Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!


Wishing You A Happy New Year!


Do you have any resolutions for the new year?

Mine is to restore balance to my life.  Work less, travel more and visit friends.  I've been suffering some ill effects from working too hard and need to cut back on that.  Easier said than done, however.

How 'bout you?  What are your goals for 2015?

Saturday, December 27, 2014


When fellow-bloggers are nice to me, my heart melts.  You guys see the real me, so when you say you like me, it has infinite significance.

Several of you sent cute Christmas gifts.  I want to mention three.

The first friend is Jessica, whose blog Chronically Vintage is a must-read.  In addition to vintage-y tree ornaments, Jessica sent me the coolest book -- a photographic history of women motorcycle-riders.  I'm swallowing it up in big bites.  Here are some pics of the ornaments and book...



Next is Ashley, my friend in Minnesota.  You may remember I recently mentioned Ashley's new online stationery store Moonstone Paperie which carries products that Ashley designed herself.  Many have a beautiful image of a moose on them.  (I got a coffee mug and notepads with that image.)

For Christmas, in addition to some fab notecards with a motorcycle on them, Ashley sent me a metal moose silhouette that works as a chalkboard.  I tested that out by writing my name on it, as you can see...

Isn't that pretty!  I'm hanging it where I can see it every day and be reminded that I have a friend so sweet.

My last mention is Emma who not only sent me a big box of beauty products, she handwrote a lengthy guide to using them.  She encouraged me to have a "spa day" in my home and that's just what I'm gonna do.  Wheee!!

Friends make life better.  My friends give me confidence.  Thanks, everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Motorcycle Riding

There are two kinds of motorcycle riding.  One is casual.  Bikers cruise along at normal speed with little input or excitement.  That's not what I'm going to talk about.

The other kind of motorcycle riding is INTENSE.  We attack challenging roads at high speed.  It's more like racing than ordinary riding.  The best riders separate themselves from the pack and plunge into twisty curves with heightened concentration.  At this level, skill becomes critical in the real sense of that word.

What I like about this type of riding is you can't fake it.  You confront an endless series of tough situations and you either have the talent to handle them or you crash.  Your concentration instinctively focuses and you perform what's necessary... or you crash.  You can't fake performance.  You can't pretend to be a good rider.  You either have what it takes... or you crash.

When I was learning how to ride, I always hung out with the most talented riders.  My skills developed by reaching for the magic they possess.  Today, I went out with one such rider and we had a blast.  Four hours of high-speed riding (which felt like 12 hours) on incredibly difficult roads.  So challenging.  So exhausting.  So much fun.

On the way home, I grabbed some pictures of my shadow (below).

Is there anything you are passionate about?


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Prezzies

Did you get what you want for Christmas?  I hope so.

I'm not going to display stuff I got 'cause that'd be gauche.  Instead, I'm going to discuss three gifts I gave away to others 'cause they're cool.  You might want to consider buying them for yourself.

First up...

This album, which I found on vinyl, is fabulous.  It is Little Richard's first and best record.  Made in 1957, the music is startlingly fresh.  The songs are vibrant, complex and groundbreaking.  28 minutes of the birth of rock 'n roll -- back when that meant something.

If you don't know Little Richard, you're in for a treat.  He's the most exotic, bombastic performer in the history of rock music.  I first saw him on television in the Sixties -- he was dancing on top of a piano wearing a dress.  A dress!  I didn't know that was allowed.  Little Richard broke barriers.  Wearing makeup and women's clothes was one of them.  His personality was so extreme, though, that this wasn't what got the most attention.  He's a singular star in the music universe.

Second gift...

 An ID badge for Dexter Morgan, forensic technician specializing in blood-splatter.  If you watch the terrific show "Dexter," this needs no explanation.  If you don't, I can't describe its appeal.  You wouldn't expect to like a serial-killer but Dexter grabs your heart.

Third up...

Do you like music?  The Beatles?  "Across The Universe" is a great musical made exclusively from Beatles songs, woven together to form a loose story.  What makes the movie so wonderful are the performances.  Brilliant singing from real talents.  Joe Cocker does a song in it and, sadly, he died last week.  Bono and others appear.  The DVD was released a few years ago and makes for a fun night of watching TV.

What'd you get this year?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas!

My Office

I don't think I've ever shown you where I work.  I have an office that's comfortable and enables me to do what's necessary.  It's located in the center of Long Island, which allows me to travel everywhere on the Island as well as pop into NYC.

What is your work-space like?




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Outfit

Looking at holiday decorations, I was inspired to wear red and white, a lovely combination of colors.  I think this is a festive look.

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I understand men of my generation very well. I've lived with them, worked with them and socialized with them my entire life. They consider me one of them, even though I possess aspects they don't see. I won't claim to understand younger men because they were raised a little different and I have less interaction with them.

I was surprised reading an article last week that talks about men my age. The female author gets a lot right. She notes truths that women often don't understand about men. I part company with her, however, in her eager acceptance of traditional masculinity. She advocates servility, an attitude that shortchanges women. While some women do choose to pander to men, obsequious subservience makes me queasy. And it's unlikely to lead to a successful relationship.

Here are some of the author's observations:

She opens with this advice: "Men are wonderful but they aren't women. They don't think like women nor do they communicate like women. So don't expect a man to act like a woman or you're guaranteed to be disappointed."

Then, speaking of older men, she notes that they were raised to be very masculine and they feel most comfortable when women play to that. She advises women to "bring this trait out in them" as a way to placate men. (I'm not giving this advice, just repeating what she wrote.)

She says "men show you love with their actions," which may be true but sounds like an excuse for failing to communicate affection in ways women care about. I believe if you're in a relationship with someone, it's your duty to make them happy in ways that matter to them.

She observes that "men want to give to you," so she advises women to let men open the door and perform other courtesies. "It makes them happy to please you. All they want in return is to be appreciated and thanked." But, accurately, she adds that you'll piss men off if you criticize "the job a man is doing for you. He's doing his best and, yes, you may be able to do it better or faster than he can but don't. It makes him feel emasculated. If he has offered to do something for you, allow him to do it his way. Otherwise, the next time you ask for help, he'll tell you to hire a handyman."

This is the ugly flipside of sexism. I frequently see men get angry at women for pointing out deficiencies in their work. Men of my generation can't handle criticism from women because it gnaws at their world-view: they believe men and women are supposed to stay in their places, with men in control. Men might not openly express their anger but they fume when being challenged by women. They consider any criticism to be ungrateful challenge to their natural dominance.

The author tells women who want to be happy in relationships with older men not to place demands on them. She says men don't like demands from women and resent meeting them.

While this observation on male psychology may be true, I disagree that women shouldn't ask men to contribute equally to shared life. Tolerating inequality in a relationship isn't fair. Plus, it implicitly supports and perpetuates a social structure that hurts women.

The author concludes her article with the advice not to try to change a man because such effort is futile: "Either accept him for who he is or let him go and move on." This may or may not be good advice; I won't opine on it.

There is diversity among men so some don't conform to the traditional gender-role. It's useful, however, to discuss how most men act as a way to understand male minds. What's been your experience with men of my generation?

Monday, December 15, 2014

NYC Motorcycle Show

Every year, there's a motorcycle show in Manhattan at the huge Javits Convention Center. I go each year and have fun. I see lots of friends, check out new bikes and mingle with my people.

This year was no exception.  I went in on Saturday and enjoyed myself.  There were some bikes I'm considering buying and seeing them in person helped me make up my mind. I've decided to get the new BWM S1000R, a rocket-ship on wheels. That's me sitting on one above.  They come in red.

The best part this year was getting the chance to talk with Superbike champion-racer Josh Hayes who was signing posters at the Yamaha pavilion.  He was alone when I recognized him so I had the opportunity to tell him how much I respect what he does.  Motorcycle racing is amazingly intense work, operating on the razor's edge of danger.  You can sense Josh's incredible physical strength which is a job-requirement.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Corporate Ally

I opened a new door today and liked what I found.

Up to now, I've experimented with party-clothes, casualwear and fun stuff.  I haven't explored work-clothes -- the type of garments a woman wears to the office.  I decided to change that.

My strongest urge is to have female experiences.  Of every kind.  Even the dull and boring ones.  So I try to imagine what I'd wear to the office if I could dress as I wish.  A pencil-skirt would be nice.  And a crisp white blouse.  And, of course, a business-appropriate jacket.

So that's what I wore.  What do you think?




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beauty Problems

Unlike you, I'm relatively new to makeup and beauty products.  It's taken me time to advance from clownish to "not embarrassing."  But I'm still a far way from good.

I've hit a plateau and can't seem to move past it.  I need help understanding how to apply makeup.  I have problems figuring out what to do with my eyes.

Most gals line their eyes to add attractive definition.  And they enhance their lashes (e.g., with mascara) to draw further attention to innate femininity.

When I was young, I had beautifully long and lush eyelashes.  But as old women will tell you, age takes its toll on that.  Mine are reduced to sparse short ones now.  Even worse, you can barely see them because of a peculiar feature of my face -- due to genetics, my eyelids overhang and cover up the tops of my eyes.  (My mom looked the same.)  My long eyelashes used to poke out but now they're almost completely concealed by the lids.

The eyelids also completely obscure the top of my eyeline, so putting liner there disappears from view.  The only place I can put visible eyeliner is on the bottom.  Without any definition above it, that looks odd.

A while back, I asked a friend to try to help me.  She used liner and false eyelashes.  The result (shown above) is better than what I achieve on my own, but it was a lot of work.  I will move in this direction -- with good and bad results -- until I find a suitable way for painting my face.

Any suggestions?

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 Bloggy Award Winners!

The Bloggy Awards are designed to recognize superior achievement in blogging.  And to direct your attention to the best blogs out there.  It's a win-win.

Each year, the winners get a bigass trophy and cash.  Recognition is nicer when you can buy something with it.  :-)

Last week I hinted that we have two winners this year.  We do.  What I didn't say is that we're honoring one blog.  The two winners share the same blog, doing both individual and joint posts.  In fact, they're sisters!

Megan and Nora share the blog Two Birds.  They post creative and beautiful outfits with admirable frequency.  Their fashion-choices always put ideas in my head.  Plus, they're as attractive as professional models so you think you're looking at magazine photos.

Even better than that are their personalities.  Megan and Nora are sweet and generous.  Every day, they float around the blogosphere leaving comments of support and wisdom.  They were the most prolific, productive bloggers on my radar this year, certainly deserving of awards.

I had the good fortune to meet Megan and Nora in person during my visit to Minnesota in October.  They live in the fun, hip city of Minneapolis with their husbands, children and other three sisters.  Nora just announced she's moving with her husband and children to California which will be a big adjustment.  Let's wish her well on that major transition.

And let's congratulate both of these wonderful gals for a job well done!!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Playing With My Hair

With all the difficulties I face trying to squeeze a male body into female form, I have one advantage over you guys.  It's not innate, but I take solace where I can.  It's hair.

I wear wigs.  Wigs dramatically change your appearance.  They're easy to wear.  You pop one on and pull it off.  No complex application, like with makeup.

After trying dozens of wigs, I finally found three whose styles appeal to me.  The first one is short in length; the second and third are long.  All have slight waves.  Lately, you've been seeing my third wig which was a gift from a friend.  My second (worn for a year before the third) is about the same length but straighter with blond highlights.  It's been a while since I wore my first wig.  Recently I thought, why not bring it out of retirement and back into active duty?

I've always loved the first wig because the hair-style is attractive and easy.  It suits me.

Since wigs are simple to use, I'm going to start mixing 'em up.  Some outfits will have one; others another.  I hope that doesn't confuse you.  You're still seeing me and not my sister. 

(BTW, I don't have a sister.  I'm not as lucky as Megan & Nora who share the blog Two Birds.  It took me a while to be able to tell them apart; they're both so damn cute.)

In the pictures below, I'm aiming for a vision of femininity.  It's taken me a long time to be able to learn how to pose and stand gracefully.  While I may not be fully there yet, I'm moving toward my goal, don't you think?


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Analog v. Digital

Two decades ago, I read a smart book by a visionary who saw the future of modern society.  He was a technologist who understood where computers were going to lead us.  In retrospect, he was right.

The visionary was Nicholas Negroponte, a MIT professor.  He was the first investor in "Wired" magazine, and founder of MIT's Media Lab.  The book was called "Being Digital."

Nicholas predicted the replacement of analog objects with digital replicas.  Analog items like newspapers (which are words printed on paper that needed to be distributed physically at high costs for publication and transportation) died a painful death when cheaper means of accomplishing the same thing became available (through Internet distribution of the news).  Nicholas also predicted that instead of mass communication of a broad range of news, we'd be able in the future to narrow-cast our news-feed to just what we want to read. 

In the past two decades, we've all seen examples of this.  We used to get thick telephone books dropped on our doorsteps.  Now they don't even make telephone books any more: you look numbers up online.  The phone companies lobbied legislatures to eliminate the costly requirement of producing those books, arguing that nobody used them any more.

I'm surprised to see analog items that haven't been replaced yet.  Like postage stamps.  In the future, we'll look back  nostalgically at postage stamps.  Kids will wonder what they were.  We'll explain their purpose and beauty.  When they disappear and are replaced by bar-codes (the technology for which already exists), we'll mourn them.

This is why I cling to analog technology.  That and because analog products often work even better than their digital replacement.  Vinyl records provide a deeper, warmer sound than digital files which are deliberately degraded to reduce their storage size.

Not all "progress" is progress.  Replacing analog with digital is often done for commercial reasons: e.g., decreasing the cost of production or distribution.  The new product itself is inferior.  But its inferiority is acceptable enough to justify replacing the earlier, more expensive product.  That replacement benefits some (e.g., sellers) but not others (e.g., consumers).

Do you have any reflections on changes you've seen in recent history?

P.S., I bought the rotary phone pictured above in an antique store two years ago.  It's just like the one we used growing up.  The antique store seller laughed when he told me how amused he is to see kids come in and play with the phone, trying to figure out how to use it.  Practically none of them realize you need to stick your finger into a hole and twist the dial around in a circle.

Friday, December 5, 2014


Our perception is subjective. Science repeatedly confirms that fact.  We are animals, limited by our biological ability to perceive objective reality.

I want to mention two examples of this phenomenon because they surprise me.  Maybe you can relate to them.

My work is cerebral.  To perform it, my brain needs to be working.  My mind will do what's necessary for a period of time; then it will stop.  It gets overheated.  I rest my brain when it's exhausted.  The way I do that is to play solitaire on my office computer.

Solitaire is an old card game that comes loaded on most computers.  I can play it without thought and that relaxes me.  After a few hands, my mind is operating again and I can return to work.

I've had my office computer for about a decade.  During that time, I've played 27,405 games of solitaire on it.  27,405!  Holy cow!  I know this because my computer keeps track of my games and I'm the only person who's ever used this computer.  I find it hard to believe that I've spent so much time and effort playing this game.  If I guessed at the number of games I've played, I probably would have erred by a sizeable degree.  Like 90% wrong.  My subjective perception is way off-base.

The second illustration is my frequency of winning.  My mind says I win some, lose some, and there's no set percentage to that.  But I'm wrong.  After a year of playing, I noticed that my computer said I was winning 13% of the games.  I thought that was an odd coincidence.  The next year it said the percentage was still 13%.  And every year since then, I've won 13% of games.  Over 27,405 times.  But my mind does not recognize any pattern in my winning.  I still don't perceive any set percentage of success.  It seems random to me.

My computer is right; my brain is wrong.  That happens more often to us than we realize.

Do you play solitaire?  Do you ever experience what I'm talking about?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bloggy Awards Are Back!

For the past several years, I've given annual Bloggy Awards to the Best Blogs Of The Year.  This year will be no exception.  Trophies have been ordered and awards will be announced next week.

The point of the Bloggy Award is to reward exceptional effort and draw attention to our best blogs.  I consider that a noble cause.

There are two winners this year.  The winning bloggers wear great clothes, post with amazing frequency, share about their lives, write entertainingly, visit everyone else's blogs, leave wonderful comments and elevate the atmosphere in our blogosphere.  That's effort worth celebrating. 

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Personal Integrity

I believe everyone should be kind and honest. Yet I'm often confronted by people acting mean, dishonest and even cruel. I'm sure you see the same.

Why is this? What causes people to act badly? Is it our culture? Their upbringing? Sure, there will always be some who are psychologically damaged, but what about the others? Why do they choose to be dishonest or mean?

When I was a child, I learned that while deceit may sometimes get you a short-term advantage, it almost always backfires. People distrust you. You may even gain the reputation of being dishonorable. There doesn't seem to be any real advantage to acting wrong.

When faced with moral choices, I do the right thing, operating on the belief that doing good is the best choice. In situations when I can be kind, such as giving an old person a seat or letting another car into traffic, I'm courteous. That's my default.

Friends remark that I have exceptional character. I disagree. I have ordinary character. I do what everyone should do. I don't understand why it is extraordinary to act decently.

Why is it unusual these days to be a good person?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cool Stuff

I've met some of my closest friends through blogging. Ashley is one of them. Her palpable charm and fierce sense of humor draw me like a biker to a motorcycle rally.

Ashley lives in rustic Minnesota. I visited her last month for a Halloween Party. It takes hardy stock to withstand the cold Winter in Northern Minnesota. 

I writing about Ashley because she just started a new business -- and it's terrific! She sells beautiful holiday cards, stationery, mugs and candles. Their designs are striking and humorous. They reflect Ashley who exercised her artistry and photography.

Perusing the site, I couldn't help but buy lots of pretty stuff. Because I like the products. I'm sure you will too. Go visit!  Click here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

"Come Back To The 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean"

Let's continue talking about Obscure Art, this time an art-film. For a reason that will become clear, the film under discussion is one of my favorites.

In 1982, famous film-director Robert Altman was at a low point in his maverick career. He had just flopped with a big-budget musical starring Robin Williams as the cartoon character "Popeye." That film is awful; the rumor that everyone in the production was high on drugs when making it was obviously true.

Soon after, Altman had to sell his film company. He had practically no money to make new pictures. Out of desperation, he decided to turn stage-plays into films. With a ridiculously low budget (under $1 Million), he shot this movie on 16mm film-stock. (Feature films usually used more expensive 35mm.)  The movie is "Come Back To The 5 And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean."

Amazingly, despite Alman's lack of funds, he was able to attract several of the best female actors of the time. Cher (a pop musician who hadn't yet acquired a reputation for good acting); Karen Black (an odd-looking beauty who died last year); Sandy Dennis (one of our finest actresses who never got the recognition she deserved because of her ordinary looks); and an incredibly young Kathy Bates (in one of her first films).

A major difference between good art and bad is its capacity for nourishment.  You can see an art-film several times, enjoyably, and derive more with each viewing.  That's what "Jimmy Dean" does.  I've seen it multiple times and each time opens a new door.  I get deeper understanding with every viewing.

"Jimmy Dean" weaves its points like a well-designed tapestry.  Its subject is identity -- who we are and who we pretend to be.  It explores this subject several ways: first, visually by using a long mirror to reflect the characters; second, temporally by jumping back and forth between the past and present; and third, culturally by contrasting normal people with celebrities.

The entire movie takes place in one room -- a Woolworths store in rural Texas.  The present action is set in 1975 but the film frequently jumps back to 1955.  The occasion is the 20th year reunion (in 1975) of a bevy of gals who, in 1955, belonged to a small social club that called itself "The Disciples of James Dean."  (Dean was a popular actor in the 1950's who died tragically young in a car-crash.)

As the women reunite, surprises emerge.  Truths about lies they tell are revealed; deep secrets are uncovered.  Who the women actually are surfaces and contradicts the misleading identities they present to each other.

I'll mention one of the surprises.  Halfway through the movie, a mysterious beautiful woman arrives in town in a fancy yellow sports car.  The others wonder who she is.  They can't identify her.  The woman says things that prove she was there in 1955; she knows who did what back then.  This perplexes the others even more.

The woman is portrayed by Karen Black.  Eventually it is revealed that Black's character is Joe, the only boy who belonged to the group.  Twenty years earlier, after being cruelly beaten up, Joe left town.  Seven years after that, he had a sex-change operation.  Although the women finally recognize him, none of them can believe his radical transformation.  Joe has changed his identity -- an illustration of the movie's theme.

Thirty years ago, movies about transsexualism were not common, so this one appeals to me for obvious reason.  But the film goes beyond Joe's change in identity and examines the identities of the other women as well.

This film is truly obscure and, until recently, was not even available on DVD.  When finally released on DVD, I snapped it up and re-watched it twice.  The film stands up to the test of time.  It is good art.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Schoolgirl Ally

I wasn't a schoolgirl growing up, but I desperately wished I were.  I envied the girls who got to wear pretty skirts and clothes.  I wanted to join them as they huddled and giggled.

My childhood has passed, but the opportunity to wear a schoolgirl outfit hasn't.  Without looking for one, I saw this cute plaid skirt for pennies at a thrift-store.  At the same time, I noticed some heels that add a little sass to the outfit.  For less than $10, I got to play out a lifelong dream.

Have you ever worn anything like this?



Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy holiday everyone!  I hope you are enjoying the day.  Doing anything special?

Maura, a member of my family, is a vegetarian so, instead of turkey, she had her pet dragon cook up some fresh veggies.  With tamari and sesame oil.  Tasty!

Here they are...

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Obscure Art: Television

I enjoy art. Sadly, most good art is obscure because the market for intelligent creativity is small. The ruck get pop culture which is rarely more than adequate. Discerning consumers have to search harder for superior artistic effort. Once found, however, good art provides deep sustenance.

In the next few posts, I'm going to tell you about some art I enjoy in the fields of television, film and music. I'll explain why I like the works. I'm not going to recommend them, however, because taste varies. You can decide to pursue them, or not.

We'll start with television. There's a show I recently discovered that, foolishly, I'd been avoiding. I ignored it despite rave reviews because I misunderstood its title and dislike its genre. But the show is extraordinary -- I'd say it's the best drama on television today. The acting is top-notch; the writing is engrossing; and the direction is appealing.

The show is "Hell On Wheels." I mistook the title for a bad metaphor when actually it's descriptive of the show's context. This term originated with the westward growth of the railroads in the middle of the 19th Century. The pioneering edge of railroad construction were mobile encampments known as Hell on Wheels, mostly for their Spartan conditions. 

The show examines what people would be like if modern social constraints were removed. How would we behave if there was no law, no punishment and no social deterrence? Free to be as kind or as cruel as our natures with ample opportunity to help or hurt? The show has characters whom you love or hate. You watch as they struggle in primitive conditions to survive, bond and prosper.

Despite its Western context, the show has strong female characters of various types. Personal relationships are as interesting as in any chick-flick. The show contains violence but it's integral to the plot and never gratuitous.

It doesn't hurt the show that its lead character is an actor who qualifies as a hunk (Anson Mount). Anson is handsome and from Tennessee. His character (Cullen Bohannan) is a Southerner who lost his family in the Civil War. Cullen is competent and filled with deeply-buried emotion.

The show just finished its fourth season on AMC (the basic-cable channel that brought you "Mad Men"). The fifth and final season will air next year. I've been catching up on it through DVD's from my local library.