i woke up early to get ready for my doctor's appointment this morning. i would've liked to ride the bike but it was raining so i had to take the subway instead. i arrived at exactly 10:30 and hardly had time to fill out my forms before one of the nurses called me in. after a weight and blood pressure measurement, i was led to one of the familiar windowless examination rooms. i come here so option, i was tempted to hide something and see if it'd still be there the next time i came.

"welcome back," my primary care physician said to me after nearly a year's hiatus away from the protective walls of mass general hospital. on the agenda were 3 things. first, regarding my blood pressure: i'd only been taking readings the past few days, and the numbers are still a little high, but at the hospital i got some normal numbers. i've been back on the diovan for less than 2 weeks, and my doctor wanted some more time with the medication to see if it was working or not. second, regarding the mysterious chest pains around my heart: it's still there, but seems to be a little less ever since i switched back to diovan. it's a wait and see situation, to be monitored for any future changes. and third and finally, regarding my groin discomfort.

it's been almost a month and the pain in my groin is still there. it's mostly focused on my left testicle, but sometimes the pain spreads to my lower abdomen and sometimes to my thigh, and every once in a while i'll feel a mysterious sharp pain somewhere around my tailbone. it's not something i can trigger by feeling around but the ache is always there in the background. my doctor listened as i described the symptoms. "this could be one of three things," he said to me. testicular cancer. very bad, but i seem a little young, and i didn't feel any mysterious lumps. testicular torsion. bad as well, but if that was the case, i'd be in so much pain i'd be in the ER already. finally, hernia. he said it was probably that.

there's no way to fix a hernia without surgery since it doesn't heal on its own. my doctor was so sure it was a hernia that he suggested i see a specialist. i asked if he could check just to make sure. he put on his gloves and asked me to lock the door, "so nobody gets a free show." i dropped my trousers and my doctor performed a hernia check. cough. cough. "yeah, it's a hernia alright," he said, snapping off his gloves. while checking my left side, he could feel my stomach wall dropping when i coughed, which is not supposes to happen, which means it's an inguinal hernia.

on the one hand i'm glad it's a hernia and not something worse. given the location of the pain, i was fearing the worst, like stage IV internal testicular gangrene (i made that up). but surgery? i've never been operated on before. the most damage i've ever sustained was breaking my foot or nearly slicing off my thumb, neither of which required surgery (external stitching doesn't count). how did it happen? thinking back, i've experienced similar groin pains in the past, but they've always gone away after about a day. this time it's different.

the secretary took my phone number and said the specialist would call me within a week to book a consultation. also next month i'll be back for an annual physical.

it was still raining when i left the hospital. there was some drama on the train. first a drunk man with no shoes got onboard. "you can't ride the train without shoes," the middle conductor told him, as he began putting on his boots. the man was making awkward small talk with the passengers, while the conductor eyeballed him for 2 stations before he got off. then an asian old lady and her late middle-aged son were wandering the platform looking especially confused. the conductor tried to ask them where they wanted to go, but they didn't speak any english and the son was just smiling in his ignorance. please don't ask me to translate please don't ask me translate i said to myself, praying the conductor wouldn't call me out since i was one of the asian faces on the train. besides, they seemed to be speaking cantonese, not the dialect i speak. the conductor instead the conductor asked an asian girl whom i thought was either japanese or korean who turned out to be chinese. she spoke only mandarin as well, but fortunately the man spoke mandarin too. even when she explained to him where he had to go, he still wasn't understanding. i looked nearby and there was another asian man sitting next to me. when did it turn into an all asian cabin? finally i got off at harvard square before anymore drama.

it continued to rain. after depositing a check at my bank, i began walking home. despite being cold and wet, i could still admire some of the trees and shrubs that are now beginning to flower, plants like forsythias and magnolias. spring signs! i decided to visit harrison street in nearby somerville to see some rain barrels in action.

ever since i've began this rain barrel project, i now see them everywhere. the ubiquitous blue plastic barrels is a dead giveaway, but recently i spotted some more elegant terracotta pot-shaped rain barrels at a newly-built condo complex. passing by downspouts pouring out torrents of rain water, i couldn't help feeling sad that here was this free natural resource falling from the sky going to waste. this would've been the perfect day to test out our own rain barrels but they're not finished yet, my father and i are still discussing spigot/outflow options.

there was also some homemade raised beds on the front yard of somebody's house. everyone builds them differently, although the basic plan is the same. these were smaller frames, and i wondered if the builder treated the wood with linseed oil like we did because the boards seems water-resistant. despite some crude corners (6 nails? 3 nails? misalignment?), the larger box was fancy enough to have a center brace and the bottoms where lined with burlap.

my father called me in the afternoon after he was done with work, asking if i wanted to go to home depot to look for rain barrel parts. anything to get out of the house, where gise was camped out over the dining table. she was video skyping with relatives back home and i think she was showing them my place because i heard her walking around the house with her laptop. i also heard the words "treinta y siete" and "jóvenes." i can understand you! sort of!

it seems like everyday there's a new idea to properly attach the spigot or the outflow to the rain barrel. yesterday's great plan was to use 1-1/2" insert fitting for the outflow and a plastic close nipple attached to a 3/4" sillcock for the spigot. ah, so much as changed! after some lengthy browsing and running back and forth between the electrical and plumbing aisles (why don't they just put them next to each other?), we decided to use 3/4" electrical male terminal adapters for the sillcocks. the problem with the close nipples was they couldn't thread all the way into the 3/4" female end of the sillcock. the male terminal is a better idea, but it means we don't need the 3/4" conduit locknuts anymore. as for the outflow, we're still going with an insert fitting, but i discovered they also make them in 90° elbow shapes as well. and instead of using a male insert fitting (which has a hex-shaped thread end instead of jut circular) we're going with a female insert fitting. this will be held in place by a male conduit terminal end. we're also going with 1-1/4" outflow diameter, only because we couldn't find 1-1/2" insert fitting elbows. 1-1/4" is a bit smaller, but at least i can use the 1-1/4" sump pump hose i purchased yesterday (and not have to order 1-1/2" sump pump hose online).

i think we're in good shape regarding the rain barrels. we should be able to finish at least one of them by this weekend and put it into service. now i look forward to lengthy rain showers so i can see the rain barrels in action.

when i came back home gise was still at the dining table. i asked about who she was talking to and whether or not she speaks spanish at home or some local language, being that she's from valencia. she drew me a map of spain on a piece of paper and i couldn't help noticing the lines of complex mathematical formulas scribbled across it as well. that is some hardcore science!

victor came home around 7:00. here's the pattern: gise makes dinner and they eat together at the dining table, sometimes watching a television show or movie streamed on their computer. they make a multi-course meal but they never invite me. i feel like the 3rd wheel in my own house! for dinner all i had was some trader joe biryani. after coming back from the doctor's i had some french toast (managed to burnt one of them) and a bunch of bacon strips for lunch. it was pretty smelly but i used 2 fans to ventilate, sort of setting a good example as the proper way to cook greasy/oily food.