i got my gas and electricity bill today.

immediately after seeing it, i turned off the thermostat.

$40 for electricity, $70 for gas. that was a little bit more than i had originally anticipated. up to this point, i hadn't lived in this house long enough to get an accurate measure of what my monthly electricity/gas bills would be, but now i know. looks like i could get used to wearing pants instead of my out of season shorts, and maybe i could learn to love sweaters and sweatshirts as much as i love the t-shirts. the electricity bill is something i can't change, i'm already the most electrically conservative person i know, but the gas, i could definitely cut back on. this past month it'd always been on, 24/7, set to a very warm 68-70 degrees. maybe 65 degrees isn't so bad. the gas bill will definitely go down once winter is over. $70/month might the price i have to pay if i want to live in style and treat myself to a nice and toasty warm house, versus having to make concessions and wear my winter coat indoors just so i can save a few bucks this season.

lunch, microwaved chicken pot pie hot pocket and a smoothie, a repeat of yesterday's successful combination. i decided to forgo the banana and double the cups of frozen fruits with equal parts mango juice. that mix jammed the blender, and i had to poke at it with a chopstick a few times to loosen things up. the resulting drink was more of a very thick milkshake than something worthy of the name "smoothie." the good thing though is it didn't taste like banana anymore.

i had a little exploration adventure today. on a recent detailed map of cambridge i saw what appeared to be a pedestrian underpass cutting across the commuter rail blocks away from my house. this path would allow me to easily get to the other side of somerville that's forever divided by the train tracks. i told my parents about it a few days ago, and they had actually seen it when they went to the star market where the underpass is right next to. so today i decided to see this shortcut for myself, and sure enough, it's there. apparently the train tracks in that area is very shallow, and the underpass is not a mining shaft as i originally had thought, but more like a short walkway directly beneath the tracks. there are no signs marking the underpass, which is suprising for something this significant. perhaps it's just a closely guarded local secret. now if i ever wanted to make a fast exit to somerville, this is the way to do it.

crossing over into somerville, i wandered around a bit. as if the forces of interior decorating destiny was shaping my very future, i came across the city scheme outlet showroom, filled with modern design furnitures. there were many sofas, and some looked interesting, but reduced prices on designer furnitures are still more expensive that what i'd like to pay. however, there were some cheap rugs (cheap for their sizes, still $150-200 for the least expensive rug) that looked interesting.

returning to cambridge via the newly discovered underpass, i paid a visit to star market. earlier today i was going over my pie recipes, but that's as far as i got. i was there not so much to pick up ingredients, but more to casually browse with no particular purpose. i did want to find canned mangos (do they even exist) to make mango lassi, but alas, couldn't find any. they did have some fresh mangos though but at 2/$3, that seemed too expensive. a small carton of milk, a container of plain yogurt, some pretzels, and a flan mixture was all that i bought, and i used the rest of my cash ($7). outside i noticed the children merry-go-run ride. now i can identify the horse and the duck, but what the hell is that nightmarish third creature? half elephant, half swan, what child would want to ride that beast?

odds and ends: tomorrow's trash day so i dragged out the two barrels of leaves, one trash can, and the recycling bin. i went out to throw away a few more bottles into the recycle bin when i man walking down the street smoking a cigar said, "just in time!" and went through the bin taking away all the bottles and putting them into a trash bag. i smiled without saying a word and went back inside my house, the smell of cigar smoke lingering in the air. i don't care when people take my cans and bottles. they're just going to get recycled anyway, if they want to make some money by taking them to be deposited, go right ahead. i haven't personally recycled a can since high school. in my garden i found the tiny shells of garden snails. i've never seen snails in belmont before, but i've seen them elsewhere, usually after a rainstorm. if there's going to be gastropods in my garden, i rather have them be snails instead of their uglier cousins the slugs. snails are cute, slugs are gross. it's all about the shell, baby. squirrels and rats are practically the same but because squirrels have a tail, they're considered cute. it's all the tail, baby.

i had dinner with alex wong at - where else? - porter exchange. well, we tried porter exchange at least. cafe mami was too crowded (20-30 minutes wait the waitress told me politely), he didn't want any of the other booths, and i didn't want to eat sushi because it's not very filling. instead, after some serious persuasion on my part (alex wanted to call the whole thing off, despite the fact that he and i had already come out all this way), we ate at seoul food, the korean restaurant on mass ave. about a block away from the porter exchange. alex initially didn't want to have any part of seoul food because the prices were on the moderate side (he wanted his dinner less than $10). he suggested walking a mile to harvard square to find a different restaurant, but in the end we still ate at this korean place. he had some teriyaki beef dish ($12), i had the spicy pork bulgoki ($12.50). the food wasn't bad, but it wasn't anything special. he ordered an extra bowl of rice not realizing it'd cost us another $1.50. $1.50 for rice. and i thought zoe's was outrageous for charging $0.75 for their rice. this is rice, people! there's so much rice in asian, it grows wild in the cracks between the pavements! i'm not sure how these asians can do it then, it's despicable. maybe if they add spices like saffron, i could understand, but this is plain white rice! when we finally got our bill, we noticed there was already a 15% gratuity fee tacked onto the receipt, and not only that, but the meal tax was calculated with the tip already added. alex mumbled under his breath that this was the last time he'd ever come to this place. when we got our change back, it returned with the bill, as if they wanted us to tip them some more.

we came back to my place to watch some television. alex, for reasons only known to himself, did not want to drive, but opted to walk in the cold weather to my house. i figured he either doesn't want me to damage his car (you know how i love wearing those pants with the open-faced zippers) or he doesn't want me to smell the dead body he's got in his trunk. anyway, we came back, and he hadn't seen my place since the beginning of the summer, when nothing was done yet. the place is kind of startling when you first come in, i could vicariously experience that "first time" feeling through his eyes. alex tried to debug my router problem (he does cablemodem testing when he's not fighting crime), but soon after he left the router died again (isn't that always the case?).

around midnight, alex huang (my godmother's son) came by my place with a bunch of director questions to ask me for a project he was turning in tomorrow for school. what he wanted to do, i took one look and realized it was impossible to finish the night before the project was due.

essentially i had to teach him director overnight, and then he had to go home and finish his project. basically, he left the hardest part to the last minute, and now i was his only hope. i took a look at his problem some more and could see how he might able to finangle it if i gave him a quick and dirty director template to work off of. so i was explaining to him, but then he interrupted and asked, "i have a friend who's actually waiting in the car, do you think he could wait inside?" ah, a little surprise! so he went out to get his friend. while his friend watched tv, i explained to alex, already showing signs of drowsiness, how to go about doing his project in director. i gave him the template (sent via e-mail and also up on my website) and they took off. i hope he can pull it off. and i hope i'm not going to get a call in the middle of the night asking for help over the phone.

and then late at night it started snowing...