i noticed that my shower curtain had a large hole in it when i was taking a shower late last night. i have two curtains, it was the one near the business end of the tub (front), the one that receives the most splashes. how it happened i don't know, but i immediately wanted to blame my roommate, even though i can't think of how she could manage to rip it. maybe it was something i did, and only now finally noticing it, although that's unlikely since i'm constantly washing soap scum and mildew from them. i stopped washing, switched the curtains (back to front, front to back), then continued.
when i woke up this morning, annie had already left. the first thing i did was to rummage through my plastic bins to find my spare shower curtain. i probably bought it over a decade again for a day like this, so i was glad it finally happened and i was prepared for it. the new curtain went up easily enough, and didn't have a strong vinyl smell, something i was worried about. better yet, bed bath & beyond (where i originally purchased these curtains) still had the same style (modern leaf) in stock for the same price i paid the last time ($14.99). i may mosey down there one of these days (closest one is assembly square) to get another spare, in case i need to replace the curtain once more in another decade or so.
i left for belmont around 10am. besides getting a new tv for my 2nd aunt at costco, we also wanted to turn in our old delonghi 50 pint dehumidifier (the one with the overheated compressor) at the nearest mass save dehumidifier recycling day event for a $30 rebate.
we ended up driving 30 minutes to doyon's appliance in bedford, passing through picturesque bedford. after filling out the necessary paper work, i got a receipt for the rebate which hopefully should arrive in 4-6 weeks. from there we went to he waltham costco (via interstate 95).
my 2nd aunt wanted an HDTV that was bigger than the one in my parents' living room, which is a 40". not knowing anything about HDTV sizes, she wanted one that was 45", which they didn't have at costco. the closest size was a 43" TCL with 4K resolution and built-in roku for $220. the next size up was a 50" with the same specs at $270. in the store the 43" looked so tiny, but i reminded my parents that it was just an optical illusion, and the 43" was in fact larger than our living room tv. after several phone calls, my aunt finally decided on the 43". when we put it in our shopping cart, only then it didn't seem like it was much larger than before.
driving by the waltham-belmont order, we saw a free long table discarded on the sidewalk that could serve as a good TV stand. so we loaded it up in the already crowded car, just managing to fit, even though i had to sit awkwardly in the back with my legs draped over parts of the furniture.
arriving at the cafe, my mother relieved my 2nd aunt of duty so she could take my father and i back to her apartment to install her new HDTV. while my father carried the HDTV, i carried the table, up to the 5th floor. fortunately there was an elevator.
my 2nd uncle was lounging on the couch, didn't even bother getting up to greet us, which was kind of rude. it was my father's first time being in the new apartment. we set the table down which was a perfect fit (could use a repainting or maybe a table cloth). we faced a bit of challenge installing the HDTV since my aunt and uncle don't own any tools and we needed a screwdriver to put in the legs. we ended up using a combination of paring knife and spoon to get in some of the screws, but i need to come back tomorrow to tighten them down.
i set the HDTV to scan for channels using the spare HDTV antenna i'd brought along. i was hopefully they'd get a lot of channels because they were up high and had a good unobstructed view of the sky, but they just received the standard ones (2,4,5,7,15,25,38,44,56,68). a few of the UHF channels came in pixelated. it didn't get channel 23, which is the religious daystar channel, the one thing my uncle watches, which means they'll probably need to install basic cable after all. i may be able to get it via roku though, which would save them $20/month. (later i learned local daystar is actually channel 48, i'll check again tomorrow to see if they get it). they could also use a better antenna, the one that i brought is just a passive, they could try one with amplified power, might pick up some more channels.
we left, returning to the cafe so my aunt could go back to work. my parents and i returned to belmont.
around 6:30pm i noticed annie had texted me an hour earlier. i only saw the end of the text which said she was at a friend's house. when i read the whole thing i learned that she had closed the door too violently and might've damaged the lock because she couldn't get back into the house. she wanted to know when i'd get back home. i told her i could get home by 7:30pm, but dinner started at 7pm so wrote her again asking if i could postpone it until 7:45pm, but she never wrote back. so after eating quickly, i rushed back to cambridge in less than 10 minutes. i had all sorts of disaster scenarios running through my head, but when i tried the lock, it opened up nice and easy. i wrote her back to let her know i was home and that the lock was fine. so even though i rushed home to meet her, she was in no hurry to get back, and didn't get home until 8pm. without the rent i might add.
later i chatted with annie - not about the rent - but about the frequency of her hair washing. she said she washed it every time she takes a shower, but i've only seen her with her hair bundled up a few times a week. turns out there's a reason for that: she only showers a few times a week. she says it's a north chinese habit, but i find it kind of gross. but i haven't noticed any body odor stinks, so i'm not complaining too much. contrast that with my own bathing habits, where i shower twice a day, once in the morning, and once at night, and more frequently during the summer if i've been sweating a lot.
annie was once more gone by the time i woke up this morning. it was supposed to be a rainy day, at least the first part of it, so i was surprised when i noticed renee's contractors still came to work today. they also brought their tall ladder, which i guess is for me, but joseph left by mid-morning, before i could talk to him, leaving behind his two workers.
i had some calls to make this morning. first was to xfinity comcast, to confirm that the cable appointment was indeed scheduled for early sunday morning. i don't remember them working on the weekends, but maybe this is a new thing. i was going to call solaredge to ask about the wrong monthly production numbers, but it mysteriously fixed itself, saving me the hassle of getting in touch with solaredge. why it ever gave me the wrong numbers in the first place is a mystery, and i wonder if it's related to the lost production tracking that happened on july 4th.
the weather improved by midday, and there were even a few hours of sunshine, before it became progressively darker again. i decided to run some errands during a break, navigating the two brazilian contractors using my front porch as their makeshift bed/couch.
first i had to readjust the brakes on my front tire (brake arm tension issue), before taking the cargo bike to rite aid. today was the first day of the transition to walgreens, i go there often enough that i felt it was my duty to be there for the inauguration. for the most part everything seemed the same, although they did some minor renovations in the front counter area, and slightly readjusted the aisles. things were still where they used to be, although did they move some things, so it took me a while to find what i needed. sale items weren't marked clearly, but the discounts rung up when i checked out. i left with a bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol ($2) and 2 cans of almonds (2/$5).
afterwards i went to market basket specifically to look for some kettle avocado oil himalayan salt potato chips. if they didn't have it i would get it at whole foods. but turned out MB did carry it, 2/$5. only later did i discover that it was actually cheaper at WF, which after sale and discount was only $1.90/bag (sale until tuesday, still plenty of days left to score some more). i also got some more white nectarines ($1.99/lbs.), one of my favorites amongst the stone fruits.
i returned home just when it looked like it was about to rain, and the contractors were packing up for the day.
annie came home by 5pm, wearing a red sun dress i'd never seen before. i'm guessing there must've been some formal event at her work place today. but she quickly changed into her sweats shortly afterwards and started making dinner. soon after she finished with the kitchen, i went in to make my grilled ham and cheese sandwich. first i had to clean the sink, which was filled with discarded bits of vegetables. i wonder if she was this way when she lived with housemates back at MIT, it probably didn't win her many friends, although she does clean up afterwards (why not immediately after you're done cooking? instead of leaving everything in the sink for others to find).
around 9pm there was a bout of torrential downpours. i closed all the windows while the rain water was crashing onto the back of the living room AC. so much water was falling that some of it began to leak inside the house and i had to use some paper towels to clean up the mess. i went outside to see if i could find any leaks in the front gutters but couldn't really see in the dark with the heavy rain falling. it was right at that moment i noticed an asian woman with her asian son running towards me...then up to the house! i had a moment of deja vu, as exactly this time last year my friend wangyang was here with her son. i thought maybe they made a mistake, and it took a few seconds before i registered that these were the people living upstairs. the woman saw me and it took her the same amount of time to make the connection. we introduced ourselves in the rainy darkness. she said she tried knocking twice on my door but nobody answered so she thought maybe i was on vacation. she said they were in cambridge common when it suddenly started raining so they grabbed an uber back home. where was her husband and her second son? her son was either shy or unfriendly, didn't say anything when i greeted him. he didn't look mixed race though, very definitely all chinese. and from her accent, i had a feeling that maybe she's originally from hong kong, a hint of cantonese in her english.
they arrived around 7am, the contractors working on renee's backyard deck. by 7:30am the demolition started. not as loud as i'd imagined, just some light hammering noises, but i closed the window anyway, and couldn't really go back to sleep after that. i finally got out of bed by 8:30am, surprised to find that annie had already left. i didn't hear her, she must've stepped out around 7am.
i left for belmont via motorcycle by 10:30am, to install the new wyze cam. i thought it'd be hot and humid but it was actually kind of cool on the bike. there was sun this morning but as the afternoon approached, it became progressively cloudier, only to lighten up again in the late afternoon.
the wyze cam 2 was very easy to activate, using the phone app to pair it with the wifi network. afterwards i updated the firmware (the latest version that supports person detection) then added a 64GB memory card i just happened to have in my bag (don't most people carry around spare memory cards?). everything worked but i noticed the image quality doesn't look HD even though it's on the HD setting. maybe it's because i'm pointing it outside where there are too many detailed things that the camera is having a hard time compressing everything into a video.
one coin leaf unfurls, another new furled coin leaf takes it place. seem like the lotuses are making a new leaf every 1-2 days. the scary root i saw yesterday, it's fully exposed now and it's not really a row of roots (like an old computer ribbon cable) but rather just the striated patterning. the surface of the barrel is littered with Bti oil slicks, bit of blown plant debris, and bodies of unwary insects. i'm tempted to overflow the barrel with a garden hose to clean off the surface, but i'm worried about the chlorine and chloramine levels. just how sensitive are lotuses to these common tap water disinfectants?
most of the buttercup squashes have started to rapidly grow under these hot and sunny conditions. the best are the ones by the western side of the yard, which were just kind of throwaways but beginning to become a squash patch. i checked them for squash vine borer (SVB) eggs but didn't see any. i did however find eggs on the squash plants in front of the evergreens, which i promptly picked off. i did another round of inspect, this time looking more carefully, and i found eggs on all the squash plants. i ended up picking off about 20 eggs. there's nothing else really i can do, other than to grow these squash under coverage but then pollinators can't get to the flowers. i noticed a long squash vine by the ornamental cherry has started to set roots. the squash plant by the willow tree - a very shady spot - has been killed by some critter; it was for the best as it wasn't getting a lot of sun, but still a shame, as more and more squash plants succumb to critter attacks. but a single squash vine - under ideal conditions - can produce close to a dozen squashes, like the case last year, all from a single plant.
golden raspberries growing in the old ground have started to ripen more than a week ago, and only now are the barrel grown raspberries catching up. ever since we moved them by the backyard faucet area they haven't done as well. the problem is too much sun, which in theory would be good, but in practice can easily dry up the container soil, so they need more water than the ground grown berries. we also moved 2 potted jasmines (regular and belle of india) by the downspout between RB3 and RB2. this area is very sunny, and we're trying to see if the increased sunshine will make them grow better. milkweeds seem to be doing well in the container. growing confined, they don't spread anymore but instead become dwarf milkweeds. they haven't flowered yet and may not flower this year until they get more rooted. leafcutter bees have been taking circular cuts from the rose bushes. good thing we never got rid of them, even though they hardly produce any roses because we haven't pruned them in ages and don't give them enough sun. in addition, the leafcutter bees have been cutting from the redbud tree.
i've found a few empty cicada shells around the backyard, but i still haven't heard their telltale buzzing noises yet. just the typical insects: ants, earwigs, aphids, dragonflies, honeybees (who seem to really like all the white clovers growing on the lawn), white cabbage butterflies.
coming back, instead of going home, i took a short detour to the whole foods on somerville avenue. normally i don't shop here (can't afford it) but amazon (who owns whole foods) had a deal where if you spend $10 this week, you'll get a $10 credit on amazon prime day. i visit WF so infrequently that every time i go to one, it's like being in a parallel universe which i recognize the food but all the brands are different. i ended up snagging 2 pints of ben & jerry ice cream ($3/each), a bag of pretzel thins ($3), and a bag of kettle brand himalayan salt potato chips cooked in avocado oil ($2). "tell me you're an amazon prime member," the cashier told me. she scanned my id code and i received an additional 10% off.
i bumped into the boss (joseph) of the contracting company doing renee's renovation work, had a brief chat with him about correcting the gutters. he said they could do it, looked like an easy job, would probably run me a few hundred dollars only. he said he'd either bring his ladder tomorrow (friday) or monday and have a look. the days of noisy clattering gutters may soon be over!
i had lunch around 1pm: a salad (thousand island dressing), glass of orange juice, a fruit popsicle, a white nectarine, and half a bag of kettle avocado oil himalayan salt potato chips. those chips were really good, i think a found a new favorite. not sure if it's the avocado oil or the himalayan salt, but they had a really savory flavor, as if they were cooked in duck fat.
* calling cable company to suspend service for my 2nd aunt, first person i got was no help wouldn't allow me to make any chances on the account even though my name is on the list of authorized person. ended up discovering that address already entered into database, new cable only appointment on sunday morning ($30), internet would come later
in the late afternoon i rode the bike to my 2nd aunt and uncle's new place on mass ave to help my aunt get onto the free xfinitywifi network with her ipad and phone while she waits for the cable company to show up on sunday. it's a cool place, 5th floor across from the gas station, nice view of mass ave with a bit of the boston skyline. recently renovated so everything looked new. the place doesn't have AC and i heard electricity is not included with the utilities (but heat and water is).
just when i thought the solaredge inverter was back to normal, i noticed something else tonight: the energy this month number doesn't match the system production (this month) number. the system production also doesn't match the comparative energy number (though that and energy this month are the same). i didn't some sleuthing and the energy this month number comes from the production meter, while the system production comes from the inverter. normally the inverter has a higher number, and some energy gets lost in translation before registering slightly lower on the production number. but it's currently saying there's a different of nearly 50kWh, so the production meter is reporting more that what the inverter is saying. so which one is the actual number? looks like i'll need to come up solaredge again tomorrow morning.
my sister came by my place to drop off some pies: not for me, but for safe keeping, while she and a friend went to have dinner at zoe's. later she came to pick up the pies. i gave her the pasta steamer as well.
annie came home around 8pm. even though she ate, she doesn't consider pizza (what she had for dinner) very nourishing so she was cutting up a salad. instead of typical salad dressing though, she used mustard. later she added some mayonnaise, just to see how it'd taste (awful i bet). she told me she couldn't be sure of what her plans are for august. they might ask her to make a project presentation at her work, in which case she might need to stay here longer. otherwise, she and her mother will begin traveling as soon as she takes her GRE. i told her it was fine if they wanted to leave their luggage here, but she said she'd try to ship it to one of her classmates already at illinois for the summer.
i also asked annie about this month's rent, which she still hasn't paid yet (almost 2 weeks). she said she'd get it to me sometime this weekend, something she should've done last weekend when i asked for the rent on friday. she said something that was kind of telling though, i jokingly asked her if her mother was packing her suitcases with goodies from china, since annie herself won't go back to beijing this year. she said probably not because her mother doesn't look after her too much, and that she's been living on her own for a while. i supposed she had to be, attending college in shanghai and then a year at MIT, but it's kind of an unusual thing to say.
for dinner i grilled another ham and cheese sandwich. not sure what it is, maybe a combination of buttered whole wheat bread combined with american cheese, mayonnaise, and maple ham, but after just a single sandwich i'm usually pretty full. calories wise, i'm curious what it all amounts to, but i'm not sick of grilled ham and cheese sandwich yet, i could go another week eating like this. nevertheless, i've decided i'd be making italian subs all next week: it's going to be hot (possible heat wave) so i don't really want to be cooking anything.
after a greek yogurt for lunch, i rode the motorcycle to the community garden to water my plants before heading out to belmont to check on my lotuses. it was the middle of the day and i was already sweating through my white polo shirt, despite it being a hot but dry day. along the way i was riding behind a young woman who was definitely driving distracted, using her phone and perhaps texting as well. at the final approach to my parent's house i watched as she rear-ended the car in front of her. not sure the damage, but i heard the crunching of bumpers. when i arrived at my parents', something didn't sit right so i got back on the bike and returned to the scene of the accident, in case the car in front needed a witness (since i saw the whole thing). but by the time i got there (only a few minutes had passed), they were already gone, so maybe it was nothing.
what's new with the lotus barrel were mosquito larvae. i've never seen them before in these barrels because i'm pretty vigilant with the mosquito bits, but i guess the effects were finally wearing off. i also think the Bti bacterias live on the surface of the water, and the few overfilling downpours we've had over the past few weeks had effectively rinsed out all the Bti. i simply sprinkled a few more mosquito bits and by the time i left, all the larvae were dead. in a perfect world i would keep fish in the barrel so they could feed on the mosquitoes, but this kind of biological control works well enough as well and its one less thing i have to take care of.
i almost think lotus coin leaves are social, because they all like to bunch up together. it could just be the effects of gravity and wind however. the 5th coin leaf is supposed to be an aerial leaf, but the one that's currently developing doesn't seem sturdy enough to rise out of the water. keep in mind that this particular lotus (first batch) has been uprooted twice, so it still has some growing to get back to normal health. in one of the pots some lotus roots have been exposed and what's hidden beneath the sandy clay looks scary, like a big thick root. the 1st batch lotus might not be able to make aerial leaves yet, but the one with the thick exposed roots might do it. each new successive coin leaf also seem to be getting bigger and bigger.
i watered the rest of the garden before i left, as well as washing the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. i went to the cafe by 2:40pm to deliver some magic sponge erasers (i bought a surplus of 100 a few months ago). i left with a container of fried rice because i was still hungry from only having a yogurt for lunch. i took a quick shower when i returned home before eating.
my wyze cam v2 arrived today. i ordered it late monday night from bed when i saw it was on sale from amazon for $22.87. i will install at my parents' place to watch over the backyard, while relocating the wyze pan cam back to the living room. i'm hoping there will be a sale on wyze cams during amazon prime day so i can score a few more cameras. including the one that arrived today, we now have 7 wyze cams: 2 at the cafe (pan cams), 3 at my sister's place (2 wyze, 1 pan cam), and 1 at my parents' (pan cam). i'm also looking into getting an infared illuminator, so i can watch over the backyard at night (on the lookout for critters).
i adjusted the brakes on my trek cargo bike. they've gotten so soft that yesterday when i was coming back from market basket i almost crashed because i was going downhill when a car suddenly veered in front of me. i couldn't stop so instead i took a detour into a driveway and steered until i lost my momentum. these new adjustments i've made will make the bike safe to ride again.
annie came around after 6pm and immediately started making dinner. afterwards she locked herself in her room. i was waiting for her to finish so i could make some dinner of my own. when i went to the kitchen it was already cleaned up, except some discarded vegetables in the sink. included in that pile was some of my garlic; when i went to go check my garlic jar, it was empty. last time i checked it was completely full. i was a little shocked that annie ate all my garlic. when i said she was free to use whatever spices and condiments in the kitchen, i didn't mean for her to completely use it up. it left me a little angry as i made my grilled cheese and ham sandwich.
later in the evening she told me that she noticed some worms growing in the garlic so she threw them out. i also learned that her GRE isn't july 15th, but rather august 5th, and that was always the date, which is confusing because originally she was only supposed to stay here for june and july, with no mention of august until the news that her mother was coming to cambridge. regardless, the next time i ask her about paying the rent (july is overdue), i'm going to request that she pays for august as well, so i don't have to keep asking her. any other landlord would've thrown her out already, i don't think i've ever had a roommate who's this forgetful about the rent. typically that's a warning sign.
renee knocked violently on my front door around 9pm. i opened the door violently and angrily told her that i have a doorbell. she said it wasn't working, that's why she knocked. sure enough, it seemed to be stuck. she called on me this late to let me know that tomorrow construction guys will arrive by 7:30am to demolish her backyard deck so there will be noises. she also said she was going away for the weekend and left her bike locked outside and asked if i could keep an eye on it. i asked her why she just didn't leave it in her basement, which didn't seem to occur to her. that seemed to be the safer option. but with her deck demolished tomorrow morning, she won't be able to get into basement. after she left, i disassembled the doorbell. one of the screws was too tight which caused the gears to sieze up. i loosened it a bit and added some WD40, good as new.
MGH dermatology called me this morning to let me know the results of my biopsy. the fact that they were going to tell me over the phone was a clue that the "wart" they removed from my face was benign, which was the case. a "sebaceous keratosis" AKA seborrheic keratosis AKA "senile wart" (although i take objection to that last one, since i've had it when i was in my 20's). perfectly harmless even though it can look malignant.
i didn't go back to sleep after that. while annie was in the bathroom getting ready for work, i camped out in my usual spot in the living room and called comcast xfinity to transfer my 2nd aunt's cable and internet services from her current apartment to her new one when she moves this thursday. the new place is just a 17 minute walk from my house, 5 minutes away from porter square, and a 17 minute walk to the cafe. a creature of habit, my 2nd aunt doesn't see the advantage of her new location and still prefers her old apartment, which is undergoing renovations for 1-2 years. tenants have the option of moving back once the place is fixed, but who knows, maybe my 2nd aunt ends up liking her new apartment.
anyway, i called comcast, the first agent (george) put me on hold, but after a few minutes i was transferred to some random department, where a woman told me to hang on and then hung up on me. second time around i got ricardo. he was more helpful and we didn't lose connection. i knew it wasn't going to be easy because i tried migrating the service online and they wouldn't accept the address i gave them. turns out the new apartment my 2nd aunt is moving into isn't in the comcast database; the building is, just not that particular apartment number. i need to wait 7-10 days for the address to be added, and only then can i call them back and get them to do the transfer. it seems so stupid to wait so long, but these are comcast's rules, and they're the only game in town for fast internet service. in the meantime my 2nd aunt could use xfinity's hot spots with her username and password, provided that her neighbors (mostly elderly) also have comcast wifi.
my mother also called me this morning, told me she had some good news. i managed to guess what it is: she found my father's old orange columbia interchange jacket, the one he'd been searching for all winter. apparently it was buried underneath some other clothes in a clothes hamper. that meant there was no rush to get to the assembly row columbia outlet store, and when we do go, it'd to return the new jacket.
by that point annie had left for work. i could peacefully use the bathroom and take a shower afterwards. i wanted to ride the motorcycle to belmont to take a quick peek at the lotus progress, but there won't be that much change in less than one day's time. i could see the lotus barrel from the wyze camera i'd mounted in the sunroom to catch any raccoon attacks, but it was mounted too far away, what i wanted to see was details. my father called and said he added some more cash items to the square items database; i made some png nametags and added them to the items. by late morning i felt very light headed. i immediately took a blood pressure reading, which showed my BP low-to-normal, which is usually a good sign, but my BP is normally higher than normal. i felt like this for the rest of the day, i think i might've taken an extra dosage of thiazide by accident.
for lunch i finished some barbecued ribs and corn. at 1:30pm i went to the community garden to water my plants (haven't watered since friday). i bumped into joel, who came back to revisit the garden even though he no longer has a plot. afterwards i went to market basket for some groceries. i didn't think i got very much but still left with $30 worth of groceries.
i called solaredge close to 5pm to ask about the meter communication error we got back on july 4th. the estimated wait time was 30 minutes, but i decided to wait, just put the phone on speaker while i listened to the muzak. the wait ended up being less than 20 minutes, as daniel took my call. they're always super polite but i wasn't sure how much he'd be able to do, since the error was so random, and it hasn't happened again since that one time. he put me on hold as he chatted with some engineers, but none of them seemed to know what the problem was. he ended up updating the meter's firmware, as he noticed it was old, while the inverter had the latest firmware. maybe that might fix it. unless it happens again, it's just a random glitch. if it does occur again, we should be able to get a production meter replacement. the good thing is i've gone on the record with the problem. i asked daniel if our lost production for july 4th might come back (anywhere from 4-6kWh), he wasn't sure, said the firmware update might address it, otherwise it's mostly likely lost.
annie came home around 6pm. after a shower (where she managed to soak the bathroom carpet, rookie move), she started making dinner. i didn't see what it was, but from the smell it was most likely more spicy fish stew. i ended up making myself a simple grilled cheese and ham sandwich for dinner, quick and easy. i've got enough ingredients for grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and dinner for the rest of the week.
we hit 50.5kWh today, only just the second time this month we broke 50kWh+. the graph line was near perfect, no gaps, but even then we only barely broke 50kWh. all this week and next week looks to be sunny, with the exception of friday. not sure how many of those days we'll break 50kWh+, but it's going to be very good production for a while, curious to see if we'll surpass july 2018's production record.
after taking out the trash tonight i moved my motorcycle to the front of my house. heeding the lesson i learned last night, i parked defensively, using up a whole parking spot, making sure nobody gets any bright ideas and tries to parallel park behind or in front of me.
i got to the cafe at 11:30am to help my father move a twin size bed (mattress, box spring, metal frame) to the upstairs apartment. the largest bedroom will be shared between two chinese astrophysicist classmates here for the summer. we were also supposed to move a couch from the large bedroom to the small bedroom, but it seemed like it was already moved. one thing i noticed was all the many signs my sister put up throughout the apartment; if i lived there i would've found it super annoying. unfortunately currently most of the tenants are undergraduates, from the chinese generation of only childs, they are the worst when it comes to keeping things clean. this weekend my sister was complaining about how she found crap all over the toilet bowl and the shower and how the students were using kitchen paper towels as toilet paper. thankfully they didn't try flushing everything down but that meant there was a waste basket full of shit just sitting around the bathroom. anyway, it took longer than i'd anticipated and i didn't leave until 1pm, heading off to belmont while my 2nd aunt came to work to relieve my parents.
i didn't eat the whole day and had a cannoli my sister had bought yesterday when i arrived at my parents' place. however it was left outside and the cream filling had turned sour, but i ate it anyway, with no side effects.
good news: that one lotus that had no coin leaf sprout (the one with the sun damaged leaf) finally managed to make one after all. but the weird thing is the sprout is coming out of the ground a few inches away from the seed, almost like it's an aerial leaf, which is impossible, since this is only coin leaf 3 (lotuses make 4 coin leaves before they start making aerial leaves). but it was buried too deep and got lost trying to break out of the sandy clay substrate. but now that it's out i no longer have to worry about that lotus. all the plants seem to be on track to varying degrees. the old first batch lotus is fast making its first aerial leaf, the stem 2-3 days from breaking the water surface. i've never observed an aerial leaf forming before so this is very exciting from a naturalist perspective. so far this 5th sprout doesn't seem particularly strong, but maybe the stem will harden as it grows.
i finally made the connection that what rooting hormones are produced from soaking the willow branches also end up killing the Bacillus thuringiensis serotype israelensis (Bti) mosquitocidal bacterias i've been periodically adding to the water. willow branches make two rooting hormones: indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) and salicylic acid (SA). IBA initiates root formation while SA acts as a bacteria-killing agent. that's why the mosquito bits seem to have no effect in the willow bucket while just a few sprinkles in everything else will kill mosquitoes for the rest of the summer. i noticed all the wiggly mosquito larvae and ended up refilling the container. instead of dumping out the old water though, i used it as rooting hormone and poured it onto my the developing buttercup squashes and bottle gourds. i also noticed that my fingers were hurting when it came in contact with the willow water, which made me think that the acids killed off all my Bti. there's nothing i can do at this point except to do periodic water changes. this is good because i can then use the willow water for rooting hormone purposes.
i took out my interchange jacket from the closet and discovered it was a size small. that meant the replacement interchange jacket my mother got for my father yesterday in size large is actually too big, because she remembered it was only one size up from mine. that meant we'd need to go back to the store and exchange it for a medium. the ones we got back in 2016 are the columbia rural mountain interchange jackets; the one we bought yesterday is the rural mountain II. i tried looking online to find the difference but there's very little info on these interchange iterations. they're either discontinued or styles sold specifically for outlets.
i spent most of the afternoon setting up the square stand for the cafe. my mother's new replacement ipad arrived (ipad air 3), i backed up the data on her old ipad (2017 5th generation) and transferred everything to her new one. apple makes transferring data effortless, provided you backed up to their cloud service. the ipad air 3 looks very similar to the regular ipad, except the screen is slightly bigger (10.5" versus 9.7") which means old cases no longer fit (my mother already bought a new one which arrived over the weekend).
i then erased the old ipad and set it up in the square stand. instead of itemized prices, my father wanted it set it to the way their cash register works now, which is preset prices ($1, $2, etc.). we ran into an issue where square would only take the first 2 characters of an item name and use it as an icon. no problem for something like "$1" but when the item is named "$1.50" it will also show up as "$1". i solved it but creating some number png's and importing them as picture icons for the price items. later in the evening i inputted everything on their menu into the square item database, a few with photos (as a test).
i personally think it's a waste of a perfectly good tablet to use it as the brain for the square stand. an ipad costs a few hundred dollars but to get one so it can act as a glorified calculator is a waste of money. a cheap chinese brand android tablet (less than $100) would work just as well, if only square would design a stand to accomodate these devices. that's why i was thinking instead of using a 2017 5th generation ipad, we could buy a cheap used ipad air 1 (which also fits in the stand), thereby freeing the 5th gen ipad for bigger and better things. the only catch is to find an ipad air 1 in good condition; introduced in 2013, most of the refurbished ones i've found online are rather worn out.
my father continued with some pruning of the large evergreen hedge growing on the eastern side of the house. i caulked the tiny leak in the basement wall. while i was watering the plants outside, my father installed the new blinds in the living room; he said it was easy since they used the same clips so it was just a matter of swapping old with new. these blinds - like all recent blinds - are cordless, for child safety reasons. i still prefer the cords, since you can raise them up all the way; cordless, you can only raise however high you can reach.
we've turned off the window AC and been running the older delonghi 50-pint dehumidifier for the past few days. humidity in the basement has stayed around 60% (the delonghi is set to 55%). had we known this unit still works, maybe we wouldn't have bought our new 70-pint whirlpool dehumidifier, which hasn't seen much action since we got it. today we installed the tube for the automatic pump so we don't have to keep on emptying the catch bucket.
my father opened a bottle of moscato d'asti, a sweet sparkling wine i discovered back in september 2017. my mother and i got a bottle from trader joe yesterday, not realizing we already have a bottle back at home. it doesn't have a very high alcohol content - just 5.5% - but because of it's sweet sparkling nature, it's very easy to get drunk on it.
i caught my indian next door neighbor walking his new dog. i followed him down the street so i could talk to him about the kitchen light situation. i introduced myself, put out my hand to shake his. he hesitated, and gave me the back of his hand while i grabbed awkwardly. he said his hand was dirty from dealing with the dog. "what's your name?" i asked twice, he seemed reluctant to give it. when he did, i knew why, because i instantly forgot it the moment i heard it. i said i noticed they've been leaving the kitchen light on all night, and was wondering if they wouldn't mind turning it off when they go to bed. turns out they hadn't been in town for a week or two, which happened to coincide with a friend of theirs housesitting (and dogsitting and rabbitsitting) while they were gone, and it was the friend who had a habit of leaving the lights on. but i did the adult thing, talked to him face-to-face instead of sending another letter.
i got a surprise package in the mail today. i couldn't figure out what it could be, most of the stuff from my ebay spending spree from a few months back have already arrived. even feeling around the package got me stumped. when i finally opened it up i was happy to see that my 30 lotus seeds had finally arrived. it's only $1 but i ordered it back in mid-june and it took nearly a month to arrive from asia. i thought it was from china but the package said the philippines. it's a mix of different lotuses, but because they're from asia, i'm hoping there's more of the pink asian varieties rathe than the native yellowish white lotuses we have in north america. if only i'd ordered these back in april! then they would've gotten here by may and i could've started germinating my lotus seeds. but it took 2 batches of trial and error for me to get the hang of starting lotuses. these 30 seeds (actually 31, there was a bonus seed) will have to wait until next year to germinate, depending on how well i do with the 5 surviving lotuses i have now.
that fish stew annie wanted to make yesterday? well, she made it tonight instead. whenever she cooks it's such a production, the counter filled with ingredients as well as on top of the barstools, sink cluttered with refuse, one stove top boiling something while she's slowly chopping vegetables on the other grill. also she's rifling through my spice cabinet, using everything she can find. "what are you looking for?" i asked her. she said dried chili peppers. i told her i didn't have any. instead she's been using my sichuan peppercorn which i think she puts in everything. she let me try some of the stew afterwards, there were still chunks of fish heads in the pot, she didn't add enough water. nevertheless, it's the first thing she's cooked that didn't taste bad, didn't realize she likes the spicy.
i'm still waiting on the rent. i asked annie today if her mother found out the result of her US visa interview yesterday. she said she got it, and already purchased a ticket to come to boston at the end of the month. i'm still not sure if i'm going to charge her extra for the two weeks that her mother will be staying here. my head says yes, but heart says no. objectively i should have no qualms charging her more, especially since she's always late with the rent, and i end up having to ask her multiple times before she finally pays up. but she's been a good roommate despite the rent situation, and when her mother arrives, there really won't be any place for her to stay, so it's either going to be the floor or the couch. and if they end up doing a lot of traveling (new york city, washington DC) and won't be home very home, i'd feel guilty gouging them for more money. i can't let my emotions get in the way of business. and what i'm charging is pennies compared to if they were to live elsewhere.
i parked my motorcycle in a weird area. instead of being defensive and taking up the whole spot, i only took up a fraction of it, figuring a car could still get in. but i didn't have to be nostradamus to know that when renee came home she'd try to park behind me, and bump and scratch my motorcycle a few times in the process before finally giving up. so when i heard what sounded like a car outside trying to parallel park, i knew right away it was her, and i quickly went out to move the motorcycle (in shorts no less, hot tailpipes can scorch bare skin). she didn't even say thank you, almost like i was supposed to move my ride. when i said she could've made it, she said no (so why did she try in the first place?). i also pointed out the empty parking spot across the street but she just shrugged. next time: defensive parking all the way, even if it makes me seem like an asshole for taking up a whole parking spot.
i watched the baseball homerun derby tonight, mostly because there was nothing else on. i've never heard of most of the guys in the derby. the only one i knew from name was vladimir guerrero junior (toronto bluejars), and mostly because of his father. he started the first round with 29 homeruns, which broke the record. in the second round he hit 29 again, but that's when things got interesting, because joc pederson (LA dodgers) also hit 29, almost beating guerrero. pederson i recognize from when the red sox faced the dodgers this season (or was it during the playoffs?). it then went into 3 tie breaks, while each slugger racked up their total homeruns. the round ended with guerrero up by 40, pederson losing with 39. in the final, you could tell guerrero was gassed, because his hits didn't have the velocity he had before. he finished with 22 homeruns, a respectable number. unfortunately his opponent pete alonso (NY mets) ended up hitting 23 homeruns to win the derby. but tell me this: does alonso deserve to win when he only hit a combined total of 57 homeruns tonight, while guerrero had 91? even pederson had 60 homers. they should change the rules to homeruns total becaue guerrero got robbed. alonso should give him the million dollar prize money.
the dutch couple with kids arrived yesterday afternoon. yes, there's been some upstairs noises, but nothing out of the ordinary, and they've been pretty quiet for the most part (must be well-behaved parents and children). this morning at 9am i heard some kitchen noises, but they didn't slam the refrigerator door or run the food processor like my regular upstairs neighbors.
it was 20 degrees cooler today than yesterday, and less humid. i opened up a few windows and turned on some fans to get rid of the hot air trapped inside the house. i left the living room window open, figuring a thief would have to be pretty brazen to crawl into the house from that window (you'd need a ladder at least).
i found my motorcycle this morning trapped between the curb and the front of a very large moving semi-truck. how they managed to park in that tight spot without hitting my bike is a question i rather not know the answer to. i quickly took the cover off the bike and moved it. i had to wheel it out at an angle because it was wedged so tightly to the truck.
before i left, annie she said wanted to make fish stew today. i involuntarily closed my bedroom door and showed her how to use the slow cooker, knowing it'd doom my house smelling of seafood for the next few days. hopefully she'll be gentle and not make a stinky mess of discarded fish parts left to rot in the compost bin. better not to think about it.
the two furled lotus coin leaves of yesterday had mostly unfurled by this morning, and would open up completely by the late afternoon. portions of the scorched coin leaf had broken off so i decided to just tear off all the dead parts. that particular lotus has just a single healthy coin leaf and as of today still hasn't sprouted it's next coin leaf stem, so i'm keeping an eye on it, might spell disaster if it doesn't make enough leaves, but i'm hoping it's just a late developer.
even though there was a 16-day gap between the 2 batches of lotus seed germinations, the lotuses from the second batch are almost caught up to the single surviving lotus from the first batch. of course that first batch lotus had survived 2 raccoon attacks, both times getting uprooted, so maybe it has some development setbacks. the first batch lotus has already sprouted the stem of an aerial leaf, while 2 of the second batch lotuses have 3 full coin leaves and a 4th coin leaf stem forming underwater about to break the surface, so about a week behind in development. the hot and sunny weather must've helped out as well, ideal conditions for lotuses.
i had some breakfast before the start of the world cup final between the US and the netherlands beginning at 11am. i was rooting for the dutch to win. there was no score in the first half. the US managed to score in the second half with a cheap penalty kick (rapinoe) on a questionable foul. that must've done something to the psyche of the dutch women because 8 minutes later lavelle scored another goal, this one more legitimate. netherlands had a better defense than offense, but never managed to score any goals. game ended 2-0.
after the game was over, my mother and i went to assembly row in somerville to score some more hand soaps at bath & body works. i'd never been to this one before, and only found out about it through a map search.
the assembly square area had never really been that busy, even on weekends. but with the addition of the assembly row outlet mall and eatery, business was booming. there was no place to park on this sunday afternoon and i ended up getting lucky and finding a spot all the way down my trader joe's. we walked the length of assembly row, passing by numerous al fresco dining tables before finally reaching the other end where all the outlet shops were located. my mother said she and my father came here when they first built the place, when the area was still pretty empty; she was impressed by how happening it was now and vowed to return.
we stopped by a clarks outlet first, where my mother wanted to check out some shoes. there was a BOGO $10 deal but after a lengthy search my mother could only find a single pair she liked. she tried to get me to buy a pair of mens shoes but all the ones in my size were fugly so in the end she decided not to get anything.
the one thing i always found lacking at the assembly row outlet is the lack of name brand stores, particularly the high end handbags. compared to the wrentham outlet (which seems to have everything), this seemed like the poor man's outlet, when you don't have a car but still want an outlet experience. however, in light of how business here as really picked up, and the convenience of a subway stop, i wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in the near future some more high end brands start appearing once the lease expires on these existing stores.
the assembly row bath & body works wasn't very busy, in contrast to all the other stores and restaurants we passed which were mostly packed. while my mother searched for the scents she wanted, i went to the empty checkout counter to activate a $10 off $30+ coupon on the hand soaps i'd bought at the galleria B&BW on friday. the easiest way to do it was to return everything, then buy it all back using the coupon. that meant instead of $3 a bottle (normally they sell for $6.50), it was just $2 (at least for the 10 i returned and bought). my mother found what she was looking for, rose-scented body cream that my sister's godmother had asked her to find. normally they're $13.50, but they had a buy 3 get 3 free deal, and with the $10 off coupon, my mother could score 6 for just $30. by the time we left though, customers had started to filter in and the store was beginning to get crowded.
i knew from the map search that there was also a columbia outlet nearby. so we went to go check it out, if by some miracle they might have my father's lost winter coat selling during the middle of the summer. the columbia outlet is the farthest store on the strip of shops, right on the corner. however, it's the first store you see when you get off of the relatively new assembly orange line MBTA stop. we weren't very hopeful going into the store, as it was all shorts and shortsleeve shirts, typically summerwear. however as we moseyed to the back of the store, we found a wall of winter coats. "they have it!" my mother exclaimed. interchange winter coats, all in moss green, of various sizes. retails for $240, discounted to $220, but there was a 60% off sale on these coats, so the final price was only $88. though these were interchange, columbia makes a lot of different styles of interchange coats, and i thought the fabric in the arm sleeves felt a little thin. but at that price it was still worth it, and if my father doesn't like it we could always return it.
we started walking back to the car, my mother asking if we could avoid the restaurant section as she was starting to get hungry. she saw k-mart and decided to check it out looking for cheap yarn, while i returned to the car to unload the B&BW and columbia purchases. it seemed like i was walking forever, but only because i forgot how far i parked. i went to go find my mother afterwards at k-mart. i know sears has been liquidating a lot of their stores including their k-mart's, but i always thought the somerville store was safe. however, there were a lot of bare shelves, but no "going out of business" signs. maybe they were just doing inventory, but maybe this store is also scheduled to close in the near future. my mother ended up calling me, said she was by the entrance, didn't find any yarn.
we walked to trader joe's to get a few things, but more for my mother to check it out, since she's never been to this particular TJ's before. correction: we were very familiar with this store, but back when it was an ac moore crafts store. like elsewhere in the assembly square area, business was booming. i don't think my mother has seem a more crowded trader joe's. she kept saying, "they made the right decision" to open up a TJ here. we had a plastic shopping basket that was starting to get full and was worried because we didn't bring our own shopping bags. however, when we went to go checkout, they had free paper bags (in some other TJ's they charge you).
we finally left by 4pm, getting back home by 4:20pm. my father had finished pruning the yew (the parts he could reach at least) as well as washing the barbecue grill for the second time (after i lightly washed it yesterday). we discovered the reason why there was a pool of greasy runoff was because the drip pan had shifted at one point, and all that grease will dripping on top of the heat shield protecting the propane tank from the heat. it could've been a diaster had any of the flaming oil dripped on top of the gas tank. my father tried the new jacket, it seemed to fit, but it did seem a bit large. we decided next weekend to revisit the columbia outlet so he could try the medium.
my father told me a few days ago that something was eating the red bud leaves. i took a look, turns out they're from leafcutter bees. they also cut the leaves of rose bushes, their usual target. ground grown golden raspberries are starting to ripen.
we barbecued some italian sausages and zucchini on the newly cleaned grill. my sister came by to pick up hailey and drop off some mike's pastries, none of which we were able to eat being so full after dinner.
as the rainstorm didn't seem to be letting up, my father gave me a ride back to cambridge, with my fuji bike in the back of the car. i looked to the upstairs windows and saw the lights were on, meaning the dutch couple had moved in. i was however surprised to see paul's car still parked outside; maybe he was staying somewhere in the neighborhood, and would be leaving tomorrow instead. it's a little weird when you have a house but can't stay because other people are currently living there.
my 58mm fotasy super slim nano multi-coated 16-layer CPL filter arrived today ($9.68 ebay). somehow i was imagining it would be clear like an UV filter, but it glass was smoky, as i suppose all CPL filters are. compared to my old 58mm calumet CPL the difference was obvious, the fotasy is a lot clearer. i decided to put the CPL on my 18-55mm lens, and keep the ysdigi UV filter on the 55-250mm telephoto. while rummaging through my photo equipment box last night, i also found a bunch of other forgotten filters. i had a 52mm promaster multi-coated UV filter for my 60mm macro lens. it actually compares pretty well with the ysdigi UV, when they're both installed on lenses you don't even realize they're there.
it finally got hot enough today that i ended up installing my window AC unit, the sharp AF-S85PX. the main reason why i was reluctant wasn't because of the difficulty installing or because i wanted to test my heat tolerance; no, it was primarily because the AC sits underneath a faulty gutter that will pour water onto the back of the metal chassis like a waterfall whenever we get a downpour and it can very loud. but i was no match for the combination of the heat plus humidity. plus, with a roommate, i'm obligated to provide a comfortable living environment. it was actually heavier than i remembered, but still far lighter than my old back-breaking AC (with the wood paneling) that required two people to install.