i heard the soft clink of dishware in the kitchen this morning but i stayed in bed. even though i was very tired yesterday, i still had problems falling asleep late last night (after another round of skyrim). when i finally woke up at my usual time, the house was empty. good old reliable astrophysicists and their set schedule! just to be sure i checked the foyer for shoes. they were gone. but the turkish bolsters i use as draft guards were still firmly in place against the door. how could this be? what kind of magic trick did my roommate pull here? i'll ask him when he comes back home. it was only later that i discovered how he made his miraculous exit: he went out the back door. the thing was since he didn't have a back door key, he just left it unlocked. i was fortunate enough to have caught it otherwise i would've gone out with an unlatched back door, and with the recent string of home burglaries in the neighborhood (a house on howland street was broken into during the daytime last week), that would've been risky.

when i saw my great uncle arrive at the cafe through the online webcam, i quickly dashed outside. the screw on one of the hinges of his glasses fell out yesterday. my father temporarily patched it up with a paperclip, but didn't have time to do a proper job before my parents left for taiwan this morning so he told me to fix it. he already gave me an eyeglasses repair kit but it felt like it was missing a screw or two so i went to rite aid to see if i could find a complete set.

i remember these repair kits used to come in a small rectangular box with a yellow screwdriver but the ones they had at rite aid was the kind my father gave me - a tiny screwdriver with a clear handle that contained a few screws. the one i got also came with a magnifying glass (which i didn't use). the store was having a 50% clearance sale on their seasonal spring items (even though it's not even officially spring yet); i ended up buying a solar-powered 50 string LED light set for $10 (more on that later).

when i arrived at the cafe, my great uncle's glasses had broke again so he wasn't even wearing them anymore. my 2nd aunt was saying how i needed to take it into the shop, but i whipped out the repair kit and in a matter of seconds i was able to fix the hinge. i gave my aunt and uncle a container of smoked almonds before i left. she asked if they were sweet, i told her they were super salty; i didn't make the connection until later that it's because my 2nd uncle is diabetic.

i went to belmont where i did some pruning. when my sister left for nanny duty around 2:30, i took one of the cars and went to the watertown home depot where i had a long shopping list. i grabbed a cart which felt weird because normally i'd never buy enough things that i can't just carry it all by hand (i also don't buy a lot because i'm usually on a bike).

i made a beeline to the light department to grab one of those cheap $9.96 shop lights. they had over 2 dozen last week but today they just had one left in a ripped up box. what happened? maybe a lot of people are setting up grow closets (just like me). after looking around to make sure they didn't have anymore, i reluctantly took the remainder. next i searched for the proper fluorescent light bulbs. i only needed one of each color (blue, red) but they only sold them in pairs. for the blue spectrum i got the philips F40T12DX daylight deluxe rated at 6500K ($7.97/pair). for the red i got the philips F40T12SW soft white (for bathroom & kitchen) rated at 3000K ($8.97/pair); this isn't optimal since i want to be in the 2500-2700K range, but close enough.

i also bought: 32quart bag of miracle-gro moisture control potting soil ($10.47), package of steel wool size #00 ($3.98), bottle of horticultural oil for spraying the plum trees ($11.97), 6" needle nose pliers ($1.96, cheap brand but i wasn't looking for anything fancy), and a packet of cucumber seeds (burpless beauty, $1.89). i checked out some electric rangetop coils but couldn't find the right size (i also forgot to bring my great uncle's broken coil). i finally found p-clamps which is useful for installing a rear rack on a bike that doesn't have specialized eyelets (they're in the electrical wiring department in case you're curious). finally, i admired the assortment of garden pruners. my favorite: the fiskars gowergear anvil super pruner, able to cut through a 1.25" branch. and did you know home depot sells machetes for just $14? what a bargain!

i drove all the way back to my house to drop everything off before driving back to belmont to return the car. i then biked home. it was around 3:30 by that point, not yet dusk but seemed a bit more dangerous because of the strong solar glare close to the horizon. approaching rush hour, there was also more cars on the road. i did try out my GPS though. riding to belmont, i only averaged 11-12mph, not much faster than with my trek mountain bike (i don't remember, but i think i averaged 10mph). returning home however my speed was much faster, which supports my longtime suspicion that from belmont to cambridge it's more downhills. i probably averaged 13+mph, and at one point i reached my maximum speed of 20mph (that was going downhill on a curve). but no wonder i intuitively wear a helmet more often with a road bike!

back at home, i wrapped the solar LED's around the railing of my backyard deck. the solar collector itself seems awfully beefy, much heavier and serious looking than the collectors on those solar garden lights i bought the past few years. the LED's are supposed to be white but they have a yellowish hue to them. they're designed for outdoor use but the only weather protection on the LED's seem to be some green heat shrink tubing. i've always wanted to get some solar LED string lights but the seem expensive given the simple parts: a solar collector from a garden light ($2) and a strand of LED's ($3). but i've never seen them sold for anything less than $20.

next i tried the shop light, just to make sure it works and to see what the actual colors are for the fluorescent bulbs in selected. when i plugged in the light however, nothing turned on. i made it sure wasn't the bulb that was the problem (it wasn't). so i bought a defective shop light! i should've suspected something when i saw the damaged box. now i hope home depot will still allow me to exchange it for a new one. i'll have to go to the somerville store since they don't seem to have anymore at watertown.

for dinner i ate some leftover fried rice from last night. my former roommate came by after work to pick up some of her packages. she said her other roommates aren't that bad. they still haven't decided what to do about getting internet so my former roommate has been staying later in her MIT office. an hour later she stopped by again, this time to ask for my help in piecing together an LED table lamp she bought. she also got an aroma electric kettle (the same one that i have) but it was broken (won't boil water, even after half an hour) so she asked me how to return it to amazon for a replacement. apparently there's a lot of that going around.

close to 9:00 i heard something in the alleyway leading into the backyard. thinking it might be one of those can collectors rummaging through our recyclables, i grabbed my flashlight and shined around in the backyard. that's when i saw what appeared to be a person just standing there. i was a little freaked out and was about to go into fight mode when i saw it was my roommate. i then saw him walking back out to the front of the house and then come in through the front door. turns out his friend let him borrow one of his bicycles and he was just locking it in the backyard. that also explained why the rear door was opened today; it wasn't because he didn't want to mess up my bolsters, it was just a more direct route to his bicycle. that still doesn't justify him leaving the door unlocked like that. if he does it again tomorrow, he and i will have to have a talk.

he must've already ate because he stayed in his room the entire night, using the bathroom a few times before going to bed around 11:00. i get the feeling that he's going to be the type of roommate who keeps to himself. because he has friends here and already been here once before, he doesn't need my help at all. so no boston tour, no scenic outings into the woods, no cooking lessons. that's fine with me, especially if today is indicative of how the next 3 months will be like, with him mostly not here. he still hasn't cooked yet, so i'm still nervous.

my parents called me in the early afternoon but i didn't hear the phone ring so i only got a voicemail. looking over their itinerary, they don't arrive in taipei until 9:45am our time (10:45pm in taipei). that means factoring in the time they left the house (4:30am), they'll have traveled almost 30 hours. one reason is because they got a terrible itinerary: boston to detroit to tokyo to taipei.