my parents were taking bin bin to chinatown this morning to do some grocery shopping. my sister and i tagged along as well. while waiting for everyone to get ready, i had a chance to check out my new verizon cell phone which arrived yesterday. part of the deal with signing a new 2 year contract with verizon is i get to pick out a new phone. their selection is pretty terrible, even the higher quality ones you pay extra to have. since i do nothing more with a cell phone other than to make phone calls (no texting, no web surfing, no photos), i picked the least offensive free phone on their menu.

the verizon LG VX5600 accolade is actually a downgrade from the phone i had been using, a verizon motorola K1M KRZR. before smartphones became all the rage, the KRZR was one of the more highly sought after phone choices. with the VX5600 i lose the ability to play mp3's (although they can still be used for ringtones) and i also can't take videos. i also hacked the KRZR as much as i could, changing out certain interface elements. not sure if i'll be able to do the same with the VX5600, i'll look into it later. i decided to get a new phone because the KRZR was starting to show its age. i've owned it for a few years, replaced the battery at least twice, and even managed to crack the front display screen.

it took a few minutes to activate the new phone. since i had too many contacts to copy them over by hand, i used verizon's backup service, which involves installing a backup app onto both phones and transferring my contacts online into a newly created phone account. i feel kind of suspicious about uploading all that info online into verizon, and now that they have my phone number and e-mail information, i'd fearful i'll be receiving advertisements from them in the near future. with my contacts uploaded, i turned off the old phone and activated the new phone by calling a special number. once activated, i downloaded all my old contacts into the new phone.

my initial impressions of the VX5600 is that it's an okay phone. it's a tiny bit wider than my old phone, but a whole lot shorter, so overall a smaller phone (which is a good thing). it feels light, which is good if i'm going to be carrying it all day, but it makes the phone feel cheap somehow (maybe i'm just used to having a heavier phone). it uses the same proprietary OS common in all verizon phones, so there wasn't that much of a learning curve. however, the version on the VX5600 is a newer one, so it does have a few features i've never seen before, mostly interface related: it has better looking display themes, and there are even some animated wallpapers.

i also brought home some clothes to launder. once my clothes were completely dry, the fish oil smell came back. the bac-out and vinegar combination wasn't the answer after all. i figured i could try drying my clothes in the sun again, using the natural power of the solar rays to make cook out the smell.

we took my sister's SUV, which is the only car big enough to carry 5 adults comfortably. we went to the cafe where bin bin was waiting for us before driving down to chinatown. my mother came up with the idea of having dim sum first, then buying our groceries at the lincoln street c-mart, where they'd validate our parking stub (for free parking) if we spend more than $80.

my mother said it's been ages since she last had dim sum in chinatown, not since my aunt passed her naturalization and became a US citizen. we decided on the hei la moon restaurant on lincoln street, right below the elevated parking garage. i've always gone to china pearl for my dim sum needs, and maybe dynasty a few times (back when there was a dynasty). hei la moon is relatively new to the scene, and being located outside of chinatown proper (across from the chinatown gate), i always thought it was a lightweight. however, the place was packed this morning, with large crowds of people waiting outside. my father got out of the car to wait in line while we went and parked upstairs.

returning to the restaurant, we couldn't see my father anywhere. unfortunately he didn't bring his cellphone so there was no way to reach him. what surprised me is hei la moon actually has 2 floors of dim sum, a first floor and a basement. my father actually managed to snag a table downstairs, despite the crowd, and came up to get us.

dim sum can be hit or miss. the abundance of greasy cantonese dishes can lead to some "digestive discomfort" for lack of a better description. however, it's normally more hit than miss (i've only felt queasy once or twice). all i cared about was they had chicken feet and tripe.

after dim sum came the grocery shopping. the largest of the chinatown c-mart (there are at least 3 that i know of) is the one on the corner of herald and washington street, at the former location of super 88. this one on lincoln street is okay but the selection is a bit limited. i only picked up a bag of watermelon seeds.

we returned home, dropping bin bin at the cafe along with the supplies.

my father had some time to help me install my new kickstand. we removed the old stand, and i was relieved to see there was no damage to the bike frame itself. installation was a simple matter of replacing the part and tightening 3 screws: 2 for the kickstand bracket, 1 to secure the safety switch cable (a motorcycle is designed to kill the engine if it detects the bike in any gear position besides neutral while the kickstand is down). i got a chance to compare the old stand with the new stand. the old stand was actually bent in 2 directions, up and sideways. after we finished installing the new stand, my father wanted to see if he could bang the old stand back into position with a sledgehammer. secured in a vise, he pounded away at the stand. all he ended up doing was nicking the stand with a few dozens dents. it barely bent at all, if any. makes me wonder how much force was involved to twist it in the first place, and still kind of a miracle that there wasn't more damage to the bike.

since there was still a car in the driveway and i wasn't in any hurry to ride the motorcycle today, we pushed it back into the garage corner.

i bicycled home after dinner. i was caught in a light sprinkle, and was worried that it might develop into something more serious, but i made it back unscathed.

i was eager to find a way to customize my new cell phone. i came across bitpim, a cross-platform open-source app for transferring and manipulating CDMA phone data. that i could possibly run these updates from my mac was great news; with my old KRZR, i could only change it from a PC after first running a motorola software upgrade program and then using P2Kcommander, a seriously buggy utility at best. unfortunately i still had to resort to the old method, just to extract all my ringtones (photo export was much easier, downloaded via bluetooth). with my old assets at hand, i fired up bitpim. because the VX5600 is so new, bitpim doesn't entirely recognize it yet, but the program will recognize it as a VX9100 (go figure). i connected with the provided USB data/power cable because LG uses a non-standard mini USB port. i managed to download the few photos i'd already taken with the new phone. i then successfully uploaded some old photos (identity thumbnails). when i tried to add a ringtone for transfer, it popped up a conversion dialog box. no matter what settings i converted at, the program will give me an error. this happened for both midi and mp3 files. i finally managed to transfer my ringtones running bitpim on the PC.