i had a craving for ikea. it's been going on for a few weeks now. i'm reminded of it every time i see the empty lot at assembly square where the somerville ikea would've been built had the swedish furniture maker been more ambitious regarding their global domination. it intensified when i realized it was actually possible for me to bike (motorcycle) there without having to get on the interstate (route 93).

after some oatmeal for breakfast, i left the house by 11:00. the trick would be to get there and back before it got dark (around 4:00 nowadays). traveling by car from my house to ikea is almost 26 miles and would take 36 minutes. the way i was going by motorcycle however involved taking smaller roads, cutting through roxbury, dorchester, milton, canton, randolph, and finally stoughton. it's actually a shorter distance at approximately 22 miles, but takes almost an hour (roughly 50 minutes).

besides the distance, the other limiting factor was the weather. temperature was in the 40's, which was bearable, with potential of hitting the low 50's. riding in the sun felt nice, but anytime i was in the shadows the cold would slowly test my stamina.

had this been my first trip traversing boston to reach south of the city, it would've been extremely difficult. fortunately, from my years of exploring the southern boston area, i'm somewhat familiar with the region, although by no means an expert. being able to recognize landmarks gave me the bearings i needed so i wouldn't get lost. i crossed into boston from cambridge via the MIT bridge. from mass avenue i took a right on tremont-columbus avenue, following it all the way down to egleston square (i was here watching the puerto rican parade one year). columbus becomes seaver street, and seaver intersects blue hill avenue, which i then followed south for approximately 12 miles, riding past franklin park, and crossing morton street (i was here for jerica's rollerskating birthday party).

stopping at a traffic light, a man driving a tow truck next to me pointed to my bike with his head and asked me what year. "2003," i answered. he said his wife has a honda shadow as well, while he rides a kawasaki. "that's a great looking bike," he added, before i thanked him as the light turned green.

the only part where i got lost was the fork splitting route 28 (bear left) into route 138 (bear right). however, the road splits again when you bear right, and i accidently went on brush hill road (along the neponset river) before i realized my mistake and turned back.

blue hills avenue should be familiar to me because it's the route i take when i bike down to ponkapoag bog, which used to be my favorite naturing spot, but i haven't visited there in over 4 years. my last visit was back in august 2008, and it was after a client meeting in norwood, and i traveled by car.

continuing southwards on 138 (blue hills avenue becomes washington street), i crossed interstate 93. from that point i knew i had about 6 more miles before my next turn. with an eye on the odometer, i continued onwards. i couldn't remember if i had to turn on centre street, but there was a central street close to the 5 miles mark, so i took a left turn. i was beginning to think i made a mistake when at 1.5 miles i saw turnpike street. i turned left, and 2 streets up i saw ikea way. i totally arrived through some back channel, because there wasn't even any signs up until i saw ikea way, and the area is all suburban residential, with no clue that an ikea is nearby.

anyway, i was relieved to have arrived, tired, but excited to be visiting ikea again. the last time i was here was may 2010, when i came with my godmother's son jack to help him buy an entertainment stand for his HDTV. i brought along some hot tea, but after being buffeted by the wind for an hour, it was already lukewarm. after using the bathroom, i picked up a catalog and made my way through the showroom.

the camera shop called me while i was at ikea. the news put me in a slightly foul mood. the image stabilizing circuitry has to be replaced, which costs $120 for the part. but the labor? $220! that puts the total cost of repair to $340, which is more than the worst case scenario price that i had in my head. i was a bit stunned and asked if i could have some time to think about it. the woman on the phone said i could have the weekend to decide.

a few things i always check out when i'm at ikea: 1) tullsta armchairs. i have two of them in my living room. after a decade of hard use, they've seen better days. fortunately they come with covers than can be removed (and replaced), but the ones ikea carry ($50 each) all have ugly skirts. i guess nothing's stopping me from just trimming them off and hemming the edges (gives me a chance to use the sewing machine). ikea also carries tullsta with upholstered fabric, but those don't have removable covers. 2) loft beds. i still dream about putting in a loft bed in my guest bedroom. it'd create more space, and i could set up the area below it as a small living room with a sofa. i'm sure i can fit a twin-sized loft bed, if not a full-sized. however, with my noisy neighbors, i don't know if it's a good idea to be sleeping so close to the ceiling. i also don't know if prospective roommates like the idea of having to literally climb into bed. still, that's my dream, logistics be damned!

ikea has some really nice kitchenware, including cheap dinnerware and nice looking pots and pans. the plates and bowls are especially nice, plain and simple, which is what i like. i was tempted to get some but would've had a hard time bringing them back via motorcycle (even with my saddlebags). ikea also has a nice collection of duvet covers. they seem also impossible to find in regular department stores, and when i do find them, they're crazy expensive for some reason. maybe it's a european versus american thing. i'm also about duvet covers, quickly changes the look of a bedroom. the next time i come back i'm upgrading my duvet covers (which coincidentally are ikea).

finally, the whole reason why i was here in the first place: to check out the lights. i knew they carried the jansjö LED desk lamp ($9.99) and i wanted one after seeing my former roommate W buy one through amazon. it features a super bright LED light mounted on a flexible stem that can be twisted to whatever direction you want. i thought they only came in black but they also had white ones which was the one i got. i was even tempted to get 2 but decided to see how this one works before buying another one. they seem to have a lot in stock anyway, not like they're going to run out.

ikea also has some cheap light bulbs. i was eyeballing some LED bulbs, and when i saw they were on sale (ikea ledare, $8.99, normally $12.99), i couldn't resist so i got one. it comes in two versions, an opaque bulb and a clear one with some kind of magnifying prism surrounding the naked LED. when i went to go scan the light bulb at one of those price scanning machines, i noticed it was still $12.99. so i asked one of the ikea employees and she told me the sale price is only for ikea family members. fortunately, membership is free, and i had to do is give me name and e-mail at one of the kiosks upstairs. after a few minutes (the touchscreen was a little unreceptive) i managed to score my card.

i finally left ikea by 2:30. even though it was still mid-afternoon, the sun was already starting to get low on the horizon, so it felt cooler. i did manage to put my camera bag in one of the saddlebags, which made for a much more unencumbered ride. there was no mistakes returning home, although slow going as i was stopped behind a school bus making frequent stops. the most interesting though i saw was a guy driving a car with the driver's side door torn to pieces, held in place by a strategically placed seatbelt. for someone operating a moving violation he seemed nonchalant about it, even talking on his cellphone the whole time (maybe that's how he got into his accident in the first place).

after crossing the MIT bridge, i took a detour onto memorial drive and returned home via cambridgeport. the odometer was already reading 100 miles, which is usually how far i can travel before i need to fuel up. i was hoping some of my high speed traveling today would increase my mileage, but that wasn't the case when my motorcycle embarrassingly died on memorial drive at a traffic light (close to microcenter). after a few frantic seconds i was finally able to get it started again on the reserve tank.

i was planning on going to belmont to help my mother clean the house, but she said we could do it tomorrow, after my sister takes a pass at it (or not). my parents are also doing their thanksgiving food shopping tomorrow, because apparently they're masochists.

i spent some time playing around with the new LED light bulb. i was surprised by how bright it was, but it's only rated at 400 lumens, while the CFL bulbs i have in my lamps are 900 lumens. eletricity-wise, i'm not saving that much either: the LED uses 8.5 watts while the CFL uses 13 watts. then what's the advantage of LED bulbs anyway? supposedly they last much longer (as long as 20 years!) but they cost 3-4x more than a CFL. LED bulbs turn on right away (no delay), they don't get as hot, and they don't contain any mercury. i don't think we're there yet with LED bulb technology, but we're getting close.

instead of getting the lens fixed at sanford camera repair, i've decided to try my luck through the canon repair factory (in new jersey). i've dealt with them in the past when i crunched my telephoto lens, and they were surprisingly inexpensive. it's kind of a gamble, because maybe the price canon gives me is the exact same one from sanford. but i'm curious to find out, for better or worse. regardless, sanford will charge me $15 just for taking a look at the lens. canon factory repair has a pretty fast turnaround time, and i'm hoping to get the lens back within 2 weeks, provided i can retrieve my lens from sanford tomorrow morning and send it off quickly.

with thanksgiving just on the horizon, i'm not doing any cooking this week. for dinner i heated up a brick of lasagna, ate it while watching the PBS documentary about the dust bowl decade.

apparently when it rains lights it pours: while taking out the garbage, i noticed one of my neighbors had thrown out a broken torchiere, along with a perfectly good CFL bulb. CFL's aren't supposed to be thrown out in the trash anyway because they contain mercury, but i took the bulb just because i wanted to play with it. this one was bigger than the CFL's i'm normally used to, not just in physical size but also in wattage (26w). turns out it's the equivalent of a 100w incandescent bulb. when i put it into one of my lamps i didn't really notice the difference through the shade but peering directly above the lamp it's definitely much brighter. also included with my nocturnal trash diving: a blue collapsible shopping cart. it's a pony brand which i couldn't find online. it seems pretty sturdy, not some cheap cart that will break down after a few uses. not that i need one though, since i get my groceries via bicycle and cargo baskets, but maybe i can give it to my 2nd aunt and uncle, they do a lot of walking grocery shopping.