i woke up to some birthday well wishing text from my mother and 2nd aunt of all people. there was even a text from kevin; he didn't know it was my birthday, just wanted to invite me to middlesex fells with him. he must be getting lonely since all the other chinese astrophysicists are still working from home like him, if they haven't already returned to china by now. today also happened to be chinese new year1 which is a big deal for chinese people but not so much for me, having not really grown up with that tradition (besides, the date changes every year, i never know when it is). i thanked him for the invite but told him it was too cold to be outside. the temperature was 12°F this morning; i know it'd get warmer but the thought of getting lost in the forest in freezing temperature wasn't too appealing. he didn't seem to notice the temperature and agreed it was too cold, wishing me a happy chinese new year instead.

my sister called me after i woke up, said the cafe internet was down. what she meant was the cafe website was down, which meant customers couldn't see the menu to make their phone orders. there was a security certificate issue, it had expired about a month ago, never auto-renewed itself even though it should've. what that meant was even though the website was fine, if you tried to visit the URL it'd throw up a sinister warning telling you the website was unsafe to visit. i was searching the admin panel for solutions, finally ended up erasing the certificate and renewing them. about 10 minutes later the website was back online.

i made some jiu niang soup for lunch. over the past week my mother kept reminding me to eat two eggs for breakfast. i went all out, even made some glutinous rice balls, pink and white.

in the early afternoon i ordered some bonchon wings, in accordance with my own tradition of having fried chicken on my birthday. i ordered 8 pieces of soy garlic wings, and 8 pieces of spicy wings. the issue wasn't so much getting to harvard square to pick them up; but rather how to get them back in time before the food turns cold. the only way was by bike, but i was slightly reluctant as there was still clumps of snow in the roads. but i figured if i leave early enough, i could ride slow and still get there on time.

i did some ice removal with the mutt ice chopper. renee's downspout create a thick sheet of clear ice in between the shared sidewalk of our properties and it was a slippery hazard. i tried throwing salt on it a few times but the icemelt would only wash it away only to refreeze. the ice was no match for the mutt chopper though, afterwards i scooped all the ice shards out onto the streets.

halfway to harvard square i received a text notification on my fitness tracker. i didn't need to look to know who it was: bonchon chicken letting me know my order was ready. the ride there was uneventful, i was pleasantly surprised that cambridge kept the major bike lanes cleared for the most part, i was expecting poor biking conditions. it was actually pretty easy, not sure why i was so worried. i parked right outside bonchon and went downstairs to pick up my order. there was no issues this time, i told them my name and they gave me my order right away. it took 8 minutes to get to harvard square; it took me just 6 minutes to return home.

all that effort to get the fried chicken home while they were still warm, and it took me a while before i ate them because i was too busy photographing my food using the new flapjack led light. my feeling is the flapjack is only good as a secondary light source. it's bright enough when close to the subject, but it creates harsh shadows. maybe i need a fill light to soften the contrast. the best photos ended up being a combination of the flapjack light and the flash bounced off the ceiling. whatever the case may be, a flash still delivers a far more powerful light than any continuous lighting. i'm more leaning towards keeping the flapjack, even though i knew it can't be a primary light source and will need to research some additional lights. i'm trying to source some large-sized paper lanterns to create a soft diffused light source.

finally i got to eating my fried chicken. i only managed to go through half before i was full. i saved the rest for dinner.

lounging on the couch afterwards, i watched the latest episode of wandavision before drifting off to sleep. i didn't wake up until 7:30pm, finished the rest of my wings while watching the expanse.

1 a quirk of having birthdays at the end of january or the beginning of february is the possibility of it coincide with chinese new year. this isn't the first time it happen. the last time for me was back in 2002. the last time for my father and aunt was as recently as 2016. the cycle for us seems to be every 19 years this happens.