i went to bed a little late last night, after midnight. there is only so many hours in the evening to do all the things i want. i had a little trouble waking up in the morning, not because i wanted more sleep, but because i wanted to stay in bed where it was nice and warm. however, once i got out of bed, the morning routine took over. i thought i was a few minutes late but i was actually earlier than usual, despite getting out of bed around 6:50. it was still rainy cold wet dark, as i ate my hard-boiled egg and left the apartment.

the former designer in me can't stand inconsistent formatting on spreedsheet tables. whenever i have the time, i go through my tables and make them all the same, fixing typos as i go, correcting unmatching borders, like data have the same color coding, making all the fonts the same size and style, unifying column widths and row heights, etc. i'm not sure if my efforts are ever appreciated, but when you receive spreedsheet documents from you, at least they look good (not sure if the numbers are correct, but style over substance, amiright?).

tweaking spreadsheet tables is what i've been reduced to most of this week. it's getting pretty boring, as we await our counterpart on the owner's side to return from the holiday break and approve our stack pile of claims.

i chatted with grace again this morning, found out a little bit more about her. besides boston for christmas, she also spent new year's eve in new york's time square, then went to philadelphia and washington dc. she also visited some national parks (yellowstone) while she was in the states. had she not been called back to china, she wanted to see hawaii and some west coast cities like san diego. she also wanted to visit some caribbean islands. she told me that contrary to popular belief, most chinese stores (like malls) are opened during chinese new year. working employees just get paid 3-4x overtime. that's different compared to our american thanksgiving, although every year it seems like big chain stores are pushing to open up earlier and earlier, encroaching on what was once sacred thanksgiving day.

i finally got in touch with that chongqing girl the custodian lady introduced me to. she actually pinged me on QQ earlier this week, but she didn't say anything in her invitation message so i thought it was just spam. she can understand some english (most college graduates know a certain amount of english) but when i told her it was okay to write me in chinese, she never once wrote in english again. i was writing to her in chinese, but using google translate, which took me 5 minutes to write every sentence. it got so painful that i told her i was just going to write in english. what followed was a weird exchange where she wrote me in chinese, i'd translate to english, then write back in english. it was kind of tedious and i was thinking about how much more i have in common with grace the whole time, but i wanted to give this girl a chance, so i invited her to lunch on sunday (since i'll be in chongqing), figuring it'd be easier to chat face to face. she never gave me a definite reply, so i'm not sure what's up. i'm fine either way, i'm sort of doing it as a favor to the custodian ladies, i'm not confident it's going to work out between us.

after lunch i was translating the chinese new year annual dinner cohost speech into english. we really don't need a script, i say we wing it. yuwei wrote most of it, and it's way too wordy. maybe it sounds better in chinese, but the direct english translation is completely corny to the point of laughable. next wednesday we have a rehearsal in the office (probably back in the cafeteria) so we'll get a chance to iron out the kinks.

i took the medium bus back into the city, sitting next to xiangmin. zengfei was in front of us and she was asking xiangmin how come she didn't go play badminton at the gymnasium last night. apparently they go monday-wednesday-friday, which just happens to be the nights when i go running. zengfei made some comment about how we will never see each other because of our schedules, so i told her i might go play badminton tomorrow night, skipping my treadmill appointment.

i had dinner at the guizhou lamb noodle soup. i wanted to try the RMB$20 "wan wan" lamb, but they gave me rice noodles instead because i said i wanted noodles with the dish, and the dish only comes with rice. i'm tempted to return tomorrow so i can have what i missed tonight. regardless, the rice noodle was good. i finished everything, including the broth, which was a little spicy because i added some of their special homemade hot sauce, and i felt my stomach burning afterwards.

then i went to the chongbai supermarket to load up on a bunch of supplies, including salad vegetables (lettuce, onion, carrots), a peeler, a plate (5 months later and i finally buy my first plate), and some toiletries, including a new purple bamboo salt toothpaste and some pantene shampoo/conditioner. i called xianglian, who earlier was complaining of a stomach ache at the office because she went to go eat mao cai again last night. i called to see if she needed anything from the market. she seemed to be in a much better mood and said she felt better after having some dinner, and thanked me for my concern.

i returned to the apartment briefly (picking up some roasted chestnuts along the way), but then went back out again to the smaller supermarket because only they had bing tang oranges. i stocked up, buying a large bag full of oranges which only cost me less than RMB$10 (less than US$2).