on this 74°F day i took my roommate to the assembly square mall to look for a bike helmet big enough to fit his large head. it took forever for us to get going. i was hoping to leave by noontime so i'd still have the rest of the afternoon free, but my roommate didn't get out of bed until almost noon and then i had to wait for him to make his noodles then eat it for lunch. as soon as i heard him finish, i told him if he was ready we should get going. we left close to 1:00.

earlier this morning i went to the local real estate office to grab a cambridge/somerville map. when i showed my roommate where the assembly square mall was in relationship to us, he exclaimed, "wow! that's far!" that's baby distance; my ex-roommate marco and i biked all the way down to deer island and back. that was a trip!

first stop was the somerville target where my roommate was returning the helmet he purchased yesterday. i noticed he let me do most of the talking, which was fine with me. the girl behind the desk asked us the reason for the return. "the helmet's too small...for his big old head," i said, pointing to my roommate. the girl couldn't help laughing. parked outside was a beautiful trek bike. i was so impressed with it that i took a snapshot; later i found out it's a $750 trek belleville.

next we headed to the assembly square mall. whenever i looked back, i saw my roommate smiling, like he was really enjoying the tour. unfortunately he was back far enough that i wasn't able to tell him the various points of interest we were passing.

we went to k-mart, where the selection was pretty much the same as target (i.e. no large helmet sizes). the warm weather seem to perk people's interest in biking as the bicycle department was congested with several noisy families. i was admiring a lovely schwinn suburban (only 26" wheels - i thought they were bigger). we then moved on to the sport authority. they had more helmet selection and we finally found one big enough to fit my roommate's head: a large bell faction ($40). unfortunately he wanted a more streamlined racing style so we left empty-handed. i also got a chance to admire some of the bikes there. a lot of them had shimano ST-EF51 altus 3x7 shifter/brake lever combos, something i've been thinking about buying as a replacement for the SRAM gripshifters i currently have on my trek bike. the only problem with the altus is they're a big bulky.

back at home i noticed my roommate was smelling a little ripe. that also reminded me that since he's been here, i've only seen him taking a total of 2 showers. that's something else i'll have to address. i was thinking about getting a new mattress anyway.

i went to the basement to take an inventory of the type of shifter/brake levers i had on my bikes:

my next big bike project is to replace the current straight (and rusty) handlebars on my trek bike with the new north road handlebars i got a few days ago. since this will probably involve redoing all the cabling, now would also be a good time to change the shifters. the trek has grip shifters which are okay, but i much rather have thumb shifters. the shimano alivio on my trek 850 is one of the best shifters i've ever used (silky smooth shifting). on my old bianchi i have a pair of over-the-handlebars thumb shifters (similar to the shimano tourney) which i've found to be kind of stiff. i'd also like some small window indicators (like on the alivio).

i wasn't that surprised when my roommate left in the afternoon to go to the office. let it never be said that chinese astrophysicists are some of the hardest working scientist researchers in the world (despite their roommate shortcomings).

i was feeling a little ripe myself so i took a shower. my sister called earlier asking me if i could dogsit but she was only gone for 4 hours so i didn't think it was necessary. still, with the weather so nice, i could go for another leisurely bike ride so i left on the ross.

when i got to belmont, i found my sister in the backyard with some of the children in her nanny care, blowing and chasing after bubbles with the dog. my real reason for coming was to clean the rust off of that old raleigh frame. now that i have my own north road handlebars, i don't need to take it off that frame anymore. armed with a pink brillo pad, i scrubbed off the corrosion. from a distance the chrome looks solid but up close there's a lot of pitting. the frame had a matte grey finish to it that partially came off, revealing the original green paint work underneath.

the frame itself is a men-style 21". the wheels i removed were 26 x 1-3/8" (590mm). the front wheel (if i recall) is passable, but the back wheel was so corroded i took it completely apart to salvage the 3-speed hub. if i can just get new wheels for the bike and put back all the gearing, it should be rideable again. i kind of had the idea it'd be cool to repaint the frame (maybe a summer project). of course it'd all be less expensive to just buy another used raleigh 3-speed.

after about an hour i returned to cambridge. for dinner i made my mexican chicken soup. my roommate returned home just as i was about to finish. i told him to save his chicken recipe for tomorrow and that he could have some of my mexican chicken soup because i made so much. he said he wouldn't have a lot of time tomorrow so went ahead and made his chicken anyway. actually, i made it since he was kind of clueless as what to do. not that i'm an expert. into a small lasagna dish went his chicken parts, which i covered with some barbecue sauce. i also suggested he add some small potatoes sliced to cook faster then drizzled with melted butter and sprinkled with some salt. it took more than 45 minutes baking in the oven for everything to cook (the chicken a lovely barbecued glaze). unfortunately the marinade didn't take, and other than the crispy skin, the chicken was on the bland side. i let him use some of my thai sweet and spicy sauce to make it more appetizing. but at least he has enough leftovers so that he won't have to cook tomorrow.

while waiting for the chicken to cook, i got a chance to ask my roommate about his personal hygiene. "since you've been here, i haven't really noticed you taking any showers," i said. before he could reply, i answered for him, "you don't shower everyday it seems? maybe every 2-3 days?" he muttered something about chemicals, but all i could hear was the confirmation that this roommate was one dirty bird. who doesn't like to be clean? apparently he doesn't. i told him i take at least 2 showers a day, hoping to lead by example. thankfully he doesn't smell (at least not that i've noticed) - not until today that is. "so all the biking we did today, you're probably going to need a shower, right?" i disguised my request in the form of a question. he agreed. later before he went to bed he finally cleaned himself. i believe that's his 3rd shower since march 4th. i hope he didn't play with the shower head again and turn it into a jetstream.

i also dropped some comments about peeing on the bathroom floor,1 cleverly inserted in between 2 un-related pieces of chitchat. "hey, another thing, if you ever pee on the bathroom floor, could you wipe it up? i noticed some urine on the bathroom wall this morning." he gave me an embarrassed smile and nodded. hopefully i'll never have to bring up this painful conversation again.

1 i wrote this this morning in the heat of the moment: my roommate does not pass the pee test. one of the advantages of having a female roommate is never having to worry about cleaning pee off the bathroom floor. but a guy roommate? from china? that's a different story. my irritation has been simmering every time i had to get on my hands and knees to dab away the drops of urine, which has become a daily task. a minor annoyance, but not quite enough to get over the awkward burden of scolding a roommate for his bathroom habits. i really shouldn't have to do this, adult roommates should arrive pre-trained. but last night there was a big spill and this morning he was so off target that it hit the wall. hit. the. wall. that finally set me over the edge. embarrassment be damned, this was an issue that required immediate addressing. i really don't care if roommates pee on the floor. it happens, i've done it myself (especially late at night, waking up to go use the bathroom without my glasses); they just have to clean up afterwards.