last night i prepared for bed around 1:30am, took a shower first to rinse off some stink, as i was too lazy to do it earlier. i was in bed by 2am, but watching videos until 3am. i also drank about a tablespoon worth of wild turkey 101 bourbon i had in the house. i have low alcohol tolerance and just a sip of it makes me sleepy immediately. i slept without incident, not sure whether it was the hot shower, the spicy bourbon, or a combination of the two.

i didn't wake up until 11am, was surprised i slept so late. maybe it was to make it for sleeping so little the night before. first thing i did was to call my mother and tell her about the clear plastic cup research i did last night. we ended up ordering two cases of cups from amazon despite the higher prices (but at the very least they had it in stock, and was $5 cheaper than baifu, the only other place we know that had 20 oz. cups in stock), as well as a case of matching lids.

my sister was celebrating her birthday at my place (because we'd be ordering takeout from pho & rice), so i had some cleaning to do. not too much, i did a lot of cleaning when the plumbers were here in early november, and i managed to maintain a relatively clean house despite the odds. just had to declutter my living room coffee table, and hide a few things into my bedroom. while i was at it i also did a load of laundry.

around 2pm i went out to get a birthday cake. normally we'd get one from chinatown, and the all day rain event that was forecasted for today ended up being only the early morning and later tonight, so technically i was able to ride down to chinatown to get a cake from one of the bakeries, but the problem is getting it back in one piece without the cake getting totally pulverized from the bump ride back strapped to the back of my bicycle. so we opted for a carvel ice cream cake. they had them at star market but $23 for an 8inch cake, which i thought was a little high. instead i just got some pork loins on sale and a few hot pockets.

i ended up riding to market basket to check out their prices on carvel cakes. along the way i saw them chopping down a massive elm tree in the backyard of a beacon street house. makes me curious why they were doing that: was the tree diseased? or are they preparing for a demolition in order to build another luxury condo? there used to be a lot of trees in that area, including a beautiful paulownia. now they are all no more, bulldozed by progress.

market basket had a more reasonable $19 for the same cake, so i bought one, it even said "happy birthday" on the top. the cashier and bagger were curious about the cake, i told them it was for my sister. i also told them my sister doesn't like chocolate, but the cake is half vanilla half chocolate, so i was hoping there wouldn't be a problem. the bagger told me that modelo's market on medford street in magoun square sells all vanilla ice cream cake for $20. i'll check it out next time.

i tidied up the kitchen, sorting through a bag of dried bok choy stems from my garden, collecting the seeds. i also baked 3 leftover soft pretzels from my freezer (in order to make more room for the ice cream cake), but by the time i ate them they were already hard again.

a bit before 6pm my sister showed up with hailey. i was surprised it was actually raining a little bit outside, i didn't think it'd rain until later in the evening, after 9pm. we were trying to decide what to order from pho & rice, but i saw on the webcam my parents had already left the cafe (heading to my place) so we decided to wait for them. when they got here, we figured out what we wanted to order, from bth pho & rice and zoe's across the street. my father called in the zoe's order, while i walked to pho & rice to make the order in person and pay as well. zoe's would take 15 minutes while pho & rice (the larger order) would take 20 minutes. i was surprised by how cheap pho & rice was given the amount of food we were ordering ($70), while zoe's just two dishes cost nearly $40 ($38).

my family haven't been to my place in a while, or at least not for this long, usually it's just a quick stop and go. my mother hadn't seen my bathroom since the pipes were exposed and was almost afraid to use it until she saw it. she also hadn't seen my new refrigerator yet. my father was sitting by the kitchen island, watching a video on his phone, drinking some tea.

when the time finally came to pick up our orders, my father and i both went out, he to zoe's, me to pho & rice. his order was already ready, while i waited another 5 minutes before my pho & rice order was done. they were really busy, a lot of sit-in customers plus a lot of takeout orders. the woman running the store seemed to be spinning plates with everything that was going on. it's good to see them so busy, but it almost seems like a curse. it wasn't even the weekend.

i returned to the house with a giant bag filled with our order. i could already smell the chinese food when i came inside. my father ordered the dried-fried smoked ham and the dry fried pork intestines, both hunanese dishes, both spicy. my parents had brought their own rice and my father was already eating. they took out the pho & rice dishes and set them around the coffee table. there was so much food, we almost ran out of space. my sister had already fed hailey but she was patiently sitting around the table, looking at all the food.

the two zoe's dishes were good, the smoked ham heavy on the smoked flavor and very salty and flavorful. the fried pork intestines was something new, there was so much hot peppers in the dish, more than half of it was dried and fresh peppers. the pho & rice dishes were also very good, a lot of fresh ingredients as the case is with vietnamese/thai cuisine. there was so much food, my mother suggested i save my grilled chicken bun for tomorrow. instead i got a bowl of rice and ate a combination of hunanese/vietnamese/thai.

i cleared the table once we were done eating. after a brief wait, i brought out the ice cream cake. it said to let it thaw 20-30 minutes but that was entirely unnecessary, as it was already soft enough to cut straight from the fridge. my mother had brought the last of the fancy singing birthday candles from belmont, and my sister placed it on top of the ice cream cake. everyone was taking photos as the candle burst open in a spectacle of flames and tinny music.

as for the ice cream cake itself, honestly, it wasn't that good. points for novelty, but deduct for flavor. it was half vanilla and half chocolate, but neither tastes like vanilla or chocolate, it was more processed and artificial. nobody wanted the leftover cake so it went back inside my freezer for me to eat at my leisure.

everyone left soon afterwards. my mother took some grape jelly for my aunt and 2nd aunt. i was left with the task of washing the dishes and cleaning the empty takeout trays for recycling. my mother had brought over a new bottle of eucerin lotion which i used my dried cracked hands.

i finally got around to setting up my mother's old samsung S9+ that i've been using to fly my drone. up until now, all her data was still on the phone, i never got around to doing a factory reset. this gave me the chance to experience the phone like new, and most importantly, to tweak it to my liking. samsung has their own UI and the phone has a few samsung bloatware (that can't be erased), and for some reason facebook as well (maybe there was a paid production placement). bixby is kind of annoying, i prefer google assistant. i semi-disabled the bixby button so it opens up the DJI fly app instead, and i erased bixby's left-swipe screen from the interface. all the different biometrics for signing in are cool: fingerprint, face, even iris. both the S9+ and pixel 3XL came out in the same year (2018) - but the samsung has a better handfeel - sleeker, smaller - compared to the pixel, but could also be because i have the pixel in a case. i ended up installing nova launcher because i wanted more home screen customization. samsung has its own app for customization, but all the wallpapers and icons and fonts are paid items.