more days!

this morning i tested my new water pressure by running the shower and flushing the toilet at the same time. in the past this was a definite no-no, as the shower would be reduced to a trickle while waiting for the toilet tank to fill, which would take about half a minute. this time however i noticed no pressure drop, and the tank filled up in just a few seconds (in a loud scary sounding hiss). later i did a load of laundry. normally it'd take about 15 minutes for the washer to fill up. this time however it took just a minute or two, as i heard the hissing of high pressure water. a normal wash cycle would probably take 40 minutes to complete, since the washer has to wait another 15 minutes for the machine to fill up during the rinse cycle. this time however i finished a wash in just about 10 minutes, the fastest i can remember. we should've fixed our pipes a long time ago! think of all the time i wasted waiting for the laundry to finish, or all the dismal showers i've taken with trickling water pressure.

i've been reducing all my refrigerated perishables prior to my trip so by now i have nothing left to eat other than a few frozen meals which i save for dinners. this meant for lunch i had to look elsewhere, and that elsewhere was in the form of the porter square bruegger's bagels. i wore my columbia interstage jacket outside for the first, as it was in the 40's, and i wouldn't have many more opportunities to wear it once the weather starts getting warmer. back when i worked at newmarket in what seems like a lifetime ago, bruegger's bagels in boston was one of my lunch haunts. they had a cool conveyer belt automated bagel slicing machine that was fun to watch while waiting for my order. my favorite was the smoked salmon bagel sandwich. i've even tried to recreate this sandwich on my own, but in my mind, the real thing was always infinitely better. so after all these years, i wanted to try this sandwich again. i got there right before the noontime lunch crowd, parked across the street by the MBTA station. i ordered the smoked salmon on a garlic bagel ($5.66 after a $2 coupon, which was the original reason for coming here) and brought it back home. it was okay, but nothing liked i remember it. for one thing, i always thought they used salmon cream cheese on top of actual smoked salmon, but it was just normal cream cheese. i think the recreated smoked salmon bagels i make are actually better than bruegger's.

i biked to belmont in the afternoon, still wearing my new jacket. my upper body was pleasantly warm, but i didn't bother to wear my long underwear so my legs were a little cold to start, but warmed up minutes afterwards. i didn't want to strain myself, but after i got over observatory hill, i felt a little constriction in my chest. it's definitely something, but i'm hoping it will just go away. maybe a chest cold? but i don't have any other symptoms besides chest constriction when i push myself too hard on the bike. i can't really describe the feeling, but it feels like the sensation you get after a run, and you're tring to catch your breath, and your lungs are sort of burning.

i'm sad i won't be here during the spring. every year there's a natural performance of colors and scents, as the sky and the earth come alive with flowers, and the birds and bugs return. i used to like spring the least, but as i've gotten older, i'm starting to think spring is actually the best season.

a lot of bird activity in the backyard, but no new birds to report. i was startled when i saw something skittering out from the pile of cold frame debris between two raised beds. i thought it was a rat at first, but then saw that it was only a robin. could it be the robin i saw yesterday? why is it still lurking around the yard? maybe it's trying to build a nest nearby. i was surprised by how tame it was, only hopping away far enough so i couldn't catch it, instead of just flying away.

later, from the living room, we were watching the birds visiting the feeder. of in far end of the lawn i noticed something odd, like a pile of reddish-colored leaves, but thought nothing of it. maybe it's a dead bird i thought to myself jokingly. some time had past, and i picked up some binoculars to spy on a squirrel that looked like it was about to cause some mischief. as an afterthought, i panned to the mysterious pile i saw early, and realized what it was: an actual dead bird!

i went outside to investigate. it was a dead robin. it must've died within the past hour or so, because i was outside earlier and didn't see it. the only thing i saw was that strangely-behaving robin... and that's when i realized it was the same bird. from the grey patch on its orange chest feathers, to the white pattern in the lore. i couldn't see any injuries, nor did it look like it was suffering from disease. it seemed like a perfectly healthy robin, except it was now dead, when an hour ago it was still alive. maybe it succumbed from old age? i don't know enough about robin physiology to know the different between a young and old robin anyway. it died recent enough that its eyes were still glistening, not yet clouded over. i was tempted to pick it up to see if it was still warm, but decided for health reasons not to do that.

it was a sad occasion, but it also gave me a chance to study a robin up close, something that i would never be able to do normally. it had beautiful feathers, almost like scales. it's funny that its legs would stick straight up in the air, like in a cartoon representation of a dead bird (just missing the x's over the eyes). it didn't have eyelashes, but it had these small whiskers over its yellow beak.

i wanted to bury it, to give it a dignified sendoff, but maybe some animal might want to make a meal of it overnight, so i decided to just leave it where it was. if nobody claims it after this weekend, i'll bury it in the backyard.

it's not the first time i've come across a dead bird. often times it's just feathers, evidence of some violence, like maybe eaten by a hawk. that was the case in january 2010, when i found a bleeding near-dead pigeon in my backyard. i actually saw the cooper's hawk that did it (though not quick enough to get a photo), and when i went out later, the pigeon was gone, just some feathers on the ground. to find a dead bird in pristine condition is rare, but it does happen, as was the case in october 2009 when i found a "sleeping" hermit thrush in my backyard. i ended up buying it underneath the deck. even rarer are the cases when you can study a bird up-close but it's not dead: that was case in november 2009, when a male cardinal struck the sunroom window. my sister and i found it, put it in a box thinking it might die, but after shaking off the crash, it managed to fly away, hopefully living a long life.

my mother insisted that we order out pizza for dinner, wanting to get her pizza on for weeks now. we ordered online for pick-up from the trapelo road domino's: one large bacon-banana pepper-onion with garlic parmesan cheese white sauce, one large chicken garlic mushroom with alfredo sauce ($17.10 total). 10 minutes later my father and i went out to pick up our order a little bit before 5pm rush hour. both pizzas were okay, the white sauce has a stronger flavor, but the alfredo sauce is just as good, with a creaminess reminiscent of a hearty soup. when it came time for me to go home, i took home the leftover slices for lunch and dinner tomorrow.

i biked home, but still had that out-of-breath feeling. whenever i felt it though, i'd slow down and not push myself, and that made it better. i don't know if it warrants seeing a doctor before i leave for china. like i said, i don't have any other symptoms, and this only comes up when i exert myself through biking. i'll see how i fair over the weekend.

my mother told me to ask how mary was drying her wet clothes after i told my mother she's been handwashing some items. turns out she's just been hanging them in her room (on the coat hooks on the back of the door), and letting them drip onto the hardwood floor. even mary thought it was a bad idea but still didn't anyway, because "it wasn't dripping a lot." i gave her a towel to catch the drips, and told her once i leave she can hang her clothes in the bathroom to dry. i swear to god, having terrible roommates mean i can never have any nice things in the house.

i tested out the built-in gps functionality on my lumix ZS40 today. it took a while to acquire a working signal, which is typical of onboard camera gps. it worked fine, geotagging my photos from that point on, and was fairly accurate. however, when i went to catalog the photos, i discovered all sorts of issues with the metatags, particularly the creation/capture time. all the photos that were geotagged were one hour behind. i couldn't understand it at first, but i think having acquired the gps satellites, it also autoset my camera time, not taking into the account of daylight savings. i'll have to test this again to make sure this is what i think it's doing. all of this won't make any difference when i'm in china, because the camera gps is purposely crippled by panasonic inside of that country.

i wanted to see if my VPN could circumvent netflix's recent ban on VPN use with their streaming services. sure enough, netflix wouldn't allow me to stream anything while i was on the VPN. but i did discover that using my browser with vpn.ac secureproxy plugin, i could get netflix no problem. i just can't do it with the app on my phone.

i finally finished watching all 8 episodes of poldark via amazon prime videos. it reminds me of downton abbey (the music, class hierarchy between nobility and commoners) and outlander (rugged english landscape of cliffs).