the first step to getting new glasses is getting my eyes checked. the last time i had it done was more than 3 years ago, at the ophthalmic consultants of boston (OCB) branch office in cambridge across from the mt.auburn cemetery. i would've preferred going back to OCB but their office is a little far (i didn't want to bike home with my pupils dilated) and i wasn't sure if they'd take my new health insurance (celticare). there were other optometrists and i just basically picked the one closest to me, harvard square eyecare.

i called yesterday and managed to book a 1:00 eye exam appointment for today. i got there a little bit early to fill out some paperwork since i'm a new patient. the place seemed more like a commercial glasses shop rather than a medical office. in fact, a glasses salesman was showing the store manager some new frames from a large suitcase. doctor eng brought me in, an attractive asian woman wearing red skinny jeans and white heels. the windowless exam room was small - just a bit bigger than my bathroom - crammed with all sorts of eye exam equipment and charts.

doctor eng gave me the standard eye exam, then added the drops: stingy yellow to numb the eyes, a second drop of clear a few minutes later to dilate the pupils. i wait outside to do some reading on my kindle, but within minutes i lost focus and could only read with my glasses off. the doctor brought be back in and gave me the rest of my eye exam. i actually decreased the prescription in my weak eye but increased a little in my strong eye (now they're more closely balanced). i also lost some astigmatism.

i didn't know this until the doctor told me, but my insurance actually offers an additional $75 voucher, good for either a contact lens fitting appointment (normally $89), or for the purchase of new glasses. harvard square eyecare has a deal where if i get my glasses through them, they'll throw in some additional savings. however i get the feeling their frames are pretty expensive and i rather get my glasses from my sister's friend michael at 241optical (where i got my last glasses from).

after paying my $10 copayment, i left. the doctor did give me these sunglasses insert for my glasses, but since i was going to the bank next, i didn't want to see suspicious, cause an unnecessary panic amongst the bank employees. i was there to deposit some cash. even without the sunglasses i probably still seemed shady with my squinting.

the sky was mildly overcast so the sun wasn't a problem. the bigger problem was all that blinding white snow on the ground. i basically cut across harvard yard with my eyes nearly closed, angrily squinting at anyone who passed me by.

once back at home i closed the blinds to protect my eyes. i soon discovered that my dilated pupils not only made my hypersensitive to the light, but also i couldn't focus on anything up close. that meant i couldn't do anything with my computer. i could either watch television (i've beginning to catch a little march madness action) or...

do some more cleanup in the basement! here was one place where my dilated pupils weren't a problem. i ended up tossing a bunch of things onto the sidewalk: 2 PC cases, a bread machine, a dartboard, a box of old (late 1990's) computer/programming books, a pair of skis (gift from ed), an epson 740 printer, a bent bicycle wheel with an attached u-lock, and some protective LCD screens for CRT monitors. i also tossed out a small 13" sony trinitron television.

my neighbors from across the street spotted the bread machine right away and asked if they could have it since theirs broke. an hour later some guy in a pickup truck stopped by to rummage through my junk pile, taking only the dart board. by evening there was nothing left except the box of books and the television. there's something satisfying about people taking home the stuff i'm throwing away. it means they won't be going to the trash heap (although i think with things like the computers they're probably going to be reduced for scrap metal).

in the late afternoon my package finally arrived: the western digital (WD) "my passport" 2TB USB3.0 portable hard drive. i bought it for $107 which i think is a bargain since the price for an internal 2TB 2.5" SATA hard drive is $180. it took me a while to open the box because i couldn't really see anything up close. i was basically just fumbling with a pair of scissors, trying to find the opening.

the portable drive is a little bit bigger than what i'd like (although much smaller than a 3.5" hard drive). compared to my 2 existing portable drives (80GB and 120GB), it's shorter but thicker and wider. the drive itself has a good weight to it, but the enclosure is just plastic which makes it feel kind of cheap and not sure how well that dissipates heat. the drive itself is entirely powered by USB3.0, which has a larger power draw than USB2.0. USB3.0 is also faster, and in a test copy of a 7GB file, it took just a few minutes. the drive itself comes preformatted in NTFS. there are also some PC disk utilities that are hidden when connected to OS X. i really don't need any of the PC software so i just might reformat the drive before i begin using it.

since i only had a simple sandwich for lunch (ran out of bread, had to resort to bread ends), i was pretty hungry by early evening. i threw some french bread pizza in the toaster oven. i also finally baked one of my acorn squashes. it's pretty hard so i thought it'd be difficult to cut open, but it was actually pretty easy with a sharp knife. i probably waited too long because the inside seemed all dried up; there wasn't that much flesh and most of it was fibers. still, i baked it for an hour (with some butter and brown sugar and maple syrup in a pan of water). the final result was okay (how could it not be with brown sugar and butter?) but like i said, wasn't a lot of squash, mostly just fiber. i still have another one i could try, but if i slice it open and it looks dry as well, i'll probably toss it. acorn squash are pretty easy to grow anyway (although a better squash would be buttercup, which is naturally sweet).