usually mornings are calm at market basket but when i went there today things was pretty hectic. outside cars were circling the lot looking for parking spots, while inside shopping carts congested the aisles. there was even a police officer on scene in case things got out of hand. i find myself surprisingly stress free, even forgetting the fact that christmas is this friday. ever since my family decided not to exchange presents (we're not even christians) a few years ago, i'm free to spend the holiday season without any worries.

for lunch i ate half a rotisserie chicken. i went across the street to buy a few boxes of clementine oranges (on sale at star market this week at $4.88) before getting back on my bicycle and heading down to the cafe to drop off some supplies. i went a slightly different route this time, managed to shave off about a quarter of a mile from my usual distance. passing through the harvard smithsonian center for astrophysics, i finally noticed the usual dozen or more bicycles normally parked along the racks were down to just 3 bikes. this may either be due to the snow or a lot of the cycling staff have gone away for winter break.

i went down to the basement to take some photos of the two old bicycles. one of them i just call "the yellow bike." somebody had thrown it in front of my house many years ago. it sat there for a few days, and when nobody claimed it, i brought it down to my basement (it later moved to belmont, and now lives below the cafe). it's a ross brand bike, built in allentown, pennsylvania probably in the 70's or 80's. i never heard of the brand before, but according to wikipedia, they used to be the 3rd largest domestic manufacturer of bicycles behind huffy and schwinn. it has a single-piece crankset and a 5-speed derailleur drive. shifting is done from a lever mounted to the head tube. i was surprised to learn the bike uses a shimano brand drivetrain. repair work on the bike includes replacing the rear brake cable and readjusting the handlebar (misaligned). the shifting may also need some adjustment as well.

the 2nd bike is one i've checked out before, an old raleigh 3-speed. back then i was admiring the little details on the bike, from custom "R" bolts to chainring with raleigh crane silhouettes. this time i was more interested in the mechanics, from the cottered crankset, to the 3-speed hub drive. the biggest problem on this bike is the shifting currently doesn't work.

i'm personally looking for a cruiser-style bike with 26"+ wheels and a woman's style frame so i won't have to worry about the crossbar hitting me in the crotch. it also has to have a few speeds (5-7 is okay) for the hills. the raleigh seems like too much of an antique to try and do anything more than just restoring it to its former glory, but the ross has some potential as a 2nd bike. i kind of want to spray paint it a difference color though. past few days i've been trolling craig's list, looking for a cheap (less than $50) bike i can customize. so far no leads.

i rode back to my place, stopping at one point to clean out my rear brakes because it was making an awful grinding sound, like maybe bits of sand were trapped in the brake shoes. i washed out the dirt with some melted snow. i pick up some books from home and headed down to the library to return them. i then went to harvard square to see if michael was working at 241 optical today. we got talking about motorcycles and he told me he still hadn't put his bike away yet for the season. i showed him the lens scratches on my old glasses and asked if he could polish it out. he told me he'd just replace the lenses since he had them in stock. i figured maybe i come back next week, but he said they'd be ready in about an hour. super fast! so i went to the harvard book store and browsed for about half an hour before heading back to the store. coincidentally that when michael called me to let me know my glasses were ready. the fixed pair were like just like new, except the left lens would take some time to adjust due to the higher prescription. i asked michael how much for the repair and he let me have them for free.

i came back home in my secret way behind the divinity school. i'd periodically look back to check if there were any cars behind me; often times i'd pull off to the side of the road to let them pass, since many of the streets were still too narrow for both car and bicycle traffic due to the encroaching snow banks. i stopped by star market to stock up on some more clementines before finally coming home.

in the dwindling daylight, i washed the bike again in the backyard, rinsing off the salt splatter with warm water and wiping the grime from the rims. i then put the bike away into the basement.

i had some curry my mother gave me for dinner. in his penultimate day living at my place, my roommate didn't come home until almost 11:00. we said hello to each other when he came in and that was the last i saw of him. he used the bathroom just once to clear his throat before going to bed. i still can't decide if he's the best roommate or the worst roommate. definitely the least chatty, to the point where it's starting to hurt my feelings. but in less than 48 hours he'll be gone and i'll never see him again.