i pretty much didn't sleep last night. since i promised my aunt i'd drive her to the airport at 4am (she's going to taiwan and california for 3 months, short vacations are so out of fashion these days), i didn't bother going to bed. instead, when the time came, i got dressed and went out the door into the early morning darkness and cold and went to go pick her up. the streets were empty, a very peaceful and spooky calm. along the way i saw an animal crossing the road. at first i thought it was a cat (by why would a cat be up at this time of the night?) but later thought maybe it might be an opossum or a skunk. for some reason i didn't think it of a raccoon, which was exactly what it was. it hopped on a stone and we stared at each other for a split second before it climbed over a wooden picket fence. raccoons are cool. i don't see them often, but they're always a treat. they're very beautiful creatures, with unmistakable markings. i've been to zoos in other countries and they always seem to have a few raccoons, so what we take for granted (and sometimes even hate, since raccoons rummage through our trash looking for food or fight with our outdoor pets) here in this country is an exotic animal in some others. by the time i got to aunt's place (just 5 minutes worth of driving), she had already brought down her two full-sized suitcases and a carry-on luggage. i put everything in the back and away we left. there was hardly any traffic and the few cars we saw some were going to the airport as well. we were in no rush, more than 2 hours ahead of schedule. we arrived at gate c and while my aunt watched her suitcases i went to go get a pushcart. returning home, it took me just 15 minutes to get back to cambridge. it was 4:45am. my evening - my morning - wasn't over yet.

at 6am i was driving an tao and his wife to chinatown so they can catch their 3-day guided tour bus down to new york, philadelphia, and washington dc. i had maybe about an hour to kill so i decided to take a short rest in bed but i couldn't fall asleep. an hour later i was up and driving them down to chinatown. there was a bit more cars on the road, but the traffic was still light. dawn was approaching and the eastern horizon was an awe-inspiring explosion of morning colors, magenta clouds and lavender sky. crossing over the longfellow bridge, the view of boston was something out of a postcard. the city streets were all empty, and i felt like coming back another morning and just walking around when nobody's around, have the whole place to myself. after i dropped them off, i returned home via storrow drive. the sky became even more stunning and i came dangerously close to swerving off the road a few times, too engrossed in the majesty of the moment. all i could think of was, "i need to get a photo!" but i couldn't pull over until in was in harvard square. when i got out of the car i realized i didn't have my camera with me. muttering some obscenities i got back into the vehicle and drove home. it was 6:45am. it was also my birthday.

figuring i might as well start the day since i was up anyway, i got into bed to watch some television. it didn't take me long to fall asleep though, and i didn't wake up until 12:30pm.

since i had a project delivery on friday, i knew at least today i wouldn't have any real work while i waited for feedback, which usually takes a day or two at least. with an tao and his wife away for the next few days, i had the place all to myself again. it was liberating, i called up entertainment weekly to complain about my subscription and i was informed the next issue will start arriving february 22nd. i finally got around to sending client S some invoices, and even though i won't see the money until a few weeks, at least it made me feel good that i wouldn't be borderline bankrupt for long. i started watching the episode of rome i downloaded last night. a check of the 10 gallon aquarium revealed something unusual: the water temperature was up to 84 degrees (it should be 74 degrees); apparently the underwater heater was working a little bit too well. i dialed it down to 68 degrees hoping the lower setting could compensate for the disparity but it stayed around 84 degrees all day (which means the heater's busted, so i still have to get a new one).

in the afternoon i got dressed and set out on this project that came me while driving back home boston: i wanted to go around taking photos of number 33 house numbers, as an homage to my new age. although seemingly simple in scope, find a handful (i wanted 9, so i could form a nice grid) meant having to walk that many number of blocks, since naturally the number 33 only appears once per street. it became harder than i realized. first, i accidently wandered near the local elementary school, and one of the things that really freak out parents picking up their children after school is seeing a strange man with a telephoto lens taking pictures. so i got the hell out of there as quickly as possible. i walked down a few long streets which then took forever to walk back. and for some reason, a lot of the streets i visited, the number 33 would always be missing. i wonder if it's some sort of superstitious custom (like with number 13) that houses can't be numbered 33. i reached a point where i basically gave up after getting just one good shot, and then came home.

i had to be back home at 4pm anyway, for a conference call with client N and the new graphic designer about the project starting next month. i was afraid i'd lose cellphone reception so i took the entire call with my head pressed against the window of my backyard door. my place gets notoriously bad service, no matter which company i switch to (i've used AT&T, cingular, and now verizon, it's pretty much hopeless at this point, if i want clarity, i have to go landline).

in the early evening i returned the car. it was great when i had it, but now i'm back to public transportation or walking, which is pretty inconvenient. i really can't wait for winter to be over so i can start using my motorcycle again. my mother came back to the home with me and made me rice noodle for dinner, with a plate of seasoned rabbit, and a crumbled block of tiramisu cake my sister made (it wasn't for me, it was leftover from a cake she made for a friend's party).

after watching 24 (i forgot it was a 2 hour episode tonight, i missed the first half), i poured myself a glass of water, lit up some incense, filled the tub, and soaked for an hour with my magazines. the water was so hot i was red as a lobster but i didn't mind.

now with carbon dioxide tank!

i set up the carbon dioxide generator for the new tank. i had to rinse out the tube at one point because the releasing gas had pushed some yeast bubbles into the tube. i can't believe how much my place is turning into my own private aquarium. it looks prettiest at night, when the only illumination comes from the glow of these fish tanks. the 10 gallon tank is unbelievably bright - that's because i put tinfoil behind the fluorescent bulb so it'd reflect all the light back into the water (for the plants). next time i visit a pet store, i need to pick up a new heater and some more plants. even in my 7 gallon, with so many plants growing, it's still not enough to prevent algae growth.

got in touch with that brookline woman who's selling her canon EF-S 18-55mm kit lens on craig's list. going to meet her in downtown crossing tomorrow morning to hopefully buy the lens ($70) if it checks out okay. why do i need another one? well, the one i have, a few weeks ago i discovered some mysterious imperfection in the glass. also, even though i got it fixed in kunming, the lens will still crash periodically (these fancy autofocus lenses have microchips inside which can "crash" and get stuck just like a computer).

anyway, 33! like i was telling eliza, it's really the new 23.