the shortcut we take to get to market basket goes by an industrial barrel supply company (bancroft barrel, somerville) behind the commuter rail train tracks. although the place seems desserted, occasional we see big trucks parked outside so there's definitely something going on inside. whenever i go by i take a quick peek through the chain link fence, where usually there's a pile of rusty steel drum barrels piled up in a pyramid on the otherwise empty dirt-grass field. i've always wanted to know if they had plastic barrels as well but never saw any so assumed they didn't. for whatever reason, my father decided to investigate on his way back from the supermarket, knocking on the building door. his persistence paid off and an employee actually came out to meet him. they do in fact have plastic barrels in 3 different colors: blue, white, and black. the best part? only $10 a piece, far cheaper than any place we could find online (the cheapest so far is that place in haverhill at $15/barrel).

my father told me he wanted to get 3 more for the house (in black), but i suggested we should hold off and think about it a little bit. we can get at least one more, to replace the blue rain barrel so it can return to the cafe. he wanted another one for the front of the house by the garage, and one more near the corner of the house that used to be my bedroom. the thing is, we already have 4 rain barrels, and have more captured rain water than we know what to do with. to add a few more would make the house look like donkey kong's suburban lair. nevertheless, it's nice to know we have a local supplier in case we ever needed barrels. and at $70 a pop for a finished rain barrel (the cheapest deal i could find), we could actually start a little business furnishing local homeowners with barrels of their own. the only downside is they don't have any of those terracotta greek olive barrels, which look better and make better rain barrels.

i haven't checked my vegetables in a few days, so i didn't realize my tomatoes were going crazy, getting tall enough to hit the fluorescent lights. it's been almost a month but i'm already thinking about moving these plants outside. the average daytime temperature is 60° and above, but at nights it can drop down to the 40's. i think i'm going to risk it. i only really care about the tomatoes, because everything else i can still grow from seeds. the tomatoes and the peppers. peppers grow slow though, so i may be able to keep them in the closet for a few more weeks.

the underground construction on my across-the-street neighbors' house seems to be progressing well because today one of the construction guy was digging up the mounds of soil and moving them into a dumpster. oh precious soil! what i would do for that much of it! i wanted to go out and ask him what he was going to do with all that dirt and whether or not i could have some for my garden. but there's a logistical issue here: i don't need just a few scoops, or even a few buckets: want i want is cubic yards of the stuff, and there's no easy way for me to transport all that soil from cambridge to belmont. so all i could do is watch and covet. likewise, there's a pile of stones outside as well. some of them would make good stepping stones, but transporting large rocks is also a logistical problem.

i had a pretty stressful day. victor didn't leave for work until around noontime, and of course gise was in kitchen working for much of the day. had the weather been nicer with no threats of thunderstorms, i would've made up an excuse to get out of the house, any place where i could be alone for a few hours. my simmering resentment was such that i had no appetite, eating just a banana for breakfast and having some leftover rice noodles for a late lunch early dinner. chatting with gise,1 i found out for the first time when she'd be leaving: wednesday, almost another whole week. actually originally it was tuesday, but her flight got cancelled, so she's leaving a day later. a day later, and almost an entire month living at my place. when victor first asked me for permission, i figured 2 weeks, a maximum of 3. but a whole month? i don't want to say he's been the worst roommate ever, but definitely this situation has caused me the most stress. i mean, what's another week, right? now that i have my motorcycle, once the weather clears up, i'll be out of the house as often as i can. to top it off, victor came back home around 4:00, a very short 3 hour work day. i was hoping maybe they had some plans to go out but they both stayed in the kitchen while i was sequestered in the living room.

some presents from hong kong arrived to cheer me up a little. most of the stuff is for my parents (a whistle, a flash light, an ipod charger that will be used to charge a garmin gps instead); the only thing for me was a pair of earbuds. listed as "in-ear stereo earbuds" (SKU 4319) and sold for $2.85 a piece, it had more than 500 reviews on dealextreme, so a much recommended product. when i tried it out though, the sound was muffled. at first i thought that it was supposed to sound that way, but when i used a pair of cheap sansa earbuds (that came with my ancient mp3 player, missing one of the foam covers) those sounded better than the new ones. it serves me right trying going with a cheap no-name brand. occasionally there are some good products, but not this time. maybe i just got a bad one, but not worth it sending it back to HK for a replacement.

when i was a kid (around age 10 or so) i had access to a borrowed video camera which i used to make a few movies with my sister. standard kiddy fare, make-believe adventures starring stuffed animals (the video probably still exists, i'll have to dig it up). the equipment was a big old thing, used VHS tapes that recorded from a portable VCR that you had to lug around with the camera attached separately by a cord. moviemaking was something i dabbled in, but never really a serious hobby. many years later, when imovie came out, i played around with that, extracting snippets of footage from digital8 tapes. it was more novelty than anything else. it's been a while since i've messed around with video (i'm more of a still photo guy), but my filmmaking juices are flowing again, thanks to the new HD video shooting camera my parents recently got and the latest copy of imovie (v9 AKA 2011 version).

i especially like the editing process. capturing the footage is one layer of creativity, but assembling all the clips together into a coherent story (and one that people would actually watch and not be bored out of their mind) is another creative layer. i like the expertise involved and makes me better appreciate the editing on a tv show or a movie. who knows, maybe in the future there might be some video blog postings as well.

1 neither of my roommates have done anything so terrible that i'd want to kick them out, but they've definitely overstayed their welcome. it's hard enough for me to tolerate one roommate; it's chinese water torture living with 2, especially for almost a whole month. i usually feel better after i vent a little bit online though, this is my personal form of stress-relieving therapy.

i did ask gise about their NYC trip. she liked manhattan very much and would definitely go back. even with the rain (it rained the whole time that they were there except for one day) they still managed to enjoy the big apple, hitting all the major tourist destinations (statue of liberty, central park, museums, empire state building, wall street, time square). they even managed to watch the barcelona-madrid soccer game (wednesday) in a bar full of fans.