Saturday, June 24, 2023

Wildfires in Canada and the Smog in New York


When I was young, people would make comments about the smog in Los Angeles, as the pollution from their cars and trucks made their air hard to breathe.  Today, as I write this, the particulate matter in New York's air is even worse than LA at it's worst.

Going outside is a risk for most of us.  The pollution index is higher than it has ever been.  Baseball games have been cancelled, and people are wearing N95 face masks which were put away since pandemic restrictions ended. When I go outside, it smells if there is a small wood fire nearby - even though there are many big fires over 800 miles away.  This is the scope of this disaster.  We're seeing a prelude to what we should expect as the effects of global warming take place.

Sometimes I wonder if the "Book of Revelations" is a simple metaphor for what is going on in the world.  No, I'm not thinking of the Bible as being divinely inspired.  Instead, I wonder if our planet was contacted by an advanced civilization who had the technology to predict what humanity would do to this planet and itself centuries in the future.  If so, could the "End Times" themselves be a metaphor for the challenges we have to face before things become simple and "easy" for mankind?  Assuming that is the case, we then have hope of getting through what may be the most interesting and challenging times humanity will endure, and come out the other side as an improved species when improved societies.

All too often, people look too closely at the arc of history.  If we look too closely, we see this smog as something to fear.  Could a different view mean that this represents a challenge to be overcome, a test that will make us stronger if we act wisely?

I'm not really sure of anything, but my Magic 8-Ball says: "Reply Hazy, Try Again."

Friday, June 23, 2023

A Busy Evening


As usual, I didn't do a thing all day - until evening came.  And then, I became active.  If the world started to wake up to get most activity done at night, I'd be in perfect sync with the world. But the world revolves around its axis, and not mine....

I was awake a little earlier than usual, but stayed inside my apartment until I had to get ready for dinner with my friend from the meetup group. When I left the house, it smelled like there was a fire nearby.  It's hard to believe that forest fires in Canada are causing the air pollution we're having in the Northeast lately.  It's even harder to believe that the particulates are enough for us to need to wear our masks again. But that day is here.

Reaching my friend, it took us a while to order dinner.  And then we discussed her wishes to change careers.  I'm not sure if she's going to make it, as she has a speech pattern that belies a slower intelligence for many people. But who am I to say?  It was a good conversation, and I think I was able to help her.  I'll find out when I get back from my vacation.

All too quickly, dinner was over, and it was time to go home.  Like a cisgender woman, I couldn't wait to take my bra off.  But it was going to be on for another 3 hours or so, as I was about to have a zoom chat with the friends from Texas with whom RQS and I are going to spend a long weekend in Chicago. So, I made it home, turned on my computer and waited....

Around 8 pm, the zoom started.  It was good that RQS is now a member of our chats, as it helps make her a 4th wheel for our group, having a good balance and moving forward to a good clip.  (How should I make a 4th wheel metaphor work when describing something that works well?)  Once we were done with the zoom, RQS and I had our usual daily chat. And then, it was to bed for the night.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

I'm finding it hard to put the backs on my earrings - a short post.


Having not had my ears pierced until after I turned 65, it's hard for me to put the studs into my ears and correctly get the backs on the pin to lock the earring in place.  When I attempt to put the pin in one hole, I have trouble getting to make the pin come out the other side.  And then, it's even harder to get the little backing into place, so that the stud is locked in my earlobe. AARGH!  

Removing the studs after 7 weeks was a problem in itself.  But I did this, so that my brother wouldn't have much to talk about.  The last thing I needed would be to open up a conversation regarding my transgender nature with a brother who buys into Fox News' falsehoods.  Luckily, my sister in law never got close enough to notice the new holes in my lobes, nor did my brother pay attention to a face he's seen many times before.

Given that I irritated the lobe and caused a small amount of blood to come out (enough to discolor a Q-Tip), I figured that the piercing is healing slower than expected.  So I decided to see how my dangling earrings would look in my ears (they looked nice, but would have looked better had I was in Marian mode), and then put the studs back in.  And that was a big headache.  It took me over a half hour to get the studs through the pierced holes, and then to get the backings on.  I figure that I'll wait until month-end before I remove the studs again.

Will I wear the studs again after I give the piercings an extra month to heal?  I doubt it.  I will likely stay with jewelry that is much easier to put on and to take off - and these studs do not fit my needs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A Cat's Health and seeing my Brother


I used to own too many cats.  4 cats in a 1-Br apartment are too many.  But what about 2 cats in the same space?  What happens when one of those cats die, and the older cat isn't feeling well?  That is what RQS was dealing with today.

- - - - - -

RQS had to put a cat to sleep last week, and now she's worried about the surviving cat.  Although the cat is showing its age, its health is on the decline. And today, she decided to call the vet and take the soonest appointment she can get.  Hopefully, this cat can be treated with affordable medicine, and that it will be healthy until its eventual passing away.

After RQS took care of the Vet appointment, it was off to lunch before heading out to my brother.  Traffic was still snarled due to yesterday's subway maintenance work, but we were able to avoid the worst of it to get to a diner.  It's hard for me to believe that there is a diner with a parking lot in Glendale, just 500 feet away from my favorite German restaurant, Zum Stammtisch.  But there it was, a small place with an unlit sign and a parking lot just big enough for 7 cars.  So we stopped in to eat.  Yum!  We'll keep this place in mind for Sunday mornings and afternoons.

When I dropped RQS off, it was time to visit my brother.  I figured that he wanted to show me some work to be done for the house.  Instead, he gave me some of the money he owed me.  Now, I have some play money for my upcoming cruise and for further car maintenance.  And then, we were off to dinner at Benihana. As much as Hibachi can be a fun meal, this restaurant left a bit to be desired.  First, it was over priced. And then, the confusing orders given by one party of 8 regarding food allergies and food preferences caused problems with the cooking of the food, resulting in my brother and I getting our meal 10 minutes before the rest of the table received their meals.  At least, we were able to get back to my brother's place in time for me to take care of a GI Tract issue.

- - - - - -

I may have mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect before.  But I am surprised to find out how little my sister in law understands about how our government works, and how she blames the federal government (i.e. the President) for the organized criminals wreaking havoc in stores in our nation's large cities.  It is not the federal government's responsibility to stop crime in these cities, it is the state and local governments that are responsible.  She thinks she knows much more than she does, and blames the Democrats at the federal level for the problem. What happened to teaching how our government is supposed to work in our schools? But then, she watches Fox "News".  Need I say more?

All too soon, it was time for me to leave my brother's place and go home for the night.  My brother and sister in law hate night time driving.  As for me, I find it restful, as there are few traffic jams at this time of night, and I can get home quicker than had I left a few hours earlier.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

We decided to take a couple of short "cruises"


"All Under Heaven Are Equal."

Today, RQS and I decided to see a movie in the city.  One problem: We had to take the subway to get there, and her line wasn't running due to construction on the line.  So, it was off to the bus stop where we waited for a long time.  No, it was not the normal 5-10 minute wait.  Instead, it was a close to 20 minute wait, as the construction going on 2 blocks away was fouling up traffic for blocks around.  

As we usually do when we decide to take the bus to the subway, we walk a couple of blocks to the nearby express bus stop. And that's where we waited.  Buses tried to make the left turn onto an Eastbound street, only to find out that construction related jams were forcing everyone to back into the intersection to turn and take a circuitous route around the construction zone.  Flushing bound buses were taking roads usually used by Brooklyn bound buses causing even greater confusion for many riders. And as far as I can tell, it was all because a single key intersection was closed to vehicular traffic for the weekend.

We eventually made it to a subway line that was running and made it into the city.  And then we took the "backdoor" route to Chinatown to reach the Nom Wah Tea Parlor. (Ping's was closed for renovations, scheduled to be open next weekend.) Sadly, there was a 60 minute wait to get into the place.  So it was off to find another nearby place - and we did just that.  The food was acceptable, but not as our other go-to places. 

After lunch, it was off to the Staten Island Ferry.  Neither of us had taken the ferry in years, and I figured that it would be a nice way to kill some time.  So, off we went to the ferry, and onward to Staten Island.  For those who want a pleasant way to kill 60-90 minutes, a round trip on the ferry would be a good way to do this.  Once we were done with the ferry, it was off to the movies and  that's where our problems began.  

RQS had read the theater's movie schedule, and we believed that the movie we wanted to see was showing at 5:30.  One problem - the movie was scheduled for Sunday, not Saturday.  Now, we were on the West side of Manhattan with an awkward walk to take us to a subway station from where we could go home.

We finally made it to the subway, and it was almost a case of "you can't get there from here."  But we did get to the line we wanted to reach, and made it to a station near her home.  After a stop at the supermarket, we had to wait for a bus to take us home. By now, it was 3 miles of walking for us, and we were too tired to cook.  So, again it was Door Dash to the rescue - albeit with 30% higher prices than if the restaurant had been doing its own delivery.  (I avoid using them at all costs, as I don't believe that they should be nicking the restaurants 30% of the bill, instead of levying a fixed service charge.) At least, we didn't have to go back outside to pickup the fixings for dinner.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Car Maintenance - Ouch!


Although this muffler was installed over 2 years ago, it is a reminder of car maintenance that both had to be done now, and maintenance that had to be delayed until conditions were right.  In the case of the muffler, the car needed a longer pipe to finish the replacement of the exhaust system - and that had to wait a few days until the part reached the shop.  In the case of the latest maintenance issue, it was a lack of cash on my part that delayed the replacement of my rear brake drums.

- - - - - -

When I got up this morning, I knew it was going to be a hot day.  Luckily, my home AC was working, as I would need to cool off after bringing my car to the shop to have an oil change, tire rotation, and an AC Refrigerant Recharge.  So off I went to the shop at 8:30, and I was back home by 9:00 to wait for a call from the shop.

Around 11:00, I got a call from the shop, and I got quoted a price of $400 for the above maintenance, and was told that I'd need my rear brakes done as well.  Given that I didn't have another $400 in cash laying around, I said that I would do this maintenance towards month-end, as I didn't expect to drive more than 300 miles before the car goes back to the shop for this work.

- - - - - -

Once my car was bailed out of the shop, it was off to RQS's place for the weekend.  As usual, when I visit her place, I present myself to the world as male.  It was just as well, as it was way too hot to wear a wig - and as Mario, I didn't need to do so.  Driving to RQS's place, I noticed that the AC was working better than expected, and that I didn't need to keep the AC on at full blast anymore to stay comfortable..

I was able to find a parking spot close to RQS's place (a rare event) and walked into her place.  Her (now one) cat took its time to meet me, but no trace of RQS.  Where was she?  A few minutes later, I received a text asking "Where are you?" And I answered: "Watching TV."  Huh?  Then she realized that I let myself into her apartment, and turned on the TV.  She was home shortly afterwards, and when her laundry was done, we took advantage of Door Dash to deliver some food and we were able to stay comfortable for the rest of the evening.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Gallery Sitting

Today was a day that I spent Gallery sitting for Arts Westchester. I was told in advance to bring a book, as not that many people would be visiting the gallery on a weekday.  So I was prepared for a boring day, which it was for the first hour or so.  And then, an occasional person or two visited the center, giving me a chance to talk with people and keep myself busy.

But first....

I had set my alarms to get me up early, and they worked their magic as desired.  However, not having enough sleep the night before, it took me a while to get moving.  After doing my daily routine, I was able to get out the door by 11 am - just enough time for me to make it to the gallery by noon.  

Just as the clock struck 12 (to use an old expression), the heavy metal outside doors to the gallery started opening.  But the lady in charge had a hard time opening the doors, as they were rubbing against the bottom of the door frame.  (Both WD-40 on the hinges and wax on the door frame might help, and I suggested this to the person in charge of the gallery.)  The lady (who I will leave unnamed) showed me around, and I started my shift at the gallery.

During the day, several people came in to visit the gallery, and one of them bought a coupe of scarfs. Another said that she wants to bring her small meetup group there soon. But this was not all.  A woman from one of my meetup groups came by to do her volunteer shift a couple of floors above me, and we chatted for a few minutes.  It seemed like "old home week" at times, as I also met another person who was part of the Arts Westchester volunteer program.

Finally, it was time to close things out for the day.  Women had responded to me as if I were a cisgender woman, and that's the way I liked it.  The more I get practice interacting with cisgender woman as a woman, the less I'll worry about my remaining masculine traits being a problem for me.

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 ...