Saturday, January 13, 2024

Relaxing & Preparing to Vlog

Today was a day where I didn't do much of anything, save for laundry.  It's becoming more common these days for me to be a couch potato.  So, I don't mind excuses that get me out of the house and doing things.  If the Yonkers meetup group met every Thursday as it once did, I'd have gotten up and did more before the end of my day.

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RQS was right.  As soon as I got my new sofa, I'd find myself falling asleep there during the day.  But this leaves the bed available for night time use.  In the daytime, I'm more likely to be watching YouTube videos or reading books.  Last night, I finished Romney, A Reckoning, by McKay Collins.  I found out about this book a while back, and it paints a damning picture of what today's GOP has become.  I highly recommend this book to those people who have any doubts regarding Trump's (and the GOP's) unfitness to govern.  Although I have started another book, I'm not sure if I'm going to finish it on time.  Since it is in high demand, I must return it at the the end of its 14 day lending period.  This means that I may just have to request it again after a few weeks have passed.

On other matters, I am starting a YouTube essentials course on the basics of Vlogging.  There are several topics that I plan to talk about and I hope that others find my Vlogging of interest.  However, I am not likely to use my authentic transgender identity until I go 24x7 in the world.  Instead, I will likely Vlog as Mario, as I still can present as a decent looking male when I need to.

Recently, RQS sent me information from 2 Vloggers who discussed the trip I recently took, and a solo cabin that is just like the one I stayed in on my December cruise.  I'm glad that others have similar feelings to what I have about travel on this ship.  Given what I have written in my cruise blog, I have confirmation that I can report on a cruise line, a cruise ship, and a cruise itinerary with an objective eye.  Hopefully, I will be able to maintain my objectivity as I develop the skills to Vlog on topics I choose.  And when I do so, I may post some links here for my readers to view my Vlogs.

Friday, January 12, 2024

Sleep? What is that?


Last night, I didn't fall asleep until some time after 4 am.  As a result, I set my alarms to start waking me up around, 8:30, 9:00, 9:30 and 10 am.  What I didn't expect was a phone call from my bank to ask questions about a credit card which was stolen in Chicago about 2 months ago.  By the time 10 am came around, I was wide awake, and getting ready to drive down to the Bronx to see BXM,  (This was the main reason for the alarms, as I would hate to oversleep and forget about her.)

There were several things I had on the docket for today.  First was a call into my 401k custodian to see whether my distribution check was cut (or not). Next, was a visit to BXM.  Finally, I had to restock my refrigerator with fresh food, and this would likely mean a trip to Trader Joe's  Given that I had to get the 401k check cut before year end, I logged onto the 401k site and found that the 401k check had been cut overnight, and that it should be in my mailbox shortly after the New Year.  Whew!  Now, I could get ready to deal with things I wanted to deal with today, such as lunch with BXM, food shopping, and taking care of laundry.

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I was running a few minutes late to meet up with BXM, and hit a traffic jam on the Saw Mill Parkway at the Bronx border.  (No wonder why my GPS kept telling me to get on a toll road,  the NYS Thruway, instead of taking the more direct and free route to Riverdale.)  She looked better than I remembered, in part because life has been going well for her as of late - and it shows on her face.  I told her about what has been going on in my life since we last met, and she told me of what's been going on in hers. (Not too much or too little, as her job is very rewarding and takes up a lot of her time.)

On the way home, I passed by the Saw Mill's traffic jam (the trucks were still blocking one lane of the road) and proceeded to Trader Joe's.  This was a big shopping run, as I broke the $50 barrier and came close to spending $75.  But I still needed to go to Foodtown for some mayonnaise, and spent another $20 while there.  Thankfully, today's shopping run will last me into the weekend.


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Sending a letter


The other day, I sent a letter to someone I once knew.  It was meant to be a polite way of reopening a channel of communications between two people, as the holidays would be a good time to see if this person was looking for a way to reopen up communications between us.

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This got me thinking - how many people have we lost contact with because of things getting in the way? One acquaintance from my days running a FIDO BBS (Bulletin Board System) and I never seem to connect with each other, although we occasionally try to do so.  He has a rewarding family life, with a wife and children.  Hopefully, we'll be able to connect soon.  DCD has had health and family problems.  But he is a friend of questionable value, as he doesn't make much of an effort to stay in contact anymore, now that his life is falling apart.  Most of my polyamorous friends in the "North Country" have scattered to the winds, and I don't miss them because we never built strong bonds.  And I don't go to many meetups these days, as I haven't found many of the groups conducive to making friends. 

Did I gain much from meetup groups?  Well, with one meetup group, I made some good friends I can count on to be there for me on occasion.  With others, I have made one or two friends.  But, for the most part, I gained invaluable experience being out in the world as Marian.  And this is what counts....

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Caught in-between the holidays


This past Friday (12/22/23 - as I write this), I put in a phone call to the custodian of my 401k to take a distribution.  I thought everything went well, even though I was on an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system, as I arranged to take a 401k distribution.  Well, this evening, I found that nothing has gone through yet.  Since this money needs to be distributed before year-end, as not to screw up my tax status for next year, I will need to make another call in the morning and try to reach a human.

I hate IVR systems, but see their value.  Yet, I find that my needs are rarely dealt with properly by these systems.  For example, when I last took a distribution, I made sure that I took out extra money for both Federal and State taxes.  This time, going through the IVR, I could do this for the Federal taxes, but not for the State taxes - I had to guesstimate them, and then include them as a fixed figure.  AARGH!  Things will be much worse next year, as I will need to figure out the total for both Federal and State taxes, and manually enter the amounts to be taken out of my corporate pension to compensate for Social Security issues.  To make things worse, my accountant has retired, and I will need to find someone new before I file my returns for t/y 2023.  

With all this being said, these are first world problems.  I have the resources to take care of things, and will likely consider doing a trustee to trustee transfer of my 401k funds, so that I have more control over them, including tax withholding.

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Why am I mentioning this here now?

Well, I usually have a lot of things to take care of at year end.  A little bit of financial confusion is just a little more stress to add to my life - but a stress that I'm lucky to have compared with many people I know.  For example, one of my acquaintances has not had good health lately.  His relationship with his on/off girlfriend leaves much to be desired.  And his employment record makes him a high risk hire.  He will never escape the claws of defeat.  There are others I know that have been in worse shape than this acquaintance.  So I am grateful to have my set of problems than that of someone else.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Now, I can talk about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day


Yes, I know that you'll be reading this post two weeks after the holiday.  But then, I don't want to announce to my readers where I am until after I've returned home.  The above picture was taken on a cruise I took in December, and didn't write about until I returned.

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RQS came up for Xmas weekend on Friday, and we went out for a bite to eat at the local diner shortly after she arrived.  Once we got home, I took care of a financial issue that had to be dealt with before the holiday, and then we went out to buy a gift for TCL and Pat (my former hypnotist), both of whom I'd be seeing on Xmas day. Saturday came, and we had nothing on the docket.  However, I decided to visit a friend who had a pop-up store nearby, and chatted with him for an hour before returning home.  As one could tell, the opening of the weekend would not be that busy for us.

Christmas eve came, and this meant that both of us would get dressed up to dine at Crabtree's Kittle House.  This restaurant is a place that many get dressed up for, and we fit in well with the place as we were dressed to the eights. (It's also a place where special meals run over $100 per, before drinks are included - but it's worth every penny.) I had the gnocchi as my appetizer, while RQS had the lobster bisque. RQS's first thought was that it looked just as appetizing as the lobster bisque in NCL's Le Bistro or Cagney's restaurants. And she was just as happy finishing everything in the bowl. For the main course, I chose the short ribs while RQS chose the salmon for our main courses, and we were well sated by the time dessert came.  And again, we chose different things.  I went for the heath bar cheesecake, while she went for the Boche de Noel.  At the end of the meal, we were sated and unable to think about food until the next morning.

Both of us took our time in getting moving on Christmas day, and didn't bother getting dressed until 3 pm.  By the time we got out the door, we were running late to see Pat - and didn't get there until 5 pm.  She was very happy to see us, and we all thought our visit had to end too soon.  About 5:45, we drove over to TCL's place to pick her up for dinner.  Although we were late, we had no problem getting a seat at a local Chinese restaurant, where we became "Honorary Jews for Christmas".  (See this article for more background.)  We all had the standard Chinese entrees, and I treated TCL to a belated birthday dinner.

Again, we ended up parting way too soon, and went home for the evening.  In the end, this was a nice way to spend Christmas weekend.....

Monday, January 8, 2024

Happy Elvis Day!


No, I am not a big Elvis fan.  Yet, I enjoy most of his music.  It's a shame that his life was cut short by excess.  But this post is not going to be about Elvis, other than it will be public on the anniversary of his birthday.

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Most of my readers know that I write things one day and publish them around 2 weeks later.  I do this, so that I can travel and not let people I'm away from the house until I've returned home.  This means that I rarely post on cruise-specific travel forums, as I don't want thieves to have the knowledge that I'll be away for a given period of time.  However, I just left the following post (from a different blog I occasionally write for people new to cruising) covering the cruise I took on December 9-16.

MSC Meraviglia - Florida and Bahamas Cruise (12/09/23 - 12/16/24)

It's written differently from the journal of the trip covered in successive entries in this transgender related blog, as no mention is given to any transgender issues.  Shortly after posting, I got a lot of people reading the blog, as it was of interest to a wider group of people.

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Why do I mention the unexpected popularity of my other blog?   Simple.  It's to remind our community that we are small and not on the minds of most people.  We are under attack by many,  But most people are inclined to let us be, as I was on this cruise.  I simply blended in to what people were expecting from a fat 66 y/o woman.  And for most of us, that's what we want - to be treated with the respect normally shown to a person of our identified genders.

We must not forget that we are under attack from some quarters.  When my ship made an unplanned stop in Miami, I refuse to spend any time or money helping the economy of that state as long as that homophobe/transphobe governor is in office.  (Yes, I broke down and spent $2.00 on some soda, as I was thirsty.)   I'm not as self righteous as I was practical - why take any last minute shore excursions in the rain?  If I have to pass through Florida, I will spend some money there.  But I won't plan a vacation that involves me staying there, save to visit a friend or to visit family.

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I've said before that living as a transgender person has a lot of mundane issues that are common to most people.  When I see transgender people like Danica Roem get elected to office, they don't focus on being different, save that they will do more for their constituents than their opposition.  We are part of a larger society. Maybe our goals of acceptance from the larger society should focus on how much alike we are to the rest of society instead of focusing on our differences....

Sunday, January 7, 2024

And now for a word from our sponsor....


As I write this, Donald Trump is still the presumptive GOP nominee for the 2024 presidential election.  By the time you read this, the US Supreme court will likely have ruled on Colorado's judgement that he participated in an insurrection against the government of the United States, and is ineligible to be on the state's GOP primary ballot. I support Colorado's court action, as the closest to the White House that Trump ever should be is as a protestor in Lafayette Park. Sadly, the violence his words provoke in the lunatics that support him has already started: The justices on Colorado's court are already getting death threats. 

But what does this mean to the average transgender person?

The MAGA mob is like a large group of bovines being stampeded.  They want to live in their ideal world: the America of the 1950's , a fantasy which would be a dystopia for us.  The LGBT community would be persecuted, the black community would again suffer under Jim Crow (separate and unequal), and all other non-white and non-Christian peoples would be silenced.  And even if this happened, things would get worse.  Governments under strongman regimes eventually fail - and usually disastrous for the people who live under those regimes.

Political pundits are saying that the US Supreme Court should duck the issue and overrule the Colorado Supreme Court in the narrowest of ways, allowing Trump to be on the primary ballot and preserving the armistice between the MAGA mob and civilized Americans. I think this would be a big mistake, as the MAGA mob is intimidating the "sane" members of the GOP, forcing them to leave their party.  Instead, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) should take the issue head on and rule against Trump, saying that the 14th amendment is self effecting.  If a state says that Trump is an insurrectionist, then he is ineligible to be on the ballot and ineligible to serve in any public office.  This would give the non-MAGA GOP members cover to nominate people other than those from the MAGA mob to public office AND give the party a chance to be a national party again, instead of one that has support mostly in rural areas.

If SCOTUS were to rule in favor of the traditional GOP loyalists that brought this suit, I expect no less than a 5-4 ruling in favor of keeping Trump off the ballot.  (I have my doubts on Justice Thomas and the 3 Trump nominated members.)  I will be very surprised if it is a 9-0 ruling.  The Colorado court's ruling was written in a way that justices Kavanaugh and Roberts would be hamstrung in trying to overturn their ruling. 

However, I expect that SCOTUS will duck the issue and hope that they don't have to rule on this issue again.  They may feel that given the political polarization we have today, that it may be wiser to let the people make their decision at the ballot box.  But this would be the wrong decision to make, as the constitution prohibits Trump, and the ex-Confederate officers before him from holding office.  If he wants relief, it may only be given by congress, where 33 &1/3% is elected to the Senate and 100% is elected to the House on election day.  Since the new congress takes office before the president, they could rehabilitate Trump if elected, but unable to take office on January 20th.  But then, MAGA people do not believe in elections that do not deliver the results they want....


Norwegian Fjord Cruise Vacation - 06/28/24 (Zeebrugge, Belgium)

Today is our last stop in mainland Europe, and our last shore excursion.  We have been choosing relatively low energy shore excursions, as n...