after biking to belmont, i went with my parents to binbin's 1:00 engagement party at the waltham apartment she shares with her now fiancé. my sister was going to make a rare appearance, but coming in her own car so she could leave early if the mood strikes her.

this was my first time at her binbin's new place. they got this 2 bedroom apartment specifically so when both their parents came to visit they could all have a place to stay. while binbin's parents are leaving next week, her fiancé's parents will be staying until november. in honor of their engagement, they decorated the place with balloons, including a set that read 929, the official date of their engagement.

we thought there'd be a lot of other guests and food would be served buffet style, but turns out their classmate friends weren't going to arrive until 5:00 so the family could first have a formal lunch. when they heard my sister might be making an appearance, they made it a point to wait for her before starting, even though my parents and i weren't even sure if she was going to show up.

to our surprise, my sister actually did come (after spending some time searching for her car key which always seems to be misplaced). there was a dizzying amount of food, the likes of which we normally don't see until thanksgiving. there was even lobsters, which i didn't partake because i can't stand the smell. before everyone started eating there was a round of speeches commemorating this occasion (including some crying). i was entrusted to film everything; i was kind of reluctant originally but after seeing the newly-purchased sony camcorder1 i welcomed the chance to play with it.

my sister seemed to having a good time, which was even a bigger surprise, and was hanging out with binbin and her fiancé in the upstairs loft space (which doubles as their bedroom while both sets of parents are in town). i actually had to get her to leave, so i can hitch a ride with her while she returned home to feed the dog at 6:00. we left just as soon as a trio of binbin's friends arrived, all chinese graduate students like herself. her father whispered to my parents that at least one of them was the son of a powerful politician back in china.

while we were leaving the house, binbin's mother chased me down and stuffed some money in my pocket (in the form of a traditional chinese red envelope). after initially resisting, i finally relented. while some people might dream about the things they can buy with this money, i for one will use it to pay my bills (like an overdue life insurance premium).

i returned to cambridge soon after i got to belmont. today was a relatively cold day with temperature in the 50's, the sort of weather where i ride with my hands half-buried in the sleeves of my tattered hooded jacket. on a whim i stopped by the local rite aid to check out the 50% discount on halloween lights (yeah, weird, not even october yet and they're already having their halloween liquidation sale). they had purple LED's - which i already have a strand - so i purchased a set of orange ones ($2.99).

when i came home i put them in the closet, to go along with the orange and blue LED's. i noticed some of the purple LED's were burnt out so i replaced them; unfortunately i only had 2 spares but 3 were dead. these LED lights from rite aid seem to be of an inferior quality. besides having bad quality bulbs, these are also shorter in length and having less lights (30 lights compared to the 50 lights of the blue strand), and they only have plugs on one end (unlike the blue strand, which has them on both ends). i should check the dollar store - where i originally bought the blue LED's during a post-christmas sale - to see if they have any good halloween lights.

i did have spare LED bulbs from the other lights, but unfortunately they're not compatible with the purple strand. even the orange LED's - which are also from rite aid - use a different replacement LED housing (longer). examining the spare bulbs, i realized they were nothing more than regular LED emitters with the wire legs crimped to fit the housing. just so happens i have a bunch of spare LED's, so i could easily make my own replacement bulb. but in trying to remove one of the dead purple LED's, the legs snapped off too easily, so i was afraid to crimp one myself for fear of breaking one of the wires. so for the time being one of the bulbs on the purple strand is still dead.

binbin's father gave me his USB thumb drive and asked me to give him a copy of all the photos i took today. he told the drive he had a 100GB capacity and i believed him because it had USB 3.0 and had an industrial metallic finish. when i plugged it in though back at home, it was only 64GB.

i also ate a moon cake i had lying around the house.

1 i don't know which model it was (hard to say, sony makes so many) but it was a full HD handycam camcorder with 25x optical zoom, sizable internal memory, flip-out screen, and used SD memory instead of sony memory stick (i didn't even realize that was even possible with a sony product). my father also brought our family camcorder - an old digital8 tape model from the late 90's. we should retire that thing and just get a brand new all digital model. the time it takes to rewind the tapes is reason enough to switch.