Saturday, November 12, 2022

I keep ordering useful things from Amazon

Toothpaste tablets.  Why would I buy them?  Given that I'll be flying to Hawaii soon, the less I have to put in a special liquids bag, the easier my trip through the security checkpoint will be.  This is only one of the purchases I've been making lately, as I have to prepare for travel in a way I haven't done in over a decade.

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Lately, I've been buying things such as auto-on, rechargeable motion sensitive night lights, a cruise power strip (no surge protection), a clear sling bag (for use at Pearl Harbor), and a selfie stick (for taking pictures of me on my upcoming trip.).  I would never have bothered buying much of this stuff had I not been planning on a trip to Hawaii.  Given that I will likely be doing more travel in retirement than I did beforehand, I will be fleshing out an appropriate travel kit, something that can last me from 2 to 20 days as needed.

I understand how easy it was for my wife to become a spending addict.  Click on an item you want, and "by magic" it appears by your door.  You do not handle "real money".  Instead, you authorize a debit to your account (which you must fund), and lose the tactile feedback that paying with cash provides.  It is much easier to know that you are spending too much when you both see and feel less cash in your wallet.

Part of my spending spree has been to replace both a 20" carry-on suitcase and a 28" suitcase.  It cost 75% more than I planned, but I wanted to get something that would last a decade or two. I'm grateful to be able to do this, as I have a decent amount of money in my bank account from 40 years in the work force.  (If I didn't also have a good 401k and pension, I'd be in very bad shape right now.)  But this spending can't last.  Right now, my 401k is down 30% from its high point, and the yearly distribution I was planning on taking may need to be reduced.  I want to preserve as much capital as possible for now, and still want to enjoy living my current life of leisure.

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Last night, I met up with a transgender person for dinner.  If I weren't lucky enough to have been employed by a top-10 bank for 30 years, I might not have had the discretionary cash to afford this dinner.  I also might not have had the cash to have afforded the voice training, laser treatment and second wardrobe I need to go about in the world as Marian, some of that wardrobe coming from Amazon itself.  I only wonder what my late wife would have thought of the way I live my life today.

Friday, November 11, 2022

I had dinner with a friend tonight - Good Conversation, Mediocre Meal

I don't know how much I should say about my friend SR, so I'll leave things as generic as possible.  Like me, SR is transgender.  Unlike me, she has had "the operation" and lives full time as a female.  Given where we are in life, she is young enough to be my daughter (that is, if I lived in Tennessee 😀)  But each of us has a point of view that complements where the other is in our transgender journeys.

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It's hard arranging to meet SR, as she lives in NYC but does not take mass transit, while I live in Westchester, and use mass transit as much as possible. So, Manhattan's Chinatown was the best possible compromise, even though the restaurant (Wo Hop) left much to be desired. Wo Hop is the kind of place that caters to tourists, and to people who'd be satisfied by a 1960's suburban New York version of what was called "Chinese Food." (I'm more a fan of places like Ping's, just across the street.)  I got to the restaurant before SR, but we went down the steps together.

SR is a person who leans to the right politically.  So I knew to couch my language in a way where I could acknowledge the valid points that the Conservatives make without dismissing any of the valid points made by Liberals.  Yet, for the most part, we understood where each other was coming from, and I explained how I look at the world these days: Jeffersonian at heart, and Hamiltonian by mind. Strangely enough, we talked about sexuality, and she mentioned things best left unsaid here. 

All too soon it was time to leave.  the meter was about to run out for SR's car, and I had to get home early enough to chat with RQS.  Before we parted, SR invited us to her party being held next year.  I'm not sure that RQS and I will attend, as it is being held on the same day as RQS's wedding anniversary.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Today, I edited myself into a picture of me.



No, I'm not yet ready to show a picture of me dressed as Mario.  But this is as close as I'll get for now.

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My friends in Texas would love to see a picture of my "Boyfriend."  So I figured that I'd start playing with GIMP and try to overlay an image of RQS with an image of me (as Marian) to be able to show these friends what my boyfriend looks like.  Both RQS and my friend Maria say that I've done a great job.  But there is a flaw that I can't avoid - The two images look like they could be that of siblings!  Yet,it is good enough that I want to get a print made, frame it, and put it on my wall.

I'm not yet ready to show this picture to anyone other than to friends who know me in both modes. Yet, I'll be looking for ways to adjust this image to make Mario's image look less like Marian's sibling than it already does.  Until then, I'll be careful of to whom I show this picture, when I show them the picture, and how I show them the picture.  It'll be nice to be able to produce a picture of a boyfriend if called for.

I'd like to know:  How well do you think I did on my first attempt at photo editing?

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

GIMP or Photoshop - I'm far from an expert


I will be taking a solo cruise later this year.  However, I have a small problem.  A couple of my friends asked me to show a picture of my "boyfriend".  Since I am into women, and not men, this is a hard picture to set up.  RQS and I were talking about this the other day, and I said that I should Photoshop a picture of myself in Marian mode with a picture of myself in Mario mode, creating a picture of me with my boyfriend.

There is a picture of me and RQS I might use as a basis for editing.  But I am not an expert at using Photoshop (or, GIMP, in my case) to create good photo fakes.  So it will take a while to do this.  (Too bad that I don't have a good friend who can do these edits for me.)  Even if I were to do this, I see some potential issues with the two pictures I'm most likely to use for this project.

Hopefully, I'll figure out a good way to solve this problem, so that I have pictures of myself with a "boyfriend" that I can show others.  Any good ideas of how best to edit two pictures of my different gender presentations together?

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A nice weekend with RQS - Part 2


I don't know much about the above "vehicle", but it can be yours for only $950.  It seats 1 person, does not look like it is street legal, and I don't know how it's powered.  But, for $950, you can have a well worn "golf cart" built for 1.

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RQS and I passed by this contraption today, and we are just as mystified about its use as we are about its owner.  What was it used for?  Does it work?  How far can it go?  There was a open parking spot across the street from RQS's place, just i front of this contraption, but I wasn't able to move my car to take that spot in time.  After letting a couple of MTA buses go by, I circled the block and double parked while RQS and I loaded some charitable donations into the trunk (and back seat) of my car.  Once the car was fully loaded, it was off to the Salvation Army to make our donation.

Before I go on much longer, I must note that many of the old stand by donation shops are no longer in business.  Most of the Goodwill shops are gone around here, as well as the Salvation Army shops.  So we had to make phone calls to find an available store open for donations.  And we found one in Elmont, NY.

Traveling from Glendale (Queens county) to Elmont (Nassau County) is a relatively quick trip as long as there is no traffic on the parkways.  We made it to the Salvation Army in roughly 40 minutes, and pulled into the parking lot.  About 15 minutes later, we left with most of her stuff out of the car, with only the arts and crafts stuff bound for the dumpster.  At that point, we took a "scenic" drive through Nassau County, making an Arby's in East Meadow our turn around point.  (BTW: We both had a strong hankering for thinly shaved roast beef sandwiches, and it was sated!)

About an hour later, we were back at RQS's house, where I dropped her off.  And then, it was off to fight rush hour traffic on my way home.

Monday, November 7, 2022

A nice weekend with RQS - Part 1


This weekend, I drove down to RQS's place to drop off the large suitcase that I'll be taking with me on our upcoming cruise.  And this gave us the ability to explore Lower Manhattan - specifically, visiting the SS Lilac, a US Lighthouse Tender that was in service from 1933 to 1972, then going to Ping's Seafood for some tasty Chinese food.

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When RQS mentioned that she wanted to visit the SS Lilac during OHNY weekend, I said OK.  When she mentioned where the ship was docked, I knew I had to suggest a side trip:

Do you recognize this building?  Well, the following numbers for the fictional business housed in this building are: 212-NO-GHOST, 212-JL5-1212, and 212-JL5-2368Last I heard, you can call this number: 212-897-1964 for assistance.   Just remember, they are ready to believe you! 


The SS Lilac, a Coast Guard cutter is an old vessel, now making its home in NYC pier 25, welcoming visitors from Spring until Early Autumn.  It was open to visitors for the recent Open House NYC weekend.  (It is closed for the season, but I expect that it will be open to visitors next year when it is warm again.)  It was very interesting seeing a 89 y/o vessel, as the core technologies used on the ship are very different from that would be used today.  (When was the last time you saw a steam powered boat?)  Like many vessels of its era, it is designed for people several inches shorter than I am, and I bumped my head getting out of the vessel's lower decks.

Once we were done with the Lilac, we were both too tired to walk across town to go to the Nom Wah Tea Parlor.  So I hailed a cab, and $14 later, we were a block away from my favorite Dim Sum joint.  Sadly, we didn't want to wait 45 minutes to start having a good meal.  So it was around the block and down the street to Ping's, where I knew we could get some great Chinese vittles. Since I was no longer in the mood for a Dim Sum meal, I suggested that we order 2 appetizers and 2 main courses.  RQS ordered the Hot Stone Pot Short Ribs, and I ordered a veggie and seafood dish NOT on the online menu.  They were both great!  RQS will follow me to any restaurant I now suggest.  

More tomorrow....




Sunday, November 6, 2022

You'll likely think we're a little crazy.


I find it hard to believe that RQS is interested in taking another cruise so soon after our first cruise together.  As much as a late season cruise along the above route seems appealing, I'm not sure of whether this would be the best use of a second cruise together in a short time.  But at a rate of roughly $75/night pp, the price is almost too good to pass up.

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Most people would look at cruises in different regions at this time of year.  But this cruise was priced so low, that we didn't want to pass it up.  So we booked it, and will have taken a second Eastern Canada / New England cruise by the time you read this post.

If this cruise is offered again next year, I will strongly suggest that we go somewhere else.  One can easily get bored with a destination if one is there too often.  However, since this cruise goes to Newport, RI and Bar Harbor, ME, I feel that we will be able to explore new places when visiting these ports.  For example, Newport has a group of mansions that are worth visiting.  Bar Harbor has both good restaurants and a National Park.  I've been to both places before, and will enjoy visiting them again.

If it weren't for RQS's cats, we'd likely be taking a different cruise in a different region.  But, we can only do so much without imposing too much on our friends and family.  Until the last cat has passed away, we will only be able to go away for 7 days at a time.  This is a minor issue that we will need to deal with for a few years at most.

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 ...