captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-23 08:21 pm

Done Done DONNNNNNNE!.....

Five days. Seven hearings. Three road trips. Back in town before 3 today and home just after 4.

Three of the four before today were easy. The fourth was postponed until September. The rest of my week before this morning was just assorted running-around on other matters in between this wire mesh of commitments, plus preparing for the final three, all in one place out of town, with one of today's flagged for "issues" and all of them assigned to a Grumpy McGrumperson of a court official.

I know his schtick. I can virtually repeat it to my clients before they even hear it: "Zero tolerance." "I've never lost a motion if you don't cooperate." Yada yada yada.  One at 9 this morning, the other two at 10. But I left one of the three files in my office on the other side of Rochester, so I was out the door before 6:30 to pick it up and print out the needed useless forms that nobody else this week asked for.

Two of the three had significant-enough-to-discuss issues. We knew what they were, we were prepared for them, we will work through them. But the third: move along, nothing to see here. The client owned nothing, earned nothing, was entitled to nothing worth a piss and a half about. So naturally G McG got testy with him.

You have to list your bank accounts when you file bankruptcy. We did. You also have to list, and in most cases get to keep, the money in those accounts under various permitted "exemptions." Which we also did. But I've tired of the drill where you list, a day to a week before filing, what you think is in the account. I know, everybody knows, that the only figure that matters is what is on the bank statement(s) as of the date of filing- which, by definition, is unavailable until after you file. So I now list those assets as of an "unknown" value, that value properly and by official form permissibly determined as exempt as "100% of fair market value, up to an applicable statutory limit.” This option was expressly permitted by the Supremes in a 2010 case which allowed it, and was expressly incorporated into the current bankruptcy forms.

The trustee is still entitled to check on how much was in such accounts as of the time of filing. I ask clients for that information as soon as they receive it. Unfortunately, some banks, particularly credit unions are (and this is a technical term) dicks when their members file for BK.  This client had his credit union checking ("share draft," technically) account closed when they got notice of his filing; they essentially said, "Take your $75 worth of toys and go home." And they shut off access to his account information so he couldn't provide the needed proof of the amount of his toys. So Grumpy got grumpy: he stared my client down, and asked him to state, "on the record, under penalty of perjury, that he did not have more than $3,000 in his accounts in the 90 days before he filed bankruptcy." The client gave it some brief thought, then confirmed that this was the case. (PS: He could have had closer to $10 freaking thousand in that account before it would have exceeded his exemption, but let's not go there.)

I finished my one case after his, with minor but resolvable issues, did a few other things in the office near there, and got out of Dodgechester by 1:30. I was on the drive home when the email came in: OMG am I going to jail? The credit union finally deigned to send him a paper statement, and for one brief moment, his balance was about $60 above the $3,000 he'd testified to. My crest fell: my one easy case of the day, suddenly kiboshed by FACTS.  I would've emailed him asking for the statement information, but:

(a) I was driving, and THAT WOULD BE WRONG (not to mention how unlawful texting would've conflicted with the new labeling on my car)-



- and (b) my stupid new Speculum internet provider won't send emails from my phone if I'm using cellular data, only if I'm connected to (most, not all) wifi networks. So I had to wait until I got back to the Buffalo office to see his actual attached statement- which showed, conclusively, that client's illegal perjorous deposit didn't occur until about two weeks after he filed his case. Which, in bankruptcy terms, is "nunya bee-yai-business."  So his case will close out without any issues, and Grumpy will have to commiserate with the other six dwarfs about cases other than mine:P

----

Next week: another four straight days of hearings, but only one on the road, and while it, too, is with Grumpy, I know exactly what to expect out of him. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho,....
captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-21 08:30 pm

Two more days. Men (and women) behaving badly.

Humpday is done. Three down, two to go in this marathon. Each of the past two days brought a tale of someone I know, at least one of whom could stand to be wished into a cornfield:



Yesterday was my one court-free day this week, but it turned out to be far from stress-free. The lawyer for owners of a $500,000 house, who have a contract to sell to new clients of mine, dropped at least one F-bomb on me in telling me where his people want my people to go. A government agency questioned the bona fides of a client whose teen-early-20s kids live in a property that she owns and who, amazingly, are not reliable in making payments on her mortgage on that property.  But the worst actor of the day was not a client, but someone I sued, and have judgment and a pending contempt motion against. Our office's new tenant (who's also been chasing the guy) reported yesterday morning that the local US Attorney indicted and perp-walked the owner for not paying his income taxes, and for hiring illegal immigrants to work on his construction jobs.  This put me in a bind between client loyalty and personal schadenfreude- because I knew, from my past interactions with the guy, that he was a major Cheeto supporter, with a lifesize mockup of 45* in his showroom, and who's also posted pro-MAGA slogans on his business's marquee over the past year.  Having him hiring the very workers who'd be turned away and/or prevented entry by The Alleged Wall? Seems a lit-tle hypocritical- but certainly par for the (Mar-a-Lago) course for this crowd.

----

Then, today. A 9 a.m. bankruptcy hearing in Rochester, where all the trustees administering these hearings seem determined to outdo each other in scaring the assembled petition filers with threats of the FBI knocking on their doors if they're not completely honest.  Many of them repeat their favorite war stories: one reminds debtors of "the guy in Rochester who didn't disclose that he owned an ostrich farm." Another regales them about the truck in the back lot that turned out to be a classic. Today's, though, was from one of the newer trustees to be appointed, which I hadn't heard before.  His VERY bad woman was the subject of what many of these trustees warn about as the "X factor"- the ex-spouse, ex-neighbor, ex-business partner, who's pissed that their former beloved is asking for a release from his or her debts. In his cautionary tale, he explained, D only listed $250 of costume jewelry in her case, but an anonymous tipster sent a letter asking the trustee to look into her actual jewelry box containing a $30,000 diamond engagement ring.  D didn't get away with it, the trustee warned, even though he had to go to Syracuse to get a court order denying a bankruptcy discharge to her.

My client, with no such issues, got in and out quickly; but my curiosity was piqued.  Syracuse, New York may as well be in Sicily as far as local bankruptcy practitioners are concerned; it's in a different federal district and has completely different rules, customs and "legend and folklore," lowest on the official protocol of court practice but in reality among the most important. So it was easy to use court searches to identify the case in which this misbegotten soul had lied to a bankruptcy trustee.....

And as soon as I saw the name of the case, of course I knew who she was.

D (not her real initial) was a receptionist hired in my original law firm in the 80s, not long after I started practicing. She was a (insert ethnicity here)-American Princess; was drop-dead gorgeous, although not quite as DDG as she thought she was; and dressed to the Nine Wests with heels to match and kept the then-partners quite happy as she typed whatever little she was expected to type.  Until one day, I think after my mentor's unexpected passing, she pissed off the successor senior partner by engaging in the following exchange with him:

D: says something on the phone that P didn't like.
P: "You might have handled that phone call differently."
D: "I didn't do anything wrong."
P: "Now now, you don't need to get defensive."
D: "I'm not being defensive, PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!"

P sent her packing on the spot- the only employee I can remember to be fired for anything in the almost ten years I was there.

D's case with this trustee was only a few years ago. In addition to tracking down her Bad Behavior case, I found her current Facebook page, which mentions none of it, confirms her happy marriage, and notes that their teenage daughter is now on the pre-Dancing with the Stars circuit.  I wish better things for her than I ever will for P, and just hope that she learned more from the bad experience than P ever would have (or the contractor guy ever likely will).

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-19 08:52 pm

A Day and a day. Done and done.

It was kinda refreshing tuning out the social media machine for a whole day.  (Okay, I peeked when the NHL put out the protected lists for the expansion draft- late, as usual.)  I also saw a message from someone who didn't understand my aversion to the Paternal Promos. 

To be clear: I have no issues with, and am quite proud of, being a father. (I also got a call from Emily during the day which validated and celebrated that.) No, it's the day's focus, especially on the timelines and blogs, about having a father, or at least good memories of one. Some years, I've simply adopted a Ran-dad from someone else's post as the one I channel my good thoughts to. Sometimes, it's been the father of a friend who I remember from the wayback; other times, it's just a good man with a good kid. But this year, I made the best of ignoring these particular demons, and kept mostly to my word about staying away. 

Ebony had her Sunday morning bark park trip; I broke up the final sledgehammered chunks of bricks from the front planter; we watched the previous night's Doctor and Orphan Black; and I finished Graham Nash's memoir while listening to portions of the CSN(Y) box set which were timed to the final chapters of the book. (Fun fact from Wild Tales: while recording CSN in the mid-70s, Graham finished a late-night recording session, then went down to the beach to score drugs.  His dealer bet him $100 that he, the fancyass singer-songwriter, couldn't write "a song before you go." The resulting lyric became their biggest all-time single, and the scrap of paper he won the bet on is now in the Rock Hall.)  The day's early humidity yielded to late-day rain and a cooler night, even nicer now, which we spent outside for dinner.

----

First of five- just one court appearance, worked out in advance.  Only one brief client meeting, where we surmised (and by late afternoon had conclusively established) that the opposing party had fucked up its filing, rendering it meaningless and giving me nothing to do in response for at least the time being.  Unlike most Rochester days, when I seem unable to break free of its gravitational pull until past 3, I was back in my office here just past 2:30, and got in some cardio (and my first of the newer Sense8 episodes I'd planned for tomorrow) before coming home.  Tomorrow is court-free- my only one of those all week- but it begins with yet another run to Mercedesland, and will include at least one client meeting, processing the six orders that came in from Bankruptcy Court this afternoon, and getting ready for the six remaining appearances coming in this week's final three weekdays.
captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-17 02:05 pm

Just an Update Before I Go....

Foot's fine. May have been just a strain or who knows what. I'm still hydrating and we'll see if it stays okay.

I'm probably going to spend tomorrow off the grid- partly in anticipation of the hell week ahead, partly because I/we have plenty of media things to catch up on, but mainly, for me, to avoid all the happy and cheerful pictures of fathers who will be flooding the Face for tomorrow's holiday.  I have no such memories, and today's news -that the author of Fatherhood has escaped punishment for his crimes- makes it even worse. 

This rubbish with the Cosby investigation has been going on for going on three years, with this mistrial as the only thing to show for it. I first recalled the connection to that book of his when I posted this in 2014, about how my mother gifted me that book on the occasion of Emily's christening with this inscription:



I kept the picture, tossed the book.  Doctor Huxtable can die in a fire.  See you Monday.
captainsblog: (Goat)
2017-06-16 08:21 pm

My Left Foot. No, wait....

We switched cars again today. Also, in a way, feet.

I should explain.

Our doctor is in the adjacent county, beyond the electric Smart car's comfortable round-trip range. So when Eleanor goes, she takes mine.  Today's appointment was early (7:45) and necessary; for months now, she's come home from work as often as not with excruciating pain in her left foot. Its origins come within her twenty-odd-year career in Buffalo retail, many of those early years forcing her into 7-hour days on concrete floors in heels.  Wegmans allows, even encourages, her use of sneakers, but it's still a load-bearing burden.  So today it was diagnosed as a bone spur, confirmed by x-ray, and with the prognosis involving surgery.  We think we know by who; where and when are, as the Mets tenuous rotation is, TBD.

I was more-or-less asleep when she actually left sometime before 7, but I had plenty of insomnia before that- much of it coming from one of my own feet. Not the left, Daniel Day-Lewis as that would've been, but some lovely shooting pain all over my right foot and particularly in the vicinity of the big toe.  We've seen this movie, repeatedly if intermittently over my same twenty-odd-year career in Buffalo. I was diagnosed with gout in my early 30s, and it flares up, unexpectedly but suddenly, every few years, usually in the spring and summer months, judging from posts I can find.  This could be that, and I'm treating it as such; with a bottle of anti-inflammatories dispensed in 2013, with several liters of dihydrogen monoxide to flush shit out, and with trying to restrict alcohol intake (the only trigger I can think of which has been above normal in recent days).  It's better now than it was when I woke up. Past experience has been that this course of treatment beats it down for good after a day or two.

Yet it's also occurred to me that there are psychosomatic things which go on. When Eleanor was pregnant, I'm pretty sure I presented at least some sympathetic-pregnancy symptoms.  I doubt I'll need surgery, but I'm certainly more empathetic about her pain than I was a day ago.

----

I left early today for a mental-health hour or two (a day being out of the question).  Next week promises to be killa; I now have commitments every day of the week, three days of them in Rochester, and few of them being easy or peasy.  We'll see how well these feets get us moving through it all.



captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-15 12:35 pm

Cars 2

I know, the third one is coming out. But we only gots two, both of the Smart variety, and those have had me playing a lovely game of Service Department Deja Vu this week.

Monday was mine. Nothing wrong; just these cars expect to be serviced every 10,000 miles at the Mercedes dealership, und you vill LIKE it! I made the appointment last week, and I rolled in first thing Monday.  The first oddity of service here is what greets you in the driveway of the reception area:



A pristine '66 Corvette. What that has to do with the Benz brand, much less little putt-putts like mine (other than the red color), I've no clue.  Once you get past that conundrum, though, you are brought into their German world of ruthless efficiency. Check in here, sign there, move to the waiting room-slash-pro shop where all your branded Beastie Boy Medallion merch is on offer while you wait.  Wifi secured, Starbucks from a military-grade Keurig machine, you do what you do: a little work, a little internet, you finish the Handmaids Tale episode you'd been meaning to finish.  And you people-watch.  Dropping Smart car owners in amongst the Masters of the Mercedes Universe is a sort of reverse slumming; you get to see the Stepford wives in their SUV panzers, the graying duffers bringing in their penis cars, the millennial kids who can't parallel park a luxury car to save their lives; and the Help, who stepin fetchit to the owners' every whim.

So naturally I got to do it again this morning.

----

Eleanor's Smart car popped an airbag idiot light the other day. It's been intermittent, but it's nothing to trifle with, especially after I spent the better part of last year tooling around in a 2010 Honda Deathtrap. This is my light week for court and such, other than yesterday when I had something like seven different hearings in four separate cases, but fortunately all at the same time and place. (It did run longer than expected, so for the first time I used the "add time" feature of Buffalo's cool new parking-meter app:)  So when she scheduled Ziggy for his checkup this morning, I volunteered to meet her there and wait for him.

Same drill, different day. Maw cawfee, maw work, and the newer (and final of the season) Handmaid's Tale to catch up on. Same Corvette; same parade of people to watch.  Unfortunately, no resolution; the airbags are fine, but one of the seatbelt sensors needs to be replaced. Which means it's Cars 3 after all, as I'll have to bring him back next Tuesday, the only day next week I don't have court.

And given the diagnosis, I guess I'll resume watching Sense8 over there.
captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-11 04:14 pm

Another Week, Another Belated Post....

These blog posts are getting fewer and further between. Life just gets like that sometimes. The past week was about as busy and stressful as I expected it to be- no more, maybe even a little less- yet each night, in my traditional before-bed writing time, I didn't have the words or the energy to sum it up.

So here you go, some pictures at an exhibition of the past week. Some with even actual pictures;)

Two days on the road for work this week. Neither had court in the morning, so I didn't have all that much stress on the drive. Tuesday began with me making an overdue appointment for JARVIS to be serviced. To get to service, you of course have to go through the Smart showroom. And there, never before seen by these eyes, was my mid-life crisis car:



The Little Tykes ragtop.  I freely admitted it wasn't much of a life or a crisis, and of course a wag immediately replied, Or much of a car.

I then took a detour a few miles south before making the eastbound run on the 90- onto old US 20, which in pre-interstate days was the main route from Boston to Buffalo and beyond.  I just get tired of the same old sights every day;  there was a certain comfort in passing through the forgotten fourlanes of generations ago, from Alden to Alexander and past Attica before rejoining modern roads just south of Batavia.  (Two mornings later, when I did take the 90 eastbound, I just missed a major crash in the westbound lanes which killed a 45-year-old UB Nursing School professor.)

----

Wednesday was best remembered for what I didn't have to do: I got out of a drive clear across town at 8 a.m., then another downtown at 9:30.  I did eventually take that latter trip around lunchtime, but it was on my schedule, plus, you know, lunch- and I also broke in the Buffalo Roam app on my phone to use for onstreet parking.  No more fishing for quarters or fussing with receipts that fall into JARVIS's hungry dashboard: you click, you pay from an enabled online account, you walk away- and you can even add time remotely if your business takes longer than expected. The convenience fee for this is a modest 10 cents per use. 

Eleanor had a doozy of a day at work herself Wednesday, so we kept things relatively quiet.  Other than keeping up with Doctor Who, we haven't been watching all that much of late, and haven't gotten out to see Wonder Woman yet, although that will likely change this week.

----

Once arriving in Rochester Thursday, things went quickly, and when a 2:30 appointment stood me up, I was able to get home a little sooner to run some post-work errands in advance of an important-for-me exercise of both body and soul. For several years, local religious communities have sponsored a Walk of Abraham during Ramadan, uniting the three faiths sprouting from that Biblical tradition and any others who care to tag along. It begins at a Presbyterian church quite close to home, proceeds near (and in prior years stopped at) a reform synagogue a few blocks to the east about a mile up, and ends at the town's Islamic Center, 4½ miles from the point and place of beginning.  I wasn't there in time or in clothes to begin at the beginning, plus they asked for canned-food donations, so I came home first, changed, grabbed some cans from the pantry and found a parking lot just short of the halfway mark, planning to walk back when the post-walk programs were under way.



I didn't know a soul- yet- but got to know several of them on this part of the walk- and others who joined  at the designated one-mile-to-go spot for jumping in.  The throng was bigger going in to the mosque-



-including the minister from my most recent congregation, back in town after a one-year exile in the wilds of Wayne County, now retired from Methodism and entering new connectional ventures.  I sat with him for the speakers and presentations in the mosque's equivalent of Your Church Or Synagogue Here's Fellowship Hall, ordinary and traditional middle-class American in every respect except one- better food:



Our hosts did not formally break their fast themselves until the 8:54 p.m. moment of Ramadan sundown, but they were gracious about letting the hungry start a few moments before that. We stayed longer than I'd planned, and Rich wound up giving me a ride back to where my car was.

Yesterday, Eleanor and I continued in that spirit of inclusiveness.  There's a Muslim family two doors away from us- we've seen them coming and going, and their daughter waiting for the bus, in at least partly traditional dress.  There are some Trumpernutters in this neighborhood, and on days like yesterday when small bands of crazies were mounting Anti-Sharia Law protests in cities (some attended in the tens), you can't be too careful. So we went over, introduced ourselves, gave the husband our names and phone numbers and emphasized that we welcomed them and would do anything we could to make them feel welcome and safe.  It was a little slow going, maybe due to awkwardness, but we ended with smiles and handshakes and I felt we were carrying on the best of the three faiths, even if neither of us is particularly connected to any of them at this point.

----

On Friday, I got this computer back. Did I even mention its brief absence?  It needs some periodic cleanings to keep cat hair from overwhelming the fan and overheating the damn thing.  A month or so ago, my friend Lisa rehabbed my backup laptop, in part by baking its motherboard, and it worked well enough so she could take her time and do the best she could at the repair of this one.  I'd backed up all needed stuff to my trusty external drive and/or to the cloud, so I wasn't worried about it.... until Twobor was home, his data all restored, and that very external drive decided yesterday that it didn't want to work anymore.  So I got a new one.  Probably should back everything up to it again before I start putting too much more data on this one, huh.

----

The drive wasn't the only thing to break on Saturday.  Eleanor went out for a bike ride, and while I was puttering around trying to get the old external drive to work, in came a call and a text: could I put the rack on the car and come get her?  The derailleur on hers had ground to a halt and there was no getting home on it. 

Did I mention we'd never put the rack onto either of the Smart cars?  We wound up getting it done without instructions, but some of the connections are a little tenuous, and it's not exactly centered on the back, but it went on fine. The bike itself, not so much; since women's bikes lack the higher crossbar (for no reason other than Victorian tradition), the bike store sold her a brace that duplicates its function during transport.  Which, naturally, I forgot. So on the second trip, we got the bike onto the frame, and she got it to Bert's, where "derailleuer suicide" was promptly diagnosed and promised to be repaired by 10 this morning.

That worked perfectly with my usual 8 a.m. run to the dog park, except we usually don't stay there for two whole hours. Despite fine weather and plenty of company from old friends and new, we were out by 9:15. Silly to come home, so we found us a second park- one more for people, although Ebony was still welcome on a leash.

I grabbed my breakfast later than usual and ate it under a tree while the dog just took it all in:

 

The breeze was delightful (even though I think it blew a bug of some kind into my eye- it's been Visined and looks and feels much better now), and we got to the bike shop just in time to wrestle the Townie back onto the rack and safely home.  Since then, I've mowed the back yard, we've caught up on the Doctor, have an Orphan Black warming up in the clone pen, and the Mets are three outs away from their third straight win.

There. All put in the books.

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-06-04 06:49 pm

The Flipping of Various Birds

Been a busy few days here. I was out of town on three of the four workdays last week (one only being to the next county, but it still ate half the day), got in four intense workouts in six days ending yesterday, and spent a good chunk of the rest of yesterday digging up ornamental grass in our front garden. Those things are harder to remove than trees; at least they have a visible trunk and rootball to get around.  

Yet all of that was mostly good.  As opposed to the theme that seemed to settle in soon after I last posted anything here- beginning, sadly enough, with one of the sweetest and kindest sports mascots on the planet.



Me, and, Mr.-Mr. Met, we had a thing, goin' on back in  better times five years ago.  But look at what became of him during an unfortunate ballpark altercation last week:







The Onion was fast to embellish this into something far more evil, under the headline "Mr. Met Takes Frustrations Out on Fans."  



The unnamed employee, one of several to wear the oversized head, was stripped of his seams and will no longer entertain fans.  The timing is excellent, since with each passing day the Mets have fewer of them to be entertained.

----

Two days later, a far more serious bird-flipping occurred, when the Cheeto announced his pullout of this nation from the Paris climate accord.  His speech, his tweets, his later defenders ran the gamut from perpetrating the "It's a hoax!" hoax, to feigning solidarity with coal miners whose jobs aren't coming back anyway, to making fun of Al Gore and anyone else who seriously respects their duty to future generations of life on this little blue marble.

Despite it all, and maybe because of it? The chorus of support for the planet rose- from governors and mayors (even of Pittsburgh, whose citizens this pullout was alleged to favor), to leaders of private-sector players in the energy industry, to several members of Cheeto's own corporate advisory board and diplomatic corps who resigned in protest over it.

The sensible thing would be for the Republicans to recognize their mistake and work to fix it. More likely, they'll just look for ways to prevent states and municipalities and private citizens from complying with the treaty.  Maybe by threatening to launch coal-fired missiles at them or something.

----

That gets us to today- the beginning of a bordering-on-normal week of activity for me.  Court tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday, no more than  one place at a time and only one out of town.  The bankruptcy rush has slowed enough for me to catch my breath with it (and catch up on some non-time-sensitive cases in other areas).  And a couple new things have come in, and I have been more selective about which I am willing to take on.

Yet the bird-flipping theme didn't kick in until right before I left the office this afternoon. A few weeks ago, a client called about a suit filed against him which I hadn't been sent notice of. He found out because another attorney in town, who trawls foreclosure and similar listings and mass-mails them offers of his services, sent one to the guy.  It's an unusual set of facts in terms of both the age of the underlying matter and the technical law under which the case is brought.  When he called, I found the case online, told him when it was likely to be heard, gave him some options, but made him no promises about outcome.  This, apparently, did not sit well with the client, for today, Trawler called asking for what paperwork I had on the case from some previous preliminaries.  It seems he's willing to "fight for it" in a way that my more realistic expectations and experiences prevented me from encouraging. (I have also found, in general, that clients who insist on you "fighting for it" overlap greatly on Venn diagrams with clients who question the amount of time and money you put into those fights, even if they win but especially if they lose.)

It will cost me some more-or-less anticipated fees for the work not done, as well as eliminating any prayer of getting paid for the little initial work I did on it. But in the end? I was happy to see him go. I don't need unrealistic expectations raining down on me when I'm busy enough as it is. I told him, and will tell Trawler when I get to email him, that I have just one request as part of handing him off to the new guy: that they show me their responding papers so I can make sure they didn't miss anything. I also offered to do that at no cost to either of them.  Because when you get a bird flipped at you, the best response is to flip back two ✌.




captainsblog: (Underdog)
2017-05-31 09:38 pm

Something Old, Something Hopeful, Something Not As Old, Something Older Still

Four moments from two days. Me appreciating and being appreciated for it.

One thing from my 24ish-hour trip I didn't mention: I came home with a present for a coworker, born of some strange coincidences of memory.  A couple of weeks ago, Melissa came into work in what looked to be a very retro 60s dress.  It didn't take long to evoke a memory I posted ages ago, from an even earlier time:



The year was 1965, and the photographer was Garry Winogrand. No, I hadn't heard of him before talking to Donna yesterday, but he was a fairly famous street photographer in that era:

"At the time of his death [in 1984] there was discovered about 2,500 rolls of undeveloped film, 6,500 rolls of developed but not proofed exposures, and contact sheets made from about 3,000 rolls.The Garry Winogrand Archive at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) comprises over 20,000 fine and work prints, 20,000 contact sheets, 100,000 negatives and 30,500 35 mm colour slides as well as a small group of Polaroid prints and several amateur motion picture films."

Earlier this year [2014], 175 of his photos, including some of the never-seen ones, were exhibited at the Met earlier this year, and Donna somehow got a hold of this picture of her walking in Manhattan that year.  She remembers the dress, the purse, and the Arnold Constable bag in her left hand. (I barely remember Arnold Constable, which was a department store and not a nerdy cop, and I never would have picked her out of the exhibit from this shot.)

I had to show that photo around the office, and when Melissa saw it, she asked, and I knew she was joking, "Does she still have that purse?" Well, she didn't; but when I told Donna that story over the weekend, she excused herself and brought out another from that same era which she was happy to share with a fellow fan of the era.  When I came back into work yesterday, I knew it was the right choice, since Melissa was wearing that outfit for the first time since I'd first seen it. She was near tears when she saw what my sister had passed on (and I insisted, on her behalf- Donna may not be a Hoarder, but she knows the importance of not becoming one).  A thank-you will be going out shortly if it hasn't already.

----

Not long after, I got a thank-you of my own that was totally unexpected and in its own way amazing.

One of the regular trainers at my workout studio has been out for a few weeks. Last week, I found out why; she is home and bedridden after being treated for a detached retina. Not only did they blind her to aid in the recovery, they restricted her movement so she was left to lie on one side- a tremendous sacrifice for a lifelong athlete.  Last week, I dropped off a card for her (after also picking up a belated birthday card for my sister, which I forgot to bring to her:P, and a thank-you card for someone in my office who'd bought us lunch).  I struggled with what gift one might include for someone who is blind and immobile.  It finally dawned: audiobooks.  Sadly, Audible, despite being an Amazon minion, does not let you just give a fixed amount or X number of books as a gift; they're big on the subscription racket.  But Apple is fine with per-book purchases, so that's what I went with.  Yesterday brought a thank-you from Kristen, which must have been dictated, thanking me for the thought. I've since learned that I wasn't the only one to have this idea, so I hope she has plenty to listen to as time goes by, slowly though it will.

----

The final exchange of thanks was a mix of trial and learning (not error), with a little inspiration thrown in.  Last week, I realized I was overwhelmed by the volume of new cases I was cranking out (the final total was nine for the month of May, enough that I am predicting I will singlehandedly create an uptick in district-total filings for the month). So I turned to a friend and former co-worker and, for the first time ever, essentially hired her to do some of my production work. It was a fairly well-contained sample: client had filed a previous case, so we had that whole set of data to start from, plus some updates from her.  My friend worked on it on and off during the ensuing week, but was having trouble with some of the creditor information. That, finally, prompted me to sign up for an optional service to import creditor information directly into the drafts from the major credit bureaus. I told her to finish the other schedules, and they were finished rather quickly. She also proposed not to charge me for it, since this was more of a learning experience.

Simultaneously, I saw (since we were Facebooking these communications) that she was looking for something of an entertainment venture herself: wanting to binge Big Bang Theory from the beginning.  Nobody had good ideas for reliable sources, but I instantly thought of whether the library had DVDs of it. Not only did they, but they were all available at the one closest to my office and on my way to her house to pick up the data work.

Win- win. Love- love. (Also, since she has a cute puppy, slobber-slobber.)

----

That gets us to today, and the longest and furthest venture.  After I got home from all that last night, Emily called, concerned about something. I'd forgotten that New York insurers require you to photograph any used car carrying collision insurance, to prevent scammers from insuring totaled cars and then claiming on the policy. I'd had to do this when I bought Kermit in late 2013, and apparently there's no exception for when the car is staying with the same insurance company and being transferred parent-to-child.  She'd been notified of the requirement, but didn't realize until yesterday that today was the last day- and she had an all-day orientation session at work, so she couldn't go.

But I could.  I'd planned to be there all day anyway, and I took it off her plate.  She scheduled it for late afternoon on the west side of Rochester, so she met me at the parking lot of her new job (about which more to follow), I picked the car up, ran some other errands, and finally showed up at the repair shop an hour early and got the deed done. I then returned the car to her and tried to contact her so I could return the keys.

Until today, we vaguely knew where the Alzheimer's Association office in Rochester was- East Henrietta Road just north of the expressway- but we had the side of the street wrong. It wasn't across from Monroe Community Hospital in a onetime campus of county buildings now largely replaced by a Costco; it was in MCH. Which is where Eleanor's mother worked, way back in the day, and more recently where she spent her final months before she passed away, virtually if not actually in her daughter's forgiving arms.

Emily did remember this- kinda. She mostly remembered the one time that I brought her to Rochester to visit Grandma there while she was still in school here, with our then-puppier Ebony in tow; her main memory of that was that the dog got loose in the hospital parking lot.

There's a certain weird-yet-wonderfulness about this connection to her family's past.  As I left, I got this shot out the closest exit to the elevator leading to her third-floor Alzheimer's offices:



Amazingly, the Republicans in charge of Monroe County haven't gotten around to sandblasting that yet. Must not be anything in the budget for power tools, which might raise tax rates in Pittsford:P

----

The work part of the workday wasn't remarkable except to the extent it was annoying, which I'll spare. Tomorrow is a brief and not-too-far court appearance, and the rest of it and Friday are for catching up.

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2017-05-29 01:03 pm

24-Hour Road Trip 3 of 3- To Rather Quite Finite, and Not Much Beyond!

The shortest drive home from my sister's is west, then north, then a rather disfavored detour due northwest to Batavia, and finally a familiar half-hour home on the 90.  The route has a string of long established tourist attractions- from a racecourse-turned-casino in Tioga County, to Mark Twain mania in Elmira, to the Corning Glass experience, to Watkins Glen racing just north, and finally past the southern tips of the winery trails of the three westmost Finger Lakes. Keuka, closest of those to home, bottoms out at Hammondsport, about 10 miles north of the highway. There are also aviation attractions throughout this area, and one of them, the Curtiss Museum, began a push this summer to expand its base by promoting, HEY, KIDS!,



Mmmkay. Hadn't heard of those last two, but I'm always down with the memorabilia.  So I claimed my dollar AAA discount (still too young for the senior admission:P), and found my way to this fabulous new installation.

There wasn't anything Doctor Who in there other than me in a TARDIS t-shirt, but the theme of this exhibit was very weeping-angels like: Don't Blink, or you'll miss it.

-----

Don't get me wrong. The stuff they had was good. All ten display cases of it, in a section of the exhibit floor not much bigger than our living room.  They led with the best they had: a full-size replica of the Lost in Space robot, completing my Billy Mumy trifecta:



"Please do not touch" was part of the overarching theme. Everything was either under glass or behind barriers. Nothing interactive or interpretive about any of it.  Even the robot was not a genuine prop but a replica which appears to have come from a builders club member in Kenmore.  I amused myself remembering all of Dr. Smith's insulting names for the dear boy, then moved along.

Next was Trek, with the deepest bench of the entire exhibition. Probably five whole displays, ranging from a redshirt getup from the original Khannnnnnnn!-



- to this, wow! actual interpretation!, depiction of how Federation technology has become ours even before the birth of Zefram Cochrane-



You want Galaxy Quest? That was next. Here it is- all of it:





(Now I'm going to be speaking in a high-pitched vocal-fry voice for the next hour;)

Throw in the not two but THREE shows I'd never heard of-



- and it was pretty much time to move on to the permanent collection. (Okay, Andromeda, I finally remembered, was a Roddenberry one-off descended from the Genesis II project he worked on after TOS's demise- best remembered for Kevin "Hercules" Sorbo leading them into space.)

----

Much more here if you like planes. Old ones, big ones, even a HEY KIDS! seat or two to "fly" from. Perhaps most famous among the creations of the museum's eponymous Glenn Curtiss? His Jenny:



(I'm surprised they didn't hang it upside down. They're way more valuable that way;)

I spent more time waiting in the Bath-area Mickey D's drive-thru than I spent at this sci-fi exhibit. I won't complain about 10 miles or 10 bucks, but I wouldn't bring a boatload of kids down here from points far away until they significantly expand or improve.

----

On the final leg home, though, I saw something artistic that was as uplifting as anything under this roof. If you've traveled on 390 between Corning and Rochester, heading northbound, you've probably noticed the Rock- big and on the roadside on the right, and gets painted regularly by competing high schools, fraternities, and such. I always look for it, because it's something of a landmark that tells me I'm getting close to home. On that last leg before the bypass to Batavia, I saw it beautifully repainted with LOCK HIM UP and hashtagged #45. And this is in the heart of REPEAL THE SAFE ACT country.

Finally home after stops for pet meds (Zoey came down with ear mites) and groceries. We're caught up on Who and Class (although somehow zapping through the final scene of the latter which seriously changed the tenor of what we saw happen to Miss Quill), and will be hotdogging and maybe doing some minor yardwork for the rest of this day of Memorializing.

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-29 11:09 am

24-Hour Road Trip 2 of 3- Taking Her Out to the Bucket List

Our Ithaca contingent split up after eating and visiting the comics store- Scott wanted Eli to see the diorama in Carl Sagan's honor of the extended solar system, which begins on the Commons and stretches to near the lakeshore at the Ithaca Science Center.  So I headed along my usual South Hill route to Owego- playing Harry Chapin on the drive through Candor as I always do- and got to my sister's in time to check out her own household project status:



That's from a few weeks ago, when a windstorm blew through the Southern Tier. Nobody was hurt, and the pool behind the tree suffered no damage (not even the cover took any), but the outbuilding for its filter and such is toast, and we're still not sure whether the filter inside the building  is okay or not.  But as of this weekend, you don't see the tree anymore. A passing chainsawer came and chopped it up. Another contractor will be replacing the building and doing some other work around the yard.

We then got a text that Eli was still stuck somewhere in the vicinity of Neptune and that we'd have to drive to the game ourselves. No problem; JARVIS can handle two people.

-----

In her just-turned-71 years on the third planet (just outside the M&T Bank on the Commons), Donna had never been inside a baseball stadium of any level of play.  Even Sandy, I remembered, had visited Yankee Stadium when she lived in the Bronx, and all the rest of us in the immediate fam had been inside Shea, or Silver, or one or another more than once.  But she would get the unique experience of seeing the local Mets affiliate in her own home town.  Until last year, they were known as the B-Mets, but after a contest to rename the team to sell more minor-league merch, the winner was, wait for it:



....the Rumble Ponies.

(See, Binghamton has carousels in its public parks. With ponies. Who, you know, rumble.  Nobody caught that the "B-Mets" moniker could easily be morphed into "Bronies"  None of that merchandise was on offer in the gift shop, and I saw none in the stands, but it clearly was yet another only-the-Mets moment in marketing.)

We found the park (eventually), parked (4 bucks across the street), and got our whole crowd of five in for less than it cost three of us in Buffalo the previous weekend.  Seats right behind home plate, screened and roofed, and free Bronie hats for Memorial Day weekend for both of us.  Moments later, Donna's first selfie:



The interplanetary travelers joined us in time, and the rest of the evening was watching the game, the experience and even the occasional weird: this, for instance, right outside the beer stand, pimping the local economy:



My first thought about that was about the website- something right out of Animal House- but the line above it now seems more evocative of the whole Twilight Zone theme of the weekend- of everybody telling the evil little boy Anthony, "It's a good life!" 

(I will be returning to Billy Mumy in the third installment, but I digress.)

Unlike the majors, where access to batting practice is strictly limited to premium seat holders, this is how close anybody with a ten-dollar ticket can get to the players:





This is AA baseball, two rungs from The Show, and I knew of no hot prospects in the Mets organization or of anybody rehabbing at this level- but one name finally rung true: L.J. Mazzilli, playing second base for the Ponies. That would be the son of the Lee of that name, a phenom with the Mets in the 70s who returned for a brief time in their '86 World Series run:



The game was close and quick- like AAA, this league has the 20-second timer on pitchers between throws, and that got us out barely two hours after first pitch.  Maz drove in the only run of the game with a sacrifice fly, the Binghamton pitcher made it to the eighth with a shutout (BRING HIM UP TO THE METS!), and the bullpen survived a ninth inning scare to send us all home happy.

----

I had one more planned stop for the next day, which will come in the next post, but I ended my time in the Greater Binghamton Metropolitan Area a little lost. With the Memorial Day theme still strong, I thought it was a good time to visit my mother.

Donna wasn't quite up to the haul up the hills, so I gave it my best recollection of where in Vestal Hills Memorial Park she was.  I have directional notes (for all my favorite cemeteries) of specific locations, but they remained in the glove box of Emily's now-car.  I knew it was "by the gazebo," so I pulled up near it and did a lot of walking.  Even called my sister back for some more triangulation- and no, sorry. 

It was fitting, though. Mom would've gotten lost, too;)  And I'm sure she knew I was there, even as she knew the last time I was there and took this picture:



My only hope is that they kept the stone clear for people to find. Lots of them were covered in grass. I cleared probably 30 stones so the Peases and Sandwicks and Copes will have an easier time of it if they show up this weekend.

----

After that, it was back on the road, y'all, for a final stop- leaving the past, and heading for the far future.....

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2017-05-28 08:56 pm

24-Hour Road Trip 1 of 3- Remembrances of Things Past

As road trips go, this one was pretty com-packed.  I left Buffalo a little before noon on Saturday and was back in my own zip code by 2 p.m. today.  But it's going to take three posts to get in all the pictures and memories from that very intense run of people, places and events.

Saturday began with a household project- breaking up the major pieces of brickwork still in place from last month's demolition festival on our old, ugly and dangerous front planter.  Eleanor was concerned that it was going to take many weeks just to get this part of the job done- but between chisels, a power drill and mutual grit, more than a third was gone from the front yard within a few hours:



That whole thing? Ya, busted up and wheelbarrowed to the back.  We were both sore from the efforts, but it was time for my repast to begin; the real soreness didn't set in for me until I woke up this morning.

----

Usually my trips to the 607 involve detours- leaving from Rochester, or seeing the kids in Palmyra- but this was a straight shot to Ithaca to meet friends for a last lunch at its longtime downtown deli palace, so I wasn't in anything of a rush. Something tempted me to break from my usual route- NY 89 right along Cayuga's west shore- to take the Thruway-recommended higher ground along Route 96 through Waterloo, Interlaken and Trumansburg.  Each brought back memories and, the last two, new photos.

It was four Memorial Day weekends ago that I spent a dedicated amount of time in Waterloo, the Congressionally designated Home of the Holiday.  They still mostly ignore the Monday holiday, preferring whatever day the 30th falls on, but the museum is open and you can get acquainted with the sentiments of the sesquicentenary ago.  (This post from 2015 has the 2013 pics.)  So this time I didn't even stop, continuing south on 96 through the actual "downtowns" of towns I knew the names of better from the lakeshore route: Romulus, Varick and Ovid (19th century homesteaders were big on their Roman history), and finally the town of Covert and its village of Interlaken- so named because it lies between Seneca and Cayuga.

I cleared the village, close to an hour ahead of my designated meeting with baseball friends, and decided to double back to find a grave I knew needed to be found.  Interlaken, I knew, was the final resting place of Twilight Zone creator, host and regular writer Rod Serling.  He'd worked his Finger Lakes connection into the "Midnight Sun" episode that he wrote, where the main character painted a picture of the nearby Taughannock Falls, to help her keep cool in a world which turned out, in the final reel, to need way more global warming.  Siri told me where to find the cemetery; findagrave dot com gave further clues once there.

And after some investigation there he was:



A close-up of the bottom of the stone, showing the reference someone left to the beloved Burgess Meredith episode:




Other visitors were there for more ordinary family members and veterans, and the cheat sheet in the front building did not present Mr. Serling for your approval, but nobody minded that I shared a few moments of silence and respect for a soldier, a writer, and a great American.  Within miles of his resting place were at least one Confederate flag, a REPEAL THE SAFE ACT sign and a gun and ammo shop- but I was heading further south to where such things would be overcome:

I was heading to the People's Republic of Ithaca.

----

Trumansburg was first. Just over the line into Ithaca's Tompkins County, it has its redneck presences, but also the first hints that you are about to be among your own people.  The oldest and most significant of these stops is this performance venue, which goes back to my college days:




Alas, as of late last year, the Rongo wasno longer issuing passports or accepting refugees:

For years the Rongovian Embassy has been the living room of Trumansburg. Its name alone has drawn many locals and visitors to the village since it first opened in 1973. Current manager Robert Thomas is one of many who grew up spending time at the Rongo in those early days.

"The place would be packed night after night and so they would only have live music on maybe Tuesday's and Wednesday's not on Friday and Saturday because the bar was packed with people anyways," Thomas said.

That was when the Rongo was just a bar and the drinking age 18. Once it was raised to 21 a neighboring building was purchased and it expanded making way for a restaurant most known for its Mexican food.

Thomas says operating as a bar and restaurant worked for then owners Mary and Eric Ott. They sold the Rongo in 2002. Since then it has struggled to stay afloat. Thomas and a management team of other community members came together in 2014 with the hope of helping its legacy continue.

"Business was great for the first six months or so, but it didn't have the staying power to attract sufficient clientele day in and day out," Thomas said.

With the last live music performance taking place this Sunday, the hope is that the Rongo will not be closing their doors permanently. After all this will be the 7th closure in its 43 year history.

"We want it here everyone wants it here," said Daniel Scherer, Rongovian Embassy landlord and part owner. "I want it here, believe me, as the building owner more than anyone else I think. I want a viable profitable thriving business here."

One popular but expensive idea is being discussed.

"If this became a brewery, a brewpub you start to bring in more people because of that," said Scherer. "Its a very attractive type of establishment for this region because there's other businesses doing similar things. I think that would get more traffic in the door and it would be another source of revenue."

They've kept the storefront pristine, and a sign in the window invites inquiries about restoring the Embassy to its eighth regeneration. So hope remains in the Town of Ulysses for another iteration of the Iliad.

----

Moments later, JARVIS placed me a block from the Ithaca Commons, where I awaited the arrival of Rochester friends and one last nosh at the legendary deli that was home to many a college paper dinner break and annual pilgrimages ever since. Word came a few months ago that Hal's kids were hanging it up, and that they'd be closed by the end of May.  On arrival, despite what Yelp said, it turned out that The End came a few days sooner:



That sign on the door said CLOSED.  No online articles mourned the loss or covered the last orders.  The space is FOR RENT, and four hungry people wound up scoring bagelish fare a block north in Hal's honor. Their much more extensive menu of bagels, wraps and paninis was filled with local references- I had an Octopus, not far off from a Hal's Number 8, referencing a longago-reconstructed local intersection of infamy- but the special on the menu was "the Biden," a turkey panini in honor of the former Veep who spoke earlier that day at Cornell's pre-graduation convocation. (Cornell graduations themselves are ruthlessly efficient- in and out in barely an hour, no honorary degrees, speechifying only by the Uni president, degrees conferred by the thousands on schools and colleges.)

On the bright side, a longtime Ithaca Commons bar, put out of business a few years ago when a runaway truck plowed into it, has been restored and was quite busy. Many other businesses I remembered are still going strong. And Scott and his family loved their repast in a comics store next to the bagel joint, where I found this to be the most endearing sight:



We said our temporary goodbyes as I headed to meet my sister for what would prove to be her first-ever baseball game appearance in her now-71 years on the planet. The pictures and recollections from that,...tomorrow.

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-25 08:27 pm

Forty years ago, in a demolished Long Island twin cinema far far away,...

The original Star Wars opened. Its release was limited to about 30 venues nationwide, including the Mann's Twin Cinema in Hicksville, Long Island. A few weeks later, my best friend Dennis and I rode our bikes over from East Meadow to see what the Force was all about. The rest, as they say, is history.

From five years ago:

It’s hard to remember a day when Star Wars wasn’t a towering cultural and marketing event, but on May 25, 1977, it was a smallish movie opening on a Wednesday in just 32 theaters.

There was no premiere.

PHOTOSTORIES_17_WEB

AP

Theater goers wait in lines in front of the Avco Center Theater in Los Angeles to see "Star Wars" in June 7, 1977.

“Theaters didn't want the movie. We were lucky to get thirty theaters to open it,” Charles Lippincott, former Lucasfilm promotions chief later said of the troubled and much-delayed production.

In New York, you could go see Star Wars at two theaters in Manhattan - the Loews Orpheum on East 86th St. and the Astor Plaza in Times Square - and on Long Island at the Mann Twin South in Hicksville. All three movie palaces have since been demolished.

Tickets were $4. Some viewers remember the box office handing out lapel buttons saying “May the Force be with You.”

It was June-something, days before our high school graduation, when we made the ride over. (Around that time, Mann Cinemas  became owners of the iconic Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, and had taken Sid's name off the marquee by the time I visited it with another East Meadow friend in the winter of 1979-80. I think we saw Empire Strikes Back there.)

The saga and I have always been traveling companions.  Return of the Jedi came out just before I spent a summer in England, and I wound up seeing it in a forgotten seaside cinema in 1983.  We were told then, sorry, three was it, and had no hope of either the forgettable prequels from the 99-oughts or the far better Return of the Series last year.  But I (and Eleanor, and Emily) saw all of them, mostly on or just after their release dates.

Now? The Force is everywhere. VIII and IX are real and conceived and ready to roll.  Rogue One, which we began re-watching tonight in honour of the 40th, gave us our first side-story and the immediate prequel to what Dennis and I saw 40 Junes ago. And there's a Solo project and a Boba Fett project and, yes, even Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money (or some other title).

The Force is strong with us.  Good, because we need It more than ever.

captainsblog: (Kermit)
2017-05-23 04:06 pm

Kermit is dead. Long live Kermit!

Kermit the Car, that is. Not to be confused with the eponymous frog.

Yesterday was a long one, totally apart from the hour-and-change devoted to getting Emily's car formally transferred to her. Clients at 10:30, 11:30, 1 and 6, plus one who didn't show and many who called.  The day dawned on the road from the diner, where I saw this oddity outside the Catholic church in Clarence Holler:



I speculated that all clients would be required to wash their hands of all guilt before using the reformers.

Despite the backlog of appointments, everything proceeded pretty much on schedule; I used some downtime waiting for the 1:00 court hearing to fill out all the paperwork to transfer the title, and got there a few minutes before our appointed appointment.  Only thing I forgot was to record the odometer reading, so Emily continued with the paperwork and I headed out to write it down, stopping to take one last (or so I thought) shot of the lucky plates on that car which are about to be destroyed:



This was the set originally on Janis, the Cavalier I got for her to drive during college, and which was on that car when it was totaled in 2013 and Em and Cameron blessedly escaped unhurt.  I gave them my then-car to drive and bought this hybrid with the insurance proceeds (and then some); they tried to trash the plates and put new ones on it, but to me they were lucky charms and they stayed on it for the next three years as my ride and for the five months since I got JARVIS for myself and let them "borrow" Kermit until Emily got a new job.

Now that she has one, it was time. The paperwork all went fine, she was given a number in a short queue to finalize the transaction, and I went out to remove the old plates....

one of which, of course (the rear one in that last photo), was completely fused to the hatch and no amount of unscrewing or prodding would get it off.  Fortunately, the auto bureau plaza has an Auto Zone, so I headed over and bought a can of WD-40. They loaned me a bigger tool for the removal job (this happens often over there, as you might expect).  But I'd forgotten to turn my ringer on after leaving court, and Emily came out pretty panicked because she knew none of this, had been unable to reach me- and wound up having to pay the $118 to buy the new plates and register the thing for its first two years.  I told her I'd get cash out to cover that, and met her back at my office. There, further tools and sprigs of the oily stuff still failed to do the job, but then she asked:

They don't have to be in perfect shape, do they?

Hell, no; DMV destroys them as soon as you turn them in.   This opened up greater possibilities, namely, one (1) tire iron.  The top screws remained, but the plate, she came a tumblin' down:



(Some of the bending was from the accident in 2013, but most of it was fresh destruction. Heh heh.)

All that remained was to attach two plates with two screws- those removed when the front plate popped right off.  The new front plate seated nicely held down by just one, but the back one was a little wibbly wobbly platey watey for her drive home until Cameron could drill out the stripped top screws and replace them:



It's tighter than it looks on the outside. And it's now all hers. I took the damaged plates in to be destroyed this morning, and delivered the receipt to our insurance office, so it's now really all hers.

Weird-but-good karma continued. My last client left the Rochester office leaving me just enough time to get to my workout studio's Pittsford location for their last class of the day.  I pulled in, pulled out my bag, went to check for my heart monitor, and found it half-missing- the strap half.  I could've done it without, but I was worried about where I might have left it and/or lost it, so I got home by 8. This was just in time to find it sitting on my desk, but also near the pile of the six Blackadder videos which had to be back in the hands of the Erie County Library by 9 or I'd be looking at $6 per day fine for turning them in late.  I never would have made it to the library in time if I'd done the class last night- and I made it up, with the strap, after returning the plates this afternoon. 

So that last plate picture is quite fitting: things are a little wobbly sometimes, but the important stuff holds together:)
captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-20 06:33 pm

Saturday, in the Ballpark,....

Sometimes you just need to get away from It.  For the first Saturday in ages, I didn't set foot in my office, check the weekend mail, or obsess over how behinder I'm getting.  Yes, I did send out one revision of a petition this morning, but that was as far as I went.  It was time to return to my repast- the National Pastime, minor league edition.

The Red Sox AAA affiliate is in town, and they started one of the star Boston pitchers last night on a rehab assignment. I asked my Soxfan friends from Rochester if they were interested, and the timing didn't work out; just as well, since Eleanor and I wound up going out to dinner for the first time in ages, and the game wound up with David Price pitching only two innings and the contest going into extra innings.  But Scott and his son were up to coming in for the afternoon tilt today- no star pitcher, but third baseman Pablo Sandoval was still rehabbing and was expected to be in the lineup.

I love local baseball. Where else can you print tickets at home, just over two hours before gametime, for three seats seven rows up from the visitors' dugout for just over fifty bucks for the lot?  They picked me up, we found a street space, and were in those amazing seats just in time for first pitch.



In the second, Scott and Son headed off for hot dogs and coke. I was off for fancier fare- poutine, a sop to the Blue Jay affiliation (I still hate them divorcing the Mets but it's the second best choice), and a craft beer from a Rochester brewer.  I just needed to make sure the woman in the next row kept her hair out of the gravy (she put it up seconds after this was taken):



Panda, as he's known, played about half the game, including fielding at third and getting a hit.  Here's how close we were to him for most of his time on the infield:



Not sure why he wasn't wearing his Boston 48, but hey, Seaver homages are always welcome.

It was sheer joy sharing a ballgame with a father and his inquisitive son. Among the few good memories I have of my own father are of him answering my endless questions about the game, the rules, the players and such; Eli's inquiries far extended beyond mine in space and time, perhaps because he produced authentic Starfleet identification as soon as we met up:





Midway through the game was the obligatory Chicken Wing race. I don't even pay attention to the winner anymore, being more peeved that Celery Never Wins. Today, alas, was no exception:



Just past the Stretch, we got our final visit from Conehead, a fixture at this ballpark (and others in Western New York), pitching his bargain five-dollar beers with the Conehead Guar-an-tee!  I wasn't driving, so of course:)


"Thirty years of service" to this stadium now in its 30th year- the first of the retro downtown parks now dotting America from Baltimore to Seattle and all building on its success.

Pawtucket broke a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth, and despite their closer loading the bases, the final out was recorded and the Sox fans went home happy. As did the Mets fan who didn't go for the outcome but the company and the sunshine.  We may meet up again at a Binghamton Bronies game sometime soon, but that will likely be at night.  There's just something magical about baseball in the daytime, surrounded by the friends you know and everyone around you who you don't but with whom you share the baseball bond.

We arrived home safely:)
captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-19 09:16 pm

Thrills of victories, agonies of de feet....

Yeah, de feets hurt.  You get that after another week of running around to six court appearances in four places in two cities (plus udda thingza) and ending it all with a workout with a fairly famous guy.  But this week didn't end with the exhaustion and overwhelmedness of two weeks ago.  It helped immensely having any number of Life's Little Victories to push me on. That's the title of a running comic series by artist Keith Knight.  Here are a few of them.

My one out-of-town trip Tuesday confirmed the essential death of my tablet to unknown causes. The replacement glass alone for it would run $100, before getting into the labor to sever the broken glass from the digitizer and reconnect the whole business. So I resorted to, dare I say it?, books! during cardio; Graham Nash's memoir, recounted in a 70s flashback on World Cafe a few months ago, came home from Hamburg along with the Blackadder disks we've been bingeing, and it's been delightful. My tablet time has converted to watch-scenes-on-this-laptop-time in the wee smalls after Ebony or a cat wakes me up before feeding time. I will replace the tablet in time, but no rush.... but I did achieve Life's Little Victory #517 the day after the Rochester trip:

Lisa, my go-to guru of recent times, succeeded in repairing the color printer which had been Eleanor's, was left for dead until Lisa fixed it a previous time, and was then handed down to Emily, where it remained until it started farting black ink all over her drawings. Eleanor donated her newer printer back to the kid, and we took the older Epson in for further guru-ness. Nothing was promised, but two days ago, a fully functioning Epson was re-delivered to me. It just needed a new print head and some cleaning of cat hair.  The cost? Reasonable. The effect? Priceless.

She also got my backup laptop working again.  No great feats of programming or diagnostics were required. No, she simply baked its motherboard. As in, in-the-oven-baked. Apparently this revitalizes the soldering connections on the thing, and it's back to its smiling happy self- and making me happier and smilier for reasons we'll get to later.

----

Thursday began with more of a de-feet-ist moment in court, but by afternoon, I was smilier again. We got things in motion to transfer the hybrid car to Emily for realz; she texted me, wanting information about its insurance for work, and I replied that now that she's commuting with it (and maybe using it for work trips), it really needs to be in her name and on her policy.  I took the first steps yesterday afternoon, she followed up with the agents at lunchtime, and I picked up the forms for the transfer after my last court appearance of the week this afternoon. We have an appointment at a Rochester area DMV on Monday afternoon to finalize the transfer. 

It's a big step, but one she's clearly ready for now.

----

The two final court appearances of this week were four hours apart and both downtown- too much time to just piddle away down there in between, so I headed back to the office and got some stuff done. Including a determination to do less stuff:

Four of the pending BKs got filed between last Friday and two days ago- but the backlog is still pretty overwhelming. Some, I've invested too much personal knowledge and connection into, but one just stood out as a good candidate for some help on: client had filed a previous case, and sent me her "changes" on that petition from 2013 via a bombing of embedded picture files of each page.  My BP was going up just trying to save and print each page. That's when I decided, for the first time in 32 years, to hire somebody on my own dime to help with my own work.

Back I went to Lisa's. We got my backup laptop up and running, the necessary software updated, and the client's bare file entered into it. This one person is now off. My. PLATE! for the foreseeable future, and it feels wonderful. I still have three to fine-tune over the weekend, but that's down from five, and not nearly as much raw work needs to go into any of them. I've even set aside time to take friends to a Bisons game tomorrow- and I ended my workweek a little early and in the accompaniment of a chocolate egg cream from Jerk's downtown (no egg and no cream in it, so don't worry):



Also, they have an incredibly cute puppy over there, so that helps with the stress, as well.

----

Work done for both of us here, we ended it nicely.  Eleanor heard from an artist friend who's really excited about the drawing Eleanor's been doing lately, and has asked her to think about organizing a show of her work for the first time in decades or ever, depending on the definition of "show."  We went out for Thai food tonight and enjoyed talking about all these victories, little and not-so, that have come to us despite stress, and politics, and the occasional agonies of all four of our de-feets.
captainsblog: (Twelve)
2017-05-15 09:11 pm

Seven Random Moments and a Funeral

Other than sleepydowntime, I've been in pretty nonstop motion between my last post and now.  This won't even hit all of the events of those 30-ish hours, but we'll try to hit the highs.

* Have a Shitty Day!

That's perhaps the most iconic quote from Donnie Hendrix in Orphan Black. Kristian Bruun, who brought that originally-planned-as-a-one-off character into the most important male in the series, has also done other work in the Toronto-area television community. Last year, he appeared briefly as a Parkland Hospital emergency room doctor in 11.22.63.  And yesterday, when I reached a certain point in a certain binge, there he was again in a white coat....

Spoilers of the ewwww-est kind )



I had to stop watching. This was serious brain bleach territory for me. An actor who I associate so much with positives in a scene so full of negative. I texted Emily to make sure she'd caught it too, broke from the living room watch, and decided to resume on an elliptical.

----

Apparently Donnie didn't make just me sick.

I got to Under New Management And Now We Have Wifi Fitness, changed, turned on my tablet and,.... screenfreeze.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new; my Android has never functioned within normal parameters. This time, though, the freeze was irreversible: I saw a major smash in the lower left of the screen glass, fanning out into cracks going northeast and east from it across the display, and the touch function of the unit was completely gone.  It booted, and gave the start screen, but nothing would unlock the lock, bring up the icons or allow a letter of typing.

How? I still don't know. I did not drop it, step on it, and while I did put it in my gym bag, I did so as I have dozens of times, with the cover shut and nothing of significant weight laid atop it in or on top of the bag.  I don't recall any bumps or jostles on the way there that would have hurled something onto it. I did leave it in a cubby for perhaps two minutes while retrieving some forgotten thing from my car, but unless someone had a real mean streak,....

This particular brand fuses the gorilla glass to the unit.  There are repair youtubes involving sharp knives and power drills. Out of my league.  The choices are (a) a co-worker's go-to place near here where she got her iPhone screen fixed reasonably last year, (b) a Rochester client who was advertising such repairs at the trade show we both went to last month, or (c) surrendering to my own clumsiness and replacing it with a permanent rental through our cell plan which will cost some bucks but at least will provide insurance.

----

* Not all Doctors are bad.

Once I got home from that with some disgusting Mothers Day chocolate and some odd lots from Wally World, we settled in for the previous night's Who/Class double feature. We're liking how both arcs are going. Capaldi's wit and acting chops got them through what was a fairly routine Saving Shit In Space plot (though the Star Trek riff was epic).  Class continues to develop the relationships between the characters, even finding a hint of gray in an otherwise black-hatted connection between April and her father.

----

* Buying back your own memories.

In addition to the Mothers Day remembrances I'd posted mostly about mine, I also sent my nieces a link to a picture of my mother, and theirs, from 60 years ago:



By morning, my niece Michele had responded with a remarkable memory of her own. She's a single mom now, with teenage daughters, and they spent much of their Mothers Day working at the thrift store at their church:


 I found a family treasure. I'd donated a book without realizing my Nana had written an inscription inside it in October 1980, most likely after picking it up at one of HER church's Rummage Sales.

The book was Hans Brinker. And this was what mom wrote to her first granddaughter:




I replied back that it was amazingly coincidental- not just that she found her lost memory, but the timing of it for us: 

I was just thinking of mom's time in the Netherlands; we finally saw Fault in Our Stars, which is set for a small but significant portion in Amsterdam, and I wondered how different life would have been if we'd wound up there.

----

* Phones still work- if people will use them.

That got us to this morning. I knew the 9:30-10:30 hour would be rough- two hearings of unknown duration, in two separate courts three blocks apart. I know, you saw this.  And at least it wasn't raining.

The 10:00 opponent left a message around 8 that he hadn't received something and wanted to adjourn his case again. This time I said no; it had been adjourned at least three times already and it was delaying certain events. So I drew up a quick proposal to resolve things and took it with me to court.  Meanwhile, I just missed the 9:30 opponent leaving his office, and thus had to check in there at 9:30 (he wasn't there yet), scoot up the street to the 10:00- and by 10:30, both of their motions had been withdrawn. So I won. Ish. But not without a lot of running about

----

* Running about, you say?

Those three blocks were just a warmup. It was time to head into the mysterious world of local geography known as the Southtowns.

The Buffalo metro is mainly on a north-south axis- unsurprising with a lake/river and a foreign country to the west.  I've lived and worked exclusively in the city and northern suburbs, but occasionally I need to travel to Beyond Where Thar Be Dragons.

The wake began at 1. Court and some followup law library time ended a bit past 11.  I had a plan and a Siri.  First, Hamburg.  Their public library has the only system copies of the entire series of Blackadder, which we've watched online snippets of but definitely must binge.  Plus, that meant a drive along the lakeshore, past the harbor, grain elevators, old steel mills and now the Steel Winds turbines.  Quite a nice repast.

Their library, once you find its car park, is bright and active.  It was 12-something when I got my disks and a book to take to cardio (which I hopefully will not smash), so I went out onto the village's main drag.  It was so much quieter and quainter than the comparable road through our nearest village Oop North; Main Street through Williamsville is a road-ragey deathtrap.  But Buffalo Street in Hamburg, perhaps calmed by multiple roundabouts and a lower speed limit, was walkable. And it almost had a 50s quality to it; yoga and aromatherapy places, to be sure, but an oldschool movie palace (Guardians 2, one show a night on one screen), a bowling alley in the middle of the block, and a corner service station that I swear still had a "Flying A" sign on it.  I found a bakery, enjoyed a panini, a Snapple and the view, before getting back on the road to my main reason for coming this way....

----

* You can call me Ray,....

Next week's Absent Bankruptcy Client was laid out in the shadow of the Bills' stadium, but the sport of the day in the room was auto racing. He'd been a longtime driver at a nearby speedway, and most of the rels were there in race-team t-shirts.



Including the widow. I hadn't told her I was coming, but she saw me, said, Ray?!?, and hugged me. She seemed really surprised I'd come this far.  (Hmmm. She knew I go to Rochester at least once a week.) Then she started introducing me to people, and the light dawned: she'd mistaken me for her brother-in-law Ray, from Florida, who she really hadn't expected to show up.  She was still appreciative of the effort, and I again told her not to worry about anything involving next week's hearing.

Then there was this. Before walking in, I saw this in the funeral home's car park:



It turned out to be the deceased's daughter's car, up from NC for the funeral, and the reference was to Not Him but Na Tasha, of Avengers fame.  Still, odd- at least in terms of what-are-the-odds?

----

* But wait- we're not through!

I had one more Southtowns stop to make, which went quickly and satisfactorily, and was back at my desk a bit past 2. Yet the running about was not over.  I tracked down someone who absolutely positively had to sign something by Wednesday; I'm out of town tomorrow, and he was available today, so back in the car, and back toward downtown, only with a slide across Best/Summer Streets (passing my second Home of The Bills of the day) to get the document signed. Then back along the Niagara River and more sightings of Canada, stops for a workout and groceries, and finally home just before Eleanor rolled in on her bike.

Not watching anything tonight.  More fun lies ahead tomorrow, but at least I know where I'm going.

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-14 10:05 am

Idiots, Mothers and Swings

Just an ordinary weekend around here.

Yesterday, I was copied on a photo posted on the Facething by a downstate Republican congressman, who represents an area near where I grew up. Congressman King was so sad because people were picketing his home in protest of his vote to repeal Obamacare and replace it with what I affectionately call Ryanide.

In my comment about it, I asked about whether he'd held any town hall meetings to give them another outlet to petition the government for redress of grievances (citing US CONST, Amd. 1, while we still have it). I also linked to this piece, which explains that, no, New Yorkers are NOT immune from the bill's hideousness. Multistate employers would be able to pick and choose which of their states' insurance rules will govern all their policies nationwide. Because that's worked so well with credit card companies hiding out in South Dakota, yo.

I started getting notifications of replies from Peter himself- but alas, no reply to me. (I'm not sure whether he's even kept it up.) He's just thanking all his sycophants for agreeing with him. One of them even recommended he use "Second Amendment remedies" against the protesters. Wow. (Prayer: Do NOT let the Cheeto watch Handmaid's Tale. "You mean they just shoot live ammunition and throw bombs into the crowds of protesters? Great! Let's do that!")

In fairness, though, Peter King is not a complete moron. A hypocritical, insensitive Republican tool, to be sure, but I love his work on MMQB.

----

By day's end, the Mompictures began taking over the Facefeed. One was from a longago friend from church who has lived in Switzerland for years. Her mom, who was dear friends with mine, is named Eleanor- the first I would ever know by that name and still second on the list of importance. She posted a recent picture of the two of them, and she looks remarkably the same, although health issues have been a struggle more recently.

I linked to this old chestnut of pictures of my mom, which I found around what would have been her 100th birthday last October. It's remarkable to hear how many people still remember and love her after all these years and miles away.

----

Yesterday proved to be better than expected weatherwise, and I managed to get in a mow of the entire back yard. Today dawned even sunnier, which meant my usual Sunday morning alarm to take Ebony to the bark park. The Ellicott Creek Island was once just part of the larger county park of that name, with picnic facilities and assorted outbuildings, most of which have been left to blend in or fall down as nature will have it. Today, Ann noticed a leftover swing set (is a swing set a set if it only has one swing?), and figured the swinging motion might be good for her aching back.

From the smile, I'd say it was. Note the curious dog sticking her yap in the .gif in the final few seconds.



----

Client's wake is tomorrow at 1. Two court appearances before that. Life goes on, except when it doesn't.

captainsblog: (Default)
2017-05-12 08:43 pm

A painful reminder that things can always be worse...

No court, no clients, no nothin today other than just WORKWORKWORK....


Thus, no alarm. At least not mine. Eleanor apparently slept through hers, a rare thing, and I vaguely remember dreaming about noises in the neighborhood that were probably said alarm, but she made it to work on time (on her bike, even:), and my first awakening post-feeding-time was hearing my phone go off around 8:30.

It was not happy news, once I was finally awake.

H and W came to see me in the last week of last year, Both had debt, but most of it was H's, and thus it was decided that only H would (and did) file a Chapter 7 last month. His hearing is a week from Monday, but he will not be attending. For the call came from W, telling me that H had passed away the day before. His health had been an issue; we'd even done a power of attorney so W could testify on H's behalf if he was too infirm that day. POA's do not survive the principal's death, but something similar will happen to enable those bills to go away.

Her main concern, on the phone this morning, was scuttlebutt from her coworkers (yes, she went to work the day her husband died) about her now needing to file bankruptcy herself to protect against H's creditors. I called back as soon as I was sentient, told her how sorry I was and not to worry, and that the System has this covered.  His case had been assigned to a decent gentleman to resolve, who I'm sure has dealt with this issue before. There are rules, and procedures, which should enable the discharge of his debts despite him not being with us a week from Monday.

The bigger issue, for me, is making sure I am at his calling hours or funeral, which have yet to be published. 

The rest of the WORKWORKWORK went okay for me, as it did for Eleanor. But we're both still here, which makes it all that much better.
captainsblog: (Lawyers)
2017-05-11 09:26 pm

Bloody Lawyers

Blah blah lots of court blah blah more bankruptcies to keep track of than I can count without a spreadsheet blah blah....

We interrupt this Usual Ray Post for some unusual developments in the world of his law practice.

Today didn't require an alarm, since court wasn't until 1. Yet there I was, up right before 8, and checking the headlines in the local paper:



That phone number's long superseded. When a competing personal injury lawyer started cutting into their negligence empire using a catchy rhyming slogan and a 444-4444 phone number, the boys retaliated a few years back with Don't Wait, Dial 8! as their slogan, and with spending tons to acquire the 888-8888 number in virtually every area code (including 800) and the SMS number "8" for texts.  This firm, other leaked court filings confirm, spends close to 44 percent of their revenue on billboards, tv/radio ads and other marketing (I spend closer to five percent, if that), and the firm expects that any lawyer leaving the firm will reimburse them for a comparable percentage of any recovery they make on their own thereafter. (Incidentally, the judge who ruled in that earlier case has resigned the bench and been disbarred for taking bribes in a political scandal.  I never got along with him, which I am now proud of.)

Well, now, Cellino has sued Barnes, seeking a judicial dissolution of their professional corporation.  Cellino also got the (new) Commercial Division judge to seal the entire record of the proceeding, including even the routine order setting the date (May 19th) and manner of service. But not before I downloaded a copy of it:




(Oops. Even that procedural order has since been sealed, including its rather unusual waivers of publication of notice of the pendency of the dissolution proceeding and even of service on the NYS Tax Department.  State courts are generally, and statutorily, loath to keep the public out of the records of proceedings, but it's not unusual for well-connected parties, either financially or politically, to exercise their muscle and get their case records sealed.  Parties to a controversial case in Rochester, which I had very peripheral connections to, got a record sealed, but reporters and the local paper's lawyers got it unsealed so a very salacious story could be fully known by the public.)

Although the Buffalo daily and the local tv stations have reported on the "business divorce," none has yet come forward to challenge the sealing of the record. It may be relevant that the firm is a heavy advertiser with all of them; some have even wondered whether the local media will suffer budget cuts if their Cellino & Cashcow goes away.

Or, the advertising could double. There's plenty of speculation about THAT, and about who will wind up with the iconic slogan and phone number in the divorce.  I did some checking today, at least locally. 222-2222 had been a personal injury competitor firm, but it broke up and the number, to this day, wound up with a DWI firm. The 444 guy also snagged the 777-7777 number, which once had ties to a legendary (and disbarred) Rochester ambulance chaser. And despite the demonic connotations, it turns out that Cellino & Barnes also locked up 666-6666. Assuming that 555 is out for its 411 ties, and 999 is too close to 911,  that leaves 333-3333 as the only asset that might be allocated in the divorce.

I think I'll trademark Dial 3, You'll See! Or something.

----

Meanwhile, the ordinary life of this non-personal-injury lawyer (slogan: Call 634-XXXX! Because OUR clients are smart enough to remember a seven-digit phone number!) went on all morning. Blah blah, forward K's initial questions and information from our meeting yesterday, blah blah, update M and A's almost-final drafts, blah blah meet with N and revise stuff for his trustee after meeting with him, SHIT! it's time to leave for my one and only 1 p.m. hearing, ....

which I get to right on time, client there, hearing officer rolling in. We begin the drill. Unlike many, we have this hour all to ourselves. Other than the ordinarily stressful morning, getting here and being here were neither. So imagine my surprise when, 20 minutes in while my client was basically monologuing, I wiped a sudden bit of snot from my nose and discovered it was not snot, but blood.

I caught it quickly and early, excused myself to the gents, and both stopped the bleeding and cleaned up the rather ugly redfacing. Last time this happened was just under six months ago, at our vet, when my schnozz went bloody while taking both of our cats to the vet.  Neither was expected, or consistent with overall levels of activity or stress: I HAD this!, just as I'd taken pairs of cats in for routine checkups many times.  I'd eaten before the meeting; I hadn't worked out or raced three blocks to get there (as I'd done just yesterday with no nosebleed); and when I did do cardio at the end of the day, the nose and the blood each were as they usually are.

If it happens again, or coincides with a change in meds or activity, I will get it checked out, but otherwise I am not going to overly stress about it.  If I really get nervous, after all, I can always Dial 8!