after giving it considerable thought, i decided i'd take the subway to my 11am doctor's appointment this morning instead of taking the bike. it was just too darn cold; why suffer through a 20 minute ride in bitterly cold temperature when i can enjoy the toasty comforts of a train?

when i got to MGH the lobby was crowded with old people but it was relatively empty upstairs in the internal medicine department. i was here for my annual physical, which i kept putting off because i was in china, and when i got back and scheduled a new appointment, the wait list was 3 months down the road in december and even that appointment was postponed due to a hospital scheduling conflict until today.

nothing exciting happens during my annual physical. the only difference is a longer chat with my doctor1, then he takes my blood pressure, listens to my chest, and looks in my ears and throat. he didn't even take a blood pressure reading because the nurse had done it earlier before i came in, and i did another reading of my own with my own blood pressure cuff. no adjustments on my meds either, a combination of 100mg losartan with 12.5mg HCl thiazide. i've personally decided to only take the losartan at night, and leave the thiazide for the morning, because the thiazide makes me go to the bathroom and i'm tired of having to wake up 1-3 times at night to go. later i went downstairs to the 5th floor to get my blood drawn at the lab (for my cholesterol and potassium level check). the phlebotomist asked me if i was going to faint before sticking me with the needle. apparently they have a new protocol for fainters; i told her i was nervous but i wouldn't faint.

after my hospital visit, i walked to the edge of the frozen charles river to take photos. it was so cold that i had to use my camera with the gloves on.

i arrived back at my house right when my father dropped by to deliver an old humidifier that had in the basement. he showed me how to use it, and said it works before in his own tests it gave him a humidity reading of 50%. i then went with him to market basket because i also had to get some grocery items. we took a detour to mayflower poultry before i finally got dropped off back at home.

it was around 2:00 when i finally had lunch, a toasted english muffin sandwich of egg, ham, and swiss cheese washed down with a glass of orange juice. i watched some online streaming coverage on the NFL network using my parents' verizon FIOS account. around 3:30 i went to the guest bedroom and got into bed just to stay warm. i ended up falling asleep, waking up at 6:30. i heated up some campbell chicken noodle soup for dinner.

i tried out the humidifier - a duracraft evaporation humidifier DH-805. i've never used a humidifier before and this one was pretty simple: a container of water, a filter for wicking (essentially a large sponge), and a fan for evaporating. the thing that worried me was the fan was blowing out a cool breeze, which could affect how the nest thermostat reads the room temperature. having the humidifier running was like leaving the window open. the increased moisture also made me feel colder at times, but that was counteracted by the forced air heating.

i don't know the age of the humidifier, but i found a manual online dated april 1997. the humidifier doesn't look very sexy (compared to some of the new fancy ultrasonic ones on the market) but it does seem to work. i could see the humidity steadily increasing, and by the time i turned it off at midnight, my hygrometer (sitting on the humidifier) was reading 36% humidity - better than the 20% i saw last night. the nest thermostat gave me a reading of 31% humidity, and even in the kitchen, i was getting a reading of 30% humidity. the unit is advertised as having a coverage of 1000 square feet, more than what i need. i ran it at normal setting which only used 15 watts of power; higher setting (faster fan) uses 25 watts. the thing to remember is anything below 25% humidity is uncomfortably dry; i read the optimal wintertime humidity is 35%.

i might try putting the humidifier in the kitchen so as not to affect the thermostat in the living room. i'm still curious about ultrasonic humidifiers, in particular their ability to evaporate essential oils (evaporation units - partly because of the filter - don't do this as well). back in china, there were some coworkers who had these tiny table top humidifiers that ran off of plastic bottles. i might consider getting one of those.

by evening's end, the increased humidity in my house had a noticeable effect. my skin wasn't itchy dry like it normally is. the only side effect was my nose felt cooler from breathing in all that cooling moisture. the only way i can describe it is that sensation you get when you eat something really minty.

1 my doctor suggested boiling a large pot of pasta for dinner and then leaving the pot of hot water to evaporate to create more moisture in the house, the poor man's humidifier.