Saturday, January 21, 2023

The saga of water that flowed wrong - so far.


On New Year's Eve, RQS overfilled my tub, and water ended up flowing onto the ceiling of the apartment below me.  Although I'm pretty sure I know both cause and way to prevent this from happening in the future, I did the safe thing and reported this to the co-op management company, and asked for someone to investigate.  With a statement from the co-op saying what damages I may need to take care of, I could then go to my insurance company and file a claim under my policy.  This should be a no-brainer, and something that should be taken care of with a minimal amount of fuss on my end.  But things aren't as simple as they seem.

Both my downstairs neighbor and I reported the problem to the managing agent over the weekend, and we expected return phone calls (or emails) that next Tuesday.  All I got was crickets.  I figured that by Thursday I'd need to write again and ask for an update - which I got.  Finally some information!  The site representative was in contact with our plumber and would look to set up a date for an inspection.  I was bothered by this.  The same plumber was here that Tuesday morning, I was here that Tuesday morning, and my neighbor was here that Tuesday morning.  There was no excuse for not asking the plumber to spend a few extra minutes to come to our two apartments and determining the root cause of the problem.

The following Tuesday, we held a co-op board meeting.  As much as I can't talk about many things that happened in the meeting, I can say that I brought up my concerns to the site representative.  And he told me that he already scheduled an inspection of the two apartments' plumbing on Friday at 8:30 am.  What if either of us was planning on being away?  The site representative should have checked with the apartment residents before committing to a date and time.

As you can guess, I am annoyed.  From the time that the problem was detected to the time the apartments were inspected would almost be two weeks.  You can easily see why I want this site representative replaced as soon as possible.

Friday, January 20, 2023

"Bored" Meeting


Once every month (excepting Summer), my Co-Op board meets to discuss issues before it.  Tonight, was this month's board meeting, and as usual, minutes were taken and hours were lost. Although I can't go into any detail, I can say that we were frustrated coming into the meeting, as we'd get a series of excuses from one person as to why things haven't yet been taken care of.  

It seems like we have the same basic problem every month.  Under the first management company, our goal was to find out where we were financially and move forward from there.  With the second management company, our goal was to keep up to date with things and not let someone return us to the position we were in with the first company. And now, with the third company, the problem is holding one person's feet to the fire, so that things get done when we need them done.

Sadly, problems like those we have are common with cooperatives/condominiums and their management companies.  It takes an alert board to keep a management company in line.  But how many people have what it takes to do this?  I don't.  Thankfully, the president of our co-op does, and I will help her keep this complex on track until a new generation of people are ready to take on the mantle of running this place.

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Right now, I attend board meetings as Mario.  But after this Spring's public meeting, I plan to attend more of them as Marian.  This will give me more time during the week to live life as my authentic self. Even if I spend much of my time with RQS as Mario, I have found that I need to get out as Marian to live a balanced life.  I can only imagine what it will be like when I attend my first public board meeting as Marian....

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Game Meat Dinner - A Quick Post

Once each year, a local restaurant closes its dining room so that special patrons can enjoy a dinner made from "wild" game meats.  (I didn't ask about the origin of these meats.)  Today's dinner consisted of Venison, Rabbit and Quail.  This is something my late wife would have loved had she been alive for this dinner, as she loved deer meat.  And if it weren't for DS mentioning this dinner to me, I never would have gone....

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Today was a day that I couldn't rest well.  I had not been able to get much sleep the night before, as I had way too much caffeine on my way home.  So when I tried to take an afternoon nap, I just couldn't rest.  If I had not committed to this dinner the night before, I wouldn't have gone to this dinner - but I'm glad I did.

Arriving at 6 pm, I was earlier than the rest of the gang.  This was my first time with the DISH meetup group, and I didn't want to be late.  However, I should have taken my time, as I was waiting 30 minutes for others to arrive.  Once the rest of our group arrived, I was engaged in enjoyable conversation with two women - both of which I hope to get to know further as Marian.  And then DS arrived, completing our group.

As you can guess from the pictures above, we had Venison, Rabbit and Quail in several different ways.  I enjoyed the Venison Sausage and Meatballs more than the other Venison dishes.  And if offered, I'll have Rabbit anytime it's available to me.  Quail, on the other hand, is a waste of time to eat, as there is not enough meat on the bones to make the time it takes to eat it worth the effort.

Hopefully, I'll be able to do more things with this meetup group in the future.  It's a friendly group, and one which I feel that I'll be warmly accepted as Marian.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

A visit to the Doctor - A Quick Post


Last month, my doctor gave me a physical and had some blood work done on me.  Seeing some of the results of the blood work gave me some concern - I didn't have a bad cholesterol level before, but I did now.  So it was with some trepidation that I visited my doctor today.

I arrived at 10:00, but the doctor lost track of my appointment. He was seeing another patient in waiting room #1, so I was placed in waiting room #2.  At that point, the fun began - they wondered where I was, as if I never made it to my appointment.  It wasn't until I came out to the receptionist's desk at 10:20 that they realized I was there, and that my appointment would finally start.

First up was someone new in the office.  If I recall correctly, this woman was a newly minted doctor doing an externship.  (She could be looking at the practice, trying to figure out whether it would be a good one to buy out, or buy into.  But that's another story.)  She did the first run on my vitals before my internist came in to double check his assistant's work.  Instead of reviewing the results of my lab work as planned, I came out with the expectation that a new medication can help with some of the medical issues I have.  If this drug is affordable and covered by my plan - Great.  If not, I'll ask him for alternatives to this drug.

Within an hour after arriving, I was out the door.  And just as well.  I simply wanted to get into Marian mode for the rest of the day....


PS: If the doctor is looking at selling his practice and this woman buys it, I will talk about my TG nature with her....

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Traveling to/from NYC


East Side Access / Grand Central Madison.  It's been a dream for many people for years.  However, it was not available when I needed it, nor was it in public use by year end 2022 as promised by the MTA.  If East Side Access was available when I needed it, I might have used mass transit to reach the airport instead of staying at a hotel near the airport before my flight to Hawaii.

Unlike some lucky cities, two major railroads controlled access to Manhattan island by rail: The New York Central Railroad and the Pennsylvania Railroad.  Although both of these railroads are long gone, the competing infrastructure they built still remains for commuter rail and for intercity rail.  This legacy has created a system where I am unable to use Amtrak for trips to/from my home station, unless I pay for an expensive trip into Pennsylvania Station, NY (NYP) or use the NYC Subway to reach Pennsylvania Station from Grand Central Terminal (GCT).  (Amtrak's fares actively discourage people from using Empire Service to reach NYC from the North, as it doesn't want to provide commuter service along this route.) Historical airport placement doesn't help either, as none of the 3 major NYC airports were designed for mass transit to deliver people people between Manhattan and the airports. As a result, I couldn't justify traveling into NYP, then using either New Jersey Transit (NJT) or Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to reach Newark (EWR) or Kennedy (JFK) airports.  Even reaching La Guardia (LGA) airport is a pain, as one can only reach LGA (via mass transit) via the NYC Subway, then connecting to a bur to the airport.  

At both JFK and EWR, special transit has been built to transport people between railroad stations and the airports.  But this can result in awkward land based trips to reach the airport.  For example, had East Side Access (ESA) been available to me, I'd still need to take Metro North (MNRR) into NYC, then transfer to a LIRR train to Jamaica, and finally a special "AirTrain" to JFK.  EWR and LGA would still be unavailable to me.

Years ago, there were buses that (for a small fee) would transport people between the NYP and GCT railroad hubs and the 3 NYC area airports.  Sadly, the last time I looked, these buses are no more.  If I want to go to an airport, I either have to find cheap parking nearby, or use an expensive cab to reach the airport. I am worse off now than I was 30 years ago!

However, this problem isn't limited to air travel.  With the exception of the Manhattan cruise terminal, cruise ships dock in either Brooklyn, NY or Bayonne, NJ.  Neither is good for many people as one can only reach these terminals from Manhattan via an expensive cab or Uber ride.  If one lives in the outer boroughs, the expense is even worse.  Only if I'm traveling from RQS's place will I consider going to Red Hook, Brooklyn to go on a cruise.  It would cost me way too much to reach Brooklyn from my home - I might as well fly somewhere where cheaper cruises are being offered.  As for Bayonne, I doubt that I will ever cruise out of that port, as I can not justify the excessive cost of leaving my car in a unattended (or under attended) parking lot.

As you can guess, New York City is not a place that makes it easy for frugal travel.  But I still find ways to do so, and will continue to write about my exploits as Marian and as Mario as they occur.

Monday, January 16, 2023

I'll have what she's having.


This weekend, RQS and I went to see an exhibit at the New York Historical Society: "I'll have what she's having" : The Jewish Deli.  The exhibit tries to capture the history of the Jewish Deli in New York, and how it has contributed to our American culture.  If you're in the area before April, '23, I suggest that you try to visit and tell me what you think.  Would you have what she's having? 😀

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I had a lunch appointment with a former coworker from the imaging firm I worked at last year.  This meant that I wasn't going to be able to make it to RQS's place until after sundown.  At lunch, this friend told me that she was laid off from the imaging place, but that it was just as well.  It gave her greater flexibility to take care of family needs (such as driving her younger son home from school) as well as being able to work on one of her side hustles.   I caught her up on what was happening in my life, and we agreed to try and get together more often.

Once done with my friend, I went home to take care of a couple of things and change into Mario mode for the rest of the weekend.  By the time I was done at home, it was almost 5 pm, and it took me about 90 minutes to get to RQS's neighborhood.  I never mind that, but it was the search for a parking spot that got to me.  It must have taken over 20 minutes for me to find a spot.  And even then, I had to check that I was at least 15 feet from the fire hydrant.  The last thing I wanted was a ticket for parking too close, so I measured the distance to ensure that the car was parked in compliance with the law - unlike the car parked in front of the hydrant.  (The only reason I took the above picture was to be able to demonstrate in court with empirical evidence that I was legally parked.  And I consider myself lucky that I didn't need to do so.)  This was the space my car was in until I left Sunday evening.

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Saturday came, and the two of us didn't get moving until 2 pm.  It took us a little over an hour to get to the New York Historical Society building, but it was worth the effort.  The exhibition we wanted to see was both entertaining and educational.  The one flaw was that too many people were there when we visited - we couldn't take in any of the exhibits in the way they deserved without blocking others from doing so.  (So, if you visit, try to do so on a weekday.)  After we were done there, we went to the second floor to view some other exhibits before getting on our way.

After leaving the museum, we stopped off at a dumpling shop on Columbus avenue - Dumplings.  We were underwhelmed by the place in both variety and quality of selections.  It's one of those rare places where I'd pass it by if I were again in the neighborhood - the food was way too spicy (heat), and the beverages not worth the effort to drink (save maybe, a beer).  When we made it back to RQS's neighborhood, we stopped by a local bodega to get something sweet to balance the bad taste in our mouths, and found something that was light, sweet and cold....

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Sunday was a day that neither of us wanted to do much, and we did it well.  The only thing we needed to do was take the measurement for a new bed slat I need to get for her, and that went well.  However, when we looked for her drill, we found that her late husband's tool box had an undesirable insect infestation. (You can easily guess which type of insect I'm talking about.)  We suspect that someone "Bug Bombed" their apartment, and they found a new home in her apartment.  Thank god for Raid insect spray and some bug killing gel that she will be applying during the week.  In regard to the tool box, everything is going to be cleaned out, disinfected, and sprayed.  She will need those tools in the future, and neither of us want to deal with an insect infestation again.

All too soon, it was time to go....

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Metropolitan Museum of Art w. Sophie


This is far from the most flattering picture of Sophie (of the blog "A Woman Named Sophie").  But I feel that it shows her as the thinking person that she is.  Both of us have advanced degrees, and both of us have a curiosity about life that is best illustrated by this picture of her examining an Egyptian relic at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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A couple of weeks ago, Sophie mentioned that she'd be coming into NYC for a couple of days, and that she'd be available to get together today.  I knew that this would be a rare treat, and that I'd be putting off long delayed tasks originally planned for today (e.g. post-cruise laundry) to see her.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I was totally exhausted when I came home from Hawaii, and all that I needed was rest.  But, Sophie was only available today.  So I chose to meet her at Grand Central, then take the bus to the Met.

Sophie had driven here from her home in Pennsylvania, and became painfully aware of the headaches of both driving and parking in NYC.  She needed a little time to get settled down before we got together. So we decided to meet at 2 pm at Grand Central, then proceed to the Met from there.  After taking a while to find out where to buy tickets from a human (Residents of NY, NJ, and CT can pay what they wish, all others pay full price for admission), we went to the ticket booth and ended up paying a New Yorker's rate for both tickets.  

Although my main interest was in the Egyptian artifacts, Sophie's spread through several areas - and was reasonably knowledgeable in these areas.  (Shame on me for only becoming interested in art later in life.)  

In the end, it was the Egyptian artifacts that held our interest.  After visiting the Temple of Dendur, it was time to leave, and we decemped for Greenwich Village.  We ended up eating at a BBQ joint off of 7th avenue, and both of us noted how salty the food was.  But is sure was tasty! All too soon, it was time to go.  Sophie went back to her hotel, and I went to my apartment.  Hopefully, it won't be too long before we meet again.  

When I got home, it was time to go to the supermarket to pick up some food for the week.  While shopping, a woman asked me if it was hot in the store.  I mentioned that I was feeling comfortable, and she ended up talking about her menopausal hot flashes, as if I were a 65 y/o woman who already went through the change.  Little did she know how much of a change I've gone through so far!  Although it was a short conversation, it was a confirmation of my femininity.  (Even RQS got a kick out of this when I mentioned it in our evening chat.)

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 ...