the new wake up time for 2014 is apparently 6:50. my alarm still goes off at 6:30, but i get out of bed 2 snooze delays later. i can't imagine i can wake up any later than that and still get to work on time. i was able to have breakfast because i fried an egg last night. all i had to do was to heat it, but the time spent doing that, i could've just simply fried a fresh egg. a few less people waiting at the bus stop. tomorrow is a big leaving day, with even more employees returning home for the chinese holiday.

i had a dream last night where i went bald, like a big bald spot on the top of my head (like a monk) that i never noticed before and nobody told me about. so when i woke and realized it was just a dream, i was relieved.

i sat next to xiao on the bus. he revealed to me what i'd already suspected: even though he still has work to do, his heart isn't in it, and will just count the days and the hours until he can leave for the chinese new year holiday. i think this is the case with many people here. i tried to work yesterday, but when i went to go find a civil engineer to verify some documents, i discovered he'd already left for the holiday. i think everyone in my department is only pretending to be working because there just isn't a lot of work now with so many people gone.

i had another call of duty in the company bathroom today, and once more, my new bathroom best friend came with me. with so little work to do, i'm tempted to just hang out in the stall all day, regardless if i have to go or not.

my phone is doing this slightly annoying thing where everytime i first connect to the internet, it gives me an, "unfortunately, the process com.google.process.gapps has stopped". after issuing this warning twice, it doesn't show up anymore during the time i'm using the phone. it's a very minor annoyance and one that i could probably live with, but i rather have this be fixed. i tried a few solutions (clearing the cache, resetting preferences) but none of them worked. this is only because i hacked my phone so i could use google apps. i also saw this same phone for sale on amazon.com: i bought it for US$165, but it sells back home in the US for US$260, so i got a real bargain!


it's a weird feeling, i'm only vaguely aware of what day it is, having worked continuously since last monday. today is technically monday but it doesn't feel like a monday. it feels like...thursday maybe? because tomorrow is my last day of work (kind of a like a friday) before i go on my chinese new year vacation. i'm kind of disappointed that none of my extended relatives have gotten in touch with me. not my cousin in shenyang, and none of my aunts and uncles and cousins in taipei. maybe they don't call because they don't want the guilt trip. not that i would go anyway, but none of them have room for me regardless. i say i have no feelings for chinese new year, but it's hard not to feeling something, when everyone else is gearing up to spend the new year with their family. it depends on what i find in chongqing. if the city is completely shut down during the new year (like it is for us during thanksgiving) i might feel left out, but if it's business as usual in the city, then it will be no different than any other vacation days.

i just have to endure one more day of faux work before my vacation. maybe i can bring a book tomorrow and do some reading.

today they put up some new bulletin boards on the wall with project status. it was fun watching them work, trying to make sure the boards were leveled. it'd have been so much easier if they just used a leveler, but nobody knew what i was talking about when i proposed the idea. instead, they first tried using a tape measure, and when that didn't work, they found a large drafting triangle. also the construction guys just drilled the boards into the wall, didn't even bother removing the posters that were there. it's kind of a weird way to do it, but typical of chinese craftsmanship.

* after lunch walk (cold in just a shirt) - XL talks about growing up how at age 5 she learned to take care of herself and this new year is the first time in more than 10 years that she's spending it with both parents
* learning about android launchers and lock screens - in an attempt to change my icons
* download some camera apps to get a silent camera - found out the regular camera app has auto focus feature no need to manually focus

after work XL and i left together. i figured we'd sit together as well, but she sat elsewhere, as to maybe not draw suspicion. what we were doing wasn't wrong, but i guess we don't want to feed any office gossip, which can be the case when a girl just invites a boy alone over for dinner. once we got back into town, we went to the small supermarket to collect a few more ingredients. XL was all business, and i nearly had to run after her as she made calculated stops at various departments. she got some garlic sprouts and a bag of fresh tofu. when we got to her apartment she realized she didn't have any rice. so i ran back to my place to get my bag of rice, but also taking the chance to use my bathroom, since i don't like using other people's bathrooms (even though i was only going no.1, but it can still be messy with the splashes).

XL had already started food preparations when i returned to her apartment. extremely camera shy, she got all flustered when i took out my camera, but i promised her i'd only take photos of the food. she was making 3 dishes and a soup: smoked sausages plus garlic sprouts, wings, tomato and eggs, and a tofu bokchoi soup. the sausage was a gift from a coworker. it didn't look smoked, and in fact looked sort of raw. but once cooked, it was very delicious, the most delicious thing i've eaten from the 3 times i've been invited over to XL's place for food. the wings were also special, just half a dozen she'd already marinated in some soy sauce and garlic. she stir-fried them in the wok, and after covering everything in a can of coke, put the lid on the wok to let everything simmer for a bit. the finished wings had a dark glaze of caramelized sugar. the only down side was she made the wings first, so by the time we finally had dinner, they were already cold (but still good). if anything, i'd try to add an additional flavor element, like sweet and spicy, or sweet and sour. tomato and eggs is a common chinese household dish; i told XL when my mother makes it she adds sugar; XL thought that was crazy and almost to show me how much she disagrees with that idea, she poured a few teaspoons of salt straight from the bag. she also did a redo, taking everything out to add more eggs after she tasted the first batch and found it unsatisfactory, and wanted to use up her last 2 remaining eggs. as for the soup, after bokchoi and tofu, she added some salt and dried chicken stock pellets.

unlike the past 2 occasions where i've dined at XL's, i ate quickly tonight simply because the dishes were much better this time around. i even got myself a second bowl of rice. we ate around the coffee table with the television on. XL finished early and watched me eat, telling me that to see someone devour all of her food is the ultimate compliment for a cook. she also poured me a small paper cup of red wine, because she probably heard that all americans drink wine. i only drank it out of courtesy (great wall wine, maybe just a step above vinegar), but then filled my cup with some mulberry juice from the fridge (the same mulberry juice i brought last time, apparently they never touched it after that!).

i volunteered to help do the dishes but XL would have none of it. i ended up just standing on the sidelines and watching. i left at 9:00 because she still had to do some laundry (she washes all her clothes by hand, so it was going to some time).

back at my own apartment (i was going to bring back the mulberry juice but forgot it at XL's apartment), i showered to get rid of the cooking smell, then climbed into bed by around 10:00, doing some quick work on the blog before watching a little bit of the new pirate drama "black flag" on my computer (so far a lot of gnarly pirate guys, no female characters yet).