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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 01:49pm on 24/09/2017

For the Bangles, Sunday was their Fun Day. Their I don't have to run day.  Not mine. Sunday is my Park Day, my listen to the bark day, the find the poopy mark day:



(That's not a breakfast sammich in my right hand:P)

Instead, Saturday is the one day usually without an alarm or an agenda. Except yesterday. The longtime companion of a recent coworker had died, and yesterday morning was that set for his funeral at a small but beautiful Catholic church on Buffalo's west side.

I maybe met Randy once, and didn't work with Jan all that long either, but she's the kind of person you have to come out in support of.  I found the neighborhood- now more Muslim than Catholic- and a parking space on an adjacent street.  Two sights caught me before even setting eyes on the church itself: a cat crossing the street who was more the size of a puma; and a little girl from the neighborhood, dodging oncoming mourners while heading down the sidewalk on a pogo stick.  It's been years since I'd seen one of those in play, and it added a needed touch of levity to what would surely be a sad event.

Randy had overcome more than his share of sadness in life. His parents both died when he was still a teenager. After joining the Navy soon after high school, his first job took him to Rochester, and an almost 30-year career with the Big Yellow Box. Jan had been his high school sweetheart, but they each married and went their own ways.  In time, both of their spouses predeceased them, and Randy was also faced with the premature death of one of his own two sons and with having to care for the younger mentally challenged son, as well. Jan was immense help to him and his son. I chanced to meet him just past the pogo stick- he seemed sad, but supported by a lot of extended family.

The service itself was brief but beautiful. An old-school Catholic parish in a barely Catholic neighborhood presents challenges- often responded to by the Diocese shutting the doors- but this one seemed determined to do God's work for whoever is in need. The priest was African, the pianist/soloist Korean, the altar boys probably Filipino- and the signups in the back weren't for chicken barbecues or pro-life rallies but for helping the immigrants of the community.  Randy's brothers spoke briefly near the end of the memorial, and then the naval honor guard came forward.  There was no casket present, so the sailors unfurled the flag fully before re-folding it and handing it to Jan and to Randy's surviving son.  THAT's the kind of display of a flag that nobody can take issue with.

Randy donated his body to UB's anatomical study program, and in time he will be interred in Rochester's Riverside Cemetery to join his wife and son. My father-in-law also rests there. 

----

I came home to the sounds and fury of a deranged leader who had decided, the night before, to make an incredibly big deal out of the almost-forgotten protests taking place during the playing of the National Anthem at NFL games.  The Cheeto has since doubled and even tripled down on his vitriol, cursing those who protest and demanding their sacking (and not the kind by defensive ends).

You keep using those words, "Respect for the flag." I do not think they mean what you think they mean.  To me, they mean the freedom to express dissent, as long as it is peaceful.  I'm more than halfway through the first week of the Ken Burns Vietnam series, and also just finished a piece about Cheeto's fellow despot-in-crime, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.  Both of those presented tales of citizens, both North and South,  being forced to support the aims and symbols of their repressive governments, being threatened with arrest or worse if they didn't comply.  We are better than that.  Our flag flies for even those who don't completely agree with everything it has ever stood for.  And to ostracize and name-call those who exercise that right? Not right.

The owners of the Bills made this statement in response to the oppobrium from Alabama:   

Several of us met tonight -- players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it's the best way to work through any issue we are facing -- on and off the field.

President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.

Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.

The comments in response to that are running about 90 percent "love it or leave it," but those are not indicative of the world at large. Or of the team- which locked arms for today's anthem, some kneeling, some not. Saying, "we disagree on some things, but we are together where it matters."  I will not say a word about how that will translate to the game's outcome until it's over, but for now it's a very good sign- and I think even Randy would have been proud of them.

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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 03:36pm on 21/09/2017
More or less chronological from the past day:

Our longtime neighbor's house is finally up for sale. The sign went up late yesterday, and a listing showed up this morning.  By this afternoon, the listing realtor's site for it had been taken down. Did it sell that fast, or is something else going on?  This third-party site still has the info and some photos of in and out:



Yup, it's the answer to life, the universe and everything!



All traces of Betty's gardens are gone.



A retro-fan friend of mine picked right up on the built-in radio, likely of the same vintage as the '57 Buick of a built-in oven we still have in our kitchen next door.

Anyway, all this can be yours (including the curtains). Unless it can't because it sold in under a day- which does happen around here these days.

----

Also last night, before I saw any of those pictures, I saw this one:



A friend and fellow aminal lover posted this tale from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter:

 

Lilly is a 12-18 month old chocolate lab mix who came to the shelter when her owners moved out of their house and left her behind. A concerned neighbor brought her to our care.

REALLY?!? Who does that? She looked well cared for, and the rest of the listing said she was doing well meeting people and other dogs.  I knew the time was all wrong- with Eleanor's three month layup, she's going to have enough trouble letting one dog out the back door during the day- but cmon. That FACCCCCE.  So I detoured after court this morning and checked. Sadly (or happily, really), Lilly already got adopted out. There were plenty of other choices, most of them pitties, but no. This would have been for Tasha- our first doggie rescue, a Chocolate lab mix who we gave the best 12 years of her 13 years of life through a few years ago. I'll continue to say no, but I'll never say never.

----

In other transitions, a longtime friend lost her longtime cat companion the other day. But not many Rainbow Bridge residents have a whole series of mystery novels starring them for us to remember them by:



Closer to home, the longtime companion of a former coworker passed away this week after a very long series of end days. His funeral is Saturday morning, and I think I need to go to that.

----

I think I also need to go out of town tomorrow for my only trip this week.  Nothing about THAT ever changes.
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 08:36pm on 17/09/2017
The last three workdays last week were bookended by trips to Rochester for both work and teeth.  The only scheduled work of Wednesday was signing up a couple's wills; only one of them showed up, though, so that wound up making for a very early start on Friday to get Mr. Client's done, as well.

The Wednesday dental appointment was the more routine one- just a semiannual cleaning. The new hygienist is very young, very good, but very chatty. Better to be that during a cleaning than during what came two days later.

Emily's office is just down the road from Dr. Ron's, so I stopped over there to drop off a copy of Nothing- a quirky Canadian film our friend Ann recommended to us.  Since I was running a little behind schedule, I just found her car in the parking lot and slipped the DVD under her windshield. I even texted her that I would probably do that....

which she apparently forgot.  By the time she got home, a good 20 mile drive, she hadn't realized I'd done it, but amazingly, it was still there under the wiper.  Good thing it hadn't rained that day;)



----

Two days later, I was back there, to take care of problems with two teefs.  One, I'd known about for ages; the other came up on an x-ray last time I was in. Either could have turned into a major crown job, but we got them both filled and smoothed out with much less time and expense.  Before that, I also finished Will Number Two for Wednesday's couple, and got back here at a decent hour for, among other things, watching a goofy Scandinavian film that Netflix sent us; both of us were getting deja vu throughout, which made sense, because not only had we seen it before, we own it.  Then last night, we watched Repo Man, which we knew we owned, in honor of the passing of Harry Dean Stanton.

----

Small world time at the dog park today.  I'd fallen behind on a lot of paperwork with the time spent driving and sitting in dentists' chairs, so I tried cranking out a bunch of stuff from home on Saturday morning. It wasn't going well- the printer jammed, the work was dreary, and I was in Such A Mood when I left to finish up at the office, I decided to work in a workout first. It shouldn't have been overtiring (I check their unofficial schedule on reddit before booking anything), but for whatever reason it really wore me out. But the instructor is a really nice guy- my second class with him at the studio on the other side of town that is actually closer to my office than my "regular" one is.

Turns out I'd already met him before.  Not long into our first trip round the Parp!, we saw a couple of beagles who've been there before- Peter and Piper.  Their male human looked at me kinda funny, and we finally concluded that he's the trainer I'd done the class with the day before.

----

Recording Vietnam as I finish this.  I don't know if I'll get into it, but everything I've read about it, and about Burnsian documentaries in general, has been very positive.
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 08:31pm on 12/09/2017
It's not that I've been short on things to write about in recent days; it's more keeping up with All The Things that doesn't leave all that much time for sitting down here.  We've been ramping up my getting acclimated to doing all of the cooking (and eventually the grocery shopping) round here prior to Eleanor's surgery in, now, less than a month. Tonight was the first time I ran an old familiar recipe pretty much from the ingredients on. 

We, and/or I, also continue watching All The Things. Our local PBS affiliate delayed the season finale of Endeavour by a week so they could run more interruptable pledge-drive programming, so we instead watched the first of the Inspector Morse episodes from 1987. "The Dead of Jericho" gave us our first looks at John Thaw as Morse, at Kevin Whately as Lewis, and at the actors whose characters of Max and Strange would be played 30 years later (and 20 years earlier) in Endeavour. Colin Dexter makes his first cameo, and his novel was adapted by Anthony Minghella, later to pen The English Patient among many others. Guest stars included Gemma (later to play Mother of Bridget) Jones, but sadly "Dead of Jericho" also featured one of the last appearances by Second Doctor Patrick Troughton. He would pass away two months after the episode aired, at a Doctor Who convention in Columbus, Georgia.

Then last night, we streamed "Harvest," the finale of this year's model.  For some reason, the stream never got hung up during the 90 minutes, but the video had a herky-jerky character to it throughout, which only added to the episode's spookiness. As with the prior ones in this prequel, there were plenty of Easter-eggy homages throughout, including John Thaw's widow joining his daughter in the cast, and a character name-checking Thaw's first-ever motion picture role, coincidentally occurring in the year in which this episode's events began to unfold. The season ended with some emotional cliffhangery moments, and a Deus ex Regina explanation for how Morse became a Sergeant, but it left all the key people still alive (other than those you know can't be killed off) and we're looking forward to another series of it next year.

----

On my own time, mainly while getting to cardio (which I couldn't last week while they renovated the gym I go to for that), I've been streaming another crime series, one with its tongue way further embedded in its super-cheek:

https://media.vanityfair.com/photos/57b5d81c51d697ed23e725f1/master/pass/t-the-tick-superhero-parody-01.jpg

This premiered last year, part of Amazon's Vote For Me pilot effort, and His Blue Bugginess made the cut.  It is the latest televised incarnation of a cult comic, this one with the active involvement of the character's creator Ben Edlund, and its cast of mostly comedic performers send up the genre without the limits that even Deadpool and the Guardians face when confined to a Comic Universe with seeeeerious characters (and rights battles among major movie studios, none of whom can really be made fun of).  The Tick brings back the reckless abandon of Batman '66, none of the villains lets their evil get in the way of a good laugh, and there's a certain sweetness in some of the family connections that the characters bring to the story (such as sidekick Arthur and his sister) or that are slowly growing in the script between Blue Antennae and Gray Butterfly.

Only problem I have? I've seen the whole pilot and am more than halfway into the first six-episode drop provided by Prime, and I've yet to hear the Tick utter his trademark line even once:

http://rs294.pbsrc.com/albums/mm98/Zach_Desnaux/Tick.jpg~c200
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 07:27pm on 07/09/2017
Three days of the abbreviated workweek are in the books. They've gone reasonably well, although I'm getting stood up by clients who've been breaking appointments at a rather alarming rate.  Worse, when I'm at the office waiting for them, I'm not at home entertaining the dog.... which leads to occurrences like this one:

No automatic alt text available.

That's the complete destruction of Gil Hodges, and turning Tom Seaver into Ron Swoboda, which is the kind of trade only the Mets would make.

----

In anticipation of Eleanor's disability layoff (laid-up is probably more accurate), she's been walking me through how to make any of a number of her regular-rotation recipes. Last night it was crafting an Asian sauce for a combination of shrimp and rice.  Monday night, though, she'd planned on a simpler concoction of hot dogs and baked beans, but before she left for work, she told me she was going to beg out of the latter recipe and just make cole slaw from pre-made sliced broccoli fixins from the store.  Only with me having the day off, and after taking Ebony on a bonus Labor Day dog park run, I decided to get the ingredients for the baked beans from the Wegmans nearest the parp!, and had them ready when she got home:



I know, Emeril's job is safe- but helping out over these coming months is feeling a lot easier.

----

After the dog-and-bean combo Monday, we watched the third installment of Endeavour's fourth series, now airing on PBS.  This one was particularly evocative of a story line from the original Inspector Morse canon, because in "Lazaretto" (all the Endeavour eps have one-word titles), the younger Morse encounters his former almost in-laws- and reveals to us, as his later self would years later, that he had been engaged to be married once.  We even get a brief glimpse of Susan in a cemetery scene.  A little remembering, and a little researching, combined to remind me that said Susan, who eventually married someone else, figured prominently in a Morse episode titled "Dead on Time." I couldn't remember if she was a suspect, a victim or a red herring in that one, so I tracked down the DVD of it from the library and we watched it last night- the first time we've returned to the original episodes since beginning to follow the prequel three years ago.

I'd missed the interaction of Morse and Lewis. His younger self's pairing with Roger Allam's Thursday is a different dynamic- not completely, but there's a grounding that Lewis brings to his Guv that Endeavour either can't manage or just doesn't need to provide in the same way.  It's also strange to see, well, Strange as he turns out- compared to the young former bobby who leapfrogs over Morse on the organisation chart and eventually becomes the constablio di tutti constabliere of the Oxford police. 

This episode also brought a guest star I didn't remember from seeing it the first time round (though I distinctly remember the episode other than the Whodunit part)- Adrian Dunbar, who starred in the beloved-by-us and hard-to-find-on-DVD* film Hear My Song. In the older Morse episode, he plays a doctor who also becomes part of the mystery.  Sadly, "Dead on Time" has no sign of Max the pathologist, played so wonderfully by Peter Woodthorpe early in the Morse series and even more so by James Bradshaw in the prequel; they mention such a professional in the coroner's inquest scene but never show or even name him (or her, as Inspector Lewis would eventually flirt with among the dead bodies).

Just one more Endeavour from Series 4 on PBS; the fifth collection has already been commissioned for an even longer six-episode run that will be out next year.  Maybe by then we'll know what all the tarot cards are about.

One sighting of DEATH is confirmed, though: BBC will not be bringing back Class, last year's Doctor Who spinoff, for a second season.  That link offers some thoughts on why the whole business didn't work.

----

*Hard but not impossible. Just found a Region 1 DVD of it on Amazon and it's in our cart- along, presumably, with a replacement shirt:P
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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 11:34am on 03/09/2017
It's been a summer tradition at my office in Rochester to close for a summertime day and take everyone, kids in tow, to the local amusement park. For years, I stayed home from it- whether because of incompatible schedules, inclement weather or indifference generally- and this year's first go at it wound up being postponed because it was a partly cloudy 60F day in the middle of July. But this time- despite the  rescheduled date being a partly cloudy 60F day on the first of September- I decided to go. It brought back never-had memories of this particular place, but also rekindled some very much like it that I've had throughout my life.

When and where I was growing up, "theme parks" were far away, if not far into the future. Disneyland was on the other side of the country, and there was nothing like it in this time zone until the 70s. We did get a brief taste of it when New York City hosted a World's Fair That Really Wasn't One when I was four and five years old.  Despite many nations begging out altogether or sending just token pavilions, one of the exhibitors had sacred Vatican artifacts, another introduced us to Belgian waffles, plus we got temporary installations of Disney attractions that continue to earworm kids on multiple continents 50-plus years later.

But these were my first memories of anything approaching a "thrill ride."  After the fair left town in 1965, nothing of its magnitude ever appeared on our side of the Hudson. Yes, there was Coney Island, but it was considered too worn-down and honky-tonk for school trips, much less anything my parents would pay for. And parks in New Jersey beckoned- to "Come on Over!" or "Have a Great Adventure!" (Jerry Lewis even sang the jingle in one of those, now embargoed along with his Nazi clown movie until 2024.)  But that would have involved two bridges and two tolls, plus a shitload of dimes to pay for all the rides.

Us? We had an amusement park closer by, with a name that really wasn't one.

----

We called it Jolly Roger(s), but that was the name of the restaurant adjacent to it and closest to Hempstead Turnpike. 



Officially, it was Happyland- the final effort of a legend of amusement I knew nothing of at the time, named Nunley:

Happyland was established by William Nunley, a third-generation amusement park entrepreneur, who already operated facilities in Baldwin, in Queens (in Broad Channel and Rockaway Beach), and in Westchester County (in Yonkers), N.Y. The new park would be larger than Nunley's other locations and, unlike its predecessors, was designed from the start for year-round operation, with a heated indoor ride area. Two walls of the pavilion were designed with large movable glass panels which could be opened in warm weather or closed when it was cold. (The glass doors used were salvaged from the French pavilion at the 1939-40 World's Fair.)

Others on Long Island remember "Nunley's" as the Baldwin one, which I remember nothing of; it opened earlier, lasted longer, and had some of its attractions preserved on Nausea County's "Museum Row" of abandoned airplane hangars.  This one was perhaps a couple miles closer to East Meadow, and so that is where we would go for the closest thrills we were going to get:

When Happyland opened in 1951, it had a mix of outdoor and indoor rides. Outdoors were a Schiff Ferris wheel, Schiff roller coaster, Hodges hand cars, and a miniature train. Inside were a Herschel "Sky Fighter," Pinto fire engine, Schiff boat ride, Pinto pony ride, and a 48-horse carousel. (This carousel should not be confused with the one from Nunley's Baldwin facility, which is preserved at Nassau County's "Museum Row.") Along the walls were more than one hundred items of arcade equipment: small coin-operated rides, pinball machines, skee-ball games, and hand-cranked mutoscope-style movie viewers.

This low-rent carny motif is pretty much what I walked into on Friday, preserved in Rochester as in very few other places. All you need to know about the original of my youth comes from the last sentence of the main Wikipedia entry:

The site is now occupied by a strip mall.

----

By the time I left Long Island for good 40 Augusts ago, Happylands weren't going to cut it for kids who'd already been to Disney World and the soon-to-be-Six-Flagged Great Adventure across the rivers.  When I was at Cornell, Syracuse and Binghamton TV stations began running ads for the new one of that ilk nearest to us: Darien Lake Fun Country.  Developed originally in the middle of the then-716 footprint by Buffalo entrepreneur Paul Snyder (better known for creating hotels and disk jockeys), it started with an emphasis on the "country" part, ending those endless commercials with "....we're a country smile away!"  It went through wheel after wheel of corporate ownership, being Six-Flagged (and Warner Brothers-DC Comic-charactered to death) for much of that time, before now being likely owned by a hedge fund devoted to cutting back on safety measures.  This is the kind of park that goes on "bigger is better and more expensive" as its mantra.  Biggest is the Ride of Steel, formerly named for Supe but now just the tallest coaster in the whole state. I tried it the one time I went with Emily in probably the early oughts; I think my glasses were finally found in an onion field in Orleans County.

For most of Kids These Days who get out at all from staring at their phones or xBoxes, this is likely what they need to go to if they're going to get even the semblance of a thrill.  Except in sleepy Western New York, where amazingly, two proper descendants of the Happyland era still carry on.

One is closer to home here, on Grand Island.  Known in various forms in its history as Fantasy Island (save an unfortunate era as Two Flags Over Niagara), it has all the hallmarks of a park preserved in amber: the historic carousel, the almost-as-historic coaster, the tacky live show (Wild West on the east coast of Canada, yo!), and a ton of other rides which likely haven't been repaired since people my age were first riding on them.  And keeping with the wrong-name theme, ask any Western New Yorker to describe this park in only two words, they will invariably cite an advertising slogan that hasn't been used in most of their lifetimes:



----

The other is where I spent the afternoon on Friday. Seabreeze is literally at the end of the line- originally of Rochester's trolley cars, now at the northeast end of its Outer Loop interstate. If I'd ever gone there before, I don't remember; it's so interchangeable with Fantasy Island I may be mistaking one of those visits for having been there.  But it has the same boatload of memories for anyone who grew up in that area. Its historic coaster, the Jack Rabbit, is the oldest continuously operating one in the country.  My lawyer colleague who booked this trip remains scared shitless of it from when he was a kid and still won't go on it.  (We settled for the Bobsled, which only flings your glasses to the adjacent town if you don't put them in your pocket).   It lost its historic carousel in a 1994 fire, but the family which still owns the place rebuilt it.  Their version of the tacky live show is what can only be described as "Cheap de Soleil."

IMG_3260


We did two other rides, both tied to legendary park attractions: the Music Express, a centifugal-force-on-your-lunch machine playing amped-up dance music, which took the place of an earlier stomach-cruncher called the Gyrosphere, which apparently every Rochesterian associates with its playing of "Fire On High" by the Electric Light Orchestra; and the bumper cars.



This one brought us the most fun and alleviation of feelings about clients as we all rammed into each others' sides (no head-on collisions, sorry:P), but the building itself even predates the ancient Porsches we were driving. It was the original line-up building for an even earlier coaster known as the Greyhound, which dated to 1916 and which the Bobsled more or less resembles.

They've also added massive water park attractions, but given the 60F day none of us, and hardly anybody else, was spotted in or near them.  But as I headed out at the end of the afternoon (after finally realizing the place has TWO major parking areas and the PARK EXIT isn't the one I was close to), I got one final shot of perhaps the biggest attraction of all. Six Flags may bring you a Great Adventure, but only Seabreeze is gonna give you a Great Lake:




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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 04:45pm on 31/08/2017

* Celery won its last mascot race in Buffalo, going out with a lifetime record of 1-449!

* The Red Wings renewed their lease for at least another ten years in Rochester!

* The Keith Wenning Era of professional football begins tonight in Orchard Park! (And likely ends Saturday when he is almost certain to be cut from the Bills' roster.)

* August ended with me only filing four new BK cases, but three of them counted as emergency filings, and at least four more non-emergency ones are teed up for September with the papers either fully/nearly complete and/or their filings paid for.

* I finally got to pay-backward my experience of a week ago, paying for an order behind me at Timmy's. I'd also bought a box of Timbits for the office here, only they forgot to hand them over at the drive-thru, and when I went back to claim them, they added a few more to the box for my trouble.

* Monday is a real holiday, but tomorrow my only appointment canceled on me, and the Rochester office is spending the day at an amusement park. A good way to begin a new month:)

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posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 09:42pm on 30/08/2017
As we hit the midpoint of the last unofficial week of summer, we look back at things which once roamed the earth- and realize that some of them extinct more than others. This week brought a virtual tie between Tradition and Technology. We'll start with the latter, since the subject matter is closer to the bottom (_ _).

Both of us have been out of the house more than usual. Eleanor's been ramping up her hours between now and early October when she goes out for foot surgery, and I've had multiple out-of-town gigs each of the past few weeks, plus another run of bankruptcies all coming at once including three emergency filings this month alone. The dog has reacted to this inattention by turning her attention to anything fabric she can get her jaws on. Sometime in the middle of last week, both of us came home to find a pair of underwear apiece in tatters. I checked my inventory and realized, with the greatest of dread, that it was time to set foot in a clothing store.

For me, for this particular need, that means only one place:



I've been getting the same briefs there since I was probably ten. Stafford's the brand, cotton/polyester's the blend; the size, well, has varied before coming down in recent years. I have my drill at the store nearest my old office and current gym: park on the Transit side, march right into the menswear department, get it and get out. Usually, there's a coupon in hand, but even though I waited for the Sunday paper, they apparently cut back on those. In-store, the offers only involved buying more stuff or signing up for a credit card. No thanks and no thanks, but I did catch a deal on a pack of seven for the price of six. Perfect, I thought; that'll fit right in with my traditional MONDAY-TUESDAY-WEDNESDAY labeling system;) I grabbed one other discretionary item (a new dress shirt as crisp as Johnny's, minus Rex's cigarette pack), brought them home, and discovered that the store had hit the Trifecta of Fail: wrong quantity (just the six), wrong material (all cotton), and wrong size (a reachable goal but not this week).

Grrrr.

So I tossed them back in the car and made another stop over there after coming back from Rochester on Monday. (My Last Closing Ever, Promise, closed. Sort of. Took over a day for the papers to be recorded and there were other nuisances.) Brick and mortar stores no longer have dedicated registers in departments and for returns; you enter the corral with all the other shoppers, waiting for the one cashier dedicated to a full third or more of the still-humongous store. She shrugged when I presented the evidence; go get another one.

I tried, pawing over a Jeopardy board-sized matrix of boxes with random sizes, styles and quantities. Not a one had what my package said I'd already scored. I was late getting home at that point, so I just bailed and figured I'd try the somewhat larger Penney's in a somewhat upperscaler mall the next day.

No luck there, either. Bigger game board, but still not a single one of what I was looking for. Now disgusted, I just turned them in for a refund (which at last check has yet to hit my account). This is when I joined the early 21st century and checked online at jcpenney.com. They had them. They also had another item I might've also purchased on Trip The Second (a new bathrobe to replace the one which the dog air-conditioned a few months ago). Together, they qualified for an online-only $25 off coupon and free shipping, which means I'm getting the ill-fated, ill-fitted underwear for a net price of three bucks.

I could also have picked up the briefs in-store. At the first one. Only with them doing the picking and pawing over. I give them five years, tops, until they've been completely Amazonned out of existence.

----

Banks, on the other hand, have one advantage in getting you into their brick and mortar venues: money. Sometimes you need it, sometimes you need to deposit it. That was my need yesterday, as the checks from MLCE,P finally became clear to deposit at about 3 in the afternoon, giving me an hour to get them into my trust account so I could disburse to everyone today.

I also needed customer service, which banks still generally do have at separate counters. I'd frozen a debtor's bank account- one of my lawyer superpowers which is very effective at getting people to want to pay you all of a sudden. The one who paid needed its account unfrozen, which I am very amenable to do once the check is good. Except its bank- which happens to be my bank- changed the fax number to send these to.

Getting direct phone numbers of banking offices, from branches to back office, generally involves skills needed to hack into NSA computers. Back then there were phone books, and continuing today with online searching, you invariably get shunted into one-number-for-everything customer service lines, which put you into phone trees of prompts if you even get that far because of being asked to please enter your account number.

It's not MY account number, ma'am. (I now HATE the M&T lady voice. I hear it in my sleep now, I heard it so many times.) Voice Mail Jail tricks like pressing zero no longer work. It was at a point where hand delivering the unfaxable fax to their legal processing department, four miles away, seemed like a good choice. But since I was in a branch anyway, I asked their customer service person if she knew what the number was- or even just a voice number.

A few clicks, a few clacks, no better luck than I was having. But then Brenda reached below her desk and solved the problem by pulling out a tool from a long gone time:



Recognize it? (Most will.) Ah, but when did you last USE one, or even better fill out a card in one? These gizmos have been lamented by Gizmodo for being supplanted by technology. The author tells of its progeny ("the brainchild of Arnold Neustadter, a somewhat anal twentieth century inventor from Brooklyn"), its necessity ("Between 1948 and 1970, an estimated 20 percent of all Americans moved each year. How was anyone supposed to keep track of all those new street names without having to rewrite their whole address book every few months?"), and its success where Arnold's other inventions had failed (the Swivodex, the Clipodex, and the utterly unrhyming thing that was the Punched). But the Rolodex stuck, and stuck around as a staple (heh) of office culture all through my first two decades of law practice. I've never had one in the decade-plus I've been out on my own, but don't tell Arnold's kid that:

Mr. Neustadter, who died in 1996, never saw the way in which digital storage would affect his iconic invention. But his daughter insists he would've argued that his Rolo-baby was as relevant as ever. When I called to tell her that I was going to include the Rolodex in OBSOLETE, my book about objects that are fading from our lives, she got huffy. She spoke in a tone that requires exclamation points. "They still work! You just can't carry them around! Places still sell them," she said. I told her she was right—the book is about things that still exist, but just barely. She continued. "They aren't obsolete! Give your book another title! You know, look at it this way: computers get viruses! But the Rolodex, it's never taken a sick day in it's life."

Also, thank gods, you also ain't telling Brenda that. For from the depths of Rololand, she spun the magic wheel and came up with a card with the elusive fax number, erm, the same one I'd been using. But. It also had a voice number on it, and that still worked, leading to the new, toll-free version now embedded in my computer's contact list. I suppose I should write it down, too. Maybe make a list of especially useful, NO!, a chart, NO!, a spinning wheel to contain them all!

Or maybe I should just write it in Sharpie on my eighth pair of underwear, right after the SUNDAY pair;)
captainsblog: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 06:15pm on 27/08/2017

I returned to a minor league stadium last night- its usual tenant back in residence, at least for now.

Officially, this was Work. A guy owes a good client about five grand, and has resisted all routine efforts to procure payment. In googling him, I discovered he has a card collectible business, and further found references to a collectors' group that has regular meetings in a Rochester suburb.  Except this month:

August 26, 2017 (OFF-SITE) – Another exciting show but this one is our annual OFF-SITE show at Frontier Field during the Rochester Red Wings game. Wrestling Hall of Famer IVAN “POLISH POWER” PUTSKI (a.k.a. The Polish Hammer) will be in the stadium from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. signing and throwing out the first pitch. Autographs will be only $20 which includes an 8 X 10 photo.

Okay, then. How could I resist? 

I didn't get on the road until 4:30 and by the time I bought a ticket and got in, first pitch had come and gone- but the tables were all still humming, with sights of many of my 60s/70s era baseball cards which my mother lost on me. Also, no sign of either The Guy or The Polish Hammer.  I spoke with the organizer, who told me, nah, Tony doesn't do these anymore.  So either he really doesn't or they're covering for him.  (I've met him before; he saw the Mets logo on my phone and tried schmoozing me because he's a fan, too.  Sorry, Tony, so was Bernie Madoff and I didn't like him any better, either:P)

So I just got to take in the sights and sounds of a late August minor league game. Most leagues below MLB wrap up on or around Labor Day weekend, so this was likely my last chance to see the Red Wings this summer (they are still alive for a playoff spot but those tend to be anticlimactic after the big teams call up all the good AAA players on September 1st).

This has apparently been there for years, but I somehow never saw it until last night: a sculpture from the city's longago Horses on Parade installation, made out of baseball gloves by whimsical local artist Bill Stewart:



Food was beef on weck. The seat was nowhere near the one named on the ticket, as I squatted in a field-level section right behind the visiting (Buffalo, as it happened) dugout.  For me, though, the highlight of the Red Wings' win was a nice move by a Bison player. A Rochester batter popped a foul right to the railing of our section, and Buffalo shortstop Gregorio Petit made a nice play to catch it. Right in front of him was a little girl with a pink mitt. Usually, players either return a caught ball to the team or, if feeling charitable, flip it into the stands.  Not with this little one in front of him; he bent down, asked if she wanted it, and then gently handed it to her.

Here she is a few pitches later, waiting to field the next one:



I was home by 9:30 and out with the dog at the usual hour today.  The Red Wings beat the Bisons again this afternoon, now leaving for the week before what will be their last homestand over Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, the way things are looking it could be the real last homestand:

Negotiations between the Rochester Red Wings and Monroe County regarding a new lease at Frontier Field haven’t just stalled on the base paths.

With the team's lease expiring, the protracted talks have put the sides — and the International League — in an “unfortunate time crunch’’ where options for the Red Wings to play in 2018 will have to be explored, according to league president Randy Mobley.

“It’s at a serious point, no question about that,’’ Mobley said Friday. “The conversation continues and there’s not a lot of time to get things worked out. That’s where we are. We’ll stay with it but time unfortunately is running out.’’''

The Wings have been in their downtown nest since 1994, and unlike most professional teams, they did not get much of a sweetheart deal.  The county gets cuts of everything from parking and ad revenue to concessions and even naming rights.  (In contrast, Da Bills, who last made the playoffs when Harry Truman may have still been alive, keep all of those goodies and even get money FROM the government as a bribe not to leave.)  Even so, the Monroe County mantra is "never raise taxes," so they're playing hardball with some very good people, both on the field and off.  There have been similar games of chicken in the past, and I expect they will all make nice in the end, but it's unfortunate that it comes to this even as a possibility.

----

Meanwhile, the Bisons return home for the early part of this week (they traditionally play the last weekend on the road so their stadium can become the home of the Labor Day Weekend Wingfest downtown), but this year the focus of their home games isn't the meat but the celery:

At first glance, you might think all the fuss around the Bisons' WCC Race (that's Wing, Cheese and Celery) speaks to one of those classic goofy minor-league promotions. With the buildup to Celery's final race Wednesday night growing all season, the characters in Buffalo's nightly mascot race have taken over from Buster Bison – or any of the players – as the most popular figures at Coca-Cola Field....the Bisons have a #JustOneWin hashtag for Celery on social media and merchandise with the slogan for sale, including foam fingers.

Celery's final race is among the highlights for what figures to be a big sendoff to the home schedule. The Bisons could approach 50,000 tickets sold for the four-game series against Pawtucket, which will be capped by Fan Appreciation Night on Thursday.

Celery has never won; Darth Vader stopped a seeming victory one year on Star Wars night, and there is much anti(ci)pasto about whether the final run will be the best.  I might even check that one out if the weather's fine.

By then, I will have seen seven different minor league teams play this year in three different parks.  And for the first time in years, I will not have visited the Mets. Considering how THEIR 2017 has gone, this is an eminently good exercise of judgment on my part.

captainsblog: (Kermit)
posted by [personal profile] captainsblog at 02:20pm on 26/08/2017

Wednesday morning, 9 a.m. A little later than Simon & Garfunkel experienced, but a nice way to start a workday.  It had been, as it remained, a fairly quiet workweek, the only court being two phone conferences and a handful of appointments, all here.  Wednesday, I was out the door early mainly to get caught up on things at the office, and when I got to my breakfast stop at Timmy's, it was the usual demolition derby of cars coming at the drive-thru line from three different directions.  I let a car from the primary feed get into the line ahead of me, and that must've been appreciated, because when I got to the window, I discovered that my order had been paid for.  That's an occasional thing, here and elsewhere, and I determined to pay it forward (backward, I suppose), but I haven't been there since. I finally decided to do it tomorrow on our way to the dog park, maybe even leaving a couple of treats to pass out if there's a pup in the car behind:)

----

That workday then ended with another Little Victory.

Every 20 years, New York State voters are asked to vote on whether to call a convention to consider revisions to the State Constitution.  I began following this over a year ago when my alma mater did a presentation on it. It's now coming up in just over two months, and the Usual Suspects are beginning astroturfed efforts to stop the process from even getting under way. Both major political parties are opposed to it, which tells me it's something I've got to support.  But at least let there be a fair hearing on the issue; opponents have been coming up with all kinds of red herrings and conspiracy theories about what will happen if the referendum passes.

Earlier in the month, I walked into one of our local courthouses, and saw that the security checkpoint's guard station was plastered with bumper stickers urging a NO vote on the proposition.  That both angered and scared me; I know public employee unions have come out against the convention happening, but the implication was that the justice system overall was somehow in harmony with this position. So I wrote to the judge who is in charge of administrative matters for Buffalo and surrounding places, telling her what I had observed, giving her my impression that it was inappropriate at a "literal barrier to entry" to the courts, and saying I would also have been offended by a "VOTE YES" statement in the same place. That letter went out Monday. By Wednesday afternoon, the email arrived: the stickers had been ordered removed "immediately."

Now to see if I get strip-searched next time I pass through there.

----

Wednesday evening wound up being a little awkward around the house, but it worked out in an unexpected way.

In anticipation of Eleanor's recuperation after surgery in early October, she's been showing me how to cook various favorites each night.  Wednesday was just a heatup of the main course, but she asked me to do sweet potato fries along with them. Long story short: it was too long a story, and by the time I got finished mowing part of the lawn, fed animals, chilled a bit and got it started, they needed to cook and cool for way too long. So she wound up heading to bed and I started watching the Netflix of Mr. Holmes that had arrived.  Moments in, the aged Sherlock's doctor appeared, played by Roger Allam. I then realized I'd completely lost track of the latest series of Endeavour, the Morse prequel in which he plays the future Chief Inspector's original mentor.....

and found that it just started on PBS this past Sunday:)

We streamed it the other night, and it's good to have them back. The writing and acting are at the usual top of everyones' game; the story was filled with homages to past Morse and other events (even a HHGTG reference); and the only sadness was the tribute to Morse's creator Colin Dexter, who passed earlier this year.

----

As for the bigger thing: this is the latest proposal for our solar array:



That's 32 panels, up from25 in the first go. They did that after a shade analysis which confirmed that the panels would still be effective at the far edges of the roof despite trees in our back yard partially blocking them.  We also confirmed that we will get over a year of interest-free repayment of the portion tied to the tax credits, so we'll have all of this year and next to adjust our tax payments to be sure everything will be paid as needed.

----

One more week of semi-official summer. My Last Closing Ever, Promise is Monday, and my only scheduled out-of-town next week other than that is for an office party.  There's already some cool in the air here, and baseball season is effectively over (for Mets fans, anyway:P).

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