living in new england for all this time, i still can't get used to how quickly it gets dark during these winter months. today the sun started setting at 4:11pm. it's not even officially winter yet, that's still a few weeks away. but the start of winter is also the end of winter as the days slowly begin to get longer. maybe we'll get a big snowstorm: as depressing as winter may be, seeing the landscape covered in fresh snow is pretty thrilling. as a house bound worker, i don't have to worry about post-snowstorm inconveniences. as long as my electricity doesn't go out i'm fine.

my cable decided to return to normal this morning. nevertheless, i still got a note from my neighbors, yes, comcast was doing some work for them yesterday. however, when evening arrived, my cable was back to craps again, this time even more channels were affected by the interference lines. since it might be comcast's fault, this will make it easier when i eventually complain to them about it, provided the cable won't go back to normal.

my parents got their new car yesterday, a 2008 honda element. it's a mini-SUV, and despite the fact that it doesn't get as great mileage as a smaller car, it's still better mileage than what they were getting before on a ford explorer. they needed a larger car anyway, for picking up supplies, so the purchase wasn't entirely unwarranted. they traded in the old explorer for just $200 (one of the main reasons why they decided to get a new car was the ford was starting to fall apart). i was hoping i could see the former SUV one last time to get some photos. not that i had any sentimental attachments, just wanted something for the record. the element my parents got only has front-wheel drive, but how often do you really need something more, especially if you live in the city-suburbs where they plow the roads? besides, not having 4WD means slightly better mileage, and that's a key deciding factor with gas prices so high. they originally chose red for the color but that was the one the dealer said they'd have to wait weeks for after originally promising they had that color (bait-and-switch). so they decided black, but i talked them out of it and finally decided on blue. atomic blue metallic to be precise. not as somber as black, but not too flashy either like tangerine.

i saw the element for the first time this afternoon when my sister came over briefly to borrow my full-length floor mirror. she was driving the new car. i helped her load the thing into the back. later in the evening my father came by after work to take me back to belmont and i got to drive the element. it's pretty responsive and handles smoothly, unlike the jerkiness of the ford explorer. it has a surprisingly large windshield for a seemingly unobstructed front view. it came with XM satellite radio (trial subscription, although the dealer didn't say anything about when it'd expire or what happens after the trial period). the onboard computer is a stickler when it comes to safety, beeping loudly and intermittently when seatbelts aren't fastened. it also has door ajar detectors which can show you which door is opened.

the main reason i was back in belmont was to borrow one of the cars for tomorrow (i'm going to some flex camp at bentley college in the early morning, sounds dorky, more details tomorrow). after i had some dinner, i drove home the toyota camry. my parents said i could drive the element but i didn't want to be responsible for a new vehicle. driving back, i tried to remember the last time i drove a car, probably not for many months. or those that drive everyday, it's probably easy to take it for granted, but since i haven't driven in a while, i couldn't help but to admire what a luxury it is compared to motorcycling. enclosed in a box, climate control, music, not having to worry about how cold it was outside, or bugs smashing into my face. the only thing i don't like is parking, but i found an easy to navigate spot a block away from my place.

zhu lei was in the living room when i got back home from my parents, but quickly abandoned it. he actually came home early today, around 4:30pm, right when i was watching the sun set. i winced when i heard the loud squeaks of the bicycle breaks outside. also i've noticed he hasn't been eating any of my bananas. i wonder if the jig is up? has he discovered my hitherto secret weblog? fortunately for him (and me as well) he's moving out in another week. i don't think his new roommates do any sort of blogging, so he's safe from slander. sometimes i think back about when he first arrived here at the end of october. i had all these grand notions of taking him under my wing and showing him around town and telling him where to go and what to eat. i think the fact that he arrived here along with his girlfriend the first few days just totally killed those plans. even after she left, we didn't have that crucial initial bonding moment, so it was all downhill from there. he has his own world, i have mine. sometimes i see him struggling, and i try to help as much as possible, but i look back with some regret because things could've been different. i just have to get over the idea that not every roommate is going to be a friend (although given the choice, if i actually picked my roommates, i would try to find ones that are more compatible). sometimes it's purely business, nothing personal.