It Is Official

Congress certified the election results today. Bush won. I was glad to hear though, that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, a democrat from Ohio, Sen. Barbara Boxer, a democrat from California, lodged a formal protest against the Ohio vote count. I know it was basically symbolic but I was glad to hear they did it. You can read all about it in a Washington Post article. Of course I'm not happy about it and haven't been since the election but I have to live with it.

Book Time

First of all, thanks for the comments on the last post. I will NOT be posting naked pictures of myself on my blog. I don't want to scare you away! And believe me, right now, they are scary!

Secondly, today was my friend Ken's birthday. Happy Birthday, Ken!

I just finished reading Magical Thinking by Augusten Burroughs. I have read all his books so far. I knew I would enjoy this one as well. And I did. It's a series of true stories from his life. I laughed and cried at several of the stories. I found them both thought provoking and humorous. I really like the cleaning lady story. I love the way he writes. He writes like he's sitting down having coffee while telling you a story face to face. He is the kind of guy that I'd like to be friends with. He wrote one story about people contacting him after they've read his books and talk to him as if they've known him all their lives. Well, after reading his books, you actually feel like you might have known him for a very long time. I know that's how I feel. I feel like I could sit down with him and have a great conversation and not have any awkward silent moments. Also, the way he talks about his partner you just know he is totally in love and plans on being with him the rest of his life. I like that about him because of course I want the same thing. I completely enjoyed this book and could relate to so many of the stories. If you haven't discovered the joy of his books, you should really look check them out. I know you'd enjoy them.

Next up is Shameless by Paul Burston. I haven't read anything by this author. I don't even know if he's written anything else. But it was recommended to me by someone (I can't remember who) and thought I'd give it a try.

From the publisher:

Martin is kind, decent, easy on the eyes…and look where that's got him. His boyfriend of four years has run off with a male prostitute, and his friends John and Caroline both have enough excess baggage to fill a Louis Vuitton window display. What's a nice gay man to do? With no one to turn to, Martin decides to relive the wild youth he never had and – at the ripe old age of thirty-two – jumps headfirst into hedonism. But the nights of drugs, hard bodies, and even harder music are about to take their toll. Martin, John, and Caroline will find that as fun as being absolutely shamelss is (and girl, can it be fun!), it also has a price – one that they ultimately may not want to pay.

Sounds like something I might enjoy. We'll see. And of course I'll have a review of the book when I finish reading it.

Body Image

It's been mentioned on several blogs lately. Homer wrote about it recently, Jimbo wrote about it today, Jake actually took action about it, and Bert mentioned it on a recent post. I think it's the time of the year that makes not only gay men think about it but all people. January is the time of resolutions and most make some sort of resolution to get in shape or lose weight.

I, too, want to jump on the band wagon and make a resolution to lose weight this year. But then again, I think this is a yearly resolution for me. Four years ago I weighed 228 pounds. Slowly over 3 years I lost 50 pounds and got down to 178 at one point. Since that low point I've gained about 11 pounds and today I hover around 190 pounds, give or take a few pounds depending on the day.

I want to be one of those thin gay men who attract other thin gay men. It's very typical in the gay community that most in shape gay men are only interested in other in shape gay men. I know there are those who like the thick look or the bear look but for the most part the thin get the thin, etc. The sad part is, I'm not attracted to the men who find me attractive. I've always been attracted to guys who are thinner and smaller then myself. I don't mean the really lean guys. I just mean the average guys. A little belly doesn't bother me at all. It's so hard finding the ones who find my thicker build attractive.

Last night I took the “before” pictures. I stood nude in front of my camera and took several shots from all sides. In 2005 I would like to lose 15 pounds or at least get back to that 178. I looked pretty good then. I've already started to change my diet and walk more. Today I walked 6.05 miles. My pedometer and iPod Mini are really getting a workout. I'm sure I'll hear from those who say I need to work out, build muscle, increase my cardio, blah, blah, blah. Yea, I know all that stuff but I'm going to do it the simple way. Eat less, move more. That's really all there is to it. That's what I plan to do. Then I'll take the “after” photos and compare them. I don't want to be a muscle boy. I just want to keep my same build but be lighter. That's what I'll be working on in 2005. It will be a slow process. I know that. It took me 3 years to lose 50 pounds so it may take me all year to lose 15 pounds. I'll take my time.

Stats

I haven't really been paying attention to my statistics lately but since the year was over and another month of was over, I decided to check out my stats. Looking at my overall visits, I see that it took just about a year to reach 10,000 visits. In the 5 weeks since that time, I've already had about 4000 visits. I think that's pretty amazing. As you can see from the graphic, my stats have continued to grow each month. I don't know what it is that is bringing everyone to my site. I'm not listened on any search engines that I know of. I've coded my site so the bots won't find me. That has really helped with spammers. And keeps me a little more private. If you type my URL into Google it won't return any results. That shows me I've coded my site correctly. But when you type in ARCHERR you get returns from comments I've left on other's blogs. I guess that's one way you can find me. If you type ARCHERR or my URL into Ask.com you get my site info and links to different pages. I don't understand why this happens. Months ago I dug around on their site and found the same coding to keep their bots from crawling my site. So I know the coding is right, I just don't know why they still return results for my site.

Stat whores like Mark might be wondering why I would want to keep people from finding my site. Well, I'm a teacher and I don't want any parents or former students stumbling onto my site by accident. The way it is now they would have to find me on someone else's site. If that's the case, they are probably already reading gay blogs and it wouldn't matter at that point. I think the biggest reason I code my pages the way I do is to keep those annoying spammers out. I've read on several blogs lately that spammers have slammed their comments sections. I haven't had this happen yet (crossing fingers).

I'm pleased with the amount of visitors I've been getting lately. It's up to like 150 hits a day. I think that's great. I just hope that you are enjoying what you are reading or are enjoying following my sometimes boring life through my blog. That's why I read other blogs so maybe you're doing it for the same reason. In 2005 I will continue to write about things I want to write about, post pictures of things I've taken pictures of, and comment on anything that I find interesting. I hope you will continue to check and find out what's up. Thanks for continuing to visit! And of course thanks for all the comments!

Cold Mountain

Homer has the uncanny ability to call me right when I'm having sex. This is the second time this has happened. He must be able to sense when I'm getting lucky. All I'll say is that I connected today with a guy I haven't seen for a few years. It was the best sex I've had all year! (get it? all year…it's only 2 days old). That's all I'm going say about that.

This afternoon I watched Cold Mountain finally. I've been wanting to watch this movie for some time but just haven't gotten around to it. It was a great movie. The story was amazing. I think they captured the Civil War pretty good. Most of the acting was pretty good. I can see why Renee Zellweger won for Best Supporting Actress. She was amazing! However, I can not say the same for Nicole Kidman or Jude Law. They did not do a very good job of convincing me they were from the south, let alone the United States. Even so, it was a great movie and I really enjoyed the story. Now, the question comes to mind if the part Renee Zellwegger was playing was supposed to be a lesbian. She certainly was showing jealously when Jude Law returned. If you haven't seen Cold Mountain yet, you should. It's very well done and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I might have to think about reading the book. Maybe not. I'm not one for reading historical fiction or straight love stories. I'll think about it.

New Year

Last night I went to Ken's house in DC for a dinner party and to ring in the new year. His friend's Perry, Jason, and Doug were also there. We had great time laughing, drinking, having dinner, and chatting. Those guys can get pretty silly after a few drinks. Perry is the king (queen?) of one liners. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. I didn't have much to drink so I didn't have any problems driving home. I was a bit worried about other people though. But there were more cabs on the road at 1:30 AM then regular people driving so it wasn't a problem at all getting home. Of course I took my camera and took lots of photos of things going on during the evening. It was a lot of fun.

While at Ken's, I spent some time on the roof while the steaks were being cooked. I took my camera up there with me and set it in many different places around his roof. I took several photos of the scenic view from his roof top deck. I think I got some really cool photos. I let the camera decide the light. I think some of them have some pretty dramatic lighting. Most of the photos, however, aren't level. I didn't have my tripod and was only setting the camera on top of things high enough above the roof to get the shot. I used my remote control to take the photos. You can see from the photos that they aren't level. But I still think they came out pretty cool. I plan to go back to his house sometime at night and take more roof top pictures but this time with my tripod.

Advice

Don't ever drink a whole bottle of water within 30 minutes of going to bed. You will either:

1. Get up 3 or 4 times during the night to stumble to the bathroom to pee.

2. Wet the bed.

Not that either of these things happened to me, I'm just sayin.

Insurance

Recently I got my car insurance bill. I thought it was too high. It's been slowly going up for the last 18 months. I thought it was time to look into a new carrier. I called Progressive since I see their commercials all the time. A very nice lady walked me through the quote process and in the end, their quote was only 3 bucks cheaper then my current carrier.

Today I decided to go see my agent and find out why my insurance had slowly risen. I also had some other insurance questions about my auto and condo insurance. After talking to him for awhile and asking my questions, turns out that the DC area has one of the highest insurance rates in the country. Because of accidents and such, we've had 3 regional increases in the last 18 months. Alright, I accept that. So to help lower my insurance, I increased my deductible. And I went with a monthly payment plan to make it easier to budget for the cost of the insurance. Even after all that, I still think my insurance should be lower. I have NEVER had an accident (knock wood) and I've only had one ticket in my life. That was back in 1985. I have a very clean record. I don't drive very far. I'm always way below the yearly millage average. I guess I'll just have to live with it. I also found out that if I decide later to lease a new Mercedes C320 4matic (which I'm thinking of doing later this year with advice from my friend Ken) my insurance won't go up too much and since I'm now paying monthly, I won't feel it all at once.

After the auto insurance questions, I had a few condo insurance questions. I wasn't sure I had enough coverage. My agent explained everything I had and what they covered. I have all the things I need on my policy. The only thing I had to increase was the amount I had for my contents insurance. Over the last two years I've bought new furniture for every room in my condo and want to be able to replace. So I increased that amount and I was good to go. I also rolled this payment into my monthly auto insurance. Now I have one payment each month for all my insurance.

I get so many things done when I'm off for a week. I also like the peace of mind it gives me to have all my insurance needs up to date.

Cleaning Out

It's the time of the year when I start to think I have too much shit. I'm off this week and after laying around watching TV most of the time I decided I should get busy doing the things I usually do when I'm off this week between Christmas and New Years.

I went through my closet and took out all the shirts and pants that I no longer wear or like. I put them in a big bag and tomorrow I plan on putting them in the clothes collection bin that sits in the parking lot of my local Eckerd's Drug Store. I'm sure there are people who can use them.

This afternoon I went through all my files. I keep 3 years of receipts, statements, stubs, ATM slips, and the like. I have two sets of files. One set is for the current year. I have a file folder set up for each category (phone, bank, cable, cell phone, credit cards, etc.). Then I have another set of files that are set up by year. I have 3 such folders for the last 3 years. In each folder goes the statements, etc. stapled together for each category. Tonight I organized all the papers for 2004, stapled common statements together and loaded them all into the 2004 file. Then I took out all the files from 2001 and ran them through the shredder. Now I'm all set up for a new year of statements, receipts, ATM slips, etc. I like being organized and knowing where everything is. A little obsessesive, I know.

On Sunday I went to Bed Bath & Beyond and got some Rubbermaid containers to organize all my computer cables, parts, manuals, etc. I then cleaned off two shelves, organized all the items by computer item (iPod Mini, iPod, iSight, PowerBook, iMac, external hard drive, etc.) and put them in the containers. Now they are all organized and I can find the right cord for the right computer item without frustration.

If someone were to call and ask for some bit of information I'd know exactly where to go in my files to get it. If I need to back up the iMac, I know exactly where to go to get the external hard drive and the correct cables. I've always been a very organized person. However, I don't have all my CD's or DVD's in a database on my computer. I think that would be nice but I don't want to spend the time to do it. Then again, it's not like I don't have the time to do it while I'm off this week. I just don't want to spend the time to do it.

Most people do this kind of cleaning in the spring. I guess I do it now because I have the time and it's the end of the year. The end of the year makes me think of things I wanted to get done this year and new things I want to accomplish in the next year. I have to start making that list now.

A Trip To Starbucks

Stepping into a Starbucks store is like stepping into heaven. I'm not a coffee drinker but if I was I'd visit Starbucks everyday. I had 3 Starbucks cards that I haven't used in the last year. I decided today to go to Starbucks and have a Grande Peppermint Hot Chocolate. I had gotten one of those cool Starbucks insulated coffee mugs, that people carry in their cars filled with their favorite flavor, last year for Christmas but never have used it. I wondered if they would fill my mug with the Peppermint Hot Chocolate. I walked into the store near my house and instantly felt a good feeling. There was seasonal music playing, people were sitting around quietly chatting while enjoying their steaming cups of joe. I went to the counter and explained I had these three cards that I'd like combined onto one card. The friendly woman behind the counter happily ran my cards on her machine and added the amounts together onto one card. I then ordered my Grande Peppermint Hot Chocolate in my cool mug and a slice of iced lemon pound cake to boot. Within minutes I was sipping the sweet, warm peppermint drink. I sat near other patrons enjoying their drinks. It was such a happy feeling. The store was clean, the employees pleasant, the drink was delicious, and the music was soothing. After consuming my sweet iced lemon pound cake, I left the cheerful place with my renewed Starbucks card and my Starbucks mug full of the tasty hot chocolate.

I know that sounds like a commercial for Starbucks but with all that is happening in the world today and the way I've been feeling lately, I just had to share the good feeling I got while visiting my neighborhood Starbucks. Maybe tomorrow I'll go again but this time get a Venti Peppermint Hot Chocolate!