* replace sister's cablemodem with new docsis 3.0 cablemodem, but unit already registered to someone else, so i couldn't switch over the phone and had to go to the comcast office in somerville to do it. i went home and grabbed my leased comcast cablemodem along with the old cablemodem so i could switch that over to my account. then back at my sister's place i couldn't get the modem to work because i didn't realize the new modem had all sorts of lights and white was the same as green.
* went to the assembly square mall with my mother, visited the christmas tree shoppe to buy some glass jars (found the 5L variety, the same price as 4L, they look similar, but i just happened to have 2 that were different sizes and i was able to grab 2 large ones instead). also bought a 12 pack of classic root beers and a 4 pack of sarsaparilla. later we went to acmoore.
* i fixed the brother HL-2070N network laser printer. the trick was to turn off and on the printer, not just hit the start button. i debugged the problem by connecting directly to the switch in my bedroom and pulling up the printer's networking manual online.
* kombucha: 5L of water measured in the glass jar first then poured into the stock pot and heated. 10 teabags (red rose) and more than a cup of sugar. tea finished at 7:30, by 11:30 it was still 90 degrees, but i couldn't wait and dropped in a scoby. not sure if this batch will be successful because 1) i added the scoby when the tea was still warmer than optimal, 2) the overall room temperature is getting colder, and 2) first batch doesn't have enough bacteria to completely digest 5L of black tea before it goes bad.
my appointment with the furnace replacement company was this noontime. the guy actually called around 11:00 and asked if i was available so he could come over. 20 minutes later he was here. i was surprised when i found out it wasn't the company i dealt with last time (GEM plumbing) but a different company. i took the guy downstairs to see the furnace, he just sort of glanced at it without any additional inspection. i found out soon afterwards that he was just a salesman, not any sort of actual repairman. back in the house, he gave me his pitch. i could tell it was going to be expensive, because he kept on pushing the more high-tech heating technology, kept reminding me i could finance it (installments paid over the course of 7 years), and kept bringing up the annual maintenance program i should up for ("for your peace of mind"). the quotes me gave me were in the $8000-12,000 range, far more expensive than i planned. the quote GEM plumbing gave me last year was around $3000 for an 80% efficiency furnace. when i told him this, he said there would be additional cost like lining the chimney ("which will cost you $2000") and i'd pay about the same as his quotes when everything was done. he also admitted that there was pricing gouging, as i found GEM the middle of last summer, while now - with winter fast approaching - it's more expensive to replace a furnace.
so i think now i'll live with my busted furnace. it still works, albeit not as efficiently, and it does generate a little bit of CO (which is safely removed through the chimney as long as the chimney isn't blocked up). i just have to make sure that CO detector is working. and once the winter is over, i'll look to replace in either in the spring or summer, whenever prices are at their lowest. i called my parents to let them know my decision, but my father happens to know a local chinese HVAC repairman, and he said next week he'll come over to my place and take a look and give me a second opinion.
once that was over, i made lunch in the form of my apple chicken sausage oatmeal. i had an old mango in the fridge i wanted to use up, along with some old blueberries. i added some leftover yogurt and blended myself a smoothie. what would've been a mango lassi turned out to be something different with the addition of blueberries. whatever it was, it must've been healthy at least.
the rest of my day until the evening was uneventful. the rainstorm finally arrived so there was no point in going outside. i did however go to star market and pick up a few more grocery items. but most of the day was spent watching television ("good guys" on netflix) and surfing the web. the new version of OS X came out (yosemite) and i patiently pinged the app store until the free update became available so i could upgrade my system. i don't like the subtle font change but i do approve of the new flatter UI. i think the use of transparencies but every once in a while i think there's something wrong with my LCD screen when it's just a weird transparency bruising. regardless, i can navigate the new OS X just fine, but it still feels a little alien for me. the last system i fully embraced was probably 10.6, and now we're 4 times removed from that OS and i feel like there are a lot of hidden functions about 10.10 that i just don't know or even have a use for if i knew how it worked.
around 7:00 i walked to upper somerville to buy a used DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem for $50. i passed by wings over somerville and decided to give them another try, now that they're the only wings place within my vicinity. besides, the patriots were playing a thursday night game against the jets which called for some wings action. i ordered the 10 piece gourmet parmesan for about $10. i think continued up the hill while my order was being made. i was to meet my seller at the front of the somerville senior citizen home on summer street at 7:30. i got there 10 minutes early and awkwardly stood on the sidewalk trying to not act too suspicious. my seller didn't want to at his house and i didn't have his phone number, so i was really afraid of being stood up. i even went inside the home to look around, thinking that maybe my seller was waiting there, but all i found were a group of old ladies smoking. looking back out on the street i saw a silhouette and waved to it. my seller arrived right on time and i made the buy. back at home i inspected the merchandise. the modem is actually a lot smaller than i realized, but practically new with all the plastic stickers still intact. i'll take it to my sister's place tomorrow and swap out her old DOCSIS 2.0 old with this new one, hopefully it'll improve her internet speed.
i came down the hill and retrieved my order, which took another 10 minutes before it was finally ready. by then the rain had started. one hand holding the umbrella while the other held my wings order, i didn't have a spare hand to work my camera to take any photos. it was a long walk home and i couldn't wait to get back. i took a quick shower before settling down for dinner in front of the HDTV with the game turned on. the box was smaller than wing works but the wings were about the same size, not as small as i remembered them to be. however, where was the sauce? wing works drown their wings in sauce, while wings over had virtually no sauce. they tasted more like the fried wings you'd get in a chinese restaurant than from a specialty wings restaurant. if i was grading them, i'd give them a C. not so terrible that i couldn't eat them, but made me yearn for the days of wing works.
the patriots jets game was a close one, with multiple lead changes. but i wasn't particularly worried, even when the patriots were down by 2 points in the final seconds and the jets had a chance to win if they could complete a long field goal kick. i'm not sure, but i think the jets might be eliminated from the playoffs following this loss, barring some sort of miracle. i kind of wish they won a little bit, so that the next time these two teams meet it might mean something.
today marks the official 3rd week that i've been back in town, and i finally cleaned up my living room. the primary reason was the furnace repairman was arriving tomorrow, but a clean up was long overdue. my father dropped off some hangers around noontime, so i was finally able to hang up all the dress shirts i bought in china. i also did a load of laundry, and vacuumed and swept the floors. the last 2 months before i came home, i actually had someone staying at my place, the 19-year old daughter of a shanghai friend of someone from my aunt's church. i believe she was taking summer school classes at MIT and needed a place to stay. i never met her, but i do know she had very long hair because i keep on finding strands everywhere. she also did some oily stir-fry cooking (even though my parents asked her not to) because there was a film of condensed grease on my kitchen floor when i returned home. and yeah, she scratched up my pots and pans, but i've had so many past roommates whom done the same that i take that as a given now. she must've had a guy friend over a few times because there were urine stains on my bathroom carpet. so basically a lot of little things adding up that made me sort of annoyed with her despite never meeting.
i left the house just once, in the late afternoon, to pick up some groceries from market basket. it was hot again today, with temperature in the 80's, but a mess of ominous clouds up in the sky meant storms were coming. i stowed my bike in the basement and dragged out the trash.
one thing that still bothers me since i've been back is finding where everything is. i put a lot of things away before i left last year, but now that i'm home, i've sort of forgotten where i put them. i found most of the things i was looking for, with the exception of my battery charger and a whole set of batteries. i can't for the life of me remember where i put them, and i don't have the stomach to dig through my stuff to look for them either.
lounging around on the couch, i fell asleep around 6:30, waking up sometime after 8:00. napping makes me nervous because 1) i've always identified it one of the hallmarks of a lazy person, and 2) only old people take naps. but i'm still treating my time back as a type of recuperation so i shouldn't be too hard on myself.
i woke up and heated some toaster oven pizza for dinner while watching a nature special on PBS, followed by some documentaries on public sanitation and the invention of time.
i woke up relatively early for a change, around 9:00. in my normal routine, i like to get up between 9-10 (sleeping around 1-2), which gives me a few hours of morning (anytime before noon i consider morning). wake up any later, and much of the day is already over, especially during our abbreviated winter daytimes. i didn't wake up on my own volition though, but instead it was because i got an automated call from verizon fios telling me they might've fixed the television problem my parents were experiencing yesterday. because i wasn't able to check, i picked the option for them to call me back in an hour. i called my father at home, who told me they still couldn't get any channels.
tomorrow will mark the (almost) 3rd week i've been back from china, although it feels like i've been back longer than that. one of the things i really want to do is try to fill in all the empty days on my weblog. i sort of gave up posting somewhere in the middle of july because 1) my blog was experiencing technical issues and 2) i simply didn't have enough time because i had too many things going on. since i was still working in july, i kept a lot of notes while i was in the office, writing down what i did the day before and sending it to myself via e-mail. in august i began my traveling vacation, nearly all of which was spent in sichuan with my traveling companion sun meng. there, i had no chance to write. however, i can still recreate much of those days through all the photos i took.
in september i was back in changshou, my chinese home for the past year. i had about 3 weeks before my eventual return to the US, and i spent those times lazily lounging about the apartment, buying a few more things online, making frequent trips to the supermarket to eat as much local delicacies that i wouldn't be able to find back in boston. in my last week i returned to xi'an, which was a great experience because i even got to climb huashan, but there turned out to be a lot of drama since i was traveling with 2 girls (hopefully i'll get a chance to write down what happened during those eventful 5 days). i then came back to changshou where i spent a few more days before finally leaving china.
around 11:00 i biked to belmont to await the arrival of the cable guy. my father was still home and i showed him the trick where i could receive a bunch of airwave HD channels simply by sticking a paperclip into the antenna port. at the very least i could watch local news on WHDH while waiting. soon afterwards my father left for work, i received another automated call from verizon, telling me it was connecting me with the repair guy, but we got disconnected. it didn't matter because i saw the verizon truck drive up to the house so i went outside to greet the guy. he came in to check the HDTV and pulled up a diagnostic page, which basically told him what we already knew, that we weren't getting any channels. he went down into the basement, made sure the problem was actual coaxial cable related, and then removed the fiber optic signal box and replaced it with a new one. he then went back to his truck to update the equipment on their server. a few minutes later, like magic, all the channels came in. i went outside and saw he was still on the phone but i gave him a thumbs up. a short time later he drove off without saying good bye, his mission complete.
it's been a while since i experienced american cable. i have cable at home, but it's basic cable, which is essentially all the channels i would get for free over the airwaves. but now finally i could watch USA or ESPN or CNN! randomly surfing, i came across a special effects make-up competition show on the syfy network called "face off." it's set up just like project runway, but instead of fashion challenges, contestants make monster masks. i was surprised that this was actually the 7th season (but probably there are more than one season in a year). i ended up watching it the rest of the day (must've been a marathon), and when my mother came home in the afternoon, she got hooked into it as well.
we ate some leftover barbecue in the evening, before my father came home from the cafe. i watched the newest episode of "face off" beginning at 9:00 and left sometime before 10:00.