i got an e-mail invitation from eliza to come over to her place in jamaica plains for dinner tonight. i called her up to accept the generous offer on this dreary sunday. i went across the street to get some groceries (plums, yogurt, potato chips, ice cream sandwiches, milk, tv guide), had to pay with the credit card because i was short on cash. coming home, i spotted a spiderweb besides the front steps and went out to take a closer look after dropping off the bags. turns out it was a beautiful orchard spider, green and yellow, black and white. so without even trying, i did get a dose of nature this weekend!

figuring i had a hearty meal waiting for me later tonight, i decided to forgo eating lunch, or at least a normal lunch. instead, i made myself a smoothie and finished a whole bag of potato chips (that's over 1000 calories, fulfilling 100% of my daily recommended amount of fat) while watching the red sox and patriots game. both teams lost, the red sox game was meaningless since they're already in the playoffs, but the patriots loss was painful, they came back to within striking distance but ended up losing to the redskins anyway. remember when the redskins used to be a really bad team?

i finally installed the 52x cdrw that i ordered a while back (for $10, after rebates) but had just been sitting on the floor of my bedroom. it took a few tries before i got it working. the first time, i forgot to set the drive as a slave, and it overrided the hard drive. the second time, it was sharing the same ide connector as the hard drive, and apparently that isn't kosher, because the machine wouldn't even boot up, it just made a distressing beeping noise and kept on blinking a red LED light. third time was the charm however, i piggybacked the cdrw to the original cd-rom drive, and that worked flawlessly, windows xp able to recognize the internal burner without installing any driver. now i need to buy a cheap ide drive. my current pc only has a 4gb drive, which is embarassingly inadequate and i only have 200mb free on that machine currently. one problem is i don't have a legit copy of windows xp professional, since i bought the computer used, and it came with the operating system pre-installed. if the system ever goes down, i'm going to have a hard time getting it back up, so i don't use the pc very much, only when i have to. if i got a second hard drive for it, i might be inclined to use it more often, or at the very least be able to play those pc games that i can only dream about as a primarily mac user.

i started watching one of the anime alex huang (my godmother's son) lent me, hellsing, which has to do with a vampire assassin named alucard (how clever!) who works for a secret van hellsing organization hunting down other rogue vampires and their ghouls. the story also has to do with a girl who was transformed by alucard into a vampire in order to save her life and given a job as an assassin in training. the story is kind of interesting, although it has a heavy-handed tone often found in anime of this ilk, how everything is very melodramatic and serious. alex wong said it was a good series the morning he came over so i could take him down to the airport, so that gave me the impetus to see this one first.

i took a shower, put on some clean clothes, then drove down to jamaica plains with alex's car after checking the map. without fail, i always get lost driving down to eliza's place, which doesn't particularly endear that area of boston for me. i was 20 minutes late but i eventually got there, a package of biscotti as a present, i'm learning not to show up at people's places empty handed. her roommate anna was playing the piano in the living room, a very professional and skilled performance of some familiar classical music. eliza's mother lucy and her mother's boyfriend (his name escapes me at the moment) showed up as well, followed by eliza's other roommate david. as soon as all the members of the party arrived, we were ready to eat, the food already cooked, just warming up in the oven. we were having homemade lasagna for dinner as well as salad and garlic bread. david, a decade long vegetarian, helped himself only to the bread and the salad ("i already ate," he repeated a few times, when people expressed concerns that he wasn't able to enjoy all of the food), while the rest of us ate our lasagna. lucy and her boyfriend steered the course of the dinner conversation, systematically asking each person questions. my questions concerned my newfound job, david was about his vegetarianism and possible gambling addiction, anna was her biomedical research and would she start her own research group after she finished her work, and eliza was about her collection of inexpensive engraved 10 year high school reunion complimentary beer steins. for dessert, homemade ice cream cake. eliza told me she was inspired by laurie, who had made a similar cake back during our srm days. the actual technique isn't very hard, just requires a bit of patience making the different layers of the cake (that was the theme of tonight's dinner actually, layered food, likewise with the lasagna). i might actually try to make one myself one of these days, i just need to get a collapsible cake mold. lucy and her boyfriend left soon after dinner (like they had somewhere else to go), and anna went to bed soon afterwards as well, feeling a bit under the weather.

eliza made some tea and we all retired to the living room, david sprawled on his bed in his bedroom chatting away on his cellphone, eliza and i on the couch sharing digital photography stories now that she's the proud new owner of a nikon coolpix 4500, the latest generation of my nikon coolpix 950. i showed her how to hold the camera to get maximum stealthiness, and when she wasn't looking, i helped set the clock on her camera as well as turning off the annoying beeping sound everytime you take a photo. i'm hoping to get a 4500 of my own as well very soon, if nikon has indeed stopped production on this line of cameras, i want to have the last version.

getting late, i went home, where i was timer recording the season premiere of alias. possible spoilers alert! this was a real tearjerker of an episode, when vaughn breaks the news to sydney that she's been missing for two years and now he's married, when vaughn is cradling her after he had to shoot her with a tranquilizer to stop her from going crazy, when sydney sees dixon, when sydney sees marshall and he thinks she doesn't remember him, when sydney visits her father in jail, when sydney realizes because of her deception all the men on her commando squad except one are dead, when she breaks up with vaughn, and when she's reunited with her freed-from-prison father. it was the perfect season three premiere episode. we still haven't seen will, who they said survived the apartment being burned down, and we haven't seen francie, who's body they never recovered (is this right? i thought they mentioned this). and of course, no sydney's mom sighting yet, and no sark. next episode we're going to meet vaughn's wife though, that'll be exciting. i think sloane is still shady even though he says he's gone legit. the final scene, when jack shows sydney that during her 2 years absence, she was working as an assassin, i totally predicted that the end of last season, so that was no surprise for me. can't wait for next sunday, and can't wait for all the episodes, especially since abc decided to give us a taste of the shows to come in a little teaser trailer. curse you j.j.abrams! you own me.