it's well past 4:00 in the morning and i'm still not asleep. spent the past 2 hours playing around with the new ipad our china relative gave my parents as a present when they were in beijing less than 2 weeks ago. they say tablets are the wave of the future. i don't know if they'll ever replace the laptop because it's still kind of difficult to do actual work on one of these things, but for everyday web surfing, it's really the best possible experience. i also read that tablets will replace the e-readers. i've actually grown quite fond of my amazon kindle but it'd be cool to also surf the web with that thing. the kindle is good because it uses very little power (go a whole month without charging) and it's light; but i can't read the kindle in the dark like i can with the ipad, and the kindle is only greyscale.

i was riding back home in the fog around 2:00. in all i probably saw a total of half a dozen cars. even with 4 different blinkers, i was still cautious because of the low visibility.

i was in belmont waiting for my parents to get back home from their vacation. originally i thought about going to the airport with my sister, but there wasn't enough room for me plus my parents and my aunt and uncle and the suitcases. my sister went to logan solo, leaving after my parents touched down and gave her a call.

my parents brought back a bunch of stuff, the bulk of which comprised of dried fruits like raisins, which is one of the main exports of western china. i was more interested in seeing their photos. playing around with their camera, i noticed it was set to a low 2 megapixels resolution. sure enough, all the photos on the memory card were taken at the smaller 1920x1080 size. i was horrified. i knew my father talked about taking photos at a smaller resolution to save memory, but there was no need for that since they had plenty of memory cards and even brought along a borrowed 250gb portable photo storage device. you take photos at the maximize size in case you ever want to print them out or possibly crop the images. that wasn't the worst of it though. when i went to check the photos on the storage device, i discovered those photos were even smaller: 600x320 pixels. the camera itself has 12 megapixels and they ended up using just 0.2 megapixels. i couldn't believe it. a crappy cell phone takes larger photos than that.

i should've realized something was wrong when my mother called me a week into their vacation and said that they only just downloaded the photos from the memory card. "you should be taking enough photos to fill the card every night," i told her, but thought maybe they just weren't taking a lot of snapshots. i should've realized the reason why it took them a week to fill the card was because they were tiny micro photos.

when my father finally consolidated all the photos onto his laptop we saw that the damage wasn't that bad. 600x320 photos only happened during a 24 hour period. unfortunately it happened at one of the most interesting time, when they were in urumqi, and when they went to the dunhuang dunes to ride camels. luckily they also had another camera, and those photos are fine, taken at full resolution. the first few days the new camera was shooting at full resolution as well. it was only later my father set it to 2 megapixels, which is still a shame, but large enough to possibly print, and fine for displaying on the computer screen. it's just sort of sad that they get this fancy new camera before they leave for vacation, and most of the photos only use 1/6th of that capacity. hopefully they won't make the same mistake on their next vacation.

that piece of bad news was offset by a piece of good news. my mother got a call soon after they got back home. my mother was shrieking, and we all looked at her since we couldn't quite figure out if she was happy or sad. turns out when my aunt and uncle got home, when they looked through the suitcase they borrowed from my parents, they found my mother's wedding ring, which she thought she lost when she went on a trip to china many years ago. turns out she used the same suitcase, and must've hidden the ring in one of the pockets, and then couldn't find it anymore until now. weird thing is she's used that suitcase before, so this wedding ring has been traveling with her for several vacations, including this one, to western china and back. that is one well-traveled supposedly-lost wedding ring!

in the evening i went into the backyard no less than 4 times, armed with a flashlight. i was trying to find whatever's been eating my pepper plants. sure enough, on a nearby tomato leaf, was a large slug. i picked it up with some twigs and then dispatched it with extreme malice. so it was slugs after all! i didn't think it was because i never saw any slime trails, but with all this wet weather we've been having they don't leave behind any evidence. nevertheless, i still covered up the peppers with some containers (plastic cups, upside down glass vases).

tonight was game 2 between the heat and the bulls. miami ended up winning after they got their groove in the second half. it looks to be a long series now that it's tied 1-1.

i was in belmont for most of the day, to tidy up the house before my parents got back. i took my sister to the mt.auburn cemetery to check out the baby owls. once again there was a small crowd, including the old lady i talked to yesterday. the baby owls looked pretty much the same. no sign of the parents, who only show up at nights to feed the babies.