GC woke up at 9:30am this morning and left for his first day at the office by 10:15am. he had no idea which direction to go as i watched him trying to orient himself with the gps on his phone. i opened the door and pointed that he should walk in the direction of mass ave.

i made an italian sub for lunch matched with a smoothie i whipped up using the last of my over-ripened bananas (purchased nearly 4 weeks ago).

i went down to the community garden around 2pm to bring in the garden refuse bins but found out that the city hadn't emptied them yet. i watered my garden while i was there. the two vegetables that seem to be doing well are my tomatoes and eggplants. i'm surprised about the eggplants because many of the early leaves were chewed up by snails. snails are still eating the plants a little bit but they're beginning to reach that point where they're growing faster than the snails can damage them. my hot peppers are alive but not partically thriving. the mixed varieties are doing better, the habaneros don't seem to want to grow taller but instead produce a lot of leaves that get tattered a bit by the snails/slugs. likewise nearby thai basils are the same way. my 4 mallow zebrinas are also doing well. while they're growing tall and thin in belmont, here in cambridge they remain short and fat, which bodes well for a thicker and stronger stalk as the weeks go by and the plants finally flower. some of the larkspurs have also begun to flower.

i helped my parents book a norwegian cruise to bermuda in late august (not a busy time of the year for the cafe). cruises are a moneymaking racket, and everything costs money and special restrictions and fees and surcharges abound. the prices they show per rooms seem cheap, but that's based on double occupancy so everything needs to be doubled for the actual price. on top of that there are government taxes, port expenses, and other fees (about $200 more per person).

one major sticking point was last year they purchased these discount coupons where for $500 they received $1000 in coupons, doubling their savings. it was a bit of a hard sell because these special coupons could only be bought onboard the cruise. it sounded good on paper, but in practice it was something else. strangely, the coupons were broken up into $250 denominations, which should've been a clue. when it came time to pay, my parents were going to use up all the coupons to maximize their savings, but discovered they could only apply 2 of the coupons at most. my father said when they bought the coupons he was told they could use the full amount. i called the norwegian cruise help line and they told me that actually the maximum number of coupons that can be used at one time is two.

when my parents went ahead and finally paid for the cruise online, they received an error message. i called the help line again, and was told that for the cabin they booked (inside), only one coupon can be used; to use a double coupon you need to book the more expensive balcony rooms or higher (at least double the price). this means they can only ever use one coupon per trip (a savings of $250). but these coupons expire in 4 years, so they essentially force you to take a cruise once per year if you want to reap the full benefits.

i returned home before 8pm, getting back before potential torrential rainstorms arrived. GC came with me to the community garden to bring in the refuse bins but i was dismayed to see the city still hadn't collected the trash yet. in the garden i ran into EJ and her family again; i seem to be running into them daily these days.

GC told me he went to the cafe today to have beef noodle soup for lunch with a coworker; i already knew this because my mother had told me. she also sold him a packet of chinese noodles. she said GC seemed like an old man even though he was born in 1986. i chatted with him some more. i learned more about the pressures of chinese college entrance examination. in china, getting into a good school depends entirely on test scores. high school students forgo things like extra curricular activities and focus entirely on learning how to take the test. the result is generations of chinese students good at taking tests but not much else.