it's crazy late (4am) and i really need to get some sleep. plenty to write about, will fill in the details tomorrow.

i woke up this morning for a 10am doctor's appointment at the mass general hospital. i think wintertime is when they get their most patients, as disinfectant hand wash dispensers greet you from every corner. a woman coughed incessantly in the waiting room before a nurse came out with a surgical mask for her to wear. my doctor was running a bit late and came out to say hello to everyone and apologize. i wouldn't consider 10 minutes, being that my last doctor - harvey simon - i'd normally waiting an hour and half before my appointment.

i was browsing through a copy of atlas of human anatomy by frank netter when doctor lester came into the office. "that's a classic," he said, "the bible of first year med students." i was there for just a routine biannual visit. the blood pressure results the nurse took earlier was normal enough that the doctor didn't even bother to check it again (130/86). we talked about traveling, and he told me his sister has gone totally expatriate, moving to england with her british husband. just by chance i happened to have a slight skin rash on my neck and asked if he could check it out. he prescribed some clotrimazole/betamethasone dipropionate cream, a combination steroid fungicide.

returning to cambridge, i went to the porter square CVS to wait for my prescriptions. walking home, i saw a cat hiding underneath a thorn bush. i thought it was kind of strange, being how it was wet and cold, to see a cat outdoors. a block later i saw a "lost cat" flyer stapled to a telephone pole. the cat on the poster bore a strikingly resemblance to the cat i just saw. figuring i'd do the right thing, i copied down the number and went back looking for the cat to make sure it was the same cat. however, when i got there the cat was nowhere to be found. i decided not to call, not sure if it really was the lost cat.

in the afternoon i managed to get a ride from my father to microcenter to buy some blank dual-layered (DL) DVD discs. along the way we passed by the cambridge library where i returned some books and took out two more: built by animals: the natural history of animal architecture by mike hansell and wild orchids of the northeast.

it's come to my attention that tomorrow is chinese new year so my parents called me down to the cafe for an impromptu chinese dumpling dinner.

the rest of my evening was spent trying to install windows xp on my macbook pro through boot camp. the first hurdle was backing up all my data via time machine. i did it the night before but let it run again to update my data. the second hurdle (and this was a big one) was learning that the optical drive on my laptop - though able to burn dual-layered DVD-R's just fine - can't read them afterwards. that presented a problem because i needed to reinstall the system, and without being able to read the DL system disc i burned, i couldn't do that. fortunately i have an external DVD burner which managed to boot the install disc just fine. i went ahead and erased the whole hard drive (a leap of faith, even though i know i'd backed up all my data, but it's still sort of scary) before re-installing OS X 10.5. once i did that, i migrated all my data back from the 60gb external drive. it took about 40 minutes using time machine, and i was surprised afterwards how well it worked (completely glitch-free). another surprise: i suddenly had 70gb worth of free space on my hard drive. prior to erasing the disk and re-installing everything, i had about 10gb worth of free space. where did all this extra space come from? one reason is my previous system was an upgrade from 10.4. there must've been a lot of legacy files leftover when i switched to 10.5 that was eating up valuable disk space. so a lesson to everyone: when you're upgrading your system, it's better to do a clean install than just a simple upgrade.

the third hurdle was installing windows XP. it just feels wrong installing windows on a mac, almost like i was doing a very illegal hack and it'd damage the computer beyond repair if something went wrong. the windows XP disc i had just wouldn't work; instead of giving me the option to reformat the 15gb PC partition i created using boot camp, it went directly into the installation process. after 2 failed installs (it installed fine, just that the partition wouldn't start up afterwards), i dug out another copy of windows XP pro from my box of CD's. that disc worked better (more manual options, less automatic than the previous CD) and i managed to reformat the drive and install windows.

the fourth and last hurdle after finally installing windows XP and starting from the new system was installing hellgate: london. once again it required the service of my external burner since my internal drive couldn't read the DL disc. after it installed i opened up the program. anticipation was high and i was almost expecting it to fail, but hellgate started like a charm. by then it was around 3am in the morning. exhausted from having to battle with all the hardware and software issues, i just created a character (blademaster) before logging off, saving the fun for tomorrow.