the blisters on my right hand itched something fierce last night. i scratched at it in the dark, didn't care if i was turning my palm into a bloody mess. when i finally woke up this morning i was expecting to see a crime scene but instead my hand was fine. the blister however seemed to have spread. the weird thing about these blisters is they first appear underneath the skin. after a while they erupt, break the skin, and slough off. i can reduce the itching if i put my hands underneath cold running water. i also have that super strong topical cream my dermatologist prescribed to me, because i'm afraid to put it on. but who knows, maybe i'll try it tonight. i still don't know what i touched. it has to be gardening tool related, or perhaps bike handle related, because i haven't touched anything else. i've been careful when handling gardening tools, ever since the first blisters appeared on my left hand, putting on gloves every time, so i don't know how i managed to get the itch on my right hand.

when i finally got out of bed a bit after 10am on this sunday morning, i saw that karen was getting ready to go out. she said she was going with her friend paula on a walk on the minuteman bike trail out from alewife. i thought she meant the minuteman historical trail. before she left, she told me the doorknob of her bedroom was broken. i went to go check and the doorknob slipped right off, dropping onto the floor. one of the screws keeping the doorknob attached to the spindle must've fallen off.

after karen left, i went into her bedroom on my hands and knees trying to look for the missing screw. that's when i realized what a mess her room was. floors covered in hairs and dust, food crumbs, toenails, balls of used tissue, overflowing garbage, and the worst part was she spilled some coffee all over her desk and it dribbled onto the floor. so i spent the next hour cleaning up her room, wiping with the duster, vacuuming with my shark, and cleaning up her coffee disaster. i even had to cut the strands of hair clogging up my vacuum head (the pains of living with someone with long hair). after all that i still didn't find the screw. i wrote her a note for when she came back, asking if she'd seen the screw someplace.

i managed to make a temporary fix using a short piece of wooden skewer and some electric tape to keep the doorknob attached to the spindle. i didn't have a spare set screw, but figured i could buy a few online.

only then - 11:30am - did i finally have some time to use the bathroom and take a shower. the tub was slow to drain again, even though i unclogged it just a few days ago with liquid drain-o gel. it seems like i'm unplugging it every 2 weeks or so. as a temporary fix, i heated up a kettle of boiling water afterwards and poured it down the drain, hoping it'd melt some soap scum.

temperature today was in the lower 60's when i left the house around noontime. i thought it'd be warm enough to just wear a long-sleeved pullover, but there was still a bit of a chill in the air that i took my jacket. on huron avenue i met a birder with a scope set up pointing to some trees. i stopped to ask what he was seeing and he saw a pair of baby owls and their parents. i looked in the scope and sure enough there they were. the babies looked a little full-grown already, none of the fuzzy puffiness of young owls. i didn't get a good look at the adults, just the back.

when i arrived in belmont i had some pan-fried wontons for lunch. my sister was there, trying to get my mother and/or me to join her in walking her dog; neither of us wanted to go.

another weekend day, another day too lazy to do anything constructive. i was hoping to plow through some overdue blog entries, but i only managed to write a few paragraphs at best. it's hard to retroactively update posts. either i write everything right away, or the memories just sit there until they fade, with just the photos to remind me.

i decided my mother should get the new 2017 ipad. i did the research last night and it was a choice between the asus zenpad 3S 10 or the new ipad. if it was just for me, i would pick the android tablet because of its flexibility. but the deal breaker came down to software updates. i read a lot of discussions where people were desperately waiting for asus to update the OS from 6 to 7. and with the mediatek chipset, i doubt there'd be a lot of third party ROM development going forward. should android 8 ever come out, i'm not optimistic i'd see it on the asus tablet. on the other hand, apple is very good with software updates for their products, supporting them for many years afterwards. then i discovered the possibility of installing showbox onto an ipad. it's a little involved, but if it works, then there's no need to go android (that was one of the perks of the android system, side loading apps you can't find in the google store).

i tried installing showbox (called moviebox in iOS) with my mother's soon-to-be-replaced ipad 2 using the mojo app but i wasn't successful. maybe the ipad 2 is just too old, maybe mojo was outdated. i'll try again when she gets her new ipad.

my father came home an hour earlier than usual. we were in the backyard doing some more pruning, including parts of the pussy willow, which has an entire central trunk that's rotted and hollow, and a few healthy branches leaning into the neighbor's yard and onto their detached garage, in danger of smashing it one day should the tree decide to split apart. we're trying to collect as much garden refuse as possible since this tuesday they're collecting again.

i brought home a can of downeast hard cider and a bottle of my usual woodchuck hard cider for my parents to taste test. i now realize the reason why downeast is cloudy is because the cider is unfiltered. i personally prefer the crystal clarity of filtered cider, it just tastes cleaner.

after dinner i went back to cambridge. earlier in the afternoon karen wrote to tell me that she in fact discovered that missing screw yesterday, and sent me a photo as proof. that's good, because i looked for these spindle screws online and they're hard to come buy. nobody sells them individually, so i'd need to buy in bulk, and after shipping, it'd set me back at least $15-20 just for a tiny screw. my better option would be to a set of used doorknobs and spindle that comes with matching screws. but now that karen has found the missing screw, i don't have to worry about it and just need to put the screw back in place to properly fix the doorknob.

i didn't think anyone was home but i found karen in the living room. she had the ceiling light turned on (she prefers that instead of the lamps). i asked her about her walk and realized she meant the minuteman bike trail and not the minuteman historical national park. i asked her when she was going to montreal. she will be leaving on the 12th of may (friday), and coming back on the 17th. she's trying to find a rideshare using amigo express (montreal is its hub), but if nothing pans out, she's willing to endure the bus ride. that means i have almost a week of the house to myself, which will be like a vacation for me. that's why when she asked me if she could a day later - june 1st instead of may 31st - i was immediately fine with it. there was a 7am may 31st (wednesday) united flight leaving boston, but she didn't want to take united on account of the recent bad publicity. the flight she will end up taking is a 11pm night flight leaving the next day (thursday), with a mexican carrier. the flight is a bit longer - with a short stop in mexico city - but in a familiar setting.

wangyang sent me photos of her office cafeteria. it seems so antiseptic, yet at the same time reminds me of a high school cafeteria. it was interesting to see nobody sitting alone, chinese like to congregate in groups. i noticed a lot of men and women in dark suits. wangyang told me that her office shares extra space with a bank, and those in suits are bank employees. her company gives her RMB16 per meal, but if they want additional items they'll need to pay out of pocket. the food didn't look bad, a lot of variety, but could use a little more spice.