i got up early so i could walk down to the cafe. i thought it'd be rainy but it was only a very faint mist, not even enough to warrant an umbrella (which i brought just in case). nevertheless i still planned on walking so i could drive the car back home after work (i needed the car this weekend to get cafe supplies). i left the house around 8:45am, arrived at the cafe 20 minutes later.

here are all the things i did within the first 20 minutes before my even sister arrived: cook 4 cups of rice, brew a fresh pot of coffee, turn on the ice machine, air fry some charsiu pork, cook a new batch of black soy noodles, reheat the second batch of tea eggs from the fridge, and put a new bag in the compost bucket.

today was another busy day though nothing crazy. we had a bit of delivery drama when a grubhub order was cancelled by grubhub because they couldn't find any drivers. that's because the address was out in newton, a drive of nearly 30 minutes. my sister called grubhub to ask what happened, they said we'd be reimbursed for the undelivered order (likewise the customer would also get reimbursed).

i went to go see esmei around 2pm. i didn't bring her to belmont today, but instead just let her out in the backyard so she could pee. i managed to get her back inside by coaxing her with treats. just as soon as she was ready to back to her playpen, i heard the doorbell ring. i thought maybe it was just the delivery person so i ignored it, but whoever it was kept banging on the door. then i heard someone say, "it's me!" in chinese. i thought it was my 2nd aunt and thought maybe some crisis happened at the cafe (like a kitchen accident). turns out it was my other aunt, here to see esmei. i told her to go around the back. when i called esmei to go out a second time, she got confused and went to her playpen.

after esmei came back inside for the second time, she seemed ready to sleep, laying down on the kitchen floor. i got her inside her playpen before finally leaving.

my aunt was back at the cafe. she said she wanted to walk esmei but i told her i'd already been playing with esmei for the past hour and she was too tired to go out a 3rd time. besides, my aunt had never walked a dog before, and esmei is a challenge, because she needs to sniff everything, so it takes forever just to walk a very short distance.

i had a small leftover portion of fried rice for lunch when i could feel myself getting weaker because i hadn't eaten anything all day. that wasn't enough so in the late afternoon i air fried some frozen spanakopitas in the breville oven.

the final few hours at the cafe was a long stretch as there was hardly any customers. we started cleaning up so could close right at 6:30pm. 6:15pm we got our last customer, an order of sausage bento. with that we finally closed.

i drove my 2nd aunt home before heading home myself. i took the undelivered sausage bento for dinner. it's funny, but i've never had the cafe bento before. yes, i'd eaten all the items in parts, but never all together as a single meal. so it was educational experiencing what our customers experience. i ate as soon as i got home.

later i had some chicken feet.

my parents videochatted with me via line. i gave them an update on the week so far, got some instructions on preparing a few cafe items we would need for next week.

tomorrow is saturday so i get to sleep a little late before heading to the cafe around 10:30am. i thought about biking down to chinatown or driving to everett-chelsea-malden-medford for supplies. it's too cold tomorrow morning for biking (20 degrees wind chill) and i don't have time to do a multi-location supply run. i'll do that sunday morning instead. so it looks like i've got no choice but to sleep a bit late.

i used the neck hanging phone holder last night to watch an episode of wild cards. it works well even though at first it felt a little awkward. i'm glad nobody could see me because it looks pretty embarrassing. but the good thing is no more tired hand holding up my phone in bed.

i woke up at 8am, left the house by 8:30am, went to market basket to get a few supplies, before arriving at the cafe around 9am. i bumped into my sister walking esmei. this morning i brewed a new batch of green tea and black tea for the boba drinks. even though she promised, my sister once again didn't show up for work until after 9:30am, after i already opened up the cafe.

after two very busy days, today was a bonafide slow day. we still made a bit of profit, but after the past two days, it seemed like a letdown. not entirely sure the reason, today actually felt a little warm for a change, with daytime temperature in the lower 40's and plenty of sunshine.

my sister's godmother showed up today unexpectedly. she tried to help out but seemed to going against our pre-established work routines. little things, like putting pot and pans and kitchen utensils in the right place.

my 2nd aunt showed up a letter from immigration. they processed my 2nd uncle's green card renewal, they require him to get his fingerprints and photo taken next tuesday. unfortunately the office is way out in revere for some strange reason (not in boston). that means my 2nd aunt won't be able to work next tuesday and she takes me uncle to get his appointment. my sister's godmother said she can come and help out, but she won't be able to get here until the afternoon.

not sure if it's because i didn't have my matcha latte this morning, but by the early afternoon my stomach was hurting from hunger. i quickly whipped up a bowl of indomie mi goreng noodles.

around 1:30pm i took esmei to belmont to get some backyard time. it was warm enough that i took my jacket off. i watched as esmei ventured down the basement stairs for the very first time, after she'd been exploring the area for many weeks. this dog is fearless in her exploration, willing to investigate anything, nothing off limits. drinking icemelt from a container, i fished out the large oval ice and gave it to esmei as a treat. she seemed to really love crunching on the ice, and gave her an opportunity to get some water, as i rarely see her drink anything. bringing in the trash bins, i bumped into the german next door neighbor. i told him my parents were on vacation. he asked if we had any problems with squirrels nesting underneath our solar panels; he said twice they had to call in experts to remove squirrel nests. he also said they were almost finished with their renovations, still waiting on some kitchen cabinets.

we got back to the cafe around 2:30pm.

later at 4pm i revisited esmei, after my sister insisted i take her out on a walk. i didn't bother going out, but instead played with her inside, throwing a plush ball for her to fetch. i returned to the cafe around 4:40pm.

the work day seems to go much slow when it's not so busy. we started cleaning up before closing time, so we could leave right when the clock hit 6:30pm.

i had a temu package waiting for me on my doorstep. included was a mobile phone neck holder (so i can watch videos in bed without needing to hold the phone, $3.14), a 3ft long aquarium cleaning brush ($1.69), a clear PVC case for my mother's samsung S21+ (78¢), and a cordless electric lint remover ($6.64). the lint remover looked like a mini blowdryer. it worked pretty well removing fabric pills from things like my bedsheets and clothes.

i reheated some gyudon for dinner. that's when i found out i forgot to fully close my fridge this morning. this was just a small crack in the door, but enough so that the fridge worked overtime trying to compensate, resulting in the temperature of my fridge compartment falling down to 28-32 degrees. i few items froze - like a jar of scallions soaking in water. the leftover rice and gyudon were near frozen, so it took a few extra minutes of microwaving to heat them up.

i ate while watching the celtics-bulls game. there was never really in doubt boston would win, even though chicago got the lead after the 2nd quarter. but the celtics got their groove back in the 2nd half, and finished with a near 50% three point percentage. boston won 129-112.

i started watching the zone of interest late last night. it's the story of a german family in the 1940's. the husband is the commandante of a concentration camp. their idyllic house with a manicured garden sits right next to auschwitz. while they live a life of luxury and familial pleasures, right across the wall jews are getting slaughtered by the thousands every day, their screams a constant background noise, along with sounds of gunfire, and the constant billowing of smoke from the crematoriums. it's a hard movie to watch. on the surface the story is actually very boring, but when you understand what's going on, it becomes a horror film. the fact that the director never shows us directly what's happening in the concentration camps makes it even worse, and you're left to imagine and listen to the hellish soundscapes.

last night i went to bed before midnight, after greasing myself up with lotion so my skin wouldn't crack and bleed while i slept. my skin was so dry i could feel it pulling taut while i moved around. it made for a slightly uncomfortable sleep, as the moisturizer still felt sticky on my skin. but it saved me from drying up.

i didn't wake up until 8:30am. i used the bathroom, took a shower, then fixed myself a matcha latte while getting dressed. i left the house at 9:05am, got to the cafe at 9:13am. it was yet another cold day, but i had on my down alternative parka so i felt pretty warm.

one of the instructions my mother gave me was on wednesday mornings i needed to cook 8 cups of rice, in anticipation of kathy's bento order for her grandsons and classmates. i split the portions between two rice cookers so they'd cook faster. my sister didn't show up for work until 9:36am, i almost called her to ask where she was. she has no excuse since she lives practically next door. my 2nd aunt showed up 10 minutes later.

we were all waiting to hear from kathy, she was supposed to get in touch with me to finalize how many bentos she needed. i decided if i still haven't heard from her by 10am, i'd call to ask. at 9:50am she called the cafe. 6 bento orders, except now one of the classmates wanted salmon as well. so we went to work assembling the order. every bento was a custom order, with different variations. i almost had to draw up a chart, but we used the photos i took from last wednesday morning to figure how the portions and what goes where. we were almost done when kathy showed up around 10:45am. in the end it wasn't too hard, and assembly new variations of our traditional bento was actually kind of fun. it helped that there were no other customers or orders during that time, so we could just focus on this one order. kathy also told us that they were coming this friday, which is good news, one less thing we need to worry about it.

after kathy left, we started getting busy. more than a dozen orders came in one after another. our internet even went down briefly around noontime, but quickly came back up before it caused any panic. by 1pm the worst of it was over. i took that time to ride to the porter square post office around 1:30pm to mail off some tax forms for my relatives. i returned to the cafe by 1:50pm, then promptly left again, this time taking esmei back to belmont so she could get some exercise in the backyard.

esmei is still in heat so can't play with other dogs just yet. i think this isolation is making her a little antsy, as i remember my sister said esmei is better behaved after spending some time in the local dog parks. like yesterday, i saw her sniffing around the crocuses. i never known them to have smells, but apparently they must if esmei is sniffing them. she doesn't eat them though, just leaves them alone. i also noticed the daffodils are emerging. spring signs! i saw esmei chewing on some thin bamboo twigs, like a panda.

i finally left belmont around 2:30pm. since i saw esmei going to the bathroom, there wasn't any need to wait for her to pee, so i returned to the cafe after dropping her off at my sister's place.

some customers left some homemade croissants for my sister and i had half. i also had some egg drop soup my sister made (missing were the corn). my 2nd aunt wanted to go home early so she could do laundry but decided to stay until we closed when we started to get a little busy at the end of the 5pm hour.

today ended up being the 2nd most profitable day this month. so much for no business during february vacation week. we survived day 2. just 19 more days left.

we closed the cafe as soon as the clock struck 6:30pm. we were counting down the minutes, each of us already dressed up in our jackets, ready to leave. riding back, i found some heavy duty plastic plant saucers somebody had thrown out and i put them into my bike basket.

gyudon (牛丼)
(3-6 serving)

12 oz. shaved steak
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 scallion, chopped

1 egg, poached
beni shoga (紅生姜)
rice (2 cups cooked)

1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp of hondashi

teriyaki sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp asian cooking wine
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce

add hondashi, sugar, and liquid ingredients to water along with onions. simmer until onions soften before adding shaved steak (frozen is okay). cook until no longer raw. mix in ginger. serve with poached egg, rice, and beni shoga. garnish with scallions.

after an hour of rest, i started making dinner. i decided to make some gyudon tonight, with enough leftovers for the next 2 days as well. everything was gone fine until i went to my cupboard to get the sugar and a glass jar filled with bay leaves fell from one of the shelves, shattering into minute shards onto my dish rack. i spent the next half hour cleaning up that area. i tried to salvage as much bay leaves as i could, but i wonder if it's even worth it, considering they might be contaminated with glass particles? after vacuuming the floor, i wiped down the countertop. it was actually a good thing, because i haven't cleaned that area in years, and if it wasn't for all that broken glass, i would've never touched that area. nevertheless, the rest of the night i was paranoid, thinking i was seeing glass shards everywhere i looked.

i got back to making my gyudon at 8:30pm. it's a pretty easy recipe, i finished in about 15 minutes. earlier i'd cooked 2 cups of rice, and already had all the ingredients chopped and sliced. i also reheated some leftover tom yum soup, threw in the rest of my mushrooms. i didn't eat until 9pm. all that waiting just made it taste better.

my father video chatted with me via line after i finished eating. he was standing outside a taipei dentist office while my mother was inside getting some teeth work done. they reinstate their taiwanese retirement benefits yesterday, which provided them with free health insurance and retirement pension. they have enough money to spend comfortably for the next month.

i spent the night waking up intermittently, checking my parents' whereabouts on my phone. i watched the plane land in seoul korea and then my parents' icons showing up on google maps, which i assume was them successfully activating the esims on their phones. when i woke up this morning at 8am, they were still enroute from korea to taiwan.

i set my heat to go off at the same time as my alarm clock. i left the house by 9am, driving to the cafe. i was the first to arrive, and started making preparations for this week. i boiled some dumplings, made a match of black soy noodles, and cooked 5 cups of rice. surprisingly the only thing i didn't do was to make tea eggs, since i already made a second batch on saturday.

my sister was the second to show up, followed by my 2nd aunt. with winter vacation happening for many schools this week, we weren't sure if it'd be busy. plus the cold weather continued (this morning was in the 20's). however just the morning alone we got some good business. it was busy during the middle part of the day, but it never got crazy, and everyone acted civil, at least on the first day. by the time we closed, we made almost as much as the busiest day last week (wednesday).

i finally got in touch with my parents. they didn't get to my taiwanese aunt's house until 1am. she'd prepared some food for them. my big cousin was there too, but it sounded like she couldn't stay awake and went to bed instead.

around 2pm i drove esmei to belmont so she can play around in the backyard. my original plan was just to walk her around the block, but she meanders a lot, so walking might've actually taken longer. i was also going to belmont to check on the house, because i heard some weird ticking noises on the webcam, and i was afraid it might be a water leak (it wasn't). i was at my parents' place for nearly an hour before bring esmei back to cambridge. all she did was play in the backyard, never once going to the bathroom.

when i got back to the cafe i took her back to my sister's place, and stayed with esmei for another half hour, trying to convince her to go to the bathroom. i finally had enough and carried her inside when she refused to return to the house.

i didn't eat or drink anything all day. the only thing i had was a sesame paste filled mantou bun my 2nd aunt had made over the weekend. i wasn't particularly hungry as cafe work kept me preoccupied for most of the time. occasionally i'd sit on a stool and surf the web when it wasn't busy.

i thought i might be able to go home early if it wasn't busy, but i ended up staying until closing time. around 6pm i went back to my sister's place to let esmei outside one last time to use the bathroom - once again she didn't go - before i came back to the cafe.

i left the car at the cafe and walked home. the rest of the week i'm bike to the cafe. i didn't get home until 7pm. i threw a frozen chicken alfredo meal into the oven before changing out of my stinky cafe clothes and taking a shower. my food was ready by 8pm.

i had 4 more hours before bedtime. in order to get up early, i'd like to be in bed around midnight, if not earlier. with nothing good on television, that looks to be an easy goal.

today was the first day of the work marathon. 20 more work days to go before my parents get back.

i woke up at 7am and waited for my parents to arrive. they showed up around 7:20am. my father then drove us to logan airport via beacon-hampshire street over the longfellow bridge to the airport. the streets were surprisingly free of traffic, maybe a combination of the early time and the fact that today was also president's day (though back when i worked in an office, it wasn't one of the holidays we got off). it was another cold and windy day, but very sunny. after 20 minutes we arrived at terminal E departure. i helped my parents with their luggage, took a photo, then drove off with the car.

the drive back wasn't as nearly as stressful as i'd feared (despite a montage of car crash images flashing in my mind). it was still early, a holiday, and i was heading outbound. i tuned the radio to WGBH. once i was on storrow drive i was on familiar grounds and followed the river before cutting through harvard square to get home. i saw a few potential parking spots and circled the block before finding a place to stash the car.

it was only 8am. the heat in my house hadn't even turned on yet (not until 9am). my parents sent me a few photos of them already inside the gate, waiting a few hours before they can board korean airline KE092 at 11am. i tried calling them but they'd already disabled their SIM card.

i'm not a morning person. so in the rare occasion where i'm actually up in the morning, it feels like bonus hours. unfortunately i squandered away my time, didn't do anything productive. my parents sent me another photo, this time of them already onboard the plane. they'd picked center aisle seats, one on each side, with the hopes that nobody would pick to sit in the middle. their plan actually worked, and they had all 3 seats to themselves.

the flight was delayed by an hour. fortunately their connecting flight to taipei from seoul had a 4 hour layover, so they had time to spare. their plane finally left around 12pm. i tracked the plane online. when it flew over somerville-medford, i thought i could hear the sound of a plane flying overhead. sure enough, when i looked out the window, i actually saw their plane in the clear blue sky. i tried to take a photo of it but i wasn't quick enough.

they won't arrive in korea until 5pm local time, or 3am here in boston, a flight of over 15 hours. having traveled to asia back in the 80's - when a typical flight to taiwan took 24 hours - 15 hours seems pretty fast by comparison. their connecting flight doesn't leave seoul until 9pm, a 3 hours flight to taipei, where it'll be around 11pm local time (taiwan is one hour behind), 10am here in boston. so in the end their whole trip still took about 24 hours, factoring in connecting flights and layovers.

my parents left me in the car a bag of everything perishable from their house. i ended up having a pastry from lakon paris patisserie (brookline) for breakfast, washed it down with some cold leftover rooibos tea from last night. for lunch i warmed up one of the leftover burger king cheese burgers from yesterday.

in the early afternoon i left for market basket after writing up a grocery list. the cafe needed paper towels, scallions, and baby spinach. i had enough to eat in the house this week, but i got some shaved steak in case i wanted to make gyudon, and some eggs and milk. they also had some hormel bacon on sale and i bought two packages, maybe i'll cook some up this weekend.

coming back, a house was throwing away a bunch of stuff on morgan street. the owner came out and greeted me, gave me a quick tour of what freebies he had to offer. i immediately noticed two half finished bottles of wine. he said one of them was raki (lebanese no less). i took both, told him, "i don't want kids to get their hands on this stuff." he also offered me a small shot glass. once i got back home i looked at the other wine, which was a bottle of rosaluna mezcal. i've always wanted to try mezcal and this was my chance. after putting away the groceries, i poured myself a small sampler. it smells like very smokey whiskey. at only 40% it tastes watery, but with a very complex smokey flavor and a sweet aftertaste. i reminds me of southeast asian betel nuts. i'd like it better if the alcohol was stronger (50%), but if this is representative of what mezcal tastes like, i'm definitely a convert.

rest of the day i worked on retroactive blog updates, managed to finish january 2024. i also tried contacting my health insurance again, asked them about my sleep apnea test coverage. i still haven't received any bill, i'm secretly hoping that they managed to resolve the issue after seeing the results. if i don't hear from them this week i'll open up an appeal case. i'm not too worried, just your typical health insurance bureaucracy, nothing i haven't dealt with before.

i had dinner early, around 7pm. feeling kind of sleepy, i made myself a warm glass of matcha latte while waiting for other foods to cook. i warmed up the two burger patties in the toaster oven then made some tom yum soup. i used a readymade paste (left behind from a past roommate) and added sliced mushroom and chopped scallions. it wasn't like what you'd get from a thai restaurant, but it was okay in an instant kind of way.

no NBA action until thursday, and all the late night shows are on repeats this week (maybe because of school winter vacation?). i started watching season 2 of miracle workers, has nothing to do with season 1, though the actors are still the same, just playing different parts. it's a dumb show but i kind of appreciate its lowest common denominator sense of humor. i can't watch it on the streaming app on my phone because it keeps on stalling. the only stable stream is off of my computer (where i can select the server).

i woke up this morning at 9am to go to the chinese new year parade happening in chinatown at 10:30am. i'd only gone twice before, back in 2019 and then again in 2020. 2020 was especially interesting, on the eve of the global pandemic, very few people were masking yet, but the chinese community was especially wary of an outbreak, so that year very few people showed up to the parade. that was great for phototaking because basically i had all of chinatown to myself.

i packed my 55-250mm telephoto and my 10-22mm wide angle. i filled my tumbler with hot black tea. i left around 9:30am. temperature was much like the past few days - hovering around freezing with a wind chill that made it felt like in the 20's. i wore my parka jacket and by the time i got to the longfellow bridge i was already sweltering underneath. the heavy jacket wasn't ideal for biking but i'd need it later when i started walking around in chinatown.

i parked my bike at phillips square on the top of harrison avenue, across the street from kaze shabu shabu. there was already a large crowd surrounding an erected platform, so i wasn't able to bike through and i didn't feel like going around.

the boston chinese new year parade is unusual in that it happens after chinese new year is already over, since it needs to be schedules on a sunday. and it's not so much a parade as a makeshift performance that's played up for visiting dignitaries and the press, and not really so much for the spectators, as there really isn't a good place to view it all. then what happens is various lion dancing troupes will go visiting the local businesses and do a little performance. supposedly this is to bring good fortune in the coming year, but it's really for these dance troupes to solicit money in the form of red envelopes. there's a lot of drumming and food tossing (oranges and cabbages) and firecrackers being lit. it's quite the sight if you've never seen it before, but in all the times i've lived in boston i've only been to the "parade" recently simply because it didn't seem all that interesting.

the past two times i came i got some good photo opps, so this is one of the earliest photo events for the new year. i decided my strategy would be to shoot with the telephoto lens and use my camera phone for wide angles. but i did switch lenses a few times, when i knew i'd be in a crowd and needed the wide angle to capture everything. but many of the better action photos i captured today were on my phone, because it's easy to hold it over a crowd, or between two people, and quickly toggle between photo or video. i realized much later i had my camera on the wrong setting: i was shooting aperture priority mode at f/8 but i forgot to bump up the ISO so instead had it on automatic. i ended up shooting mostly in lower ISO, which produced a lot of blurry photos. even someone like me who take a lot of photos can make mistakes!

it was much crowded than the last pandemic parade. i overheard a cop saying that in the 10 years he's been detailing the chinatown new year's celebration, this was actually the most crowded he's ever seen it. yes there were asians but surprisingly many of the people who came were non-asian. a lot of families too, parents with kids. the cool thing to do is to have the upper body strength to let your child sit on your shoulders otherwise there was no way they could see anything with the crowd.

the parade was pretty disorganized. dancing lion troupes would show up unexpectedly down one of the the streets, and a bit of the crowd would break off to watch them. then in the distance you'd hear firecrackers. after a few times, i decided to chasing after the firecrackers sound. that turned out to be the smart move, as that's where the action was, as the lion dancers solicit the various businesses for red envelopes.

terms of cameras, of course a lot of people were just taking photos/videos with their phones. i could see what they were shooting and a lot of them will be disappointed when they get home and see they just got a lot of heads. some people had their phones on selfie sticks, and i did see a few gopros mounted on extension poles. i didn't see any 360 cameras though, those would've been nice. there were also the dSLR shooters. there were a handful with the long cannon lenses. i also saw a lot of film cameras for some reason. that's a trend i've been noticing where people are reacting to the proliferation of digital by going analog with film. full metal body with manual focus lenses. i even saw somebody pulling out a rollei medium format. why you'd waste such expensive film stock on a janky parade is a mystery. finally i saw someone pull out a mini 3 drone from a bag but i did see where he was launching from.

i'm starting to wonder if i have the kind of face that makes strangers come up and ask me things. 3 different people did that today. 2 girls who asked me what was going on. i filled them in on the details, said they could just wander around if they wanted to see the lion dancers. one of the girls told me she used to live in san francisco and they had a bonafide parade there. then an older guy approached me randomly, started introducing himself. he asked if i was a street photographer, and asked if i wanted to join his photo collective. i listened to his pitch politely (he kept bringing up how he was waiting for some government grant to fund his art project), but i had zero interest giving away my photos for free.

i got there around 10am and finally left by 11:30am. my feet were hurting from standing out in the cold for so long. my time in chinatown wasn't completely over however, i still needed to ride down to ming's market to get some supplies. it's one of the greatest local ironies that there are no longer any decent asian supermarkets in chinatown proper, and the only ones left are on the outskirts (with c-mart on the chopping block due to developer greed).

ming's market wasn't too crowded. that time my father and i came must've been when several shuttlebuses of seniors got dropped off at the same time. it was also right before chinese new year, so buying was at a fever pitch. i got some bokchoi, chinese cabbage, garlic, and baby cucumbers.

i finally left chinatown around noontime, took me half an hour to bike home. instead of getting onto the esplanade then meandering back onto longfellow bridge, i took a slightly scenic route, going back through chinatown proper, then cutting through downtown crossing and the financial district to get onto cambridge street heading back to cambridge.

it was 12:40pm before i got back, my t-shirt completely soaked in sweat. i stripped out of my clothes and took a shower before getting dressed again and leaving for belmont by 1pm. i had to stop at the cafe briefly because my sister didn't put away the tea eggs and leftover rice in the fridge. i also dropped off the chinatown produce i got.

it was late enough that when i finally got to belmont, my mother suggested i just snack until dinner, as there wasn't anything really to eat in the house.

i asked my mother for a haircut. i can't remember the last time i had it cut, must've been during the spring. it was starting to get long enough that i could tie it up in a bun. the new haircut isn't anything special or stylish, just short.

my sister showed up with esmei in the late afternoon, before heading to decordova museum. i don't know why they go so late, the outdoor museum closes at 4pm, and getting there by the late afternoon means less sun and colder temperature. i threw a stick with esmei in the backyard. she also bit me a few times on my leg, just little nips, but a few times she actually hit hard. i think because she hasn't been able to play with other dogs because she's still in heat has made her play a little rough with her human caretakers.

my parents are leaving tomorrow morning, so i watered the plants in the basement grow room today instead of monday so i wouldn't have to come back tomorrow. i started by first taking the two jasmines and osmanthus from my father's bedroom and spraying them outside with 70% alcohol. they already seemed much improved since last weekend, and i didn't see any mealybugs other than a few wet spots, but i wanted to spray anyway as a preventative measure.

i then moved on to the basement plants. i did some spot treatment with alcohol, but i did have to take the right farthest corner jasmine outside and spray with alcohol as i noticed a clump of mealybugs. the flower spikes on the smallest orchid has started to produce actual flower buds. i did notice a few aphids on the spikes which i removed manually, but i'll need to keep an eye on the orchids to make sure they're aphid free.

my parents have been packing for weeks now but today they finally sealed up their 4 suitcases, wrapped them up with colorful straps to make them easier to identify.

while my father went to the accountant in arlington to get their tax returns before they leave for vacation, i drove to burger king to get some takeout for dinner. i have never seen an employee more than once: their turnover is so high, every time i come it's a completely new crew. there was a chatty hispanic man (colombian?) who spoke spanish to the cashier. i didn't even think the cashier was hispanic but he spoke spanish in return. the man took forever to order, like he was trying to create some kind of custom meal. he had a rambunctious daughter that kept running up to the cashier desk then running anyway. at one point a child was screaming in the dining area. this is how you know i don't have children, because i didn't even move, while the man craned his neck to see if it was his child making the noise.

i got back with the food order before my father came back. my mother and i both had a whopper along with some onion rings. she said she hated onion rings, though do admit they're probably less fatty than french fries. my father did eventually come back.

i pedaled home just in time to watch the NBA all-stars game. i immediately regretted getting my haircut earlier. unruly as my long hair was, it provided a bit of winter head insulation that was now gone. as for the game, it was mostly exhibition, not really that competitive. nobody played any defense, so the final score was 211-186, eastern won.

feeling kind of nervous tonight. my parents are coming to pick me up early tomorrow morning so i can go with them to the airport and drive the car back. i don't like driving to and from logan airport. this also marks the official beginning of their vacation, which means i have to work the cafe every day for the next month (actually, just 5 days a week, but more hours than i'm normally used to).

it started like a normal saturday. we weren't sure if it'd be busy but i cooked 5 cups of rice regardless just in case. i also got to the cafe early to make a new batch of tea eggs, despite there already being an unused batch in the fridge.

approaching 1pm we got 2 medium sized order, one online, one in-store. my 2nd aunt and i started preparing them, fairly routine. then my sister comes into the kitchen asking for dumplings. she never said anything about dumplings. she said we were ganging up her, that it was all on the order ticket, which we didn't bother looking because we were busy preparing other items. i told her next time tell us what to prepare instead of making us read it. that seemed to get her angrier for some reason. when my parents showed up dropping off some costco supplies, my sister told them she didn't want to work anymore. this with just 2 days before my parents leave for vacation, after they've been preparing a stockpile of food for us to sell. my father said fine, if you don't want to work, we'll close the cafe. my mother added they'd sell the business after they got back from taiwan. i don't think my sister realized how quickly things would escalate, and tried to change course, said she didn't say she didn't want to work. she ended up staying, but not before disappearing for an hour to take care of her dog. when my parents finally left leaving just my 2nd aunt and i to man the cafe, my sister quickly showed back up.

after that it was back to a normal saturday. my parents' biggest fear is we'd have a big fight and there'd be nobody to work the cafe. they didn't realize they didn't even have to leave for vacation before my sister was already threatening to quit.

i went to go see esmei, to reconnect the webcam. my sister said esmei chewed the wire, but it seemed to be fine, just unplugged. the webcam began working again after i plugged it back in. i let esmei into the backyard where we played fetch the stick and i chased her around a little bit. my sister then contacted me, said there was an order but no ticket printout. that meant it was an upcoming order. i quickly got esmei back inside the house before running back to the cafe.

one popular item today was the vegetable stir fry noodles. we can go weeks without anyone ordering that, but today 3 customers had it. dumplings was the most popular item. we ended up selling all our dumplings and black soy noodles, i never had that happen before.

i didn't leave the cafe until after 4:30pm. it was a brisk cold day, with intermittent flurries throughout, but nothing that stuck around. i went to my parents' place thinking my sister would bring over esmei but she didn't. dinner was mostly leftovers. i returned home afterwards to catch the NBA all-stars events.

i woke up at 7am, 8am, then finally got out of bed around 9am. my CO2 generator was running at 340 psi. the bubbles seem slow so i adjusted the needle valve up to 1 bubble per 2 seconds. i squeezed another container of fresh orange juice for my mother before tossing out all the rinds into the outdoor compost bin (something i should've done on trash day but forgot). i didn't leave for the cafe until 10:30am.

weather was in the 30's but with a strong wind that made it feel like the 20's. definitely a day that required a hat and gloves. but all this season appropriate cold weather feels good even if it is cold.

i dropped off some stainless steel bowls and a porcelain dish from finland that i found yesterday. my aunt showed up before noontime, right before we got super busy. walk-in orders, online orders, and a large phone order that was 5 beef noodle soup with 5 warm boba teas. we even had to call them back just to confirm they wanted warm tea instead of cold. we were worried they wouldn't show up but a group of hispanic contractors finally came to pay and pick up their order.

i wanted to make some tea eggs but we didn't have enough eggs, just one tray left that we needed for other dishes. i'll need to bring in my eggs from home so i can make a batch tomorrow. my father made some chicken feet but he steamed them instead of frying them, so they lost all their flavors. my sister was getting her car fixed and got a loaner car for the day. she took esmei to the vet to get a lyme disease vaccine. my mother made me a bowl of beef noodle soup using leftover broth and tendons. i used to have beef noodle soup all the time, but ever since we started selling them at the cafe, i rarely have them these days, only when there's leftover broth. my 2nd aunt showed up right before kathy brought her grandkids for a late lunch. my father cooked up some sea cucumbers kathy gave him, along with some shrimps.

i left the cafe by 5pm, taking home some radish cakes my mother had made earlier. my father was getting ready to fry a bunch of chicken cutlets. that fry oil looks to be on its last leg, we'll need to throw it out afterwards. when my parents are gone, i'm looking forwards to frying some stuff on my own, including making some homemade korean fried chicken.

after changing out of my work clothes (they smelled of oil) and into my sweats, i went to star market to get a few things: boneless chicken thighs, 1L polar sodas (including root beer for making brown cows), vanilla bean ice cream, and cuties mandarin oranges. i used the self-checkout, always making sure i don't act suspicious and empty my grocery bags like a magician showing the audience he's not hiding anything.

this morning i reattached the broken piece of glass CO2 checker with some super glue. but when i set it down to dry, i didn't give it proper ventilation, so the glass bend formed a gas chamber for the super glue fumes, which causes water spots and fingerprint stains to show up from the cyanoacrylate precipitates. i couldn't remove them with isopropyl alcohol but i hear acetone will do the trick.

i didn't start making dinner until almost 9:30pm. i cut the radish cakes into slices and fried them in some oil. i got a chance to use the thai sweet chili sauce i got from the dollar store. not sure if it was the radish cakes or the chili sauce, but something tastes off.

being a big fan of geraldine viswanathan, i started watching miracle workers last night. i knew nothing about the series, just that daniel radcliffe and and steve buscemi are also in it as well. i thought maybe it was a story about traveling missionaries. after seeing the first episode, it sort of reminded of the good place, about god and angels and the afterlife. it's definitely quirky and fun, and there's 4 seasons worth. the only bad thing is the streaming app on my phone has a tendency to stall, and the only way to get it to unstuck is to jump ahead then jump back, so it's kind of a pain to watch. this doesn't happen when i watch on my computer because i have the option to choose different servers.

this week is the calm before the storm. starting next week, i'll be working at the cafe everyday for a month, 5 days a week, morning until night. i've done this before yet somehow i've managed to block any memories of it.

it was another cold day though not as windy. as one of my last remaining days where i didn't have to work, i spent it running some errands i wouldn't be able to do otherwise. i started by having som more chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch.

in the early afternoon i set out on my errands. i went to the cafe to pick up a bag of used nepresso pods. i then went to the UPS store on somerville avenue to ship them back to the factory. i went to whole foods to return some items. then went to walgreens to get some gel - not only was it on sale, but i managed to used a coupon and get an additional discount.

back at home i started on my biggest project, which was to clean my aquarium. the last time i cleaned the tank was before thanksgiving of last year, so 3 months ago. it was also the last time i refilled my CO2 generator tank. since then i'd already used up all my CO2 and was overdue for another refill. i disconnected the tank and bled it dry to release any leftover amount of gas. once it was completely empty, i finally opened it up and dumped out the slimy citric acid sodium bicarbonate solution. i then rinsed the tank and left it to dry.

while that was going on, i started to clean the tank. with no fish in the aquarium, i still like to do a monthly water change, more just to clean up any algae buildup, which isn't a lot since the plants use up most of the nutrients. there has been some algae growth, not sure what kind, but it wasn't hair algae, so it seemed harmless enough. the main reason to do this water change is because about 2" worth of aquarium water had already evaporated.

to be honest, i haven't checked on my aquatic plants in a while. i do know my anubias have been turning white. this is because of iron deficiency. what i didn't realize was the cardinal plants have also started to bleach as well, so the lack of nutrients is pretty severe. not affected by all of this are the pennyworts, which have been popping up all over my tank, basically taking over under the gravel.

i cleaned as much as i could before siphoning out a bucket of used aquarium water. i saved the water for watering my houseplants (though given the lack of nutrients, there's nothing too special about the water). cleaned out the filter, rinsed the sponges, put everything back, and topped off the aquarium with fresh water.

later i went to refill my CO2 tank. earlier while removing the glass CO2 checkers, i broke the smaller one by pulling too hard on stem. i could probably try gluing it back, but i still have another one, so i'll just put this one away in storage. i rinsed the tank a second time, filling it up with hot water. i poured it out and left the tank to dry standing up, so the residual heat will help dry the tank faster. CO2 refills would be faster if i had powdered baking soda; instead i have them as large chunks which i needed to pulverize and turn to powder using a meat tenderizer. that took a long time, afterwards my hands felt tenderized. i only needed 200g (7oz). next i measured out 200g of citric acid. finally i poured 300g of water into my nalgene bottle.

with my base ingredients prepared, it was time to add them to the tank. i started with the citric acid first. i learned my lesson from last time, not to get any citric acid on the threads of the opening, as they have a tendency to stick. i rolled a piece of cardboard junk mail into a funnel and pouring down the citric acid. i followed that with with baking soda. tilting the tank at a 45° angle, i poured in the water. i then quickly screwed on the lid. i still heard some hissing because the needle valve was slightly opened before i closed it up tightly.

immediately i could see the pressure building up on the gauge. it took just 3 minutes to get from 100psi to 200psi. i also swished the tank a little bit to get the ingredients to mix better. the bottom of the tank started condensing and felt cold from the endothermic chemical reaction within.

a few minutes later i attached the CO2 tank to the feed hose coming from the aquarium. i turned on the gas and watched bubbles quickly rising in the bubble counter. it took a moment before tiny CO2 bubbles started streaming out of the diffuser. i turned the needle valve on the CO2 tank back down so it was only release 1 bubble every 2 seconds. with that i was all set.

i didn't have dinner until almost 9pm, finished the rest of my leftover rice and lentil. this time i added some chopped scallions and a dash of sumac powder. it was more deluxe vegetarian rice bowl than mujaddara. honest question: can you gain weight from eating too many vegetables? like how much weight can you gain if you only eat salads? that reminded me of this morning, because of all the fiber i've been eating this week, i had a very pleasant poop, felt totally cleansed afterwards.

there were only 3 NBA games tonight. i watched the bucks-grizzlies game as it was the only one on tv. memphis ended up beating milwaukee 113-110. the bucks are in a freefall ever since they hired doc rivers. they're 3-7 on their last 10 games, 8-1/2 games behind the celtics. the closest team to the celtics in the eastern conference are the cavaliers, and they're 6 games behind.

i woke up this morning thinking i had plenty of time left before realizing i had to juice some oranges for my mother. i didn't finish until 10:20am before finally leaving for the cafe for my wednesday shift.

temperature was right around freezing today, but there was a strong breeze, which made the wind chill feel like the 20's. it was a brisk day but somehow reassuring since it's supposed to be cold in february. checking the status of the belmont solar panels showed maximum production, which meant there was no snow/ice on the panels.

when i arrived my parents were already assembling 6 bento box orders for kathy's grandsons and their classmates. it's kind of a complicated order, with multiple substitutions, so my parents were showing me which of the kids get what items. they had one of the parents (?) come and pick up the order before kathy showed up a little later with her credit card to pay for the order.

despite the cold we did some good business today, especially around the usual lunchtime rush. no particular items stood out, a little bit of everything. i did make two batches of black soy noodles after my mother determined the batch in the fridge had gone bad. i also made tea eggs when we started heating up the batch in the refrigerated inset pan that i made on saturday.

i helped my parents install airalo travel esim cards in their phones. i'd never used them before but it was the service recommended by my california aunt. we went with the regional asia option, which allows roaming data coverage in 18 asian countries. i installed it on my father's pixel 6 first, we went with the 30 days 10GB option for $37 - but $34 after we used a discount code from my california aunt. i then installed it on my mother's new S21+. originally she didn't want to get a traveling esim, preferring instead to just use free wifi or piggyback off of my father's data. but we talked her into getting the 5GB plan for $20 - $17 after i used a coupon code from my father. the cards don't activate until they connect to their first asian carrier.

my sister took esmei out in the early afternoon. when she got after a few hours, she was worried her dog might've gotten some ticks and carefully checked esmei's fur for hitchhikers.

in the late afternoon my parents made a new batch of vegetarian buns. instead of stacking the 4-layer steamer, my father split it up so it was only 2-layers. they ended up using 3 induction cooktops, leaving one free in case we got an order. unlike last time, the dough rose perfectly for fluffy buns.

my sister brought over another birthday cake for me. i ate it because i didn't eat much for most of the day besides drinking some black tea. after the buns my parents started making chinese dumplings. they would've given me some but it was already getting close to 6pm so i returned home.

for dinner i had some leftover lentil & rice. i ate while watching the nets-celtics game. boston beat brooklyn by 50 points. at one point the lead was 56. the nets players had already checked out, probably more concerned about their vacation plans during the NBA all-stars break this weekend. brown and horford didn't play, and porzingis sat out in the second half when we were already up almost 40 points. once the bench players all came in, they added to the lead, taking advantage of their playing time. payton pritchard was the highest scoring player for the celtics with 28 points, followed by derrick white with 27 points. final score 86-136.