after spending a day hiking mount monadnock in new hampshire, i was pretty tired and went to bed early for a sunday night (1:30). unfortunately my beauty sleep was interrupted this morning when nstar called to let me know they were coming by to replace the gas meters in the basement. i crawled out of bed and got dressed, my body aching all over from yesterday's mountain adventure (although mostly my thighs, feet and ankles), a crispy chillness throughout the house as i walked out in my bare toes.

i watched the ubiquitous nstar van pull up to the curb across the street. my doorbell rang and when i went to open it, i was surprised to see my upstairs neighbor steve. "hey tony," he said, "is that our nstar van?" steve told me that the pilot light for their heater wouldn't light anymore and wanted to know if we could get the nstar guy to take a look. "did you see the note i left you, about the gutter repair?" i asked steve. "no i haven't, i left it at work, but i'll get back to you on that. i want to get my friend jimmy to take a look at it, see what he thinks, but i think your estimates are reasonable." ah, jimmy, steve's mysterious contractor buddy whom i've always hear him talk about but never actually met in person. i personally don't think jimmy exists but rather just an imaginary friend steve made up just so he could have a friend named jimmy. "are you a baseball fan?" he asked me, seemingly embarrassed with the question. "oh yeah, i'm a big fan," i said with a big smile. "did you watch the game last night?" he exclaimed excitedly, referring to that late night match that ended up a red sox loss.

by that point the nstar guy had taken out two new meters from his van (i later found out they were used) and was asking us directions to our basement. i stayed with the guy while he removed the old meters and attached the new ones (not that i was afraid he'd steal something from the basement - it's full of junk anyway - but i was just curious to see what he was doing). MA state law requires that gas meters be replaced every 7 years. this is primarily because some meters are located outside, and over time our new england weather can slowly deteriorate them to the point where they're no longer accurate. because our meters are actually inside the house though, most likely they didn't need to be replaced (but the law is the law). i picked up one of the meters and found it surprisingly light. the old meters go back to nstar to get tested, and those that pass inspection are sent back out, ready to be installed in another house. there was the faint odor of natural gas, and after the repair guy finished installing the meters (which just took a few minutes), he put some soapy water on the pipes to make sure there weren't any leaks.

the nstar guy took a look at steve's burner. he tried lighting the pilot light but it wouldn't stay lit. before he even said anything, i knew what it was already: the thermocouple sensor was broken. when i first moved in, mine broke too and i had to replace it twice in two seasons. the thermocouple is actually a pretty cheap part ($6), but it'd cost $100 to repair it. my father knows how to do it and when he dropped by in the afternoon i told him about steve's problem, but i decided steve should take care of it himself because i didn't want to deal with any liability issues if we accidently damage his heater in the process of fixing it (better to have a professional do it, even though if it was my own heater, i'd just replace the sensor myself and save $100).

since i was already up, i couldn't fall back to sleep again. it was one of the rare times when i woke up before my roommate as he got ready to work. i never noticed it before, but he actually plays music during his morning routine (i'm normally still completely unconscious, apparently i'm a very sound sleeper). soon after he left, i got hungry enough to make breakfast while it was still morning (and not the afternoon, which is normally when i do eat breakfast, by then known as lunch). i made myself an omelette stuffed with spinach, bacon and feta cheese (feta only because they were out of goat cheese). later i went to my garden and collected the last of my tomatoes, some slightly reds, some still greens. there was even a cucumber, which i was surprised to find, since i figured the nightly cold snaps would've killed off that tender plant days ago.

i tried to watch mad men after the game last night but i was too tired and fell asleep. fortunately i was able to catch the rest of it through comcast's on demand programming. it's the worst week for betty, getting hit upon by the oldest man (her alzheimer suffering father who gropes her during breakfast in front of the whole family) and the youngest man (runaway glen, who wants to rescue her after hiding in the backyard dollhouse for days). betty and don get it on in her old childhood bedroom after pretending to be a happy couple again but later she kicks him out once they depart her old home. at least she decided to be friends again with the divorced woman living next door (glen's mother), now that they seem to have a lot in common.

i also caught last night's episode of true blood: we learn how vampire bill lost his humanity to become a bloodsucker. and another major character gets murdered!

can you keep a secret? i didn't do any work today. AND I LIKED IT. i meant to finish some stuff for client N, but i was too busy trying to keep warm and deciding whether or not i should turn on my heat (like my neighbor, if his burner was working). i was hoping i could wait until november before i get my forced air on, but i wonder if that's normal or am i too much of a cheap masochist (and now suddenly landlord/roommate as well)? when do people turn on their heat anyway? my rule is if the daytime temperature dips below 60 degrees for several consecutive days, then it's a go for heat. today the daytime was 59, just a degree shy of the cutoff, but tomorrow and the rest of the week the temperature will go up again. i just don't like the idea of having the heat on in october because that means i probably won't turn it off until april in which case the heat will be on for 7 months out of the year. anyway, did i mention i didn't do any work today? it's making me feel a bit guilty though. i'll atone tomorrow.

heated up some leftover my father dropped off for dinner. i watched an episode of chuck before switching to game 4 of the ALDS between the angels and the red sox. a zero score game until the sox finally got 2 runs, only to have the angels come back right and tie it. across red sox nation, i'm sure i wasn't the only one who thought maybe there would be a game 5. going into the 9th, it looked like the angels would get the potential winning run but the man on 3rd was caught trying to head home and tagged out by varitek in a controversial play because varitek later dropped the ball after applying the tag. bottom of the 9th, bang-bang plays later, the red sox score a run to end the game. hello again tampa bay devil rays! as far as i'm concerned, the tampa-boston series IS the world series, because no matter who wins in the NL, the red sox will beat them to win another...i better not say anything, don't want to jinx it.

my roommate came home late. while he was eating his dinner, he asked about some of my travels. i told him the places i've been to before, but only now has he become curious. later i showed him some of my china photos. no one has ever sat through the whole thing (even after selective editing, there's still a 1000 worthy images), and my roommate was no exception. afterwards he was saying he'd never been to a lot of the places i went. as a chinese national, domestic travel is easier, but foreign travel is nearly out of the question, unless it's job related. my roommate himself has attended conferences in parts of europe as well as australia, both places i've never been to before. i felt kind of guilty nonetheless, like i was being pretentious with my photos, not realizing not everyone can travel the way i did.

getty images - elsa