Sunday, May 16, 2010

Singing With Sally!

Current mood:happy
There have been so many personal and emotional roller coasters for me the last few weeks that I feel like I am reeling and spinning all of the time. Even knowing that it would irritate them, and might be professionally unwise of me, I sent a letter our director and to one of the vice presidents of my company asking them to consider keeping “Ted”, the engineer that had screwed up so badly recently due to alcohol abuse. I told them that now that we knew the source of the problem, it could be treated and addressed, and so there was no need to discard one of the smartest men I had ever worked with, along with his almost two decades of experience, training, and knowledge. I received a very curt and professional reply that basically boiled down to “Mind your own damn business”. Three days later one of the brightest guys I have ever worked with was formally fired.

I was looking at my half brothers facebook page and noticed two posts by women with familiar names – Pamela and Michelle. These two were my step sisters from one of my fathers marriages after my mother. I last saw them when we were all somewhere around 4 to 6 years old I think, and had not run across each other since. To see their names sitting there on facebook, and to know that these were the two little girls I remembered playing with during such a troublesome time of my life brought a flood of memories rushing back. Some were good memories from that time and some were not so good. I recall that I was too young to know that “honey” was a term of endearment and not a name, and since my father only referred to his new wife as “honey”, that is what I thought her name was. It wasn’t until years later that I realized why everyone laughed so hard when I called her honey. Well, I thought about it for a few minutes and then I took the plunge and wrote to both of them and have now been trading emails with them for a few days.

As you may recall, I recently blogged about telling my sons live in girl friend about me. As she is going to be living with us for a while, it seemed like the intelligent thing to do. The other day I took the entire family out for dinner on Mother’s day and this young lady wore a long and many layered skirt that I thought was just awesome. When I told her I thought it was neat she looked at me and smiled.
“The next time you take a trip, you can borrow it!” she said with a huge grin. She probably has no idea how deeply that small gesture touched me. To have her so easily and comfortably accept me for who and what I am was more than a little moving for me. Once I was sure I wasn’t gonna tear up I replied.
“I very much appreciate the offer, but I think that would just be a bit too weird even for me!”
“How come?” she challenged me.
“Well, because swiping my sons girlfriends clothing just has kind of a creepy feeling to the whole idea.”
“If you say so!” she replied, full of mock contempt. “But just remember that it is YOU that has a problem with it, not me!” She gave me a huge grin and then turned away.

This week I went to Methuen MA for training with my company. Methuen is just a bit north of Boston on I93 for those of you not familiar with the area. Normally when I get to the Boston area, I like to hang out with the sisters of Worcester on Wednesday night, but I couldn’t do it this time. Since I was there for training, I was with several other engineers from my company and there was just no way to head out on my own with out offending someone. The good news is, I had arranged to stay for Friday and fly on Saturday so that I could see part of the manufacturing process for a major component that I often have to troubleshoot. Since everyone else was done on Thursday, that would give me Friday night to do with as I pleased.

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Anyway, I flew to Boston Logan international on Delta this time. I would have to admit that Delta is my favorite airline, at least when I have “elite” status with them, but I think I’m about to loose that. They have been splitting my flights up between Delta and US Airways, and so I’ve lost my “Gold” Status with both, which means I get fewer upgrades to first class. Damn . . .

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The lady behind the Delta counter in this pic is the one who has always been so nice to me. One of these times I’m just gonna ask her if I may take her picture for my blog so I can show her to you a bit better, but I always feel a bit uncomfortable asking people. Anyway, I checked in with the guy that was next to her and still she went out of her way to walk over and speak with me. It’s funny how many companies never learn this simple lesson – friendly customer service is a major requirement. She is friendly, always has a kind word, and always goes out of her way to say hello to me. SHE is a significant reason that I like to fly Delta airlines.

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Would you believe that absolutely nothing of any interest happened on the flight to Boston? No cute comments, no TSA parade, no shocked parents grabbing their children and turning them away with horrified looks on their faces. As I was sitting in the Detroit airport waiting for my connection to Boston, my sister IM’d me through facebook and told me that she is collecting salt and pepper shakers, has a sizeable collection, and wants me to look for something from Boston. I just shook my head in wonder. She couldn’t collect shot glasses or coffee mugs like everyone else, no, she has to collect salt and pepper shakers. Once I stopped laughing I told her I’d be happy to look but would make no promises. I figured that other than the expense, the Boston airport might actually be the best place to look for something along those lines as they were presumably looking to sell souvenirs to people that were passing through. I walked through three or four shops in the Boston airport on my way to baggage claim, and in each I was greeted with a huge smile and outright laughter when I asked about them.

Giving up on the salt and pepper shakers for now, I got my bag and rental car, and headed north on I93 to the Rockingham Mall in New Hampshire. I figured I could look for them there and also continue looking for some shoes that would go well with my brown outfits. I have been looking for weeks, maybe even months, for brown Mary Janes with three inch heels and a rounded toe, and simply can not find them anywhere. It’s summer and so all of the shoe stores have gone to primarily sandals. Since I have scarred and discolored legs, I don’t care to go with out nylons, and most sandals that can be worn with nylons are not comfortable for a lot of walking. I’m sure the cute and flat sandals that most women wear with bare feet are most comfortable but I just don’t consider them an option for me. If you think I’m exaggerating about how hard a cute Mary Jane shoe like I just described is to find, give it a try. I made the rounds in the Rockingham Mall, going through the department stores and then making my way through the independent shoe stores. I was standing in one and looking through the shoes when I over heard the sales girl talking to another customer and it took me a second to realize that she was almost certainly a TG herself. She was very young and quite beautiful, but every once in a while I’d catch a hint here and there in her voice.
When she finished with her customer she approached me. She was very helpful and did her best to help me find something that I would like, but in the end there was no way to get around the fact that I was looking for something that was currently out of season / style.

I did of course find salt and pepper shakers in the mall, but nothing that was clearly from the Boston or even New Hampshire area. All were fairly generic and most were made in China, and so had no real value as something to send to my sister to represent Boston.

Just as I was leaving the mall, I recalled that there was a Off Broadway shoe store less than a block away and so I decided to go give that a shot. As I entered the store, I was greeted by what I at first glance took as a little girl. It took my mind a second or two to realize that she was not a girl, but was a dwarf. (I have no idea if that is considered a PC term or not?)  She gave me a friendly greeting and encouraged me to ask her if I needed any help.
“Well thanks! I’d like one pair of everything you have in size 10. Can you have it all boxed up and carried out to my car for me?” I told her with a wink. She gave me a real odd look for just a second and then laughed as it struck her that I was kidding. I browsed their sales racks, didn’t find what I wanted, and then started to browse the store. Suddenly, there on the shelf in front of me was exactly what I wanted, and what I had searched through 7 or 8 states, over as many weeks looking for – the perfect Brown Mary Jane, with 3.5 inch heels and a rounded toe. With the sounds of a heavenly choir starting to rise and fill my ears, I picked it up and examined it in awe.

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This was exactly what I had searched for. It had a very retro look to it, with stitching and accents, and I knew that they would look fabulous with my brown outfits, and so imagine my shock when I see that they are also affordable at around $50 on sale! Heart racing, I searched through the boxes under the display for my size. I look, and I look, and I look . . . and there are none . . . they did not have my size . . .
Apparently drawn by the sound of the heavenly choir that I had thought only I had heard, I discovered that the sales associate was standing beside me.
“Did you find what you were looking for?” She asked.
“Well sort of.” I told her, probably looking like someone had just shot my dog. “These are awesome and exactly what I wanted but you don’t have them in my size.”
“No problem! Let’s just go see if any of our other stores do have it for ya’!” she replied, grabbing the box and heading to the counter with them. She starts typing away on her PC and shortly looks up at me.
“Our database shows that our store by the Manchester mall has two size 10’s in brown! Hold on a sec and I’ll call and have them check just to be sure.”
As I wait, I hear her side of the conversation.
“Yeah the maker is Mudd, the name is Sade. Sure I’ll wait. . “
“No, she wants brown. . . .”
“None? Really?! Are you sure because the database says . . .”
“OK, thanks!”
Then she looks up at me.
“I’m sorry but she said they don’t have any at all, and they were the only store that the database showed with them. Here, why don’t you give me your name and phone number and I’ll call you if I find any?”
“OK, cool, I’d appreciate it. Thank you so much for trying for me!”
Dejected and bummed at having come so close to getting what I wanted, I headed to the car and for my hotel where I called it a night.
Wednesday and Thursday were tied up with my training class, and then having dinner with the other guys that were attending, and so I had no free time for myself. Still, both nights when I got back to my room, I devoted quite a lot of effort to finding a place to buy the “Sade” by Mudd Mary Janes in Brown on the internet. Would you believe that I failed?! I found the shoe in black in my size, but not brown. I did find the brown, but not in my size. It was most frustrating!

I had arranged to spend an extra day there to see part of the manufacturing and setup process for a major component of the machine that I work on the most, so imagine my joy when the training goes so well that we had enough free time on Wednesday and Thursday to get it done. That left me with the entire day Friday to myself! I managed to sleep in until about 8AM and then leisurely got my act together, put my face on, and got ready to head out the door. I was just putting my cell phone in to my purse when it rang in my hand, startling me so badly that I almost dropped it. Just my luck – it’s my manager telling me that I am responsible for our 24/7 after hours tech support phone line until next week. Oh goody. . .   So there I was, all ready to go have a fun morning shopping, and instead I got stuck on the phone taking care of customers until almost noon. Still, the customers and the job are what makes my lifestyle possible. . .

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I started by plotting out the Off Broadway shoe stores in the area and getting their addresses, and soon I was off. The first one I checked did not have the shoes I had so admired and so I headed a couple of miles further down the street to the Burlington Mall. I found a few brown shoes there that were kind of cute, but nothing I loved. Toward the end of my tour of the mall, I was going through Macy’s when an older sales associate offers to help.
”Did you want any help dear?” She asked. I looked in her eyes and sort of had the thought that she was offering to help because it was her job, and not because she had any real desire, but still I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
“Well, in a perfect world, I would like shoes just like those I’m wearing, but in brown.”
“Hmmm . . . I don’t know. For the most part it’s sandals and pastels this time of year, but let’s take a look!”  We walked through the shoe department and she showed me a pair of brown pumps.
“Nope. I like them, but can’t wear pumps. If I get them big enough for my toes, my heal slides out of them. If I get them tight enough to keep them on my heel, my toes hurt.”
“Yes, a lot of women have that problem.” She said. “Well, hold on and give me a second to see what I can find in the back, OK?”
“Sure, and thank you!” I told her and took a seat, where I waited, and waited, and waited. I was just considering leaving when she walked out with three boxes. The first pair was a pair of pumps with 4 inch stiletto heels – I turned them down. The next pair was a brown pair of mary janes, but with a 1 inch heel and just screamed “old lady shoes” – I turned them down. The last was a pair that I liked and made by Tahari – a brand that I like. The catch is, they were 9.5 and I usually wear 10’s. Much to my surprise they fit pretty well, although they are a little snug across the top, they are really VERY comfortable! I didn’t like the look of these as much as I liked the ones at Off Broadway, but I did like them, and decided to settle on them because it looked like I wasn’t going to find anything I liked better.

Boston 2010 05 11 059

I checked the time as I left the mall and realized that I still had at least three hours until Sally expected to be off of work and so I decided to head north to the Mall of Manchester, or more accurately, to the Off Broadway shoe store near the Mall of Manchester. That was the store that their data base claimed actually had the shoe that I wanted, even though their sales associate had said she couldn’t find them. I thought that there was always the chance that she had over looked them, or even that she might have actually been too lazy to look. When I entered the store I headed directly to the sales rack, because let’s face it, what’s the point of looking at the full priced shoes if you find something you like on the sale rack? Almost immediately I spot the very shoe I was looking for and it’s in my size! The sales associate hadn’t found them the other night because they weren’t on the floor, they were on the sales rack! So after searching across a dozen states, and two months, I had finally found what I considered to be the perfect brown shoe AND they were on sale for only $28! Most pleased with my self and walking on a cloud, I headed back to my hotel to get a shower and get ready to meet with Sally for the night.

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I was just about finished getting ready when Sally arrived at my room. After we greeted each other, she began to get ready and was looking through her jewelry.
“Do you wear clip on ear rings or pierced ears? I’ve got clip ons that I don’t wear anymore.” She asked.
“Pierced, but thanks.” I told her, but then an idea struck me. “I wear pierced, but my little girl wants clip ons for dress up. Got anything a six year old princess might like?”
Sally looked through them and came up with a pair with lots of short strings of clear and blue little diamonds hanging from the central post.
“She would love those! What do ya’ want for ‘em?” I asked. Sally gave my mock dirty look for asking.
“Nothing! I would just like to give them to someone who would enjoy them.”
Well Sally, you did good, because my daughter actually squealed when I handed them to her after I got home.

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Sally and I had decided to go to “Club 313” up in Manchester for karaoke instead of hanging out with the Sisters of Boston. Most of the sisters are younger, bolder, and fitter than I am, and so they usually end the night in a dance club somewhere in Boston. Since I have a phobia against dancing and don’t really care for the techno dance music that is oh-so-popular in dance clubs these days, I jumped at the chance to go do karaoke with Sally instead. On the way out of my hotel we had to walk by the hotels Grand Piano and there was no way in hell I was going to pass up the chance to get a picture of us sitting at it. 

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Club 313 was a very cool place with a great mixture of open minded people of all ages. I’d say that the vast majority were half my age, but they were very friendly and were more than eager to chat. We had hotties in adorable outfits, goth folks, and people that painted their faces apparently just for the hell of it. Let’s just say that Sally and I were far from being the most unique people there! There were also quite a few other TG’s there, with at least half of them being performers in a drag show they were putting on. I’ve never cared for drag shows and so didn’t go to the other room to see it, but I did poke my head in once or twice to admire the people in the crowd.

Sally introduced me to Kat and to Morticia. Kat was in boy mode and so no pictures of her. She was very shy and quiet most of the night, and Morticia was . . . not . . .
Morticia is quite confident and bold – not a shy bone in her body.

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Unlike most clubs I go to, this one has specifically requested that TG’s use the mens room, and so I felt a little odd walking past a guy at the urinal on my way to the stall. He looked up at me and grinned as I entered so I decided to be a smart aleck.
“It’s a F*&#*d up world we live in, aint it?” I told him with a laugh as I walked by. Of course this broke the unwritten rule of male bathroom etiquette – “Thou shalt not speak to strangers in the mens room” but he laughed so it’s all good.

I sang two songs by myself, one I did fairly well and the other I hosed badly. At one point I was sitting with my back to the stage looking through the karaoke books when I realized that not only was a woman singing, but she was doing a pretty good job of it. When I turned to look I was surprised to see none other than our very own Sally on the stage! I have no idea how she managed to sing and sound female because I sure as hell can’t do it. Later, as we sat there talking, she threatened to put us both in for singing “If I had a Million Dollars” together. It was all very fun and amusing until she actually did it and we were called up. At first I was scared to death, but I’ll be damned if we didn’t do a half way credible job of it! Don’t get me wrong, no one would offer us a singing gig based on that performance, but no one was throwing rotten fruit at us either. As we were laughing and stepping off of the stage a young lady approached us.
“You two were awesome! My friend was in a funk and depressed until you two started singing that song. Thanks!”
I had a really great time!

Oh! On the way home, I DID find salt and pepper shakers for my sister!

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Some miscellaneous pics from club 313:
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Odds and Ends

OK, I have no idea why, but for some reason it has amused me in the last few years to come off sounding just as red neck as I can get. Considering that I'm from Southern California, I suppose it's a bit odd. Well, the other day I ran into a little side effect of my affectation. My five year old daughter and I were talking.
"Daddy, that aint right!" She says
"Sweetheart, 'Aint' really isn't a good word to use." I felt like a hypocrite considering how often I say it, but still it is one of my jobs as a Daddy to teach her. So she looks up at me with those bright blue eyes.
"Oh! Is 'that is not right' any gooder Daddy?" You have no idea how many times my wife has told me to stop saying "gooder" but I just HAD to keep doing it . . .
I've had so many people tell me that I should write a book, that I think I've actually decided to give it a go. My thoughts so far are to more or less tell my life story (such as it is) and then move on to tell my travel tales. I figure once I complete the whole 'life story' part, I can just about cut and paste all of my blogs for the part that focuses on the traveling.
You know, as stupid as this might sound, I hadn't realized just how screwed up some parts of my life were until I started writing. Hell, I think I'm depressing my damn self!
So what do you think? Would enough people actually buy the book to make it worth doing if I were to write it? Any publishers out there? LOL
Next week I'm off to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD for Mon - Thu. This is the same customer I worked with a few years ago where I got the chance to go to the Smithsonian . . . and got my car towed . . . Yeah, if I do get to go to the Smithsonian again, I will make sure I don't get my car towed again. That would be much gooder . . .

Friday, May 7, 2010

Renee to the Rescue!

Detroit 2010 05 009

And I’m off to Detroit yet again. I’m spending so much time there these days that I am scared my company will try and force me to move there. Given the condition that my house is in, to include the defunct but not yet fully demolished swimming pool, I see no way in hell I could sell my house, so the whole thought scares the hell outta me. With all due respect to those who live there, I also just can’t see raising my children in Detroit . . .

As usual, I was up at 2:45AM to get ready and out the door. Not much point to dwelling on that as I’ve already beat that horse to death on prior blogs. I suppose the one good point about it is that here isn’t much chance my neighbors are gonna be out and about at 4:30AM when I’m getting in to the car.

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I had a good laugh as I put my wig on and faced the mirror. My hair looked like Albert Einstein had inspired it, with most of it pointing straight out from my head like a porcupine. Believe it or not, that’s kind of a good thing as I want it to have that full bodied look when I was done with it. Still, it took me a good five or ten minutes to get it looking reasonable and then I was off for the airport!

Checking in with US Airways this morning, the young lady behind the counter checked my bags in, then handed me my claim checks. She started to give me her standard speech for customers.
“Your leaving out of gate 20. You can go through security there . . . “ she says, while pointing at the security line, but then she pauses. “You know what? I think you know the way.” she finishes with a grin. That gave me a pretty good laugh.
“Yes ma’am – been there and done that!” I told her with a wave as I grabbed my things and headed off for security.

The TSA inspector that checked my ID and tickets passed me through and then left his post to step over to another TSA inspector who was watching the people in line for the X-ray machines. He walked up to this other guy, stood in close, and whispered in his ear. I see the guy he is talking to take a good look at me and then I hear him say “Yeah, I know,” in a bored tone, clearly unexcited and unimpressed with the entire deal. I’m not sure if they were yapping about me or not, and given that I was in a bit of a foul mood that morning, I really didn’t care. Wouldn’t you think that I would be old news to these guys by now?

I was wearing a relatively new pair of shoes with a mostly black and red plaid pattern and through out the day I received at least seven compliments on them. I still have to wonder of women actually go out of their way to compliment each others shoes, of if women just go out of their way to compliment a cross dressers shoes. As I was waiting in line to hand the gate agent my ticket, a gentleman about my own age, maybe a little older, looked at my shoes and then started talking to me.
“You know those are great shoes!” he says with a smile, and then he continues after a small pause. “It’s too bad that guys can’t wear them. . . well, at least not outside of Hollywood anyway.”  I just laughed and thanked him, but on the way down the jet bridge I thought of at least three cute replies I should have given him. Oh well . . .
Still thinking of the things I could have said, and how he might have reacted, I boarded the plane and was walking past the flight attendant when she startled me by grabbing my arm.
“Honey, I’ve got to tell you that those shoes are gorgeous!” she said, with just a hint of awe in her voice that made it clear I was in the presence of someone that appreciates cute shoes.
“Thank you! They are pretty adorable aren’t they?!” I replied and gave her a wink. With a lot of people stopped and waiting behind me though, that was were the conversation ended.

A couple of hours later my flight landed in Charlotte where I was to catch my connecting flight on to Detroit. I had a couple of hours to kill so I decided to grab a lunch at the Burger King right across from my gate. I HATE eating salads, but I try to force myself to do it every once in a while because they are good for you and good for your figure, so that’s what I tried to order.
“I’m sorry but we don’t have any salads right now.” The young man behind the counter told me. Then he leaned a bit closer to me and spoke softly. “But they do have salads right next door.”  I thanked him for the tip, went to the shop next door and got myself a chicken salad, and had just sat down to eat it when a older gentleman mopping the floor stops to speak to me.
“Those shoes are very nice, I had no idea they came in that style.” He told me.
“Thank you!” I replied with a grin. “Aren’t they great? And they do seem to be kind of popular today!”
“Well, they are very pretty.” He said with a genuine smile and then returned to his work.

I got another smile when I discovered that Avis had my car waiting for me right where the bus drops you off. It’s kind of cute that they have apparently decided to treat me as a VIP. I wonder if it is because I’m “the cross dresser” of if it’s because I rent one or two cars a week from Avis? All I know is that none of the other Avis facilities go to that kind of effort for me. I was a little disappointed to see that the friendly lady I often chat with at the exit gate wasn’t working, but even though I didn’t recognize the guy that was there, he clearly recognized me.
“I know you’re here a lot, so I’m not even gonna axe you if you need directions.” He said with a smile as he handed me my contract and opened the gate.

When I arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel, the beautiful woman behind the counter looked up at me with a huge smile.
“Well hello and welcome back!” she said.
“Thank you. This is sort of my home away from home these days isn’t it?” I told her with a laugh. “And if not this hotel, then I am in one of your hotels somewhere else in the country every week!”
Once in my room, I started to unpack my things and get them hung up so that they would not be terribly wrinkled when I wanted to wear them. I always do this first, in part to be very sure that I have all of the male clothing that I will need for the following work day. If I forgot something critical, like oh, say, male shoes, I wanna know while I’m still presentable and dressed to go get some. Well, it turns out that I have all of the clothing that I needed, but I forgot the power supply to my laptop at home. Normally this would be just an inconvenience and would have only resulted in my not being able to surf the web in the evening, but this time my laptop is critical to the service call I’m on. My customers complaint is that the data acquisition intervals of our Mass Spec have become erratic. I’m certain that the problem is with their PC or network, but I will need to run it with my laptop to prove it. Now the problem is that my laptop runs at a lower performance when operating on battery power so I really needed to have it plugged in. The one and only time I’ve ever forgotten it, and I absolutely need it. Go figure . . .
I was going meet with Renee for dinner again and so when she picked me up I asked her if she knew of a place to get a power supply. She told me that there was a Comp USA not far from where we were going to eat dinner and so we headed there first and were dismayed to find that it had apparently gone out of business some time ago and was empty and closed up tight. Not to worry though because she also knew where to find a Best Buy and so we hit the freeway again. I didn’t notice any grins or looks as the two of us entered and shopped the store. After a moment of looking around on our own, a customer service rep offered to help, and took us directly to the only model they had that would work with my laptop. I wanted to scream in frustration when I saw the price tag of $100 but I really didn’t have any choice. That’s a lot of money to spend because I did something stupid, but it wouldn’t be as bad as being unable to do the job my company had already spent over $1000 getting me to Detroit for, so I bought the damned thing.

Detroit 2010 05 017

Now with the power supply purchased and my ability to do my job the following day assured, we headed of to PF Chang’s for dinner. During our drive from the store to the restaurant, I had bragged to Renee about all of the comments I had received that day on my shoes, and so we both had a laugh when the first thing our waitress did was to tell me how cute they were. She was a cute young lady, not exactly a beauty queen (pardon the pun) but pretty, and with a happy and kind of bubbly personality that made her very comfortable to talk to. The three of us chatted a little off and on, and when I threatened to steal her ear rings, that set off a whole conversation between her and Renee about shopping in the area. All in all it was a very pleasant evening with Renee’s good company, but I had started my day off very early in the day and so we called it a night fairly early.

The following day I headed off for my customer to earn my paycheck, and in less than five minutes of getting in front of their system and computer, I had proven that the problem was on their end. Our instrument communicates with the computer by using he LAN connection – the same cable that you use to connect to your company network or your cable modem at home. Instead of using the computers on-board network adapter, they were using a USB to Network converter and I knew the instant I saw it that it was going to be the source of our delay in communication. The lady that was escorting me was their company’s expert on our infrared mass specs, and she had been asked to work with me because of her knowledge, but she was not the owner and user of the instrument. I’ve spoken to her many times and every single time I’ve been deeply impressed with her knowledge and with her ability to intelligently trouble shoot a problem.
As soon as I saw the adapter I grinned and pointed it out to her.
“I’ll bet you lunch right now that this thing is your problem.” I told her.
“I told them over and over that I thought that USB adapter was the problem but they refused to listen to me! What do I know though, I’m just a stupid woman!” she said, just dripping sarcasm. Still laughing, I unplugged the PC from their onboard network adapter and plugged our instrument directly in to it and configured it to speak to our instrument instead of their network. As soon as I brought our software up and running, it was very quickly evident that the problem had been solved and our instrument was happily logging data at it’s specified speed. It just struck her that they had just paid over $2,000 to get me there when it had only taken 5 minutes to resolve and all I’d had to do was swap two cables on their computer. She shook her head and then buried it in her hands.
“I’ll bet they’re gonna wish they had listened to the ‘dumb girl’ now, aren’t they?” I told her with a grin. I sometimes worry about being to flippant with a customer and so I was gratified when she busted out in honest laughter and patted me on the back.
“Well, since we paid for your four hour minimum I’m not letting you get away that easy! Let’s go take a look at all of the other instruments and make sure that there are no other issues.” She said, and so we did. Seven hours later we had located and evaluated all of their instruments and had even found one that did need some work. She laughed as she told me she was glad we had found something wrong because that meant they hadn’t wasted their money in bringing me out.

By happy coincidence, this was not only Wednesday, but it was the ‘every other’ Wednesday that GiGi’s has a primarily TG night, and so Renee and I decided we would go be sociable! I decided to wear my long hair tonight and so I removed it from my bag and started trying to make it presentable. I got it looking more or less the way I liked and started looking for my hair spray. . . and looking . . . and looking . . .
“DAMN IT!” I yelled to no one in particular. I had forgotten my dog gone hair spray too! I must have had my head well and truly up my backside when I left my home. Horribly embarrassed, I called Renee.
“Umm, have you, uh, left your house yet?”
“No, I was just heading out the door though”
“I can ask you for another favor?”
After a slight pause she replied “Sure?”
“If you have any, would you bring some hair spray? Apparently I forgot that too!”
“Sure I will.” She replied as soon as she stopped laughing. At this point Renee must be absolutely convinced that I’m a complete idiot. Soon enough, Renee arrived with hairspray, which I took from her while blushing heavily in embarrassment. Hair suitably primped, teased, and hair sprayed, once again all was well with the world.

Detroit 2010 05 018

Detroit 2010 05 024

Detroit 2010 05 025

Detroit 2010 05 030

I had been to GiGi’s several times in the past, but always on a Monday or some other day where they weren’t very busy and I had been the only TG there. In other words, it had bored the hell outta me. Tonight though, there were about 10 of us there, and many of them were participating in a lip syncing show. Every one of them turned out to be quite friendly and the vast majority made it a point to come by and introduce themselves at one point or another. I am not a real big fan of lip syncing, but most of the songs were good ones that I liked, and so I did enjoy the music.
A couple of the ladies were absolutely gorgeous. One of the them, I later found out her name was Jessica, was tall and skinny and she went out of her way to come spend time talking with us.

Detroit 2010 05 040

“God I wish I were as skinny as you are.” I told her with a sigh.
“Why? I’m not that skinny!” She replied.
“The hell you aren’t! Your one of those girls the rest of us all hate! You know – the skinny bitch!” I told her and we all laughed.
“Well if you hate me now, just wait until you see my next outfit!”  and sure enough, her next outfit was a real stunner . . .

Detroit 2010 05 079

About mid way through our evening a guy came and sat down next to me. As I am talking to Renee, I can see the guy staring at my legs over and over and he is just starting to make me uncomfortable when he finally speaks.
“Hi. I just have to say that you look awesome – very pretty.” He says.
“Thank you very much! I was kind of trying for the pretty thing.” I told him with a smile and then turned to resume my conversation with Renee when I feel his hand on my arm. I turned to face him again.
“So why aren’t you getting up there?” he asks while pointing at the stage.
“Oh no, I don’t lip sync.” I told him with a laugh and then turned again to face Renee, and again he puts his hand on my arm to turn me back toward him.
“Why not? Are you shy or something or will your boyfriend be jealous?” he pressed.
“I don’t have a boyfriend – I’m married.”
“Where is your husband?”
“I don’t have a husband, I have a wife.”
At this point he stopped talking so I once again turned to resume my conversation with Renee, and I’ll be damned if this guy doesn’t reach out and pull on my arm to turn me around again.
“So, does your wife not like it when you sing or something?”
This is the third time he interrupted our conversation, and the third time he has tugged on my arm, so I am pretty much done with being nice.
“My wife couldn’t care less if I sing. Why don’t YOU get up there?” I asked with out even a hint of humor. This time when I turned around he left me alone.

When the evening was gone, and I was back in my hotel, I sat there for a good ten minutes staring at my things and trying to decide if I was going to fly home pretty the next day or not. Ultimately I decided to go drab since I couldn’t dredge up the slightest bit of enthusiasm for getting up early enough to fly pretty.

Here are a few odds and ends from the evening:

Detroit 2010 05 062 Detroit 2010 05 068 Detroit 2010 05 073 Detroit 2010 05 033 Detroit 2010 05 039 Detroit 2010 05 043 Detroit 2010 05 051 Detroit 2010 05 056

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Detroit Yet Again

Off to Detroit again, and as always I am very pleased to be busy for my company. For me “Busy” = “Job Security”, and with a family to take care of, job security is right at the very top of my priority list.

I was quite impressed by the sun rise, and the way the sun was being occulted by the clouds, so I took a pic or two
Detroit 2009 05 05 004 As is usual these days, I left the house far earlier than really required for catching my flight, but that’s the way it’s gotta be if I’m gonna travel “pretty” and not get busted by my five year old. Gotta be ready and outta the house before that little critter starts to stir.
More or less I have about four hours until my flight leaves, and the drive is only 45 minutes, so I chose to stop someplace reasonably pretty and take some pics!
Detroit 2009 05 05 009

Detroit 2009 05 05 010

Detroit 2009 05 05 013
As I was getting ready to end my little photo shoot I was struck with the idea that I really should do a “redneck Country Girl” picture, so I dropped the tail gate and flopped my big butt up on to it. If I were wearing jeans and had a cooler of beer next to me, this would have been the perfect picture!
Detroit 2009 05 05 011
I guess they have all seen me so many times now, that the airline folks don’t even bat an eye these days when I check in. I’m not sure if I’m happy about that or not, because it was often somewhat amusing to see how people reacted when you threw this particular curve ball at ‘em.
The TSA guard took my ticket and ID (with the female picture) looked at it half a second, then handed it back while softly saying “Have a nice day Matthew”. I dunno, he seemed nice, and didn’t strike me as a jerk, I just thought it odd that he went out of the way to say my name.
There was a male flight attendant greeting the boarding passengers and as soon as he saw me his face just lit up. Given his mannerisms and the way he spoke, I suspect he was gay. Regardless, it clearly tickled him to see a TG boarding.
The guy that sat next to me on the flight to Charlotte where I was to get my connection didn’t have much of a problem with me. He spent half the flight crowding me, sticking his arm well over the arm rest and often touching my arm. He was a fairly tall man so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn’t doing it for the thrill.

Detroit 2009 05 05 018

Detroit 2009 05 05 026

The flight attendant on the next leg of my journey was a real sweetheart and a knock out to boot! As I was standing at the aircraft door waiting for the line to move up so I could enter the plane, I could see her standing in the galley area. She was maybe a little older than I am, had LONG blond hair, half of it falling down her back and the other half piled on top in what my wife would call “Fashionable Disarray”. As I was walking by her, I was thinking about how awesome her hair looked, and how I wish I could do that, when she actually reached out and touched my arm. “Honey, I LOVE your hair! That looks so cute.” She tells me.
“Hah! That’s so funny because that’s exactly what I was thinking about yours,” I told her. “And you have the advantage that yours is real!” I added with a wink. She got this odd look on her face.
“You mean yours isn’t? It looks fantastic!” she replied. That made my entire day right there! Several times on the flight, she would stop and give me a huge smile and talk for a just a second, and when the fight ended and I was leaving the plane, she stepped part way in front of me.
“Well thank you for the ride!” I told her.
“Thank YOU for being so nice!” she replied. I wasn’t sure how to take that and figured she was just trying to be nice herself and grabbed for the first thing that came to mind. As I was walking up the ramp and into the airport it occurred to me that I missed the perfect change to be a smart ass. I should have responded with something like “Yeah, normally I get pissed drunk, assault the flight attendants, and get hauled off of the plane in hand cuffs.” Damn shame I only think of these quick come backs when it’s too late. The next thing that struck me was that the magic shoes had not worked this time – not a single woman had gone out of her way to comment on them. Guess what? Only seconds later, while still walking up the ramp and trying to negotiate the obstacle course created by all of the passengers waiting for their carry on luggage to be brought to them, the magic shoes struck! The woman right behind me, also working her way slowly through the crowd, smiled and told me that my shoes were great. Phew! Thought they had lost their magic for a minute there!
I was gonna drop by the shop where I had spoken to the sale associate on my last trip through the Detroit airport, but I was in a different terminal and couldn’t get there with out exiting security. While the thought amused me, it wasn’t worth that kind of effort just to see her smile.
While I was waiting at the baggage carousel for my bag and tool box, I see a tall blond blonde girl in a VERY short white cotton dress also waiting. I checked her out because she was very pretty, and at first I thought she might be TG. She was a big girl. Not “fat” by any stretch of the imagination, but she was large. She was taller than I am, kind of thick around the middle, and had arms bigger than mine. The thought also crossed my mind that the dress she was wearing was WAY too short, and the only girls I’d seen wearing a dress that inappropriate in public were Tgirls. Ultimately I decided she was not transgendered, though I suppose I’ll never really know for sure. In the Detroit airport, once you grab your bags you have to get on an escalator that will take you up a couple of levels to a bridge that crosses over to where the rental car shuttle busses pick you up. As I’m standing on the escalator, I noted a woman in her 50’s standing a dozen steps up and facing away from e. In front of her was a young lady about 20 facing backwards and talking to her. It seemed pretty clear they were probably mother and daughter. They have caught my eye because the mother has leaned forward to whisper something to the girl. Trying to be discreet, the girl waits a moment after the exchange, and then very slowly I see her lift up on her tippy toes so that her eyes can just barely see over Mom’s shoulder, and she is looking straight at me. Sometimes this sort of thing bugs me and some times it amuses me. Today it tickled the hell out of me so I grinned from ear to eat for her. On the walk across the bridge she continued sneaking looks at me. Still irritated with myself for failing to say something some thing amusing to the flight attendant, I decided I was going to say something to this young woman if we crossed paths or ended up waiting for the same bus. I had decided I’d make it short and simple and just wink at her and say “Yes, I am.” with a smile, presumably answering her unspoken question “Is that a guy?!”
The joke was on me though, because by the time I got to the end of the bridge she was in an elevator with the door already closing. Damn! There went my chance to be a smart ass.
As is my usual ritual, the first thing I did when I arrived at the hotel was to unpack my luggage for enough to be sure that I have not forgotten some critical piece of male clothing. You know, like pants or shoes? Satisfied that I wouldn’t have to make any emergency shopping trips, I pulled out my laptop and external hard drive, and prepared to get some work done. Boy was I disappointed when I discovered that my 160GB external hard drive was dead. It has all of my family pictures, all of my Kim pictures, all of my manuals, and the source code for important programs I’d written for my company on it. Gone. All Gone . . .
Spent the rest of the evening researching the hard drive, found it was under warranty, found out that Western Digital will not do anything to help get my data back (no surprise – I suspected that already), and then found a Austin company that has been authorized by Western Digital to do data recovery. That’s gonna be somewhere between $200 to $700. OUCH!
The next day things went very well with my customer and I was done around 1PM. Since I had planned to go to dinner with a couple of local TGirls, I didn’t want to get ready so early that I’d look like hell by dinner, so I stayed drab. I had lots of time to kill though, so I dropped by the Casino where I put $20 in to the quarter video poker machine, bet three credits, and hit four of a kind! My very first hand I had turned my $20 in to $60 – I cashed out right then and there and returned to the hotel and got some exercise.

Detroit 2009 05 05 030

When the day started, I had tentative plans to meet with three other Tgirls. One got stuck out of town for her work, and the other canceled for her own reasons. Stephanie, another member of the Vanity Club, very graciously agreed to meet me. It was something of a drive and so I left very early and wound up getting there almost an hour early. As I saw the Italian restaurant next to the club we were to meet at, I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, so I stepped in. They didn’t bat an eye at me and treated me very well. A very tall gentleman, that I suspect was the owner, went out of his way to be sociable with me and we chatted a little until I finished my dinner and then I headed next door to “SoHo” where I was to meet Stephanie. I had just got a drink and seated when she walked in.
Detroit 2009 05 05 032
She looked awesome of course, but I had seen her pics and expected that. We talked about an hour and a half, long enough to share some bits and pieces of our lives, and for me to decide I like her!