trust me, this is going to get boring: last night i couldn't sleep so i pulled out my laptop and surfed the web from bed. normally i don't do this because i spent enough time already with the computer, but it just too boring lying in bed doing nothing. anyway, i was looking around for small travel laptops. yes, i'm looking to inherit john's dell mini 1011, but if there's a better deal out there, i might snatch it up. especially if i need the laptop to work instead of just collecting photos. i still really like the asus 10.1" 1015E ($250) and the asus 11.6" touch screen vivobook X202E ($400).

however i discovered the 1015E will only take a thin-format 7mm hard drive, and the one i ordered online earlier in the day is the standard 9.5mm. then when i investigated the vivobook, that too will only take a 7mm drive. that made me concerned, since the new drive i ordered (9.5mm) wouldn't be able to fit inside either of these machines. so i went ahead and cancelled the order.

i then dug into the technical aspects of the mini 1011. that machine will take a 9.5mm drive. and how easy is it to install OS X? super easy. the hardest part is finding a mac to image the installer CD onto a USB thumb drive. finally, how well does it run? i checked out a video online of someone going through several OS X tasks. although it's not screaming fast, it's not slow either, somewhere in the middle. the install can only go as high as OS X 10.6.x, but that was the system i was using prior to upgrading to my current MBP, and it's a fairly robust OS.

i then fell asleep for a few hours.

given what i uncovered last night though, i think the mini 1011 will be just fine. so i will go ahead and reorder that hard drive. it's good that amazon's ordering system is all automated, because it'd be embarrassing to talk with a live operator and have to explain why i ordered something, cancelled it, then bought it again within a span of less than 24 hours.

i went to the cambridge library to see if they had the latest edition of the lonely planet guide to china. the copy i have is 7 years old and i'm trying to decide whether i should buy the latest version. somebody had taken it out, but it wasn't the latest edition anyway. i'll try the harvard coop tomorrow to look for a copy.

coming home, i stopped by market basket to pick up some more clam chowder ingredients. my grandmother can't get enough of it (she calls it "white soup"), and drinks a can every day that she's here. but canned chowder? how can that compared to homemade? so hopefully i'll be able to make some for her before she returns to california next tuesday morning.

my mother brought over my grandmother in the late afternoon so she could take a bath. they were going to country buffet for dinner and asked me to come along but i declined. i'm not normally a food snob, but when it comes to country buffet i draw the line.

instead i steamed some leftover zongzi for dinner.

my father came over after work around 9:00. he was there to wait for a 10:30 conference call with my uncle pan in china, to discuss the details of my trip, which i'm still not very clear about. what i thought was a 2 month contract job to teach conversational english wasn't anything of the sort. and when i was told it'd be chongqing, he didn't mean the city but rather the municipality (think new york city vs. new york state). where i'll actually be working is at the changshou chemical industrial park, 50 miles northeast of chongqing city. and the job is sort of nebulous, basically whatever i can do i'll do, with positions such as project manager, dictation taker, and photographer all bandied about (only one of those choices interests me). there's a dress code too (business casual, long-sleeved shirts and pants in 100°F heat), and the work week is a relentless chinese wage laborer style of 6 days a week, 8am to whenever.

fact is since i currently don't have any projects going on, i can't be too choosy with whatever work comes by way - even if it does mean journeying more than 7000 miles to the other side of the world. it's definitely a chance to travel (even though i have to pay my own way there), but it isn't exactly a holiday getaway. changshou is not exactly a picturesque tourist destination, and what nature there is will quickly make way for more factories.

it's not all bad: i heard but didn't verify that after the end of the contract, the company will pay for a week's vacation. also because of my uncle's pull, he's able to get me my own apartment (not sure about the wifi access), and the food is free. i'm also getting paid for my 2 months stint (basically the price of a single interactive project if there was one). the worst that could happen is i'm completely unqualified for the job (jobs?) and i end up leaving early, spending a month or two traveling asia. not a bad problem to have.

it's kind of sudden, and i only just found out about it a week ago. normally vacation plans take months of preparation and research. it's also happening right during the summer, so when i come back it'll already be fall. what's to become off my garden? all those seedlings i spent all winter and spring nurturing indoors, i won't see them mature. and my cucamelons!

by evening's end i had a better idea of what my sojourn would entail. we also set a tentative departure date of july 8th, less than a month away. i'd spend a week in taipei acquiring my china visa, then i fly to chongqing, to begin my servitude as an indentured servant. even a one-way ticket is expensive: $880 (delta, requiring 2 stops, detroit and tokyo). travel any later and the price jumps to a $1300+.

besides the 1TB hard drive (which i reordered), i also bought a few more things today: 2GB DDR2 memory upgrade for the dell mini ($23.93) and a garmin etrex30 ($235, ebay) to replace my old garmin etrex vista GPS. all i need now is to refill my HBP medication, get new glasses, and buy some dress shirts.