more days!

even though we went to the wrentham premium outlet mall just last week, we're going again this saturday. there are many reasons: i've been asked by wuweiyu and wangyan to buy some things for them; my mother wanted to get a columbia interstage jacket like my father and me; and my sister's godmother wanted to get a nice winter jacket as well.

instead of having me bike out to belmont, my parents came to pick up my sister's godmother at the cafe first, then came by my place around 8:15am to give me a ride. this trip also gave me the perfect opportunity to test out the gpslogger app on my phone. it would passively take a gps reading every 60 seconds, saving it into a gpx file that i would later use to geotag my photos. the key is to sync up the clocks on the phone and the camera, which i did using the clocksync app which can display the seconds. my lumix ZS40 has built-in gps function but i discovered a few days ago that it resets the clock because it doesn't take into account daytime savings. having gps turned on also drains the camera battery, but the main reason to not use the on-board gps is because it simply doesn't work in china. china is the only country i know of where camera manufacturers purposely cripple their gps in order to comply with chinese laws, which forbids their use. that's why using a 3rd party solution to record gps location is the only way to go. plus, i think phone gps are a lot more accurate than the camera gps because it uses a combination of cell towers and satellites.

we arrived at wrentham outlet an hour earlier than last time. we got breakfast at cracker barrel, early enough that the parking lot was only half full (it was completely full last time). the host gave us a table by the window, where i could see our car parked outside. i decided on a more typical breakfast meal compared to the chicken fried chicken i got last time, and picked the strawberry-lemon french toast (stuffed with cream cheese) which comes with eggs and bacon. i told them that wangyan's cousin wanted me to buy the same coach bags i got for sunmeng, just in a different color. it felt a little weird, but i figured sunmeng would be fine with it. they all told me it was a terrible idea. i texted wangyan under the table to let her know i wouldn't be able to get the bags for her cousin because it'd bring me some trouble. as we ate, i watched the the parking lot began to fill up until it was full.

after breakfast we drove next door to the outlet. i picked up a savings passport from the information desk with a voucher i printed out by signing to be a premium outlets VIP club member a few days ago. i was in line behind a chinese tour guide, letting the attendant know how many people she was bringing, and getting them to sign a form. i told my mother we had to hurry, to beat the rush of chinese tourists obviously making a stop at the coach store near the other end of the outlet.

when i arrived at the coach outlet, i felt bad about wangyan's cousin. even though she kind of put me in a bind for asking me this request, i still wanted to help her out, especially since the prices at the outlet were insanely low. so i decided to get her cousin the pink wristlet (same as sunmeng's, originally $95, discounted to $69, with a 50% off sale for a final of $34.50) but not the satchel. she wanted black anyway, and they didn't have that style (they did have a black imprinted with the coach logo, but i wasn't going to bother sending her the photo). i contacted wangyan to make sure it was okay, she told me not to bother, i told her it was the least i could do since i did promise her i'd get something.

my mother and sister's godmother continued browsing the coach outlet while i went next door to the kate spade outlet to look for wuweiyu's purse. it seemed to have just as many people as there were at the coach store, but in a place that was less than a quarter of that size. through the crowd, i looked for the style WWY wanted, but there were no matches. i sent her a few photos (she was waiting for updates) along with prices, she didn't like any of them, thought they were too masculine. the cheapest bags i saw were $80, above her $50 price range, so i didn't get anything.

while my mother and sister's godmother were still in the coach store, i went to the adidas outlet nearby and looked for wedge sneakers, another WWY request. i personally think they look silly, but they seem to be pretty popular in china, especially among shorter women, even though i think they're pretty nonfunctional as actual sport sneakers. unfortunately they didn't carry any wedges, just flats.

next we hit a series of shoe stores: rockport, clarks, uggs, and skechers. my mother scored 4 pairs of shoes from rockport, at some amazing discounting of 50% on top of 50% plus an additional $15 off. wmy father and i were waiting outside, where a burly biker-looking duded struck up a conversation with me. after first asking me if i spoke english, he then asked "you know what's rockport famous for?" apparently they're known for their comfortable walking shoes, so much so that mail carriers all wear them. the dude was a bakery delivery man here to buy some industrial-strength rockport boots with steel-toes (yeah, they make those now). next was rockport, where my mother finally bought those pair of red hiking shoe she really liked from last time but didn't buy because you needed 2 pairs for a discount. this time however my sister's godmother bought a pair of boots so they were able to get the discount. clarks for some reason doesn't allow double stacking of discounts. at uggs my mother found an assortment of discounted small-sized shoes. i managed to talk her out of buying any footwear, no matter how good-looking or how heavily-discounted they were.

at skechers i was searching for these d'lites sneakers for WWY. she told me they're very popular with the chongqing fashionistas, wearing them not for sport but for looks alone. they carried a few from the series, but none in the styles WWY wanted. besides, all were size 6 or above, so they wouldn't have fit anyway.

my mother wanted to get an interstage jacket from columbia. the ones on sale i saw last week were sold out, now just remainders in various hard-to-sell colors (like magenta). my mother tried them all, but none would fit her; the smaller sizes were too tight around the torso, the bigger sizes were too long in the sleeves. my sister's godmother ended picking up an interstage jacket (around $60) after my mother decided she wasn't going to get one. i bought a pair of columbia water-resistant hiking pants; they're a bit long, but i'll get them hemmed when i'm in china for like $2.

we were reaching our shopping threshold. the final few stops were all to look for WWY's stuff. i went to calvin klein to look for a cheap leather belt but they were all too expensive for WWY's $30 belt budget. we went to nine west looking for booties, but they didn't have the style WWY wanted. i kept sending her photos and texting her, and eventually came across a pair that seemed okay and she decided to buy them. my mother and sister's godmother went to the michael kors store while my father and i went to the nike outlet.

WWY wanted to get a classic nike swoosh t-shirt for her guy friend. originally she wanted me to also get a t-shirt for her friend's girlfriend, but i told her her friend's girlfriend should get one for him instead. she didn't seem too taken with the photo of the t-shirts available, nor was she raving about the selection of lady t-shirts. in the meantime, it was a steaming madhouse inside the store, with crowds of people i haven't seen since my china days. finally i had enough, and told her i wanted to leave and didn't feel like buying anything else. she seemed to understand. after all, i feel like nearly all the stores i visited were to look for something she wanted. i felt bad she didn't get anything other than a pair of shoes.

we finally left around 4pm. my mother was calculating out how much my sister's godmother owed her. we arrived at the cafe, where my mother showed my 2nd aunt all the things she bought today, like a fisherman returning with the daily catch. my father asked me to call ma magoo's to order a chicken fingers sub and a steak & cheese sub for pickup later. we drove by to grab our order before returning to belmont.

after our early dinner, my father went to sleep after a hard day of shopping and driving. i decided to get home on my own via the 73 bus. i've taken that bus to belmont on numerous times, but i always got a ride back to cambridge. today was the first time in probably a decade that i was taking the 73 into cambridge. walking up the hill to the bus stop, i felt myself running out of breath and a pain in my chest. i watched helplessly as a 73 drove down the street before i could get there. it's been so long, they actually moved the bus stop several houses down from where it used to be. fortunately the next bus was just another 15 minutes, as i waited in the cold. i wasn't too bad, i had on my interstage jacket, so at least my body was warm (not so much for my nose and face). the 73 arrived exactly on time, at 7pm. there wasn't hardly anyone on board. i sat near the front, bathing in the nostalgia.

back at home, i managed to merge the data from the gpx file to the photos i took from today using adobe lightroom 4. it's not the most elegant of solution, but it works. if i have time i'll research a better way to sync this data, but at least i have a working solution for the time being.