i went with julie today to explore the southeast asian flavor of lowell. while driving around looking for a place to go for lunch, we checked out the 888 asian grocery (4 pine street). although this little super market wasn't heated, what it lacks in warmth it makes up for in supplies, as tiny aisles were cramped with southeast asian food. they even had a small deli where you could buy a freshly made banh mi sandwich for $2. i bought a large packet of oyster mushrooms (fresh ones, no mold!) for just $1.50. the cashier was quite helpful and recommended a good place to eat, the tepthida khmer (115 chelmsford street). when we went there the food looked authentic enough (cambodian) and the prices were okay, but i wanted a place with a more rustic atmosphere, versus the high gloss modern style of this particular establishment. we ended up going to the simply named southeast asian restaurant (343 market street) near the center of town, owned by a former vietnam war veteran.

the menu was pretty unique, each item designed with a special code informing the customer the culinary origin (cambodian, vietnamese, burmese, thai, or sometimes just american) as well as the degree of hotness (on a scale of 0 to 3). julie got a thai soup and some chicken dish, while i went with an appetizer of sticky rice rolled up in lettuce plus a plate of spicy phat prik gra pao. the food was okay, but not the taste explosion we were hoping it'd be. portions were generous and we ended up leaving with leftovers.

our last destination was the battambang market (125 church street), a place i spotted the last time i was here in lowell for the southeast asian festival. located in the space of a former traditional supermarket, battambang market is the one place no visitor should miss when they come to lowell. if you've ever been to the super 88 in allston, this place is just like it, except with a southeast asian flare. prepared yourself to be dazzled by vegetables and meat products you've never seen before or can even recognize! i'd consider myself pretty jaded when it comes to asian markets, but even i was surprised by some of the things i found there.

business seemed to be good as parents pushed shopping carts while their children ran around, and all sorts of people came to shop, from obvious southeast asian folks to thrill-seeking college students (being that umass lowell is nearby). the music playing over the public speakers was naturally southeast asian pop, in a language i couldn't distinguish. while julie would argue her biggest score was finding some almond powder, i'd say the most interesting thing we bought were cans of fried crickets. in the freezer department what i thought to be frozen frogs were actually 2" long black beetles. i want to get those as well but didn't know how i'd eat them.

as soon as i got back home i was out the door again, this time to my parents' place for dinner. i had such a large and late lunch, i didn't have much of an appetite. my father and i went to best buy to do some gps research. back at the house, we had pasta while watching the patriots game on television. later my parents did some car research with my macbook pro and my sister ordered a bunch of gemstone beads online. it was 31 degrees by the time i headed back to cambridge. i scoffed at the temperature, feeling my motorcycle stutter as it tried to warm enough, hoping it wouldn't give out on the way back.

as for my video card, i finally flashed it tonight (with my sister's PC as well as a floppy disk), booted up fine on my mac, but then vertical lines would run across the screen and pixelated garbage would cover up the desktop. i tried flashing it multiple times with the half ROM and the OEM ROM, but neither seemed to fix the glitch. so it looks like i have a $30 paperweight on my hands unless i can flash it back to the PC ROM and find a use for it (anyone have an used PCI video card i can borrow?).