Thursday, December 13, 2018

Quickie: Scammer Ignored.

Today, I received the scam message highlighted in red below.  Whoever sent it is a rank amateur fraudster. This person has no way to control my system, nor does he have any information that others do not know about me. 

You can write to the police, but they will not fix your situation. I am an alien, so they can not get to know my place accurately. Your PC has been compromised by my software. We turned on your PC cam the moment you browsed to the erotic web-site. I have the visual proof of you masturbate. We also have in possession your connections, so if you want me to keep this between us, you have to post 600 USD in BTC. Use this bitcoin wallet # 17HmMr17aa2hyQEXjHgf1rdf7skb4ET6aW to post the amount. You possess 29 hours after getting this letter. When you write back to this e-mail, my mainframe will right away transfer the information that I have full control over your device. So, immediately after your message, you will get new remittance details and you will need to post 2200 USD in place of the initial amount. Best of luck. Please be aware of the consequences. P.S. I am not a native English speaker but I hope you understand what I mean. Sending the money is the only way to prevent it from happening. Don`t try any funny stuff, it`s there is no point in that. This email was only used to notify me that you got the message. From Shanghai with love.

The reality is that messages like this are easy to ignore.  Just hit the delete button.  In my case, I copied the text and turned it into a blog entry for your entertainment.

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You'll note that this jerk mentions the police.  The local cops do not have much jurisdiction regarding this kind of attempted crime.  So why bother wasting their time?  The scammer says he's an alien.  Who cares what he is?  He is up to no good.  Has my PC been compromised?  Probably not.  I use a good malware detection package.  And why should I care who knows what I masturbate to?

Now, heaven forbid, this jerk has infected my machine.  I have another computer, uninfected, that I can use.  Yes, I'll lose some important data.  But I can always recover 95% (or more) of it.  It pays to back up everything, and that's what I do - just not as often as I should be doing.

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Right now, I see this message as an idle threat.  We'll see what happens over the next couple of days....

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More and more of us Transgender folk are traveling these days.

In the past, I worried about traveling as a person whose gender presentation is different from my legal identification.  Now, I don't worry too much, as I know I'm not alone.  Traveling transgender is not as fearful as it once was, as more and more of us in our community are getting out and about with minimal hassles.

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The first TG person I noticed traveling across the country in feminine presentation was Kim. She doesn't travel as much these days as Kim, as her job and her body have been conspiring against her these days. When I first noticed her blog, she was posting something every couple of weeks or so.  As the responsibilities of her job changed, she flew less and less, and I haven't seen a post on Kim's blog in months. I miss her posts, as she always had an interesting story to tell - even when she wasn't presenting as female.

Kim's exploits gave me the courage to travel as Marian. And it helped that I had Lili backing me up on my first cruise presenting as a female in 2013. Over the past few years, Lili and I have taken cruises in 20152017, and 2018 - Winter, and 2018 - Autumn. In addition, I have traveled to Washington DC several times, all without incident.  People are mostly tolerant of transgender folk as long as we are polite and treat others with the same respect that we want to be treated.

So when I see transgender people traveling as their authentic selves (mostly with papers that match their current gender presentation), it makes me feel good.  Sophie, Faith, Rhonda and others are going out as who they are and not getting hassled by security, or by people in the places they visit.  Things are not perfect yet. There are places that none of us would feel safe because we do not have perfect gender presentations. But things are getting better for us every day - in spite of the Trump Administration's attempts to nullify our existence. And I expect that this trend will continue if we live our lives in confidence instead of in fear.


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Miscellaneous grumblings

Sometimes, I just have to rant a little.  And today is one of those times....

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Recently, I drove to a couple of clothing stores so that I could pick up a few items in advance of need. On the way to do my shopping, I encountered several cars who didn't know or care what the speed limit was on a clear, dry road in the daytime.  Does it take that much to drive somewhere near the speed limit if there is nothing on the road to prevent one from doing so?  Roads like Route 9 between Peekskill and Fishkill do not have enough passing zones, and if one drives too slow, s/he will create a traffic jam behind the slowpoke car.  If one is not comfortable driving at a normal speed, it doesn't take much to pull over, so that the backed up traffic can pass.

While out at one clothing store, I found out that the salesladies found out about their store's closing from the landlord of the building.  What a god awful way to find out one is going to lose her job - especially before the holidays.  Can't a better way be found to give the employees bad news when they know their numbers are up instead of letting outsiders unwittingly break the news?  And while we're at it, why should the salesladies sell gift cards to the store when, after closure, the nearest store to take the cards will be a 90 minute drive away?  Shouldn't they put the gift cards away and tell the customers a white lie, such as we ran out of gift cards at this store?

Of course, on-the-road stupidity is easy to find.  As I was driving home one day, I was heading into an EZ-Pass Only lane.  The person on my left was backing away from the toll booth, as the person in front did not have a working EZ-Pass with a positive balance. Two people did something stupid, and I could have gotten into an accident.  At the same time, there was a person "parked" in front of the divider that separates two toll lanes, and the person heading to the toll lane to the right of me made his move into my lane.  How stupid can people get?

As I've mentioned in other entries, I take blood pressure pills and pills to manage my blood sugar level.  (This is what happens when one is too Zaftig for her own good.)  When I went to the drug store, I found out that my health care insurance firm had no provisions for the early purchase of prescriptions when someone is going away on a trip.  I'm lucky to be able to afford paying the "rack rate" for my pills.  But I shouldn't have to do so.  Instead, they should have a process where I could get the pills I need for the length of time one expects to be away from home.  (Luckily, CVS will fill that prescription at any of its stores in the US. But one has to be in the US and be presenting with the same gender that appears on the insurance card.)  Another headache in this area is with my Doctor.  He has no way to contact his office electronically during his off hours.  If I had known that a prescription had no refills left, I could have contacted him at the beginning of the week - and have his office call in the prescription the next day.

Next, I have to think of the cruise line on which I've taken most of my cruises as of late. On the day of the cruise, Lili asked me to print off a copy of the cruise documents.  We were lucky that I had done so the night before, as they make this information unavailable the day of the cruise.  If you forget to print these documents, or lose them, you'll have headaches when you get to the pier.  Who needs those problems?

Given that the Christmas "Shoplifting" Season 😉 is upon us, why are they doing major road work down the road from the Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall?  I drove there the other day, and got stuck in the construction zone while driving from the outlet mall to the nearby Walmart, and then to Eastbound Route 6. This is the type of idiocy that will keep people like me from shopping in that area until the roadwork is complete.  And that will hurt the businesses that make their the bulk of their profits between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

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I could have gone on and on.  But I feel that six gripes are enough to vent in one day

Monday, December 10, 2018

As I said in an earlier post, I'm getting ready for a trip.

One of the things about planning for a trip is that one should generate a packing list well ahead of time, and then once the bags are packed - purge ruthlessly to carry only what is absolutely needed for the trip.  I'd have trouble doing this if I were flying, as I can never get the bag light enough to avoid overweight charges.  Thankfully, my trips are by train or by cruise ship these days....

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It's a nice thing to plan for a Caribbean cruise in the Winter.  Other than the cold weather clothing needed for the days of embarkation and disembarkation, one can usually wear Spring/Fall weather clothing on the second and last full day of cruising, then wear Summer clothing for the rest of the trip. On a 7 day trip, one can wear Summer clothes 3 days out of the 7.  But on a 10+ day trip, one can wear comfortable clothing most of the trip. It's not enough to be wearing comfortable clothing.  A woman has to make sure that all of her necessities are with her - makeup, swimsuit, sandals, etc.  And, it would be a shame NOT to have comfortable Summer weight dresses to wear when in those tropical climes.

When I woke up this morning, I still had my suitcase laid across my bed and stuff all over the place.  Most of the summer clothes I planned to take with me were already packed, but there was more to take care of.  HWA called asking when I would come by to drop off my car keys, so that while I was away the car could be moved if show plowing was needed. There was still so much to do, and so little time to do so.

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One of the things on my list to do was getting a mani-pedi.  Unfortunately, the salon I usually go to was closed.  So I went to another shop in town.  I was lucky, for as soon as I got seated in the pedicure station, several women came in wanting mani-pedis.  They had to wait for at least a half hour while the three of us already being served were finished with our procedures.  Shortly after finishing my manicure, the woman working on me asked if I'd like my eyebrows waxed.  And I said "Yes" without a thought.  (This may cause me problems on my return, but I'll deal with them then.)  This left my face looking much better than it had in years - and I intend to do this before going away on another long trip.

Once done at the nail spa, it was time to buy a couple of books to read on the cruise. So it was off to Barnes and Noble with a quick stop at The Avenue.  I didn't find the book I wanted, but I found two others worth the read and a book that I'll buy for the Cat Lady on my return - "You had me at Meow."  Hopefully, she'll enjoy it.

Arriving home, I sent Lili a picture of my face with the waxed eyebrows - and she loved it.  It'll be perfect for me on the cruise, but something I'll have to fill in when I get home.  I can only imagine what it will be like when I finally get my ears pierced.....

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The run up to a trip

Since my last cruise, I've been adding blog entries to the publish(ed) queue in order to avoid having to play catch up with posting entries when I returned from my next trip.  By the time you read this entry, I'll be back from another trip and will already be publishing new entries to cover events that happened on the trip.

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When I left GFJ on Thanksgiving, we agreed to get together for dinner and a movie today.  Our choices of movies weren't that great. But it would be the last time we will be together for a reasonably "long" period of time.

I didn't do much of anything until 1 pm, when I started preparing in advance of my trip. Since I'll be taking a cruise to somewhere warm, I had to take my summer dresses out of my storage containers and make some hard decisions about what to put in my suitcase. This is a big pain, as I have 10 storage containers stacked in one corner of the room, another 5 stacked near my air conditioner, and me not knowing where several dresses could be found.

After working on the sorting out of clothes for a while, it was time for me to get showered, dressed, and ready to see GFJ as Mario.  I lallygagged around the house taking care of little things until 3:30, and couldn't find the keys I use when out as Mario.  After 10 minutes, I found the keys in a place I wouldn't have expected - my coat.  Normally, I leave them in the pocket of the pair of pants I last wore outside. But I was rushed when I came in on Thursday, and couldn't bother with the niceties of putting things where I could always find them.

So I drove up to the diner to meet GFJ, and I got there a little early.  This was good, as I had time to read some email before the two of us went inside for dinner.  And then we went to see Instant Family.  (I joked, "Does this mean that there's a way to make a family by 'just adding water?'")  It's a pleasant, mindless piece of fluff.  But it was done well by the actors involved in making the film.

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All too soon, it was time to leave.  So GFJ and I hugged and kissed a little in an alcove, and we parted.  On the way home, I chatted with Lili, and found out that her computer was infected with some malware. If she doesn't get help from her neighbor, I'll recommend that she visit the computer shop that reinstalled my laptop's copy of Windows after a buggy update. (Let them deal with Lili - I don't have the time.)  After Lili, I chatted with the Cat Lady.  She's been hemming and hawing about buying Amtrak tickets to see her daughter in Virginia for Xmas.  I hope she does so soon, as ticket prices are about to spike again.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Too damned cold!

Cole Porter once wrote a song called "Too Darned Hot."  I think he should have written a companion piece for the winter called "Too Damned Cold."  I'm not the one who could think of appropriate lyrics to this song. But it would include likes relating to "Mr. Lovey Dovey" being bold when the temperature is cold.

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I had barely awakened this morning when Lili called to tell me that she was cancelling our lunch because of the frigid weather.  This did not bother me, as I was not looking forward to getting showered and dressed to go out in this weather.  But if I had known it was at least 10 degrees warmer than yesterday, I'd have gone out much sooner than I did.

While relaxing at home, I had a text message conversation with the Cat Lady, asking me a bit more about how I feel about being transgender.  One of the questions asked was whether I would prefer to be Marian 24x7 - and I said yes.  This confused her a little, and I tried to clarify things a little.  If I were in a relationship, I'd keep Mario around so that my partner would have a man in the relationship. But if I was Marian 24x7, it would be hard for me to have a romantic relationship - and I could accept not having one.

After staying in my apartment until 4 pm or so, I decided to get showered, made up, and out the door as quickly as possible.  I figured that I'd go to the Catherine's in Paramus, maybe walk around a mall, and then take a leisurely drive back home.  So I headed South, not being sure if I was going to bother with crossing the river. Traffic was flowing much smoother than usual along Route 287, and I decided to cross the river to browse for some clothes.

Driving along the Garden State and along Route 17 was a breeze - something I didn't expect on Black Friday at 7 pm. And I decided to go to Lane Bryant before going to Catherine's, as they are on the same side of Route 4.  It was there that GFJ called me, and we were on the phone for 30 minutes.  (Her kids had left earlier in the day, and it was finally "safe" to talk.)  There was nothing I really wanted to buy at either store, so I made my way back home with a quick stop at Walmart.  Given what I saw at these 3 stores, I don't think that Black Friday was as great as the news media made it out to be.  Since I don't directly own any retailers' stock, I won't worry about this.

On the way home from Walmart, I talked with the Cat Lady again, and I can see why her kids avoid her.  She had to be the authoritarian parent to steer the kids into leading responsible lives.  However, she wasn't able to lead them into making choices to have spouses better suited to the lives the Cat Lady hoped her children would have as adults. Hearing her talk, I wondered: what type of parent would I have been had I had children? I'll never know, but I hope that I'd have been the type of parent that didn't overwhelm the children....

Friday, December 7, 2018

I finally met GFJ's family

This is the first Thanksgiving that I've spent away from my family in a long while, save for the one occurrence that took place during a late Autumn cruise.  It was very important to show GFJ's family that I am a part of her life, and to get them used to my existence.

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When I got up this morning, I had only one thing on my to do list - Going to GFJ's for Thanksgiving dinner.  In the past, I'd have been overly nervous about meeting "the in-laws" and other family members. But after 61+ years of life, I've learned to "be myself" in moderation.  (Read: Don't shock people, and don't reveal everything about myself.)  So I got showered and dressed (as Mario), and started my drive up to her place around 11 am.

In theory, leaving at 11 am would bring me to GFJ's place at 12:30 - about 30 minutes late. But little things added more delays to my trip.  First, I needed to get some coffee in my system, and McDonald's seemed like the most convenient place to go.  I was wrong.  They were operating out of one service window, as there was a car stuck in front of the other. This cost me an extra 10 minutes that I normally would make up on both Route 9 and the Thruway.  But "tourists" were on Route 9 today, people who did not know the road, and they were traveling well below speed limit so that they wouldn't miss their turns.  (God help us from people who don't know how to use their GPS responsibly.)  So I lost a little bit more time.  Just as bad as the time I lost at McDonalds was the time I lost when I reached New Paltz.  A few minutes before I reached the exit, there was an accident at the intersection of Main street and the Thruway's exit.  As a result traffic was backed up so that the police cars and fire trucks could reach the site of the collision.  Even with this, I was able to reach GFJ's place shortly after her sister arrived. (She got there just before the accident in New Paltz.)

I finally got to meet GFJ's family, and it was a very pleasant afternoon chatting with people I've never met before.  The conversation and food "flowed" freely.  And all too soon, the gathering ended.  (I hope they have a positive opinion of me.) Lili will be disappointed - I got no pictures.  But there was no good reason to do so without breaking the mood of the gathering.  Maybe next time.  GFJ and I went to her office to check on some water samples and to dump some garbage in the building's dumpsters. And then it was time to leave.  We will try to get together over the weekend, my schedule permitting.

On the way home, I stopped by Walmart to see what was going on this evening.  Black Friday sales were all over the place, with many bins of merchandise blocking the aisles.  If I had wanted, I could have bought a Samsung tablet for $130 - not bad for a current model of a tablet I once bought for $300. Since my iPad serves me well, I'm not in the mood to switch back to an Android tablet.

Eventually, I made it home and it was time to rest.  Somehow, I'll have to find a nail salon that is open on Sunday to get a Mani-Pedi.  It's long overdue....