i met julie at her community garden plot to see what she's growing this season. the last time i saw her was back in january when we had nepalese for lunch in ball square at yak & yeti. at one point a butchy-looking city worker asked us if we saw anyone take a phone from the park across the street. we both saw somebody there but we weren't paying attention. i let this somerville water department woman call her phone from my cell. nobody answered at first, but minutes later a person called back. "can you return my phone?" the woman told the person, making no effort to hide her annoyance and anger. she lacked any diplomatic skills and if i was the person who found the phone i'd just keep it.

we decided to get some lunch, but first i had to go to michael's (my 3rd visit this week) to pick up some more yarn for my mother. riding up central street on my motorcycle, i was traveling in parallel with a long-legged blonde girl climbing the hill on her bicycle. at we both stopped at the lights, i asked her how much longer she had to go. she exhaled deeply and said just one more block.

i told julie it'd take me half an hour but it was already half an hour by the time i was leaving michael's. it took me another 15 minutes to get back to the community garden. originally i wanted to go home first and get my bicycle, but i didn't have time. julie was still in the garden pulling up weeds.

with julie on her road bike and me on my motorcycle, we went to nearby union square and had lunch at el potro with a table outside since the weather was so nice. i've been to this to this mexican restaurant one other time before with brice. i thought maybe we got the dinner menu because i didn't remember it being so expensive: a pair of fish tacos was $14. i had the grilled steak soft tacos while julie went with the chicken enchiladas.

afterwards we both converged back at my place, where i showed julie my bike collection. i thought i had 9 bikes total but i found out i actually have 11 including the 2 parked outside.

next we agreed to meet up again at julie's place in half an hour so i could check out her old bikes and see if i could repair them. before she left, i showed her the hollow book i recently made after i found another hardcover book on the sidewalk. julie was so inspired that i gave her the spare book so she could make a hollow book of her very own.

i went to the cafe to drop off the yarn before returning home briefly to gather up my bike tools and went to julie's place in davis square via bicycle.

besides her bianchi road bike (the only bike that's actually working), julie had 2 other bikes in her basement, both 3-speeds: a yellow huffy and a brown ross compact. the huffy was missing a front wheel, which might've been removed because it was hit by a car and bent. the ross had more promise so julie brought it out from the basement and into her backyard.

there was some rust on all the chrome/metal surfaces so i showed julie the trick of polishing a bike with nothing more than pieces of aluminum foil and water. the body itself was in pretty good shape with barely any rust; i wiped it down with some lubricant to bring back the shine. all the cables were rusty, but the shifter cable had already snapped, and the rear brake cable was so frayed it was on the verge of breaking so i snipped it. i had all my spare cables with me but unfortunately i didn't pack my dremel tool very well because the metal cutting disc broke off from its spindle. that meant i couldn't cut any housing cables, so we couldn't do any shifter/brake repairs. julie was also worried about the tires, particularly the front wheel which was flaking to pieces. i managed to help her remove the tire but when she pumped in the inner tube it seemed fine, so the only thing that needed replacing was just the front tire itself. returning the ross to storage, julie saw that the rear wheel of the huffy was still in relatively new condition, so she's going to transfer that tire/tube/rim-tape onto the front wheel of the ross.

returning home, i hit a pot hole while my front wheel was turned and nearly flipped off as my bike jack-knifed. by some miracle i managed to stay on but struck the back of the bike in several places so i'll probably have bruises on my legs tomorrow. the bike itself was okay - the trek grocery getter is one tough ride!

i was in the bathroom about to take a shower when LJ returned home before 6:00. she seems to be getting back earlier and earlier. we didn't speak to one another until later in the evening when we were both making dinner (she was stewing something over the stove; i was grilling a piece of chicken breast for my final caesar salad outing). she asked me again if cambridge was dangerous at nights. i told her it was very safe, but she didn't believe me. apparently she promised to meet a visiting astrophysicist scholar arriving in harvard square sunday night at 10:00, but was reluctant to go out so late because she was afraid of rapists. i asked her if her friend (who stayed in cambridge for a month last year) thought cambridge was unsafe, and she said it was actually her friend who told her to be careful, because there are so many black people in cambridge. it made me wince hearing what she told me. can you unteach that level of ignorance? LJ's friend also told her not to wear dresses as a form of rape prevention.

it's kind of weird, but coming from a country with over a billion people, LJ actually gets scared when she walks down a street here in cambridge and there are nobody else around. the thinking is if something happens, who would help her? but just because there are other pedestrians in china doesn't necessarily mean somebody will help you; the chinese are notorious for their "none of my business, i don't want to get involved" attitude and occasionally you hear stories about an injured person on the street and nobody stops to help them. i told LJ this, and she actually defended this lack of compassionate assistant by saying, "what if an old lady fell? people might not help her because somebody else might see if and misinterpret the situation and then blame that person for hurting the old lady. people don't want that responsibility." i told her here in america, people wouldn't even think twice to help somebody else.

i think in china there are a lot more petty crimes. every chinese astrophysicists i've talked to has been pickpocketed at least once before. here in the US, can you remember the last time that's happened, or anybody else that's happened to? i think in the US there are more serious crimes, like those involving violent confrontation or the use of guns. but it's not the kind of thing that happens everyday, and that sort of crime is usually more concentrated in a few "bad" neighborhoods. the lack of violent and more serious crimes in china is probably due to their criminal justice system: offenses that merely lands you in jail here in the US can send you to the execution squad in china. the price of overt criminality just isn't worth it (at least for the common person; different if you're a party apparatchik). safer to stick to pickpocketing, purse-snatching, and good old fashion bribery to make your illicit fortune (although bribery up to a certain level can get you the death penalty as well).

my tamper proof security bits set (ebay $5.65) arrived today. it came in a rubber case 1-3/4"L x 2-1/2"D x 1-1/4"H in size, with neatly arranged bits inside along with a bit adapter.

of course the whole reason why i bought these tamper proof bits was so i could open up my broken samsung microwave and see what's inside and maybe try to repair it. the bits are magnetized which prevents screws from falling loose. 2 T-20 torx security screws and 3 normal screws later i had the microwave opened.

i'd read a lot of literature online about the dangers of microwave repair, so i made sure not to touch anything on the inside. as if to stress the danger, warning stickers covered many components on the inside. it was surprisingly clean on the inside, given the 10-year age of this microwave. you open up a normal desktop machine and the insides are completely covered in dust. nothing seemed wrong except for the broken door latch. i tried to superglue it in place but that didn't work. i may be able to fix the microwave if i can open the microwave door and replace the latch. if it still doesn't work after that then this microwave is toast and i'll throw it out (saving the turntable plate of course).