i had a videoconference with my parents this morning using skype. they were in their hotel room in datong, i was still in bed. the last time i attempted international voice skyping (not even video) was in 2005. i was in an internet cafe somewheres in southeast asia, and my parents were trying to get in touch with me. i remember the sound quality was terrible, with delays and echos. technology sure has improved in 5 years! my father tried to access his picasa photo album but since it's owned by google, he couldn't get into his account. his garmin road gps loaded with china street maps was working just fine though, no coordinate shifting as some people have reported. he also showed me his fancy new smartphone, which unfortunately probably won't work when he brings it back to the US.

it was a wise decision to abandon the bicycle in lieu of the car. the rain i thought which wouldn't arrive until friday night began falling this morning. driving a car though, i didn't have to worry about getting wet. i packed another sandwich and drove to the supermarket to pick up a few items. it was surprisingly crowded, probably folks stocking up for the weekend. i drove to the cafe for a dropoff and was relieved to find my sister back at work with my 2nd aunt. she seemed surprised to see me so early, but turns out my 2nd uncle was seeing the doctor in chinatown and was bringing back some spicy porkchop takeout for me. i didn't have to wait very long before he showed up. i took my lunch and went to belmont to dogsit.

a survey of the rain-soaked backyard revealed no new dandelions; i guess they need sunshine to flower. after using a digital SLR camera for the past few years, i was able to transfer some new skills to my old nikon. it has some manual settings and i was able to shoot in aperture priority mode. for a camera that's a few years shy of being a decade old, it still has some tricks up its sleeve (although the CCD chip at this point is getting old, a lot grainier than what it used to be).

i went back inside with hailey and ate lunch. i guess i was pretty hungry because i finished the whole thing. feeling tired, i crawled into my parents' bed to watch some television but soon fell asleep. hailey woke me up close to 6:00 to remind me to feed her dinner. it was close to 9:00 and my sister still wasn't home. i couldn't wait any longer and drove back to cambridge, passing by the cafe where her car was missing. later she called to let me know she got back to belmont.

i was immensely proud of my successful parallel parking job (didn't even hit the curb, filled the spot perfectly). with all the cold rain outside it dropped the temperature inside my house to 57°F (remember that i already turned off my heat back on april 1st). what's a few degrees shy of what i'd normally keep the house at anyway, right? but i did leave my jacket and socks on. i ate my leftover sandwich for a late dinner while watching eastern promises on FX.

a while back i received a $25 gift card (for answering a medical questionnaire), the kind that works like a credit card. the problem was i wanted to use up the entire amount, but most online stores don't allow you to buy something using 2 different cards (to make up for the additional amount). my strategy was to buy a total of exactly $25, and amazon.com was perfect, since $25 qualifies for free shipping. the thing i really wanted to get (a bike light! surprise!) was unfortunately priced at $24.99, and there's nothing else i could find on amazon that sells for just a penny. i ended up getting a planet bike 3-LED rear helmet light ($17.99), a deep fry thermometer ($6.71), and for 30¢ i found a parking brake cable for a car. i totally have no use for the cable (compatible with certain american-made vehicles between 1984-1994) but it did put me at exactly $25.