"happy holidays! merry christmas!" said the panhandler next to me on the subway. "could you spare some change?" he added, shaking the coins inside his styrofoam coffee cup. "sorry, no," i said. disappointed, he decided to work me a little bit more. "my mother died when i was 4, i've been struggling ever since," he told me. "oh really?" i replied. continuing with the friendly chit chat, i asked him, "so, how're you spending the holidays? what're you doing for christmas?" he turned to me with an incredulous look and blurted out, "i'm homeless!"

this morning i made a quick stop to pearl and got a single sheet of neon green felt fabric for my diorama. at the office, i finally got the RFID device to work, able to detect the signal from an ID bracelet and use the returned hexidecimal string to pull data from a database. with almost all the hardware issues out of the way, i could now turn my attention to programming. after announcing to everyone at work that i was the biggest lord of the rings fan in the office, i discovered that hardcore fan carly went to see return of the king last night at midnight. i was humiliated! i had some dan dan noodles from king fung, only picked that place because i could phone in my order and would be a quick walk to pick up. during a short break between coding, i finished up the remaining wall of my diorama. i left work 2 hours early, racing down to alewife to meet manny at the fresh pond movie theatre to catch lord of the rings: the return of the king.

rotk, finally! having never read the book, the story was completely fresh to me. i've been slowly working my way up to this third and last installment, having seen the extended versions of the previous two movies over the course of the last two weekends. rotk is all about aragorn and sam, particularly sean astin's portrayal of sam, which i wouldn't be surprised if he got an oscar nod. the battle scenes are crazy, i've never seen it done on such a grand scale before, with so much attention to details. i know it's all done with cgi, but i can't tell the difference, it looks real enough to me. orcs, humans, trolls, warpigs, horses, flying dragons, eagles, siege columns, war elephants, battering "dragons", catapults, war war war ugh ugh ugh! true, as you may have heard, it has a wicked long ending, but it's all feel good, a happily glazed finale. is the third installment good or bad? a movie like this, you can't pigeonhole it, it's entirely a brand new cinematic animal. all i can say is it sustains the momentum of the whole trilogy, never runs out of steam, and when it's over, all you can think about is, when can i see it again?

after the movie, 9:30pm, manny and i got wings from wing works and came back to my place to eat them. out of my 10 medium hot wings, i was only able to finish 6 (must've been all that popcorn i had during the movie). manny went the distance with his 10 wings. he left me with some unwanted magazines and then went home.

8 more days to christmas - do you know where your shopping is? i've barely scratched the surface of my list. and know what? i heard there's yet another snowstorm coming this weekend. it's as if mother nature herself was trying to destroy the retail industry single-handedly!