Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Columbus, Ohio

I rode my motorcycle (the brawny BMW K1600 GTL) to Ohio and Michigan. The goal was to spend time with two of my closest friends, Emma in Columbus and Sara in Detroit. I had marvelous times with both of them. Here's an account of my visit with Emma and her husband Matt (who works at my favorite store, REI).

Emma exposed me to something I'd heard about but never tried -- a Midwestern state fair. It was fascinating. Centered on farming, the Ohio State Fair features farm animals (cows, pigs, chickens) groomed for show. The animals are as beautiful as nature can produce. Their shapes and physical qualities are perfect. The fur on the cows looks like brushed velvet. Emma says the animals' proud owners sleep on cots next to them the whole week of the fair. That doesn't surprise me; you can tell these people's whole lives revolve around the winsome creatures.

The food at the fair was as crazy as I expected. Deep-fried everything (including sticks of butter). One "delicacy" I never heard of is a hamburger between sliced halves of a donut. If you don't believe me, see the picture below. My response to this monstrosity is no, thank you!

I talked Emma into taking her first helicopter ride which was fun. She enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching her experience something for the first time. The flight showed us local landmarks from the air.

Later we had a delicious dinner at a fancy restaurant using locally-sourced ingredients and a Sunday brunch offering the same. This development has become a big trend in the food industry and is good for the environment.

Check out these photos!

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Heart of Darkness

My studies in human anthropology have sent me to many distant, isolated areas of the world but never, until now, have I experienced an assembly of people as unusual and bizarre as the natives of Detroit, a remote village on the island of Michigan. Inhabitants here make pygmy cannibals in Papua, New Guinea seem like proper English gentlemen.

Travel to Detroit is arduous. Paths are marred by pot-holes and debris evidencing decades of communal neglect. Indeed the main route into the village (pronounced "Seventy Five") contains multiple blockages making passage often frustrating and sometimes impossible.

Once you arrive, dear reader, you are quickly ushered to the reigning ruler, a Queen who goes by many names, most prominent being Sara-Bellum. Sara dresses in distinctive attire reserved for Her Majesty which explores the range of color between light black and dark black. Sometimes Sara's clothes are transparent, allowing Royal Consort Jeremy to peek at hidden mysteries.

The tribe is matriarchal and closely-knit. Through the use of small devices in their hands, inhabitants spread news instantly and play pranks on each other, like tagging friends on Facebook in places they physically aren't so the tagee's wife doesn't know where he is. Domestic stability is not a tradition in this primitive community.

The Queen's ladies-in-waiting, Princesses Wednesday and Dani, are decorated like the Queen herself with inked images on body-places not commonly painted in civilized societies: e.g., thighs, shoulders, inner lips. Despite their regal station, the princesses utter shocking vulgarities. In fact, they even use a book to create new profanities, phrases so indelicate I shan't repeat them. Truly, I was aghast in horror at their indecency. The incongruity between the princesses' attractive appearances and foul mouths is startling.

Despite their savagery, Detroiters don't eat meat. Which surprises me because Princess Wednesday goes around biting people at random. Apparently she doesn't swallow.

Most notable is the tribe's boisterous behavior, extending over days. I arrived in the middle of a bacchanalian festival where fermented beverages were avidly consumed in endless succession, punctuated with potions of caffeine. Loud voices, randy gestures and impudent remarks were observed. Naturally, the village has women's roller derby. My written notes are available for scholarly inspection.

In the interests of science, your intrepid adventurer has undertaken many difficult journeys to exotic locations but, after my harrowing experience in this heart of darkness, I am sensibly electing to retire from future foreign expeditions and spend my few remaining years lounging on a couch, reading quietly. Anyone considering voyage to the island of Michigan, be forewarned!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

King Ralph

Welcome to Ralph-itania!

I recently purchased a small island in international waters and declared it to be a new sovereign nation. Under the UN Charter Act of 1954, this is totally legit.

You're welcome to apply for citizenship; the only requirement is that I like you. Residents of Ralphitania pay no taxes; to the contrary, they receive a UBI (Universal Basic Income) of $1,000 per month. Our national currency is Bitcoin so open your digital wallets for regular monthly deposits.

Our government consists of a single political party -- the Mad Dog Motorcycle Club -- a perspicacious group to which several of you already belong. Truth be told, the party has two wings, the Slow Riders Brigade (on touring bikes and cruisers) and the Fast Riders Alliance (on sport-bikes). Despite differing views, both factions wave to each other on the road and harbor no internecine feelings. Ralphitania don't have a helmet law because nobody is that stupid to ride without protective gear.

Our mass transportation includes a fleet of McLaren 570 super-cars. When boarding, please specify whether you are in a hurry. With no speed limits in Ralphitania, our drivers can get you to your destination at triple-digit velocity. Kindly watch your head when exiting the gull-wing doors.

As head of government, I serve as our nation's cynosure but at the same time I'm humble and don't claim formal title. I do, however, turn around when someone calls out "Your Royal Majesty."

The Criminal Code of Ralphitania is short -- there are only two criminal offenses. Section 1.01 outlaws talking in movie theaters (punishable by pelting with popcorn by fellow patrons); Section 1.02 prohibits pretending to be a wine-snob (punishable by drinking six bottles of Zima). It's not currently a crime to look at your cellphone while engaged in conversation but there are proposals afoot to deter that and other callow behavior.

Given labile chaos in America at the moment, an influx of ex-pats just arrived. "It was here or Canada," they say. Ralphitania looks attractive because we don't put toddlers in jail and we don't cozy up to nocuous dictators. The only political issue we face is whether to pave our streets with gold or glitter.

Our national sport is curling which probably explains why our homes are so clean. All ten curling teams have the same amount of money to spend so their games are fair and exciting. This policy, called "The Yankees Suck Rule," was proposed by me and is achieving its goal of equity in competition.

Ralphitania has no shortage of arts and culture. All residents receive Netflix for free and our cinemas have reclining chairs with food service. We get first-run films and there is a major retrospective this week of masterpieces by Pee-Wee Herman.

You're invited to visit Ralphitania any time. I'll leave the lights on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Next week I'm traveling to two distant places -- Detroit, Michigan and Columbus, Ohio. Not only are these places far from home, they're not close to each other.

Riding the whole way would be very hard so once I reach Ohio, I'm going to call Scotty on my communicator and tell him to beam me to Michigan using the ship's transporter. That device comes in handy. Here are pictures of my Starfleet riding-uniform and subspace communicator.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Travel Stickers

I like mementos of fun trips I've taken. I bring home stickers to remind me of the journeys. They are stuck on an armoire in my bedroom.

Do you collect stickers or other items from your travels?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

It Started With A Belt

We often start an outfit with one piece and then build around it. That's usually a dress or chic shoes. In my ensemble below, the starting-point was a belt. A belt!

I found a cute beaded belt with real wood-buckle in a thrift-store for $2. Its bright red and yellow colors appeal to me. I looked in my closet for clothes to accompany the belt. This is what I came up with.


Monday, July 9, 2018


Here are some pics of my trip. The ones of the motorcycle were taken in Northern New York while visiting Aimee. The last picture is of a drive-in which surprised me: I didn't know any were left!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Another Blogger Meetup

While I was in Montreal, I met Joanna, a blogger I've followed for a few years. It was our first time meeting in person.

Joanna blogs about two passions. The first is her transgender-ism and many technical aspects of the subject. Joanna is an engineer and very intelligent; her understanding of this subject is deep. The second subject she covers on her blog is American politics. That's a little unexpected since Joanna is Canadian but many around the world have been alarmed at U.S. politics since the last election.

We were both a little surprised at how many experiences we had in common from struggling with being transgender. While we are different people, Joanna and I have both faced several of the same situations, ones cis-gender folk never confront. Thus, it was valuable to share our life histories and stories. It isn't always easy to find a path in life when you're different.

Joanna wrote about her take on our meeting here. It was a pleasure to make her acquaintance and I'll see her the next time I head back to Montreal.

P.S., I bought this colorful shirt earlier in the day at a high-end men's store (Boutique Emmanuel). It's created by a Montreal designer (Dominique Leneveu) under the brand Franco Negretti. Expensive but I love it!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Another Travel Tip

I was having trouble with street names here because not only are they foreign and unpronounceable but they contain long strings of letters my brain can't grasp. Finally I realized I can get a handle on them by converting the names to similar English words.

Right now I'm drinking tea at a Tim Hortons on Boiled Mayonnaise. The locals call it Boulevard de Maisonneuve.  :-)

Travel Tip

Here's a travel tip I stumbled upon which makes visiting cities much more convenient and less expensive. I've used it in Boston and Montreal to great advantage.

Hotels in the heart of cities are always expensive. Hotels out-of-town are a pain 'cause then you need to drive into the city and struggle to find scarce, costly parking. My solution to this is ingenious.

Get the city's subway map. Find a hotel on the out-skirts of town that is walking distance from the last stop on the subway line. After checking in, you can park at the hotel, leave your car/bike there the whole trip, and pop into town whenever you want by just walking to the subway. Getting in and out of the city is easy and the frontier hotel costs a fraction of the over-priced ones.

You're welcome.

Friday, July 6, 2018

First Impressions

It's disorienting to be in a place where the signs are in a language you don't speak and there are no English translations. I wandered around Montreal today like a drunken sailor clueless of his bearings. On the plus side, the city has an excellent subway system that's clean, cheap and goes everywhere. Names of Metro stations are unpronounceable but a simple graphic diagram helps you find your destination.

Residents speak French and greet you with "Bon jour!" As soon as you say "hello," they switch seamlessly to English. I never detected any negative attitude toward English-speakers (which I heard reports about in Paris).

Montreal is as close to a European travel-experience as you're going to get in North America. And that exotic-ness is its appeal. A part of the city called "Old Montreal" is impressive with classic architecture and cobblestone streets. Fortunately the city is awash with chic cafes, scores of art galleries and even a Fluevog store so I'm having endless fun exploring. I just hope my obliviousness isn't too obvious. :-)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

My (Seat) Belt

Twenty years ago a smart company made normal belts out of car seat-belts. REAL seat-belts with authentic buckles. Intrigued by the clever idea, I bought one. And have been wearing it ever since.

Isn't this cool?

Sunday, July 1, 2018


I'm riding my motorcycle up to Montreal this week. I've never been there and hear they speak French. Which is why I'm trying to pass for a Frenchman. Successful?

While up North, I plan to also visit my friend Aimee in Potsdam. Aimee is making a special dress for me by hand and we're doing a fitting. Aimee is both talented and sweet.

Bisous et câlins!