How does Phoenix rank for LGBTQA Experience?

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I have to admit it, right now my experiences in other cities dealing with the LGBTQA thing hasn’t been super good. Philadelphia was good, Denver kind of sucked, Atlanta really sucked, so coming to Phoenix I was pretty sure it would be the same.

It wasn’t, overall it was a good experience, barring one funny negative experience that really wasn’t negative.

Our arrival in Phoenix was marked by a rare homophobic event. We were in line at Alamo Car Rental, and ahead of us we watched a couple get harassed by an Alamo agent. He was pushing the “walk away” insurance, and all the extra things. He was pushing it hard enough that it made the rest of the line nervous.

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It was our turn, as we stepped up I braced for the selling pitch. He began a long spiel of why we needed the walk away insurance, that Arizona law lets them claim for lost days if the car was damaged, etc etc. It was then my wonderful husband spoke up and asked me a question, but used the term “sweetie” for me.

The guy froze, his head went back and forth between us, and without any further mention he has me sign off the contract and we walk away without him saying a word. So while it sucked he obviously had a problem that two guys were together, it worked in our favor and the spiel stopped.

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Our next encounter was at the Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. Once again most of the staff were older people, so we were prepared to get a hard time. When our tour guide Judith arrived to give the tour, my fears blossomed. She was an older, conservative appearing woman.

However, she realized fairly soon into the tour (followed by a second tour for a different subject) that the hubby and I were together. Instead of any homophobia, she just talked to us even more. She seemed overjoyed that we liked listening to the tour, and wanted to know the history. It was definitely a great experience, and Judith is a great lady.

Dr. Meltzer’s office of course is super accepting, so we don’t need to go into that, but the Greenbaum surgical center was an unknown. However we arrived there and ALL of the staff were great, accepting of me arriving at any time day or not to visit the hubby. At no point did I not feel welcomed. It was impressive.

The rest of the time there was spent mostly in the hotel room, so the only other people we really saw were the hotel staff and they didn’t blink an eye at us. I don’t know if they were ok with us, but they kept their professional cool if they did.

That means Phoenix ranks a close second behind Philadelphia in my experience in accepting LGBTQA. I am not addressing the governmental/legal standpoint of transgender people here, just my experience with individuals

Of course I am posting this Sunday, a day early from our trip ending, hopefully that won’t change in the next day.

Assisting with class.

This week I have been assisting with a class on data analytics. So as not to bore you, that is just reviewing data given to you by who you are auditing, sifting through it and finding things they don’t want you to find. I am fairly good at it too.

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The weird thing, after watching our teacher who is a great guy, and reading the rest of our agency’s policies, procedures, etc. I am probably the most qualified in the agency to do this. With a CS background (mostly theory), experience doing the actual data analytics with other agencies, and experience using SQL designing websites for businesses in the past I am fairly sure I understand the concepts, the needs, and the uses more than anyone in our federal agency.

The hubby comes in close behind, he has the theoretical knowledge, just not years experience with other agencies doing it. Even our experts aren’t as knowledgeable about how to implement it, that is the scary part.

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This guy kicks ass! He even married me.

That feels weird, and while it does mean I probably know a lot, it means our agency is about 15 years behind where they should be. They won’t buy the equipment, not even just extra power cords for our computers. I don’t know why I am expecting them to buy a hard drive, RAM or anything else we might need, just for every day use of the computers.  The agency doesn’t even wan’t to pay for more than 750gb hard drive for an office of 20+ auditors (hell I have a 5 terabyte drive for $100 at home).

This has resulted in a week of annoyance. Not the helping people with their classwork, but with how much we could do, but also how much we could save the taxpayers.

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We are still waiting on the hubby hitting his five year mark so he can vest in a tiny retirement and then definitely I need to see about finding a job more satisfying. Don’t get me wrong the money is great, but it feels pretty empty.

Shit…

I realize I haven’t been on much, life is busy. However, last night’s election has definitely made things more anxiety filled. I have a post on Accidentally gay I wrote about. I am going to crosspost it here.

I am sure this is only the first of many posts dealing with the results of the elections this year (2016). I had several articles/posts ready to be worked on but after last night I figured I should get my initial thoughts and feelings out for posterity.

Yep, its like that.
Yep, its like that.

I am not too surprised at what happened. Of course I am hurt that a sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic person was elected, but not surprised. I have spent a lot of time traveling over the last two years to the southern states and it was there I saw this in action the most, but I have seen it locally as well.

Don’t get me wrong, there was more than just the sexism, racism, bigotry and homophobia that was the cause for his election as president. People are angry, they want real change. Sadly I don’t think they are going to get the change they really want from a rich guy who has been bankrupt four times. People are reaching to make something great, when it was never great in that way.

After I watched the election results roll in, I felt like I was punched in the gut though, not because of all the slew of liberal/progressive issues I am in favor of, but for the safety of Wolsey. The first thing I thought about was his safety.

We fortunately live in a very very blue area, but this election has not only shown we haven’t progressed as a society as far as I had hoped, but there will be those that will take this as a sign to attack verbally, physically, legally anyone that doesn’t believe like they do.

I am suspecting there will be an increase in attacks on the LGBTQA community, even in my blue area. I don’t worry about myself. I am a big guy, most people leave me alone anyways, and even if they don’t it isn’t much of a worry. I worry a lot about my husband though. Not that he isn’t tough, but he is the person I love most in this world. I don’t want to see him in pain. This includes emotional pain from the hatred that this election is spewing forth towards everyone, especially transgender individuals.

I suspect I will be writing a lot, which is a good thing for me anyways, but I wish it was for other reasons.

I guess we get to live in “interesting times”. Personally I would rather live in boring, safe and happy times.

Why I won’t own a house Part 1

homeownershipI get a lot of people that are both friends or coworkers who constantly don’t understand why Jello and I don’t buy an adult house (meaning the American ideal of a house or condo, we would buy a mobile home but that is a different post). There are several reasons for our lack of interesting buying a home, price being the biggest, but also flexibility, commute and a few other reasons. Let me see if I can break out the biggest reason of price here.

First a little background, I live in the Seattle area and evidently the median price is $513,000. Let’s be honest I won’t even come close to that in affording it (no way I want to buy something that is a half a million dollars, or about 10 years of my income at this point before taxes). So I will pick one of the lower priced neighborhoods.

I do love the Seattle area.
I do love the Seattle area.

Westlake (the other areas can be sketchier and honestly harder to get places to buy). The average price is $367,000. Seattle is very dense, so I will need to probably pick a condo to get a low price like this. Looking over the available condos in the area on Zillow I found a 783 square foot condo for about this price (actually slightly higher) in a more run down area of Westlake.

Overview at Westlake, yep no houses around to buy, but "cheap" condos are here.
Overview at Westlake, yep no houses around to buy, but “cheap” condos are here.

Let’s say I have $67,000 in my pocket to put down to avoid the extra insurance needed for homebuyers with less than 20% (no, I don’t have that money anywhere but for argument sake let’s say I do). The best interest rate I can get seems to be 4%, and 25 year loan will be normal. So I borrow $300,000 (see the attached report for breakdown of a loan with NO PITI, insurance, etc, it is purely for the loan).

Per the bankrate website, I will end up paying $475,000 out of pocket ($175,00 in interest), plus the downpayment (for a total of $635,000) for a $367,000 house. I realize people will say “but what is the cost compared to rent”. It comes out to $1,583.00 a month. Which is $400 more a month than what I pay now.

Yes yes, I own it, but that isn’t the end of my cost. I still have to pay for regular condo insurance (not counting the loan insurance for under 20%), taxes and home owner’s association dues since it will probably have to be a condo. I looked up the following utilizing Geico insurance and King County website for taxes owed on a unit that is actually only $337,000 (10% less value then what I have here, so the actual taxes would be more).

Definitely more than just a mortgage payment.
Definitely more than just a mortgage payment.

Condo Insurance costs me approximately $112 a month for only $200,000 to fix the home. Property tax for the sample unit I picked out that was similar price was $2,900 a year, or $240 a month. The Home Owner’s Association dues are $350 a month (which isn’t that bad in the area).

Let’s not forget maintenance, the average maintenance recommended by many organizations is 1%. I have linked HSH’s website for source. That means for a $367,000 house, I should be putting away $3,670 a year, or approximately $300 a month. So let’s break down the total cost:

  • Mortgage:              $1,583.00
  • Condo Insurance: $    112.00
  • Property Tax:        $   240.00
  • HOA Dues:            $   350.00
  • Maintenance:        $   360.00
  • TOTAL:               $2,645.00

Let’s compare that to my rent, which is approximately $1,200 a month, plus $25 in rental insurance for a whopping $1,225. Which comes down to $1,420 LESS than what I would pay for a condo at the medium price. Remember, all a condo really is, is an overdone apartment (and not even overdone well usually). To own a house that has actual yard is probably close to 50-100% or more than what I have outlined here.

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Important note: if you look at the attached report Mortgage Calculator Report – 300k Home, the first five years of payments an average person pays $580-710 a month in principal, the rest is interest and does not add to the equity of the house. That means for the first five years, $1,980 a month is going away just for the “honor” to buy a house. An equivalent apartment I have found (that is far nicer than the condo I looked at) runs about that much.

I could turn around, take that extra $700 I have left a month and invest, party, pay off debts, or just find a different job that pays up to $5 an hour less.

I think instead of buying a house, I am good with living in a super nice apartment, with extra pocket money and not worrying that something will break (that is the owner’s responsibility).

 

Blue Lives What?

freedmanstreetcops1First, I need to say I feel badly for the two cops executed and their families. That is a horrendous thing that should never have happened. Most cops are good, (although I won’t call a cop good if they are in the same department and don’t point a finger at the bad cops) and I assume these specific cops did not deserve it.

However, I see this trend on several social media sites were people (usually white middle class or above) are ranting that they “better see some protests now” for the cops, as if this is the same thing as what happened to Eric Garner or Mike Brown. I am sorry but your white privilege blinders are showing.

It is by no means the same thing. 

Cops have access to their own powers of law (arresting people, killing people, etc) but in addition to this they have the entire societal, court and government systems behind them. You can be guaranteed that any cop beat up, let alone killed will have the person accused of doing that indicted for a crime. The cops have the power, they not only have it, they ARE it.

The reason for the protests is because minorities do not have any recourse. They don’t have the power to arrest someone who victimized them, they don’t even have the power to stop from being victimized. They especially don’t have the ability to stop being victimized by those with power (aka COPS). A minority group member is unlikely to have the victimizer be indicted or charged, especially if that victimizer is a cop.

The idea of protesting is to underline that power imbalance and to protest it. It is to bring to the people in charge, that everyone else isn’t being treated “equal”. It is to protest the victimization of minorities who daily have to worry how someone in power (e.g. a cop) is going to treat them.

This is why there are no protests to underline the power imbalance for cops, because they are the power imbalance. Cops don’t need attention or support, they already can do what they want.

The whole switching #BlackLivesMatter to that stupid Blue Lives Matter (no I won’t actually hashtag it) just shows the complete misunderstanding that both the cops and the white media have of the situation.

End Day 2 in Atlanta

opinionYesterday wrapped up pretty well. The schooling was long, and not very effective, but the first day of this type of training is often like that. The people are nice enough, the trainers are working hard.

Got home and worked out on a cardio bike for 20 minutes, then a 30 minute upper body workout (the new app I have turns out to kind of suck, so going with a different program). The workout room here is a lot worse then the one at our apartment complex (mostly just cardio and a few free weights) so I doubt I will get much working out here.

A friend pointed out that it is election time (which I forgot, we just get our mail in ballot and do research from there, we don’t watch tv) after I talked about the horror of the political ads here. Almost every ad isn’t about the issues, but about either illegal immigrants are taking all the jobs, or that Obama’s “horrible laws” will be upheld if they don’t vote in or out certain candidates. The worst part is people freaking about Obamacare!!!!! (yes the exclamation points are needed). It is obvious no one has ever researched the Affordable Healthcare Act.

In fact I was talking with a group and they were against Obamacare, I asked about if they read it and they said no. Not even two minutes later they were bitching about health insurance companies and the fact that medicaid wasn’t expanded. Then several of them were bitching about feminists and the gays (and yes, “the gays” is how they referred to it). I quickly retracted myself from the situation.

Now, I complain a lot about here, but I did watch something on their news I have to take my hat off to. Evidently a guy ran his car into a group of people (including a cop). It wasn’t until he hit the cop that the cop fired a single shot at him. If this was in Seattle, the police department would have shot the wrong person 22 times, then charged that person’s family for the bullets. At least at this point it seems like Georgia police are less likely to just shoot people (although that could be wrong, I have only been here two days).

Passing and Sexism

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Jello’s 2012 Kia. He was so excited to get it.

Today we had to buy a certified Kia for Jello. He got a temp job and needs to get to it. While we were getting the car however, an awkward situation arose.

We were in the car when the salesman (a young kid) was talking about taking other people out on test drives. Jello was driving, he was in the passenger seat and I was in the back. The guy started joking that when he takes women out driving how horrible they were as drivers.

This absolutely horrified me. I have never thought differently about a woman driving, and I don’t understand why stupid assholes think that way. This is probably due to Jello being the first person who could drive decently in our group of friends when I was a teen. Jay and Warren, the other people who drove cars were absolutely horrible drivers, but Jello was always good (and at the time presenting as a woman), so maybe I never made that sexist connection.

Jello and I met eyes in the rear-view mirror. It was incredibly misogynistic/sexist and we were both horrified by that. On the other hand, it meant that Jello had passed 100% in close proximity with the guy. This pleased me greatly, I know he has been passing more and more. Now if we can only get his top surgery.

So it ended up being an incredibly awkward, but rewarding situation. I feel torn about it, both unhappy with the sexist comments, but overjoyed for Jello.

Oh, and this is cross-posted to Accidentally Gay.