only 3 days into the new year and it's already feels like it's been ages. today is the first official work day of the new year, when millions of people return to their jobs, back to the starkness of reality. i was betting it wouldn't be a very busy day for me, and escaped to belmont in the late morning (my father gave me a ride).

i secured my next astrophysicist roommate: another spanish fellow this time from madrid, he'll be here at the end of february and staying here for 3 months. i sent him some photos of the place today and he's decided he wants to stay at chez tony during his time in cambridge.

i continued setting up my sister's new computer, realizing i could migrate over all her data into a new account and then erase the old one. i also learned how to change the short OS X user name by casting myself as the the root user. i also picked my father's PC laptop, ever since he began experiencing the black screen of death a few days ago. i had to use the registry editor and tweak his startup settings. his windows 7 system was modified by a malware, and so instead of opening up explorer.exe whenever he turned on the computer, it was being rerouted to some weird alternate path. in both cases (mac and pc), i was glad to be able to fix the problem without resorting to a complete system install.

the whole family went to burlington in the afternoon: first to bed bath and beyond where my mother had eyes on a sharper image MSG-C210 quad roller dual action shiatsu massage cushion ($150); followed by a visit to h mart for some asian groceries; finally a stop at the nearby recently moved/renovted market basket.

it was evening by the time we got back. my father went to the cafe to drop off supplies, but his real reason was to pick up the newly arrived garmin nüvi 295w that came today. my first impression is it's a cool little gadget given the price ($80). it's main purpose is a GPS, but it can also surf the web through wifi and had a built-in camera. i think it's great for traveling. since its GPS maps are built-in, it doesn't depend on wireless access for navigation (unlike smartphone GPS systems). the only problem may be the battery life.

web page loading was slower than on my computer, but that's to be expected. i was just amazed to be able to surf on such a small device. it's probably not the easiest thing to do, but navigation is easy with it's touchscreen input. it also took a few minutes to find satellites, but i think that's fairly common with most GPS. it eventually was able to track 8 different satellites.

my parents' first car GPS was purchased back in may 2008 (garmin nüvi 650) and there seems to be some improvements in user interface. for instance, zooming on the 295w is a continuous animation, compared to the 650 where the unit redraws the screen. also the 295w has a 3D topview mode not available in the 650.

after dinner we unpacked the shiatsu massager and set it up in the computer room. i tried it out, it actually feels pretty life-like, with its four massaging rollers. the rollers actually light up blue when the cushion is plugged in for a futuristic look (they turn red when the heated massage option is selected). the shiatsu actually hurt, but i think that's because of years of tension in my back muscles; i think after using it a few times, it won't hurt as much. even after i stopped, i could still feel phantom shiatsu rollers working on my back. the machine will also turn off in 15 minutes; not sure if that's for a personal safety issue or to prevent the rollers from overheating. the machine is very light and designed to be carried around (it comes with a bag).

when i got back to cambridge (via bicycle), i stopped by bruce's place where he gave me some hoppin' john he made for new year's, a traditional southern dish of rice and beans (and bacon). i'll have it tomorrow either for lunch or dinner.

last night i spent in my own bedroom for a change (i was burning a dvd on my desktop machine). it was cold, but i personally prefer a lower sleeping temperature (or maybe i'm just used to it by now). however, tonight, i'm returning to the warmth of the guest bedroom.