“Uh, Service Manager? There’s a naked guy bathing himself in the customer restroom…”

There are a lot of homeless people who frequent the Bookstore — we’re a warm (or cool) dry place, and for the most part, we leave them alone: if they fall asleep, we wake them up and ask them to leave, but anyone who falls asleep in the store gets offered the choice between leaving on their own power, or having an ambulance called for them.

Our problems with homeless are usually that, let’s be honest, they smell. Not all, but some. Lately, though, the problems with the homeless have been a lot more weird: like, last week, when our magazine guy went into the customer’s bathroom and encountered a totally naked homeless guy bathing himself from the sink. Fortunately, the naked guy did not run around our store – naked – screaming “Woohoo! Wee!” which is what happened when a naked guy was confronted at one of our sister stores.

There’s this lady who lives at our store. Literally. She camps out at a corner nook outside our store during the night (there’s a vent of sorts), then camps in the store during the day. She reeks, and she is completely bat-shit out of her mind. If you walk past her (and you have to if you’re coming westbound), she’ll babble something at you. It’s not blatantly incoherent, until you actually listen to it — “Trust in the fastest way to lose weight!” or “She’ll whisper, ‘you’re the best!’” It’s like she gets her talking points from the spam that floods my Gmail.

Sunday, she was harmless for most of the day. And then. And then.

So she assembles her “stuff” — an assortment of bags, most of which are filled with other bags, and moves to our register queue, where she selects a pen from a display and begins writing on herself. So those of us watching her from the information desk are confused, because, is it stealing if she’s writing with one of these pens? I mean, okay, she can leave the pen, but that ink? Gone forever. The on-duty manager goes over to talk to her and ask her to leave.

Next thing we know:

“I’m related to Jack Nicholson! He’s my uncle!” and “I’m related to at least a 150 people in this store right now!” Funny: there were about thirty people in the store.

This woman continued screaming that we — the staff, I assume — needed to go to the basement bathroom and have group sex in the toilet bowl. I don’t know what sort of toilet bowls this woman is used to, but I’ve never seen a toilet bowl I could fit into, much less fuck someone in, much less group sex.

So finally, grabbing a few more books, from which, of course, the FBI could obtain her fingerprints, she finally left. And made her way down to the corner, which she has apparently made her home. She screamed something at me as I left — I’d like to think it was, “You should fuck me in the basement toilet!” (ewwwwwwwwwwwwww) but it was probably “I was given the last name Kelly because my father is Jack Nicholson, and that’s my uncle, too!” — but I was wearing my iPod, so I don’t know what it was.

And it’s sad, because when she tried coming into the store last night, she was stopped, and told she was not welcome on our premises. “But I want to buy something!” she protested. “We don’t want your business,” she was told.

Let me be blunt here: no one on the staff likes disruptive people. We hate the homeless people who come in and cause a fuss, and we hate the ones who come in and stink like they’ve been sleeping in pig shit. However, we also hate the well-dressed guys in three-piece suits who leave empty coffee cups on our shelves, and the well dressed office ladies who scatter magazines everywhere in their wake. We hate the dudes with the billfolds full of hundreds who bitch and moan about how we won’t let them use a non-existent coupon, and the people who are looking for that book, with the red cover, but they don’t remember the name or the author or what it’s about or where they heard of it. We hate people who get mad at us because the publisher pushed back a release date, or who refuse to leave the store after closing because it’s raining outside and they don’t have an umbrella. We especially — especially!!! — hate the people who take books off shelves and leave them scattered in their wake. If you can’t reshelve your selections on your own, seriously, drop them off at the info desks.

And for the most part? None of the people who come into the store are like this. None at all. Especially the homeless. Often, they just want a dry, temperature controlled space away from the District’s cold or heat. But we’re not a shelter.

I WIN, IKEA!

bookshelf

Forgive the quality of the picture. A fairly long and aggravating day at both the Office, and the Bookstore, and I just spent an hour putting together this daaaaamned bookshelf.

Part of my brain has been trying to figure out what’s been wrong with the Expedit unit I bought (and couldn’t assemble) Monday. When I got home tonight, instead of checking my e-mail, brushing my teeth, and diving into bed, I stripped to boxers and a t-shirt (because building IKEA stuff is a sweaty, sweaty business), and tested my hypothesis, which is this: that the pegs which hold the inner shelves together were either too long, or that the plugs into which they’re pegged were not drilled to the proper length.

I was half right: for each shelf, the instructions call for four pegs per attachment. The inner pegs and plugs were the appropriate size, however, the outer plugs had not been unplugged enough. When the outer pegs were removed, or trimmed down, the fit was flush.

Sadly, even with pliers, removing many of those outer pegs proved most difficult. I think in my exertions Monday, I secured some of them pretty, uh, securely. When I mentioned “trimming” them down in the previous paragraphs? I wound up snapping a lot of them clean off.

Fortunately, however, an Expedit is a pretty sturdy shelf, even if you are missing a whole bunch of pegs. With the shelves flush, the rest was pretty easy, and within an hour of getting home, my new shelf is completed. My coffee table is littered with broken pegs, and my fingers are numb from the hex wrench. If I didn’t have to be up in six hours, I’d totally chug a beer to congratulate myself on persevering over this goddamn bookshelf, and for the love of fuck, if I ever mention buying stuff from IKEA again, remind me about this post. When I think it’s a good idea to buy another, I will have forgotten how much of a pain in the ass they can be, and will only remember how happy I am with additional bookshelves.

Friday? Bookshelf porn. No, no, I’m posting bookshelf porn.

UPDATE:

The shelf, in it’s final place, and properly put to use:

finished-product

I Don’t Dislike Glen Beck Because He’s White, I Dislike Him Because He’s A Fuckwatard

Sometimes, I think I should’ve gone into the field of Conservative Talk Radio cheerleading.

It’s pretty simple, especially when compared to Liberal Talk Radio cheerleaders, who, uh, well, anyway. When they were around (were they ever?) they tended to use too much words. It confuses people. Makes the mushy thing between the ears hurt. Far easier:

“Boo! Gays! Boo!”

“Boo! Latinos! Boo!”

“Boo! Er … 3-D movies! Boo!”

And, let’s be honest, I am at least as unattractive as Glen Beck. Really, the only thing he’s got that I don’t is a lot more cash (and, uh, hair). And I have absolutely no problem selling out my principles for cash.

“Boo! Principles! Boo!”

Heck, I’m even a registered independent, so I’ve got my talking points all secure. “No, no, I’m a registered independent. No, hah, don’t take me seriously, I’m just an entertainer. Hey, take me seriously — I know how to fix this country!”

Ugh. I just can’t do it. Principles won’t let go.

Not a Happy IKEAer

One consequence of working part-time at a bookstore is that you tend to use your discount to buy more books than you would otherwise.

One consequence of living in a studio apartment is that you tend to run out of space for stuff really quickly.

I decided last week to consolidate some furniture. I moved a half-bookcase to the wall near my bed, and a 2×2 Expedit* into its former place. My TV bench (a 2×4 Expedit), I turned on end and placed in the former 2×2 unit’s place, next to a larger 4×4 unit. The illusion, now, is of a 4×6 Expedit unit against the wall … and a solid wall of books, which is, face it, awesome. However, this left me short a TV bench, and I opted to replace it with another 2×4 Expedit.

Why replace a 2×4 Expedit with another 2×4 Expedit, I can hear you ask. Why not just put the new one upright against the wall? Well, because the original 2×4 Expedit, and the 4×4, are both Beech, a veneer which IKEA no longer manufactures. I opted for a Birch veneer for the new bookshelf.

With a friend’s help (‘cuz I don’t have a car), I made my way out to IKEA early Saturday to buy the new shelf and some of those wicker-baskets that a.) fit perfectly and b.) are the ideal way to store DVDs. Well, apparently, IKEA was having a Memorial Weekend sale, and one of those items for sale was a 2×4 Expedit. We made our way into the store — and we were there around 10am, right at opening — and the line stretched from the warehouse to the entrance. We couldn’t back out, and staffers challenged us consistently as we tried to get to the exit, “No, really, I just want to get the fuck out of here.” Needless to say, nothing was purchased.

Yesterday, one of the guys I work with mentioned he had to run out to College Park, and in exchange for lunch, agreed to shuttle me to IKEA and to my apartment. I was home around 6:30 with a 2×4 Expedit, and some storage baskets.

Before last night, I had three Expedit units: a 4×4, a 2×4, and a 2×2. Do you know how long it took me to assemble the 4×4? Twenty minutes. The 2×2 actually took about an hour, because I was trying to fit the internal shelves in wrong. I don’t recall how long it took me to assemble the first 2×4, but I know it was nothing like the frustration that lasted two and a half hours last night, and ended with me taking the damn thing back apart and mumbling about how I should’ve waited until the weekend to begin with.

I know what the problem is: the pegs, those stupid wooden dowels, aren’t inserting properly, and no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t achieve a proper snug fit. I think I might have to remove them all from the shelves, and see if the plugs they fit into are jammed with … something. Meanwhile, if you’d looked into my apartment last night you’d’ve seen me, drenched in sweat, contorting my body on top of a mostly assembled bookshelf in a vain effort to force the unit together. I’m pretty sure it looked like I was humping the damn thing at one point.

I know that I will prevail, in the end. That the Expedit will fit together as it should, and I will forget the frustration and anger that was involved in putting the damn thing together. And that, as soon as that memory has faded from my head, I will realize how I can squeeze another Expedit into my apartment.

*If you don’t know what the Expedit is, click here.

that evil love glove

I have no problem with religious people, I have a problem with preachy religious people who talk all high-and-mighty about Catholic ideals like, say, fornication, and then can’t keep their pecker in their pants (of all the things to dislike Gibson for, however, the antisemitism is tops on my list). On the other hand, in the finest Catholic tradition, at least Mel refused to wear that evil love glove.

What’s The Opposite of a Hug? A GUH! Great Urban Hike

Today I was finally able to embark on my long postponed and much anticipated Great Urban Hike. Okay, okay — it wasn’t as grand as I’d originally planned: in the end, it came out to be about five miles, an aching ankle (and a case of boxer rash) encouraged me to call it a day and catch the bus home. Here’s a picture of my route:

map1

I was out of my apartment door a little after 7am, unfortunately, I had trouble connecting to Twitter while on the road, so was unable to post updates and double-check my times against those updates. Really, the only place I was dead set on going to was the Exorcist Stairs, located on M Street NW just west of the Key Bridge. I made my approach from the north, as I came down Wisconsin and made a right hand turn on Prospect.

stairs

Let me just say this: the stairs? Are fucking scary. And steep. There’s an declining incline from Prospect towards the top of the stairs, which sort of gives you the feeling of falling towards the stairs. They’re also considerably steeper in real-life then on the cinema. My favorite part of the stairs, however, is that single arch over them.

Today was also my first time spending any real amount of time in Georgetown — I’ve been there twice in the last year, both times trying and failing to convert my Maryland license to DC (once because I did not have all the necessary paperwork, the other because I thought the location was open on a day it wasn’t). I’m particularly a fan of all the ivy and cobblestones, even if they were hell on my feet.

I hate and loathe McMansions, and this is a really neat 430sq foot Paris apartment for FOUR PEOPLE HOLY OMG WTF

I hate and loathe McMansions. (This is somewhat at odds with the fact that I would love to own a 50,000,000 square foot super mansion at some point, but it’d be cool because there would be like fifty Billiards rooms, and secret passages, shooting ranges, and museum wings filled with props from my favorite TV shows and movies because, I mean, if I can afford a place that’s fifty times as big as the Smithsonian’s Air and Space, I gotta be able to fill it up with stuff, right? Because I like my homes to be cozy, even if you could fit the National Mall into them twice over).

And with a 400-square foot studio apartment, you’re damn right I bring the cozy: especially since I moved from a two-bedroom. Use of space is essential: my couch resides in front of an overstuffed bookshelf. My coffee table is a combination desk/dining table. For all this, however, there’s not a lot of hidden storage (unless you count what I stuff into my closet).

In any case, I can’t imagine someone else living in this place with me: it seems crowded as it is, with me and two grumpy cats. And then, surfing through Apartment Therapy, I found this post, about a married couple and their kids sharing a 430-square foot apartment in Paris:

paris-b5

That is such a cool little place, and such a refreshing change of pace from the McMansion mentality. Although, I think I would have to insist on a private bedroom for myself and my lady friend. Also, er, no dog.

Long Overdue Thoughts on “Yesterday’s Enterprise”

I’ve been downloading a lot of video for my iPod lately, to the point where I’m pretty certain I need an external hard-drive to hold it all. I don’t feel at all bad about any of these downloads, as the videos I’m DLing tend to be of things I already have on DVD — so far, the vids on my Nano are mostly episodes of Classic and Next-Gen Trek.

This morning, I rotated Yesterday’s Enterprise onto my iPod. Between coming into the Office, and during lunch, and waiting for the bus, and on the bus to the Metro, and then before clocking in at the Bookstore, and then waiting for the L2 home, and on the L2 home, I watched it twice. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but I had some thoughts.

First, for those of you who forget: aired in the 3rd season of TNG, a time-rift brings the Enterprise-C from the past. This causes a change in history, in which the Federations are losing a war against the Klingons. Guinan has to convince Picard that the Enterprise-C must return in time to correct the timeline, and Picard’s security chief, Lt. Yar (who in the “real” timeline had been killed off in the first season) has to decide her own destiny.

Second: Wow, what the fuck is up with Riker and Picard? In the “real” timeline, they’re very cordial to each other — friends, even, although I don’t think Riker is ever on a first name basis with his commander. Here, there’s a very real tension between the two — Picard overrules Riker, Riker’s snappy with Picard, they’re sort of like that couple you work with who broke up and who claim that their breakup hasn’t affected their ability to work together, but totally has.

You know what really would’ve worked here? If the Picard of this timeline was an Admiral, hoisting his flag on the Enterprise, and Riker was the ship’s actual captain. Sure, some of the scenes would have to be revamped, but Riker’s attitude would be more believable with his admiral stepping on his authority as captain. (Besides: the Federation is at war, and Riker’s not a captain of something? In war, when you’re constantly losing officers, one would think you’d get promoted a hell of a lot faster).

Third: Wow! What a wonderful job the production crew did on revamping the Enterprise‘s bridge: added consoles, darker lighting, and the blue bridge dome. Ten-Forward still exists largely as before, although one wonders what, exactly, a battleship (which the E-D is identified as) needs with a gigantic luxury bar. For that matter — what the fuck is Guinan doing aboard? I mean, yes, obviously she plays an important role in the story, but how much finger twisting did Picard have to do to get her transfer approved?

Fourth: I understand that this episode probably just completely ate up the budget for several episodes alone, but the Enterprise-C bridge is pretty lame.

Decent episode — more than decent. Certainly an episode that got the immediate “classic” moniker. Scripts could’ve used maybe a tad more thought — seriously, are those guys in the background wearing Sam Brown phaser-holster belts?

Go back to India you fucking H-1B scam artists.

I don’t really talk in great detail about what I do at my Office job. If asked to describe it in one sentence, I would say that I am a middleman of sorts, looking to put technology salespeople into touch with the management-level folks at large Fortune 1500 companies who would be in a decision to benefit from said technology.

Boiled down, it means I spend my days tracking direct phone numbers, working e-mails, and reporting structures. Fun? Not so much.

One of my colleagues, attempting to find a contact at a California company, sent an e-mail to an IT manager who’d left the company. My colleague has been forwarding the e-mail around the office, and it makes my blood boil. I found the guy’s blog, and I contemplating taking a screen shot and posting it to the comments — but I don’t want to make trouble.

Well, I mean, I do want to make trouble. But I’d rather do it anonymously. So, with all details removed to make the exchange anonymous:

indiascam2

Y’know what I don’t get? The guy had two full weeks to figure out a response. Usually, people calm down after that much time. Also, my colleagues name is pretty hard to mistake for Indian, it’s a very Chinese name.

confessions of a certified sandwich artist (there be diarrhea here)

I work on K Street. In the very “technical” sense, since my Office job is located in northern Bethesda (really, I should just say ‘Rockville’ and hide my shame). However, my part-time job is located on K Street. Well, okay, it’s located on L Street, but the mailing address is K!

So, since I’m sort-of-kind-of but not really a “K-Streeter”, I spend a lot of time downtown — to the tune of about 25 hours a week (hey, don’t laugh: that’s an extra $11k a year!) — and I am still astounded by the illusion of ‘choice’ provided by having the same few restaurants and banks on each and every blocks.

However, this post is about diarrhea, and how it applies to one chain, so I won’t wax on homogeneous office blocks, rather: WTF Subway.

Confession time: I’m trying to lose weight, and I’m trying to lose weight by watching what I eat, and exercising more. My primary form of exercise is walking, and the best time for me to do that is after working at the Bookstore on weeknights, and before and after working there on weekends. However, because I am on a budget, and because I am working (and also because our fridge broke), I often subsist on foods like Easy Mac and microwavable Chef Boyardee for “dinner.”

Sometimes? Frankly? It just ain’t enough, and I feel the need for a sub: and while I’d like to get something healthy, I usually go for a Spicy Italian on white, with American cheese, lettuce, onions, extra pickles, hots, old bay, mayo, and a dash of mustard and southwest sauce. Hmmm-mmm-good. And for subs? Really, only one place to go.

My first job, ever, was at a Subway in Columbia, MD. I worked there for a year and a half, and I was a “certified sandwich artist” my first day (which calls into question, ‘How do you become a CSA?’ Because there was really no certification what-so-monkey-lovin’-ever). It was many many years after I stopped working there before I started eating at a Subway again.

Truth? This is not actually about diarrhea. It is, however, about food poisoning, so my bowels and anus are involved, never fear.

There are two Subways close to the Bookstore. Well, I mean, there are quite a bit more — there’s a third on Farragut Square, and I think I saw one on 19th Street somewhere. However, there are two specific Subways I’m discussing here. One is on 18th Street, near M. The other is on L Street, just to the east of Connecticut Avenue.

I far prefer the 18th Street Subway. The staff knows me, and I know them. They usually know exactly what I want, which makes it sometimes troublesome when I decide to experiment and go with a tuna sub, or a pizza (which is surprisingly good — tastes like old school Pizza Hut deep-dish, before either their pies went downhill, or my taste improved).

However, I’ve noticed that within a time frame of anywhere from one second to five minutes after completing my meal, my stomach begins making certain complaints. Sometimes, I squat on the toilet and a little turd pops out amongst a whole ton of gas. Sometimes? I swear to god, last week I shat out the entire sub nearly whole. The scent coming up from the toilet bowl actually started to make me hungry again, but I didn’t bother to look down to see if the sub actually was whole, because ewww.

And then there’s the L Street store. I started making it my regular “go to” Subway, however, so far? No food poisoning. I’m so happy, I add a cookie to my sub, chips, and soda (oatmeal raisin, if you must know).

Look: I’ve worked in the food industry for long enough to recognize that something is foul at the 18th Street location. Obviously, I’m a sample base of only one person, but I can recognize that I experience food poisoning whenever I eat from that location, regardless of who prepares it.

I could point out that the staff frequently does not wash their hands between moving from the register to the prep-line, and that even though they wear gloves, the simple fact is to put the gloves on? They have to touch the gloves. However, they do this at L Street, too, so I don’t think this is the root of the problem.

The problem, if I had to guess, is most likely that the condiments (mayo, mustard & the like) are not being stored at a proper temperature — especially since I come in during late afternoon, they’ve probably been sitting out all day. I’d bet dollar to donuts the problem is that the refrigeration unit on the makeline is not sufficient to keep them cool, whereas I’ve seen staff at L Street keep the condiments in a fridge while they aren’t busy.

Problem solved, in my mind, and L Street started getting all my sub-eatin’ business.

And then. Just when I was starting to learn to love that store, with its crappy view … they put a sign up on their soda machine. “.50 refills.” In fairness, 18th Street did too, but theirs was: “Only one free refill.”

Ahh, the choice between drinking my syrup-poison-of-choice with abandon, or carefully rationing it knowing full well that I had no desire to shell out two quarters for more of it?

Well, the wallet won out over my digestive system. Food poisoning FTW.

here’s a hot-pink Hello Kitty AR-15 with flowers painted on it

On ABC’s website is a sad story, about a DC police officer who was confronted by a dog, and a kid with what turned out to be a toy gun. The officer fired at the dog, the bullet ricocheted, and hit and injured the boy.

First: Until about ten years ago or so, I was deeply frightened by large dogs. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I didn’t grow up around dogs, and that large dogs are — y’know — large. Also, they’re very physical animals: they want to jump on you and play and, y’know, really guys, just settle down, pant, and leave me be. I got over this fear — I’d actually like a Husky, someday — but at the same time, big dogs? Can do a lot of damage if they want to.

There’s a reason for leash laws: and it’s to protect both dogs, and people. Here’s an example: there’s a lady who walks her dog up Connecticut Avenue at the same time as I’m walking to the Metro. A couple of times a week, we pass each other. Every single time we do, the dog goes nuts and starts barking at me and trying to get to me. For all I know, he just really wants to lick my face and be scratched behind his ear. On the other hand, he might want to eat my rod and berries for breakfast. No thanks. He’s no Newfoundland Terrier, but he’s no tiny lap-rat, either. If he wasn’t leashed and he came for me and I had a gun? I’d shoot him. As it is, I’d whack at him with my umbrella.

Let’s get out of the habit of pretending other people know how nice and adorable our pets are. They don’t. I’m sure that woman’s dog is nice and all, and probably just doesn’t like that I probably reek of cats (do I?), but, still? Big angry dog comes my way unleashed? I’m thinking its teeth are going to be buried in my flesh somewhere. No thank you.

Second, regarding the gun: Buddha’s Wii Whiskers comments: “It was yellow and green idiots. Haven’t seen a real gun that color in a while.” Well, I don’t know about yellow and green, but here’s a hot-pink Hello Kitty AR-15 with flowers painted on it. You can’t trust a paint-job, and, the brand of toy-gun the kid was identified as carrying, Airsoft? Makes extraordinarily realistic looking pellet guns.

It’s easy to cast blame at the police: after all, they had the real firearms, and they’re the ones who are supposed to protect and serve. But give me a break here: it isn’t unreasonable for a cop, responding to a call about a guy running around with a gun (and if I recall correctly, the call to 911 did not say it was a juvenile dashing around with a gun), to open fire if he perceives the guy’s dog to be in the process of attempting to assault him.

I mean – I wasn’t there. I don’t know. There are conflicting reports. Y’know what? If you and I stood next to each other and saw the same car accident? We’d probably have conflicting reports, too. For all I know, the cop turned the corner and just started shooting.

However, third, as BWW writes: “Let a ricocheted bullet hit your child and remember it’s OK because no one was aiming at him.” Of course it’s not okay, but let’s not pretend the cop shot the kid. He shot at the dog — and missed. I think the problem here is the officer’s aim, which led to the ricochet. Probably, the officer should’ve been a little slower on the trigger finger, but let’s stop with blaming the police for this situation: maybe they deserve a share of the blame, but, shock, maybe this kid does, too.

On the other hand — here’s another solution: stop making toy guns that look like real ones. And if you’ve got a toy gun? Don’t run around with it outside! Alternatively, let’s only hire psychic police officers who can determine that your gun is fake by reading your brain waves.

The Problem With Long Netflix Queues

There’s a danger to keeping a really, really long Netflix queue. Of course, this might depend on what kind of “querer” you are. What do I mean? Well …

Generally, here’s how I watch movies at home: movies on the TV, laptop on my table, eyes sort of darting back and forth. When an interesting preview comes on, more often than not, I add the movie to my Netflix queue. I’ve seen a lot of great films and TV shows that way — State of Play was one I found last summer this way.

When my Netflix selections arrive, I throw them in a pile until I have time to watch them. When I do have time, I rarely do more than glance at the disc’s title before throwing it into the player. So you can imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch Shortbus, and I, expecting to watch a heart-warming film about retards overcoming their handicaps and learning to work together, instead watched a film that can best be described as border-line pornographic.

At some point I must’ve known this.

I mean … trust me, I’m not objecting, although it made it a little hard to watch when two minutes into the first scene with Sook-Yin Lee I realized I was about as long and hard as a petrified telephone pole.

Anyway: my point is this — when you keep your queue so long you forget what films you’ve got on there? Might be time to delete some stuff.