early this morning i heard my phone chiming away as i received QQ text messages. only china friends chat with me on QQ. some of them still haven't figured out the time difference issue. i got messages as early as 6:00am so i didn't bother answering. only hours later did i finally check to see who it was. lihui (the early texter) was depressed that he didn't get a job yet, although his plan of finding work within a week after arriving in shanghai was extremely ambitious. wangyan (texted later around 9:00) sent me a photo of banana pastries she's made, i replied to her with a photo of my recent pot pie.

after a chobani black cherry greek yogurt for lunch, i biked to the galleria mall to look for a 1in deep socket with 6 points at sears. the only one they had was for a 3/8" drive (instead of a 1/2") and it didn't seem deep enough. i bought it anyway, figured it was worth a try, after getting reassurance from the salesperson that i'd be able to return it if it didn't work out. i will have to order the socket i want online and pick it up next week.

coming back, i made a detour to the twin city plaza, to look for an extension cord at the dollar tree. when i arrived i discovered it too had gone out of business. i thought dollar stores were doing well in this bad economy. maybe something nice will go in its place (although i think the store had been converted into office space).

with a rainstorm coming tonight and then all of tomorrow, i decided to put away my bike in the basement. it was a surprisingly warm late afternoon with the temperature at 52°. taking advantage of the nice weather, i decided to oil the bike chain, which i haven't done since taking it out of storage. while i was at it, i also cleaned off the bottom of the bike with a rag. right now there's no point in cleaning it any better since there's still a lot of salt and debris on the road. once we're fully into the spring season, i'll give the bike a more thorough wet cleaning. i may even take off the chain and give it a deep soak.

my little ultrafire cree Q5 flashlight arrived today ($4.03 amazon). it takes a single AA battery - or a fancy ultrafire lithium ion battery. it's a functional flashlight, but there are some things i don't like about it. first, the design is too complicated, with heat sink foils and patterned grips and bevels. i prefer just a simple metal uniform cylinder. it also has 3 functions, but i don't like the way it toggles from low-off-high-off-flash-off. if it was on high the last time, the next time you open it it'll be in flashing mode. i would've preferred that it stayed at one setting. the light is bright though, but these new LED's nowadays are all superbright. in fact, if i was to use a fancy lithium ion battery, the light would even be brighter (which seems impossible).

the nearly 300 snapfish photos finally arrived today. these 4x6" matte finish photos came out really nice. i should print out more photos! or maybe try a photo book next time, which is another thing on my to-do list. even images that i cropped heavily turned out very well and i couldn't tell they'd been cropped (perhaps at bigger print sizes that might be more noticeable). i still need to print out some 8x12" photos, i'm curious to see how those will turn out (i just need time to dig through my collection and find some photos to print).

whenever i had some free time i studied up on my mysql query lingo. i've been meaning to update the database queries for my blog. i think the main reason why it's so slow is because the query i patched together a decade ago wasn't efficiently written. i think the problem had something to do with my join statement. i'm not even sure how i got it to work in the first place, maybe through sheer trial and error, because now when i look at the query statement, it's confusing as hell. i kept trying different iterations but there wasn't any performance increase. finally it dawned on me that i never bothered to index the content id column of my comment table. i made the change in phymyadmin and it was the difference between night and day, suddenly my blog was smoking fast! even my admin page, which normally takes a full 60 seconds to churn out the tables now takes less than a second. so it had nothing to do with my query statements and everything to do with properly indexing cross-referenced search columns. maybe the speed boost will also prevent my site from crashing so often.

for dinner i had 2 slices of pot pie, followed by some rose tea and a jazz apple.

tonight i noticed that the sweet basils are starting to germinate. they're super tiny at the moment (not surprising, since the seeds are so super tiny as well), a less seasoned gardener might even miss them at this stage. i was a bit worried because i used expired seeds, but basils are very dependable (and durable too, since these seeds were left in the freezing sun room of my parents' place). i didn't see any thai basils germinating but as i recall, they're usually a bit later. as for the lupines, no additional seedlings, other than the initial 8.