-night venue, and it proved to produce about 650 words. I haven't been back to it, after hitting my first conundrum around that mark and being kinda busy since, but it may yet come. My last effort died in the early days, only to roar back in 10,000 word bursts in the final week, so we'll see.


I still need to do a full update on Entertaining Things, but we spent much of the next two nights catching up on and eventually finishing season two of Stranger Things. We loved every aspect of it- the writing, acting (especially the amazing kids), and constant homages to earlier works. One we'd heard of was Spielberg/Columbus's 80s movie The Goonies, so Eleanor picked that up for us to watch Saturday night.


Yesterday, then, the clock moved allegedly back, the animals continued to bitch at the new earlier time, and other than the Bills being off, it was a usual fall Sunday around here. Eleanor went to chant, and I took Ebony to the parp! This time, though, I brought something "to go" with us:


Puppy's become quite the picky eater in this, her 15th year. I've resorted to mixing her kibble with wet food just to make sure she gets enough nutrition (it also keeps the cat from eating and then horking her leftovers), but I drew the line when she turned her nose up at the treats we bought for her- Milkbone-ish ones after the rawhidier brand got recalled. No, dog, I am done putting peanut butter on your treats. So that's how I branded its box, and we weren't even out of the parking lot before Diesel, one of our Sunday morning regulars, laid claim to the entire stash:


Of course, as soon as his Daddy gave him one out of the box, Ebony suddenly wanted one, too.

The hour turned rainy- a Golden puppy tried to play with all three of the grumpy old dogs in our group and wound up rolling in mud halfway to his collar- and we left a little early. That is, until a cute little poodle tried escaping the airlock front gate when we were all going out. I picked her up- no resistance, and she was tagged and even had a GPS sensor on her- and we headed back in to a far corner to find her daddy, hanging out with his buddies, oblivious to Ella having almost gotten away.

This whole experience, or possibly me and Mommy leaving her alone in the house for two whole hours, was so stimulating, Ebony decided while we were out that she needed some plastic in her diet:


I ultimately found a good chunk of that hanger top, on the sofa and uneaten, but she still made the point about her dissatisfaction with The Help in this place.


We ended the weekend at the latest Thor movie- rollicking fun- and today I had the first of my four straight early court appearances this week. I got my own car serviced, and a fun movie by last night's director now awaits.

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Saturday night here. We just finished Maudie, the amazing Hawkins-and-Hawke teaming from last year, and we've begun the binge of Stranger Things. But most of things this week from my life instead got captured on the even-smaller-screen wot is my phone.

My last words here were from mid-day Monday. Tuesday was an uneventful catch-up-on-work day where I didn't have to go in early, but Wednesday began early- with me chasing down an opponent at 8 am (unsuccessfully), followed by a workout (more so). I then headed to the office and was greeted by this sight on Klein Road:

So Tom here (or Thomassina, I never really got to sex him) is fairly famous in those parts, even known to chase cars if they honk at him or get too close. And as the day began with him, I ended it at trash time passing this guy in front of a neighbor's house:


What, they couldn't afford a simple burial? (That's not our dear departed neighbor, or her house, btw; that home did sell this week, although we've yet to see who the new people are.)


Thursday was Out-of-Town Day. Lots of Hurry Up And Wait with late and canceled appointments, unreturned phone calls, and much running around in downtown Rochester between 4 and almost 5. Then, though, I had a more leisurely drive to get to night court in an adjacent town. When I missed the expressway turnoff for it and doubled back, I was drawn right in to the area's last-to-be-built, and first-to-completely-die, palace of retail. Originally developed by the local family (and onetime client) who dotted the burbs with others still hanging on to the west, south and east, it was pitched as their crown jewel, the first two-story mall in the region, complete with a historic-looking carousel in the food court.

As it originally said on the fawning sign from the town that once graced the expressway outside it (forced down by the state as an illegal billboard), "Welcome to Irondequoit- Home of Irondequoit Mall."


That's what you're greeted with now. The former Sibleys/Kaufmanns/Macys juts out with its panes falling out. Drive down to the old food court, and the carousel is still there, amazingly; those things are often hoarded and broken up by collectors.


Hungry? There's still a trace of a Ruby Tuesday on the ground floor, but I don't think there's a table waiting for you- or anyone else.


There are other, unphotographed, traces still standing of the failed efforts to revive the property- parking lot arrows for "Medley Centre," the name put on it by an out-of-town developer who sucked the public teat dry with tax breaks that went nowhere, and a big sign announcing "Skyview," the concept put on it by its current owner who bought the whole shitpile out of tax foreclosure for 100 grand. That would be Angelo, one of the former impresarios of "Iron-drequoit-a Dodge," as it was pronounced by their Central Casting Italian mama; he's got some plans to turn it into a call center factory floor or somesuch. I didn't have the time or the bail money to risk going inside, but it's pretty well documented on sites like deadmalls.


Speaking of bail money, from there I had to head to the court itself. I always get a little nervous when a town's Justice Court is in the same building as its Police Officer Station; any hint of judicial independence, not kiboshed by the common address, immediately vanishes when you walk into the courtroom and the biggest signs are for Visa and Mastercard to pay the traffic tickets and criminal fines that go to the town. My case, though, was civil, both in classification and result; my opponent's original papers had gotten lost in the mail, so he had little choice but to agree with me on what we wanted.

From there, one more pilgrimage. I've raved here many times about my favourite record shop in the universe, much closer to my office in that area, but one does not tread on Titus Avenue without stopping at the Great Great House of Guitars.


That montage gives you an idea of the size, the spirit and the clutter of the place. I was never all that fond of shopping for records there, since the staff was notoriously unhelpful to n00bs and also because they cataloged things by label rather than by artist. As that last picture shows, the organization has gone even further downhill since. But they do make efforts when somebody dies:


Fats Domino hadn't acquired a box yet- I'd just learned of his passing that day- but I did find a CD of my first and only Tom Petty album from vinyl days in that box on the left. Eleanor's already copied it onto her computer- it's endearing how many things I've bought or mentioned to her recently that she's come to enjoy, including Kris Delmhorst and the Chandler Travis Philharmonic.

A final stop at the Irondequoit Wegmans that sits on the site of yet another former Sibleys (and I found a fiver in the parking lot, go me!), and I was home just after Eleanor had turned in for the night. But she heard my "awwwwww" when I came in the door, and confirmed that these two had been up to this kind of cuddliness for some time before she said goodnight to them:


Their sister, the evil cat? Off somewhere else being evil.


No pictures from me from the remaining two days, although Emily did text me this one yesterday- her chapter's headquarters surprised them with an unannounced costume contest, and this was what she came up with on short notice:

With no appointments yesterday until afternoon, I slept in (as things go round here- till 9 a.m.), returned the rented wheelchair, picked up Eleanor's handicap permit and renewed the dog's license. That got us, once I got home, to beginning Stranger Things last night, and me to planning on watching some more episodes of The Good Place while donating platelets again at 7 this morning in one of our local mostly-deadmalls. (Pro tip: charge your phone BEFORE going, since you're chained to a blood-sucking machine for over two hours.)

I do owe a What I've/We've Been Watching post about those things, some other good things (all the way back to Orphan Black), and some not-so-hots like House of Cards and Bloodline. At least those won't require dozens of uploads from my phone to the wrong computer (more about THAT, too, someday).

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Two court hearings this morning. Three blocks apart. Now (9:15), and noon. I brought some work for in between, but these days, times like this are my only times to catch up here.

Eleanor’s still coming along nicely, but the boredom is beginning to settle in. Our Big Adventure when I got out out of work early was going back to her doctor (to pick up her handicap permit paperwork), and to a pet store for fish supplies. We do walk on the wild side, don’t we?

Before that, though, I had a long day out of town- for court, a client appointment, and to get my car back from Emily.

First was Niagara Falls.

I had one hearing there at 9 and one at 10. The earlier one was for a guy who hired me to do an emergency filing in August and never got back once after that about finishing the job. His case was on for (and eventually got) dismissal, but I’d told him to be there and I needed to be sure he wasn’t.

This is a remote location of Bankruptcy Court where they routinely print notices directing clients to the wrong floor of the building. I get to the correct place on the second floor and no client. So I take the elevator to the wrong floor, get off, still no client but I hear a court deputy directing other people down that hall. "No, officer," I helpfully tell her, "they misprinted the notice. Hearings are on the SECOND FLOOR."

"This IS the second floor."


Dumbass never pushed the button to the third floor, and just sat there in a stationary elevator for 10 seconds.

Hopefully there are medications for this as I get older.

But the day was not over. After I made the switch of cars with the kid, I knew I wouldn’t be home by dinner time. I went to get gas first, and I saw a Wendy’s across the street. I tried to pull in- but it’s closed for renovations.

I don’t know where many of these joints are around town anymore, but I remembered that there were a few of them around Emily’s old apartment on Lyell Avenue. And it’s right off 490. So I headed over there, and there’s a Mickey D’s – closed for renovations.

Now I’m mad, and will pretty much take the first thing I see. That turned out to be a BK, which amazingly is not closed for renovations. I slogged down a Whopper Junior, but that thing had a freaking salad bar piled on top of it – the tomato slice was thicker than the bun – and I dropped an onion slice somewhere on the floor, which by the next morning had stunk up the entire car.

Moral: when life gives you a hint, take it.

Friday was a day to sleep in all the way to 8:30, but Saturday, again, involved an alarm for the third week out of four. This time, it was to head right back to Rochester to participate in their Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the second in three weekends that Emily was helping to organize and run.

Unlike the Canandaigua one which got rained on, we had perfect weather for this one. It began and ended at Frontier Field, done for this baseball season but with the field still intact:


I saw little of the kid, who was going nuts at the registration tables, so I headed into the sea of purple t-shirts. Every mascot in the county was there-



-and even a Disney princess or two worked the crowd.

Then we were off. The route followed a symbol of 50s highway Brutalism known as the Inner Loop, which circles downtown like a moat, ruined neighborhoods when built and is now being ripped out and replaced by grade-level boulevards one section at a time. We walked the still-expressy segment from State to East Main, but across the lanes you could see how the first of the ripped out sections has already gone back to nature-


We also got to take pictures from the shoulder where pedestrians usually dare not pass-


That was about a mile and a half; for the return, we looped onto the eastbound lanes and walked back west to the ballpark to make it a full 5K. Nobody was quite sure where to go at the end, but eventually we were pointed into the bowels of the bullpens- places I’d never seen, much less walked through, in my 20-plus years going to games in this place-

In time, I met up with Em again to exchange a few more Things Left In Cars- and that’s when I offered a ride to these two, punched out and done for the day-


They declined; she still had her Uber pumpkin on call.

I pigged out in our favorite Rochester record shop- still going strong because they sell more than just records-



-took the kid to lunch, and headed home. There, I finally saw something with the day’s date on it, and remembered it was my late sister’s 50th wedding anniversary. That was also a beautiful late October Saturday, and I can’t add much more to my words about it from five years ago except to be sure that Sandy would’ve been proud of me for devoting the day to a charity event, just as her daughter did on the anniversary of her passing five years before.

That gets us caught up, and me halfway between those court appearances. (My opponent never showed for the early one:P) Back to work, hopefully without uncooperative elevators or onions. This entry was originally posted at https://captainsblog.dreamwidth.org/1504537.html. Please comment here, or there using OpenID.
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Oddly, our most annoying companion- Michelle the evil cat- has given us the least to write about over the past few days. Here's the rest of the menagerie news.

I awoke Sunday morning to a Facebook feed full of bad news from near and far. One friend, in Philadelphia, was awakened overnight by gunshots outside, and she soon learned that they had hit a man two doors down from her. (He later died of his wounds.) Another, closer to here in a suburb on the other side of Buffalo, was also awakened overnight- by a drunk driver, who sped down her quiet side street, hit a parked car, came to a brief rest in her front garden and finally gave one more push to crash into her front porch. (He ran away and was caught three doors down; everybody inside the house was fine, but if the parked car and garden hadn't slowed down the idiot, my friend's son on the other side of the porch wall might not have lived.)

So it seemed hardly in that league of news to realize that Zoey, our youngest kitty and perhaps our sweetest-ever furry friend, had gotten out during the night. No sign of her when the bowls went down, but moments later there was mewing at the back door. It hadn't been raining and was stupidly warm that night, so there's no way to tell if she got out on the dog run at 9, midnight or 4, but there she was....

and, after we got back from Eleanor's checkup on Monday afternoon, there the fleas were. It's amazing how quickly she can pick them up out there. We then attempted to hold her down long enough to medicate her for it- and off she went, flying into an unknown corner but not before getting a good bite in on Mommy in the process. She finally turned up under the guest futon, was toweled into submission, and was back to purring a few hours later. (In front of a heat register, which by then was putting heat out instead of the air conditioning of a day earlier. Welcome to Buffalo in October.)


Yesterday, the kitty news was from afar: Cameron was at a lumberyard, and a nearly newborn kitten came across his path. Here's how Eleanor reported the conversations about it with Emily:

Clearly abandoned. No one else doing anything about it. He brought her home, where they already have two cats, all their lease will allow them. They called all the local SPCAs, which were closed. Somehow they got in touch with a local rescue person, who promised to pick the little one up [the next] morning, and during the night (the rescue woman works nights) texted Emily with tips on how to care for such a little baby (they think she just opened her eyes shortly before she was found).

Emily kept saying last night and this morning, that she felt sad that she wasn’t “able to do something substantial for her”. I said no, she DID do something substantial for her! If Cam hadn’t picked her up, and the two of them hadn’t done everything they did, she probably would have died without her momma! She stands a better chance of living because of Em and Cam! I sent Em this:

🏆Best Human Beings of the Day Award!

Once I saw her picture, I was sure they were done for, and they (or we) would wind up with her-

-but they made the handoff just fine today, and kitty stands a much better chance of finding a good forever home because of them.


That leaves our dear old dog, and I do mean old; she'll be 15 in a couple of months.  I'd been putting off Ebony's annual vet visit to the limit just because of how much it stresses her out, but we were out of meds after today and that's when I was able to make the appointment for.  As she's done the past several times, she showed her initial displeasure by taking a dump in the waiting room- then panting and pacing the whole time we waited in between the tech and the vet coming in.  But when they're actually working with her (and plying her with treats), she's fine- and other than being down a couple of pounds, her vitals were all good and her chronic symptoms- some eye glaze and some puffiness in the hind legs- don't seem to be any worse or causing her any problems.  They took her back for her heartworm test draw and a mani-pedi- which reminded me to do the same for Zoey when I got home.  Everybody's now home, fed and free of stress and distress.

Even Michelle, who will likely shit in my shoe just because I said nice things about her:P

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