Friday, January 19, 2018

A Day with Lili and a Night Playing Games.

Lili and her family in Vietnam.  Considering what she went through to get her face lifted, she does look 10 years younger in the original photograph (which I don't have yet). And this leads in to today's discussion.

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I think the plastic surgeon did a very good job on Lili's face. And the imperfection in the surgeon's work doesn't show up on any of the photos taken overseas. Lili is happy with the overall results of the operation. But she wanted the imperfection (a little fat bump below her right eye) removed.  Today was her trip to Long Island to see her surgeon at his Long Island office.

We met at 10:00 at BJ's, and drove to the outskirts of Great Neck where the surgeon's office is located. One problem - we were 45 minutes early, and we had to kill time before the appointment. So it was over to H-Mart to do some grocery shopping. 20 minutes later, we finally drove to the doctor's office and had to wait to have our car parked by the valet.  (This building doesn't have enough parking for its tenants.) Then, it was upstairs to the doctor's office. Thirty minutes later, Lili came out of the office and the doctor came out to say hello.  It's nice that he remembered me.

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Next, it was off to meet Lili's friend and go to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. I liked her friend, and the three of us got along well.  Hopefully, we'll all be able to get together soon for a trip to Brooklyn for some burlesque.  Although I don't remember the name of the restaurant, one of its specialties was Soup Dumplings, and I intend to go there for those wonderful delicacies soon.  But today's lunch was common fare - Eggplant with Sliced Chicken. It was Yummy!  For me to say this about a dish I've had more times than I can count, the dish must be very good.  And maybe, I could even say it was better than that.

Eventually, lunch had to end and Lili's friend had to leave. So it was off to Lili's Mom's house to meet with her brother and tour the house for one last time.  They are finally in contract, and will finally be able to get their money out of this asset.  One thing that Lili and her brother should be thankful for is that the offer went into contract before the tax law changed. Had this happened later, I expect that the offer would have been 10% less because of the newly limited deductability of Mortgage Interest as well as State and Local Taxes.

Once done at the house, we fought rush hour traffic to get home. We exchanged Christmas gifts before we parted for the day, and I then drove down to Yonkers for game night.

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At game night, I shared some news about a Co-Op issue with the hostess, and she found it interesting that I could say "Thank You, Jeff Sessions!" after explaining the whole situation to her.  As much as I think the former DOJ advice made it easy for a statute to be abused, I think it very lucky for us that the DOJ advice is now gone - just at the right time. A little later, a new woman came to play games, and she stayed until 10:30.  After the new lady left, the hostess said to me that she never expects the newcomer to return.  Given our group's history with women, I feel she may be right.

The drive home was depressing.  There was nothing terribly wrong to cause me problems. But the depressing overly moist air kept me using the wipers (and spritzers) to keep the windshield clean, and it started to drizzle a little as I was nearing home. I hate driving in conditions like this, and I wished that someone else could have been behind the wheel tonight.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A little volunteering and a little shopping afterwards

It was all I could do to get myself moving today.  Right after the Co-Op board meeting ended last night, I was feeling a little ill, and retired to my bed to get comfy. Waking up the next morning, I was still very uncomfortable and feeling like I had a fever.  Yet, after a few more hours, I started to feel better and decided to go to the GLBT Center for my weekly volunteering stint.

Before I left, I sent the following to the professor in charge of my speech therapy at Mercy College, and described the most notable event regarding the cruise I'll be soon taking with Lili:

My friend is likely paying for our cruise with gambling comps. In short, because she drops about $400-$500 per day on most cruises, the cruise line casino comps her to cruise and only asks her to pay taxes and tips.  As for me, the casino is lucky if I drop $20 per day. The last time I cruised, I took out a $20 bill on day one, went to one slot machine and pulled the lever. About $5 later, 4 dancing girls appeared on the "Carnival in Rio" themed one armed bandit.  There was no way I can avoid looking at people (my original draft said "Scantily Dressed Women") dancing.  And by the time these scantily clad ladies finished dancing, I had another $360 in my pocketbook.  No wonder why they were scantily clad - they couldn't afford clothes after paying me off.  :-)

PS: I came home with $350 of that $360.  I didn't want to pay their dressmaker for new frocks...

Arriving at the GLBT Center, I chatted with the volunteer coordinator for 30 minutes, and then got to the task at hand: Putting announcements for activities at the center on to Facebook, and scheduling the sending of these announcements to members.  This took me about 30 minutes, but I really didn't have much energy to do more.  So, after another little task, I left for the week, and decided to take a drive.

My first stop was Catherine's in Poughkeepsie.  Unfortunately, I needn't have bothered, as I got to the store as it was closing.  (They close early in January, as it is a soft month for sales.)  There was nothing I was interested in, so the 5 minutes I spent in the store was just a quick look-see.  Next, it was off to The Avenue in Newburgh, where DD was on duty.  She is getting frustrated with the store's current manager and is thinking of leaving.  I'll miss her if that happens, but we now have each other's numbers and Facebook ids so we can keep in contact.

Strangely enough, I keep worrying about an antifreeze/coolant leak. And I keep "smelling" fluid where I see nothing leaking on the ground.  It could be a figment of my imagination, or it could be something very small and real.  Either way, I'll have to keep monitoring things with the car.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Paperwork and a Co-Op Board meeting

I had two things on my docket for today: Meeting with the fellow who assisted me in my health care insurance enrollment so that I could have current income certified, and a co-op board meeting.  Both involve paperwork, and both got in the way of me going out in the world as Marian.

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Although I woke up early (for me, that is), I didn't get moving until 1 pm. And this gave me just enough time to get dressed and prepare the paperwork I needed to have it scanned by my health insurance enrollment agent, so that the last item for Obamacare healthcare  subsidies was out of the way for 2018.  So I got in the car with paperwork and iPad in hand, and it was off to Ossining.

We arranged to meet at the Ossining public library at 2:30 pm, and I noticed that there were even more ladies playing Mah Jongg there than there was on the last time I visited. The enrollment agent was late, so I occupied myself by reading news articles on my iPad.  One of those articles had to do with actions Trump's Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, was taking. He was deleting much of the Department of Justice's "advice" on how to interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal statutes related to formerly "protected classes" such as the LGBT community. And I had to pass this information onto my Co-Op's board of directors, which then passed it along to our lawyer and our buildings' managing agent. Shortly before 3 pm, the enrollment agent arrived and he processed my paperwork. Now, I likely won't hear from New York State until later in the year when I have to reapply for insurance subsidies.

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Next on my list of things to do was a 5:30 pm meeting of the Co-Op board of directors.  And this is where our co-op's president and I were thinking the same thought - "Thank you, Jeff Sessions!"  Neither of us like this man. And HWV, being black, has even less respect for him than I do. So we were surprised to receive this belated "Christmas Gift" which may help us manage one of the issues affecting our Co-Op.  (I can't go into any more detail than this - as much as I'd like to do so.) The co-op meeting lasted longer than expected, and HWV let me know which "20 @ 20" shows she is interested in attending.  I mentioned to her that I might be unavailable during this time, and that I wouldn't be able to schedule anything until my plans have firmed up.

As I noted before, would you ever believe that someone as left of center as I am these days would be thankful to Jeff Sessions for anything?  This doesn't change my opinion of the Trump administration, but it does prove a point - there are too many poorly written Federal Regulations.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A weekend with GFJ - with car problems to boot!

A Honda Civic.  The car has proven itself to be very reliable, with none of the annoying minor or important flaws that plagued me on the last 3 American brand cars I've owned. And I had minor trouble this weekend that could have caused me great trouble if I didn't know what to do.

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Although I could have gone to see GFJ on Friday night, I decided to stay home and nestle under a warm blanket. With the weather expected to go into the single digits overnight, I wanted to stay warm in my own bad for one night this weekend.

Saturday came, and I packed up my bags to visit GFJ. But first, it was off to the movies to see "Murder on the Orient Express." I knew the basic plot line, but GFJ didn't. So I was able to focus on how they constructed the film instead of trying to figure out what was going on in the film. If I was to criticize anything in the film, I'd say that the railroad scenes seemed very fake to me. Most appeared to be generated via CGI graphics, and looked unrealistic - except when people were in the shots. Not wanting to spoil the story for people who haven't seen the movie yet, all I will say is that Professor Plum killed Mr. Boddy in the hall with the candlestick OR Mrs. Peacock killed the cook in the kitchen with the knife OR Colonel Mustard killed the motorist in the lounge with the wrench. (OOPS!  Those are solutions to the game/movie of Clue.)  To be serious, you will figure out who did the killing halfway through the film.

On the way to GFJ's from the theater, my car's display issued a warning: My engine was running hot!  The outside temperature was in the single digits. So I pulled the car over to the side of the road, let it idle for a few seconds until the message was no longer displayed, and then slowly made my way to GFJ's house. If the indicator would have come on again, I'd have turned the car off and called for a tow. But with prior experience with a water pump failure on a Datsun B-210, I knew that it was likely that my car's fluids weren't warm enough to flow properly or that an internal thermostat controlling coolant flow had failed in this weather. So I knew that I could slowly get the car into a safe space and have it towed either on Sunday or Monday if needed. When I reached GFJ's place, I decided to park the car for the rest of the weekend. And we didn't leave her house until Monday morning. But first, I made a call to my brother who gave me another idea to check out - did I have enough coolant in the car's radiator? 

I went to the car first thing Monday morning, and discovered that I probably didn't have enough coolant in the reservoir. So GFJ and I went to the Honda dealership in Kingston to pick up the correct coolant needed for the car. Unlike most of the Kingston area dealerships, the Honda dealership has its service department in in the original dealership's building, a few minutes away from its main sales area. So I was glad GFJ drove me there instead of me trying to drive my car and waiting for it to cool down before adding coolant. 

With coolant in hand, we went back to GFJ's place where I added coolant to the car's reservoir. And then I slowly drove off after giving GFJ a goodbye hug and kiss.  I was careful not to put a strain on the car for the first half hour of driving, and made it home safely home without incident. Do I have a radiator leak? Maybe. I wish I had a better clue to what happened with the car. But I'm glad the car has proven itself reliable in stressful circumstances. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Quickie: Thoughts about body image

Lately, when I go to look at myself in the mirror, I keep wishing that I had a woman's hips and fat development in the area.  There's not much that can be done about that right now. But when I lose weight, I will need to wear hip pads when in women's clothes to create the illusion that my body is better proportioned than it is at that time.

If I had gone on puberty blockers 50 years ago and then on estrogen, I would not have had to deal with a masculine developed body.  I also would not have developed many of the sexually dimorphic characteristics that identify my body as having been assigned male at birth.

Some of the things I wish I had would be a woman's hips, her narrow wrists, ankles, and neck, and of course, her breasts. Of all of these, the hips and breasts would be most important to me. Although I'd be tall for a woman, I'd still be in the normative range for females.

Even if I had the "Correct" body for a female, would I have the right internal image of myself?  All too many women are uncomfortable in their own skins.  They have been taught that they have to look young, and appear as if they never had a life. For example, many are embarrassed about having a post-pregnancy belly with stretch marks. I feel that these are the marks that a woman has had a full life. In this way, having been raised as a male has been an asset to me. But as I progress along the path to my feminine self, will I become insecure? Or, will I retain the typically masculine advantage of having a positive image of an imperfect body? Only time will tell.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Quickie: NYC Subway work crew.

(Two maintenance cars which may never have been in revenue service)

The New York City Subway system.  It is essential to the functioning of a metropolis of 8 million residents, and the businesses that double the population of Manhattan Island on a typical weekday.

If one travels at odd hours of the day (or on weekends), one will often see unusual pieces of equipment never seen during a normal commuter's trip. This post is a quick posting of some of the more unusual shots I've taken of the subway, its denizens, and the work that goes into making this system work.

("Dumpsters" for use in hauling away construction debris.) 

(A work car similar to that carrying the dumpsters in the previous photo)
(You can see that they really wanted this engine to be seen.)

 (This is a view of a typical NYCTA engine used in the subway system.)
(Times Square below ground)

(More of Times Square below ground)

Years ago, a close friend of my family worked in subway maintenance.  He was a hard drinking person, but I never saw him out of control of his liquor.  When he was drinking, he and his wife were home enjoying their highballs. When he was working, he was cold sober. Over the years, he damaged the nerves in his hands by holding a jackhammer, and his fingers were always bent from the damage caused by jackhammers. Yet, I'd love to talk to him a little about the things he saw in the system, and to ask him to get pictures of the more interesting parts of his work.  Since I can't do that, I'll have to take photos when I can, then post them when I have enough to make an interesting entry from them.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Quickie: A frigid day, not good for doing much.


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Last night, I cleared the snow away from my car, assuming that I'd have to move it out of my spot for the plows to clear the area. This morning, my car started (YAY!!!) in the brutal cold, and I took it for a spin to charge the battery a little.

Returning home, I had very little energy.  Although it was a perfect day in many respects to have gone out as Marian, the cold kept me from doing so. Instead, a warm apartment, a cozy bed, and a working TV kept me comfortable throughout the day.  By the time evening came, I had little desire to go out in below zero weather (with wind chill factored in), and stayed inside.

Around dinner time, GFJ called and we had a long talk about nothing in particular, save for when I should arrive at her place tomorrow. Given the weather forecast, it might just be too cold for us to go to a movie. So it looks like it will be a night or two snuggling with each other. However, one thing of note was mentioned - she was doing something with the girls next weekend, and we would not be getting together on Saturday. (Yes, there's a part of me that's a little concerned about this. But this may give me the freedom to spend a weekend as Marian, so I'll deal with my concerns and take advantage of the free time given to me.)

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But back to the cold weather....

Saturday and Sunday look like they will be frigid days.  So I'll be sure to dress very warmly this weekend.  Even if my car gets stuck at GFJ's place Sunday night, I can always wait for the late Monday morning "thaw" that is expected.

I'm very glad that this cold spell will soon break, as my niece is returning home from Britain this coming Tuesday. I'm looking forward to seeing her again, and maybe going to another museum soon.