rina, the mega life and health agent (in conjunction with NASE), came over to my place in the afternoon and an hour later i had health insurance.

rina, who braved the foul weather to pay me a house visit, explained the state of health care in massachusetts (too many consumer protection laws, insurance companies hate it here), the difference between managed (HMO/PPO) and traditional care, and then let me choose the package i wanted. i went with the traditional (independent) care: for $235/month i get 4 doctor visits ($15 copayment), accident/injury emergency coverage ($50 deductible), free international medical evacuation, and a $1000 deductible for any hospital procedures (with the insurance paying for 80% of the bill). what it doesn't include are prescription drugs or ambulatory care like rehabilitation or major testings, but i do have the option of always switching or upgrading to a different plan every billing cycle (30 days) without any penalty fees. i told rina about my situation, that i needed health insurance ASAP so i could go ahead and start my immunization process for the trip. so she's going to expedite my paperwork and by next friday the insurance will officially kick in, even as early as wednesday. so now i can finally get the shots i wanted. is there any other time in my life that i'm looking forward to needles?

later in the evening julie and i planned on visiting an art gallery on beacon street in support of tsunami relief, featuring a rotation of live band music and a suggested donation of $10 for admission. i fell asleep before the start of the event (watching rachel ray make a 30-minute clam chowder), and quickly fixed myself some ramen for dinner before getting dressed. that's when julie contacted me about not feeling like going anymore; i suggested bowling instead and she was game. she came to pick me up and we went to lanes & games off of route 2 near alewife.

even before we got there we knew the place would be crowded on a friday night: the parking lot was near capacity. inside, the place was crowded with a mishmash of senior citizens, hipsters, college kids, teenagers, and parents with small children. the wait for 10 pin bowling was an hour and half, while the less popular candlepin had a 30 minute wait. although i wanted to try town line bowling in malden instead (where on weekends they have ATOMIC bowling), we ended up staying and getting numbers for both, waiting in the bar/restaurant until our number was called. julie nursed a petite plastic cup of beer, i had my container of coke no ice. we split an order of jalapeño poppers while julie ordered another baby-sized beer. we ended up returning our candlepin number because our number for 10 pin was just a few digits away. when it was called, we paid for 3 games while i rented some shoes: julie had her own personal pair which she carried in her ebay-purchased bowling bag.

little did i know but the lane that we got (42) is notorious for breaking down. for the first few frames the "sweeper" mechanism for clearing the pins would get stuck and we'd have to call the maintenance guy to come down and fix it for us. julie got a pair of 10 lbs. balls, but i found mine too unwieldy, so instead i traded down for an 8 lbs. ball, the lightest ball on the rack: as if it wasn't emasculating enough that i was using the sissy ball, it was colored a gaudy pink that could be seen from every lanes, which could've only been made worse if it had glitter and made noises and lights when i used it. nevertheless, it was the ball for me, that is until the girl in the next lane, not well versed in the proper bowling etiquette, adopted it as her own ball. when julie and i politely asked if she was using the ball (she had it cradled in her hands, awaiting her turn), she got all offended. it seemed like a lost cause, one that didn't require fighting over. i'd just waited my turn until she was done with the ball; unfortunately she's one of those slow rollers so i had to endure a lot of waiting.

game wise, i lost all 3 times. i took it as a personal victory if i was more than half of julie's final total score (who managed to break the 100 point barrier every time). it's easy for me to come up with an excuse (like the fact that julie bowls way more than i do, she's got her own shoes for chrissakes!), but i won't go there: truth is i just suck at bowling, much like many things i enjoy doing but not very well. if everyone was a winner then nobody would be a winner, you dig? being a loser marks me as a martyr for society. julie tried to help, tried to give me useful tips, like how to hold the ball, or how to throw, but that just put a kink into my natural flow and the result was several frames of complete gutter balls. i like to let my bowling instinct come out naturally in whatever bastardized mutated form it takes. at one point the ballhog girl turned to me and said, "we both use the same ball," which i don't know if it was a solidarity comment or a remark about how she was kicking my ass too with her slow roll technique.

game 1

game 2

game 3

after 3 games i could feel the pain already: in my right wrist and forearm, and on my left hamstring. although i didn't suffer any blisters, i had a hard time making a fist with my right hand. we went downstairs and paid for a single game of candlepin. candlepins is more like the appetizer to regular bowling, so it left us with an unsatisfied feeling. unlike traditional bowl where you get two tries, with candlepin it's 3 turns with uniform balls the size of a large orange. the pins you knock down don't clear until the end of your turn, so you can use them to topple the remaining pins. this is useful because it's very hard to get strikes in candlepin. my result? the losing streak continues! i bowl angry and fast, and with these little balls it felt like amusement park skee ball except i don't win any prizes.

when i came home it was just in time to catch the encore broadcast of the new battlestar galactica series on the scifi channel, two back-to-back episodes. that is some good stuff i tell you, we needed something to fill the scifi void left by star trek (enterprise is on a deathwatch, don't even deny it).

I adopted a cute lil' tempura fetus from Fetusmart! mm..yummy.