Weight: Week Four (I think my scale is fucking with me, and other stories of the touristy side)

Well, I’m going to lead off with some good news: my foot is healed.

Okay, that might be an exaggeration, it could just be that the foot pain went away. But you know what? I’ll take it. And I did a lot of walking this weekend to make up for the last two weeks. Friday night I walked home from work, and got up bright and early to walk three miles to the National Mall to see the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin. Yeah, that didn’t go so well: 7:40am and the Tidal Basin was swarming with people, so I detoured to Franklin Square, hopped the Circulator to Columbia Heights, and walked home from Target: a total of 6.5 miles walked between Friday and Saturday.

Walking past the IMF Building at 19th & H, I was somehow able to keep my mouth shut when some tourist was trying to convince his kids, “This is the FBI building!” Similar style, certainly, but you’re about a twenty minute walk away.

Sunday, I was less ambitious: I walked up to Giant for some groceries for the Bookstore, but hopped the L2 to get to work (I would’ve been late otherwise). After work, I walked one of my alternate routes home, for a total of 3.8 miles.

And was my foot aching? Well, sure, but in the “Man, I’ve been doing a lot of walking this weekend, and these aren’t the most comfortable shoes ever” way, but not in the “Oh my god I think I ripped a muscle in my foot” way. So that’s good.

And, in other goods news, I weighed in at 246 pounds this morning. Granted, that’s only a half pound loss since last week, but any loss is no gain, so I choose to celebrate. Also, I was rather naughty with my calorie budget this weekend, so I’m grateful for any loss what-so-ever.

Alas, where there is good news, there is also bad news: namely, I think my scale is fucking with me.

Look, it’s not a bad scale (or at least, I never thought so), it’s made by Taylor, and I’ve had it since late 2005 or early 2006. I’ve really never had a problem with it, except lately, it’s been displaying weird error messages when I step onto it. I usually have to get on, get off, get on, get off again, before it finally starts calibrating my weight. I’ve been considering buying a new scale for a while, but Saturday night just sort of cinched it for me.

Saturday afternoon I traveled to my parents’ house in Columbia for a homecooked dinner. After dinner, and before departing for the Metro for a train ride home, I went to the bathroom, and while there, what did I notice on the floor? A digital scale. So I stepped onto it.

Quick backstory: If you follow me on Twitter (or, for that matter, Facebook), you know I was pretty excited Friday morning, as my scale read 244.5: in other words, I was halfway to my June goal (to lose thirty pounds in time for my sister’s wedding), and 17%* towards my overall weight loss goal of 85 pounds.

Back to my parents’ place, and the scale displayed 254.5.

Granted, I was dressed. Also granted, I wasn’t wearing my heavy shoes. Do my jeans, t-shirt, shirt, underwear, socks, wallet, SmarTrip lanyard, keys, and iPhone really weigh ten pounds?

I mean, I don’t actually know.

Anyway, weight does fluctuate daily, as Twitterer Nikki_D reminded me with some good advice, “weigh yourself once per week at same time of day.” Although, in my experience, five pounds variance is normal, so this ten pounds kind of scares me. I guess I could’ve set myself at ease this morning, after dressing, by jumping on the scale again. Perhaps I’ll remember this for tomorrow.

In any case, given my scale’s current technical issues, and the fact that it might be lying to my face about how much I weigh, I’ve decided to get a new one. I’m not looking for something fancy that’s going to run me a car payment, and while I realize you get what you pay for, I do hope to find something decent in the $30 range. Anyone got any recommendations?

It’s not all bad news: if I proceed on the assumption that my scale broken in that it is displaying the wrong weight ( i.e., I weigh 250lbs, but the scale shows 240lbs) what this means is that my actual starting weight was 269 (not 259). Really, though, my weight loss has been the same — I’ve still dropped 15 pounds.

Just I started heavier than I thought I was.

Of course — this is all an absolute assumption. My scale could be right, and my parents’ could be broken. They both could be right.

Or they both could be fucking with me!

Well, in any case, my current weight of 246 (assumed), is a total loss of half a pound since last week, and a total loss of thirteen pounds since March 4th. Go me!

March Booklist

2666 by Roberto Bolano – DNF
Pandora’s Star by Stephen Hamilton – DNF
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
The Once and Future King by T.H. White (in progress)

Boy, I tell ya’.

Nothing throws off reading like hitting two books in a row that you just can’t finish. Alas, for me those books kept me off my reading game for nearly four weeks. In my case, those books were Roberto Bolano’s 2666, and Stephen Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star.

And this is bad: because they were both really, really good. Bolano apparently wrote 2666 as five separate books, but after his death, his estate and agent decided to publish it as one. Maybe I should look into reading it as five separate books — a section at a time. Because I really loved the first part, and my understanding is that there’s a lot of violence in the latter parts.

Hamilton’s Pandora’s Star … you know, I have a really hard time figuring out what I couldn’t get into this. He’s a very good writer, and he reminds me a lot of Jack McDevitt and Alastair Reynolds, two other sci-fi authors I enjoy.

In any case, once I accepted to myself that I was clearly making no progress (in fact, my lack of progress with these books is why there was no February round up), I put them aside and moved on to other things. I actually picked up a copy of Brave New World the same day I bought 1984, and I enjoyed this book more than the other. In the future, humans are bred out of machines, and programmed to obedience. They all also have sex with, well, everyone. At the drop of a hat. Into this world comes a savage, a boy raised among “wilds”, who, as an agent of change, enacts, y’know, change. Pretty good book, although I don’t know it deserves the hype it gets.

Now, talk about deserving its press: The Book Thief, wow. It’s categorized in the U.S. as “Young Adult”, but don’t let that stop you, that’s just a marketing decision — everywhere else, it’s marketed to adults. It’s an amazing book — you won’t be able to put it down, about a young woman growing up in Nazi Germany, whose family is hiding a Jew in their basement, and who rebels against authority by stealing books. Absolutely incredible. Go read it.

And then we get to Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s absolutely bizarre collection of horror stories and fairy tales, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby, and all I can really say is “Weird.” It’s like nothing I’ve ever read before, but that’s not a compliment or a criticism, just a statement. If I had to read it over again? I don’t think I would.

This was my second attempt at an Agatha Christie, and all I’m going to say is that her books are clearly priced on the strength of the author’s name, and not the quantity of time it will take you to read — she’s like the 1930s James Patterson: big books, lots of page, not so much actual writing. I finished Murder on the Orient Express during my commute over a day and a half (and I do not have a long commute). I can appreciate her contributions to the genre while still backing away from reading her again. I need substance, and I just didn’t feel it with this.

Alastair Reynolds is one of my favorite sci-fi authors: he’s published a book a year since 2000, and most of them have been amazing (yes, there’ve been clunkers). House of Suns actually came out last June, so this had been sitting on my shelves for a while before I finally got to it: and once I did, wow! It’s a story of ships that come quite close to the Speed of Light, and lines of clones that live for millions of years, sleeping as their ships span the galaxy; and it’s a story of a genocidal plot to obscure a past horror. It was really, really, amazingly great, and I’m very excited for his next book, Terminal World, which I believe hits stores in June.

I’m only about 180 pages into T.H. White’s story of King Arthur, The Once and Future King, a collection of what had at one point been several independent books. So far, it’s not at all what I’d hoped for when I picked it up, as the first book seems overwhelmingly Disneyish. In fact, it wasn’t until I did a Wikipedia search did I learn that, yes, in fact, Disney’s Sword in the Stone was based on White’s novel, Sword in the Stone (which forms the first part of this book).

So, what are you reading?