i woke up around 9:30 so i could bike down to belmont by 10:00 so i could go with my sister to brookline to pick up her large expedit shelving unit. maybe i wasn't fully awake yet, but i felt drained. as soon as i arrived, we drove down to brookline. when we got to the address, there no was answer at the door and the phone went directly to voicemail. this happens from time to time, a craig's list deal gone bad. so my sister and i drove back home. i told her if the seller called back, to reduce the price from $75 to $60 (the large expedit sells for $200 retail). about a minute after we left, the seller called back, said they were in the basement and didn't hear the doorbell or the phone. my sister took my advice and told the seller to reduce the price to $60. what i didn't tell my sister was this only works if we had actually gone home; it doesn't work when we've only been gone for a minute. nevertheless, she got the price reduced to $70.

back at the address, the seller led us down to the basement. this was a big single family house, 3 floors plus a furnished basement. they were in the middle of moving so there were boxes everywhere (when asked where, the woman only said "not too far, 20 minutes away"). there was also a bunch of teenagers in the house (home during winter vacation) but none of them helped us carry the disassembled shelving unit pieces to the car, and they basically ignored us, too engrossed in their video games. the expedit was heavy, with a combined weight of 208 lbs. the thicker side pieces were actually the lightest; the heaviest parts were the partitions and the actual shelves themselves. the owners removed as many connecting pegs as possible, but left in those they couldn't easily remove. my sister brought up the pieces from the basement while i loaded them up into the car.

the larger planks were stacked carefully in the back. i had to keep my eyes on them to make sure they didn't shift and break off any of the attached pegs, with one arm bracing the boards to keep them from sliding. the partition boards were too small to simply leave them stacked so i held on to most of them on my lap, crushing the circulation in my legs.

halfway home, the seller called to let us know she got short-changed by $5. my sister said she'd drive back with the money after dropping me off, but the seller told her she could just mail the money instead. i told my sister to basically ignore the seller; since she didn't know where we lived, there was nothing she could do about it. besides, they seemed pretty well off to be chasing after a few dollars. for all we know, they could be trying to scam us, trying to raise the price back to $75. there are no backsies or do-overs with cash transactions!

i helped my sister assemble the shelf back at the house. i actually love assembling ikea furniture, like a big boy version of legos. first we had to clear out the little bedroom, which probably been cluttered for almost 2 decades, a big storage space for my sister's hoarding tendencies. we needed the empty space because the shelving unit needed to be put together on its side. we were also missing a hex wrench, but as soon as i found a set, we were in business.

we were nearly done when my parents came home in the afternoon. my father helped us with the final pieces. the partitions were held in place by wooden pegs, and one of the pegs wouldn't fit because there seemed to be a broken piece already in the hole. my father ended up shortening the peg to make it fit. when we were close to finishing, we also realized we were short one peg.

when the expedit was finally assembled, it took all four of us to raise it up. the ikea instructions said to loop a belt on top of the shelf (it was supposed to come included but missing from our kit; we used a real belt instead). this is crucial because one person lifts the shelve just slightly so 2 other people can get a hand hold underneath each side of the shelve. once that was done, uprighting the expedit was a simple matter. we also had everything on a rug so we could slid it into place before finally pulling out the rug.

with 25 compartments the expedit has a lot of storage space, but my sister was able to quickly fill it up. i had some lion head meatballs and a mantou bun for a late lunch before riding back to cambridge in the unusually cold weather due to the strong winds. i also left my old MBP in belmont, although my father said he didn't know what to do with it (he's more of an ipad guy these days).

i would've stayed for dinner in belmont were it not for this damn tree removal meeting at 6:30. all the neighbors from the 4 houses involved were there, so i had to go. over the weeks we finally got two estimates, one for $5000, one for $6000. we decided on the cheaper bid, not because of cost, but just because the arborist had a more detailed presentation. now i didn't want to pay any part of it since this elm tree doesn't directly affect my property. but steve actually came up with a novel suggestion: since franz and his no-show upstairs condo neighbors split their bills 40/60, the upstairs neighbors (both lawyers living in california who are just condo landlords and never here) would pay $3000, while everybody else would help pitch in with franz' $2000 share. i proposed the fairest split, which be for each house to divide the cost 4 ways ($500 each). renee - who started this whole mess in the first place - didn't like that idea (mostly because she couldn't even pay the $500) - and suggested we split it per individual. that would mean my house would actually end up paying 3x what everyone paid, which didn't seem right, since we're the property least affected (the main tree doesn't overhang into our yard, just some branches). kate, who just wanted this to be over, actually volunteered to pay renee's portion (as a friendly loan), whatever the final amount comes out to be. steve and paul ended up getting screwed, but they seemed okay with the idea, so i wasn't going to argue on their behalf. my share comes out to be only $200. the biggest winner is renee, who won't have to pay a cent. she was downright gleeful. there are a few little details to work out, but if everything goes according to plan, we could have a tree removal in a few weeks.

the meeting was finally over well after 8:00. i had some more mantou buns and lion head meatballs for dinner. surprisingly, i played no bioshock 2 today. i take that to be a good thing, shows i'm not addicted!