my upstairs neighbor paul called me in the late morning. this was unusual because he's never called me before. "are you sleeping?" he asked me, which i thought was unusual. no i wasn't sleeping, but how does he know my personal schedule? apparently he was having problems with his cable television (and maybe his internet as well) and wanted to know if i was doing anything downstairs that would be causing him to have issues. i guess i should be offended at this accusation, but he's pretty clueless about how cable/internet works in general, so i wasn't too bothered. he was on the phone with comcast earlier and they couldn't figure out the problem.

after talking on the phone, he finally asked me if i knew anything about cable television/internet. first accuse me of breaking everything, then ask me for free help! a winning combination! i told him i could take a took and went upstairs. i was also curious about his new home theatre setup, which someone from the geek squad came over 2 weeks ago to help them install it. it was nowhere as advanced as i'd imagined it in my head every night when i hear the thumping bass of their sound system. it consisted of a 40" samsung HDTV (which looked small in their living room) and a sound bar. there was also the cable box and the cable modem. it took just a few minutes to fix (a problem that started last night): the coaxial cable going into his cable box was loose. after i tightened it, he began to get all his channels again. you're welcome!

i hadn't been to their place since their renovation at the end of last year. they redid their kitchen - wooden floors instead of slate tiles, and new countertop and wall tiles and a new exhaust fan. also what appeared to be a sliding pocket door on top of the staircase into their house was actually just a glass door that slide out to the side of the wall (not inside the wall). they also replaced the faded carpeting on their stairs.

i also reminded paul about the insulation work happening next month. now that i've helped him out, he sort of owes me a favor, and said he'd help me move some their things in the basement to allow the contractors access to the rim joist along the edge of the ceiling.

i performed a little indoor garden maintenance today: watered the gravel trays, shuffled some plants around, soaked a few more empty soil pots, did some thinning, and transplanted a few lupines and eggplants. i kept saving extra lupines, looks like i'm going to have a pretty good lupine garden. the eggplants had a germination rate of 100%: each pot had exactly 2 seeds in them. i felt bad thinning them out, but i don't need so many eggplants (i did manage to replant 2 off the thinned seedlings). i still haven't thinned the delphiniums, which are also doing very well. i like to save some more seedlings if i can. provided that the preexisting snapdragons in my parents' backyard have survived the winter, i look forward to a very color flowering season this year. and all of these are perennials, so once they're established, i can look forward to seeing them every year.

i've become obsessed with responsive web design. since yesterday i've been working on streamlining my weblog, particularly how each post entry is laid out via the stylesheet. i used to do it with tables, but at one point i upgraded to divs. but the div layout i'm using is a real mess, pieced together through trial-and-error and luck, and there are parts i don't even understand how it works. the thing i was working on today was understanding the difference between absolute and relative divs. i still can't quite wrap my head around, and i'm mainly trying to self-teach through trial-and-error once again. i was testing between the 3 main browsers on the pc (chrome, safari, firefox) then chrome on android and chrome/safari on the iphone.

that's when i saw a problem that so boggled my mind it basically made me stop working because i began to question my own sanity. i was using a test page that had a blog posting layout using the old preexisting code and my new revised streamlined code. chrome on the iphone showed enlarged text in the new code but smaller text (that matches the pc version) in the old code. but chrome on android showed smaller text in the new code but larger text in the old code. i'm sure there's an easy explanation, but the answer might be hidden in css, which i'm still not 100% sure on how it works.

today was supposed to hit the 70's but the sky was overcast and it looked like it'd rain; yesterday was the better day. however, it was warm enough that my heat never kicked in (indoor temperature was 62°) until later in the evening (after 8:00, when the thermostat was scheduled to raise the temperature to 68°). i didn't go outside at all. for lunch i finished my beans and bacon soup while watching fast & the furious (not sure which number, the one with the rock and where wonder woman dies). i actually wasn't hungry for most of the day and didn't eat until almost 3:00. for dinner, i warmed up a dozen pizza rolls in the toaster oven.

i spoke with sunmeng. it's actually a holiday in china, the qingming tomb sweeping festival. sunmeng kept telling me she wanted to go out, but when i pressed her about it, it seemed she was happy to just say at home and do nothing. maybe it's different when it's your home, but there were so many more things i wanted to do and see in china, that it kind of makes me depressed when i see people squander their chinese weekends. plus, sunmeng always has an excuse why she isn't going out: raining, too cold, too hot, not feeling well, nobody to go with. in this way we are opposites.

how i spent the qingming festival last year: i didn't even know this was a holiday, but vaguely in the back of my mind remembered some sort of festival related to tomb sweeping. it's not a big holiday so i thought we only got one day off, which was saturday, but still had to come and work on sunday. when i showed up sunday, the only people working were koreans and some chinese. even my own boss was surprised that i came into work. feeling like i squandered an opportunity to have a rare two-day weekend, i told mr.lee that i'd take tomorrow (monday) off. i decided to visit changshou lake, a place i heard a lot about but never had the chance to visit. i took the bus which dropped me off at the wrong place. i started at the boat landing, but remembered people in the office telling me there was another place with beautiful manicured gardens, so i asked around and walking a mile later in the hot weather i finally found it. the place was picturesque and i got some good photo opps. but the thing i remember most is after i left the place and was walking to where the bus picks you up to return to changshou, my 18-200mm lens suddenly broke, like a grain of sand got caught inside and worn away the gears and i couldn't turn the zoom anymore. i waited all the week so i could take my lens to chongqing city to find a camera shop that might be able to fix the lens.

late at night i watched into the storm (2014) on HBO. i've never heard of this movie before, it came out when i was still in china. it seemed low budget, but there were a few actors i recognized, and the special effects of the monster tornado were actually pretty convincing (featuring a lot of driving scenes where you can see the tornado outside through rain-soaked windows). even more surprising was the movie actually made a good deal of money, $160 million according to wikipedia (for a film that cost $50 million to make). was this movie a big deal back in august 2014? did people really go to the theatres to see it?