Saturday, January 29, 2022

Global Entry / Pre Check


A while back, I posted an entry which commented on a couple of options I was considering for a Hawaii cruise, and then mentioning my choice of Global Entry for TSA Trusted Traveler status.  Well, I dropped the hammer on a deal, and I should be saying "Aloha" to Hawaii sometime within the next 12-14 months.  Additionally, I have started the process of getting my Trusted Traveler number, so that I can get past airport security with as few hassles as possibles.  And therein lies a problem for many that I wish our government would resolve.

TSA Pre Check provides 99.9% of the benefits I would want when going to the airport.  Given that most of my airport experiences will be domestic in nature, I could save $15 by using this option.  Since this program is "designed" to pay for itself, there are many more places one can perform the in-person interview than available for Global entry.  Because of its supposed self funding, Pre Check interviews didn't stop during government shutdowns.   However, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that is not meant to be self funding, its interviews were halted during government shutdowns. Yet, this is not the big problem I have.  They do not have enough available interview slots to handle the demand for this variant of Trusted Traveler certification.

In the above image, I have captured a list of Global Entry interview sites that have at least one slot open between January 15, 2022 through June 30, 2022.  Doesn't seem like much....  If the government had been smart, it would have treated Global Entry in the same way as it does Pre Check.  If anything, it would have been wise to combine the two programs, and do what is necessary to process as many people as possible, collect as much money as possible, and benefit both domestic and international travelers as much as possible.  Instead, I had to wait until June for an appointment at Newark airport.

If I change the filter to select sites that have at least 2 slots open, the list shrinks even further.  No wonder why people are upset at government. 

At least, I now have an appointment.  And I expect that I'll be taking a day off for this interview.  It could be much worse - it could be jury duty in Downtown Manhattan during the summer....




PS: They opened up a month's worth of extra appointment slots in NYC. (See above.)  So now, I have an earlier appointment (in May) at a place easier for me to get to (Bowling Green).

PPS: A spot opened up for 9:00 am this morning at JFK.  If it weren't for the snow, I might have gone for it.

Friday, January 28, 2022

My refrigerator overfloweth


One of the problems in living alone is that it's hard to get enough variety AND small enough quantities of food at a reasonable price.  Either one has to over stuff a refrigerator, or pay too much for the small quantities one needs.  For example, I only need a tiny bit of celery to make a decent tuna salad for sandwiches.  Yet, I always end up wasting food by buying too much to feed only one person.  

What makes things worse is that it's so hard to plan my meals.  I'm lucky that I can buy my lunches at the local supermarket and heat them up in a microwave oven.  But this is not the healthiest thing to do, as I will always end up eating more than I should.  In certain ways, this is a problem not unique to single people.  Most of us are on the go, and don't have the time to do any serious meal planning.  Given that my mother was a horrible cook, she was not the person from whom to learn either cooking or meal planning.  This is where I wish they gave "Home Economics" to both boys and girls when I was of school age.

Over time, I may get the hang of things.  But the one thing I am grateful for is the rotisserie chicken found at many supermarkets and warehouse clubs.  A whole chicken can easily be made into 3-4 meals. And the trick is making at least one of those meals a lunch.  Chicken Salad sandwiches are always a good way to use an "old" chicken.  And I've done this more than enough times over the years.

Well...  Enough for now.   The pork tenderloin that's been in the freezer (and just thawed out) is finally ready to eat.  It's enough meat for two people, but I can always use it tomorrow night - as long as I'm not cooking anything else....

Thursday, January 27, 2022

I'll never eat at this diner again.


This is what a typical plate of Fish & Chips looks like.  Usually, the fish is a battered fillet of cod deep fried with French fries on the side.  It could be a full fillet, or "longish" pieces of the fillet.  Either way, the taste of the fish should be mild.

- - - - - -

But first....

I hadn't been out of the house since Friday night.  And I knew I had to go out to shop for groceries, so I could have lunches for the week.  So it was into the shower, where I decided to go out as Marian - first to a diner for a bite to eat, and then to the supermarket to pick up food.  

When I arrived at the diner, I noticed that it was relatively empty.  Gone were the (pre-covid) usual group of baked goods on display.  The menu no longer had items which required the work of a full kitchen staff.  Instead, it was limited to things that even a beginning short order cook could prepare.  Too bad that I didn't choose a simple burger and fries.  From what I could tell, they had run out of cod, and substituted another fish in its place.  And it didn't fit my idea of what fish and chips was supposed to be. So, I made the decision to avoid this place for a while, and see what happens when the pandemic ends.

After dinner, I decided to go to Stew Leonard's to pick up food.  Luckily, this time I had my recycled bags with me - and I was able to get in and out of the place quickly.  There's not much to say about a visit to Stew's, save that I usually spend too much there.

- - - - - -

As you can see, this was a weekend where I accomplished nothing.  And nothing was good enough for me.  Hopefully, I'll have more energy next weekend, as there are many things I need to do....

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

A visit to the Deli


Every morning that I go to work, I have a standing order at a deli I frequent.  It's a simple Bacon & Egg sandwich with a touch of salt and pepper.  And this deli does it well.  So I've never had a complaint about the place, save that its small size cannot handle the volume of customers it receives in the morning rush. However, this post is not about the deli (which is doing everything right).  Instead, it's about one person who came to the deli one day, and how a situation was handled.

As I write this entry, Westchester county expects that people will be masked up in public places.  The deli again has a sign up (since the beginning of Omicron) reminding people that masks are required upon entry to the store. I am usually grabbing a face mask out of my handbag as I approach the front door, and am greeted by staff - all wearing face masks.  Everyone in the place (including police officers from headquarters down the block) are properly masked. So it struck me funny when one woman entered the place.

My first reaction was, "I'll bet that this woman voted for Trump."  She wasn't wearing her mask, and the people behind the counter politely asked her to wear her mask.  This woman took the mask out of her handbag, and held it to her face - a totally useless and worthless gesture, as that would not protect us from virus particles that may come out in her breath.  She continued to hold it there, placing her order, then complaining about needing to wear her mask.  Rather than cause an incident (the policeman having gone back on duty, and no longer on site to help), this woman's order was rushed so that she could be out of the store as quickly as possible.

I am bothered by people who think that they have more rights than others.  There is a selfishness in these people that appalls me.  Getting fully vaccinated and boosted protects me.  But it protects others as well.  And it has been free to me.  Why should it bother me to take 30 minutes out of my life for each of 3 vaccinations, and to wear face masks to prevent the spread of disease?  Young men used to be drafted for military service, and expected to die for their country without enjoying the benefits of living an adult life here.  Is masking up, getting vaxxed and boosted to much to ask of our citizens?  Sadly, for some people, it is too much.  So sad....

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A first date


Tonight, I went on a first date with a woman I'll call RQS.  I met her on OK Cupid, and we've hit it off quicker than I have with CWS.  Luckily, I have done nothing that could be considered "Roaching".  I have not been physically intimate with anyone for over 2 years now.  And this has helped me determine that MWL and I could only be friends for the long term.  By taking things slowly, we got past the initial chemical attraction phase, and into the phase where two people really start getting to know each other.  And that's allowed me the time to come to a decision.  The same will likely apply to CWS and RQS.

Before the date, I had to look up train schedules for me to get to the museum.  And I had to change into Mario mode before going into the city.  (How I hated having to do this.)  By the time I made it out the door, I was running late for the train out of Croton, so I decided to drive to Pelham.  And if it weren't for my desire to have a snack before going to the museum, I'd have made that train.  Instead, the train had pulled to the platform just before I could get a ticket.  So I ended up waiting 30 minutes before the next train.  Eventually, I got to the museum, and RQS shortly after that.

In the above picture, RQS is about to hit a gong in the Rubin Museum's "Mandala Lab".  (I'm being careful NOT to show you her face, or to describe what she did before retiring.)  From this angle, she could be "any woman".  But a smart person might notice that I am going against my usual type.  She is the first woman since FL to give me a strong signal that she is attracted to me.

As the museum was closing at 10pm, we decided to get a bite to eat nearby, and we stumbled into a place that had my wife's name - this might have been an omen for the evening. Our conversation flowed like water.  Strangely enough, both of us are widowed, and we were having as upbeat a conversation about death as is humanly possible outside the Twilight Zone. (I can only imagine Rod Serling asking an introduction to us having this conversation.) All too soon, the night had to end.  RQS took an Uber home, while I made perfect connections to my train.

It's still too early to tell her about the Marian side of me.  But if things keep going well, I'll have a hard decision to make.  At least, it will be a good one - as long as I don't mislead either of these woman.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Cancer Sucks


Some time ago, I posted an entry about a reader of this blog who has died of cancer. This is a malady that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but would consider wishing on some politicians we all know and loathe.  Today, I had a conversation with DCD, a man who I knew through a therapy group we once attended, and he was feeling a bit down.  After 2 operations and a round of chemo (could be radiation, I don't remember for sure), I'm pretty sure that he is scared for his life.

As I've mentioned before, my late wife died of cancer, and it was 9 months from diagnosis to death.  Although this happened more than 2 decades ago, some of the memories are as fresh as if they were made last week. So I feel sorry for DCD, as I have an inkling of what he and his girlfriend are going through.  Like my situation with my late wife, DCD doesn't communicate that well with his girlfriend.  And this isn't helping things much, as DCD doesn't have many options left to him in his life.  If he survives, he'll likely be working until the day he dies.  Let's hope that isn't anytime soon.

One of these days, we'll hear doctors say: "It's only a mild case of cancer.  Don't worry.  We can cure it with this regimen...."  Unfortunately, that day has not come yet.  But the promising developments that started while my wife was alive are slowly beginning to bear fruit.  Let's hope that it comes soon enough for our children not to need to worry about this medical issue....

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Not so sure of what to talk about today.


The above cover is one of my favorites from the Lampoon.  It's wonderfully political, politically incorrect, and funny as heck.  We had much thicker skins when this magazine was published.  One could drop the "N-Word" and use it humorously, as Mel Brooks did in Blazing Saddles.  

I miss the humor magazines of my youth.  Both Mad Magazine and the National Lampoon are long gone, or exist only to recycle old articles.  Both magazines were influential in their own ways.  Mad taught young people to think of current events in a different way than most people might think.  And the Lampoon taught young adults that good humor was rarely politically correct.  Mad would spoof Star Trek's opening ("To go where no man has gone before"), by having the male crew exit to the ladies room. The Lampoon would attack minorities with an "Unwanted Foreigners" issue, and attack these same groups with racist descriptions of these groups - all meant to generate laughs, and not to be taken seriously.

Yet, I miss something even more.  When I was young, TV could afford to provoke thought. Could you imagine "All in the Family" being a popular TV series?  Too many people would get upset at the Archie Bunker character's use of politically incorrect language.  And yet, it was considered acceptable way back when, as the show illustrated how both Archie and "Meathead" were just as prejudiced - just from different directions.

- - - - - -

Today, many "conservatives" want to "Own the Libs".  In the process of doing so, they often act like children, calling Liberals names I won't repeat here.  But many Liberals are just as bad in their own way.  They ignore how and why many Conservatives became radicalized, and have no interest in the concerns of people from the other side of the aisle.

As a TG member of society, I would be among those groups at risk if the Conservatives gained absolute social power.  Luckily, it will take a lot to get the NYC region to flip.  But history has shown this can and does happen when enough people are alienated from the political system AND begin to put their faith in a bombastic populist leader.

So, what are we to do?  For one thing, we should celebrate and publicize the successes of TG people like Amy Schneider (of Jeopardy fame). If we can convince enough people that we are safe to be around, we might just be left alone when political winds change.  Yet, we will only be left alone in more progressive areas.  Most of us can not go stealth if needed.  It is in our interest to fight for the interests of our tribes while we can - and we must do so now....

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...