what i now call "the iceberg" continues to grow along the side of the house, courtesy of my upstairs neighbors' drip hose. i wrote them to gently complain, asked them if they could position the hose so it wouldn't dribble so much on the house. paul wrote back but he accidentally forwarded steve's private response: "don't get me started..." i was tempted to reply with something equally snarky but decided silence was my best option. the good news is they won't be here the rest of the week.
after some chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i went out to run some errands. first stop was the galleria mall. it was cold, with temperature only in the upper 20's, and probably even more so with the wind chill on the bike. i dressed as warmly as i could though (synthetic layer underneath a wool sweater), but my eyes were watering from the cold. while riding on beacon street i heard this clattering noise behind me. fearing something had fallen off, i quickly looked back to see my bike lock was still clamped to the spring-loaded rack.
i locked my bike across the street from the galleria and walked to sears. a pair of european boys asked me where the entrance to the mall was. this was actually the 2nd time somebody asked me for directions. when i left the house earlier, some townie girl asked me where beacon street was ("you're almost there").
i got a 9mm craftsman wrench from sears. it's a size not often included in a wrench set because it's not a common size found on things like automobiles. however, for bicycles, it's very common, and the only 9mm wrench i have is on my bike multitool, and i wanted to have one on its own. for such a small wrench, i thought it was actually kind of expensive ($5.49). back in august, i bought a 22 piece SAE/metric combination wrench set for only $18 at harbor freight. it had everything except a 9mm wrench. sears also sold a packet of about a dozen mini wrenches (including the 9mm) for $20, but i didn't think i'd need any of those sizes and besides they were kind of short (can't get good leverage). i might return the 9mm and wait until they have a sale.
from sears i headed upstairs to old navy to buy some black socks. they sold a pack of 6 for $8.50, but they didn't say whether it was 6 pairs of socks or 6 individual socks (3 pairs), so i figured it was the latter, and at $8.50 it was still an okay price but not that great. i only found out when i got back home that it's actually 6 pairs of socks, which comes out to the bargain price of only $1.40 per pair. if you need utilitarian black socks, why would you go anywhere else?
next was the apple store. my 7 year old 2.16 GHz core 2 duo macbook pro is showing its age. there are several ghost spots on the LCD, a crack on the corner, the DVD-ROM drive died soon after i replaced it, it's missing a few screws, the 3rd replacement battery does hold much of a charge, and i dropped the laptop a few times so there are dents and scratches. nevertheless, i'd bet this 7 year old machine is still better than most of the laptops currently on the market. say what you will about macs, but they're built with the latest technology, and these machines have longevity. but now that i have a little bit of money, i wanted to upgrade my computer. it only seems right, since a few months ago i upgraded my dSLR camera after almost 7 years of heavy usage.
so i've been researching macbook pros (MBP) for the past few weeks, learning everything there is to know about all the various models. what i don't like about the newest generation is the inability to upgrade the machine, since everything is either soldered onto the motherboard or encased in a body that needs to be professionally opened. so i was perfectly fine with an older model, say circa 2010-2011, as long as it had the right features. i was seriously considering a used late-2011 MBP, 15" 2.2 GHz quad-core i7, 8GB 500GB being sold from lexington for $1250. that's cheap, considering the least expensive new 15" MBP is $1800. i almost contacted the buyer until i got a closer look at the ports: firewire 800, thunderbolt, usb2. here was the problem: since this machine does have an expresscard, i can't use any of my esata hard drive docks at higher speed (only used them via usb2). there are no firewire-esata adapters, nor simply thunderbolt-esata adapters (they exist, but they're like mini hubs that costs a few hundred dollars). what i really wanted was usb3 instead of usb2, since there does exist usb3-esata adapters. and the only machines that have usb3 are 2012 MBP's.
anyway, before i made any decisions, i first wanted to check out this retina display that people have been talking about but i've never seen before. so that was why i was at the apple store, and to compare the difference between the non-retina 15" MBP and the retina MBP. one of the sales guys came to help me out. maybe he didn't do a good job selling the retina display, because i wasn't that impressed. sure, the retina screen looks sharper, and you can push it to 2880x1800px, but most people would never do that because everything would look super tiny. is it really worth the $400 difference between the lowest end 15" and the lowest end 15" retina? at the store i did see that the regular 15" had ports only on the left side, which the retina 15" had a more symmetrical arrangement. the regular 15" is also slightly thicker because it has to accomodate a CD-ROM drive, while the retina 15" completely eliminates it.
leaving the store, i decided the perfect machine for me would be a 2012 15" MBP, non-retina display. unfortunately it's one of the current models, so i wouldn't be able to buy it used and would have to go with new. i had to carefully consider how much really i needed usb3, and could i settle for an older model that was just as functional and cheaper?
leaving the mall, i briefly browsed the laptops and digital camera at best buy. i was looking for some dells but apparently they don't sell them here. i did see a really cool asus touch-screen laptop with 11.6" 4GB 500GB i3 for $450. i've often noticed my mother swiping or clicking my MBP screen, because she's so used to touching her ipad. this computer is the perfect marriage of the two, and it makes sense that maybe all future laptops would do this, since touch technology seems so intuitive.
back outside across the street, i noticed right away that something was wrong with my bike. it seemed to be missing something. one of the folding rear baskets was missing! i couldn't believe it, but the realization slowly sunk in. who could've stolen it? i became immediately paranoid, looking at everyone who walked by, sizing them up as either thief or eyewitness. having anything stolen always puts me in a bad mood, and i thought about canceling the rest of my trip and going home instead. but there was no point sulking about it, so i decided to carry on. it was only minutes later did i seriously consider perhaps the folding basket wasn't stolen after all, but instead fell off. i did hear that strange crashing sound when i was riding to the mall. i also didn't see any snipped zipties on the ground beneath the bike. and if somebody did steal the basket, why only steal one and not the other? all the clues were there and i finally figured it out. i thought about retracing my steps, but if a folding basket dropped in the middle of a bike lane, there's a 100% chance somebody already picked it up. the realization that it was a stupid accident instead of outright theft made me feel slightly better about the situation. folding baskets are also pretty common on craig's list, and i could snag one cheaply and easily. besides, i still had 2 brand new baskets in my house.
i went back to kendall square and went across the longfellow bridge into boston to chinatown to pick up a few things. what i really wanted was some tangyuan for chinese new year this weekend. they didn't sell any at ming's market, so i wanted to check out c-mart. the one on washington street was crowded, but nothing like it was on saturday. they could even afford to have one of the registers be closed (but it could be because that one might be broken). so i ended up getting some snacks, keeping in mind that i only had one basket so i couldn't buy too many things.
originally i was going to go home via the charles rive bike path, a leisurely ride where i could really go fast on my ross road bike. but then i remembered i wanted to retrace my steps in the miracle that my folding basket would be on the street somewhere. i made it all the way home without seeing it. i hope it goes to a good home. i figured everything evens out in the end. i've found plenty of dropped items while riding the bike myself, including the warm pair of north face mittens i'm currently using.
back at home, i checked the condition of my remaining folding basket. secured by plastic zipties that were all attached when i left chinatown, now only two remained while the rest had snapped off. the smoking gun! this is strange because i've used these baskets in the past and never had any problems. i think the cold weather makes the plastic very brittle and prone to snapping. i blame the cold for my broken brake lever as well.
when the mail arrived i was excited to see a package. turns out it was from eliza, sending me the present she got me when she briefly returned to boston but forgot to give me but now resending it from paris (that is one well-traveled present). it's a little fragonard pouch, which i will now use as a traveling bag to carry my toiletries.
at 3:30 with the sky getting a little dark, i biked out one last time (first removing the folding basket, will now use my backpack) to get some groceries. market basket was surprisingly quiet, and while i was checking out, there was a line of cashiers waiting at the front of the store for the 4:00 shift change.
i put the road bike away in the basement and wheeled my disabled trek into my kitchen. this was so i could work on it, and let the rubber handlebar grip warm up before i could remove it.
there are all sorts of ways to remove a grip from a bike handlebar. people use everything from compressed air, soapy water, hairspray, and WD40. i decided to go with WD40. i used an awl to pry open the grip just a little bit so i could spray WD40 inside. at one point i turned the bike over so i could use gravity to get the WD40 to travel own the length of the grip. i tried to twist it off but it only budged a little bit. then i tried pulling it and it came right off. super easy! i washed out the WD40 from inside the grip, ready to be put back once the replacement brake shifter arrives.
while browsing craig's list to see what kind of MBP deals i could find, i found this posting: Apple MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2012 Read!! - $1375 (Worcester) Selling a two and a half week old Macbook pro. This macbook is seriously brand new, I am a CS major and NEED a PC. This Macbook retails for $1799 but ill let it go for $1375. computer comes with box and charger / original charger
could this be true? here was someone selling the exact same machine i saw at the apple store earlier today, the one i wanted but didn't think i'd be able to find a used deal for it since it's a current model? and selling for $400 less, despite purchasing it only 2-1/2 weeks ago? the only caveat was the seller was located in worcester, an hour-long drive. but i just had to contact the person.
almost immediately after i sent the e-mail (i told him i too was a lone mac user in a sea of PC's back in my engineering days), the seller called me back. i seemed to recognize the number, and later i realized it's because he actually wrote it in his posting. dimitri told me several people had already contacted him, but they only wanted it for $1000. in my e-mail i asked him if he would be in boston within the next few days, but he told me that if i was willing to drive out to worcester, he'd reduce the price to $1300. could this deal get any sweeter? i upped the ante by asking him if he'd be willing to meet in the late morning, and he seemed very onboard with the idea. later he sent me his address and the MBP serial number so i could check the age of the computer. he might've bought the machine 2-1/2 weeks ago, but it seems like he only registered it last week because he's still eligible for nearly 90 days of telephone tech support, not to mention a year's worth of warranty.
i would never consider spending more than a $1000 on a PC, but somehow with a mac i don't even blink. immediately after agreeing, i had a bit of buyer's remorse. do i really need a new computer? i could probably still use my current 2006 MBP for a few more years. a new machine means i have to upgrade all my apps and that could take a while. but it looks like by tomorrow i'll have a new mac.
although it'd be nice to have the retina screen (not $900 more nice though), my biggest complaint about the 15" mid-2012 macbook pro is that all the ports are on the left side of the computer. i'm used to having everything on the right though, from the mouse to the monitor. that'll take some getting used to. it goes to show that the perfect macbook pro hasn't been invented yet. from the arrangement of the ports, to features, to finally price. hopefully apple will get it right one of these days. dare i dream that someday cupertino will finally create an affordable laptop that has all the bells and whistles and doesn't skimp on features for the sake of model variation?