funny, but this valentine doesn't feel as depressing as previous valentines. it's the last of what i affectionately call "the bad holidays" and once it's over, it's smooth sailing from here, until the fall. once roses fall back down to their non-inflated prices, once CVS clears its shelves of everything pink, once couples get into a fight because the actual day never lives up to the romantic hype, everything will be back to normal.

travel equipment talk: so this morning i cancelled the flashtrax after i came across an even cheaper option: the 80gb vosonic multimedia viewer (vp-6210 $360), which as it happens was the model the "guru" recommended last night (a slightly different configuration). for the same amount of storage it's $120 cheaper. the color LCD is only 2" but i just need it to verify that the photos transferred over. one good thing is its ability to take a lot of different memory cards without any adapter (the flashtrax could only use compact flash). it's the least sexy of all the options i've considered, but as long as it gets the job done (i.e. storing photos), i don't mind if it looks ugly. as a matter of fact, maybe i'll uglify it even more when it arrives, just to make it a repellent object of theft.

i raced into chinatown to meet james and kristine for lunch at the apollo grill. james was already inside the restaurant and called me from his cellphone when he saw me standing outside. when kristine arrived, it became a squid reunion of sorts, with almost half the former work force present. kristine came with horror stories, about being unceremoniously let go from her contract job, and then the human tragedy that happened at her apartment while she was gone, involving roommates, alcohol, sex, a wanton fiance, and a bed. the short rib box lunch special included an abalone mixed with some spicy tuna served over a scallop shell. after lunch, kristine went to the bank while james and i went to the bookstore to get some bubble ice tea to go.

i briefly browsed the B&N bookstore in dtx before catching the subway back to porter square. i felt a little "uneasy" not from the box lunch but from last night's hot pot, still feeling the residual effects. practice run. i imagined myself lost somewhere in saigon with a nasty case of traveler's diarrhea, unable to speak enough of the local language to ask directions to the nearest bathroom, and suddenly what i was feeling didn't seem so bad. i went to cambridge travels to buy my japanese rail pass. people often ask, is it expensive in japan? for a 2 weeks all-you-can-ride pass it costs $456. i hope that answers your question (that's more than half the price of my round trip plane ticket to taipei with a stopover in tokyo). the woman who helped me kept on speaking little bits of japanese to me as if i'd understand, but for the most part it sounded like pleasant japanese noises. i was hoping once i gave her my name she'd be able to figure out i wasn't japanese, but she continued with her nihongo nevertheless. i gave her my credit card number, and a few minutes later i walked out with my JR voucher printed on airplane ticket stock. elsewhere, on the other side of cambridge, my mother was giving the order to buy my american airline ticket from a discount asian travel agency recommended to us from one of my godmother's sons. in the span of just a few hours i made purchases that totaled one month's mortgage. i cringed at my imminent poverty. i still haven't done or paid for my taxes yet, just delaying the inevitable.

back at home, it felt too late (and too cold) to go out running, so i formed a cocoon on the sofa with the new down throw my sister gave me for a birthday present and read up on the history of vietnam. last night before bed it was a cambodian lesson; i was so inspired that i woke up my computer and added the killing fields (1984) to the top of my netflix list. day became night, and i found myself heating some bing for dinner and watching 24.

tomorrow, more travel errands. 10 days and counting.