the house was empty when i woke up this morning. could my roommate have gone off to work? i didn't have too much time to dwell on the good news. with a possible rainstorm approaching the area, i hurried up and began running my errands. i motorcycled to the cafe to collect one of my glass baking trays (used for the water bath when i bake my flan). my mother reminded me to pick up hailey's heartworm medication from the davis square veterinarian. i picked up the pills (half a year supply for $35) then went to the watertown target to look for some rug deodorizer. ever since they expanded the store, i always lose my bearing and end up getting lost. it's big enough that they should think about putting "you are here" maps through the place. i had a coupon for carpet fresh but ended up going with arm & hammer (it was the only brand available). i stopped off in belmont briefly to let the dog out before returning to cambridge.

i returned home around 1:00 to find my roommate already back. if this is how it's going to be, so be it. i think it's easier for me to tolerate him being here all the time since he's only here for a month. besides, he's pretty quiet, stays in his room most of the time, hasn't ruined any kitchen equipment, and hasn't made a mess of the bathroom. on the spectrum of roommates, he's pretty good. when i said hi to him (he had his door open) i caught a glimpse of his computer screen: he was playing solitaire! busted. i brought home some fried rice from the cafe and had that for lunch.

i brought out my bicycle for some further inspection. i particularly wanted to know the exact specifications of my crankset in case i wanted to replace it. looking at the chainrings, i noticed some broken teeth in the middle gear. i wonder if i should replace the crankset as well when i eventually replace the chain? the crankset seems to be fused together, i don't think i can replace just a single chainring. the one i have is a shimano biopace, which from what i've read, is actually oval-shaped instead of round. it's specially designed for pedal stroke efficiency. i managed to unscrew the crank nut (a creative use of a 14mm socket wrench and the heel of my shoe) but still couldn't put out the crankset. either i need an additional tool or it's too badly rusted. i didn't want to pull it anyway because i still needed to use the bike. i put everything back together and continued with my errands.

i headed out to market basket via the underground passageway to somerville avenue. i first went to the dollar store hoping to find a tire gauge rated more than 60 psi but had no luck. i ended up just buying some candy. i go there often enough to know if the employees are new. i thought about stopping at the bike store to ask about possible crankset replacements but they were closed. fearing the crowd at market basket with just a few days left before thanksgiving, i was surprised to see it wasn't that crazy yet. i bought a case of root beer (got to have my root beer with my turkey), a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a carton of juice, and a custard pie. there would've been no way i could've carried all that home in just a backpack (eggs? pie?), thank goodness i had my milk crate basket! i had to be careful, because the back end of the bicycle was prone to swaying due to the additional weight, but once i got the bike going, i hardly noticed the difference.

it began to rain as soon as i got back home. thoughts of working some more on the bicycle had to be postponed as i put the bike into the basement. i threw the rain cover on the motorcycle before going into the house. this rain is forecasted to continue all the way through tomorrow.

my package from dealextreme finally arrived from hong kong. a replacement battery for my old ibook, a component video cable for my wii, and an assortment of button cell batteries. the tiny AG3 batteries (i bought a package of 100) were for the magnetic LED blinkies i bought from several new year's eves past. the batteries died long ago (some even began leaking acid, not a good sign), but once i put in the new ones, the blinkies were as good as well. the AG10 batteries (only got 10) were for my bicycle tire lights. i tested all the old button cells with my manual battery tester; the good ones were weak at best, the bad ones were just dead. my new batteries tested off the dial (good+) and i could immediately tell the difference when i put them into the tire lights. the LED's were so bright that i was momentarily blinded. the AG10 is also the size used in the light switch thermometer in my bedroom.

i finally dusted the collection of curios on top of my living room bookcase. that area hasn't been dusted in more than 7 years. i found things up there that i thought i'd lost, like my trilobite fossil. everyone should own a trilobite fossil. why? because trilobites are cool, that's why!

know what's not cool? losing things. i finally noticed tonight that one of my wooden frog drums was missing from on top of the television set. things just don't disappear in my house; somebody had to have taken it. could one of the contractors made off with it last month when they were working on the house? how could i have not noticed for so long? or maybe somebody else took it. the mystery was eating me away. at least it was the one i bought in china, and not the one i got in burma (that's my favorite). i got it in lijiang, and if ever go back, i know the exact place of the store so i could easily get a replacement. finally i figured out what happened. there was a paper bag of used magazines lying right besides the television. i must've knocked off the frog drum into the bag without knowing it. since that one was very dark in color, it's an easy thing to miss, and i must've tossed it out when i finally threw away the magazines last week. maybe somebody took those magazines before the garagemen came, and when they look inside the bag, they'll get a very special surprise! i still feel like an idiot but at least i know what happened.

i like the fact that my roommate is not afraid to engage with me. the past few nights he's eaten his dinner in the living room while we chat over television. although it's his first time here in the US, in one particular way he's very much an american male: apparently he watches a lot of sports back home in china so that's our lingua franca. just so happens monday night football was on ESPN, and i was explaining to him the rules, but he seemed to be familiar with much of it. tonight i also helped him turn on the close-captioning on his bedroom television so he can decipher the english when they speak too fast. he told me how during his walk to target yesterday he also went to market basket and was amazed by how cheap everything was over there. i don't think he'll be shopping at star market anytime soon. for a brief period his computer stopped working but it probably just overheated (hours and hours of solitaire can do that to a laptop they tell me). i asked him if his project doesn't require him to be in the office all the time. "well, much of it is done on the computer, so i can basically work anywhere. also, i don't have an office there, so when i do go, i end up just chatting with some of the people i know then i come home." i don't mind if he's here during the day (he's got about 3 weeks left anyway and he stays out of my way). i get the sense that he's bored though, and with thanksgiving this week, his advisor hasn't had time to show him around. maybe this weekend i'll give him a tour of boston, now that we know each other a little bit better. as a cultural ambassador of the USA and particularly boston, i want to make sure all chinese astrophysicists living at my place go back to china with a good impression of our city and our institutions. besides, it'll give me a chance to visit haymarket. always thinking!