i woke up after 11am, having heard kevin get up around 7am and leaving for work by 8am. it was drizzling lightly outside, over a sidewalk covered in less than an inch of slush. i went outside to shovel and salt before lunch (english muffin sandwich). i was going to walk down to the cafe to help clear the sidewalks but when i called my father he said he already cleaned it this morning with the snowblower, including the parking lot.

i started cutting into one of my book safes with an x-acto knife while doing a load of laundry. i tried the arizona green tea liquid water enhancer; even though it said to just use a single squirt, i ended up having to give it several squirts to have enough flavor, and even then it still wasn't strong enough. i prefer the real thing instead of this water enhancing substitute. later in the afternoon i went to the dollar store to get some more mod podge glue and some snacks.

i went to the harvard kennedy school for a 4:15pm panel discussion on the recent taiwanese election. i'd been to the kennedy school just one other time for a lecture back in october about the hong kong protest given by william overholt, one of the best lectures i've been to in terms of speaker credential and knowledge. this one was held in the land lecture hall, a different venue from the last one. sitting out was one of the speakers (a BU professor) and a woman. "hey, could you try the door?" the professor asked me. the door was unlocked, i went inside the multi-tiered lecture hall and grabbed a seat in the upper back level.

later the woman who was outside earlier sat next to me. her name was holly, we chatted, she told me she just came back from spending 5 years in taipei. she works in pharmaceuticals, and has even met president tsai on numerous occasions to iron out business deals. i asked her about the taiwanese weather, she said the first 2 years was hard, but then after that she got used to it. now living in the boston area, she's not used to the cold anymore. before taiwan, she spent many years in tokyo (where her two daughters were born) along with her husband, both of whom speak japanese. she told me that the taipei american school her children used to go was now holding classes via group video chat, due to coronavirus fears. she asked me if i could tell the difference between chinese and taiwanese just by looking; i told her sometimes, but not always. if they speak however, i can tell right away from the accent. the kennedy school always seems to have catered food for their lectures. holly and i went outside to get some snacks (bowls of different trail mixes) and drinks (cokes, seltzer).

the lecture itself - actually a panel discussion, since there was more than one speaker - wasn't very interesting. besides the professor (whom i've seen at other lecturers), the other speaker was a twentysomething taiwanese girl. her english was good, she was well-spoken, but it was easy to tell she wasn't an expert on the subject of the taiwanese election, and could only offer her own personal observations and opinions. she spoke the longest, and what she said seemed to meander. i learned nothing besides what i already knew from either of the speakers. afterwards there was 30 minutes of Q&A.

when it was all over, holly gave me her business card. she asked if i had one, i said no, but i gave her my e-mail address. i didn't notice before but she had a box of mike's pastries. her home was on the south shore, she had a long commute ahead of her on a rainy night. she wasn't a boston native because when i told her about growing up in belmont, she didn't know where that was.

there was just a touch of drizzle when i walked to harvard square but by the time the lecture was over, the rain had stopped. i put away my umbrella. in hindsight, i could've biked over, saving me some time, but from the forecast i saw earlier it was supposed to be rainy the rest of the night.

instead of going straight home, i decided to visit the falafel corner to get some dinner. back when i worked in boston, this was one of the places i'd visit when i didn't feel like making dinner. i was afraid they'd had closed (so many of my favorite harvard square institutions have left and gone) but happy to see they were still there. i ordered the lamb schwarma dinner ($10.50). i only had to wait a few minutes before my food was ready. i walked back home with my order. along the way i saw the chicken & rice truck on the harvard science center quad. if i hadn't gotten the schwarma, i would've gotten some chicken and rice.

when i got back by 6pm, kevin was already home cooking in the kitchen. i asked him about his eye exam appointment earlier this morning, he said he cancelled it because he felt his eyes were okay and didn't need to be checked after all. kevin is a bit of a hypochondriac. he bought a body thermometer, got a flu shot, and already went to go see his doctor in the short time he's been here, plus all the drama with the fake surgical masks, and now his eyes.

i dug into my lamb schwarma dinner. i thought it was going to be a gyro, but it was actually a plate of shredded lamb on rice along with a salad and some pita bread. the lamb wasn't very good, overcooked, more like dried jerky bits, and i couldn't tell it was lamb. it also came with a small container of hot sauce which made it more palatable. i was hungry anyway, so anything was good, and even though it looked like a lot of food, i ended up eating everything.

i registered for the PREDICT 2 study, a research study for people with fatty liver. MGH sent me a letter about it a week ago and somebody from the hospital actually called me earlier today asking if i'd be interested. it's a 10-day study, in which they monitor you with a blood glucose meter and fitness tracker, provide you with a special breakfast meal you have to eat (generic muffin, glucose drink), and you have to give a few blood samples with an home kit along with a stool sample. afterwards they can tell you how your body processes different types of food with the hopes of better understanding your diet. i'm game but the pin prick blood sampling kind of scares me, and i think the blood glucose monitor is also attached intravenously. i answered the questionnaire online, i still don't know if i'm eligible.

i continued working on my book safe from the living room while watching the life below zero marathon on the national geographic channel. i ended up making a little bit of a mess with all the tiny shredded pieces of paper from the pages i cut out. i replaced the knife blade one more time, the tip gets easily dulled from all the cutting. if i'm good with the cutting, i can remove a 1/5th of a centimeter worth of pages at a time, but it's a slow process. i ended up getting halfway through, and started on the other side of the pages, so eventually it'll meet in the middle; this is because the x-acto blade can only cut so deep before the hilt starts hitting the top of the pages. if i really wanted to i could spent another 2 hours and finished the safe, but by then it nearly 11pm.

i checked the status of the renewed google pixel 3 phone. it was scheduled to arrive later next week, but the tracking said the expected delivery date was next monday, early than expected. i can't wait to get my hands on the new (used) phone. there are a lot of questions, the biggest one being the phone's condition. like new for real or like new with some cosmetic scratches and a used up battery? but i look forward to the day when i can consolidate my iphone 5s and my oneplus one. currently i use the iphone for calls and data, while the oneplus is the one i use for everything else, even though it's only for wifi. the fact that i'm mostly home means i don't use data all that much, and never having had unlimited data before, i've learned to not use it all when i'm remote.