Saturday, March 23, 2024

Lunch with a friend was the high point of the day


I had three things on the docket today, and I blew one off because it looked like we'd have heavy rain in the evening. Luckily, the most important thing, lunch with my friend from the census was on, and we had a great time.

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Although I had my alarms set for 10 am, I didn't get moving until 11 am.  This meant that I only had an hour to get ready for lunch. Since this was going to be a day out as Marian, I made sure to shave all over before getting dressed and made up to go out for lunch.  I may have stood out a little by wearing a sweater dress instead of jeans, but I prefer the feel of a dress over that of trouser like garments.

Arriving at 12:30 pm, I was at the restaurant first for a change.  My friend arrived a couple of minutes later, and I proceeded to chat about my car purchase saga.  Then, I had fun telling her about the man from another meetup group who wanted to help this old lady. She had her own stories to tell as well, such as her upcoming trip out west.  Hopefully, the family will have a great time on this birthday trip.

All too soon, we had to leave.  And my next stop for the day was Trader Joe's, where I hoped to pick up a small tote bag for RQS.  Unfortunately, I could only find the bag in the next size up.  So, I guess that's a keeper for me, and that I'll keep looking for one for her.  Luckily, a visit to TJ's rarely makes a big dent in my wallet.  So I didn't mind going out of the way on a rainy day.

Eventually, I got home.  But I wasn't in the mood to go out.  So I posted a quick message in the meetup forum, and then focused on attending an Arts Westchester Zoom meeting.  I figure that I'll ramp up activities with this organization, as it will give me things to do when I'm up in Westchester....

Friday, March 22, 2024

The board meeting got off to a buggy start


Today was dedicated to work for the Co-Op.  Nothing was too strenuous.  But it meant that I had to go out in the world as Mario instead of Marian.

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One of the things I am responsible for doing is to take care of some financial transactions as directed by our board's president.  Today, I had to run down to the bank and have a check cut.  Now that I am used to doing this, I still find that I'd rather not be one of the two people who can sign paperwork for the co-op.  I was in and out of the bank in 5 minutes, and drove into town to get a bite to eat.

Once I finished with the bank, I dropped the check off to its recipient and proceeded to take care of a couple of tasks before returning home for the board meeting.  And that's where the glitch occurred.  Although I had sent a zoom link update, one board member didn't get it.  So I had to resend the link while the meeting was going on. Then the meeting proceeded normally.

When we had our old site manager, he wasted a lot of time fighting us all the way.  A meeting that we once completed in 2-2½ hours started stretching to 3½ hours, the extra time being wasted by the old site manager, as he fought us at every chance.  Now that we have this youngster, we completed our business in 2 hours.  What a relief!

I could go on and on about things.  But even I found most of the day to be a bore....

Thursday, March 21, 2024

I just put a deposit down for a new car!


The title of this entry says it all.  I have finally put money down on a new car.  Yay!  Now to figure out what to do with the old car.  With this being said, I know that I can always donate the car to a charity and get a tax deduction.  But I won't get more than a fraction of what the car is worth.

Although it's been over 40 years since I bought the apartment I live in, I'm still surprised that this car costs almost the same as my apartment did way back when.  (Of course, indexed for inflation, my car costs the same as an equivalent car of that era.)  Yet, I was a little nervous about this purchase, as I committed to writing what will likely be one of the largest checks that I will likely write in my life. 

I'm looking forward to driving this car.  But I will likely NOT be taking it to RQS's place that often, as owning a new car can be a liability in the outer boroughs of NYC.  A high mileage, older car is never going to be at risk for theft.  But a low mileage, new car becomes a great risk for theft of parts.  I was reminded of that when I signed the contract for the car, when I had to ink a clause declining to have a VIN number etched on my catalytic converter.  No one buying a "hot" converter cares about an etched unit, and they could easily obscure the etching if that reduces a criminal's chance of getting caught.

The deal I cut was unusual, as it was an all-cash deal without seller financing.  The sales manager wanted to offer me financing, and I declined for reasons I didn't give him.  (Specifically, I didn't want to unfreeze my credit report and potentially open myself up to identity fraud.) When the car is delivered, I expect that the sales manager will try to upsell me on things such as: Ceramic Ding Shield, Tire & Wheel Protection, and Key Security (insurance on the key fob, which may cost $500 to replace.)  Of these, I may buy the ding shield (after having some questions answered) and the key fob insurance (if it covers the loss of more than one key fob).  Most importantly, I have about a month to take care of things before the car reaches the dealership and I have to get a certified check for the balance. 

It's going to be a great change for me - and a welcome one. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Getting ready for tax day


It's been a little frustrating having to wait for my brother to finish up paperwork needed for me to file my taxes.  This will be a yearly problem as long as we jointly own a rental property.  But this year is different, as I have had to search for a new tax preparer.  And I decided to duck one issue by choosing someone I knew from my work at the LGBT center, as I felt I needed some form of familiarity with someone new.  With familiarity, I can more easily communicate my concerns about my newly complex tax situation, and ask how I can prevent problems in the future.

Taxes in the US are needlessly complicated, as most tax preparation forms depend on complexity to justify their existence.  There is n excuse for this, as most Americans have all of their significant income reported to the IRS.  Ideally, the government could receive a taxpayer's income statements, deductible state/local tax information, and generate a bill/refund for the taxpayer.  (Let's ignore privacy issues here for now.  I'm just arguing for simplicity.)  In theory, the vast majority of us wouldn't need to pay for tax preparation services, as the same computers that are programmed to detect tax fraud would also be doing tax preparation for us.  

Unfortunately, I would still be likely to need a tax preparer, as long as I own part of a rental property.  But how many Americans own one?  Business owners would still need their accountants, as they would always need to track money flows within a corporation, determine the net profitability (or lack of) of the corporation, and insure that properly computed taxes are paid to all affected governments.  

With all of this being said, I am grateful to have my problems instead of others.  I know how to manage my problems, as they are "first world problems."  It could be much worse.  All too many of us do not have the resources to get by in one of the most prosperous nations on this planet.  Getting rid of the inefficiencies of our system may just provide some of these people a small bit of relief.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Filling out paperwork for my next cruise.


A while back, I decided to buy stock in two cruise line corporations: NCL Holdings and Carnival corp.  Although both stocks have given me acceptable market appreciation, I may have gained more by taking advantage of the benefits that each shareholder can receive by filling in a form.  Today, I mailed out forms to give me $350 worth of cruise credits ($100 for my first cruise and $250 for my second cruise taken on Princess this year.)

Over the past couple of years, I have already received $500 of onboard credits from NCL and Carnival.   I expect that over time, these stock purchases will have paid for themselves in cruise credits alone.  The only reason that I didn't buy RCCL when I bought these stocks is that I didn't want to pony up $6,000 to own shares in a company whose products I don't use.  (I'm not knocking RCCL.  Instead, I simply didn't want to take the risk of investing this much money in a firm when I wasn't sure of when cruise line business would recover.)  All 3 corporations have performed well over the past 2 years, so I have nothing to complain about.

I am not addicted to cruising.  It is an inexpensive way to get away for a week or two and chill out.  I enjoy not having to drive when visiting a new city.  But I wish cruise ships spent more time in each port, so that I could see more of the associated city.  For example, last year's California Coastal cruise spent two days in San Francisco.  This gave cruisers a goodly amount of time to explore this great city.  This year's cruise will spend only one day in San Francisco, far from enough time to take in "Fog City's" beauty.

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When I first started making cruises a standard option for my vacations, my former cruise partner (FCP) encouraged me to go on these cruises as Marian.  The ships were good places for me to practice and develop my feminine presentation.  Given that I'd never see most of these people again, it didn't matter what these people thought of me.  I just had to be careful at which ports I'd get off the ship for shore excursions.

One of my next two cruises will be in Marian mode.  I can't wait to take it, although I'll be spending the day before the cruise as Mario when I see my uncle in his nursing home.  As for the other cruise, I'll be presenting as Mario for over two weeks.  You can bet that as soon as I get home from this cruise, that I'll rush to my closet to figure out what dress I'll wear the day afterward.....

Monday, March 18, 2024

Car Shopping - Weekend #5


It looks like I have finally made a decision on which car to buy.  After 5 weekends, I decided on the Subaru Crosstrek, as the Premium trim level has all the safety features I think I will need over the next few years.  Although there are things I don't like about the car, such as the CVT transmission, it has enough good elements in its design where I think this will be a car I'm comfortable with for the next 10 years or so.

You might be asking - what convinced me to buy this car and why did I choose my local dealership over the others in this area?

Well, the answer is simple.  I felt it a comfortable car to drive.  It had all the safety features I wanted and more (such as assisted driving modes that can make stop and go traffic much easier to bear.) And, when the salesman came back to me with a price, it was a fair price, one lower than expected.  There was no need to haggle to get the last penny out of the deal.

Assuming that I buy this car, it will be ordered for me.  This way, the dealer doesn't have to have it count as part of his allocation, and for some reason it produces savings that can be passed on to me if I can wait a little bit.  But this means that I will need to keep my current car on the road for a little more time.

But what happens to my old car after the new one arrives?

That's where things get complicated.  

DCD has asked about buying my car several times.  And now that I will have an extra car to be taken off my hands, DCD claims to have a Unicorn of a deal.

I am having issues with the unicorn. I found a person seeking to sell a 2008 Toyota Camry SE with 105K in supposedly remarkable condition for $1000. So I questioned the legitimacy of this and I was told that they are a reservist in the national guard being called to duty for a year. To avoid wasting money, storing the car and paying for insurance they are looking to sell it. The pictures that I saw show a showroom condition car. And yes the photos are of the actual car.

This car is being sold on eBay.   Would you trust such a deal as described?   When one doesn't have enough money to rent a studio apartment in which to live, one can't take unnecessary risks with money.   Yet, I've never known DCD to manage his money well.  So, I think he's going to chase down this unicorn until the effort costs him more than his time is worth. (And that assumes that the "deal" is legitimate.)  I'm afraid that he will get screwed, but it is his life, not mine.....

Sunday, March 17, 2024

RQS went home, and I got keys made - a quick post

  One of the problems with going about as a female is that almost everything one carries around during a typical day is carried in a handbag...