i biked down to michael's store this morning to get a proper copy of their outlook express database. while we waited for the 8GB worth of data to copy onto my thumb drive via USB2, we chatted about the belgium terrorist attack that happened overnight, as well as the chechen situation.

i stopped by market basket on my way back, picking up some food presents for china people, including peanut butter, nutella, and fresh ground pepper. nothing in the way of actually groceries however, since i need to eat everything that's perishable in my fridge before i leave for my trip.

after dropping off my things back at the house, i went out again, this time to the michael's crafts store in porter square. i was in search of muffin pans, one for wangyan with her smaller oven, one for wuweiyu for her full-size oven. i could only use one coupon so i bought a small pan first, planning on coming back for the larger pan another day. i then went to the nearby star market to pick up some more cookie mix.

after dropping off my bike at the house, i went out one last time, walking to the somerville avenue rite aid. i ran into my 2nd uncle, who was making his way to market basket. at his speed, walking from the cafe, it takes him more than an hour to get there and another hour to get back. while he sees it as good exercise, i see it as a waste of time. i suggested he should bike instead, but his reflexes aren't what they used to be, so it's safer to simply walk, even though it takes more than 2 hours roundtrip. at rite aid i picked up a lot of chocolates, which i now think is a terrible idea, given how hot it can get in chongqing, so these chocolates will go bad pretty quickly from melting.

i had planned to hit bruegger's bagels to get a breakfast sandwich, but i forgot about it when i left star market earlier. so for lunch i just had a yogurt, which only last me for a short period before i was hungry again. i made myself an english muffin sandwich.

i chatted with sophia over skype. since her return to england, her life has gone on a downward spiral. i remember her as having a pretty trim figure, but she told me since that time she's gained a lot of weight, to the point where she can't easily move around and just stay home most of the time. she's very prolific with her chats, sometimes sending me pages of texts when i'm not around. i reply to her occasionally, more out of politeness. i didn't tell her i was going to china until today, because i was sort of afraid of how she'd react. she seemed positive about it at first, but when i sent her a link to my instagram account (in anticipation of the china photos i'll be posting), she told me that nobody really cares about my photos except me, which i thought was kind of rude.

the other thing i did today was to finally sign up for a VPN service. i decided to go with vpn.ac based out of bulgaria. i'd heard some good things about them, and because they're not as big as some of the other more popular VPN's, i'm hoping they won't be targeted by the chinese censors just yet. vpn.ac also has a lot of different strategies circumventing the great firewall, from proxy plugins for browsers, to servers designated exclusively for china VPN. i signed up for a 3 month plan, which normally is $24, but i found a 30% off coupon online and reduced the price to just $16.80, $5.60/month. i tested the service both on my oneplus one android phone and my macbook pro. it worked, but i won't be able to really test it until i'm in china, and by that point if i get blocked, i'll have a hard time signing up for another VPN. strangely, vpn.ac doesn't have an app for iphones (although i think i saw something about manual configuration).

for dinner i heated up a can of corn chowder. this must be one of my older expired cans because the soup didn't really have any flavor. mary didn't come home until much later, around 9pm. she said the best time to be in the library is in the evening, when everything is quiet. she also said has more energy working at the library, despite admitting she did take a nap on one of the common couches sometime in the afternoon. it seemed that she ate dinner already (leftovers from yesterday), but did manage to cook a little something for tomorrow. mary has a weird way of eating, where she only eats leftovers, and when she cooks, it's to save for tomorrow so she can eat that as a leftover. she almost never eats anything that's just cooked.

i bumped into ed when i was taking out the trash. i told him about my china trip. he said he won't be here when i return, because they're finally selling the house that he lives in, to a chinese buyer no less. ed's either going to try and get assisted living housing in cambridge, or move out of state since he can't afford cambridge otherwise. he was thinking about buying some property in upstate new york. i like ed; i'm going to miss him when he's gone. we never did anything socially, but we've had numerous chats whenever i'd pass by his house on my way to the community garden. the day that he leaves will mean a different kind of neighborhood here, not one that i really look forward to.

wuweiyu was supposed to get back to me regarding her shoe decision. she ended up deciding not to get the skechers sneakers, but instead a pair of black leather ankle boots and an aldo handbag. the boots were cool, but the handbag was a little ugly, but i didn't say anything, until she asked me for my honest opinion. while she was still on the fence as to what else she should buy, her friend yangfan contacted me, asking if i could bring her a pair of new balance sneakers. so i'm waiting for her to find something that she likes before finally ordering. it better be soon, otherwise there won't be enough time for everything to arrive before i leave.