Saturday, January 23, 2021

Mid January Odds and Ends



Sometimes, I don't have much to say about any one topic, but I'm trying to keep my readers up to date on things with a post.  This is one of those posts....

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I've been having problems with my health insurance.  My membership number changed, and the paperwork to fix my problem has been taking longer than expected to be processed.  Today, I reached out to the company once more, and someone placed my issue on a high priority queue.  Hopefully, I'll have the bulk of the matter resolved by Monday, and the only thing left to do will be to connect the membership to a new email account AND to get things set up properly for my mail order medications.

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My brother and I are closing out accounts my dad had before he died.  They don't amount to much money, but they will provide us with much needed money for luxuries.  In my case, this money will help pay for a vacation or two.  In my brother's case, it will pay for a delayed trip to see my niece and her (to be) husband in London.  We had a minor problem with one of these accounts, as it got locked when my dad died. But we expect to have the money in our "grubby" little hands soon.

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I finally have my auto registration in hand.  There is only one more thing I need to do with it: replace the old sticker on my windshield with a new one.  Of course, I'll drive down to see my brother to see if he has the scraping tool needed to get the old sticker off the windshield - it's a perfect excuse to see him before driving over to see FH.

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My friend from my Thursday night gaming group has taken the plunge and is setting up her own online game night starting Wednesday evenings.  I think I'll have another something to look forward to while locked down inside, waiting out the pandemic.

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Next week, I'll be getting together with another of my friends who knows me only as Marian. It'll be nice to see her once again. But with the pandemic raging, this might be the last time I meet anyone other than FH, YGD, Vicki #1 , my brother and his wife for a while.  Of the people in my circle, I'm one of the few that is under 65 AND doesn't have a reason to be an early recipient of the coronavirus vaccine.


Friday, January 22, 2021

Thoughts about the Pandemic so far



OK, it's been a bad year, and I expect that we'll have a bad winter to endure before springtime brings the promise of normalcy returning to our lives.  Until then, we will need to hunker down as best we can.

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When pandemic first started, the general public didn't know what was happening, nor did any of us know what best to do to stay safe.  I can remember one meetup group holding large meetings when the government was trying to limit the size of gatherings just before New York's lock down.  For the next 6 weeks or so, most of us rarely ventured out of our houses, socializing only via Zoom meetups.  Schools hastily figured out ways to hold classes remotely, with mixed results.  Businesses figured out ways to allow employees to work from home.  Other businesses were forced to close because they required in person presences. There were so many things that happened at this time, that I don't think any of us will remember all the salient details. During these days, many of us lost loved ones, myself included. And most of us were totally afraid of catching the virus, as if it was a terminal disease.  Yet, only 2% of the people contracting the virus in its early days died.  The other 98% has mixed results with their recoveries. 

Sometime in late spring, we started to develop a new normal, as people started to socialize outdoors. I can still remember when the road leading to Croton Dam Park had people parked on both sides, walking 1/2 mile or so to be able to enjoy the outdoors in the park.  As for me, I started to drive further North, so that I could walk rail trails in relative peace.  Meetup groups started to get together for outdoor dining (and other activities), allowing people to get together in a reasonably safe environment. New York City streets were invaded by outdoor dining patios, and the public took to the streets in a new and pleasant way. New York State (and its neighbors) took the pandemic seriously, and people were willing to make the sacrifices needed to reduce the infection rate.

Unfortunately, many people in the more rural areas did not act as if the pandemic was their problem.  They acted as if the pandemic would never affect them - and it did.  We started seeing a second wave of the pandemic affect the country, this time causing previously "safe" areas to suffer as we did in New York months earlier.

Eventually, autumn came, and outdoor activities started to wind down.  This is when I started to fear that we would have a winter where the pandemic would replace the flu as our major medical concern.  People in urban areas were mostly comfortable wearing masks.  However, due to a pig-headed president, mask wearing and the virus itself became a political issue.  One could usually tell a person's political tribe by looking at a person's face - Democrats usually wore masks, while Republicans often did not.  People gradually became afraid of indoor dining (where it was allowed), and we became more and more isolated.  

One of the problems exposed by the pandemic was that people have a strong need to be with others.  We have social gatherings to fulfill this need, holiday celebrations, weddings, and funerals.  Regularly scheduled religious services also fill this need, and many of the people most serious about their religious activities sued the government to loosen the rules limiting social gatherings.  Some of the more orthodox simply ignored the rules meant to protect them by holding clandestine ultra large weddings and funerals, helping to spread the virus among large groups of people.  Tradition was more important than public safety.  Eventually, holiday season came around, and people made sure that they would not miss more time with their families. So they booked their Thanksgiving and Christmastime flights, and started a third wave of this virus.  People's need to be with family was more important than being safe.   

Now that winter is here, we are experiencing a nationwide spike in infections which makes what we saw last spring almost look benign.  Most of us are "pandemic tired" and feel that need to be with people.  One of my close friends was just diagnosed as having the virus. And I'm very glad that her symptoms (and her husband's) have been relatively mild.  I'm grateful that we didn't get together when she could have infected me.  But how long will any of us be able to stay safe?  Vaccinations have finally started, but are going slowly.  How many of us will let down our guards when we've been vaccinated?  Will the virus have mutated enough that current vaccines lose their effectiveness?  It's going to be a ride through the unknown, and I'm hoping we don't get too complacent because we're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.



Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lately, I've been falling behind with my posts.



No, the winter hasn't been getting in the way of things.  It's been the pandemic.  When one has nothing to do all day, it's easy to do nothing.  In many ways, it feels like the snow has locked all of us inside for the winter, save for the fact that there is no snow on the ground.

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It's been a long while since I've been to Provincetown. And I'd love to have the legitimate reason to be there on a day like this, when I could see one of my favorite places filled only with locals.  No, I don't want to get stuck there in bad weather.  Instead, I simply want to see the town as only locals see it - without any of the tourists around.

There are so many places I'd like to visit without tourists.  If I were an Italian, I might be able to see Venice without the tourist invasions which befoul the city. Supposedly, due to the pandemic reducing commercial activities, the waters in that city are becoming cleaner and less reminiscent of a cesspool.  In the United States, however, the pandemic has made it impossible to travel to some places on my bucket list.  For example, I was considering taking a repositioning cruise from New York City to Seattle via the Panama Canal.  The early days of the pandemic made that impossible.  Next, I was considering taking a Hawaii cruise/tour this past December.  Again, the pandemic squelched that idea.  Now, the same cruise/tour costs over 50% more, as the cruise line is now restricting projected capacity on these vacations.

If I stay healthy and am able to afford it, I will still take similar vacations sometime in the future.  Until then, I expect the days to blur together, forcing me to catch up on my posting when I get around to it. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Thinking about going to a museum.



The above picture does not do this piece of art justice.  The Dinner Party (by Judy Chicago) is best viewed in person at the Brooklyn Museum.  Like most great works of art, it is best appreciated close up and in-person with appropriate attention being given to the details which are not put into perspective in photographic reproductions.

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I miss going into NYC to meet up with my niece and to go to a museum.  She is now locked down in London, and isn't going anywhere anytime soon.  As soon as things open up for her, she will do the equivalent of going to a "marriage mill" in our country, and get the legal procedure done that will allow her fiancee and her to live as man and wife.  But I digress....

Recently, I talked with a NYC resident, and she told me of the relative desertion of the NYC subway system.  She implied that it is much more comfortable to travel in the subway during the pandemic than it was before the pandemic - enough people have abandoned mass transit to allow many people to maintain appropriate social distancing underground.

Given that my vaccination priority is about to be called soon, I figure that it would be a stupid thing for me to catch the virus by letting down my guard, than if I stayed in my bubble for 2-3 months more.  But who knows?  There is a certain craving that can't be satisfied by staying alone in my room.  And sometimes, I feel it's worth the risk to start living my life again.

Knowing me, I probably won't go into NYC on my own, as I don't want to pay the price to park my car in Manhattan.  Could it be that my general frugality has been a reason I'm still alive? That would be an interesting thought....

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Going outdoors in the cold - BRRRR!!!!


It was a little over 2 years ago when I took the above picture.  And, boy was it cold!  Although today's outdoor activity involved a walk in a local park, I was still a bit hesitant to go outdoors in this weather.  However, I used a cisgender woman's trick - wearing a pair of tights under my trousers to keep warm in this weather.

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However, 1 pm came, and I had to make it to Rockefeller State Park in time to meet my friend, YGD, from my Thursday night gaming group.  I don't know if any of my readers have had the chance to walk through this park.  But it is a nice place to visit on a quiet weekday, as it is easy to maintain social distancing and have a nice walk.  Plus, during the winter, they don't charge parking fees on weekdays.

We started our walk at the main parking lot, and made it up to Stone Barns Center before turning back to our cars. I was surprised that I needed to stop along the way, but I think it's because I'm not used to going up and down hills.  The slightly extra effort to keep moving showed me how out of shape I am.  Yet, I kept moving after catching my breath.  (No, I wasn't gasping for air.  Instead, I just didn't want to elevate the stress level I was putting my body through.  I was comfortable, and didn't want to feel like I was making a strenuous effort to maintain a specific pace.)  A little bit under an hour after we started, we got back to our starting point and chatted for a while before going our separate ways.  Hopefully, we will be able to do this again next week.

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After I left the park, it was off to the supermarket.  $60 later, I was on my way home, hoping to find enough room in the ice box for all the stuff I bought.  Once I was done with everything, I realized that I had to go out again - there were books waiting for me at the local library for me to pick up.  For once, the important activities of my day took place before 8 pm for a change....


Monday, January 18, 2021

The way I'm going, I'll learn to hibernate like a bear before this is over.


I no longer have this ID card, as my job with the census ended 2 1/2 months ago.  But it brings back good memories of a time where having a job kept me out of trouble.  Now that the pandemic is entering into a new phase of hunkering down, it makes sense for me to remember the good times while waiting for my turn to get vaccinated.

It's easy to get a little bit jealous when one sees her friends starting to get their vaccinations.  With all but one exception (my brother, a first responder), everyone who has his/her arm stuck has been a healthcare professional.  Even the woman I've been seeing is scheduled to have her arm stuck this week.

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You might be asking, "Why is this woman talking about hibernation?"   Well, I've been finding that I now have very irregular sleep patterns, and one day is blending into the next.  Today, it took a phone call from a friend to wake me up in advance of a co-op board meeting that I set up.  Thankfully, I wasn't too late for the meeting.  Although I'm usually awake through the night, I'm finding it easier and easier to sleep during the day. Without a job to go to, or social events to attend, it is very easy to lose track of time.  The other day, TCL had to ask me what day of the week it was - a question that neither of us would have to ask when we were both working and had social activities to attend.

The job at the census bureau was one I was thankful to have.  The tasks weren't that difficult, and the pay was good. Although I'll never have an opportunity like that again, I've started to apply to organizations for work.  Hopefully, one of them will come through, as it would be nice to have a few extra dollars coming in, as well as a reason for me to reset my circadian rhythm each week...

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I may have mentioned that one of my blog's readers was in bad health.  Several of us bloggers who know this reader noted that we had no way to find out whether this reader had passed away or not.  None of us knew the real name of this reader, and had no way to contact this person's wife.  Given that I'm all over certain parts of the internet, I stumbled onto this site: that may be of use to our TG community. If our friend had used this site, her friends would receive an email within 30 days of her passing.  I plan to start using this site soon.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

It was a boring day today, and I'd have rather stayed home.

The above dress was a bit too small for me to wear.  But if it were a size larger, I'd have kept it because it made my body look like it had hips.  Alas, this was not the case, and I only lost $20 in the process of buying the dress in one of ModCloth's special deals..

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I was originally scheduled to meet up with FH, and go walking in Manhattan around 4:30 pm.  However, FH contacted me to let me know she was backed up with work and to ask if I could meet her at 6:30-7:00 instead.  So I ended up spending another few hours watching some TV before running down to FH's place with some food from Boston Market.

Did I really want to run down there today?  No.  But until things open up in the spring, it's nice to have someone I can hang out with.  I just wonder what it would have been like had my ex not broken up with me.  Alas, that's road not traveled, and one I'll always have some curiosity about.

An early dinner with a friend

  Last night, I mentioned to Pat that I wish I could have been born a cisgender female who looked like this when younger.  If I were younger...