april is the start of the street sweeping season, which will last until the end of december. cambridge sweeps once a month, alternating sides of the street depending on what day of the week and which week in the month. the price of not moving your car on the appointed day is quite steep though: not only do the police write you a ticket, but they also tow your car. depending on storage fees, the final cost could approach $200 per car. it's probably one of the biggest money-earning racket for the city of cambridge. city government makes money from the fines and the tow truck companies make a killing for essentially stealing your car and charging for the privilege.

i felt terrible this morning as i watched the tow trucks stationed on my street, dragging away the cars one after another. i think legally they can't began towing until the police issues the ticket, so they were all waiting around, sizing up each vehicle. i knew who the cars belonged to but there was nothing i could do. it's like helplessly watching some great injustice. finally the cops came and all the cars disappeared.

i bicycled to the citizens bank in union square to cash a check from client S. one of the selling point of citizens was the greensense program, where i'd make 10¢ for every debit/credit card transaction. i must not have noticed the fine print because apparently that only kicks in after the first 10 transactions. so far ever since i switched banks, i still haven't earned any money through greensense. had i known, i might've gone with sovereign instead; at least they have branches in NYC. i also stopped at the rite aid on somerville avenue to buy some soap. i decided to try pear's new oil-clear soap, a blue-green bar with a nice scent.

why didn't i think of it earlier, before the european flying ban was lifted today? with my spare bedroom and plenty of space in the living room, i could've been housing stranded europeans at my place. but how would i have found them though, without resorting to a visit of the airport looking for temporary roommates?

i left for belmont around noontime, taking the motorcycle instead. after eating a sandwich, i was in the backyard, digging dandelions.

babies are supposed to be cute, right? not so much in the insect kingdom, with their complete metamorphosis and baby larvae. could you cuddle a grub? i know i can't. in fact, i'm so repulsed by them1 that i have a hard time picking them up, only using my fingers as a last resort. i found a white grub while digging dandelions and was determined to figure out what kind of beetle it was. a few weeks ago matthew told me i could identify a grub by looking at its ass. huh? apparently the distinctive hair patterns is the key. i went online and found some helpful guides (the umass paper is more relevant to the northeast, but the ohio state document is more comprehensive and has photos as well as diagrams).

i was under the impression that all white grubs were japanese beetles, but that's not the case, as there are many other beetles that live their youth as grass-eating worms. the grub i found immediately began to defecate itself, perhaps a defensive gesture. out in the full sun, i think it was quickly drying to death as it also started to leak fluids from elsewhere. after some strategic pinning using small twigs, i finally got a good look at the raster, the butt end of the grub. from the pattern of hairs and spines and the shape of the anal slit, i knew i was looking at an immature oriental beetle (Exomala orientalis).

i came across some strange mushrooms in the backyard. the weekend rain must've jumpstarted some fungal action. at first i thought it was some kind of stinkhorn, but it was more solid versus the soft spongy texture of a stinkhorn. it also wasn't stinky, which is another stinkhorn trait. turns out they were black morels, which any food connoisseur knows are highly prized and edible. unfortunately they're so small it's not even worth the effort.

although it seemed daunting, i ended up clearing the entire lawn of yellow dandelions. i brought out 2 large plastic barrels full of weeds onto the curb for trash pickup tomorrow.

my sister came home around 6:00 and made some pasta, which i had before leaving. back in cambridge, i watched as neighbors returned from work only to discover that their cars had been towed due to street cleaning. i felt a little guilty as i pulled the shades.

ever since david ortiz was caught using steroids last year, i haven't really been following the red sox. that's probably for the best because so far this season they've been sucking. they're almost last place in the division, saved only by the baltimore orioles who have a worse record with 2-12. but my first passion is basketball, and caught game 2 of the playoff between the miami heat and the boston celtics. boston was scheduled to lose with the 1-game suspension of kevin garnett. i think the heat must've gotten it in their heads that it'd be an easy win but the celtics surprised them and beat them to an embarrassing 106-77 victory. i think the celtics should be able to beat the heat and advance, but i'm not optimistic they'll go all the way this season. their championship in 2008 may have their first and last with the current big three lineup.

i turned away from basketball to watch the madonna episode of glee. there's something off about the show ever since they came back from their midseason break. maybe all the success have gotten to the producers' heads, or maybe it's just my contrarian ways, but i don't love the show like i used to. afterwards i watched an episode of frontline, about the practice of bacha bazi in afghanistan, the use of young boys in an underground sex slavery trade.

got a brief phone call from my father in xi'an, on his way to luoyang. he was in a mild panic, because he said he called me earlier but got my sister's voicemail instead (i personally think he just misdialed) so thought i was in another accident. if he only knew how laid back the past week and half has been! the most dangerous thing i've done recently is to get some calluses on my hands from all that weeding!

1 grubs are not as gross as slugs, which i absolutely won't touch, and if i should accidently brush up against one while gardening i will recoil in disgust. as for other insects, i have no qualms about picking them up, unless they bite or are poisonous.