i biked down to the cafe in the late morning to help my grand uncle transfer his comcast xfinity cable and internet (the self-install kit arrived yesterday afternoon). even though the instructions said to set up the cablemodem first, i went ahead and set up the cable box. it was actually pretty painless, once plugged in, it asked for the account number and the telephone, and after a few minutes of downloading the necessary updates, it started working.

it did say at the beginning that the signal strength was a bit weak (the coaxial takes a very circuitous route down into the basement before finally arriving in my grand uncle's bedroom), but we ignored the warning, and it worked anyway (although there was one time when the food network didn't work). it also did a cool thing where it sync'ed up with the remote and also automatically determined what brand of HDTV and gave us the code to sync it up with the comcast remote.

the only problem is with all the fancy new features, the remote seems too complicated for my grand uncle to use. i told my father this, but he said the fact that we're saving $50/month is all the incentive my grand uncle needs to adapt to this new cable OS. the X1 system is also smart enough that when my grand uncle punches in the analog channel codes he's already memorized, it automatically jumps to the corresponding HD channel.

next i went to my sister's room to set up the cablemodem. i was still using the same cablemodem, but the hard part was transferring it from one account to another. when i called comcast, the agent i spoke with said i couldn't do an over-the-phone transfer because i needed to return the modem first. when i told him i owned the modem though, he said that was fine. first step was cancelling the modem from the old account. i watched as the lights blinked off, which meant the modem had been deactivated. i thought i'd need to call again and reregister the modem under the new account, but when i tested the wifi to make sure the modem had really been deactivated (by that time the lights were back on, so i wasn't sure), it threw me into the self-activation screen, where i just needed to type in the account and phone number. once i did that, the modem started working under the new account, i didn't need to call again.

we tried switching out my grand uncle's new cable box with the 2nd slightly-smaller box, in the hopes that it'd have less features and thereby less confusing. but when we connected the smaller box, it couldn't activate (probably due to the bad signal), so we scratched that idea.

i then went upstairs to replace my 2nd aunt's old cable box with this new one. my aunt and uncle were fine living in an analog cable world, but they inherited an old sony HDTV (originally my aunt lili gave it to me sister, but she didn't want it so she gave it to my aunt), so i thought it was worth the upgrade to HD cable. the smaller box seemed to activate, but once it cleared the welcome screen, it went to a blue screen and just sat there. i quickly went online looking for solutions, it seemed like it might have something to do with the HDMI cable, but i personally think it's because the HDTV is too old (it's a trinitron HD). so the new plan was to go down to the comcast office and replace this HD box with an analog box.

while waiting for my father back at the cafe, i realized that the HD cable box actually has an analog coaxial output as well. so once again we returned to my aunt's place, this time using the analog output. and that seemed to work! sure, not as clear as true HD, but they do get more channels now (150+ i think), and a fancy new cable box that has voice commands as well ("go to NBC!"). maybe one day they'll upgrade to a better HDTV, in which case they can still use the box, just attach the tv with an HDMI cable. or maybe i can find a better quality HDMI cable somewhere in my house and come back another day to try and fix their HD.

the one other project was to reroute the coaxial cables so my grand uncle gets a better signal, but we decided to tackle that another day. i returned to the cafe, and finally left for home around 2:30pm. it dawned on my that i hadn't had anything to eat all day.

before i could return home and eat, i biked to the comcast office on beacon street to cancel my grand uncle's old comcast account and to return all the used equipment. i thought they'd give me a hard time, since the account is under my grand uncle's name, but i think my name was added to the notes as a surrogate. i wasn't so sure though, because the clerk was asking me all sorts of questions, and even asked to see an ID. but in the end i didn't have any problems, and managed to cancel the account.

finally back at home, i feasted on a chobani yogurt, followed by some melba toast with tabouli salad. when evening came around, i baked some drumsticks, using a recipe i found online (ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire sauce, mustard, and butter). it took an hour to finish baking, and the final product wasn't that good. i ate two drumsticks while watching season 4 of luther, a most grisly episode. i didn't eat anymore drumsticks after that.

while moving the drumsticks from the baking tray, i accidentally splashed myself with the oily sauce when i dropped a drumstick piece. immediately i treated the stains with shout spray and threw my shirt and pants into the washing machine. it also gave me a chance to use my new detergent. the stains came out, but i'm not entirely in love with the new scent. i think it has to do with febreze, how the fragrance just clings onto the clothes. i can live with it, but eventually i want to switch back to the tried-and-true mountain fresh scent.

i checked my bank account, trying to gauge how much money i have left, which will determine how long i can stay in china. right now i'm thinking just a month, but an additional 2 weeks for taiwan. the island nation wasn't high on my list of priorities, but sunmeng wants to visit, and when i talked to her she had already put in the paperwork for her taiwanese visa. i also contacted a few people in china about my imminent arrival, as a courtesy, in case they want me to bring anything from the US.