i'd hoped that i was seeing a kestrel, because i knew at least one lives around the alewife/fresh pond area. it was too high to get a good look but from the way it was flying in circles i knew it was a hawk of some sort. i snapped a few pictures with the telephoto lens fully extended. once i got home and saw them, i thought it was just a common red-tailed hawk. but after consulting with my field guide, turns out it was a red-shouldered hawk (which i've never seen before). although it's called a "red-shouldered" hawk, the distinguishing feature was actually the banded tail (absent in the red-tailed hawk).

i was actually in fresh pond for a project meeting with client S. they wanted me for a short month-long project. since i don't work in a traditional office, meetings for me are a rare occurrence so they're actually a bit of a treat, a break from my normal mode of operation. one of things i miss most about not working in an office is the office camaraderie amongst coworkers. since i almost always work alone, my "coworkers" consist of the list of friends i see online in my instant messaging application.

after the meeting i walked to the newbury comics to see if i could spend some more with my $100 gift certificate that i got almost a decade ago. music cd's - does anyone really buy them anymore? stores like these are becoming far and few in between. as for movie dvd's, with the advent of netflix and P2P filesharing, stores that sell them will be facing extinction as well. even if you did want to buy something, it's always cheaper online, and with free shipping it's even delivered right to your door. i ended up buying a PS2 videogame, destroy all humans, as well as a book, eat this, not that. i still wasn't able to empty the gift certificate so looks like i'll need to come back and try to find some more stuff i don't want.

being that it was a brisk day, i wandered into a dunkin' donuts and got myself a large white hot chocolate. i then walked 15 minutes to get to my parents' cafe, stopping intermittently to take a sip of the hot sweet liquid inside the styrofoam cup. i managed to get some late lunch before getting a ride back to my place.

i played destroy all humans for a little bit. seems like a difficult game, but only because i'm not familiar with the controls yet. it's fun being an alien and probing humans. the game has a very tongue-in-cheek campy sensibility, and now i have something else to distract me.

i thought it was just me, but apparently the overnight temperature dipped into the teens this evening, with current reading at 14°F (-10°C). i could feel the cold seeping into the house so i spent most of it in my bedroom with the space heater on. it's the kind of weather that leaves my nose cold and damp to the touch. i reheated the mexican soup from last night along with some more fried tortillas. the spiciness warmed me right up.

for a few hours tonight i was obsessed with pennies. it all started when i found a shiny 1974 penny, the year of my birth. i've always considered it an auspicious sign whenever that happens, like finding a 4-leaf clover. then that got me thinking and i grab my big jar of change and started sorting all the pennies by year, hoping i could get a complete set. naturally the more recent pennies were easier to find, and as the decades wore on, there were less and less. for some strange reason 1996 was a big year for pennies because i have more from that year than from any other years. also i had a hard time finding pennies from this decade, the 2000's.

penny obsession was just the tip of the iceberg. have you ever had an obsession within an obsession? bothered by the fact that the older pennies weren't as shiny as the newer ones, i did some research online on how best to clean pennies. serious coin collectors rarely clean there collection because it could diminish the value. however, plenty of pennies have been sacrificed in the name of science fair projects, and there was an assortment of penny cleaning ideas. i tried two: the ketchup method and the vinegar & salt method. both worked about the same, with the resulting penny being much cleaner, but more of a dull pink instead of a shiny copper. i even rubbed the cleaned pennies with a baking soda solution but they still weren't as shiny as a brand new penny.

in the end, i wasn't able to find a whole set. i still had some missing years. the oldest penny was dated 1944. WWII was still in full swing that year. imagine if this penny could talk! the stories it'd tell. americans who were fighting nazis and imperial japan used this penny to buy things. and then all the subsequent years, the 50's, the 60's, the 70's, and beyond - this penny has seen it all, and survives to this day! maybe it even passed through the hands of somebody famous. so the next time you find yourself with some loose change in your pocket, take the time to check the dates, because you just might be in possession of some very storied currency.