mike got in touch with my around noontime, asked if i was interested in some spare luxury box tickets to the celtics game tonight. he ended up giving me 2 tickets even though i only really needed one. i haven't been following basketball for a while now, ever since i got rid of my cable stations, and local NESN isn't one of the channels that streams. but i haven't been to a game for a while now, so it's a good chance to revisit.

i noticed paul was outside and went into the backyard to intercept him. of my two upstairs neighbors, paul is the more level-headed one, not prone to dramatic outbursts. that's why i went to him to ask him about their moaning toilet. he said they heard it weeks ago, but it wasn't high on their to-do list, until i pointed it out to him. "i didn't realize you could hear it downstairs," he said. i told him it was pretty loud, but was an easy fix, just needed to replacement the fill valve which costs around $10. i even told him that if he needed help, i'd volunteer to replace it for them since it was an easy fix. he told me was going to the hardware store later today and would pick one up. moaning toilet problem nearly solved!

in the afternoon i rode the motorcycle down to city paints on the cambridge-arlington border to get a small pint of lavender ice paint (around $8) for my parents' bedroom. i then went to belmont (via alewife) to paint the patched up wall areas around the bedroom window frame. because it wasn't a big area, i used a small brush (that was also the only thing that could fit inside of the pint container). afterwards i went around patching up a few more scuffed areas on the wall. once the paint dried, it disappeared into the wall.

i had a late lunch early dinner of chongqing noodles: just some noodles mix with a package of spicy chongqing noodle sauce. i hadn't eaten anything today and wasn't prepared to spend money on pricey arena food either. during that time i also booked my return bus ticket from new york. my original plan was to spend sunday night in brooklyn at john's place before waking up super early to catch the first bus back to boston. but i thought about it and figured it was better to try and get back home sunday night, no matter how late it might be. i ended up booking a megabus ticket for 11:30pm ($31 + $2), scheduled to arrive back in boston at 3:40am. from there i'd have several options: grab a uber (which i've ridden before), ride a bike (either $6 hubway or a bike i've left there), or wait 1:30 for the first outbound subway train to arrive at south station. whatever happens, i'll be back at home by early monday morning.

i was prepared to go to the game alone, but my mother suggested i could bring jack with my spare ticket. so i texted him despite being so last minute. he actually had the day off today, but was picking up a new dining set, so wasn't sure if we'd meet at my place or at the garden. he ended up telling me we'd meet up at north station.

i returned home to get ready. my latest purchase arrived in the mail: a pare of USB wire LED string lights ($5), 20ft 60 LED's per strand, in warm white (yellowish hue). it came in a very small box, so small that i thought the company had cheated me out of a second strand. they seem delicate, like a spool of copper wires interspersed with LED lights. actually, they're the same wire LED strands i have on my bike wheels. i unspooled one of the strands, which took longer than expected because the wire had a tendency to coil back on itself. it doesn't come with a plug, just a USB end, you need to provide your own adapter, which thankfully i have a small collection from various phones and tablet devices. i wrapped it around the door frame of the small hallway in the center of the house, where an old strand of bethlehem round color LED's used to hang.1 they were pretty bright, and inconspicuous enough that they almost disappeared when turned off. i did a reading with my wattage meter, the strand only uses 0.9 watt of power.

i left the house by around 6:20pm. jack gave me the idea, but the porter square commuter train goes directly to north station. since it's only one stop away, the price is $2.25, which is the same as a subway ride with a charlie card. i could either take the regular subway which would take me about 30 minutes to get to north station, or i could take the commuter train, which only takes 10 minutes. besides, i've never taken the commuter train from porter square before, even though i've lived here all this time. it's slightly less convenient, since trains don't come as often (almost 2 hours wait during off peak hours) and you have to buy a ticket in advance (though with the MBTA ticket app it's pretty easy). but if ever need to get to north station quickly, taking the commuter rail one stop might be the quickest option.2

i was pretty excited to be riding the commuter train from porter square, but i tried to play it cool. earlier i'd already bought a one way ticket with my phone. there were a few dozen people waiting on the platform, but most of them were going outbound towards fitchburg. only a small handful were going into the boston, and i got the feeling most were going to the basketball game. when the train arrived i hopped on, showed the conductor my ticket, then found a seat. i saw away from the window plus it was dark outside so i couldn't really see where we were going. we weren't going that fast though, and i think if we wanted to, we could easily get to north station even faster than the scheduled 10 minutes.

i arrived at north station around 6:50pm. jack texted me that he was taking an uber from brighton and would arrive at the garden by 7:30pm. so i waited, watched as the crowds began to thin out as people made their way into the arena. when jack finally showed up, we made our way upstairs. the tickets that mike gave me were for the luxury boxes, suite 550, but we couldn't find how to get there. we went all the way up to the balcony, but didn't see any signs for the luxury boxes. finally we decided to take the elevator down following the advice of a food vendor. turns out the luxury suites are actually below the balcony level, so we took the elevator down to get there, just one floor below. from there we managed to find the place.

i'd never been in a luxury box before. mike's company apparently has a season pass for this suite, and this is where the marketing people would take the clients, with the place stocked with foods and drinks. however, this was the preseason, which was how mike managed to snag these tickets. and being that there were no clients, there was no buffet, just some beers in the fridge. mike was there with kathy (the last time i saw mike was when dan was back in boston last year, can't remember the last time i saw kathy, maybe back when they had a house party in winthrop), as well as his coworkers, many whom i remember from past game nights. i thought being up high would we hard to see, but we actually had an amazing sweeping panorama view of the garden. from what i could see, there were a lot of empty seats.

celtics were playing the brooklyn nets. i didn't realize jeremy lin was playing for the nets. he's quite popular with the chinese community, and even though i'm not of fan of his, it'd give me some bragging rights to say i watch him play live. as this was the preason however, lin's minutes were limited, as the coaches from both teams tried to give everyone some playing time, and to bench their best players to avoid injuries and have them ready for the official season.

jack went out to get some food and surprised me when he came back with two sandwiches and offered one to me. i picked the corn beef sandwich, he had the steak & cheese. i was thankful for the coke, as there was only IPA beers to drink in the fridge, and with my low alcohol tolerance and lack of food, i was already feeling drunk from the few sips that i had.

a lot of times when i come to these arenas and stadiums, i'm there more to enjoy the spectacle than actually paying attention to the game. sports are easier to follow on television anyway, with the commentary and the instant replays, something that's missing when you watch it live, although in our luxury box we had flat-screen TV's broadcasting the game as well.

i was ready to leave early, but with the end so close already, we decided to stay to the end (a bit before 10pm), despite the rush of people outside the garden afterwards. there was no way we could catch the subway from north station, as there were so many people. jack wanted to grab an uber, but there would be no place for a car to park, so we decided to walk out a little bit. i'd wanted to walk to charles/MGH, but jack said we could catch an uber back to brighton and he could give me a ride home, so we walked in the direction of haymarket instead. as soon as we left the vicinity of the garden, there was no more crowds. we decided to just walk to park street instead, since it was close by; jack could take the green line, while i could catch the red.

it was an unusually warm night, felt more like summer than autumn. it would've been a great night to just wander around boston and take photos, but i only had my panasonic lumix camera, which isn't nearly as good as my canon 28mm f/1.4 fixed lens for night photography. when we got to park street, jack smoked a cigarette before we went down into the station and parted ways.

i got back home around the same time i could hear the porter square commuter train leaving the station. i was originally going to take the commuter back, but in the end i made the wiser decision by taking the regular subway. while riding the red line i saw an old chinese couple sitting across from me. the old man stared at me and i stared back to the point where he began to felt awkward and look away. later while i was inspecting my photos, i noticed i actually took a photo of the couple. there was no mistaking it: the woman wore a harvard sweatshirt, the man had on a maroon beret. i wish i knew who they were so i could send them a photo!

i unspooled the second string light and put them around the doorframe of the back door of the house, attached to a remote on/off switch so i could turn the lights on whenever i wanted. they look cool, but i wonder if it'd make the inside of my house too visible from the backyard.

1 those round LED's were great, i got them back in 2007 when affordable LED christmas lights were first beginning to be sold. i had them in the hallway on a timer as a night light (for those times when i need to go use the bathroom in the middle of the night). nearly a decade later, they're not as bright anymore, and a few bulbs have even gone out. they were due for a replacement. i have other strands of color LED string lights in my collection, but none as long as 20ft, able to wrap around a doorframe.

2 north station is just one stop away from haymarket (a 6 minute walk). i could imagine myself taking the commuter train to do some cheap produce shopping for those times when i don't feel like biking into boston. this porter square-north station is like discovering a great new shortcut into the city! i think at one point the commuter rail was always the more expensive option compared to the regular subways/buses. but with all these MBTA fare hikes over the years, it's now actually more economical to take the commuter rail into boston (for me at least, living around porter square). if you were to ride the subway with a charlie ticket, that costs $2.70 per ride, so that's actually more expensive and takes longer.