Sunday
Aug282016

Civilized travel

Established readers of this silly blog may remember my 2006 journey to Los Angeles via Amtrak. It took just over 50 hours to travel from Dallas to Los Angeles, but I enjoyed it so much that I've decided to take another rail trip.

Recently I booked a sleeper on Amtrak's Crescent service from New Orleans to New York. Getting a good price on Amtrak tends to be a chore, as the cheapest fares are to be had by logging into amtrak.com and booking/paying directly at the site. Generally, the further in advance you make your reservation, the cheaper your fare will be. But you can check fares for every day of a certain week and get different fares for almost every day, even if you're booking two months in advance. This is how I ended up with a departure in late October.

It's also why I decided to pick up the train in Houston instead of Dallas. There are several reasons, really: it provides an opportunity to rendezvous with Darren*, and I won't be stuck in a rail station in San Antonio for half a night waiting to pick up the New Orleans service. There are some comfy bus services between Dallas and Houston. And it made a bigger dent in the rail fare than I expected.

For those who have never taken a long-distance Amtrak route, this article is well worth a read. Even if you don't plan to ever do so, you may understand GERFs (glassy-eyed rail fanatics) like me a bit better.  And the Crescent will get me from New Orleans to NYC in just 30 hours. 

* See The Usual Suspects.

 

Thursday
Aug252016

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

I don't know how this got past me, but it came up on Facebook today although it's from last year.

A Canadian gaming company wrote a run and gun game called Cuphead. This in itself didn't interest me, but then I had a look at the graphics. Shades of pre-war cartoons!

There's only one catch, and that it appears to be for Xbox only and I'm a Playstation devotee. Sigh.

Monday
Aug222016

Happy cub day

Last week was Darren* the Cub's birthday. Of course I wasn't able to send him a card or anything similar, and I'm not really into birthday cards unless I know someone is expecting one.  Some of my female friends are Hallmark's biggest customers - they get cards.

However, I did decide to nose around some of the naughtier online retailers to see if I could find something we'd both enjoy. I was lucky and found several appropriate items, both offered at a discount. They are now carefully stashed in my closet.

Without giving out too much, I'll just say that these items would figure prominently in a novel with the title 50 Shades of Neigh ... if it existed. 

I feel more than slightly lucky that I was finally able to locate a lover who not only appreciates lingerie, but also shares my interests in other erotic areas.

On a totally different subject, I've been able to do some profitable online retailing thanks to the store across from my mother's current address. Neiman Marcus has a large distribution and returns center nearby, and they often donate deadstock to the local Junior League to sell in a smallish storefront.

Recently I visited the store and picked up three Hermes scarves, new with tags and without blemish, for just $100 each. Currently they retail at hermes.com at $395 each. I've flogged two of them on Ebay for $250 each as Buy It Now items. I may keep the third, but chances are I'll sell it as well. Perhaps it's time to bump up the price a bit.

I live an extremely fortunate life. 

* See The Usual Suspects at right. 

 

Wednesday
Aug172016

Fashion rebounds in Melina's direction

Over the past few years, I've been largely disappointed by women's fashion. Either a colour I dislike becomes popular - the shade of grey one should only wear to the gym is one example - or there simply isn't much suitable to to wear during the daytime.

The current maxi dress rage annoys me as well. 99% of these dresses are just plain frumpy, and it's way too easy to put one's foot through a floor-length skirt when walking upstairs. I've done this a few times, once mauling a vintage taffeta Laura Ashley ball gown of which I was quite fond.

So when I was reading a colleague's copy of Vogue at lunch today, I was surprised to see some frocks I'd really like to have within the fall and winter 2016 shows. The Milan designers produced several items I lusted after, especially this blue velvet dress:

There were a couple of a slight problems with the dress, though. The designer, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, had stuck a $1200 price tag on it. And it's just a bit too dressy for the office, although if I owned it, I would wear it anyway. 

 

Tuesday
Aug162016

The winter, spring and summer of James' discontent

Some of you may remember James*, the CPA who had serious boyfriend potential but who never lived up to it. Some months went by and I heard nothing from him. While I kept thinking that he could re-appear, I eventually spotted Darren* online and discovered the intense pleasures uniquely available from a Cub. This pretty much erased any physical interest I had for James, although my Idealist Counselor nature still wanted to offer him understanding through his awful year.

Months went by and James was silent. Until last week, that is.

He was a bit too blunt with his suggestion that we interface, which disappointed me. But I still felt pity for him, and some curiosity still lingered. So I took a demure approach and suggested we meet for coffee and discuss the year gone by. 

There were two reasons why I opted for the personal meeting. In addition to being curious as to any latent chemistry, I don't like 100% cyber friendships/relationships.  If someone says "I'm your friend," but can't make time to get together for coffee or sushi or pancakes, they're not really my friend.  The book The Pursuit of Loneliness contains plenty of valid reasons for traditional face time instead of isolation becoming our norm. It was written in 1976 but is still relevant.

But back to James. Did we meet for coffee? Nope.

The very next day, he said that his wife asked out of the blue if he were having an affair. He insisted that he wasn't, and the matter was immediately dropped. But this made James think that if his considering an affair was so easily detected, actually having an affair would result in his possessions being deposited on the front lawn as soon as he got home from his mistress' place.

I didn't answer this email for a couple of days as I was seriously annoyed by yet another flip-flop. But then I reconsidered. I wanted to make 100% sure this semi-flirtation was over for good, and this would never happen via email. I told him this and he surprisingly agreed. So we set another meeting for the following Monday.

Early Monday morning, he cancelled. 

He said that he had injured his back the previous day, and he would never make it through the monthly board meeting scheduled for 5:30 pm unless he went to his doctor in the afternoon. We had scheduled our meeting in the afternoon (I'd arranged to meet him at his office to prevent any mischief).

He seemed convinced that I would not believe him, but wanted badly to keep what little credibility he might still have. The subject line of the last email:  I Am Being Serious.

I sent him a text that said that I understood, and that I was sorry he was in pain. Nothing more.

If he contacts me again and wants to reschedule, I'll see him. He won't even have to bring a note from his doctor. But now I'm convinced that I am no less than a delivery vehicle for some odd, No Sex For You jinx that poor James is destined to receive. 

* See Key to Characters at right.