Sunday, March 25, 2012

A shining example of feminine grace and beauty (NOT)

Grass Lake 2012 03 012
So after you get your baggage at the Detroit airport, you have to go up a series of escalators to get to a bridge that takes you to the area where the rental car shuttle buses pick up and drop off. This is nothing new to me, because I’ve made this walk about a million times, or so it seems anyway, but this time things didn’t work out quite right.
Now you have to sort of get this picture into your head before you can really “see” the event I’m about to describe. I have a HUGE suitcase because let’s face it, I gotta carry enough clothes, shoes, makeup, and stuff for two people for a week. I also have to take a large rolling toolbox with me that carries all of my tools and spare components in it. Then, just to top it all off, I also have a backpack with my laptop, notebooks, kindle, GPS, and a good 25 pounds of assorted stuff in it. So, there I am, pushing my tool box in front of me and pulling my huge suitcase behind me as I head up the fairly narrow escalator. When I got the end of the escalator, I pushed the tool box forward and stepped off of the escalator just as I always have.
Well, that was the plan anyway, but it didn’t quite work out that way. . .
At the end of the escalator I pushed the tool box forward and it went absolutely nowhere – it simply stopped at the end, trapping me behind it on the still moving escalator. Realizing that the escalator was moving me, and the people behind me, toward the now blocked exit, I reached out my foot and shoved the box as hard as I could . . . and still the damn thing wouldn’t budge. Now things are really getting exciting, because the box is blocking the narrow exit of the escalator, the escalator is still happily moving me and everyone behind me toward the blockage, I’m off balance because I’ve got one foot desperately trying to shove the tool box forward, and I just ran out of room. You know, I would have paid good money to have someone filming or taking pictures when I was left with no choice but to leap over the toolbox, while wearing a dress and four inch stiletto sandals! Once on the other side of the tool box and now looking down the escalator at all of the people that are about to run into my little road block, I grabbed it with both hands and yanked it as hard as I could. At last, the tool box came free and went sliding about ten feet across the floor, along with the backpack that had been sitting on top of it. With the tool box now out of the way, my suitcase was free to tip over, and so I reached out and snatched it out of the way just as the next person behind me got to the top of the escalator. Horribly embarrassed, I made my way from bag to bag, picking them up and apologizing to the folks behind me that had come within seconds of also having to jump over my baggage. The man that was behind me helped me grab my things and even offered to take one of the bags up the next escalator for me. The woman that was right behind him just gave me this horrible “You are SUCH a loser” look that it made me want to wilt and die on the spot.
When I got to the rental car lot and stepped off of the bus, I was making my way to the board where they display your name and the space where your car is located, when an Avis employee walked up to me.
“Your car is in space G11 ma’am” he told me with a smile
“Thank you!” I replied, and then turned to find the space when it struck me. He hadn’t asked for my name or anything, and yet knew which car was mine. Now despite the show I had put on at the escalator earlier, I am not an idiot, and so it doesn’t surprise me that he recognized the cross dresser that has done so much business there, but the fact that he remembered the name that went with the cross dresser was pretty impressive. I was still thinking of this when I handed my contract and drivers license to the female guard at the gate.
“Well look at you!” she said as she compared the two documents. “Looking all pretty and everything!”
“Awe, thanks!” I replied. And then things got a little weird as she continued to gush
“You are REALLY pretty, and wearing your pretty little dress and everything. You make me think of Rupaul – he is so gorgeous!”
“He IS pretty, isn’t he? Yeah, but I’m nowhere near being in his league!”
“Have you seen his show before? Rupaul’s Drag Race?” she asked.
“You know, believe it or not, I’ve never seen it!”
“Well you should check it out!” she said, and then continued to just stare at me without handing me my things back. “You just look so cute with your perfect hair and pretty dress!”
“Thank you . . . “ I told her again, trying to give her a smile, but starting to get distinctly uncomfortable. 

I wonder if she realizes that she ran a serious risk of offending me? Nothing against RuPaul, but your average TG out and about and living their life, isn’t necessarily going to like being compared to a self-proclaimed drag queen, even if we are talking about a world famous and pretty one.  Still, I like to take into account what someone’s intent is, and she was trying to be nice.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nuttin' Happened . . .

Manassas 2012 03 006
This was another one of those trips where it’s almost not worth writing the story up because nothing terribly interesting happened. I guess that’s a good thing, because it implies that I, and the people that I interact with, are so comfortable with the whole cross dressing thing that it’s nothing special. I suppose that I should be pleased!
Ahead of me in line at the airline counter was a young couple, apparently on their way to get married. He was asking about the cost to upgrade them to first class and then made the decision to go ahead and do it.
“Now I have to warn you, I can get you both into first class, but I don’t have any adjoining seats. Are you OK with that?” the customer service rep asked them.
“Sure, that will be OK” the young man told her, after glancing at his lady for confirmation.
“You can always ask the people next to you if they will move so that you can sit together. Very few people will tell you no. Oh, and I find that it helps a lot of you tell the person sitting next to you that you get violently ill with motion sickness. They just can’t wait to trade seats after you tell them that!”  That got a huge laugh from all of us within ear shot.
This time I was flying with US Airways, and much to my disappointment I discovered that I had gone from being “Gold Preferred” to “Silver Preferred”. What this means is that my odds of getting upgrades to first class on US Airways just plummeted AND I guess that they are supposed to charge me for my second bag.
“OK, so I see that you are silver preferred!” said the customer service rep with a smile as she checked me in.
“Silver? I thought I was Gold? Heck, I’ve even got this purty little card y’all sent me saying that I’m Gold” I replied while handing her the card.
“Yeah, they updated everyone’s status on March first, and it looks like you didn’t make Gold this time. Sorry. . .” she told me, managing to look honestly unhappy about it.
“Oh well, bummer! No worries though.”
“I guess I’m supposed to charge you for the second bag, but I think we’ll just overlook that – what do you think?” she said with a grin.
“I think that sounds awesome – thank you!”

So tickets in hand I headed over to a bench before the security check point to pull my laptop out of it’s bag and to take of my jewelry, and out of the corner of my eye I can see that someone is walking directly toward me. I glanced up and found a very pretty woman with gorgeous hair down to her waist looking straight at me, and so I stopped to wait for her.
“You know, I just had to tell you how much I love that coat!” she told me, pointing at my pretty blue coat.
“Awe, thank you! It is kind of pretty isn’t it? I think I got it at JC Pennys a while back.” I replied with a huge smile. Let’s face it, I love getting compliments from women – there is something most gratifying and affirming about it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

We're gonna share 'em!

So my wife, our two youngest children, and I all went shopping in a Goodwill yesterday. On the way to the check out counter my 8 year old daughter and I stopped to look at the ear ring racks. She and I both liked a couple of pair that were pretty, and so I looked at her and said "All right, tell ya what - I'll get 'em and we can share 'em OK?"
"OK Daddy!"
So we get to the check out counter and the girl behind the counter says "Wow - those are pretty!" when she was ringing them up.
"Yeah, my daddy and I are gonna share 'em!" my daughter proudly proclaimed to the woman and more than loud enough for everyone in line behind us to hear.
Oops . . .

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Orange County Choppers

Albany 2012 02 26 008  
So I had just gone through the TSA check point and am sitting down putting my shoes and sparklies back on when I notice a beautiful woman going through the check point wearing absolutely killer heels. They were about four inches tall and tan with red accents. Given the fact that she was exceptionally attractive, well dressed, and wearing awesome shoes, she was getting quite a bit of attention and I could hear one of the female TSA agents telling her how much she liked the shoes and then they had a short conversation about them. As soon as the woman moved off, the guy that was in line behind her started talking to the same TSA agent.
“Those were some serious shoes weren’t they? I wish I could wear shoes like that!” he said with a laugh and a theatrical exaggeration. Considering that I was putting my own high heels on as they were laughing at his joke, I almost choked. If I had been close enough that I wouldn’t have had to yell, I’m pretty sure that I would have gone ahead and told him that he could have worn shoes like that if he really wanted to . . .
A mother and her little girl (about four or five years old I would guess) came and sat down next to me to put their things away. The little girl was cute as a doll and I couldn’t help but grin as I noticed the large and elaborately jeweled Tierra that she was wearing.
“You know, I KNEW I was forgetting something this morning! I left my Tierra at home!” I told the two of them with a smile and a wink.
“I KNOW! And they go with everything!” the mother replied with a brilliant smile.

So as I was sitting on the plane to Albany, I was surprised when the young woman in the seat in front of me turns around to speak to me.
“Hey, I know you! You were on my last flight to Albany too!” she said with a grin.
“I thought you looked familiar!” I replied with a laugh. “You work in the medical field right?”
“Yes, and you are an engineer right?”
“You got it! So we both lucked out when it comes to upgrades to first class on this flight huh? Once you get used to flying first class, flying sardine class really sucks!”
“Yes. In fact if I remember right, you and I were both upgraded on that last flight and that was what we talking about.” She replied.
“You know I just don’t get it. I’m platinum on Delta and Gold with US Airways, and yet there are people that fly more often than I do?! What in the heck can they possibly do that has them on planes more often than I am?” I asked her.
“I know right?!” she answered.

I was working in Fishkill New York installing one of our Ozone generators. I guess most people don’t know about it, but sometimes they use high concentrations of Ozone in the fabrication process of semiconductors (computer chips). I am really starting to get kind of frustrated when installing these things because I keep having the same issue – customers insisting that they are ready to go and that they need us there ASAP to do the install, and then I arrive to find out that they were nowhere near ready. We send them checklists and everything in advance, telling them that they must do this and that before we arrive, they tell us that they have done it all, and then we arrive to find out that they lied and are not ready. In this case, Bret, one of my colleagues from New Hampshire, and I arrived to find out that they didn’t even have electricity to our system yet! Still, we did all that we could without power before reaching the point where there was nothing left that could be accomplished. At that point, we headed off for a nice long lunch, then did a little shopping for some minor expendables we knew we were going to need, and then we sat there looking at each other.
“Well, we could go see a movie, but sure as hell, just as soon as we paid for the tickets and sat down, we would get the call that the power was now on and we would have to bail out.” I told him.
“Yeah, I’m not all that big on movies anyway.” He replied, and then his face lit up. “Hey, have you ever watched that show ‘Orange County Choppers’ on the Discovery channel?”
“Sure. I love the bikes they make” I replied.
“Well their shop is only about twenty minutes from here. Ya wanna go check it out?”
“Hell yeah!”
And off we went . . .
As far as I can tell, it is pretty much a huge tourist trap. This immense store, and it is filled with T-shirts, caps, mugs, etc, etc and relatively speaking, very few bikes. Still, it was pretty cool to look at the bikes they had on display and to read the stories behind them. Oh, and I did get my wife and father in law T-shirts and a coffee mug. 






Somewhere in the next day or so, they did at last get power to our system, and we started testing all of its safety interlocks and then trying to operate it. I wont bore you with too many details, but the system basically works by running Oxygen through these special gas cells where a LOT of power is applied to cause electrical discharges – more or less creating lightning inside our system, which then converts some of the Oxygen into Ozone. That’s the plan anyway. The bad news is, that if your customer does something really silly, like, oh I don’t know, connecting the Oxygen line to your tool to an entirely different gas, very bad things can and will happen. In this case, they apparently filled the oxygen plumbing with Argon while they were working on it for safeties sake. Pure Oxygen is a very dangerous thing around welding or sparks and so I understand why they would do this. The thing is, when the work on the Oxygen line is complete, one would expect them to remove it from the Argon supply and actually connect it to Oxygen, but they hadn’t. . .

Kim at work 
It probably doesn’t sound like too big a deal, but it was. With the generator filled with Argon instead of Oxygen, this means that we were not creating lightning and ozone inside it, but were creating a plasma instead. As far as the power supplies and other electrical components in our system are concerned, a plasma is pretty much a direct short, and very bad things happen when you short out high voltage power supplies. Suffice it to say that they destroyed one of the two brand new Ozone generators and so I had the pleasure of spending the weekend so that I could wait for my colleague to hand carry the destroyed generator back to the factory to have it repaired and then bring it back the next week.
That night I went to the sports bar in the hotel for dinner and even though I was in boy mode, I bought a “girlie” drink called a “she-she” - and no, I swear that I didn’t make that up. So when the drink arrived I couldn’t help thinking “Damn but that thing is pretty – let’s take a photo of it!” As I was taking out my phone to snap a pic, I noticed a table with about half a dozen people sitting at it, and they are all looking at me! As I found my phone and start lining up the shot, a middle aged guy from their table gets up to make his way to me, and he starts to roar with laughter as he sees the camera. He stopped mid-way and turned back to his table.
“Look it that! That drink is so pretty he’s taking a picture of it!” The whole table busted out laughing and the man continued on his way to me as I snapped the photo.

“What IS that drink?” he asked, still laughing. So we went back and forth with my laughing with him and telling him all of the stuff that is in the drink. Here I thought that they were making fun of me, but this guy and one other from the table were just irritated that they had already ordered something else. Shortly after he returned to his table, a waiter came walking by me and winked while nodding his head toward the other table.
Those folks sure are enjoying your drink!”

I pretty much had a movie marathon that weekend. I saw them as Kimberly but not a thing really happened that was amusing or interesting and so I guess I’ll just tell ya what I thought of the movies.
Red Tails – This is a movie about the Tuskegee Airmen in WWII. The special effects and cinematography were absolutely incredible. It’s hard to believe that the footage wasn’t real – it was THAT realistic. The bad news though is that some of the dialogue and acting was a bit lacking. It was almost as if the primary goal of the movie was to educate people and not to entertain them, and that’s OK, just be prepared for it. Like at one point, the Red Tails had just saved the lives of dozens of bomber crews, and one of the bomber pilots says something lame like “Gee, those red tails just saved our butts. I sure hope that we get them next time!” It wouldn’t have been so bad if the guy hadn’t said it in a monotone as if reading from a cue card. In my opinion, the movie was worth seeing, I just wish they had devoted a little more effort to the story instead of expending it all on the effects.
"Chronicle" - Not a bad show. This movie was about some teenagers who end up with super hero type powers and the chaos that follows. I thought it was OK, but three guys walking down the ramp behind me were loudly stating that it was "the worst F'n movie they had ever seen". Yeah, it wasn’t the best movie I’d ever seen, but also wasn’t the worst.
"Safe House" - pretty good action flick and the time passed quickly. It’s about a veteran secret agent that goes rogue, and the efforts of a new agent to try and capture him. Cant say much more without giving away things, so I’ll just leave it at that and say that I enjoyed it and the time passed quickly.

"Ghost Rider" - I love Cage, but this movie sucked - I wouldn't even spend the money to rent the DVD if I were you. I liked the first show, but this sequel was pretty much lacking in every way. Major disappointment . . .

Albany 2012 02 26 023 
Albany 2012 02 26 010 

When it came time to fly home, I would have had to get up at 2AM to fly pretty, and even I’m not THAT crazy, so I flew home the boring old fashioned way. At the Austin airport while I was waiting for my bags, I was chatting with the woman standing next to me. She grabbed a bag that came around, then laughed that it wasn’t hers and put it back. When my rather large and over packed bag rolled around and I struggle to lift it off of the belt, I saw her giving me an amused look.
“Yeah, I know – I don’t exactly travel light!” I told her with a laugh.
“I see this! I’m guessing there is a woman involved in this trip?” she asked with a sparkle in her eyes.
“Yes, ma’am, you could say that!” I replied as I extended my bags handle and headed for the door while grinning like an idiot.