i've procrastinated long enough, today would be the day i finally get my passport renewed. the biggest hurdle was getting new passport photos. i could get them done at some place like the post office for $15, but who knows if it'd look any good? doing it myself would save some money (the renewal fee for a passport is expensive enough, $110) and i could pick the photo i want. i was hoping to just print it out with my epson photo printer, but i haven't used that thing for so long, the print nozzles are all clogged up and not worth repairing. my only option would be a 3rd party printing place.

my first stop was the UPS store on mass ave. they're known primarily for shipping, but it seems like they're trying to get into the printing business as well. "i heard you guys can print a file for me?" one of the guys behind the counter directed me to a computer station with a credit card slider. color prints are 79¢, while the computer usage was 59¢ per minute. it seemed confusing. "so on top of the cost of printing, you also charge me per minute to use the computer?" i asked. "you just need to work fast," said the employee. i decided not to try their printing service.

passport photo printing would have to wait. i stopped at the cafe before making my way to belmont. what was in belmont that demanded my immediate attention? yesterday my sister sent me a photo of a seemingly injured hawk hanging out in the backyard. when i called her about it today, she said it died shortly after she told me about it. she noticed it wasn't in the backyard anymore but that was because my father put in a plastic bag and threw it away in the trash.

i fished the dead hawk from the garbage can and carried it into the backyard to get a better look and take some photos. my father was afraid it might be carrying some kind of avian flu, but i didn't think that was possible. it was about a foot long from head to tail, and surprisingly light. it's body was in rigor mortis, with it's feet sticky straight up, but the head was still wobbly. what could've killed it? there was no signs of trauma. maybe it was poisoned by something it ate, but who sets out poisonous bait anyway in these liability days? perhaps it just died from old age.

from the photo my sister sent me, i knew it was either a cooper's hawk or a sharp-shinned hawk ("sharpie"). even though they're pretty common, i've only seen them a few times, and rarely close enough for photos. these two hawks are very similar in appearance and i couldn't make a positive identification from my sister's snapshot. after examining the dead bird up close, it's safe to say it was a sharp-shinned hawk. they're smaller (average a foot in length), have a compact head, and the tail feathers are equally long.

but what was it doing in the backyard? could it have been attracted to the neighbor's chickens? although a hawk that size would have a hard time killing a hen, much less trying to carrying it off to eat. sharp-shinned hawks eat smaller birds, the kind attracted to birdfeeders.

one of the more impressive things about hawks are their claws, which clearly show they're predators. even dead, the claws on the sharpie looked awfully dangerous. the feathers were also very attractive and i tried to pull off a few as a souvenir but they were firmly attached and i didn't want to force it. the hawk is in near pristine shape, it's a shame to just throw it out. times like this it'd be nice to know a taxidermist.

i saw my sister when i was pulling into the house; she was on her way to a doctor's appointment. the only one home was hailey, with her bandaged foot and her donut collar to prevent her from tearing off the dressing. i let her outside, her paw seems better, none of the gingerness from last monday. i showed her the dead hawk but she seemed to be more interested in the twigs littering the lawn. she sat out in the sun for a while as i took photos. later she pooped and promptly went back inside the home, as if she's had enough of the outdoors.

leaving belmont, i rode around the fresh pond perimeter to trader joe's. i'm pretty sure they don't carry my favorite tea anymore, but i just had to check. i also got some rice crackers, a box of israeli couscous, and some spicy mango slices. from there i crossed over to staples on the other side of route 2. "do you think you could print out a color file for me?" i asked the woman working at the print station. i gave her my thumb drive with the jpeg document. it was only $1.09 for a glossy, far cheaper than at the UPS store and totally full service. in a few seconds i had my printout. it was not what i expected. the color correction was awful, i looked like an orange oompa loompa. "do you think it's kind of orange?" i asked. she said she could lighten it up a bit. the 2nd printout look practically the same. i knew at that point it was a lost cause. i paid for the one "good" printout and left.

returning to the cafe from fresh pond, i traveled down field street. i noticed a newly construction house (18 field street) with metal roofs like you'd see in vermont. while riding pass the house, i noticed they weren't just roofs - they were also solar panels! i stopped to get a photo, just when the owner came out of the house. he told me not only were they for electricity, but they also heated the water as well. what an awesome house!

at the cafe my mother gave me some "lion head" meatballs with rice for lunch, which i ate when i finally got back home. this was in addition to the yogurt i had this morning. having nothing else to do the rest of the day, i played around with sketchup some more than started watching daughters of darkness (1971).

i have a craving for hot tamales (candy) and decided to ride down to rite aid to get some. there are always a lot of cars in the parking lot but there's never that many people inside the store. browsing the aisles, i noticed their extensive selection of insulated thermos and mugs. the aladdin brand migo 16 oz. insulated tumbler caught my attention. i'd never heard of this brand, but here was a very cool container for storing hot/cold beverages. it was a little pricey ($25) so i decided to go home and look it up online for more info.

back at home, i got an e-mail from victor asking me if i wanted to watch the spain vs. czech republic game starting at 5:00. he was going to come home early to see the match. it was being broadcasted on ESPN3, so the online streaming was better, but it still got stuck a few times (although the audio always kept on going). i'm still not won over to soccer and i still think it's a boring game. one good thing about soccer is that it's short (90 minutes long), unlike the average 3 hours of "action" for baseball. i'm actually dreading the summer because there won't be any kind of sport on television other than baseball. i predict a lot of reading.

victor cleared up some football confusion for me. what i thought was the euro cup is actually the champions league. the champions league is when the best football teams from various european countries compete, for instance real madrid. this happens every year, and it's pretty prestigious for a team (barcelona is the current reigning champion). the euro cup is when countries compete against countries (with national teams composed of native players), sort of like the world cup except for europe. like the world cup, the euro cup happens every 4 years. even though the euro cup playoffs won't be until 2012, the qualifying rounds begin now.

spain ended up winning, even though there was a time when the outcome looked doubtful, especially when the czechs scored a goal in the first half and spain went into the halftime with no points. bear in mind this is the same spanish team that won the world cup last year so they should really be dominating. the final score was 2-1. maybe spain would've scored more if it wasn't for the czech goalkeeper petr cech (supposedly one of the best, plays for chelsea professionally), who wears a special headgear that looks like a water polo helmet to prevent aggravating a previous near-fatal skull injury.

rest of the evening victor was in his room (with the door open, watching videos on his computer) while i was in the living room. i heated a massaman curry dish for dinner and watched the latest fringe.