Saturday, June 4, 2022

Connecting with friends


This is going to be another quick entry.

Over the past couple of nights, I have had 2 zoom meetings.  The first was with my ex-boss, a man who only knows me as Mario.  The other was with a woman who only knows me as Marian.  Normally, I would be energized by both zoom meetings, but I had no energy to really enjoy them.  This means that I couldn't wait to get off the zoom and do something else.

Once I leave my job, I will suggest to my ex-boss that we meet up for a lunch somewhere, as it will be nice to chat in person for a change.  Even though things will be very different from the last time we met in person, it will be a good thing to get back to normal - or, at least how we once thought of it.  Regarding the second person, if I weren't seeing RQS on a regular basis, I'd schedule a Chicago trip to see her for a long weekend.

Keeping in contact these days has become much harder for me than it was in the past. I never had a job that sucked as much energy out of me as this job does. Yet, this lack of energy forces me to make hard decisions regarding who I really want to see.  And maybe, that's the one benefit I'm getting from this exhausting job....

Friday, June 3, 2022

Cruise Affordability


The other day, I discussed potential cruises with RQS.  We had found an Alaska 9 day cruise for a reasonably cheap price ($799 pp/double occupancy, excluding fees/taxes) that RQS was interested in taking.  Since I didn't want to do Alaska this year, I made a simple suggestion - look at the excursion package prices.  That was enough to get her to realize that 2022 wasn't the time to go to Alaska.

One thing I've learned about cruising is that shore excursions can easily double the price of a cruise. I could have easily busted my budget on my last cruise if I took ALL the excursion options available to me. Instead, I chose the option that allowed me to see parts of a city that I've never visited before.  But what happens on a cruise where ALL the ports have desired excursions?

Alaska and Hawaii cruises are known for their expensive excursions.  One takes these excursions to experience things that have no equivalents anywhere else.  Alaska has glaciers.  Hawaii has volcanoes. This is a simplistic explanation of the states' uniqueness.  And this uniqueness is why both states are on many peoples bucket lists.  Where else can you take a bus to see a glacier from a port city?  Where else can you get to an active volcano from a port city?  Both states are isolated and expensive to reach.  So they will be expensive places to visit.

If I wanted to cruise on the cheap, I'd stay in the Caribbean for my cruises.  Once you've seen an island with a fort, an island with a pristine beach, and an island with a tourist oriented shopping area, they all seem the same.  The specific details may be different for each island, but not enough is different to make any island stand out for long.  So, once a person has sailed the 3 Caribbean areas (West, South, and East), there is not much new to see.  Instead, a Caribbean cruise is a series of beach days that takes place on different islands.

Over time, a cruiser may decide to stay on the boat and avoid Caribbean shore excursions altogether.  The ship has become its own destination.  For me, that is how I afford many of my cruises.  When I think of my former cruise partner, she complained that we don't go on any shore excursions.  I'm not going into the reasons why I didn't go on excursions with her, save that there were none that made sense for us to go on.  Once one has cruised the same route (or a similar route) several times, one has already done the excursions worth doing.  The boat is now the destination, and not the Caribbean islands.

I monitor cruise prices all the time for trips I might want to take.  There are price points that one must set, where when prices fall below them, it's time to consider buying a ticket.  This was the case for my most recent winter cruise.  The cruise line effectively made me an office I couldn't refuse.  This is how I afford my trips....

Thursday, June 2, 2022

When one gets tired, one can slip up....


I remember how Fran was when she told me about how she decided to come "out" to the world.  She couldn't keep her male and female persona separate enough to avoid having the wrong person see her in the wrong presentation.  Today, I made a smaller version of the same mistake.  Although my mistake is not "fatal" it is a potential problem, as I emailed some paperwork to my doctor's office from my "Marian" account.  This will likely cause a few questions if the receptionist asks the wrong questions.

However, I am not too worried about a worst case scenario.  It will only be a little bit of embarrassment at first, then life will go on.  But this makes me wonder how many of us let our guard down a bit too far when we are tired.  When I used to cruise with FCP, I'd occasionally slip up and use the wrong voice when tired or overly relaxed.  The wrong voice can spoil any presentation in less than a second.  So, sending an email from the wrong account is a relatively minor thing to let happen.  Doctors are supposed to keep secrets, and I expect that the people in his office can be trusted to do the same.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A quick note about someone convicted of a minor crime or two.


How many of you have listened to the "Alice's Restaurant Massacree?"  

Arlo Guthrie's most famous song was written about a real life incident in his life.  There was a real life Alice who ran a restaurant near Stockbridge, MA and there was an incident where Arlo did have to clean up a mess of garbage.  He did clean up the mess talked about in his tune.

Regarding his visit to Whitehall Street, less is known from other sources, save that the building still exists in mutilated form. Arlo Guthrie has stated that much of the film "Alice's Restaurant" is based on real events.  I can only imagine what he went through at that time in his life.

- - - - - -

Why do I bring this up?  Well, I have been listening to his tune on a regular basis while I do my work at the office.  The simple pace of the tune distracts me enough from what I'm doing to make doing my job more bearable.

So, if you want to deal with a highly repetitive task, I suggest finding a tune which matches the pace of the work you are doing, and then playing it in the background for a while.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

This past heat wave was dengerous!


This will be a short post about two LONG days.

RQS and I had plans for Saturday,  First we'd get up, do some car shopping, buy a new fan, then go into NYC to see an Off Broadway play.  Well, we got up late, and proceeded over to Walmart to buy the fan.  And then we descended into the hell of 95° heat and high humidity....

My car has problems with hot weather and slow traffic.  We made the mistake of trying to drive to Pelham to catch a train into NYC from that station, as it has more service than the stations I usually travel from.  Well, After navigating around a few traffic jams and turning off the car to avoid overheating, we reached Palham station.  And then we found out that the train had lost power, and nothing was moving on the line.  So our next thought was to take the subway.  We put the kibosh on this option, as they were busing people between stations to accommodate construction work going on.  At this point, we abandoned thought of using our tickets, and decided to go out to eat in Westchester.

On our way up to Kalbi House (a Korean restaurant on Central Avenue), I called Vicki to suggest that we get together for coffee after our dinner.  Now that our plans were complete, we made it to dinner and spent too much for decent food.  (The food was good, but the tastes were not memorable.  Something was missing from all the dishes, and we couldn't put a handle on it.)  From there, we went to meet Vicki and the "fun" began.

Vicki and Sue got along well until Vicki got into dominant preacher mode.  At that point, she started rubbing me the wrong way.  Although I have issues with my weight, I don't need someone preaching to me what I must do to lose weight.  What works for her may not work for me.  This was the first time that I raised my voice with her, and hurt her feelings.  Although I won't go into the details, it took me a while talking with RQS to process what I felt at that time.

- - - - - -

The next day had us going back to RQS's place.  It was almost as hot as the day before, and we had to deal with even more traffic jams.  This time, I was breaking a few traffic laws to get the car moving and keep the temperature under control.  I was lucky to get the car over the Whitestone Bridge, where we stopped at a local fast food joint to cool off, and let the car cool off as well.

Luckily, we made it to RQS's place without incident, and I stayed there until sunset when it was "cooler" outside.  I then drove home, bypassing most of the traffic jams I might have hit, and made it home without incident.

- - - - - -

Next weekend, it will be Marian who meets RQS at the station.  Keep your fingers crossed that she reacts well to seeing me in this presentation.

Monday, May 30, 2022

I'm now a trusted traveler!


Today was a rare day that I took off from work because I needed a full day to take care of things.  My visit to Customs and Border Protection for my Trusted Traveler Number required me to be in Lower Manhattan at noon for a 30 minute "Interview".

Although this was a day I'd have rather spent in Marian mode, my interview required that I look like the name on my official documents AND my meeting with RQS could not have went well had I not been in Mario mode.  My worry - I wouldn't find a packing spot at the local train station.  But I needn't have worried.- the pandemic's effect at the local train station's parking lot made it very easy for me to get a decent parking spot.  Unfortunately, it cost me more to park the car than for a one way senior ticket to NYC.

I arrived at the Global Entry center (at the former Customs House) a few minutes early, and was impressed by how they left much of the structure alone in areas controlled by TSA/CBP.  When I reached the area for my interview, the interview area looked like it was designed for a modern building, yet fit perfectly in the space.  (DMV should only look this open and functional.)  The interviewer took my fingerprints (same equipment I used at the census) and asked me one question: "Do I still work at 'xxxx'?" and I answered yes.  That was it.  My number was activated, and I was free to meet RQS at Grand Central.

There is not much to say about the rest of the day, save that we went to a new "Lobster Truck" not affiliated with the brand we enjoy so much.  This was the biggest mistake of the day - the lobster roll was not satisfying, and both of us wanted to enjoy something else.  And that we did - we went to an ice cream shop where they had wine flavored ice cream....  YUM!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

How many of you remember Screen Savers?


This is a quick entry regarding technology. 

Years ago, it was a big thing to have "Flying Toasters" for a screen saver.  The old vacuum tube monitors of the day needed tools such these to help prevent an image from getting burnt into the tube's phosphors when screens were in idle mode.  Sometimes they were fun to watch.  In the case of the "Opus and Bill" screen saver, it spoofed the Flying Toasters put out by a competitor's program.

Lately, I found the above mouse pad and it triggered fond memories of the era of the screen saver.  Too bad that most people now to put up static images when their machine is locked.  I miss the individuality some people showed with their screen savers....

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...