the new roommate was gone when i woke up this morning, just the way i like it. pulling up the blinds in the living room, i spotted a bicycle parked by my usual signpost. it looked sort of like mine, and was a bianchi as well. i spent several minutes admiring it. the owner kept the bike in pretty good shape, adding a set of customized BMX style handlebars. i noticed the bike was missing its front reflector, and there were no attachment mount for a front light, so i wonder how the rider gets around at nights.

i had some final debug work for client S which took me most of the day to finish. it wasn't like i was going outside anyway with the temperature in the lower 20's. all it takes is a little storm system to come through the area and the whole place would be covered in snow.

in the late afternoon some packages arrived along with the mail. the super bright flashlight i ordered from goldengadgets.com finally showed up all the way from hong kong (took about 2 weeks). the sacredfire NF015 LED flashlight is rated at 3-watts and 200 lumens. it uses a cree xr-c LED which looks like a tiny microchip that glows much more brilliantly than a traditional diode. a search on the internet revealed many people raving about how great this flashlight is. it's actually pretty small, with a solid metal casing, and takes 3xAAA batteries. when i turned the thing on (rubberized button on the tail end), i was instantly sold: this thing is bright, like a high beam from a car. the only thing is i don't know long the batteries last (it didn't come with instructions) but if i had to guess about 2-3 hours. i actually got it for my father, who came by to pick it up when i told him about it. it's so awesome as a matter of fact that i'm probably going to order at least one more for myself ($9.59 with free shipping).

i couldn't wait to finish my work so i could get back to fixing up the bicycle. today i removed the old crankset in preparation to install the new one that arrived last week. my old shimano biopace chainrings were designed with non-circular shapes to maximize pedal performance based on scientific research. but the biopace system ended up being a short-lived fad as some cyclists started to complain that they performed worse with the these non-traditional chainrings. i never noticed their odd-shapes until i took off the crankset and got a better look. i still don't know why the chainrings are so rusty. is it because of the road salt? thing is i cleaned them just last month, and already they look like they've been sitting at the bottom of the sea. i tried out the new crankset (non-attached, just to see what it looks like) and i'm already regretting not getting it in black instead, because the silver is just too conspicuous and sort of clashes with the rest of the bike.

with the crankset removed, i moved on to the bottom bracket. i have the older cup-and-cone style. on one side (the non-drive side) is the adjustable cup, which can be easily removed, revealing the spindle and the ball bearings inside the bottom bracket shell. on the other side (the drive side) is the fixed cup, which can also be removed, but it's usually screwed onto the frame so tight that normally special equipment is required to remove it. on mine it's all rusted out, which probably makes it that much harder to take off. i'm going to just it on, i think my bottom bracket is still okay, just need to grease the bearings and re-assemble everything.

i'm using WD40 as an all-purpose cleaner/polisher on the bicycle. i'm still going to put grease on the threads and special lubricant on the chains, but everywhere else i'm trying to rub some WD40 oil as rust prevention. tomorrow i'm removing the cassette from the rear wheel and putting on a brand new chain.

my roommate came home earlier today at around 6:30. i was working on the bicycle in the kitchen/dining room area, he didn't ask what i was doing. "it's cold!" he said in english, as he went into his room. he did the same thing yesterday, speaking to me in english, which i thought was weird at the time, but now it's beyond weird. he came out and asked me english, "can i borrow your shaws card?" i hesitated for a brief second before telling him where it was in chinese. did he forget that i speak mandarin? because we've certainly conversed before in that language. or does he think that i'm so much of a "foreigner" that he can't even bear to speak chinese with me? whatever his reason, it's certainly gotten me more than a little bit annoyed. not all astrophysicists are well-adjusted human beings; sometimes they have weird personalities. i get them sight-unseen, so occasionally some strange ones end up living at my place. other than the language thing, there isn't much to complain about though. this new roommate is very private, and retreats into his room as soon as he comes home. i was hoping i'd get the chance to chat with him (in mandarin, i insist), but he rarely leaves his room, it's almost like he's mad at me or something. he does have a nasty habit of loudly clearing his throat whenever he's in the bathroom. so loud in fact i wonder if he isn't bulimic? just 7 more days before he's gone.