i was planning on getting up early (8:30a) to catch the ocktoberfest 5k run that was passing through the edge of harvard square. but it was another cold morning and was just too tempting to just warm in bed and sleep. i didn't wake up until 11am. almost like i was atoning for my late start, before i even had a chance to go use the bathroom, i was out on the backyard deck staining the railing with australian timber oil.

i didn't make it to belmont until around 2pm, the honda element stuffed with 2 ladders and a bicycle (which i got from the cafe). i was going to bring back the pressure washer as well but found a few spots on the backyard porch that still needed some cleaning. i did bring my jar of sichuan paocai, sitting in my kitchen since spring. it hasn't gone bad because i haven't opened the jar since i first bottled it.

i replaced my mother's bike seat with the new one i bought. after i finished i asked her to try it out. didn't take this into consideration, but with all the additional padding, the saddle is actually at least an inch thick than the old seat. i ended up doing some readjusting, lowering the seat post by a quarter inch (can't get any less than that) and tilted the seat up so my mother didn't look like she was falling off when riding it. my mother tried the bike again, it was better, but she said it will take some time to get used to the higher seat.

for some lunch i had some leftover oil rice and some slow-cooked beef roast my sister had made that my mother was raving about how good it was. later i helped my mother take some photos of her knit hats before she takes them to the cafe to sell, now that the weather is turning cold.

after dinner i rode my bike home (i locked it up at my parents' place last night). it was chilly but i warmed up after a few minutes. my backpack was so heavy, it felt like i didn't have any energy peddling home, but eventually i made it. while i was in the bathroom ana came out. after i showered, i came out and saw that she'd brought her friend carlos, the spanish guy living in the park street apartment suite. he left soon afterwards, just wanted to see the place. ana went to sleep soon afterwards after well, having already ate sushi for dinner earlier.

it was cold in the house this morning, temperature around the mid-60's, while it was lower 50's outside. i saw my upstairs neighbors go out for groceries wearing their winter jackets. i pulled out my china jacket from the closet: a uniqlo hoodie paired with a blazer. i left for belmont sometime after noontime.

i went with my parents to burlington to run errands. first to jo ann fabrics for my mother to pick up some yarn with a 25% off everything coupon (unfortunately jo ann doesn't have a large yarn selection). then market basket next door in search of black cherry jones soda. finally h-mart for some asian groceries. we saw farm-raised striped bass for sale, the same type of fish my aunt picked up from their friend on the cape. the store bass had 2 different prices: $6.99/lbs for USA, $3.99/lbs for taiwanese import. the fish looked tiny by comparison (the wild one that we got was 40" long).

once we got home, it was non-stop eating. first it was all the korean food we got from h-mart, then we steamed the mussels from market basket in a broth of white wine, butter, garlic, and salt. the mussels themselves seem kind of suspect, with no origin stamp or labels of any kind. perhaps these were local mussels? the shells seem different too, darker than usual. so imagine our surprise when after we cooked them we discovered they contained the largest mussels we've ever had, so even big enough to completely fill the shell. on top of that we also had some korean bibimbap rice. and i drank a whole 32 oz. bottle of strawberry kefir chased down with another can of pomegranate seltzer. i ate so much i felt like puking afterwards.

i ended up driving the honda element back home. that way i can bring back the ladders tomorrow, as well as my mother's bike parked at the cafe.

i left for boston at 11:30a for a 12p dentist appointment at boston oral & facial surgery. i'd be cutting it close and i knew i'd be drenched in sweat by the time i arrived. the weather also wasn't cooperating, having rained earlier, with intermittent light showers and strong headwinds. i arrived on time nevertheless, wiping myself clean with some kleenex from my bag. the visit was just a progress check, taking one final x-ray to see that the bone graft and implant have successfully fused with the jaw. the visit was also a chance for me to pay the final installment of $700.

oral evaluation (11/14)
panoramic x-ray (11/14)
tooth removal (12/14)
bone graft (12/14)
periapical x-ray 2x (5/15)
sinus lift with bone graft (5/15)
dental implant (5/15)

(crossed out prices meant paid through regular health insurance)

so far i've spent $2900 on the dental implant. i'll probably spend another $700 at least to get the actual dental crown made so i can begin eating on that side of my mouth again. i was hoping to see my regular dentist (doctor huang, who will do my crown) immediately, so i can get my crown made and eat by thanksgiving. but doctor chan told me i should wait another month for optimal bone fusion, so i'm looking at the end of october for the appointment, and about a month for the crown to be made.

i said good bye to doctor chan, his assistant, and the receptionist. i've been seeing them intermittently for the past year, they feel like family now, and this was the last time i'd see them, barring any future dental implant work i might have.

i then went to the china mart next door to pick up a few grocery items, mostly things for my parents (noodles, ginger, tofu), some snacks for myself. i bumped into 2 assistants from doctor chan's office.

skirting by chinatown i spotted the secret battle of chinese flags being wages on its streets, oblivious to most passerbys. from my earlier visit to chinatown, garlands of US and taiwanese (republic of china, ROC) flags were already festooning the streets in preparation for chinese independence day. but today i noticed some large china flags (people's republic of china, PRC) hanging from a few buildings.

chinese independence day is different depending on who you ask. if you ask a chinese person from taiwan, he will you tell that independence day is 10/10, to commemorate the wuchang uprising (1911) which led to the end of the qing dynasty and the beginning of the republic of china, headed by the nationalists, AKA the koumintang (KMT). if you ask a chinese person from china, he will tell you that independence day is 10/1, to commemorate the founding of the people's republic of china (1949) under communist mao zedong after they defeated the nationalists and drove them to taiwan.

as you can will imagine, there is animosity between nationalists and communists, as each vie for legitimacy overseas. the nationalists had always had a stronghold in chinatowns across the world, as they were the recognized chinese government after WWII (1945), before the united nations recognized communist china as the legitimate government in 1971. but with the recent influx of PRC chinese coming into these chinatowns, the balance of power is shifting, and old hostilities can arise, especially on sensitive dates like chinese independence day.

i decided to take the charles river bike path, just to avoid the mess of car traffic i'd have to dodge and navigate if i wanted to get across the longfellow bridge. there was hardly anyone along the river, just a few passing joggers, and certainly none of the sunbathers one would normally find on the now-empty docks. the wind was especially strong, billowing the trees as i made my way to the mass ave bridge and crossing over into MIT/cambridge.

ana was at home, smoking in the backyard, preparing to make lunch. i heated up some leftover pizzas. i casually brought up the subject of what her plans are after her classes are over mid-october. "next week, actually," she told me. a friend of hers will be visiting from spain, and together with another friend in boston, they will take a tour of new york city, followed by washington dc, then niagara falls. "all this in a week?" i asked. "2 weeks," she said, not sure if she saw the glitter in my eyes knowing i will be roommate free for half the month. in fact, they're leaving next weekend, destination NYC. october won't be so bad after all. unfortunately i think november she won't be going anywhere.

she was making some homemade tomato sauce and asked if i had a blender. i got a chance to try her sauce, pretty good, a bit acidic, but nothing like the processed sauces i'm used to eating.

my amazon package arrived in the late afternoon. i received a call first from the delivery guy. it confused me at first because the number was from pittston, pennsylvania, a place i'd never heard of before. i thought it was someone trying to sell me insurance, but it was the delivery guy asking to see if i was home, because he didn't feel safe leaving my package on the doorstep. "i'm outside your house," he said.

inside the box was a peterson field guide to northeastern moths, a sun-lite cloud 9 cruiser bike saddle (more on that tomorrow, but a very large bike seat!), and a set of etekcity remote control outlet switches.

i've bought these etekcity remote control outlet switches before (october 2014, $29.99). i then bought a set of 3 capstone remote control switches from costco (november 2014), and gave the etekcity ones to my parents. size-wise, the capstones are better because they're slightly smaller, which means they don't take up two outlets. the etekcity ones have a better signal, and have a response rate of 100%, versus the 80% of the capstone ones. when i saw the same set of 5 switches for sale on amazon for $21.48, i couldn't resist getting them again. i have three set up in the living room, and am looking for creative ways to use the remaining two. the capstone switches i'll give to my sister. i think we're just at the beginning of remote outlet switches. for one thing, i don't know why they have to be so big and bulky. it'd also be great if i can control them online, like remotely over the internet. i know they have those type of switches already, but they seem unreliable and depend on a 3rd party server to coordinate the signal switching.

when ana came out of her bedroom to use the bathroom around 5p, i was hopeful she was going out. when i heard the sound of her small suitcase wheels, i knew she'd be gone for the weekend. sure enough, she told me she was going to stay over at her friend's house and won't be back until sunday night. let the free times begin!

for dinner i reheated the rest of the leftover pizzas. i caught up on some shows and movies, including it follows, a horror film that's been on my watch list for the longest time. it's sort of slow-paced but that only builds to the horror when strange things begin to happen. it was definitely scary and i caught myself yelling at the television, "girl, you in danger!"

i got a chance to browse the moth field guide. i've been meaning to add it to my natural history field guide library. the amount of moths is dazzling, i honestly didn't imagine there could be so many. but because many moths are nocturnal, they're easy to miss. the guide itself has 1500 moth species, and those are just the most common ones. unlike the peterson bird guide which are drawings, the moths in the guide are depicted through actual photos (like the kaufman field guides). using the book, i was able to identify the moth on my doorstep a week ago: a sensitive fern borer (Papaipema inquaesita). the one gripe i have about the guide is there is no identification for corresponding caterpillars. some of these moths have amazing larval forms that deserve some mention in their identification. maybe that would've made the guide twice as thick.

i've lived with ana long enough to know that thursday is the day where she has the most classes, all the way until the afternoon. that meant i had a few hours of alone time. after a bowl of cereal for lunch, i went out to the backyard to do a second power wash in the deck, to catch any spots i might've missed the first time.

i set up the tall 3-segment ladder, but apparently it wasn't long enough to safely reach the 2nd floor platform. i say safely, because it did reach it, but the ladder was near vertical and in danger of tipping over, so i decided not to use it. that meant to clean the 2nd floor deck railing i just did it from the deck. sure, maybe it's still a little dark, but it won't matter once i oil everything. i also noticed that if i have the tip of the power wash nozzle too close to the wood, it can still strip the wood, so better i do a gentle wash than a potentially more damaging detail wash.

with october already upon us, now is a race against time: i need to treat the whole deck before the weather gets too cold to be effective. what i did factor into my equation was all this rain. i kind of got used to the unofficial drought. early next week might be a good day for oiling, provided we don't get hit by the hurricane. plus i also have painting obligations at my parents' place, but i'm hoping painting will go quick.

i also washed the rest of the wooden backyard fencing. afterwards it looked like we had new fencing installed, it looked so brand new. i was finished by 2:30p, and ana had just came home (slightly earlier than expected). while she was about to make lunch, i took the opportunity to change out of my wet clothes and beat a hasty exit to my parents' place via bike. before i left, ana paid me this month's rent, all in $20's again.

my mother and sister went out shopping, hailey was at home, and i ran into my father as he drove by in the car a few blocks away from the house. he brought home some still-warm sweet potato tempura he'd made at the cafe. my aunt stopped by briefly to borrow one of our coolers to bring back a fish a friend of theirs had caught on the cape.

the $62 garelick 21-foot aluminum roof rake arrived today and my father was busy in the sunroom assembly the equipment. later we went outside to test the reach. in combination with our recent snow blower maintenance, we are now 100% ready for the winter. i get the feeling we won't experience the snowpocalypse of last season, but if it happens again, we'll be ready.

explaining the different between a portuguese egg tart and a chinese egg tart, i gave my father the idea that we might be able to make some pastel de nata of our own, especially after i showed him some recipes, both english and chinese. it doesn't require any special ingredients, it all depends on the recipe and the techniques. i'm hoping to make some in the near future.

since my mother and sister weren't home yet, my father and i decided to get some pizza for dinner. i made the order online (domino's) and we went to go pick it up a little after 5pm. my sister and mother were back by the time we got home.

we got a chance to sample the baijiu we got from flushing on monday. a taste test between the wuliangye-brand jianzhuang (which we've had before, it's the default house baijiu), the mianzhudaqu (the only new alcohol), and the mostly-sorghum taiwanese baijiu i bought on my last solo trip to new york. jianzhuang tastes the best, a complex alcohol with a pleasant sweetness and a very fragrant aroma. mianzhudaqu tastes similar because it's also made from 5 grains, but the aroma isn't as strong, and it has a sour initial taste that turns into a bitter mouth feel. it's not as good as the jianzhuang. as for the taiwanese baijiu, it smells like rubber cement, has the strongest kick, but the least complex of flavors since it's mostly sorghum mixed with wheat.

temperature must've been in the 60's but with a strong breeze. i wore shorts, but i was smart enough to bring a jacket which i wore over my longsleeve which kept me pretty warm as i pedaled back to cambridge. ana wasn't home, she told me she was going out with friends to a bar called lolita in kendall square. i actually had a feeling she'd go out tonight because i overheard her say, "siete y media" (7:30) on the phone this afternoon.

i cleared enough space on my macbook pro hard drive to install the latest system, el capitan (OS X 10.11). downloading the 6GB file took about an hour, but the installation was even longer, around 3 hours for some strange reason, even though it said just 30 minutes. at one point i thought the computer was frozen and almost restarted the machine were it not for my fear of losing my data, which naturally i didn't back up. it finally finished installing close to midnight. by then ana was already home and had gone to bed.

it could just be a placebo effect, but the OS seems faster than before, or at least smoother. i read el capitan uses a new system font called san francisco. i'd seen samples online but couldn't really tell the difference, but now that i'm using the new system, i notice it. it's not something i can quite put my finger on, but something feels off/different with the font. i'm sure i'll get used to it eventually.

other than the perceived slight speed boost, i really don't notice any difference compared to the previous system. which i guess is a good thing, since i really don't like change all that much, particularly if it's to something i'm already quite used to. i do like the new improved smarter spotlight search. i do conversions all the time (temperature, weight, cooking units) and it's nice to type "60 degrees" and have spotlight immediately spit out, "15.56°C" as the answer. one thing that did break was the little shell script applet that uses exiftool to strip out the geotag data from my photos. it took me a while to figure out what was wrong, but after i explicitly set the path to exiftool (/usr/local/bin/exiftool -gps:all= "$f"), the script started working again.

ana was gone by the time i came out of my bedroom around 10:30a. i knew she was up this morning because i heard her in the kitchen and smelled the scent of espresso. i took the opportunity to do a load of laundry. i had so much dirty clothes, i almost had to do a second wash to fit everything. ana's absence didn't very last long, as she was back by 12:30p. i was sitting in the living room, watching the news, eating a bowl of leftover mexican chicken soup. around 1:00p she made lunch, something fried as usual, i didn't have the stomach to see what.

the big event of the day was the torrential downpours. it began this morning, the sound of rain a pleasant noise considering how we haven't had any serious rain in a long time. this front was a precursor for hurricane joaquin making its way to the east coast. new england has a low probability of getting hit, but the risk is still there, and we can expect some residual weather disturbances at the very least later in the week. the rain stopped briefly by late morning, only to begin anew in the afternoon.

ana did leave the house again at 2:30p, right during a heavy bout of downpours. i enjoyed her second departure by having some more imported smoked duck wings from flushing. she came back at 7:30p with a large suitcase full of winter clothes she pulled out from storage.

i tried my hands at making a rice cooker pancake. i whipped up some pancake mix (egg, flour, sugar, salt, milk, baking powder), even going across the street to the super market to get a carton of milk. there seemed to be a lot of ingredients for my rice cooker pot, but that turned out to be the least of my problems. i have a simple rice cooker that has only 2 settings: cook and keep warm. it'd cook for about 10 minutes before popping off to just keeping warm. 10 minutes is not enough time to cook the pancake, since i heard it should take an hour or more of rice cooking time. i popped it back to cooking a few times, before every time it'd pop right back to warm setting in a matter of minutes. finally i just gave up. apparently to make a rice cooker pancake requires a fancier rice cooker, one that i don't have. i did try some of the pancake filling, it tasted okay, maybe needed more sugar.

i finally spoke to ana about her cooking tonight. first i addressed the oil splatter situation. she didn't think it was a problem, since frying is synonymous with splattering. she does a good job of cleaning up afterwards, but i made her aware that oil was also splattering onto the carpet, which for some reason she didn't realize was potentially a bad thing ("i can feel the oil on my feet when i walk around the kitchen," i told her). instead of using the splatter guard (which she says is useless, but only because she likes to fry with a small frying pan which the screen is too big for), i found her a cover for the pan. not sure if this will help, but at least she's aware of the situation now. the second thing was just to ask her to ventilate the house by opening the window and door and using the fan if she's cooking anything particularly smelly.

ana went to bed later than usual, close to midnight, her laptop blaring the audio of some spanish drama from the kitchen. not only do i have to endure her loud programs, but so do my poor neighbors through the open windows. i think she was doing some late night ironing, as well as running the dishwasher.

i don't think ana has classes on tuesday because she was home the entire day. she did go out around 6p only to come back at 9p to make dinner. i asked her if she wanted to try some of my mexican chicken soup - less out of generosity, more so that she wouldn't cook again. but apparently she can't handle any spicy food, which kind of makes me lose respect for her taste in food. she can't eat spicy but has no problems consuming two tubs of olive oil in less than a month. it's not very surprising that she's overweight, given how everything she eats is fried.

i decided to make mexican chicken soup today just so i can get rid of the two pieces of frozen chicken breast in my freezer. i took it out this morning so it'd have time to defrost. for lunch, i ate a custard from yesterday and a piece of sesame-sprinkled saobing bread. while ana was baking salmon for lunch, i biked to market basket to get some more ingredients.

my father dropped by after work to bring the taller 3-segment ladder. by that point it'd already started to rain a little bit.

2 chicken breasts, shredded
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
scallions (garnish)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup chopped kale
2 cans chicken broth
28 oz. can crushed tomato
1 7 oz. can chipotle peppers
1 can black beans
1 cup israeli couscous
olive oil

the recipe i use is one for chicken tortilla soup. i've modified it so much, i now just call it mexican chicken soup. i make it at least once a year (2009 2010 2011), usually during the colder season, because it's a hearty soup with an added spiciness that makes you sweat. it goes well with some cilantro garnish but i didn't want to get any because cilantro spoils so quickly it's not worth having just so i can use a little bit. a dollop of sour cream would also go well too. i added some frozen kale this time, nothing i could really taste, but just some added nutrients.

i found the soup to a little bland, with most of the flavors coming from the chipotle peppers. in the past i'd only use a small portion but nowadays i dump in the whole can, sauce and peppers altogether. i could add some salt but as a rule, i try to avoid directly adding salt whenever i can (sodium from other ingredients are fine though). i think some salty tortilla chips would probably be nice too. basically, there are lots of options with this soup, and tonight i was just making the basic.

i was originally scheduled to wake up at 4:00a and await my parents' arrival sometime after 4:30a. but 30 minutes just wasn't enough for me to get ready in the morning without feeling rushed, so i gave myself an additional 30 minutes by waking up at 3:30a. i'm not even sure i went to sleep. i was in bed by 1:00a but anxiety about the next day prevented me from actually falling asleep. the rest itself would have to do, i would sleep on the bus to new york city anyway, a 5 hour ride. i ate something bad last night (probably those expired hot italian sausages) and had several bouts of "upset stomach." so this morning i was hoping for a full cleanse but only managed to do a little "morning business."

i was pretty much ready by 4:15a. waking up early and not have to rush puts me in a calmer mood. i packed light, leaving behind my dSLR, bringing just my 2 phones (which both have cameras), my broken distant-focus-only panasonic lumix, and my fuji 3D camera. i also brought an umbrella because i heard it might rain. i wore my favorite pair of china pants, but switched to a pair of dark blue khakis because they had bigger pockets (to carry my oversized phones).

i went outside to move the motorcycle to give my parents a spot to park when they came. it wasn't as cold as i'd imagined but my motorcycle was covered in condensation, which i wiped off with a towel. moving the bike turned out to be unnecessary, as there were two adjacent empty parking spots right in front of my house. i called my parents at 4:30a to let them know they could just park there instead.

waiting by the window, periodically peeking through the blinds, i saw an unfamiliar black cat sauter down the sidewalk. i gently thumped the window which surprised the cat, making it stop and look up at me. it sat down, maybe hoping to come inside. i went away from the window and when i looked again it'd disappeared.

my parents finally arrived by 4:45a. my mother came inside briefly before the three of us walked the 10 minutes to porter square. overhead the full moon from last night was still shining brightly. we arrived at porter square before 5:00a. a homeless woman was sleeping inside, but the doors were all locked. a few minutes later we saw an MBTA SUV drive up and an employee came out to unlock the doors. it was so early the escalators hadn't even been turned on so we walked down into the station.

the first red line train leaving alewife was at 5:16a. our plan was to catch this first time to south station, where we had tickets to the 6:00a megabus that'd take us into new york city. the train was surprisingly full so early in the morning, but still enough space for everyone to grab a seat if they wanted one. we saw people wearing hospital scrubs, or folks wearing the uniforms of their place of employment (a few hotels). many were hispanic or black. there were also people with suitcases, probably on their way to the airport. there's something very solemn about traveling so early in the morning, as everyone was quiet, too tired to chat, or lost in thought.

we arrived at south station at 5:38a. there was enough time for everyone to take a final bathroom break before waiting at the megabus line. there were already more then 2 dozen people in line. we thought we were the last but minutes later more people filed behind us. we bought these tickets more than a month ago, so they were cheap, $5 per person.

we climbed to the top of the bus. i sat on the left, my parents took the right seats. a filipino man ended up sitting in between us. the bus a few minutes after 6:00a. there was free wifi onboard, although intermittently slow. i looked out the window for the first 15 minutes or so before falling asleep. the full moon appeared to be getting larger the closer it got to the horizon. it'd be gone by the time the sun came up.

it was a 5 hour ride from boston to new york city. we were going against traffic, but here and there we'd still hit some patches. i was oblivious to everything, going back to sleep whenever i woke up, adjusting myself for a more sleep posture. i did notice we were taking a lot of exits and circling ramps. within the last hour before we arrived, i woke up to an unfamiliar landscape. marshes. i had a suspicion where we were, i looked over at my father who told me we were in new jersey. this was a new route! we came into midtown via the lincoln tunnel. not having to traverse upper manhattan seemed like it would've saved us some time (the usual megabus route to/from manhattan), but we still arrived at our destination in just under 5 hours (10:50a, 28th and 7th avenue).

as usual, we marched to penn station to use the bathroom after a 5 hour bus ride. but instead of taking the 7 train to flushing, we went to korea town on 32nd street between 6th and 5th avenue. we went to food gallery 32, a small food court, to sample some korean dishes for lunch. i knew about this place from the last time i was in NYC with my uncle willy last month. that time, we came here after a big steak dinner, so only ordered some drinks. unfortunately that drink kiosk store was closed, but all the other shops i remembered were still opened (they open at 11a).

my mother and i went upstairs to use the restroom before we left around 12p. we had plenty of time on our hands and didn't want to go to flushing right away, especially not after we just ate lunch. the plan was to head out to queens sometime after 2:46p, when the first 7 express trains begin running, which would save us at least 10 minutes versus riding the local 7 train.

so we walked down 5th avenue. before we got to the flatiron building, we took a detour on one of the side streets towards 6th avenue. there was all sorts of wholesale stores, selling everything from jewelry, to hats, to cheap handbags. the street was clogged with delivery trucks making their rounds. my mother went to one jewelry store and bought half a dozen earrings. once we reached 6th avenue, we headed up (saw a toppled crane!) until we were back at greeley square again, the head of korea town.

we decided to do another loop, this time going down broadway until we finally reached the flatiron district. there was some kind of food festival happening and we grabbed an empty seat that happened to have a handy umbrella because it soon started to drizzle a little bit. we hung around there for a little while, before deciding to walk 23rd street west to the high line. along the way we passed through the chelsea district, an area my parents had never been before.

we'd been to the high line before but there seemed to be new additional work since our last visit. from 23rd (1:45p) we walked south to 17th street (2:15p) , before turning back and walking the highline until it ended at the hudson yard extension (34th street, 3:10p). the high line is mostly tourists, or perhaps guided by a local chaperone. we did see some fake buddhist monks trying to scam a few tourists.

i used 3 cameras: iphone camera (for convenient wide angles), fuji 3D camera (for 3D capture), and my panasonic lumix camera (for zoom). the lumix was working great, even doing some intermittent wide angle focusing (that was the thing that was broken). but a short time later it started to act weird, like the extending lenses was somehow getting caught, and it wouldn't close back down all the way. finally i just gave up and went back to my 2 other cameras.

i'd seen the hudson yards station on my last visit, but it wasn't opened yet. everything was new and shiny and smelled nice. the station has some very long escalators that take you below ground. one of our MTA ticket was expired (even though it had $30 on it) and when i went to the station clerk to ask for an exchange, he threw me some attitude ("sir, sir, let me read your ticket first, okay?"). we made sure to grab a 7 express train (3:30p) (one platform express, the other platform local), which would shave at least 10 minutes from our usual travel time.

we arrived in flushing by 4:00p. we picked up a few things first (like smoked duck and special northeastern china flatbread) just to get them out of the way before making it to the basement food court of the new world mall. we found a table and began to collect things to eat from the various food shops lining the perimeter. it didn't seem as busy as our past visits, maybe because this time we were here during the mid-late-afternoon crowd. enough time had elapsed since lunch that i was already hungry and looking forward to eating again. we got duck broth soup, yiansuji, smelly tofu, lamb and garlic chive dumplings, squid nugget soup, lamb broth noodle noodle, and xi'an lamb paomo. i went to get some bubble tea but the shop i went to were out of tapioca balls, and another shop was too expensive ($4.25).

we finished around 5:30p, but our megabus going back to boston wasn't until 8:20p. so we still had almost 3 hours to kill. we hung around in the food court a little bit longer, using the bathroom before we left. usually we'd get a few things from the supermarket upstairs but we were already carrying so much stuff we decided to skip that.

back outside, my mother bought some fruits, before we visited a liquor store. there's one we always go to on kissena boulevard, but i remember spotting one on 40th road, auspiciously called "taipei liquor store" (chinese name). they had the chinese baijiu i always get (wuliangye brand), but for just $11 (much cheaper than the $13 at the other store). we also bought another brand of 5-blend baijiu for $13. our last stop was a small bakery just by the entrance of the MTA station, to get some chinese egg tarts (actually they're more like portuguese pastel de nata - oven-burnt topping served warm).

the ride back was simple enough: from one terminal of the 7 train (flushing) to the other terminal (hudson yards). the new station at hudson yards saved us a lot of time, since normally we'd get off at time square or penn station and walk 20-25 minutes to the javitz center to catch the returning megabus. nearly everyone got off at time square, seemed like we were the only people going to the last station. we arrived at hudson yards at 7:00p, using the station bathroom (inside the station after you pay your fare) before coming up to the surface.

since there's no real place to sit by the bus line, we waited in the park surrounding the hudson yards station entrance. nearby was the ongoing construction site, a forest of cranes lit up by flood lights. for some reason there were still people working. my mother was the first to see a rat. then my father saw one. finally i saw one too. apparently the park is infested with rats. we saw a woman lie down on a bench and almost wanted to warn her.

we went to wait by the megabus line around 7:45p. we were behind a trio of smoking european girls. with so much high price construction going on in the area, i wonder if they'll force out megabus at some point. close to 8:20p they began allowing people to board the bus. the return trip wasn't as crowded as the morning bus and i got a seat all to myself.

our bus returned to boston via the usual route, up amsterdam avenue theough the upper west side, then eastward before columbia university over the willis avenue bridge. i stayed awake while we were in manhattan but once we left the island i quickly fell asleep after a long day.

we made it back to boston in good time, arrived by around 12:20p. my sister was coming to pick us up, but it seemed like we had enough time to catch the last subway train to alewife, so i texted her to wait until she heard back from us. apparently she never saw my message and when we called from the station, she was already on her way. fortunately we were able to tell her to go back before she got on the turnpike. we had enough time to even use the bathroom in south station. the last train was ashmont was at 12:30a, but the one from braintree seemed to be leaving at the same time, just a few minutes apart. the train finally arrived by around 12:50a.

we got off at porter square, and walked the 10 minutes back to my place, where my parents' car were parked outside. i unloaded some of the food i was carrying in my bag into the vehicle and watched as my parents drove home. it was close to 1:30a.

i woke up at 9:30a hoping my roommate had already left for class but was dismayed to find she was still home, sleeping in her bedroom. i went to go use the bathroom but when i heard her coming out of her bedroom, i got so anxious thinking she might want to use the facility that i abruptly finished and vacated. turns out bathroom wasn't even the top of her morning priority list: first she made coffee, then she went outside to smoke, and finally she got to the bathroom. by then i'd waited so long that and needed to go again. i narrowly had a bathroom emergency in my own house, almost had to do the unthinkable and go take a dump in a bag in my bedroom. finally she left by 10:30a, nearly a full hour since i left the bathroom. i quickly rushed back inside and could finally do my morning business in peace.

my original plan for today was to ride down to belmont and borrow the car so i could pick up the dyson vacuum and the power washer for a day of cambridge cleaning. but i noticed my father wasn't at the cafe yet so i called him at home. he said he could bring the power washer to my place, saving me a trip. i ended up vacuuming with my little hoover vac. i used the small rarely-used rug attachment head to clean my carpets. turns out it works pretty well, although nowhere the suction power of the dyson. i replaced the bag recently and washed the filter so there was no smell. still, i'd like to clean the house just once with the dyson, before i turn on my heat and have the dusty air recirculating throughout the house.

my father showed up sometime after 11a with the power washer. i started with the front steps, connecting the hose from the backyard and running power from a living room outlet. renee admired my house maintenance diligence, said she herself can hardly get around to doing the smallest amount of house upkeep. once the front steps were done, i disconnected everything and moved to the back of the house.

even though the backyard deck is only two stories, it actually has 3 layers, with a middle landing between the two main floors. i'd only cleaned the deck once before, many years ago before i treated it with australian timber oil. back then my father had the power washer but i didn't want to use it because i was afraid it'd tear up the wood during cleaning. that's the case with the jet nozzle, but my father has another nozzle, a gentle spray nozzle with adjustable velocity, and that's the one i used for the deck.

originally i wanted to work my way from top down, because i knew anything i sprayed above would land below, but i was so eager to power wash that i started from my own first floor deck first. the last time i washed the deck i scrubbed it with a brush. it was back breaking and dirty work, and i could only clean the places i could easily reach, so areas like the underside of the deck were never cleaned. armed with a power washer however, i could reach most anywhere on the deck, especially after i set up the ladder my father brought as well. but the one disadvantage of spray cleaning above me was suddenly water was dripping everywhere. i used a flip-flop to protect the power outlet, and covered my hanging wireless temperature sensor with some plastic wrap.

power washing is actually pretty fun, the same kind of joy i get from vacuuming the carpet or mowing the lawn. especially on our deck, which hasn't been washed in ages and coated with years of dirt and algae, the difference between washed and unwashed wood is really noticeable. i wore these vinyl disposable gloves which were terrible and kept ripping at the fingertips despite changing them for a new pair. i also had on my safety goggles; it kept the water off my glasses, but didn't keep the water from the goggles. at least it'd protect my eyes from any dirty water splash back.

i worked my way upwards, finally to steve's floor. he had a bunch of things on his deck which was a hassle to move around, but i didn't tell him i was washing the deck today either, so it's not entirely his fault. the only part i couldn't spray were parts of the 2nd floor railing facing the garden. the dirt on there is so thick the sprayer needs to be nearly right against the wood in order to clean it.

sure enough, when i returned to the lower decks, they were covered in washed off debris from the top deck, so i had to quick rinse those floors again.

since i was on a roll, i decided to wash the flagstones in the backyard. for that i used the jet nozzle, which is a much stronger stream. i one point i was picking something up and accidentally sprayed my fingers with the jet nozzle for a split second, which hurt. i switched back to the spray nozzle and washed a section of the wooden fence. the really amazing thing was it was able to wash off the algae but not harm the ivy growing on the boards.

i finally went inside by 3:30p, a soaked mess. ana was already home, eating lunch in the kitchen, watching her spanish show from her laptop, the house smells think of burnt cooking oil. my bedroom door was naturally open, my bedroom stank of cooking smell. up to that point i hadn't even eaten anything yet the entire day, so after a quick shower, i made myself an english muffin sandwich. ana would later go take her afternoon siesta.

around 4p i went outside briefly to run some errands. i went to porter square to check on the status of two charlie cards my mother gave me. i then went to see if the new dollar tree on somerville avenue was open yet. i saw the sign and parked my bike, but when i looked inside the store, it was still empty, but all the aisles were new. finally i went to star market to get some snacks, including a large bag of salty sunflower seeds.

ana didn't go away this weekend like she normally does. instead she used the bathroom around 7p and left the house by 8p to have dinner with her brother. she didn't return home until 2a. as for me, i heated up the last of my clam corn chowder for dinner while watching big night (1996) on netflix. later i had a craving for hard cider so i went to the liquor store around the corner and got myself some fall harvest woodchuck hard cider. i really wanted to try the downeast cider but i didn't know how much it cost, so decided to stick with the usual.