t
o
n
y
a
n
g
'
s
 
w
e
b
l
o
g


who trampled my wire-mesh fencing on the little strip of front lawn garden? that's what i saw when i went to go bring in the trash can today. if i had to guess, i'd say one of the numerous people who regularly walk their dogs in my neighborhood. they think that little front garden area is just a bathroom for their dog and don't really notice when their dog walks into the fenced area.

after the morning rain subsided, i went out in the afternoon to get more groceries. last time i couldn't find the market basket chicken that were on sale, but my mother told me they sometimes keep it near the deli department, and that's where i found it. i had a load of laundry tumbling dry that finished right when i got back. unfortunately the dryer added a few degrees more to the room temperature, even to the point where it fogged up the kitchen window (weird humidity situation happening). rest of the day i stayed indoors, fiddling around with some CSS stuff. for dinner i finished the last three of my zongzi. i didn't put them in the freezer and one of them had a little bit of mold on the outside leaf which i just casually washed off.

i wanted to watch the england-japan women's world cup semifinal match, but i don't get fox sports channel and couldn't find anywhere online that was streaming the game, so i ended up "watching" the game online on ESPN stat mode. japan ended up winning in the final minute (2-1) when an english player accidentally kicked the ball into her own goal. now comes the rematch of the US-japan 2011 world cup sunday evening. i'm not sure who's favored to win but i'm rooting for japan, just because they seem like the underdog.

i stopped by the community garden on my way to market basket. more spots of color as the zinnias have bloomed. for now just a single flower per plant, but more blossoms over time. that one dry zinnia flower i saw 5 days ago? just haven't fully bloomed yet. i noticed the delphiniums have formed seedpods; i was tempted to snip them off, but decided to keep them, figuring they might self-sow and i could get more delphiniums next year. besides, it seems like new flower buds were forming underneath the seed pods, so it'd be hard to snip off without snipping those as well. there were also many ripe golden raspberries, i'll have to come by with a container and pick them before they fall off.

in the early afternoon i went to my parents' house to begin sanding the outside shingles. i was the one who originally did the research for orbital sanders, but never got a chance to really use it, other than to do some test sanding when we first got it back in the summer of 2012. it's quite the spectacle, running a long extension cord halfway around the house, and making a lot of noise when the sander is operated in tandem with the shopvac. the western side of the house gets a lot of sun in the afternoon and gets pretty hot. i was sweating something fierce inside my dust mask. i had on a pair of earmuffs to drown out the noise.

i managed to sand about a 3x3ft square area of shingles in about an hour, taking a few breaks in between. i'm not planning on sanding off all the paint, just enough so it's smooth to the touch. it's a little tedious, the sander starts feeling heavy after a while (plus it's vibrating the whole time), and there was also the afternoon sun. i noticed that if i hold orbiting sander at it edge, it seems a lot better, essentially stripping off the paint (and the wood if you're not careful). i didn't put down any tarps and there wasn't all that much dust but there was still a little bit that clung to the sander and to my arms. when the paint did come off, it was more likely in the form of dried chips. at this rate, if we get a couple days of good weather, i might be able to get the sanding done in 2 weeks. about half the house still requires sanding, but we're fortunate that my parents live in a one story structure. the hardest part is the western side, but once that's done, the front of the house will be pretty easy (shady at least, won't have to deal with the blistering sun).

earlier i fertilized the front lawn with some organic fertilizer. i already fertilized the front lawn at the end of april but it was due for another feeding. it was the perfect day to fertilize since we're expecting a rainstorm tomorrow morning.

when i went back inside, i could feel my forearms (particular the left arm, the one holding the sander) were a little sore.

my mother started making dinner sometime after 4:30 and by 5:00 we were already eating. i was planning on sticking around until it got dark (8:30-9:00) so i could see the conjunction of jupiter and venus. where i live in cambridge, it's hard to get a good view of the sky, much less the horizon. we ended up watching the US-germany women's world cup semifinal match. around halftime my father came home and it seemed dark enough to possibly see something so we walked out to the nearby playground field. looking west, we saw a bright star - venus. a little bit above it, much fainter, was another star - jupiter - easily missed if you didn't know where to look. my mother went back home to get her binoculars. through the telephoto lens i could see i could clearly see the 2 planets, with venus in a partial phase. there was enough shaking from hand-holding the binoculars that you couldn't see any details other than the fact that there were 2 stars.

returning home it got dark enough that now both planets were very much visible. i saw people gawking at it on the streets, taking photos with their phones. after parking my motorcycle, i went onto mass avenue to get a better look at the conjunction.

as it was getting close to my 1 year comcast anniversary, i went down to the local comcast office on beacon street in the late morning to see if i could lower my bill. comcast basically screws everyone over. they have these package deals that are good at first, but after they expire, the price of everything increases. i was trying to get rid of my HBO bundle, which i hardly ever watch (normally $15/month), and i was even considering dropping my cable tv altogether, since i just have basic broadcast cable, which i can just get for free over the airwaves. but after talking with them, it turns out if i opt out of cable, my bill (for internet only) would actually increase, which doesn't make any realistic sense, but makes perfect comcast sense. either way, starting next month my bill will go up by $10 (i pay $60 right now). i'll have to study all their different price categories and try calling them over the phone to see if i can get myself a better deal. i'm even tempted to switch to dsl, but the speed is just too slow for the same price (3MBps verizon DSL versus 30MBps cable internet).

for lunch i made myself a bowl of oatmeal with some kayem artisan pineapple uncured bacon sausage with vermont maple syrup (same thing i had yesterday for lunch).

i took the motorcycle to belmont in the afternoon. my mother was already home, having walked back from the cafe. since it rained so much yesterday, there was no need to water the garden. instead, i spent my backyard time pulling up swallow-worts, clipping a few thin bamboo stalks, and pruning the diseased plum tree. swallow-worts are hard to eradicate, and i fear i've only pulled up the vines, not the roots themselves, so they'll live to grow another day. black knot disease have completely taken over the two backyard plum trees. we were supposed to chop them both down this year but never got around to it, hoping to wait until after they flower. but the disease is so rampant, there was hardly any flower this season. currently there's too many plants growing underneath to risk trying to chop them down. we will probably need to wait until the fall. in the meantime, whenever i have the chance, i lop off a few branches (today i managed enough for 2 garden refuse bins). finally, i moved the rain barrels, tipping them over, where mosquito larvae were already swimming in the pools of stagnant water. i probably saved the backyard from having a large population of mosquitoes.

i was so sleepy after dinner, i need to get more sleep. i replayed a mint copy of mad max for my parents before i left, along with a chinese subtitle file i found online. riding home, i noticed all the piles of discarded furnitures and household items left on various sidewalks; end of the month moving day for a lot of renters. i fought off the urge to stop and dig around in the junk pile (couldn't carry anything anyway, since i was on the motorcycle).

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. In in odio tortor. Integer in turpis in metus maximus gravida ac eget arcu. Maecenas consequat velit non metus consequat malesuada. Donec imperdiet justo gravida lectus condimentum laoreet. Nullam molestie ligula vitae sapien consectetur dapibus. Integer ut magna ipsum. Suspendisse gravida porta elit at mollis. Curabitur vitae tellus imperdiet leo sagittis porttitor. Ut vitae nunc in mauris porttitor porttitor. Integer accumsan arcu eu vestibulum finibus. Nulla a nibh erat. Nam aliquam elit eu ex dapibus, in efficitur nulla fermentum. Praesent sodales tincidunt justo, et auctor mi pellentesque eget. Proin eu odio non erat convallis congue. Donec tristique imperdiet fringilla.

while watering the backyard garden, i came across the body of a headless sparrow on the lawn near the peonies. what animal would do this? there can only be one candidate, a super predator that kills without eating its prey: the common house cat. i dug a hole underneath the maple tree and buried the sparrow. later i found a part of the beak and flicked it to the side of the yard.

i fertilized the back lawn with the organic fertilizer i bought back in april. i should've done it earlier, but just never got around to it. it'd been sitting outside all this time, and some critter even managed to bit a hole on the bottom of the bag before realizing it wasn't food. when i opened up the package, i noticed there were some maggots feeding on the fertilizer through the small opening, must've been drawn to the smell. it didn't faze me, since everything was going into the spreader anyway. i managed to use up about half the bag for the entire backyard. the rain predicted for tomorrow will allow the fertilizer to soak into the soil. later when i told my father about the maggots, he was impressed because it meant it was really organic if bugs can eat it.

my mother pushed us to pay a visit to our rock meadow community garden plot. in season's past i'd visit occasionally to water, but this year only my father's been taking care of the plot, and he admitted he hasn't been by for 2 weeks now. my mother's primary reason for visiting was so she could get a chance to do some birdwatching, while my father and i tended to the garden. it's amazing to see how much could happen in 2 weeks time, with a good mix of rain and sunshine and no supervision. the garden was pretty much swallowed up by weeds, from the beds to the paths. the one thing that we did in years past that gave us tremendous success was to put down black landscaping fabric over the beds. this had all sorts of benefits, from drastically reducing the weed population, retaining moisture, warming the soil, and keeping a neat appearance overall. however, we didn't do that this year - whether we forgot or just simply lazy - and now we're paying for it.

we began pulling them out, but it seemed futile, easier just to till everything over. the worst part was the gardener behind us was there working on his plot, which was 2-3x as large as ours and 100x better maintained. among the weeds, there were still a few things we planted: zucchinis, tomatoes, cucumbers, hyacinth beans. most of them seemed stunted, their valuable nutrients stripped by the surrounding weeds. the cucumber plants were tiny, not even climbing yet (although they may be bush variety). without pruning, the tomato plants didn't have any shape. the only plants that seemed to be doing well were the hyacinth plants on the southern end of the plot.

* supreme court rules in favor of nationwide gay marriage

* getting the bike ready for a long ride: pumping the tires led me to deciding to oil the chains which then turned into replacing the front break pads and almost thinking i had to replace the break arms before figuring out how to adjust the balance. i finally left by around 1:40.

* while oiling my bike chain in the backyard, i noticed movement from the corner of my eye. when i looked i saw what i thought was a cat and gave it no additional notice. but i looked at it again i noticed it had an odd shape, and when i saw the animal's face i recognized it as a raccoon. it was slightly larger than a house cat, its fur sort of sticky up like it just woke from sleep. it lazily ambled away. a few seconds passed and i decided to fall this creature in order to get a photo. it must've heard me following it because it quietly slipped through a gap in the fence and hid underneath my neighbor's backyard porch, where a myriad of empty boxes made for better afternoon sleeping.

* getting to wellington station via assembly square mall: a 4.2 miles stretch, essentially the way i'd normally go to the assembly square mall by bicycle. once i was there, i went behind the assembly row outlet mall to get onto the trail adjacent to the mystic river, what is known as the sylvester baxter riverfront park. i was surprised by how many people where there, out enjoying the sun. this is just a great location, with the new assembly T station nearby. from there i crossed the wellington bridge. there's actually a sort-of bike lane so i took that instead of crowding with the pedestrians on the narrow bridge walkway. once across the bridge there's no easement back onto the path so i pulled my bike up to the curb and continued a few yards until i connected with the trail again. this stretch is called the wellington greenway, a very quiet and shady mixed use trail facing the mystic river from the north, passing by the public boat ramp. i accidentally took a wrong turn and went up constitution way, which ends at kelly's roast beef. i detoured back onto the greenway, followed it onto i arrived the wellington T station parking lot. from there i made my way across the station to rivers edge drive. there's no marked trail, i basically had to just wing it, jumping curbs, riding in bus lanes, until i got there.

* true value hardware store next to malden super 88, they didn't have small sizes of cabot stain but for $6 the woman there could whip up a small container of benjamin moore arborcoat in flat finish with the exact same color (slate grey). "you can do that?" i said, incredulously. "they can't, but i can," the woman replied with a conspiratorial smile. she gave me a ticket with the specification number so if i come back next time, they can just mix up a batch for me.

* malden super 88 a great asian supermarket, how much i never knew about it? bumped into mrs.zhou, my mother civil servant friend, just retired yesterday. i got some snacks and a box of korean instant cup of noodles ($10 for a dozen).

* backtrack to medford street, crossed the malden river to get to the northern strand bike trail, next to bell rock cemetery. actually a very old cemetery, established in 1640. i had a feeling it was old because many tombstones have winged skull motifs. nearby was the former train station.

* i road from the bell rock cemetery start of the bike trail to the end, at the border between malden and revere, a distance of 2.8 miles. would've taken just 17 minutes, but because i kept stopping, it took longer than that. i would've kept going until i got to revere beach, but it was already well past 4:00, and i still had to get back and visit ac moore at assembly square mall to pick up some yarn for my mother.

* at ac moore i got 15 skeins of yarn (only $21) before finally heading back home.

* i went to star market to buy a watermelon.

* after my bike ride back, i was so thirty and hot i finished off an entire pitcher of leftover sweet ice tea. that cold and sugary elixir really hit the spot. my body was craving more nutrients and i made myself some maruchan chicken instant cup-of-noodle.

* prison escapees standoff with police; one killed, one escaped

* went to the cambridge dance party, auspiciously on the same day as the supreme court ruling for same-sex marriage, as it was here 13 years ago that cambridge was the first city in the US to grant marriage licenses for gay couples. i was there that night with bruce; at the time i knew it was an important moment, just didn't realize i was also witness to something historical as well. it was very touching to see so many people crowd cambridge city hall tonight. i'm sure not everyone came out in remembrance of that night 13 years ago, but there was a kind of infectious and electric happiness in the air, like tonight there was something else to be joyful about.

* my other reason to be down in central square was so i could get some falafel for dinner. but i didn't want to navigate through the sea of people to get there, so i went home instead and had some pizza rolls.

monday was my last visit to the community garden. i'm not even sure if i watered since it rained so much for most of early sunday into the afternoon. the past 3 days have been dry, despite several rain threats. the garden was due for a thorough watering.

finally, splashes of colors in my garden, in the northeastern corner, where i've planted several perennials. purple-pink-white spires of delphinium flowers poke out from the green foliage, and orange daylilies flower on tall stalks. down below are lupines and a few past season milkweed. i hope they can survive despite being eclipsed by the taller plants. in front i planted a row of mixed sunflowers; once they bloom i'll get another wave of colors.

zinnias and snapdragons are blooming too. the first of the zinnia flowers look a little ragged, maybe not enough water. the thing about zinnias is they're pretty productive, as long as i snip off the dead flowers. one snapdragon plant has flowered, white blossoms with a touch of yellow. i've only seen yellow/white snapdragons this season, from my parents backyard to my own garden plot. where are the pinks and reds and peaches? it's been a very boring snapdragon season. a few plants haven't bloomed yet, so there's still some hope i may see some other colors.

came across a 3in long hot pepper. i get these mixed hot pepper seedlings each year, so i never know which kinds i get until they actually start producing peppers. i've got a total of 4 pepper plants in my garden, can't wait to see what the other 3 will produce. my cucamelons are doing very well, much better than the ones at my parents' place. mine have big leaves, but i didn't check to see if there were any fruits yet.

i went directly from the garden to market basket for some groceries, stocked up on some sausages and a package of purple plums. it was a great day to go biking, not too cold, not too hot. what i really want is to do is take a ride on the northern strand community trail bike path that i saw on google maps. it goes from everett into malden to revere to saugus to lynn. it's pretty amazing, i'm surprised i never heard about it. the hard part is getting to the trail head. the closest way i reach this bike path is to get to wellington station and bike up river's edge drive/commercial street until i can cross over via medford street. coincidentally, i must've crossed sections of the path when i went to saugus yesterday, but just didn't notice it. if i leave early enough, maybe i can make a day of it, visiting the super 88 market on commercial street (didn't see that yesterday as well), maybe get some vietnamese pho for lunch in malden center, before continuing on the bike path. i might make it as far as revere beach if i'm feeling ambitious.

i had some white cheddar cheese spinach pasta shells for dinner. normally i use half-and-half for the milk ingredient, but the carton that i had expired more than a month ago. instead, i used half a cup of plain yogurt, which made it creamier and added an unique sour flavor to the dish. nothing like a big bowl of carbohydrates to satisfy my hunger. later in the evening i had no desire to do any additional snacking.

i dug out my flashes and played around with the remote trigger.

today i played explorer, discovering a new route to the saugus lowe's. the few times i went there in the past have always been straight down broadway/route 99 through everett. though it seems to be the most direct way, it passes through so many traffic lights along the way that it pretty much takes forever and not a very pleasant ride. google map recommended a route i've never tried before, making my way to the wellington T station, but then circling around to river's edge drive/commercial street until i hit malden center, then a right on route 60 east for about a mile, then a left onto route 99 north for a mile and a half before arriving at lowe's.

i left sometime after 11:00. temperature was in the upper 70's when i left, cool enough that i grabbed a long-sleeve baseball t-shirt. out in the sun though, it felt hot, but i think i would've felt hotter has my arms been completely exposed. getting to wellington station wasn't a big deal, but i did turn too soon and ended up on constitution way (kelly's roast beef) before finding my way again. i've been onto commercial street/rivers edge drive at least once before, from wellington station to dan's old house on devir street. this is a pretty wide street with little traffic. when i got to malden center i got a little confused. there was sign for route 60 east, so i ended up taking a big loop around florence street. after stopping to consult google maps, i regains my bearings.

once i reached route 99 things looked familiar again as i rode the final stretch north, since this was my usual route to lowe's. sometimes i wish there was a lowe's closer by for the sake of home improvement variety, since i am surrounded by 3 home depots. but now that i've discovered this new way to the saugus lowe's, maybe i'll come here more often. my primary reason for coming here was to get some 8-hole 40-grit orbital sander sand paper. home depot doesn't seem to carry any with those specs, but lowe's had a 50-pack of gator-brand sanding disc for $20. i also bought a pair of sanding respirators, the kind with the filter in the nose for better breathing. i did take a tour of the plumbing and garden department but didn't get anything.

coming back, i stopped at the hess gas station on the intersection of route 99 and 60 to fill my tank. because the old battery died a few times, it wiped the trip odometer numbers (the honda shadow spirit has a digital odometer). why is this important? because the motorcycle doesn't have a fuel gauge; the only way to know when the tank is near empty is by using the distance traveled. i'm glad that i get fuel because it was nearly empty (2.535 gallons, $7.07 total).

approaching malden center the roads got confusing and i ended up continuing west on eastern avenue instead of following centre street/route 60. instead of connecting back onto commercial street, i went down main street instead. i stopped in front of bell rock park to check google maps. the park sits on top of a hill and i was curious if i could get any good views of boston from up there so i got off the bike and took a quick peek. there was no boston skyline view but i did see a young woman sunbathing on the empty lawn.

fortunately main street hits the eastern terminus of medford street, and that was the street i wanted to get on. i followed medford street west until it hit the fellsway/route 28, then i took it south to harbor freight tools at the fellsway plaza/wellington circle shopping center. i returned an unopened package of rivets (already 2 months, but they have a 90 day return policy) and then scoured the store before i found the basin wrenches. they had 2 variety - rigid and telescoping. i debated whether or not to go with telescoping, but figured i probably won't be using this tool all that much so i went with the cheaper version ($6 less). on top of that, the cashier was cool enough to pull up my name from their database so i got an additional 20% off. i also bought a $2 key that has a knife hidden inside (i'm always in need of a cutting tool but can never seem to have anything on hand).

i stopped by the ocean state job lot next door to look around; left with 3 packets of 50% discounted seeds (dill, nasturtium, delphiniums) for next season.

coming home underneath the mcgrath highway, i saw that the el salvador restaurant was opened. i made a quick decision, pulled a u-turn, and stopped inside to get some food. the place was empty except for 2 workers sitting by a table eating lunch and watching a telenovela on a wall-mounted HDTV. i ordered 3 pupusas at $2 a piece and waited for them to make it to go.

i was tempted to make a stop at market basket but decided i had enough excitement for one day. once i got home, i quickly packed up my things and left for belmont sometime after 2:00. wangyang texted me a few messages, said she now in venezuela, her 3rd day of work. i welcomed her to the americas and asked her what was the first thing she noticed when she arrived in caracas: she said all the pretty ladies.

when my parents came home we tried the pupusa. it was still warm (freshly made). i've never had pupusa before, essentially a corn tortilla stuffed with fillings. i really liked it, could've eaten all three easily (just had two, my parents shared one). i want to go back to that restaurant next time and order a few other things. the fact that it's so hard to get to makes it that much more worthwhile.

after dinner i returned to cambridge. i had to circle the street a few times to find parking. that junked car that'd been there for a few years? the owner finally moved it, or at least had it towed to a mechanic (all the tires were flat, which is the least of its problems). but because that car is gone, that little spot in front of it that was perfect for stashing a motorcycle is now gone as well. nevertheless, it's good to reclaim a parking spot.

the first thing i did when i got home was to try out the basin wrench. does it really work? did i make a mistake not getting the telescoping handle variety? i tried working on the kitchen faucet first. 2 screws secure the faucet to the sink. i already unscrewed one of them, but the other one is in an awkward spot impossible to get a normal wrench in there. that's where the basin wrench comes in. but first i had to figure out which direction to turn. after some brief trial and error i still couldn't figure it out, until i crawled under the sink to get a better angle. the screw came off easily. later i had to put the 2 screws back because the faucet was loose after that.

the basin wrench has a pretty ingenious design. from the looks of it, it doesn't look like it'd be good as grasping anything. turn it in the wrong direction that's true, but turn it in the right direction and that thing has a vice-like grip. next i tried the bathroom sink. the metal locking nut that secures the faucet to the sink has corroded to the point where it seems impossible to remove. it took a while to angle the basin wrench so that it was grabbing ahold of the nut. once it was in the right possible, i managed to turn it a quarter. i stopped after that, i didn't need to remove the faucet, but knew if i needed to, it was entirely possible.

as of yesterday, the 1080p webripped version of mad max: fury road has been circulating online. i've been watching it whenever i have the chance, studying the action scenes frame by frame. i know a lot of cgi work went into the movie but what makes the film sort of incredible is you can't tell the difference, it looks like it's all practical stunts. i'd rather watch a movie like this versus one of those superhero action films where the spectacle is so overwhelmingly amazing that it becomes boring and fake.

my next door neighbor renee got her ductless heating system installed today, i saw contractor vans parked outside, and contractors moseying about her alleyway. the compressor is this big ole thing that hangs from the first story wall, directly facing my two bedroom windows. tonight it's loud, but not because of the compressors: her first floor tenants have a noisy box fan in their kitchen window, and i can't open my bedroom windows without getting an earful. it's going to be a noisy night.

all day long we were under threat of severe weather, which kept me inside instead of running errands. had the weather been nice, i'd have gone to lowe's in saugus to pick up some 8-hole 40 grit orbital sander sand paper. however, the forecast of severe weather never came, at least not in cambridge. the sky darkened once or twice, but otherwise it was just a hot and humid day, nothing more. i went across the street to the supermarket to get some grapes and potato chips, also a chance for me to return some cans ($1.55).

my skechers arrived in the mail today. i was relieved they fit perfectly, saves me the hassle and money of having to return them. i think they will be my everyday shoes from now on, or at least when i'm wearing long pants (which during the summer is usually when i'm riding the motorcycle).

i experimented with packing code on my weblog. what i want is something that can easily assembly my thumbnails into a catalog, but the code i was using (packery) wasn't what i had in mind. it can however be used to stack my daily posts, but it's not really useful, just pretty to look at. so in the meantime i'll keep on searching.

i fell asleep in the early evening, waking up around 8:00 to have some zongzi for dinner. i used a stovetop steamer this time around, which made the glutinous rice far less sticky as they easily slip off the bamboo leaf wrappers.