Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Buffalo NY and Waterloo Canada

Yesterday was a LOOONNNGG day for me! This was the beginning of a 20 hour day. Buffalo NY and Waterloo CA 003

It started at 4AM so that I could get ready ad out of the house before my daughter wakes up. the kicker is, my flight to Buffalo New York didn't leave Austin until 1PM. That gave me a LOT of time dressed with nothing to do, so I went to the DPS to get the state ID I've been tacking about for a week or so.
First I went to the Georgetown DPS (some states call it the DMV). Georgetown is a small town so I didn't think it would be much hassle. There were a couple of problems though, as far as my confidence goes. This place was TINY - there would be no privacy for conversations, no way I could discuss this with the clerk without everyone in ear shot hearing. I got there a few minutes before they opened and the parking lot was already full. Not just full, but the other people waiting were clearly farmers, construction workers, and truck drivers (two 18 wheelers in the parking lot). No, I'm not slamming them or their profession, but it was an intimidating group of most masculine men I didn't feel like braving it out. I chickened out and drove to the Leander DPS instead, where the town is quite a bit larger. It was a fair sized facility, had a reasonable crowd, and I just felt better trying it. They treated me with perfect respect, called me "ma'am" etc, and it was seriously easy. All they asked for was my Drivers License and my money.
She did confirm for me that at least in Texas, the two cards are 100% different so the pic on the ID I just got will not end up on my drivers license. After she snapped my picture, I winked at her and asked her if she'd managed to make me look gorgeous. She laughed, looked at the monitor (no she didn't show it to me) and said "Yep, looks pretty good!".
Now I just have to wait two weeks for it to arrive in the mail! :-)
So, it's still only around 9AM but I decided to head to the airport anyway just in case maybe I can get an earlier flight. I had also been concerned that with the end of the huge music festival, South By Southwest, that the airport might be a mad house with huge lines. Well, good news is there was no huge crowd there. Bad news is, there were no options for an earlier flight, so I was stuck with a very long day ahead of me. I pulled out my laptop, did a lot of paper work I'd been putting off, read a bit, and the time passed fairly quickly. So there I stand at the gate, just before they started the boarding process, when up walks a very friendly looking gentleman. He walks right up to me, and holds out his hand.
"Excuse me, but are you Kimberly?" he asks with a smile, and maybe a little apprehension. It took a second or two for my brain to put it all together. At first I was thinking, 'how the heck does he know that when my tickets are all under my male name?'. Eventually I put it together and figured out he was probably also TG so smiled and agreed that I was. :-)
Turns out that "he" is Cassie and was on his way home to Boston where my flights connected. We shared a few words, but they were just boarding the flight and so we separated. I was assigned the middle seat in the rear of the plane and was just delighted to get to my row and find that I was sharing the row with two young men speaking Arabic. I don't claim to know much about Arabic cultures, but I was fairly sure that most were not terribly tolerant of people like myself, so that was a little uncomfortable. The good news is, they were friends or family and chose to sit next to each other so I didn't have to take the center seat. :-)
As I was exiting the plane, two female flight attendants were at the front and as I approached to door, the both grinned from ear to ear, and thanked me for for flying with them and wished me a good night. :-)
Got off the plane where I again connected with Cassie. She kept trying to give me a big head talking about how I was an inspiration and a good example. Pffft . . . Me? A good example? Gonna have to wrap my mind around that one! We chatted a bit while I looked for a currency exchange so that I wouldn't be entering Canada with out a single Canadian dollar, but I was out of luck. Boston Logan DOES have currency exchanges, but all in different terminals requiring me to exit and go through security again - aint gonna happen. I wouldn't have gone through that hassle drab, and sure as hell wasn't gonna try it dressed after 12 hours and looking far from my best. Yes, my confidence DOES have its limits. Cassie was such a sweetheart and offered to go do it for me! Y'all have to understand, this was no small or insignificant thing to offer. I was terribly flattered but wasn't about to take advantage of her. We chatted for a few more minutes, Cassie headed for home, and I headed out to find dinner. Sat in this little airport dinner/pub that had what i think of European seating - fairly large tables, with many chairs, clearly designed to encourage/force you to sit near people you don't know. When I entered, the place was packed so I had to sit at one of the large common tables. Almost like everyone had to catch the same flight, in a very few minutes the place cleared out and it was just me, the waitresses, and maybe two other customers. As i sat there sipping my drink and waiting for my salad, a woman walks in, and takes the seat directly on the other side of the table I was sitting at. That sort of caught me by surprise. An empty place, and she had CHOSEN to sit with me. She turned out to be very pleasant to speak with, and we were soon chatting like old friends. She sort of giggled as she was watching me pick through my salad. I sighed, and explained to her that the only thing I hated more than eating salad for diner was growing another dress size, and she just about lost it.
I went to the gate at 830PM for my 855PM flight to Buffalo just in time to hear that it was delayed and wouldn't be taking off until 10PM! yeah, well the way things often go with airlines, it turned out to be closer to 1030. By the time I got my rental car and got to my hotel, it was after 1AM. I was scared to look in the mirror to see what 20 hours had done to my face, but found that other than blood shot eyes and flat hair, I still looked fairly decent! Thank God for the laser treatments, 'cause I'd have never got away with that before.
The following morning I had to get up at 530AM to drive to the University of Waterloo where I was to fix a broken instrument. The Canadian guard didn't give me a hard time and so I was off with no delay at the border!
Buffalo NY and Waterloo CA 005
I was making perfectly wonderful time, jamming on the hits of the 70's on XM radio, and all was well with the world. Until my tire went flat. Important note to self: When traveling in cold climates, dress for the worst case scenario, not the best case. I say this because by the time I had the spare on and was back in the car, my hands were blue, 'cause it was FREAKING COLD with no gloves! (idiot)
The repair was a nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did. I'm sure my lack of sleep didn't help my performance any, but it took me almost twice as long to finish as I had really expected. In the end, got it fixed, customer delighted, and I'm headed back to the US by about 4.
Buffalo NY and Waterloo CA 018 When I got to the border, the US guard absolutely grilled me. No exaggerating, this guy kept me for almost 10 minutes asking me details.
"Where do you live?" he asked. I have no Earthly idea why that question caught me off guard, maybe it was the lack of sleep, but there was s distinct pause before I answered.
"I live in Austin Texas" Inside, I'm kicking myself for the hesitation, because I just know that's going to send the wrong message to this guy. It implied I wasn't quite sure where I lived or that I was lying. Sure enough, he was like a dog with a bone and started grilling me.
"Why were you in Canada?" he says.
"I was fixing a broken instrument." I replied, making sure my bloodshot eyes were looking straight into his.
"oh, so your a musician?!"
"No sir, that's not what I meant by instrument . . " I was going to elaborate but he interrupted.
"Well then what was it?" His voice is still nice and polite, he's not being a jerk, but . . .
"It's an FT IR . . . an Infrared mass spectrometer." I answered.
"Really?!" he asks, sounding interested and amused. "And what exactly is that?" This is a question I get a lot so I've got a pat answer.
"Have you ever seen CSI on TV, where they take a sample of some unknown substance, put it in this widget, and it shows all sorts of peaks and tells them exactly what that sample is?"
"Uh huh" he replies, sounding a little less excited
"well, it's related to that but only works with gasses, not with powders or other materials."
"I see!," he says "and what was wrong with it?" At this point I did myself a favor and barked out a laugh.
"What wasn't wrong with it??!!" and proceeded to give him a whole litany.
"you got all of that done in a few hours? You didn't have to send for parts or anything?" he asks. I thought that was sort of an odd question since he clearly had no idea what was involved.
"Sure I got it done. I carried everything I needed in with me." I wasn't sure what he was getting at, but as far as I knew I had done nothing wrong taking my tools and spares in with me. Even if I had, it should have been the Canadians giving me hell going in, not him giving me hell returning. Now he leans out the window, and looks at my back tire which is now one of those ridicules mini spares courtesy of this mornings flat.
"What happened to your car?" he asks.
"I got a flat tire" all the while I'm thinking ". . . and here's your sign!" (you rednecks will probably get it)
"Did you change the tire yourself?" . . .
I'm a patient person - you have to be in my line of work, but this guy was beginning to get on my nerves. What kind of stupid question is that? At the moment at least, I'm clearly a 43 year old male in reasonably good health. How else did he figure the spare made it onto the car? The magic flat fairy??!! My patience was pretty well evaporated by now so I got a bit coarse.
"Sure did, and froze my God damned ass off doing it too, 'cause I was too freaking stupid to bring a pair of gloves with me!" And no, "freaking" was not the word I used)
At last satisfied that I was too coarse, impatient, and vulgar to be a Canadian, he waved me through. You know, I like Canada and Canadians, but I'm starting to wonder about some of my own people . . .

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15, 2009

Austin 20090314 004

So last night was a rare chance for me to go out in Austin. When I do this, I usually get a hotel room in the area of the club so that I don't have to drive very far after having a drink or two (or three or four). So after I got ready I was going to take my usual pile of pictures when a photo idea struck me. I'm a member of the Vanity Club, and we often share pictures with a given theme. Lately two themes have been "In a chair" and "On the Bed". I decided to be a smart ass and take one in a chair on the bed!
I figured "What the hell, this ought to throw em all for a loop!" So the whole time I was setting up this shot, all I could think of was one of my daughters favorite books - "Fox in Sox" where things get progressively more convoluted and complex until at last you end up with:
"When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle, THIS is what they call...
...a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!"

So as you consider this pic, try and picture the process of taking it. My camera has a 10 sec delay so here I am wearing a longish skirt, 3.5 inch heels, setting the camera, running for the bed, climbing on to the bed, getting settled in an unstable chair, and then trying to look relaxed and composed. In 10 seconds. Sounds easy, but YOU try it! :-)
Austin 20090314 001
So as usual, I went to 'Bout Time. Unlike usual though, the place was absolutely packed full of people! Just as I drove up Teree also pulled into the parking lot, so I met her on my way in. I am SO glad that I've met Teree because we have much in common and I really enjoy her company. She's a very kind and soft spoken person and just very comfortable to hang out with.

Austin 20090314 007

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Texas Drivers License AND a Texas State ID

I've been doing a lot of flying femme these days, and I had begun to wonder of it would be possible to have both, A Texas Drivers License AND a Texas State ID. I'd keep my DL with my male pic, and get the ID as Kim, giving all the accurate and legal info, just having different pics. This way I'd have a legal state ID with my Kim pic on it to make it easier for anyone seeing my ID to accept that it was in fact me. Y'all know how the internet is, I've seen conflicting information - some saying it was legal and some saying it wasn't, so I went to the source. From their web page I sent the following email to the Texas Department of Public Safety (More or less the Texas DMV) and received the response making it clear that it IS legal: Questions/Comments: For reasons I'd rather not go in to unless I have
to, I'd like to know if it is legal to have both, a Texas DL AND a Texas
ID at the same time as long as they both are accurate and there is no
intent to defraud or give false information? Many thanks

And their response below:

Dear Mr. XXX,

Thank you for giving the Department the opportunity to respond to your
email request regarding your Texas driver license.

Per your request, it is legal to carry an id card and a drivers license.
Be sure that the address remains the same on both as well as keeping the
id card in a safe place incase you ever loose your drivers license you
will have proof of identity.

I hope this information is helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact
Customer Service at customerservicedl@txdps.state.tx.us or 512-424-2600
should you have additional questions or need further assistance.


Angela Ibarra
Administrative Tech III
Driver License Division
Texas Department of Public Safety

So now it's time for another Kimberly gut/courage check! Gotta go to the DPS office dressed, fill out the paper work, and "Git er done!" I don't want to do it in my small town 'cause I figure half the population will know about it before my pic is even taken. LOL