Saturday, June 1, 2024

You should see the mess on my desk - a short post


My computer desk is a dumping ground for everything that I haven't found the time or made the effort to put in a good and proper place.  So, when I look for things, they are often buried under lots of other stuff.

Tonight, I started looking for a favorite necklace.  Of course, I haven't been able to find it.  Since Vicki and I are going up to the Flax Barn Sale in the morning, I wanted to be wearing one nice piece of costume jewelry to help me feel a little more feminine.

Vicki will be arriving when I usually have become semi-conscious, shouting at Alexa to shut up!  Instead, I will need to get up 3 hours earlier than usual, get dressed in a unitard and duster (I want to be able to try on clothes in a place with no changing rooms) and be ready for a long day where much of the time will be on the road. I figure that we'll be taking Vicki's car to the Flax Barn sale, and will likely need to stop along the way.  Unfortunately, many of the NYS Thruway's rest areas care closed for renovations.  This means we may need to take an alternate route, so that we have adequate opportunity to take bio-breaks.

Once we're done with the barn sale, Vicki wants to try out a restaurant she knows up there.  I'm game for that.  But it will be a long day, and I will be exhausted when I get home.  At least, I won't have to drive to get to my brother's place for my uncle's memorial service the next day....

Friday, May 31, 2024

No Water Today!


When I came home last night, I didn't see a post on the apartment doorway's bulletin board.  And this screwed up my day today.

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While I was on the way home last night,  a friend invited me for dinner at a local Mexican joint.  Since I had already scheduled lunch with SJM and didn't want to have two big meals in one day, I scheduled dinner for the end of the month. When I arrived home, I saw a paper left in front of my door that said that the water was being shut off for emergency work on the water main.  Assuming the work was already done, I crumpled it up and figured that I'd be able to take a shower the following morning.and see SJM for lunch.  That was a big mistake....

Morning came, and I turned on the faucet to take my shower.  But there was no water!  So, I called the super, and he said that the work had to be postponed until today.  AARGH!!!  I wasn't going to go out without a shower, so I texted SJM and rescheduled things.  Unfortunately, I had no way of rescheduling things with my other friend, so I had nothing to do this evening.

Around 6 pm, I decided to get up and do a little retail therapy at Walmart.  Arriving at the checkout counter, the cashier gave me a hearty compliment regarding how I looked. That brought a smile to my face.  Although I didn't need that much from the store, I ended up spending more than I expected.  And I could say the same for the following visit to Trader Joe's.  

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One thing of note: I think the piercing in my right earlobe has closed up.  Given when I'll be taking my next cruise, I'll wait until after my return to have the piercer look at it.....

Thursday, May 30, 2024

A run to Queens - accompanying RQS to the doctor


As I might have mentioned before, RQS has vision issues which require her to go to the best possible eye doctors when she needs treatment.  My plans for Tuesday and Wednesday were to go to her house to overnight there, then accompany her to the eye doctor and then get her home safely.  With minor glitches, things went off as planned.

But first....

Tuesday morning, RQS and I got up early, so that we could make an early afternoon train into the city.  By the time we reached her place, it was 3:00 pm, and we still had to think about dinner.  Luckily, there is a great pizzeria near her place (take-out or delivery only), so we ordered a pie to eat before my monthly co-op board meeting.  And I was very glad that we did so, as the board meeting lasted much longer than usual.

I won't go into the details of the board meeting, but we had 3 applicants to interview and one urgent matter to address.  The interviews went very well, and were followed by an intense discussion about the urgent issue that had to be resolved before the weekend.  By the time the meeting ended at 10:00 pm, I was wired and not able to chill out until 2:00 am or so.

Wednesday came, and the two of us were getting ready for the day.  (I was plagued by GI Tract issues that I won't go into here, save that they almost caused me grief at inopportune times.)  By the time we were ready, it was 1:30 pm, and we had to make it to the other end of Queens by 3:15 pm.  Given the traffic on the LIE, it was a miracle that we made it on time, as bumper to bumper traffic added an extra 30+ minutes to a 30 minute trip.(including normal LIE traffic).  Things went well for RQS at the doctor's office, and we were able to make it to a nearby diner by 5:00 pm.  

Around 6:00 pm, it was time to return to RQS's place.  Traffic in RQS's neighborhood was backed up, and we made it back to her place before 6:45 pm.  By the time I finally left RQS's place, it was a little bit after 7:00 pm, and I made it home by 9:45 pm.  

It was a long couple of days, but I'm glad that RQS is OK and that things are looking up for the co-op..

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

A long weekend with RQS


My "timing" has been off, and my usual rhythms aren't fully in gear yet.

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This weekend, RQS came up on Friday, and we enjoyed each other's company as usual.  On Friday, I met RQS at the train station as Mario, and we proceeded to have an early dinner at a nearby Mexican joint before going to BJ's to buy a new TV for the bedroom.

In the past, TV's were very dumb - one would change the channel, and no one would know what stations you were watching.  No one could narrow cast advertisements to the home.  This has changed with the internet, where "Smart TVs" have become the rage.  Why is this?  We have become the product.  Once we set out TVs up, our viewing habits are monitored by the likes of Google, and we receive narrow-casted advertisements in exchange for "subsidized" lower cost TV sets.  (I'd rather spend the money NOT to be spied on, but "Dumb TVs" are no longer available in most stores anymore.

Once we got home, I started to set up the TV, and found that it was no longer the simple "plug and play" process I had with my old TVs.  I had to set a log-on code with my TV's maker, then go through adding a limited number of apps to the TV (all likely providing revenue to the TV manufacturer for viewer data) before I could even start watching anything on the TV.  AARGH!  I'd rather pay much more for a dumb TV that respects my privacy.  Too bad that they don't exist anymore.

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Saturday came, and I was finally out as Marian again.  This time, we ended up taking a walk on a rail trail near New Paltz before taking a leisurely drive home. Although I was tempted to stop by Aldi, so that RQS could compare this store against my nearby Trader Joe's, we went straight home and relaxed. The next morning, we both woke up late. By the time we finally went out for our pedicures, it was almost 3:30 pm.  It was nice to have our feet pampered again, as my toenails desperately needed trimming.  Now, they will likely look nice until month-end.

Monday came, and RQS suggested that she stay over until Tuesday.  Of course, I liked this suggestion, as we wouldn't be apart until her eye doctor got the chance to work on her eye mid-week.  This was another Marian mode day where we decided to walk along the Hudson river, enjoying one of the last spring days before it gets too warm to go out walking without working up a sweat.

On the whole, it was a good weekend where we both had the chance to relax.  This coming week, we will be up to our eyeballs in things we have to do....

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

I saw a mediocre movie which could have been a great satire.


The other day, I read an article in the New York Times about Stormy Daniels and her testimony in the Trump fraud case.  The article mentioned that Stormy did a bit part playing herself in the film, Bad President, a satirical film which tries to explain how Trump became our 45th president by selling his soul to the devil.  Although the film was mildly amusing, there was only one cast member that RQS and I recognized in the film - Stormy herself.  And this got us thinking - who could be involved in a more expensive remake of this film that would be top notch?

Since this film's plot has the devil looking to make chaos, and Trump being a stupid fool who could be easily manipulated due to his greed, his narcissism and his lack of humility, we figured that we'd need someone with gravitas to make the role memorable - and came up with Whoopi Goldberg.  Given that Satan is played by a black fellow in this film, switching Satan's gender opens the remake up to even funnier gags.  The role of Donald Trump would go to Alec Baldwin, as he knew how to go over the top in his SNL performances. The role of Stormy Daniels could be given to her - if she wanted to play herself in an exaggerated manner.  It would be nice to see another adult entertainer get a chance to go "legitimate". Most of the other roles could come from central casting.  But I would like to see Richard Gere play Michael Cohen, based on his performance in Chicago.  

But who would script and direct this film?  Mel Brooks is way too old for a full time gig like this.  Yet, he could be a consultant.  I could see a younger version of Steven Spielberg producing the film, based on his work in "1941".  Maybe Michael Hoffman (director of "Soap Dish") could handle direction duties. And Andrew Bergman (also from "Soap Dish") could handle the over the top script?

Yes, reality is stranger than any film that could have been dreamed of in 2016. But now, we need to find a way to laugh at recent history AND to leave the Trump family fuming.  Years ago, Charlie Chaplin said that he might not have made "The Great Dictator" had he known how evil Hitler was.  If I could go back in time, I'd have told him that it was essential that the film be made - evil men need their bubbles burst, and to be shown as poor excuses for humans....

PS: Bad President can be streamed on Freevee....

Monday, May 27, 2024

The seeds for today's cultural wars were sown almost 75 years ago.


Last night, I was having a conversation with Vicki and the topic of Jane Fonda came up.  Vicki will never forgive Jane for visiting Vietnam during the war, and I understand why she feels this way.  This is one area in which we disagree.  But we are usually closer in our views than one might think.  And this got me thinking: 

When did the first seeds for today's social polarization get sown?

One could say that some of the seeds were down when the 13 colonies separated from Great Britain, "Free State" vs. "Slave State".  But the United States was starting to address this issue shortly after WW2 ended, when the McCarthyism and the "Red Scare" started the dysfunction which has resulted in today's extreme political polarization.

The 1950's was an era where the cracks in the "American Ideal" started to show. The "Red Scare" triggered people to coerce pledges of loyalty from the populace.  This was an era where "Under God" was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance, as a way to differentiate American values from the "Commies" in the USSR.  The Space Race started in the 1950's, and we were primed for the unrest of the 1960's.

Why is this so important?

The first of the "Baby Boomers" were starting to go to college around 1964.  There, they learned to question authority - something that simply wasn't done in the 1950's.  At this time, the Civil Rights Movement started to gain popular awareness, as well as the war in Vietnam.  Thousands of Americans were losing their lives in an unpopular war, and American youth questioned why we needed to fight this war.  This is the time when conservatives started saying "America, love it or leave it."  And many draft-age men did just that, moving to Canada as political exiles.  Liberals demanded equal rights for women and for minorities, threatening the forced political stability achieved in the 1950's.  So, when Jane Fonda visited Vietnam (which I consider a mistake of youth, and nothing more), it was an event which solidified the divide between Liberals and Conservatives in America.

Opportunist politicians such as Richard Nixon took advantage of the growing divide, making sure that tools being used to address segregation were de fanged, making it much harder to provide Blacks and Latinos equal opportunities in education.  Although Nixon is often given credit for ending the war in Vietnam, he was responsible for making it impossible for LBJ to get a peace treaty signed on his watch.  This was the time where the GOP started to "flip the south" from Blue to Red, while the Democrats were flipping northern GOP enclaves to Democratic strongholds.

America's great divide.

If one looks at a political map of the USA, one will see that most of the "Union" states from the Civil War are run by Democrats, and that the "Confederate" states are run by Republicans.  Most of the other states are controlled by Republicans, as they are rural and have fewer opportunities for people than the coastal (blue) states.  Opportunist politicians have demonized the opposition, and have made the Rural/Urban divide much worse than it used to be.  Since "conservatives" tend to desire order imposed by higher authorities, they get incensed when "liberals" focus on the rights of individuals.  

Social identity in the USA is often defined by the political party one is affiliated with.  In my case, a woman I dated called me a fascist when she found out that I am still a registered republican.  (I haven't voted for anyone in the GOP for years, as the party has become radicalized and I have moved towards the center.  In an earlier decade, I'd have been identified as a "Goldwater Republican."  Today, I would be labeled left of center.

So what can we do?

There will always be people who are seduced by the propaganda coming from one side or the other.  A thinking person has to keep one's sanity by challenging the messages being sent by a biased media.  Liberals should question MSNBC, while Conservatives should challenge Fox, Newsmax, OAN and other bastions of conservative misinformation.  When most people are polled about their beliefs, they are more centrist than one might think.  But, when political identity comes into play, people act against their own best interests.

When America works right, people are able to look out for their own selfish interests.  If tribal affiliation comes into play, people start marching to the drummers from their tribes - and everything starts breaking down.  So, I advise people to fact check both sides without paying any attention to their tribe's "opinion outlets" and then coming to a position of their own.  If they do this, they might find that their tribe's leaders are betraying them, and that they would be best served by voting the bastards out....

Sunday, May 26, 2024

It's sometimes very hard to get in contact with people - a short post.


Recently, I've been trying to get in contact with several people, and have been mostly unsuccessful.  Why, you might ask?  In the case of my friend Pat (the ex-hypnotist), it could be one of several reasons.  First, she could have passed away.  (Given that she's around 80 years old, and that she's being treated for a chronic disease, this is a very likely option.)  Second, she is in a nursing home, and has been placed there for cognitive issues.  (Is she now unable to use her cell phone?)  Third, and most unlikely, she is no longer able to clear out her messages for some unknown reasons.  One day, I'll call up her nursing home and ask to have my call placed to her room.  That should get me some information - especially if something has happened to her.

Next, comes my friend LK.  She has two good excuses: One is a child with a genetic defect, and the other is a newborn child needing lots of care.  Unlike Pat, LK is young enough to be my daughter, and uses technology in a completely different way than I do.  If I catch her at the right time, things go along as if we were in the same room.  If not, it's crickets.  In short, I know my friendship is not a high priority for her, and accept it. 

There are others, and one of them is too busy to have a friendship with someone like me.  It's just as well, as we travel in different types of circles, and she's a workaholic.  Yet, I realize that people come into my life and leave it all the time, and accept it for what it is.  Do I miss some of these people?    Yes.  But others are better lost than found.  Yet, I wouldn't mind getting in touch with them again - if it were still possible....

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...