this happened yesterday but i didn't mention it because i think maybe i was trying to block it from my mind: i called the city of cambridge to ask about some recent tax bills i got in the mail. as you recall, my father transferred ownership of the motorcycle to me back during the summer, so i could register the bike in cambridge and park here without getting a ticket. anyway, apparently i was supposed to pay some sort of motor vehicle tax. not a big deal. thing is, the city never notified me until just a few weeks ago, with a bill for last year's tax, but a penalty (a "demand"), and the interest accrued. maybe the original notice got lost in the mail, but even then, why did they wait almost 7 more months before getting in touch with me again? just to accrue more interest? plus penalty? it felt like a scam and i called the city to ask what was going on. i got a woman on the phone who was absolutely unhelpful. she checked my info on her computer. i explained to her my question but she didn't seem to understand. as a matter of fact, she said i was lucky, because normally when somebody doesn't pay their taxes, the city will send out a warrant for their arrest. are you serious? was she joking? how was i even supposed to know that i owed the city money when i never got the notice? but what she said next just blew my mind: "what language do you speak?" she asked me. "what?" i replied. was my english not good enough? "english," i said, after an incredulous pause. "no, you're lying, you speak another language," she said. "what're you, chinese? ni hao ma? xie xie. zai jian." i was speechless. there was no talking to her after that. i hung up, still in disbelief. not only was she not helpful, but did she just make fun of me? the more i think about it, the more it bothers me. i think i'd like to get somebody fired.
in the late afternoon i got around to doing a water change for the minibow. i searched for that missing glowlight tetra but found nothing. i gave the tank a thorough cleaning, even disassembling the filter and giving it a scrub down. i also wiped each leaf of the java ferns, rubbing off the dark algae. when i put everything back, i replaced the activated charcoal with a new batch. i love that stuff, it fizzles when it comes in contact with water. i wonder what would happen if i ate a piece? i'll do a search online first. [update: you know, i think you can eat the stuff! hospitals use it to treat acute poisoning.]
finally, an orange-red nasturtium has blossomed. that's pretty much the gamut, anywhere from yellow to red. i've seen it all now, and the only thing i'm still looking forward to is to get some seeds out of these plants. if i can just get a few viable seeds out of these nasturtiums, it'll be worth it. elsewhere, the cypress vine is making steady progress. i didn't like their leaves at first, but now i do, they remind me of palm fronds.