i found karen working in the living room this morning. i gave her some place, went to go use the bathroom, took a shower, then made breakfast: yogurt with granola, fruit smoothie, and cooked up some frozen edamame that's been in the freezer.

i finally took karen to haymarket today. she originally wanted to go later, in the early afternoon, but i told her it was better if we went early as it was supposed to rain later. actually, it did rain this morning, but from the doppler radar forecast i could tell we had a few hours window of semi-dry but overcast weather.

we biked, but right from the start we ran into problems as her chain fell off again. we had to wheel it back to the house so i could finally get the chain into the sprocket. it had fallen off in such a way that it was outside the front derailleur, not even sure how it did that. later i found out that the chain on her bike would slip off whenever she pedaled backwards. solution: don't pedal backwards.

as for my own bike, i noticed a rickety sound coming from the bottom bracket. it might need to be replaced, i vaguely remember doing it once before, not sure if it was to this bike or the old bianchi (it was for the bianchi back in 2009). i should have some special tools for the job. i'll need to investigate further next week and isolate the problem so can i fix it. even better, if i wait for a real nice warm spring day next month, i could completely strip down my bike and give it a thorough cleaning.

i was a little worried about karen because she's a slow biker. she can bike faster, but 1) she's only ever biked for fun, and 2) she's not very confident biking in city streets. so i made sure to tell her in advance if we're about to reach a tricky intersection or need to perform a fancy lane change. i think she did better than that time i took her to longwood, hopefully she gets better as she continues to ride to work.

we arrived without incident. i first took her to boston public market, figured as a nutritionist she'd be interested in seeing some higher end local food. next we went to haymarket, which was the exact opposite in the form of a cheap outdoor produce market.

on our way back it began to mist up a little bit, but at least it wasn't raining. the good thing was there didn't seem to be too many cars out today, so we made it back without any problems. i left soon afterwards for belmont, around 2:20pm. i took the opportunity to pogo from the bike, keeping my streaks alive. i ended up taking twice as long as i normally would, riding with one hand, keeping the other ready to capture critters.

you'll remember back when my parents first arrived in taiwan, they told me that the xiaomi redmi note 3 phone suddenly stopped charging so wouldn't work. they even took it to a repair shop and the technician told them they couldn't fix it, and the only way was to send it back to china for a factory repair. so imagine my surprise when i plugged in the xiaomi only to see it suddenly charging without a problem. 2 hours later the battery was at 100% and the phone worked as normal. so may my father used a bad usb cable.

after dinner i biked back to cambridge. temperature was in the upper 30's and i wasn't wearing my thermal underwear but it didn't feel that cold. it'd rain a little bit earlier, so my bike seat and foam handlebars were still wet. i parked the bike outside. karen wasn't home, went out to dinner with her friend paula.

i had plans of going to the community garden to relocate some larkspur seedlings from my old plot to my new plot (do it soon before the city begins construction). that was before it started to snow and rain outside. not too bad, but enough to require an umbrella. instead i moved the trek mountain to the basement (karen hasn't been biking since tuesday) and then changed the 9V battery on the lone smoke detector (i heard it beeping earlier this week). i went to the dollar store to get some baking soda (for the refrigerator, not for baking), but it was really an excuse to go out and look for some more pokemons. today's new catch: the qwilfish. i didn't even have to go out though (although i did want to maintain my pokestop streak), because it just appeared while i was at home.

the snapdragons have germinated. at first i thought it was green algae growing on top of the soil, until i looked more carefully and realized they were tiny seedlings. i'd forgotten how small they were! the fordhook tall variety seemed to all have germinated, but the margic carpet variety are a few days behind. that made me curious to see if my balloon flowers and columbines have germinated yet, in their little growhouse outside: they have not.

i've been watching star wars: rebels for a few weeks now. it's my new nightly routine, i watch an episode or two in bed on my android phone with the showbox app. i was never interested in the animated star wars series, especially since clone wars was tied in with the prequels, and i wanted nothing to do with them. i didn't realize there was a new series called rebels which takes place a few years before new hope. after watching rogue one, my interest in the star wars universe grew and i decided to check it out rebels. i still wasn't onboard initially, thought the animated series was more for kids. but it kind of grew on me, and it's easy story lines was easy on the brain before bed, so i kept watching. currently in more than halfway into season 2. i hope to catch up eventually, as season 3 is currently ongoing.

just playing around with a few difference lenses:

in the afternoon i waited for the house vote on the republican health care repeal/replace bill that was postponed from yesterday. who knows what kind of closed door negotiations was happening last night and much of today. but the word on the street was the republicans still didn't have enough votes, and paul ryan even informed trump that it wasn't going to pass, despite trump pushing for a vote anyway. the vote still kept delayed repeatedly, until in the late afternoon it was announced that the vote was cancelled since republicans lacked the necessary number of votes.

so it looks like obamacare will survive after all, or until the republicans can create a new bill, which won't be anytime soon. trump offered some comments from the oval office after the defeat, blamed the democrats for voting against the bill, when in fact the republicans had the numbers, until the ultraconservative and moderate republicans started defecting. we may never know the actual numbers had the bill gone to vote, but i heard a rumor that perhaps a lot more republican congress people was going to vote against it when they knew the bill wasn't going to pass.

i finished some leftover risotto for dinner. karen came home around 8:30pm, then had to videochat with a client at 10pm.

while making some sausage and scrambled eggs for lunch, i noticed some scratches on my brand new ceramic pan. brand new is kind of misleading, as i bought the pan back in june 2012. but here's the thing: i've never used it. maybe i used it once when i first got it to test it out, but otherwise it's just been sitting in my house. there's a chinese saying, 舍不得, which is the feeling you get when you have something really good but you don't want to use it because it'd spoil it, or you want to save it for a future occasion. that's how i felt about this pan. it was just too good to use.

normally i'd hide it, but for some reason it's been sitting out in the kitchen. all my recent roommates have ignored this particular pan simply because it looks new. but not karen. and i don't know what she did, but she scratched the shit out of it, like she was trying to scrape off something with the tip of a knife or fork. THIS IS WHY I CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS. it's not a big deal, and the pan itself only cost me $10, but why doesn't anyone know how to use a simple frying pan without scratching it all to shit? and as i recall, it took me a long time to find that particular pan, and i haven't used it for half a decade, and it takes simple god-damn karen one day to scratch it up. so the next time i'm at marshalls or tj maxx, i'll be looking for a new frying pan. because i'm sure once karen is gone, i'll use this pan and see the scratches it'll make me so upset i won't be able to cook.

i walked down to rite aid in the afternoon to pick up my three prescriptions. i almost stocked up on some almonds and chocolates on sale. i walked when i could've biked because it gave me a chance to play some pokemon.

it's the pokemon water event for the next few days, which means an abundance of water-related pokemons. i caught a remoraid this morning thinking it was rare, but then caught a few more the rest of the day. it's weird, but a remoraid (which looks like a fish) evolves into a octillery, which is an octopus thing. i also evolved 3 new pokemons: starmie, marowak, and noctowl. i just need two more first generation pokemons to receive the gold kanto badge, which is 100 pokemons discovered.

in the late afternoon (3:30pm) i went to another china-related lecture at harvard, building energy efficiency regulations in china: policies and trends presented by barbara finamore. it's sort of an esoteric topic, but one that i felt i also have experienced first hand, having seen the rapid building growth in china, and having worked in a construction company building a new factory. it was in pierce hall, which is right across the street from the natural history museum. i always thought that building was a dorm, but turns out it's actually a classroom building. the people here were different from the ones i saw at the china sex economy talk, with the except of an old professor, but he didn't seem to recognize me, even though we chatted in the elevator a few days ago.

this lecture was interesting, but i was hoping to learn about specific examples of how china is going green in the construction business, but the talk was more about policies and figures (no false advertising, the lecture was true to its title). one thing i learned is while civil buildings (any structure built to house people, including commercial and residential, but not including industrial) are built to be energy efficient (with aggressive government-issued efficiency targets, though still falling short of western world standards), once the projects are complete, the management of the buildings don't particularly follow or maintain the energy efficiency, so it sort of negates any of the positives. it's typical chinese 差不多 mentality.

afterwards there was a Q&A session. of the chinese students asking questions, i couldn't quite tell what field of study they were involved in. perhaps urban planning? some of their english was good, other not so good, and many had a british accented english, which i find annoying. a lot of the chinese were also from beijing, judging from their accents.

i stopped by the community garden to see if my old plot (34) had thawed out yet and to check out my new plot (22). it was almost 5pm, and i was dismayed to see that my new plot was in the shadows. this will improve as the season progresses and the sun is higher in the sky. but it's not as sunny as my old plot, which is a bummer, but still a pretty good plot. it's also smaller, but the reason why my old plot was bigger was it was underneath the mulberry, and all the side plots seem to be much longer for some reason. there were still plenty of larkspurs, i will dig them up as soon as possible before the city tear up my old garden in order to pave a road.

some of the habanero seeds have germinated. i noticed this morning, but there was enough seedlings to finally turn on the second bank of fluorescent lights. 240+ watt of illuminating power! it also gave me a chance to inspect all the cups, make sure the seedlings are okay and water them. some of the eggplants have also germinated, but not yet emerged from the soil, i can just see the curve of the stems. my transplanted mallow ('zebrina') had died. i will need to take another mallow from a different cup and try again. as for the other mallows (growing under LED lights), they have started to sprout their real leaves. the stems are rather delicate, i think they need some air circulation to stimulate stronger stem growth.

i finished watching last night's episode of the expanse. i'm also reading the books but currently slowly working on book one, leviathan's wake, so it's still going to take a while before i start seeing any spoilers. i've managed to avoid future spoilers for the most part from online discussion boards, but i do know one spoiler (a belter attack on earth).

today the house was supposed to vote on the american health care act AKA trumpcare AKA republicare. partly as a bill that repeals certain aspect of the affordable care act AKA obamacare, it would result in the loss of health insurance coverage for 20 million americans over the next few years. it's a strange animal, drafted haphazardly, and one where the trump administration seems to be in a hurry to pass, without taking everything into consideration. that everything includes the ultraconservatives who don't think the bill is doing enough in repealing obamacare. should the bill be changed to satisfy them, it would in turn upset the moderates, which think an outright repeal is too much and would hurt their constituents. it's quite the predicament, so i wasn't surprised when the vote was delayed, then cancelled for today. the vote is back on tomorrow, but nobody is sure if it'll pass. if that happens, obamacare would still remain. for once, liberals have the ultraconservatives to thank for scuttling the bill should it die in the house tomorrow.

i made risotto again tonight. this time besides italian sausages and frozen broccoli, i also added some roasted asparagus (half a pound). mixed in the risotto, the asparagus had an earthy mushroom flavor, and on several occasions i could've sworn i added mushrooms by mistake.

karen came home around 8:30pm. she was out at a farewell dinner for her advisor at some boston tapas restaurant. at 9:30pm she had a video chat with a patient. she also ate some of my risotto, despite already having had dinner. she said this batch tasted even better.

my mother has been in the market for a new tablet. she currently uses an aging ipad 2, which was a gift from our shenyang relatives back in august 2011 (they've actually presented my family with 3 ipads over the years, the last one in june 2013 to my sister). my 2nd aunt upgraded recently, going from an android china tablet to an apple-refurbished ipad air back in december 2015. what a difference 4 years can make between an ipad 2 and an ipad air. the air is better in every way: faster, lighter, clearer.

but i heard recently that apple would soon revamp their tablet line, and out of curiosity i checked the web and was surprised that it was introduced just yesterday. now just simply called "ipad," it replaces all other iterations of the ipads (not including the mini's or the pro's). it's essentially an ipad air 1 but with a faster chip (A9), a clearer screen (retina display), more storage (32GB) and touch id sensor. price? $329, which you know anything about ipad prices, is actually quite a bargain. and if you were wondering, how much faster is the new ipad? according to geekbench 4 iOS benchmarks, the ipad 2 has a score of 333, the ipad air 1308, and the new ipad has a theoretically score of 2344 (based on iphone 6s' similar A9 chipset). so 7x faster than the ipad 2.

of course my mother could upgrade to an android tablet instead. they're (usually) cheaper than an ipad, and the experience is about the same, especially if she's only watching netflix, surfing the web, and checking e-mails. if i was getting it for myself, i would go android over ipad just because of the flexibility. but the problem with android tablets is there are just so many of them on the market, you really have to be a tablet expert to find the best one. and now that apple has come out with their new ipad for just $329, it's hard to find an android tablet with matching specs for that price. sure, there are cheaper 10" android tablets, but they're always missing something: maybe it's a slower processor, or less memory, or a lower-resolution screen. the android experience is also slightly non-consistent, as each manufacturer tweaks the OS with their own skin and/or bloatware.

the only one that i can find that matches the new ipad in terms of specs and price is the asus zenpad 3S: 9.7" screen, 2K resolution (2048 x 1536, same as retina), 4GB/64GB, fingerprint scanner, microSD slot for memory expansion, and only 5.8mm (!) thick. it also looks good, a very sleek metal design. price? just $300. the only thing i don't like is the mediatek hexa-core chipset; i've had some bad experience installing custom ROM's with these brand of processors. verizon has a similar carrier-exclusive asus zenpad Z10 that has a snapdragon 650 chipset and larger battery. the best android tablet currently on the market is the google pixel c, but it sells for $600, twice as much.

the next 2 days will be unseasonably cold, with temperature in the 30's but strong wind chill making it feel in the 10's. it was under these conditions that i biked to market basket to pick up a few breakfast-related ingredients (yogurt, granola, fruit juice). when i returned home i had yogurt and granola for lunch, washed down with an almond milk fruit smoothie.

i went to belmont in the afternoon. i noticed this morning that karen didn't bike to work. i didn't see her last night, otherwise i would've warned her about the cold weather, but looks like she figured it out on her own. in fact, this morning when i woke up, it snowed a little bit, which was unexpected. i stopped on huron avenue by fresh pond to take a photo of the road debris. i noticed a bundle by the side of the road which i thought was rags at first until i realized it was a dead animal. from the looks of it, it could've been a cat, with a long body and a small round head, but i didn't see a collar. i also looked for the tail but didn't see one, but it could've fallen of. later i examined the photo some more and determined that it was a probably a dead rabbit, as it wasn't big enough to be a cat.

being in belmont was like being in taiwan, with all the different taiwanese food scattered throughout the living room and dining area. i spent the rest of the afternoon snacking. i found my father's PC and tried to up their vacation photos onto google photos, but i didn't know the password. later around 4pm i called to ask him, the on-screen hint had nothing to do with the password, that's why i wasn't able to guess it correctly. after copying about 2400 photos off of the memory card, i let google photos do the rest, slowly uploading. it was surprisingly slow, given their fiber-optic 50Mbps upload speed. at this rate, it probably wouldn't be finished until 10pm.

i read news about the first US endangered species of bumblebee, the rusty patched bumblebee. it looked similar to bees i've seen in the past - with a band of reddish brown across the abdomen. could i have seen this bumblebee before? so i began doing some bumblebee research. up until now, i only recognize two species of bumblebees: the common eastern bumblebee and the tricolored bumblebee. to my untrained eyes, i thought the tricolored bumblebees i've seen in the past might be the endangered rusty patched, but that's not the case. the united states department of agriculture has a handy pdf field guide of eastern bumblebees, and after looking over that document, i feel like i'm a bumblebee expert now, or at least more knowledgeable than before. bumblebees can be distinguished by the color banding patterns on its thorax and abdomen. once you figure out the different color coded regions of a bee's body, it's easy to identify them. i actually have a more thorough north american bumblebee field guide that i bought from the harvard book warehouse sale back in june 2016, but i never really studied it, but now i have more reasons to. with my newfound knowledge, i think that bumblebee that stung me several time back in july 2016 when i was helping my father replace a broken backyard fence was just a regular eastern bumblebee, nothing endangered, so i don't feel too bad smacking it.

my parents didn't get home until 6pm. nobody wanted to cook, so we decided to run down to the nearby burger king and get some whoppers and fries with coupons. the entire meal cost just $10. afterwards my father said he could give me a ride home because the temperature had dropped into the 20's, but i insisted on riding back. it was cold and i might've gotten wind burned on my cheeks, but it wasn't too bad.

when i came into the house i could smell the strong odor of greasy cooking. in fact, it smelled like fried fish, and i asked karen if she was eating fish, but she said no. talking with her in the kitchen, i tried very hard not to stare at the frying pan splattered in oil and god knows where else. she only cooks something oily maybe twice a month, so it's not too bad (although ideally she wouldn't fry anything at all).

i watched the latest episode of legion via streaming live tv on verizon.com. my connection kept cutting out and i missed the final few minutes of the episode.

later in the evening while working on my blog i had trouble getting my ftp to work. i was still able to ftp from my phone, so after restarting my laptop things went back to normal. i'm not sure why it did that. the computer has acted unusual on a few occasions. it also doesn't help that i have multiple browser windows, each with a dozen tabs.

today was the last day of lunch delivery to my grand uncle, as my parents were returning home tonight. afterwards i was prepared to spend the day in belmont, then drive to the airport in the evening to pick up my parents. when i left my house, besides packing the usual equipment, i also brought with me some snacks. earlier my sister had dropped off hailey at my parents' house, and i turned up the heat remotely, from 50° to 60°. while at the cafe, i installed a spare wall clock in had in my basement (formerly my kitchen clock), to replace the one my aunt damaged.

afterwards i biked to belmont. since my parents went on vacation 3 weeks ago, i never once biked to their house, but instead always drove there with the borrowed car. out of practice, i found myself struggling a little bit. they're tearing up huron avenue again, it seems the construction on that stretch of road is neverending. of course it sucks when you're biking, because lanes get compacted and i'm forced to ride in the open road, which a line of cars waiting behind me, urging me to pedal faster.

once in belmont i let out hailey in the backyard. surveying the landscape for spring signs (the only thing were fuzzy pussy willow catkins), i found a rabbit on the western side of the yard. it tried to make a quick getaway but got itself stuck by a mesh screen i'd placed there years ago to prevent rabbits from getting in. trapped, it stayed motionless. i called hailey to come chase the rabbit, but the rabbit bolted across the yard to escape. by then hailey saw what was going on and ran after the rabbit but it fled through a fence crack in the southwestern corner. i also added a new suet cake to the cage.

i baked 2 frozen trader joe's aloo chaat kati pouches (from my godmother) in the toaster oven for 20 minutes. it was pretty tasty, despite having my doubts since they're vegetarian. despite not having any meat filling, i liked it because it was spicy. halfway through my lunch my 2nd aunt called me, said my grand uncle was having some problems, something to do with his tv. so i raced down to the cafe, taking the car this time. turns out the batteries were dead in his tv remote control; after i replaced them everything was back to normal. i returned to belmont.

my sister showed up around 3:30pm, got off early from her catering job. she took hailey for a walk in the woods around 4pm. around 4:30pm i got a little hungry again and decided to have a korean instant cup of noodles for a late lunch early dinner.

my sister called me at 7pm. said my grand uncle was having problems going to the bathroom and he specifically asked me to come help him. and by help he means to unplug the obstruction in his rectum so he can defecate. this is something that my father has to occasionally help my grand uncle with. it's so gross that i was instructed that should this happen, i'd have no choice but to send my grand uncle to the hospital. but my sister said she could do it, just that my grand uncle didn't want a girl poking around his posterior region. he could wait until my parents got back, which wouldn't be another 4 hours at the earliest. i told my sister i wasn't going to come and to tell my grand uncle to either wait or have my sister do it for him.

i tried calling my sister back half an hour later but she didn't answer, but i saw from the webcam that my grand uncle was going back to bed, so obviously he was able to go to the bathroom in the end. my sister finally did call me, she said she had to pick away the fecal plug, and once that was done, the rest of the poop came out. just hearing her talk about it almost made me vomit. the number of people required to take care of him, and the things we each have to do it. the worst i've ever had to deal with was to replace and clean his urine bag when he had that urinary tract infection a while back. i don't think i'd have the stomach to remove a fecal plug.

around 8:30pm i ate again, the last package of xi'an yangruo paomo.

i kept monitoring google flight check, it said the plane would be delayed by 30 minutes, wouldn't arrive until 10:24pm. so i left the house around 9:50pm, since it'd take about 20 minutes to get to the airport. everything was smooth sailing until i got to leverett circle. something was wrong with the traffic lights and state police had to direct traffic. i finally arrived at the logan airport cell phone lot at 10:30pm. my mother called me once at 10:36pm to tell me they were getting their luggage but would take a while. since you're not allowed to let the engine run while waiting in the cell phone lot, i had it turned off. after a few minutes it got kind of cold inside the car, and i sat with my jacket fulling zipped, cold hands clutching my phone, reading an e-book (leviathan wakes). my father called at 11:17pm, said they were already waiting outside terminal E. instead of taking a circuitous route, i took a shortcut since terminal E was right next to the cell phone lot. logan airport is like a maze and i accidentally went down the bus lane when i should've gone down the car/taxi lane. the terminal also has two levels, and i wasn't sure which one my parents where at, so i pulled over by the left side of the road and called them. while we were trying to figure out where we were, my father poked his head out from the island they were waiting on and saw me. i only had to pull up a few yards. we quickly loaded the suitcases into the car and sped off back to belmont.

my parents brought back from taiwan suitcases stuffed with food. you'd be surprised, add up enough packages and they can start getting a bit heavy. one interesting thing i noticed about taiwanese food packaging is that there are no english, all chinese. i don't know if that was the case in china as well. these were taiwanese food for taiwanese people, not for any international markets.

i finally left belmont by 1am. the streets were empty, like a ghost town. it was pleasantly peaceful, although i was afraid of running into a coyote scavenging for food in the middle of the night.

today was my 14th and penultimate day of lunch delivery to my grand uncle. i biked down to the cafe on the first official day of spring, with temperature today hitting the lower 50's, but i was bundled up for much colder weather. karen herself had biked to work (i knew this because the bike lights were gone), but texted me at 9:20am asking for the combination to the lock. i freaked out when i saw it, fearing that she'd texted me earlier and i'd missed it, but fortunately she texted me just a minute ago, and i quickly sent her the correct combination. it was her first time biking to work, and i believe it was a success because she made it, albeit a bit late. i think she will bike from this point on, unless it's raining. she says it because she wants the exercise, but i believe it's so she can save money by not having to ride the MBTA (mexican pesos don't go very far in the US).

my sister was home, getting ready to take hailey out for a walk in the woods. she said she was going to drop off her dog at my parents' place tomorrow, because i'm going to be there waiting until the evening so i can go pick them up from the airport. while i was at the cafe i also climbed the ladder to water some plants because my aunt told me they haven't been watered in a while.

back in cambridge i heated up a box of trader joe's shumai in the microwave for lunch. it was a little greasy (as typical of cantonese cuisine) and i finished them off with some vietnamese hot sauce.

while having lunch i was browsing youtube via roku and came across a recommended video, "BBC One - Frankie Howerd Up Pompeii 1971." it was a full feature british sex comedy film from 1971. what got my attention initially was the thumbnail featuring a topless woman in a bubble bath (yes, i just discovered that there's actually a lot of nudity on youtube), and i sort of watched the film without paying much attention but then i couldn't turn away. the story takes place during roman time, in the city of pompeii. the narrator (frankie howerd) is a slave, and throughout the movie he breaks the 4th wall to address the audience directly, commenting about this and that. it's a bizarre and compelling film, so i ended up doing some research, and discovered that it was actually a popular BBC series from 1969-1970. it features a particular style of british humor which has a lot of talking and a lot of bawdy comedy. all the episodes can be found on youtube as well.

tom brady's missing jersey has been found! it was taken by a mexican reporter with international press credentials. with the help of the mexican police and the FBI, the jersey was located in mexico. what's even weirder was brady's superbowl 49 jersey (which had also gone missing) was also found. so this guy stole brady's superbowl game winning jersey not once but twice! he also had some other memorabilia, probably stolen from other past superbowls.

i'm experimenting with justified photo layouts in css/jquery again. i'm trying to find a solution that will not only present the photos in a justified grid, but each photo has lightbox and lazy load functionality as well. i've yet to find a free solution that has all 3 of those components. i may have to roll my own but first i have to understand how all those 3 functionalities work before attempting to combine them. i have lightbox and lazy load on my current website, but i never took the time to figure out how they work. i just took the code and tweaked it so it'd work with my layout.

harvard's fairbank center for chinese studies was having a lecture by harriet zurndorfer (leiden university) titled "perceptions of china's sexual economy" at 4pm. i decided to attend, since in my travels through china (as well as southeast asia) i've seen my share of weird sexual dynamics. i'd never been inside the CGIS knafel building before, but it was a simple walk from my place. i didn't think there'd be a lot of people, and in fact i was afraid it would only be me, but the medium-sized conference room ended up being filled to capacity. i saw some chinese men, and was immediately suspicious of them, suspecting them of less than wholesome interests. i figured the bulk of people in attendance were either chinese studies or women studies students.

the lecture was interesting, and used the popular 2009 chinese drama woju (蜗居) as a springboard into chinese sexual economics. "economics" might not be correct term, and the gist of the talk was to highlight a new class of educated young women who become the mistress of wealthy older men for material gains, like a house and money. i found a lot of things zurndorfer pointed out to be true in my own observation of chinese society, but the one thing i fault her with was using a piece of fictional television show from 2009 as a source of truth. 8 years as elapsed since the show was first broadcasted, and in modern chinese society, a lot can change in 8 years.

there was a reception after the lecture but i made my way home, feeling a little out of place amongst the academic elites. there were also some asian studies professors in attendance and i could feel their expertise just from the questions they asked. plus their spoken mandarin chinese were pretty good as well, which for me is a tell-tale sign of someone with exceptional higher learning.

i was expecting karen to be home before dark and began to get worried when it started to get late, afraid she might've gotten into an accident, being unfamiliar with the roads on her way back. for dinner i cooked up a bag of trader joe's mushroom risotto. having just made risotto a few nights ago, this instant version pales in comparison with my own recipe. the mushroom gave the risotto an earthy flavor that i didn't particularly like. nevertheless, i will still make my mushroom prosciutto risotto recipe one of these days. i also roasted half a bundle of asparagus in the oven, this time adding some parmesan cheese to the mix.

karen didn't come home until 8:30pm. she had no difficulty coming back, i was worried for nothing. she must've had dinner already because after a shower she went to her bedroom to work then to sleep. she told me tomorrow she has to be at the clinic by 8am. i will adjust the nest thermostat schedule accordingly.

there was intermittent children stomping noises from upstairs throughout the day, but tolerable, or maybe because i was unusually patient this sunday. it began at 7am, but unlike yesterday, i wasn't going to let it keep me from sleeping so i powered through it and didn't fully wake up and out of bed until 9:30am.

i knew from last night's news broadcast that the forecasted snow would only graze us. original amount was as high as 3" (which meant i'd have to do some shoveling), but turns out the only place that did have some precipitation was on the cape. nevertheless, i was surprised to see a thin dusting of fresh powder on cars this morning, but that was the extent of it.

paul and his progenies went out around 10:30am. likewise karen did the same at 11am, invited by her coworker friend paula to take a field trip to the stoughton ikea, karen's first ikea experience. that left me the house all to myself. i went to go use the bathroom in peace, followed by a hot shower, then made chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch.

i got in touch with my parents in the late morning, updated them on my lack of success trying to check-in their cathay pacific return flight and reserve seats. last night i gave them a taiwanese number to call but it was for membership service, not for flight reservations. i quickly went online and found the right number (24/7), hopefully they got in touch with an agent to get everything sorted out.

i finished watching rogue one, which came out on the torrent sites last night. i'd seen the movie already, but it was a muddy camera bootleg (long story, i'd planned on seeing it in the theatres, but when i got my hands on the bootleg, i couldn't resist watching the whole thing), so it was nice to see the film with some clarity. i like rogue one better than force awakens; the latter seems more immature, like it was written for small children, with cartoonish characters like BB-8 and maz kanata, this generation's jar jar binks in my opinion.

not that rogue one didn't have some problems with it as well. that galen erso would design a weakness in the death star and in order to relay that critical message to the rebel alliance, he enlists the help of a morally-conflicted cargo pilot to deliver the secret message to saw gerrera, a resistance leader with psychological problems (paranoia for one). in the film it doesn't seem like he's in any hurry to tell the alliance about the death star bug, and the only other person who ends up finding about it is jyn erso, who galen (or gerrera) doesn't even know if she's alive, but spends most of the time in his holographic message talking and apologizing directly to her. and then the plan to break into the empire data storage facility to steal the death star plans, that's a little convoluted and far-fetched, only in a movie would that plan ever work.

but my favorite thing about rogue one is K-2SO, the sassy reprogrammed imperial security droid. i could watch a whole movie about him making catty comments about everything in the star wars universe. or like a mysteru science theater 3000 with K-2SO making comments about the movies.

i did some maintenance on my grow closet. the plastic trays were missing a layer of gravel, which when combined with a layer of water, gives the plants some much-needed moisture in an otherwise dry environment. i should've done the gravel bed from the start, saved myself the trouble of having to pull all the trays back out and redistribute the cups.

i found another dried up zebrina, i transplanted an extra seedling to take its place. the thai basil and the tomato seedlings (all 3 varieties) have emerged, it took 7 days to germinate. now all that's left are the peppers and the eggplants. 2 of the lupines have also germinated, still waiting for the rest (8 more). i planted 4 more japanese eggplants (2 seeds each cup) with the remaining extra 4 empty cups, giving me a total of 12 eggplants.

i sealed up the grow closet, so now there is reflective mylar material on all sides. as for the lights, there's still a bank of fluorescents that are currently off. i really need some sort of fan system because i'm afraid the closet will get too hot once all the lights (all 240+ watts of illumination) are on.

i went out in the late afternoon to pick up some groceries from star market. there was a sale on cabbage (because of st.patrick's day) for something like 17¢/lbs. at that price, i could've bought a few heads and just store them in the fridge for future sauerkraut use. unfortunately they didn't have any, which was strange (not a big deal, cabbage typically are very cheap anyway). i got some green grapes which turned out to be a little sour. finally, i found they sold that yogi brand tahitian vanilla hazelnut tea ($3.50/box) i love so much. i ended up buying two boxes because they're hard to find, and typically star market doesn't have this flavor (i know, because i look every time, and they never carry it).

i chiseled out another parking spot. by that point paul and the gang had already returned home. it was my turn to make noises, and to show them what an altruistic neighbor i was, to be outside clearing out a parking spot when i don't even own a car. but really, i just love breaking up that ice. we got some warm days coming, hopefully the frozen snow and ice will continue to melt.

for dinner i reheated some leftover risotto (never as good as fresh risotto) and roasted half a bundle of asparagus. i was doing the math and expected karen to be home by 4-5pm. she didn't come back until around 7:30pm, busting through the draft curtain with bags of household items she bought from ikea. by then i was halfway done with dinner, semi-watching some bob's burger on FOX.

karen told me that her canadian friend wouldn't be coming this weekend yet again, but postponing her visit until the first weekend of april. i get the feeling that her friend is kind of indecisive, but her reasoning is she wants to wait until better weather. but waiting for good weather in new england is a lost cause. the forecast for this weekend is actually 60+ degrees on saturday. who's to say the following weekend won't be rain and snow and cold? at this rate, cancelling every week, by the time she actually visits, karen's boyfriend will be here.

* took karen to her first dollar tree experience then the somerville winter farmers market at the armory. she accidentally smashed the screen on her iphone 4.

* noontime biked down to the joslin center. karen rode the trek mountain bike. she's a slow rider, i had to stop numerous times to wait for her to catch up. on top of that her chain kept skipping, turns out she was riding on the innermost gear, the chain stopped skipping once we put the bike into the middle gear. then we went to shillman hall at northeastern university to attend some workshops at the 42nd annual gardeners' gathering. i went to urban beekeeping, biochar, and mushroom cultivation. karen went to tomatoes, backyard chickens, and mushroom as well.

* came home and made risotto for dinner while karen fried some plantains. i only had hald a red onion and my frozen broccoli looked a little freezer burned. neverthless, the risotto plus a bottle of woodchuck amber hard cider was the perfect food after a hard day of cold biking. the plantains were very good too, paired with some slices of cheese. i still haven't made my mushroom prosciutto risotto, hopefully next time will be the charm. in the meantime i still have some raw leftover sausages that i will have to use up soon before it spoils.

* not much going on in the grow closet except one of the zebrina seemed to have dried up and died. i really think it's the soil, avoid vigoro in the future. fortunately i have plenty of spare zebrinas, i'll just transplant one over tomorrow.

* i went to bed at 3am last night but woke up at 7am from the children stomping in the kitchen. this only happened briefly but annoyed me enough that i couldn't go back to sleep. fortunately paul and the gang went out in the late morning, and didn't come back home until the evening, when it was too late to let the children run around upstairs.

the first order of business this morning was to ride my bike down to the comcast office and return the gateway box. i will get a prorated charge on my next internet bill, which means i only pay how ever many days i used the gateway for, which was less than 48 hours (comcast will charge me 67¢).

a tree in my neighborhood toppled over during tuesday's snowstorm. there was no casualties, except for an unfortunate car that was smashed. i first saw the report on the news, about a downed tree in cambridge. the footage seemed familiar, then they said it was on prentiss street, which is very close to where i live. just so happens my action camera was recording when i drove by that very street tuesday morning, before the tree fell. from the looks of it, the way the tree was leaning, it was only a matter of time. that's actually the second tree to have toppled on this street. back in october 2012, another tree fell during a hurricane, and it too smashed into a car.

cambridge road crew came out and quickly disposed of the tree that fell during the snowstorm. blinding white out condition and chainsaw doesn't seem like a safe combination but when i revisited prentiss street today, there was no sign of the tree besides a hollowed diseased tree stump and some wood dust.

my sister wasn't home, left earlier to take hailey out for a walk, when i arrived at my grand uncle's place to deliver his lunch. afterwards i went to the side entrance with the hoe and broke up as much ice as possible on the sloped walkway. my sister told me yesterday she slipped and hit her head.

i biked back home. maybe i didn't get enough ice breaking action (despite hurting my palms from all that pounding), but soon afterwards i was back outside, breaking the layer of ice that'd formed on empty parking spots. when cars park there they can't get any traction on their tires due to the ice so i have to listen to them dangerously spinning their wheels, trying to free themselves. it's a thankless job since nobody is there to see me do it, but i do it for the exercise, and i do it because i love breaking things (in this case ice with the ice chisel). after that i cleaned out a parking spot on H street. i felt obligated because i'd parked there up until tuesday morning, and i knew the moment i left that spot that it'd be covered in snow and nobody else could park there anymore.

karen came home early, like 3pm, from her central massachusetts conference. i sort of had a hunch this might happen, so i didn't make a mess of the house like i typically would when i'm not expecting anyone else to be home in a while. she brought back a large container of pasta salad, said i was free to have some, told me she couldn't it anymore after having that all of yesterday and today. she went out for a walk while i was outside chiseling ice from the pavement.

a few more seedlings have emerged, i actually noticed them yesterday, but today i set them under the fluorescent lights: a few lupines and almost all of the gazanias. of the gazanias, there was one cup where the seedlings looked deformed and shriveled. i ended up splitting a pair of healthy gazania seedlings and replanting the second seedling in that one cup. when i felt the dirt i realized what the problem was: the soil was too soggy. that might mean my habanero plants won't germinate well either because when i prepared the soil for those seeds the dirt was particularly soggy. only time will tell. i have plenty of habanero seeds anyway, if none of them germinate, i still have time to replant them again.

for dinner i finished the last of my godmother's spaghetti sauce with rotini pasta. i also had some of karen's pasta salad, which was really good, super healthy, with a rainbow mix of vegetables, from cherry tomatoes to spinach to asparagus. i might have some more tomorrow.

paul's kids and grandchildren are visiting this weekend. i knew this from the non-stop stomping coming from upstairs beginning at 6:30pm. steve wrote me an e-mail apologizing for any noises, said there were 3 toddlers, and they'd be here until monday. the noise was non-stop, i nearly fired off an angry complaint. they finally stopped by 10pm.

without a car meant i'd have to bike down to the cafe. it wasn't bad, the streets for the most part were dry and devoid of ice, except for the middle of the streets were clumps of snow seem to congregate since tires don't ride over them. also be careful of the snowbanks, but i normally keep my eyes open on my right to prevent myself from getting doored, so it comes with the territory.

i made it to the cafe without incident. the first thing my aunt said to me when i saw her was, "i broke it," meaning the analog clock that typically hangs out front. she was trying to get it down to adjust the time and ended up smashing it onto the floor. i'm surprised the glass face wasn't shattered, but the paper clockface with the numbers was turn in pieces, like somebody had punched through it. my aunt had pieced it together using tape, which made it look even worse. i did manage to fix it for her, but the clock will now live in the back of the cafe as it's too unsightly to be seen by others.

this is my fourth to last lunch delivery for my grand uncle, as my parents will be back by tuesday night. i almost don't remember how i used to spent my noontimes where i didn't have to run down to the cafe to deliver lunch. while my grand uncle ate, i let hailey out into the backyard to use the bathroom. then i was scanning the new OTA channels on my sister's HDTV. my sister uses a surfboard SB6141 cablemodem (white). i got that one used in october 2014 for $50, met the seller on a dark street in somerville. my parents also use an SB6141 at the cafe. i got one used from a vietnamese guy i met at JFK/umass back in january 2016 for $40. a quick peek at craig's list showed an older model DOCSIS 3.0 SB6121 (black) selling for $25-30 locally. used SB6141 can be had for $40, although i saw one in watertown for just $25.

the SB6141 is really overkill (retail $60). it has a maximum download speed of 343Mbps, while the comcast internet plan i have now has a maximum download speed of only 30Mbps. you can say i'm future proofing myself, which is what comcast wants people to think so they will upgrade to comcast's equipment, but nobody has internet speed that fast. if that speed was even theoretically available, comcast would charge a fortune for it anyway. comcast currently has a 200Mbps plan for $88/month (probably $100/month after fees). but i'm happy with 30Mbps, it's plenty fast, i've never once complained about my internet speed. i grew up with dialup modems, and lived with DSL for many years before cable internet was available, so the speed i have now is already faster than i could ever hope. my surfboard SB5101 which recently stopped working (i still think it's a comcast conspiracy, i believe the modem is not really broken) had a download speed of 38MBps.

i spent half an hour with a hoe chipping at the ice in the cafe parking lot. a large semi truck was parked in the lot for over 20 minutes. the movers could sense i was getting a little upset with them blocking cars from getting in, and told me "2 more minutes," which means nothing. they finally left 10 minutes later. what the parking lot really needs is some sand for some traction, but there wasn't any at the cafe. all that pounding made the palms of my hands hurt afterwards.

the zebrinas continue to grow at an exponentially fast rate. yesterday they were just sprouts, today the embryonic first leaves were opened. there's also a high germination rate: i put two seeds per cup and nearly all the cups contain 2 seedlings. now i have to decide whether to extract the extra seedlings and replant them or just cut them. i don't know what the true colors of the leaves are because i've only seen them under the LED lights, which gives everything a false ultraviolet glow.

my job this afternoon was to wait for my new cablemodem to arrive. mail came in the afternoon but i didn't bother checking to see if the mail carrier also dropped off any packages until 5pm. sure enough, a box from amazon.com was sitting outside my door. i could've been configuring the cablemodem earlier, and then would've had time to return the gateway! but a day or two isn't that big a deal.

i didn't know what to expect as this was used equipment purchased through amazon.com, but the cablemodem arrived with all its original packaging in the box, so it seemed like a retail purchase. there was no cosmetic damage to the unit, and as far as i was concerned, it was as good as new.

according to the directions, all i had to do to set up the surfboard SB6141 was to plug it into the coaxial cable, wait for the various icons to stop flashing, then open up a browser window to activate the modem. i did all that, a comcast/xfinity splash page greeted me, asked for my account and phone number. i input my information and waited. and waited. i re-entered my info a few more times, nothing seemed to be happening. i restarted the modem and tried to reactivate again. nothing. if i had to guess, the modem wasn't updating, because it's suppose to auto-reset itself at least, and it didn't do anything.

i had no choice but to call comcast tech support, which i was dreading. the service reps aren't usually very knowledgeable and often times i can't hear what they're saying and frequently ask them to repeat. the guy that i got at least was familiar with setting up an "owned" modem (that's comcast's designation for any equipment that's not there's and they can't make money off of it by leasing it indefinitely). but i think it was basically just getting my MAC address, typing it into their database, then wait for the information to propagate. during that time the cablemodem reset itself 3 times. the 3rd time seemed to do the trick, and i was able to get online with my laptop connected directly to the cablemodem via ethernet cable.

i then hooked up the wifi router, but it took a few resets to get the cablemodem and the router to be in sync. also the first time i tried to access the web with my phone, i got the authentication splash page again. after inputting my info for the nth time, i was finally able to surf the web on both phones and computer. i checked the speed with the speedtest app and i got about 30Mbps upload with 5Mbps download, which is what i'm supposed to get. why my old DOCSIS 2.0 modem stopped working, i still don't know. but like i said previously, i really think it's a comcast ploy to get people who aren't as tech savvy to upgrade to their equipment. i hate them so much! how much longer do i have to wait for the day cambridge can finally get some cable/internet competition? verizon FIOS where are you?

upgrading to a faster cablemodem doesn't mean i have faster internet speed, since comcast throttles how fast i can download/upload (30Mbps/5Mbps). not only that, they also further throttle my upload speed (verizon FIOS doesn't do this, upload/download both 50Mbps). i don't know why they can't just give everyone the fastest speed possible, but i guess if they can charge extra for something, they will. like how phone companies used to charge per minute of call or per text message, and now it's standard practice for unlimited calls/texts. i really hate how internet speed in the US is so behind some other developed countries.

by the time i was finally done it was already 6pm, the comcast office was closed. i'll just have to return the gateway tomorrow morning. just like yesterday, karen came home the exact minute i finished setting everything up. i was proud of my accomplishment and tried to show her what i did in my server closet, but i don't think she understands.

karen came home and ate her leftover lunch sandwich for dinner, before going out for a short walk around the neighborhood, because she'd been cooped up in a conference building all day long.

as for me, i had more rotini with spaghetti sauce for dinner, as well as half a bundle of toaster-oven roasted asparagus. the pasta made me gassy the rest of the night. i also had a chinese pear and later an ice cream sandwich, all washed down with a can of pomegranate seltzer.