i slept a little late today since i didn't have anything going on this morning. still, i managed to bump into victor as he was leaving for work (around 10:30). i made some instant oatmeal in the kitchen as gise was working diligently in the dining area. i felt a little guilty in my own house because i didn't want to disturb her. nevertheless, i continued searching for information. the questions i ask may sound like polite chitchat, but they have a purpose. like when i asked her if she intended to work all the time or could she take a break and do some sightseeing on her vacation; what i was really trying to say is, will you always be at home? because i'd really like you to not be here occasionally.

i still have no idea when she's going back to spain. i assume it'd be the sunday of her third full week here in boston, which would make that the first of may, 17 more days. the only time i have any real privacy is when they go to sleep at nights and i have a few hours all to myself; even then i try to be considerate by not doing anything too noisy.

i cleaned both of my fish tanks, which have become a real mess since victor moved in. the problem is all his oily cooking condensates on the surface of the aquariums, which trigger massive algae bloom. it's not soo bad in the tetra tank, but the guppy tank needs to have its water changed over the course of several days to completely get rid of the oil-feeding algae. good news is one of the guppies died. that means it just disappeared, leaving just 2 more guppies. after they're both gone, i might shut down that tank or get some new fish. maybe some algae eaters, even though i think they're kind of gross looking.

i just had to get out of the house in the afternoon, so i left for the cafe. besides, the temperature was in the 60's, and here in new england we don't look a gift weather in the mouth but rather just go out and enjoy it as much as possible (because who knows when's the next time we'll have nice weather again). it felt very vernal; besides the warmer temperature, the flowers are now putting on their show, with perennial bulbs in bloom and a few flowering and sometimes fragrant trees.

i told my father yesterday about my impending hernia operation and today i told my mother (actually the hospital called me today to schedule an appointment to see the surgeon for next month). she just wanted to know that if any procedure is to be done, that it'd be done after their china vacation at the start of next month. i was more concerned about if my health insurance would cover it, but if there's one thing that health insurance is good for is for circumstances like these. out of all the people in my family, i seem to use my insurance the most, from a broken foot, a sliced thumb, and now a hernia operation. i don't even live a very exciting life but somehow i'm quite prone to injuries apparently.

my mother fixed me some xiao long bao to eat. i helped her log into her e-mail account and we talked about getting a new digital camera before their trip. we had our eyes set on the canon elph 300 HS, but reviews on amazon.com have been all over the place, with some people absolutely hating that camera.

later my godmother stopped by the cafe, back from her own recent trip to china (beijing, tianjin, shanghai, suzhou). she gave me some haw flakes she'd bought. she gave us a slideshow of her trip on her camera (sony DSC-T200, very nice 16x9 aspect ratio LCD). she went with her son jack, and it seems like basically when she wasn't sightseeing she was eating, with some very delicious-looking food photos.

i left around 5:00, hoping to beat the rush hour traffic that was now occurring. a few blocks away i was called back to the cafe, where my 2nd aunt had returned from chinatown with a vietnamese sandwich for me.

gise finally left the house around 6:00. moments later victor came home as well, but left soon afterwards in a coordinated plan to met up with his girlfriend. he didn't say where he was going so i didn't know when they'd be back (they came home an hour later, i think they just went for a walk).

i spent the rest of the night watching episodes of deadwood (i'm finally watching the late HBO series after hearing so much good things about it) and doing digital camera research. there is no perfect camera, every one has pros and cons. there was an informative dpreview survey of travel cameras back in june 2010. their picks was either the casio FH100 or the samsung HZ35W.

the casio FH100 is actually a pretty good deal, selling on amazon for only $200. one cool feature i really like is the ability to shoot high speed videos; it's kind of gimmicky, and videos shot at the maximum 1000 fps are tiny little postage-sized movies. one caveat: no optical zoom in video mode, and my parents primarily want a camera that can also double as a camcorder. plus there was one scathing amazon review of the camera that pointed people to the panasonic lumix DMC-ZS7 instead (more on that later).

as for the samsung HZ35W, very few places actually sell it, which makes me think it may not be very popular, despite the good review. also, i'm always leery of cameras from companies that aren't known for their cameras. browsing the samsung site, i did come across the WB210, which has some pretty impressive specs: 14 megapixels, 12x optical zoom, optical image stabilizing, 3.5" touchscreen, 720p HD video, and priced at $280. even though more places sell the WB210, there's almost no information on this camera that was just recently introduced at a photo show. from a single video i saw that the interface is very icon driven, more smartphone than camera, which makes me worried about image quality. an even cooler camera is the samsung WB700 which sell for $300. no one has gotten their hands on this camera yet even though it was supposed to be out in april. it has a retro style with features 16 megapixels, 18x optically stabilized zoom, and 720p HD video. samsung makes some cool products but other than their HDTV/monitors, a lot of that stuff just doesn't seem to find its way to the american consumers.

sony was another option. i really like the camera my godmother was using, the T-200, with it's 16x9 aspect ratio. newer versions of the camera also features sweep panorama, which stitches an instant panorama on the fly just by panning the camera. it's a very cool feature, but probably not worth buying the camera just for that (besides, any camera can take panoramas through additional stitching softwares, and a video is just as good with immersive captures). the thing i don't like about sony cameras is its use of their proprietary memory sticks.

finally, i came across the panasonic lumix DMC-ZS7. it's a camera that came out the beginning of last year, and a peek on the amazon shows an average user rating of 4.5 stars out of 496 reviews, so a lot of satisfied customers. the DMC-ZS7 has another name: the TZ-10, which stands for "travel zoom." specs: 12 megapixels, 12x optically stabilized zoom (25-300mm equivalent), 3" LCD, 720p HD videos, built-in GPS, with a price of around $275. the GPS is sort of a gimmick, not necessary but fun to have, although it seems to drain the battery. i also read somewhere that it doesn't work in china, which makes it pointless to have since that's where my parents are going. the two things i don't like about the DMC-ZS7 is the lackluster low light performance and slightly-proprietary video codec (AVCHD or M-JPEG). but compared to all the other cameras i've researched within the past few days, this seems like the best option.