Saturday, February 19, 2022

Another short post - the non TG issue of the day,

Recently, I have looked afar at what is going on in Canada.  But the importance of what is going on North of the border has hit home - Anti-Vax truckers are protesting pandemic restrictions and vaccination mandates by blockading Toronto, and as a restult, causing shipping problems across 2 nations.  It's now getting impossible to ship goods over the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ont with Detroit, MI.

One person I know has had to change suppliers for goods needed to run a business.  This person is afraid of what will go missing next because of the supply chain problems caused by these protesters.  Can you imagine if this protest starts "infecting" the USA, where truckers could paralyze major cities by blocking key interstates?  

This is the tip of an iceberg in many ways, and I wonder what is going to happen in the USA due to the Canadian strike.  I'll bet that we soon see issues with our own truckers, and it could have a domino effect here.

What do you think?

Friday, February 18, 2022

A short post for the day....


Al Franken.  Here's a person who's grown on me over the years.  His early comedy was a mixed bag to me, but as he became more serious, I grew to respect the man.

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I've always wanted to see Franken run for President, after his service in the Senate.  He's the type of person who could have taken Trump down in a 2016 debate and still looked "presidential" while doing so. But then, a comedian has to have developed perfect timing to do this, and it is a skill that would be perfect in today's political environment.  When the political system has become a bad joke, why not have a serious comedian run a country?  (Heck, if Ukraine has done this, why not here?  At least, we don't have to worry about Mexico grabbing Texas back, or Canada grabbing Alaska.)

While shopping for tickets to see Postmodern Jukebox, I saw that Franken was on a nearby stage.  So, I decided to buy myself a ticket.  Unfortunately, my friend Vicki couldn't go with me.  But I was lucky.  Someone from my Yonkers game night group wanted to go.  It looks like we'll have a nice dinner nearby, then go to the theater to see the show.

Be it funny or serious, I expect this to be a very enjoyable evening....

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Helping a friend with buying/setting up a computer


This is how I imagine I look when at my computer desk, save that I don't have a cat on a nearby windowsill.  However, I helped a friend buy a computer today and set it up for her use.  And she is much more likely to look like this, as she has two cats that want to be nearby their human.

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When I woke up this morning, I really didn't want to go out.  But I'm glad I did, as I felt a little bit useful for a change.  My plans for the day were to drive to meet RQS where she undergoes physical therapy, drive to Micro Center where she would buy a new laptop, then back to her place in Queens to get it set up. Since I knew how long it should take me to reach the Ridgewood area of Queens, I was able to leave the house around 11:15 and reach her on time.

The drive to Queens was uneventful, and I reached her area a little early.  So I waited nearby (not wanting to pay for parking) for her to give me a buzz.  Shortly afterwards, I picked her up and drew a "straight line" to the nearest Micro Center store in Flushing.  (I put "Straight Line" in quotes, as I stayed on the same road under different names, and with curves from Ridgewood to Flushing.) Within 15 minutes of getting to the store, we left with a new computer, heading towards her place.

RQS lives in an area in which it is hard to find parking.  It was fortunate that I was able to find parking within a very short walk of her house.  And then the fun began.  We had to unpack the new computer, perform initial system setup, remove the old anti virus, and install the new anti virus before doing much of anything else.  It was a minor headache to install the new anti virus, as the setup insisted that we add dashes ('-') between several 4 character codes on the barely readable receipt (upon which the dashes were not printed). AARGH!  After a quick bite to eat, we progressed onto the next task of the day - moving data from her old PC to her new PC.  And again, we had problems with product serial numbers before using the Laplink software.  Yet, we got the job done, and I was out of the place by 7:30 pm.

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It was not the right time to tell RQS about Marian - but that time is getting close.  When I do, I hope she can deal with this part of me.  Only time will tell....



PS: I called RQS the next day.  She loves the computer, but found that I didn't copy everything over to the new machine.  So, she's done some manual work to do so.  On the whole, the operation was a success.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

There are so many trips I want to take, but so little time and money left to do them.


Lately, I've been thinking of the places I want to see and the trips I want to take. As much as I'd like a companion to travel with, there's a part of me that enjoys traveling alone.  Having been widowed more than twice as long as I was married, part of me yearns for having someone with whom I can build a history with. And there's another part of me that needs to chart my own path.

I'm not sure whether any companion I may travel with might accept traveling with Marian.  It's more costly per person to travel as a single than to travel with a companion.  And my frugality recognizes that I miss FCP for this reason (among others). But now, it's time for me to figure out which trips will be important to me and which trips I can take - preferably as Marian, if possible.

On my list, in no particular order or sequence are the following trips I'm giving a high priority:

  • Great Britain and Ireland, with a week in London, returning on the Queen Mary
  • Iceland (preferably on a cruise ship), doing the ring around the island.
  • Panama Canal Cruise (old locks)
  • Hawaii (already booked)
  • Cross Country Train from NYC to/from Seattle
  • Cross Country Train from Toronto to/from Vancouver
  • Cross Country Car trip, seeing the USA in a car other than a Chevrolet.
    (The details of such trip have yet to be defined.)

Some trips (not on this list) will be done twice, once as Mario and (hopefully) once as Marian. The first trip would be to find out what procedures exist for entering and leaving a foreign land, as the last thing I need is to be hassled outside the USA because I prefer to travel as Marian.  

However, traveling pretty (as Kim might put it) is not my only travel related issue.  So is time and money. The cost of travel insurance for foreign travel gets more expensive as I get older, and I am already approaching 65 too quickly. Additionally, it seems like more demands are being made of my time these days, so I have less time available to travel. Finally, I now have a finite supply of money, and need to budget it carefully for the rest of my life.  So, the key to part of my future happiness is that I have to be ruthless in choosing my trips, as I want to be sure that I get the most out of the time and money I have left to me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Covid and how it impacted society


The other night, I met a friend who told me about how things are going at her job.  Although everything is OK on the surface, there is more going on than anyone would want to admit.  And this got me thinking....

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As of the time I'm writing this entry, we're about 2 years into the pandemic. Although the worst of the pandemic related disruptions are behind us, the ripple effects continue to this day. At the beginning, the government was sponsoring PPP loans to keep people "employed" when there was no economic need for  businesses to employ them. If a business took out this type of loan, it had to meet some strict requirements and then apply for PPP forgiveness of the loan later on.  One problem - no one knew how long the pandemic would last, and many small businesses couldn't afford the risk that they would be able to employ these employees at the end of the loan's term. (This is how I remember things, small business owners may be able to better clarify things here.)  America's "unlivable wage" structure combined with Federal Unemployment Insurance subsidies made it a better deal for many small business employees to leave the workforce and take the time off to develop skills for better paying jobs. In the case of one business I'm acquainted with, the business owner had to lay off it's one employee. The owner of the business was doing double duty for 18 months while the "ex" employee was taking advantage of government largesse - and I can't blame the employee for doing so.  Yet, more people needed this money than not, as they had no jobs to go to (think of restaurant staff) and no way to get new ones.  It made sense for these people to develop skills for new jobs with better wages and more stability.

Over time, things evolved into a "new normal".  Most of us got used to wearing masks in public spaces. Most of us got used to social distancing.  And most of us got used to the safety protocols needed to help slow down the spread of the pandemic.  Many businesses started opening up again, albeit in new ways. Restaurants developed new take-out models, and employed some of their former wait staff as kitchen employees for the duration.  Others created outdoor dining spaces. And still others were allowed to operate indoor facilities with reduced capacity. Yet, many cherished places continued to close, as they could not get enough business to pay their bills.

Eventually, the needed vaccines were developed, and things changed for the better.  Once enough people became vaccinated, we continued our evolution to a "new normal". Many businesses that had shut down due to the pandemic reopened.  In my case, I took my first cruise in 2 years at Christmastime. Yet, I noticed that things were different.  Fewer people were on my cruise than I expected. And this is typical - many people are still afraid of catching the virus, even though they have been vaccinated.  (I can't blame them, as I lost my dad to the virus in the early days of the pandemic.) Yet, with the symptoms of the virus in the vaccinated being much less severe than in the unvaccinated, I see the risks and severity of getting sick as that of catching a non-Covid flu.  Many of us are tired of having to think of the virus, and are finding ways to live our lives again.

And this sets the stage for the continuing ripples of the pandemic.  The friend who discussed her job with me noted that her boss was not in the best financial state.  Year to year holiday sales were still down, as many of his customers were not gathering in large numbers anymore. He was surviving, but slowly hemorrhaging money - especially, as he bought out his former partner just before the pandemic struck. The owner enjoys running his business, but his Covid-19 depressed financials may force him to close the business and put my friend out of work.  Many small businesses are hurting, as they can not generate the revenue to pay workers, or to pay workers enough to stay on their jobs.  Increased demand for workers have caused people to jump to better paying and more secure jobs.  They have learned their lessons from the early days of the pandemic, and do not want to be at risk again from a next pandemic.

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As for me, I've noticed that when I pass through Grand Central Terminal, that many dining venues have closed. Not only do people want to avoid eating at the terminal due to the virus, but people have no places to sit down and enjoy their food. Until recently, the magazine/newspaper stand at Grand Central wasn't open when I was there.  Not enough people were taking the train into NYC to justify keeping the place open.  But now, things are opening up again, and I am looking forward to an excuse to eat at the Oyster Grill again.

Yet, things have changed quite a bit.  Not only do I have to show that I have been vaxxed and boosted before entering a NYC restaurant, museum, or theater, but I have to pull out government id to prove that the vaccination record is mine. It's a small price to pay for "normalcy" in the new normal.  

There is a point where enough people have been vaccinated in society to allow for a herd immunity. Those of us who have been vaccinated paid the small price to allow this to happen.  But most of the unvaccinated people are freeloaders.  Their selfish interests have made it harder to attain this herd immunityAnd with their insistence that they remain unmasked in places where immuno-compromised people may be only helps to make things worse for all of us.  The new normal has shown us that there are a large number of people who don't give a damn about others - and who will hurt society rather than make small sacrifices to improve it.

I could go on and on.  This post was intended to be a short one discussing my friend's job and how Covid-19 affected it.  But things often change when I start writing an entry....



Monday, February 14, 2022

Dihydrogen Monoxide and other subjects


Recently, I had a chat with LK, and we discussed how ignorant many people are about objective facts that are important right now.  Many people take a quick Wikipedia/Google search on a subject and take it as gospel.  They do not even know how to search for peer reviewed scientific search easily ready by the general public to understand the science behind what is going on.  For example, she noted that her mom didn't know about Google Scholar, and didn't have a clue about how to find useful data in this area.

But we shouldn't limit ourselves to serious sites.  Many people can't figure out that the Onion is a satirical site, and not real news.   Even worse, they are often clueless when it comes to the problems with Dihydrogen Monoxide.  Many people are no longer capable of critical thinking, and it's frightening.  They now depend on 3 second sound bites from their political pundit of choice, and that's not good for a democratic republic.

We're seeing book bans in schools for materials which are total BS, save that they make you think. What is it about critical thought that some politicians fear?  Maybe that people would see that these leaders are selling us snake oil?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Seeing an "old" friend.


It's been a while since I've seen my former student clinician from Mercy College that I used to develop my feminine voice. So It was a great pleasure to see her again and catch up on things.

But first....

I was a little depressed, as I noticed that my former cruise partner had deleted the "Congratulations" message I sent, finding out that she has a new grandchild.  So sad.  I doubt she'll ever let go of her anger towards anyone who may have hurt her (like me), and as a result, will never heal from her wounds.  I mentioned this to LK when we met, and she was a great "pick me up" when I needed it most.  And then we talked about her good news - her bun in the oven is healthy, and she can't wait to be a mom.  We talked about so many things in the short time we were together, and I'm hoping that we can get together early next month.

LK is a great person, and is now a great professional.  Yet, her pregnancy is getting in the way of her assignments (occupational prejudice), and there's not much she can do save to deal with it assertively.  She intends to continue working after baby leave, and I feel she will "easily" be able to handle the demands of both family and career. Hopefully, her partner will also step up to the challenge of raising a child.

I won't go into much more right now.  Maybe later on, if LK is OK with it.  (I learned at least that much from dealing with FCP.) 

Was she dead or alive? Inquiring minds wanted to know.

  I hadn't seen Pat in months, and I haven't been able to reach her by voice or text.  Given that she's 84 years old, I figured ...