the problem with biking during the winter is the salt corrosion. i noticed it today, the salt stains all over my bike. i need to wash all that stuff off the first chance i get. that's why you need two bikes: a good one for riding during the nicer seasons, and a bad one to get you through the winter.

while my sister was working at the cafe, my parents took my great uncle to the new dongbei cuisine restaurant in belmont and i got to tag along. golden garden (63 concord avenue, right next to the high school, across from the gas station) opened up 5 months ago. it wouldn't have registered on our culinary radar were it not for the fact that my aunt lili noticed a sign saying they served dongbei cuisine, which is food from the cold climes of northeastern china. she told us about it last week and said she had a good experience when she went. my father thought my great uncle - who is originally from the dongbei region - would enjoy some old fashion home cooking (it was also his birthday yesterday, although i'm not sure if this was a birthday lunch).

my mother and i met my father and great uncle at the restaurant. we were the first and only customers there on this sunday morning. we chatted with the owner, who's from dongbei, and the waiter (who's actually from kaohsiung, taiwan). from my understanding, dongbei cuisine is about dumplings, and noodles, and sauerkraut (not so much on rice). we ordered two plates of homemade chinese dumplings (one with pork and sauerkraut filling, one with pork and cabbage). we got some wood ear mushrooms for an appetizer, which was the best dish. it didn't look spicy, but the taste was a complex blend of hotness, sourness, and saltiness. the mushrooms were also unusually crispy to the point that i thought maybe i was eating seaweed. we ordered a big bowl of stewed chinese sauerkraut which my great uncle noted wasn't sour enough. i ordered the tripe dish and was surprised when it arrived plain with the sauce on the side (the sauce was similar to kind i make for eating hot pot). the final two dishes were kidneys and intestines. they were okay, but more like traditional american chinese cuisine, a lot of mixed vegetables and thick dark sauces, nothing like the earlier dishes.

all in all, it was a good experience. there was still a lot of things we didn't try. as probably the only dongbei cuisine chinese restaurant that i know of, it's a good place to go if you want to try something new.

back in belmont, i successfully loaded new 2010 china maps onto both of the garmin GPS's. later my father showed me something strange: on the older garmin 650, there were actually building outlines, but they're missing on the newer garmin 295w (i figured it'd be the other way around). later i tried uploading a set of taiwan maps but they didn't work.

my parents left briefly to return the massaging chair pad. my mother didn't like it, said it hurt her back bones. i was responsible for packing everything up (since i was the one who originally took everything out of the box).

wildcard weekend continued with a 1:00 game between the kansas city chiefs and the baltimore ravens. former patriots quarterback matt cassel was manning the helm for the chiefs, who only managed to score a single touchdown to lose 30-7. later in the afternoon was the game between the green bay packers and the philadelphia eagles. that was a more competitive game, although the packers seemed to be in control for most of it. it came down to the final seconds, with vick about to win the game with a touchdown throw only to be intercepted. next sunday: patriots versus the jets at 4:30.

dinner was weird, just an assortment of bread, a guacamole dip my sister whipped up, and some barbecued pulled beef. i didn't eat too much, but i didn't have to anyway on the account of my big lunch.

i wasn't looking forward to the ride home because it was so cold outside. originally i planned on borrowing an extra jacket, but i decided to warm up instead by flapping my arms to induce circulation. the ride wasn't that bad and the roads were mostly free of cars. i did warm up eventually, but my fingers still felt frozen (remember to wear mittens next time). one thing i noticed since i switched to the larger bike is i no longer have mysterious shin pains like i used to. definitely had something to do with riding a short bike.

i got a new shampoo last week, a bottle of pert plus with new fresh scent. what attracted me was the fact that they added menthol to the shampoo, "for an invigorating feel." i tried it last night and it wasn't good. it smelled like regular shampoo, there was no minty hint of what's in store. the menthol made my head feel cold despite the hot shower. i use my shower times to warm up, so having all my body heat suddenly escaping from the top of my head was counterproductive. the fumes from the menthol also made my eyes hurt; it was essentially like washing my hair with vick's vapor rub. it might be a great shampoo for hot summer days, but not something you want to mess with during winter.