i went to the porter square post office this morning to mail off may's norwegian care package. this particular shipment was more urgent since frances told me her family was leaving for vacation in cyprus in 2 weeks and they needed their sunglasses and matching crocs!

after some chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i rode the motorcycle to the hess gas station on hampshire street. moving in the city, i can get about 100 miles on the 750cc honda shadow spirit before i have to switch to the reserve tank. fueling up cost me $10.14 for 2.68 gallons of unleaded super. this was my second time getting gas since starting the riding season.

from there i traveled up prospect street, skirting by union square and onwards to the assembly square mall. first stop was home depot, where i was looking for another solution to my rear baskets mounting problem. i was searching for spacers, but turns out the somerville home depot recently renovated their specialty nuts/screws/bolts/misc. cabinets and the new install doesn't have any spacers. fortunately watertown hasn't undergone similar renovations so hopefully i can find some from there tomorrow. i checked out the plasti-dip, which came in dipping and spray form. not sure what i'd ever use it for, but i like the idea of rubberizing things. finally, i looked for some rust remover but the only thing i found was a phosphoric acid-based solution that can't be used on chrome (so not good for the bike).

i left home depot with a 5" container of german thyme ($3.48, apparently no sales tax on vegetable/herb plants). i was also looking for rosemary but they only carried small bush forms. an old man was also investigating the herb aisle. he was intrigued by the lemon thyme, which i've never heard of before. even "german" thyme is a mystery, not sure what exactly makes it teutonic. i noticed the stems were sort of soft, and the thyme that used to grow in my parents' backyard has woody stems (maybe they'll turn hard over time).

next stop was k-mart. i checked out their garden department first, even though i didn't have anything in mind i wanted to buy. they had a sale on spray paints so i picked up a can of primer ($3.96). i also wanted to get some car wax (for the motorcycle and the bikes). i was just going to go with simple turtle wax, but ended up with meguiar's cleaner wax (never heard of them before) which was on sale ($5.79, but still a dollar more than turtle wax). i don't think i've ever waxed a vehicle before so it'll be a learning experience for me.

leaving k-mart, i noticed a vending machine selling miniature vinyl domo-kun figurines for 50¢. i couldn't help myself and got one: a domo wearing a yellow sumo diaper.

i went to the sports authority to look for some bike cables but they didn't have any.

final stop was ac moore. i was looking for some dry erase crayons for the lighted menu board at the cafe. just so happens they were having a 40% off sale on all crayola merchandise. i found exactly what i wanted, a set of 8 bright dry erase crayons. they were also having a sale on these wooden crates ($6.99). give it a nice stain, treat it with some australian timber oil, it'd make an awesome rear bike basket. i almost bought one before i caught myself (sometimes i get carried away with bike accessories). i bought a bunch of sugar'n cream cotton yarn for my mother (3 sets each of country green, sage green, and light blue). there was also a 40% off sale on knitting needles, so i picked up a 16" size 10.

i went to the cafe to drop off the yarn and needle. i also tested the dry erase crayons, they worked great on the illuminated board. i wonder if i could also use dry erase markers, but markers are transparent while crayons are opaque, so the crayons show up better. crayon also comes in colors like white which would be hard to achieve with a dry erase marker.

i went to belmont briefly to grab the spare set of bike cables. my father was home with the dog. a check of the backyard showed that the vining seeds we planted last saturday have mostly sprouted. squirrels continue to ransack our garden, killing yet another japanese maple seedling and digging up another. even if we put the pots up high (like on top of the rain barrels) they can still get to it. the only way to protect the plants is to turn the backyard into a prison and put everything into cages. i'll worry about that over the weekend. the bush cucumbers also sprouted, but none of my zucchini (maybe because squirrels dug up the seeds, maybe because my father didn't water the plot).

back at home, it was more schwinn bike rust removing using the aluminum foil technique.

everything on the bike works except for the rear derailleur. i thought maybe it was a cable issue but now it seems like the derailleur doesn't have a lot of give. i'll have to examine it some more.

from the serial number stamped onto the head tube i can determine the age of the bike: HG is code for august (H) 1971 (G). so this schwinn super sport is over 40 years old! i suppose i can be a little bit more forgiving when it comes to how much rust it's accumulated over the years.

in order to do a more thorough cleaning of the front fender i had to remove the front basket; but in order to do that i needed to remove the wheel completely, and the wheel wouldn't come off until i removed one of the brake pads. once properly exposed, i was able to see the underside of the front fender: if i thought the rust was bad on the top, the bottom was much worse. it'll need to get heavy duty on it, perhaps use a brillo pad over the sink.

i went ahead and scrubbed the fender with balled up pieces of aluminum. although i was able to restore the surface to a shine, the pitting on the chrome is just too much and this fender will never look like new. all i can do is clean it up to the best of my ability, maybe wax it to prevent future rust, and then use it as a beater bike. definitely not a bike anyone would want to steal if i left it outside.

i was so engrossed with the bike clean-up that i missed a 6:00 lecture at the harvard museum on fish morphology and diversity. it was probably the kind of talk only a diehard biology nerd would love.

in the daylight evening, i made a quick trip to market basket to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner (too lazy to cook) and some ingredients for making a clam dip. i ate half the chicken, washed down with a cold bottle of guarana, and then snacked on some tortilla chips with the dip while watching game 3 between the thunder and the spurs. later in the evening i paid for my folly when i had a terrible urge to use the bathroom. loads of cream cheese + lactose intolerance = angry colon.

when i left the house earlier, there was a group of young chinese guys wandering around the neighborhood. i wheeled out my bike from the backyard and purposely ignored them. they seemed to be interested in my house and looked like they were handing out flyers. when i came back i saw the flyer they'd put through my mail slot: have a room to rent? i am a harvard graduate student looking to be your room mate! i'm not sure if i was targeted directly or this person just had a fondness for the neighborhood. it's ironic that they found me, because i do have a room for rent, except i'm all booked up for the rest of the year.

speaking of which, i only have a few more days left before my old roommate returns and my new roommate arrives (wednesday afternoon). i never did find a free dresser for the guest bedroom (although i came close on a few occasions). in the past few weeks i managed to make a mess of the house, so i'll need to clean up. i also want to rearrange my bedroom, simply for the heck of it. after 10 years, i think it's time for a change.