I Find Free Speech Zones Disturbing (or: How I Reluctantly Find Myself Siding With The Loons at Westboro Baptist Church)

Boy, as if you needed another reason to hate the Westboro Baptist Church:

The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church says an order to pay the protesters’ legal costs in a civil claim is nothing less than a “slap in the face.”

“By the court making this decision, they’re not only telling me that they’re taking their side, but I have to pay them money to do this to more soldiers and their families,” said Albert Snyder, whose son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ordered that Snyder pay more than $16,000 in costs requested by Westboro for copies of motions, briefs and appendices, according to court documents.

In a motion filed in October, Snyder’s lawyer, who is representing him for free, asked the court to dismiss the bill of costs, or, alternatively, reduce the 50-cent fee per page or charge Snyder only for copies that were necessary to make their arguments on appeal.

Snyder’s family sued the church and went to trial in 2007 alleging privacy invasion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. A jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8 million in punitive damages, which were reduced to $5 million.

Westboro in 2008 appealed the case to the 4th District, which reversed the judgments a year later, siding with the church’s claims that its First Amendment rights had been violated.

“The protest was confined to a public area under supervision and regulation of local law enforcement and did not disrupt the church service,” the circuit court opinion said. “Although reasonable people may disagree about the appropriateness of the Phelps’ protest, this conduct simply does not satisfy the heavy burden required for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress under Maryland law.”

I think the Westboro Baptist Church is chock-full of degenerate, hateful assholes who probably deserve to be thrown into a room filled with bee after their tongues are ripped out, their lips stapled together, and their mouths bound with thick scotch tape coated with honey.

And yet.

And yet I find myself agreeing with the Court’s ruling, as much as I want to disapprove of it. As disgusting as the Westboro Church’s behavior is, free speech and expression shouldn’t be limited by how offensive it is judged, or even intended, to be. Because, c’mon, let’s face it: they’re not protesting because they feel they have something to share, they just want to cause people pain and emotional distress.

But … provided there is no incitement of violence, don’t they have a right to express themselves in whatever hateful, bigoted, stupid way they so choose?

I don’t agree with how they protest. It’s absolutely disgusting and despicable to conduct themselves in the manner that they do, and I believe they do it not to forward their message, but to cause further grief to the loved ones of those who died in this country’s service. I honestly don’t know how they can sleep at night. That said, I think the concept of limiting where one can and cannot practice free speech (such as “free speech zones“) is kind of distressing. And by “kind of”, I mean “very.”

So, when I get home, I’m going to donate money to Patriot Guard Riders.

Kick-Ass is pretty KICK ASS

KickAss2[1]

So Friday night I went to Brickskeller after work to visit with some friends and former coworkers. Because I was early, I stopped past Second Story to browse. I was actually looking for a copy of Calvin Trillian’s Tepper Isn’t Going Out. Alas, I’d left the sticky note with that information on my desk at work, so I just wound up browsing the fiction shelves.

I did not find the book. (Probably because for some reason I thought the author’s last name started with an N, not a T, so that’s where I was looking).

But on my way out, I spied a hardbound graphic novel of Kick-Ass on a table, and I thought, “Well, the trailer was kind of fun, why the hell not?”

So I bought it, and after a wonderfully low-key evening of gentle drinking and catching up and long overdue hugs, I made my way home and curled up in bed with Kick-Ass.

And – wow. It’s pretty, well, kick ass. (C’mon – you saw that coming from a mile away, or at least, from the post title).

Kick-Ass is a series written by Mark Millar, who also was responsible for Wanted. Not the crappy movie with Big-Lips-What’s-Her-Face and curving bullets and Morgan “I’m only in this for the pay check” Freeman, but the bad ass comic book about a bunch of evil people who go around doing pretty much what-the-fuck-ever they want … right up until they’re attacked by even eviler people, at which point, well, if you’re not an evil person, you’re fucked, and if you’re an evil person, you’re probably going to get fucked too, except you’ve got at least a minimum chance to fuck someone back. Anyway, great graphic novel — still trying to remember who I loaned it too …

So, Kick-Ass is about a kid named Dave Lizewski who’s a bit of a loser at school and decided to put on a wet suit and go kick some ass. And … he fails. Spectacularly. Over and over and over again. But he keeps going back out, and getting himself in more and more trouble, and just when it looks like his life is about to actually come to a pretty gruesome end …

… he’s saved by a ten year old with swords. Who fucking butchers everyone in the room — slicing one guy’s head in two, while sprouting dialogue like “Okay, you cunts. Let’s see what you can do!” and “bad news, you sorry sack of shit.” Ten. Years. Old. Wow! Well, consider me hooked. And it only gets better, although I’m reluctant to spoil it for you so that you can be like, “Holy crap! This is great!” when … well, trust me: it’s a fun read.

And then I watched the trailer again and, oh, crap, is that Nick Cage playing Big Daddy? Well, fuck me with a fork.

Because while I certainly enjoy certain Nick Cage films, like The Rock, most others I could give two shits about. In fact, if you want to pretty much guarantee that I won’t go see a movie, or rent it, stick Nick Cage in it. And, honestly, lately John Cusack is trending the same way.

I’m still going to go see this, though. I just hope the movie Kick-Ass wasn’t raped in the same way the movie Wanted was: dammit, I want to see sickening violence!

(Please do not actually fuck me with a fork.)

Weight: Week Three

As I mentioned last week, I injured my foot last Saturday: excessive walking.

Despite my injured foot, I stubbornly walked home last Wednesday night. When I twittered about this, the reaction on Twitter and Facebook was “Are you a moron?” Well, no, I’m just a stubborn asshole and I miss walking and it was a beautiful night, okay?

I was going to make a doctor’s appointment, I swear. And then …

“What’d you do to your foot?” a customer asked as I limped him towards the computer section.

“Too much walking,” I told him.

“Your heel?” he asked.

“No,” I pointed to the top of my foot*.

He gave me the same advice many others did: ice the foot at a regular interval, and elevate it as much as possible. I’ve been doing that since Thursday night, alas, when I opened my freezer and found that I had no ice, I settled for soaking a towel in cold water and then wrapping it around my foot. Brr! The good news is, my foot feels considerably better since I’ve been doing this, and I’m confident I’ll be back to full walking power come Thursday, when I’ll duck out of work to spend the remainder of the day ogling the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin.

In any case, here’s the news you’ve skimmed this entire post for: this morning, I weighed in at 246.5, which is a loss of 3.5 pounds since last week, for a total of 12.5 since I began this effort on March 4th. This puts me well on my way to my initial goal of 229 by June 18th (my sister’s wedding), and pretty well on my way to my overall goal of 175 by the middle of December.

*On this diagram, #10 on the right foot.

On Getting Signatures

Yesterday, at the Bookstore, we had a fairly well known celebrity stop in for a book signing in the afternoon. Now, whereas we can host Ralph Nader and have a total of 70 people show up, yesterday, we were packed — a conservative estimate would probably be seven to eight hundred people came to try to get a signature, alas, the line was capped at just under six-hundred (so a lot of people left disappointed and angry).

Here are some lessons for future signings those people might want to keep in mind:

1. Don’t show up at the time the event is supposed to be starting and be surprised when you’re told you won’t even be permitted to get in line because we’re out of wristbands (even if you were told earlier that you could show up at that time and get a sig — guess what? Things change). Yes, it’s a true tragedy that we didn’t advertise wristbands — seriously, did you think you were the only person who wanted to get her signature? There were people here at 9am. And complaining to store staff isn’t going to do anything: the signer has her own people (or her show’s people, or her publisher’s people, not certain), and they make the call about how many people will possible get signatures.

2. I need to reiterate this: quite frequently, when the person signing is pretty damn famous, and are doing a book signing as part of a tour, or during a stop on their traveling comedy show, or whatever, the signing is being managed by their marketing people. Well, not their marketing people, but their production companies’ marketing people, or their TV show’s marketing people, or whoever. Anyway, the point is, threatening to take your business away from the Bookstore … whatever. It’s not going to effect how the event is run. You’re threatening the wrong people.

3. No, you [deleted]: just because you have tickets to the signers’ performance later that night does not mean you can have wristbands. For one thing, I’m pretty sure I just told you “We’re at capacity for signatures”, which is code for, “You should have gotten here earlier.” I can’t just pull wristbands out of my ass. (I could … but they’d be covered in poop).

4. Do you not have ears? I’ve just told one person what the situation is with wristbands, and the colors, yada-yada-yada, and you tap me on the shoulder and say, “I heard what you just told that person, but can you tell it to me, too?” Seriously, you know there are people in the store who need assistance finding books and movies NOT relating to the event, right?

5. Well, no, I’m not going to make you get out line and leave the store … but if you don’t do what I’ve politely asked you to do, the big cop behind me will.

6. Yes. There were police in the store. No, no one was arrested yesterday (that I’m aware of), but several people were escorted from the store for trying to get in line without a wristband. Was it worth it?

7. Don’t treat our store like a fucking dump. If you buy a coffee, and can’t find a trash-can, carry it around with you. The staff is not your mother.

8. After all the people who bitched about not being able to get a signature, or the line being too long, or we didn’t have enough staff, or, oh my god, if I get out line to go to the restroom, I’ve got to rejoin at the back of the line? Can I just pee on the floor?*, you have no idea how happy I was when people told me we’d handled it really, really well. Seriously, if I could give you guys free books, I would’ve.

9. That said, our guest? Holy crap — 600+ signatures in under two hours. Wow! We probably could’ve gotten yours signed after all! Oh well. (Actually, we probably couldn’t have — I don’t know how many signatures a person could do before their wrist snaps, but I would think six hundred is pushing it, and I’m sure she wanted something to eat).

*Yeah. I’m serious. Sure, pee on the floor. Don’t be surprised when you’re being taken out of the store in handcuffs.

Weight: Week Two

Well, I sabotaged myself this weekend: Friday night, I met up with some cool folks at Ella’s around 9pm for some pre-gaming. What were we pre gaming, you ask? The midnight showing of Clue at the E-Street Cinema.

Ella’s was where I sabotaged myself the first time: I splurged for a peperoni and sausage pizza. Blew my daily calorie budget by about a thousand.

Okay, so, sidebar: calorie budget? WTF?

Well, WTF is a cool little iPhone app a couple of people told me about called Lose It! Basically, it’s Weight Watchers for your phone. You set the weight you want to reach, and how many pounds you want to lose per week. I decided to be a bit aggressive: someone told me, or I found out, once upon a time, that my ideal weight (for my height) is 175 pounds, so I plugged that in for goal, and I selected the maximum weekly weight loss, which is two pounds. Assuming I can stick with everything, I’ll hit one-seven-five on December 16th, 2010.

Lose It! works by putting a person on a daily calorie budget — stick to it (or under it) and you’ll lose weight. Plug in your exercise, and it subtracts those calories against your budget. It’s not perfect: the food calorie counts are mostly estimates, and some of the exercises you can select from are laughable: Vacuuming? Broomball?

Anyway, whatever faults Lose It! has, the benefit of it as a phone app is that it keeps it front and center in one’s mind. I so much as snack on a pretzel, and I’m scanning through the app to plug it in. (Also, the app itself is free).

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog post: After Clue — which was, by the way, glorious* — I sabotaged myself a second time: I decided, “Hey, it’s 1:36am. I should walk home!”

And you might inquire, “Well, okay, I get how eating too much fucks your weight loss plan, Mr. Snay, but how does walking home at 1:36am fuck your plan?”

Well, it’s like this: I walked home. It was three and a half miles. Got the stink eye from a Secret Service agent on 13th & Pennsylvania, waved at a guy mopping the floor at Steam Cafe, saw an angry cop berate a kid who’d been driving like an idiot up on the Taft Bridge. Got home, checked my e-mail, went to sleep around 3:30. Woke up at 8:30, and was out the door about an hour later: trudged over to the Target in Columbia Heights and back, put an additional three miles on my feet.

About this point, my right foot started hurting. Not like unbearably so, but enough that it made walking a little difficult. And that’s when my phone rang: one of my unbelievable-how-she-hasn’t-been-fired-yet coworkers had (surprise!**) called out of work that night, was I available?

Well, of course I was. So I walked two miles down Connecticut, and by the time I walked into the shop, my foot was positively ouchie-ouch-ouch, to the point where I caught the Metro home.

I’m really getting into this walking thing: my foot was hurting, and I felt like a loser for taking the Metro. No worries about the foot though: I soaked both feet in a bucket of hot water with epsom salt, and it feels considerably better (even walked to work Sunday***).

In any case, the week still ended on a positive note: this morning, the scale read 250. That’s a loss of 2.5 pounds since last week, and a total of nine pounds since I started this endeavor.

*It sounds stupid, maybe? But it was great — I haven’t seen Clue on the big screen for a quarter century, and the audience participation and enjoyment is what makes spending $10 — to see a movie on the big screen that you could buy twice over on DVD for the same amount — so absolutely worth it.

** I’m not being sarcastic. It was a literal surprise — she usually gives no advance warning that she’s not coming in, she just doesn’t show.

*** … but then caught the bus home, because, y’know: ouchie-ouchie-ouch-ouch.

I Can’t Unlock The Door Without A Key!

clue

Friday night, I’ll be heading to the E-Street Cinema (it’s on E Street) for the first time, and why? Some new blockbuster film I just can’t wait another moment to see? Some great little independent film? Perhaps I’m going to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo*?

Nope! I’m going for — wait for it, wait for it — this!!!

Okay, the giant poster I’ve embedded into the post probably clued you in, too. Hah, clued. I slay me.

So what if I’ve got it on DVD? Twice. I actually have two copies of the DVD. True.

So what if I just watched it three times in one week not that long ago?

So what if I know who dunnit? (In any of the three endings?)

I’m so excited. Seriously. I’m just going to run my fingers down my cheeks and say “Flaaaaames … on the side of my face…”

Because honestly, it’s not about the movie. I’m looking forward to seeing it with a crowd of folks who love the film. I betcha I can’t hear a word of film dialogue over the audience participation. I just hope I can stay awake through the whole thing! (Usually, by like 11, my body is like, “Dude … bed … where’s the bed?”)

Also — midnight showings are retarded. They should be 11:59 showings. It’s completely counter intuitive — it’s like, “Wait, am I buying a ticket for the Saturday AM screening of CLUE Friday night? Or is this the Sunday AM screening of CLUE on Saturday night?” Lots of head scratching, and for baldies like me, this leads to awkward questions: “So, dude, some passionate lady giving you the loving?” to which I can only reply, “No, buying midnight movie tickets is causing me to self-mutilate myself. Also, I really need to trim my fingernails.”

–@–

*I might, though.

Fortunately, I caught the flu …

There are two words that strike fear into the heart of every Bookseller, and they are –

(Well, first, it’s important to note they’re not REALLY words. They’re abbreviations which have become words. Back to our regular posting.)

– RGIS (pronounced “ree-jus”), and RPL (pronounced “fuck my life”).

RGIS is an inventory company that, once a year, is hired by the Bookstore to come over one night after closing and scan every single item in the store. Every book. Every DVD. Every meaningless tchotchky and candy. Every single bookshelf, display, or floor stack has a little white piece of paper taped to it that says the number of items on said shelf, display, or stack; the total dollar amount; blah-blah-blabbity-blah-blah.

Fortunately, I caught the flu and had to miss RGIS. I’ve still got one of those hacking coughs that seems to want to send my lungs up my throat, and you know what? Totally worth it.

Once RGIS is done, someone, somewhere, in the depths of the meaningless bureaucracy that is Corporate HQ, someone sends the RPL to the store.

I do not actually know what RPL stands for. Thinking on the matter as I washed out my mug this morning, I realized it probably stands for Remove Product List, but for all I know, it stands for Robot Perpendicular Lobotomy. Basically, it’s a list of titles that we have in stock that aren’t selling, or aren’t selling well enough, or are selling better at another store (so need to be sent there), and essentially for two weeks or so, everyone works frantically yanking thousands of books off the shelf, frantically packing them into boxes so they can be shipped back to the distribution centers, and once we’re done?

Yeah, the titles we just shipped out start coming back in to the store with our normal replenishment deliveries.

What’s the definition of insanity? I’m pretty sure it’s RPL.

But there are good things about the whole RGIS and RPL: for one thing, there are lots of extra hours available for people to come in and just work yanking books off the shelf. That’s what I did last night: didn’t wear a name badge, no radio or wire, just rocked my iPod. Okay, sure, it was kind of awkward when I was pulling titles from the Sex section and I found The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex For Women* and proclaimed (louder than I thought), “Hey, I’ve been looking for this!” And that pretty much cleared the section.

Although, really, who browses the Sex section when there’s anyone else in it?

And no, I did not go from RPLing Sex to RPLing Kids. Although that was next on my list. And honestly, our Kids Section is a repository for sex stuff anyway: “Service Manager … there’s an open Playboy in the Kid’s Section.”

“Ok, can you bring it up to Information?”

“…um, I’m afraid to touch it.”

-@-

*Here’s why I didn’t find it before: it was on the top-shelf, and in the As, not the Ts, where it should’ve been. There’s a “That’s What She Said” in this, somewhere.

Forget a Merit Increase – Can I At Least Get Paid What The New People Do?

I’ve read and understood what the Bookstore’s CEO has written about merit increases — which is to say, that until the company is on more stable financial footing, they’re just not going to happen. This coming April, I will have been a bookseller at the store for two years. I make $8.75 an hour.

I recently found out that new booksellers are being paid $9.00 an hour.

I’ve tried to tell myself, “Hey, don’t let it bother you.” I mean, it’s only a quarter, right?

But it does bother me. Last year, that extra quarter would’ve pulled in an extra $260! Imagine how many books that is! (Answer: it’s a lot).

I’ve been with the company for two years, and new people — new people who have to be given tours of the store and trained on the register and Atlas and what RPL is and why you never, ever, pull things off carts that say “Do not remove any items” — make more than I do right out of the gate.

I’ve gone to my Ops Manager, and she told me her hands are tied. I went to my GM, and he told me the same thing. I’m tempted to ask, “So if I quit, you’d rehire me at the higher rate, right?”

Most of the hires made at the end of last year have gone — some have been fired, many have quit as they found better jobs or moved across the country. I’ve been with the Bookstore for two years. I’m not going anywhere (well, anytime soon). But if I were to leave, my replacement would run the store’s budget .25 an hour more than I do. And that doesn’t factor in for all of the training it would take to replace the two years of knowledge about the store that I have. Really, it doesn’t make any economic sense at all not to increase my base pay.

So forget the merit increase — can I at least get a raise to what new people are being paid as their starting hourly wage?

And if not, anyone know of any other bookstores in the District that are hiring, and what their starting wages are?

And in the meantime, since the store’s management’s hands were tied, I did the only other thing I could think of: I e-mailed the CEO.

Weight: Week One

My clothes felt a little baggy on me last night as I trudged up 19th, past the Hilton. I was bit heavier in step, and each hurt. Stopped at the corner market, lugged the milk home, then cheated: took the elevator the rest of the way.

But this morning, my step was light again. I practically ran to the Metro. Walked up the escalator at Bethesda: sixty steps before my legs burned and I stopped. Last week, I could only do fifty. Next week, I’ll be doing seventy.

And this weekend! Oh, I was so disappointed, reading the weather reports. I had assumed that the rain would keep me from walking, and this was disappointing because when it comes to exercise, oh how I hate the gym. But please give me the opportunity to walk the streets of this lovely city, to and from whatever my destinations might be. Work. Grocery.

And okay — it wasn’t sunny. It wasn’t a weekend that screamed, “Spend me outside!” But spend it outside is indeed what I did, as much as possible.

Okay, not so possible when you’ve got to work your part-time job both days. But both days, when I stepped outside to catch the bus or run to the Metro, I realized: Hey, this is good walking weather. Not perfect walking weather, but good walking weather. So I did. And both days, when work was over, I realized: hey, this is good walking weather. So I did.

According to Google maps, it’s 2 miles from my apartment to my part-time job. Both days, I varied my route home, came up 19th, over through Kalorama, added .2 miles to my route. 8.4 miles over the course of the weekend, 8.4 more miles than I’d expected to walk.

I haven’t walked every day of the last week: Sunday I called out, didn’t feel well, same for Monday, flu (was in bed by 4pm, slept 12 hours). I didn’t work Tuesday night, got off at Dupont Circle on my way home from my day job, walked west (and then north) on Mass Ave, rounded Observatory Circle on my way home, spied the Cathedral in the background (2.7 miles); Wednesday night I was getting over the flu, I caught the L2 home. Thursday I walked. 2.2 miles. Felt great.

Weighed myself this morning, with every one of those 13.3 miles working with me, and Thursday’s lunch at Chipotle against. Last week, after I wrote my resolutions post, I’d stepped on the scale: 259, it said. This morning it said: 252.5. That’s a good start, don’tcha think?

woohoo for not feeling like I’m going to vomit

I woke up this morning at 3:30, and I felt like a million bucks.

Which is at is should be, since I went to bad last night at 4pm (having snoozed on the bus and the Metro most of the way home), having been sick for the last couple of days.

Saturday, at the Bookstore, I had a bit of a sore throat, but I wasn’t too concerned about it. Then I woke up in the middle of the night unable to swallow without incredible pain. Fortunately, some orange juice and theraflu put things well enough for me to sleep, but as I still felt pretty lousy the next morning, I called out from work.

And, look: I hate calling out from work. Especially my part-time job, where there’s no vacation time and work missed is work unpaid. I also hate doing it because, look, most days, the store is operating with just enough people to cover all areas. And for reasons passing understanding, management isn’t gung-ho about trying to call people in to cover open shifts — which is also mind boggling. In no restaurant or retail job I’ve ever had will management not call everyone they can, “Hey, want to work late tonight?”

Anyway, because I felt better Sunday evening, I went to my day job Monday morning. And I felt okay until Monday afternoon when I became nauseas. So I called out — again. I managed to make it through the rest of my day, and went home and to sleep.

And voila, woke up feeling like a million bucks — like I’d been reborn, and the whole world was awoken anew to me, with opportunities for the taking. It didn’t hurt that the weather was warm enough that only a sweater was required for walking out of my building, and I was tempted to walk the long way to the Metro station (although I didn’t).

But all of this feeling of renewal and rebirth …

It’s tempered by coming into work this morning to find out that one of my colleagues was fired yesterday after I left. He started two weeks after me.

It’s Never Too Late To Make A Good Resolution, Is It?

Recently, I’ve been made very aware of how out-of control I’ve let my life go. Namely, there have been three incidents: first, the realization that I owe close to two-thousand dollars in taxes to the DC and Federal governments, especially shocking as I was expecting a refund; second, Tippy’s health-scare, which taxed my checking account severely; and third, my sister’s upcoming nuptials this Spring (and specifically, how this relates to my weight).

Reflecting on these, there are two lessons (well … two lessons I’ve known, but only just recognized): One, I am a 31-year old independent adult male working two jobs and living paycheck to paycheck, and this needs to stop. Two, I could stand to lose some weight (especially if I hope to take one* of my sister’s friends back to the hotel with me after the wedding).

So I made some resolutions: the first is Money, the second is Weight, and the third is Free Time.

First – Money

I need to gain a healthy little savings account. At the bare minimum, I need not to worry when taking my cats in for routine (or non-routine) health matters. I’d be happy with that, for a start. This involves, pretty much, a complete spending freeze on things not considered “essential.” Essential by whom? Well, by me. So, no more books or media. No more eating out (far cheaper to bring something from home). These are the big changes:

1. I am not going to buy any new books, or media. As far as books go, if they’re CL or QPs (which is publishing/bookstore lingo for “hardcover” and “oversized paperback”, I can borrow them for free so long as they’re returned in undamaged condition). Besides, do you know how many books I’ve got on my “to read” list? (A LOT!)

2. I’m not eating out anymore. I might make an exception if I’m working all day at the Bookstore and an Easy Mac just won’t fill my tummy. But no more dinners at Mackey’s. No more lunches from the café downstairs.

3. I’m canceling my Netflix. I’ve had my current three movies for three months. The money I spent on Netflix per month is essentially being pissed down the drain, and it’s not like I don’t have plenty of DVD options at home to choose from.

4. I’m also scrapping my cable TV (keeping the interwebs). The only things I watch are CNN and Lost anyway, and I can go to CNN.com for the news, and Hulu or ABC.com for Lost.

5. Things that I will buy: food, cleaning supplies (like laundry detergent), toothpaste, cat litter, cat food. Essentials. But actual essentials.

6. I’m going to open a savings account. I had one, but thanks to a bizarre bank merger (where some of Chevy Chase’s banks in northern Maryland were given to another bank?), it wound up being closed. I’m going to put at least a few bucks a week into it. I will not touch it.

And because making extra money never hurts … I’m also going to try to increase my hours at the Bookstore. Since Christmas, I’ve been working two weeknights and all day Sunday – that’s about eighteen hours a week. Before Christmas, however, I was often working close to forty hours. It’s not like I enjoy having no free time, however, gotta be honest: when I’m working, I’m generally not eating, or spending money. Plus, on a busy night, it’s good exercise running here, there, and wherever. Really, this goal can be easily accomplished: pick up the phone, call, “Hey, did anyone call out tonight? Do you need any extra help?” Gotta be proactive!

Second – Weight

Right now, this morning, I’m somewhere between 250 and 260 pounds (not exactly sure), which is (or is at least very close to being) the heaviest I’ve ever been. I’m changing my eating habits (we’ll see how long this lasts – the last time I tried, I stuck with it for a few months and actually lost 30 pounds). These are the big changes:

Eating:

1. No more hot chocolate in the mornings at work.

2. I drink 2 to 3 gallons of milk a week. I’m going to try to drink more water at home and hopefully drop my milk intake to 1 gallon. This will also help with the whole “not spending money” thing, as milk can get expensive.

3. No more ice cream. AT ALL. (This one makes me really really sad). Also, no Skittles. Boo.

4. Pretzels, carrot bits, and rice cakes for snacks. No more jalapeno cheddar Cheetos! This one is also going to be really tough (they’re sooooo good).

5. When I do eat not-good foods (i.e., most frozen foods, chips, etc.), I’m going to try to respect the “serving size.”

6. On Fridays (“bagel day” at work), I will only eat one bagel with cream cheese.

7. I am going to start eating breakfast, which is a meal I usually skip. Thankfully, the café downstairs sells bananas for seventy-five cents, because if I tried bringing some in, hoo-boy would they spoil.

Exercising:

1. Sure, sometimes the escalators and elevators are impossible to beat – like, at Bethesda and Woodley Park Metros – but there’s no reason I just have to stand on the escalator: I can walk up it! Or down it! Also, in general, I’m going to try to shun elevators in favor of stairs whenever possible.

2. I will walk home as much and often as possible. Sure, I don’t always have an option – it’d be a three hour walk to and from my day job, but there’s no reason I can’t start walking to Van Ness Metro in the mornings (1 mile); and I won’t use sore feet for an excuse to catch the L2 home after a late night at the Bookstore – that’s a good two mile uphill hike, and it feels so good when I get home (I might cheat and take the elevator up to my floor, though).

Third – Free Time

Admittedly, I’m not going to have much free time. However, I want to be more productive in the free time I do have. When I racked my mind to consider what I wanted to do, this is what I came up with:

1. Blogging – Not only do I want to blog more here, I want to talk more about myself rather than just the occasional political or bookstore related ranting or raving. In addition, I want to resurrect dc.crimereporting.net, which had a brief life last summer. I made some mistakes with it initially, but I think if I keep it limited to a link-page of DC-only crime, it should be manageable.

2. Reading – I’ve been bad on my reading. Tripped up and ran into the wall that is Bolano’s 2666 and Peter Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star. This really sucks because they’re both very, very good.

3. I have, for some time, wanted to build a Lego spaceship. Not one that could actually fly into space (duh), but a model of a spaceship built out of Lego. And I’ve wanted it to have a complete, functional interior – in the sense that, were someone to dissect it, not only could they could point out, “Ahh, here are the cannons, and here’s the magazine, and the sickbay, and the airlocks” but also, “Here’s the water filtration system, and the gravity generator, and the oxygen scrubbers, and the fuel tanks…” I’ve got a lot of Lego, why the hell not give it a shot?

4. I’ve been living in DC for just about two years, know where I still haven’t gone but I’ve been wanting to? The Building Museum! You number is mine, buddy. (Also, a National’s game).

To Keep On Goal:

A friend once gave me good advice: “Don’t weigh yourself every day, you’ll never see any progress.” So I’m going to weigh myself every Sunday evening. I know that I should expect a big weight loss the first week (water weight), with less over the following weeks. Given my experience in 2006, I know I can do it. Just gotta have the will power.

So, I am not only going to keep track of my weight on a sheet of paper tacked to my bathroom wall, I’m also going to post about my weight every Sunday night.

In addition, I’ve got a little black book – I’m going to carry it with me wherever I go. Anything I spend will be recorded in said little black book, and once a week, I’ll post what I’ve been spending my money on. With luck – and your help! — this’ll keep me in line.

*or MORE!

Another Indiana Jones Flick. (I Am Not Excited.)

Look. It’s like this. I love Indiana Jones. Love the movies. The whip. The hat. Heck, even the bag. So when it was announced that they were making a fourth film, hell, I was all about it. And then I saw it, and — and I was so excited to see it, and it felt like my heart had been ripped from my body and shattered into a million kabillion tiny pieces.

So, anyway, apparently they’re doing a fifth one. Or at the very least, they’re on their way to doing a fifth one. And all I can say is …

Just let him rest. Please.