a violent thunderclap woke me early this morning. it was so loud i thought maybe a plane had exploded overhead, and the vibrations actually shook the house. just another day of torrential downpours. when i went into the living room and turned on the television, i noticed none of the lights on the cable box had turned on. after some fumbling, i diagnosed the problem as a dead box and decided to get it replaced at the local comcast office - just as soon as it stopped raining. in the meantime i watched some live wimbledon tennis coverage, at the same time keeping an eye on the doppler weather radar.

by 11:00 there was a break in the rain. i loaded up my bag (the broken cable box as well as 10 ears of corn i'd purchased earlier for my parents) and made a dash for the cafe, where my parents were getting ready for their weekend camping trip, rain or shine. i dropped off the corn, picked up some frozen dumplings for later tonight, and then went to the nearby comcast office. the exchange was effortless, and the woman behind the counter even wanted to give me an additional 2 free cable boxes in preparation for comcast's eventual conversion to an exclusively digital signal (no more analog via coaxial). since i didn't have enough room in my bag, i told her i'd come back for them next week.

activating the cable box was just a simple matter of connecting all the wires and then calling a special toll-free number. in a matter of seconds, the lifeless box came to life with all my channels. while i was at the comcast office, i picked up a channel listing. i was surprised to find a few channels i had but didn't know about (they were easy to miss, all in the 200+, when i usually surf below 70). amongst the new ones was G4 - now i finally ogle olivia munn like the other nerds.

soon after i made it home, the downpours started again. fortunately i had the foresight to cover up my motorcycle before it did. this time it was relatively brief, and lasted for only 2 hours before it stopped again, this time for good (at least until tomorrow). the sun was still nowhere to be seen, but at least it wasn't raining anymore. taking advantage of the situation, i went with bruce to the wine and cheese cask. he was on the phone with jack for almost the whole length of our walk. after that we went to savenor's, that local grocery store famous for its selection of exotic meats. they had a lot of grass-fed steak, which looked brown instead of red, almost like beef gone bad. they had wild boar, kangaroo, venison, and the most exotic one that i saw - bear! i think it was something like $27 for a small serving.

little did i realize it when i woke up this morning but this would be the day where everything in my house breaks down. the broken cable box was just the beginning. i wanted to do some laundry (cold wash some jeans). by the time i loaded up my dirty clothes and poured in the detergent, the washing machine wouldn't work anymore. this has happened before, and usually because my upstair neighbors probably turned off my cold water supply thinking it was for something else (i really should label those pipes). so i went to the basement and turned on faucet. back upstairs, still nothing. i played around with the dials and realized it wasn't just the cold water, but the hot water didn't work either. and it wasn't like the washing machine didn't have an power because if i dialed it to the spin cycle, the washer behaved as normal. it just didn't want to fill the machine up with water. i couldn't just let my dirty clothes + detergent sit in the dead washer so i transferred everything into the bathtub, where i hand-washed my clothes, old-school style. it felt strangely good washing my clothes this way. through my travel experiences, i've certainly done laundry with less (like in a sink using a plastic bag as a stopper and soap as detergent). it also made me think of my mother. when we first moved to the US almost 3 decades ago, my mother had packed a washboard to clean our clothes (she also brought her abacus). in between manual agitating, i went online looking for answers. i found a few other maytag LS7804 washer dryer combo owners with the same problem, and some of them fixed it by simply replacing a fuse inside the washing machine. in the back of my mind i was thinking that i'd have to rip out the machine from the wall and call a repairman, but once i located the fuse, it seemed like a pretty easy fix. nevertheless, i think i'll wait until my father comes back from his weekend trip so he can supervise. i don't want to accidently electrocute myself. i ended up drying the clothes in the dryer, which was still working.

the last thing that broke today was the bathtub faucet. it'd been leaking intermittently for a few weeks but i finally couldn't stand it anymore and decided to fix it. i've done this repair before (with my father and by myself) so i had a pretty good idea how to fix it. unfortunately, i couldn't find the special bathtub socket wrench to remove the compression housing. i was so obsessed with the repair that i almost made a run to the nearest home depot just to buy that special socket wrench (it was around 9:00 at that point, home depot closes at 10:00). i'll look for it in belmont tomorrow and if i can't find it, i'll buy a new one.

my final shipment of books from bookcloseouts.com arrived today:

homemade root beer, soda & pop by stephen cresswell: this is more of a book you'd get from the library, but being that i am a devote root beer connoisseur, i figured it'd be good to own a book that teaches me how to make my favorite drink at home. i've actually made my own root beer and ginger ale before (not that great, kind of yeasty); i'm more interested in trying birch beer and sarsaparilla beer.

the new york times practical guide to practically everything: the essential companion for everyday life: in this modern day of online searches, books like these are a throwback. but it makes for great bathroom reading.

access: boston (8th edition): this actually mu 3rd copy of the access guide to boston. maybe 30 years ago this was one of the best guides to the city, but now it seems sort of dated. and this latest version doesn't seem as thick as previous versions, as many former attractions have now disappeared. it does have an interesting few pages about famous houses in beacon hill that i might visit on one of those days when i play boston tourist.

complete guide to perennials (miracle gro): i now own the entire miracle grow series of gardening books. maybe it's just me but the pages smell like pesticide. like maybe complete gardening guides, there's a whole lot of information, but what really attracted me are the pretty photos and the clean layout (i'm a sucker for colorful pictures). it too doesn't list caladium as a perennial, but i now realize that caladiums are just glorified houseplants that occasionally get grown outside (in pots). the guide also doesn't have some of the more mildly exotic perennials like the chinese lantern plant.

i cooked up some frozen chinese dumplings for dinner (the ones i got earlier this morning).