LJ came home relatively late last night. even when she's had dinner already, she still cooks, making tomorrow's lunch, a vegetable stew that she simmers for an hour. she has no idea what she's doing; when you boil vegetables for that long, they lose their flavor and become a soggy mess. while mixing some kind of dressing, she came into the living room to ask me what do americans ("laowai" as she calls it) eat for dinner. this questions came up because her advisor is taking her out to dinner before she leaves, and she wanted to know her options. i explained all her choices, but she nothing tastes as good as chinese food. her formulation of american cuisine partially comes from the occasional free lunches at her workplace, but those are terrible representation of american food. i told her since she's in the US, she should try something else instead. afterwards she told me she probably wouldn't get to choose the venue anyway, since there will be others coming.

for a person who hasn't even seen boston yet, i shouldn't be surprised that LJ thinks american food tastes terrible. i even recommended a few pizza restaurants, but she said they have pretty good pizza in shanghai, which i highly doubt. i recommended some seafood, but she said she's already had lobster twice (seafood isn't all about lobsters). she'll return to china with a very unflattering impression of america, but it wasn't like her opinion would've changed anyway, since she's kind of set in her ways and beliefs. the one thing she did do was spend a lot of money buying things for friends and family. if nothing else, at least i did my small part in offsetting the us-china deficit.

even though LJ has only less than 2 weeks here, i still couldn't resist addressing one of her many bad habits. i saw her adding salt to her stew. a lot of salt. like, 3 tablespoons worth of salt. that she may get hypertension wasn't what i was concerned about; she was just using the wrong salt. i had a full can of kosher salt which is now nearly empty because of LJ. you don't use kosher salt for flavoring a stew, since the salt just melts into the broth; you use regular salt. i even moved the kosher salt to one of the higher shelves to make it harder on her, but LJ kept using it anyway. i wanted to say something earlier, but in the grand scheme of things, a new container of kosher salt is just $2 so it wasn't a big deal. but i finally said something tonight. i also told her not to pour the salt directly over the soup, because the steam from the boiling clogs up the holes.

this morning: wet bathroom, hairs on the floor and in the sink, and a pervasive overwhelming stink. 11 more days before she's gone! by comparison, LX - my last roommate - was a dream. sure, he peed on the bathroom floor, and only took a shower once every 5 days, but those were pretty much his only faults.

i never left the house today. i was surprised by how cool it was outside. i cracked open a few windows to let in the breeze, but watchful of the sporadic showers. the rain will be good for the plants but now i'd like the sun to come back.

i found a live independent stream of the olympics opening ceremony at 4:00, since NBC - the official american broadcaster of the games - opted not to broadcast it live (but instead of a tape delay for later in the evening). it began looking like a high school play, which didn't bode well for the ceremony. that was followed by a tribute to the industrial revolution with functional smoke stacks rising from the floor, then a somber war memorial tribute. it then quickly transitioned into psychedelic beatles. the forging of the olympic rings was cool. i drifted in and out of sleep, so captivated i was by the ceremony. i saw the queen, then 007 james bond, and a chorus of children singing something that suspiciously sounded like "my country 'tis of thee."

i actually crawled into my own bedroom around 5:30 to take a nap. i woke up 2 hours later. for dinner i finished the last of my thai red curry.

i've been on a foreign thriller kick this week:

it started with the norwegian film headhunters (2011, hodejegerne), which i actually watched a few weeks ago. i can say it's one of the best movies i've seen this year. i don't recognize any of the actors with the exception of nikolaj coster-waldau (ser jaime lannister!), who himself is danish but apparently speaks an accented passable norwegian for the film.

i rewatched eastern promises (2007). it's not exactly foreign, but there's enough russian spoken to make it feel foreign. viggo mortensen is such a bad ass in the film, from processing the frozen body of a dead captain to the final knife fight in the bathhouse. there will never be a sequel to this film but i'd definitely watch it if it was, his character's eventual takeover of the russian mob in london.

finally, i rewatched german the lives of others (2006, das Leben der Anderen). part history lesson, part brilliant thriller, part study on morality, it's a must see for anyone who's never seen it before.