the one important thing i had to do today was put salt on the icy sidewalk in front of my house. when i looked outside though, somebody had already salted. by somebody it was probably my upstairs neighbors. they probably hate me, i'm the least responsible tenant, never helping out with anything around the house except to bring out the garbage on trash day. i noticed they went heavy on the salting, i hope it wasn't some sort of passive aggressive message directed my way.
an tao came home early in the afternoon along with my father, in preparation for an tao's wife's arrival later in the evening. there was a package for me on the doorstep, my photo prints from winkflash.com, about half a dozen 8x12" prints (of china food items), and a packet of about 50 free 4x6" photos (first time user special). this is only the second time i've printed out photos, my first was with snapfish many years ago. back then i was using a 2 megapixel nikon coolpix 950 and my images were 1600x1200 pixels in size. the photos i got were okay but it wasn't hard to spot the grainy pixels. since that time, both the printing technology and the camera technology have improved dramatically. i now shoot with the 8 megapixel canon digital SLR XT with image sizes of 3456x2304 pixels. as for the print quality, it was impossible to tell the difference between digital and traditional film. as a matter of fact, the larger 8x12" photos looked even better because you can see more detail - all without pixelation and with smooth continuous color gradients throughout. next time i print, i think i want to give them images a slight sharpen though. the prints were good but i wanted to maybe see them even crisper.
in the late afternoon i started to get intermittent bug reports from the client, which meant the end of my good times as i go back to work.
came evening i went with julie to dok bua near coolidge corner in brookline for some thai (i've been there two other times before, first second). it was already sort of crowded by the time we got there so we only managed to get a table near the entrance. big mistake. anytime somebody came in or out, a freezing blast of air would send us shivering. julie took a long time to order, trying to match the photo menu with the separate word menu. as for me, i ordered purely based on visual presentation and past experience, deciding to go with the crispy chicken in thai red curry sauce and the curry fried rice with string beans and shrimp. after we ordered, i found some takeout menus, which were far easier to read (though not nearly as many photos). if we ever come again, the way to go is with the dinner combo, something like $9 for a medley of thai goodies, from soup to appetizers to entree. julie finished her crispy chicken rice noodle dish way before me, as i worked to eat up my double servings.
coming back to cambridge, i was surprised to see people already home. turns out they never left, the flight was delayed by about an hour. my sister was on the couch watching television, accusing me of taking sleeping photos of her. my father and an tao were in the kitchen, my father said they signed me up for a QQ account. the what? it's the instant messaging standard for china (just like we have MSN or AIM here), so i can chat with the handful of chinese friends i made on my summer travel. they all left for logan airport soon afterwards. about an hour later they were back, this time with an tao's wife.
after my father and sister left and an tao and his wife went to bed, there was a temporary blackout. i was on the computer and had a weird sensation as everything went black around me and i heard the whir of appliances shutting down. i fished out the flashlight from the closet (batteries dead of course) and then stumbled around the house with the glow of my cell phone as my lantern trying to find some candles and matches. since i didn't want complete darkness just in case somebody wanted to use the bathroom late at night (who knows how long the blackout will be), i left a single tea light lit in the bathroom. i was looking out the window of my living room onto the darkened quiet street (although a few houses down, on the somerville side, they still had power) when the power flickered back on for a second before powering down again. 5 minutes later it went back on for good this time. afraid that maybe the furnace had gone out (which meant going down in the basement to reignite the pilot light), i tested the thermostat and was happy to see it fire back up without a hitch.
(from that photo of my power outage bathroom, you can deduce it's a guy's bathroom because normally the toilet seat is up. plus, i use an electric toothbrush!)