steve managed to rain on what i thought would be our victory celebration parade. we finally got together to decide on a contractor. roger ($2700) was out of the picture, too risky with over-promises and phantom references. so it was a choice between gerry ($2250) and carlos ($5650+), the cheap versus the expensive. while i don't believe paying a lot for quality, steve thinks the more expensive the work the better it is. we spent an hour debating who we should go with. having had a lot of work done on his vacation home on martha's vineyard, he estimates the cost of house repairs to be $6000. having no vacation home of my own, i couldn't really say what the actual cost was, but $6000 seemed high, and was an amount i couldn't afford.

earlier we asked cleber1, who was already out painting by 7:30 this morning. cleber couldn't be completely objective, since it's in his interest to help out his contractor friend carlos, but told us we should make the final decision ourselves. steve took that as a "no confidence" vote for gerry, whom cleber met yesterday. finally in the end steve relented, and said we should go with gerry, but had to get everything down in writing, and he still couldn't believe the price quote, and personally though the amount would jump up to $4000 when everything was done. so basically i'm staking my reputation on gerry doing a good job. will bargain contracting win in the end? stay tuned!

finally, i had to call each contractor and let them know our decision. gerry was obviously happy with our choice, and asked if he could leave his equipment in our basement during the time his crew would be working here. roger didn't answer his phone so i got his voicemail instead, which made breaking the bad news a little easier. i told him we decided to go with somebody else because they could do the work in 2-3 days versus his 6 days, which was partially true, but the other real reason was because we didn't have a good feeling about him. carlos was the last one i called, and i managed to talk to him in person. i told him that steve and i really wanted to work with him but in the end he was more expensive, and that we found somebody else for less than $3000. he took the news well, and didn't try to outbid with an even lower amount.

gerry gave me a single reference, a house in medford he worked on recently. i called the owner but got the voicemail. curious, i looked up the address on google map and decided to see the place for myself. first i paid a visit to pet supplies plus to pick up some activated carbon ($9.98) and a new algae scrubbing pad ($1.88) for the aquarium. finally i arrived at the house on a quiet dead end street. nothing particularly special, but nothing wrong with the house either.

when i came back home i called julie back. she was getting her car fixed and was thinking about going on a bicycle ride down to the allston super 88. julie arrived decked out in full riding gear. i just wore my jeans and a light jacket in case it was cold. this is actually my third bicycle ride of the year. approximately 4.5 miles away, much of the time we were along the charles river going down memorial drive, crossing over the BU bridge to get to commonwealth avenue. i used my new bike peddler take a look compact cycling eyeglass mirror (arrived yesterday); it works when i have it adjusted correctly, and takes some getting used to, but i can definitely see more of what's behind me with a simple pan of my head. it clips onto my glasses and light enough that it doesn't make me see lopsided. i also got a chance to use my new onguard bulldog mini u-lock (arrived yesterday as well) and right away i didn't like it. the lock is heavier than i thought, and bulkier too, definitely not pocketable. the security wire that came with the lock is too short to string between the two bike wheels, doesn't coil around itself, and surprisingly springy so that on a few occasions i almost punched myself in the mouth when it tried to straighten out. in hindsight, i should've gotten a kryptonite mini with a thin long security strand (you were right john!).

for some reason i thought super 88 was closed; i was partially right, it did go out of business, but a new hong kong supermarket is taking its place. we did some shopping first before getting a late lunch at the food court. the thai place i always go to was no longer there, replaced by a taiwanese store serving items that didn't seem particularly taiwanese. i ended up getting a korean lunch special, barbecued unagi eel on rice with a salad and kimchi and a bowl of miso soup. julie had some vietnamese noodles.

on our way back we made a stop at trader joe's. julie got some stuff but i left empty-handed.

i was only at home for another hour before leaving again at 5:00, back to commonwealth avenue, this time to attend an interpreter certificate program information session at boston university. i saw an ad on the subway a few weeks ago for interpreter training and i wanted to check it out. it's always been a secret dream of mine to be an interpreter, bridging the language gap between two different cultures. you might say i have a fondness for language: besides speaking chinese, i took spanish throughout high school, and minored in japanese in college. even my work - computer programming - one can argue that's a language as well (a coding language). this BU program train people to become community, medical, and legal interpreters. the 3 languages were spanish, portuguese, and chinese. the prerequisite was you have to be already fluent in one of those languages. about 80% of the 100 or so people who showed up were spanish speakers, while 15% were chinese. the remaining 4 people were brazilian portuguese. my godmother's son alex showed up as well (although he was half an hour late). after the initial introduction, everyone split up into their respective language groups for some Q&A. i raised my hand and asked (in chinese), "i have a unique problem. i grew up in the united states, but i can speak chinese. however, i can't read or write it. can i still attend the classes?" the man answering questions told me no. even though this is an oral interpreter program (versus a translation who converts written documents), you have to still be able to read and write chinese in order to do the homework assignments. at the very least be able to pick up a chinese newspaper and read it. so unfortunately, no, my dreams of becoming a professional interpreter will have to be on hold until i can bulk up my chinese (that is, until i can overcome the fact that i'm basically illiterate in chinese). also at the info session was a friend of my parents, we managed to chat briefly.

afterwards alex and i went to the nearby boca grande for some burritos. we ended up taking the red line back home, me getting off at porter square, him to alewife.

i received a replacement wasabi zero mod chip today and put it into my wii. once again it didn't work, only after i massage the clip that attaches to one of the chips on the wii motherboard. i was ready to give up, but took off the clip and reattached it again. second time was the charm and the wasabi zero led became a steady green, even after i turned it off and on a few times. success! but for how long? at least it's sort of working now.

the past few days i've been waking up earlier than usual to either interview contractors, chat with cleber, or meet with steve. the lack of sleep is slowly taking its toll, and i find myself pretty tired tonight (could also be because i biked to boston and back). can't wait for this week to be over. can't wait for all this painting and contractor stuff to be over. i'll be poorer because of it, but at least the house will look nice. now if there's only something we can do about the insulation...

1 steve is absolutely in love with cleber's paint work. "have you seen his lines? they're so crisp!" he told me with a big grin on his face, sweeping an imaginary edge with his hand. if anyone needs a really good painter (interior/exterior), cleber is your man. he works alone which makes you think it'd take him longer to paint but he works pretty fast and isn't that expensive. as far as i know, he doesn't do any advertising, but seems to be getting a lot of work through word of mouth alone. earlier he asked me - since i work from home - if i knew any available jobs. apparently his wife is looking to make a little extra money but can't leave the house because of their 6-month old daughter.