i went with my parents this morning on a supply run. first stop was the gateway center, where we went to michael's. there were only a few cars outside which wasn't too surprising given the time of day it was, but the automatic doors were opened and a group of people were huddled inside the entrance. had they yet to open? ask we parked, a woman getting into her car said something to my mother. apparently there was a blackout and the store didn't have any electricity. no power meant no cash registers, no registers meant the store was temporarily closed.

we drove across the parking lot to costco on the other end of the gateway center, passing by stores along the way. every one was dark inside, some with automatic doors opened. in the distance we heard sirens as several fire trucks approached. our fear was realized when we got to costco and saw people loitering outside, cars arriving then leaving soon afterwards.

we decided to visit super 88 (aka hong kong supermarket) then come back to the gateway center after power was restored.

we spent 40 minutes at 88, buying the ingredients we'd need to have hot pot this thursday night for chinese new year. afterwards we went back to costco, but could already see that things still weren't normal as a stream of cars were leaving. as we approached, two parking lot attendants told us they still didn't have power, so we had no choice but to leave and follow our contingency plan, which was to get the remaining supplies from restaurant depot. out of curiosity, we checked their bulk orange selection. they had boxes of navel oranges for $35, but a box of valencia oranges was only $27 (100 a box, 27¢ an orange). i'd never heard of valencia oranges before but after some online research later i learned that valencia oranges are summer oranges, compared to navel which are winter oranges. both are classified as sweet oranges, and valencia is perfect for juicing, with high water content and thin skin.

when we drove by the gateway center 30 minutes later, power was finally restored. we were on the wrong side of the highway to make a detour so we continued to the cafe instead to drop off the supplies. my 2nd aunt was at the cafe. with their new revised schedule, my aunt would work at the cafe on the days my parents didn't, but inadvertently created a situation where they'd never see each other.

back in belmont, my mother made me her traditional birthday dish, which is two boiled eggs with some sugar. instead of boiling it, she steamed them this time around, which she heard prevented coughing. i didn't like it because it didn't have the traditional texture i'm used to. elsewhere on the solar front, today was a very cloudy day (though no rain or snow) and we didn't expect much in terms of production. the highest it ever got was 3kW, and that was in the afternoon when the sky began to clear a bit but was already at the tail end of production. the final count was 11.54kWh, with a jagged graph line of nearly a dozen peaks and valleys.

the official national portrait gallery portraits for barack and michelle obama were revealed today. michelle's painting (by amy sherald) doesn't really look like her, but the barack portrait is pretty photorealistic. the style looked very familiar, reminded me of a painting i saw at the museum of fine arts with eliza a few years ago, "john 1st baron byron". turns out it was done by the same artist, kehinde wiley.

my own birthday tradition is a bucket of fried chicken for dinner (although a check of recent birthdays shows that's rarely happened). but my mother was pushing me to pick a place for dinner, so i decided on victoria's seafood in allston (the last time we went i thought the food was pretty good). my sister came home so she could drive everyone there. she gave me a birthday birthday, which always makes me nervous. she gave me two tickets to go to some lamb festival in may. that would've been okay except she paid $150 for the tickets, which was a total waste of money. for much less, she could've gotten me something i actually wanted. i wasn't happy but decided my parents can go in my place, since the tickets are non-refundable.

we tried parking behind victoria's but there was a sign that said the metered spots was reserved for residents only after 6pm. instead we tried curbside parking in front of the restaurant. there were plenty of spots with no meters until we saw a sign that said it was pay-by-phone. my sister - with very low patience - was freaking out because although she had a parking app, it wasn't for boston, and she didn't have anymore storage space on her phone to download this app, so she wanted to park elsewhere. also the curb was too high and we couldn't open the right side doors without hitting the curb, and my sister didn't want to move the car because she said somebody would then take her spot, a spot she didn't even want. as for me, i was working feverishly in the backseat to get the app, sign up for an account, then finally pay, with about 20 minutes left before 6pm, where parking would then be free for the evening. we could've taken the risk and not bother paying, but why risk getting a ticket for just a couple of cents? the app is actually super easy to use, and even has a timer to tell you when time is running out.

they sat us in a booth but the seatback on one of the rows was loose and kept pushing into the person sitting behind us, and the seats were uncomfortably close to the table as well, so we asked for a new table in the back of the restaurant. this was a lot nicer, but the table was a little small (or maybe we just ordered too much) and there was hardly enough room to fit all the plates. there were several large banquet tables set up for what seemed like a big event. my mother said maybe it was another birthday party, but a waitress overheard her and told her it was reservations for chinese new year dinners (that's how much we're disconnected from chinese holidays, we would've never thought of that answer).

we ordered a lot of the same dishes from last time, but the food was off tonight, maybe they got a new chef. the lobsters seemed small and were cut into pieces too ungainly to eat. likewise with the fried porkchops, plus it was too salty in certain parts. the chicken was also off, the color looked darker when it's supposed to look white. unhappy with the food, my mother ended up paying just 15% tip. as we were leaving, the waiter came back and told us the tip was too little and asked us for more mother. embarrassed, my mother said she made a calculation mistake, but once outside we were all pretty angry, as she's never had a meal where the waiter asked for more tip. we decided never to come to victoria's ever again, there's plenty of other chinese restaurants in the greater boston area.

it would've been easy to give me a ride home, but my bicycle (left over from yesterday due to the heavy rain) was still in belmont and i wanted to bike home instead. after getting dropped off at my parents' place, i rode back to cambridge, giving me a chance to work off those calories.

i haven't been able to receive local channel 56 WLVI for months now. i used to be able to get the channel but then suddenly one day it just disappeared. that meant i haven't been able to watch riverdale, or the flash, which weren't all that important. but tonight was the return of DC's legends of tomorrow and that's one of my favorites and i needed to get this fixed. i finally did a search online to see if other people had been experiencing this problem. that's when i discovered that WLVI received changed their frequency, and in order to get that channel, i needed to have my HDTV rescan the airwaves. so i did that and not only did WLVI 56-1 come back, but i also got 56-2 BUZZR. it can sense 8-1 WBTS-LD which is the new NBC affiliate, but i still can't get any reception. this is a known issue, that's why they also simulcast on 60-5 (which i do get) and also on 15-1 WYCN-CD, which i discovered i receive as well. likewise, i can now get 15-2 COZI too. 24-1 used to be spanish tv azteca but now it's WFXZ biz tv. i also discovered i get 66-1 UNIVISION, which will make do since i could never really receive 27-1 TELEMUNDO very well from my living room.

i watched chloe kim win gold in the snowboarding halfpipe tonight. it's nice to see competency win for a change and someone rising to excellence.