after setting out my plants for the day to get some cold spring sun, i left the house at 10:30am to take the motorcycle for its annual inspection. karen was still home, but i figured she'd be gone by the time i got back. i went to riverside kawasaki on mystic avenue, which is where i traditionally get my inspection done. i doublechecked on google map to make sure i had the right directions. however when i arrived, i couldn't find the place anywhere. i did however find aero cycle, a small motorcycle outfit that deals primarily in harleys, but i stopped to ask a mechanic and he said they do inspections as well.

service was kind of slow, and while waiting, i rechecked google map and realized i missed riverside, just a few stores down. so i got back on my bike to find it. once again, it must be very well hidden because i couldn't see it anywhere. i rode as far as temple street where i managed to pull into a parking lot to do a u-turn. i checked google maps again. this time riverside location changed, map said it was now farther than i initially thought. by then i wasn't in the mood for another search and decided to return to aero to get inspection done there. i paid my $15 and the clerk took my key. "do you need me to move the bike?" i asked, knowing it was kind of a stupid question since i didn't have my key. "no, they'll figure it out," the clerk assured me and disappeared into the garage.

aero did my inspection a little differently than what i was used to. at riverside it was always a participatory inspection, where i was on the motorcycle operating the lights and horns while the inspector checked everything from behind and front. here, i just gave them my key and waited while the inspection was happening inside the garage. it seemed like a long time and i was starting to get worried that maybe i failed the inspection. finally a mechanic came out of the garage, "you're the shadow owner?" he asked. he said everything was fine but the air pressure was very low, 15 psi in the front, 20 psi in the back, when it should've been something like 35 psi for both. he told me he pumped up both tires and now it should feel easier rolling the bike. he said the front tire might be to be replaced in a season or two, started to show some signs of wear. certainly not from riding it too much i thought to myself, more from just age.

when i returned at 11:30am i was surprised karen was still home. fortunately i was to leave again soon so it didn't bother me as much. i went to a noontime harvard lecture about korean brothels in colonial taiwan in the early 20th century. it was being held at the yenching library. instructions didn't say much, just that it was in this building. i saw a few other asians wandering about looking for the lecture as i was, but they didn't seem particularly friendly, and i was too proud to ask for their help, which would mean i didn't know where i was. i saw a flyer for the event posted on a wall. common room. i looked it up online, room 136. i found the room and the lecture venue.

it was an interesting topic but unfortunately the woman giving the talk had a very soft-spoken voice and i could barely hear her from the back of the room. moreso, it wasn't so much a lecture, as she was just reading from her paper. i only caught maybe 10-20% of everything she said. thankfully there were slides, which was where i got most of my information. i actually thought about leaving, but i was sitting so far back that it would've caused a scene had i done that. on the reverse, people kept coming into the lecture, which created unnecessary disruptions in the talk that i couldn't quite hear. even as far as 40 minutes into the lecture stragglers kept showing up, then had to find an empty seat in the near capacity room. i also noticed some people weren't paying attention to the lecture at all, instead playing with their phones or surfing the web on their laptops. why bother coming if you're not even going to listen? but maybe the answer came later, as i realized this lecture also included a free lunch afterwards (sandwiches). i was pretty hungry by then but pride wouldn't allow me to partake in a free lunch that i didn't feel i was a part of, so i returned home.

as for the topic, i don't know if i can say too much about it as i only heard bits and pieces. one thing i learned was korean prostitutes working in colonial taiwan were there voluntarily, or as voluntarily as one can get when working in the sex trade. the reason why such a study can even take place is because the japanese occupying force kept meticulous records, and as prostitution was legal on the island, sex workers had to register and get periodic health exams to make sure they're disease free. the bulk of the prostitutes were japanese women, but native taiwanese and koreans made up a significant minority. also the age of the prostitutes were very young, most entering the field at 15 or 16. i wish i could've learned more, and the korean speaker was certainly knowledgeable, seeming slipping into chinese and japanese fluently. later i did find a paper she wrote in 2010 on the very same subject when she studied in taiwan, but unfortunately it's written in chinese (note: i finally did find a 2014 english updated copy).

i walked back home cutting through the divinity school grounds, admiring the blooming lilacs along the way. karen was not there when i got back, finally having left for work. i went out again soon afterwards, this time to market basket to collect some ingredients for tonight's recipe: mexican chicken soup. i've made this plenty of times before, but i was going to go the authentic route with hominy instead of israeli pearl couscous.

when it came time to make dinner, everything was going great until i added the hominy. the recipe said the hominy would finish cooking in just 10 minutes, but it didn't make sense, but after 7 minutes the hominy was still hard as rocks. then i realized that hominy - like beans - come in dry and canned forms, and i got the dry form, which requires overnight soaking and then 1-2 hours of simmering to get it to an edible state. i thought about picking out the hard hominy pieces - i added 1 cup - but that was impossible. so instead i decided to slow simmer the soup on the stove for nearly 2 hours. the hominy was edible, but they were still hard, and not at all delicious. so adding the hominy - though it sounded like a good idea - ended up being a big mistake. i'll know next time though! i still don't know what fully-cooked hominy tastes like. however, i am quite familiar with the taste of raw hominy in its semi-hard form.