this morning all of new england had a front row seat to something very exciting: the coldest outdoor temperature in decades. how's that for the warmest winter winter on record, to swing the other way and to get one of the coldest day ever? it wasn't so bad in the morning, with temperature in the 20's. there was also some strong winds which made it brisk, and without gloves and a hat, you would feel the stinging bites.

all my plans for today fell apart. first i learned that tonight's dinner at my aunt's house was cancelled because my shenyang relatives were all sick. i was still in bed when my father first broke the news, then my mother called, then my aunt texted me, and just for fun, a telemarketer phoned me too (i hung up the moment i realized it was automated).

my other plan was to show my california uncle's business associate and her daughter around boston while they're visiting the city this weekend. i didn't know when they'd arrive, but i wasn't going to just wait for them all day to call me, and i assumed if i was to show them around it wouldn't be until tomorrow (sunday) anyway, so i decided to head out to my parents' place instead.

i stopped by star market to get a can of lucky leaf strawberry filling ($4.50). mary was planning on meeting up with her friend today and visit one of the harvard museums. she was cooking lunch when i left, asked if i ate already and wanted some, i told her i ate already (some leftover beef tendons and a braised egg; also she's not a good cook). as my bike was still in belmont (too cold for riding even if i had it though), i caught the 73 bus from harvard square.

the feeders were busy with activity today, as birds fueled on up suet and seeds in order to stay warm. the most abundant were juncos, pecking seed scraps off the snow. a few of them have learned how to temporarily perch onto the globe feeder and get a few seeds before flying down. it seems like a waste of energy though because they can only find their balance by rapidly flapping their wings and tails. the chickadees however have no such problems, and repeatedly come to the globe feeder all day. they don't stay too long though, often just grabbing a sunflower to eat elsewhere, before coming back. a male downy woodpecker made an appearance at the suet feeder, and later a male white-breasted nuthatch came to visit as well.

so did too a hungry squirrel, which i had to chase away and readjust the anchor weight on the slinky trap. i'm curious why it only goes after the suet feeder when the globe feeder (full of seeds) seems like a better source of food? maybe it doesn't even know the globe feeder is there, because i've never seen any squirrels attempt to climb its pole, or ever see signs of squirrel vandalism (there'd be seeds everywhere, since they're very easy to spill out). or maybe it's because the suet feeder acts as a decoy, so they don't notice the other globe feeder.

my sister came home briefly after taking hailey out for a hike. it seemed kind of irresponsible to take a dog outside on such a cold day. dogs can get frostbite too, can't they? hailey had on a dog jacket, but it's not her body i'm worried about: i'm more concerned about her feet, her nose, and her ears.

throughout the day the temperature kept on dropping. every time my father checked the thermometer, it went down a few degrees. i felt guilty about leaving mary in the house, since i didn't turn up the heat. i figured she wouldn't be home anyway, but what if she was? i remotely accessed my nest thermostat and turned it up a little bit, just in case. i tried to teach her about the thermostat when she first moved in, but she said she wouldn't bother. if she planned on staying at next home the next 2 weeks however, she should learn.

while browsing reddit.com before dinner, i noticed a little blurb about antonin scalia's death on one of the lower pages. i immediately checked some of the news sites but no one was reporting it. such breaking news and no coverage? so i thought it was a hoax, but kept reading, and it seemed to be true. i went to go tell my father, who was watching cnn on television, and by that point the news was finally out.

i didn't know too much about antonin scalia, except he was a conservative justice, and sort of a dick. his death would mean president obama would get to pick the next justice, but soon afterwards statements were being released by the republicans telling obama don't even try because there was no way a republican senate would even entertain the idea of letting him choose the next justice; instead they're saying the next president should decide, and by that they're hoping for a republican president. but what if obama picked an african-american woman judge? would the republican senate still refuse, or could they come off looking not only sexist, but racist as well, helping the democrats score points in the coming election? all i know his scalia's death makes this next election both complicated and interesting. i'm sure all the political pundits are happy because now they have even more things to talk about.

my father gave me a ride back to cambridge after dinner. mary told me they only managed to visit one museum (the art museum), and by the time they went to the natural history museum, they were already closing (5pm). i'm not sure how she thought they'd be able to see 2 museums in a single day, given that they started out in afternoon. there was no drama tonight, which was a surprise, i was of expecting another anxiety-induced crying fit.

those shanghai visitors finally called me tonight, said they arrived a few hours ago. so not waiting for them was the right decision, since they obviously weren't going to arrive today and still have time for me to take them out. they still wanted me to show them around, but couldn't tell me the specifics of where they'd be tomorrow. "how about we meet at the hotel?" the mother suggested. unfortunately the hotel in question was the hyatt regency in cambridge, the pyramidal inn overlooking the charles river, and not easily accessible via public transportation. i told her it was hard to get to. she said they had a driver, and we mutually agreed to meet in harvard square instead to begin the tour, sometime tomorrow between 2pm and 2:30pm, after they finish a business lunch.