i went with my father to lexington to help pick up my parents' new car, a 2003 v6 limited edition toyota camry. it's a sweet car, simple, but very well designed, the culmination of years worth of vehicular evolution. the dealer, john, had my father sign some forms and went over the basics of the car. for the first 1000 miles the car isn't supposed to be driven about 65mph. john used his head as an amplifying antenna to demonstrate the keyless entry system. the last time my parents bought a car, a cd player wasn't part of the basic package. the toyota camry, surprisingly, has all sorts of safety features, things that none of our family cars ever had: self-releasing latch in the trunk, airbags, childseat achors, and the fact that the seatbelt light flashes nonstop if anyone in the car doesn't have his/her seatbelt on. what i also found kind of interesting is the car doesn't have a cigarette lighter or an ashtray, i guess most car buyers no longer need those things, which i find to be quite comforting as to what it says about our society. we drove back, me in the ford explorer, my father in the toyota camry.

we rendezvous'd at the cafe, where i got to drive the camry back to belmont with my father in the passenger seat. the car was surprisingly quiet, both from an engine standpoint and from a interior sound standpoint. driving the nissan maxima was like riding in a wind tunnel, it was that noisy, you almost had to shout to have a conversation. not so with the camry, almost silent. the v6 engine also picks up really well, a tiny tap on the gas pedal, i could really feel the car ready to move. the 15 year old maxima, there were times when i almost had my foot to the floor and the car would slowly accelerate.

back in belmont i helped my father clean up some stuff, picked up my mail, and grabbed one of the birdfeeders that's been sitting in the backyard (the globe feeder with the baffle). i washed them both, and put back the triple tubed feeder, filled with sunflower seeds. i was shocked to see that tiny flour beetles had gotten into my bag of sunflower seeds from last season, although i was happy to know they'd freeze as soon as i put them outside.

when we got back to my place, my father taught me how to properly make porkchops, what ingredients should be included in the marinade, and how i should tenderize the meat in order to absorb the flavor. the last and only time i made porkchops, there was no tenderizing. meat is just so savage. it's not enough that raw meat is so visceral and disgusting to look at, but the preparation is also barbaric, the pounding of the meat to tenderize it. there's nothing elegant about it, it's very brute force. after the meat lesson, i went out onto the deck and hung up my birdfeeder. up in the air sleeping on some phone/power cables was a squirrel, basking in the afternoon sun. initially i thought it was sleeping, but then when i was taking its photo, i was afraid that maybe it had died, accidently electrocuting itself. i was relieved when it started to stir when some other squirrels ran down the line. there seems to be a large squirrel population on my block, the oak tree in the backyard certainly must have something to do with it. i wonder how city squirrels (i consider cambridge a city somewhat) compare with suburban (belmont) squirrels? are they smarter? because i thought the squirrels in belmont were pretty tough, i can't imagine what cambridge squirrels will be like. maybe having easy access to an oak tree have made them soft and hopefully they'll leave my birdfeeder alone. but having battled squirrels before, i won't bet on it. i also left the closed can of sunflowers outside, hoping that the cold will kill the rest of the flour beetles. during the few remaining hours of daylight i didn't see any bird activities at the feeder.

after a nap, i woke up to darkness and an appointment to meet alex wong in harvard square for dinner. we met outside of skewers, but alex said he didn't want to eat there because he ate there last night, so we ended up going to pho pasteur, which was the cheaper meal anyway. i used to be the biggest fan of pho, and i'm still am, but i don't pho pasteur, the pho franchise. i find their selection to be limited and their pho to be the on the pricey side, although still definitely cheaper than most other meals (their pho is still cheap, but all their stuff, including appetizers, are expensive -- a dish of satay only comes with two strips of meat). for my money, i still like the pho restaurants in chinatown, although my favorite place, to chau, is no longer there. it was actually slightly crowded, we had a 10-15 minute wait before we got seated. i had the strawberry fruit shake (just a fancy name for a smoothie!) and a small bowl of beef pho, but the waiter ended up giving me a chicken pho, which i ate without complaint, i ain't one to rock the boat, and i was hungry enough that i didn't want to wait again.

chicken pho



she's in love.
he's gay

after the meal, i made a quick stop to the garage bathroom (it wasn't because of the food). in the all the times i've been to the garage, i never knew there was a public bathroom in the basement, and a very clean bathroom to boot. we went to newbury comics, where my digital camera didn't set off the alarm when i came in, but did set it off when i went out. the guy behind the counter was very understanding, and i had this happen to me enough times that i knew the drill, handed him my camera, and walked out the door as he gave it back to me from the side. next, it was wordsworth, for some book browsing. saturday night it was kind of busy, mostly an older clientele. i mean, come on, who hangs out at bookstores on saturday nights? oh, that'd be me. later, we walked to central square in the freezing cold, where alex had parked his car. we passed by cafes and restaurants along the way, seeing all the happy faces all warm and toasty behind the windows. alex gave me a ride back to my place and went back to malden.

feeling lazy and in need of some tlc, i took a bath, reading a newsweek in the tub until it got soggy. the rest of the evening was spent watching television, including robert deniro's stint as a saturday night live host. i thought he did an okay job, i noticed he messed up a few lines, and i was disappointed he elected to read from cue cards instead of memorizing everything. you figured robert deniro, master thespian, would commit the comedy to memory! next week's going to be crazy too, al gore is scheduled to host. this man could be our next president. i definitely see parallels between al gore's hosting snl versus bill clinton's stop on the arsenio hall show when he played the saxophone with the band.